Compliance Cost CutterUMass Lowell incubator business to help clients trim Sarbanes-Oxley expenses

08/07/2007
By Used with permission from the Lowell Sun Online.

By REBECCA LIPCHITZ, Sun Staff

 

LOWELL -- As the business world makes the transition from paper to electronic documents, and with corporate fraud continuing to make headlines, a veteran CEO is coming to the rescue.

David Lakness runs a company that is among the newest members of UMass Lowell's business incubators. He saw that small and mid-sized companies were socked with the high cost of filing the required documents to maintain legal status as public companies, and developed a system to help them comply at less cost.

Meeting these regulations, which are outlined in the federal Sarbanes-Oxley Act, can cost a mid-sized company as much as $1 million a year.

Lakness' company, Ægis Metrics Inc., provides information systems and services to certify electronic information and transactions. Included among those is creating a time and date stamp for a document, to make it legally binding according to federal regulations.

The phrase “federal regulations” is not inspirational to many, but Lakness clearly enjoys applying his background to creation of his new product. The meaning of the company's moniker is “to protect and measure,” Lakness says; the word “Ægis” is a reference to Zeus' shield.

In addition to mastering areas of business automation, he's also learned a thing or two about people, such as their threshold for processing something on a computer: about 15 seconds.

Lakness came to Lowell from California to do office automation work at Wang Laboratories, and later worked among the small team of people who opened the imaging lab there. He became president of a Wang spinoff, Eastman Software, which became IStream in Billerica when he took the company private in 2000. The company has since moved its headquarters to Dallas, but maintains a small office in Nashua.

In addition to gaining more expertise in business automation, Lakness had established roots in Massachusetts, and chose not to move his family to Texas.

He recently became a member of the UMass Lowell business incubator project, one of two companies chosen to join in the past year from a pool of 30 applicants.

The university provides benefits such as office space, student employees and technical support, which allow companies to raise money and grow.

Lakness works with seven employees, some of whom he's worked with since he joined Wang in 1984.

He is on schedule to release his first product in April, aimed at continuous transaction monitoring. A fraud detection/privacy protection product is scheduled to be available in November.

Rebecca Lipchitz's e-mail address is rlipchitz@lowellsun.com.