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Power-grid software maker lands $7M in venture capital

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Blue Pillar Inc., which makes software to manage electrical grids, has closed on $7 million in funding from four venture capital firms, it said Monday.

The Indianapolis-based firm, located at 9025 N. River Road on the northeast side, said it may double its 12-person local staff by year's end and seek additional office space locally.

Among the investors was Allos Ventures, with offices in Indianapolis and Cincinnati. Other investors are Claremont Creek Ventures, Arsenal Venture Partners and OnPoint Technologies—the U.S. Army’s venture capital fund. Allos principal John McIlwraith, Paul Straub from Claremont Creek and Jason Rottenberg from Arsenal all will  join Blue Pillar’s board as part of the deal.

The $7 million investment will help Blue Pillar with product development and let it go after a bigger share of customers who generate their own electricity. These include college campuses, hospitals, manufacturers, telecommunications providers and, increasingly, military bases.

Many of these campus-based generating systems are powered by natural gas, solar and wind generation, for example. The world market for such “microgrids” was $4.1 billion in 2010, according to Rockville, Md.-based SBI Energy.

Blue Pillar CEO Kevin Kushman said these on-campus generating systems often consist of a mishmash of equipment brands and vintages not networked to a central data-control system. Blue Pillar makes software touted at more efficiently managing and analyzing those generating assets. Clients include Tenet Healthcare and Duke University Health System.

Kushman previously worked at Cinergy, the Cincinnati-based utility later acquired by Duke Energy. His team includes Scott Prince, who’d worked in sales for Silicon Valley companies and most recently was executive director of the clean-tech venture firm EnerTech Capital.

Blue Pillar said its annual sales are under $10 million. Kushman said the company also is looking at expanding its customer base in developing countries, where public power grids are often unavailable or unreliable.

Early last year, Blue Pillar moved its headquarters from Alpharetta, Ga., to Indianapolis. It said it planned to add 70 employees by 2015 mostly in software development and sales. The average wage for those jobs is expected to be more than $40 per hour.

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  1. Apologies for the wall of text. I promise I had this nicely formatted in paragraphs in Notepad before pasting here.

  2. I believe that is incorrect Sir, the people's tax-dollars are NOT paying for the companies investment. Without the tax-break the company would be paying an ADDITIONAL $11.1 million in taxes ON TOP of their $22.5 Million investment (Building + IT), for a total of $33.6M or a 50% tax rate. Also, the article does not specify what the total taxes were BEFORE the break. Usually such a corporate tax-break is a 'discount' not a 100% wavier of tax obligations. For sake of example lets say the original taxes added up to $30M over 10 years. $12.5M, New Building $10.0M, IT infrastructure $30.0M, Total Taxes (Example Number) == $52.5M ININ's Cost - $1.8M /10 years, Tax Break (Building) - $0.75M /10 years, Tax Break (IT Infrastructure) - $8.6M /2 years, Tax Breaks (against Hiring Commitment: 430 new jobs /2 years) == 11.5M Possible tax breaks. ININ TOTAL COST: $41M Even if you assume a 100% break, change the '30.0M' to '11.5M' and you can see the Company will be paying a minimum of $22.5, out-of-pocket for their capital-investment - NOT the tax-payers. Also note, much of this money is being spent locally in Indiana and it is creating 430 jobs in your city. I admit I'm a little unclear which tax-breaks are allocated to exactly which expenses. Clearly this is all oversimplified but I think we have both made our points! :) Sorry for the long post.

  3. Clearly, there is a lack of a basic understanding of economics. It is not up to the company to decide what to pay its workers. If companies were able to decide how much to pay their workers then why wouldn't they pay everyone minimum wage? Why choose to pay $10 or $14 when they could pay $7? The answer is that companies DO NOT decide how much to pay workers. It is the market that dictates what a worker is worth and how much they should get paid. If Lowe's chooses to pay a call center worker $7 an hour it will not be able to hire anyone for the job, because all those people will work for someone else paying the market rate of $10-$14 an hour. This forces Lowes to pay its workers that much. Not because it wants to pay them that much out of the goodness of their heart, but because it has to pay them that much in order to stay competitive and attract good workers.

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