This story is part of a series featuring each of the fifteen startups in the CYstarters 2019 summer cohort. Each team has the opportunity to focus on their startup or business idea while receiving $6,500 or up to $13,000, along with mentorship, accountability, and educational sessions on how to build a business.
Get to Know: Dillon Jensen
School: Junior in Computer Science
Hometown: Prior Lake, Minnesota
Dillon Jensen, co-founder of Jensen Applied Sciences, might not seem like a stereotypical entrepreneur. He’s a computer science major, no second major or minor, but he’s still blossoming as an entrepreneur all the same.
Jensen and his company have found a niche in which to excel with their IoT (Internet of Things) technology: craft breweries. IoT connects objects via the Internet, and allows the objects to communicate with each other. How confident is Jensen with his technology? Well, he considers himself the Tony Stark of IoT. Those are some pretty big shoes to fill, but he is up for the challenge.
What is Jensen Applied Sciences?
Jensen Applied Sciences makes custom IoT solutions, currently specializing in the craft brewing industry. IoT devices are very small and simple computers which can be programmed to do exactly what we want it to do. We custom code the devices to interact with hardware and collect all types of data from the brewing process. The devices retrieve the data, send it up into the cloud, and then display it all on a dashboard so that the user can see and access all the data. It can also send alerts if something goes wrong, and our clients can control the devices remotely so they can change the settings on the machines during the brewing process.
Where are you today in developing Jensen Applied Sciences?
We’ve just recently finished the minimum viable product. We are working to find early adopters to start using our service right away in order to get feedback and validation on how much our devices can help. Right now we are in one brewery, but we want to expand to a number of other craft breweries as well.
The brewery we are in right now is a custom solution example. All of the programming is designed for them. We went into the brewery and set up everything in a customized way for their brewery specifically. We also want to begin building devices that already have sensors and functionality built with them, so we can just sell the devices. That is an area we want to work on getting deployed as well in order to scale up.
Who is your market?
The craft brewing market is our overarching market, but we’re focused specifically on medium to large craft breweries right now. The really small breweries don’t have the money or complexity needed to implement our solutions, and the very large breweries might have something similar already. The gap between the small craft breweries and the bigger ones are where we are targeting.
What are some of the challenges that you have faced?
It can be hard to know with certainty if you can help a brewery and how, because in some cases their equipment is old fashioned and is harder to connect with. If there isn’t a technological structure already in place at a brewery, it is hard for us to provide a solution. We also run into problems with the brands that breweries use if they do have existing technology, because our devices don’t communicate with certain programs that different breweries use.
What has been your favorite resource to date?
Definitely CYstarters, but specifically the benefit of working around like-minded people who want to help and can give input to help me figure out the direction to go next. The community of people around the program are friendly and have connections that can get you in touch with the people you want to talk to, so for me that’s craft brewers.
What has been your favorite part of CYstarters?
The workshops that are held have been a huge benefit for me. The program will bring in someone to lead a quick crash course on how to do some aspect of running your business, such as marketing. It gives you a base that you can keep learning from, and acquiring skills in a short amount of time just by going to the workshops. That has been the most valuable part of CYstarters for me.
Advice for aspiring Iowa State entrepreneurs?
Go out and fail, then adapt. I could have sped my whole business process up quite a bit just by going out, trying to do something, and if people say it doesn’t work, figuring out how to improve it and make it better and adapt from there. There’s no substitute for failing and learning. You can over plan and think everything is going to go your way, but it’s easiest to get through all the bad hurdles right away and know what you need to change to improve what you’re doing. If you keep failing, fixing it, and come back, eventually you will find success.
How has Iowa State University influenced you as an entrepreneur?
I love the entrepreneurship programs and culture at Iowa State. There are a ton of entrepreneurial resources available for anyone to take advantage of at Iowa State such as pitch competitions and courses in entrepreneurship. There is a lot of support that helps anyone to be successful as an entrepreneur, no matter who you are.
How should others connect with you if interested?
You can contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website at jensenappliedsciences.com. If any knows someone or is in an industry where they think they could benefit from tracking data, controlling functions from a website or getting text alerts about something going wrong in any automation context, I’d be happy to talk about any IoT application.