HowFactory: Changing how organizations store and distribute knowledge

Trace Steffen presents at TechCrunch's Startup Battlefield in 2015. Photo courtesy of HowFactory.

In 2014, Trace Steffen saw a market for streamlining the way companies create, store, and document their company’s standard operating procedures and training materials when he began to notice the absurd amount of binders and filing cabinets that were bulging with paper documents.

After sitting on the problem for a while, he decided to start HowFactory.

Headquartered in Cedar Falls, Iowa, HowFactory is a software as a service company that provides a cloud-based app which gives users the tools they need to create, store, and document their company’s standard operating procedures and training materials.

HowFactory’s web app simplifies document creation by using technologies like drag-and-drop and speech-to-text. The apps also gives employees the tools to collaborate on procedures allowing companies better capture and use the specific knowledge that the front-line manufacturing workers have.

Starting out strong

 2015 was a big year for HowFactory.

After participating in the Iowa Startup Accelerator’s inaugural cohort, HowFactory was awarded a $50,000 investment from Built by Iowa on launch day because of their excellent launch day presentation.

They followed that up by being the first ever Iowa company to be accepted into the Tech Crunch’s Startup Battlefield in New York City in 2015.

They swept the awards at EntreFest, beating out over 100 startups the Dream Big, Grove Here competition.

And then they won Silicon Prairie News ‘New Startup of the Year’ award that same year.

Within that same year, HowFactory went from 0 to 5 employees and having no software to a web app in the market. It was a busy year to say the least.

Executing on delivering the product

“After that we went quiet and started building our product,” said Steffen, CEO and co-founder of HowFactory. “And that’s really when things started to click for us. We knew we were on the right track because of the attention we were grabbing, but at that point it was an execution game and we had to figure out how to execute. That’s really what 2016 and 2017 were all about for us.”

HowFactory now has active users in 139 cities across the United States.

“We’re at this really neat point where we’re really proud of what we’ve done and things are really on a nice curve for us,” said Steffen. “We’re extremely excited about the next 3-4 years of HowFactory and seeing what opportunities present themselves to us.”