Ad Agency JK Design Stepping into App Development with Business Unit App-Eaze
Photo: Brett Fielo of App-Eaze Photo Credit: Courtesy App-Eaze
Brett Fielo of App-Eaze | Courtesy App-Eaze

JK Design, a 32-year-old full-service ad agency based in Hillsborough, has found out that taking on a new role is bringing extra energy and innovation to this already cutting-edge organization.

The company is calling its new business unit “App-Eaze,” according to Brett Fielo, the COO and CTO at JK Design.

App-Eaze is designed to build mobile products and Software as a Service (SaaS) to improve workplace productivity. It’s “an offshoot of JK Design, and will specifically focus on the development of the two projects we have,” both of which grew out of the company’s internal needs. “If all goes well, there will be other solutions we can bring to the marketplace.” Some of these are already in the pipeline, he added.

The first of the projects, Roomly, is a conference-room-management mobile app for smaller organizations. “We wanted to make it easy for folks to have a room display or digital placard system without having to invest in a larger calendar system, which is what the other companies on the market require,” Fielo said. “You may have seen something like this if you’ve been to large organizations. They have small digital placards that will tell you if the conference room is in use or if it is available.”

The App-Eaze version uses Google Calendar. “Many companies our size and even larger are into the Google infrastructure. …We built an app leveraging iPADs,” said Fielo. He then explained that JK Design had several iPADs that were not being used. “So we built an app that would pull all the data from Google Calendar and make an old iPAD a room display system. You can book the room, see who is in the room, display information about attendees, and you can mark it a ‘do not disturb’ meeting, so that nobody barges in inadvertently.”

The second app, which is in early access trial, is called “PreSource.” This app grew out of a need within JK Design for resource management, for an easy way to find out who is working on what, and whether they are available for a particular project. “How do I leverage people who are available in-house? How do I make sure people aren’t too over-allocated?” Fielo asked.

PreSource not only allows the user to discover who is working on what project and if they are available for a new assignment, it also has a forecasting feature. “This allows me to look at a group of people and assign them to projects, even if they are already assigned to things. I can move those assignments around in a nondestructive way. If I don’t like what I did, or it adversely affects my schedule, I can easily revert back to my original schedule.”

JK Designs has also partnered with Formyula Solutions (Somerset) to take its SaaS software solution targeting the environmental health and safety industry into other fields. “We helped them develop the new version of the app, including the Web-based dashboard, and update the mobile application,” Fielo said. JK Design also created all the collateral materials, including an animated video that explains the app.

The app helps small to midsized companies, or even individuals, to collect data, store it, analyze it, report on it and share it. “It’s an incredibly flexible data analytics tool which we partnered with the Formyula group to bring to the next level,” said Fielo. “We have an ongoing relationship with them to actively promote it, market it, sell it. We are essentially working as a VAR [value added reseller] for them.” The product is offered as on-premises software through a site license.  The company is working on an SaaS version that allows a user to go on the Formyula website, onboard directly, create their own survey tools and spin up their own dashboard.

JK Design’s founder and chief creative officer is Jerry Kaulius. The company employs about 50 people, most of them in New Jersey, and four of them stakeholders in App-Eaze. According to Fielo, App-Eaze has helped JK Design deal with a “competitive market. You want to stay ahead of the curve.” And, besides, “it’s fun!”

The company plans more mobile apps, but first wants customer feedback on new features for the apps it’s already developed, Fielo said. “I don’t want to build a feature that I think is really great, and there is a collective ‘Meh’ in the market. … I want them to tell us what they want, and then we can identify how to get that built into the roadmap.”

Fielo joined JK Designs eight years ago. Before that, he had startup experience with CNET.com (New York) and worked at a digital consulting company that specialized in conference and document management for professional services organizations. “I have a lot of development experience, and I also have a legal background. … I’ve always been technically adept, and feel at home in an agency environment,” he said.

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