Thursday, February 18, 2010

Prepared Response - Company Profile Number Six

Mike Brown, the Chief Technology Officer for Prepared Response, came by the Institute and talked to a group of interested students about the company. He discussed their products and services as well as discussed some projects and research that the company would be interested in seeing worked on.

Prepared Response, Inc. is a privately-held corporation that was founded here in Tacoma in 2000 (it has headquarters in Seattle now, but a larger presence in the South Sound).

They are the "leading innovator in crisis management and emergency preparedness solutions and training that enable police, fire, and other emergency responders to save lives and mitigate property damage. Prepared Response's solutions have been repeatedly proven to save lives as well as protect property in schools, hospitals, malls, and other public and private critical infrastructure."

The company launched its first product, "Rapid Responder" in January 10th of 2002. One week later, they announced the state of Washington licensing of the product.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Thursday, Jan. 17, 2002

Washington State adopts statewide emergency planning and disaster response application

State law enforcement, fire associations license PRI's Rapid Responder product

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Washington state law enforcement and fire officials have licensed an emergency preparedness and disaster response software application from Prepared Response, Inc. that will eventually allow all emergency personnel in the state to access critical location information when responding to a crisis.

The Washington Associations of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) and the Washington State Association of Fire Chiefs (WSAFC) licensed the Rapid Responder(TM) application from Prepared Response through an allocation from the Washington state Legislature. The agreement allows the product's use throughout the entire state.

Before I get to some additional snippets of their products and history, I want to note that they were one of the first companies in the area to bring on interns from the Computing and Software Systems program from the Institute of Technology at the UWT. During the tech sector downturn and particularly after 9/11, when it seemed that more folks were being laid off than hired, the company took a chance on some students who were graduating from a program that did not have a long history. One in particular, F.C., who I always thought was an excellent student, ended up being hired on at the end of that internship. I recommended to another student who had been looking for a position post graduation that she contact an alum working there. She ended up being hired on as well.

They are both still there today, which in itself speaks highly of any work environment but especially of a company that was not that old itself at the time of their hire.

The number of solutions that the company provides has grown and now includes:

Rapid Responder (version 5.0 in 2008)
Crisis Management System

Rapid Responder® allows first responders to quickly access key information about thousands of facilities, including tactical pre-plans, satellite and geospatial imagery, interior and exterior photos, floor plans, staging areas, hazardous materials, utility shut-offs, and evacuation routes. The system protects thousands of educational facilities, public buildings, critical infrastructure, and private facilities across the US.

Guide Safe
Occupant/Employee Safety & Alert Notification System

GuideSafe™ is a Web-based tenant management and notification solution that provides you and your tenants with key information for dealing with a wide variety of emergency incidents, and gives you the power to notify them in the event of daily building disruptions or emergencies.

Hazard Tactics
Multi-Hazard Emergency Preparedness Training & Threat Consulting

In the face of a crisis, you must be prepared with a response plan, established channels to first responders, the media and the public, as well as crisis response practice at all staffing levels. PRI has created a set of courses to prepare you for every stage of a crisis.

Their management team consists of:

Jim Finnell who is the President and Chief Executive Officer
Jim Tarte who is the Chief Financial Officer
Michael Brown who is the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Technology Officer
Marti Wagner who is the Vice President, Enterprise Sales

and just recently:
Pete Ochinko
Vice President, Security and Risk Prevention Solutions

Thomas J. (T.J.) Miller
Vice President of Federal Sales

Notable on their board are:
John T. Carleton
Chairman of the Board and Senior Vice President of Benaroya Capital Company.
Benaroya Capital was an early investor, providing the company with some significant seed funding when their product hit the market in 2002

Ralph Munro
Former Washington Secretary of State, Chairman of the Washington State Task Force on International Education and Cultural Exchanges; and Co-Chairman of the International Task Force of the Council of State Governments

No social networking sources like blogs, twitter or Facebook to speak of. (correct me if I am wrong)

A pretty extensive web site, though no recent news activity this year unless you go through a Google news search. That is where I found the announcements of new officer positions, as well as this news from Oct of 2009 in the "Disaster Preparedness Daily News".

Friday, February 12, 2010

Avue Technologies Corporation - Company Profile Number Five

On Wednesday of this week, Dan Creamer of Avue Technologies Corporation and Mike Brown of Prepared Response came by the campus to talk about their respective companies and to meet some of the students who will be graduating from our programs. The students were able to learn more about companies that sold into the federal market and the presenters got the chance to meet with individuals who might be potential interns and potential future employees. Both companies have interned students before and have hired them as well. Today I will profile Avue Technology and save Prepared Response for the next iteration of the company profile postings.

