Colorado tech leaders to know: Meet 6 execs driving the tech industry forward

by April Bohnert
September 26, 2018

The foundation of every tech company is, of course, its tech, and few tech teams can thrive without a visionary leader at the helm.

With that in mind, we talked to six such tech leaders to find out how they’re leveraging technology to overcome business challenges, what it means for the next iteration of their products and which technologies they’re eyeing for the future.

 

JumpCloud tech leaders to know Colorado
Photo via JumpCloud.

Dave Barr is the vice president of engineering at Boulder-based JumpCloud, whose Directory-as-a-Service software enables companies to connect and manage their users, devices and applications securely from the cloud.

 

What new technologies are you excited about or eyeing for future projects?

We are a SaaS company, so our goal is to leverage new technologies wherever they make sense to accelerate developer velocity. Most of our new features and services are written in Golang, backed by databases like MongoDB, PostgreSQL and Redis. Go is one of the fastest growing programming languages in the industry and well suited to a modern, microservices architecture. We are also heavily invested in DevOps, where we use technologies like SaltStack, Terraform, Prometheus and ELK to deploy and monitor our systems.

 

We are a SaaS company, so our goal is to leverage new technologies wherever they make sense to accelerate developer velocity.”

What are the biggest tech projects your team is working on this year?

Our Directory-as-a-Service platform sells into the small-to-medium enterprise market, where our customers want a single-stop shop for all of their identity management needs. This means we are typically working across a range of systems, protocols and apps at the same time. This year we have been really focused on broadening our RADIUS and multi-factor authentication offerings while introducing a native Mac app to make it easier for our end users to manage their identify profiles. We also introduced a managed service provider product, which forced us to reconsider our user hierarchy.

 

What are the biggest technology challenges your team has faced? How did you overcome them?

Our challenges are largely focused around scale right now. Scaling our tech stack to keep up with customer growth, adding new features to continue growing revenue and more than tripling the size of our engineering team over the last 12 months are all great problems to have, but they take careful coordination, as our product is complex. An example of this is our large distributed system that disseminates user identities out to a variety of authentication endpoints using graph analysis, caching and dispatching. It's really interesting and challenging tech — and we are hiring!

 

Mobile Solutions tech leaders to know Colorado
Photo via Mobile Solutions.

Katie Blatherwick is the vice president of engineering for Centennial-based Mobile Solutions, a SaaS provider that helps businesses manage every aspect of their mobile expenses — including devices, services, invoicing and usage — from a central cloud platform.

 

What new technologies are you excited about or eyeing for future projects?

Amazon Web Services provide on-demand cloud computing platforms for our infrastructure, ensuring we have scalable, high-performance servers. We are also excited to introduce API integrations into other applications for extensibility.

 

What are the biggest tech projects your team is working on this year?

Growing our product offerings into other similar industries (wired line) and extending our product to be utilized worldwide.

 

Building a product on bleeding-edge technologies presented challenges. There are not a lot of places to turn when you run into an issue with a brand new platform like .NET Core...”

What are the biggest technology challenges your team has faced? How did you overcome them?

Building a product on bleeding-edge technologies presented challenges. There are not a lot of places to turn when you run into an issue with a brand new platform like .NET Core, which we started using when it was just a release candidate. We learned to embrace that certain areas need to be constantly refactored or re-architected in portions of the product to be conducive to growth and maintenance.

We overcame the issues through our expert development team. Maintaining our standard of only bringing on developers with seven-plus years of experience has proven to be a valuable decision. Additionally, we have a web scale approach to architecture and security that is forward thinking. We adjust and continue to make the hard decisions — all with the goal of accommodating the demands of the product and best serving our clients.

 

Billtrust tech leaders to know Colorado
Photo via Billtrust.

Steve Loper is the vice president of development at Billtrust, whose proprietary “Quantum Payment Cycle Management” solution enables companies to accelerate their cash flow by automating everyday accounting and billing processes.

 

What new technologies are you excited about or eyeing for future projects?

Billtrust has already been able to leverage machine learning in some of our products, and I feel like we’ve just begun to scratch the surface in applying this technology to accounts receivable. The combination of machine learning and cloud computing provide exciting possibilities — which were unimaginable just a few years ago — to increase efficiency for our customers and their accounts receivable departments.

 

Billtrust has already been able to leverage machine learning in some of our products, and I feel like we’ve just begun to scratch the surface...”

What are the biggest tech projects your team is working on this year?

The market is demanding integrated end-to-end solutions to provide automation and reduce manual workload across the entire spectrum of accounts receivable, and last year Billtrust began building a cloud-based platform to provide a foundation for these solutions. This cloud-first strategy provides out-of-the-box benefits such as auto-scaling, comprehensive security controls and regulatory compliance, allowing our teams to focus on building the integrated user experience our customers demand. Quantum Collections was the first solution to be released on this platform with multiple beta customers in Q3 of 2018, and our teams are busily working on expanding our solutions based on the Quantum platform.

 

What are the biggest technology challenges your team has faced? How did you overcome them?

Over the past year, my team has faced two major challenges: scaling to keep up with our products’ successes and growing our engineering team. Interestingly, the answer to how to overcome both of these challenges was essentially the same — our people. By giving our people the time and space to focus on system performance, they quickly made huge improvements in the scalability and reliability of our systems, and continue to do so. By providing people the opportunity and resources to grow and contribute at higher levels — either as an individual technical contributor or as a technical manager — we were able to quickly expand our organization and keep the same values, customer focus and commitment

 

Finalze tech leaders to know Colorado
Photo via Finalze.

