They might not always realize it, but from the moment they clock in or check their work calendar or view their performance indicators, many workers are interacting with software throughout their day.
As technology permeates all aspects of everyday living, software is being designed to keep up with the digitization that many workflows have experienced as well as take advantage of the efficiency that automation can provide.
A growing number of the region’s software companies share similar birth stories involving an industry professional finding a gap or need for software to make their jobs easier or better streamlined. After coming up with a digital product that accomplished such tasks, these entrepreneurs took their solution and launched a startup that seeks to solve pain points for their industries.
From hotels to breweries to public safety, here is a roundup of some of the Wilmington-based startups bringing software into the workplace by finding their industry niches.
Electronic Lab Logs
Paper logs are used in laboratories to track maintenance of equipment and quality control tests, a task that must be done daily and that overwhelmed Jeremy Sikorski, a lab manager at Novant Health New Hanover Regional Medical Center.
To solve this burden, Sikorski contacted Daniel Summers, a software engineer, who came up with a digital, standardized product for eliminating paper logs.
The two partnered and formed Electronic Lab Logs, which has a cloud-based platform that provides laboratory maintenance.
“Electronic records are now the preferred method for documentation, and we are poised to capitalize on that,” Summers said.
Among the functions the platform are tracking maintenance and quality control tasks for laboratory instruments. It also provides real-time device status and helps labs avoid getting cited for missing logs or incomplete data by simplifying the process.
Founded in 2018, Electronic Lab Logs hopes to expand its product to also serve other adjacent markets. The company, which received the third-place award in the inaugural NC BIONEER Venture Challenge last year, earned a Coastal Entrepreneur Award in health care in 2020. That same year, it also won a $50,000 grant from the NC IDEA SEED program.
As a former firefighter with the Wilmington Fire Department, Scott Monroe had firsthand experience with organizational management required for such public safety institutions.
To provide a solution to handle these tasks, Monroe founded Essential Personnel, a performance management and wellness software for public safety agencies in 2020. The software-as-a-service application provides three pillars of solutions: EP Perform, Safety & Wellness and Academy.
The Perform function provides performance evaluation, team organization and tracking of qualifications and certifications, as well as feedback. The Safety & Wellness feature helps track incidents, injuries and exposures and provides access to support. Academy provides online training for continuing education.
In May Essential Personnel won a grant from the NC IDEA SEED program in May which at the time Monroe said would be used to scale and expand its sales effort. This year, the company was selected as one of six startups to present at the Startup Showcase, a competition during the State of Technology Conference in Raleigh. The competition included companies with an innovative digital solution.
Currently being used in several states, Monroe said the company is ready to scale.
Many hotels and resorts are still relying on antiquated cord phones to communicate with guests, making the communication between guests and hotel workers not as streamlined or efficient as it could be.
This is a realization that Jose Quiros made during a recent hotel stay and the catalyst to starting F3TCH, a mobile app that guests can use to connect with their hotel for services and amenities.
This field was not new for Quiros, who previously worked at a large guest room telephone manufacturer and had years of experience with telecommunications companies.
With the app, guests can talk to their hotel from anywhere and anytime through voice, text and photos.
Hotel workers can use it to communicate with guests and consolidate their services as well as interlace their rewards programs in the app. Quiros began the startup in 2019 and has participated in the Out-Pitch 2.0 pitch contest by Outlander VC.
Quiros, a self-taught software developer, described his goals of capturing a large number of hotels to use F3TCH in the next five years.
In addition to crafting beer, breweries are tasked with tracking production – from barrels available to what is sold – and projecting sales based on past performance.
But there are few software tools on the market available for this, and many of those lack key functionality, said Natalie Waggett.
This is why she co-founded and is the CEO of Ohanafy, a software startup with the Brewery Management System, described as an end-to-end craft beverage management software.
Designed to be used by anyone working at a brewery, the platform is housed in Salesforce and includes a management platform with information on inventory, equipment maintenance, raw materials, suppliers and more. It also has a team management component for employees to look at goals and get performance feedback.
The startup, made up of University of North Carolina Wilmington graduates, has been working with brewery advisers including Tarboro Brewing Co. and Wrightsville Beach Brewery to get feedback. While launched this year, already has six employees and is looking forward to intentional growth.
A leader among up-and-coming software startups in the region is Vantaca, which is in the process of doubling its workforce.
The company was started by Dave Sweyer, who developed a software solution for his business Community Association Management Services (CAMS).
Vantaca was born when Sweyer realized the opportunity to expand the product to other organizations with similar needs as CAMS.
Vantaca is a software helping manage different aspects of homeowner associations and has even expanded to fintech with its full banking integration. The software provides customized workflows and reports; communication tracking with staff, board members, homeowners and more; monitoring of billing, user, service provider and homeowner activity – all including mobile access.
In 2021, the company announced it had received local incentives to allow a $5 million expansion that would include adding about 100 employees to its existing workforce. Most recently, the startup showed 1,000% growth over a three-year period (2018-21), according to the Inc. 5000 list.
Led by CEO Ben Currin, the company expects continued growth with the Currin saying recently that the company is “just getting started.”