Colorado Companies to Watch 2020: The Techies
This state is beaming with innovative tech companies
As a leader in automotive interface development, Altia’s software is designed into more than 100 million vehicles worldwide.
Demand for display-based user interfaces continues to grow exponentially, driving the company’s growth. As companies find new ways to deliver touch screens and graphical displays for their products, Altia helps them do so efficiently and successfully.
“The need for the user interface and user interaction to be perfect and high quality also drives our growth,” Altia CEO Mike Juran says. “Lives depend on reliable displays from autonomous cars to life-critical medical devices to mission-critical test instruments. This reliability, safety and corresponding certifications required to implement these devices has put Altia in the lead in our market.”
Altia allows manufacturers to spread their development costs by paying on a per-unit basis, a business model that has disrupted the industry. Rather than requiring companies to pay for all their software costs up front, Altia has worked with its customers to structure payment until products are shipped.
Altia’s most impactful innovation is automated code generation that allows device manufacturers to automatically convert their designer’s graphics and user-experience expert’s prototypes into deployable code, saving coders countless hours.
Ascent360 helps clients build meaningful relationships with their customers through data.
As a Customer Data Platform (CDP), Ascent360 provides small and mid-sized businesses with the ability to personalize their messages to their clients, giving them the ability to market themselves in a more sophisticated manner while increasing customer satisfaction, reputation and retention.
Its partnership with Alterra Mountain Co., which offers the Ikon Pass to its 14 ski resorts, has secured Ascent360’s position as a leader in the CDP space for ski and resort hospitality. Other Ascent360 clients include Telluride Ski Resort, Christy Sports, SmartWool and Hestra Gloves. Ascent360 President and CEO Scott Buelter says there are opportunities for Ascent360 to grow in the jewelry, bicycle and outdoor apparel industries, as well as adding more ski and hospitality clients.
“Allowing small and mid-size businesses to implement, start seeing returns and begin building authentic relationships with their customers within 30 days has opened up a new and approachable industry in the CDP space,” Buelter says. “With the abundance of ski resorts and other outdoor clients in our backyard, we are able to understand and meet their needs more effectively and efficiently.”
Technology company Bluestaq hit the ground running when it was awarded its first subcontract the same month the company launched in 2018 and a $150,000 prime contract with the Air Force Research Laboratory later that year.
Bluestaq provides intuitive, highly secure data collaboration platforms for tech-savvy professionals.
“Receiving our first Air Force contract legitimized our team-centered approach to research and software development,” Bluestaq CEO Seth Harvey says. “The Air Force believed in the Bluestaq team and funded our initial technology development.”
Bluestaq also conducted the first demonstration of the Unified Data Library to Major Gen. Kim Crider, mobilization assistant to the U.S. Space Force chief of space operations during its first year in business. After the demonstration, the general says that the Unified Data Library solved a technology issue that the Air Force knew it had but had not identified a solution for. With Crider’s endorsement, the Air Force quickly adopted the technology, which Bluestaq had built in 11 weeks.
Bluestaq’s early success enabled it to move from the Catalyst Campus incubator into its new headquarters in March 2020 — just 23 months after becoming a company. The new headquarters has given Bluestaq the flexibility to grow to nearly 90 employees.
Cliexa launched its Virtual Solutions platform in February after the coronavirus pandemic started to take hold. The platform provides remote check-in for clinics to onboard patients, create virtual sessions with telehealth providers and enabled its customer clinics to become more than 90 percent virtual within a week.
After enabling Virtual Solutions, Cliexa’s customer clinics reported an average of 20% growth compared with the same month in 2019.
Cliexa, which stands for Clinical Excellence Algorithms, empowers health-care organizations with a virtual platform to remotely check in, register and monitor patients securely from their smartphones. The company offers in-house integration services with electronic medical record systems to integrate with existing workflows in clinics and health systems.
Cliexa’s growth strategy covers four key areas: direct marketing, up-selling existing clients, distribution and reseller agreements, and electronic medical records (EMR) marketplace partnerships with companies such as Epic, athenahealth, Greenway Health and Cerner.
“Cliexa is the universal enablement platform for patients and clinicians to track conditions in time using symptoms data, medication adherence, connected device data and claims while increasing clinical efficiency,” founder and CEO Mehmet Kazgan says. “While enabling the necessary communication layers for patients and clinicians, Cliexa AI learns from clinical data points with treatments across time and predicts outcome.”
Colorado has been good for dBMEDx, which received a $250,000 accelerator grant from the state’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) to boost its fundraising efforts.
The company, which makes automatic bladder scanners, also participated in the Innovative Industries Internship program, which funded summer interns for the company twice; and the OEDIT Export Accelerator Program, which funded an international trade show trip that CEO David Shine says has had a significant impact on dBMEDx.
The company’s first pivotal moment came when its core patent was allowed in 2012. The patent, which is the company’s core technology, covers the automated 3D ultrasound scan engine invented by the dBMEDx founders.
“The patent was a critical driver to our first round of fundraising that closed in 2012, effectively giving birth to the company,” Shine says. “The patent is now issued in Europe, Korea, Japan and China.”
In 2017, the company closed an exclusive distribution agreement with Direct Supply, a major distributor in the senior care market that sells to more than 75% of long-term care facilities in the United States. The agreement has matured into dBMEDx’s second-highest source of revenue.
