From that experience, I would rank OCA Ventures as one of the two best VCs nationally.
Chris Gladwin - Founder and CEO Cleversafe
OCA Ventures is a venture capital firm focused on equity investments in companies with dramatic growth potential, primarily in technology, highly-scalable services businesses, mobile commerce and web 3.0. OCA invests in many industries, with a preference for financial services and for-profit education. Over the last decade, OCA has invested three funds in over 45 companies. OCA is based in Chicago and has investments throughout the United States.
Car owners typically hate their insurance companies. Having car insurance is seen as a necessary evil, and if something ever goes wrong, the process of getting an estimate for car repairs and receiving money from your insurance company to make those repairs is usually a huge pain.
Thanks to a company called Snapsheet, that process has gotten a lot simpler and faster, by allowing users to upload photos of the damage and receiving a response via mobile app. And soon it should be in the hands of even more people, thanks to deals with many major insurance companies, as well as $10 million in new funding.
The Technology Fast 500™ is an annual ranking of the fastest growing technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences and clean technology companies in North America. Award winners were selected based on percentage fiscal year revenue growth from 2008 to 2012. For the 18th consecutive year, there are more software companies on the Technology Fast 500™ than any other single sector.
Download the Technology Fast 500 Winners Brochure and Rankings list to view the winning companies.
“I love Fitocracy! It really has helped me get in swim suit shape for the Miss America Pageant. Every day that I exercise, I look forward to logging my workouts as I go. Now that we can challenge each other, I look forward to seeing what some of my friends are made of. Highly recommend for someone who is looking for a little motivation to get in shape, or a game to play while doing so.”
- Mallory Haggan, Miss America 2013
Ubiquity and intelligence are the two maxims of the post-PC world that Base places most importance on in its mobile CRM service. It makes sense. I have talked to several companies that see an opportunity in disrupting traditional CRM tools built for the desktop and the web. Salesforce.com, for instance, came into the market more than 10 years ago, long before mobile emerged. The UI is very much driven by filling out fields. That makes it difficult to use a CRM app on the go. It opens a new market opportunity for companies like Base that put a primary emphasis on developing a mobile web experience that makes data freely available across multiple devices.
This week, Base introduced new native apps for the iPad and Android tablets that its founder, Uzi Shmilovici says brings the same ubiquity and intelligence to tablets that the company offers with its phone apps.
Okay, many people muddle through without seeing the whole
effort collapse. They’re the ones we like to refer to as “organized”. Meanwhile,
the rest of us forget a few of those tasks and wind up with grass up to our
knees, a colony of dust bunnies that multiply like rabbits, and some putrid
smell in the kitchen that we can’t locate.
There’s a startup
for that: BrightNest is a
giant, cloud-based to-do list, customized to your home.
For years, everyone was talking about the convergence of interfaces. The Web, and as a result, the browser, were "clearly" about to take over as the major platforms and cloud computing emerged. Then, in March 2008, Steve Jobs unleashed the iOS followed by the mobile apps revolution. What seems to have happened next is maybe one of the most intriguing transactions in software history.
Denver-based BrightNest is the first Colorado company accepted into the 500 Startups accelerator program in silicon valley. It is a member of the Fall 2011 class that runs through January. The company describes itself as the "Mint.com for home maintenance."
I have met my replacement and it is a robot. A robot obsessed with sports. AI journalism pioneer StatSheet gained a name for itself by transforming raw sports data into compelling narratives that people would want to read. To date their automated writing programs have created 100,000+ articles, 350+ free mobile apps, and 1 million unique pages using 2 billion+ pieces of statistical data. Now they are about to do much, much more. Raising $4 million in venture capital, StatSheet is changing its name to Automated Insights and expanding its visions beyond sports. Why restrict your AI writer to one field? Automated Insights will bring their data driven narratives to healthcare, finance, real estate, and many other applications. If something is too expensive, too repetitive, or too boring for a human to write, chances are that Automated Insights can have their AI do it instead. My fellow biology-based writers, our newest member is going to take the jobs we don’t want…and then maybe the rest of the jobs, too.
StatSheet, which specializes in realtime content automation, is expanding beyond sports to apply its technology to other data-intensive verticals where the cost of creating high-quality content remains high.
