HAMDEN — If you ever considered taking a graduate program in business without leaving your computer, Quinnipiac University seems like a good place to do it.

The university was ranked in the top ten — No. 9, to be exact — for the Best Online Graduate Business Programs in the United States for 2014 by U.S. News & World Report. The ranking was based on factors including student engagement, admissions selectivity, peer reputation, faculty credentials and training, student services and technology.

The QU School of Business employs the same faculty online as in the classroom, and offers online graduate programs for master’s degrees in business administration and master of science degrees in information technology and organizational leadership.

A new master of science in business analytics will be introduced in the autumn 2014 semester.

EAST HARTFORD — The Connecticut Technology Council seeks nominations for its tenth annual Women of Innovation Awards Dinner slated for next March 27 in Southington. Do you know a woman who should be celebrated for her accomplishments in science, technology research, engineering, mathematics, business analytics or technology education? In additional to adult professionals with at least three years of managerial or technical experience in a technology, engineering or science-related company, nominees may also be young high school or college women who have excelled as young inventors, are academically proficient in a science or technology curriculum or have accomplished an extraordinary technology feat. Visit CT.org for criteria and nomination form (deadline January 13).

 STORRS — The University of Connecticut’s School of Engineering has partnered with United Technologies Corp. (UTC) to launch the UTC Institute for Advanced Systems Engineering on UConn’s main Storrs campus.

 

The institute was launched with a $7.5 million contribution from UTC — one of the largest corporate donations the school has ever received.

 

The systems engineering center will focus on educating future engineers on components and subsystems integral to the functions of aircraft, buildings and other highly engineered structures.

UTC will pay out the $7.5 million over five years, with a goal for $2.5 million more to fund sponsored research projects for UTC.

 FAIRFIELD — The Connecticut Technology Council (CTC) presented its 2013 Innovation Policy Leadership award to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy at its annual meeting December 5 at Fairfield University.

 

The CTC also presented its annual Innovation Excellence Award to member company Alexion Pharmaceuticals of Cheshire. A public company, Alexion is a global biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and delivering therapies for patients with severe andrare life-threatening diseases.

 

Alexion’s inaugural commercial product, Soliris (generically known as eculizumab), is the world's first and only approved terminal complement inhibitor and is approved in nearly 50 countries as a treatment for patients with paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH), and in the U.S., EU, Japan and other countries as a therapy for patients with atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS).

 

Alexion is building a new corporate headquarters in downtown New Haven and will relocate there in 2015 when the structure is completed.

 

Alexion joins what is now a long list of winners of CTC's Innovation Excellence Award. Previous winners have included ATMI Inc. of Danbury, Stamford’s Pitney Bowes, FuelCell Energy of Danbury, Open Solutions (now Fiserv Inc.) of Glastonbury, Sonalysts Inc. of Waterford, United Technologies Corp, Bristol-headquartered ESPN, Tangoe Inc. of Orange and 2012 winner Rogers Corp.

 

Also honored at the 2013 CTC confab was Patricia Fisher as Volunteer of the Year. A CTC board member, Fisher’s company, Janus Associates in Stamford, is an IT security consultancy with a large federal government client list.

 Much attention has been paid in recent years to nurturing New Haven’s (and Connecticut’s, for that matter) startup tech community. Whether it’s through state initiatives like CTNext, such events as Startup Weekend, or simply nourishing the technology ecosystem and innovative atmosphere at co-working spaces, those looking to start companies in the area find themselves with tools and resources at their disposal.

 

But there have also been success stories from those companies that have advanced to the next level. Higher One, SeeClickFix and Tangoe are among the most notable examples. But what about the others on the cusp of commercialization that have started landing real customers and generating real revenue? Some simply don’t advertise their presence or they operate beneath the radar, but their success is no less significant for New Haven’s entrepreneurial culture.

 

Founded in 2010 by Raj Jalan, software developer Device42 has created a data center infrastructure-management platform that allows users at data centers of various sizes to manage servers, IP addresses, VLANs and physical infrastructure like patch panels and switches complete with Visio diagrams, through a single portal rather than a sea of spreadsheets.

