When three Cal Poly students, now graduates, set out in 2011 to create a computer application that would allow users to track bus locations and schedules in real time, they didn’t know how far it would go.
Developers Zach Negrey, Jeff Brown and John Osumi — who had been Brown’s roommate at the time — embarked on the quest to make an Android app as part of Negrey and Brown’s senior project. Before long, it had become so popular with Cal Poly students that they were motivated to develop an iOS version for the iPhone.
During an app competition, as part of an iOS development class, Apple representatives stopped by and said: “We need this at Apple,” according to Osumi, CEO of Bishop Peak Technology.
Apple, the company’s first customer, used the app for its bus and shuttle system, which ferried employees from their homes to the Cupertino campus, he said.
“We had no idea, especially the direction that this has gone,” Osumi said. “We just thought it was a cool project. And when I jumped on, I thought it was just mobile apps, which is now the smallest part of the business.”
The venture became a full-fledged enterprise in 2012. Bishop Peak Technology is a San Luis Obispo-based software company that does data analysis and creates transit-specific mobile applications. Using these tools, transit managers and operators can track things including hours, locations, mileage, average speed, fuel consumption, status and overall performance of vehicles in their fleet.
They can analyze data to “streamline their operations and make them more efficient,” Osumi said.
Beyond transit, the firm’s software is being used by a large crane operator in the New York area, and there are plans to help cities better manage parking structures — including those in San Luis Obispo, which already use Bishop Peak’s software for its SLO Transit fleet. The firm is outfitting the city with its latest technology, the most recent being automatic passenger counters that track how many people are entering and exiting buses.
Bishop Peak’s portfolio includes First Transit, an Ohio-based company that provides public transit and transit management throughout North America, as well as the cities of Vacaville; Visalia; Carson City, Nevada; Ulster County, New York; and Missoula, Montana. The company recently signed on with an international project in Pune, India, where its software will help a conglomerate of tech parks manage its bus fleet, Osumi said.
And Bishop Peak Technology itself is on the move.
A year ago, the company had seven employees. Now, it has 15 and is looking to hire a few more, Osumi said. It recently moved into its office at the new SLO HotHouse space in downtown San Luis Obispo.
It’s not a traditional office environment — where people come and go, as well as work at off times and out of the office with their laptops.
“I’ve never gotten every single one of our staff in the same place yet,” Osumi said.
He said he isn’t sure what the future will bring but noted that the company doesn’t want to grow too fast or too slow. It has already had to turn down some business because it doesn’t have enough resources or working capital — something he hopes will change soon.
In the long run, Bishop Peak Technology is open to being acquired or going public.
However, Osumi said, “we have plenty of time to figure out which road we want to go down.”
“It has to be a strategic acquisition,” Osumi said, noting that the company wants to “change the face of public transportation. ... We won’t sell just for the sake of selling.”
Bishop Peak Technology
Business: Develops intelligent transportation systems for mass transit.
Year founded: 2012
Address: 869 Monterey St., San Luis Obispo
Web address: www.bishoppeaktech.com
Key executive: John Osumi, CEO since 2013; Jeffrey Brown, chief technology officer; Zach Negrey, director of user interface/user experience.
Number of employees: 15
Annual revenues/profits: Declined to disclose, but the company is profitable and reinvests in its operation. It has not taken outside investment, but will open its first round of fundraising in the next month.