You only need look as far as the phone in your hand to recognize we live in a new era of technology. The old way of doing things, even as recently as five years ago, feels like a generation gone by.
Today, everyone is impacted by technology — and many of our homes are even fully connected through the internet of things. You’re likely banking, booking flights, renting vacation homes, ordering food, and potentially even speculating in various stock and fund markets without ever speaking to a live human being.
With that as a backdrop, we’re honored to recognize a dynamic group of organizations with the 2018 Cleveland Technology Awards. These scrappy startups, established technology firm leaders and implementers of technology demonstrate the new horizon we experience every day.
After you read about this year’s honorees, we invite you to join us on March 22 for the Cleveland Tech Awards Conference, a luncheon where we’ll recognize these companies and engage in a rousing panel discussion on one of the hottest issues around: Cryptocurrency — part of the fast-moving blockchain technology revolution that’s on the bleeding edge.
There’s little doubt the world today is a blur. But thanks to this year’s honorees — and those participating in our panel discussion — there’s at least a little time to slow down and enjoy the ride.
Established Tech Firm Honorees
Banyan Technology, a leading innovator of live carrier and API connectivity for transportation management, provides commercial shippers, brokers and third-party logistics with unparalleled access to their carriers.
These connections boost efficiency, improve visibility and deliver permanent reductions in shipping costs.
With more than 33,000 unique client locations accessing the application, Banyan provided the technology infrastructure to manage more than 1.7 million loads in 2017, valued at more $52 billion in freight.
Banyan, led by CEO Brian Smith, aligns with complementary logistics software to provide clients with seamless integration into their current systems and operations. Banyan also offers the industry’s only multi-carrier, multi-modal transportation management system built on the power of real-time carrier connectivity, covering 95 percent of over the road shipments in the U.S. and Canada.
Banyan serves a breadth of industries, including logistics management, manufacturing, distribution, wholesale and retail. Banyan’s clients include the majority of the top 20 3PLs, including three of the five largest, as well as notable, nationally recognized end users.
Banyan continues to innovate and is currently positioned to lead the industry in solving the complex issue of first and final mile delivery, a shipping method that originated from the growing omnichannel and e-commerce industries.
For nearly 18 years, Briteskies has helped clients develop, deploy, upgrade and integrate their e-commerce and enterprise software systems. The Cleveland e-commerce consulting and development firm’s motto, “Trusted by our customers,” drives every decision made by Briteskies, as building relationships with clients is its top priority.
Led by Managing Director William Onion, the firm earns that trust by constantly learning more about the e-commerce industry, being a thought leader in the e-commerce community and creating a beneficial work environment for its team.
Briteskies’ e-commerce practice consists of certified Magento developers experienced in both B2B and B2C site implementation. Its ERP/RPG team has experience supporting systems that are considered old or fading technology.
Briteskies values the opportunity to support those organizations that still maintain these systems. Its ability to work with these older backend ERP environments and the newer service offerings positions it to help clients integrate their ERP and e-commerce sites, projects that are paramount to many organizations’ future success.
After a 2016 organizational change, Briteskies continues to grow and reinvent itself. By honing in on Magento e-commerce, IBM, JD Edwards and other ERP systems, its team is able to sharpen its skills while still providing customers with increased profitability and operational efficiency.
Co-founder and CEO
Cardinal Commerce Corp.
CardinalCommerce Corp. is a leader in digital commerce technology and payment authentication for card-not-present or digital transactions.
Founded in 1999 and led by Co-founder and CEO Tim Sherwin, Cardinal has become a global leader in enabling authenticated payments, secure transactions and alternative payment brands. Its payment authentication technology, which leverages the 3-D Secure protocols, helps ensure a person attempting a card-not-present transaction is the cardholder.
With Cardinal’s payment authentication technology, businesses can reduce fraud and chargebacks, using data to validate the consumer or issue an occasional challenge when the transaction appears risky.
When a merchant doesn’t use authentication technology, they are liable for any fraudulent transactions. So if a transaction turns out to be fraudulent, the card issuer will simply reverse any payment to the merchant.
From a development perspective, Cardinal’s technology is tuned to the goal of a frictionless consumer experience while giving merchants and banks customized control. Cardinal Consumer Authentication passes data to the card issuer behind the scenes so the issuer can decide whether the transaction is risky.
Because of this, it works without negatively impacting the consumer experience, reducing purchase abandonment while protecting a merchant from false declines — legitimate transactions that may appear risky.
Last year, CardinalCommerce became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Visa.
