Ground Floor: BluPrairie founder saw need for cloud technology

Woman uses Coralville home to launch her tech company

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By Deborah Neyens, correspondent

CORALVILLE — On any given day, Michelle Bates’s Coralville home may be buzzing with activity — employee meetings, client presentations, consultations with creative partners.

For at least the time being, Bates is running a technology company out of her home.

Bates recently launched BluPrairie Technologies, an independent cloud services company that helps businesses and organizations leverage cloud-based technology. BluPrairie also serves as a broker between its clients and cloud services providers.

“We create a cloud strategy and road map, and identify the companies that are right for you to work with,” Bates said. “We are cloud agnostic — meaning we focus on what is the right tech provider for the customer and are not married to any one platform.”

While she is now breaking barriers when it comes to women in technology in the state of Iowa, Bates came to the technology field almost by accident.

“I’m an accountant by trade, but my career took a left turn to technology when I went to work in the family business, my dad’s insurance agency in Kalona,” she said. “We were buried in paperwork and needed to automate the agency’s policy management system.”

Bates helped to identify and implement automated processes that improved cash flow and performance. In doing so, she began to appreciate the technology.

“I love the impact it has on businesses,” she said.

She spent the next two decades working in technology-related positions in various fields, including financial services, manufacturing and aerospace and defense.

It was her father’s influence that prompted Bates to start her own company.

“I had been talking with my dad — who was my business mentor — for the last three years or so about the need I saw for a business like this, and his response was, ‘What’s stopping you from doing it?,’” she recalled. “I was the only person in my family who didn’t own my own business.”

After her father died in 2015, Bates decided it was time to move forward.

“I saw large companies leveraging cloud technology,” she said. “I saw start-ups using it because of the low cost of entry.

“But there was this whole gap in the middle. Small and mid-sized organizations need to retrofit or transform their technology to stay relevant in their market space.”

BluPrairie celebrated its formal brand launch on June 9.

The company employs five, in addition to Bates, plus two interns. While Bates eventually would like to move BluPrairie headquarters out of her home and into its own space, she is not sure where or when that move will take place.

“Everything is about timing, and I am mindful of the impact of those decisions on the numbers,” she said. “That’s the accountant in me.”

Know a company that’s been in business for less than a year — but at least six months — that would be ideal for “The Ground Floor”? Contact Michael Chevy Castranova at michaelchevy.castranova@thegazette.com.

At a Glance:

• Owner: Michelle Bates

• Business: BluPrairie Technologies

• Email: michelle.bates@bluprairietech.com

• Phone: (319) 389-8861

• Website: www.bluprairietech.com

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