When people started putting mannequins in the backs of their cars to try and sneak onto HOV lanes during the Pan Am Games in Toronto, it was an extreme example of how desperate we can become when faced with major traffic congestion. It was also proof that Miovision’s potential solution to transportation management couldn’t come at a better time.
Co-founded by University of Waterloo Engineering alum Kurtis McBride, Miovision uses a combination of hardware and software to analyze traffic conditions in real time, then adjust traffic lights to improve the flow of vehicles. After raising $30 million in funding earlier this year, the company’s growth may seemed to have happened overnight, but McBride says his entrepreneurial ambitions started early.
“I’ve always had the interest in starting a business, much to my parent’s dismay,” he says, recalling an early attempt to raise mice for sale in his family’s basement as a child. At Waterloo, McBride studied Systems Design Engineering, which he described as an area with plenty of room to explore opportunities. “The program really incubated that bug that I’d always had.”
In one of McBride’s engineering co-op jobs, for example, he worked in software development with a transportation company. The firm was often short-staffed and needed some “front-line” help with collecting data.
“They would pull me in on weekends, and I would sit on a lawn chair and count the cars that went by,” he says. “I started to see a market need through that experience.”