WorkOrder.es: Relationship building leads to exit for Upstate NY entrepreneur, investor
Another win for Capital Region community builder, serial entrepreneur and startup investor Chris Thompson. Among his several accomplishments, Chris is the founder and CEO of WorkOrder.es, a Saratoga Springs-based mobile work-order ticketing platform, which was recently acquired by Bixby, a NYC startup.
“What started as an easier way to handle the calls, emails and text from my tenants quickly grew into a fast-growing real estate tech startup,” said Chris.
A few years ago Chris added a few investment properties to his portfolio, which he purchased out of foreclosure and renovated. The projects quickly resulted in an influx of calls, texts and emails from his tenants. He knew there had to be a better way to handle the surmounting communications, but found there was nothing out there for small real estate owners who are managing under 100 units.
Chris started small, and built the WorkOrder.es platform to scale. This is what caught the attention of Bixby co-founder and CEO, Mark Smukler. The two CEOs first connected on LinkedIn over common interests in property management software. A year later, Bixby was taking off, having just raised a significant pre-seed round, and conversations turned to what an acquisition of WorkOrder.es could look like.
“Mark liked the WorkOrder.es technology and how we built the platform to scale to accommodate tens of thousands of units under management,” explained Chris.
Bixby is one of the most comprehensive tenant portals for real estate professionals. The Bixby team of technologists work with real estate professionals to enhance the building experience for tenants and residents. Using a cloud-based set of tools and services, Bixby enables property management teams around the world to provide tenants and residents with a more connected, efficient, and sustainable building experience. “We identified a need for a more lightweight, standalone work-order management tool and wanted to offer a solution for that segment of the market,” explained Bixby co-founder and CEO, Mark Smukler.
With the acquisition, Bixby adds several hundred clients that rely on WorkOrder.es to submit and assign maintenance issues and repairs. Bixby’s intent is to offer the product for free, using it as a lead-generation tool to convert customers to the Bixby platform when ready for a more comprehensive suite of features including a maintenance request portal, payment gateway, document storage and on-demand services. “Chris and the team at WorkOrder.es have built a clean and intuitive work-order management product,” he added. “We’re excited to work with Chris to serve the greater New York region, where he has established a customer base and to learn from his leadership and expertise.”
Chris will remain active with WorkOrder.es as a member of Bixby’s Board of Advisors, charged with advising the team on product development. WorkOrder.es will become a wholly-owned subsidiary off Bixby, Inc. and operate as WorkOrder.es, A Bixby Company. Eric Leander of The Wagoner Firm PLLC assisted in structuring the acquisition, together with negotiating and documenting transaction terms, and drafting ancillary agreements.
“With the acquisition of WorkOrder.es we’re excited to contribute our technology and experiences to help the Bixby team grow their platform, and expand their customer base,” said Chris.
No stranger to Upstate’s startup ecosystem
Chris Thompson is a Latham-born entrepreneurial product manager with 17+ years of experience, and three startups under his belt. He’s also an organizer of a host of startup programs across the Capital Region, including Sharatoga TechTalks and the revitalization of the New York Tech Loop.
While completing a masters in management from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Lally School of Management and Technology, Chris became engaged with RPI’s incubator for student startups. In 2001, he launched his first company, epollarity – an online polling service.
“This was before PollDaddy or SurveyMonkey. I self-funded the business, and learned a lot about project management, sales and marketing,” said Chris. “It was hard to raise local funding at that time, and several of the other startups in the incubator were leaving for larger cities. I made the decision with my family to stay in the Capital Region, and here I am 20 years later on my third startup,” he added.
Today, Chris remains at the helm of his second startup, DashMetrics – a platform that enables individuals and companies to create easily digestible infographic dashboards and share them either privately via teams, or publicly via social media. The Wagoner Firm PLLC has also served as corporate counsel to DashMetrics, structuring the company, its Founders Agreement and Convertible Note documentation for the company’s early-stage fund raising.
While under Sharatoga entity, Chris continues to consult, run startup programs and make personal startup investments. In addition to investing in his own companies, Chris is currently supporting two early-stage startups. The first is a Skidmore College student-led startup, AuxNation, which has developed software for DJs and party-goers that enables the audience requests songs, and votes on which songs are played. Most recently Chris invested in a student founded company out of Syracuse University named PowerSpike which is an influencer marketing platform for gamers on Twitch.
“In the past 4-5 years there has been a swell in the number of new startups founded in the Capital Region. These founders are choosing to grow their companies in Upstate NY,” said Chris. “The real benefit of the Capital Region tech scene is that it’s small and intimate get togethers and networking events that enable other Founders and technologists to run into each other all the time. It’s a real close-knit community, one I’m proud to be apart of.”