Since 2010, when Christian Wielage (right) became involved in PlanGuru, a White Plains-based software company that sells financial planning tools to businesses, the company has seen tremendous growth.
Revenues are up an average of 90 percent over three years—a giant increase considering no heroic marketing efforts have been made. And it now boasts more than 1400 clients, some of which have as many as 10 employees using PlanGuru’s software. “We literally have mom-and-pop businesses; we’ve got entrepreneurs who don’t even have businesses yet; and, at the same time, we also have a university budgeting for the entire institution with the product,” says Wielage, who in late 2012 became CEO of the company. “It is night and day to where we were a year ago.”
PlanGuru was started 15 years ago by Wielage’s father, Edward Wielage, and his business partner, Sally Sprankle, who created an exceptional piece of software but weren’t able to actually sell it on a wide scale. “It was very much a lifestyle business,” explains Christian. “Clients showed up at their website, and they either bought the software or they didn’t, and that was it.”
But Christian, who had been working at IBM in the budgeting and planning department, saw much more potential. He realized that there were not that many computer programs out there for small businesses that wanted to create financial forecasts, and that meant PlanGuru was well positioned to fill a huge niche. In 2010, he said goodbye to Big Blue, and began the effort needed to turn PlanGuru into a lucrative and widespread operation.
After Christian, together with his brother, Taylor (left), and longtime friend, Tripp Graham, came onboard, his father and Sprankle spent six months de-bugging and re-writing the now-ancient software (it was 12 years old—an eternity in the lifecycle of software). They took suggestions from clients who had used it over the past decade, and swiftly turned it into a product that met the exact, emerging needs of a wider range of clients. Concurrently, they developed proper support systems for clients who needed help using the product.
After they successfully retooled the software, the team worked on perfecting the company’s internal operations so they could handle the expected increase in sales. They put in place information technology such as CRM, ordering systems, and licensing systems, and moved into a new office (with the help of an accelerator program run by the Westchester County Association), which enabled the team to better work together and achieve much-needed progress. “Having an office, a place to come to during the day, has been a transformative event for us,” says Wielage. At press time, plans were also in the works to launch new products, such as an online analytics tool.
Now, in 2013, the company is working with investors to take their business even further. It is making a round of new hires, and is prepping the rollout of a new marketing plan. Even though PlanGuru has already greatly exceeded its own expectations, these guys know the best is still yet to come. “We’re about to spring on the scene,” promises Wielage.
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