My Personal Journey: Scientific Cofounder of a Tech Startup

Several years ago, I found myself, like many ecologists, botanists, and wetland scientists, wishing I had a way of automating data collection and computations during field assessments. The entire industry is very inefficient within the perspective of the 21st-century where so many industries have digitized. I tabled the idea initially, but it was always in the back of my mind. While there are some generic digital data collection tools available on the market, or very cumbersome tools tailored for specific project areas, no one had created any type of application for a mobile device or tablet that truly addressed an entire workflow within the industry - specifically for federally regulated wetland delineations in the United States.

Throughout my life I’ve seen the immeasurable benefits of exploring alternative viewpoints to gain perspective. Perspective leads to alternative approaches to problem-solving, which provides further perspective and the circle continues. I was not interested in just going along with the ways things operated in the environmental services industry, but sought to instead improve upon assessment and monitoring protocols.

For a business owner, it made way more sense to be able to complete work faster, with more accuracy, and with team data normalization. Time is money. With more time available, I could make more money by taking on additional work, or I could enjoy life and dedicate my free time to projects of the heart – conservation, ecotourism, music, preservation of traditional ecological knowledge, and more.

After sixteen years of success in the environmental services industry — with a focus in ecological assessments, botanical inventories, T&E surveys, wetland delineations, and ecological restoration — I decided that it was time to be an innovator. A friend introduced me to Lee Lance, with whom I cofounded Ecobot. Lee has over twenty years’ experience in user experience design, and enterprise software development, working in Silicon Valley and Washington DC, developing multiple solutions for various industries. Lee saw the immediate value and scalability of a technical application for the environmental industry. As scientists we don’t just need an app, we need a solution. And a truly effective solution requires full attention, and a team. So the journey began.

We chose to grow our company in Asheville, North Carolina, at The Collider, which is a mission-driven collaborative focused on solutions for climate change. By working in an office with other similar companies and like-minded people, we are able to explore partnerships we might not have otherwise, or not had access to. For example, another Collider member, FernLeaf, was instrumental in helping Ecobot to establish our partnership with Esri. After a year of private beta release to over 200 field scientists at over 50 companies, Ecobot is now available in the Apple App Store. Ecobot facilitated thousands of crystal-clear, spectacularly accurate wetland determination JD applications submitted to the Corps of Engineers. See what some of our customers have to say about Ecobot in the App Store Reviews.

Want to know our secret sauce? Here’s why this works. The two founders of Ecobot blend decades of highly-specific experience together: human-focused enterprise software and natural resources consulting. I’m the “eco” and Lee is the “bot”. And we’ve built more than just a great app; we’ve streamlined a workflow in a way that could only be done frominside the environmental consulting industry


Using Ecobot for wetland delineations does not require any training or a shift in traditional field/office methodologies, but instead augments wetland scientists’ workflow. When you unbox a new iPhone, do you first unfold the quick setup guide or read the manual? No, you do not because it does not exist. Beautiful technology is transparent in your work or in your life. That is the high bar we set for ourselves with Ecobot: tuck the tech into every nook and cranny of the existing workflow and eliminate time consuming workarounds. Ecobot is not a generic tool with lots of forms or a custom form builder, it is a precision-designed solution that enhances regulatory wetland delineations being conducted on public and private lands for the USACE. With our partnerships with Esri, and GPS companies like Trimble and EoS, we are the front runner for natural resource management planning, the digitization of data, and the modernization of this half-century old industry.

Inspiration and Drive is in Our DNA As a Professional Wetland Scientist (PWS), certified through the Society of Wetland Scientists, it is exciting to be a contributor to the betterment of wetland science and helping reduce the potential economic impact of the environmental regulatory services industry on our country’s growth while still protecting our nation’s natural resources.  It is an honor to be included as a peer among such a distinguished group.

I’m regularly in the field using whatever the next-to-be-released version of Ecobot is, ensuring that it’s going to be a delightful addition for our customers. In fact, we prefer to partner with our customers and prospective customers for this fieldwork — if you’re interested in teaming on a project to see how Ecobot can transform your workflow, email me.

Do you have a similar unexplored inspiration? We would love to hear your thoughts, comments, or ideas. You can comment below.

Engineered by the environmental consulting community and built in the heart of Asheville, NC.

Our award-winning platform is built on the expertise of our scientific advisors, customers and teammates. With amazing customer service and engineers dedicated to building reliable, intuitive software, Ecobot is at the forefront of innovation.

Ecobot is a cloud-based platform that optimizes data collection and management for environmental permits, supporting efficiency and accuracy during fieldwork and post-processing. Ecobot helps customers deliver data consistency across a distributed workforce and enables them to utilize data in a variety of contexts. Ecobot is used by customers at the top AEC (architectural, engineering construction) and natural resources consulting firms; by numerous counties, state and federal departments of transportation (DOT); the mitigation banking industry; and utility, energy, and oil and gas companies.

Ecobot Collector, the mobile app component of the platform, is available for iOS via the Apple App Store, and for Android devices on the Google Play Store. Ecobot is an Esri Partner.
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