Wilmington’s best-known startup and another up-and-comer have similar beginnings: Both were created after established companies needed better industry-specific software systems.
Not satisfied with what was available on the market, both Live Oak Bank’s Chip Mahan and Community Association Management Services’ (CAMS) David Sweyer set out to develop their own systems.
As they brought in software developers, both realized their products could be valuable to others. Sweyer faced the same dilemma at CAMS, which manages communities for homeowners associations.
“The HOA industry did not have a software solution that met the needs for our company, so we decided to develop our own,” Sweyer told the Greater Wilmington Business Journal in 2019.
He brought in David Gunn and Will Warner to help develop the software, and the team quickly realized there was a similar need industry-wide.
“We made several peer companies aware we were developing our solution, and they expressed interest in purchasing [it],” Sweyer said.
was launched in 2017 and its platform is now used by 130 organizations, including management companies and HOAs representing 2 million individual homes.
Members of Vantaca’s early “skunkworks” team all had worked in the HOA industry.
“The folks who were saying ‘these are the requirements for the system’ were all people who had worked in the industry,” said Ben Currin, Vantaca’s CEO. “Those were, you know, the director of accounting from CAMS, the chief operating officer at CAMS, a few other folks who really had their hands all the way in the industry.”
Currin believes that close connections to the industry it serves, as well as the company’s ability to meet specific needs of clients, are a vital part of its success. (It’s grown to 100 employees and expects to add up to 40 more by the end of the year.)
Currin, a Wilmington native and former Naval officer, said entrepreneurs can make the mistake of putting the cart before the horse.
“I think there are a lot of technology companies out there who have a really interesting solution … and they’re looking for a problem to solve,” Currin said. “We saw a problem that was very real and built a solution to very specifically address that problem.”
At its core, Currin said, Vantaca’s platform is a product that can handle relatively complex accounting tasks and also serve as a customer relationship tool. When asked about the possibility of retooling the software for other industries, Currin didn’t dismiss the idea. He quickly noted, however, that plenty of opportunity remains in the HOA industry.
He also wants to ensure Vantaca never becomes complacent, failing to evolve with the needs of its customers.
“We’re just kind of scratching the surface of the addressable market for the industry,” Currin said. “And we’d really like to keep dialing in the solution for our industry.”
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