The company has decided that a new name will better reflect its broadened focus, and will henceforth be known as Automated Insights. Furthermore, the startup has secured $4 million in new funding to spur growth.
The financing round was led by Court Square Ventures and OCA Ventures, with participation from IDEA Fund Partners and other existing investors. They raised $1.3m earlier.
Venture capitalists are zeroing in on Chicago early-stage investment opportunities as the city's entrepreneurs and angel investors pump up the local startup scene. Investors from New York, Houston and Menlo Park, Calif., joined locals to hear from ten startups sponsored by a Chicago incubator program called Excelerate Labs and to attend an event by local venture capital group Hyde Park Angels.
With Chicago-based Groupon Inc. co-founders Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell plowing at least $100 million through their Lightbank fund over the past year and a half into startups, including about 30 mainly in the Midwest, and startups associated with Excelerate attracting $7.7 million at the event's debut last year, investors outside the city want in.
“If you're not investing early, some of those opportunities can pass you by,” said Jason Heltzer, a principal at Chicago-based OCA Ventures.
Cleversafe Inc., the smarter equation for Big Data storage, today announced that it is working with Shutterfly, a leading Internet-based social expression and personal publishing service to create a first of its kind cloud-based storage solution. Shutterfly provides its customers with free, unlimited, secure storage of photos and the promise to never delete images. Currently, Shutterfly safely houses billions of images and that number is growing rapidly.
Together, Cleversafe and Shutterfly have created an innovative, sustainable platform that leads the industry in performance, availability and cost.
Dan Raju: TradeKing is an online brokerage that was started around 2005. At present, we manage close to $2 billion in assets, and we have around 250,000 individual investors. We use our platform and services for their trading needs. At the end of the day, we are a company that is competing with ETRADE, AmeriTrade, and so on, but with a different perspective and angle. We were the first company to introduce social media and through that give an investor full ability to collaborate, cross collaborate, exchange ideas, express ideas, and get guidance from a community. Now we are continuing that spirit with a new way of looking at trading itself. That is what largely we do.
GiveForward.com is an awesome Chicago startup that helps loved ones raise money for family members who need help paying out of pocket medical expenses. They have helped families raise over $5 million so far! One of their biggest expenses? You guessed it…credit card processing fees. This is where Fee Fighters comes in.
For aspiring entrepreneurs navigating an MBA programme while launching a business can be the perfect lesson in management. Pursuing a venture alongside a rigorous full-time curriculum comes with its own set of rules, however. Instead of attending sought-after and time-consuming recruitment events entrepreneurs are nurturing their fledgling businesses, while the student-professor relationship assumes a more important mentoring aspect.
On Wednesday, a panel of experts chaired by Commonwealth Edison CEO Frank Clark concluded that Chicago could get its investment back — and create as many as 25,000 jobs — by converting the land into a combination tech park and thriving residential neighborhood for the creative young people who work for technology companies.
The report cites the parcel’s proximity to “high-bandwidth fiber lines” and three renowned research universities: the Illinois Institute of Technology, the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago. Also working in Chicago’s favor is the “rapid growth” of technology start-ups such as Groupon, GrubHub and Cleversafe.
You’ve probably heard that IBM launched two new, public cloud offerings recently, Enterprise and Enterprise+. These offerings are oriented around the requirements IBM is getting from larger companies – they’re hoping to match the feature sets to existing work-loads and application types.
While at the IBM Cloud Forum where IBM announced these offerings, I sat down with IBM’s Jan Jackman and CohesiveFT’s Craig Heimark to talk about these offerings. Jan tells us about the two Smart Clouds and the types of work-loads people are using cloud for; Craig goes over how CohesiveFT partners with IBM to secure these work-loads and help manage the stacks.
Apparel Media Group has been named one of the finalist for the Newcomer Award presented by the Illinois Technology Association. Winners will be determined by both public vote and a panel of judges. Place your vote today and remember, you must have a corporate email to vote, you can vote only 1 time, and voting will close on April 29, 2011 at 5pm.
When you think of tech startups in Chicago you probably think of Groupon as they are one of the fastest growing startups in the country, if not the world. So we wanted to see who our readers thought the hottest early-stage startup in Chicago might be. We selected over 30 companies and put them in a poll. The poll raged on for close to a week and thousands of votes were tallied. After all the dust cleared, FeeFighters which we’ve covered previously was voted the hottest early-stage startup in Chicago collecting nearly 40 percent of the votes! FeeFighers finds the best prices for credit card processing for small businesses and obviously the Tech Cocktail community thinks they have a lot of potential.
