Five Companies to Watch in 2012
The New Year brings new resolutions and plans, as well as new business plans for companies. Venture Atlanta reached out to industry experts throughout Atlanta to see which five companies are ones to watch in 2012. While experts agreed that Atlanta is indisputably a regional hub for start-ups and entrepreneurs, opinions varied on which five companies should be on the list.
The five companies featured here are those whose names came up most frequently in our interviews. They are listed in no particular order. While many experts were interviewed, only those who gave us permission to publish their comments have been quoted. However, we tried to capture the spirit of majority of comments about each company in each section.
Founded in May 2010, the energy management company JouleX has had a stellar first year and is looking forward to expanding its product line and customer base throughout 2012. Led by a member of the Atlanta start-up royalty Tom Noonan, JouleX rounded out 2011 by adding more than 125 new customers, raising $17 million in capital after vetting more than 100 venture firms, and expanding international offerings in Tokyo, Shanghai, London, Paris, and Germany.
“2011 was a banner year for JouleX,” says Tom Noonan, president and CEO of Atlanta-based JouleX. “We’ve proved that if we put our minds to green and energy savings, the possibilities are endless.”
The New Year will keep the company on its toes too, as plans are in place to build upon its leadership position. JouleX has plans to expand its customer base and partners program by geography and industry sectors, develop new products, and implement a centralized and streamlined internal system management for the company’s support center operations in Tokyo, Atlanta and Kassle.
The company’s successes and proven management team is keeping JouleX on the radar of industry experts in Atlanta. Matthew May, senior manager at Cherry, Bekaert & Holland, explains that industry experts are banking on the historical successes of Noonan and his management team, making JouleX a buzz worthy company. “One key to a successful company is its management and Tom Noonan has an experienced and proven track record with success,” notes May.
Energy consumption is one of the most unmonitored business expenses. With the ubiquity of computing and digital and electronic storage – whether with data sources, computing resources, or cloud storage – businesses are experiencing ever higher levels of energy consumption which in turn escalates the need to manage that consumption and the costs associated more closely.
“JouleX is involved in a huge sector and focused on a massive market opportunity,” says Dale Kirkland, senior vice president of SVB Financial Group in Atlanta. “It’s a very interesting company and concept coupled with a proven management group.”
JouleX plans to add 500 to 700 more customers in this year and up its hiring, recruiting and support operations to meet the product demand.
Switching gears to a company whose products monitors human energy exertion.
Wahoo Fitness is the only company on the list with a physical product. Its products plug in to the iPhone, Android and iPad and enable these mobile devices to wirelessly connect with fitness sensors that track the user’s performance in various fitness activities. The company’s products work with more than 100 fitness apps for Apple and Google smartphones and products.
Closing out its second year, Wahoo Fitness has made major strides in the marketplace, including gaining market acceptance, forging industry and business partnerships, and securing distribution channels for its products.
“We built a solid ecosystem of iPhone Apps that uses our technology,” explains Mike Stashak, Wahoo Fitness’ vice president of sales and marketing. “We struggled early with the decision to be open versus closed, but our choice to be open with our technology allowed us to build this ecosystem and have 100-plus Apps selling our products.”
To meet the high demand for its product, the company quickly scaled up international distribution, and signed on dealers and retailers in the United States. Stashak credits this uptick in interest and resulting sales to Wahoo Fitness’s products filling a void in the market and the company’s ability to be adapt to changing conditions.
As for what is influencing Wahoo Fitness’s performance, Stashak says, “It’s simple – the smartphone and fitness markets are both exploding. Apple and Google are driving the smartphone categories with new features, better products, and new form factors every six to nine months. Fitness, running and cycling categories have experienced double-digit growth for the past three years. I have a firm belief that picking the right markets is 90 percent of the battle.”
May is bullish about Wahoo Fitness and its product offerings. “I think Wahoo Fitness is tapping into a great market and its product is at the right price point for runners and cyclists,” he says. “Also its ability to link and function with multiple apps broadens its user base.” May also notes that the product is something many people would buy for themselves or a friend, demonstrating Wahoo Fitness’ broad appeal.
Speed to market with new products, calibrating the right distribution mix and expanding its employee base will all be critical to Wahoo Fitness’ continued success in 2012.
Next up is a company that holds court in the virtual world.
Brands and agencies use Vitrue to harness and manage the marketing potential of social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and YouTube. For the company, 2011 was an epic year on many levels. Among its achievements last year: 1.) Expanded its global footprint by opening an office in London, 2.)Acquired GamesThatGive, a San Francisco-based social gaming platform that integrates charitable giving into branded games and folding it into Vitrue Games, a product division within Vitrue, and 3.) Expanded its partner base by teaming up with ShopIgniter, Milyoni and MailChimp.
