Fredericton-based Potential Motors is building innovative AI-driven software solutions for the next generation of electric off-road vehicles. CEO and Co-Founder Sam Poirier says the real disruption happening in the automotive sector in recent years has been in software.
“The biggest underlying shift in the industry now is a move away from the hardware being the value in these vehicles towards the software,” he says. “What we’re focused on is what future vehicle architecture looks like in terms of how a vehicle is controlled, how it responds to steering input, how the suspension accelerates, and more. This is the future of off-road driving.”
An Exciting Sector
It’s an exciting space to work in, particularly from New Brunswick, where we have access to our amazing trail systems,” says Poirier. “It’s an industry that, like automotive, is rapidly switching to electric. We saw a clear opportunity to bring that future architecture of on-road vehicles to off-road vehicles. Off-road isn’t held back by many of the same regulations that are causing automotive to take a bit longer to move towards these more innovative ways of building this architecture.”
New Funding From Major Players
February saw the company announce a second funding round of $4.07 million CAD, with existing investors Build Ventures, Brightspark Ventures, and the NBIF now joined by Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff’s TIME Ventures.
Poirier says this new funding will help Potential move their technology from the simulation phase to a platform meant to showcase their solution, and that means their team of 21 will continue to grow. “It certainly means the team will expand. We’ve already hired a digital marketing manager, and we have several postings for a vehicle test engineer, embedded software developer, and computer vision and AI software engineer.”
He says the lure of working in an exciting space, with a chance to collaborate with some of the province’s best tech mentors should entice top talent to join the company. “I think we’ve done a great job building a company culture where people are open to new ideas. It’s a culture where, despite the high level of complexity the work demands, stress levels aren’t too high. I think that comes from the fact that we’ve brought on such good people already and have such tremendous advisors.”
New Brunswick’s Thriving Tech Ecosystem
“The entrepreneurial community in New Brunswick and Fredericton is fantastic for a young technology company like Potential Motors,” says Poirier. “We have Radian6 co-founders Marcel LeBrun, Chris Newton, and Chris Ramsey involved as key advisors and that has been incredible. To have consistent contact with people that have walked this path already, it’s invaluable. It’s helped us dodge common mistakes early-stage companies might make.” (Radian6 was acquired by Benioff’s Salesforce in 2011, the same year Newton’s Q1 Labs was acquired by IBM.)
Poirier credits organizations like Ignite Fredericton, the University of New Brunswick’s TME program (from which he and his three co-founders first launched the company), and ONB as playing key support roles as well. “These groups do a great job getting everyone in the entrepreneurial space connected and collaborating,” he says. “Yes, it’s a small place, but everyone is willing to pitch in and help growing startups like ours. We are lucky to have great support and work in a space like off-road technology that fits so well with New Brunswick. It’s a large but often overlooked industry and we can’t wait to leverage this new financing to grow our team and move to the next level.”
Learn more about joining the Potential Motors team by visiting their careers page.
Images via Potential Motors