Out on the edge
You only need to look as far as the phone in your hand to recognize that we live in a new era of technology. The old way of doing things, even as recently as five years ago, feels like a generation ago. Today, everyone is impacted by technology — and many of our homes are even fully connected through the internet of Things.
With that as a backdrop, we’re honored to recognize a dynamic group of organizations with the inaugural Cleveland Technology Awards. These scrappy startups, established technology firm leaders and implementers of technology demonstrate the new horizon we are experiencing.
After you read about this year’s honorees, we invite you to join us on March 23rd for the inaugural Cleveland Tech Awards Conference, a luncheon where we’ll recognize these companies and engage in a rousing panel discussion on three hot-button issues:
Data analytics — understanding how to analyze, harness, and transform the wealth of information at our fingertips into actionable intelligence.
Cybersecurity — how to keep your data out of the hands of those who would intend to do you harm.
Emerging disruptive technologies — what’s happening on the leading, and bleeding, edges of technology.
There’s little doubt the world is moving faster today than it ever has before. Congratulations to these companies for helping everyone enjoy the ride. ●
Cleveland Technology Awards Honorees 2017
Established Tech Firms
BlueBridge Networks emerged in January 2004 as a partnership between a group of well-established local technology and business entrepreneurs. The aim was to take advantage of underutilized assets in a downtown Cleveland data center.
Managing Director and Partner Kevin Goodman says BlueBridge is in the business of keeping companies and institutions in business through multiple data center services. The company emphasizes high availability, reliability and security. It is intently focused on Ohio, as well as service organizations from other states and countries.
While BlueBridge is engaged in traditional hosting and collocation, the company also offers cloud computing and managed services, including managed storage and security. The company has a strong enterprise-class reseller division offering a host of hardware and software solutions, as well as data center optimization services. In a web-centric and data-centric world, data is the lifeblood of an organization, and BlueBridge aspires to serve as stewards and trusted advisers, offering a total IT solution. ●
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For more than 15 years, Briteskies has not only weathered the ups and downs that come with being in the tech industry, the company has thrived. Briteskies continues to grow by staying true to its vision, mission and brand promise.
Built on the belief that customers come first and that effective customer service requires a commitment on the part of every team member to stretch, learn and grow, its approach has enabled the company to shift with the changing needs of its industry.
In an industry that is intently focused on the next great thing, Briteskies has not lost sight of where it came from while determining where it wants to be next. This approach has helped the business evolve into a full-service IT consulting company. Led by Managing Director William Onion, Briteskies is constantly evaluating its business model and adapting it to provide customers with the best ecommerce solutions possible. ●
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e2b teknologies provides business consulting, custom software development, integration and support services for popular enterprise resource planning software as well as its own published software.
e2b teknologies, which is led by CEO Bill Henslee and President Lynne Henslee, capitalized on functional gaps in business software and technology, which allowed the company to develop software that would fill these gaps through automation and streamlined procedures.
Accounts receivable is one of the largest assets for most businesses and the single-most important source of working capital. Companies that fail to collect receivables on time are financing their customers through what amounts to short-term loans. This exposes them to increased credit risk, which inevitably means higher bad debt write-offs and increased costs associated with loans to make up for cash flow shortages. As a response, e2b teknologies designed and developed Anytime Collect, the first affordable, cloud-based accounts receivable collections and business credit automation application. ●
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Foundation Software’s reason for developing construction accounting software is simple. The company’s founder, chairman and CEO, Fred Ode, chose it because he saw it as the opportunity to employ his passions as a programmer and build something great as an entrepreneur.
That’s also what motivates Foundation today, in every aspect of the company, and directs each decision it makes as a developer: “How will what we do today make us a better company that makes better products for our clients?”
Foundation continually develops impactful technology for the construction industry by capitalizing on the company’s two greatest assets: its clients and its people. The company’s user-submitted change-request log sources its programmers with a steady agenda of priority updates, product enhancements and custom coding requests. And by maintaining its sales, training and support teams in-house and never using third-party dealers or value-added resellers, the company maintains a close relationship with its clients, even decades after the sale. ●
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After many years of offering R&D solutions to other brands and manufacturers, Kent Displays now develops technologies that are incorporated into finished products and sold to consumers through a variety of channels.
