By Bill Kirchner, Contributing Writer
It’s that time of year again and TEQ is ecstatic to provide coverage of the 2010 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. This year’s program highlights 18 of the most successful entrepreneurs from Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Upstate New York.
Every year, the Pittsburgh Technology Council nominates a number of entrepreneurs from its member companies representing a cross section of industry niches and company sizes.
This year, eight are Pittsburgh Technology Council members: Patrick Daly - Cohera Medical, Phil Laboon - Eyeflow, Kevin Hutchinson - Health Monitoring Systems, Eric Koger - ModCloth, Jay Resio - MyGov365, Patrick Colletti and Christopher Hayes - Net Health Systems, and Ty Morse - Songwhale.
“It’s a thrill for us to see our members in the running for this prestigious honor,” said Jonathan Kersting, Director of Visibility Initiatives and Associate Publisher/Editor of TEQ. “With such a large percentage of our members vying for the top spot, it really shows that entrepreneurship and technology go hand in hand.”
“Entrepreneurs play a vital role in economic development. They drive innovation and contribute to new job growth,” said John Manzetti of The Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse.
“Further, entrepreneurs help build our community by collaborating and churning business in the region, creating and participating in industry networks, investing in important local initiatives and donating to local causes. We would like to thank and congratulate all of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Finalists for a job well done!”
Read on to find out what else separates these phenomenal business leaders from the pack.
David Meyers, President and Ken Siefert, Vice President & Director of eBusiness Systems, Alps Controls, Inc.
Dave Meyers and Ken Siefert are PA’s equivalent of Netflix founders Marc Randolph and Reed Hastings. Smart guys who saw a problem, leveraged the Web to solve it, and changed the game in the process. Creating a “transactional e-distribution model,” Alps Controls provides building contractors with one online source for products and provides manufacturers with a way to market and sell direct to their customers - eliminating any need for distributor warehouses, their associated cost and carbon footprint. As a result, their passion and unwavering vision is paying off. The company now sells products for more than 130 manufacturers (adding an additional two every month), reported $25 million in revenue for 2009 and is experiencing 10 – 20 percent growth each year.
Patrick Daly, President and CEO, Cohera Medical, Inc.
Cohera Medical is a Pittsburgh-based company developing a revolutionary line of surgical adhesives based on a unique chemical design that is purely synthetic, easy to use, and fully resorbable. The company’s lead product, TissuGlu, designed for plastic surgery procedures, is just one of several of Cohera’s surgical adhesives targeting mesh fixation, small bone fixation, and other plastic surgery indications that will fill market needs in plastic, orthopedic and general surgery applications. Under Daly’s leadership, Cohera has grown to 18 employees and raised more than $25 million in funding. Recently completing its first clinical trial on its lead product, TissuGlu, Cohera is moving this first-of-its-kind product to clinical use in less than four years, a remarkable achievement.
Luke Skurman, Founder and CEO, College Prowler
College Prowler is the largest publisher of student-generated college content in the U.S. and the first and only publisher of student-written, quote-based, individual college guidebooks. After revolutionizing the college search industry in 2002, in 2009 Skurman led a new revolution by adding a host of new interactive features and tools to their Web site to help students find the right college and then took that even further by making all of their online content free. With plans to cover more than 500 schools in various segments of the education industry by the end of 2010, College Prowler is not only the industry leader, it stands alone in terms of innovation with its “by students, for students” approach.
Phil Laboon, Owner, Eyeflow
Specializing in search engine optimization (SEO) for its clients, Eyeflow consults with and is employed by successful Internet companies, including national franchises, Fortune 500 companies and nationally branded real estate institutions. In Laboon’s hands, Eyeflow has come to represent cutting-edge approaches to search optimization while maintaining a clearly ethical approach to SEO and Internet marketing practices. Laboon’s dedication and work have led to Eyeflow developing SEO software that has sold more than 20,000 licenses to date.
Joe Kuklis, Co-founder, President and CEO, GSP Consulting
Kuklis co-founded GSP in 2001 after serving as Deputy State Director for former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum. While working for Santorum, Kuklis recognized that many small to mid-sized companies and organizations were seeking government funding for various initiatives but had no representation and lacked overall understanding of the cumbersome process. Enter GSP, which since its inception has evolved into much more than a government affairs firm, as it now offers client services in areas such as economic architecture, strategic communications, development services, procurement, grant writing, and sports, entertainment, and marketing. As a result, GSP enables the growth of organizations, companies, and communities through a suite of innovative government, business and economic development consulting services.
Kevin Hutchinson, President and CEO, Health Monitoring Systems
Kevin Hutchinson built Health Monitoring Systems – a company that develops software for hospital data systems – around a set of core principles that reflect the organization’s belief that success is more than just financial. In 2009 this unique customer-based approach became extremely important as HMS’ customers were forced by the economic downturn to slash budgets by an average of 15 percent. In spite of this adversity, HMS actually grew its business in 2009 and successfully launched a new service for hospitals, MediCenter™. MediCenter builds on the existing hospital network of 400 facilities to provide a more comprehensive Health Information Exchange.
Susan Redmond, Partner, Kb Port, LLC
Kb Port, a multi-media solutions provider, draws upon Redmond’s skills and leadership to guide its nearly two decades of audio-visual consulting and technical services experience within the medical, industrial and education industries. Dedicated to Redmond’s belief that a company must innovate to compete, Kb Port currently has a patent pending on software for its own ETC (Event Triggered Camera System), a fully networkable recording device that can be installed in a fixed lab or undocked for full mobility. In addition, Kb Port has extended its global reach even further after recently signing with companies in Italy and Finland to distribute their products.
Gregory Galvin, Ph.D., President and CEO, Kionix, Inc.
