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Peer-to-peer ridesharing service Lyft launches in Baltimore

Peer-to-peer ridesharing service Lyft launched in Baltimore this month.

Users download the Lyft app on their iPhone or Android device and select their pickup location. They request an available driver and get a "lyft" where they need to go. After the ride is finished, users rate drivers on the app and give them a donation. The donations are collected through the app itself, and drivers keep about 80 percent of their take.

Co-founded by Logan Green and John Zimmer in San Francisco last year, Lyft is an offshoot of Zimride, a digital ridesharing community that came to be in 2007. 
 
Lyft was founded in San Francisco and currently operates in a total of 16 cities. An influx of $60 million in Series C funding in May, led by Andreessen Horowitz, has allowed Lyft to scale. Lyft's Boston operation launched in May and marked the first East Coast location for the business; D.C. was the second East Coast city and launched in August.  
 
Drivers must be at least 23 years old and drive a car with a model year of 2000 or newer. They must pass various screening interviews, criminal background checks and DMV checks, and their vehicle must past inspection. Lyft also carries heftly liability insurance on its drivers--$1 million per occurrence. These factors should make users feel secure in requesting a ride from a pink-mustachioed car.
 
Sean Mandell, a top-tier driver for Lyft in San Francisco, has been giving riders "lyfts" for eight months. "It has been a great experience and has provided great stories, new friends and great networking," Mandell says. "[Lyft] has revolutionized transportation needs in San Francisco."
 
Writer: Alyson Jacob

A version of this story first appeared in sister publication Elevation DC 

Edgewebhosting opens third data center

Edgewebhosting Inc. is opening its third data center in Phoenix, Arizona, in August. To accommodate expected growth, the managed cloud hosting service expanded its corporate headquarters in downtown’s Baltimore's SunTrust Bank Building last month and is hiring nine, all in IT, to its current 41 employees. 
 
A $5 million loan from M&T Bank financed the Phoenix data center, CEO Vlad Friedman says. The company already has two data centers on the East Coast. The first opened in 2005 in a building near Baltimore’s Lexington Market; the second in 2010 in Ashburn, Va.
 
The company’s data center in Phoenix is intended to offer more options and more security for current customers and to attract future customers. “Our service hosts important web sites for companies that need to remain secure, online 24/7, backed up and safe from hackers,” says Friedman.
 
Customers will have the option of choosing their primary location for web hosting and a secondary location.
 
“Customers can choose between two completely separate geographic areas and different time zones,” says Friedman. “We want to attract more enterprise customers to host their information in Baltimore by leveraging the strategy of going West.”
 
Edgewebhosting offers hosting on the cloud and, since cloud hosting isn’t suitable for every client, a combination of cloud and other technologies. The company’s fee is based on a combination of resources and managed services, and is fixed with the customer beforehand.
 
“The services are the same. The only thing that changes is the scale,” says Friedman of fees that range from $300 to $100,000 per month.
 
Customers include health insurers Aetna and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, the Heritage Foundation, the Humane Society of the U.S.,Oxford English Dictionary, Columbia University and local advertising and marketing agencies.
 
Founded in 1998, the privately-financed company was originally located in Owings Mills, in Baltimore County. In 2005, it moved to the city because it needed a site that had the electricity and internet connectivity to handle thousands of servers.
 
Friedman says the company is on track to earn $13 million to $14 million in revenue for 2013. For the last six years, revenue has doubled every 36 months, and revenue from cloud hosting has grown 100 percent every six months for the past year.
 
The Baltimore data center expanded by 50 percent last year to handle customer demand. Edgewebhosting itself doubled its staff in the past 18 months, to its current 41, and has openings for an additional nine positions, for database administrators, server administrators and software developers. 
 
Source: Vlad Friedman, Edgwebhosting Inc.
Writer: Barbara Pash

Canton's 410 Labs raising up to $5M in latest funding round

Canton startup 410 Labs hopes to raise up to $5 million in its third round of funding this year. Founded by Dave Troy and Matt Koll, the company will use the money to refine its email management program, Mailstrom, and to double its current staff of six with design and marketing positions.
 
CEO Dave Troy says the second round of financing will be open to angel investors and venture capitalists, although he did not give a timeframe for closing the round. He also did not give a precise figure but said it would be "under $5 million." 
 