CEO Albert M. Green, Ph.D., drives the organization to stretch science and engineering boundaries, to create unique industrial designs, to market internationally across diverse media and to deliver customer value.
With highly automated proprietary manufacturing technology, KDI can manufacture the key component of its product, the writing surface, in the U.S. This benefits both the local and national economy, and permits easier IP protection.
The Boogie Board eWriter product line generated an average 33 percent annual revenue growth since 2010 and revenue has grown ninefold over the past decade. eWriters have countless applications including business communications, education, health care, military and home use — anywhere paper is traditionally used. Green and the KDI team see no limit for the eWriter category.●
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Bennett Adelson, CEO of MacroPoint, is an out-of-the-box thinker who saw a link in the supply chain that was missing and quickly developed, patented and began selling software to solve the problem.
Today, over 800,000 drivers and millions of connected trucks have tracked more than 20 million loads as part of the MacroPoint Carrier Visibility Network. In November 2016, the company received a $44 million investment from Susquehanna Growth Equity to further accelerate growth.
MacroPoint has literally changed the way shippers and freight brokers do business. MacroPoint’s patented load monitoring and tracking software aggregates the location information from a cell phone, in-cab ELD/GPS device, or trailer and container tracking system to provide real-time load location visibility to third parties. This revolutionary cloud-based solution allows third parties to receive location monitoring and tracking services, delivery monitoring and event notifications; as well as exception management and predictive analytics capabilities in a single location in a format that highlights at-risk loads. ●
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Metisentry builds, manages and integrates business software and data center systems though web, mobile and cloud platforms. The company, which is led by CEO Mike Fischer, provides secure solutions that empower businesses to create efficiency through technology and achieve growth and success.
The recently merged, award-winning teams of Metisentry and Pantek, Inc. have combined to create a Northeast Ohio-based full-stack technology firm.
Finding the best solutions for its clients’ issues allows the company’s talented team to highlight its expertise and creativity. By recognizing that each client has a unique business with particular needs, Metisentry then builds, manages and integrates software solutions to meet those needs. With offices in Independence and headquarters in Akron, Metisentry also supplies clients with an exceptional, security-hardened Linux- and Open-Source-based hosting facility.
Together, these two growing teams form an expert consulting and development powerhouse that is poised to offer the Greater Cleveland area more than ever before.●
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Word spread quickly through the real estate investing community about Realeflow, new software that helps real estate investors organize and grow their businesses.
The software had the potential not only to help real estate investors be successful, offering implementation programs that teach prospective real estate investors fundamental and advanced real estate investing and internet marketing methods, but it could also help more homeowners and communities throughout the country.
It took only a few months after it launched in 2006 before investors across the country used Realeflow to double, triple and even quadruple their business. It became clear, almost instantly, that Realeflow was able to fill an immediate need in the industry.
Realeflow, led by CEO Gregory Clement, is now the most widely recognized and largest Software as a Service company in the real estate investing niche. It has become a multi-million dollar company that has helped entrepreneurs across the country achieve the financial freedom that they desire.●
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Even during times of economic downturn, Frank Foti and The Telos Alliance have managed to maintain positive cash flow, innovate and successfully avoid layoffs.
Foti’s philosophy is that it’s not 150 employees who rely on The Telos Alliance; it’s 150 families. Foti has thus earned the nickname “Il Padrino” (the Godfather) among his team and the larger broadcast industry.
Foti, the CEO, along with co-founder Steve Church (who passed away in 2012), built the company via bootstrap innovation without any outside investors or even bank loans. Foti’s passion for making products with one end goal in mind — to help broadcasters win — and his never-say-die perseverance has always prevailed.
When Foti launched Omnia Audio, the first new division of The Telos Alliance, he went up against the brand leader in broadcast audio processing, Orban, which had 85 percent of the world share at the time. Now, only 10 years later, Omnia Audio has 75 percent world market share. ●
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thunder::tech is committed to great work and customer service, and team members challenge themselves to become experts and leaders in the industry. The company specializes in content management system (CMS) strategy and deployment, and its employees are well-versed in various CMS systems.
thunder::tech has both Kentico and Sitecore certified developers in house, is a Kentico Gold Partner and the website projects it has created for clients have been given Kentico Site of the Month recognition seven times.
