Measure. Assemble. Test. Repeat.
The monotony of manufacturing jobs might make it difficult for workers to feel appreciated and recognize their impact.
Ampogee’s solution: Game on.
The Greensboro, North Carolina-based startup — which earned a spot on the inaugural Techstars KC cohort last month — has developed a software-as-a service platform, which “gamifies” employee performance.
“We’re trying to put the focus back on the people in the manufacturing industry,” Ampogee co-founder Jonathan Woahn said. “Our mission is to make work more than just showing up and getting a paycheck.’
Taking engagement to the next level
Tracking performance, the platform is customizable and offers real-time data for both employees and leadership teams. Ampogee converts employee performance into trackable points with which a company’s leadership team can use to measure progress toward goals and disperse motivating rewards. The application includes dashboards and analytics, and is available on mobile and desktop.
“It was our goal for this tool to better engage the team members in their work,” Ampogee co-founder Brian Lopatka said. “Historically in the manufacturing industry everyone gets paid the same amount of money, but there is a huge distribution of performance across team members. This leads to resentment — the top resents the bottom because they don’t put as much energy into work and the bottom resents the top because they don’t agree they should be pushing themselves to hard.”
Lopatka and Woahn, who together have more than a decade of experience in the manufacturing industry, agree that workers are motivated by friendly competition and recognition. Ampogee brings these aspects to the work environment, which leads to increased employee efficiency, they said.
Leadership teams can customize Ampogee to meet their employee’s needs, Woahn added.
“Sports references are an easy way to connect with it,” he said. “For example, one possible dashboard might be like a ‘football team’ with different players, different responsibilities but at the end of the day the staff needs to reach 100 points. Or, it might be like ‘golf’ where employees are playing their own sports and progressing toward their own points. Companies can also choose to split departments into teams or have interdepartmental scorecards.”
This gamification leads to increased efficiency, he said.
“A person’s level of engagement makes a crazy difference in how equipment gets utilized,” Woahn said. “Thirty percent of people feel that they are recognized and appreciated for the work they do, but over 80 percent of people want that in the workplace. There is a huge disconnect, and it influences performance.”
Boosted by Techstars ‘give-first mentality’
Ampogee was selected in July for the inaugural Techstars KC cohort. Launched in 2015, the firm has raised more than $100,000 to date and is gearing up to raise a $750,000 seed round.
Woahn has met more mentors and potential customers through the Techstars program in just three weeks than he has in the previous two years running the company, he said.
“Because what we’re doing hasn’t traditionally been done in manufacturing, there’s a lot of evangelizing we’ve got to do, and our audience we’re trying to get in front of is a difficult one to reach,” Woahn said. “When we go after larger companies, there’s multiple people to go through before you meet the decision maker. … With Techstars, we are looking for ways to shortcut that route.”
Ampogee’s platform is already used by seven firms, four of which are global and publicly traded. With a team of four, Lopatka said, there is potential for the firm to hire salespeople in Kansas CIty.
“The cool thing that we have seen so far with Techstars is their give-first mentality,” Lopatka said. “We’ve met with 70 mentors over the past three weeks that have been practically servants to us, doing whatever it takes for us to be successful in the Kansas City area. We’re already seeing fruits start to drop from the trees which has been amazing.”
Techstars is a global, three-month mentor-led program that rapidly accelerates startup companies. The network’s Kansas City program opened its doors in July, welcoming 10 tech firms.
Encompassing nearly the entire fifth floor of WeWork Corrigan Station, the 2017 Techstars KC class is a diverse hodgepodge of industries, including ed tech, artificial intelligence, law, virtual reality, food and more.
In exchange for 6 percent equity, Techstars startups receive $120,000, participation in the accelerator program and access to an impressive list of mentors, as well as Techstars’ global network of alumni and mentors.