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THE DRIFT 2020: Doing business without being ‘gross’

Software company MineIQ believes the new world of work is about passion
MineIQ is data aggregator that centralizes a mine’s functions into one system. (Colleen Romaniuk photo)

For Sudburian Jennifer Sloat, starting MineIQ was a bit of an experiment. 

After years as an employee at tech company Four Leaf Solutions, she knew she wanted to continue working and innovating within the mining industry to improve efficiency and safety through technology. 

But she also wanted to figure out whether or not it was possible to do business “without being gross.” 

A self-proclaimed “tree-hugger” who studied environmental biology at Laurentian University, Sloat developed a passion for sustainability early on in her career. 

After dropping out, she took some classes at Cambrian College and went on to study at the International School of Design and Technology in Toronto when she realized her passion for tech. 

“I ended up teaching at the school after, for a year, and then I just started taking opportunities wherever they came,” she said. 

She had the chance to lead an incubator in Toronto for youth businesses and entrepreneurs. The kids had a hand in developing websites and marketing strategies for some big names like Air Canada, RBC and TD Bank. 

Some of her time was also spent working in the TV/film industry. 

“It was always, for me, about the innovation,” she said of her motivation. “What’s next and what’s better and what’s cooler.” 

Sloat got her first experience in the mining industry after she moved back to Sudbury in 2008. The company that hired her didn’t know what to do with her résumé, but she spent five years at Four Leaf working in project management and information systems. 

The company closed down in 2013, which was “the spark” that led her to open her business. 

MineIQ is a data aggregator that centralizes a mine’s functions into one system. The software suite gathers, culls, and curates data taken from every available sensor and piece of technology in an underground mine. 

The technology was created as a white label product, and it can be tailored to a company’s needs. It’s available through subscription for an annual fee that gives the user access to the software and ongoing technical support. 

Sloat created the software because of her experience dealing with siloed systems in underground mines. She was often frustrated by how inefficient processes could be, and a lack of communication between different pieces of technology. 

In building her business from the ground up, she set herself a major goal. She sensed that the business world was changing, and she wanted to know if she could run a successful enterprise without “stepping on people.” 

Her philosophy relates to all aspects of her business. 

By creating MineIQ, she hopes to help companies around the world mine better, faster, and smarter. She also uses technology to try and limit her business’s carbon footprint by conducting virtual meetings with international clients. 

Her team members work from home and have the flexibility to spend time with their families and engage in other projects. 

“The new world of work is about passion,” Sloat said. “I had a passion early on and that’s why I can work so many hours in a day. I love what I’m doing. If I can engage the people around me to find something in their world that makes them passionate about what we’re doing, it makes for a better product.” 

MineIQ is currently working with Cambrian College’s applied research department to create a surface version of the software called D8tascape. 

To test the software, the Cambrian R&D team placed sensors throughout the college campus. By downloading an app, students can access campus maps and GPS locator services. 

In the future, Sloat wants to incorporate features like a panic button or a mechanism to summon a security escort. 

When working with the college, Sloat specifically asked to work with women and Indigenous students. Being committed to diversity in the mining industry is another way of doing business right. 

Moving forward, Sloat hopes to fully commercialize the D8tascape software, while still focusing on the foundation of her business. 

“The future of MineIQ will be smart, diverse, very technical, but simple,” she said. “I want to simplify everything so everybody can win.”

The Drift magazine features profiles on the people and companies making important contributions to the Northern Ontario mining service and supply sector. It is published annually and distributed at the Northern Ontario Mining Showcase during the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) conference in Toronto.