| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter Youtube RSS Feed

Entrepreneurship : Innovation + Job News

389 Entrepreneurship Articles | Page: | Show All

Computer forensics firm LuciData distinguishes itself from the competition

With so much information being stored in digital form, it seems inevitable that computer forensics and e-discovery would surge toward growth.
The strategy is used by companies of all sizes to create a digital paper trail that identifies issues such as file theft by departing employees or misuse of company resources. In this competitive arena, Minneapolis-based LuciData is hoping that expertise wins out.
"Our guys come from the IT security world, not the law enforcement world," says CEO Jeremy Wunsch. "You see a lot of companies that hire former cops, and that's fine, but you need a deeper understanding of how technology works to really be effective. That's what we provide."
These days, the most common client requests come from companies fretting about intellectual property theft, he notes. If someone leaves a job and takes information along, that can burn not only the former employer, but also the new company as well. Hiring a seemingly stellar new employee and then getting hit with an IP theft lawsuit soon after can be a nasty surprise.
"We've seen that situation happening much more frequently," Wunsch says. "That's why clients are asking us for more safeguards and prevention measures, so they can detect theft as it's happening."
Because LuciData employs technologists with deep expertise in security, the company can watch the movement of data more easily, Wunsch believes. Called "internal threat management," or "proactive forensics," the field might be burgeoning right now, but look for it to boom in the near future as companies work to protect themselves at every level.
As that happens, Wunsch expects that LuciData will stay on its current growth track, and live up to its name. "We bring clarity to data," he says.
Source: Jeremy Wunsch, LuciData
Writer: Elizabeth Millard

Student information system Infinite Campus continues on strong growth track

Blaine-based Infinite Campus is continuing to build momentum as it heads into another school year, helping K-12 districts to become more cost-efficient, streamlined, and productive.
The company delivers student information systems, and distinguishes its development from competitors, says Karl Beach, whose company title is Evangelist: "We build what districts need, rather than waiting to find out what they want. That puts them ahead in terms of having systems that work for the future, not just for today."
Infinite Campus manages more than 5.3 million students in 43 states. One recent implementation has been Clark County School District in Las Vegas, which selected the company's system for management of over 300,000 students.
Over the past year, Infinite Campus has worked to enhance its systems, and recently released new instructional management tools that assist teachers in offering blended instruction. For example, teachers can post assignments and hyperlinks through a campus portal, allowing students to submit homework online. Capabilities like these reduce the need for data entry, and make information available to administrators, parents, and students as well as teachers.
The systems can even track behavior data such as violence, bullying, and drug use. This type of tracking is crucial for federal grant funding tied to the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act. With Infinite Campus' Behavior Management Tool, districts can streamline incident reporting and improve communication throughout schools.
"Public education can be divisive, fragmented, and resource-constrained," says Beach. "We're working to change that. We want to transform education."
Source: Karl Beach, Infinite Campus
Writer: Elizabeth Millard

Technology platform nGage Health connects patients and doctors more effectively

Thanks to the recent elections, healthcare has been a hot topic lately, and politics aside, it should continue to lead policy debates for some time to come. But apart from competing visions of what healthcare in the U.S. should look like, the issue comes down to a more fundamental level, believes Dr. Peter Mills. "How can providers interact with patients in a more effective way?" he asks. "That's the real question to be asking."
Mills has worked to combine technology with health care in a way that increases doctor-to-patient communication. Previously, he launched employee wellness software firm vielife, which was sold to Cigna in 2006, and now helms a new effort called nGage Health.
The cloud-based online platform is geared toward creating a more robust relationship between doctors and patients, so health activities can be tracked with more accuracy. For example, a patient can input information about exercise and food intake, and a doctor could monitor that data remotely to make sure the person is on track with preventative measures.
That type of system is a radical departure from existing healthcare interactions, Mills says. Currently, most doctor visits occur because a patient is ill, leading to treatment of symptoms rather than an understanding of factors like lifestyle and behavior that can be tweaked to avoid illness.
"I felt that we have so much technology at our fingertips, and it's transformed how we do banking, communication, travel, almost everything," says Mills. "Yet, healthcare is delivered in the exact same way as it has been. Why not use that technology to change the relationship between provider and patient?"
Source: Peter Mills, nGage
Writer: Elizabeth Millard

