14 Apr 2016
Andon Analytics
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Andon Analytics monitors how manufacturing lines are operating, providing real-time analytics and insights with a high degree of accuracy. Team members: Tim Massey (MBA 2016) and Meaghan Fitzgerald (MBA 2016)

How did the idea for your company come about?

Co-founder Tim Massey began developing the basic idea for Andon Analytics while working at a manufacturing plant before coming to HBS. While there, he was frustrated by a lack of access to real-time and accurate data about how his plant was operating and by the exorbitant time and expense that would have been required to install a system to provide these data.

During his time at HBS, particularly learning about the lean startup methodology in courses such as The Entrepreneurial Manager, Tim noticed that continuous improvement methods (which borrowed so much from the manufacturing world) were super-charged by access to data while factories themselves still relied on manual data collection for much of their analysis and improvement metrics.

Tim recruited co-founder Meaghan Fitzgerald, who brought a background in software development and technology startups and was excited by the opportunity to bring new technology into a space that was so lacking in digital solutions. Together, they believed it was possible to provide real-time access to factory performance metrics at a low cost and to prove this theory, built their first hardware and software prototype the summer of 2015. With that work, Andon Analytics was born.

What does your company do? How is it distinct in its product/service category?

Andon Analytics brings real-time reporting to the factory floor. By using a combination of hardware components that collect data from the manufacturing line and software to analyze these data, the full Andon Analytics package provides factory operators with detailed real-time insights into their performance and output. These data allow factories to improve and optimize their performance, analyze downtime in the plant, reduce losses and improve operating costs.

Andon Analytics provides a viable alternative to the status quo utilized by many of the 250,000 small and medium sized factories in the US. Most of these factories manually collect performance and output data by hand on spreadsheets and clipboards due to the unfeasible costs of buying enterprise factory analytics systems, and the high barriers to installation. However, Andon Analytics allows them to install such a system at a significantly lower cost and lower installation time compared to alternatives due to its plug-and-play nature, meaning that instead of shutting down a factory for weeks to install a customized enterprise analytics system, a line only needs to be down for an hour.

Where do you hope to take it in the future?

Both Tim and Meaghan are excited to carry Andon Analytics forward after graduation. Since launch they have expanded the team to include manufacturing expert Dave Cox to support the product development process, as well as a team of advisors in the areas of manufacturing, B2B sales and growing startups. In the next few months they will be focused on bringing on more pilot partners to use the Andon Analytics system.

How has your time at HBS influenced your efforts on your company?

HBS has been a fantastic environment to grow a small business. Not only did the RC curriculum (including TEM and Field 3) provide a valuable framework for thinking about how to communicate the Andon Analytics strategy and value proposition, but the Rock Accelerator Program and iLab VIP program both offered the team a way to connect with experienced mentors and get seed funding to build out the first version of the service. Going forward, the Andon team looks forward to connecting with HBS alumni and classmates in related industries who to act as mentors and partners as the company grows.

Any advice you’d offer to other young entrepreneurs?

The sooner you can create a prototype the better. And there are almost always ways to create a prototype even in what seems like a very complex field. At first, we were daunted by the prospect of building a hardware component with sensors, computers to interpret data from the sensors and the ability to send it to the cloud. But we broke down the process into its different components and found the parts and people to make our first Andon box a reality. This gave us a ton of leverage in going to potential customers and partners and showing that we were serious about solving this problem!

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