Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Interview with Pete Khanna, TrackVia
If you're running a department in a big enterprise organization, it's often hard to find the right tools to run things. Your enterprise might have a big huge monster suite of software which doesn't quite do what you want, or it might be a huge production to get your in-house IT guys to help you design an app. What do you do? That's the problem that Denver-based TrackVia is looking to solve, helping those departmental users build their own solution to help run your business better. We spoke with Pete Khanna, CEO of the company, to hear more about how users are using the company's software-as-a-service.
For those who haven't used your service yet, can you explain what TrackVia is all about?
Pete Khanna: TrackVia provides a solution for non technical business users to run their everyday workflow. We do that by allowing users to basically get what they pay for in an app, and run it faster, and better than any application they can get. A use case for this, is we can take an Access database or Excel spreadsheet, and put it into the cloud as an application. People can use our simple interface to build an app, and build exactly what they need.
Who are your customers, and why do they use your services?
Pete Khanna: We call ourselves a department solution. Anyone from a SMB to a mid-sized enterprise to enterprise customer. Our typical customer is the department of a large organization, which has been using a non-flexible tool that they've been shoehorned into by IT or by their corporate systems. They're looking for a better way to manage their department. Every company has common and specific applications for their business. That might be a business dashboard or workflow reporting. They can come to us, and they can get exactly what they pay for. They're not having to pay for features and functions they don't need. Plus, they can get it up and running quickly. Our average deployment is 7 days for enterprise SaaS applications. Most of our customer build their applications themselves, because they want to have control over what they do everyday. They don't want to use a system that was given or built for them, and have to deal with a team and build requirements to get something that works. North Face is a customer that uses us. They might sound familiar. They have a process that they call product lifecycle management. For example, if they're designing a ski jacket, it's how it gets designed and gets to market. They need us for things in the process, to show when things are completed, and for tracking steps to move things to the next department or phase in the lifecycle. They use our workflow engine for all of that, including sending it out to manufacturing. When someone completes a design, there's a checkbox in Trackvia, and the next department can lock up a demo of that jacket, and it goes on to the next department. All of that it tracked in TrackVia. It gives a snapshot of where they are in the process, and they can get all the way down to individual records. Because they use us, if they need to add a new field in their database, they can do it themselves, and don't have to go to a professional services group. It keeps them in control of their work.
You just joined last Fall, what attracted you to TrackVia?
Pete Khanna: The company is now six years old, and has been around for quite some time. They started to see significant growth last year, and they needed to expand the leadership team a little more. I wanted to come to TrackVia, because I could have used this in every business I've ever been in. It has multiple use cases, it's easy to set up, and it's literally half the cost or a quarter of the cost of other solutions out there. You'd be surprised how many companies, big and small, still run on spreadsheets. We've eliminated all of the hassles of spreadsheets and systems that a company needs to succeed. We now have thousands of customer using this.
You mentioned some new growth--where seeing the most growth and interest in your products?
Pete Khanna: Two things. One, is we are seeing lots of account expansion. Like I said, we're a department solution. When departments start using us, they are replacing simple individual contributor tools like Access or Excel, or things like Sharepoint. When they start using TrackVia to manage their department, other start seeing how they are managing more efficiently, getting reports out of TrackVia, and see customer and employee happiness. We then start to grow within an organization and in the enterprise. I think you've heard about the consumerization of IT, which started with hardware with the iPhone, and users using document management software with services like Box.net instead of SharePoint or a file server. We're now seeing that same trend with software development. How applications are built today is not efficient, and users want something they can customize. They can come to us, and it's easier to manage things even if you're a business user and don't know how to program. Our growth is in the business user who wants to gain control of their business.
Off topic a bit--we heard you have some unusual employee benefits like unlimited vacation, flexible hours--how did that come about?
Pete Khanna: We do. We call ourselves the best place to work in Colorado, and we try to live up to that. We are all adults, and we have goals we have to hit, and timelines we have to manage, so we say—be an adult. If you need to take a vacation at some point one year, because you are getting bombarded by anniversaries, family reunions, or whatever, we don't worry about managing time, and you can figure out a way to get your work done. You're accountable, but you've got freedom, if you can meet your goals. We really try to make ourselves a great place to work, and that even extends to the technology you use. For example as long as it meets our company security policy you can buy a Mac, PC, or whatever mobile device you want to work on.
Do you find employees respect that?
Pete Khanna: It is an adjustment when people get here. It's not just more freedom, it's also more responsibility. So far it's worked out very well. What you find, is if you hire great people, and they get the sense of what we're trying to accomplish, and they understand the roadmap and how to handle the customer, they get a sense of empowerment, and that we trust you. Then, what we do is, as people start to care more, and it becomes their business, not just a business. That's our real goal.
Back to the product - what's next for you?
Pete Khanna: What's next, is we're really expanding. One of our biggest things is prebuilt apps, which we're launching May 6th. You can use a prebuilt application when you first start with TrackVia. You can load a CRM, which we've prebuilt for you, and you can use it or you might modify it a bit for your specific business. You can use it to get up running even faster. We're also tying into big, prominent, unstructured data sources. We can now tie into SharePoint, into Box.net and Dropbox, and are build those things out. We're not going to live on an island. I think there's a new generation of people who need these things. They need some organization to be really efficient, and they are using a document repository like Box, a database and a SaaS application like TrackVia, and a financial system like NetSuite or something else to run their business. We see that our platform can build apps that meet all of their needs, tied together into that network of other services.