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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

Biomedical startup OptiCul seeking $5M in funding for new product

OptiCul Diagnostics Ltd. this month submitted an application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approval of its first product, a device that tests for bacterial presence and promises to shorten hospital stays. Upon regulatory approval, which is expected this year, the Rockville biomedical startup with ties to Baltimore plans to market the device next year.
 
The startup is also seeking $5 million in funding from angel and venture capital investors this year, says CEO and Co-founder Israel Gannot. His wife Gallya Gannot is president and co-founder. Last year, the company raised $400,000 from angel investors.

The startup has eight full- and part-time employees. It plans to hire an additional eight employees, in engineering, marketing and sales, this year in preparation for selling the device in 2014.

Called an Optidet, the device OptiCul is developing can determine if a patient is carrying bacteria and if so which kind within three minutes. 

“The device helps with diagnosis and allows you to treat patients quicker, resulting in shorter hospital stays,” says Gannot, professor of biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University and a professor at Tel Aviv University.
 
The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development awarded grants totaling $300,000 for research, which OptiCul conducted with the University of Maryland microbiology and chemistry departments.  
 
OptiCul Diagnostics was founded in Israel in 2008 with seed money from the Israeli government. In 2010, it opened its American headquarters and main laboratory to the William E. Hanna Jr. Innovation Center, an incubator in Montgomery County, where it is still located.
 
Gannot says the device, about the size of a small box, is designed to be placed in a hospital laboratory and used multiple times. The samples, about the size of business cards, are disposable. The device is priced at $10,000 and the samples at $3 each.
 
The initial marketing focus will be the I-95 corridor, Boston to Washington, D.C.,  where, by Gannot’s count, there are 2,500 hospitals with laboratory facilities.
 

Source: Israel Gannot, OptiCul Diagnostics Inc.
Writer: Barbara Pash
 
 
 
 
 
 

Baltimore IT healthcare company broadens product offerings

Healthcare IT company Analytical Informatics Inc last month signed a partnership with SchedFull LLC, a Detroit patient scheduling company, to broaden its product offerings. The SchedFull partnership is the first of several agreements the downtown Baltimore company expects to announce this year.
 
CEO Chris Meenan says the downtown Baltimore company is looking to improve efficiency and quality via deals with small companies like SchedFull and with hospitals in the “hot areas” of healthcare, such as staffing efficiency and patient experiences. He hopes to announce a hospital partnership next month.
 
The company offers a suite of tools that improve hospitals' efficiencies. For example, the company has a staffing model that shows which hours are busiest and how many rooms need to available for operations and radiology, both expensive-to-run facilities.
 
SchedFull works with hospitals and physician offices to electronically notify patients about appointments and cancellations. The partnership allows Analytical Informatics to offer an application that addresses the patient experience. 
 
“In the healthcare field, hospitals are trying to understand patients. Hospitals can save a lot of money if they can reduce their no-show rates,” says Meenan.
 
Analytical Informatics was spun out of the University of Maryland, Baltimore technology transfer office in 2011. Data from hospitals, physicians and other providers is aggregated into a central platform to which applications can be added.
 
The company invented some of the applications itself or, like SchedFull, has acquired them through partnerships. Others are licensed from University of Maryland School of Medicine. Analytical Informatics charges about $4,500 per month for the basic model plus several applications of a client’s choice. Other applications can be added for extra fees.
 
The company already has partnerships with hospitals that include Johns Hopkins, University of Utah Health Care and Indiana University Health.
 
Besides Meenan, company staffers are the other three cofounders: Mark Daly, Max Warnock and Christopher Toland. In June, it is hiring at least two staffers, in software development and sales and marketing.
 
Source: Chris Meenan, Analytical Informatics Inc.
Writer: Barbara Pash
 
 

Towson startup builds a better bridge inspection system

Towson engineering startup Sustainable Infrastructure of North America LLC is going after its first round of angel funding of $115,000 by the middle of this year. The startup will seek to close on its second funding round of $500,000 by the end of the year. The company's goal is to have raised $1.3 million by early next year, primarily from investors and loans and, possibly, its first product. 
 
Founder and Owner Tom Greene, says the money will be used to produce aesir, a computer system intended to replace existing bridge inspection equipment. By 2015, he plans to produce another four aesirs.
 