“We are focused on furthering the product,” Troy says of Mailstrom. 410 Labs introduced it last year, an outgrowth of an earlier product called Shortmail, to manage email and text messages. Since its founding in 2011, 410 Labs has raised a total of $1 million. Its first round of financing, it raised $750,000 privately and from angel investors. Another $300,000 was subsequently raised privately. 
 
In January, 410 Labs offered a free beta version of Mailstrom. The financing will be used to refine the web application for large-scale email users, or people who receive 50 and more email messages per day.
 
Since its launch as a free beta program, 44,000 people have processed 550 million emails via Mailstrom. “That gives you a sense of how much email is floating around,” says Troy.
 
Troy credits a technology blogger, Adam Dachis of Lifehacker, with the number of beta users. “When it first came out, there wasn’t a lot of notice. Then an online blogger wrote about it in February and we went from a few thousand [beta users] to 30,000 users in a couple of weeks,” he says. A mention in a story on email in The New York Times Personal Tech section didn't hurt, either.

Mailstrom is available on a free trial basis for the foreseeable future although at some point, 410 Labs will set a fee for versions with different options, says Troy.

Email was introduced in 1971. It hasn’t changed much since then, says Troy, but the mushrooming number of email has created a problem that Mailstrom is intended to solve.
 
Mailstrom works with any standard email system. It uses headers and subject lines to organize emails by a number of categories, including sender, mailing list, social network and shopping network. It can delete a large number of messages from a single sender or company, and can skim by content or time period.
 
Following the industry’s best practices for emails, the program does not open and read the message body, nor does it store the emails.
 
“It takes an initially overwhelming number and makes it actionable,” says Troy.
 
He has found that personality determines how people deal with emails. “Some delete every day, some don’t delete at all. We built an email product that works for a lot of different personalities.”
 
The company is located in the Emerging Technology Center at Canton incubator. Troy has not decided whether to accompany the incubator this fall to its new site in Highlandtown. 


Source: David Troy, 410 Labs
Writer: Barbara Pash

 
 
 

Canton e-commerce company SalesWarp seeks $10M in funding

SalesWarp recently closed its second round of financing and is planning a third round before the end of the year. The Canton e-commerce company is also adding five employees in engineering and product management to its current full-time staff of 16.
 
Private investors funded the first and second rounds, CEO David Potts says. He declined to give specific numbers but says that to date, SaleWarp has raised under $5 million.
 
He says that the third round of financing will be “more traditional,” intended for venture capital investors and with a goal of $5 million to $10 million.
 
SalesWarp’s Storefront Management System is an enterprise software product for retail environments from online stores to warehouse systems. It manages data from product to market, and processes orders.
 
“Our software filled a gap we found in the market,” says Potts.
 
SalesWarp originally worked with service providers to integrate its software with clients’ systems. However, about a year ago, SalesWarp decided to service its clients directly, “to make sure all the systems work. It gives us a higher quality product at the end of the day," says Potts. 
 
SalesWarp retains partnerships with service providers for some aspects of e-commerce like front-end merchandising and branding and marketing, if the client chooses.
 
“It allows us to offer an array of services beyond SalesWarp,” says Potts. The third financing round will be used to continue building services for clients.
 
According to Potts, sales have been growing quarter to quarter 50 to 100 percent for the past six quarters.
 
Within a year of launching its system in 2009, the company had acquired the top 10 retailers in the country as clients, he says. This summer, additional clients in the high-end fashion and shoe industries will be announced. He declined to specify brands but says their names will “resonate in those spaces.”
 
6th Street Commerce developed and is the corporate entity for SalesWarp. The privately financed SalesWarp is located in the incubator Emerging Technology Center at Canton. Potts hasn’t decided if  the company will move with the ETC to it new location in Highlandtown in October.
 
Whatever the decision, he says SalesWarp will need an office for at least 20 people. Last year, the company doubled the number of full-time employees from eight to 16. 
 
Source: David Potts, SalesWarp
Writer: Barbara Pash

Canton startup pitches emergency management software to federal agencies

Adashi Systems LLC, a Canton emergency management software developer, is expanding its market to include the  federal government and is coming out with the latest version of its software platform for first responders within the next few months.
 
Brian Pollack, business development manager, says the company’s traditional customer has been local government. This year, the company is changing its sale focus to federal agencies, starting with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA.
 
Pollack says Adashi has 1,500 customers at city and county levels in nearly every state in the country. In Maryland, they include Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Queen Anne’s County.
 
