In Good Company
Jeffersontown-Based Appriss Inc. is Leading the Way Through Innovation and Creativity
Writer / Carrie Vittitoe Photography Provided by Swope Design Group & Caleb Perry
I often drive around Louisville and find myself wondering what happens in the various businesses I pass, especially if it’s a business whose work isn’t obvious or well-known in the community. Most Louisvillians have heard of UPS, Humana and YUM!, but there are thousands of businesses whose work stretches far beyond the borders of our state. One such business is Appriss Inc., a data technology and analytics company headquartered in Jeffersontown that is focused on finding solutions to society’s problems.
President and CEO Krish Sastry has been with the company for eight years in various roles, and was drawn to the company in large part due to its mission.
“We all like to have an exalted sense of what we do, how it matters and how it changes the world, but quite literally what Appriss does saves lives,” he says.
While he formally took on the role of CEO in late summer of 2020, he worked closely with founder and former CEO Mike Davis to ensure his succession would not only be accepted, but also welcomed by the company’s worldwide staff.
Davis founded the company in 1994 with Yung Nguyen when they created Victim Information and Notification Everyday (VINE), a notification network inspired by the murder of Mary Byron, a young woman who was killed by her former boyfriend after he was released from prison unbeknownst to her. While VINE began small, it has grown over the years to include 43 states, Washington, D.C., and Guam. Any person can sign up for automatic notifications to find out an incarcerated person’s custody status, such as whether he or she has been transferred to another facility or released on bail.
The company’s growing connections with law enforcement entities via VINE eventually helped it move into other avenues of public protection. In 2006 Appriss developed NPLEx, a technology that tracks purchases of cold medicines that include pseudoephedrine, to ensure people don’t purchase it in quantities sufficient to create (and potentially sell) methamphetamines. If you’ve ever tried to purchase Claritin-D at your local pharmacy and been asked for your driver’s license, you’ve probably experienced NPLEx even if you didn’t realize it.
It didn’t take Appriss too long to recognize that while meth is a big problem, opioids are an even bigger one, affecting too many families in Kentucky and across the nation. Appriss developed state-of-the-art technology known as prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs), used to monitor opioid dispensations in 43 states and territories.
“PDMPs are used for multiple purposes,” Sastry says. “They help doctors and pharmacists identify potential issues of abuse, addiction or diversion, and make better decisions as they serve patients. They also help state agencies identify potential bad actors that may be running pill mills.”
Appriss has gone on to develop tools and technology to assist doctors in analyzing patient risks, and help refer patients to appropriate venues for treatment around mental and behavioral health conditions that may be at the root of addiction and drug abuse.
The movement from victim notification to prescription drug monitoring was largely organic, and grew from the connections Appriss had originally made with law enforcement agencies and pharmacies. Those same connections helped the company branch further into a broader array of solutions to improve workplace and community safety, and develop data analytics to identify and reduce retail fraud, whether committed by employees or consumers. No matter what agency or business Appriss works with, Sastry says the mission is the same.
“We leverage data, technology and analytics to improve the world we live in, and solve what we call forever problems,” Sastry says.
Although Appriss began small, it has grown to nearly 1,000 employees. While some staff members have come from direct hiring, others, including staff in London and Poland, have come through acquisitions. In the U.S., Appriss has offices in approximately 10 locations including California, Colorado, Virginia, Minnesota and Illinois – a long way from a company of two individuals in 1994.
Appriss has also weathered economic conditions that have slammed other industries.
“This is a company that’s now, for the 25th year in a row, continued to grow,” Sastry says. “We’ve not missed a beat from the 2000 dot-com era through the housing crisis of 2007, and even through COVID.”
This unique ability to sustain growth was another trait that attracted Sastry to the company.
When Sastry first came to Appriss, he was brought in as the head of product strategy at a time when the company was less than one-third of its current size. He didn’t have much of a chance to get used to that position, because within a month of his hiring, an opportunity presented itself and his role changed.
“I started out Appriss Health as a separate business unit within Appriss, and had the fortune of guiding it for the first couple years,” he says.
He eventually went back to a corporate role in the company on the retail side of things, which meant a move to California. He returned to Louisville in 2018 and became chief operating officer.
Mike Davis and the board at the time liked what Sastry brought to the company and decided to work together, with a vision of putting him in the role of CEO, but this process was intentionally slow and steady, taking multiple years.
“[Mike] casts a long shadow,” Sastry says. “He is an exceptional human being, and a brilliant leader and entrepreneur. We wanted to make sure that people got comfortable with the idea that we are two fundamentally different people and so we’ll each have our own unique style, even if the mission and purpose is the same.”
Prior to Appriss, Krish had an interesting career path.
“I’m a software engineer geek by background, born and raised in India,” he says.
He built software for banks, which gave him a chance to travel and work in Europe, Australia and Latin America. He then got his master of business administration degree from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, before working for several companies in Silicon Valley, California.
“All of this gave me opportunities to learn two to three foundational skills,” he says. “One is the ability to quickly learn about an area that I know very little about. Number two is the ability to earn people’s trust. The third is I’ve had the good fortune to adapt to every new place that I’ve gotten to.”
Working with all kinds of people throughout the world gives Sastry a unique perspective on the kind of culture that is essential to a successful business.
“Culture is the most powerful instrument through which we can create a common sense of purpose,” he says.
Appriss is committed to investing in people.
“It’s something we are placing a lot of emphasis on – the notion of diversity and belonging,” he says. “I’m an example of a diverse candidate who got the opportunity mainly because there were people that were kind enough to look beyond how I look and could see what I could contribute.”
He is committed to doing the same for current and future Appriss employees.