 

Today the company has in excess of 100 customers in more than 20 countries, with a client roster that includes Symantec, Western Digital, Cox and Teva Pharmaceuticals. This fall the Device42 offering was named Most Promising Software Product of the Year by the Connecticut Technology Council.

 

“When companies start out with their data centers they keep track of things in a spreadsheet,” Device42 co-founder and COO Steve Shwartz says. “But they have a hard time keeping them up-to-date, and as they grow they can’t correlate information between spreadsheets. If you get to be a $10 million [in annual revenues] company, you’ve really outgrown spreadsheets.”

 

A former CTO at Tangoe, Shwartz says his company began with small to mid-sized data centers in mind but soon started taking on larger companies, which he credits to Device42’s simplicity: Users can install the software themselves in a few minutes and can price out their packages via the company’s website.

 

“[With our competitors] you don’t get any information until you talk to a salesperson, you don’t get pricing until the fourth call and maybe two on-site demos. As former IT professionals, we hated going through salespeople. We wanted to be straightforward and easy to do business with,” Shwartz says.

 

Device42 (its name based on The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, where the number 42 is the answer to everything in the universe) is based out of the Grove, which Shwartz says helps the company feed off the startup energy there while keeping lean. He says the company has a “handful” of New Haven employees as well as an offshore development and support team, but hopes to grow local operations over the next 12 months. Not bad for a company that until now hasn’t done any marketing. “We want people to find us when they have the need,” Shwartz says.

 

Founded in 2008, Elm Street-based Continuity Control has developed a software platform designed to help banks and credit unions maintain compliance with the seemingly endless regulations to which they’re held via a step-by-step automated process.

 

The company now has 140 banking customers nationwide, one of the most recent being the National Bank of Alaska. Co-founder and CEO Andy Greenawalt says simply keeping up with the volume of regulations is daunting: There were 65 changes in the past quarter alone.

 

“There are thousands of requirements, and traditionally the way to [process] this has been lots of Word documents documenting policies and procedural activities, and checklists,” Greenawalt explains. “That’s the conundrum community banks and credit unions find themselves in: The systems to manage these regulations are circa 1984.”

 

He says Continuity Control takes “90 percent of the noise” out of the equation, with workers no longer having to worry about whether they’re processing things correctly.

 

Greenawalt certainly couldn’t predict the start of his company would coincide with the biggest financial collapse since the Great Depression (although since no one was buying anything “It was a great time to write software,” Greenawalt notes) and the resulting package ended up serving as a timely response to the banking crisis.

 

Greenawalt projects that his company is likely to double its 26 employees over the next 12 months, by which time he projects revenues will have tripled.

 

The episodes of severe weather that hit the Northeast in 2011 and 2012 have done nothing if not teach some lessons about how emergency services and municipal departments should communicate in times of crisis. That’s where Grey Wall Software’s Veoci platform comes in.

 

Veoci uses messaging to link different departments — fire, police, EMTs, public works, government — over the Internet on laptops and mobile devices to provide a coordinated approach to addressing and keeping on top of the various scenarios and situations that present themselves in emergencies. The city of New Haven used the app in its response to Superstorm Sandy, and it is used extensively by Tweed-New Haven Airport even in normal operations, as well as other municipalities across the state and country, even as far away as New Zealand.

 

For CEO and co-founder Sukh Grewal, the platform stems from his years spent at GE Aircraft Engines, where responses to crises — whether a payroll drop in Japan, hurricanes and tsunamis in branch locations, or plant accidents — was less than optimal.

 

“Technology creates opportunities; we felt that with new technologies there was room for something to make the response to a crisis much better organized,” Grewal explains. “We saw the need at GE — when there was a crisis people were running around with their heads cut off. It was panic every time.”

 

Veoci logs emergency calls, complaints and procedures. If police or Public Works needs to erect a roadblock on Grove Street, all interested parties are informed of who’s doing it and when it’s expected to be completed. If five people call 911 about a downed tree on Mansfield Street, all those calls are logged together and forwarded to the appropriate authorities.

