University of Massachusetts Amherst

Search Google Appliance

Alums' RailPod Startup Wins $100,000 in MassChallenge

On October 30, RailPod, a startup company founded by College of Engineering alumni Brendan English (B.S. 1999 in Computer Systems Engineering) and Blair Morad (B.S. 1998 in Mechanical Engineering), won $100,000 in the 2013 MassChallenge (masschallenge.org), the world’s largest startup accelerator. RailPod was one of five $100,000 first-prize winners out of 128 companies competing in the MassChallenge. RailPod is a railroad track inspection robot that provides a visual depiction of the track environment, supported by quantifiable measurements that quickly and accurately identify track problems.

Track inspectors are able to accompany the robot during inspection or use the RailPod robot remotely. RailPod provides more efficient revenue operations by minimizing human exposure to the hazardous environment. Go to RailPod website: http://www.rail-pod.com/.

RailPod’s autonomous deployment and integrated scheduling provide any railroad company with the flexibility to execute track inspection on a daily basis.

“The quality of railroad infrastructure is critical to the efficiency of our freight industry and the safety of the traveling public,” says English. “RailPod provides a reliable and efficient method to collect frequent track data so that the railroad industry can make timely operational decisions.”

MassChallenge is a multifaceted business-accelerator program that connects entrepreneurs with the resources they need to launch and succeed immediately. It is the largest-ever startup accelerator, and the first to support high-impact, early-stage entrepreneurs with no strings attached.

“Currently there is a gap between the resources entrepreneurs need and the ability of the entrepreneurial ecosystem to provide them,” as the MassChallenge website explains. “We are addressing this gap by launching the world’s largest accelerator program and startup competition. We use the power of competition to create urgency, and to identify and aggregate high-impact teams and resources. We strengthen and accelerate finalists by providing them high-quality, personalized mentorship and by connecting them to potential team members, advisors, customers, and sponsors.”

RailPod obviously captured the imagination of the MassChallenge judges on October 30.

As the RailPod website explains, “RailPod robots increase the frequency and quality of day-to-day railroad track inspections. Through cost-effective robots and data as a service, RailPod ensures the safety of railroad track inspectors while providing much needed big data to the multi-billion-dollar track-inspection industry. RailPod robots provide railroad track inspectors with repeatable and quantifiable data in real time, allowing railroads to make timely decisions that improve bottom line revenue and safety of passengers.”

To watch a video on the NECN Business website in which English and other MassChallenge winners discuss their companies, click here: http://www.necn.com/11/04/13/MassChallenge-winners-discuss-their-comp/landing_business.html?blockID=856843. (November 2013)