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Wednesday, 04 December 2013 22:19

Agent X product simplifies equipment inspection process

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Modustri mobile application Modustri mobile application COURTESY PHOTO

A Grand Rapids-based technology startup firm is on the verge of launching a product that could take it from strictly a service-oriented company into offering a suite of application products.

Fueled by a new round of capital, the seven-year-old Agent X LLC plans to continue developing its Modustri mobile application ahead of a launch this spring. Modustri, which is accessible by iPad or via a web portal, collects and analyzes data and helps users such as heavy equipment manufacturers and the construction industry to gauge wear on their equipment.

The platform incorporates an ultrasonic measurement tool with a mobile application that links to a web portal, allowing heavy equipment inspectors to be more efficient in gathering and sharing data, as well as connect to sales teams for quotes. That helps expedite the repair process and reduces downtime for users and creates a sales opportunity for dealers to provide a solution, according to the company.

A growing technology and software firm based in downtown Grand Rapids with a branch in St. Louis, Mo., Agent X currently employs a workforce of 17 people plus a handful of contract workers. The company had annual revenues of $4.9 million in 2011, according to Inc.com, which ranked the company No. 1,637 on its annual Inc. 5000 list last year based on the company’s 179 percent sales growth since 2008.

But the firm is realizing that to continue its growth, it needs to move more into the realm of making products as opposed to just providing design or digital strategy services, said Derek Stagner, executive vice president at Agent X.

“Modustri, in essence, exudes the personality of the type of product (and) the type of innovation that not only are we capable of but that we are trying to transform ourselves into,” Stagner told MiBiz in a phone interview from St. Louis. “What Modustri does for us … is it takes us into the product space.”

Agent X recently closed on a $145,000 round of equity fundraising, which Stagner said will be used to continue the development of Modustri.

The application is an “an end-to-end software solution” that has the potential to help the heavy equipment industry “measure and effectively gauge the wear on the parts of their equipment,” Stanger said.

While the initial launch is focused on use on the undercarriages of heavy equipment and machinery, the product could have future applications in monitoring infrastructure ranging from roads and bridges to oil and gas systems or perhaps manufacturing equipment, Stanger said.

The application, which has been in beta testing for the last several months, is expected to have a hard launch in March at CONEXPO-CONAGG, a construction and agriculture trade show in Las Vegas.

The notion of forming a technology startup as a smaller, leaner, service-oriented firm and then transitioning into developing products is not uncommon for many companies in today’s landscape, said J. Kevin McCurren, executive director of the Grand Valley State University Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in downtown Grand Rapids.

“I think it’s a natural progression,” McCurren said.

Agent X was founded in 2008 as a collaboration between Stagner and the firm’s CEO, Brian Steketee. The two had previously worked together at The Publicis Group, a multinational communications company where Stagner served as managing director of operations and Steketee was director of innovations.

“I was sort of the guy who brought the technology to the surface, but I needed somebody like (Steketee) who was the mad scientist, as I often call him,” Stagner said.

While the company maintains offices in Grand Rapids and St. Louis, Stagner said Agent X maintains a similar workforce in each location.

“We are looking to expand in both areas, but Grand Rapids will remain the headquarters and will specifically be the headquarters for Modustri,” he said. “I oversee the creative process, but all of our creatives are in Grand Rapids.”

This means that the two bureaus are constantly in communication, often by Skype, Stagner said.

Much of Agent X’s focus recently has been on Modustri, but the firm continues to work on other clients projects, including the development of other web and mobile applications, Stagner said.

“We are seeing a lot of success in what I would say are ‘unique technology solutions’ — mobile applications and web applications,” Stagner said, adding that the growth of web applications is largely a result of e-commerce. “We are seeing a lot of opportunity with end-to-end software solutions … versus just web design and web development.”

Read 3102 times Last modified on Wednesday, 11 December 2013 11:37

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