Birmingham-based MotionMobs has developed software and apps to help people with autism better communicate, a manufacturer cut down on paper waste and another company manage its warehouse.
Despite those vastly different challenges, MotionMobs President Taylor Peake Wyatt said her business boils down to solving problems and achieving results.
“People try to figure out the technology first,” Wyatt said. “Whatever the shiny object is now … but it’s important to ask, ‘Why does this matter?’ Our approach is to focus on the business problem first and then back into the technology.”
It’s this philosophy that resulted in MotionMobs being chosen as a finalist for a national award from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The company is one of three finalists for the annual Dream Big Awards presented by MetLife, which celebrates small business achievement and honors their contribution to the country’s economic growth.
MotionMobs was founded eight years ago after the launch of the Apple app store. Since then, Wyatt said she’s witnessed Birmingham’s tech scene come into its own.
“It’s been interesting to see how much the rest of the Birmingham tech ecosystem has grown. So much of that is completely different than when MotionMobs started,” Wyatt said.
The company’s clients are often surprised to learn they can have custom software, apps and the like developed in Birmingham, according to MotionMobs marketing director Emily Hart.
“One of the things we hear across the board is that, ‘I didn’t know I could get app developers in Alabama,’” Hart said. “They assume they are going to have to hire someone in Silicon Valley or New York City, and they go, ‘They are right here in Birmingham, and I can meet them face to face.’ They love that, and we do too.”
As technology changes, so does the company’s business model.
“The way we made money today is not the way we made money three years ago,” Wyatt said. “That’s the same way for our clients and our customers. You have to think about what you are doing to deliver the best product and service constantly.”
For the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Award, MotionMobs is nominated in the woman-owned business achievement category, along with a public relations firm in New York City and an early learning center in Metairie, Louisiana.
Wyatt said being a start-up and small business owner is hard for anyone, but she is one of the few women in what is a male-dominated profession. In college, she was the only female in many of her information technology classes and worked as the one woman on a team of male engineers.
“We need more women in technology,” Wyatt said, adding that she is the only woman on her nine-person team at MotionMobs with a background in engineering. “That’s important to me. I think that’s challenging, but it’s exciting to see changes being made.”
She said science, math, technology and engineering (STEM) classes and groups like Girls Who Code, a nonprofit that aims to increase the number of women in computer science, are closing the gender gap.
The Dream Big Awards recognize excellence in seven categories: emerging business, green/sustainable business, minority-owned business, veteran-owned business, woman-owned business, young entrepreneur achievement and small business of the year. This year saw a record number of applicants for the awards.
“Small businesses are a vital sector of our economy. Every day small business owners wake up, work hard and give their all. When small businesses thrive, our communities thrive, and that’s good for everyone,” said Tom Sullivan, U.S. Chamber vice president of small business policy, in a news release. “The U.S. Chamber is proud to honor small businesses across the country who embody the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship and significantly contribute to our country’s growth and prosperity.”
Winners will be announced Oct. 3 in Washington, D.C., as part of the chamber’s 2018 Small Business Summit.