U.S. military men and women sacrifice so much for our country, and yet, their everyday lives in the field seem to lag behind in terms of the touch-of-a-button conveniences many of us have come to take for granted. Much of the military’s work away from desks still happens on paper, which further burdens the already stressful workday environments. What kind of mobile platform would help our service men and women with the honorable work they commit to each and every day? Enter CrossDeck (formerly MilitaryMobile).
In honor of Veterans Day, 1776 had the privilege of sitting down with CrossDeck’s CFO Josh Awad, CTO Matthew Fincher, and CEO John Moses to discuss the startup’s mobile platform that aims to improve and enhance the military workday. Providing insight about what life in the military is like today and thus the need for CrossDeck, Moses explained,
“Despite all the high-tech weapons, and sensors, and aircrafts, and other systems, the actual nitty-gritty, day-to-day work hasn’t really been updated with the times.”
CrossDeck’s inspiring work and development has led to traction with the Department of Defense, outside investment, and an enthused group of advisors, including senior military veterans.
Compelling elements stand out about the value CrossDeck can add to in-the-field industries — both to the military workforce and to other distributed workforces like those in the health and energy sectors. Industry-specific SaaS solutions have been trending recently with increasing attention to the next logistical step in deeply customized solutions that impact industry verticals. The military is the world’s largest, most mobile workforce and heavily centered around training. Yet, few mobile solutions exist to address the military’s everyday challenges. The CrossDeck platform strives to be the answer through integrating the main aspects of daily work for the armed forces.
CrossDeck could be the right solution resulting from the right team at the right time. The CrossDeck team has extensive subject matter expertise from years of military experience. The startup’s founders — Awad, Moses, and COO Josh Welle — met in 2003 when they shared a bunk room during deployment to the Persian Gulf for the Iraq War. As they worked together in very close quarters and stressful conditions, they developed deep levels of trust and friendship that make for great business relationships.
Additionally, the DOD is very committed right now to moving the military forward technologically and pushing mobile initiatives that CrossDeck can work with. Moses stated that now is the right time because “we’ve got a very forward-leaning DOD leadership. There’s an interesting opportunity to be very involved as a smaller company as a very large organization updates the way that it thinks about so many things.” CrossDeck is well positioned with a great team and great market opportunity to positively impact the defense industry and other organizations looking to leverage the full potential of their workforces.
The CrossDeck Platform
Fincher excitedly opened up CrossDeck to demonstrate its functions, and a number of icons representing different apps on the platform appeared. CrossDeck focuses on unclassified, non-tactical information that falls under the categories of administration, workflow and logistics, maintenance, and training. Some of the apps offer interactive scheduling, whereas others track basic personnel qualifications. With the countless line items that military personnel tend to every single day, CrossDeck would make life easier, more efficient, more productive, and more measurable.
Speaking of measurable — the defense industry’s tech agenda opens doors for CrossDeck’s valuable analytics. With CrossDeck, the military would have access to individualized and insightful data about personnel qualifications. The platform fits into a broader trend that sees organizations benefiting from the push of data out of the back-office and all the way into the field (or flight deck or engine room), providing previously unavailable actionable insights about workers. One might wonder how CrossDeck seems to have such a thorough grip on the needs of its would-be users.
A key piece of CrossDeck’s story to note is that it was born out of a customer development approach. In addition to leveraging the founders’ military experience, CrossDeck validated the demand and market fit through hundreds of interviews with potential buyers and senior industry leaders. CrossDeck brought Fincher on board to lead a growing engineering team and make sure the product was up to the challenge of serving both its military and commercial customers.
Designing for Defense
Fincher hit the ground running to address the biggest technical challenges. CrossDeck needs to be a cross-platform software package that will operate on mobile, laptop, etc. Since men and women in the field can’t always count on ubiquitous Wi-Fi, CrossDeck’s product also needs to be fully functional offline and then reliably synchronize information once back online. CrossDeck has an effective approach to address those variables and ensure responsive design and seamless performance. In addition to outlining the technical work, Fincher said,
“Not being a member of the military, it’s a genuine privilege to get to serve men and women of our armed forces and really find a way to improve the quality of their lives and the effectiveness of the mission that the people on the front lines are taking on to protect and defend our country. At the end of the day, what’s most meaningful to me about working on CrossDeck is the chance to really make a difference for those people who have given us and continue to give us so much.”
With its customer-first approach to technical design and the passion behind the product, the CrossDeck team has big plans for the future. Addressing why CrossDeck is working in the military space when the private sector can usually move more swiftly, Awad said,
“The military is a community we’re passionate about having served in, and also, it’s one that we understand very deeply. So, as you see technologies revolutionizing industries, where they’re able to have the most impact is where they truly understand it. So, we’re working with the military because we know it deeply, and we care about it deeply.”
According to The International Institute for Strategic Studies, the U.S. military budget is greater than that of the next ten largest militaries in the world combined. While much of military spending goes toward weapons and tech innovation for wars, the day-to-day of our service men and women sometimes seems stuck in archaic practices and processes, untouched by the digital revolution. CrossDeck is certainly committed to bridging that gap with its mobile platform, and the startup promises more innovation and expansion heading into 2016.