Mark Juliano

Mark Juliano was one of the earlier executives to leave local high-tech star FORE Systems Inc. when it went public several years ago. But he wasn’t about to simply put his share of the company’s success in his bank account.

After bouncing around only a little, this high-tech marketing executive teamed up with a few computer software developers and acquired the rights to technology from Carnegie Mellon University that allows you to automatically analyze a video’s full audio and image content. The resulting commercial product allows users to create video libraries that are digitized and catalogued for easy and effective searching.

While still a start-up, Juliano’s ISLIP Media Inc. (ISLIP stands for Integrated Speech, Language, and Image Processed) today caters to the likes of television network NBC, Turner Broadcasting, and even the Army, Navy and Air Force, among other early customers. Last year alone, it generated roughly $2.5 million in new orders, according to Juliano. And he expects to more than double that in 1999.

Perhaps his biggest success last year was raising $1.6 million in a private-placement equity offering to fund the year’s growth in employees and product development.

“It definitely happened much faster than I thought it would,” Juliano says of the financing. At least $1 million of that came from Pittsburgh, including money from Birchmere Investments, the early-stage-focused Adventure Fund, and Critical Path, a venture capital fund set up by the Esther Dormer family (of Computerm success).

On top of the funding, Juliano says the fledgling firm last August landed a $330,000 contract from the U.S. Air Force to develop a custom system for the archiving and retrieval of aircraft video footage for training and intelligence use. The National Institute of Science and Technology awarded ISLIP a $1.7 million contract to create technology that ultimately will lead to searchable television. Both are multi-year contracts and should lead to new commercial technologies for ISLIP, Juliano notes.

Employee growth likewise has been dramatic. The company has grown from roughly eight employees a year ago to 22 now—all have ownership in the company (a pet peeve of Juliano’s, he says, because he believes all employees should have ownership to motivate them effectively). And Juliano says he expects that number to double in 1999.

This year should prove no less challenging than 1998, he says. At the top of the agenda is another round of fund-raising, this time to the tune of $5 million over the next six months.

“If we don’t have cash, we can’t do much,” he says.

In addition to moving from cramped quarters on Craig Street in Oakland to about 6,600 square feet at the corner of Ninth and Liberty, downtown Pittsburgh, the company plans to launch another new service. Using its video archiving and retrieval technology, ISLIP plans to launch an Internet-based service that provides stock video footage to commercial customers such as ad agencies, television stations and other production houses, in addition to training video information. The footage will belong to customers who produce it. ISLIP will serve as distributor.

Juliano likens the service to book distributor, except ISLIP will distribute video instead.

“We’re really excited,” Juliano says of the company’s prospects ahead. But that doesn’t mean he’s satisfied. As he says, “I think you’re never really happy—you always want more.”

But it looks like he’ll get it.