 

“People limit dreams to what is possible,” says Grewal. “Our goal is to give people what they didn’t think was possible.”

 

 

Clarity Software Solutions is a name mostly unknown even by the very people who most benefit from it. But is used by a number of medical providers — including Bluegrass Family Health, Colorado Access, Cox Health Plans, Health Alliance and Select Health, to name a few — to communicate between and among members.

 

The Connecticut Technology Council and advisory firm Marcum affirmed Clarity’s growth trajectory over the past few years by naming it the fastest growing software company in the state in the 2013 Marcum Tech Top 40.

 

Started in 2007, the company created a platform that integrates with health plan data for document management and to produce and distribute communications for members, including printed invoices, ID cards, EOBs or digital portals to access information online.

 

“Health plans manage all these communications through a cobbled-together network — maybe a printer or online service,” says chief marketing officer Steve Mongelli. “We offer a comprehensive platform so the business only has one point of contact to work with.” Today Clarity has more than 60 employees — double its workforce less than 24 months ago. The company recently relocated from its original Guilford headquarters to larger digs in Madison. Clarity’s focus on health-care communications, Mongelli says, has been a key part of its success in the software industry.

 

“It’s really an incentive when you can speak [clients’] language and understand their challenges and goals,” he explains. 

 

For nearly all these companies, being born in greater New Haven hasn’t meant that finding local talent isn’t as difficult as some cases of “startup flight” in the news might have suggested. The most recent example is Yale-incubated Panorama Education, whose 22-year old founder Aaron Feuer and team left town for Cambridge, Mass. after attracting a $4 million investment — the first — from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Among the primary reasons for Panorama’s exodus, Feuer has said, is that New Haven simply doesn’t have a large enough pool of programming talent.

 

Not everyone agrees.

 

“I hear a lot of people say it’s hard to get good people in Connecticut, and I have to tell you that is so wrong,” says Device42’s Shwartz. “I’ve seen companies with offices in Boston and New York, Austin [Tex.] or the West Coast — every single time we find in those major areas it’s harder to get good people. There are plenty of good ones here in Connecticut — and there’s less competition.”

 

In fairness, both Shwartz and Grewal acknowledge that for a budding entrepreneur fresh out of school, it’s not so crazy an idea to want to relocate to Silicon Valley or Cambridge. “That’s where the kids hang out,” Grewal says, adding that those who choose to stay in or base themselves in New Haven or any city are likely do so because they have roots or a strong connection to the place (he and his family have lived in southern Connecticut for nearly three decades).

 

Such is the case for Clarity, whose founder and CEO Sean Rotermund is from Madison. Mongelli says it was important both out of loyalty and to tap into the native talent pool that the company stays put and base its entire operations here.

 

“It was really important to establish our roots on the shoreline, to grow and become an employer here,” he says. “It’s an area with a lot of folks with good education and experience in large centers like Hartford, Stamford, New York. The talent we’ve brought here is great because there’s a lot of diversity in people’s experience.”

 

Greenawalt says New Haven has the potential to keep native talent close to home, but will need more exciting and highly visible companies going forward in order to attract them, pointing to current examples like Higher One and SeeClickFix.

 

“We need companies that are interesting enough to capture the energy that comes through this town, and we know amazing energy comes through this town,” he says, specifically referring to the Yale students who call the city home for most of the calendar year. “There are a lot of ideas that are quaint — but quaint ideas don’t get it done.”

 

 You could say that getting your own startup off the ground is a bucket-list item.

 

New Haven’s third Startup Weekend challenge took place November 15-17, and at the close of the competition it was BuckIt, a website that helps users keep track of and achieve their life’s goals, that took home top honors.

 

Startup Weekend gives entrepreneurs a chance to pitch ideas for their startup companies on a Friday night, then work in teams to develop and refine the ideas in time to make a pitch for further resources and investment capital before a panel of judges by Sunday evening.

 

This year’s event, which took place at co-working space and Connecticut “innovation hub” the Grove, coincided with something of a milestone: New Haven’s inaugural Startup Weekend winner, Applivate, finally debuted its diabetes-monitoring mobile app ShugaTrak in October.

