Was it a lightbulb moment or gradual process to start eWorkOrders?
The idea of starting my own company and concentrating on the development of maintenance management software application came to me through my previous experience, love for technology, and my partnership with my brother Brian. We were developing and selling an on-premise computerized maintenance management system to fortune 100 clients and everything about the projects were very challenging. Due to the diversity of customer specifications, it was very difficult to roll out each new customer. Each company demanded different database brands and versions to meet their internal standards. They also were running different versions of their server operating systems. This became tedious, time consuming and costly. Since the system was locally installed one particular customer took advantage and was extremely slow to pay.
That is when the lightbulb went off! We invested in the development of the back-end infrastructure to put it on the web. Through a lot of research and speaking with potential customers, we came up with a plan that would work in any industry for any size company. We would then lease it to customers instead of installing it locally. This was during the infancy of the application service provider movement which would later become what is known today as software as a service (SAAS). This enabled us to control the versions and brands of the operating system, the web-server, and the database servers. This saved a tremendous amount of time with each implementation following our own standards. It also helped with getting paid. If a customer didn’t pay in a timely manner, we were able to automatically put warning messages on their screen and eventually suspend their service until they confirmed that payment was pending.
How did you get your first three customers?
Working on a locally installed maintenance management system with pharmaceutical clients already, we became very knowledgeable about their specifications and requirements for their industry. As consultants, we had limitations on what we could do and were restricted to adhere to their guidelines. Brian and I continued to refine our software, adding new features and making it web-based. One existing pharmaceutical client liked our improved web-based version even better and became our first client. The next 2 customers found us through word of mouth based upon recommendations from the first customer. From there we continued to add new features and improvements to the software and expanded to other industries. Today, after 25 years, we support any size company in any industry.
How did you validate the idea?
We did a lot of research, planning, and validation before deciding to move forward with the development of this web-based software application. We had a two-step validation process. We validated both the need and the value of the web-based version of the software. Then we moved the software to a web-based application. The first thing we did was to conduct market research to see if there were any other web-based maintenance management systems. We looked for competitors and what features they offered and how they were priced.
How are companies managing their maintenance operations today?
We analyzed the market to see how companies were currently managing their maintenance operations. We spoke with existing customers and also with prospective customers. We were looking to find out what type of issues companies were having in their industry. What functionality did they needed, and what were their budget constraints. We prioritized the issues list to identify the most common and critical ones.
Did you have any experience/expertise in the area?
My father was working in technology and computers. At a young age, I was not only learning about computers and how they worked, but I was taking them apart and putting them back together. I was also doing keypunch cards. Technology was in my blood. I received a Bachelor’s degree from Rutgers College in Computer Science and Economics and then an MBA from Rutgers Graduate School of Management. My thirst for technology and keeping up with market trends continued with seminars, courses and reading.
During college, I interned at a computer consulting firm and a Wall Street firm. After college, I worked for a large Pharmaceutical company and was given responsibility for developing laptop software for the sales reps. I learned a lot about remote trouble shooting and technical support. A few years later, I accepted a new position at corporate headquarters and built Monte Carlo analysis based financial models and supported treasury systems.
Once we started our company, we developed a locally installed maintenance management system. We also developed a signatory management product for Fortune 100 treasury departments. Then expand our skill set and show the world we were capable of building web-based applications, we built VirtualRatings.com. This platform allowed people to rate all kinds of products and services. It took off at multiple colleges with students rating their professors. I have been known as a tech-savvy entrepreneur who loves cutting edge technology. I am always looking to create new and exciting tools.
Who is your target demographic?
eWorkOrders CMMS offers businesses of all sizes and industries the opportunity to manage their maintenance operations with maximum efficiency and cost savings.
What is the funniest/most strange customer request you’ve had?
In building the CMMS software, I haven’t had any crazy requests. Managing work orders is one of our main features and sometimes customers enter some pretty funny requests. One client, a maintenance department at a large company, received a service request from an executive. He wanted a very expensive mahogany desk, but didn’t have the money in his budget. Instead, he put in a work order for the maintenance department to build a desk for him with some mahogany lumber he had already purchased. Needless to say, the work order was cancelled out. Clearly, the company should be taking advantage of the features of eWorkOrders. They should have been billing for the work the maintenance department does for the rest of the company!
How did you fund the idea initially?
We didn’t have to raise any money. We originally started our company as a consulting and recruiting firm. We were able to use the profits from these projects to pay for the development of the initial versions. From there we continued to bootstrap to build our company and product.
Where did you meet your co-founder/founding team?
I am the co-founder of eWorkOrders partnering with my brother Brian, who manages the technical team.
We met when I was 3 years old and my parents brought him home from the hospital.
Any tips for finding first employees?
Concentrate on finding employees who are flexible. They should be able to take on as much of your workload as possible or bring skills that you need. Use your personal network. Ask family, friends and colleagues for recommendations. Have pre-screening questions, create a scenario and see how they respond, give them the ability to do a 5 minute pitch to see how they present and react to questions. Look for people with a good personality and is a very strong customer focus. Big degrees aren’t necessary, just a thirst for learning, ingenuity, and a drive to succeed.
What motivated you to start your own business?
When I was young, I was always very ambitious and started my own lawn mowing business. I realized quickly that I was limited in how much I could earn based on how much time I had available to work. I dreamt of being a rock star where I could write a song once and sell it millions of times. Lacking any musical ability was a slight hindrance towards that dream. Fortunately, my father taught me a lot about technology and computers. I realized that I could write a computer program and sell the same program repeatedly. I could earn money doing something that was enjoyable. From there my passion grew. I haven’t stopped creating innovative tools and gadgets.
