Upper St. Clair-based Accion helps companies keep up with technology

In an era of rapidly evolving technology, large corporations increasingly turn to specialists such as Accion Labs Inc. to produce the latest in apps, e-commerce websites and internal software they use to run their businesses.

Consumers are unlikely to see Upper St. Clair-based Accion's name on their technology products, but the company says it has developed a variety of programs for other companies, including software that sends drug prescriptions to pharmacies electronically, an app for a music-video broadcaster and an e-commerce site for an online eyeglasses retailer.

Accion, which was founded in 2011 and hit $42 million in sales last year, also has been hired by large software firms, such as Hewlett Packard Co., to help them build the programs bought by corporations around the world to handle internal functions such as document management, inventory tracking and network monitoring. The company declined to identify any of its other clients.

It's easier, cheaper and faster for such companies to hire a software development firm such as Accion to take an idea and produce an app or a website rather than having their own IT teams build the products from scratch, said Tony Kernan, Accion's vice president of sales.

“We can take their vision to reality,” Kernan said.

Accion, which has more than 1,000 employees spread across offices in the United States, United Kingdom, Singapore, India and Malaysia, was founded to fill demand for IT expertise that often is difficult to find domestically, Kernan said. The company created software engineering centers overseas where it can tap talented people.

“This industry has a supply-and-demand challenge,” he said. “Our company is in reaction, it's a byproduct, that there aren't enough engineers to go around.”

Spending in the IT services market this year is expected to increase 3.7 percent to $898 billion, according to research firm Gartner.

Accion has grown quickly, with sales rising by 340 percent between 2012 and 2014. Revenue is expected to hit $50 million this year, said CEO Kinesh Doshi, who founded the company with Kernan and Sandesh Sukumaran, vice president of talent acquisition.

The company has received most of its funding from Basil Partners, a Singapore-based investment firm founded by Rajeev Srivastava, who sold Pittsburgh-based software company Apar Infotech for $78 million in 2003.

Sumeet Singh, a general partner at Basil who worked with Doshi and Srivastava at Apar, said Accion has succeeded because its pool of international software engineers is “able to bring the latest and greatest to technology companies that want to be ahead of their competition.”

“Accion is able to keep them there,” Singh said.

Basil Partners has injected Accion with cash so the company can potentially acquire a series of smaller firms for $10 million to $30 million each that are expected to boost services and sales growth, he said.

The company has “been very small in nature but now we are looking at taking that to the next level (with) large acquisitions to grow Accion to many times its current size in coming years,” he said.

Another area of growth at Accion is the integration of emerging digital technologies, such as mobile and cloud, with companies' traditional websites and business systems.

The explosion of smartphones around the world has created a challenge for companies and their websites, said Shyam Upadhyay, Accion's senior vice president of business development. Corporations need their websites to operate on desktop computers and mobile phones and tablets, plus they may want an app to provide many of the same functions, Upadhyay said. But companies don't want to manage separate programs to run each platform.

“That's a pain point for many companies today,” he said.

Accion is helping many companies transition their technology to the latest platforms that can handle it all, he said.

In addition to working for other companies, Accion is looking into commercializing its own technology, Sukumaran said.

Although still in the early stages of development, Sukumaran said Accion is working on a product that would help human resources managers speed up and automate the recruiting and hiring process. Because screening job candidates can take weeks to months, companies can lose the chance to hire the best people who may get offers from competing companies first.

“We are trying to work on that, and it's about 90 percent there,” he said.

Alex Nixon is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7928 or anixon@tribweb.com.

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