 

The second-place winner for 2013 was Ken’s Saucy Sweets, a startup that would produce alcohol-infused gummy candies. Tied for third place were DealSpin, a mobile app game that rewards players with coupons to local businesses, and Swag Tags, which allows users to rent clothing from other users’ closets.

But it was BuckIt that most impressed the judges with its social approach to planning their bucket lists. Pitching the group’s idea, Stephanie Yacenda of Stamford showed how a user can attain her or his goals with to-do lists and deadlines for accomplishing milestones along the way, bookmark and save research and helpful information, upload photos and even share the process with family and friends via social media.

 

The BuckIt group identified “pen and paper” as one of its biggest competitors, aside from existing sites like BucketList.org, but touted the social aspect as BuckIt’s most significant competitive advantage.

 

“Some of the people we polled in person and on the phone [during the course of Startup weekend] said sharing their goals would encourage their accountability ± as opposed to just leaving it on paper,” BuckIt team member Marlon Alebiosu explained. 

 

The group polled more than 150 people over the course of the three-day weekend — in person, by phone and online — to get a sense of what people wanted. That strategy went a long way with the judges.

 

Judge Drew Harris, a professor of management at Central Connecticut State University’s School of Business, said the panel was looking for those who had tested their ideas with people and saw positive results.

 

“They had done a fair amount of homework, understood who their leading competitor was — and they did a large enough survey of people that you felt they had some potential customers and some features missing from BucketList.org,” Harris said.

 

Angel investor John Seiffer said customer validation and the process of creation is something of a renewed goal for Startup Weekend.

 

“We’re trying to move the focus to connecting with the customer rather than just producing something nice that you can do in a weekend,” Seiffer said. “BuckIt talked to a lot of people. [Yacenda] didn’t say, ‘Here’s why it’s better’; she said, ‘Here’s what the people we talked to said.’”

 

As first-place winners, the BuckIt group were awarded three months of full-time co-working space at the Grove, a $500 gift card for team-building and meeting expenses, $2,500 worth of development services from Independent Software, a one-year subscription to online marketing site Constant Contact, a medal from Google and a watch courtesy of .CO Internet.

 

Second- and third-place winners each received the Constant Contact subscription, Google medal and watch, as well as lesser time at the Grove and smaller gift certificate amounts.

 

Yacenda, who has been mulling the BuckIt idea for the past year and a half, now plans to make implementing it her top priority, and says she intends to tender her resignation to the non-profit investment firm where she works in Wilton.

“This process really helped; the brainstorming and being together for 54 hours really helped to flush out how we look at and differentiate from the competition,” Yacenda said. “I’m willing to take the chance. It’s a great opportunity.”

 

She added that enjoyed working with a group of people in an event like Startup Weekend with a local connection, which helped mitigate the “big scary world” aspect of going it alone.

 

“The hardest thing is presenting [your idea],” Yacenda said. “It’s incredibly daunting because you don’t want your feelings hurt when you’re invested in it, but go out and try it. Don’t be afraid.” 

 

The event even had a special visitor in U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, who said he felt compelled, as the youngest member of the U.S. Senate, to engage budding entrepreneurs, Murphy said he is in the process of putting together a pro-startup agenda to introduce to the Senate in 2014.

 

“We have to be a startup economy in a new global economy,” Murphy told Startup Weekend participants. “It has to be the work you’re doing here that ends up powering our economy going forward. [It] isn’t just a solution for yourselves, your families or for New Haven, it’s a solution for the American economy at large.”

 Startups Split $5 Million

 

A number of New Haven and area startups and resources have been rewarded with a slice of the state funding pie.

 

The first round of funding awards from CTNext (Connecticut’s “innovation ecosystem,” established in 2012) will divvy up $5 million over the next year to more than 20 individuals and companies that have demonstrated market demand, articulated clear objectives, earned support from other entrepreneurs, and demonstrated how they will be sustainable over time.

 

Recipients in New Haven include CURE: Bioscience Clubhouse (statewide, but based downtown), Elm City innovation “hub” The Grid (under the New Haven Economic Development Corp.), co-working space The Grove, artist collective Grove Studios, Independent Software, SeeClickFix as well as four executives-in-residence/growth advisors statewide.

