We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Yukon Palmer a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Yukon, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today Alright, so you had your idea and then what happened? Can you walk us through the story of how you went from just an idea to executing on the idea
I conceptualized the business in 2002 while earning my MBA at SDSU. I was in a business plan development class taught by professor Alex DeNoble and he placed us into groups to create a business idea. I happened to work in sales at Teletrac (one of the original telematics companies) at that time and I was pared up with someone who was an engineer at Nokia. We both had working knowledge of the telematics industry and figured that it would be good to write a plan to start a telematics company.
About 6 months after turning in the project, professor DeNoble invited us to pitch our business plan at several national business plan competitions. We then travelled the country representing SDSU at several schools. Along the way we received a lot of great feedback from the judges and other participants.
It was during one of the competitions that I decided that I would pursue the business. The other team member declined to pursue the opportunity, but I was fully committed. After returning to San Diego, I eventually quit my full time job and started FieldLogix during my final semester in the MBA program.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your back background and context?
I have been in what is now referred to as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) industry since 2000. I spent the first 2 years of my career at Teletrac selling telematics systems to fleets. It was during this time that I became intrigued by the usefulness and the potential of the technology.
FieldLogix was started in 2002 and originally resold telematics products built by other companies. For the first 4 years of existence, I would meet face to face with potential and current customers to learn more about how they used the technology, what they liked and didn’t like, and where they wanted the technology to go in the future. This knowledge was used to build our own proprietary product in 2006.
Today, we provide organizations world-wide with a platform that they use to monitor and manage their fleet vehicles, field personnel, and off road equipment. They use our technology to improve supervision, reduce fuel consumption, improve vehicle health, improve driver safety, improve route planning, improve customer service, reduce risks, among a host of other benefits.
We are most proud of the fact that we lead our industry when it comes to innovative capabilities and we back it with a great customer experience.
Can you share a story from your journey that illustrates your resilience?
The fallout from COVID is a great example of resilience in a small business.
We had 2 major issues that impacted us during COVID.
The first issue was due to the supply chain shortages facing electronics manufacturers. Our solution often requires an in-vehicle device to receive and send GPS satellite signals. We were working with a reliable manufacturer for over 12 years and they suddenly decided to stop making the devices in the middle of 2021. We were suddenly forced to switch to a different manufacturer, who also decided to stop manufacturing their devices 3 months later. Finally, we had to switch to a third manufacturer, who actually has a better device. Each time we switched it cost us a month of development time and delayed shipments. We constantly communicated with our customers to ensure that they were aware of our issue and most understood.
The second issue was due to what is coined “The Great Resignation”. We lost about 50% of our staff in 2021 due to resignations and aggressive recruiters. It forced us to become more lean and automate many manual internal processes to improve efficiency. We are actually much more efficient and productive than we were pre-pandemic and with a leaner staff. We now use a more rigorous process to determine whether we need to hire a new person than we did in the past. Also, all cost savings from the leaner staff is being funneled back into product development and marketing.
Can you talk to us about how your funded your business?
The business was started in the midst of the “dot-com bust” in 2002. At the time, no VC’s or angel investors were interested in taking on new investments because they were too busy funneling money into their existing businesses, which were struggling to stay alive.
My business plan called for a $650,000 initial investment to fund product development and for early marketing efforts. Since outside investment was off the table, I had to get creative. I then discovered that I could resell other companies’ products as a Value Added Reseller (VAR) to get the business up and running. This approach only required a $3,500 investment. I started the company by myself out of my spare bedroom and it took me 6 months to get my first customer. After that point, revenue was consistently coming in and I was able to scale the company up enough to get an office and hire staff within a year. We’ve been growing the business based on its own revenue streams from that point forward.
- Website: https://fieldlogix.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fieldlogix/
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/fieldlogix
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/fieldlogix
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_-2klwU2Q6cyBkoHgTY0tA