Concept: Itopia utilizes highly secure cloud computing to make application and industry specific enterprise software and data easily available anytime, anywhere and from any device. Areas of expertise include legal, real estate, healthcare, financial services and non-profits.
Story: Jonathan Lieberman, refreshed following a six-month sabbatical after successfully exiting his VoIP phone company, IPFone, stopped in to reconnect with an old friend who was working on a technology platform designed to move companies seamlessly to cloud IT infrastructure. A quick “hello” turned into a conversation, which then turned into a business plan and then a company to be called itopia, which means “IT happiness.”
Itopia was formed to capitalize on the inevitable migration of most business software applications and data to the cloud. The company hosts applications and data for a rapidly growing client base ranging from a Fortune 500 company and multinational law firms to small and medium-size businesses. The company delivers data and applications to customers over a secure Internet connection rather than via servers on the premises. Services range from providing key business software applications to providing full “cloud desktops” that essentially replace a customer’s computers and servers. Itopia offers industry-specific, proprietary control panels and dashboards that allow business owners and executives to quickly and easily see all key performance indicators and make those elements immediately known to stakeholders.
The overarching benefit is the elimination of many of the cash-intensive support and infrastructure-related costs facing many companies, freeing up precious cash to focus on what they do best.
Launched: July 2012
Management: Jonathan Lieberman, CEO
Financing: To date, itopia has raised $2.5 million from local investors including Marty Halpern (United Tranzactions), David Hernandez and Alberto Daire (Liberty Power), Sherrill Hudson (TECO Energy and Deloitte) and Bill Pruitt (formerly of Arthur Andersen).
Recent milestones reached: Late last year, itopia deployed its second-generation cloud infrastructure, including enterprise class servers, storage and networking systems. In early 2013, itopia launched sales and marketing divisions. Over the summer, itopia significantly bolstered its client roster including the addition of a Fortune 500 staffing company. The itopia cloud now has nearly 1,000 users.
Biggest startup challenge: Despite being backed by great technology minds, broad education and acceptance of the cloud remains an ongoing challenge.
Next step: Scaling the business. Itopia has raised additional equity from its existing investors to fund its aggressive growth objectives and is also seeking vertically-oriented channel sales partners to incorporate its offerings into their product mix. The company has begun adding staff and aggressively marketing cloud services to its key vertical audiences.
Investors’ views: “When Jonathan shared his business plan for delivering cloud computing to small businesses, he was preaching to the converted — the cloud is inevitable. Today, the cloud computing space is a land-grab... Technology is improving, allowing the scaling of the cloud space and itopia has to continue to heavily invest in infrastructure development,” says Bill Pruitt, who has known Lieberman since “he was learning to ride a bike” and admires his character and skills in founding and running companies. “ Noting itopia’s early success in forming its team, raising capital and attracting an impressive group of advisors, Sherrill Hudson adds: “Our customer base has grown pretty much on target ... and our potential customer pipeline is pretty impressive. There’s just tremendous opportunities in the market that we are pitching to.”