Guest Post
By Rong Luo and Margaret Kuleshova


Propel GPS, a wireless M2M technology company founded in 2012, offers solutions for asset management including warehousing, location tracking and sensor monitoring, and has dedicated itself to the transportation, telematics, and logistics markets. As a young yet fast-growing company, Propel has made noteworthy accomplishments during the past two years by already serving three sub-markets within the transportation space, with over one-hundred customers and a high seven figure revenue expectation for 2014 after just one year in full operation. It’s team has received awards at prior companies such as Deloitte Technology Fast 50 #1 and 500 #2 Company for Virginia and North America, respectively, building an INC 500 Company and filing for an IPO from a basement start-up within two years of founding.

Rick Burtner, the CEO and founder of Propel, has been a guest lecturer for Dr. Larry Boyd’s Entrepreneurship class at Duke from 2007 to 2012. After class, he would get together with students during the DUhatch pizza dinners and provide entrepreneurial guidance and advice. Rick switched from teaching to becoming a recurring practicum employer supporter of the program after founding Propel.

Propel has been an evergreen sponsor for Duke’s Master of Engineering Management Program (MEMP) Practicum course and has offered numerous real world exposure and first-hand working experiences for the students. During this semester, the practicum team has been involved with social media marketing and has interacted with the Computer Science majors to co-develop a mobile application for their product.

DashBoks, a derivative product of the more advanced GPS fleet tracking, is aimed at parents who would like to track their teens’ location, speed, and when they enter certain areas through setting virtual fences called geofences. It is also aimed at tracking senior parents who suffer from Alzheimer’s or show early signs of dementia. The practicum team’s chief aim was to engage the target audience for this product and generate creative content to pull in greater engagement, conduct an analysis of competitors’ social media strategies, and assist in the application testing to improve user experience.

Members of the active practicum team are very excited to have the opportunity to continually work at Propel during the summer as interns. In the meantime, Propel is looking forward to opening the door to all Duke students who have the passion for entrepreneurship. Internships are opening for computer application programming positions and social media positions during the fall term.

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