For more than 17 years, e2b Teknologies has focused on streamlining processes for organizations and closing the manual gaps with business software and technology. The company, led by President Lynne Henslee, is focused on business consulting, custom software development, integration, support services for popular ERP software, and growing and expanding its proprietary software, Anytime Collect.
Anytime Collect automated accounts receivable management software helps companies more effectively manage their largest asset: accounts receivable.
Every action a collection representative takes is captured in Anytime Collect. Accounting staff and management are updated with periodic alerts on past due accounts, projected cash receipts, pending online payments and more.
The software offers an online bill payment system, allowing organizations to give their customers a self-service payment tool, reducing the amount of time it takes to get paid. Users of Anytime Collect have seen an average reduction in days sales outstanding of 20 percent.
Users can also save time by automating emails, such as collection letters, past due notices, monthly statements and invoices. This has collectively saved all the companies 2,500 hours per month. With everything it does, e2b Teknologies strives to ensure that all customers’ lives are made easier and more efficient by harnessing the newest technologies to improve business efficiencies.
Metisentry builds, manages and integrates business software and datacenter systems though web, mobile and cloud platforms. Since 2006, the firm has been providing secure solutions that empower businesses to create efficiency through technology and achieve growth and success.
The recently merged, award-winning teams of Metisentry and Pantek, headed by CEO Mike Fischer, combine to create a Northeast Ohio-based full-stack technology firm.
Metisentry doesn’t just execute tactics — it builds relationships and helps companies find flexible, useful solutions for today’s increasingly complex problems. The firm’s DevOps software development and delivery process emphasizes communication and collaboration between departments.
Digital disruption means that enterprise organizations need to increase the pace of innovation while ensuring the stability of core business systems. But software delivery pressures, tools that don’t integrate and a shortage of qualified staff can ruin the customer experience. Metisentry’s managed service offering helps businesses adapt to the changing market, and increase productivity and performance.
With offices in Independence and headquarters in Akron, Metisentry also supplies clients with an exceptional, security-hardened Linux and Open Source based hosting facility. Together, these teams create an expert consulting and development powerhouse that now offers the Greater Cleveland area more than ever before.
Chief Technology Officer
n2y is a leading developer of cloud-based software products that’s changing the way special education is taught. Its software is used daily across the U.S. by thousands of districts, schools, teachers, parents and students to help enhance lifelong learning and communication skills.
The complete n2y product suite offers a holistic and cloud-based approach to special education, with a robust core curriculum program that aligns with national mandated standards of accountability.
Targeted student assessment, flexible data administration, scoring/reporting features and an interactive gaming component support the core program to seamlessly enhance, monitor, track and measure student progress. The firm’s online certification courses help ensure teachers are implementing its products with fidelity and receive recognition for their knowledge and expertise.
n2y’s skilled team of software engineers and architects, led by Chief Technology Officer Steve Lubowicz, use the finest technology tools and methods and keep up with cutting-edge technologies and best practices. The firm prides itself in finding ways to use technology to better serve the needs of special education students and teachers.
Operating with the belief that everyone deserves an opportunity to reach their full potential, n2y works to leverage technology in a way that makes this possible for individuals with unique learning needs.
CEO and Owner
OMNI Systems Inc.
The changing economy has enabled OMNI Systems Inc., led by CEO and owner Adam DeFrancesco, to move to a 24-hour-a-day operation and implement manufacturing process improvements, dramatically reducing scrap and increasing throughput. As a result, the company has increased the quality and selection of its label offerings and reduced prices, catalyzing growth over the past year.
As technology has become more embedded in manufacturing, OMNI had to figure out how to use it to better serve its customers.
By implementing state-of-the-art supply chain and ERP systems, it has been able to create efficiencies for its clients, saving them time and money. Scrap has been reduced to less than 1 percent while throughput has been increased, which has contributed to significant growth.
OMNI’s technology investments have also helped improve its metrics considerably in the past year with a 98 percent fill rate and 80 percent run efficiency.
New manufacturing equipment has been added that enables OMNI to complete work orders in less time. For instance, by using a new piece of equipment and automation, the company was able to reduce a specific customer’s order production time from three weeks to one and a half weeks.
President and COO
Park Place Technologies
Park Place Technologies, led by President and COO Chris Adams, provides an alternative to post-warranty storage, server and networking hardware maintenance for IT data centers. The company supports more than 15,000 customers in 106 countries, using technology to redefine the IT service experience.