Avue Technology has been around for some time. They were founded as a consulting business in 1983 as Washington Consulting Services (WCS). Their specialty was in consulting services related to classification, staffing, employee relations, Civil Rights and labor relations for the Federal Government.

It wasn't until 1988, though, that they began producing a software product. Called “ProClass,” it was a DOS-based software product that according to the companies history "incorporated an “expert system” that automated the classification process of certain Federal job positions." Their first software customer was the United States Air Force. Soon, ProClass was in use in over 125 Air Force bases worldwide.

Early in 2000, Avue started hosting its own applications in a data center and would customized and maintained all content and software for the client as a Software As A Service (SAAS) solution.

For some time, much of the development work was done way up north, WAY up north, because the company had a difficult time finding developers in the South Puget Sound. Several years ago the decision was made to do more of the research and development work back in the city where the company was founded, Tacoma.

Today, they have two distinct software development teams that have grown to a point that the company has acquired additional space in their building, on 11th and Broadway in downtown Tacoma. One of the teams, led by the aforementioned Dan Creamer, is made up entirely of alumni from the Computer Science program at the Institute of Technology here at the UWT.

Here is the software solution description from their web site:

Avue includes a bi-directional interface that integrates Avue data with other systems including Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS), payroll systems, financial systems, and time and attendance systems....

Our expert system rules engines, application functionality, content databases and IT infrastructure are all hosted in our secure data centers and accessed by our clients 24/7, using a standard browser via the Internet from anywhere in the world. You won’t need to purchase hardware, software, or software enabling devices – a standard browser and Internet access is all any user ever needs.

Avue is explicitly designed for high scalability and performance and a subscription includes unlimited concurrent users – from managers, administrative officers, support staff, recruiters, EEO personnel, background investigators, HR professionals, to employees and applicants. Avue provides all the capacity you need to support all your users and encourages high numbers of concurrent users, especially during key events such as annual performance ratings and surge hiring. Avue maintains over 99% uptime and has never lost data or been below this threshold. The unique combination of our technology and business model enables our solution to be rapidly deployed within organizations and deliver quick and measurable results.

But don't call it a software product or service because...

Avue Digital Services: ADS is neither a software product nor leased access to a software product. Instead, it is an integrated digital service delivery system. ADS provides domain-specific expertise and engineered content to the user, along with business process management and transaction processing. ADS applies the essential business rules of the organization, uniquely, to help it achieve its business goals in a delivery system that includes domain content and expertise, as well as re-engineered processes, as a total package.

To that point, they continue to create additional solutions on their platform, many that can be traced by the press releases that have accompanied them such as...

Time & Attendance and Employee Scheduling Modules
Online Talent Communities for Federal Job Seekers
A Transitions Job Site

I can tell you that they do employ software developers, whatever the classification of the solution.

They employ around 50 or so people in the area and have remained at a pretty steady state for a number of years (I found one source that said 80 people and another that said 50 so I am remaining conservative). They are headquartered here in Tacoma but also have offices in Bremerton and Washington, DC. Additionally they have satellite offices in several other states.

The company was founded by Linda Rix in 83, and she is the Co-Chief Executive Officer along with James Miller, who also has experience in the consulting industry.

No Twitter or Facebook sites to speak of, but they have a pretty complete web site.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Startup Weekend Recap

For those interested in how last weekend went, it went well.

When the decision was made to try to hold something like a Startup Weekend it was meant to be a dry run. Recruitment for the weekend was done through blogging alone and a few direct email inquiries of those who had mentioned an interest in the past.

The location was great, given Suite133's experience in hosting the earlier technology based "unconference" called barcampTacoma.

There were two outcomes on the attendance side that concerned me. If we had less than 12 participants I was going to be disappointed, if we had more than 30 I am not sure how I would have handled the logistics.

On Friday night, we had 16 people participate. A few of them made it clear that they were unable to come for the full weekend and just wanted to join in on the first night of discussion. I am glad they came. Given the size of the crowd, everyone was able to introduce themselves and talk a little bit about what they could contribute.

By 7:00pm we were suggesting potential business ideas, with an understanding that there had to be the chance that it could be launched over the next two days. Ten ideas were discussed, which was a good amount. We then voted on the favorites form that ten. Of those five were pretty even in the voting so we held a second vote. One idea which was pretty popular had a second idea, which was more of a feature than a product or a business was folded under another that was a broader solution.

