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Seabotix Rugged, Capable, Compact ROV's.

Scott Bentley
VideoRay President and Founder

The idea for VideoRay started when Bob Christ invited Scott Bentley to be the best man at his wedding. Bentley agreed, and then Christ explained that the wedding would be at the North Pole. The wedding party would have to skydive in to the ceremony.

While at the North Pole, Christ and Bentley began discussing a small ROV that Russian engineer friends of Christ’s were tinkering with. Christ suggested Bentley look into starting a company to manufacture and sell microROVs. When they returned from the trip, Christ and Bentley began to research the idea. They located a company in Canada and licensed the technology. VideoRay opened its doors in August 1999. Before then, Bentley was one of five brothers operating Bentley Systems, a computer-aided design software company in Exton, PA.

Change of focus early on

VideoRays were first targeted as a recreational toy, but quickly the management changed courses “We soon switched our focus and started marketing the VideoRay as a tool for commercial divers,” Bentley says. “It was easier and more profitable.” After notable success in commercial industries, VideoRay is now in its fifth year of business and gearing up to launch a new VideoRay geared for the recreational market. The VideoRay Scout is half the price of the VideoRay Pro and will be produced in volume.

In general, VideoRay as a company has “lived a pretty charmed life,” says Bentley. He characterizes the growth of his company “like growing up. We experienced all the growing pains that occur as you go from a very small company with a few fixed expenses and everyone is looking to the future, to a more mature company with obligations and more fixed expenses.” The company has been profitable for the past two years.

Breaking paradigms

Bentley credits his brothers for showing him how to launch a new technology company from scratch. “Back in the mid 1980s, the PC-based computer-aided design environment was totally new and unique. It was quite a contrast to the computers and operating environments that had been developed up to that point,” Bentley explains. “With VideoRay, we also have a unique environment -- an 8-pound sub in a world where ROVs have always been large, heavy, and more difficult to maneuver.”

Bentley laughs as he recounts the many trade shows where people walk up to the VideoRay booth, see the tiny yellow sub, and ask where the real ROV is. “ It reflects what people have always thought of a remotely operated vehicle. It’s exciting to break the paradigm,” Bentley says.

Bentley says his greatest success in the business is discovering that “despite our most creative thoughts about where a VideoRay would be useful, our customers always take VideoRays to places we never dreamed: from inspecting sea beds from oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, to exploring caves in the Yucatan, surveying the USS Arizona battleship with the National Park service, to searching the Baltic Sea for a DC-3 airplane downed in 1952. With the right people, things can be accomplished with VideoRays that we never would have thought possible.”

Today, Bentley is comfortable stating that VideoRay is the undisputed leader in the micro ROV industry. As for the years ahead, Bentley again shows his training from years competing in high-technology markets. One of his favorite quotes is “Only the paranoid survive,” said by Andy Grove, Intel co-founder and chairman.

“We have the most capable units and we make the most sales,” Bentley says. “That said, we plan to work extremely hard to innovate and stay the leaders in our field. We are confident, but not cocky, about what’s next.” Bentley is following the course of another statement by Grove: “A fundamental rule in technology is that whatever can be done will be done.”

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