By GREGORY ZELLER //
Office space. Maybe not the final frontier, but still pretty important.
And Richard Boz, founder of Huntington Station software firm Aenvision, is boldly going where no interior planner has gone before, the latest leg on a long trek from aspiring musician to occupancy-planning innovator.
His ongoing mission: To develop intuitive software that takes the guesswork out of planning office environments – turning that 5,000 square feet into half-a-dozen offices, a conference room and whatever other combination of uses a particular client might require.
Until now, it’s been a largely manual task, according to Boz, as old-school as tape measures and hand-drawn diagrams. But the microprocessor’s ever-increasing ability to multitask creates new possibilities for planning office environments and predicting workplace productivity, according to the innovator, even before the architectural design stage.
“We’re living in a remarkable age, where you can apply amazing tools to problems that were never approachable before by automated solutions,” Boz told Innovate LI.
Boz’s circuitous path to circuit jockey started in a music studio at SUNY Potsdam. En route to a bachelor’s degree in music composition, Boz landed an assistant-teaching gig that put him in charge of an electronic music studio inside the university’s Crane School of Music – a dream job for the aspiring musician and closet techie.
It was the 1970s and “while I had a lot of interest in tech, there weren’t a lot of ways to express it,” Boz noted. But the studio experience, which involved early synthesizers and other emerging electronic tools, and the introduction of the world’s first commercially available integrated microprocessor – by Intel, in 1971 – gave his inner techie a voice.
“It just seemed monumental,” he said. “The world was going to change with the advent of the personal computer. I had no vocabulary for it at the time, but something was obviously up.”
Boz “bailed out” of graduate studies at the University of Alabama to pursue his own technological education. He studied the Intel 4004 and other microprocessing breakthroughs and soon started his professional run in Plainview with EMI Gencom (since decamped to New Jersey), a manufacturer of high-performance photomultiplier tubes – photon-measuring devices with a variety of manufacturing and biotech applications.
Focusing primarily on programming, Boz eventually migrated to Standard Microsystems Corp., a Hauppauge-based semiconductor specialist acquired in 2012 by Arizona-based Microchip Technology. He’d spend three decades at SMC, moving from testing to design to technical marketing to system architecture.
While the 30-odd years navigated several technological turning points – mostly adhering to Moore’s law, Boz noted, which observes that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years – several formative events programmed his eventual a-ha moment.
One was an earlier startup, Datebook, conceived by Boz and a Standard Microsystems colleague. The social-event network never got off the ground – “Building a network can be very expensive,” noted Boz, who still has the code locked in a private server – but the failure to launch delivered key lessons about the requirements of entrepreneurship.
“At the time, I was too distracted by ambition,” he said.
Another turning point came when a colleague left Standard Microsystems for a real estate career. After years of performing “test fits” for commercial sales – planning offices manually to show customers how a space could be divvied up – the friend began wondering “why this wasn’t being done electronically,” Boz noted.
The short answer, he added, was that technology was still catching up, and for many years, “everything you could do on a chip could still be done manually.” But once the scales tipped – once microprocessing capabilities blew past manual capabilities and just kept going – Boz’s lightbulb went off.
To keep up with the evolution of microprocessing, he’d learned to incorporate online tools, database management services and new programming languages – resources that could also be applied to the planning of physical spaces.
He founded Aenvision in 2014 and incorporated the Huntington Station startup in Delaware in 2015. His proprietary software uses analytical and quantitative modeling algorithms to generate “actionable insights into the workplace development process that are not possible using floorplans alone,” according to Aenvision marketing materials.
The idea is to reduce risk and maximize office productivity, and according to Boz, a “private beta” with a dozen test clients – in spaces ranging from 2,500 square feet to 300,000 square feet – showed promising results.
“We wanted to prove the concept on a one-by-one basis and refine the office space programming model,” he added. “We validated the concept and refined the model, and we’ve already amassed over half-a-million square feet of office-space designs in our repository.”
The shakedown also gave the entrepreneur some valuable insight. For instance: A smaller business filling 2,500 square feet might not need an automated occupancy-planning tool as badly as an enterprise business filling tens of thousands of square feet.
To that end, Boz plans to market Aenvision primarily as a solution for enterprise-workplace planning. For now, the software is designed exclusively to plot out office environments, although future versions for planning warehouse or industrial spaces are possible, he noted.
It’s all part of a strategy designed by Boz and his key advisors, New York City architect Dubravka Antic and Stony Brook University tech entrepreneur-in-residence Matthew Stadler, who’s been “instrumental in bringing this company to life,” Boz noted.
The CEO ultimately envisions a subscription-based Software as a Service model that gives private companies push-button planning of their new office environments. But his software isn’t scalable yet – it runs exclusively on Boz’s private server – and before he can hire programmers to build out a scalable model, he needs a cash influx.
The startup has avoided outside investment to date and Boz would prefer to keep it that way. There’s a possibility of revenue in the prototype, so the plan is to take on a few enterprise-level customers and go from there.
“It would be great to be able to bootstrap it,” Boz added, though the CEO has been formulating a pitch deck and sharpening that business plan, with his advisory board’s help.
“No stone unturned,” he noted. “If we can get the revenue to hire the programmers to made the scalable version, that would be great. But I’m not discounting the idea of raising funds.”
Whether he grows through revenues or turns to VC, Boz estimates about 18 months until his subscription-based SaaS model is ready to blast into the occupancy-planning space.
When it does, he noted, it will shoot for the stars.
“There seems to be a lot of revenue potential, especially in the enterprise space,” he said. “We’re hoping to grow this fast.”
What’s It? Digitized occupancy-planning software
Brought To You By: Circa-1970s-rocker-wannabe-turned-entrepreneurial-codemaster Richard Boz
All In: $10,000, self-invested, to design and test a prototype
Status: Ready to maximize your enterprise office productivity