For AtWork Systems CEO Ron Lewis, pandemic anniversary conversations need to shift from when people can finally leave their carefully curated home office setups, to whether or not they’ll want to.
“From my perspective, I think COVD has changed the workplace forever,” Lewis said. “I think what it’s proven is that people can be productive working when and where they want to. They don’t have to be in that office. And the tools need to be able to evolve to allow [companies] to support working that way.”
A recent investment recipient of GAP Funds from the Center for Innovative Technology, Herndon-based AtWork was two years ahead of schedule when it began developing a product to help with all the “back office” tasks of small businesses, virtually. The idea came after a decade working in the business profit outsourcing space, when Lewis said he and colleagues Jin Chun and Victor Rhoder realized that small businesses were missing the infrastructure to take on larger projects.
“Eventually it got to the point of ‘Well, we’ve solved this problem five or six different times for different companies, why don’t we look at creating a product around giving those small businesses the infrastructure they need and can help them grow as a result?’” Lewis said.
From payroll to document management, contract modeling and vendor payment, AtWork’s OneLynk software offers 20 different applications, or “productivity tools,” to help small businesses. Lewis said the cloud-based technology is designed to be mobile-first and customizable based on business size and needs, and the flexibility means clients can continue using the software as they grow.
“Our motto is that companies go through different life-cycles,” Lewis said. “When you’re starting, you might just need the basic invoicing and basic accounting, so we have a pricing plan that supports that. And then as you get more sophisticated you might start to be doing subcontracting with other companies… so we have the ability to do that piece of it.”
Another key part of the AtWork model is allowing companies to go completely paperless and function without a need for a brick-and-mortar space — an idea that has flourished over the past year. AtWork’s system incorporates other apps like Zoom and Amazon Web Services that help remote workflow and keep companies functioning in the virtual workplace. It’s a need that might continue even after shots are in arms and office spaces open up.
Heading into the rest of the year, Lewis said AtWork is hoping to generate $3 million in revenue, which he said represents about 40 clients. With the help of the GAP funding, Lewis also wants AtWork to function as an accelerator to help small businesses grow quickly, particularly those who are recipients of research-based grant funding from the Department of Defense, Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation. In addition to the OneLynk software, he also hopes to offer webinars to help small businesses get off the ground.
“Small businesses right now need a lot more attention than they’re getting, because if our economy is going to come back and if our country is still going to be a world leader, small businesses are going to lead the way,” Lewis said.
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