Ithaca-based Kionix pioneered high-aspect ratio silicon micromachining based on research originally conducted at Cornell University, and today enjoys a global reputation for MEMS product design, process engineering and quality manufacturing. Thanks to Galvin’s leadership, Kionix technology is utilized by consumer electronics leaders worldwide in areas like motion-based gaming, user-interface functionality in mobile handsets, personal navigation and hard disk drop protection in mobile products. Kionix offers one of the broadest families of MEMS devices incorporating tri-axis accelerometers and gyroscopes along with the mix-signal-interface integrated circuits that provide algorithm processing of sensor data.
Eric Koger, CEO, ModCloth
ModCloth.com is an eRetailer of affordable, independent designer fashion and décor with a highly engaged following of more than a million and a half unique monthly female shoppers. Co-founding the business at the age of 18, Koger and ModCloth are now aiming to simultaneously pioneer the next generation of fashion with eRetail and modernize the global fashion supply chain. With more than 100 employees, ModCloth is looking at making 2010 the fifth consecutive year of at least 5X annual growth. With innovations like the Be The Buyer program, which gives customers a voice in the production of a full collection of fashion products, ModCloth is peerless in its efforts to lead fashion development/supply and eRetailing, into a bold new future.
Jay Resio, President, MyGov365
MyGov365 is a social media platform designed to bridge the communication gaps between citizens, government, organizations and political professionals. This enables citizens to have a single, comprehensive destination to access relevant information about all things political, civic and governmental. Resio built MyGov365 from scratch in 2008 to develop sophisticated innovations that currently allow elected officials, candidates, government entities and organizations to use powerful, proprietary natural language analytics tools to engage constituents and stakeholders, creating a 24/7 feedback loop to enhance the legislative and civic process on all levels - local, state and federal.
Patrick Colletti, President and Christopher Hayes, Vice President, Information Technology, Net Health Systems, Inc.
Serving the chronic, non-healing wound market, Net Health Systems has developed an inherently innovative corporate culture under Colletti and Hayes. This has led to an organic growth rate of 40 percent in their core Hospital-based Outpatient Wound department through the acquisition of independent program licensees and the sizable expansion of their strategic Marketing Company partners who private label the software as a bundled offering - representing one half of NetHealth’s WoundExpert implementations today. In addition, a strategic course set by
Colletti and Hayes into the booming world of Long Term Care is on the horizon, offering the possibility of 10 times the number of licensable facilities.
Dr. Maureen Mulvihill, Ph.D., Co-founder and President, Piezo Resonance Innovations, Inc.
Growing, even during the difficult financial times of 2008-09, Piezo Resonance Innovations, Inc. (PRII) has not shied away from taking innovative risks in the development of small, disposable, smart instruments. These instruments leverage self-contained Piezo-resonance technology to cut tissue, shatter and aspirate cataracts, penetrate bone, provide easier vascular entry, cause less trauma and pain, replace fluid pumping systems, reduce required suture needle force, and many other surgical applications. PRII is unique in that few companies in the medical device industry offer a mixture of talent with expertise in medical devices, active smart devices and system control. With Dr. Mulvihill’s guidance, PRII is set to start clinical trials of its products and begin the process for FDA approval in 2010.
Benjamin Hulburt, President and CEO, Rex Energy Corporation
Rex Energy was founded in 2001 to pursue oil and gas acquisition opportunities throughout the U.S.,and through a series of strategic decisions is poised in 2010 to take full advantage of its 70,000-acre Marcellus Shale position. Despite the low oil and gas prices of 2009, Hulburt successfully negotiated and closed two joint ventures designed to spread out its investment risk in Marcellus Shale projects and also successfully completed a follow-on public offering in order to keep its balance sheet debt-free and position the company for significant growth. Despite low commodity prices, Rex Energy grew its proven reserve base by more than 90 percent year over year. As a result, Rex Energy is in a position to not only prove the potential of its Illinois Basin and Marcellus Shale projects, but also has the balance sheet to fully develop them.
Thomas Charron, CEO and Founder, Sallyport Global Holdings, Inc.
As a former special operations helicopter pilot, Charron was perfectly suited to manage
Sallyport’s early transport, logistical support, development and training contracts in Iraq. Ever expanding under Charron’s leadership, in 2006 Sallyport began working in other areas of the Middle East and Central Asia. In 2008, Sallyport was selected to provide fire and emergency management services to NASA’s Space Centers across the U.S. In 2009, Sallyport established operations in the Sudan to support initiatives of the international community in that war-torn region. Today, Sallyport operates throughout many regions of the globe providing a full range of global procurement, logistics, construction, base operations support, fire/emergency management and security services.
Ty Morse, CEO and Co-founder, Songwhale, LLC
Under Morse’s direction, Songwhale has become the leading Mobile Solutions Provider, supplying its partners with emerging technology and services that facilitate sponsorship, advertising, distribution, and monetization of digital content delivered to mobile devices. By providing comprehensive solutions for every step of the mobile business, including creating, consulting, content management and message connections, Songwhale has unmatched experience as a purveyor of mobile content. Running successful operations in North America, Indonesia and China, Morse has aggressive plans for new market expansion and is focused on making key strategic developments to enhance
Songwhale’s technology platform, carrier partnerships, and value-added services, enabling businesses to connect directly with consumers.
Troy Gregory, CEO and President, System One
Serving as CEO since he acquired System One in 2008, Gregory has taken a long-standing, but languishing company and increased its bottom line by 55 percent during a recession. The company, which has eight core components in nuclear, wind, meter, information, commercial, engineering, scientific, and warranty, uses a scalable infrastructure to provide staffing solutions to its clients that helps them to be more competitive and have the right resources when needed. By creating a first class environment for System One employees, Gregory has created a company culture that allows the company to look forward to a brighter and more innovative future.