Critical to the final selection was feasibility for completing at least a prototype, so though one idea was popular, another made a great deal more sense.

Here is where we were very lucky. In order to successfully create anything, the talent to do so had to be in the room and ready to work. We had marketing, business planning, design and development experience represented at the Suite. There were four people with ties to the Institute of Technology at UWT, not counting myself. Two alumni of the Computer Science program and two current students.

David Hazel, alumni of the program and veteran of three official Startup Weekends was key to making things work. Not only was he able to give us guidance on how we were doing and what to expect in the next couple of days, but he was well versed in Drupal, a web content management system with enough open source elements that we could create a web site with much of the functionality we were looking for.

Another thing that David prepared us for was the drop off in attendance, which given those who had already mentioned their lack of availability was not a surprise.

On Saturday we spent our time discussion the build out of the idea as a business, how they a Startup Weekend generally handled ideas such as ownership and went to work building the site.

A total of 12 people participated in the second day, with the nice folks from Spryng came by to talk about there entrepreneurial support efforts and to discuss their upcoming conference.

David trained several of the other participants in how to build with Drupal, and on Sunday, six folks worked to get it done.

At the end of the weekend, a working prototype was completed, including some Flash animation in a subsection of the site. Was it launched? No. It needs to complete the remaining implementation of a couple of the features and needs to be given a facelift to better represent the target audience it is aimed at.

The team set up a Wave thread to keep it moving forward, and there is a hope to bring it into the public eye when that is done. It needs to be populated with data and then it is ready to go.

It was a rewarding opportunity to meet and work with great people, to learn about new tools and technology and to gain the experience of what a Startup Weekend is like. Hopefully Clint Nelson and the folks from the official Startup Weekend organization can help us pull off an even bigger event in the late Summer.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Seasonal View - Company Profile Number Four

Many people know Derek Young from one of the companies that he has founded or co-founded. He founded Exit133 which, launched in 2005, is a web publication and online community focusing on Tacoma, which covers real estate, politics, the arts and urban development. He also co-founded Suite133, a shared office for telecommuters, start-up entrepreneurs and creative professionals. It was from within the Suite133 offices that his latest venture was born.

In January of 2009 he partnered with Dave Stockwell (COO and also a co-owner of Suite133) and Whitney Rhodes (former writer for Exit133 and co-owner of Suite133) to create Seasonal View, which provides solutions in IT project management, service management operations and information security.

As they put it on their about page:

Seasonal View is an agile organization encompassing decades of experience and success supporting IT in big business. Our consultants comprise of specialists in many areas who are hand selected for each assignment to ensure they address the project’s specific needs. Combining passions for design, process and business strategy, we pursue the areas of business where interaction with the customer is the most critical. Small enough to be approachable but with far reaching ties, we can provide the guidance your project requires to be a success.

The information security side of the business is interesting to me because it falls into the information assurance and cybersecurity cluster of companies that I have been highlighting over the last several years.

Specifically, they assist in determining and implementing "the appropriate controls based on the value of your organization’s information assets, threats to those assets, and management’s tolerance of risk." They work directly alongside the companies IT staff as team members or act as consultants to guide the process.

Services in the information security category may include internal security assessments, external security exposure, control implementations, process development and project management for starters.

Seasonal View also provides to the Service Management and Tech Support industry through process creation, tools, and knowledge management.

Their clients to date have ranged from small local to Fortune 500 ranked companies. Given the nature of the work, they are not able to simply list them off of their site.

Currently under employment opportunities they list

Information Security Assessor (Contract)

Seasonal View’s Information Security Assessors independently manage all phases of third party assessments for our clients including planning, execution and reporting. Assessors execute, oversee, guide and evaluate the work of other auditors culminating in a successful presentation of the results to Senior Leadership. Audits will primarily focus on areas of general controls, but could include applications, pre-implementation review, and complex areas of the business and technologies.

In particular I like the comment made at the end of the paragraph under their Career Opportunities page. "Brilliant Jerks need not apply." Also of note, the informational card which reads "James Bond" in the graphic at the top.

They do not have a Twitter account or blog as yet, but you can follow Suite133 at Twitter in the meantime.

Hopefully you have seen the press release from the EDB about Infoblox renewing its lease in Tacoma for another six years. Growing from sixty...