One month ago I left the comforts of a full-time job when I realized I was in a unique position to tackle this problem for propane-reliant homeowners. I love questioning things and building new solutions. Being a Professional Engineer gave me the confidence to tackle the problem.
When I was a kid I got in trouble a lot due to my curiosity and “tinkering”. Meaning I’d rather disassemble and reassemble my family’s VCR than watch movies.
I made a career out of confronting the status quo. For over a decade, I worked in software development identifying energy waste through meter and environmental data using remote connectivity to buildings.
Energy shortages aren’t going away, and that’s a big motivator for me to tackle this problem. Let me explain further. Last winter, there were energy supply shortages in many areas because the marketplace didn’t have the information it needed. Prices tripled in the Midwest. A timely notification to those folks with the measured tank capacity and a notification about the impending pricing increase would have motivated proactive purchasing and relieved the pressure on the nation’s distribution channels.
There’s another personal reason: Being my own boss is great! I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur to solve people’s problems. Optimizing Supply and Demand in the fuel delivery market helps everyone and that feels great.
This technology will reduce consumer’s costs and reduce delivery costs. Furthermore, I’m making sure people have the information they need to never run out while still making cost-effective purchases.
I discovered this problem after I purchased a house that uses propane. I had a lot of questions. Fuel deliveries were new to me. I needed to know where to buy, when to buy, contracts, tank-ownership, etc.
Even finding delivery companies in my area was tough. After hours of phone calls and complex spreadsheets, I signed a contract with the company in my area with competitive rates (at that time) and reasonable customer service.
Then in December 2013, I was out of town during the Polar Vortex. The extreme cold caused my tank to run out and my pipes froze. Flooding is the most prevalent insurance claim, but these nightmares are preventable. I re-read the fine-print from my delivery company, who claimed they were not liable for me running out.
I realized I wasn’t going out into the snow and checking my tank level as often as I should. But even better, I’d rather have reliable technology checking my fuel levels for me.
When my tank was filled, I was charged over $5/gallon – which was 80% more than my previous delivery! Even though my supplier said that all delivery companies in my area had price increases, I called around and got a quote for $3.80/gallon. But it was too late. If I had known this before my tank was refilled, I would have saved over $300 for that delivery alone.
It’s easy to overlook the value of that warning feature on your car. You know, the gentle alert of a bell or light that you’re tank is almost empty. Isn’t that a nice feature?
I think people should be empowered to use and buy fuel deliveries just like gasoline. That’s why I created Tank Utility and am bringing a remote monitoring system and price comparison platform to market.