Dave Martelon is the CTO of Golden-based Finalze — which just launched out of stealth mode earlier this year. The startup develops AI applications that help architecture, engineering and construction firms automate workflows and processes and reduce inefficiencies.

 

What new technologies are you excited about or eyeing for future projects?

Being on the leading edge of automation, Finalze intends to integrate with the future of wearables and augmented reality, allowing technology to bring out the best in our human potential. Also, like many companies discovering that data is their greatest asset, we aim to feed the data collected in the field into machine learning to provide recommended optimizations back to our customers.

 

What are the biggest tech projects your team is working on this year?

In eight short months, the small Finalze team has accomplished much. In addition to the core application fabric, the team has developed a data change platform that allows for real-time application updates, a living ETL/warehouse and webhooks, a hybrid codebase that provides for a single implementation across web and native platforms, mature feature support such as Open APIs and offline mode, and a component-based architecture that lets us take a prototype from customer testing to design to development in record time.

 

In addition to hiring individuals who connect with the company’s purpose, we embrace a model that drives ownership, passion and engagement.” 

What are the biggest technology challenges your team has faced? How did you overcome them?

Providing an enterprise solution with a very small team is a significant challenge. To accomplish this, we’re rethinking how the work is done. In addition to hiring individuals who connect with the company’s purpose, we embrace a model that drives ownership, passion and engagement. At the heart of this are meaningful equity and a 32-hour work week. No, not a socialist experiment; the team works for four-fifths salary, allowing us to hire more team members at higher productivity. Most importantly, on the fifth day, the team focuses on their individual legacies — being with family, further education, entrepreneurship, communing with nature — allowing us to come in on Monday ready to get shit done.

 

PlayerLync tech leaders to know Colorado
Photo via PlayerLync.

Adam Woodworth is the head of software development for PlayerLync, a company that cut its teeth helping championship sports teams before expanding its software to provide operational performance and mobile learning software for the modern workforce as a whole.

 

What new technologies are you excited about or eyeing for future projects?

We’re creating technologies that meet the ever-increasing complexity and scale of the problems our customers face. We’re investigating various architectures and database solutions — such as microservices, serverless computing and NoSQL databases — alongside advanced automation and machine learning solutions that will improve customers’ abilities to address their organizational learning and operational process needs.  

 

What are the biggest tech projects your team is working on this year?

PlayerLync’s designing and implementing innovative architectures while simultaneously reinventing the user experience and UI to meet the evolving mobility needs of a variety of industries. We’re working with Apple’s design teams to incorporate leading-edge UX and UI treatments into our new interface. These initiatives will take the platform to the next level and will require changes across the entire technology stack.

This summer, we partnered with Starbucks to support Apple’s largest business iPad deployment, which coupled 27,000 iPads with our technology to deliver learning and development videos to 200,000 Starbucks employees. Since then, we’ve received wide interest from other segments — energy, hospitality, aviation, healthcare and property management — so we’re initiating projects to tune our application for customers in these new segments.

 

...We won’t wait for technology to be dictated to us; we’re constantly innovating in front of that curve.” 

What are the biggest technology challenges your team has faced? How did you overcome them?

Keeping up with demand and finding the right tech talent for our growing teams is a challenge, but fortunately, we’re in a great Colorado tech market and there are talented people in Denver. Evolving with an ever-changing SaaS market and the dynamic mobile learning and performance challenges companies face means we won’t wait for technology to be dictated to us; we’re constantly innovating in front of that curve. We’re pioneers, but we are able to deflect the potential threats of being out in front by hiring top talent.

 

Backbone tech leaders to know Colorado
Photo via Backbone.

Andrew Klein is the chief product officer and co-founder of Backbone, which delivers software that helps consumer goods companies bring products to market faster by facilitating the entire product development process through one platform.

 

What new technologies are you excited about or eyeing for future projects?

Blockchain. I envision the entire supply chain collaborating much more digitally and, thus, much more easily and with fewer mistakes. In the supply chain of today, paper documents — in a range of formats — are manually and individually updated and emailed from one participant to the next. The supply chain of tomorrow will digitally document every micro activity within the process of making and shipping products, all in real time. This transparent documentation provides complete visibility into the products at every step, from ideation through bulk production.

 

I envision the entire supply chain collaborating much more digitally and, thus, much more easily and with fewer mistakes.”

What are the biggest tech projects your team is working on this year?

We are working on a collaborative development ledger that will allow teams to enter less data and turn their existing data into actionable information much easier and faster than ever before. The ledger we are working on has built-in retail metrics, from planning to production, that allow every collaborator on a team to work off the same records. This will alleviate version control issues we see in a great deal of our prospect’s products. An example of this is when we see factories working off old product specs or simply not receiving the latest update fast enough, causing QA issues, delivery slides, material waste and having monumentally negative financial impacts.

 

What are the biggest technology challenges your team has faced? How did you overcome them?

The biggest challenge our team has faced is creating solutions that empathize with the pain points of each user type in the supply chain. This means the tools a designer needs are much different than a merchant, project manager or product developer. Creating solutions for each unique user that integrates with other roles at appropriate points during the production process is difficult because existing product platforms are very siloed cross-functionally. We overcame this challenge by placing user experience design at the forefront of our creative process, ensuring we look at every feature we offer from each user type's perspective.

 

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