SourceMob offers social media tools for employee recruitment

Employee recruitment and online technology have blended together with mixed results in the past decade--Monster.com may have led the way initially in applying innovation to job postings, but these days, talent acquisition calls for more sophisticated tools.
Founded by Jeffery Giesener in 2011, St. Louis Park-based SourceMob aims to meet the need. The startup helps companies expand their recruitment efforts by utilizing social networks more effectively. With modules called Social Media Career Centers, the service taps into major sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, tracking active jobs and conversational content.
"We saw an opportunity to bring a new lens to the talent acquisition space," says Giesener. "There's an e-commerce angle that hasn't existed before."
One particular strength for SourceMob is reaching passive candidates, who are open to new opportunities, but aren't actively sending out resumes or perusing online job boards. These candidates, highly prized by HR departments, have been tricky to acquire, but SourceMob makes the process easier since clients can access them through social platforms.
Better recruitment is particularly crucial right now, Giesener believes, since there are many jobs like software development going unfilled. Regardless of industry, companies are desperately trying to fill those vacancies in order to thrive, and depending on a more robust solution like SourceMob can boost their talent acquisition strategies.
Giesener self-funded the venture, and expects significant growth in the year ahead. He says, "It's getting really exciting to see the potential for what we've built. We're really in the right place at the right time with this."
Source: Jeffery Giesener, SourceMob
Writer: Elizabeth Millard

November events: Tekne Awards, Women's Excelerator, Primal Branding, Selling Globally

Tekne Awards
November 1
Minneapolis Convention Center
4:30pm - 9pm
$195 for individuals; $1,750 for table of ten
The Tekne Awards program, now in its 13th year, recognizes innovations from 2011 that impact the lives of Minnesotans, through lifestyle improvement or education. Forty-four finalists were named in fifteen categories, and this event unveils the winners. Just as importantly, the gathering provides ample opportunity for networking with a "who's who" of Minnesota business, technology, and politics.
Women's Excelerator Workshop: Practice Your Pitch
November 14
St. Catherine University
CDC401 Board room, 4th floor
8am - 12pm
In this workshop, attendees will develop a level of comfort with pitching their business, and will learn to create a value proposition statement. Each entrepreneur will have 10 minutes to present her business to her peers and facilitators, followed by a feedback session to identify which parts of the elevator pitches need work.
Tap the Power of Primal Branding
November 21
Risdall Marketing Group
550 Main St., New Brighton
8:30am - 11am
Led by Patrick Hanlon, the author of the popular book "Primal Branding," this workshop lays out a blueprint for more effective brand marketing. Hanlon advocates creating "brand zealots" who spread a company's message across multiple channels, a process that builds a stronger customer base. After Hanlon's presentation, representatives from Risdall Marketing Group will showcase how primal branding helped a number of their clients.
Selling Globally in a Borderless Society
November 29
The Woman's Club of Minneapolis
410 Oak Grove St.
7:15am - 9am
Fees range from $20 to $60, depending on registration type
Hosted by the Sales & Marketing Professional Association, this expert panel addresses the challenges and benefits of selling and marketing internationally. Participating will be international trade specialists Matthew Woodlee, Mike Danielson, and Jim Thomas. Planned topics include marketing support, hiring consultants, cultural issues, and current political and economic affairs.

Warecorp keeps expanding, launches new projects

St. Louis Park-based software development firm Warecorp doesn't see boundaries--geographically or otherwise.
Founded in 2004, the company has been growing at a steady pace, thanks in part to expansion into Minsk, Belarus, a hotbed of engineering talent. Warecorp has added about 30 employees there in the past six months, and has also brought on a Montana-based Vice President of Development, Sarmeesha Reddy.
The firm specializes in software engineering, and boasts projects in open source, social media, and software testing. One particularly compelling new project is Drupal Squad, developed by Warecorp engineers who use the programming language to design custom modules for other clients.
"Drupal Squad is an exciting development for us, and one that grew organically," says company cofounder Chris Dykstra. "We just converted a service we'd created to manage our own customer base, and it ended up being something that was really needed in the marketplace."

