Co-founders of SmartTrack JA Daniel Clarke and Devon Lee are chomping at the bit to expand the reach of their vehicle management and security business after having witnessed its accelerated growth since 2020.
Although the entrepreneurs registered their company in 2020, this was not their first stint in business having engaged in commerce under the SmartTrack brand in their software development company iConnect Cloud Solutions. But having faced failure in introducing telematics to local insurance players, Clarke and Lee converted the solution meant for insurance companies to one for local drivers and companies managing both large and small fleets.
"In 2016 we were primarily focused on bringing a new product to the market. At the time we would have started offering our telematics product to a number of insurance companies," Clarke told the Jamaica Observer, adding however that while insurance companies showed interest in the product, they were concerned about who would foot the bill for the service.
Telematics involves the mobile-connected devices to provide data on vehicle tracking, fuel management and temperature control.
Turning their attention to Jamaican drivers looking to take pre-emptive and protective measures to secure their vehicles, Clarke and Lee found the response to their SmartTrack platform overwhelming, and by 2020 their clientele had grown from private individuals to companies. This would prompt their registering the company in September of that year.
"During the 2020 period, we saw the need for the company to operate under its own brand and during that same period of time, that is where we saw that growth in our customer base. Growth started in the same pandemic period and since then it has consistently been growing over 100 per cent year-on-year when we look at the numbers," Clarke shared.
"Because of the growth we were seeing and the uptake in the tracking aspect of the business, we wanted to focus on that particular brand and just get the word out there more because iConnect Cloud Solutions doesn't speak to what SmartTrack was actually offering. So it was really about creating that brand identity so that once people heard that name, they know what it is they would be getting," he added.
While Clarke, who is the CEO of SmartTrack JA, credits the growth in the company's client base to a rise in people wanting to protect themselves from vehicular theft, he also admitted that on the corporate side, fuel theft also increases as the price of gas goes up.
"As you know, we're in a time when fuel prices are skyrocketing and when fuel prices increase, theft of fuel also increases," he reiterated. SmartTrackJA's fuel management service is not limited to moving vehicles; it also includes monitoring stationary tanks.
Again pointing to another client experience, Clarke said one of its corporate clients has eliminated the incidence of fuel theft since beginning in January.
Overall, the company offers its clients eight solutions, through its eponymous app, to protect their vehicles as well as manage costs associated with transport â€” fleet management, fuel management, cold chain monitoring, vehicle tracking, dash cam recording, alarm systems, kill switch and power take-off.
Lee, the chief operating officer, reckons that SmartTrack JA is the only full-service vehicle management and security operator in Jamaica. Drawing a comparison with competitors, he pointed out that while some companies may offer some of the services provided by SmartTrackJA, they can provide the full suite of services.
His colleague Clarke also credits the company's successes to the different approach it uses in the installation of its telematics systems to match the sophisticated methods of car thieves. While the installation process does not prevent theft, he claims a 100 per cent recovery of stolen vehicles.
"This is basically a testament to the installations that we do," the CEO emphasised, adding that in one instance a car rental company that was a SmartTrackJA client recovered its vehicle within two days of reporting it stolen. At present, SmartTrackJA has set its sights on increasing corporate clientele after making inroads with Noranda Bauxite in St Ann.
"Our first big piece of corporate was in 2020 when we actually started doing tracking business for Noranda Bauxite. Since then we have actually done a number of projects with them," Clarke said.
"We started making contact with other companies and getting business from those other companies as well. So we are not just growing in terms of the tracking service that we provide but we are also offering cold chain and fuel management services as well," he continued.
Cold chain involves using sensors installed in freezer trucks to monitor the temperature of products while they are in transit. Customers can know at a moment's notice the temperature of the products and receive an alert in the event of a temperature spike.
"So you can check our mobile app or platform to see the temperature that is in the compartment at a particular period of time. If it goes above the required temp, you'd also get notifications so you can know how to make the necessary changes," Clarke explained. Lee, however, noted that "There's a lot more to SmartTrack than our products and services."
"We decided that SmartTrack is going to be a customer-centric entity that essentially [aims] to provide quality service at an affordable cost and give quality assurance with that service," he continued.
He pointed out that on many occasions, clients who switched from competitors had complaints of paying hefty costs to secure their vehicles but still having to face theft.
Having created the product, tested it, and proven that it works, Clarke said, "[W]e just want to start offering to more customers so that they can reap the benefits that our current customers have been reaping over the years."
"We see where we can offer to a larger market," he added.
With this in mind, the co-founders said while they are grateful for the growth of the company through word of mouth, they have plans to roll out a marketing campaign through social media, their website and traditional media.
In fact, Clarke disclosed that in recent times, clients have also been onboarded through Google Ads. With a payment-enabled website, he added that customers can access their services through that medium.
A small company of eight employees, including the co-founders, both Lee and Clarke admit that overseeing so many functions such as marketing, accounting, customer service, and installations can be overwhelming.
"We're a small business, so [we're] trying to keep costs low by using our skills in the business in order to get the day-to-day tasks completed," he observed.
However, the entrepreneurs are looking forward to building their capacity and that of the company with the expectation of continued growth.
SmartTrack JA was accepted in the Jamaica Business Development Corporation's Accelerator Programme.