Like many entrepreneurs, Matthew Wegener saw a business problem first-hand and set out to solve it.
“I came to Lincoln to study electrical engineering at UNL and got a job at a salvage yard,” said Wegener, CEO of Lincoln-based ISoft Data Systems and Presage Analytics. “They didn’t have any software to track parts, so I wrote some inventory tracking software.”
Wegener incorporated as ISoft Data Systems, hired a salesperson and officially started the company. ISoft provides inventory management software for both small and large heavy truck salvage operations, along with a mobile data entry tool that supports photo uploads, inventory searches and quote creation. The company also supports heavytruckparts.net, an online marketplace for truck recyclers and their customers.
“We raised some friends and family money and I started full-time with ISoft,” Wegener said. “It kinda shocked my wife.”
The company soon raised more capital and moved into space with other tech startups.
“I was working on a card table in a salvage yard,” Wegener said. “We moved in with a group of early-stage software companies in a crummy, run-down building.”
“We were asked to give our opinion on the commercial viability of a proof of concept that some professors had written to track food safety information,” Wegener said. “We felt it was a viable opportunity, threw our hat in the ring and made a pitch to partner.”
Working through NuTech Ventures, UNL’s intellectual property and commercialization unit, a partnership was formed with the professors, Dr. Harshavardhan Thippareddi and Dr. Jeyam Subbiah, to co-found Presage Analytics. The software platform developed for ISoft Data Systems provided the foundation.
“We were able to leverage all the software infrastructure and tools we developed over the years,” Wegener said. “The database layout and screens we already had, and the mobile data input to some extent.”
ISoft and Presage serve two very different markets but the goals are similar: provide tools for mobile data input and robust data analysis to replace paper-based processes.
“Usually if someone comes to Presage they are collecting a lot of data on paper forms,” said Product Manager Gwyn Evans. “On a periodic basis, a tech will go around and fill out a paper checklist and put it into a packet that is sent off and filed. It’s very difficult to go back and find those records.”
Presage configures software to track the same data using a mobile interface. The technician records the data on a mobile device, and the data is then sent and stored in a centralized database.
“Managers can produce reports, and e-mail alerts are sent if there’s an issue,” Evans said. “It enables users to find data more quickly for audits, and to see patterns in issues.”
This can be critical when a major retailer like Walmart complains to a supplier about an issue.
“They would have to go through literally hundreds of boxes filled with data,” said Project Manager Umeda Islamova. “It would take weeks to provide the data. “While they’re searching, their process is still going and their backs are turned to the things going on in the background.”
The Presage software also provides business intelligence for decision-making.
“We’re continually expanding the functionality of the software,” Wegener said. “A workflow decision tree walks users through the process of testing equipment. If it fails a particular test, here’s the decision tree.”
A similar trajectory of functionality improvement is taking place within ISoft Data Systems.
“As we’ve worked with our customer base in salvage and dismantling, our product has grown in capability,” Wegener said. “We’re expanding into remanufacturing, distribution, dealerships and service/repair.”
Rod Armstrong is Vice President of Strategic Partnerships for AIM in Lincoln, Nebraska. He is a regular contributor to Silicon Prairie News.