By Sharon Aschaiek
Special to The Sun
Two innovative young entrepreneurs who've developed a one-of-a-kind gauge for motorcycles and cars have won a 2005 Ontario Best Business award.
Nathan Philips, left, and Cory Chobanik are the founders of Nonlinear Engineering Inc. The company's driving product is Veypor.
Cory Chobanik and Nathan Philips, both 28, are the principals of Nonlinear Engineering Inc., an Ottawa-based automotive performance electronics provider for the North American marketplace. Their driving product is Veypor, an advanced gauge and data tool that was named the 2004 Best Piece of Hardware by Superbike Magazine.
"We were immediately flattered. It felt nice to be recognized, because we feel we're doing a lot of unique things with our business," Philips says.
The awards are issued by the Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF), a nationally registered charity that funds young people with great business ideas. While the pair didn't win the national $20,000 prize at the Toronto award gala last month, they were nonetheless honoured to rank among more established nominees.
"The fact that we're a small company with a couple of part-time employees competing against major corporations was impressive," Cory Chobanik says. "The actual winner has been in business for seven years, while we've been operating for just two years."
Nonlinear Engineering is a fitting name for a company that has forged an untraditional path to success. The pair introduced Veypor to the North American market a little more than a year ago, and the product almost instantly resonated with motorcycle enthusiasts.
Veypor's mass appeal stems from its ability to track more functions than any other comparable product on the market. It allows the timing of 0 to 60 seconds and quarter-mile runs while displaying real-time speed, RPM, HP, torque, acceleration and distance. Graphing functions plot the data sets for current runs and up to six saved runs.
Equally as appealing is Veypor's low $270 price tag, which is far cheaper than most comparable products.
By this past February the company had generated $220,000 US in annual sales, and the pair expects that figure to climb to three quarters of a million by next year.
"Initially we thought our customers would be just sport bike users -- but it's everyone. The market is so broad," Chobanik says. "Our customers include Harley owners, cruiser guys, sport bike owners, even people with mopeds and seadoos. There are so many features to the product that there's something for everyone."
It's a spectacular start for a company that just two years ago was little more than a gleam in the eye of Philips, then completing an electronic engineering degree at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan. Chobanik was also there completing a computer science degree. After they both graduated in April 2003, the pair, only acquaintances at that point, decided there was enough substance to the product Philip had started developing as a hobby to start a joint business.
With Philip's sizzling idea, Chobanik's entrepreneurial know-how and $65,000 in seed funding from the CYBF and the Business Development Bank of Canada, the two embarked on an intensive seven-month research and development process. This included establishing relationships with overseas manufacturers to produce the product cost-effectively.
They introduced Veypor to the world at the 2004 annual International Powersports Dealer Expo in Indianapolis, Ind., the mother of all trade shows in the industry. Several interested distributors approached their booth, and soon after the show they began experiencing a steady stream of phone calls with order requests.
Today, 90% of their growing customer base can be found across the pond in Europe, which features a much larger demographic of avid motorcyclists.
"They love our product in Europe. There's more of a motorcycle market over there," Chobanik says.
Chobanik and Philips have already developed a second-generation Veypor and have also created a Veypor suitable for cars (to find out more, visit www.veypor.com
"There are bigger and better products on the horizon, and bigger partnerships we're establishing," Philips says. "It's going to be a tremendous year."
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