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August 8, 2008

Clarabridge Cash;
Rockville Rocks


Our friends at Clarabridge recently secured $12 million in Series C funding from Grotech Venture Partners, along with Herbert Venture Partners, Boulder Ventures and Intersouth Partners. We met CEO Sid Banerjee at his Reston-office earlier this week (our crystal ball told us something was up with them), and he told us the maker of text analytics software will use the money to help double its workforce across the company, a needed addition considering its revenues grew 500 percent in the last year.


Clarabridge takes written feedback (such as notes left on a restaurant survey card, comments from a phone survey, even comments on blogs and web sites across the Internet) and turns it into quantitative data for clients to understand and utilize. Marriott use the software to analyze guest satisfaction surveys that customers participate in. "We basically make sense of a giant mess of text," says Sid, whose company launched a Software-as-a-Service platform last year, the first in its industry.


Being imaginative photographers, we asked Sid to pose the very same way, just in the opposite direction and outside. He started Clarabridge in 2005 after previously fouding Claraview, a business intelligence strategy and consulting firm that he sold to Teradata earlier this year. You also may remember Sid as a founding employee at MicroStrategy. We caught Sid early, because he is currently in Maine (where he grew up) on vacation obviously enjoying his new found funding. Our lingering question: Who is Clara? (Actually, we think it has something to do with "clarity." But we may never know for sure.)

Rockville Rockin'


It's been a little more than a year since the Rockville Innovation Center opened its doors, becoming one of four tech incubators in Montgomery County (a fifth is opening in Germantown next month) With 27 tech companies spread across 25,000 SF of shiny office space, it was hard to resist taking a tour of the building in the heart of the Rockville Town Center yesterday morning and meeting some tenants. Things only got better when we saw a Five Guys across the street.


So yesterday we met Montgomery County Economic Development Director Sally Sternbach, Montgomery County Business Incubator Network Manager John Korpela, and PNC Bank SVP Rick Woo, whose company is one of the center's primary sponsors. The innovation center consumes two floors of the building. Tenants must apply for space, showing their business plan to a review board, but if accepted the perks are pretty cool: mentoring from established business professionals, constant networking with other tech companies, and a spot just off 270 that includes a Metro station within walking distance. And, like we said, Five Guys burgers.


We toured some of the incubatees (a word?).  Above we found LiveHealthier.com founder Mary Moslander and VP John Whall. Mary's company provides specialized diet and exercise plans for a company's employees in hope of dropping health care costs. "We put people in contact with dieticians, personal trainers, stress management experts and nurse practitioners who can help them live healthier lifestyles," says Mary, a former Washington Post employee who was a key architect behind WashingtonPost.com. The 15-person company started in the incubator two years ago and expects to graduate later this year with a party; hmm, perhaps an occasion to sneak back and catch them in the act of consuming alcohol and un-healthy food?


Continuing the incubator tour, here's Envisionier Medical Technologies COO David Guy holding up endogo, a battery-operated palmable endoscopic camera the company manufactures and sells to doctors and hospitals. The screen on top of the device displays the endoscopic camera feed, letting doctors and patients see what is going on in real time. "It's great for doctors on the go, especially in rural areas who still make house calls," David says. It's also being used by the military to treat soldiers in makeshift hospitals. The version David is holding, though, may be going away soon as the company is coming up with a second version, including a bigger touch screen.


This is Matrix Knowledge Group co-founder Andy Richman, who is new to America from England, where his 70-person company started (and when we say "new," we mean suitcases still in his office). Andy is one of five international tenants at the center using offices as a soft landing spot in the US. Andy's company software suite aspiraHub analyzes data to make sure companies or organizations are running at peak efficiency. One major client has been Britain's prison systems. "We look at the way prisoners are handled and see which methods specifically help them reform."

Don't make Dave Stegon pluck your name from the phone book and call you at midnight. Take the initiative, now, of sending him story ideas. What else are you doing in August? David@Bisnow.com

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