 

Portions of the funding will also helped to fund Bridgeport’s first collaborative co-working space, B:Hive.

 

The grants are distributed through Connecticut Innovations Inc., which accepts proposals for additional projects for future funding.

 

 

Precision Pursues Euro Excellence

 

NORTH BRANFORD — Pre-clinical X-ray systems developer Precision X-Ray has been cited for excellence in Europe.

 

Precision named Maastricht, Netherlands-based Maastro Clinic as its European Center of Excellence for biological research in micro image-guided radio therapy, the first of several such centers the company plans to open worldwide.

 

Precision selects its centers in universities and institutes that demonstrate expertise; have a highly skilled team on-site with knowledge of physics, biology, engineering and medicine; conduct proper training of systems on cells and animals; and work toward advancement of technologies.

 

 

SCSU CIO Mollina Honored

 

NEW HAVEN — Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) Chief Information Officer Pablo Mollina has been named one of the top 100 most influential Hispanic Professionals in the IT industry by the Hispanic IT Executive Council (HITEC).

 

The HITEC 100 were honored last month in Palo Alto, Calif. Mollina has been with SCSU since mid-2012 and since then has launched a CIO speaker series and expanded the hours of the school’s IT help desk. He hopes to continue to make IT more accessible to students and encourage innovation on campus.

 

Mollina was previously associate vice president for information technology and campus CIO at Georgetown University.

 Taking the temperature of Elm City tech startups

 

 

Much attention has been paid in recent years to nurturing New Haven’s (and Connecticut’s, for that matter) startup tech community. Whether it’s through state initiatives like CTNext, such events as Startup Weekend, or simply nourishing the technology ecosystem and innovative atmosphere at co-working spaces, those looking to start companies in the area find themselves with tools and resources at their disposal.

But there have also been success stories from those companies that have advanced to the next level. Higher One, SeeClickFix and Tangoe are among the most notable examples. But what about the others on the cusp of commercialization that have started landing real customers and generating real revenue? Some simply don’t advertise their presence or they operate beneath the radar, but their success is no less significant for New Haven’s entrepreneurial culture.

Founded in 2010 by Raj Jalan, software developer Device42 has created a data center infrastructure-management platform that allows users at data centers of various sizes to manage servers, IP addresses, VLANs and physical infrastructure like patch panels and switches complete with Visio diagrams, through a single portal rather than a sea of spreadsheets.

Today the company has in excess of 100 customers in more than 20 countries, with a client roster that includes Symantec, Western Digital, Cox and Teva Pharmaceuticals. This fall the Device42 offering was named Most Promising Software Product of the Year by the Connecticut Technology Council.

“When companies start out with their data centers they keep track of things in a spreadsheet,” Device42 co-founder and COO Steve Shwartz says. “But they have a hard time keeping them up-to-date, and as they grow they can’t correlate information between spreadsheets. If you get to be a $10 million [in annual revenues] company, you’ve really outgrown spreadsheets.”

A former CTO at Tangoe, Shwartz says his company began with small to mid-sized data centers in mind but soon started taking on larger companies, which he credits to Device42’s simplicity: Users can install the software themselves in a few minutes and can price out their packages via the company’s website.

“[With our competitors] you don’t get any information until you talk to a salesperson, you don’t get pricing until the fourth call and maybe two on-site demos. As former IT professionals, we hated going through salespeople. We wanted to be straightforward and easy to do business with,” Shwartz says.

Device42 (its name based on The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, where the number 42 is the answer to everything in the universe) is based out of the Grove, which Shwartz says helps the company feed off the startup energy there while keeping lean. He says the company has a “handful” of New Haven employees as well as an offshore development and support team, but hopes to grow local operations over the next 12 months. Not bad for a company that until now hasn’t done any marketing. “We want people to find us when they have the need,” Shwartz says.

 

 Founded in 2008, Elm Street-based Continuity Control has developed a software platform designed to help banks and credit unions maintain compliance with the seemingly endless regulations to which they’re held via a step-by-step automated process.

