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Powering up: tech start-ups connect to local resources.

In the hands of thieves and industrial spies, an empty eggnog can become a high-tech weapon. Combined with $6 of cabling, a little knowledge, and free software from the Internet, hackers can use the eggnog can to locate and compromise wireless access points to gain access to computer networks in businesses or homes. While authorized access points can be effectively secured, businesses are rightly concerned that "rogue," or unauthorized, access points on networks may open the door to potentially costly hacking.

Ken Goldberg of Highwall Technologies and his partners in the Sarasota start-up company are banking that their Highwall Sentinel network appliance will lead the defense against wireless intruders. The hardware operates around the clock to identify rogue wireless access points, devices, and ad hoc networks so that technology managers can apply appropriate safeguards.

Highwall Technologies is one example of the growing high-tech cluster in Sarasota County. Fueled by entrepreneurial drive and local funding, tech start-ups are finding the resources they need to locate and grow in Sarasota County.

Highwall was formed when participants in Startup Florida made a deal to take a local inventor's idea to market. After engineering the product into a more sleek and efficient model, as well as applying marketing polish, Highwall Technologies secured funding from Startup Florida's investors. With a second round of funding under its belt and successful sales to the likes of Sarasota Memorial Health Care System, the Highwall partners are ready to "sell, sell, sell," Goldberg says.

Another example of a go-getter local tech firm is Anexio Inc., which serves small- to medium-sized businesses. Today, most businesses need professional Information Technology (IT) support, but most smaller firms can't afford their own IT staff and equipment. Anexio performs almost all of its functions remotely via Internet connection, which allows the company to provide personalized, 24/7 service at an efficient price. The company offers technical support, automated data backups, network security and Web services.


When the company decided to leverage its system beyond the local market, the partners called in Startup Florida to consult on a new business model and a marketing program. According to Anexio managing partner Michelle Halt, the group formed a new entity called Technology Support Center (TSC), which will own the technology Anexio developed. TSC is lining up partners to sell TSC/Anexio services around the world.

After a local beta test on the concept, TSC rolled out the service in January and had lined up a half-dozen partner clients by April, Halt says. "The small- to medium-sized business market is huge," she says. "By providing that remote support piece through partner clients worldwide, our growth can be exponential."
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Title Annotation:InsiderNews
Publication:Sarasota Magazine
Date:Jun 22, 2004
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