The majority of customers are fire departments or hazardous material teams within fire departments. It also has customers among police departments and US Marine bases that have their own fire departments.
 
Adashi offers four software products. Dispatch, the basic offering, provides navigation, routing and planning data. First Response offers navigation, planning data, hazard modeling and incident guidance. Command Post, the most comprehensive, combines the Dispatch and First Response products and provides a response management system linking commanders.
 
The fourth product, Navigation and Routing Option, has a GPS tracking system. It is included in Dispatch and optional with First Response and Command Post.
 
Pollack says the technology was developed at the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, at Aberdeen Proving Ground. Edgewood and a company called OptiMetrics had a license to develop the software.
 
The privately funded Adashi is located in the incubator, Emerging Technology Center at Canton. Pollack does not know if it moving to the ETC’s new Highlandtown location in October.
 
Adashi is a finalist in the state’s 2013 incubator company of the year award, the winners to be announced next month. The company has a staff of 12, and has immediate openings for four positions for engineers and developers.
 
Source: Brian Pollock, Adashi Systems LLC
Writer: Barbara Pash

SmartLogic Solutions scouting Fells, Canton and Federal Hill for new home

SmartLogic Solutions LLC is looking for a new home to accommodate its growing staff as the web and mobile application developer expects to double revenue by next year.

Currently located in the Emerging Technology Center at Canton, the eight-year-old web and mobile application developer intends to leave the incubator within the next six months for another location in the city. The ETC is moving to Highlandtown in the fall
 
President Yair Flicker has been scouting commercial buildings in Canton, Federal Hill and Fells Point for a 2,000-square-foot office.  “We need to find something quickly,” he says.
 
SmartLogic develops software for web and mobile products like iPhone and Android applications and brings in about $1.5 million in annual revenue. In one year, from the first quarter of 2012 to the first quarter of 2013, revenue grew 34 percent, according to Flicker.

“If we’re not at $3 to $4 million in revenue by the end of 2014, I’d be disappointed.”
 
To that end, he has instituted several changes. SmartLogic recently hired a marketing director and a development director. The company is also hiring four more employees this year, primarily developers and programmers, to add to its staff of 11.
 
A new website is in the works, with a focus on attracting  small- and medium-sized businesses. Clients include Woofound and McDonogh School. During the course of a year, the company works on 12 to 15 projects.
 
Founded in 2005, the privately financed company moved into the incubator, Emerging Technology Center at Johns Hopkins Eastern in 2006. In 2011, it relocated to the Emerging Technology Center at Canton.
 
Source: Yair Flicker, SmartLogic Solutions LLC
Writer: Barbara Pash
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Spotkick expands market with cybersecurity program

Startup Spotkick this week is introducing its first product, cybersecurity software. Located at an incubator on the University of Maryland, Baltimore County campus, the cybersecurity service provider is releasing three versions of the software it uses for its own clients. All the software, so far unnamed, is found on Spotkick's website and one of the versions is free.
 
CEO and founder Eric Fiterman says the free version is staying on the website for the foreseeable future. There is a fee for the other two versions, standard and premium. 
 
“Not all businesses can afford services like ours and other providers,” he says. “We want to make it accessible to them.”
 
All three versions are designed to take inventory of a company’s computer system and provide a report of vulnerabilities, although at different levels of complexities. The software is web-based, with users filling out a profile online. Reports are delivered online as well.
 
“Different companies have different levels of exposure based on factors like the age of their computer system,” Fiterman says.  “We run inventories of different capabilities depending on what clients want. We look for things that are hidden or hard to find.”
 
Fiterman calls the free version a “walk-through” that gives users an idea of their exposure to cyber risks like getting hacked or having their data compromised.  
 
The standard version, a flat fee whose price is likely to be under $49, has detailed information about where the user’s system is most vulnerable and to what kinds of cyber-risks. The premium version, likely under $79, not only identifies the risks but provides options on how to protect the system and even counter-attack.
 
Fiterman, a former U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation agent whose specialty was cyber crimes, founded Spotkick in 2011. It was the first startup accepted into the then-newly formed incubator known as the Northrop Grumman Cync Program. The program is the result of a partnership between UMBC and Northrop Grumman Corp.
 
Fiterman says Spotkick will continue to market its cybersecurity services to clients, among them the U.S. Department of Defense, Northrop Grumman and other Baltimore area startups.
 
