Local tech firm Blue Pillar moving headquarters to East Coast

March 17, 2015

A Maryland state-sponsored venture capital fund is helping a growth-minded technology firm move its headquarters from Indianapolis.

The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development said Monday that the Maryland Venture Fund has invested $500,000 in Blue Pillar Inc., a company that makes software to help large organizations manage energy consumption.

Blue Pillar's business relations chief, Scott Bender, said the 9-year-old company has about 40 workers, mostly in Indiana. He said the engineering and development teams will remain there while the company expands its headquarters office in Frederick.

Bender said Blue Pillar plans to have 65 to 70 workers by year-end, and 80 to 100 by the end of 2016, with about half of those employees in Frederick and half in Indianapolis.

Product development operations will remain in Indiana, and administrative and financial operations will be based in Maryland.

On Monday, Blue Pillar announced it had raised $13.9 million in equity funding, bringing its venture capital total to about $25 million.

Pennsylvania-based EnerTech Capital, New York-based Arsenal Capital Partners, California-based Claremont Creek Ventures and Carmel-based Allos Ventures invested in the latest round.

Tom Willie, an Indianapolis native who became CEO of Blue Pillar in 2013, spent the previous 10 years in Maryland as an executive energy grid technology firm Current Group. He declined to describe the new office as the company's "headquarters."

Willie said his company has long been targeting an East Coast presence, primarily to get closer to more business opportunities. The region has a heavily concentrated military and medical sector, two of Blue Pillar's top target markets.

Other factors included disaster-recovery opportunities related to the Atlantic Ocean, Willie said, and smoother travel plans for international expansion ambitions.

For those reasons, Willie said, he established an office in Frederick, Maryland, in December. The office was a requirement for EnerTech, one of the lead investors in the $14 million equity round.

"They're a VC that uses money from others, and one of their investors was the state of Maryland," Willie said. That money is separate from the Maryland Venture Fund's $500,000.

"We don't have a requirement to have a headquarters in Maryland," he said.

Blue Pillar moved its 10-employee headquarters to Indianapolis from Alpharetta, Ga., in 2011. The city's economic development office agreed to pay an undisclosed sum for the company's moving expenses after it said it would add 70 workers making an average wage of more than $40 per hour by 2015.


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