The home team knocked it out of the park at the 7th Annual Bend Venture Conference held last month at the Tower Theatre when Manzama Inc, a local internet software firm, took the coveted first prize and $200,000 cash award against five other company’s Powerpoint pitches.
Manzama is a provider of innovative listening/social monitoring platforms for businesses, especially those operating within the dizzying labyrinths of the law profession. The company was formed in 2010 by a team of enthusiastic technologists with vast experience in the legal world.
The Bend Venture Conference is more than just a competition among startup companies. It’s also a showcase for entrepreneurial talent in Central Oregon and the Pacific Northwest, connecting with potential investors from throughout the U.S. and highlighting Bend as a vibrant place to do business. Keynote speaker for the event was Jonathan Heiliger, vice president of Facebook.
Manzama Chair and CEO Peter Ozolin was thrilled on securing the investment funding.
“I think the important context is to remember it’s a regional event and that a Bend company was able to win and prove we can build vital and competitive companies. The last two BVC placings went to Portland companies, both very deserving, but it’s sure nice keep the money right here, and show there’s confidence in the investment leading to a return.”
Their company name translated from Swahili means “from many there is one.”
“This is essentially what we are doing,” said Ozolin. “Looking at many sources to find the one piece of data you may care about.”
Like a faithful Labrador, Manzama’s SAS-based software listens for, sniffs out and retrieves information pertinent to its client needs relating to case information, client reputation and profile standing within the internet realm. This can be an invaluable asset in maintaining a competitive advantage regarding the dissemination of fact, figures and rumors.
Awareness of the firm’s visibility in terms of branding and online perception is also achieved. Attorneys, partners and executives can receive this information via daily or weekly emails, or detailed customized reports with direct access to the platform. Manzama users are able to strike quickly and discover key data in support of their various marketing and practice strategies. Equipped with this powerful detective tool, law firms are able to act judiciously on client’s needs, competitive threats and legal issues important to their particular practice.
“We’re sending out thousands of queries on the user’s behalf, so it removes a lot of guess work and waste and frees up manpower hours so the business can strive to attain their financial objectives and thrive,” explained Ozolin. “We find the sources out there and deliver it.”
The tool is not just for law firms but anyone looking for relevant data.
Mark Hinkle, COO and one of Manzama’s co-founders, feels they are bringing structure to unstructured data.
“It’s organizing and classifying the info so it can be accessed simply on one single platform. For every user, we construct a profile of each client’s specific business needs,” he said. “When you perform a search, Google doesn’t know who you are. We do, and we maintain that profile to go out and collect the information and push it back, basically eliminating the cumbersome task of managing massive amounts of data in the information universe.”
“With companies like Sony Computer Entertainment and G5 Search Marketing functioning here in Bend, it creates an environment where you can come and raise a family and pursue a professional career in technology,” said Hinkle. “’Poverty with a view’ has been a common phrase heard when referring to business opportunities in Bend but we’re trying to provide a bridge between that gap and change it.”
Ozolin believes there’s a viable tech community beginning to form in Bend that can sustain startups and integrate lifesyle with actual business goals, immune to the economic gyrations Central Oregon is notorious for.
Hinkle adds that, due to Bend’s geographic isolation and limited options, there’s a deeper sense of commitment to succeed and boosts the drive not just for the owners and directors but its employees as well.
“We pride ourselves with our employees being happy and making them a part of the company and its success. I easily see Bend becoming a bit of a tech hub that can compete with startup firms from Portland and Seattle. The excitement this win generated is a validation of that possibility to the business and the investment world.”
Ozolin recalls the moment the announcement of the winners arrived. ‘We were downstairs in the Oxford Hotel at a reception, and they ran off all the runner-ups from last to first and we didn’t hear our name. Then they revealed us as the grand prize winner. It was fantastic, for all the work and the risk we put into it and the chance to take a legitimate risk is a very rewarding feeling.”
“It was suspenseful and I’m just happy to come out on top,” added Hinkle.
www.manzama.com or 541-678-8829 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 541-678-8829