Like many, the pandemic slowed down one Richardson company’s growth, but Varsha Bhave isn’t about to pull back.
Systemates, which provides software for the construction market, expanded its employee rolls in the past year — and is set to do even more of that in 2021, Bhave said. At the same time, it’s expanded a key part of its technology and is making other improvements.
“We… take the opportunities as they come along,” Bhave, president, said in an interview. “‘Keep your head down and do your work, and opportunities automatically show up,’ is usually our modus operandi.”
The company, which dates back to the 1990s, should see sales growth of about 30-40 percent this year after a slowdown to about 15 percent last year amid the pandemic that hampered new customer demand. The company grew about 45 percent in 2019.
Systemates is helping in a specific but needed area of technology in the building industry. This local software company has focused on owners of the actual projects, be that retail stores, a local government effort, a health care facility, or other areas. The technology provides cloud-based construction management tools.
Varsha Bhave, Systemates
It’s an area still ripe for growth and more technology adoption, Bhave said, as the industry still relies on some traditional tools. Systemates has attracted customers that include Best Buy, T-Mobile and UT Southwestern Medical Center.
The company, which has about 25 employees, has hired about a half dozen people in the last year and should add around 10 more in the next 12 months or so, she said.
“We are across all industries,” she said. “Our product is configurable so that it can be implemented quickly.”
Bhave spoke with the Dallas Business Journal about how COVID-19 has impacted the company, and more:
Can you talk more about your offerings?
Our software provides a secure platform where teams can work together and collaborate on project information from concept to close out. If you look at the construction industry, there are three different major groups: contractors and subcontractors, architects and engineers.
Then we have owners. We focus on project owners — and our product helps them get real time data to ensure that projects stay on schedule and within budget. The product… has 40 different modules. Our customers use it to manage documents, manage photos. We have a full cost control suite (among other things).
What have you seen with COVID-19?
I would be lying if I told you it didn’t affect us. It affected us. The signing of new customers is not as robust because the decision-making process takes multiple parties. They’re not in one place. What we found out is that for our existing customers — their people are working remotely, so they require more licenses. So, our existing customers grew.
From a business perspective, from our side, we thought this was the perfect opportunity to grab some talent. We’ve been adding additional people in all departments. The product works very well; our product is very sticky — and it provides them kind of peace of mind knowing that the projects are going well or if there is a problem they can spot it quickly.
What do you see for 2021?
This year, people say, ‘Oh, the COVID vaccine is coming —and the pandemic is going to slow down.’ But I don’t think that will actually happen before for at least for two quarters.
I have to say that more and more people who were saying, ‘We’ll talk to you next year,’ are now returning calls. They are asking for additional demos, and they’re asking for additional information about the product — more in the quarter than they were in the last quarter. We’re taking the very cautiously positive approach.
What is your business management philosophy as you navigate this time?
We want to make sure that we grow. Last year we put a lot of attention to developing our product. Last year we completed a new API (application programming interface) and with 1,000 endpoints, which is really large. Current customers can use it to integrate our product with almost anything in the world.
Late last year we also started another initiative to modernize our product — because our product has been around for a little while so we’ve been updating small portions of it. But now, we have taken up this this challenging project of rewriting the entire user interface to be more modern.
This interview is edited for brevity and clarity.