When you’re running a software-as-a-service business in a blue-collar town, whose company culture and values rest in the grit and determination of blue-collar workers, you better get ready to prove yourself.
Pointman CEO and co-founder Steve Kiernan II has proved himself time and again as an entrepreneur in Buffalo— he’s learned that some of the hardest fights to win are with yourself.
Before he reached this point, he broke the rules by entering spaces where he didn’t belong.
His father was an entrepreneur working in the technology and consulting industry, and Kiernan often traveled with him to his places of business.
“From as early as I can remember, I was literally carrying my briefcase to whatever company he had created,” Kiernan said.
It was a sign of behaviors to follow—when he was a teenager, he and four of his middle school friends created Lighthouse BBS, an online bulletin board system for tech and video game hobbyists.
With the entrepreneurial gene boiling in his blood, the CEO experienced success—and failure—early on. The most devastating blow was delivered by his father, the first person to fire him from a job, when he was 20-years-old.
But for a CEO in a city where people have to fight for everything—parking spots downtown, wins for our sports teams—this lesson is more of a rite of passage than it is a shocking plot twist.
“There’s a way that you respond to that,” Kiernan said of the experience. “You learn, you toughen up, you pick yourself back up, and you do better.”
The wake-up call taught him to never take things for granted, to stick to his commitments, and that it's okay to admit what you don't know. These reminders helped him chart a journey into a professional tech career.
The Brisbane Building in downtown Buffalo is the birthplace of his three tech companies, the field service management app Field Nimble, SWRemote, and his latest innovation, Pointman.
Launched in 2006 and rebranded in 2017, Pointman is the only field service management software on the market that offers industry coaching, data review, performance analysis, and a support network of peers all in one solution. The mobile and web platform has serviced more than 10,000 contractors in the residential HVACR, electrical, and plumbing industries across the United States.
Kiernan emphasized the quality of the onboarding process, which he said differentiates his product from his competitors: “Our onboarding and customer success team takes a much deeper dive into looking at your business, data, analytics, personalities, your team, and all of the underlying policies, data, and structure of that to help you make decisions about your operation.”
His transition into technology servicing businesses in the home service industry is what he calls a “Wonderfully Buffalo” story.
“That has a lot to do with relationships in town,” Kiernan said. “It was just a few degrees of separation across four people.”
Kiernan and Algonquin Studios team Steve Raines and Greg Dooley, who are also co-founders of Pointman, made a Buffalo connection while traveling and working on several projects in different industries.
That led to an opportunity with a large organization based in Florida, and they were asked to create software to help run a national call center used for home service franchises.
After that project was a success, a leader in the home service software space, based in Buffalo, enlisted their help to design a mobile software product. This was at a time when “going to the app store” wasn’t possible, notes Kiernan. This product became SWRemote.
“It was super hard,” Kiernan said of the task. “Years later, parts of it remain much more difficult than the traditional software model.”
The company gave Kiernan and his team 75 customers to test the software against, and 74 of the 75 customers jumped ship.
It was this moment that made the CEO question whether he and his team were the right fit for the job.
“I don’t know if we were too determined or too stupid, but some combination of those two things,” Kiernan said.
They didn’t quit when times were tough, and that attitude is also wonderfully Buffalo.
Kiernan and his team did some research and, after learning more about the industry they were servicing, clients came back, and in larger numbers, until there were over 10,000 technicians using the SWRemote app in the field.
The experience with this product and the growing knowledge of the industry ultimately led to the creation of Pointman.
Now dedicated to making every homeowner love their contractor, and helping every HVACR, electrical, and plumbing business reach their revenue potential, Kiernan is focusing his efforts on the aspect of Pointman’s brand that matters most: aspiration.
“When people are at their best, they aspire to something,” the entrepreneur said.
“I would love to meet a person who has achieved 100 percent of the goals they set for themselves, but if I’m being honest, some of the best people are constantly striving for whatever’s next.”