Meet our third tenant, Dynamon!

The next start-up business joining the Catalyst Centre is Dynamon, founded by Angus Webb. We spoke to him about his business and to find out about his objectives over the next six months in the Catalyst Centre.

What is the idea behind your business and what will it offer?

Dynamon is developing software that will reduce fuel consumption for commercial vehicle operators. Currently, about 40% of the logistic cost for a company is fuel, and an average heavy goods vehicle will consume £40,000 to £50,000 of fuel each year. Companies are desperate to invest in products which will provide them with fuel saving opportunities as it will significantly improve their business margins.

In the eco-system of logistics there are three main players: the vehicle operators themselves, the fuel saving industry, and the telematics industry who put black boxes in vehicles to collect performance data about the vehicles and the drivers. We are creating algorithms to transform the raw telematics data into useful information which identifies fuel saving opportunities. The challenge the logistics industry currently faces is that trials using raw telematics data to identify fuel savings are not normally successful. This is due to the noise produced by operational variability in the fuel consumption; our unique selling point is that our algorithms help reduce such noise for greater accuracy. By enabling a better understanding of how fuel is consumed by vehicles in the real world, pragmatic fuel saving measures can be taken.

What stage is your business at currently?

The business is currently at the developmental stage. The core technology is there, but at a research level and not presently commercially implemented. Software development is about to begin, which will enable us to link our algorithms to existing telematics systems, so that operators can learn much more from their telematics data.

Why did you decide to apply for the Catalyst Centre?

I’ve been based in Southampton for many years at the University of Southampton working in the Engineering and Environment Department. Moving from the University’s main campus to the Science Park enables the business to get out of an academic environment and into an entrepreneurial setting. I knew the Science Park would be the right place to turn my ideas into a formidable business. The influencers within the Science Park community will provide more clarity and direction on how to progress our ideas. We aim to develop the software into a robust commercial product with the help of the Phil Sharpe, mentor at the Catalyst Centre, and other key people within the Science Park community.

How did the pitch go?

The pitch in front of the judging panel went well and to plan. The questions asked were ones I expected, especially about my business model. However, of course there were a few thrown in to challenge me!

What were you doing before starting this business?

As a Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellow I hold a Master’s in Naval Engineering and a PhD in Engineering from the University of Southampton. During my PhD at the Performance Sports Engineering Laboratory in Southampton I worked with UK Sport, developing bespoke measurement and analysis methods. This enabled teams to target the most effective solutions to improve performance. This work directly influenced seven Olympic medals. The crossover between then and now is that the approach I use with heavy road vehicles is quite similar to what was required when working with Team GB athletes. Both athletes and vehicle operators are looking for small improvements, but the data to measure these improvements is very noisy.

Where do you see the business in five years’ time?

The ideal is that we will have a robust product in the market, making revenue. The business will be financially secure before thinking about whether we would want to be acquired by a larger company.

What advice would you give to a budding entrepreneur?

Just get on and do it! With so much funding available across the science and technology industries, now is the best time to develop a good idea into a successful business. As an entrepreneur you need to think in the long term even if it means making sacrifices in the short term. In my opinion short term risk leads to long term gains. Always be looking at creating ideas and thinking ahead into the future when making your next steps. Finally, seek help through incubators such as the Catalyst Centre and academies such as the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Which entrepreneur do you admire the most?

Personally, I am inspired by perhaps an obvious choice in Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group. His ability to be a role model for entrepreneurs across the world and his charisma to be an incredible ‘people person’ create the perfect formula for an entrepreneur. Another well-known entrepreneur who I admire is Elon Musk, founder of Tesla Motors, who I feel I can relate to as he is an engineer. He is brave and solves difficult engineering problems while delivering on his promises.