Made to Order

Dallas Business Journal
by Margaret Allen Staff Writer

Custom software developer AYOKA LLC finds success

When software developers talk shop in San Francisco, they don’t typically brag about code they’re perfecting for a manufacturing company. It’s software for high-tech concerns that carries all the glory and cachet — not programming for heavy industry.

“It’s not sexy,” says Eknauth Persaud, founder and CEO of Ayoka LLC. But his Arlington-based custom software developer has found success by focusing on that niche.

Prior to launching Ayoka in 2004, Persaud worked for giant defense contractor Lockheed Martin and at other industrial companies. Through his on-the-job experience, Persaud saw a need by industrial companies for custom software applications to help them manage a variety of tasks: distribution, warehousing, logistics, customer orders, manufacturing flow and equipment automation, among other things.

“They are overlooked clients,” said Persaud, who moved from the West Coast to Dallas in 2002 to work as a software subcontractor on the automated baggage system for the new International Terminal at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

Though high-tech companies are easily sold on the benefits of software, industrial companies are more conservative, Persaud said. They don’t buy software for the sake of buying software, but because they seek efficiencies on the shop floor and elsewhere in their operation.

Because he spoke their language, Persaud worked on showing manufacturing companies how to harness the power of technology. And that approach has paid off for Ayoka. In four years, the company has achieved a 370% compound growth rate. It employs 22 in Arlington; Persaud plans to hire another 16 employees this year and open a second office this fall in Richardson’s Telecom Corridor.

The entrepreneur won’t disclose specific sales figures, but says they range from $2 million to $5 million. Ayoka has been profitable since 2006.
The company has about 15 customers, whose revenue ranges from $5 million to several billion. One-third of the clients are large software developers outsourcing a smaller project; the remaining are industrial company end-users.

Offering such a wide range of custom applications is rare, according to Joe Crosswell, manager for the technology solutions group at the Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center in Arlington, a government-funded program that helps small- and mid-sized businesses improve their operations.
“That is hard to find,” Crosswell said of Ayoka’s services. “Those are truly custom applications, and there are only a few companies out there that do that. You have to really look to find them. Many companies will simply try to develop the capability in-house. The need has been around for years — there just hasn’t been anyone doing it.”

Persaud says much of his company’s growth is due to middle-market customers who want to keep their software development onshore, so as to control their intellectual property and be able to meet face-to-face with developers. That’s an important need for Ayoka as well.
“We want to be close to our customers,” he said. “Location matters in software development.”