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August 23, 2016 | Tom Ballard

Chattanooga’s Skuid growing by leaps and bounds

SkuidBy Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

Its name — Skuid (pronounced just like “squid”) — may look a bit weird, but the Chattanooga-based technology company is growing by leaps and bounds for a good reason — it is solving a big pain point for its customers.

Ken McElrath, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, says the three-year old company has more than 550 customers around the world, has more than doubled its workforce since the beginning of 2016, and expects that number to triple by the end of the year.

“We’re a cloud UX platform for people to create bespoke apps without writing code,” he told us in a recent interview. The landing page of Skuid’s website says it all: “Assemble made-to-order apps and portals in 90 percent less time. No code. No kidding.”

In essence, Skuid has created a platform architecture that allows a client to connect user interface components to just about any data source and then assemble completely custom apps for a variety of purposes.

With Skuid apps, customers can “make decisions and instantaneously see the impact,” McElrath says. “They can improve communication with their employees and partners.”

The secret sauce is the ability of the customer to create its own apps without having to write code.

McElrath, who moved to Chattanooga eight years ago, says the company was launched in February 2013 as a spinoff of Skoodat, a cloud platform focused on helping educational entities manage their data.

“Customers loved the Skoodat functionality, but hated the original UI (user interface),” he says, adding that the company took another year to improve the UI with a lot of code. While the new UI was much better, McElrath said education customers then wanted to make further customizations for their unique processes. But that meant more code.

“Educators don’t have money laying around to write a bunch of code to improve the user experience,” McElrath says. “We set out to build a platform for creating custom apps that people can customize themselves, without code. When people saw what we were doing, they wanted it for many other business applications.”

Skuid has experienced triple digit growth annually since its founding.

McElrath cites several examples of customers that the company serves. One involves a client that replaced a system that was costing it $4 million a year in maintenance costs alone.

“The Skuid solution gave them greater visibility into what was going on in the enterprise,” he explained, “and on the first day it went operational, they found over $1 billion in opportunities that they had no visibility to before.”

Another example involves a Skuid representative meeting with a large bank in Australia who was asked by the head of IT, “Can you build an application right here in front of me?” Less than a half-hour later, the app was finished, and the head of IT responded, “I need a contract immediately.”

The company’s website is full of similar success stories with a variety of customers including non-profits.

McElrath has strong ties to Chattanooga. Even though he left the area after attending Covenant 30 years ago, he says his three children went to the college, so it was somewhat natural that he decided to relocate from Phoenix to the city.

“We’ve had a significant economic impact on Chattanooga,” he believes, but also quickly points out how the community has embraced his past and present entrepreneurial endeavors. McElrath gives considerable credit to the “Maven of Main Street” for her support. That person is Sarah Morgan, a well-known Chattanooga leader who is currently President of the Benwood Foundation, Inc.

Skuid recently announced it had expanded to Switzerland, its second such international market addition this year. The growth has produced 50 new jobs in Chattanooga thus far in 2016, according to Elle Gamache, Skuid’s Public Relations Manager.

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