Led by President Jason Therrien, thunder::tech takes an integrated approach to all of the work it does. For example, the development team is not the only team involved in a website project.
From the very beginning, user experience and optimization teams collaborate to create site maps and wire frames that serve the needs of the end user. The communications team provides strategic direction for web content and the development team brings to life a website that is both functional and user-friendly.●
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In their quest to develop a convenient, affordable wireless closet light, Wireless Environment co-founders David Levine and Mike Recker quickly established a vision that took lighting completely off-grid using battery-powered lights.
In the past 10 years, Wireless Environment, with Levine as its president and CEO, has created, developed and patented technology used in its four wireless LED lighting brands.
The lighting solutions aim to provide effective lighting in and around the home to increase safety, security and convenience without the hassle or expense of hiring an electrician.
The Mr Beams® line of lights is meant for additional lighting anywhere around the home. The NetBright® line of lights includes all of the Mr Beams features plus patented NetBright technology that allows the lights to communicate with each other. The ReadyBright® Power Outage Lighting System provides battery-powered emergency lighting. SwitchSense® technology works with existing light fixtures to provide a battery backup when power is lost.●
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World Synergy is a business adviser serving as a strategic partner to the underserved small to midsize business market. Under the leadership of Founder and CEO Glenn Smith, the company offers integrated business services to fulfill B2B and B2C marketing, applications and technology needs.
These divisions work together and provide solutions for unique IT needs. World Synergy’s commitment to partnerships and business growth offers proven success for both clients and for the company. As a result, World Synergy is considered a thought leader in the technology industry. Its personnel are invited to participate in speaking panels and they are quoted in national publications.
The company takes the complexity out of network administration and IT services by streamlining business IT operations and aligning IT services with business goals and objectives. World Synergy’s focus on providing a blueprint for implementing strategies integrates digital sales presence, critical business applications and computing infrastructure. ●
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Budget Dumpster has developed proprietary technology that has enabled it to grow into one of the largest dumpster brokers in North America with hundreds of hauling partners in every major market nationwide.
The company’s Maps software provides census information, geospatial data, maps and pricing with up-to-the-minute details tied to rates and location-specific service capabilities. This enables the company, led by co-founders Mark Campbell and John Fenn, to streamline the price-quoting process for both customers and its sales team.
When a customer calls, Budget Dumpster’s sales team inputs the desired street address, city or zip code. Any vendor that matches the search will then appear in the results. Once a vendor is selected, the various dumpster options, pricing and related details such as availability and expected service time appear instantly for the user. The process has been simplified and has reduced the time on call by half, in addition to virtually eliminating misquoting. ●
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From its inception in 1987, Corporate Screening Services, has been a pioneer in the field of background screening by developing and delivering the newest available technology. At the forefront of this innovation is the promise of providing solutions that are customized to each client’s unique needs.
While other companies offer pre-developed, “canned” solutions, Corporate Screening, led by President Greg Dubecky, has continued to invest in and develop new technology, designing unique applications that reflect the market’s evolving needs.
In 1997, Corporate Screening introduced CS EASE, its advanced reporting and program management system. One of the first background screening web delivery systems, CS clients use EASE to submit, retrieve and manage their background screening process. Since its inception, EASE has been continually reviewed and refined. It remains at the industry forefront by delivering reliable, accurate data to clients in an efficient and secure manner that is accessible anytime.●
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The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland is one of only four banks in the Federal Reserve System commissioned to provide software development solutions to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Bureau of the Fiscal Service.
The eGovernment department specializes in architecting, engineering and supporting payment systems using state-of-the-art information technologies and software development techniques and practices. This effort is led by Vice President Tim McFadden.
Have you ever bought a memento from a gift shop at a national park using a credit card? Have you ever purchased a Proof Set of U.S. coins through the U.S. Mint’s website? Have you ever made a student loan payment? Chances are, if you’ve ever paid the U.S. government for goods or services that are not covered by taxes, it’s very likely that your payment was processed by computer systems designed, developed, and maintained by employees of the eGov Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.●
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The Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland and Global Center for Health Innovation features an all-encompassing technology package with internet speeds that are 20 times faster than the average internet connection.
