Mark L. Barry recently co-founded FieldOwler LLC. The Connecticut startup is participating in the 2018 reSET Impact Accelerator, a program is designed for entrepreneurs in the early stages of business development.
Mark told Innovation Destination Hartford about what he hopes to gain from the Impact Accelerator and his plans to become more involved with the Connecticut entrepreneurial ecosystem
INNOVATION DESTINATION HARTFORD: How has your background shaped you to launch your startup?
MARK BARRY: My background as a business advisor, management consultant, and executive has given me unique perspectives on worker classification and matters involving compliance with labor standards.
Businesses that classify employees as independent contractors—knowingly or unknowingly—are not only out of compliance with labor law but are engaged in a high-stakes game of financial and operational roulette. In the event independent contractors are determined to be employees by a government agency or in the courtroom, businesses can face significant expenses due to back pay that may be owed to employees, associated back taxes, interest, and any imposed penalties.
IDH: When and why did you start your company?
MARK: FieldOwler was formed in June 2017. We created our software to specifically solve this problem, so owners and executives can proactively make more informed and holistic worker classification decisions that promote long-term success of their unique businesses.
IDH: How did you develop the business concept?
MARK: The idea grew out of my collective experiences and began to take shape following a series of client-related worker classification experiences while performing in a business advisor capacity.
I spoke about my business concept with a cross-section of business owners, attorneys, CPAs, and advisory professionals and conducted research about the market. It soon became evident that the combination of my varied business background, first-hand experience with multiple worker-related audits, and deep interest in labor compliance matters could bring significant value to businesses that are currently utilizing or thinking about utilizing independent contractors.
I brought the concept and requirements to my friend, Kam Heydari, a former CTO. That day, Kam became my co-founder and we agreed to collaborate on developing a software solution.
IDH: Tell us a little about the products and services you offer.
MARK: FieldOwler currently provides two software products and an array of high-value professional services. Our offerings enable businesses, organizations, and agencies of all sizes and industries with heightened risk management capabilities that foster enhanced worker classification compliance.
The FieldOwler ARM (Audit and Risk Management) platform provides a secure, hosted environment, a rules-based engine, multi-factor assessments, unique risk scores, and estimates of misclassification exposure.
FieldOwler ARM Light is a risk assessment tool that provides a high-level cross-section of a select number of risk categories that is helpful to owners and professionals in human resources, finance, and compliance disciplines.
IDH: Why did you become involved in the reSET Accelerator program?
MARK: I was referred to reSET by the Connecticut Small Business Development Center (CTSBDC). The next day I found myself at a meeting with reSET’s Jeremy Szechenyi and Hibba Meraay to get an overview of their offerings for startups like FieldOwler. I was excited to learn about the Impact Accelerator opportunity, in part because of the high-quality programming and support network provided, but also because being a part of the Connecticut entrepreneurial ecosystem is very important to me.
I was raised in Manchester and attended schools in Connecticut and realize that now is the time to step up and help create new jobs. We are also in the process of developing an intern program at FieldOwler, which is a rewarding way to give back and provide opportunities to students at my two alma maters—University of Connecticut and Trinity College.
IDH: In what ways is your company making a social impact?
MARK: By enabling businesses across the United States to make more informed and holistic worker classification decisions, FieldOwler helps heighten labor compliance efforts. This is important because, for every business we serve, we contribute directly to helping create a more level playing field among the business community.
IDH: What has been your biggest challenge as a startup?
MARK: Preparing ourselves sufficiently to approach and pitch effectively to potential investors has been our biggest challenge to date. We are excited about our acceptance in the Impact Accelerator because the four-month program will help us accelerate our readiness to take this important step on our business journey.
IDH: What resources do you need most to move your company forward?
MARK: Referrals and investment capital are critical to moving our company forward.
First, FieldOwler is working to build partnerships with law firms, CPA firms, and members of the advisory community. It’s imperative for us to become a trusted, independent resource for these firms, which can refer their clients our way. It’s also important for us to reciprocate and refer our clients to our partners.
Second, finding the right investment partner to join our team and help us execute our growth plan is a big and essential step for us. Being a part of reSET’s Impact Accelerator and rich entrepreneurial ecosystem of potential clients, investors, advisors, and mentors is a significant part of our efforts to accelerate in both areas.
IDH: What is the best advice you have given/received?
MARK: Given: Developing those around you to become comfortable with being uncomfortable will help them better embrace change and increase performance during challenging times.
Received: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” – R. Buckminster Fuller
Find out more about startups participating in the 2018 reSET Impact Accelerator:
- Bare Life – Food and Beverage Startup For Healthy Eating
- CNG Fit, LLC – Startup Brings Fitness/Dance Workouts to Wethersfield, CT
- florapothecarie — Startup Launches Natural Beauty Line
- Project Ray – Startup Makes Smartphones Accessible for the Visually Impaired
- SKYWIREme – Startup Provides Messaging Solutions for Nonprofits and Growing Businesses
- Two Happy Homes – Connecticut Company Provides Co-Parenting Tools