Capitol Hill Tech | David Martin of Trakstar

David Martin, hard at work on Capitol Hill (Image: CHS)

Did you think that we had already written about all the tech startups on Capitol Hill? Nope, not even close. This week visit Trakstar, a little human resources software firm that calls E Pike home. We talked with founder David Martin in Trakstar’s offices right above Via Tribunali, which you can see from the street if you’re at the Capitol Hill Block Party, or say, a post-election happy riot.

Trakstar doesn’t just seek to automate HR processes that can become onerous as a company gets larger – Martin says that he also sees his mission as improving communication within a company, and making the performance review process better.

After over a little more than six years on Capitol Hill, Trakstar has a staff of 12 (6 in Colorado and 6 in the Seattle office), and more than 500 customers worldwide.  They’re still growing too – if you’re a Rails software engineer who really likes foosball, Trakstar might be the place for you.

Martin started Trakstar out of his dorm room at Colorado State University in 2001. However, the business (then called Promantech) wasn’t a full time endeavor until he moved to Seattle in the summer of 2006.  “I had a friend who moved up here and was always having a ton of fun, and I was jealous, and I had no employees, said Martin, “so I moved.”

Trakstar has been based out of Capitol Hill ever since Martin moved to Seattle; first out of his Capitol Hill apartment, then in the Packard Building, and finally in their present offices starting in June 2012. “The location is perfect,” said Martin, “I mean Broadway and Pike, you can’t beat that, anywhere in Seattle.”

Employee performance history is only one of the ways that you can slice and dice data with Trakstar

The present location is where Promantech transformed into Trakstar, with the completion of a full rewrite of the original software accompanying the change in name and branding.

Trakstar VP of Engineering Ken Everett and founder David Martin engage in a fierce game of the company pastime, foosball (Image: CHS)

Trakstar’s specialty is web-browser based human resources software, in the niche of employee performance management – tracking what employees are working on, preparing performance reviews, and communicating company goals.  It also allows for continuous communication between employees and their higher-ups, instead of only having periodic bursts of feedback in the form of annual reviews or goal-setting memos.

According to Martin, Trakstar differs from its competitors in HR software because of their dedication to transparency.  Demos and pricing estimates of the software are freely available on the website, something that Martin says is not common across the industry.  This transparency is reflected in the software as well – employees can log into Trakstar at any time and see their previous appraisals, the metrics their performance is being measured on, and company and department goals.  The configurability of the software to fit a particular business as well as the many different ways that the reports can slice up data were also mentioned as selling points.

Trakstar currently focuses only on employee performance, making it a product that works best for companies from 25 to 5,000 employees. “Larger companies (2-5000) also want compensation and succession planning built in,” says Martin. Next year, Martin said Trakstar will work toward providing this next tier of features.

Martin said that Trakstar has decided to stay on Capitol Hill because it can. “We don’t have to be in a particular neighborhood, and this is the neighborhood we’d like to be in,” he said.  Since Trakstar is a web-browser based product, it isn’t reliant on suppliers and has a customer base distributed worldwide. This frees up Trakstar to locate based on other criteria. Martin named neighborhood, central location for employees who live spread through the Seattle area, proximity to his house (“selfishly I want to be able to walk to work”) and good places to eat as reasons he chose Capitol Hill as the location for his HQ.

You can learn more at

Tech Notes

  • Remember our post about start-up EnergySavvy’s plea for help finding affordable office space so the company could remain on Capitol Hill? Didn’t work out. The producer of clean energy software is holding a game night open house in their new Pioneer Square home this Thursday.

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