 Because of projects like these, Warecorp is poised for growth, and Reddy notes that she's been tasked with bringing the company from $5 million in annual sales to $20 million. After working on $100 million projects at Motorola, she's ready for the challenge. "This is a company that's full of heart, with a super smart team," she says. "When you bring that together with so many great ideas, it's magic."
Source: Chris Dykstra and Sarmeesha Reddy, Warecorp
Writer: Elizabeth Millard

IT testing firm tapQA stays on growth track

Founded in 2004, Minneapolis-based tapQA began to see an interesting inflection point a few years ago, says consulting partner Mike Faulise.
The company specializes in quality assurance, including software and systems testing, and Faulise notes that clients began to ask about offshore services, and to do pricing comparisons in terms of project costs. When tapQA compared the numbers, the firm founds ways of matching lower offshore pricing and, in some cases, coming in below those figures.
"We use local, Minnesota talent and we compete against offshore rates," says Faulise. "Because of that, we continue to grow, and to be effective in a competitive marketplace."
The company focuses on clients that tend to need contractors for a significant portion of work, particularly for technology projects. Faulise points out that the IT industry in the state is below zero percent unemployment, so finding in-house talent is especially challenging. Because of that, many companies have turned to outsourcing, and tapQA has stepped up as a resource to fill that need.
"We're able to separate strategic from tactical resources; that's one of our strengths," he says. "At the beginning of a project, you need strategy, and we can provide that. During a project, you depend on tactical skills, and we've focused on creating a solution that's just as affordable as offshore contracting, but without the hassles."
As tapQA contines to expand its contractor and client pools, the company anticipates more growth in the years ahead, particularly as it establishes more partnerships within the technology industry.
Source: Michael Faulise, tapQA
Writer: Elizabeth Millard

StoneArch unveils mobile platform for medical device industry

Minneapolis health and medical marketing agency StoneArch unveiled an iPad-based mobile selling platform designed for medical device manufacturers and their sales forces.
The platform, dubbed VOLLEY, was developed in response to an observed need, according to company president Jessica Boden.
"Most of our clients are medical device manufacturers, and they depend on their direct sales forces to sell their products," she says. "When the iPad launched, the medical device industry was an early adopter, but because they lacked a strong platform for the industry specifically, the devices became more like toys than tools."
StoneArch brought together a cross-functional team to address the issue, and ended up with its first proprietary application, which launched on Oct. 16th.
VOLLEY allows for customized content across diverse target audiences, and features a sales rep coaching tool that can help reps deal with challenging customer situations. Use of the application also comes with StoneArch support, including training and deployment, and the agency offers rental iPads for small and mid-sized companies.
Boden says that VOLLEY is already being well received in the industry, and the agency is planning its next iteration after getting feedback from users. The project hasn't just filled a need in the marketplace, either--it's also created some new bounce at StoneArch.
"It's been really fun to develop this; the organization has gotten energy out of making it happen," Boden says. "It gives us fuel for thinking about other ways we can use innovation to help our clients accomplish more."
Source: Jessica Boden, StoneArch
Writer: Elizabeth Millard

Real estate startup BuyerCurious gets funding boost, looks toward growth

Minneapolis-based startup BuyerCurious has certainly piqued the curiosity of investors: the company recently announced completion of the final phase of its $1.75 million first round Series A funding, led by private angel investors.
The funding should help the firm take advantage of the online real estate transaction platform it's developed, notes co-founder Jim Lesinski. Launched late last year, the service allows homebuyers and sellers to connect and to negotiate with one another--reducing the control of intermediaries like realtors, appraisers, and bankers.
Before the launch, BuyerCurious had to iron out numerous kinks related to real estate regulation, Lesinski says. That proved challenging, since the company was determined to build an offering that could be used in any part of the country.
"From the start, we wanted a very robust platform," says Lesinski. "We've looked toward national expansion before it even rolled out." The new wave of funding should assist in that effort, he adds, and allow the company to pursue a major marketing strategy for the year ahead.
The company had previously secured about $1.4 million from Gopher Angels and other investors, and also became higher profile when it reached the semi-finals round of the Minnesota Cup.
Lesinski looks forward to getting some strong traction for BuyerCurious in the near future, thanks to more financial resources and a platform that's been earning adoptions. "This represents a transformation of the buyer/seller mindset," he says. "We're excited to be offering this first step in creating an electronic marketplace for real estate."
Source: Jim Lesinski, BuyerCurious
Writer: Elizabeth Millard

