Rubix Solutions, a St. Petersburg company with blockchain technology for defense contractors, is aiming to transform the supply chain.
The work could protect national security and save lives, said Matt Schuerman, founder and CEO of Rubix Solutions, and a veteran of the defense contracting industry.
The one-year-old company officially launched BlockTrack, its blockchain asset tracking and management platform, last month in Washington, D.C.
Blockchain offers a digital platform for recording and verifying transactions. It is most frequently associated with cryptocurrency, but it’s been used by companies ranging from Walmart, which tracks supplier shipments to improve food safety according to Tech Crunch, to CVS Health, with a project to publish tamper-proof medical credentials for patients to check out their doctors, Forbes reported.
In the defense contracting industry, Schuerman sees three key benefits of blockchain.
Protect the supply chain. It would provide better visibility in supply chain and mitigate counterfeit parts from entering the supply chain through a verification process. The defense department is highly susceptible to the introduction of counterfeit parts, which can risk national security and the lives of those who protect it, Schuerman said. He cited a 2012 CNN report on a U.S. Senate investigation that concluded “a flood” of counterfeit parts, mostly from China, was being used in U.S. military equipment.
Increase audit readiness. The defense department and defense contractors are under constant audits from various agencies. By logging transactions on a ledger that cannot be changed, BlockTrack software is able to automate a lot of the tracking processes audited by these agencies. The software displays a dashboard that actually shows the contractor if they are meeting requirements that get audited by these agencies, Schuerman said.
Automate tracking. It’s estimated that more than half a million subcontractor and suppliers support the defense contractor supply chain. Many of these subcontractors acquire U.S. government property and visibility and accountability is minimal. Blockchain technology can automate the tracking process and give true data insights to the defense department and contractors, he said.
Rubix Solutions has tested the technology in several demonstrations and pilots with defense contracting and research organizations. Schuerman did not want to identify those groups, because he doesn’t want to jeopardize any potential deals.
He’s also worked with Stanford University, which requested a private demonstration during the Washington, D.C. launch.
“Stanford currently manages over 88,000 U.S. government-owned assets under their research contracts and said this software could really help them. Their property team stated that they are very excited to see how this technology continues to progress and could potentially see a use for it at their campus in the future,” Schuerman said.
Stanford called the BlockTrack platform “the Amazon of government asset management technology” because of its advanced features and interface, according to Schuerman.
Rubix partnered with Columbus, Ohio-based Sunflower Lab, which built the platform using the latest Java and Angular technologies, according to a news release. Another Rubix partner is Coplex, a Phoenix-based accelerator program.
“Coplex is not an investing partner in the company but they do have some equity in the company in exchange for being in their program. They were among Inc. magazine’s top seven accelerators in the nation so it’s not an easy program to get accepted into,” Schuerman said.
He said he bootstrapped the pre-seed and development process so that he could hold on to a large ownership stake and make a seed round more appealing to investors. Once Rubix has more revenue, Schuerman expects Coplex to provide support in raising a seed round through its venture capital network of more than 150 people.
Rubix is one of a growing number of blockchain companies in the Tampa-St. Pete area, including SKUxchange, a blockchain company that aims to eliminate fraud and create more transparency for retailers, brands and other businesses that deal with coupons. Both Rubix and SKUxchange are located at the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, a a business incubator and coworking center in downtown St. Petersburg.