Top Company 2014: Software
Software winner: Four Winds Interactive
Four Winds Interactive is known for its digital signs that help meeting-goers make their way around hotels, but CEO David Levin says the company does much more.
“For our digital signage product there are thousands of different uses,” he says. In fact, hospitality is only one third of FWi’s business. The company also provides digital signs and software in 700 colleges for student communication networks, 20 hospitals for patients and visitors, and flight information for American Airlines in 10 major airports.
When the company launched nine years ago, it had to train people to touch the screens to get information; today consumers presume every screen has touch capabilities. Meanwhile buildings and facilities professionals expect signage to be aesthetically interesting and interactive and want the software to be easy to manage.
This year FWi launched a new software platform and new app store concept.
“From a product development standpoint it was our best year that I can remember,” Levin says. The new software platform, version 5.0, helps users create and manage content. The user can deploy and manage communications on kiosks, desktops and mobile devices.
Financially it was a good year too, as FWi’s sales increased 20 percent in 2013. Even better, Levin says, subscription software revenue more than doubled from first quarter 2013 to first quarter 2014. That success coupled with the fact that more industries need interactive signage makes Levin optimistic that the company will continue to thrive.
“In almost every industry there is some application or use for our product,” he says. “That’s exciting to me.” Customers use FWi products and software for everything from a single digital menu board to larger communications efforts such as companies sending training materials to their employees’ iPads. Levin hopes to increase market share not only domestically but worldwide. The company’s charitable contributions also stretch way beyond the borders. FWi recently began funding Wildlife Protection Solutions, which works to save endangered species, such as rhinos in Africa.
FWi hired 30 people over the past year, for a total of 300 employees. “It is a positive, not only in the number of people, but also their contribution to the company,” Levin says. “We bring in great minds.”
One World Labs Inc.
An innovator in cyber security strategies, One World Labs (OWL) provides services that empower enterprises to proactively defend intellectual property, data and reputations. Today’s cyber criminals are becoming increasingly experienced, sophisticated and connected, and One World Lab’s platform creates a formidable security environment and reduces the time it takes to discover data leaks and quickly mitigate damage. Among OWL’s competitive advantages are its trademarked DeepNet Hunter, a proprietary data analysis software combined with expert analysis from a team of security professionals. OWL expects to continue growing organically at its rate of roughly 100 percent over the next two to three years.
Founded in 2006, SurveyGizmo provides survey software for businesses and organizations around the world. The company helps customers collect data so they have information they can use to improve treatments, processes, products and/or services. SurveyGizmo was founded by Christian Vanek when he was a market research consultant and could not find a survey tool to meet his customers’ needs. So he developed one in his garage in his spare time. Vanek and co-founder Scott McDaniel then worked with 10 interested customers to develop an affordable survey product with sophisticated features. Today SurveyGizmo boasts more than 200,000 customers.