Not everyone imagines being in a leadership position of a company straight out of college, but in the case of Auburn-based start-up Flashtract, a construction contract billing application, its founders are a team of Auburn engineering and business graduates.
“It is a lot of work, and the thing that I enjoy most about it is that I get to learn so much and it’s actually real stuff,” said Blair Chenault, CEO of Flashtract. “Having my hands in so many different things just makes it really exciting to come to work every day.”
The software acts as a mediator between construction contractors and their clients by creating paperwork for project payment that allows the contractor to fill out basic logistical information, while Flashtract sorts out the more complex figures.
“All they have to do is put in how much work they completed and how many materials they bought,” Chenault said. “After that, we generate the rest of the form, do all the math for them and send it to whoever it needs to go to. It really cuts down on the mistakes of missing documentation, incorrectly filled out fields or math errors.”
Chenault first conceptualized the company in his senior year at Auburn with his close friend Ben Conry, co-founder and chief revenue officer of Flashtract. Conry said he recalls how the two started as students with an idea they built in between engineering classes.
“Every night, [Blair and I] would go over to his house, and in his guest bedroom he had a big whiteboard,” he said. “We would spend hours working on the concept, working on the problems, trying to figure out the industry and surveying potential contractors.”
Conry had experience working for Birmingham-based contractor Brasfield & Gorrie but noticed that the majority of payment from building clients and contractors was still performed on paper. He approached Chenault, who had worked for NASA and Wells Fargo in learning software development, and the two set a plan in motion to make the process easier electronically.
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“I was able to reach out to a lot of my friends and connections and contacts within the industry to really help us flesh out the idea more,” Conry said. “Just because something’s paper-based doesn’t mean if you put software in it, it’s going to fix it.”
The start-up would go on to be selected as part of the University’s Tiger Cage Accelerator program, which granted them office space in Auburn Research Park. After officially launching last month, Flashtract is now based in a warehouse on Pumphrey Avenue with assistance from the City of Auburn and has grown to be a five-member team.
“We are right in the middle of a huge push, trying to get our name out there and trying to bring people on,” Chenault said. “Since we launched about a month ago, we’ve already added 35 companies through the system.”
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