After working for one of the world’s largest Pharmaceutical companies and getting my MBA, I knew I had to go out on my own. Follow your dream, don’t wait for the ideal time. There will always be bill that needs to be paid and issues to be resolved. These are excuses that are stopping you from following your dream. Dive in before it is too late. I turned my passion for technology into a business that helped customers streamline their maintenance operations, manage their assets, and reduce expenses, at an affordable price.
What were your family and friends first thoughts on your company?
My parents had very little money when they started out. They had to scrimp and save. My father worked multiple jobs to get by. After going to night school to learn how to program, he got job at a large insurance company. He did very well with that company and worked his way up to Assistant Vice President. My mother worked at small companies until she landed a job at a large pharmaceutical company. Together they did very well. They remained at those companies until they retired. Due to their experiences, they thought it was foolish to quit my job at one of the world’s most prestigious companies. Once I quit, they were very supportive. Many of my friends and coworkers had the same initial reaction. Everyone said “Nobody quits this company! You’re set for life here.”
My brother and partner, Brian, was uncertain, but we fully supported each other. He decided to leave his job at another pharmaceutical company. From there we never looked back. Brian and I have very different strengths. We are fortunate to have the combined skills and knowledge to build a successful business and partnership.
What motivates you when things go wrong? What is the end goal?
I strive for continuous improvement. When things go wrong, I look for the root cause of the problem to avoid these things and anything similar in the future. Even when things go well, I am motivated to figure out how to do them even better. My motivation is to be successful. You can’t be successful without the support of your family, friends and your team. My wife is my coach and motivates me to keep going. Educating my sons on the importance of learning new things and never giving up is very important to me. No matter what happens during the day, I look forward to spending time with my family. The eWorkOrders team is my second family. Everyone helps each other out and cheers each other on. They play a major role in getting through good and difficult times.
Do you have any advice for someone just starting out?
When looking for that ideal product, do your research and choose something with a broad appeal. One of our offers was a treasury software and was targeted at a very specific niche market. That limited our potential. Make every customer feel that they are #1 by giving them your full attention. Keep distractions at a minimum. Be honest and sincere. Do your research, know your product, and know how to present the benefits of your product to your customers. Be open minded and listen to new ideas or suggestions from everyone.
What has driven the most sales?
We use strategic online advertising to drive quality traffic to our site. We also maintain a 5 Star Customer Rating for both our product and customer support.
Our reputation for providing high-quality service quickly spreads through word of mouth, attracts potential customers and helps close deals. Having case studies and great customer testimonials on numerous websites throughout the Internet really helps too.
What is stopping you from being 3x the size you are now?
Slow and steady wins the race. Our primary goal is to keep our current customers very happy and then focus on new business. You don’t want to grow too fast and then not be able to satisfy your customers. It’s much easier to keep a customer than it is to find new customers. The only thing keeping us from being 3x our current size is time. We continue to have double digit growth year over year. By focusing on continually improving eWorkOrders and expanding our marketing we will get there quickly.
How do you protect yourself from competition?
We treat our customers like family. We listen to what they have to say and help them any way we can. We are fortunate that some members of our team were actually customers using our CMMS software and had decided to join our team. They bring actual industry experience and understand industry jargon. They have a better understanding of customer operations and, pain points and how our service can improve their processes. We continually engage our customers and provide them with new information. On our customer site we have a special section called “What’s New”. This section tells our customers about any new/updated features. We also have up to date online help and a video training library. On our marketing website, we are always creating new content for our weekly blog, adding case studies, articles and customer testimonials. We continue to share our articles and industry information on our social media platforms and other blogs. We keep putting our product information out in front. We strive to maintain our 5 Star Rating across the Internet.
What are the top 3-5 apps your business could not run without? Why are they essential?
- GoToMeeting: Our business depends on the interaction with clients through the Internet. Our live demos (webinars) are done through GoToMeeting – web conferencing software. In our business, it is important to invest in good well-known and highly rated web conferencing software. They have a good reputation with minimal reports on being hacked.
- Nextiva: Our team works remotely from their home offices. Using Nextiva my employees can manage their communications from anywhere by voice, video, instant messaging, screen sharing, through their Internet connection.
- QuickBooks: Is an accounting software that provides tools to manage your customers, vendors, clients and finances.
- Transaction Importer Pro: This transaction tool is a quick and easy way to move tens to thousands of rows of data into and out of QuickBooks and eliminate errors and manual data entry.
What are your favorite books?
Good to Great by Jim Collins: The book focuses on eleven companies that were just okay, and made the leap into greatness. Greatness is defined over a period of time where the stock dramatically outperformed the market and its competitors. They not only made the transition from good to great, but they sustained a long-term performance that continued them toward success “built to last”.
Only the Paranoid Survive, by Andrew S. Grove: Andy Grove, founder and former CEO of Intel shares his strategy for success as he takes the reader through the moments when he had to admit his company was failing to keep up with the competition. He writes about what it is like to lead a company out of this change and into safer, more secure markets. He introduces tools and ideas that will help the next corporate generation stay ahead in times of rapid change.
What are the next products you’re working on?
Although, I have many other ideas for new businesses, I choose to focus on the success of eWorkOrders. We will continue to enhance our software by creating innovative features to meet the needs of our customers.
Are there any releases you can tell us about?
Currently, eWorkOrders is only in English, but we are actively working on the ability to have eWorkOrders in every language. We are also beginning to investigate how AI (Artificial Intelligence) can further enhance our eWorkOrders software.
Where do you see the company in 5 years?
I want to develop new features and functionality to grow the business and continue to maintain our leadership status as the Highest Rated CMMS Provider.