“We have service contracts and are generating revenue,” he says, although he declined to give a figure. 
 
The privately financed startup has a staff of five. Fiterman will hire at least two more developers this year.
 
Source: Eric Fiterman, Spotkick
Writer: Barbara Pash
 
 

VisiSonics seeks $750K in angel funding for new product

VisiSonics Corporation is seeking $750,000 in its first round of funding from angel investors so the College Park startup can launch its first software product, RealSpace, by the fall. 
 
VisiSonics produces software and hardware to improve the sound spatialization, or three-dimensional perception, over headphones and on smart phones and tablet devices.

Last year, the company changed its business direction to focus on developing and marketing its software, which CEO Ramani Duraiswami says is a bigger market compared with hardware.
 
The software, for mobile and consumer electronics, is currently in a testing stage. The goal is to make it easy-to-use and more efficient for consumers and potential industry clients like the gaming industry.
 
“Customers want better audio and music on their portable devices. Our software can be programmed into any device to make it full and rich,” says Duraiswami.
 
Founded in 2009, VisiSonics is a spinoff from the University of Maryland, College Park, and is located on the College Park campus’ incubator, the Technology Advancement Program.
 
The company originally focused on special hardware, called an “audio camera,” to capture sound, with accompanying software to analyze the sound for a variety of uses. The hardware captured sound in already-existing spaces like classrooms, concert halls, stadiums and work environments.
 
Duraiswami says the company had over $500,000 in sales of hardware, from customers like the University of Sydney, University of Melbourne, Stanford University and the US Naval Research Laboratory.
 
“If they were designing a concert hall, for example, the hardware would determine if and where the sound was appropriate,” says Duraiswami. “It helped customers to characterize the sound environment.”
 
Last month, the Baltimore-based University of Maryland Ventures chose VisiSonics as the first winner of a newly created Start-Up Prize to help startups commercialize their products.
 
UM Ventures is the first joint partnership between the University of Maryland, Baltimore and the University of Maryland, College Park. The UM Ventures prize is intended to bring innovative technologies to the market.
 
James Hughes, director of UM Ventures and president of Research Park Corp. says the criteria for the Start-Up Prize is a combination of the potential impact of the startup’s technology and how far the startup has come since founding, especially in the last year. VisiSonics was a semi-finalist in this year’s Investment Maryland Challenge.
 
Hughes says the prize will be awarded annually and with a dollar amount at least equal to the $5,000 VisiSonics received. VisiSonics also received a $75,000 loan from the Maryland Technology Development Corp. (TEDCO) for commercialization.
 
VisiSonics has six full- and part-time employees. It is looking to hire up to four staffers, in software and business development, this year.
 
Sources: Ramani Duraiswami, VisiSonics; James Hughes, University of Maryland Ventures
Writer: Barbara Pash

WBAL-TV is bringing mobile TV to Baltimore

Baltimore news station WBAL-TV recently signed an agreement with New Jersey's Dyle mobile TV to bring live broadcast programming to viewers who want to watch news and other programs on their cell phones. The move will help the local NBC affiliate expand its reach and stay ahead of the competition with new technologies. 

Roger Keating, senior vice president of digital media for WBAL parent Hearst Television Inc., says the technology will be available by the end of this year. 

Dyle mobile TV operates through a receiver accessory, sold for $84.98 on Amazon.com and other outlets. The accessory, about the size of a matchbox, has an antennae. It plugs into a smart phone or tablet, turning it into a television. Dyle technology is available now for iPhones and will be ready for Android devices in a few months.

“The worst case scenario is that it wouldn't begin until the end of this year,” Keating says. The timeframe depends on the engineering work, like upgrading WBAL's transmission tower, that is needed to implement mobile TV.

Dan Joerres, president and general manager of WBAL-TV, calls Dyle mobile TV the "next step" in television technology. "The intent is to build another product for our consumers," he says.

"We are trying to build a network in a market. Maybe there will be other TV networks in Baltimore that will have [mobile TV] in the future."

Indeed at least one already has. Sinclair Broadcasting Group Inc. said earlier this month that it is doing so in 10 of its stations, including WBFF Fox 45, in the next six months.

Mobile Content Ventures, a partnership of 12 major broadcast companies, operates Dyle mobile TV. Keating says Hearst TV already transmits the Dyle service to three of its stations, in Cincinnati, Greenville, S.C.; and Orlando, Fla.

