Telecom veterans seeking funds to begin production

SANTA ROSA – Three telecom veterans are developing new ways for businesses to connect with their customers.

[caption id="attachment_16658" align="alignright" width="360" caption="MissingLinq alerts distributors to restock, bypassing reorder process"][/caption]

Intelligent Monitoring Systems, or IMS, is a new venture launched by former ATG engineers Curt Wheeling, Doug Moeller and Dan O'Leary. Its first product, dubbed MissingLinq, is ready to go into production if the partners can line up some investment dollars.

MissingLinq is a Web-based service that alerts businesses when their customers need products. Placed in the customer's home or office is a small, wireless tray and tiny base station that signals via Internet or telephone when a pre-set weight threshold is met.

"We developed it for Dan O'Leary's PetVan startup," said Mr. Wheeling, chairman and CEO. He is the former vice president and chief technology officer of the telephone service provider ATG and founder of both Phase Seven Laboratories, an interactive telecom testing facility, and the Sonoma County Technology Roundtable.

The pet food delivery service was getting a 4 percent a month churn rate because customers would forget to reorder and then run to the store.

IMS developed a prototype and took it to a large pet food trade show in Chicago.

"There was a lot of interest, but we couldn't meet the necessary price point of about $40 per unit," said Mr. Wheeling. "But now we've got the price down, and we see the opportunity to apply the service to any product that can be measured by weight or volume."

In addition to pet food delivery services – the pet food industry is a $13 billion business – IMS is looking at bottled water companies, overnight couriers and consumer packaged goods suppliers. Powdered soap companies and propane suppliers are other possibilities.

"In addition to reducing customer churn to about 2 percent a month, our service will lower delivery costs by 10 to 20 percent because unnecessary stops and emergency dispatches will be eliminated," said Mr. Wheeling.

IMS has built five first-generation prototypes and successfully conducted field trials. Its business plan shows commercial launch six months after funding with break even in slightly over a year after that.

The company has the potential to generate annual revenues of $4 million to $7 million in device sales and $3 million in service fees.

The team hopes to obtain about $500,000 in three rounds based on milestones, said Mr. Wheeling.

He and his partners are seasoned entrepreneurs. Mr. Moeller, IMS chief technology officer, co-founded Autonet Mobile and Phase Seven Labs. Mr. O'Leary, IMS president, was an engineer at both ATG and Lucent and co-founded PetVan.