Richard Charron and Sam Bromley started Whitecap Scientific Corporation at the Genesis Centre in 2011 and hit the market with the world’s first ROV3D®-Surveyor, an underwater scanning system using traditional camera technology. Their technology is revolutionizing the way that industries like oil and gas, civil engineering and offshore wind generation inspect and measure underwater structures such as dams, wharfs, footings and vessels.
Their hard work is paying off as customers across the globe are coming on board. As they prepare to graduate from the Genesis Centre, we sat down with Richard and Sam for a Q&A. They have great advice for anyone who’s thinking about starting a company. Take a look!
1. How did you meet?
RC: Sam was in a math course I was teaching at Memorial in the late 1990s. That class was remarkable. Seven out of the eight students were awarded the Visentin prize for being on the Dean's List all four years of their undergraduate program. We reconnected a few years later when Sam finished graduate studies in Ontario, eager to apply his talents to the development of sonar technology.
2. When did you start Whitecap Scientific?
SB: Whitecap was founded in 2011 at the Genesis Centre.
3. What industries use ROVs and need 3D imaging?
RC: Our initial focus was the offshore oil & gas industry, but more ROVs are being used in the wind generation industry, which is exciting. A wide range of industries can benefit from ROV3D®-Surveyor, including environmental monitoring, archaeology digs, tourism, municipal infrastructure such as dams and wharfs, harbour security, and of course the military for locating and destroying mines.
4. What sets your technology apart from others?
SB: We built the world’s first live 3D video inspection system, which captures the shape and appearance of the world using ordinary underwater video cameras. You can record the shape of the scene, and fly around it later on, just like in a 3D computer game. Industries can measure structures and perform simulations without “fast-forwarding” and “rewinding” video. It’s a completely new way of doing things!
5. What’s the best thing about being an entrepreneur?
SB: The lack of money and sleep, and of course the stress. Ultimately your success or failure is a factor of your own effort, drive and perseverance.
6. Biggest lesson learned to date?
RC: Business is all about relationships so cultivate those relationships; and don't be afraid to seek help when you need it. If you commit to something, make sure you can deliver. Learn to say ‘no.’
7. Best piece of business advice you’ve gotten?
SB: Start your first business before you have a family.
RC: I realized I needed to realign my thinking towards the value proposition and what the customer wants.
8. Who inspires you?
SB: Ben Horowitz . He wrote The Hard Thing about Hard Things. Great book! For a scientist, Richard Feynman was a genius. He could really think outside the box.
RC: Jean Béliveau could rally his teammates, on the ice and in the organization's front office, to perform at their best. He was a great ambassador for the Canadiens hockey team. My grandmother, Laura Monette, kept her household (a busy one), farm and small family businesses operating through difficult times. My good friend Phil Graham, for his industry expertise and calm demeanor.
9. What’s the best part about being at the Genesis Centre?
RC: There’s a great sense of community. I value the exchanges with other entrepreneurs, witnessing the evolution of budding early start-ups, the mentorships and the many workshops.
10. What’s next for Whitecap Scientific?
SB: We’re very focused on sales and marketing and rolling out our product. We have our work cut out for us to educate the industry that a new and improved way of doing things is now available. We will hustle, onward and upward, and straight on till morning.