The aesir system will contain three-dimensional, ground-penetrating radar, laser profiling and digital imaging. The system will be mounted on top of a van that is driven on or under a bridge. Scanning the bridge in a 3-D format allows the inspector to find defects below the surface, where deterioration typically starts.
 
The system’s data will then be analyzed to pinpoint where and what the problems are, and to compare it with previous bridge inspections for rate of deterioration.
 
Greene says technology like 3-D and lasers already exists, and aesir will integrate it into a single system. A Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPs) grant for more than $400,000 is funding development of the system Greene says.
 
There are more than 600,000 bridges in the US, of which about 159,000 are in urban locations. The bridges must be inspected annually or every two years depending under whose jurisdiction – local, state or federal – they fall.
 
Greene expects to price the aesir, which can be used multiple times, at about $400,000. He will initially market it to government agencies and, subsequently, to engineering firms that are often hired to inspect bridges.
 
“The infrastructure is aging while the traffic is increasing. You have the same number of bridges from the 1970s but traffic volume is six times greater and trucks are much bigger,” he says.
 
Greene founded Sustainable Infrastructure in 2011. A year later, the company moved into the TowsonGlobal Business Incubator at Towson University. The company has a staff of three.
 
“Aesir has potential use in tunnels but right now we’re focusing on bridges,” he says.
 
Source: Tom Greene, Sustainable Infrastructure of North America LLC
Writer: Barbara Pash
 
 
 

National entrepreneurship program debuts in Baltimore

New York City nonprofit Venture for America, which provides entrepreneurship training for recent college graduates, is adding Baltimore to its roster of cities this year.
 
Venture was founded in 2011 to encourage entrepreneurship through practical experience. It officially launched last year in five cities: Detroit, Cincinnati, New Orleans, Las Vegas and Providence, Rhode Island. This year, Baltimore and Cleveland are on board.

In Baltimore, the following companies could get access to talent through Venture: Baltimore Astrum Solar, Parking Panda, Pixelligent, Reify Health, Riskive, SocialToaster and Vigilant Medical.

The fellows, or recent graduates, are recruited from universities nationally, including the University of Maryland at College Park and Johns Hopkins University and, for 2013, University of Maryland Baltimore County and Loyola University of Maryland.

“We send out fellows to cities across the country that have high quality startups and, perhaps, less access to talent than major metropolitan areas,” says Mike Tarullo, vice president of corporate development. “We look for places graduates might not think of going but have great opportunities.”

Most recruits are just getting their undergraduate degree in a variety of majors while others may have already spent a year or two in the workforce.
 
Tarullo calls the selection process “competitive,” with a written application, grade transcripts and interviews on the telephone and in person with board members in New York City. About 10 to 15 percent of applicants are admitted to the program.
 
“We are looking for a high potential for entrepreneurship,” says Tarullo of the fellows, who commit to spending two years in their assigned company and at a fixed salary of $38,000 per year that the company pays.
 
Last year, Venture placed 40 fellows in the five original cities. This year, it is placing 70 fellows in the seven cities. The number going to each city depends on how many companies participate in the program and the “match” between fellows’ interests and startups’ field.
 
“We are hoping 10 fellows come to Baltimore but it depends on the number of startups that are hiring. We don’t have a limit on the number of fellows at each startup but typically it’s one, maybe two,” Tarullo says.

Tarullo says each city to which Venture sends fellows has a different focus. Baltimore is strong on cybersecurity, biotechnology and education technology, he says. “We’re excited to be coming to Baltimore.”

Tarullo credits the Abell Foundation, which gave more than $100,000, for bringing Venture for America to Baltimore. The Maryland Technology Development Corp. (TEDCO); Betamore, the work space for startups in Federal Hill; and the incubator Emerging Technology Center in Canton are helping Venture connect with the startup community.

 
Source: Mike Tarullo, Venture for America
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

White Marsh company partners with Microsoft for cloud computing

Motifworks Inc this month entered into a partnership with Microsoft to promote its cloud platform, Windows Azure. This is the first partnership between the White Marsh cloud, mobile application and data analytics company and Microsoft.
 
Motifworks’ contract is for one year and renewable, CEO Nitin Agarwal says.
 
Motifworks provides the technical help to companies using Windows Azure. Motifworks follows up on companies in the area that have contacted Microsoft about Windows Azure.
 
Agarwal says Mofitworks’ goal is to sign up at least two companies for Windows Azure during the year of the contract.

