Broomfield startup mcSquares reshaping classrooms, boardrooms

BROOMFIELD — The idea for Anthony Franco’s fifth company sprouted while he was trying to solve what he called at the time an “introvert problem” at company No. 4.

As a serial entrepreneur, Franco had long since discovered that there was no issue with getting “the pompous executives” — a group in which he includes himself — to speak up and share ideas in the conference room. Getting quieter employees to participate was more difficult and often led to valuable input not being heard until after the fact or not at all.

So when an employee one day had told Franco she hadn’t brought up an idea, one he felt was just the nugget of insight a preceding discussion had missed, because she didn’t like speaking up in meetings, he decided to create a system where everyone is heard.

The solution became mcSquares, collaborative dry-erase tiles that can come off the wall and be handed around the room to get people to contribute and then snapped back on the wall so all ideas can be discussed in front of the group.

“There’s something about that dry-erase technology that’s magic,” Franco said in a recent interview, referring to the psychological effect whiteboards have thanks to the temporary nature of the scrawling on them. “It just gets everyone to open up and share.”

Launched last summer, Broomfield-based mcSquares — pronounced M-C-squares — is already gaining traction everywhere from the boardroom to the classroom. And the company’s ultimate goal, a wirelessly connected version of the tiles, is still just over a year from hitting the market.

The company sold $50,000-worth of the tiles, which sell for $79 each, last year. That mark was equaled in March alone this year, with $1 million in projected revenue for 2016. Originally envisioned as a corporate boardroom solution, mcSquares has received most of its large orders so far from school districts.

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