Adam Tichelaar, MBA 2006, feels the pain of motorists who must bear the time and expense of trial-and-error car repairs.
As director of technology for PH2 solutions, he’s helped bring to market technology capable of alleviating some of those headaches.
The company’s NU-Path Logic® technology enables mechanics to plug a laptop into the on-board computers of vehicles (1996 and newer) and quickly diagnose the root causes of problems preventing passage of emissions tests.
“It could be a repair that takes 15 minutes after diagnosis with our product instead of taking hours or days,” Tichelaar says.
Sometimes check-engine lights and other readiness monitors indicate emissions-related problems when none actually exist, explains Tichelaar. In such cases, PH2’s technology enables a computerized “drive cycle” that eliminates most of the road miles previously required to reset vehicles for emissions-test readiness.
Finding the Cure
Instead of a research lab, PH2’s solution for vehicle diagnostics was born in a garage.
Marshall Lewis, an auto master technician, had developed a diagnostic process in his head that needed to be translated into software so that others could perform it. Lewis found interested investors, and they looked for engineering help at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), where Tichelaar was serving as a research engineer.
GTRI, which helps solve challenges for industry and government clients, didn’t take on the project, but Tichelaar was free to consult with PH2 because it didn’t conflict with his job.
Tichelaar, who took a leave of absence from GTRI for part of his MBA studies, says: “One of the first things I learned in the MBA program was to find the pain of consumers and then find the solution. That will be the door to your path. In this case, I knew the pain was big, and the market was big, and that the opportunity would be big if the solution was right.”
MBA Courses Critical
As he worked to make PH2’s technology a reality, Tichelaar found that the MBA courses he was simultaneously taking on product development and managing technology were of huge help.
“I apply what I learned on a regular basis,” says Tichelaar, who also earned his BS in computer engineering from Georgia Tech in 2000. “Being in a startup, you have to do everything at some point, from finance to operations to technology. Having that breadth of education in the MBA program was very beneficial for me.”
PH2, which has offices in Atlanta and West Orange, New Jersey, released the patented NU-Path Logic product in December 2007 and expects robust sales in 2008. Mechanics appreciate the product because it enables them to move more volume through their shops instead of having to focus for hours on a single car, Tichelaar says.
“Our next steps are to grow, innovate, diversify, and look at going international,” says Tichelaar, who’s held an ownership stake in the company since joining full-time in December 2006. “While there’s no one doing what we’re doing, we know it won’t be that way for long. The spirit of making things better is woven into our company.”