DOLI (Digital Oil Level Indicator) is the “Fitbit for machines,” monitoring the machine's vitals so the operator can focus on the work.
Allan Dikeman, president, graduated in 2009 from Spoon River College with a degree in diesel tractor technology. After completing an internship at Cross Implement, he worked at ARPL for six years, specializing in large engine validation testing. His passion for agriculture comes from helping family and friends throughout the years with their farming operations.
Travis Cage, COO, attended Illinois Central College after being honorably discharged from the U.S. Air Force, gaining degrees in electronics engineering technologies and industrial electronics technologies. After graduation, he worked for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and then as instrumentation and calibration engineer and quality manager for ARPL.
What is your company’s “elevator speech”?
Medium to large-sized farmers need a pre-emptive warning system on lubrication levels to prevent catastrophic failures. The current manufacturer’s solution provides a low-pressure warning, but by the time the pressure drops, damage has already started taking place to that component. It only takes five seconds to total an engine that is empty of oil. Repair cost of components can range from $3,000 to $60,000, and the time lost repairing the damage can add up to many days.
How did you come up with the idea?
Originally, the idea was to measure oil consumption for large OEMs [original equipment manufacturers]. Due to many reasons, the market was just not there. After coming up with a much smaller package, we realized we could implement a digital way of checking oil.
What makes your product unique or different from other solutions on the market?
DOLI has sensors monitoring lubrication reservoir levels and can pre-emptively warn the operator before catastrophic failure occurs. In addition, our product streamlines the startup procedures most farmers go through. We have estimated a savings of eight hours for the average farm during harvest.
What key milestones has your company achieved so far?
Our completed milestones include: creating a working prototype, filing a provisional patent, and finishing two accelerators: Keystart and Brave Launch.
Did you have assistance from local entrepreneurial resources, or were there other key individuals who helped you launch?
We participated in the Keystart program and received a Travel Grant from Startup GP. We were presenters at 1 Million Cups, and at Brave Launch, we received the Best Pivot Award. We have a lot of mentors in the surrounding area, including Josh Swank, Ross Miller, Nate Pritzker, Randon Gettys and others. Everyone has been so willing to take time to have a cup of coffee, listen, and then advise. They have even pointed to other resources that have been pivotal in our learning experience. By the way, I would be more than willing to help starting entrepreneurs get an introduction to the right people for their needs.
What key milestones do you hope to achieve in 2018?
We are working with the University of Illinois to apply for two Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants. We also need to hire some talent to help us get to a version-two prototype. This will help us achieve a Fall 2018 launch of a production unit.
What has been the biggest challenge so far on your startup journey?
The biggest challenge for first-time entrepreneurs is knowing when and how to start. Networking and finding mentors will help with the “how” part. As for when to start, most of the time the answer is now. Time is the greatest resource we have—make it an ally!
What advice do you have for other prospective entrepreneurs?
Find the entrepreneurial hub closest to you. If that means driving hours to meet with mentors, do it. If it means relocating yourself, do it. We are lucky to have such a great startup ecosystem here in Peoria. If it were not for people like Randon Gettys, Ross Miller, Kevin Evans and the list goes on, I would still be tinkering away and spinning my wheels. iBi
For more information, visit digitaldipstickcompany.com.