IndustryStar Solutions, based at 330 E. Liberty St., Suite 3F in Ann Arbor, is a small but fast-growing software company with potential to change the supply chain management field.
Founded in 2013 by William Crane, Tony Lancione, and Matt Forster, the company provides "supply chain as a service," as well as offering a supply chain management software platform that client companies can choose to use or not.
Crane and Forster met while earning their MBAs at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business and started the company as a class project. They later added Lancione, whom Crane had known since junior high.
In 2014, the startup moved to TechArb, the university's student venture accelerator, then moved into a small office in the lower level of Ann Arbor SPARK Central in early 2015. Since the autumn of 2015, the company has been operating out of the third floor of the same building that houses SPARK.
Ben Ludy, IndustryStar's senior manager for marketing and design, says the company has grown "steadily" every year since it was founded. Although last year was a slower year for the company, it still added a few new employees and landed some larger clients. ChicagoInno recently featured the company as one of 15 Ann Arbor Tech Companies to Watch.
The executive team's Michigan roots aren't the only reason the company has stayed in the Ann Arbor area, Ludy says.
"We've found a lot of talented software engineers and programmers right here in southeast Michigan, especially ones who have gone to schools like the University of Michigan," he says.
He adds that Michigan State University and Western Michigan University house some of the best supply chain management programs in the state, and many IndustryStar employees come from those schools as well. Additionally, automotive companies were some of IndustryStar's first clients, so staying in Michigan made sense from that standpoint as well.
On the "supply chain as a service" front, IndustryStar helps companies with strategy, procurement, quality, and logistics. For instance, a customer may have intellectual property rights to a new technology, but he or she isn't sure how to get it built.
"They come to us, and we source the parts to build their widget and manage any further production after that," Ludy says. IndustryStar can also use its network to help the client find appropriate people to assemble the parts and manage the process, he adds.
The company's supply chain software program is the real innovation, though. Ludy says the current industry standard is managing projects in spreadsheets, but IndustryStar's supply chain management platform goes beyond the spreadsheet's capabilities.
"We turned our spreadsheets into software applications so you can manage everything all in one place online, have it be accessible from anywhere, and have multiple people work inside the project simultaneously making changes or deleting data, with the ability to see the change history," Ludy says. "We're telling clients, 'Scrap your spreadsheet. We have a better way to manage this sort of data.'"
This piece is part of a series highlighting local business growth in the Ann Arbor area. It is supported by Ann Arbor SPARK.
Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township. You may reach her at email@example.com.