As a research and development firm without contracts, it has yet to post any revenues.
A $2 million investment from the state of Texas, expected later this year, will see SecureOrigins issue warrants equal to a 10 percent stake in the company, which would give the firm a current value of $20 million.
Fruit Juice Dry Run
Customs already has confronted the problem of border delays with its two passenger traffic programs – Sentri and Fast Pass. These programs, created with low-risk daily crossers in mind, utilize transponders and are now implemented border-wide but not at every crossing. They require drivers to register, pay additional fees, and use the same vehicle daily. Even then, Customs still has the option of stopping one of these preferred drivers for any reason.
The service, however, does not have an equivalent offering for commercial entries.
In a dry run, Novamex, the Mexican transporter of Jarritos-brand soft drinks, allowed SecureOrigins to devise – and then audit – a security plan that would ensure safety and efficiency. For several months, SecureOrigins became the brain behind and inspector of every fruit drink shipment.
Not only did SecureOrigins assist in security measures at the Mexican plant, but it then installed cameras at loading docks, and "locked" the cargo using intelligent software agents, or ISAs, developed by SecureOrigins.
ISAs, automated software modules which feature so-called "intelligent interaction," offer real-time, around-the-clock monitoring and decision-making in areas that are data-rich and yet require minimal human intervention. The SecureOrigins ISA platform includes GPS tracking and surveillance, Web cam coverage of roadways, and a geographic information system with interactive digital, aerial, and satellite maps.
The Jarritos cargo followed a pre-plotted route map to Mexican customs, U.S. Customs, and then to its U.S. warehouse. But it didn't stop there: The same program then followed the empty trailer back to Mexico.
All of this could be viewed on large-screen monitors at SecureOrigins's facility in downtown El Paso. With up-to-date images of Ciudad Juarez and El Paso superimposed on the screen, little is left to the imagination.
Alarms are activated with the slightest deviation in plans.
Pity the poor driver who wanders from his route, or the moment any unauthorized party tries to tamper with a door on the trailer. "We have one driver who didn't realize the sophistication of the program and wound up explaining why he had taken time to visit a girlfriend," Mr. Holguin recalls.
A second prototype of the system has been tested successfully in following shipments from the Port of Ensenada to the U.S. border near San Diego.
Veterans and Recruits
The Holguin solution to expediting trade safely starts with hiring the best engineers – many of whom have worked with him for decades – and finding four top-notch students, all still two years shy of earning their degrees, to work directly under them.
"We assign students a task we know can't be done, and in two to three months they show up with the job done and ask what else we have for them," Mr. Holguin says. "It never fails." The veterans' experience and the youthful energy and innovation from students at Texas, New Mexico, and Ciudad Juarez universities lay behind the Novamex project.
SecureOrigins is in the process of moving into a new facility equipped with a $10 million data center.
Just two blocks from its current facility, the site will allow students from University of Texas, El Paso to participate in launching Internet 2, the next generation of the Internet. It will also enable the university "unprecedented collaboration opportunities" with 80 Mexican universities and research centers.
Less than a year ago, the six governors of Mexican border states and four governors of U.S. border states endorsed SecureOrigins by name and have advocated its implementation. Following intense competition, the Emerging Technology Fund of the State of Texas has tentatively announced a $2 million investment.
SecureOrigins has been told that it ranks high on wish lists in California government, which has just issued general obligation funds to improve state and local transportation.
Once a California-Mexico corridor opens up, Mr. Holguin's two-decade relationship with another university, the California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo will come into play. A spinoff of the university, CDM Technologies, will provide research for SecureOrigins.
In today's market, Mr. Holguin believes that SecureOrigins holds a one-year lead over anyone else interested in starting up a similar company. "It used to be that you could count on a three-year jump, but that has come down dramatically," he says.
Keeping that technological lead will be one of the group's goals, but where masters and students have daily contact, there will always be exciting corollary projects for entrepreneurs at heart, Mr. Holguin says.
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