In December, Park Place announced the launch of ParkView, a remote triage service platform that enables predictive detection and identification of hardware faults that occur within a data center. It revolutionizes visibility into data center infrastructure and operations by identifying and reporting hardware faults, in some cases predictively, then triages the fault and identifies the proper fix, improving repair speed.
ParkView’s TrueSight AIOps platform identifies and contextualizes patterns from virtually any data source, revealing recurring issues and repetitive tasks ideal for automation. TrueSight dynamically learns the behavior of infrastructure and manages capacity, enabling enterprise IT to be as efficient and error-proof as possible, all while reducing costs.
Park Place conducted a beta test of ParkView with a select group of customers. Of the 787 assets that were monitored, ParkView was able to identify 76 actionable errors either before or immediately after they occurred, saving what could have amounted to hundreds of hours in downtime under traditional methods.
For any company looking to maximize uptime, ParkView could be a game changer.
Founder and CEO
Realeflow is a complete software as a service solution for real estate investors that has serviced over 94,000 real estate investors nationwide.
The software seamlessly integrates with large real estate investing educational partners throughout the U.S. to serve as the backend technical solution for their entire student base. In addition to its long-time partnership with FortuneBuilders, in 2017, Realeflow partnered with large real estate educational groups, such as Clever Investor in Arizona and Renatus in Utah.
As it looks to add value for its customers, Realeflow, led by Founder and CEO Greg Clement, is acquiring a wide range of real estate data from several sources, massaging that data and then delivering it to customers in a way that is easiest for them to consume.
Realeflow provides investors with access to nationwide buyer and seller leads, both off market and multiple listing service. It features automated marketing solutions, a repair estimator and rehab planner to assess property repairs on the first visit and create complete rehab plans, and comp engine and deal analyzer tools to analyze deals in minutes.
What started as simple software to help a local real estate investor has turned into a multimillion-dollar company that has helped thousands of entrepreneurs across the country.
Founder and Executive Chairman
The Telos Alliance
Frank Foti, executive chairman and founder or The Telos Alliance, plays to win. His competitive streak and insistence on innovation have helped catapult Telos into an enviable financial and market-share position.
The company was built by Foti and co-founder, the late Steve Church, via bootstrap innovation without any outside investors or outside financing. They relied solely on personal resources and their reputations as progressive broadcast engineers and determined entrepreneurs.
Foti’s passion for making products to help broadcasters and his perseverance has always triumphed over fear of risk.
Telos was the first company to license MP3 technology in 1992, pioneering the idea that music could be sent over phone lines. The company was also the first to successfully implement digital signal processing-based audio in radio.
In 2003, Telos introduced Audio over IP, which is now revolutionizing the way studios operate by sending audio signals over IP in lieu of expensive infrastructure, reducing the time and cost of studio install and increasing flexibility.
Foti is eyeing the growth of audio distribution over IP networks within the cloud, evolving the company’s core offering to include both innovative firmware and licensable software. The scope of the company is also morphing into a network data transmission organization that encapsulates audio applications targeting all forms of broadcasting.
The Refinery was founded in 2001 as a design agency and has evolved over time to design and implement specialty digital products for some of the area’s strongest brands and fastest growing companies.
Built upon a philosophy of oneness, The Refinery has positioned itself among the most valuable tech companies in Northeast Ohio. Led by CEO Josh Walsh, the company was recently awarded first place in the Case Western Reserve University Weatherhead 100.
The Refinery brings design thinking and engineering practices to companies that are fighting a growth plateau in their business. By identifying opportunities to streamline and improve the systems that drive a company’s operations, The Refinery has contributed to pushing those businesses to new heights. The company has worked with customers ranging in size from one-man startups to Fortune 100 companies, from elementary school teachers to the world’s leading surgeons.
It has innovated new products in education, health care, manufacturing, communication and logistics for companies throughout the region.
The Refinery takes pride in its Cleveland roots and is even branded to pay homage to the old Rockefeller days. Walsh’s team is eager to pursue continued growth in the region and create new jobs and opportunities for their fellow citizens.
President, Trimble Transportation Enterprise
TMW Systems is leading a profound change in the way transportation and logistics will happen in the future. The company, headed by David Wangler, president, Trimble Transportation Enterprise, is recognized as a leader in its field and works with some of the top transportation and logistics brands.
Its history is marked by its ability to innovate in the transportation industry and in many cases, lead the industry in initiatives that have made a notable impact.
One of its most recent efforts has been the creation of standards for blockchain technology adoption. The company is a charter member of the Blockchain in Transportation Alliance and the Blockchain Engineering Standards in Transportation and Logistics group. TMW also has new technology and solutions in the areas of business intelligence, cloud services and internet of things to better support the transportation and logistics industry.
