Apr 1, 2016

Beloit’s Comply365 flying high and expanding into other industries

Excerpted from WisBusiness.com

By Polo Rocha

Kerry Frank gets apologies these days from those who doubted she could streamline the airline industry.

That’s because Frank’s company, Beloit-based Comply365, now has most of the U.S. market locked down on one of its airline software products, which digitizes flight manuals for pilots.

“Some people in the beginning were really tough on me,” said Frank, the company’s CEO. “They really challenged me to be better, and so today, we are one of the best companies in brand. When you go through hard times, it makes you either cave in or dig in deeper. And it made me dig in deeper, to be even better.”

The company now has about 70 employees and has raised about $15 million, much of that from Columbus, Ohio-based Drive Capital. Comply365 spokeswoman Gina Duwe said about 840,000 employees use the company’s software in several industries, most of them logging on with their mobile devices.

Comply365’s office is in Beloit’s IronTek building, a renovated industrial warehouse that city officials hope will become a tech hub. And at its entrance is a wall that lists Comply365’s wide range of customers, including 10 Fortune 500 companies.

Frank’s first product essentially digitized the old 50-pound bag of documents, such as flight manuals, that pilots had to carry around. Comply365 is among the companies that airlines turn to so they can set up electronic flight bags equipped with tablets.

“There are other solutions in the marketplace, but this one seems to have taken hold,” Ware said.

Comply365 moved from Roscoe, Ill. to Wisconsin in 2012 after Gov. Scott Walker personally called Frank and convinced her to come.

“That was really crazy to me because we only had 17 employees,” Frank said.

Frank, who was featured in Walker’s next State of the State address, said she was drawn by “the vision and passion for a state to support bringing high-tech companies.” WEDC also awarded the company $150,000 in tax credits, though Frank said those incentives didn’t play a significant role in her decision. Comply365 surpassed the 35 jobs it was required to add.

And though Frank acknowledged it can be a struggle to find talent, she said they “absolutely are planning to stay in Wisconsin.”

“People are leaving Silicon Valley faster than they’re coming in,” Frank said. “We’re really hoping to take advantage of that. People want to come back to the Midwest.”

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