“Customers get what we’re doing”: How Ping secured its first international contracts, and made its mark on the global wind farm scene

Ping Services

Ping Services co-founder and chief Matthew Stead. Source: supplied.

Aussie IoT wind turbine monitoring startup Ping Services has secured a string of sizable contracts with US wind farms, as it ramps up production to meet global demand for renewable energy tech.

Founded in 2018, Ping produces Internet of Things (IoT) ‘listening devices’ for wind turbines. Its flagship Ping Monitor product magnetically attaches to the tower of a turbine and alerts maintenance staff if an anomaly is detected in the sounds it’s making.

It means damage to the wind turbine can be identified early, and repaired before it gets too pricey.

In July this year, the startup raised $1.3 million in a funding round led by Aussie VC Artesian, bringing its total funding to date to $2.25 million.

Since then the startup has completed a product launch, building a new version of the system that can be manufactured at scale.

“Now we’re able to really ramp up production,” co-founder and chief Matthew Stead tells SmartCompany.

He’s also secured the business a foothold in the US, securing two confirmed orders for about 150 units apiece, for 12-month contracts, at wind farms in the states, plus verbal confirmations for two more similar-sized deals.

Those deals add up to between $50,000 and $60,000 in revenue, plus the ongoing recurring revenue from the subscriptions, Stead says.

The expansion is a big deal for the South Australian startup.

Firstly, the US market is much bigger than the Aussie one, he explains.

But it’s also structured slightly differently.

“In the US, the operators of the wind farms tend to maintain the wind farms.”

In Australia, he adds, that’s not necessarily the case.

“It’s a subtle thing, but it means it’s easier for us to get traction in the US.”

This string of deals could also lead to interest from other parts of the world.

Already, Stead is fielding interest from wind farms in South America and Europe, including from one of Europe’s largest onshore wind farms.

The system has been designed to work pretty much anywhere in the world, and can be serviced from Australia, he says.

“The positive excitement is spreading around the world … We’re just seeing where it goes.”

When customers just ‘get’ it

This is a business Stead has been working on tirelessly for two years, securing grant funding and tinkering it to perfection. Now, seeing business ramp up so fast is exciting, he says.

Still, like many founders, he’s also working long days, and talking to prospective clients in various time zones. It can be hard to take a step back and enjoy the ride.

“But it is good that the hard work from the team is starting to pay off,” he says.

He’s also finding he doesn’t have to spend too much time explaining what Ping is doing, and why it’s beneficial for wind farm operators.

“Customers are getting what we’re doing, which is great,” Stead says.

“People are hearing about us, they get the idea, and they want to understand how it can work for them,” he explains.

It’s validating, he adds. In fact, people are even reaching out asking if the technology could work in other industries — on conveyor belts or industrial pumps, for example.

“Some people really have to do a hard sell on their product. But the thing I love is that our customers get what we’re doing,” Stead says.

“It makes it easier to talk to them about it.”

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