Remember the last time you had trouble with Internet technology? Maybe you were trying to open a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet on a tablet, but all you got was an error window or a frozen screen.
Since figuring out how to fix the problem means knowing where the problem is in the first place, the questions can seem endless these days.
“Is the problem with my tablet?” asked Craig Skevington. “Is there a problem with the app I’m using? Is the problem with the server out in San Jose where the document is stored? Is the problem with the Internet trying to connect to it? Is it a configuration issue? Most users can’t begin to ask the right question, let alone answer it.”
That’s where Fixt comes in. The company has turned traditional IT and help desk support on its head, offering a way to diagnose technical problems on any device, from smartphones and tablets to laptops and PCs. Where an Internet company could identify connectivity problems but not device issues, or where a tablet maker could diagnose an app issue but not a server problem, Fixt can do it all.
“There’s a little piece of software that we put on your device and it constantly tells us whether things are functioning properly,” said Skevington. “It’s telling me that the CPU is working and the hard disk is working and those kinds of things. If you click on it, you can connect directly to us and say, ‘Hey, I’m having problems, what’s going on here?’ And almost immediately, we can identify what the problem is.”
Skevington, a serial entrepreneur who lives in Saratoga Springs, created the company last July, and has kept it under the radar for the last year to work out the kinks. Fixt has been so successful in year one that he’s already projecting annual revenue of more than $5 million and a staff of as many as 50 employees within the company’s first three years.
“I’ve always enjoyed taking risks, and to me, starting a company isn’t a singular event, it’s part of a lifestyle,” he said.
That lifestyle has worked pretty well for the 59-year-old president and CEO of Flow Management Technologies. Skevington has started seven companies, some of which have gone on to become publicly traded and land spots on Inc. Magazine’s fastest-growing companies lists.
He’s not exactly sure where his ideas come from, but they tend to be technology-based time savers. He launched his first company in 1986. Factory Automation and Computer Technology was a software company that ran factory production in real time right out on the shop floor. The company grew and eventually went public.
In its first year, Fixt has signed 16 companies and offers support to 282 employees, largely in Saratoga County. Clients include Longfellows, Fingerpaint Marketing and Schultz Construction.
He hopes to sign companies across the Capital Region, eventually growing nationwide. The target is companies with as many as 150 employees, since larger firms tend to have more expansive and dedicated IT staff.
Skevington invested $300,000 in Fixt and said he’s surprised at the diversity of industries it has helped. “We have companies in the hospitality industry, in construction, marketing and graphics,” he said. “We have lawyers and auto dealerships.”
Fixt also provides performance monitoring and tuneups, data backup and virus and spyware protection. With a current staff of six, employees are able to diagnose a problem almost immediately from a remote location, but can also travel to the site if needed.
Services begin at $15 per employee per month. Skevington said businesses that have found Fixt to be the most useful are those that make use of wireless technology, tablets and smartphones.
“Workers are more scattered and more dependent on technology,” he said. “And when something doesn’t work for an employee, they’re stuck. There’s nothing they can do. It’s ‘employee down.’ ”