SXSW Startups: 14bis Supply Tracking
Fifty diverse startups have been selected to present their skills, creativity and innovation at the 2018 SXSW Accelerator Pitch Event on March 10 and 11. Winners in each of 10 categories will be honored at the Accelerator Award Ceremony at 7 pm Sunday, March 11, at the Hilton Austin, Salon AB. Network with all the finalists from 11 am to 1:30 pm on Monday, March 12, at SXSW Accelerator Demo Day, at the Hilton Austin, Salon C. The SXSW Accelerator Pitch Event (as well as the Demo Day) takes place within the Startup & Tech Sectors track of programming.
A finalist in the Security and Privacy Technologies category, the Houston-based 14bis Supply Tracking startup provides lifecycle provenance tracking for supply chains, combating unapproved parts. CEO and co-founder Eleanor Mitch (pictured in black jacket above at the Paris Air Show) describes it this way. “To improve supply chains, we leverage blockchain technology and our patent-pending system that can adapt to any industry ERP platform and tagging mechanism. We prevent un-approved parts entry in Aerospace, reducing risk, saving billions: safer flights for people and cargo.” See them live pitch at 9:30 am Sunday, March 11, in the Hilton Austin, Salon AB.
What is the14bis competitive advantage?
Our team is obsessed with improving security, transparency and accountability in supply chains. We’re doing pilots in the aerospace sector where we provide exceptional asset tracking capabilities in a patent-pending interoperable platform that leverages blockchain technology. Our system works with any existing company enterprise resource planning (ERP) system and tagging technology, so we offer interoperability as a plus. This means that people don’t have to reinvent the wheel when adopting our system. Plus, we’ve designed a very easy-to-use user interface so people can access provenance data easily without having to jump through a lot of hoops. Our team offers a unique combination of expertise (75 years combined expertise in ERPs, security and regulatory solutions) and our company culture is guided by the firm belief in people helping people so everyone benefits.
Tell us more about your name. What does 14bis refer to?
14bis is the name of the aircraft that aviation pioneer and inventor Alberto Santos-Dumont flew near Paris in 1906, one of the first sustained powered flights ever. This daring aviator and inventor defied people’s notions of what was possible. Thanks to the Wright brothers and him, the skies became the new frontier. No longer were they impenetrable fortresses of cloud and wind that prevented man from achieving the prized goal of sustained flight. He was one of the pioneers who built a working model that could sustain powered flight. We were inspired by Santos-Dumont’s achievements with the 14bis and his incessant pursuit of innovation and new frontiers. In addition, he inspires our company because of his philanthropic efforts in giving back to those less fortunate, so that all benefit from innovation.
What does 14bis Supply Tracking hope to accomplish in 2018?
We’re signing our first customer and finishing two pilots, as well as developing new customers. Our intent, by the close of 2018, is to have three paying customers.
What inspired your team to apply for SXSW Accelerator?
I’d heard about SXSW from people in so many fields that I knew it’d be a great experience. SXSW is renowned for being a place where upcoming new trends and technologies come together. Most of all, we are interested in meeting people who are part of the SXSW Accelerator ecosystem. A lot of movers and shakers like Lockheed & Raytheon will be there as well as Johnson & Johnson, GE, Medtronic, it seemed like a great opportunity to connect with people interested in improving supply chain transparency and security.
The experience thus far has been really wonderful, we’re thrilled and honored to participate.
Which sessions at SXSW 2018 most excite your team?
“Business on the Blockchain” with Brian Behlendorf, who’s done a fantastic job at the Linux Foundation with the Hyperledger Project. His vision of blockchain being around for the next 50 years is very exciting. We’re also looking forward to attending the “Keep the Internet International Not Internal!” with Barbora Bukovská of Article 19, Fabro Steibel of ITS Rio and Malavika Jayaram of Digital Asia Hub to hear more about the importance of keeping the internet international from a policy and innovation standpoint.
Who is your team looking to network with at SXSW 2018?
