Dayton startup tackles lack of workplace productivity

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Sabitha Anisetti’s Dayton-based startup is tackling the rampant issue of workplace distraction.

Cubester is developing the POCCO, a patented device that helps people stay focused despite an increasing amount of distractions. The early-stage startup just opened its new downtown office last month in the Liberty Tower at 120 W. Second St.

Studies have claimed that interruptions cost the U.S. economy nearly $600 billion annually. One study showed it takes about 25 minutes for a worker to return to their original task after being interrupted.

Anisetti, a 30-year-old entrepreneur and engineer, moved to Dayton from southern India nearly eight years ago. She first jotted down the concept of her startup on a napkin at Milano’s on Brown Street. From that sketch, Cubester has swiftly transformed into a small business with a developing product.

Anisetti noticed that friends, coworkers and family never seemed to leave work at work. She asked herself: “Why aren’t we getting our work done within business hours?”

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“They’re stressed at work and then they go home and log back in after work,” she said. “I don’t have kids, but I can’t imagine the stress of having to juggle that and work after hours.”

Cubester’s product is a “digital assistant” for a worker’s desk. The cube-shaped POCCO is a device that allows workers to stay focused on one task for self-set periods of time. The cube displays a message with a timer, reducing unnecessary distractions from coworkers. The device captures data on these “productive focus bursts and records how your time is being spent throughout those tasks,” according to the company’s website.

“Collaboration is important in the workplace,” Anisetti said. “But when you’re constantly being interrupted, then workers are not achieving 100 percent of the results they’re capable of really getting done.”

The Ohio Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at The Entrepreneur Center provides confidential advising and technical management for business owners in Dayton. Center director Pat Newcomb said the SBDC helped Anisetti put a budget together and connect her with legal marketing resources.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Follow reporter Kara Driscoll for more news about startups in the region.

“She has a great entrepreneurial spirit,” Newcomb said. “It’s been her vision and her belief that she could be successful. We do a lot of work with people who are converting ideas into business opportunities. We’re helping her answer the question: What is the value she’s bringing to her marketplace?”

According to the annual Kauffman Index, Ohio has seen an uptick in entrepreneurial growth in 2016. Among the largest 25 states, five — including Ohio — experienced the largest increase in rank on the index. But entrepreneurs are still finding other ways to fund startups as venture capitalists invest less.

The Cubester team includes three engineers, one chief of sales, four interns and one content writer. The startup has managed to cut costs through producing some POCCO components through a 3-D printer.

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Anisetti said they hope to have test products ready for local businesses to buy within six months. Businesses can purchase the products on a subscription basis or by retail price. Cubester will interview new users for feedback on how to improve the product. Companies can order the devices in their company colors.

“We want to be a proud Dayton success story,” she said. “Dayton is the perfect community to start a business for more than just the cost of living. It’s definitely a go.”

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