“We were about doing things that created an environment for companies to be more efficient,” said the Chief Executive Officer and Principal of Efficience. The other Principals are April Cox who serves as the company’s President and Rich James who is the Chief Operating Officer.
During a recent interview with teknovation.biz, D’Amico looked out his second floor office window at the frenzied pace of construction underway at Northshore Town Center. In many respects, the rapid change that is taking place at this large commercial and residential development mirrors the events underway at Efficience.
Prior to founding Efficience in mid-2004, D’Amico was an investment banker who managed an offering called the IPS Funds with the flagship fund being the IPS Millennium Fund. As the regulatory environment changed, D’Amico also sensed another opportunity – one that was driven by his belief that “the world will be dominated by the connection of software.”
The business plan that he developed nearly eight years ago “for the most part has not changed,” D’Amico said, noting that “software development has changed, but not how we help businesses be more efficient.” He added that smart phones were not a commodity in 2004, but mobile communications is having the same impact on society that the Internet did in the mid-1990s.
These trends clearly are driving Efficience’s long-term thinking. The company, Knoxville’s second-largest software development and consulting firm, merged in late January with Knoxville-based Blue Media Boutique, an interactive creative services company. The two companies had been collaborating on projects for a year.
Efficience started operations on Cross Park Drive before it recently purchased space in a three-story condominium building overlooking the lake at Northshore Town Center. “We bought our office condo with the idea of growth,” D’Amico said.
The company is also expanding from customized software development for others in areas like mobile applications for iPhones and Android devices as well as eLearning to developing its own line of products based on software called “Sluice.” D’Amico explains the new offering “helps gather requirements for what you are going to build and allow for necessary interaction to link everyone involved.”
Efficience’s web page promotes “Sluice” as integrating with Basecamp, a popular web-based project management tool; organizing massive amounts of requirement information; allowing easy online collaboration with project stakeholders; and controlling information around requirements, documentation and discussions.
D’Amico sees a strong shift from using mobile devices to simply stay in contact with others to being a powerful tool for transactions and ecommerce.
“We’ve been talking about the need to build ecommerce tools that are proprietary to a company,” he said.
“Our growth will come from the scalability of software products like ‘Sluice’,” D’Amico said. “You have to get it right in the marketplace. Our products of the future will be open-ended to allow us to fill a space to address a pain a lot of people are having.”
D’Amico grew-up in Rochester, NY, but he had connections to East Tennessee through his mother’s side of the family and decided to attend UT. After graduating from the University of Tennessee, D’Amico has remained here through his several careers.
The merger with Blue Media Boutique brought eight creative services, graphic design and social media professionals to Efficience’s team of 50, which included software developers and technical staff based both locally in Knoxville and in Efficience’s office in Puducherry, India.
One of D’Amico’s challenges is finding qualified people. “It’s tough to find talent in Knoxville,” he said, adding that “I might be a little picky.” Nevertheless, it took him six months to fill a software architect vacancy.
Up to now, D’Amico said that his biggest challenge has been “pulling together the right team.” Looking to the future, he sees the greatest challenge as “moving forward in the right niches where we can be successful. We have to integrate into environments that allow us to be successful.”
To that end, Efficience “got on Basecamp’s affiliated site in the fall,” D’Amico said. That has created “global awareness.” Until then, most of the customers were local, but “Sluice” has positioned the company as a global player.
Just as the landscape is changing outside Efficience’s window overlooking Northshore Town Center, it is also changing in terms of its products, customer base and opportunities.