“Companies lack skill sets in new technology like cloud and mobile. We help them fill that gap, and bring their product to market faster,” Agarwal says. “Rather than develop their own departments, it’s become more acceptable to outsource.”
 
The company focuses on the financial, legal, retail, education and management sectors. Most clients pay a monthly fee, but some pay per project. Clients include Sears, SafeNet, Global Scholar, Wellscape, Lender Processing Service and local technology startups.
 
Since Agarwal founded Motifworks in 2010, the company has almost doubled sales every year for the past three years. He expects to double sales in 2013. It pulled in $1 million in revenue during fiscal year 2012.

Mofitworks has two offices. In Bangalore, India, it employs 40. The White Marsh virtual office has a staff of seven. The company is hiring two staffers with Microsoft expertise for its White Marsh location.
 
Source: Nitin Agarwal, Motifworks Inc
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
 
 

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
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Life sciences company developing device to prevent blindness caused by diabetes

Early-stage medical device company Vasoptic Medical Inc. is conducting tests on a device to detect and prevent a progressively worsening eye condition that leads to blindness.

The tests, being held at the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute, are required for federal Food and Drug Administration approval. When done in 2014, the Columbia company will seek FDA clearance to market and sell the device.

CEO and general counsel M. Jason Brooke estimates it will cost $7.5 million to bring the device to market. The federal National Institute of Health last year awarded the team a $225,000 development grant. The company next month will apply for a $1 million to $1.5 million NIH Small Business Innovation grant, which is intended to help speed commercialization of promising technology.
 
Johns Hopkins has a $180,000 multi-year grant from the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, part of which goes to Vasoptic for commercialization. Vasoptic has received a $75,000 grant from Maryland Technology Development Corp., or TEDCO, for commercialization. It is also one of 33 finalists in the state’s InvestMaryland Challenge, the winners and cash prizes to be announced next month.
 
Brooke says the company is considering an angel financing round this year for $500,000.

“We are starting to get recognition of the value of technology among investors,” he says.
 
Brooke and Chief Technology Officer Abhishek Rege are Vasoptic’s current staff. Depending on grants, the company will hire two to four research engineers this year. The company is located in Howard County incubator, the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship.
 
The so-far unnamed device is intended for the early detection of diabetic retinopathy, a condition caused by both Type I and Type II diabetes. One in nearly three diabetics, or six-to-eight million people, has some form of diabetic retinopathy. Another eye implant invented by Hopkins scientists and manufactured by a California company recently received FDA approval. 
 
In the US, 25 million people have diabetes, seven million people are undiagnosed diabetics and another 80 million people are pre-diabetic. The condition causes reduced blood flow to the tissue of the retina that leads to severe visual impairment and eventually blindness.
 
Brooke says the recommended treatment is regular eye exams to detect the condition and better management of one’s diabetes to slow its progression.
 
Vasoptic is not the only technology to screen for the condition. But other technologies require an ophthalmologist to analyze the images, says Brooke. Vasoptic’s technology is designed to be used by the primary care physician.
 
Vasoptic’s hand-held device captures anatomical images and physiological information like blood vessel flow that its accompanying software analyzes. The device not only detects the existence of the condition but predicts the risk of the diabetic developing it as well.
 
“It’s not hard for an ophthalmologist to detect the condition in its early stage but half of diabetics don’t receive the recommended eye exams” because of the expense and inconvenience, Brooke says . “Our focus is the primary care facility and keeping the device low cost,” likely under $10,000 each.
 
Rege developed the technology while working at the Johns Hopkins department of biomedical engineering. Hopkins filed patent papers and entered into a licensing agreement with Vasoptic to commercialize the device.
 

Source: M. Jason Brooke, Vasoptic Medical, Inc.
Writer: Barbara Pash
 
 

Federal Hill cybersecurity firm Riskive hiring up to 27

Two-month old cybersecurity company Riskive Inc. is adding to its current staff of seven. Launched Jan.1 and based in the new Federal Hill incubator Betamore, Riskive is hiring between 18 to 27 this year.
 
Riskive is seeking developers, development leaders, director of engineering, vice president of business development, social media manager, marketing manager and salespeople, according to COO Evan Blair, who co-founded the company with CEO James C. Foster.

The company is hiring junior, intermediate and senior level developers and engineers with leadership experience in order to build a technology that is scalable and to run the company more efficiently, Blair says.

