Behind the deal with AOMS Technologies | Industrial IoT

Posted by Jacques Perreault on Jan 30, 2019

We are proud to share that we are investors in AOMS,  an Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) company delivering an integrated platform that uses fiber optic sensors to help industrial companies collect and analyze data in order to monitor their assets and processes more efficiently.

HQ: Toronto, ON

Founders: Hamid Alemohammad, Amir Azhari, Richard Liang

Investment: Series A - This round of financing was co-lead by Brightspark Ventures and GreenSky Capital.  Other investors include; EDC, MaRS IAF, Ontario Center of Excellence (OCE).

The problem:

Industrial companies in sectors such as energy, utility, construction, environmental, infrastructure monitoring, and petrochemical rely on the accurate capture of data related to their assets and processes.

The data that they collect helps them reduce costs and time-related to their projects, de-risk their operations, and improve processes. This is particularly important to industries operating in harsh, hazardous and high-stress environments – where assets such as concrete infrastructures, pipelines, energy producing and transformation equipment, and processing equipment are vulnerable to degradation and wear-down. 

The Status Quo

To monitor assets today, most industrial companies resort to either manual inspections or  the use of conventional electronic based sensors. The issue with these  sensors is their fragility and limited performance in extreme conditions – they begin to degrade when exposed to harsh environments or lose performance at high-voltage fields. Because of this, they can result in costly inaccuracies and cannot be re-used for multiple projects. 

Enter fiber optic sensor technology

Fiber optic sensors have been proven to accurately capture data and outlast harsh environments, and this technology is being adopted across different industries for a number of sensing applications.  The limitation of fiber optic sensors is in the interpretation of the data, and the ability to transform it into meaningful measurements – especially in applications that capture multiple parameters or complex data.  

Technological limitations aside, the industry also lacks an end-to-end IoT solution that is easy for end-customers to implement – the market is ripe for disruption.

AOMS' solution: the next generation of sensors

The company's founders – Hamid Alemohammad, Amir Azhari, and Richard Liang – met as Waterloo engineers where they specialized in the research and development of next-generation of fiber optic sensor technology. 

A result of 10 years of R&D, they created a proprietary process that transforms conventional fiber optic cables into distributed sensors capable of reading different parameters such as temperature, pressure, humidity, moisture, vibration, deformation, inclination/tilt, liquid levels, the presence of petrochemicals, and other physical and chemical  data – in the harshest environments. The technology works even where conventional sensor technologies fail or cannot be effectively deployed.

They observed the gap in the market for reliable IoT solutions, and developed a fully integrated industrial IoT platform:

  • Next generation of fiber optic sensors that capture the underlying data being measured;
  • A data gateway unit (or ODAQ) that collects, analyzes, and transmits the collected data;
  • And a cloud-based software product that they named “Lumi”, which makes it easy for end users to process this information and use it to make informed operational decisions

Today, the platform is being used in Environmental Remediation, Concrete Construction, Asset Performance Monitoring, and Structural Integrity verticals - with a zero failure rate. 

Brightspark’s investment in AOMS

Our venture team was initially introduced to the company by a fellow Board member of a Brightspark portfolio company.  The timing for an investment was not right for us, but we recognized that the team was comprised of absolute domain experts, and we decided to keep close tabs on their progress. 

When we met with Hamid again in August, we were impressed by his team’s progress and the clarity of their plan. We were intrigued by the targeted verticals that they had identified and the opportunity that they represented.  The company had also tripled its sales and was delivering on its promise of an easy-to-use, robust platform that accurately captures the data they need. 

Our take

Our team had been monitoring the Internet of Things (IoT) industry for a long time as a market ripe for investment.  After meeting and evaluating multiple potential investment opportunities, we found that AOMS was a timely market-leader with significant advantages over competitors.  

The company checks many of the boxes of our investment criteria: a qualified management team and their readiness to work with VCs, deep technology with meaningful IP, clear market-leading positioning in the market, recurring sales growth, a market that is spending now with significant growth opportunity, and a clear business strategy. With limited resources, this team has been able to achieve impressive traction in sales, and build a credible brand in the industry.  

The AOMS management team: Hamid Alemohammad, Amir Azhari, and Richard Liang (left to right)

Post investment, AOMS is now focused on managing their high-velocity growth. Like other early-stage companies,  they will have to ensure that their product is always on par with their customer’s needs, and avoid the common mistake of focusing solely on sales. As they continue to grow, they will also have to maintain alignment within the company and foster a positive corporate culture. 

One thing is for sure: it’s an interesting time to be investing in Industrial IoT  – we are excited to be along for the ride. 

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