In 2018, dBMEDx closed its second exclusive distribution agreement with Becton Dickinson, the ninth-largest medical device company in the world. The move increased the company’s revenue by 40%.
Enzoic’s software helps keep its client companies safe from cyber criminals.
The company’s software enables companies to detect compromised credentials and prevent attackers from gaining unauthorized access to employees’ accounts. Losses from account takeover, known as ATO, cost businesses across all industries billions of dollars each year. Losses from fraudulent online transactions are expected to reach $25.6 billion this year. These types of attacks also lead to the erosion of customer trust and harm to a company’s reputation.
The release of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) requirements for compromised credential detection was a pivotal moment in Enzoic’s history.
“NIST guidelines often become the foundation for best-practice recommendations across the security industry and are incorporated into other standards,” Enzoic Chief Operating Officer Joshua Horwitz says. “Enzoic’s security approach matched perfectly to what NIST now says is the correct method for managing password security.”
Being in Colorado allows software-development and IT consulting firm Lark Information Technology to recruit employees from the state’s growing talent pool.
Before it moved its engineering recruiting practice in house last year, Lark used recruiting and staffing agencies to find engineers for staff augmentation roles. Bringing recruiting in house enables Lark to avoid paying the finders’ fees staffing agencies charge, and the internal recruiting team is able to build relationships with a pool of potential candidates for easier placement of staff augmentations.
“As a team, Lark employees are supportive, reliable and cooperative,” CEO Tim Hochman says. “We are just as eager to help each other as we are our clients.”
The company’s growth is being driven by the move from on-premise IT solutions to the cloud. The company also is expanding its staff augmentation and recruiting business, enabling it to place engineering experts in roles for its enterprise clients.
“In the current COVID-19 landscape, we are also very fortunate to be in an industry where the majority of the work can be done remotely,” Hochman says. “Additionally, Lark has been able to scale our team 100% remotely with ease. We now have a unique and sophisticated remote onboarding process, which has allowed us to continually secure top talent during the pandemic.”
Cyber security is top of mind, so four years ago Platte River Networks, which offers managed IT services, technology services, cyber security, and cloud for business, worked to enhance security offerings to its customers. The company, launched 18 years ago, was already including security best practices in its managed services offerings, such as firewall management, backup/DR management, endpoint security for desktops and servers, password policy management, 24/7 remote monitoring of all infrastructure and patch management for servers and workstations. Cyber criminals were still breaching the firm’s customers, so a task force worked for a year, vetting dozens of solutions, and built a new cyber security platform.
Platte River Networks provides 24/7 managed IT services to over 120 companies with 25 to 350 employees across all industries. Customers’ backups, disaster recovery and business continuity is the firm’s responsibility, so another task force of senior engineers worked for six months and built the firm’s Business Continuity Solution. Now Platte River Networks provides an image-based backup-recovery solution to all of its managed customers providing full and immediate recovery for all files, folders, applications, servers and the entire infrastructure both on premise and in the cloud.
Earlier this year Platte River Networks started a mentor program for Colorado women pursuing careers in technology in partnership with the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce.
Point Solutions Group is an engineering and technical consulting firm with a goal of increasing diversity in information technology, engineering, and professional services in government and commercial organizations.
“We found that many clients need more than high-level assessment and recommendations,” says founder and CEO Paige Goss. “We roll up our sleeves, and make a measurable impact on clients, creating lasting change. Our diversity and adaptability makes our team endlessly more versatile.”
The team helps commercial and government clients update their infrastructure services, information security services, and solve other technology headaches. In 2018 Point Solutions Group earned top-secret facilities clearance, and now also services the Department of Defense and Intelligence community.
The woman-owned business subscribes to the 4% philosophy of innovation. “If you work on making each individual part of your process, technical solution, delivery, operations, etc. better by 4%, then we will be in a continuous state of innovation and positive change,” Goss says. Diversity is an important disruptor in the world of government contractors and technical experts, and Goss says the mix of background and experience means the group is less likely to accept the way things have to be or have been, and more likely to consider new approaches, tailoring offerings to fit each client’s needs.
Stateless was born out of the Ph.D. Computer Science research lab at the University of Colorado in Boulder. CEO Murad Kablan was a Ph.D. student and CTO Eric Keller was his Ph.D. adviser. The name Stateless refers to the concept of separating state from networking processing functions, which simplifies networking and yields operational simplicity.
Stateless got its start in April of 2017 at Techstars Demo Day. Kablan presented the technology and the company’s vision for the future of networking. One result was Stateless received some seed funding, and later raised Series A funding. That bolstered the founders’ confidence in their approach to connectivity, and allowed them to expand deployment and operations activities, and drove headcount and growth to help optimize the software platform.
The company expects strong growth in the coming years, as demand for outsourced IT services such as remote access, cloud computing and related IT services grows. Although the COVID-19 crisis created a challenging economic environment, it also resulted in increases in work-from-home requirements. As demands for remotely accessed IT services increases, the technology is positioned to help service providers meet these needs more cost-effectively, with improved features and greater quality.
This article is part of the 2020 Colorado Companies to Watch. Read more about the other winners:
THE FIXERS | THE MAKERS & SUPPLIERS | THE HELPERS | THE COMMUNICATORS & EDUCATORS | THE FOODIES | THE ORGANIZERS