Selling a majority stake in his IT consulting firm will allow Kevin Williams to focus on and expand his startup venture, the Kansas City tech entrepreneur said.
Although the exact amount was undisclosed, the acquisition by Ohio-based Metisentry earlier this month provided a big enough payoff to fund Williams’ and his wife’s future retirement, as well as a $200,000 investment in Williams’ startup, WISE Power Inc.
“I am so happy that this sale has brought me the best of both worlds,” Williams said. “Now not only can I continue to provide the cybersecurity services to the Department of Defense (through WillCo) and other government agencies in the future, but now I am relieved that I can continue to expand the new opportunity that is before me with WISE.”
Williams plans to maintain a seat on WillCo Technologies’ board, he said. Launched in 2006, WillCo provides custom software development, software-as-a-service maintenance and systems integration consulting. In 2014, the firm brought on all 1.5 million registered users of the U.S. Army, via a partnership with the Department of Defense.
“It’s extremely gratifying to be able to see an idea that I thought of about 12 years ago turn into a company that has come full circle, provided stocks for people and allowed me to exit with enough money for retirement,” he said. “I will also say, I’ve been able to work on my golf game the past couple days and play guilt-free without feeling as though I was cheating on my company.”
Williams is excited to give WISE Power, founded in 2016, an extra push, without straddling two projects at once. The startup can now begin to excel at it’s fullest potential, he said.
Its energy device, the WISE P.O.D., utilizes patented IoT technology that stores electricity via a smart grid. Users can then monitor and manage their energy uses and identify opportunities to reduce waste via a mobile app, Williams said.
With the average American household wasting as much as 61 percent of its energy input, the emerging smart grid industry is projected to reach about $19 billion by the end of this year.
In the not so distant future, every home will have the capacity to renew and store energy inputs, bringing more sustainable and cheaper power to families, Williams said.
The founder was drawn to the opportunity to scale WISE Power and put his patents to work, he said.
“I realized that the potential for WISE was bigger than just being a division of my consulting company,” Williams said. “I found myself when I woke up naturally gravitating toward wanting to do things with WISE. … This is the core of why this acquisition was so needed. As an entrepreneur, I found myself with two very large opportunities. It was not humanly possible to be able to take advantage of both of those opportunities and also do them efficiently.”
Before this month’s sale of WillCo Technologies, Williams had already bootstrapped about $250,000 of his own funds into WISE Power, he said. Starting next week, the startup is slated to launch on StartEngine, a crowdfunding accelerator program based in Los Angeles.
Howard Marks, the billionaire founder of StartEngine as well as the founder of the Guitar Hero and Call of Duty franchises, reached out to Williams to help WISE Power scale, he said. The interest was validating, Williams said.
In addition to working with StartEngine and raising capital, WISE Power plans to focus the year ahead on finishing the hardware needed to take the WISE Pods and controllers to market.
“My No. 1 priority is just to build out the platform,” Williams said. “I’m excited to start to give this venture the attention it deserves.”