For a software company looking to break into a new industry, discovering that a competing solution already has a market share north of 90 percent is usually a huge red flag. But OrangeQC founder Matt Gornick has sized up the competition and feels pretty good about his company’s prospects.
After all, OrangeQC’s main competition is a paper checklist clipped to a wall in hospitals and public restrooms to track when the room was last cleaned or inspected.
“We provide refreshingly simple inspection software to help improve quality and cleanliness within facilities,” said Gornick. “It helps facility managers have a more proactive approach to cleaning and facilities than they normally could using a paper checklist.”
OrangeQC is used by thousands of teams across the country to keep more than 100,000 buildings clean. The company’s clients include medical facilities at University of Chicago, Northwestern and Harvard University, as well as a number of flagship stores on Michigan Avenue.
Inspectors for companies that use OrangeQC can log inspection notes and images from any mobile device, which are then uploaded to the cloud. The company’s cloud platform lets supervisors inspect results across shifts and facilities to find hot spots in need of extra attention and employees in need of additional training.
The company got its start in 2009 when Gornick was an computer science undergraduate at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. While Gornick was working part time in IT for a local cleaning and facilities maintenance company, he was tasked with setting up an application that would help the company record data and track performance over time.
But the software was difficult to work with, and none of the company’s employees ended up using it. So Gornick convinced his employer to become the first customer for a better app that he had yet to build.
“We didn’t even have a product yet, we only had an idea, but we already had customer number one lined up and they were on board with using it,” said Gornick. “We ended up building that product in the summer of 2009 in a frenzy…. Shortly thereafter we signed them up as a customer and they used it down at the University of Chicago Medical Center.”
After the initial pilot, demand for OrangeQC’s solutions spread via word of mouth. While the company has expanded functionality since its early days, Gornick said he and co-founder Ryan Mathews have emphasized keeping the interface as simple as possible in order to keep training costs as low for customers.
Bootstrapped since the beginning, OrangeQC is still run entirely by its founding two-person team and two part-time employees. But the founders have recently started attending trade shows to heighten the company's national profile and are looking to start hiring another full-time developer and some customer-facing employees over the next few months.
Although there are other cleaning inspection startups out there, Gornick said gaining traction is more about growing the market pie than competing against other companies — his estimate is that something like 99 percent of companies he talks to still use paper checklists.
“Paper doesn’t run out of battery, it’s infinitely flexible, very simple and people can just pick it up and use it,” said Gornick. “But we’re working hard on showing some of the strengths of doing it digitally — and taking some of the strengths that paper has too, in making it as approachable as possible.”
Images via OrangeQC.