Gearworks Takes On Apathy

With $11 million in fresh capital, Gearworks has set a plan in motion. The Minneapolis-based company develops mobile and Web-based applications to improve business communications, but it has found a market that isn’t in tune with its message.

“Apathy is our biggest competitor and that’s not the name of the company,” says Keith Lauver, founder and chief executive officer of Gearworks. “It’s a function of the fact that this is a new market. There are new ways of doing business and we encounter [potential] customers who don’t know it and aren’t educating themselves on all their options.”

Gearworks makes a software application that runs on hand-held devices and allows mobile workers, like plumbers, contractors and electricians to essentially have electronic clipboards.

“The software will tell you who is out on a job and where exactly they are, what jobs are being done and what still needs to be done, and it lets you see the dispatch centers if you are away from the office” says Lauver. “It saves time and makes it easier to manage the business.”

The device, which comes with the software embedded, costs anywhere from $100 to $200 a month.

The Series B financing was co-led by new investor Ignite Group and BlueStream Ventures. DRW Venture Partners, an affiliate of RBC Capital Markets, also participated in the round. The new cash will be used to support sales and marketing efforts.

Gearworks is targeting the field services and transportation segments, including messengers, plumbers and home or commercial service delivery people. In the near future, Gearworks expects to focus on campus-based industries such as hospitality and health care.

Tony Cannestra, a principal at Ignite Group – which invested $3 million in the deal – and a new member of Gearworks’ board of directors, heard of Gearworks from Bluestream and was immediately interested. “We do a lot in the area of chip sets, but not on the application side,” he says. “This rounds out our portfolio and it’s really seeing tremendous growth. It’s amazing how much excitement this is generating.”

The company, which introduced its product in October 2000, expects to be profitable by the end of this year.

Gearworks raised $6.4 million in a Series A round, which closed in October 2000. RBC Capital Markets, formally known as Dain Raucher Wessels, led the round.

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