Software and cloud services from TMW enable transportation service organizations to run lean, effective and profitable operations with extensive customer and partner integration capabilities. Increasingly, the company’s software is chosen as the solution for private fleet operations with complex requirements and business integration needs.
TMW continues to hire from within the area, keeping the Cleveland technology community strong and vibrant.
Daryl Z. Laisure
President and CEO
ZIN Technologies Inc.
Astronauts experience significant physiologic changes when exposed to weightlessness, changes that require countermeasures and monitoring. ZIN Technologies has worked with the Cleveland Clinic to develop an adaptable telemedicine capability that has led to the development of virtual protocols to monitor physiologic data and introduce prescriptive interventions.
This is one example of how ZIN has earned its place as an internationally recognized aerospace engineering firm that specializes in space flight instruments and power products. Its heritage dates back to 1960, as ZIN is the longest-serving business to NASA Glenn Research Center. Over the past three decades, ZIN has engineered, built and delivered more than 250 systems for NASA’s human-related and unmanned space programs.
ZIN is led by President and CEO Daryl Z. Laisure. The company continuously develops intellectual property and has established a portfolio of issued patents and patent pending IP. Its primary field of use is space flight, human performance and medical markets. The company identifies strategic areas where it can focus on commercialization and technology diffusion opportunities through market analysis and forecasts.
ZIN was selected with Aerojet Rocketdyne to supply all of the power system elements on the soon-to-launch Dream Chaser space vehicle, a next-generation resupply vehicle for the International Space Station.
The Cleveland Museum of Art
The Cleveland Museum of Art is an international leader in digital innovation. Its latest project, ARTLENS Gallery, represents a collaboration between the technology, interpretation, digital, curatorial, education, design and exhibition departments.
ARTLENS Gallery is the second iteration of the CMA’s world-renowned digital gallery space, Gallery One. It comprises five components — ArtLens Wall, ArtLens Studio, the re-engineered ArtLens App, ArtLens Exhibition and the digital Beacon.
A cross-departmental team spent years planning, prototyping and testing features of the space while collaborating closely with expert external contractors. As the second iteration was designed, priority was given to improvements that would ensure the art remained the focus of the experience, such as removing touchscreens from the space. It was felt that technology should not exist to distract, but instead serve as a tool to gain new perspectives and understanding of the artwork.
Led by CIO Jane Alexander, personnel sought to minimize the intimidation of the art museum by cultivating an environment for visitors of all ages to practice creativity and exercise curiosity while exploring CMA’s extensive collection in new, unexpected ways. In order to create this experience, a system was built where all content for ARTLENS Gallery, such as artwork data found in the ArtLens App, is dynamically updated from the museum’s collections and digital asset management systems.
President and CEO
Speedeon Data LLC
Like many companies in today’s world, Speedeon Data LLC has employees who work remotely. The company recently implemented BambooHR across all departments to better coordinate personnel resources and availability across all teams.
BambooHR enables seamless tracking of all employees’ paid time off as well as sick time. Employees can also keep track of their medical benefits and costs, vacation time and coordinate performance reviews with their immediate supervisors.
This is just one area in which Speedeon is investing in internal technology to ensure its employees have the resources to do their jobs and support clients. The company is currently in the process of launching a digital asset management system through IntelligenceBank to better coordinate client presentations and marketing collateral across all departments.
The system has innate tracking and security control systems in place to ensure the appropriate teams and personnel have access to the documents they need when they need them.
Speedeon is led by President and CEO Gerard Daher. Its clients include companies within retail, banking and other financial services and insurance, as well as cable and satellite TV and other residential services. The company uses technology extensively to continue to develop and deliver a wide range of innovative data solutions to its growing client portfolio.
The Garland Company Inc.
There is nothing fancy about The Garland Company Inc.’s headquarters. Its offices and manufacturing facilities have remained relatively unchanged in the almost 100 years the company has been on East 91st Street.
There is a constant rumble of semi-trucks driving up and down the street, backing into a loading dock to pick up pallets of rolled roofing membranes and buckets of coatings and adhesives.
Garland can be loud, dirty and messy — all things considered normal in the world of manufacturing building products. The company is also quite savvy when it comes to technology. Take its new approach to reviewing potential roofing projects under the leadership of President David Sokol.
People often take an out of sight, out of mind mentality when it comes to roofing. Even the people in charge of maintaining roofs don’t always understand all that is required to keep a building watertight.
