Posted: January 01, 2009
Tech startup: Clear Path LabsBy Eric Peterson
Launched: July 2007
Where: Fort Collins
INITIAL LIGHT BULB
Sam Solt said he and his Clear Path Labs co-founders Kevin Kaiser and Michael Dillon “came from different career paths,” as Solt had a background in software development, Kaiser in data security and permissions, and Dillon in geographic information systems (GIS). “We were all working for a quasi-competitor,” Solt said. “They didn’t want to do what we were doing, so we went off on our own.”
The trio developed a location-based asset management system — which Solt dubbed “a weak spot in the market” — for customers with geographically disparate assets and large work forces. “Combining mapping technology and the Internet has brought location into business information,” Solt said. “It’s the convergence of location-based information with traditional business information.”
Clear Path Labs is a client company of the recently re-branded Rocky Mountain Innovation Initiative, formerly the Fort Collins Technology Incubator, which took on its new moniker when it expanded its geographic scope to Loveland and Greeley.
IN A NUTSHELL
In July 2007, Clear Path Labs launched its flagship product, Clear Path Explorer. It allows a scattered work force to effectively deal with scattered assets over the Internet, with secure file-sharing and other collaborative features.
“You can have a single dot in Wyoming and you can go to that dot in a browser, open up that dot, and you can see all the available files and media,” Solt said. “It’s a way of discovering; it’s a way of learning about information. The real power comes from being able to access it anywhere in the world. The whole idea of collaborating through location-based information over the Internet is the point of departure. Mobility is critical.”
Solt said it allows workers to access not only documents and media of any kind, but any data streams that are appropriate to the location, including data from sensors or environmental monitors.
After the Clear Path Explorer launch, the company quickly landed a top client in the National Geographic Society’s maps division. The organization uses the software to underpin such properties as www.LandScope.org, a collaborative project with the NatureServe nonprofit, and MetaLens.org.
“National Geographic has long been working to integrate maps and stories to educate and inspire the public,” said Frank Dibiasi, director of conservation projects for National Geographic’s maps division in Washington, D.C. “We’re using Clear Path’s technology to geo-reference content and stories to make them accessible through online mapping interfaces. It’s a new way for people to access Web content.” DiBiasi called Clear Path Explorer “a robust digital asset management system that integrates the geo-referencing as a core point.”
Clear Path Explorer is available as a hosted application for $2,500 installation plus $100 a month or by a license starting at $15,000.
Solt said Clear Path Labs is targeting basically any organization with geographically disparate assets and a large work force, such as government, oil and gas, and real estate. “If you’re location-dependent like oil and gas, the assets are expensive, they’re all around the world, and there is a fair amount of labor around them,” he added.
Co-founders Solt, Kaiser and Dillon self-financed Clear Path Labs’ startup. “We have no equity partners, but we’re open to ideas,” said Solt, noting that he doesn’t want to put the cart before the horse. “We’ve had our nose to the grindstone in R&D for the last 20 months.”
Denver-based writer Eric Peterson is the author of Frommer's Colorado, Frommer's Montana & Wyoming, Frommer's Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and the Ramble series of guidebooks, featuring first-person travelogues covering everything from atomic landmarks in New Mexico to celebrity gone wrong in Hollywood. Peterson has also recently written about backpacking in Yosemite, cross-country skiing in Yellowstone and downhill skiing in Colorado for such publications as Denver's Westword and The New York Daily News. He can be reached at Eptcb126@msn.com