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Chesonis leads investment in Irish tech firm

Rochester Business Journal
February 17, 2012

A mobile device technology company based in Ireland is getting financial and technical support from people in the Rochester area.
 
The company, 10n2 Technologies, said this week that it had secured $1.5 million to help launch its anti-distracted-driving software in March. The investment was led by Arunas Chesonis, CEO of Henrietta-based Sweetwater Energy Inc. and co-founder of Paetec Holding Corp.
 
Chesonis is a member of the 10n2 Technologies board of directors, as is Keith Wilson, former chief financial officer of Paetec.
 
Software made by 10n2 focuses on safer driving and protecting drivers from the dangers of the road when attention is diverted by electronic devices, company leaders said. The software system can disable a cellphone while the user is in a moving vehicle.
 
Ciaran Hynes, CEO of 10n2, said enterprise and consumer versions of its software for Android and BlackBerry smartphones will be introduced in the United States and Europe next month.
 
Hynes established 10n2 with his founding partners in September 2009, having researched opportunities in the technology sector and identified distracted driving as an important global issue. The business has its headquarters in Dublin and has operations in Boston.
 
He said having Chesonis and Wilson on board gives the company additional contacts, particularly in the telecommunications business throughout the United States, as well as strong business and financial knowledge.
 
Chesonis first became aware of the business while at Paetec, where there was an investment fund for product or acquisition opportunities in fields that would have been complementary to Paetec. After leaving Paetec following its acquisition by Arkansas-based Windstream Corp., Chesonis decided to stay involved with 10n2, noting that its technology can be an important safety feature for mobile communications.
 
"There is very much a need for this service around the world," Chesonis said, and the 10n2 technology can reduce the number of driving accidents.
 
The software is deployed to smartphones through a Web-based administrative portal. It cannot be manipulated or disabled by the end user without the knowledge of the administrator.
 
Chesonis said he is impressed with 10n2 because the technology offers some options not found on other similar products. Those include an attention verification test that differentiates between a driver and passenger, allowing passengers to continue using their smartphones in a moving vehicle.
 
He also likes that the software can be customized to meet different customer needs.
 
Chesonis said his role at 10n2 as a board member will largely focus on introducing the company to potential customers and investors. The bulk of his time is going into developing Sweetwater Energy.
 
Sweetwater produces low-cost sugars in a water-based solution from non-food plant materials. This sugar solution is sold to refineries, which use it to produce biofuels, biochemicals and bioplastics.
 
Sweetwater employees will test the 10n2 software, as will employees of the University of Rochester and Rochester Institute of Technology.
 
"At the University of Rochester we are interested in technology that enhances our employee's safety; hence our interest in this pilot," said David Lewis, UR's vice president for information technology and chief information officer.
 
Distracted driving is recognized worldwide as a major cause of road deaths and injuries, 10n2 leaders note.
 
Many states, including New York, prohibit cellphone use and text messaging while driving, and in Europe, nearly all countries have banned the practice.


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