Blair says that cyberdefense tends to be reactive. "People wait until an attack, then go into motion to clean, quarantine and block" the threat, he says.
 
Riskive says it takes a different approach. It is a predictive cybersecurity company for government agencies and private companies. Instead of waiting for a cyber attack that shuts down a computer system or a virus that infects a network, Riskive identifies potential attackers and how they can be addressed.
  
Riskive was the first and, at 500-square feet, the largest tenant in Betamore. The privately financed facility opened in December in a renovated 8,000-square foot building in Federal Hill. The facility is a combination incubator, co-working space and classroom. Members can access Betamore's mentor network and attend events and weekly happy hours.

Blair says the company has enough space at Betamore for the new hires. If it grows too big and has to relocate from Betamore, the company is committed to staying in Baltimore.

"It's not an accident that we’re in Baltimore versus Silicon Valley,” says Blair of the proximity to Fort Meade and the US Army Cyber Command.  
 
Using patented technology, Riskive assembles data from a variety of sources and profiles for a client the types of attackers and the types of attack it faces. The client can use the information to install appropriate defenses, whether on its own or by hiring another company to do so.
 
“We think of ourselves as radar, to determine what’s coming at you before it comes," says Blair.
 
Blair says the three most common kinds of attackers are: countries, in particular the Republic of China, North Korea, Iran and Russia; organized crime syndicates, many in former Soviet Union republics (and now independent countries) or former Soviet-bloc countries; and individual hackers or hacker groups.
 
The motives of the three differ, says Blair. Countries are looking for classified information and intellectual property. Crime syndicates are looking for information with monetary value, like credit card numbers and identify theft. Hacker groups are supporting a cause or carrying out personal vendettas.
 
“All the attacks start out similarly but they range in scale, scope and end goals,” says Blair.
 
Riskive is privately funded. Before its official launch, Blair says it held angel financing rounds. 
 
Source: Evan Blair, Riskive Inc.
Writer: Barbara Pash

Entrepreneur matchmaking service closing angel funding round

CoFoundersLab, a startup that matches business partners with one another, says it will close an angel investing round of about $500,000 next month and is expanding its reach in the U.S. and abroad.

Headquartered in Rockville and with extensive ties to Baltimore, CoFoundersLab connects entrepreneurs with one another and hosts targeted networking sessions to introduce founders to investors and partners. It is now adding 10 more US cities to the 20 in which it already has a presence. Internationally, it is launching in London, Tel Aviv, Singapore and Sao Paulo. CoFoundersLab is recruiting volunteer partners in its new domestic markets of Houston, Dallas, Detroit and Nashville, among others, as well as abroad.

CoFoundersLab already operates in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Boston and Los Angeles. In New York City, for example, CoFoundersLab partners with a team at New York University’s Stern School of Business. In Baltimore, it regularly hosts events at Betamore and the Emerging Technology Center @ Canton and the University of Baltimore.
 
“We are looking for partners whose access to the community we can tap into,” says CEO Shahab Kaviani, co-founder with Culin Tate of a company that calls itself “matchmaking for entrepreneurs” in search of business partners.
 
Kaviani says the company’s partners are generally an accelerator or the coworking space of a university, where it hosts events that bring together entrepreneurs and investors/business partners. Its website also serves that purpose.
 
“The first challenge an entrepreneur has to overcome is finding the right business partner," Kaviani says. "In the past, you went to friends or networked. We are creating a large pool online."
 
CoFoundersLab began in 2010 as a part-time service to host events for start-up companies. In 2011, it launched its initial version of the online match-up website. In 2012, financed by The Fort Accelerator in Washington, D.C. and angel investors, it became a full-time service.
 
Kaviani isn’t sure of the number of match-ups for which CoFoundersLab can take credit.  He believes it is in the low hundreds. “Some we hear about, others we don’t,” he says, pointing to Kithly, an application company that was formerly housed in a Baltimore incubator and whose founder met his business partner through CoFoundersLab.
 
 It is also in the process of reorganizing its website. Currently, the website is accessible for free but Kaviani says a paid membership, with advanced features, will be introduced this year. Membership prices haven’t been finalized.
 
Next month, too, CoFoundersLab will find out if it has been chosen to advance to the final round of the state-sponsored InvestMaryland Challenge that culminates in April. It is currently one of 61 finalists in three categories for the $100,000 prize.
 