Ranking among the most technologically advanced convention centers in the world, its network is capable of hosting 15,000 devices at speeds of 1 billion bits per second.
In preparation for the 2016 Republican National Convention, 144 new fiber optic lines were installed at the Convention Center.
These lines traveled roughly a mile and a half to Quicken Loans Arena and were responsible for all the camera feeds from the convention. They also supported more than 15,000 journalists who worked out of the Convention Center during the event. Led by General Manager Mark J. Leahy, the mammoth undertaking was completed more quickly and more cost-effectively than any other facility had done in the recent history of the Republican National Convention.●
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OMNI Systems embarked on a multi-year, multimillion-dollar technology investment initiative in which the company upgraded to world-class manufacturing resource planning software and robotic equipment.
Led by Founder and CEO Adam H. DeFrancesco, this investment included the commission of new printing presses, with technology features such as automatic inline splicers (decreasing job time) and ABG finishing turrets (increasing output). As a result, OMNI emerged a highly profitable and highly efficient manufacturer of barcode labels used by some of the world’s leading companies. OMNI Systems has grown over 47 percent through the past five years and has dramatically improved quality while reducing costs. Additionally, OMNI is now a 24-hour-a-day operation.
Furthermore, the process improvements afforded by this technology investment have been responsible for significantly reducing scrap and increasing throughput. OMNI has been able to increase quality and reduce prices, which catalyzed a 47 percent growth spurt over the past 16 months.●
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Speedeon Data enables leading brands to maximize their return on marketing spend by delivering custom data solutions that enable marketers to identify and engage customers with the right message at the right time.
Speedeon Data’s clients include companies within retail, banking and other financial services; insurance, cable and satellite TV and other residential services; direct marketing agencies; and other industries.
Speedeon Data, led by President and CEO Gerard Daher, utilizes technology extensively in the development and delivery of a range of custom data solutions and first-class service to its growing portfolio.
Speedeon Data uses two distinct data processing platforms for extract, transform, load (ETL) and database management functions. A proprietary platform is used to perform daily and weekly database builds, as well as some customer-facing automation solutions. This platform manages and compiles thousands of data sources in the development of industry-leading mover, life stage, lifestyle and firmographic data for hundreds of millions of consumers and businesses.●
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7signal Solutions is an agile software development shop developing the most important features and capabilities from direct customer feedback.
At the heart of agile development is collaboration. 7signal uses a variety of tools to bridge the gap between its product management group and its customers to ensure the most effective communication. Tight feedback loops are imperative to delivering the most useful software and 7signal sprints at a two-week software delivery cadence. This approach ensures that the company is nimble to the needs of the market. Additionally, 7signal’s developers feel more included and closer to customers, an understanding that allows them to deliver greater quality.
7signal’s mission is to improve the Wi-Fi experience for end users everywhere. Under the leadership of President and CEO Thomas M. Barrett, the company helps customers achieve peak Wi-Fi performance and wireless local area network (WLAN) service assurance in support of initiatives that help their business grow, increase operational efficiency and elevate productivity. ●
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Every year, more than 350,000 people in the U.S suffer a sudden cardiac arrest. The heart stops beating normally and a cascade of ischemic events occur, causing a lack of oxygenated blood supply to the brain.
The patient’s survival prognosis declines, cells die and neurological function can be impaired the longer CPR and defibrillation are delayed. The American Heart Association recommends cooling the patient as soon as possible, which has been shown to increase the probability of a good neurological outcome.
Led by CEO Michael Bunker, Cryothermic Systems has developed a simple, safe, fast and cost-effective cooling solution. The Cryothermic Cooling Pack is patented as an effective method to noninvasively cool patients via the neck, demonstrating temperature drops of 1.7 degrees Celsius in less than 30 minutes. Initially focused on emergency medical services with a simple product to cool sudden cardiac arrest patients, the company has now demonstrated that its product has many applications in the hospital for fever control and abatement.●
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Drive My Way is a unique, online, personalized recruiting technology that matches truck drivers who have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) with available jobs based on their qualifications and personal preferences. It makes connecting the right employer and the ideal driver much easier than traditional recruiting sites.
