KeyedIn Solutions: A Mixture of Old and New with Veterans Klaus at the Helm

You might not have heard of KeyedIn Solutions yet, but if you have been following the enterprise application/ERP space for any length of time, you will have heard of the founders of the young company: George and Lauri Klaus. George is the former Chairman of the Board and the CEO of Epicor Software, where he led that company from $30M to a valuation of $980M as it was acquired by Ajax Partners and merged with Activant. Lauri, who is George’s wife, was also at Epicor, most recently as Executive Vice President, Worldwide Sales and Services. George is now Chairman of the Board and Lauri is on the front line as CEO. As a former Marine, George always impressed me with his management style and leadership ability. I never really got to speak at length with Lauri, but she seems to have many of the same characteristics of her husband, including a concern for customers, the team and investors – in that order.

This makes their new company similar in philosophy to their old company. Back at Epicor George was known to say, “Some things shouldn’t and won’t change, including our priorities: customers, employees and shareholders.” He and Lauri have brought those priorities to their new startup. Other similarities exist as well. Epicor was (and still is) largely an ERP company which grew through acquisition. Early indications are that KeyedIn Solutions places itself in the ERP space, although not squarely in competition with Epicor. But only six months after kickoff, it just announced its second acquisition.

Following its announcement back in December of its majority ownership of Datacom International, on January 24, 2012 KeyedIn confirmed a formal, recommended offer for the acquisition of Atlantic Global PLC for $8M. Datacom provided KeyedIn with an initial product to sell – a solution for custom sign manufacturing, while Atlantic Global PLC, is a provider of Professional Services Automation and Project Portfolio Management solutions. Even the Datacom acquisition sits a bit outside of the traditional ERP market, although two more traditional solutions (dataSTOR – for discrete manufacturers and dataFAB – for metal fabricators and job shops) are planned for Q1 and Q2 2012 respectively. But Atlantic Global definitely sits on the periphery and I would argue is not ERP, but more PPM (project portfolio management).

Earlier this month I spoke with Karen Adame, CFO of KeyedIn. Karen also plays the role of CMO, which at first glance seems a bit odd. However, it made more sense when I learned Karen is an accountant by trade, but spent many years (also with Epicor) in product management and product marketing roles. After having worked directly for Lauri, it is also not surprising that KeyedIn positions itself as both a software and services company. Remember Lauri ran sales and service for Epicor.

Karen explained KeyedIn’s growth strategy was to attack specific micro verticals and expand. The custom sign market is indeed a microvertical. Professional Services is a bit broader, but still focused. Metal fab and job shops are certainly more “niche” than discrete manufacturing. But I wouldn’t blame KeyedIn for taking somewhat of an opportunistic journey.

KeyedIn’s intent is to provide an end to end solution, which today includes manufacturing, warehouse management, financials and CRM, but it will also consider partnering with other solutions such as Intacct and Salesforce in the future. You see, like Intacct and Salesforce.com, KeyedIn solutions are offered exclusively through a SaaS deployment model. These partnerships seem more in line with expanding the footprint that Atlantic Global now occupies with PSO organizations.

With veterans like George and Lauri Klaus at the helm and two acquisitions announced very quickly, KeyedIn Solutions certainly bears watching in both the near and distant future.

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