Milwaukee entrepreneur growing company’s smart floor footprint

Scanalytics CEO Joe Scanlin is working to grow his Milwaukee company’s smart floor footprint while looking ahead to new data applications.

“We are expanding,” he told in a recent interview. “How much space we are enabling with our sensor technology is important.”

Scanalytics’ floor sensors are used by more than 100 clients to track human movement. The data derived from that movement can provide unique insights to building managers and designers.

Once a floor space is rigged with the sensor tiles, Scanlin says the entire building becomes a source for fresh, valuable data. With that in mind, his company is building applications “that can use that data over and over again.”

“A building might engage with us to turn on analytics, but six months down the road … we might come up with an app that uses that data for security or energy management,” he said.

He adds that Scanalytics is looking to “partner up with right companies that help us get that level of distribution and scale while focusing on the value of the end user.”

Scanlin says the United States alone has about 87 billion square feet of commercial space, and other countries have even more.

“That gives you an idea of the landscape, globally how big this market is,” he said. “We’re looking at how we can embed our solutions into vast amounts of space while removing cost considerations of the end user.”

At the moment, that goal takes precedence over more niche projects for retailers or elderly care facilities.

The company was founded about six years ago and has raised $4 million in total since then. Much of that investment came from Milwaukee-based CSA Partners, which Scanlin says helped drive the decision to locate in Milwaukee.

Scanlin believes Wisconsin’s investment landscape is “getting better,” though the later-stage venture capital scene is still “in its infancy.”

“I’m encouraged by the fact that it’s getting better; of course there are always ways it can be improved outside of its trajectory it’s on now,” he said. One way entrepreneurs can help improve the ecosystem, he says, is to better understand the motivations of investors.

“If you’re looking at raising money for a project or company you’re building, and you’re talking to an angel investor, you should understand the motivation is much different than a $10 million or $100 million fund,” he said.

He says understanding the economic realities of investors “will help yield better questions from entrepreneurs that are looking to raise in the same profile.”

“I do think that discussion is getting more sophisticated in Wisconsin, but I think we could do better with some corporate venture capital supporting some specific companies,” Scanlin said.

Going through the gener8tor business accelerator program helped introduce Scanlin to investors in the state. His company also got a boost from UW-Whitewater’s Launch Pad program, which helps students learn about the process for building a company.

“I think it’s a great intro for students to do a gut check on what they’re building, and most importantly, what type of company they want to build,” he said. “It helps you understand, there’s nothing wrong with building a lifestyle company, but that’s not a company that raises venture capital.”

He says the program helps boost survival rates for young companies by creating a system of accountability with peers and mentors.

Listen to a recent podcast with Scanlin:

Check out an earlier podcast on the Launch Pad program:


–By Alex Moe