With Drive My Way, employers can expedite the hiring process and lower recruiting costs, and drivers can search confidentially to identify better-matched jobs.
Led by President and CEO Beth Potratz, the company’s technology lets both driver and employer know how well they match to each job posting before entering the hiring process. Drivers enter 23 personal preferences, such as schedule, type of haul, type of run and more, and are presented with job matches based on a 1-10 score, 10 being their perfect match. Employers are also presented with matching scores and benefit from the ability to identify which drivers best match their opportunities.●
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The idea for EmployStream was developed to solve a real-world need for a local Cleveland staffing company in 2014. As the company experienced strong, continuous growth, the stress of keeping up with endless paperwork and inefficient manual processes was taking its toll.
Rob Sable, the founder of EmployStream, created a prototype to streamline these processes and reduce the strain on the organization. The results were immediate, as profit margins increased over 30 percent and a cost savings of more than $100,000 was realized within the first year.
New CEO Gerald Hetrick now leads a business that has proven its platform can achieve positive ROI while making faster hiring decisions. EmployStream’s user-focused approach to software development leads to quicker development cycles, higher quality assurance and ultimately, happier customers. This allows small- and medium-sized businesses to compete on a level playing field with large businesses and gives these companies the ability to scale more quickly.●
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Essex Digital Platform was founded on the premise that marketing should never be automated. There is so much data available to not only analyze, but also to respond to, that it still takes human intelligence, ingenuity and instinct to successfully launch and manage a campaign.
You need to know what to measure, why you’re measuring it and what you’ll do with your measured data.
Led by Tom Kramer, the company’s president and co-founder, Essex is not a reseller, nor is it an agency. The company’s proprietary online advertising platform leverages the latest and very best available technology, provided by the industry’s leading digital marketing companies.
It integrates that technology into a centralized portal that allows the company to leverage real-time marketing intelligence and personally apply campaign optimizations. The growth strategy at Essex is to deploy its technology in highly customizable ways to give clients the most efficient, effective and transparent digital marketing solution available.●
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Ronald Copfer, founder and chairman of Heureka Software, recognized that the biggest driver to inefficiency, and ultimately competition in the electronic data discovery market place, was the vast over-collection of data for lawsuits.
When collecting electronically stored information (ESI), it’s standard to make a copy of an entire hard drive from the computer in question to find any evidence for the lawsuit. In 2012, Copfer and his team developed a new system for identifying and collecting ESI. Utilizing an application that resides on any computer, a local index is made of all content and all system artifacts. Users can then query individual machines for exactly the content they are searching for, identifying only those documents on a computer that match the query.
The company pivoted to Heureka Software in 2014, and its current direction was developed. CEO Greg Pacholski arrived in 2016 to help develop a strategic vision, build the team and raise additional capital. ●
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Virteom is a creator of technologies that help businesses grow. On average, Virteom, which is led by owner Dan Carbone, creates up to 60 pieces of technology a year for business customers. Sometimes this is as simple as a website, or more complex like a mobile app or software as a service offering.
For one of the company’s customers, vaultlocks.com, Virteom created all of the software that manages its Bluetooth lockboxes that are built for the realtor industry and can be controlled by a smartphone. For example, a real estate services company could purchase 1,000 of these boxes and manage every single one of its properties.
The realtor can see who has entered a home, when they entered it and also schedule who can unlock the box and when. The realtor can also schedule when nobody can be in the house. This adds a new level of security to the homeowner that just doesn’t exist in the current marketplace.●
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The idea for Votem sprouted back in 2014. Pete Martin had just sold his consulting business and was contemplating what to do next. He attended a conference where entrepreneurs were asked to come up with a moonshot impact statement that would define their life’s work and become their legacy.
More specifically, the attendees were asked to come up with an idea that would positively impact a billion people. Martin wrote down “mobile voting,” which became the foundation for Votem.
Today, Votem, and its Founder and CEO Martin, are focused on leveraging the platform it currently has and taking it through the Election Assistance Commission federal certification process. This will allow Votem to bring to market an end-to-end election solution that it believes is more secure, efficient and reliable than any that exists today, all while offering data interoperability with existing voting systems, fraud reduction, error reduction, increased auditability and lower cost.●
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