Finalists announced for Tekne Awards

Highlighting technology leaders in the state, the Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA) announced finalists for the 2012 Tekne Awards.
The award program, now in its 13th year, recognizes innovations from 2011 that impacted the lives of Minnesotans, through lifestyle improvement or education. Forty-four finalists were named in fifteen categories.
The MHTA noted that the state remains at the forefront of cutting-edge technological growth, and the finalists show that the state's technology future is bright indeed, in areas that range from cleantech to robotics to mobile technologies.
In the startup category, finalists are Sophia Learning and Sparkweave, while those competing in the software category are Code 42 Software, Savigent Software and Third Wave Systems.
Finalists in other categories represent a range of companies, from large firms like 3M and Seagate Technology to smaller businesses like SheerWind, Digineer, and Agosto.
The awards are designed to showcase these types of companies, and draw attention to the innovative and competitive companies in the state, according to MHTA president Margaret Anderson Kelliher. They're part of the organization's larger mission to boost education and entrepreneurship along with technology development.
"We're very excited about the opportunities available to technology companies here," says Kelliher. "In general, we believe that individuals and companies in the state have more potential than they do challenges. We're proud and happy to support them in any way we can."
The Tekne Awards will be presented on November 1st at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
Source: Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Minnesota High Tech Association
Writer: Elizabeth Millard

Book publisher Hillcrest Media launches CoffeeandBooks.com

Although coffee shops have always attracted book lovers, one local publisher is using technology to make that relationship even more rewarding.
Minneapolis-based Hillcrest Media Group recently launched CoffeeandBooks.com, an online venture that pairs coffee house partners with publishers, with plenty of incentives thrown in for reading groups and bibliophiles.
Hillcrest CEO Mark Levine actually bought the domain name four years ago, but let it idle while he built the company into a leading local publisher, growing the company through other business divisions like Mill City Press, BPR Book Group, and Publish Green. Then, a chance connection with the head of Dunn Bros. put the site on a fast track.
"Once we had that anchor partner, the site became a priority," says Levine. "Dunn Bros. is very entrepreneurial, as are we, so it was a great partnership." The publishing firm tested the model about two months ago by putting together events for authors like Don Shelby and promoting them on CoffeeandBooks.com. When huge crowds showed up, they knew they'd found a powerful combination.
"The success we found with those early tests is very encouraging, and we're ready to go to the next phase," Levine says. That will involve putting a point-of-sale stand in participating coffee shops, with a selection of eight books, including both fiction and non-fiction. Although titles and publishers have yet to be fully finalized, Levine notes that some of the books will come from local favorites like Milkweed Press and the University of Minnesota.
He says, "So many publishers are dying to find non-retail places to sell books, and this is a fresh concept, so we expect to see a great deal of interest." Readers will also benefit from incentives like discounts on food and drinks, and a gift card for each book purchased. 
Source: Mark Levine, Hillcrest Media Group
Writer: Elizabeth Millard

October events: Cyber Security Summit, Venture and Finance Conference, She's Geeky, Yancey Strickler

Cyber Security Summit
October 9 & 10
Minneapolis Convention Center
Fees range from $319 to $779, depending on registration type
Focused on how we look at digital space and security, this event brings together leaders from government, business, and nonprofit organizations to talk about digital infrastructure security issues. Now in its second year, the summit features talks about topics like cyber threat identification, privacy, and cloud computing, and boasts speakers from Medtronic, the FBI, Best Buy, and the Department of Homeland Security.
Minnesota Venture and Finance Conference
October 11
Minneapolis Convention Center
7:00am - 5:00pm
Fees range from $295 to $645, depending on registration type
Hosted by The Collaborative and the Minnesota Venture Capital Association, this one-day conference focuses on the future of innovation in a number of fields, including cloud computing, cleantech, healthcare, and mobile devices. Attendees can choose from a wealth of workshops, many of which are geared toward entrepreneurs who are trying to position a company for financing.
She's Geeky
October 19 & 20
Science Museum of Minnesota
120 W. Kellogg Blvd.
Now in its third year, She's Geeky is a conference designed to connect women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The event is an "unconference," which means that instead of a pre-planned agenda, topics and discussions are generated by attendees. Organizers note that women attending the events (which are held in multiple cities) find inspiration and gain self-confidence because they build peer networks for support and discuss critical issues.
Yancey Strickler talk
October 25
Walker Art Center
7:00pm - 9:00pm
Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Strickler will speak about the website's inspiration and evolution, and its increasing impact on artists and creative entrepreneurs. In addition to talking about how Kickstarter's success could affect the wider world of arts funding, Strickler will also speculates about what the future might hold for the technology platform itself.