The company now has 140 banking customers nationwide, one of the most recent being the National Bank of Alaska. Co-founder and CEO Andy Greenawalt says simply keeping up with the volume of regulations is daunting: There were 65 changes in the past quarter alone.

“There are thousands of requirements, and traditionally the way to [process] this has been lots of Word documents documenting policies and procedural activities, and checklists,” Greenawalt explains. “That’s the conundrum community banks and credit unions find themselves in: The systems to manage these regulations are circa 1984.”

He says Continuity Control takes “90 percent of the noise” out of the equation, with workers no longer having to worry about whether they’re processing things correctly.

Greenawalt certainly couldn’t predict the start of his company would coincide with the biggest financial collapse since the Great Depression (although since no one was buying anything “It was a great time to write software,” Greenawalt notes) and the resulting package ended up serving as a timely response to the banking crisis.

Greenawalt projects that his company is likely to double its 26 employees over the next 12 months, by which time he projects revenues will have tripled.

The episodes of severe weather that hit the Northeast in 2011 and 2012 have done nothing if not teach some lessons about how emergency services and municipal departments should communicate in times of crisis. That’s where Grey Wall Software’s Veoci platform comes in.

Veoci uses messaging to link different departments — fire, police, EMTs, public works, government — over the Internet on laptops and mobile devices to provide a coordinated approach to addressing and keeping on top of the various scenarios and situations that present themselves in emergencies. The city of New Haven used the app in its response to Superstorm Sandy, and it is used extensively by Tweed-New Haven Airport even in normal operations, as well as other municipalities across the state and country, even as far away as New Zealand.

For CEO and co-founder Sukh Grewal, the platform stems from his years spent at GE Aircraft Engines, where responses to crises — whether a payroll drop in Japan, hurricanes and tsunamis in branch locations, or plant accidents — was less than optimal.

“Technology creates opportunities; we felt that with new technologies there was room for something to make the response to a crisis much better organized,” Grewal explains. “We saw the need at GE — when there was a crisis people were running around with their heads cut off. It was panic every time.”

Veoci logs emergency calls, complaints and procedures. If police or Public Works needs to erect a roadblock on Grove Street, all interested parties are informed of who’s doing it and when it’s expected to be completed. If five people call 911 about a downed tree on Mansfield Street, all those calls are logged together and forwarded to the appropriate authorities.

“People limit dreams to what is possible,” says Grewal. “Our goal is to give people what they didn’t think was possible.”

 

 Clarity Software Solutions is a name mostly unknown even by the very people who most benefit from it. But is used by a number of medical providers — including Bluegrass Family Health, Colorado Access, Cox Health Plans, Health Alliance and Select Health, to name a few — to communicate between and among members.

The Connecticut Technology Council and advisory firm Marcum affirmed Clarity’s growth trajectory over the past few years by naming it the fastest growing software company in the state in the 2013 Marcum Tech Top 40.

Started in 2007, the company created a platform that integrates with health plan data for document management and to produce and distribute communications for members, including printed invoices, ID cards, EOBs or digital portals to access information online.

“Health plans manage all these communications through a cobbled-together network — maybe a printer or online service,” says chief marketing officer Steve Mongelli. “We offer a comprehensive platform so the business only has one point of contact to work with.” Today Clarity has more than 60 employees — double its workforce less than 24 months ago. The company recently relocated from its original Guilford headquarters to larger digs in Madison. Clarity’s focus on health-care communications, Mongelli says, has been a key part of its success in the software industry.

“It’s really an incentive when you can speak [clients’] language and understand their challenges and goals,” he explains. 

For nearly all these companies, being born in greater New Haven hasn’t meant that finding local talent isn’t as difficult as some cases of “startup flight” in the news might have suggested. The most recent example is Yale-incubated Panorama Education, whose 22-year old founder Aaron Feuer and team left town for Cambridge, Mass. after attracting a $4 million investment — the first — from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Among the primary reasons for Panorama’s exodus, Feuer has said, is that New Haven simply doesn’t have a large enough pool of programming talent.

Not everyone agrees.

