Easy Estimating ; Contractor Helps Launch Wavereform To Fill A Void By Developing Project Estimating Software. [Intelligencer Journal (Lancaster, PA)]
(Intelligencer Journal (Lancaster, PA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) BY PAULA HOLZMAN
What Joe Mugavero was searching for didn't seem to exist - so he decided to help create it himself.
Mugavero, of Lancaster Township, and business partner Abe Gillespie are launching a company named WaveReform.
Its main product is a software program for streamlining the process of preparing construction estimates.
Mugavero, a 27-year-old native of Newark, Del., has been working in or surrounded by the construction business his entire adult life.
He worked in construction, then studied business at Virginia Tech.
After Virginia Tech, Mugavero went to a company called Surrey Builders.
After a few years, he went to Shelter Alternative to start a sister company called Energy Check, an energy auditing and remodeling company.
He rose through the ranks at the Blacksburg, Va.-based firm, which does home design, building and remodeling.
After becoming its director of operations, he decided that, in order to grow the business, he needed the right software.
He searched for a good software program but said he found only disappointment.
"There was just really nothing out there. It was a bunch of really bad, '90s-looking, hard-to-use, very expensive software," Mugavero said.
"Thousands of dollars, and they'll mail you a CD. And if you want help, because it's really hard to use That's like, an extra $1,500."
Puzzled, he asked other contractors which software they used.
No one seemed to have a good answer, he said.
Some frustrated peers confided that they had returned to using paper and pencil.
Striking out on his own wasn't Mugavero's first response.
He commissioned a bid to create the needed software and discovered to do so would cost about $80,000.
His boss didn't spring for the bid, but he did allow Mugavero to transition to part-time status to tackle the problem.
Mugavero quickly recruited Gillespie, his Virginia Tech roommate and a software engineer, as a business partner.
Mugavero then sunk $50,000 of his and his wife's savings into the project.
His boss also became the first beta tester - and an investor in - the new product.
The software addressed some of the main issues Mugavero had found as a contractor.
For instance, a receptionist, sales person and estimator in the field often all enter the same information because their systems did not "talk" to each other or they originally had recorded the information on paper.
Another problem was that it often took days for a contractor to transfer information from the field to the office computer and generate an estimate, then call the customer back.
By that time, the customer might have chosen to go with someone else, Mugavero said.
The software, named Current, aimed to address all of the problems by allowing contractors to enter the information via tablet computer in the field.
From there, the data would be uploaded into the cloud and automatically entered into Quickbooks software.
The system also allowed detailed estimates to be generated onsite. Testing continued when Mugavero and his wife, a Lancaster County native, moved to the Garden Spot in May 2011.
The company raised another $50,000 via angel investment, including money from the vice president of Rackspace, a San Antonio, Texas-based cloud computing firm. WaveReform also continued to make Lancaster County connections.
Through his boss at Energy Check, Mugavero met Michael Musser, founder and president of Lancaster County-based energy-auditing firm The Village Green.
Musser's firm signed on to test and use the software with Mugavero as a consultant.
"(Mugavero) was out there every day using (the software), developing it more and more, from a beta version to a really usable, functioning tool for our customers. Now it's a tool we use every day," Musser said.
He estimated Current saves multiple hours on each project for the six-person firm, especially - but not just - during the process that Musser has dubbed "walkabout."
Musser said now he can create multiple diagrams and possibilities for an estimate in the field before he is at the work site.
"You can walk out with a closed, sold sale," Mugavero said.
Another connection WaveReform made came through local entrepreneur Charlie Crystle's group, Startup Lancaster.
Startup Lancaster gives people who started a technology company an arena in which to discuss their successes and challenges.
Because of the group, Crystle has stepped into a mentoring role and is helping WaveReform get off the ground.
Crystle also introduced Mugavero to Peter Barber, co-founder and president of Lancaster-based Two Dudes Painting. Barber said he too had been frustrated with software options.
So a few months ago he decided to let WaveReform work with Two Dudes to test and improve Current.
The software is not yet being used in Two Dudes' day-to-day operation.
One of Current's features that Barber likes best is the efficiencies it brings.
It eliminates having receptionists, bookkeepers and sales people enter the same information, Barber said.
Working with Two Dudes also is helping WaveReform learn how to get buy-in from different departments within a company, Mugavero said. WaveReform charges $10 per project sold using the software, or 1 percent of costs for projects of less than $1,000.
The firm continues to raise capital, recently hired a part-time tele-sales representative and is trying to build a local customer base so it can be self-sustaining.
Crystle estimated that will take another three to six months.
"We are literally on a mission to make contractors' lives easier. There is so much paperwork involved in making these steps happen," Mugavero said.
"People spend too much time in all that clutter, and they don't get enough time with their customers."
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