These and other activities were enabled if not accelerated by a successful Series C raise of $17 million.
“Following a Series C funding round of $17 million, led by Scale Venture Partners and Advent Venture Partners in February, we invested in our platform, company expansion and other core areas to achieve substantial accomplishments,” says Reggie Bradford, founder and CEO of Atlanta-based Vitrue.
With the continued shift of marketing dollars from traditional marketing to digital and social marketing, demand for services provided by Vitrue and its competitors is growing exponentially. One of the company’s key milestones was the roll-out of its Social Relationship Management(SRM) platform in 2011. According to Bradford, “SRM now manages more than 1 billion social relationships, and that number continues to increase, encompassing relationships across 47 countries.”
In the coming year, Vitrue plans to focus on product expansion, especially potential growth for the company’s mobile and analytics products. The company was recently selected by Facebook to develop, demo and introduce the beta of its new Facebook app for marketers. With a presence in Atlanta, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas, Cincinnati and London, Vitrue plans to continue expansion, both internationally and domestically, with plans to open offices in Singapore and Sao Paulo.
Although Vitrue has seen much success, the company is looking to the future and future successes by fully committing to each and every client 100 percent.
“Our main goal is to always deliver the highest quality product and service our clients,” explains Bradford. “When you get that right, everything else falls nicely into place.”
This next company also plays in the virtual world by serving as the sensei and guide for businesses that want to migrate to Google apps.
With a hectic 2011 in the rear view mirror, Cloud Sherpas is ringing in 2012 with success and momentum on its side. The company experienced 300 percent year-over-year growth, was voted one of the best places to work by employees, completed four acquisitions in as many months, and expanded its footprint in the United States and abroad.
Experts agree that Cloud Sherpas’ partnership with Google is one of the keys to its success in 2011 and continued success in 2012. Mitchell Kopelman, a partner at Habif, Arogeti & Wynne LLP told us, “Cloud Sherpas is positioned to be a great thing in 2012” citing its partnership with Google and the trend toward cloud computing.
As a leading Google apps service provider, Cloud Sherpas is benefiting from the continued shift to cloud computing and its strong relationship with Google. Beyond selling Google apps, the company offers full-service support for its clients, including cloud migration, collaboration solution, training and change management, and application development.
“Cloud Sherpas can do everything under the Google ecosystem,” explains Michael Cohn, founder and senior vice president of marketing of Cloud Sherpas. “We also have the most certified sales and tech support, with the most expertise.”
Setting high standards and expecting the best of its employees has brought Cloud Sherpas to the top of its industry. In 2012, the company plans to continue to expand its employee base and geographical footprint, expand and develop software and product offerings, and add additional segments to help customers with niche needs.
“I’ve been fortunate to know Cloud Sherpas since their founding. They were among the very first companies advocating cloud-based application software for the enterprise…Their continued momentum is being driven by leadership that has shaped the firm into one of Atlanta’s most desirable work environments…” notes Kirkland.
Last but not least is a company in the health IT sector whose product has the potential to save lives.
For healthcare software company Velocity Medical Solutions, their continued success can literally mean the likelihood of higher cancer survival rates.
The company is tightly connected to the Atlanta medical community as it was founded out of Emory’s radiation oncology department. The company’s VelocityGRID allows physicians easy access to a cancer patient’s images and records. With the GRID, physicians are able to easily collaborate on patient diagnoses and treatments. The company’s solution eases workflow challenges, saves time and enables faster results.
“Our product allows doctors to share data and connect with other physicians and clinicians to create a team environment for treatment collaboration,” says Joelle Fox, CFO of Velocity Medical.
In 2011, the company expanded its customer base to 150 worldwide installations and added automated analytical tools that process and analyze the many 3D medical images created during a cancer patient’s lifetime of diagnosis, treatment and follow-up.
Perhaps due to its success in a very challenging field, Velocity Medical is very well-regarded among those we spoke with for this article. Kopelman is among those who expects the company to experience continued success in 2012.
Like the other companies, Velocity Medical is looking to further product development and personnel expansion in 2012. In addition to plans to implement mobile and cloud-based solutions, the company is also looking to double its current workforce over the next 12 months.
Fox believes Velocity Medical is at an inflection point, “We plan to continue to scale operations and grow, especially focusing on oncology and physicians needs by delivering cutting edge research and innovative product solutions.”
If you have a company watch list, please tell us about it in the comments section. In the meantime, we will be following these companies and reporting on their progress throughout
January 2012 Newsletter
- FEATURE: Where Will Technology Investors Put Their Money in 2012
- NOTEWORTHY: Five Companies to Watch in 2012
- SPARKS: 2012 Spotlight Companies