Smart Solutions Redefining Safety and Security
Iowa insurtech startup IntelliSee creates AI software that sees the risk before you do
When football fans fill Iowa City’s Kinnick Stadium, they likely don’t notice the software working behind the scenes to keep spectators safe. IntelliSee, an AI-enabled risk-detection platform, scans live surveillance camera feeds to monitor for threats like weapons, trespassing, falls, unauthorized vehicles and other hazards. If something looks suspicious, it alerts security teams to respond immediately so fans can keep their focus on the field.
Launched in 2020 as a startup spun out of the University of Iowa, IntelliSee was initially conceived as technology to prevent school shooting events. Scott Keplinger was among a group of seasoned executives who emotionally connected with that mission. He not only invested but he became CEO of IntelliSee’s parent organization, Malum Terminus Technologies, Inc. in the company’s early stages given its potential to make the world a better, safer place.
“We recognize that this [risk mitigation function] is part of Iowa’s insurance legacy,” Scott said. “Through a single AI neural network, we're detecting multiple threats, from the commonplace to the catastrophic.”
Security cameras are ubiquitous in today’s environments, but Scott points out that footage is typically reviewed after an incident rather than as a preventative measure.
“Although there are surveillance cameras everywhere, nobody's watching,” he said. IntelliSee’s warning capabilities can run continuously, allowing clients to step in as soon as the system flags a threat and issues an alert.
Capitalizing on Connections
Before becoming an investor and entrepreneur, Scott took the “traditional corporate America route.” He began his career working for Nielsen in Chicago but Scott and his wife, who both grew up in Iowa and met at Iowa State University, wanted to return home to raise their kids.
Scott landed a leadership role in the Des Moines metro and worked at several large financial service companies before he and Greg Carstensen co-founded a capital investment firm, Asymmetria Group in 2014. They helped IntelliSee get off the ground with funding and professional management.
The entrepreneurial network he surrounded himself with helped shepherd IntelliSee from concept to commercialization. Participating in the 2021 BrokerTech Ventures cohort also gave the company greater connectivity with Iowa-based innovators.
“Insurance and benefits brokers are dealing with customers to help mitigate their risks,” Scott said. “They get it. Those connections and relationships led to quite a bit of our product development, contacts, and customers.”
He credits the insurtech relationships forged in Iowa’s startup ecosystem with influencing IntelliSee to think more broadly about the technology’s potential applications.
“[Cohort members] said, ‘This is an admirable goal, but here's the reality: Even if [school shooting events] are increasing, the odds are incredibly low. You're not going to really help on the day-to-day by protecting against those catastrophic risks,’” Scott said. “That was the inspiration for us to say, ‘We need to also protect against common things. Every organization faces issues with slips and falls, water damage, trespassing, or unauthorized entries.’”
Seed to Sustainability
Investments from the Iowa Economic Development Authority also aided in IntelliSee’s growth. The startup accessed assistance from the Innovation Continuum Fund, established with the purpose of supporting a business through every stage—from idea to launch, then through expansion.
That public funding plays a critical role for early-stage companies working to find footing in the marketplace. It’s paid off – IntelliSee was named the industry’s most innovative new product for 2022 by the National Systems Contractors Association. Beyond seed, Scott said he’d also like to see a system for connecting Iowa companies and contracts with local vendors to create even more long-term sustainability.
“The hardest thing for any startup—and we've funded several—is the first revenue,” Scott said. “The scales should be tilted toward an Iowa-backed startup that's leveraging Iowa taxpayer dollars.”
As Malum Terminus Technologies, Inc. (DBA IntelliSee) continues to expand, Scott’s team remains rooted in a purpose so profound that it can still make the CEO emotional.
“If you think of the problems that we're trying to solve, we can literally save lives,” Scott said. “Malum terminus is Latin for terminating evil. That's what drives us.”