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BTW W/ Joe Adelmann: From US Air Force to Startup Founder

Joe AdelmannFun fact: TrueMotion is not Joe’s first business venture. No, Joe’s entrepreneurial resume goes way back—to selling candy on the school bus. It was a very successful venture, as he recalls, but had a very instructive and impactful ending: his mom eventually caught him and forced him to donate the proceeds to charity.

Impactful is perhaps the best word to describe Joe’s childhood more generally. His father, a truck driver, was also an auto enthusiast. One of Joe’s favorite memories from growing up is riding alongside his dad in his dad’s Triumph TR7 (which subsequently became Joe’s upon graduation from college). That time in his life has resulted in several legacies: one is a love for the song Pretty Woman, which was on one of his dad’s oldies mixes, another is a dedication to safe driving—a legacy now actualized in the form of TrueMotion.

From Virginia Tech to Harvard

In fact, starting a company—and one focused on road safety—has always been in the back of Joe’s mind, but his path there wasn’t linear. After graduating from Virginia Tech (and majoring in Aerospace Engineering), Joe joined the United States Air Force, where he spent eight years in a variety of positions ranging from a Project Engineer in Massachusetts to an Executive Officer at Bagram Airfield. Having completed an MBA while in the service, Joe decided to supplement his education after he finished his service. He went for a Masters of Public Administration in International Development from the Harvard Kennedy School—with the ultimate goal of indulging his entrepreneurial spirit.

While at Harvard, Joe signed up for an entrepreneurism course (cross-listed with MIT), met Brad Cordova and the rest is history. Or rather, more than three years and much hard work later, Joe is now Vice President of Operations at the company that he and Brad started in order to apply technology to address a growing epidemic: distracted driving.

A Day in the Life of a Startup Founder

As both VP of Ops and Co-founder, Joe’s role is a lot broader than day-to-day operations. He has worked on everything from ops to engineering to program management to HR to business development. In TrueMotion’s early years, he even wrote a few lines of code. He loves that part about his job, superseded only by his enjoyment of the day-to-day work with great people at TrueMotion.

He himself certainly fits in with the ‘interesting and cool’ employee dynamic that drives TrueMotion. Music, for example, has always been a big part of his life and he has just recently picked up guitar as a new hobby. In addition to taking walks, mountain biking, reading, meditating and working out (as he puts it, it is important to stay fit both mentally and physically), he is also a professional at eating his wife’s cooking, which features specialties such as salmon with lime butter sauce.

Despite a couple of driving pet peeves (folks who are turning left out of a lane and refuse to let the cars behind them go by), Joe describes himself as a safe, situationally aware driver, always scanning mirrors and ready to react. That is both a result of having grown up the son of a trucker, his time in the military as well as having experienced his own distracted driving horror story: several years ago, Joe was biking along a road in Boston when the car next to him suddenly pulled off the road right into him – the result of a driver trying to figure out directions and pulling over—while looking at his phone.

Distracted and Unsafe Driving Affect Everyone

TrueMotion is on the front lines, increasing awareness of driving habits and reducing unsafe driving—both through consumers and insurance companies. In other words, Joe has successfully realized his dream to address that scourge and applied his long honed entrepreneurial chops in order to do so.

Five Fun Facts:

What do you do in your spare time? Mountain biking and reading

What is your favorite restaurant/pub/bar in Boston? Darwin’s LTD

What is one food item you cannot resist? Lasagna

iOS or android? iOS

Flying cars, teleportation or floo powder? Flying cars—they already exist!

 

Image source: http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/14/politics/gallery/air-force-fleet/

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