How Will Haley, 17, made it out of the Cabrini-Green housing project is a good-luck story. But he hopes that by becoming a teacher, he can help kids in similar communities rely on much more than luck.
Until last year, when Haley's family had to leave its high-rise building because it was slated for demolition, he had lived there all of his life. And many of his relatives had a long history in Cabrini. His mother and her three siblings were born and raised there. So were his father and his 11 siblings. His grandmothers also had spent decades there.
For years, Haley believed it was his destiny to always live there. And it didn't matter that the physical structures were being torn down. He felt bound less by place than by a mindset and way of life.
So it's quite an achievement that Haley will graduate from Wilmette's Loyola Academy next month and begin his freshman year at Concordia University Chicago, in River Forest, next fall. It is icing on the cake that the Golden Apple Foundation recently awarded him (and 109 other aspiring teachers in Illinois) a $23,000 scholarship for college.
Alert Logic, a leader in delivering on-demand Security-as-a-Service, today announced that its Q1 2011 sales performance was the best in company history. As Alert Logic executed in partnering with over half of the largest cloud and hosting service providers to provide network security and compliance management solutions for enterprise customers, they experienced GAAP revenue growth in Q1 that was stronger than any previous quarter in the company’s 9-year history. In Q1 2010, Alert Logic closed long-term recurring revenue contracts producing an additional $2.3 million in Annualized Recurring Revenue (ARR), bringing the company’s total ARR under contract to $20 million.
Mischief. Mayhem. Deodorant. Axe, SeamlessWeb, and Epic Media Group have all deployed QR-code T-shirt campaigns to reach college students, with the help of a young company called Apparel Media.
Last week, Future Simple, based in Chicago, a startup that is devoted to developing simple software for small & medium-sized businesses (SMBs), announced a $1.1 million round of funding. OCA Ventures and I2A Fund led the round, as well as angel investors.
Founded in 2009 by Uzi Shmilovici, Bart Kiszala, Pawel Niznik, Ela Madej and Agata Mazur, Future Simple has already launched small business CRM PipeJump and online quoting application QuoteBase.
“Our mission is to disrupt the way small businesses work by providing them with the software they need to grow and thrive,” Israeli-born CEO Shmilovici told midVentures.
For the past two years I’ve been holding onto the belief that Israeli entrepreneurs should devote particular focus on the opportunities available to products and services that cater to Small & Medium Sized Businesses (SMBs). Slowly but surely, more and more companies have indeed started targeting this space, the most notable being Kampyle, SohoOS, and Clarizen.
Today, Chicago-based but Israeli-founded Future Simple is announcing a $1.1M round led OCA Ventures with participation by the I2A Fund, as well as angel investors.
In 2008, Sean Harper, 30, and Josh Krall, 32, grew frustrated shopping for credit-card processing while running their own businesses because they found it hard to compare rates and services. At the time, Harper was selling satellite radio gear online and Krall operated a custom-electronics maker. "There's like, 900 of these companies selling credit-card processing under their own name," says Harper, although most are intermediaries to the handful of companies that actually handle transactions. Merchant processing typically comes with a byzantine contract loaded with fees, he says. The two, who were then getting MBAs at the University of Chicago, launched FeeFighters in April 2009 to make the market for merchant processing more transparent and easier to navigate.
Apps sales are exploding while the distinction between mobile and desktop Apps will shrink when Apple gives Lion a healthy iOS habit. Developers are on a gravy train, even teenagers are making cash using skills many don't have time to learn. "If only getting started in App development were as simple as making a Wordpress Website," some might cry. Cry no more. Red Foundry promises to make it so.
Univa announced today that "the principal engineers from the Sun/Oracle Grid Engine team" are joining Univa to offer superior engineering support for <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oracle_Grid_Engine">Grid Engine</a> and to create Univa versions of Grid Engine going forward. Included in this is Fritz Ferstl (Grid Engine founder and Director for Grid Engine at Sun) who joins as Univa CTO.
