A Simple Idea That Quickly Evolved Into A National Software Company

A Simple Idea That Quickly Evolved Into A National Software CompanyWhat started as a simple idea – to harness the power of the Internet to elevate the art and science of execution management and strategic planning – has revolutionized the way many organizations drive collaboration, accountability, and execution. Since its founding in March 2010, AchieveIt (http://achieveit.com) has grown to serve more than 140 clients in 40 states and South America. Regardless of their size, geographic location, or vertical market, AchieveIt’s clients all share a common attribute: A focus on achieving breakthrough business results.

AchieveIt was founded on thepremise that technology alone does not enable companies to build better plans and create an execution culture. The company believes, however,that technology is the fuel that enhances individual performance and drives organizational success. For this reason, Achieve took the best of both – technology firepower and human brainpower – to develop the first Execution Management System for accelerating organizational performance. In short, AchieveIt providesbusinesses with tools and resources needed to develop strategy and drive execution. AchieveIt’s singular purpose is to help organizations execute smarter, faster, and better, and its cloud-based software, coupled with an array of organizational assessments, allows companies to reduce the time required to achieve real, meaningful results.

How AchieveIt delivers on its customer value proposition is three-fold.

First, AchieveIt’s suite of best-of-breed applications allows businessesto quickly and effortlessly develop, execute, and monitor strategic and operational plans. Next, AchieveIt’s experienced client engagement advisors ensure that companies harness all of the software’s rich features and benefits – offering course corrections as needed. Finally, AchieveIt provides an array of dynamic strategic and operational assessments that help businesses identify organizational capabilities and constraints – all designed to help elevate performance in less time.

The company was formally founded by Scott Regan in March 2010, but its roots date back to 209. Regan spent 16 years in hospital administration, being primarily responsible for strategy and operations, before becoming an independent consultant in 2007. Two years later, looking for a way to increase his own effectiveness and efficiency with the clients he served, Regan hired an India-based I.T. company to build a basic strategic planning software application. The initial cost and project timeline: $2,500 and three months.

“I had no idea what I was getting into,” Regan said. “I understood processes, methodologies, and work flows, and I had a deep grounding in using strategy and execution at an operational level, but I had never developed software before. I was challenged by not knowing what I didn’t know, and I made a lot of mistakes in the process. While many would say that I also wasted time and money, I look back and consider these mistakes all part of a very rapid education in software development. In was incredibly valuable for the company’s future growth.”

With the initial application built by late 2009, Regan quickly saw commercialization opportunities for the software – but it would require an entirely new version to make it commercially viable. He formalized the company as a limited liability corporation, and, working out of the bonus room over his garage, he invested an additional $18,000 into the cloud-based application. By July 2010, he had a software product he felt could hold up under market scrutiny, even if the user interface was less than ideal. To test the market, Regan sent emails to 200 of his colleagues around the country, inviting them to evaluate the software. Priced at under $5,000 for an annual license, Regan found high user adoption. By mid-September, 20 clients had already licensed the software, generating more than $100,000 in revenue.

With proof of concept established, Regan began to overhaul the original application, so that it could more easily scale to a large number of users. With two additional applications already scoped for development, he decided to bring software development to the United States and partnered with the Kyle David Group to develop AchieveIt’s next generation of software. With the cost of R&D quickly increasing, coupled with the need to hire marketing and sales staff, Regan began seeking venture capital.

In October 2011, AchieveIt received a $1.5 million investment from Atlanta-based Buckhead Investment Partners, which allowed the company to hire staff and accelerate software development. With annual growth in the first two years topping 350 percent, the young firm was struggling to manage both sales and client service with a limited staff. Since October 2010, AchieveIt has grown from five employees to its present size of 24 full-time, part-time, and contract staff. In addition, the firm is currently seeking qualified applicants to expand to both its sales and client support teams and is expecting to double the size of the company in the next two years.

“Critical to our early success was landing some very notable organizations as clients,” Regan said. “Some of our early adopters included Baylor Health System – one of the largest healthcare systems in the country – and the University of Florida. The halo effect of being associated with top-name brands such as these spurred additional business adoption.”