Drive Power's unique driving app is gaining traction

The campaign to end texting while driving is heating up, especially with the recent announcement by AT&T that it was joining up with the Department of Transportation and the FCC to establish a national movement to halt the practice.
Although individuals can "take the pledge" to stop texting and driving, they can also thwart temptation with DriveScribe, a mobile application that acts as a real-time driving monitor and "coach" that gives tips on better driving. Parents can also use the app to get alerts whenever a teen texts while on the road.
Created by Minneapolis-based tech firm Drive Power, the app launched in August and is seeing a great deal of momentum already, including a pilot project in Saudi Arabia and a partnership with GMAC insurance.
CEO Will England notes that the quick adoption rate is being fueled by a free version of the app, as well as an expanded incentives program and an aggressive awareness campaign. He says, "We're continuing to gain traction in the individual-user market, even hearing from parents that many are requiring their teens to use DriveScribe when they drive."
Another growth driver: corporate partnerships, like the ones with GMAC and the Saudis. The project in Saudi Arabia involved having employees of Saudi Aramco, one of the largest oil companies in the world, use DriveScribe. With a large fleet of vehicles, the company believes that DriveScribe can reduce liabilities and minimize accidents.
"We're actively working with corporate partners to promote safe driving among large groups of drivers," England says. With such high-profile projects leading the app's kickoff, look for DriveScribe to come to a vehicle near you in the not-too-distant future.
Source: Will England, CEO
Writer: Elizabeth Millard

Healthsense gets funding boost, looks toward growth

Mendota Heights-based healthcare technology firm Healthsense recently got a major boost toward more growth, in the form of strategic funding that will help the company keep expanding its operations.
Healthsense provides a remote monitoring platform, called eNeighbor, targeted toward the senior care market. Caregivers can be alerted to situations like falls or sudden health changes, and can also use the technology to keep on top of regular health issues.
The system--developed under the direction of the National Institute of Aging and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency--relies on a series of wireless sensors placed throughout a residence, which can capture an occupant's activities. The system "learns" a person's routines, like what time he or she gets out of bed, and alerts caregivers if there's a significant change in behavior.
The company will be able to expand the product's reach, thanks to an infusion of $7 million, in a round of Series-D financing, led by new investors Merck Global Health Innovation Fund and Fallon Community Health Plan.
"The addition of these respected investors supports our belief that our technology and approach can both improve quality and reduce cost," notes Healthsense CEO Brian Bischoff. "Both companies represent strong strategic alliances for us at this important point in our growth."
The company has seen a nice amount of traction in the past few years, kicked off by a grant from the Department of Defense, which launched a research program to demonstrate how wellness monitoring and assistive technologies could help keep older adults in their own homes.
Bischoff is confident that the system's steady adoption will keep fueling company growth, especially with the financing round. He says, "As we go forward, our attention will increasingly focus on enhancing care models to advance the adoption of remote monitoring in health management."
Source: Brian Bischoff, Healthsense
Writer: Elizabeth Millard

W3i prepares for growth by opening Minneapolis office

Anyone searching for an indicator of Minnesota's strong tech growth should take a good look at St. Cloud-based W3i.
The company has not only tripled growth for its mobile monetization business within the past year, but it's also nearly doubled its employee numbers, and there's no stopping the momentum now.
To keep pace, the company will be opening an office in the Grain Exchange building in Minneapolis, and has recently added space to its headquarters as well. Another office just opened up in San Francisco, too, to attract developers and potential employees in that technology hub.
"We're excited about everything that's happening, and the surge in revenue we've seen," says Rob Weber, who co-founded W3i with his brothers, Ryan and Aaron, in 2000. "With the growth in mobile technologies and apps, we're in a hot category, with a platform that's creating a lot of value. It's hard not to be excited when you're in that position."
The company helps app developers and publishers make a profit from their apps, through a monetization and distribution system. Services include user acquisition, media buying, and marketing solutions.
Particularly well received is the W3i Games Platform, which provides a hosted virtual goods management system. The platform allows developers to add, modify, or delete inventory items and manage their currency online.
With all the momentum, W3i is likely to keep its current, robust pace, Weber believes. There are 20 open positions in every functional area of the company, and he anticipates that the business side of W3i will get built out as much as the development side. He says, "All areas are growing here, and we're just doing our best to keep up."
Source: Rob Weber, W3i
Writer: Elizabeth Millard
389 Entrepreneurship Articles | Page: | Show All
Signup for Email Alerts