CoFoundersLab has a staff of five. It is hiring two staffers this summer, in marketing and technology development.
 
Source: Shahab Kaviani, CoFoundersLab
Writer: Barbara Pash

Educational tech company raising $5M and hiring

Educational technology startup 1sqbox LLC says it expects to wrap up its second round of angel financing of $5 million by the middle of this year and is tripling its staff of five. The downtown Baltimore company is hiring seven salespeople, three support staff and a chief financial officer.

In its first round of angel financing last year, 1sqbox raised $330,000, to get the company off the ground, CEO Granville Templeton III says. After its second round of angel financing, 1sqbox will seek venture capital.

The company sells Android-based tablets to school systems for kindergarten through 12th grades. The tablets have proprietary software geared for administrators and for teachers and students. Templeton bills the company as a “one-stop shop” for educators. 

“We use the school system’s and/or other companies’ educational content. We are the platform” for the content,  says Templeton, who cofounded the company with chairman and CTO Alexis Coates in 2011.
 
The same tablet is used for all grades. Every student in a class gets a tablet. Via his or her tablet, the teacher inputs lesson plans and other material like textbooks, quizzes, homework assignments and comments.
 
“It’s an intuitive management system that allows teachers to use technology for their classrooms,” says Templeton.
 
School principals can monitor teachers via the tablet. A software platform allows them to view teachers’ lesson plans, assignments and other information.

Templeton says 1sqbox is in the process of refining its software for easier use. It is also adapting its platform  for district-wide use. “Now, each school can monitor itself. We are adapting it so each school in a district can be monitored,” he says.
 
Last year, 1sqbox launched a pilot program in City Springs Middle School, a charter school in East Baltimore. The Abell Foundation funded the purchase of 100 tablets. Templeton says the tablets average $349 each, depending on amount ordered.
 
Dr. Walter Amprey, former superintendent of Baltimore City Public Schools, this year became associated with 1sqbox, “to introduce the company to school systems around the country,” says Templeton.
 
The company sells directly to school districts, which then distribute the tablets to users. The marketing focus so far has been Baltimore City and Maryland along with nearby states like Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. 
 
Templeton says 1sqbox has contracts with six schools, among them four in Baltimore City and two in Tennessee. The Baltimore schools are City Springs Middle School, Heritage High School, Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women and Rosemont Elementary and Middle School. The tablets stay at the school, and do not go home with the students.
 
Source: Granville Templeton, III, 1sqbox LLC
Writer: Barbara Pash
 

Infertility website launching new apps for hopeful moms

My Hopeful Journey this year is expanding its market from individual users to businesses and associations. The Baltimore County lifestyle website is offering fee-based corporate memberships to clinics, pharmacies, mind-body programs and online communities as a way to reach more women.

Last year, founder Lisa Drouillard launched a free iPhone application, called the Infertility Survival Kit, to accompany the website. She also launched an app on adoption.

Harford County resident Lisa Drouillard founded the company, located at the TowsonGlobal Business Incubation at Towson University.

For corporate members, Drouillard creates a customized website and mobile application, along with a six-month free membership in My Hopeful Journey. Corporate members can co-brand the site with their logos, message and website links. A basic package costs $500.

"It is a value-added service for their members," she says.

My Hopeful Journey grew out of Drouillard's personal experience of five years of infertility treatments. As a full-time working woman, she found it difficult to keep track of daily tests and medication dosages during treatment.

My Hopeful Journey has an organizer to record appointments, medications, tests, procedures and natural tracking like body temperature. It includes content like resources, blog, task list and journal. Drouillard is continuing to market directly to individuals, who can access the website for free. Users can also sign up for a premium option with customized reports and downloadable documents, for $6 per month.

My Hopeful Journey has over 1,000 users. The Survival Kit app, downloadable from the Apple app store, has over 500 downloads since its launch less than two months ago.

Funding for My Hopeful Journey is private, supplemented by prize money the company has won in different business and pitch competitions.

“Infertility is a very complex, emotional situation. I wanted to share my personal journey, what I went through and what inspired me,” says Drouillard, who has a three-year-old daughter. “I can’t tell you how many people have contacted me to say how much they needed this website.”
 
Source: Lisa Drouillard, My Hopeful Journey
Writer: Barbara Pash
 
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