Computer engineers Mehrdad and Mariam Komeili recognized a void in configurable software solutions for business processes, especially for small- to medium-sized businesses. They saw the need for a software that would handle sales, procurement, inventory management, manufacturing, warehouse management and finance, for boutique accounting firms and small manufacturers.
In 2014, with decades of experience in the technology and business sectors, the married couple launched Santa Ana-based My Office Apps, a fully integrated solution designed to help smaller enterprises operate their businesses efficiently. In the past year, the Komeilis have turned to the CSUF Startup Incubator, part of the Center for Entrepreneurship at Cal State Fullerton, which provides business development and connections for entrepreneurs, to help grow and innovate their companies.
They discuss My Office Apps and how Cal State Fullerton’s startup experts are helping them transform their business.
What is My Office Apps and how did it get started?
Mariam: My Office Apps is a business-improvement company. We offer software solutions to improve business processes in a company, such as sales, procurement, inventory management, manufacturing, warehouse management and the whole finance module. We have a fully integrated solution we offer to small- to medium-sized businesses.
When we started our company in 2014, we saw that there were the big players – Oracle, SAP – and the smaller companies doing it in bits and pieces, but there really wasn’t a fully integrated solution for small- to medium-sized businesses.
So we started this in 2014 as an inventory management solution initially, offering inventory management, procurement, logistics and customer service, but we quickly realized that we needed to integrate financial functions with another software or offer it ourselves.
We decided to add a financial module to this solution in 2018. We relaunched our product with all of the modules included.
How did your professional backgrounds help power My Office Apps?
Mehrdad: I came from sTEC Inc., a public corporation in manufacturing electronics, which was operating in 15 countries. When I joined the company in 1993, there was not a lot of software out there.
Long story short, we started with a package that we procured from a company, but very soon, we started customizing it and soon started our own software.
In 2001, we didn’t know it was called cloud-based, but we had a cloud-based VRP running; it was browser-based, which was connecting all of the aspects and locations of our clients into one giant database. That company was sold to a larger corporation, and in 2013, once the purchase was complete, they let the heads of the companies go, including me as CIO, and we looked around and found that within enterprise resource planning (ERP) there wasn’t much available for small- to medium-sized companies in the market, so we decided that was where we could help the businesses.
Mariam: My background has been in business overall. I have been in sales, marketing and operations since 1987. I’ve done a couple of startups, managed sales and marketing departments, and done a lot of traveling. I’m very familiar with marketing, branding, contracts and business relationships.
How did you get involved in the CSUF Startup Incubator?
Mehrdad: Since we started in 2014, we have always worked with students from Cal State Fullerton. Some were interns and some of them were with us for longer periods.
Mariam: It was summer 2019 that we really started working with the incubator. We went to one of the meetings, we really liked the group and that’s how it started.
What do you like best about the CSUF Startup Incubator?
Mehrdad: We were past the incubator need, but at the same time, we were still a small company that could get strategic help when we came to the incubator.
Mariam: When we met with JJ [John Bradley Jackson] and Philip [Stinis], we asked for expertise and experts in our field. Very quickly, Travis [Lindsay] brought us a list of people we could work with. We met several of them and really connected with three, who we are still working with today.
One was Buzz Walker a mentor we work with on a weekly basis, and we met two other gentlemen, one was an expert in ERP who had worked with SAP and other competitors in the past. He gave us some great feedback, and has been really impressed by our software, which gave us confidence in what we had done and that we were doing it the right way, and then we also met a gentleman from Score who we are still meeting with.
I think one of the greatest highlights of working with the incubator has been the network it opened to us and the number of people we’ve met through their team.
How has CSUF Startup Incubator mentoring helped your business?
Mehrdad: One of the gentlemen we met is Blake Hacker, with expertise in the other ERPs he’s worked with, such as NetSuite and SAP, mostly in the financial side, and he has really helped us write the more detailed financial reporting and make our financial module a lot more user-friendly from a financial professional’s perspective working with the software. He gives us great input. We are programmers and technical people – not actual users. Because of that, many of the people who look at our demos and our software are very impressed and see how easily they can get their work done and be more efficient.
Mariam: On the strategy side, we’ve been meeting weekly with our mentor Buzz Walker, and he’s been involved in all of the aspects of our business, especially the marketing, and SaaS-based marketing and branding is very different from other software or hardware.
He has been a great asset to our company in giving us feedback and really increasing organic purchase through our website and giving us ideas of where to put our money when it comes to marketing.
And then Bob Godlasky has introduced us to several other Score members in marketing, investors and banking professionals, and I think we have a great network of people because of the incubator.