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Cyvl.ai is bringing data-driven solutions to transportation infrastructure

In the summer after his freshman year at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, an engineering school in Worcester, Massachusetts, Cyvl.ai co-founder and CEO Daniel Pelaez needed a job. He went home and worked at his local public works department, where he noted that there was very little software for tracking road repairs. He was told to go out, drive around, find issues and fix them.

“I was filling in potholes, fixing signs and cutting down trees. And during my time there, I quickly saw firsthand they had no data on anything,” Pelaez told TechCrunch. He saw an opportunity that would eventually become Cyvl.ai, a firm that helps municipalities and civil engineering firms bring a digital layer to tracking the conditions of transportation infrastructure.

Today the Boston-area startup announced a $6 million investment.

“Our core vision and why we started the company in the first place is to help the entire world build and maintain better transportation infrastructure,” he said. This covers roads, highways, sidewalks, airports and rail. Anyone from Boston certainly knows this is an area where the city could use a lot of help.

What they are doing is using sensors that can create a digital twin of the infrastructure piece such as a road, and then showing where there are weaknesses and predicting when there is likely to be a repair event. They do this using LiDAR, cameras and sensors, and combine this with their own data analytics and geospatial AI pipeline, he said.

“What we’re providing our end users, whether it’s civil engineering firms or governments, is better data on their transportation systems than they could never have captured before and just helping them really be data driven when it comes to building and maintaining these very large scale transportation systems,” Pelaez said.

He admits that selling to governments is not for the faint of heart, but the startup has figured out a way around the issues involved in dealing with municipalities. They learned that external civil engineering firms are often responsible for doing road surveys (or other transportation reviews) on behalf of the city or town, and they have begun partnering with them in a channel kind of relationship.

“Oftentimes, we’re really just relying on them to communicate to the government all the benefits of this technology, showing them that they were collecting it manually before, and we’re going to use this new technology to give them better data better and better visuals at the same cost, if not cheaper than what was already proposed in the in the contract,” he said.

The approach seems to be working with close to 200 cities and towns using their software to this point in just 2.5 years of operation, generating close to $2 million in annual recurring revenue (ARR). So the partnerships with these firms appears to be paying dividends. He says so far the chief competition has not been other companies doing something similar, but resistance to changing from manual processes to digital.

The company has an office in Somerville, MA, just outside of Boston and currently has 11 employees, but they are hiring and he hopes to have 20 by the end of this year. He says as the son of an immigrant, who came to the U.S. from Colombia with nothing and was able to work his way through college, he is particularly cognizant of the need to build a diverse group of employees, and of the value of hard work.

The $6 million investment was led by Companyon Ventures with participation from Argon Ventures, AeroX Ventures and Alumni Ventures. Existing investors MassVentures, Launch Capital and RiverPark Ventures also participated in the round. The company has raised a total of $10 million.

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Cyvl.ai is bringing data-driven solutions to transportation infrastructure

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