 
Sources: Roger Keating, Hearst TV; Dan Joerres, WBAL-TV
Writer: Barbara Pash

Three new companies join UMBC cybersecurity incubator

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Northrop Grumman Corp. last month expanded their Cync cybersecurity  program with three new companies, including the program’s first international one. The three firms joined the five companies currently at [email protected] Research and Technology Park in Catonsville.

The folowing three companies entered the Cync program:
  • iWebGate is relocating its headquarters from Perth, Australia, to Maryland. It is developing a multi-tenant security-tested network between private networks and the Internet;
  • DB Networks, of Silicon Valley provides behavioral analysis of database security equipment. It intends to grow its mid-Atlantic region; and,
  • Baltimore's Light Point Security, which is working on protecting corporate networks from web-based malware.

Northrop Grumman and UMBC jointly select the companies for the 18-month long Cync program, which began in 2011.
 
Chris Valentino, director of contract research and development for Northrop Grumman Information Systems in Annapolis says the program is for early-stage companies to grow and develop their cybersecurity products. He identified global security, data analytics and technology as areas that are of particular interest. Valentino says he also considers how the product fits into Northrop Grumman’s portfolio.
 
Northrop Grumman pays for Cync program companies’ office space and equipment at the UMBC incubator. Its own entrepreneur-in-residence at the incubator works with the companies on business plans and marketing.
 
Valentino says the Cync program is getting requests from companies outside the U.S. and elsewhere in the country. “They wanted to expand to Maryland specifically for the Cync program and to work with federal government,” he says of the companies.
 
Northrop Grumman provides a link to potential customers in the federal marketplace. “Our intention is to partner with the companies,” he says.
 
Ellen Hemmerly, executive director at [email protected], says there are more than 100 companies in the research and technology park. Of these, two-thirds are early-stage companies that are participating in one of its three incubators. Bwtech’s cybersecurity incubator has 35 early-stage companies and another 10 companies that are more mature businesses.
 
Of the 35 early-stage companies, eight are participating in the Cync program. She says that when the Cync program was established, there was not an absolute number set on the number of companies that could participate.

"We projected five to six companies at any one time, and we are staying within that framework.”
 
Sources: Chris Valentino, Northrop Grumman Information Systems; Ellen Hemmerly, [email protected] Research and Technology Park
Writer: Barbara Pash

Jessup IT firm ClearEdge hiring 25

ClearEdge IT Solutions LLC, a woman-owned tech firm in Jessup, is hiring 25 software engineers and cloud computing experts to join the 75-person firm by the fall. The company, which specializes in cloud computing and data analysis, moved to a new, larger headquarters in Howard County.

The move is part of an overall restructuring process that will enable the company to compete for more and larger defense contracts, Executive Strategist Nikolas Acheson says.  “We are reorganizing to maximize our abilities, and positioning ourselves for the future,” he says. “We are ramping up to compete as we move from a small to a large company.”
 
ClearEdge IT was founded in 2002. The company is currently valued at about $20 million and anticipates growing by 20 percent per year for the next five years, says Acheson. “The area of computer science that we support is expanding. Customers are looking for efficiencies, to implement new technologies and that’s where we come in."
 
Last year, ClearEdge IT left a leased building in Anne Arundel County to buy and renovate an existing two-story, 36,000-square-foot building in Jessup. Part of the staff works from new headquarters while others work on-site for federal and private customers. Acheson says its main customer is the intelligence community within the Department of Defense, as well as private customers in the defense community
 
The move also allows ClearEdgeIT to expand its certification classes in big data and cloud computing programs like Hadoop and jQuery at its Distributed Computing Center of Excellence. The company founded the center less than a year ago and currently enrolls over 100 students.
 
Classes are open to anyone. Fees range from about $1,700 for a two-day course to $495 for a several-hour course. With the move, Acheson says the company will focus on partnering with its customers to offer training and certification for their employees. A fee structure is in the works. Certification will be offered either within the particular company or to industry-wide standards.
 
“We intend to double, even triple, enrollment and the number of offerings within the next 18 months,” he says.
 
Source: Nikolas Acheson, ClearEdge IT Solutions
Writer: Barbara Pash

State hiring 70 to manage new health exchange as it preps for Obamacare

The state is hiring 70 staffers to work on the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, a marketplace that lets consumers choose health insurers and is a key provision of new federal health rules known as Obamacare. 