Garland’s technology team developed Roof Builder, an app that enables customers, with help from a Garland representative, to virtually build a roof and see exactly how the roof will be built based on the options selected within the app. Due to the success of this app, Garland is working on a similar tool that would help customers who need to restore their roofs.
Startup Tech Honorees
Monarch Teaching Technologies
Research shows that students with special needs learn better through visual learning and interactive tools. Vizzle, by Monarch Teaching Technologies, is a tool for educators and administrators to help students learn curriculum, develop skills and demonstrate understanding.
Vizzle eliminates tedious, time-consuming data entry for teachers and therapists. Using lesson play data, like how long a lesson was played and the student’s score, teachers can assess student comprehension and progress based on individualized education program goals and objectives.
Administrators can quickly and easily monitor both teacher and student usage and proactively support teachers and students by regularly reviewing usage data.
Led by CEO Bob Gephart, Monarch has a growing library of 15,000 interactive lessons, games and activities aligned and searchable by state learning standards. All lessons can be customized to students’ unique needs and skill level. The content is created and reviewed by educational professionals.
Vizzle uses game-like student profiles and animated graphics to engage and encourage lesson play. The platform promotes independent and individual learning for students with special needs. Text-to-speech functionality and switch access compatibility are available on every lesson, game and activity in the Vizzle library.
The tool can engage and strengthen communication with parents when teachers select lessons and activities to send home.
Founder and CEO
Since its founding, Proformex has fixated on a single objective: ensure that insurance carriers and their products deliver on promises made to contract holders.
Years of experience in the rapidly changing insurance industry led the creators of Proformex to the conclusion that agents, trustees, insureds and other policy-related advisers need a way to manage, track and monitor policies to ensure that insurance contracts perform as intended.
Proformex software was created to meet this need, providing the tools necessary to meet a new professional standard of proactive policy management.
From the beginning, the company sought to create a proactive policy management system that responds to the single largest disconnect between client and adviser. While clients expect that their insurance will be proactively managed according to defined objectives over time, advisers and trustees are ill-equipped for these long-term monitoring and management commitments.
Proformex is led by founder and CEO Michael Pepe. The company has developed a comprehensive insurance management system that has the ability to safely upload and download policy documents, as well as memorialize client objectives and facilitate a consistent process and experience for prudent investing to help trustees meet the standards required under the Uniform Prudent Investor Act.
Squirrels LLC is a software development company that specializes in wireless presentation and device management technology. Led by President David Stanfill, schools and businesses worldwide use its technology to increase collaboration and productivity in classrooms and meeting spaces.
To date, Squirrels’ technology can be found in over 100,000 classrooms globally. Its education products, Reflector Teacher and ClassHub, take learning beyond traditional pencils and paper. These solutions enable educators to utilize the Chromebook, iOS, Windows, Mac and Android devices commonly found in today’s classrooms to engage students, increase productivity and make collaborating with mobile technology easy.
Squirrels technology is entirely wireless, so educators and students can ditch the cords and feel more connected than ever before. Teachers can maximize every moment their students spend with technology. In addition, millions of professionals use Squirrels technology to make presentations in today’s increasingly digital business landscape.
The company’s wireless collaboration technology can be found in countless conference rooms and meeting spaces. Outdated cords and adapters create challenges for anyone trying to present in these spaces. Squirrels’ Ditto and AirParrot screen-mirroring software enable users to easily and consistently present a wide range of computers to AirPlay and Google Cast receivers, such as Apple TV and Chromecast, without wires or adapters.
WAN Dynamics was established to help medium to large businesses effectively leverage now-generation and next-generation enterprise networking technologies, including software defined wide-area networking, software defined networking solutions, software as a service applications and cloud-first voice and data communication integrations.
Credited with being one of the first companies providing software defined wide-area networking managed services in the region — and the only one offering managed service solutions by multiple SD-WAN vendors — WAN Dynamics brings clients the SD-WAN and technical consulting knowledge, and that can be very difficult to find.
The basic premise is replacing expensive dedicated Ethernet, virtual private LAN service or multiprotocol label switching access with inexpensive internet access circuits, making redundancy easier, giving greater application visibility and control, not to mention adding quality of service to any number and combination of access lines.
WAN Dynamics has developed a great reputation in assisting companies and organizations in the navigation, engineering, deployment and integration of this newly emerging technology. The company, led by Vice President and CTO Jason Gintert, has become the top SD-WAN engineering and integration consultant in this space and has a growing list of large, multi-location clients.