CTO, Pillar Technologies
As a student at Wentworth Institute of Technology, Matthew Joyal had gotten the wrong message about intellectual property. “They made it sound like a terribly boring topic that did not mean much to my career,” he recalls with a laugh.
Still, that didn’t deter him from his passion for inventing. While still in school, Matthew and his business partner, Alex Schwarzkopf, along with some classmates invented a sensor for concussion monitoring in sports. They weren’t able to gain as much traction in the market as they would have liked, so they shifted the sensor technology over to the construction industry.
The start-up company, Pillar Technologies, gained the support of angel investors, through which they were introduced to Peter Lando at Lando & Anastasi.
“For someone coming right out of college, I thought we would meet with our IP lawyers and sit around talking about a bunch of technical stuff,” he says. “Instead, Peter and his team led a much higher level conversation about our product, what we were creating, and how it would evolve over time.”
”Our IP is one of the pillars (no pun intended) of our company. We were asked to think about how our technology roadmap may change in the coming years,” Matthew continues. “They also had a wealth of knowledge about sensors and related technologies that help refine our strategy. It was an approach that I never imagined was possible with an IP law firm.”
Pillar Technologies’ end users are insurance, general contractors, and property owners who are engaging in commercial, healthcare, and multifamily construction projects. The sensors continually monitor environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity, and dust at the site, increasing safety for the workers and overseeing the work site for damaging conditions.
“On a job site on the East Coast, our sensors were picking up low temperatures happening at the same time of day over two weeks,” Matthew explains. “We sent this information to the general contractor, which led them to fix an issue that would have led to a pipe bursting due to the low temperature. That would have cost the contractors massive amounts of money in the nearly finished building.”
“At another construction site, a carbon monoxide alert went off one day,” he says. “There was a worker painting with a gas powered spray gun inside an enclosed space with poor ventilation and the CO spiked. Contractors were able to bring in fans and mitigate the issue before something bad happened to the worker. For this client, we were able to beat the off-the-shelf options that were installed prior to our presence onsite.”
“We have been granted four utility patents around our product,” Matthew says. “And we’ve been able to expand off of that IP foundation into other potential products.”
“For investors, having a robust IP portfolio has value and is critical for the rapid growth of the company,” he continues. “With the help of Lando & Anastasi, we have been able to impress our board members with our patents and trademark strategy. It’s been a success working with them. They really understand us as entrepreneurs and as business owners.”