Dr. Grey Tarkenton, founder and CEO of Cartacoustics, LLC, created the concept behind the company at the end of 2015. After attending a presentation on 3D laser scanning, he conceived a similar process to find and position infrastructure underground by scanning with sound instead of light.
With that spark of inspiration, he built models for the sonde physics, the data processing, and the market. He formally established the company in the spring of 2016 with several friends knowledgeable in the technology and market. Initial testing occurred during the summer of 2016, and the first round of investor funding closed in the fall.
Over the winter of 2016-2017, Cartacoustics built the first working prototype and filed for our first patent. We tested this prototype throughout the spring and summer, learning a lot about sound in the ground. While testing, we developed the data processing algorithms and software needed to translate the raw acoustics into a map of the buried structures. We completed our first comprehensive acoustic survey in November of 2017.
2018 was a pivotal year as we attended several trade shows and showcased the technology to the broader marketplace. After the tradeshows and conducting several tests in Texas, we refined and simplified the product offering. We christened the reconfigured products Advanced Sonic Technologies, or AST.
ASTlive!™, the first production prototype, was a vertical sonde that measured the depth to structures directly beneath the cart. In a whirlwind of activity in August and early September, we built a complete ASTlive! prototype and showcased it at the Colorado 811 regional conference and it was a big hit!
We took ASTlive! on the road to a refinery on the Gulf Coast, booking our first significant revenue. On the way back, we visited various clients in Louisiana and Houston. Based on that momentum, we garnered a second round of investor funding at the end of 2018.
The first quarter of 2019 was a big push to design and manufacture production models of ASTlive! in time for a series of trade shows. We built two production models and simplified the user interface and the electronic equipment. Getting one to the trade show was a huge feat because shipping got interrupted by a spring-time blizzard in Denver. We successfully exhibited and got a very warm reception to the concept and product.
Immediately following the trade shows, we received a major contract to survey a section of a wastewater treatment plant and create a 3D BIM model of our results. This was the biggest project so far, and our acoustic map lined up with known structures and discovered some incognito buried infrastructure. The client was very happy with the results, and we have used this project to showcase the real-world capabilities of acoustic mapping.
We created two new map products out of this project: the 3D CAD model was one, and we realized that a simpler 2D representation called the DigSAFE™ Map could help address many issues in the marketplace with faster turn-time.
We have continued to market our products and services into 2020, with three significant events to-date. First, Cartacoustics, LLC technology is a finalist for the 2020 Abbott Innovative Products Award of the North American Society for Trenchless Technologies. Second, our products and approach were the subject of a blog post on a well-known industry innovation tracking site. And last, Cartacoustics will be featured in a segment of “Inside the Blueprint” a Fox Business educational program that features innovative technologies in the construction industry.
Grey has over 30 years of experience in multiple industries, including 17 in aerospace, 5 in oil and gas, and 10 years as a consultant in various industries (IT, telecom, municipal services). He earned a doctorate in physics from the University of Texas at Austin in 1996. Before that he earned two BS degrees magna cum laude in mathematics and physics from Virginia Tech in 1990, and an MS degree in physics in 1991 also from Virginia Tech.
These industrial and educational experiences developed deep technical expertise in remote sensing, cartography, acoustics, image processing, direction finding and computed tomography that form the technical foundations of Cartacoustics. He has successfully run projects ranging from small R&D projects starting around $0.5M up to large industrial projects valued over $100M adding a project management flavor to his experience. Cartacoustics is his 6th start-up company, which completes his executive experience with investor relations, business finance, corporate governance, staffing and organization building.
Grey kicked off Cartacoustics for a number of personal reasons. He is fascinated by carrying a mental idea for a technical solution to a real-world problem all the way through from conception to a stable, functioning company. He has been involved with various entrepreneurial activities before, and made his living off of consulting for half a decade, and tried to carry forward technology in the oil & gas business twice before. He wants to synthesize those experiences into a culminating project to establish a functional business. The second goal for Cartacoustics is an outlet for creating a functioning team. He has been part of great teams 4 times in his life and he wants to recreate that experience and try to institutionalize it. This is a challenge for such an individualist, but the times it worked, it gave him an emotional shot far beyond anything he was ever able to achieve on his own. The third goal is to improve our ability to protect people and buried infrastructure. The challenge of safely navigating and maintaining underground infrastructure is so big and the technical approaches so varied that the entire enterprise is absolutely fascinating and of fundamental importance.
Joe brings over 3 decades of wide-ranging professional experience to Cartacoustics.
Spurred by his curiosity about mechanical components and their relative-motion relationships, Joe earned an Associate Degree in Mechanical Design and began a career in product design and manufacturing engineering. During his engineering career he gained experience in numerous industries including medical devices, specialty automotive, recreational vehicle accessories, and industrial pneumatic equipment. While Joe enjoyed the challenges associated with each of these experiences and was highly successful, the short-term aspect of the positions did not fit with his burgeoning family life and he sought out more secure career opportunities.
Joe translated his engineering experience into helping find and place other technical professionals into new positions. Joe spent 15 years recruiting hundreds of engineers, technicians, surveyors, inspectors and contractors for direct or contract positions with clients spanning multiple industries. These experiences gave Joe a solid network of both sources and destinations for technical labor and honed his negotiation and sales skills.
Joe leveraged his success as a technical recruiter to move into a management role for a growing oil, gas and pipeline engineering firm. Joe’s efforts played a critical role in growing the company from less than 100 employees to over 300 in just 3 years. The company was acquired by a large multi-national engineering firm, and Joe was promoted into a business development role that allowed him to apply his relationship building skills, and to develop a keen understanding of technical marketing and sales processes.
Joe is now combining his core mechanical engineering, staffing and recruiting skills, and business development acumen into a capstone project called Cartacoustics. He is helping to propel Cartacoustics, LLC into a prominent role in multiple markets.
George C “Chip” Towner: Signal Processing
Patrick Barringer: Software Engineering
Justin Ray: Software Engineering
Jim Colosimo: Mechanical Engineering
Bill Braswell: Software & Data Management
Tom McRee: Sales & Marketing
Dennis Howe, Howe Creative: Graphic Arts
Barton Haase: Business & Operations Support
Peter Meza: Intellectual Property
Peter Gadkowski: General Counsel
Grey M. Tarkenton