Software, Indy 500 Style

Racer Robby McGehee's High-Tech Startup Corners Well

By reputation, they're vain, crude, and they gladly risk maiming themselves. Can a race-car driver be anything but a rube with a death wish? Consider 26-year-old Robby McGehee, a top-performing rookie in last year's high-profile Indy Racing League circuit. Sporting blond hair and wrap-around sunglasses, he looks every bit the testosterone-on-tires stereotype. But that's hardly the case. With a computer-science degree and a knack for entrepreneurship,

McGehee also pilots eight-employee XRM Research, a fledgling software maker for the moving-and-storage industry.

It's a dizzying split existence for McGehee, who on weekends between January and October zips his 700-horsepower #55 around crowded Indy-class ovals. (A fifth-place finish at last year's Indianapolis 500 helped him earn Rookie of the Year runner-up honors.) During the week and the off-season, it's back to the spartan XRM offices in St. Louis, where for the past two years McGehee and partner Dale Buxton have been coding and marketing Move It!, a program designed to help the country's 6,000 moving agents better track their complicated web of inventory, transportation, and tax data. Debuting last December, sales of the $50,000 package are predicted to hit at least $1.5 million this year.

So why the musty moving industry? By chance, one of McGehee's first projects was building Web pages for ABC Moving & Storage Co., a St. Louis moving company. Dissatisfied with the software it used to track dispatching and billing, the company asked McGehee if he could do better. Bidding against 20 competitors, McGehee got the gig--as well as $250,000 in seed capital from a network of eight independent Atlas Van Line agents. "We didn't know if we could make it do what they wanted," jokes McGehee, "but we said yes, we could." Gentlemen, start your 18-wheelers.

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