The DL - Episode 15 - Pocketfleet
In the latest episode of The DL, Diesel Laptops Founder and CEO, Tyler Robertson, is joined by Don Laverdure from Pocketfleet Diagnostics. Topics of conversation included getting shanghaied on a ship, competing with eBay pirates, ultimatums, and the birth of Diesel Laptops.
As a young man, Don quit school which did not sit well with his father. His dad, a Navy engineer, promptly dropped Don off on a ship where he began work the same day and continued there for three years.
Don eventually joined the military and went back to school, learning computer programming. He started dabbling in programming by creating applications for Pocket PCs to make beer money.
Programming with Purpose
After he left the military, Don began working in the truck industry. While working on an International Truck with a Detroit Diesel Engine, he was frustrated because he could not diagnose the truck as International’s software did not have coverage for Detriot Diesel.
He thought “this is ridiculous. Why can’t I have software that works on everything?”
So he sought out to develop software that every mechanic could afford as it would be priced about the same as an impact gun. With a basic knowledge of C programming languages, Don bought a few computer engineering books to learn more about programming.
Since the internet was a pretty new thing at the time, Don was able to subscribe to the Society of Automotive Engineers website and download technological white papers that would help advance his programming.
After two years of hard work on nights and weekends, he was able to teach himself enough to finish the first version of Pocketfleet, which he sold on eBay.
Competing with eBay Pirates
When Don began selling Pocketfleet on eBay he quickly found himself competing with pirated software. While Don admits that pirated software may be cost-effective for the technician, it hurts customers in the long run and should never be used.
“If you use a pirated Cummins on a brand new Cummins engine and you change the parameters, there’s a trail left in the engine [module]. If later on, that guy goes to Cummins for some work. Let’s say he blows the engine and he needs warranty work, he may be refused because somebody’s been in there tampering with that engine.” - Don Laverdure
Birth of Diesel Laptops
In the early 2000s, while employed by International, Tyler had a customer with International software that also wanted to diagnose other brands. He found Pocketfleet on eBay and purchased a license at full price. He then resold it a slightly higher markup to that customer.
The next time Tyler purchased a license of Pocketfleet to resell, Don took notice. His policy was that he did not allow the resale of his software, so he asked Tyler not to resell his software.
Tyler then sold Don on the idea of putting Pocketfleet on a laptop and selling it with an adapter tool as a complete kit and with Don’s blessing, Tyler put a kit on eBay and Diesel Laptops was born.
The Sky is the Limit
After five years of selling diagnostic kits on the side, Tyler was given an ultimatum from his employer. He could either take a raise and quit his side business, Diesel Laptops, or he would have to resign.
He immediately called his dad who advised him to do the safe thing and quit his side business. His wife then gave him the opposite advice of quitting his day job and rolling the dice on Diesel Laptops. It turns out that Don was the tie splitting vote, suggesting if Tyler were to go out on his own, then the sky is the limit.
Tyler then quit his job and moved forward full steam with Diesel Laptops. In 2018, Tyler purchased the rights to Pocketfleet from Don.
To learn more about Pocketfleet and its capabilities, please watch the software demonstration below or visit our product page here.