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Appirio grabs top honors at Mira tech awards

April 23, 2016

Last summer, global cloud-consulting company Appirio Inc. moved to Indianapolis from San Francisco. Less than a year later, it has earned the top honor at TechPoint's Mira Awards event.

Appirio won Tech Company of the Year on Saturday night at the Mira event, the annual ceremony and soiree that honors people and businesses in Indiana's tech industry.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud CEO Scott McCorkle took home the top individual award—the Trailblazer in Technology award. And well-known entrepreneurial advocate Denver Hutt was honored posthumously with the first-ever Community Champion of the Year award.

Tech Point's annual gala, now in its 17th year, was held at the Westin hotel in downtown Indianapolis. Officials said 168 companies, schools, organizations and individuals applied for Mira awards and judges nominated 98 of them to be considered. Of those, 17 were winners.

Appirio is a 10-year-old company that helps enterprises integrate cloud-based services from firms like Salesforce and Workday into their businesses. It generated $200 million in revenue last year and employs about 1,250 globally, including 155 in Indianapolis.

Appirio has had a local office since late 2012, but it moved its headquarters here last August partly because competition for tech talent was so fierce in California. The company grabbed a few headlines this year by announcing a partnership with venture studio High Alpha and by signaling its interest in a future initial public offering.

Judges said the company's "proven dedication to creating innovative solutions for its global enterprise customers," as well as "its focus on growing employee engagement and happiness," and its "goal to continue increasing its presence in the Indy tech community" are some of the many achievements and attributes that impressed them.

McCorkle, the "Trailblazer" award winner, came to helm Salesforce's Indiana outpost after Salesforce purchased ExactTarget in 2013. He oversees roughly 1,400 people here—making it Salesforce's second largest U.S. location—and was an outspoken opponent of Indiana's 2015 Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Judges described him as a vital role player in some of Indiana’s biggest tech success stories, including Software Artistry in the 1990s and ExactTarget in the 2000s. "He is an extraordinary technology and business leader who has had and continues to have immense impact on our tech community and the marketing tech community worldwide," they said.

TechPoint rejiggered the Mira awards this year, expanding to 17 categories from 15 last year. Eleven of the 17 categories are new, including "Investor of the Year" and "Company Culture of the Year."

Here's the full list of winners:

People

Rising Star Award: Teresa Becker, owner of TKB Consulting, has helped drive marketing strategy and execution for firms including ExactTarget, Monetate, Captora, Act-On, ClientSuccess, and LevelEleven.

Judges were impressed by the former Orr Fellow's "incredibly fast word-of-mouth development of her own sole-proprietor consulting business as well as her commitment to strategy development that’s effective and measurable."

Rookie of the Year Award: Zack Baker, the 18-year-old inventor of PassWhiz, has created two apps since age 14 that have attracted paying customers. PassWhiz eliminates the need for paper hall passes. After securing his soon-to-be alma mater Noblesville High School as a customer, Baker has increased the app's reach to more than 13,000 students in 10 schools across the country.

Judges said they appreciated his skills as a young programmer and his "passion for doing good in the community as a knowledgeable tech resource and volunteer."

Tech Educator of the Year: Dr. Kylie Peppler, an associate professor of learning sciences at Indiana University, has developed learning methods that judges have called "essential" in attracting children into STEM fields. Peppler's work deals with the connection between arts and technology in learning, and her research with e-textiles helped engage girls in technology and led to the development of Lilypond, an online community for e-textile designers to connect creators.

Investor of the Year: Bill Godfrey, one of Aprimo Inc.'s co-founders, is an angel investor through HALO Capital Group, managing director of 4G Ventures LLC, and an adviser. Judges said: "Before, during and after investing in Indiana tech companies, Godfrey’s dedication to advising and supporting the people with whom he’s invested amazed the Mira Awards judges. He’s even known to advise people and companies without investing just because he really wants to see them succeed."

Community Champion of the Year: Denver Hutt, who died in January at 28, was the first executive director of the popular co-working space The Speak Easy.

Judges described Hutt as an entrepreneurship advocate who "had a profound impact on the Indianapolis area tech and startup community, both as executive director of The Speak Easy co-working space and as a force of nature for good."

TechPoint Foundation for Youth Bridge Builder Award: Rick Crosslin is the scientist in residence at Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township, in Marion County. Crosslin was recognized for "his lengthy history of making science approachable for nearly 90,000 Indiana students, with an estimated 65 percent from underrepresented populations." His style and mottos have resonated with students and teachers from around the state, judges said, "as he blends his knowledge of STEM content with humor and excitement."

Products

Innovation of the Year: DemandJump is a predictive marketing intelligence platform that unwinds billions of data points and advises marketers.

Judges cited DemandJump's forward-looking platform and praised it for using "machine learning algorithms, graph theory ... and other tremendously complex math to literally unwind what is happening in a client's digital ecosystem to show them the greatest opportunities that will drive revenue growth."

Innovation of the Year (scientific breakthrough): Monon Bioventures, a privately held company, and Dr. Karl Koehler at the Indiana University School of Medicine are developing the first ever "ear-in-a-dish" model to study and treat hearing loss. They are able to grow a functional mouse ear from stem cells in just 60 days.

In a hearing-loss industry dominated by medical devices, this technology is a "tremendous scientific breakthrough," judges said, while noting it for the "blockbuster potential it could have for Indiana workers and the state’s economy should its successful commercialization create a new market segment."

Best New Tech Product: Dattus, an Indianapolis-based startup, works to transform aging machinery infrastructure into smart-machines by using sensors and big data. Judges said "Dattus is an extremely innovative and disruptive product, which actually includes a suite of both hardware and software products, that have the potential to revolutionize manufacturing and energy production."

Companies

Company Culture of the Year: Mobi sells software and services to help companies manage enterprise-issued devices. Judges said they were impressed by the company's remarkable growth, its bootstrapping legacy and its "we're all in this together mentality." Mobi has a program called Mobi Connect, an initiative that links employees to those with similar interests, judges noted. More than 91 percent of Mobi employees reported that they would recommend working at the company to friends and family.

Corporate Innovator of the Year: The Schneider Corp. creates solutions that change and improve how people interact with state and local governments. The company reinvented itself from a land surveying and development company into a national e-government software powerhouse, judges noted. The Indianapolis-based company's solutions saved taxpayers over 12 million trips to the courthouse and handled more than 450 million requests in 2015.

New Startup of the Year: DemandJump is a predictive marketing intelligence platform that unwinds billions of data points and advises marketers. The year-old company is led in part by CEO Christopher Day and Chief Strategy Officer Shaw Schwegman, who have been involved in several startups over the years.

Scale-up of the Year ($100,000-$5 million): Carmel-based Pi Lab is a consumer electronics company that created smart toy Edwin the Duck. Judges said the "agile way in which Edwin was developed and brought to market has set [Pi Lab] up for a growth story that has already hit 10x and will take the company to near eight-figure revenue territory in less than a year."

Scale-up of the Year ($5 million-$20 million): Chicago-based Geofeedia, which has a large presence in Indianapolis, sells a location-based intelligence platform that helps organizations predict, analyze and act on real-time social data. The company has grown from five to 500 customers over the past three years.

Tech-enabled Company of the Year: First Internet Bank is an online-only bank founded in 1999 that has more than $1.2 billion in assets. Judges said the bank is "an excellent case study of how a company can re-engineer its delivery channels with technology to provide convenience, access, and a higher quality of service." The bank has grown loans by 206 percent over the past five years, while banks of similar size have averaged 22 percent growth.
 

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