The exchange is an independent state agency located in downtown Baltimore and requires a variety of functions, from IT to marketing and management.
 
In addition, the state is hiring companies that will create and/or manage parts of the exchange. When their contracts are finalized, the companies will do their own hiring for a so-far undetermined number of jobs.
 
“A lot of our resources will be through vendors,” says Leslie Lyles Smith, the exchange’s director of operations, of the companies to which the exchange will subcontract various responsibilities.
 
Smith says that most of the future employees, both those hired by the exchange and by vendor/subcontractors, will be in operations and IT. She divided the job areas into the following categories:
  • IT;
  • marketing and communications outreach;
  • planning and partner management, specifically liaison with brokers, third-party administrators and insurance companies;
  • operations and consumer assistance, specifically the call center and navigator program;
  • internal operations;
  • budget and finance;
  • human resources;
  • general services;
  • policy and government relations; and,
  • appeals/grievances.
     
The Maryland General Assembly created the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange in 2011, following the 2010 passage of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Maryland is one of the first six states in the country to create an exchange, a key provision in the federal law to set up a marketplace for the public and health insurers. In turn, the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange opened the Maryland Health Connection as the online portal for the public and small businesses to get health insurance and tax credit information and to enroll.
 
The state began hiring to staff the exchange  last year and is continuing to hire. Smith expects to have most, if not all, the positions filled by the exchange’s opening day. All jobs are posted on the exchange’s website under the “careers” heading. Two recent job listings, for deputy director budget and management and for manager of the call center listed salaries of about $61,000 to $98,000 and of about $50,000 to $81,000 respectively.
 
Vendor hiring is also ongoing and requests for proposals can be found on the exchange’s website under the “procurement” heading. Once a vendor is selected, job-seekers will go directly to the company for information about employment. The number and type of jobs each vendor requires varies.
 
Source: Leslie Lyles Smith, Maryland Health Benefit Exchange
Writer: Barbara Pash
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Light Point Security launches first malware-defense product

Light Point Security LLC this year expects to launch its first product, Light Point Web Enterprise, a secure web browsing solution for company networks. The startup is collaborating on commercializing the product with Northrop Grumman Corp. through a program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County incubator in Catonsville.
 
“Northrop Grumman is helping us to develop and polish our product,” says Chief Operating Officer Zuly Gonzalez, who cofounded the startup with CEO Beau Adkins. Both are former National Security Agency employees.
 
Light Point takes a non-traditional approach to cybersecurity. Unlike the standard detection-based approach to determine if a website is safe or infected, Light Point uses an isolation-based approach to protect company networks from web-based malware.
 
“We assume all websites are malicious and we treat them exactly the same way – virus or safe – so there is no way for a malware site to get into a computer and infect the corporate network,” says Gonzalez.
 
Light Point’s proprietary software uses virtualization and cloud technologies to isolate and enclose each employee’s browsing sessions. “We prevent the network from getting infected by preventing websites and web content from even getting on the computer,” she says.
 
Founded in 2010, Light Point Security moved into the Cyber Incubator at [email protected] Research and Technology Park last year. The company has tested different versions of its product, including an earlier version that rented space for customers through a cloud service provider. The current version allows the customer to run the product on its own network or its own cloud space.
 
“The idea is to give them control,” says Gonzalez.
 
Light Point is planning to sell the product through a yearly subscription fee of $40 to $50 per employee. It will market the product to commercial enterprises, primarily medium- to large-sized companies, and expand to government agencies in 2014.
 
Gonzalez says that Northrop Grumman is helping the company commercialize its product with technical and business advice.
 
Light Point Security is a finalist in the InvestMaryland Challenge in the IT category, and will hear by mid-April if it has won the $100,000 prize. The startup is privately funded. The cofounders, who are the startup's two employees, are considering an angel financing round of, perhaps, $500,000, in the future.
 
Source: Zuly Gonzalez, Light Point Security LLC
Writer: Barbara Pash
 
 

Oculis Labs uses face recognition for cybersecurity program

Oculis Labs Inc this month is releasing the new version of PrivateEye Enterprise for businesses. To kick off the release, the Hunt Valley cybersecurity company is offering a free 30-day trial package available through its website.
 
“We wanted a product for enterprises like health care firms and banks that have records with financial and personnel information they want to keep private,” says founder and CEO Bill Anderson.
 
