December 22, 2015
Brendan Waters and Jon Ruiz, both 25, met in Parkville in sixth grade. They hadn’t planned to go into business together, but it turns out they were uniquely poised to partner up.
After graduating from KU with a degree in information systems technology, Waters worked at Northwestern Mutual as a financial adviser. Ruiz, a graduate of the Entrepreneurship Scholars program at UMKC’s Henry W. Bloch School of Management, spent about a year working alone on a campus emergency button safety app, but he couldn’t find interested investors or potential clients.
“After sharing my problems with Brendan, with his sales experience and financial knowledge and my creativity and tech expertise, we decided to start fresh and focus on enterprise-level applications,” Ruiz says.
In December 2014 they founded Electronic Beacons Systems, a mobile app and software company that provides digital reports to cellphones near the beacons. The beacons could transmit all kinds of information — advertising, information for tourists or, in the case of one major client, community security information.
Waters explains, “What we’re doing is creating not only a completely streamlined work flow for all the employees involved in a business, but we’re also speeding up the real-time reporting to any of their clients and really creating a whole new process centered around transparency and real-time data.”
Their first contract was with Titan Security, the company that patrols Independence Avenue in Kansas City’s Northeast area. Waters says his product will not only help improve the area but will measure the improvements made by the security team and the Community Improvement District ambassadors. Ruiz adds, “Every trash bag, crime reported, blocks patrolled, graffiti removed, etc., is a piece of the community improvement puzzle.”
Their work begins with the installation of Bluetooth beacons, which can be as small as four side-by-side AA batteries in strategic locations throughout the avenue. Think of the devices as tiny cell towers that can broadcast any message to someone with the right app. They have a range of one foot to more than 650 feet.
Waters says they have between 15 and 20 clients right now and more than 1,000 users of their apps. “Where we’re headed is really very cool. Our growth in the past three months has continued to really ramp up.”
“The thought is, if we were to work with all the community improvement districts … the data that we would then start generating would hopefully not only help with making data-driven decisions for one specific CID but all of them as a whole. If all the heads of the community improvement districts in the cities said: ‘You know what? Why don’t we meet quarterly and share what data we’re seeing, then maybe as an entire metro area we can really start making predictive analysis as a whole, right?’ ” Waters says.
Ruiz adds, “By being able to capture this data, we can start measuring the impact, but also in the future we can compare metrics with other CIDs in KC and beyond to truly see the communities improving right before our eyes.”