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Invasion of the Techies

0 Written by: | Monday, May 02, 2011 12:00am

Long renowned for its industrial/manufacturing-based economy—which nearly disappeared over the final three decades of the 20th Century – Baltimore, in the past 10-plus years, gradually has established a thriving technology-driven business community. While not on a par with California’s Silicon Valley, the Route 128 corridor outside Boston, or even the stretch along I-270 in Montgomery County, Baltimore has recently begun to flex its economic muscles, fueled by support from the city and state governments, local universities, and, especially, innovative private entrepreneurs. Prominent among them are the following six individuals, determined to shepherd the city out of its rust-encrusted past into a wired future.

1 & 2. Yair Flicker (28) and John Trupiano (27), co-principals of technology consultancy SmartLogic

Yair Flicker

In a straight-from-the-tech-startup-playbook scenario, Yair Flicker and John Trupiano launched SmartLogic in 2005 in their respective apartments. Now operated from proper offices in Canton, their firm helps both startups and established companies implement innovative technology, shows marketers how to leverage technology to aid their clients, and demonstrates to existing businesses how Web-based applications can cut costs and drive revenue.

John Trupiano

SmartLogic boasts a smorgasbord of clients, from the Kidney Paired Donation project, which employs software to efficiently match kidney donors with kidney recipients, to the Spotcrime.com iPhone application, which allows users to type in their address – or any address – and up pops a crime map for the immediate area from the nation’s largest crime-accessible database (“My mom loves the service and is an avid user,” declares Flicker).

Not forgetting JP Morgan Chase, for which SmartLogic built a competitive analysis tool, and Brown University’s Distance Learning Program, for which it devised an online course management system used by the school’s Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies.

Meanwhile, Flicker and Trupiano’s relentless efforts to increase Baltimore’s tech savvy include sponsoring a gaggle of events such as—geek alert!—Bmore on Rails, Baltimore Javascript Users group, Refresh B’more, Ignite Baltimore, and BohConf.

 

3. Greg Cangialosi (37), president and CEO of e-mail marketer Blue Sky Factory

Greg Cangialosi

Greg Cangialosi sheds no tears for the withering offline marketing industry. Goodbye and good riddance to clunky brochures, hotel-conference-room dog-and-pony shows, and sweaty basement phone banks. Since 2001, when he founded Federal Hill-based Blue Sky Factory, Cangialosi has grown the company from two employees to a team of 25, cementing its reputation as a national leader in e-mail marketing. Its client roster features music concert promoter and producer behemoth Live Nation, testing and assessment services provider Prometric, and global PR agency Weber Shandwick.

“E-mail marketing is an immediate, versatile channel in which you can build relationships and stay in front of your audience,” Cangialosi says. “When done right, effective e-mail marketing will ultimately help your business make more money.”

Locally, Blue Sky Factory stokes the city’s old-school wired community as an active member of the Greater Baltimore Technology Council, on whose board Cangialosi serves as vice chair. Other close-to-home partnerships/associations include the Baltimore Chapter of the American Marketing Association, the Social Media Club of Baltimore, and the Baltimore City Chamber of Commerce.

“We help many local organizations build their presence in social media,” he notes, “and educate them as to where they should be focusing their online marketing efforts in order to grow their business.”

4. Martin Roesch (41), founder and chief technology officer of cybersecurity provider Sourcefire

Martin Roesch

Sourcefire takes its mission – protecting the data infrastructure of corporations, U.S. civilian government agencies, and the American military from malicious Internet attacks – seriously. Extremelyseriously. So seriously, in fact, that the Columbia-based firm’s website fails to mention even one of its clients, and its PR division, when asked to cough up a couple names, responds, “Typically, the company does not disclose customer information.” Okay, okay: Message received.

Founded in 2001 by Martin Roesch, who served as the firm’s first CEO, Surefire parlayed the success of the Roesch-written Snort intrusion-detection/prevention software into wider commercial applications. In the ensuing years, kerfuffles and epiphanies rocked the company: the feds ixnayed its purchase by an Israeli firm; Sourcefire rejected a takeover bid by another U.S. company; it completed a successful IPO; and, long after Roesch gave up the CEO title, a successor bowed out in favor of even fresher blood. Ultimately, a stronger Sourcefire emerged.

Accordingly, this past winter, Forbes magazine tabbed Sourcefire at #15 on its list of 25 Fastest Growing Technology Companies in the U.S., the only Maryland firm mentioned, and it now stands poised to expand exponentially with the massive infusion to the state of military and commercial contractors associated with the federal Base Relocation and Closure process.

And Sourcefire, it turns out, despite its overt cloak-and-daggerism, actually possesses a sense of humor. Inside its fortress of solitude, a bumper sticker in Roesch’s office wisecracks “My Kid Reads Your Honor Student’s Email.”

5. Tom Loveland (50), founder and CEO of consulting and technology services firm Minds Over Machines

Tom Loveland

Though only 50, Tom Loveland comes off as somewhat Brahmin-like in the context Baltimore’s youngish techie horde, having launched Minds Over Machines, his Web-design/IT-strategy/software-development business in 1989, the equivalent of the digital Pleistocene Era. Under Loveland’s leadership, the Owings Mills-based company has undertaken successfulprojects for a disparate group of government and commercial clients, notably the furniture/home accessories maker IKEA, contracting company Whiting-Turner, Calvert Educational Services, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Recently cited as one of the 50 most Influential Marylanders by the Daily Record and a member of the board of the Greater Baltimore Technology Council, Loveland founded the Maryland Computer Services Association, a lobbying group that in 2008 cajoled the General Assembly to rescind a six-percent statewide technology tax before the law was implemented.

Last year, he was named (unpaid) “Google Czar” by Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. In that capacity, Loveland marshaled the city’s public and private tech forces in an effort to persuade the Web-search giant to wire Baltimore with ultra-ultra high-speed fiber-optic infrastructure as part of its Google Fiber program. After a yearlong wait, Google selected Kansas City, KS, late last month, but, reportedly, Baltimore made a significant impression, and may yet be chosen in the future if the company continues the initiative. Undeterred, Loveland continues to champion the city as “a tinderbox of innovation.”

6. Rico Singleton (31), chief information officer, Baltimore City Mayor’s Office of Information Technology

Rico Singleton

This past January, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake signed an executive order instructing city agencies to make data sets under their control available via the Office of Information Technology’s website. Called OpenBaltimore, the initiative offers an instantly accessible /searchable/downloadable cache of information detailing property taxes, crime reports, flood-plain risks, maps galore (including one showing the locations of homicides), and a plethora of parking-related data. Previously, info-seekers faced a glacial-like wait after filing an official public request.

In a prepared statement, Rawlings-Blake said, “Innovative and creative people will now be able to collaborate with government, and hopefully find ways to improve service delivery and save money for taxpayers.”

Rico Singleton appointed the city’s chief information officer this past November after working as a deputy CIO in New York State’s tech office, led the OpenBaltimore project.

Two weeks after the program’s official announcement, more than 30 eager laptop-toters convened for a “hackathon” at the city’s Canton tech incubator to brainstorm potential useful applications for the raw information. Weeks later, the first one emerged: the website SpotAgent.com. Something of a backhanded compliment to the city’s data largesse, it allows users to determine a “threat rating” in Baltimore’s various neighborhoods for receiving a ticket for failing to feed a parking meter or running a red light/speeding in view of a pesky pole-mounted camera—all in an effort to avoid paying a fine, which, oddly, meets the mayor’s goal of “saving money for taxpayers.”

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