PART 1: Andrew May turns adversity into opportunity
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a two-part series on Andrew May, a West Coast transplant who is growing a well-respected mobile software development business while also giving back to his adopted hometown.)
By Tom Ballard, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Initiatives, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.
Andrew May relocated from Arizona to Knoxville in 2006 at the request of his employer, only to see Anderson News shut its doors two years later.
During those 24 months, however, he had adopted Knoxville as his permanent hometown and laid a foundation that led to the launch of a new company that has established a strong brand in the mobile software development business.
Today, even as he grows ADM Software, May is also focused on seeing that something else that he values highly – Knoxville – reaches its full potential.
“As I’m growing, I’m giving back to the community,” the upbeat and energetic entrepreneur says of his involvement in activities at the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center and helping lead Knoxville’s CodeStock conference that has set a new bar for the 2015 event later this summer.
When one talks to May, you feel that he is one of those individuals who is totally committed to whatever he agrees to do. That was certainly the case with the move to Knoxville.
“I had been working with them for a while,” he says of his position as a Senior Systems Analyst at Anderson News. The company asked him to relocate to Knoxville. May and his wife visited and said, “Heck, yes. This is a fun town.”
So, they packed-up and moved across the country. With the exception of occasional trips back west to visit relatives, their feet are firmly planted in East Tennessee.
“I saw the handwriting on the wall,” May says in describing the changing market conditions that led to demise of his employer. (NOTE: Charlie Anderson described the shutdown in a 2010 piece in the Greater Knoxville Business Journal.)
In pondering their future, May says his wife, Janet, helped make the decision an easy one. “What you do is amazing,” she said in describing the quality of his work. Janet also recognized the rapidly changing landscape that would demand more and more software development, particularly for mobile devices.
As a result, what had been part-time outside consulting work turned into the new company named ADM Software Consulting. Janet, a person he describes as “amazing,” is the Operations Manager who keeps the trains running as May and his team concentrate on meeting customer requirements.
“We were focused on social media aggregation initially,” May says, adding that he had developed “one unique piece of software.” Someone wanted to buy it, so he sold the package just at the right time.
“Mobile was exploding,” May said. It also helped that May had been exposed to the opportunities in mobile thanks to his work at Anderson.
“My focus on mobile came by accident,” he explained. “Anderson was developing a mobile proof of delivery system.” This would be equivalent to today’s electronic signatures for packages delivered by FedEx or UPS.
As ADM Software pursued the mobile apps development business, it focused initially on Android devices but later expanded to those with the Apple iOS operating system. While not a large part of his business, May says the company “will look at BlackBerry and Windows.”
ADM Software provides consulting and development in areas ranging from native mobile application solutions to the provision of seamless UI (user interface) and UX (user experience) experiences and API (Application Program Interface) and backend development.
Today, ADM has a geographically diverse client base, some of whom are former school classmates. It includes local companies like Knoxville-based PerfectServe as well as BigTime, a Chicago-based time and billing software company, and BiTE Interactive, a mobile development company.
“I went to school with some really bright guys who went to work for some really large companies,” May says. He maintained those contacts, a lesson for young entrepreneurs to learn.
“Keep your networks open and inviting,” he says.
NEXT: Knoxville has been good for May, and he is returning the favor.