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Entrepreneurs

2009 CEA Winners: Where Are They Now?

By Staff Reports, posted May 4, 2018
Coastal Entrepreneur winners from 2009 (File photos)

FREEDOM LAWNS USA
YEAR FOUNDED: 1999
EMPLOYEES: 48
UPDATE: “Since Freedom Lawns received the CEA award in the business service category in 2009, our company has awarded six new franchise outlets in four different states. We have diversified by adding more related services. We have enhanced our fleet of services vehicles by improving the appearance of our vans with a colorful, eye-catching wrap. Freedom Lawns has been highlighted in several national industry trade magazines. Freedom Lawns was awarded Platinum status by the Green Business bureau in 2010.”
A GROWTH CHALLENGE: "As there is certainly a labor shortage, we utilize employment websites, networking, and other avenues on a regular basis so that we can fill positions when they are needed.
PHOTO: Mark Tamn, co-founder

FULL BELLY PROJECT
ORGANIZATION: Full Belly Project is a 501c3 organization that designs and distributes innovative, sustainable technologies.
UPDATE: Full Belly currently has six products, including the Universal Nut Sheller, available for purchase through individual sales or partnerships and projects. The products, invented by Jock Brandis and volunteers, aim to help provide solutions to problems such as hunger and poverty and are now in 67 countries.
PHOTO: Jock Brandis, founder

GENISYS NETWORKS
COMPANY: GeniSys Networks was founded as a technology company that offered cloud hosting.
YEAR FOUNDED: 2002 UPDATE: In 2015, GeniSys Global Networks merged with Dallas- based Fluid IT Services “to offer an extensive and varied cloud-hosting and IT support platform for businesses of all sizes,” according to a 2015 news release. The release went on to say, “The merger will offer clients across the country the opportunity to work with people who specialize in product development, implementation and support. GeniSys Global’s offerings will be new to the Dallas client base, and Wilmington customers will now have access to Fluid IT Services products and services.”
PHOTO: David Spears, co-founder

GLOBAL TEST SUPPLY
COMPANY: Global Test Supply is a distributor of electronic test and measurement equipment and professional test tools.
YEAR FOUNDED: 2004 UPDATE: Global Test Supply appeared on Inc. Magazine’s list of the nation’s fastest-growing companies in 2010 (at No. 800) and 2011 (at No. 1,715). Inc. reported it had $4.7 million in revenue in 2010. The company was acquired by ITM Instruments in 2011 and still has a location in New Hanover County. Founder Robert Preville became co-owner of Greater Wilmington Business Journal and WILMA magazine in 2013 and more recently launched KWIPPED.com, an online equipment rental marketplace that has raised $1 million.
GROWTH AND INNOVATION: “There is perhaps no better attest to entrepreneurship than starting a company from scratch and building enough value to trigger a strategic acquisition,” Preville said.
PHOTO: Robert Preville, founder

OPTEREX, NOW CLOUDWYZE
COMPANY: Opterex, now called CloudWyze, is a technology solutions firm.
YEAR FOUNDED: 2008 EMPLOYEES: 10 UPDATE: Opterex has raised capital and rebranded as CloudWyze.
A CHALLENGE FACED: “Our biggest challenge has been focus. To overcome this issue, we implemented some guiding principles which align with our core values and company goals. By breaking all decisions down to these principles, it has aligned our team to navigate through difficult challenges and important decisions.”
PHOTO: Shaun Olsen, president and CEO

ORTHOKINETIC TECHNOLOGIES
COMPANY: OrthoKinetic Technologies and OrthoKinetic Testing Technologies
YEAR FOUNDED: 2008
EMPLOYEES: 6
UPDATE: “Since its inception, an extensive network of experts and service providers in the medical device industry has aligned themselves with OrthoKinetic Technologies. Additionally, OrthoKinetic Testing Technologies has doubled in size and equipment. These added resources and expansive network have escalated the growth and reputation of both companies in a very positive manner.”
TOP 3 TIPS: “Stay honest and ethical. It may take longer to be profitable and succeed, but the long-term rewards equate to longevity. 2. Every employee in the company, including the executives, should work as a team and work diligently to meet deadlines during busy times. 3. Smart Hiring - Hire experienced, highly motivated individuals that are passionate, energetic, and innovative.”
PHOTO: Jim Wichersham and Lisa Ferrara, co-founders

SCHEDULEFLY
COMPANY:
Schedulefly is a scheduling and communication tool designed for restaurants to use via the internet and phones.
YEAR FOUNDED: 2007
EMPLOYEES: 5
UPDATE: “At the end of 2009 we had 400 paying customers and three people in the company. In 2010 we grew by more than 100 percent and added a 4th member to our team. In 2011 we added our 5th. Since 2011 we have grown to now serve more than 7,000 of the most successful restaurants in the U.S. and Canada, with a few overseas.”
GROWTH AND INNOVATION: “We’ve innovated by taking a very different approach to business than most and by being a software company that isn’t focused on constantly adding to our software but rather on making it work all the time and offering tremendous customer service.”
PHOTO: Wes Aiken, founder

SAPONA GREEN BUILDING CENTER
COMPANY: Sapona Green Building Center offered sustainable building materials for homes and commercial buildings.
YEAR INCORPORATED: 2007
UPDATE: Closed
WHAT HAPPENED?: “We opened our doors in January 2008, just as the recent recession began. We stuck with it for several years, but eventually we could not self finance the business any longer.” PHOTO: Matthew and Elaine Jack, co-founders SAPONA

TERA DISC, NOW CLOUD PHARMACEUTICALS
COMPANY:
Cloud Pharmaceuticals (formerly Tera Disc LLC) develops new therapies combining Artificial Intelligence and cloud computing to search virtual molecular space and design novel drugs. 
YEAR FOUNDED: 2007 
EMPLOYEES: 17 
UPDATE: In 2009, “the company had just licensed the underlying technology from Duke University and it was running on a supercomputing cluster at Virginia Tech. Since then, it moved to Amazon Web Services, then received seed funding from Microsoft totaling $750K of cash and in kind, and moved to the Azure Cloud. Eventually it also ran on the Google Cloud. Cloud received a NSF SBIR. The company raised $2M in angel funding . . . More recently, the company has agreed to a long-term partnership with GSK.” 
PHOTO: Edwin Addison, CEO

VIRTUAL LAW OFFICE TECHNOLOGY
COMPANY: Virtual Law Office Technology provided law practice management, cloud-based software to solo and small law firms to allow them to work with clients online.
YEAR FOUNDED: 2006
UPDATE: The company was acquired by a legal tech company in Chicago in 2010. “The technology and concepts that the company introduced were a little ahead of their time. At this date, there are many more law practice management solutions that are hosted on the cloud and are affordable for solos and small firms.”
TOP THREE TIPS: “If you have done your homework, ignore the naysayers. Research people and know who your audience is before speaking to anyone. Get your elevator pitch down, but have a different one for different audiences and know who will care about what.”
PHOTO: Stephanie Kimbro, founder

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