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2013 WOMAN OF INFLUENCE: Carol Curran

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curran-1-1col.jpg Carol Curran (IBJ photo/Eric Learned)

Carol Curran was serious when she named her company. Like the mythological bird that rose from the ashes, her 2001 startup, Phoenix Data Corp., rose from what would have led a weaker-kneed entrepreneur to give up.

“I had just sold another company and I decided to start over and kick it up a couple of notches on the technology side,” said Curran, at the time a single mother with three children. “I approached a number of banks for a loan for payables to be able to hold us over until we got our first contract. Twenty-nine banks said ‘no.’”

Rather than give up, she doubled down.

“I cashed in my insurance,” she said. “I sold as much stock as was reasonable. I sized down. And the company was funded for the short term and we limped along.” Even after landing a 10-year state contract, the banks said no. Too risky.

Those negatives proved a blessing in disguise: “So I’ve never borrowed any money,” Curran said. “We’ve been totally self-sufficient. We fund our own bidding and payrolls and receivables.”

It taught her, by necessity, to be frugal. And smart. When Phoenix Data Corp. launched, Curran saw that the company’s future demanded securing business certifications to get access to government and military contracts. Seeing the potential in a process called particle swarm optimization, she sought out and hired the co-inventor of the process to be Phoenix’s chief technology officer.

So what is particle swarm optimization?

“I’ll use airplanes as examples,” Curran explained, patiently. “If you have planes heading in the same direction and the first set are the good guys and the second set are the bad guys, swarm intelligence searches for the bad guys in the air. It allows the flier to zone in on the bad planes and take them out in nanoseconds.”

There are non-military uses as well. “We worked on the logistics side for a big trucking company to help it load and stack in a much shorter time. We cut the time in half using swarm.”

Business boomed. For Phoenix, 2011 marked 16 new hires, a more-than-50-percent increase over the previous year. In 2012, the company added 21 more, with another 33 expected once 2013 is tabulated.

A presenter at the 2013 Indiana Governor’s Conference for Women, Curran is a member of the startup chapter of Women Presidents’ Organization and serves on the board of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. She’s on KeyBank’s advisory board and also serves on the National Association of Women Business Owners committee that, in January, will launch Young Entrepreneur’s Academy (YEA!), designed to take high school students through the process of starting a business over the course of an academic year.

The Phoenix environment, by her design, includes flexible hours for working mothers, a wellness club, and on-the-job training. Her employees select a charity to raise money for and Curran matches those funds.

“Honesty and integrity are two primary things that I feed on,” she said. “I’m very proud of our reputation. We keep a clean slate. We stay under the radar. And we do a hell of a job.”•
 

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  1. Now if he'd just stay there...

  2. Daniel - what about the many US citizens who do NOT follow what the Bible teaches? The Hindus, Jews, Muslims and others who are all American citizens entitled to all rights as Americans?? This issue has NOTHING to do with "What the Bible says..." Keep all Churches separate from State! Pence's ongoing idiocy continues to make Indiana look like a backwards, homophobic state in the eyes of our nation. Can't we move on to bigger issues - like educating our kids?

  3. 1. IBJ should link to the referenced report. We are in the age of electronic media...not sharing information is lazy. Here is a link http://www.in.gov/gov/files/Blue_Ribbon_Panel_Report_July_9_2014.pdf 2. The article should provide more clarity about the make-up of this panel. The commenters are making this item out to be partisan, it does not appear the panel is partisan. Here is a list of the panel which appears to be balanced with different SME to add different perspectives http://www.in.gov/activecalendar/EventList.aspx?view=EventDetails&eventidn=138116?formation_id=189603 3. It suggests a by-pass, I do not see where this report suggests another "loop". 4. Henry, based on your kneejerk reaction, we would be better off if you moved to another state unless your post was meant as sarcasm in which case I say Well Done. 5. The article and report actually indicates need to improve rail and port infrastructure in direct contradiction to Shayla commentary. Specifically, recommendation is to consider passenger rail projects... 6. People have a voice with their elected officials. These are suggestions and do not represent "crony capitalism", etc. The report needs to be analyzed and the legislature can decide on priorities and spending. Don't like it, then vote in a new legislature but quit artificially creating issues where there are none! People need to sift through the politics and provide constructive criticism to the process rather than making uninformed comments in a public forum based on misinformation. IBJ should work harder to correct the record in these forums when blatant errors or misrepresentations are made.

  4. Joe ... Marriage is defined in the Bible ... it is mentioned in the Bible often. Marriage is not mentioned once in the US or Indiana Constitution ...

  5. Daniel - Educate me please: what does the Bible have to do with laws? If the government wasn't in the business of marriage to begin with, then it wouldn't have to "define" marriage at all. Marriage could be left as a personal, religious, or otherwise unregulated action, with no ties to taxes, legal status, etc. Then people could marry whomever they want, and all this silliness would go away. Remember to vote Libertarian in November.

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