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TechJournal South’s Tech 50 2008: final installment

This is the final installment of the 2008 TechJournal South Tech 50, our selection of some of the most innovative and buzz-worthy Southeastern tech firms.

Nexidia, Atlanta, GA

Atlanta’s Nexidia is a pioneer in phonetic-based audio search technology. Chosen as one of the 2007 top 10 innovative companies by the Technology Association of Georgia, the company increases search speed of audio files up to 500,000 times faster than real-time. Anna Convery, the company’s senior VP of marketing and product management was named 2007 Women of the Year in Technology in the small/emerging business category. John Willcutts, president and CEO, has twice served as Entrepreneur in Residence for Benchmark Capital, and headed several other technology companies.

NextPoint Networks, Gaithersburg, MD –

NextPoint simplifies the deployment of fixed and mobile network connectivity, accelerates the delivery of new services to subscribers and offers high levels of security. Its customers include tier-one mobile operators located all over the globe. Formed by the merger if NexTone Communications Inc. and Reef Point Systems Inc., raised a $20 million venture round in December 2007. NexTone had previously raised $65 million. Reef Point had raised over $160 million. “NextPoint has incredible potential due to its unprecedented ability to support the IP network evolution and migration plans at both the access and peering points of both mobile and fixed-network providers,” says Pascal Luck, a managing director with Core Capital Partners, an investor.

Pique Therapeutics, Durham, NC, Miami FL –

Pique Therapeutics is developing vaccines that may halt aggressive cancers and in early clinical trials doubled the average survival time of patients with late-stage non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) the number one U.S. cancer killer. If clinical trials verify Pique’s techniques for bringing the immune system to bear down on tough cancers that previously kept it out with a biological firewall, it could transform treatment for previously frequently deadly forms of the disease. The company, founded in 2005, is looking for from $3 million to $5 million in a Series A round to do a larger, pivotal Phase II trial.

Pentaho, Orlando, FL –

Pentaho sells open source business intelligence software. “Pentaho has established itself as the leading commercial open source alternative to proprietary BI,” said Peter Fenton, general partner, Benchmark Capital, an investor. Founded in 2004, Pentaho has more than three million lifetime downloads, with more than 20,000 registered community members. Pentaho’s growing customer list includes Cox Communications, Delta Dental, Lifetime Networks, Monsanto Corporation, Savvion, Sun Microsystems, Terra Industries, U.S. Naval Air Command, and Wachovia. The company raised $25 million in venture capital, most recently, a $12 million C round in February.

Potentia Pharmaceuticals, Louisville, KY –

SilkRoad Technology, Winston-Salem, NC –

SilkRoad technology sells software that helps companies manage their talent from the recruiting stage through on boarding, training, evaluations, and post-employment. “Companies are very interested in becoming preferred employers,” says Andrew “Flip” Filipowski, CEO and executive chair of SilkRoad technology.

Prenova, Marietta, GA –

Prenova’s software suite helps customers in retail, telecommunications, restaurant, commercial and manufacturing business sectors drive down and manage total energy costs. The company’s full suite of energy solutions consistently deliver a conservative 10 percent to 15 percent overall reduction in a customer’s total cost of energy, it says. The company focuses on its clients assets, whether they’re large scale refrigerators in grocery stores or the stoves in a restaurant, heating and ventilation systems and so forth to make sure they run optimally. renova manages billions of dollars in annual energy expenditures across hundreds of thousands of customer locations nationwide.

Prenova clients include Crate & Barrel, Dollar Tree, Dunham’s Sports, Eddie Bauer, Famous Footwear, Food Concepts, Home Depot, Kroger, and many others. The company raised an $11 million round in 2006 and a $3 million round in 2007.

Playmotion, Atlanta, GA –

Founded in 2002 by Greg Roberts, CTO, and Matt Flagg, and funded by friends, family and organic growth, PlayMotion evolved from a desire to create technology that enables people to interact with computers in fluid, natural ways. The company’s motion-based interface applications not only allow gamers to enjoy a full body experience, they’re finding uses in museums, healthcare, zoos, and aquariums. PlayMotion had an 86 percent growth rate in 2007 and is looking at 300 percent this year. One upcoming technology the company follows closely are new lines of cell phones with “built-in projectors,” says CEO Scott Burkett. “Eventually, PlayMotion will be wherever you want it to be,” he adds. “You’ll just set your phone down and play.”

Regado Biosciences, Durham, NC –

Regado Biosciences is developing antidote controlled antithrombotics that prevent blood clotting.
Antithrombotics, often used to treat cardio-vascular diseases such as stroke, can be difficult to administer, since too much can result in unwanted bleeding. The Regado technology addresses the need for greater control. Unlike existing agents, results suggest its REG1 is easily dosed, has rapid onset, and importantly offers predictable, reversibility through its targeted aptamer-based antidote. The company raised a $23 million C round in March.

Revolution Money, Tampa, FL –

Former AOL Chairman Steve Case and half a dozen other well-known media and financial business executives formed Revolution Money, an Internet-based credit card company in 2007 that landed a $50 million B round in September 2007. Ted Leonsis chair the company. Its new payment network – Revolution Money – was created to deliver significant value to both consumers and merchants through two products, RevolutionCard and RevolutionMoneyExchange. The RevolutionCard eliminates costly interchange fees for merchants while simultaneously providing consumers with enhanced PIN-based security, identity protection, and periodic merchant discounts and incentives. MoneyExchange offers an easy and secure way to send and receive money online between accountholders for free.

