W. Hartford app maker gains ground in utility market

BY Matt Pilon

HBJ Photo | Matt Pilon
HBJ Photo | Matt Pilon
IRestore's chief commercial officer Michael Haeflich (left) and CEO Deepak Swamy (right) at the app maker's West Hartford office. (Far right) A home screen view of iRestore's app.
When a vehicle strikes a utility pole, police, firefighters and an ambulance could be dispatched to the scene.

The process leading to the eventual pole repair can be a game of telephone, according to Michael Haeflich and Deepak Swamy, chief commercial officer and CEO, respectively, of West Hartford-based iRestore.

One of those first responders will radio the police dispatcher to notify the utility company about what they're seeing on the ground, and the utility dispatcher will, in many cases, send out a spotter truck to assess the damage.

Spotters might decide that more equipment and workers are needed, such as a digger derrick truck to lift and set a new pole.

Depending on the scenario, the process can be inefficient.

"It's this whole game of missed information," said Haeflich, who is iRestore's top man in the Northeast, where the company's suite of first responder and utility worker mobile apps has been gaining ground over the past two years, amassing over 4,000 total authorized users, it said.

The company's flagship app is called First Responder. It's sold to utilities, which distribute free user licenses to local police and fire departments, allowing first responders to provide details about the damage and snap a photo that is then sent to the appropriate mix of local utility personnel, complete with GPS coordinates.

"The utility now has eyes on the scene way ahead of the troubleshooter getting there," said Haeflich, who previously worked as an emergency coordination director at Eversource.

The company's executive and advisory team blends utility and tech backgrounds. Swamy previously worked for Infosys, where he helped launch an app platform.

IRestore's pitch to utilities is that its apps can make the repair process more efficient, saving time and money.

So far, it has licensing deals with Unitil and Liberty Utilities in New Hampshire, and it booked a big win in 2016 when it signed up National Grid, which has deployed iRestore's First Responder app in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York. Swamy and Haeflich hope that deal will cause others to take notice.

The duo, who met through a mutual work acquaintance, said they have approached Eversource and Avangrid about their apps, but haven't yet landed any Connecticut business.

Regardless, they hope to add several sales and marketing jobs here this year.

While the Northeast has been their focus, calls have started coming in from other states and even Canada, Swamy added.

Swamy and Haeflich declined to provide financial information, but they said the contracts they've signed so far are worth millions of dollars. The company, which is technically domiciled in San Jose, Calif., where Swamy founded it six years ago, has about 15 employees, including a handful that work out of a LaSalle Road office.

IRestore's backing thus far has come from angel investors.

"Certainly, Connecticut and New England are going to be important to our growth strategy," Swamy said.