After selling Omaha startup Median, co-founders set aim on their next idea

Two Omaha entrepreneurs are celebrating the sale of their first start-up, Median, while looking ahead to the next endeavor.  Derek Homann and Ben Stevinson recently announced that Dallas-based telecommunications company Loup had acquired the co-browsing startup in late October. The sale, for an undisclosed amount, comes more than three years after the duo left their…

Ben Stevinson, left, and Derek Homann founded Median. Courtesy photo
Ben Stevinson, left, and Derek Homann founded Median. Courtesy photo

Two Omaha entrepreneurs are celebrating the sale of their first start-up, Median, while looking ahead to the next endeavor. 

Derek Homann and Ben Stevinson recently announced that Dallas-based telecommunications company Loup had acquired the co-browsing startup in late October. The sale, for an undisclosed amount, comes more than three years after the duo left their jobs at Flywheel to build their company full-time. 

So what exactly is co-browsing? Simply put, collaborative browsing that allows two or more people to view or interact with the same web page at the same time.  Homann gave a common use case of a customer calling a support line when filling out an online form. 

“(A product like) Median allows a customer service agent to click one button and see what each customer is seeing,” he explained. “There’s no downloads, no links, and with one click you’re essentially looking over that person’s shoulder.”

After building out the technical side of the product, Median spent much of the last three years selling the tool, either on a white label basis or directly to customer service firms. And they had some big success. 

“Last year was big for us,” Homann said. “We landed a couple larger licensing contracts with companies in the travel and tourism industry.”

After completing one of those contracts, the pair decided to put out some feelers for potential buyers in April. The sale to Loup marks the third time Median sold intellectual property, an unusual and exciting feat for a small startup, Homann said. 

The sale had another benefit of clearing up mindspace for the pair to focus on Workshop, their next endeavor, more fully, Homann said. 

“From a tech standpoint, Median was impressive technology,” Homan said. “But it was also very niche. There were only so many people we could sell to. It was never going to (require) us to hire a team of 50 or more people.”

They wanted to move onto a bigger challenge with the potential to grow into a larger company, one that could solve a pain point for many people. 

Homann described Workshop as an employee hub that connects employees to important company resources and communications. It’s similar to an intranet, but with key differences. For example, it’s self-service and easy to launch, so HR or communications employees can avoid relying on IT teams for upkeep. 

“It’s like (an intranet), but more modern, easy-to-use and honestly gives you a lot more tools as a communications or HR pro to manage your workforce better,” Homann said.

One feature of Workshop is the ability to see which employees have read an important announcement, as well as the ability to reach employees whether they typically sit behind a computer or stay on the move, like nurses. 

In addition to improving internal communication, Stevinson and Homann believe that a tool like Workshop can facilitate the non-work conversations that are so crucial to building connections between employees in an increasingly distributed world where work is done remotely. 

A few companies have already shown interest in Workshop. That, coupled with the wisdom gained from Median, has the pair excited for the future.  

When reflecting on the various individuals and organizations that helped encourage Homann and Stevinson, the founders of Flywheel came to mind. Besides bringing the pair together as coworkers at the WordPress hosting company, Flywheel’s founders continued to offer support and advice even after the pair  left to pursue their own business. 

“There’s an extremely small group of people who understand what it’s like to quit their job and make zero dollars a year for some period of time, and hope it works out,” Homann said. “(The founders of Flywheel) were incredibly helpful for advice, giving us thoughts on everything from engineering advice to how we should think about positioning our product.”

“A lot of people in the tech community were rooting for us, which feels good.”

 

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