One year ago, AkitaBox — a company that makes facility management software — had 12 employees, all but one in Madison.
Today, the young startup, founded in 2015, has 65 employees — still, all but one in Madison — and moved Nov. 1 from 316 W. Washington Ave. to 212 E. Washington Ave. for more space to accommodate them all.
Co-founder and CEO Todd Hoffmaster says the company, which raised just over $1 million from investors in 2016, expects revenue this year to “push past $2 million.” It has clients in more than 30 states — mainly government buildings, health care facilities and schools.
What does AkitaBox do that its engine has revved into high gear so quickly?
“It’s the speed at which we collect information about existing facilities,” Hoffmaster said. The AkitaBox platform is faster than other technology on the market, he said.
Comparing it to “Google maps for buildings,” Hoffmaster said the software maps location and maintenance data on the physical infrastructure of a building, from its electrical and air systems to its fire extinguishers — the sort of data that might have been on construction plans filed somewhere decades ago. The data are put into digital form that can be accessed and monitored.
“We physically walk that facility. Then we map out anything from HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) information, plumbing information and critical life safety information,” Hoffmaster said.
“A lot of times this information is in Excel format or in somebody’s head or is just not accurate because it’s been changed,” he said.
AkitaBox also creates a schedule that tells building staff when to change air filters, check fire suppression systems and perform other safety and maintenance tasks.
Hoffmaster said AkitaBox has provided the digital tools for hundreds of buildings, ranging in size from less than 10,000 square feet to more than 1 million square feet, from municipal offices to hospitals. The Overture Center and University Hospital are clients, he said.
AkitaBox also has teamed with a drone company, PrecisionHawk, of Raleigh, North Carolina, to get aerial views of buildings to show the condition of the roof or of rooftop assets. About 10 percent to 15 percent of clients use that option, Hoffmaster said.
The technology lead for the team of Mortenson Construction and J.H. Findorff & Son that worked on design and construction of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, Hoffmaster said it took “an exorbitant amount of time” to transmit the details to the facilities operators. So he set out to develop software aimed at streamlining the process, and that formed the basis for AkitaBox. (And yes, it is named after the dog breed that traditionally guarded royalty in Japan.)
Hoffmaster said he was “absolutely” surprised and “extremely happy” to see the young business catch on so quickly. “We knew the industry was sorely needing technology such as this,” he said.
He expects rapid growth will continue in 2018. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we doubled (in employees and revenue) — if not more,” he said.