Tech entrepreneurs devise new solution for inventory management

November 30th, 2012

News Coverage:

Tech entrepreneurs devise new solution for inventory management


Friday, Nov. 30, 2012 at 5:45am

An electronic waste recycler in Fort Wayne has expanded into the inventory management software-as-a-service business with the help of a couple of local technology entrepreneurs.

Bob Rupp and Kevin Cawood, managing partners of Ace Recycling, teamed up with Graham Bredemeyer and Scott BonAmi about 10 months ago to found SASSI Systems LLC, and announced in mid-October the launch of its cloud-based inventory management system.

“SASSI” stands for “sales and systems streamlining inventory.” The SASSI system has been downloaded at least a couple of hundred times since the announcement that it was available for a 15-day trial, and about 10 percent of the companies downloading it for free through Apple’s mobile app marketplace have become customers, Bredemeyer said.

The conversion rate would be higher if instructions for SASSI were available in languages other than English, he said. “It is something we’re looking into because we’ve had a lot of international interest.”

Foreign countries with companies doing the most downloading include China and Germany. SASSI also has been popular with businesses in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.

Bredemeyer said he came up with the idea for SASSI while working at Ace. The business had asked him to shop around for an inventory management system and he learned how expensive they could be.

“It looked like we were probably going to spend $20,000 to $40,000 for a good system,” he said. “It would have been a pretty robust system that would have been pretty intelligent and customizable. And it would have been scalable and would have grown with the company.

“It’s just that you always have expenses involved with those upgrades,” he said. “I had worked with a local coder/Web developer and kind of knew what it would take to make one, only it would be better and cheaper and scalable.”

He contacted BonAmi to see if they could come up with an estimate on the time and costs that would be involved in developing software for a cloud-based inventory management system, “and then we pitched them,” Bredemeyer said. “Scott and I are very entrepreneurial people and we knew the owners of Ace were as well, and we all decided to make a venture together.”

Rupp and Cawood put up capital for the project, and Bredemeyer began working with potential customers, including electronics retailers and warehouse operations, to find out exactly what they would want from a cloud-based inventory management system.

SASSI was in testing about three months before it was launched. “We didn’t want to build something that wasn’t based off of customers’ real needs. The product received a complete facelift during that testing time frame,” Bredemeyer said.

The system runs on iPads, but users can view their inventory data through any Web browser. The basic package, which sells for $2,000, includes an iPad, barcode scanner, label printer and three user identifications.

SASSI also requires a subscription fee of $99 per month for data hosting and upgrades, which come out every other week. The upgrades include any necessary bug fixes as well as new features. The company may obtain a patent for SASSI, but “our motto here is to compete by always building,” Bredemeyer said.

The system is fast and integrates well with Bluetooth barcode scanners, label printers and regular printers, so users encounter no lag in the generation of up-to-date, inventory-based reports and documents, Bredemeyer said.

Bredemeyer said the company has encountered fears among potential customers in the Fort Wayne area that their data will not be secure in the cloud.

But he said he alleviates those concerns by explaining the data are backed up twice an hour and stored at server farms at two different ends of the country, where the data centers that house them have far more security than most SASSI customers have. SASSI Systems also uses twice the encryption called for by industry standards.

Signature Mac in Fort Wayne is the iPad supplier for the basic SASSI package. It loads the software and SASSI branding onto them and ships them to customers around the world.

“We expect after the first of the year to see sales pick up,” Bredemeyer said. “I would like to see us hit 30 to 50 licenses in use by clients next year … We can scale it to meet any number of clients; our servers can handle that. I’d like to see it used eventually by thousands and thousands of clients.”