Dispatchr.
Backed

Backed from December 2014

"We keep the world’s lights on by allowing utilities to manage their field workforces."

Dispatchr is disrupting the US electric utility market with one of the smartest founding teams we’ve come across. Their focus is on mobile workforce management systems - an area costing US utilities over $145bn a year.

"We are yin and yang: I am inexorably optimistic while Leonard is beautifully pragmatic."

Ralph Garvin Jr., CEO, Dispatchr

We think there are real opportunities to invest in businesses disrupting industries still relatively untouched by technology. The productivity gains that can be achieved and the value created is often enormous. In Dispatchr, we see a business doing just that.

The team, initially targeting the US Electric Utility Industry - a sector known for its slow tech adoption - have developed the most sophisticated workforce management and grid resilience software on the market. To this day, electric utilities continue to use printed maps and work orders to route workers, communicate via radios, plan using whiteboards, and identify outages only when customers call about issues. The process is slow, unproductive, costly, and prone to human error. Dispatchr, on the other hand, is building a hugely sophisticated platform that helps these businesses predict where the grid is most at risk from outages (using weather data, topographical, vegetation and infrastructural data sets) and then optimises their workforces using intelligent, tablet-based routing systems.

"We are yin and yang: I am inexorably optimistic while Leonard is beautifully pragmatic."

Ralph Garvin Jr., CEO, Dispatchr

It’s a big problem too with huge potential productivity gains: U.S. electric utilities currently spend over $145bn managing their mobile workforces and are routinely fined for poor storm responses. Across industries, workforce management spend is growing at 40% year-on-year. Furthermore, Dispatchr’s technology can be used far beyond the world of electric utilities. In fact, it can find a home in any industry with distributed physical assets - think telecommunications, delivery and other utilities.

In Ralph and Leonard, Dispatchr have one of the smartest founding teams we’ve encountered with strong technical and operational experience. At Backed, we think the potential opportunity is huge and in Dispatchr we see the best product and team to capture it.

The
Interview

We sat down with Ralph, CEO of Dispatchr, to discuss company culture, hiring and life outside of work

Dispatchr in 140 characters

We keep the world’s lights on by allowing utilities to manage their field workforces to i) predict grid issues ii) optimize vehicle routing iii) automate workflows.

What made you decide to work together?

We are yin and yang: I am inexorably optimistic while Leonard is beautifully pragmatic; I focus maniacally on issues while Leonard maintains a bird’s eye view; I avoid process while Leonard breathes it. We trust each other unconditionally, thanks to years of going to church together.

How do you hire?

We run hardcore coding challenges. Initially, each candidate receives a coding challenge. They then review the code bases from other candidates’ challenges. We use their reviews to invite the applicants to the Coding Games and place them in teams. The teams spend seven hours in War Rooms frantically building functionality on top of our system, before presenting it back to the group.

What is Dispatchr’s culture?

It feels like family, truly. Take client deployments, where we all live together in remote houses in the forest: we have seen each other’s warts. It’s an intense, demanding culture: Leonard and I give everything to the team and we expect everyone else to do the same.

When you’re not busy keeping the lights on, what are you doing?

I work obsessively and work out religiously. I get more anxious when I’m not working than when working, so I avoid the former.

"It feels like family, truly...we have seen each other's warts..."

Ralph Garvin Jr, CEO

How have you managed to sell into the slow, bureaucratic utilities industry?

Rather than trying to spread ourselves too thinly by pitching to multiple clients, we focused our energy exclusively on winning one major utility customer. Our hypothesis was that if one big firm used our system in thousands of vehicles, it would prove Dispatchr’s quality and reliability for others.

Find out more about Dispatchr, Ralph and the team at dispatchr.com