Frank Fenner (left) and Corey Ranslem moved to Chattanooga about a month ago to expand and upgrade their maritime business. (Photo: Contributed)

Entrepreneurs Corey Ranslem andFrank Fenner could have moved their company just about anywhere in the world, so they developed criteria they wanted a city to meet-which led them to Chattanooga.

Their company,International Maritime Security Associates Inc., which has been in business for three years, provides regulatory and risk management consulting services to the maritime industry, cargo lines, cruise lines and large yachts.The company also provides supplemental security to cruise lines.

They both have years of experience in themaritime industry.

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“Through our consulting work, we realized critical risk information was not getting to the people who needed it to help them make better decisions,”Ranslem said.

So they created the company to update industry leaders with information about everything from weather alerts and delays in canal zones to piracy and terrorism threats.

Initially, they were providing this information about potential risks a vessel might encounter either in an email report or on a paper report that someone delivered in person.

But the maritime industry is so dynamic that the information would quickly become old.

The duo realized the need to provide their service in real time, so they came up with the idea to develop a software application called MASS-Maritime Alerting Security System.

The application they are developing will provide geospecific, real-time information.

They also have plans to base the intelligence center in Chattanooga, where employees will providereal-time, 24/7 customer service support to anyone using the software.Vessels and companies will be able to buy a monthly subscription to the software.

In the next several years, the duo hopes to add 70 to 100 jobs here.

“This is going to have an effect on worldwide shipping,”Ranslem said. “It’s cool to think about that. We’re hoping that in the next three to five years the center of [the] risk management universe [for maritime] will be located in Chattanooga.”

The team is in the process of working to raise $500,000 of seed capital, which would be used for build-out of the intelligence center,to finalize the software build and for hiring.

“We’ve been working on this for about a year and a half, and [did] all this on our own,”Ranslem said. “To move forward, we do need to raise capital.”

Criteria for the new city
When the duo decided to relocate, they evaluated several factors. They needed a city with a stable power grid and internet infrastructure, that was outside the range of consistent major weather events, that was outside a major metropolitan area, and that had a decent cost and quality of living.

To move to the real-time software application, they would need to be in a place where they could operate 24/7 and that could handle the technology needed to make their idea work.

“When we evaluated all those factors-power and internet being the most important-we came up with Chattanooga, Tennessee,”Ranslem said.

Both had visited the city in the past, andFenner’s aunt and uncle attended college here, which meant he spent some summers here, he said.

“In the bonus side of the factors, Chattanooga happens to be about the halfway point to both our families,”Fenner said.

They’ve only been in Chattanooga about a month, but they said the city has been welcoming. Everyone from EPB leaders to potential investors and other members of the tech community have been helpful, he said.

The duo said it’s probably one of the best decisions they’ve ever made.

“The people have been absolutely incredible, and that speaks to this community,”Ranslem said. “A month ago, we were strangers. People have helped us get connected. It’s been amazing how the community has responded.”

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