50 Most Valuable Brands Of The Year 2018

From Obscurity to Soaring Heights: Patriot Software, an Accounting and Payroll Software Provider, Steers its Way to Long-term Success


After struggling in my small business for years and years, I am keenly aware of the constant punishment and pounding that small business owners go through. Therefore, I am determined to provide payroll and accounting services to small business owners that are of extreme value: Mike Kappel

 We are thrilled to present Patriot Software – an affordable, reliable, and robust online accounting and payroll solution for American small businesses. Both modules are designed to be user-friendly for all types of users. The software – being run on servers in a safe and secure data center – is so simple that there is no need for any formal training and users can operate the platform from their smartphone, tablet, or computer.

The company began in the basement of a factory in 1986 and has grown into multiple enterprises. Patriot Software is headquartered in Canton, Ohio.

Patriot has strategically tapped into a market where small businesses demand diverse payroll services to make the company compliant to law and order. There is big demand for cloud payroll software as they become essential to make sure that employees get paid on time by maintaining a record of attendance, leaves and other details easily. Payroll software technology takes care of all responsibilities efficiently all along making sure that you will remain protected from any legal mess.

Interview Excerpt: Mike Kappel, Founder & CEO

Why was the company set up? How did you select the vertical and decide to be a part of the global platform?

I started Patriot Software in the basement of a factory in Canton, Ohio in 1986. The early years were very rough, giving me a deep respect for small business owners. I learned firsthand how incredibly difficult it is to start a business from scratch and keep the business running.

In 1986, computers were still new and programming techniques were rudimentary. After doing a handful of custom programming assignments, I searched for a national niche market to address. My research led me to the recruiting industry, which was a very narrow vertical niche industry. For the next fifteen years, we learned ‘the secret sauce’ to providing software and services to thousands of these small business executive recruiting firms.

Tell us about your first product that was launched.

On my office wall today, there’s a framed copy of the first dollar our business earned in 1987. We were paid $235 to create a piece of desktop software to mass print 1099s. But like entrepreneurs often do, we couldn’t see the forest through the trees and we did not pursue the payroll industry any further at that point. Instead, we went into the recruiting industry in 1988 and created Top Echelon. That’s where we learned how to really write cloud-based software and service small business owners. We still own Top Echelon – the largest SaaS network of Executive Recruiters in the USA today.

In 2002, we decided to diversify beyond the recruiting industry by creating a Payroll, Accounting, Time & Attendance, and HR software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering for small business owners known as Patriot Software. After investing many millions of dollars and ~252 man-years of software development, Patriot Software’s online Payroll went live in all 50 states in 2015.

What were the grounds on which you have expanded your company and its offerings over the years?

Payroll is very complicated, and it must be perfect. I don’t mean close but perfect. Since we guarantee our results, we made the decision to pour extreme quality into our payroll engine. For example, a new version of our software is pushed live nearly every single day, but only after our source code is checked by tens-of-thousands of software tests that we have written to ensure that nothing is broken or incorrect anywhere.

Once we were confident that our Payroll Engine was a success, we wrote Time & Attendance software, Accounting software, and HR software – and we integrated all of them together. This way, small business owners can spend the least amount of their time performing these four business functions. And, they can run all four programs on their smartphones anywhere in the world with just one login.  

Was there any event or trigger factor that when your startup business really started taking off? Or, did it take off from the very beginning? 

My startup was extremely rough, and we were financially distressed for at least four years. I just couldn’t get ahead, and I was really tiring out. I kept working very hard, but the business was constantly on the edge of collapse.

Then one day in the early 90’s I was driving home from work very late, and I noticed a very wordy bumper sticker on the car in front of me. It said, “You’re going to be dead a lot longer than you’re going to be alive. You’d better get right with your Maker.” I was unimpressed.

However, I decided to ‘get right with my Maker’ and visited a church nearby. In the church, I heard a preacher giving a sermon, enlightening the attendees about tithing. I had never heard that the term ‘tithing’ before. According to the preacher, tithing meant that I was supposed to give away 10 percent of my income to God. I did not like the preacher and his words as I was going through a rough patch financially. But I thought about it, and I figured that it would be pretty easy to “test” the preacher’s theory, because I was already pretty broke. I figured, what’s the difference if I’m a little more broke than normal? So, I began giving away 10 percent of my income.

But in a surprising turn of events, the theory worked and turned my life downside up. I was shockingly surprised as my business started taking off and money started coming in at a higher rate of speed. I have been tithing, and my businesses have kept improving and growing ever since.

How does your company contribute to the global IT platform and society at large?

Our entire business focus is to help American small business owners. These businesses are one of the most important pieces of the US economy. They do most of the creating and employing. All large businesses were once small businesses. Americans need small businesses to succeed. Patriot Software helps with that. We help business owners eliminate wasteful spending and be more efficient with their time.

Also, we are creating more competition. In our US capitalistic society, competition is good and causes innovation and improvement. If you look closely at Patriot Software, you will see that we are already starting to become an extremely disruptive force to these three major industries:

  • The Payroll industry
  • The Accounting Software industry
  • The Time & Attendance industry

These industries are going to go through massive transformations in the coming years, and we intend to be at the forefront of that change.

Where do you see your company a couple of years from now?

I would say, in a couple of years we may have doubled again in size, but more importantly, we will continue to be an exceptional team delivering agile services to our customers.

The Brains behind the Picture

Mike Kappel: Michael J. Kappel is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Patriot Software Company and its subsidiaries. Upon earning his Industrial and Systems Engineering degree from Ohio University in 1980, Mr. Kappel worked in the Nuclear Equipment Division at Babcock & Wilcox, a publicly traded company that focuses on advanced energy and environmental technologies and services. In 1986, Mr. Kappel saw unlimited potential in the relatively young software industry so he left the corporate world to start Patriot Software Company and its five successful subsidiaries: Synergy Data Systems, LLC (1986); Top Echelon Network, LLC (1988); Top Echelon Contracting, LLC (1992); Career Marketplace, LLC (1995); and, Patriot Software, LLC (2002). With more than 30 years of experience as an entrepreneur and small business owner, Mr. Kappel is passionate about small business and its profound impact on the American economy.

Michael Wheeler: Michael A. Wheeler is the Chief Legal Officer of Patriot Software Company and serves as Treasurer and Secretary on the Board of Directors. In his role as Chief Legal Officer, Mr. Wheeler has a deep understanding of the Company and handles all executive-level matters as Chief Compliance Officer, Investor Relations Officer, and he oversees Patriot’s legal, compliance, financial, and human resources departments.