“I hear a lot of people say it’s hard to get good people in Connecticut, and I have to tell you that is so wrong,” says Device42’s Shwartz. “I’ve seen companies with offices in Boston and New York, Austin [Tex.] or the West Coast — every single time we find in those major areas it’s harder to get good people. There are plenty of good ones here in Connecticut — and there’s less competition.”

 In fairness, both Shwartz and Grewal acknowledge that for a budding entrepreneur fresh out of school, it’s not so crazy an idea to want to relocate to Silicon Valley or Cambridge. “That’s where the kids hang out,” Grewal says, adding that those who choose to stay in or base themselves in New Haven or any city are likely do so because they have roots or a strong connection to the place (he and his family have lived in southern Connecticut for nearly three decades).

Such is the case for Clarity, whose founder and CEO Sean Rotermund is from Madison. Mongelli says it was important both out of loyalty and to tap into the native talent pool that the company stays put and base its entire operations here.

“It was really important to establish our roots on the shoreline, to grow and become an employer here,” he says. “It’s an area with a lot of folks with good education and experience in large centers like Hartford, Stamford, New York. The talent we’ve brought here is great because there’s a lot of diversity in people’s experience.”

Greenawalt says New Haven has the potential to keep native talent close to home, but will need more exciting and highly visible companies going forward in order to attract them, pointing to current examples like Higher One and SeeClickFix.

“We need companies that are interesting enough to capture the energy that comes through this town, and we know amazing energy comes through this town,” he says, specifically referring to the Yale students who call the city home for most of the calendar year. “There are a lot of ideas that are quaint — but quaint ideas don’t get it done.”

 

 CTC fetes most promising emerging firms

 

 

HARTFORD — Three area companies were among five major winners in the Connecticut Technology Council’s (CTC) seventh annual Connecticut Innovation Summit Awards, held November 7 at the Toyota Oakdale Theater in Wallingford.

 

New Haven software developer Device42, LLC, earned CTC accolades for Most Promising Software Product of the Year. Most Promising Life Sciences Product of the Year honors went to Carogen

Corp. of Hamden. And Bridgeport’s American Oil Solutions was cited for Most Promising Environmental/Green Tech Product of the Year/

 

Other awards were to Stamford’s Media Crossing Inc. for Most Promising Technology Product of the Year, and to Movable Media of Greenwich as the Most Promising Internet/New Media Company of the Year.

 

More than 400 entrepreneurs, investors and service providers gathered for the celebration of 76 of the most promising early-stage and emerging technology companies in the state identified by the CTC as having the greatest potential for commercial success. The 2013 CTC event was produced in concert with the Crossroads Venture Group, the Angel Investor Forum and Connecticut United for Research Excellence (CURE), the state’s bioscience “cluster,” or industry group.

 

The event began with a "funding fair" at which this year's selected

companies met with funders from state government, venture capital firms, banks, and angel groups while also conferring with a variety of

resources from professional services firms that have technology

practices. At the same time, the "Tech Companies to Watch" were allowed three 15-minute private conferences with mentors who made themselves available to offer advice on such topics as marketing, IP protection, securing talent and fundraising. Both the funding fair and the one-on-one mentor meetings were new event activities this year.

 

As in previous years, the 76 companies, also delivered three-minute

“elevator” pitches to judges in what was called a “Pitch Fest.” The five

best pitches later competed for $10,000 in free services from the New

Haven digital marketing firm Digital Surgeons.

 

The highlight of the day was the tech exhibition where the "Tech

Companies to Watch" showed-off their technology with attendees and

talked with potential investors and customers.

 

A complete list of the 2013 Companies to Watch is posted on CTC's

website, ct.org.

 “You just have to jump out the window and grow wings on the way down.”

 

That quote from author Ray Bradbury likely strikes a chord with any entrepreneur on the precipice of launching a startup, and it’s one John Fitzpatrick identifies with.

 

His startup, Applivate, released its debut offering, ShugaTrak, in late October, just shy of two years after forming.

