When Brian Carey launched Lower Manhattan startup Knaq in 2017, the engineer and Stanford research fellow planned to develop monitoring devices for industrial equipment including wastewater pumps and compressors. But the first client he landed was a tiny elevator company in New Jersey. And thus his long ride began.

“I never thought in a million years I would know this much about elevators and escalators,” Carey says now.

Exploring the industry, he discovered something wild: There were no devices on the market that could send real-time status alerts to elevator and escalator operators. Hospitals, transit agencies and lots of other institutions were still relying on customer complaints or a daily maintenance check to learn when a people mover was on the fritz.

Now Knaq provides elevator, escalator and moving-walkway monitoring services to a dozen clients operating more than 1,000 people movers, largely in the New York area. The company’s devices send instant text or email alerts to operators as soon as the equipment stops running—potentially eliminating hours of downtime.

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