Making Travel Healthier: A Game-Changing Disinfectant Technology and a Global Airline
In 2018, Delta connected with Vital Vio, a startup that produces safe antimicrobial LED lights that continuously kill bacteria on surfaces. Vital Vio’s lights are only about 20 percent more expensive than a traditional light and continuously disinfect surfaces anywhere from an office to a locker room or even a commercial aircraft.
While Delta’s innovation team was interested, they knew that a pilot with a global airline would require cross-divisional support and executive sponsorship, not to mention ensuring that the startup was ready to engage at enterprise-scale with Delta. So, they introduced Vital Vio to Engage.
“We told Vital Vio’s CEO Colleen Costello that one of the best ways to get that executive buy-in to push this forward was Engage,” said Vikram Rajagopalan, Innovation Strategy Lead at Delta. “That paved the execution path.”
Throughout Engage’s go-to-market program, the team worked with Vital Vio to help navigate the challenges of an enterprise engagement. After months of technical, operational, and regulatory work, Vital Vio’s lights were successfully aircraft-certified and installed in a Boeing 757 airplane. The Delta team is continuing to put together a scope for a larger fleet rollout strategy of the disinfectant technology.
Finally, Delta expanded upon their commercial relationship by directly investing in Vital Vio’s Series A financing. The airline wanted to ensure direct alignment of their mission as they build upon their partnership.
Creating A New Generation of Retail: National Retail Brands Gain Shopper Visibility With AI
The ability of brick-and-mortar retail to adapt to a changing consumer landscape is reliant on technology, specifically the kind of tools that can allow physical locations to compete with the prevalence of online shopping and e-commerce. Deep North’s artificial intelligence-powered platform, which applies computer vision and data analytics to the video pulled from a store or venue’s existing camera system, empowers this next-generation of physical retailers.
Unlike other solutions that track non-visual cues like cell phone data, store beacons, Wifi usage, etc., Deep North analyzes visual cues like checkout wait times, shopping cart abandonment, customer sentiment, and shopping patterns. This is critical data to a retailer trying to predict and optimize shopper experience — and they do it all while protecting Personal Identifiable Information (PII) and complying with the GDPR and CCPA.
Prior to investment from Engage, Deep North was already working with several national retailers and large venues, transportation hubs, and arenas. Within the first few months of joining the Engage platform, Deep North met with all relevant Engage corporate partners and kicked off a pilot with national retailer The Home Depot.
The Deep North team took advantage of the Engage platform to build relationships with corporate partners beyond commercial contracts. In spring 2020, both The Home Depot and Delta Air Lines joined Engage and other venture firms in the company’s $25 million Series A funding round.
“With the support of respected global brands, we are confident that our platform is truly enabling the experiential retail that customers are demanding,” said CEO Rohan Sanil following the Series A.
Engage Expert Council Co-Lead Champions Supply Chain Startup
In Fall 2019, Engage established a cross-corporate Expert Council on Supplier Diversity. Engage Expert Councils aim to bring together domain experts and business unit leaders from our 11 corporate partners and Georgia Tech, to share best practices and create collaborative goals,
In addition to the cross-corporate learnings, the Expert Councils serve to activate new corporate representatives and bring them into the fold of the Engage platform. We identified two high-level corporate leaders — Johnny Howze, III, Southern Company Gas’s VP of Supply Chain Management, and Kris Oswald, Director of Supplier Diversity at UPS — to serve as Co-Leads of the Council on Supplier Diversity.
Johnny and Kris developed a close relationship with the Engage team and a deep understanding of the Engage mission. And when Johnny learned that Engage startup Verusen, a supply chain vendor management platform, was a potential new software vendor for Southern Company, he took ownership of the relationship.
Johnny connected the Verusen team to the right internal contacts at Southern Company and they were able to push through a paid pilot in two weeks, for which Verusen credits Johnny as a critical champion. Meanwhile, Johnny and his team have stayed deeply involved in the Engage network, joining as experts and resources for entrepreneurs going through the Engage Program.
“Southern Company’s relationship with Engage facilitated connections between my Supplier team and corresponding teams at the other leading corporations in Atlanta,” said Johnny. “One big focus of the Engage Expert Council on Supplier Diversity is the importance of fostering vendor relationships with small business, including startups. So when I learned that Verusen, a startup in the Engage portfolio, was approaching Southern Company with a pilot opportunity, I was pleased to be able to get involved and push it forward.”