 

ShugaTrak is a mobile app designed to help parents keep track of their diabetic children’s glucose levels. It has attracted the attention of the local startup community since it won New Haven’s first Startup Weekend (a weekend event that gives teams two days to pitch, develop and present a tech company in the hopes of winning investment capital and resources) in November 2011.

 

Fitzpatrick entered that competition with merely a vague idea; drawing upon a background in biology and the fact that his wife Sandra was diagnosed just a few years earlier with Type I diabetes, he wanted to explore the possibility of an app that could help people manage the disease.

 

By the end of the weekend, the blueprint for the ShugaTrak app was complete. A Bluetooth antenna that hooks into a standard glucose meter communicates with the app on the smartphone. Once a child user checks his or her blood glucose levels, it automatically sends a text message to the parent’s phone with the readings — and a little peace of mind.

 

“It’s a constant worry,” Fitzpatrick says. “But also when a kid with diabetes gets home from school, it’s the first thing you talk about. One mom said to me that this will put diabetes in the background, so instead of, ‘What was your blood sugar?’ it will be, ‘How was school?’”

 

Such a task fits in with the “instant and effortless” mantra behind the app. The user doesn’t need to do anything other than what she or he usually does. The glucose readings from the app are also automatically stored in an online log the user can access anywhere.

 

Work on the app since fall 2011 went at an admittedly slow pace. Still juggling his regular job in Yale’s Office of Development, Fitzpatrick said he would sneak in some time after work and on weekends through early 2012.

 

But that’s where a little help from the state came in. The innovation sector in New Haven and statewide has been in rapid-growth mode, with a slew of services and funding opportunities now at the fingertips of entrepreneurs with promising ideas. Fitzpatrick himself works out of the Grove, New Haven’s “hub” as part of the statewide Innovation Ecosystem.

 

To date ShugaTrak has attracted more than $75,000 in grants, loans, and Innovation Vouchers through organizations like Connecticut Innovations Inc. (CII), the Small Business Incubator Program (funded by the state’s Department of Economic & Community Development [DECD] and administered by the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology), and DECD’s Small Business Express Program.

 

Fitzpatrick took a leave of absence from Yale when he entered CII’s TechStart Accelerator Program; it was the progress made and interest generated then that he left the 9-to-5 to take on ShugaTrak full-time.

 

“We wouldn’t be launching without the state’s assistance and support — we’d have folded up,” he says. “A young company like this, pre-revenue and before going to market, was too risky for private investors.”

 

Some features still to come include a rewards system that would help reinforce positive behavior for those who stay on top of checking their glucose levels; ShugaTrak would be the scorekeeper with the rewards themselves determined by the parents and children.

 

“If we get fancy we’ll have ways for parents to automatically give kids an iTunes credit or Amazon credit, but it doesn’t have to be high tech or monetary,” says Fitzpatrick. “It could be, ‘You don’t have to make your bed this weekend.’”

 

Getting the ShugaTrak app available for iPhone is also in the works — it currently operates only with Android phones (but the text notifications can be sent to any phone) — as is improved support for more glucose meters and Bluetooth adapters.

 

Fitzpatrick is also in the process of conducting major outreach with the diabetes community; he’s already spent weekends this summer traveling to special camps for diabetic kids all over the Northeast, setting up as a vendor alongside heavyweights like Johnson & Johnson and Novo Nordisk.

 

“The strongest feedback has come from the diabetes community itself that this is something they can use, and that’s why they’re our target market,” Fitzpatrick says.

 

 NEW HAVEN — A promising startup that emerged from the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute (YEI) last year has been profitable since the beginning, but is nevertheless attracting some serious investment capital.

Panorama, a cloud-based platform for schools to administer surveys, was pitched at YEI’s 2012 Demo Day event, when it was already in use by area school systems.

The company has now raised $4 million from a group of investors that includes Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s Startup:Education fund, as well as Yale, Google Ventures, and actor Ashton Kutcher’s A-Grade Investments.

The company has since partly left the Elm City: half of the staff, including founder Aaron Feuer, are based in Cambridge, Mass. to take advantage of a larger pool of software engineers than are available in New Haven. Panorama is currently employed in 4,000 schools in 26 states.