Eric Fogg was working on a shop floor and was not impressed with what he saw. Products delivered late. Frustrated workers yelling at each other. Nobody knowing what exactly was happening inside the company.
Some manufacturing companies still use whiteboards or even pieces of paper to keep track of their operations. In an era of Big Data, he recognized it didn’t have to be that way.
So he and two colleagues founded MachineMetrics in Northampton, Massachusetts, bringing the cutting-edge “Internet of Things” to the world of manufacturing.
Many manufacturers are needlessly hampered by a lack of communication between machine operators, their managers, and the machines themselves. They wanted to develop a platform that would link internal shop floor systems, and the people who ran them, so they could finally share information. By providing visualizations of real-time production data, predictive notifications, and historical analytics, MachineMetrics would help supervisors make sharper decisions and maximize their productivity.
The founders, including Fogg and Bill Bither, met at a VVM Mentorship meeting and soon after, enrolled in VVM’s Mentorship Program. Marketing Director Graham Immerman described Fogg and Bither’s Mentorship program experience as a “tremendous opportunity,” to work with investors and hone their product pitches: “Having that sounding board of mentors [gave us an] introspective look about ourselves as a company [so we could] continuously improve our product — just like we do for our customers.”
MachineMetrics was later accepted in the VVM’s intensive five-month Startup Accelerator program, which culminates with a competition for equity-free funding. The Accelerator judges awarded MachineMetrics with $32,000.
With that extra funding and wisdom in hand, MachineMetrics began to take off. Before working with VVM, the company had four employees. Now payroll is at 20. The founders were able to raise $3 million in seed round investment, and the company’s revenue has zoomed into the millions.
The company’s growth is not only good for itself, but for a Western Massachusetts region that has long been a manufacturing hub. While the Pioneer Valley is known as being part of the high-tech “Knowledge Corridor,” 10 percent of the area’s workforce remains in manufacturing. MachineMetrics, by marrying the region’s industrial past and future, has the potential to keep Valley manufacturing alive.
“Some of our seminal customers, who have become subsequently some of our largest advocates, are located in the Western Mass area,” noted Immerman. “We’ve been able to employ talented people from the area, utilize resources from the area – you’d be amazed at how many people from some of the larger tech hubs in the country are blown away by our locationality. “
In January 2018, MachineMetrics was honored by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative with a NextGEN Award, signifying excellence in disruptive technology, rapidly scaling operations, diverse hiring and regional economic impact. Of the six NextGEN winners, MachineMetrics was the only one from Western Massachusetts.
VVM CEO Liz Roberts noted that the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative was one of the “visionary organizations” — along with the MassMutual Foundation, the Davis Foundation and the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts — that gave VVM early investment and support.
“We were gratified to see one of our graduates earn such special recognition from one of our patrons,” said Roberts, “And it’s proof that the investment in the Valley is paying off, not just for individual entrepreneurs, but for the economic health of the region.