There are a lot of moving parts in large facilities and maintenance workers have a tremendous amount to keep track of. Many technicians still use paper and pencil lists to keep track of items like work orders, invoices, and to do lists. As as a result, collaboration is stifled with work often lost or hindered. UpKeep Maintenance Management is the mobile first CMMS (Computerized maintenance management system) application that helps keep technicians organized and gives them the ability to seamlessly collaborate with other workers, introducing efficiencies and resulting in improved facilities management. Designed to be used in a range of settings including hotels, schools, restaurants, the Y-Combinator alum company already counts McDonalds, Yamaha, and the USDA as customers. Founded by a process development engineer, the startup has built the right team to bring building facilities and their workflows into the digital era.
LA TechWatch spoke with founder Ryan Chan about the company and its most recent round of funding.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
Series A $10 million, led by Kevin Spain General Partner at Emergence Capital. This is on top of our seed round of $2.7 from existing investors including Battery Ventures, Y Combinator, and Mucker Capital.
Tell us about your product or service.
UpKeep is a mobile-first application designed for the blue-collar workers and technicians in the field to better collaborate in teams by making it easy to share, communication, and complete work order requests.
I was a process development engineer in 2014 at a chemical manufacturing plant and saw the maintenance techs using pen and paper to track their tasks and record field data. The old desktop software they’d been given by their upper management had a very difficult to use interface, so they reverted to pen/paper and manually entering the data into Excel. I decided there had to be a better way for maintenance teams to work together and communicate – so I quit my job, learned to code and built UpKeep. I wanted to create a streamlined workflow designed for the end user, which would be the maintenance technician or the blue-collar worker in the field.
How is it different?
The traditional CMMS (Computerized maintenance management system) software is designed as desktop-first and often does not run as smoothly and seamlessly on mobile devices, which is what technicians want to transition to eventually for ease of use.
I also think that our mission and approach in the CMMS space is a very new and unique compared to other major companies. We truly believe in a product first approach and have spent most of our efforts making the easiest to use and seamless application taking into consideration input from our customers as much as possible. We feel that this method has been a big factor in our success since our adoption is mostly organic and we do very little marketing. I think that if we continue to operate in this way, our product will become better and better for our customers.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
We are targeting a variety of industries ranging from factories to schools to hotels to restaurants and government facilities. Currently, many of our customers are operating in the small to medium group setting, though we are continuing to expand to large businesses across multiple facilities. Last year, over $3 billion was spent on maintenance software.
What’s your business model?
We charge per technician per month for UpKeep. Our prices start at $25 per month.
Would you mind telling us about your experience with Y Combinator?
We cannot thank Y Combinator enough for believing in our idea and launching us forward. Being part of the Winter 2017 batch was an amazing experience, largely because of the mentors, more specifically, Tim Brady. He led our cohort and guided us in major decisions along the way in how to grow our business. Another amazing thing was being in a group with other extremely intelligent, creative, passionate, and innovated individuals all with their own amazing dreams and goals.
What was the funding process like?
We chose to partner with Kevin Spain from Emergence Capital for their deep domain expertise in enterprise SaaS. They shared the same vision to make maintenance teams twice as productive through software and technology that we had on day 1!
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
I believe that Emergence and Kevin Spain truly believed that we have the backbone of a major revolutionary change in the future of CMMS and software for group collaboration. We believe this is the case as well! Kevin and Emergence are experts in the field of business software and have experience with investing in other companies in a similar field in ours, so I think they saw similar potential in us and knew they wanted to be part of it!
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
Our main goal is to continue to build a better product for our customers. Some of the big functions we will add is the ability to have real-time communication between technicians and their team, create easy to use reporting so that teams can better understand their performance and target where improvement is necessary, and also eventually functions to allow for predictive maintenance.
What advice can you offer companies in Los Angeles that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
I can very clearly recall when we were in this situation, and I remember that what kept us going forward was knowing that we had a mission that we believed in and a product that we knew was going to change the trajectory of our field. We felt that we deserved giving this a try and all that we got at the time, and knew that as long as we had this mentality going forward, we could put ourselves out there and be eligible for whatever small amount of luck and fate we very fortunately received to gain traction and get us into the spotlight with Y Combinator and eventually our other successes.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
We plan to continue to grow our team and hire more passionate individuals to provide more support for our team and for our customers. We plan to move to a new larger office space in Los Angeles!
What is your favorite LA bar, when you need to kick back and relax?
I really enjoy going to Public School, which has a great ambience and great food and drink!