PlanGuru kicks off Westchester business accelerator
PlanGuru, a business software company that had a near-death experience just four years ago, has been chosen as the first company to enter the Westchester County Association's Blueprint Accelerator Network, officials announced Monday.
The maker of software that lets small- and medium-size businesses develop financial forecasts like those at large corporations has agreed to stay in Westchester County for at least two years beyond its two-year term in the accelerator.
In exchange, the company gets 1,635 square feet of office space at 150 Grand St. in White Plains, from SL Green's Reckson division. For the first year, the office space is free. In the second year, PlanGuru will pay half the market rate, said Marissa Brett, the association's executive director of economic development.
In the final two years of the lease, the company will pay market rates, she said.
The six-person company also will get up to 100 billable hours each from legal, search-engine optimization and other service companies in the accelerator network, Brett said.
She said the free and reduced-rate rent and services will add up to big savings for the company.
"If we were going to put a dollar amount, it would be about $200,000," Brett said.
Christian Wielage, chief executive of PlanGuru, said his father, Edward Wielage, was ready to fold the company in 2009, a decade after co-founding it.
At the time, Christian Wielage was working at IBM as the worldwide plan analyst for the global technologies services group and for the first time grasped the potential in his father's business. He urged his father to double down and try to reinvigorate the business.
"We told them, 'Let's take this thing to another level,' " Christian Wielage said.
Christian Wielage left IBM and joined the company in 2010.
To date, PlanGuru has 1,100 customers in 34 countries, mostly in the range of $1 million to $5 million. Its marquee client is the University of Singapore.
Though the private company does not divulge financials, Christian Wielage said that by year's end PlanGuru conservatively will be booking revenue of $100,000 a month as it competes in an "unserved" market against rivals like Centage Corp.'s Budget Maestro software.
Meanwhile, Brett said additional companies are in the Blueprint Accelerator pipeline.
Unlike incubators that "put a bunch of like-minded companies together and hope they breed success," Brett said, the Blueprint Accelerator program is designed for companies with a track record of at least six months of revenue and that need a boost to expand.
Applicants have come from the software, health care and renewable energy sectors.
"We're looking to take companies to the next level," she said.