We’re looking forward to seeing François Chopard again, meeting up with people like Anna-Katrina Shedletsky of Instrumental Inc., Kilian Moote of Humanity United and Katie Weimer of 3D Systems Corporation. We’re excited to meet people interested in ensuring security in supply chains, promoting transparency and accountability so that people can rely on authentic products.
Tell us about what you’ve learned at previous pitch events.
The Paris Air Show Paris Air Lab, where we pitched right under the Concorde, was an incredible experience, both to have a booth at the show and to pitch before industry experts. We learned how open companies learn more about innovation from startups. It was great to have people like Paul Eremenko, who’s now at United Technologies, sit in on the pitch. Thanks to that experience, we got a lot of interest and our first paid pilot.
Has 14bis Supply Tracking been involved with other tech conferences?
Yes, we won an Accenture Innovate Award at Web Summit 2017. At Web Summit, it was very interesting to see what enterprise software companies were doing and to see what other uses of blockchain existed. Plus, there were some incredible cultural activities and great speakers. We met some great leads and had pilot clients visit our booth. We’ll be showcasing at the upcoming Eurosatory 2018 in Paris.
How long has the 14bis Supply Tracking team been together?
A little more than a year. We incorporated in May 2017 and have been working rapidly since that date. Right now, we’re completing the Techstars Autonomous Technology with the U.S. Air Force, the first time the USAF AFWERX invested in an accelerator and we’re honored to be part of the first cohort. We’ve been very happy with our dynamic as it’s gotten us awards at Web Summit (Accenture Innovate Award), MIT Experimental Learning FinTech Award and now we’re finalists in Privacy and Security at SXSW 2018!
If your team wasn’t involved in building 14bis Supply Tracking, what would they be doing?
Developing interconnectivity in other ways, inventing new ways of assessing processes in outer space or possibly even re-training retired racehorses for second careers.
Looking at the entire tech industry, what technology does your team think is most overrated?
Blockchain. Blockchain has become the new Kool-Aid and many are using the technologies as buzzwords without really leveraging the key benefits of each. We love both blockchain and AI, but there are appropriate uses of each. Chris Skinner just published an article entitled “9 out of 10 blockchain trials go nowhere.” For our solution, we leverage the security that blockchain offers as well as the other features such as its distributed network. People want to be able to access information rapidly and easily, which is why we created a very user-friendly solution.
What trend does your team think is most underrated?
Interoperability. The Open Government movement promoted Open Data and its interoperability, but one also needs to look at system interoperability. On all levels, interoperability is a huge challenge that perpetuates knowledge silos.
What do you enjoy most about the startup experience?
It is incredibly exhilarating to dive into a new area and start going over the various road bumps. What is very gratifying is the combination of daily, accumulated dedication and the serendipity of taking time to go hear live music, see art. It’s as though all the forces magically combine to open new doors of possibility. One of our strong suits is that we want to develop products that solve our client’s main problems: this creates an atmosphere wherein we are always listening and learning. There is never a dull moment.
What aspect of the startup experience do you enjoy least?
Eating takeout food.
What inspires your team to work harder?
Dr. Mae Jemison: Scientist, chemical engineer, physician, teacher and astronaut! She worked with the Peace Corps, runs The Earth We Share and other initiatives promoting sustainability education. As she said at the Rice University 2017 Commencement, “Life is best when you live deeply and look up.”
Look for interviews with other SXSW Accelerator finalists in this space between now and March. Startups already profiled as part of this series include 70MillionJobs, AfterNow, ARwall, Bluefield, Cambridge Cancer Genomics, Commutifi, DashTag, FanFood, FutureFuel.io, Goalsetter, HealthTensor, Instreamatic, Leaf, Moms Can: Code, Pawame, PolyPort, Sceenic, Switchboard, UPGRADED, USHR and Vochlea.
Or, click here to browse the full lineup of startups for SXSW Accelerator 2018.
Hugh Forrest serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW, the world’s most unique gathering of creative professionals. He also tries to write at least four paragraphs per day on Medium. These posts often cover tech-related trends; other times they focus on books, pop culture, sports and other current events.