A Simple Idea That Quickly Evolved Into A National Software CompanyIn June 2012, AchieveIt introduced a new version of its core application, ExecuteIt, and also announced two new applications, ImproveIt and AnalyzeIt.

ExecuteIt guides users through the AchieveIt’s Execution Flywheel, which hasgenerated breakthrough results for clients. It contains a fullsuite of tools that shortens theplanning cycle, enables strategicdecision-making, and powersaccountability and execution. Noother cloud-based applicationguides businesses through the entirestrategy development andexecution management lifecyclewith such focused precision.

ImproveItelevates a company’s quality andperformance improvementsystem to achieve faster and better results. The application creates organizational transparency by managing the entire qualityand performance improvement program in the cloud, where users can track project deliverables,performance, and outcomes.

AnalyzeIt is a revolutionarydecision support application thatcombines robust data mappingcapabilities with point-and-clickdata analytics. Users can filter data,plot the results at an addresslevel, and conduct analysis on thefly – on demand and in minutes.Through this unique combinationof data mapping and data analytics, companies can focus their strategy and zero in on a results-driven plan of action that can be executed immediately.

Having a suite of software products is just one of the reasons for the company’s success. More important, however, is the fact that there is very little competition in the execution management and strategic planning software space. Indeed, there are a few competitors, but they generally focus on a specific market, such as healthcare or small non-profit organizations. Even then, competitor offerings more closely resemble project management software than true execution management and strategic planning software. In addition, AchieveIt differentiates itself from the competitors by providing a proven best-of-breed methodology for developing strategy, as well as robust tools to drive accountability and execution.It is the only company that has an integrated solution suite that includes execution management and strategic planning, quality and performance improvement, and data analytics.

Currently, the fastest-growing market for AchieveIt is small-businesses. Because of the hyper-competitive nature of business today, the survival of most small businesses depends on not only how well they develop their go-to-market strategy, but also on the speed and precision with which they execute their plans. However, most small businesses are not adept at strategy development and execution, which is why so many small businesses – some with as few as 14 employees – are turning to AchieveIt at an increasing rate.

Small businesses can accelerate their results curve by using the tools built in to ExecuteIt, beginning with a suite of assessments that allows organizations to focus their strategies on those things that will have the greatest impact on driving sustainable business performance – and then turning those assessments into blueprints for their plans. Once the plan is developed – using a best-practice plan template – small businesses can then easily create a culture of accountability and execution through the various scorecards, dashboards, and automated email reminders and alerts contained within the software.

With the early rapid growth, Regan is now preparing for a second round of capital. The additional funding will be largely used to staff to the current demand and growth curve while also making a larger investment in marketing and advertising. The company has three-year revenue target of $22 million and a five-year revenue target of $58 million. Hitting these projections require the successful execution of the company’s marketing and sales strategies, as well as the continual evolution of the software products it provides.

A Simple Idea That Quickly Evolved Into A National Software CompanyWhile the company is not anticipating developing additional software applications beyond the three it currently offers, it does have robust plans to elevate its current product portfolio to create an increasingly formidable barrier for any would-be competitors. These plans include additional integration between its current software products, as well as with other third-party applications, and the development of additional tools and functionality within the products themselves.

Critical to AchieveIt’s success has been the deployment of a number of web-based applications that the company uses to drive its own business performance. These include the following:

Salesforce, a customer relationship management system that tracks every aspect of the sales process.

  • Pardot, a marketing and lead generation application that is integrated with Salesforce and provides automated email campaigns, automated email responses from the sales team, and lead scoring.
  • WebEx, a video conferencing application used for sales demonstrations and webinars.
  • RingCentral, a voice-over-Internet phone system with integrated desktop and tablet applications.
  • Vocus, a web-based news release distribution company.

AchieveIt is priced on a subscription basis, with an annual per-user fee. The company offers free resources – including white papers, case studies, and webinars – on its website, where business leaders can also request an interactive, live demo of the company’s applications. AchieveIt founder Scott Regan also publishes a weekly blog on execution management, strategic planning, and branding, which is also available on the website. The company can also be followed on Twitter (http://twitter.com/GoAchieveIt), LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com/company/achieveit), and (Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/GoAchieveIt). The company is preparing to file patents for many components of its technology.

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