Homegrown technology for small businesses

Feb 15, 2013
Homegrown technology for small businesses

The concept of buying local is catching on as consumers increasingly shop for products that are locally grown or produced, from organic vegetables to handmade soap to grass-fed beef.

So why not technology? A number of apps, software programs and other technologies are developed right here in our own backyard, throughout Hampton Roads and Virginia. Designed with small business owners in mind, these homegrown tools just might make your company more sustainable:

By using your laptop or mobile screen as a canvas, this service eliminates paperwork and allows you to share business forms – from invoices to work orders to inspection checklists – with clients and colleagues. The Canvas store has a variety of such apps for industries including retail, construction, health care, finance, agriculture and manufacturing. Users can also create and submit their own ideas.

Cost: From 50 cents per app submission to $210 for an unlimited annual plan
Creator: Canvas
Birthplace: Reston

This software program juggles your projects for you – and keeps clients in the loop. Planscope is ideal for working with clients that need a little more hand-holding through the process. Users manage multiple projects by creating tasks and milestones for each one. For billing purposes, a timer measures the hours you clock; a progress bar shows how much you’ve completed and what the budget is. In addition to hourly billing, Planscope recently added daily, weekly and per-task functions.

Cost: Monthly rates include $24 for individual freelancers, $49 for small businesses with no more than three Planscope team members and $99 for subscribers with up to 10 team members.
Creator: Brennan Dunn
Birthplace: Chesapeake

Podium Pro/Podium Cue
Want to command the podium at your next presentation? Designed for iPads, these two apps help public speakers organize their thoughts. Podium Pro’s features include on-the-spot editing, a color-coded timer bar and synchronization with DropBox. Podium Cue is like a digital version of old-school index cards.

Cost: $3.99 for Podium Pro, $2.99 for Podium Cue
Creator: Magoozle LLC
Birthplace: Virginia Beach

Successful business owners have tons of clients and other contacts. So it’s not surprising that they occasionally forget how they know the person who’s calling. An uber-version of caller ID, Ringio’s online telephone system displays a caller’s profile – name, title, photo, call history, any notes you’ve made – on your computer screen or smartphone. Ringio is designed to help small business owners “make the most of each phone interaction,” said CEO Sam Aparicio. “Big businesses have had this technology for a long time, but it’s been out of reach for small businesses because it’s too complicated or expensive,” he said.

Cost: $25 a month per user
Creator: Ringio
Birthplace: Tysons Corner

Xtuple PostBooks 4.0
Released in December, the latest version of this QuickBooks rival includes a mobile app for using the software’s various tools – accounting, sales, purchasing, customer management and more – on an iPad, smartphone or other mobile device. The new PostBooks, which is an open-source business-management software program, also introduces intra-company instant messaging and enhanced cloud capacity.

Cost: Free for basic download. Other options include $400 a year for xTuple PostBooks (commercial) and $700 a year for xTuple Standard.
Creator: xTuple
Birthplace: Norfolk