In 2011, the nine-person firm released PrivateEye, a cybersecurity program for individual users. A standard web cam in computers and tablets is set to recognize the authorized user’s face. The user can instantly blur the screen by turning his/her head. Alternatively, the program can be set so that the face of anyone who enters the user’s area pops up on the screen.
 
“We are using motion sensor and face recognition technologies to protect company information,” says Anderson. “A person who comes into my office, who comes up behind me cannot read the data.”
 
All versions of PrivateEye and PrivateEye Enterprise have racked up more than 10,000 users in 30 countries, according to Anderson. PrivateEye Enterprise uses the same technology as PrivateEye but, based on users' comments, focuses on companies. The new version lets their IT departments manage and control security measures.
 
PrivateEye costs $20 per user. For PrivateEye Enterprise, a small company of, for example, 50 users, pays $60 per user; a large company of about 1,000 to 2,000 pays $30 per user. These are one-time fees; there is no annual charge.
 
Anderson founded Oculis Labs in 2007 to solve a problem that anti-virus and encryption technology did not address. “You need to secure the last two feet of the Internet  — the distance from the computer screen to the user’s eye,” he says. “Security spending is wasted if anyone —  insiders and strangers — can look at what’s on a person’s screen.”
 
In 2009, Oculis Labs issued its first product, Chameleon, a software program that allows the user to read a classified document privately, even in a crowded room. The program tracks the authorized user’s eye movement. To the user, the words appear in their normal format. To anyone else looking at the screen, the letters are garbled and the words unrecognizable.
 
Developed for the intelligence community, Chameleon’s users are government agencies in that community and the US Department of Defense. Chameleon costs thousands of dollars per program.
 
Oculis Labs is privately financed. Two angel funding rounds raised $3 million. It has received $100,000 from the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development and $75,000 from the Maryland Technology Development Corp. It has also received funding from In-Q-Tel, a not-for-profit venture capital firm whose purpose is to invest in technology to keep the Central Intelligence Agency current.
 

 
Source: Bill Anderson, Oculis Labs Inc.
Writer: Barbara Pash
 
 

Entertainment startup Kithly marketing to event promoters

Kithly LLC, a startup entertainment website, is kicking off a new business strategy to make money. 

The free website asks users to input their preferences for entertainment and then Kithly culls through its own list of activities and events that fit users' lifestyle. Kithly is now opening up its website to even promoters for a fee, giving them access to the people most likely to attend their events, says Co-founder Devin Partlow.
 
During the month of April, event promoters can sign up on its website to have information about their events sent to Kithly users for free. After the free offer ends, event promoters will hopefully stick around and continue to use the website, at a fee of $5 per event. 
 
“Everyone knows about the big shows and concerts in Baltimore. We are interested in the small and local events,” says Partlow of promoters and organizers who usually don’t have the budget to do much advertising.
 
“Instead of going onto a campus and hanging up posters or passing out flyers to whomever walks by, we are helping them reach their target market,” he says. “We used to recommend only things we could find for the site. Now, promoters and organizers will pay us to market to our users."
 
The change in business strategy is another evolution of Kithly since Partlow founded it in 2010. Originally called Hooopla, the idea was to let users of its website share information about events. It then broadened its reach to include information obtained from Facebook and Meetup groups. The company is one of four that graduated from Baltimore City's startup bootcamp Accelerate Baltimore.  
 
Partlow says he now has 6,000 recommendations on the website of places to go and things to do. The recommendations are constantly updated, and include events around the country. Most, though, are in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., Kithly’s home base.
 
“We analyze our users, what kinds of events they like and run it through our algorithm. We recommend things they wouldn’t necessarily hear about,” he says of local comedy clubs and band appearances.
 
In the last two months, Partlow says that the number of website users and clicks to the website have grown by 70 percent each. He says there are now about 300 users.
 
Last year, Kithly moved into the Emerging Technology Center in Canton. Kithly received a $25,000 Accelerate Baltimore award from the Canton incubator. Partlow met his cofounder Stacy Weng and advisor Ben Lieblich through CoFoundersLab.com. 
Partlow is focusing Kithly on entertainment but may add other areas like sports events in the future. “We are starting with that niche and we’ll see how it works before expanding,” he says.
 
Source: Devin Partlow, Kithly LLC
Writer: Barbara Pash
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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