6th Sense Analytics, Morrisville, NC –

6th Sense Analytics, based in Morrisville, NC, helps companies automatically track software development projects, automating what in the past has been a cumbersome manual process. According to a recent Duke University/Booz Allen Hamilton study, managerial control is one of the key challenges for organizations sending software development and other high-end processes offshore. Founded in 2004, the company raised $5 million in January 2007. Greg Burnell is CEO.

Sleep Solutions, Passadena, Maryland –

Sleep Solutions is developing technology for diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). With only 15-20 percent of the estimated 40 million OSA patients in the US identified or diagnosed, the OSA diagnostic testing market is projected to exceed $3 billion in 2008 and is expected to grow 20 percent to 30 percent annually for the next five years. Sleep Solutions has raised a total of $46.5 million, including a $20.5 million round in March.

SnagAJob, Richmond, VA –

Founded in 2000, SnagAJob is the nation’s largest job site fro part-time and full-time hourly positions and has 8 million registered users. Shawn Boyer, an attorney, started the site after a friend asked him to go online and help look for an internship in 1999. Boyer discovered few sites geared toward internships or part-time and hourly jobs. So, after several month of research, he left the D.C. law firm where he worked as a transactional attorney to start the site. The company started in a 1,000-square-foot office space in a medical office park in Norge, VA, and now operates from a 35,000-square-foot complex overlooking a lake in Richmond. It raised a $5 million B round in February.

StrikeIron, Research Triangle Park, NC –

StrikeIron’s Web Services Marketplace provides a technology platform, micro-transaction management and a consistent interface across many XML-based Web services from multiple, diverse sources. This allows end-users and ISVs to customize and integrate external data sources and additional external functionality into enterprise, Web, and composite applications. The company which has raised over $10 million in funding is based in Research Triangle Park, NC.

Suniva, Atlanta, GA –

Suniva is developing high efficiency silicon photovoltaic solar cells based on Georgia Tech innovations. Founded in 2006 by Ajeet Rohatgi, director of the Georgia Tech University Center of Excellence for Photovoltaics, the company’s technology makes more efficient silicon solar cells at low cost. Rohatgi is a recognized world-leader in photovoltaics. Suniva has raised $55.5 million in venture backing, including a $50 million second round early in 2008. The company says it expects to make $100 million in revenue by 2009.

TimeDomain, Huntsville, Alabama –

Time Domain’s Ultra Wide Band PulsOn products are similar to global positioning systems (GPS), but have much higher accuracy and can track high value assets to within a few feet or even inches. UWB offers a number of advantages over competing technologies. UWB is a radio technology. It can be used at very low energy levels for short-range high-bandwidth communications by using a larger portion of the radio spectrum. Will Webb, Time Domain CEO, tells TechJournal South that the company has found a sweet spot in radio frequency identification marketing. “RFID is itself a very established growth market,” he says. “Real time location is the fastest growing application in the sector. And UWB is the most sought after technology in that business.” The company clocked in a $25 million round in September 2007.

Verical Inc., Alexandria, VA –

Verical makes supply chain security software. It has raised a $3.2 million Series A round led by Valhalla Partners. The Virginia CIT GAP Funds invested $100,000 in the company. Verical certifies the origin of new and unused items in the possession of first owners who want to sell them through a software process the company created. The filtering process creates a pool of surplus goods free from counterfeit, refurbished or stolen items. It also uses a rating system to categorize the extent to which assurance has been established.

VisualCV, Reston, VA –

VisualCV is a job site that lets users add photos, a portfolio of work samples, create multiple versions for different audiences, add charts and graphs, showcase previous employers, with “guaranteed privacy” and the ability to share results with employers, colleagues, customers, partners, and friends. The site is a place where job-seekers and recruiters can come in and do everything in one place. Job seekers can tailor a CV toward their audience. Tehy control who has access and track who actually comes in to take a look.” The company raised $5 million in February.

ViTrue, Atlanta, GA –

ViTrue is the world’s first user-created advertising platform. It allows companies to put consumer enthusiasm to work. Corporate customers upload videos promoting company products. Based in Atlanta, the company was selected for the Business 2.0 Next Net 25. It estimates that user created video will be an $850 million market by 2010. The company, founded in 2006, has raised $15.5 million in venture backing. CEO is Reggis Bradford, formerly president and a board member with Tandberg Television.

Yap, Charlotte, NC –

Charlotte-based Yap lets users talk their text messages into a mobile phone instead of typing, which is far safer while driving. Formed by the same folks that worked on everything from Hondas to iPods, Yap created a patent pending freeform speech recognition platform that instantly converts anything you say into text. Beyond messaging, users can also use their voices to search Google or have their voicemails instantly converted into text (other services use human beings to do so). The company is currently seeking $5 to $10 million for expansion.

Ziptronix, Research Triangle Park, NC –

Ziptronix makes an innovative wafer and die bonding technology that lowers manufacturing and packaging costs and increases yields in high-speed logic and MEMs manufacturing. Its technology, which lets chips bond powerfully at the molecular level via silicon oxide, gets around a variety of limitations that stymied previous attempts to create 3D circuits. A Ziptronix executive told TechJournal South that chip manufacturing has reached a point similar to high density building in cities: “There’s no where to go but up,” he said. The company holds 17 patents and has filed for others. The technology originated at Duke. The company raised more than $38 million in venture capital.

For part one, see:

For part two, see:

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Tips? You can reach TechJournal South editor Allan Maurer at:

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