Spring 2017 AFRL Commercialization Academy Series: Adk Ops

The AppMyProject platform by Adk Ops is a web-based project data collection, sharing, and presentation creation platform. It leverages Google Drive, 360° panorama images, and a convention-based project management paradigm to improve collaboration and facilitate sharing of project tours on social networks. Adk Ops is a startup technology solutions provider and a division of Adirondack Operations, LLC, with offices in the North Country and Utica, New York.

Adk Ops Cofounder Craig Kaputa

We spoke with Craig Kaputa, founding team member of the AppMyProject platform.

What is your background in the tech/startup industry?

I have 10 years of corporate IT experience at a couple different Fortune 500 companies. My partner started our environmental consulting company in 2009 while I was still employed in corporate IT. For several years we’ve been looking for a tool like AppMyProject. So, in 2015, we spun our technology arm, Adk Ops, out of our environmental consulting company, Adirondack Operations, LLC.

The AppMyProject platform solves a lot of the problems we encounter in environmental consulting work. It addresses collaboration, social networking, and sharing issues that result from our projects. Frankly, as business owners we’re so busy doing the work that we often forget that the key part of growing our businesses and getting the next work assignment is marketing — letting others know what we’ve done, and how our teams participated in projects. So that’s what the AppMyProject platform is all about.

The AppMyProject platform by Adk Ops is a web-based project data collection, sharing, and presentation creation platform

Why did you create the AppMyProject platform?

We saw a need for a better way to communicate on projects to gather data throughout the entire process. This data is used to create panoramic presentations at the end of the projects to communicate the value that was delivered to clients.

We wanted to carry out this process in such a way that it was “baked” into the workflow, so that we’re not thinking at the end of a project, “Hey, that was a 9- or 12-month project. What did we do? How do we tell that story in a meaningful way?” Instead, we can publish media, milestones, and other data out to social media channels as part and parcel of the work; which is different from how we’ve done things in the past.

How did you hear about the AFRL Commercialization Academy?

We’re incubated here at the thINCubator in Utica, New York. In conversations with folks there, they mentioned Griffiss Institute, the Air Force Research Lab, and the AFRL Commercialization Academy. I also talked to a couple of people working at the thINCubator who had been in one of the earlier Commercialization Academy cohorts. All of them said I should think about applying to join the academy.

What motivated you to join the AFRL Commercialization Academy?

When you’re building a startup, it’s very helpful to have a cohort of folks who are going through the same process you are, hitting the same challenges you’re hitting, and sharing how to overcome and solve those issues. You get a chance to bounce ideas off each other, collaborate, and learn, as well as progress on your own toolset.

And, honestly, we were at the right place to do that. When we were invited to join the Commercialization Academy, we weren’t starting from scratch. We had a prototype, and we were at the place where we were ready to go from prototype to beta application, so we could start testing the MVP in the market. It was good timing.

What advice would you give to founders who are thinking about applying to the AFRL Commercialization Academy?

I think if you’re just at the idea phase and you haven’t gone much further than that, it’s more difficult to pull together some of the things you need to participate in the Commercialization Academy process. Because you don’t know what you’re pitching. If you’re not far enough along to put a frame around your idea or put some messaging around it, it’s just, “Well, we have this idea and we’re pitching it.”

As time has gone on, the venture capital community has said that it wants to see MVPs and so much recurring revenue from startups before their ideas will be taken seriously; and there are reasons for that.

What are you looking forward to at the Spring 2017 AFRL Commercialization Academy Demo Day?

Meeting other folks in the Upstate New York startup community to tell them what we’re doing and find out what they’re doing.

I just had a call this morning with another entrepreneur that I found out about through Wasabi Ventures’ Startup Life Newsletter. I would’ve never known he existed otherwise, because he’s in Saratoga Springs, New York. He told me that when his startup launched they had 500 people sign up for their platform on the very first day. I thought that was amazing, so I asked him how his team did that, and he explained it to me.

How do you put a value on that? I don’t know what it’s worth, but it’s very helpful. So, I’m looking forward to making more of those types of connections at the cohort’s Demo Day. I’m also looking forward to the opportunity to pitch what my team is building.

Getting plugged in with the startup community in Upstate New York is a key way that any company in the region is going to be successful. Demo Day will give us the opportunity to understand the startup ecosystem.

Share with us the value your team has gained from being a part of the Spring 2017 AFRL Commercialization Academy.

No matter what the stage of your startup, there’s relevancy in Wasabi Ventures’ network in some way. The call I made this morning wouldn’t have been relevant for me if I was still working on a prototype, but now I’m trying to get the AppMyProject platform out into the world. And so, the call was more meaningful to me.

I think that’s a key aspect to consider when applying to the Commercialization Academy. Founders have an opportunity to get the information they need at their point in the startup life cycle, and gain access to a network of people who have been through that stage. That’s very helpful.

Would you like to talk to Craig and his team about your company’s collaboration, social networking, and sharing issues? Meet them at the Spring 2017 AFRL Commercialization Academy Demo Day on Thursday, June 29, 2017. Then watch them pitch to compete for the chance to win either the Judges’ Vote of $15,000 or the live Audience Vote of $5,000 at Mohawk Valley Community College’s new campus at 1101 Floyd Avenue, in Rome, New York!