BW Sessions: Crowdkeep, in real time

BW Sessions: Crowdkeep, in real time

by TODD STOLARSKI | May 4, 2015

Crowdkeep doesn't want your employees to work harder. It wants them to work smarter.

The Washington DC-based firm designs technology that improves the speed and accuracy of key operations at any business. Its workforce management platform, combined with a Real-Time Location-Based Service (RTLBS), provides a brand new set of analytical insights about physical spaces and the people within them. The information feeds a wide range of solutions for improving security, reducing fraud, and automating time tracking for employees, enabling smart work zones that can help organizations make decisions faster. BuiltWorlds recently had the chance to visit with Crowdkeep's first business development leader, Derek Nickerson to get the scoop.

1 - What is the main idea behind Crowdkeep, and where did it originate?

For decades, ERP (enterprise resource planning) platforms have been hideous and hard to use, draining valuable time from employees using them. Crowdkeep CEO Jad Boustany, an expert in designing and building ERP systems, used them, himself. He currently leads Genesys Impact, a leader provider of management and technology consulting services that he co-founded in 2010, which was hired to create custom ERP systems for government contractors and private institutions. Seeing an opportunity to finally change ERP systems for the better, he decided to create something much bigger that all industries could use. Jad co-founded Crowdkeep with Mike Frye, an early employee at VC-backed startup Parking Panda, and a former Pentagon technology consultant. Together, they introduced iBeacon technology to automate data collection.


2 - What void in the market does Crowdkeep look to fill?

The time tracking and workforce management software market is a very crowded space. Frustrated with all the existing solutions, the Crowdkeep team is out to differentiate itself by offering our line of Crowdkeep geofence servers and employee Bluetooth smart wearables. They allow a company of any size to fully automate time tracking. Crowdkeep has partnered with Apple, as part of the iBeacon MiFi program, to be the first hands-free time collection system. Time tracking is just the beginning. We collect a lot of data! 

As we grow, we are strategically launching new features and products, solving problems such as:

  • Enabling smart work areas for employee monitoring, productivity, and improved safety in the public and private sector through heat mapping. Identifying real-time workplace injuries and alerting management;
  • Interactive working zones (enabling you to pull field notes onto your mobile device from a specific beacon located at the worksite);

  • Enable indoor navigation in iOS and Android apps that identify step-by-step directions of nearby experts, staff, and facilities within the geofence;

  • Assistance in lawsuits through big data analysis and audit protection;

  • Security through hands-free access control and asset management within the workplace geofence.

In February, the Crowdkeep crew made a splash at WOC in Las Vegas. Nickerson is second from right. At center, with his head between the E's, CEO Jad Boustany stands with fellow co-founder CTO Michael Frye (under the K).

In February, the Crowdkeep crew made a splash at WOC in Las Vegas. Nickerson is second from right. At center, with his head between the E's, CEO Jad Boustany stands with fellow co-founder CTO Michael Frye (under the K).

3 - Did you encounter any unexpected challenges in the market after introducing Crowdkeep?

The first rule of Project Mayhem, is you do not talk about Project Mayhem.

The first rule of Project Mayhem, is you do not talk about Project Mayhem.

Every company incurs unexpected challenges, especially when rolling out new products and features.  For years, the construction industry has been trying to solve the ultimate time tracking solution to alleviate human error and labor costs between the field and office. Our initial challenge was to provide tracking automation for all working environments, indoor and outdoor. We began brainstorming the possibilities in making this entire workflow better, faster, stronger.  Initially, we thought of using a WiFi network for the workplace; completely doable but extremely costly to the client, and difficult to scale.

Our solution allows for recognition between a beacon device carried by employees and our Crowdkeep smart server. We deploy our smart servers on site or in a vehicle, creating a geofence, an invisible barrier, scanning long-range, in real-time, for employee beacons. Once an employee carrying a keychain beacon steps inside this geofence area, the beacon is recognized and tracked.  Our services are capable of handling even the toughest jobs from new construction, renovation, and office headquarters. For a mobile approach, six brand new mobile apps (iOS and Android) are launching early summer for Crowdkeep Time, Crowdkeep Expense, and Crowdkeep Core, an administrative feature allowing managers to approve time and expense, in addition to assigning and switching cost codes on the go.

We are a firm believer that in today’s world, every company is a software company. If you are not recruiting your own software engineers or contracting out enterprise apps for your employees, you will fall behind your competitors. Crowdkeep was built from the ground up to be developer-friendly. We will be launching a free developer program in Summer 2015 that will provide an API allowing companies to have the freedom to create their own apps with all the data that we collect. And we will never charge for API access!

4 - So much has changed in the last 10 years. A decade out, how will the industry be using your products? 

Being that Crowdkeep is also a data company in the SaaS business model, it expects is to become a major player in the enterprise Internet of Things (IoT), Real Time Locating Systems (RTLS) and the Bluetooth Smart wearable marketplace.  This industry is poised to grow faster than the mobile market. Crowdkeep has already begun offering solutions in multiple industries such as education, government, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, hospitality, exhibitions, and even live entertainment.


5 - What did you think of the first 15 minutes of the Pixar movie "Up"?

Up is a unique and inspiring film. I can see why you asked about the first 15 minutes, though. Carl Fredricksen (the old man) waited his whole life sitting on a dream. Then, to see him hit a tipping point, become determined, and watch the great lengths he goes to to get started -- lifting his house off the ground with hundreds of balloons -- put me in awe!  His courage tells me that no dream will ever get too old, and the only way to ever know the truth is to go after it.

Today, the dreamers at Crowdkeep seem dedicated to documenting that truth. 

Follow Crowdkeep on Twitter: @crowdkeep

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