Little Rock-based Apptegy plans to add another 50 employees in 2019 and add “fuel to the fire” of growth thanks in large part to a $13.2 million investment from Five Elms Capital, the Kansas City-based firm that provided Apptegy $5.7 million in May 2017.
Apptegy, founded in 2015, works with schools on marketing and branding. Specifically, the company’s mobile application, Thrillshare, gives school districts the ability to manage various communication needs using the Internet, mobile devices, social media and other devices and platforms.
“Apptegy envisions a world where any school district, regardless of technical capacity, can embrace the power of digital interactions to compete better in a world of school choice,” the company notes on its website.
Five Elms is an equity firm that invests in upstart and fast growing software businesses. Companies receiving Five Elms funding include Fayetteville-based Field Agent, San Francisco-based SelectQuote and Chicago-based Panopta.
Apptegy founder and CEO Jeston George told Talk Business & Politics the second round of funding from Five Elms will help the company hire people to feed the top-line revenue “triple-digit growth,” provide a payout to some early investors, and possibly help fund new products and services. The company now employs 90, and will add 50 by the end of the year.
“Today’s superintendents need to actively build their district’s brand. We are fortunate to work with school leaders as they make this transition to bringing branding and marketing to the core of what they do,” George noted in a statement. “Five Elms has been a fantastic part of the Apptegy team over the past two years, and we couldn’t be more excited to renew this partnership. The investment of capital paired with management support has been key to our growth.”
George said the company is working on new products, “but likes to fly under the radar” and is “a little hesitant to talk about those.” He also said the company is not cash flowing, but could be if they focused on that. Instead, they are more focused now on pursuing an aggressive growth strategy.
“We probably won’t be [cash flowing] any time soon. But our growth rate is too good right now so we need to keep adding fuel to that fire,” George said.
He also said the Five Elms investments allows the company to remain based in Little Rock.
“Apptegy has set the standard for how K-12 leaders can use 21st-century tools to build their brand. With Thrillshare, administrators can post updates to their website, mobile app, social media, and alerts right from their phone,” Ryan Mandl, managing director at Five Elms, noted in a statement provided by Apptegy. “Perhaps the only thing more exciting than the product is the glowing feedback from Apptegy customers and employees. We’re thrilled to continue our partnership with Apptegy as they continue to bring needed technology improvement to school administrators.”
Apptegy’s expansion is part of Arkansas tech growth reported recently by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). The Downers Grove, Ill.-based association reported March 26 that Arkansas companies added 660 tech jobs in 2018, a 1.1% increase over 2017. The group uses the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and other data sources for its report.
CompTIA reports that Arkansas has more than 60,300 tech workers, which is 4.7% of the state’s workforce and provides an estimated economic impact of $4.4 billion. or 3.8% of the state’s economy. Occupations with the highest annual growth in Arkansas included computer system and cybersecurity analysts ( up 3.8%) and software and web developers ( up 2.8%). The median tech occupation wage is $63,323, 83% higher than the median wage for all occupations in the state.
“Clearly the broad-based impact of the tech industry touches virtually every community, industry and market across Arkansas, especially when you consider the tens of thousands of knowledge workers who rely on technology to do their jobs,” Todd Thibodeaux, president and CEO of CompTIA, noted in the report.
The report also noted that tech jobs will grow 5.6% by 2026, with job growth coming from the Internet of Things, smart cities, drones, artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality and blockchain.