Venture based on ND research wins Indiana tech award

Author: Carol Elliott

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Vennli, a South Bend, Indiana-based marketing company founded on business research from the University of Notre Dame, was recently recognized as one of the “best in tech” in the state of Indiana. The company received the Tech Services Award for IT to Support Go-to-Market during TechPoint’s 16th Annual Mira Awards Gala, held May 2 at the JW Marriott in Indianapolis.

Vennli is a software-as-a-service platform that harnesses real-time customer insights — the factors customers weigh when making purchasing decisions — and transforms them into growth strategies upon which leaders can take immediate action. Founded in 2013, Vennli is based on a model and process developed by Joe Urbany, marketing professor at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, and the software expertise of Gary Gigot, formerly of Microsoft and Visio.

In April, Vennli also received the 1st Source Bank Commercialization Award, which is presented each year to faculty from Notre Dame or the Indiana University School of Medicine-South Bend who have most successfully transitioned their technology from the lab to the marketplace.

“We’ve found an interesting gap in the way organizations think about growth,” said Urbany. “There is a natural tendency for leaders to think in aggregate terms – such as ‘grow the Southeast U.S. market’.

“In contrast, Vennli thinking focuses the growth problem on individual customers making choices (e.g., ‘grow sales with time-constrained purchasing agents in mid-sized manufacturers’),” he continued. “Understanding customer choice as the key unit of analysis opens everyone’s eyes to new ways to create customer value you can’t see when you don’t have the decision maker squarely in mind.” 

Vennli has a built-in electronic survey that makes customer research simple and fast compared to traditional methods, and presents the results in an intuitive, visual way so businesses know exactly what to do to increase their competitive advantages. The company currently employs more than 20 people in its South Bend, Indiana, office.

In announcing the award, the Mira judges cited Vennli’s innovative application of technology toward business development, its ability to be useful across a variety of markets and industries, and its potential for significant sales.

TechPoint, Indiana’s tech ecosystem accelerator, honored 15 companies, entrepreneurs and educators altogether during the May 2 gala, which was sponsored by BKD CPAs & Advisors. Mira — Latin for “miracle” and also the name of a variable star thousands of times brighter than the Earth’s sun — represents the best of tech in Indiana each year.

Forty-three independent, volunteer judges spent more than 700 collective hours reviewing and ranking the applications, interviewing the nominees and choosing the winners. Judges are primarily subject matter experts and experienced company founders and executives.