EMERGE App wants to put inventory management software in the pocket of every small and medium-sized business around the world
Business applications are often overlooked compared to their media-friendly, headline-grabbing consumer siblings — think social media, shopping and messaging apps. However, the market for business software is too large to be ignored. A surprising percentage of traditional businesses around the world are still using pen-and-paper, spreadsheets and PDF forms to manage their operations.
EMERGE App wants to move these brick-and-mortar businesses into the cloud by offering a user-friendly web application with powerful, automated workflows for inventory management. Like many apps today it works on a “freemium” model by offering a free account with some limitations. Interestingly, upgrading to a paid subscription costs far less than what small business owners spend on morning coffee in a month.
CEO Benjamin Yee certainly knows a thing or two about the issues that small and medium-sized businesses face in adopting technology with a limited budget. Prior to founding EMERGE App in 2016, Ben ran a string of successful and profitable startups. One of them was a custom t-shirt printing business that he started while finishing higher studies.
“I sold t-shirts as a part-time gig because I needed money to travel,” Ben admits. “It grew beyond my wildest dreams as I was matching bulk orders from businesses, schools and government agencies with a low-cost manufacturing plant in a neighbouring country.”
But it was not the apparel business that would catapult Ben into the limelight with a global presence. The EMERGE App inventory management software is currently used by over 1,000 users from 40 countries spread across 5 continents. No mean feat for a company that is 2 years old.
“As a small business owner myself I experienced all the teething pains and frustrations in dealing with physical inventory,” Ben explains. “I was using spreadsheets to manage my inventory but it didn’t scale nor was it real-time. I had no idea what my actual stock levels were for each line of t-shirts. Customers weren’t getting invoiced properly. Cash was being increasingly tied up in slow-moving stock. It was honestly a hot mess inside.”
Like any small business owner, Ben looked at the available software options in the market. They were dismissed as too expensive, too complicated or simply not matching the requirements of the business. A decision was then made to write an in-house software solution to manage their inventory.
“You could say that I had an epiphany at that point,” Ben shares. “I could either continue selling t-shirts in my small local market or sell software that could benefit small and medium-sized businesses around the world. I chose the second option.”
Along with a new company spun off from the in-house software, Ben also established an agenda and a core set of values that still apply today. “Number one, I want to make my business software affordable for every company out there,” Ben says. “I really share the pain of business owners and I want to make their search for inventory management software an easy one.”
The finished product, EMERGE App, encapsulates a lot of Ben’s values. It has been applauded for an attractive and user-friendly software interface. “Some of my employees have worked with big ERP and CRM software in the past. They can appreciate how far we’ve come since then and what can be done in the business software space when you start with a blank slate without any rules or limits. You can literally pick up my app and start using it without any training or thick manuals.”
Today, EMERGE App is at the cusp of a Series A round. It was bootstrapped in the beginning to the tune of $1 million dollars from consulting and systems integration work from yet another startup founded by Ben. Early seed-stage funds came from angel investors and venture capital firms wanting a slice of the business software market. Ben plans to take EMERGE App to the next level of growth by opening more physical offices and hiring more staff in each major market around the world.