10 to Watch Winner: Barnacle Systems

Recognizing that marine technology was falling behind the lucrative advancements in smart-home tech, Barnacle Systems looks to dominate the remote-monitoring and security market for recreational boats.

Brandon Wright. Photo by Jeffrey Bosdet.

Like many good stories, Barnacle Systems’ starts on a dark and stormy night — in January of 2017, when Brandon Wright’s sailboat broke its moorings in Mill Bay. After securing his boat, Wright immediately started researching the options for remote monitoring. To his surprise, he found nothing like the smart-home products flooding the market. Like any good entrepreneur, he took it upon himself to develop the product he needed.

“Our niche is security and monitoring for recreational boats that are being left at marinas or on mooring balls,” Wright says. “We developed BRNKL, a hardware product for boaters who need to check in on their vessel from their smartphone, tablet or computer. Like a home security system for your boat, BRNKL allows boaters to see inside of their vessel with an onboard camera while monitoring critical alerts such as high-water alarms, low batteries, loss of shore power, and anchor-drag.”

Recently, as one of 20 companies in the Canadian pavilion, Barnacle Systems became the first marine electronics company to exhibit at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). And Pacific Yachting magazine named BRNKL the Best Innovation for 2019 in marine electronics.

“We’re currently working on wireless sensors for our product, and we’re also working on our fleet system — both should come out this year,” Wright says. “Barnacle Systems wants to ‘own Canada’ in the remote-monitoring and security market for boats.” 

A Q & A with Brandon Wright of Barnacle Systems

What was the scariest part of starting up?

I started the company with a line of credit against my house. And I have a wife and a three-year-old at home.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?

Listen to your customers. Talk to as many of them as you possibly can before you develop your product or start a business.

What book or podcast have you found inspirational?

Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff is a great book. And a podcast I really enjoy is This Week in Startups with Jason Calacanis.

What would you do differently if you could do it all again?

We launched our product at the middle market but our customers are primarily owners of the larger, expensive boats, so maybe launching the premium pro version first and then following up with the less-expensive version.

This article is from the April/May 2019 issue of Douglas.