When officials called local entrepreneur Corey Ranslem to tell him his business was in the running for the Chattanooga Technology Council’s Early Innovator Award, he tried to turn it down.
He was appreciative but didn’t think the company he co-founded, International Maritime Security Associates Inc., had progressed far enough to be recognized, he said. The software as a service venture isn’t ready for market just yet.
But officials convinced him that the business was an appropriate fit. To be nominated was thrilling, but when the company won, Ranslem was shocked, he said.
“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “I think the thing that was pretty interesting to a lot of people was what the company is doing—it’s different and unique [for Chattanooga].”
Ranslem and his business partner, Frank Fenner, moved their company to the Gig City last year, in part because of the high-speed internet.
What does the company do?
International Maritime Security Associates Inc. provides regulatory and risk management consulting services to the maritime industry, cargo lines, cruise lines and large yachts.
The business provides real-time updates for those in the maritime industry 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 quickly became old.
So they created a software application, Automated Risk Management Solution. Originally, they called it Maritime Alerting Security System, but they decided that name wasn’t representative of what they wanted to do.
“It’s more than just a maritime alerting security system,” Ranslem said. “What it’s doing is risk management … We didn’t want to get pigeonholed to pirates and security.”
The alert system is aimed at providing real-time information to those in the maritime industry to help them make better decisions, reduce operating costs and manage risks.
While developing the system and changing the name, developers tweaked the system and added a vessel response protocol portion. When someone on the water gets an alert, they will also see eight to 10 response protocols to help guide them to the next appropriate steps, depending on the situation, Ranslem said.
“We’ve gotten overwhelmingly positive feedback,” he said. “We built out an alpha version, a demo version of the software, so now, we can actually show people how it functions.”
The next step for the company is to finalize the vessel user interface and start beta testing, he also said. The team will first launch the software platform into the large yacht market.
Ranslem said the team hopes to start beta testing in the next few months and launch the full software at the first of the year.
The company has recently had interest from within the logistics industry.
“We speak maritime really well, but we didn’t speak logistics,” Ranslem said. “As we’ve evolved in Chattanooga and gotten a better understanding of the logistics industry, we’ve been able to understand their pain points. A few logistics companies have reached out [and are] interested in the intelligence.”
Trucking logistics companies deal with moving items, some of which may be coming in from water transportation.
Currently, when they are tracking their items, they don’t have a good glimpse into what’s happening on the ocean, Ranslem said.
“When they put it on a ship, they don’t always know where the ship is and when it’s going to come to port,” he said.
Having a truck ready to pick up items only to find out a ship has been delayed can cost money and time.
So it’s possible the new software could also benefit the logistics industry, which is thriving in Chattanooga.
“Chattanooga is such a big logistics community,” Ranslem said. “That’s been a cool connection.”