NC IDEA announces five North Carolina startups as fall grant winners and recipients of a collective $250,000. This story is part of a series of profiles on the winners.
likes to compare his NC IDEA grant-winning productivity software to the now ubiquitous Fitbit platform.
The Fitbit measures things like steps taken and heart rate, gathers and organizes the data, and presents it to the user in an easily digestible dashboard format.
“It changes the way people think about health, and ultimately changes their behaviors,” says the former McKinsey consultant.
Woahn (top left) and co-founder Brian Lopatka’s
(top right) startup Ampogee
(formerly Catalant) hopes to use a similar framework to create a more productive work environment.
The young Greensboro-based SaaS company, which made its first sale in September 2015, uses an online and mobile app-based platform to monitor and increase the efficiency of people in the manufacturing industry.
The product operates on raw data inputted by users like a lab or factory worker. They enter relevant data points into the system, like boxes shipped or tests completed. The platform then allows users to compare against company quotas or track their productivity history in order to measure their own performance.
While manually inputted data might seem archaic in an increasingly automated work environment, the decision—according to Woahn—was deliberate.
“By requiring some measure of conscious interaction, it causes people to actually think about what they're doing,” Woahn remarked. He hopes it refocuses people on numbers, and creates an air of gamification.
Next, the data is aggregated across workers, organized and fed into a dashboard interface. Upper management is then given access to these employee productivity metrics, allowing higher-ups to distinguish where efficiency is either breaking down or exceeding expectations.
The NC IDEA grant win isn’t the first recognition of Ampogee’s potential. At the beginning of 2016, the company won first place and a spot in the New Ventures Startup Accelerator program after a pitch event to Winston-Salem based NC New Ventures Investment Club.
Additionally, a growing customer base has given the company founders some validation. Ampogee’s app is in operation at several businesses in the southeast such as Patheon (where Lopatka previously worked as a production manager and site leader), Pine Hall Brick and Thompson Traders.
The platform is also being used and evaluated by an SC-based factory owned by Sandvik, a $142 billion company. Should its evaluation go well, Sandvik may consider expanding use of the product across other factories, says Woahn.
Now, with the $50,000 grant, the company has a dual pronged plan for the next several months.
First, the founders will bump up their marketing efforts. As it stands, the company has gotten by largely without a dedicated marketing effort or team. Woahn wants to “attack” this head on as he aims to expand the list of clients.
Secondly, they want to invest back into the tech. Woahn’s biggest goal for the next year is to beef up infrastructure to a point where Ampogee can scale to “any client or customer”, regardless of the scope of an operation.
Personal stat-tracking and gamification products have done extremely well in the consumer sector with apps like the Fitbit platform, MyFitnessPal and MapMyRun. Woahn hopes to achieve similar success in the world of industry with Ampogee and the backing of NC IDEA.
Given that, according to Woahn, the target market sector consists of 12.3 million manufacturing jobs and few competing products, hopes are high for this NC IDEA grant winner.