Tiny cameras. Hearing devices for the teeth. Wi-fi for refrigerators. These are some of the products made by companies that have caught the eye of In-Q-Tel, the venture capital arm of the Central Intelligence Agency.
One of the most recent companies to get an infusion of cash from the U.S. spy bureau's investment fund is Cleversafe, a Chicago-based startup that offers software to keep data stored in cloud networks secure by slicing it up and storing it in different locations. In a press release issued last month about the investment, William Strecker, In-Q-Tel's chief technology officer, said the intelligence community is looking for new ways to secure information given the increasing ubiquity of cloud computing.
Cleversafe Inc., the leader in resilient storage solutions ideally suited for storage clouds, today announced it has received $31.4 million in an extension of its series C funding from new and existing investors including Motorola Ventures, New Enterprise Associates (NEA), OCA Ventures, and clients of Anderson & Strudwick, Inc. As compared to industry averages in the recent PricewaterhouseCoopers/National Venture Capital Association MoneyTree report, this level of investment far exceeds technology sector averages for Q3, reinforcing the market interest in the Cleversafe platform.
Alert Logic, intrusion detection and cloud security solutions for enterprises and service providers, today announced that it ranked number 146 on Technology Fast 500™, Deloitte's ranking of 500 of the fastest growing technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences and clean technology companies in North America. Rankings are based on percentage of fiscal year revenue growth during the period from 2005-2009. Alert Logic grew 700 percent during this period.
In 1998, Chuck Templeton started OpenTable Inc. in the bedroom of his San Francisco condo with $50,000. Twelve years and $72 million in venture capital and other investor funding later, the company has 13,000 customers in North America, Europe and Japan. Mr. Templeton, 42, who now lives in Chicago, says the venture funding was crucial to scaling up OpenTable, which lets diners make reservations online. To attract customers, "we needed to have as many restaurants in a city using our product as possible," he says. OpenTable used the VC money to hire sales and IT staff to drive that growth.
Java application infrastructure and management solutions provider SpringSource, a division of VMware, announced the acquisition of Rabbit Technologies on April 13, 2010 for an undisclosed sum. SpringSource said that the community of Spring developers will be able to leverage RabbitMQ as they evolve their applications from traditional data centers into private and public cloud deployments. Rabbit Technologies was founded in February 2007 and is a spin out from LShift, the UK software consultancy and Cohesive FT, the US virtualization and cloud computing company. The sale provides Cohesive FT with an extraordinary gain to continue to expand its business.
In the wake of the financial crisis that began in September 2008, technology has transformed online investing, according to TradeKing's Don Montanaro. The lion's share of his customers used to be Internet-savvy young investors in their 20s and 30s, says Montanaro, chairman and CEO of the discount brokerage. While the young crowd is still there, many of his investors now include baby boomers in their 50s and 60s. Large numbers of TradeKing's clients are also using mobile phone technology and social networks. Montanaro spoke with IBD about trends in online investing.
Cloud-based IT compliance and security solutions provider Alert Logic (www.alertlogic.com) announced on Monday that its revenue increased by 52 percent to $10.8 million in calendar 2009, while its customer count grew by 45 percent.
Alert Logic attributes these results to the successful execution of its strategy to enable service providers to deliver cloud-powered network security and compliance solutions.
Gartner, Inc. analysts today highlighted the top 10 technologies and trends that will be strategic for most organizations in 2010. The analysts presented their findings during Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, being held here through October 22.
Gartner defines a strategic technology as one with the potential for significant impact on the enterprise in the next three years. Factors that denote significant impact include a high potential for disruption to IT or the business, the need for a major dollar investment, or the risk of being late to adopt.
Alert Logic, a leading SaaS provider of managed security and IT compliance solutions, today announced two new key executive appointments.
Greg Davis has been appointed vice president of sales, and Marty McGuffin joins the company as vice president of operations. Both executives bring significant IT service provider expertise to Alert Logic in addition to their extensive experience in sales and operations.
In his new role, Hall will be responsible for leading the company through its next phase of continued expansion and growth, building on the company's history of strong revenue and customer growth."I am excited to take on this new role at Alert Logic. We are already positioned among the leaders in the fast-growing IT compliance and security market, and our unique cloud-based delivery model makes Alert Logic the platform of choice for market leadership over the next several years," said Hall.
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