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Prenav: An Edgy Company Using Robotics & Machine Learning

Posted by Early Growth

December 10, 2019    |     4-minute read (748 words)

We are living in a world where disruptive technologies are changing the way we work and play. Everything from 3D printing to Internet of Things (“IoT”) technology is making our lives easier, better, and safer. Ambitious and intelligent business people are aggressively looking at these disruptive technologies and are creating game-changing products and services to make our world a better place.

One of those game-changing services is being developed by Prenav. Prenav (which stands for precision navigation) is a company that uses drones, LiDAR, 3D analytics, and machine learning to automatically identify critical damage in structures like bridges, dams, cell phone towers, and even nuclear reactors. Prenav helps avoid current inspection methods for large structures, which are often dangerous, time-intensive, and expensive.

Mark Bercow, Prenav’s COO, shared how it is changing the world today.


The Prenav team at their headquarters in Redwood City, CA.

How they started

The company traces its origins back to 2013. Nathan Schuett and Asa Hammond were the co-founders of Prenav. Nathan and Asa worked on several robotics projects for companies like Google. In fact, Asa’s background was in Hollywood special effects, having designed the robotic arms that were used in the film Gravity.

Back in 2013, Nathan and Asa (who initially met at a local meetup on robotics) met up and both discovered that they both had the requisite skills and experience to further explore their ideas, which evolved into what Prenav is today.

Prenav’s Value Proposition

As discussed above, Prenav uses robotics and machine learning to inspect critical infrastructures like bridges and dams. According to Mark, not only do individuals no longer need to be put in harm’s way during inspections, but the accuracy and detail of these inspections are significantly better. Compared to some of its competitors, Prenav prides itself on its ability to precisely locate cameras in 3D space or other sensors.

“One of the problems in using drones for things like inspections is that you can’t get GPS-guided drones close enough to large structures,” Mark said. “You can’t get them underneath or put them indoors. But we have a unique guidance system that both maps the environment in 3D and also helps guide the drone during flight. That level of precision is very unique and that feeds into the company’s name.”

Continued Growth

The company is certainly on to something. It shipped its first commercial systems to several customers (one of which is a nuclear-powered generator in North America). Another customer is Tier One Railroad, which uses Prenav’s system to find defects on bridges that it owns. Recently, Prenav raised its Series A round of financing and is proud to have Lockheed Martin as one of its investors.

Mark along with Sirk Roh, consulting CFO at Early Growth, has taken the company to the next level. Sirk has been working with Prenav for the past five years. He stepped in to help the company with its financials and accounting—specifically helping create the financial plan that Prenav used as part of the fundraising. Working with Early Growth, the company was able to navigate tax issues, customs issues, and other financial issues that were on the path to its latest fundraising round.

An Exciting Future

The future for Prenav is quite exciting. Mark said, “Like any other company, we have big growth plans and big plans to take over the world.” The company is still laser-focused on making inspections safer, more reliable, more accurate, and more cost-effective.

“The world’s infrastructure is crumbling, bridges are falling down every month, people are falling off of towers and are dying. I think technology and robotics ought to play a role in improving all of that,” he said.

Through it all, Sirk said that working with Prenav has been a dream come true.

“It’s an absolute pleasure working with Mark and the rest of the team,” he said. They have an incredibly bright future, especially with this last round of financing and the traction they’re getting in terms of customers. I think that the future is very, very bright.”

About Early Growth

For over 10 years, Early Growth has provided early-stage companies CFO Consulting Services, Accounting for Startups, Taxes, and 409a Valuation. We saw a need in the marketplace for a service that would allow founders to still focus on business while building a healthy financial story. Our Outsourced CFO, Outsourced Accounting, and R&D Credits services have helped many companies grow.

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