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High-Tech Makeover for Light-Weight Scooter

Grant Delgatty, founder of URB-E, an Agoura Hills startup that makes light, electric scooters for use by urban commuters, has been named to the 2014 socalTECH 50 list. The list is made up of 50 entrepreneurs and business owners from throughout Southern California who are making an impact in tech either with a new product or service – or otherwise influencing the industry. It is compiled by tech news and information website SocalTECH.com in Westlake Village. So what do electric scooters have to do with tech? Well, Delgatty noted that the company is putting together a social media component for the URB-E scooter as well as developing an app to that will keep the rider up-to-date on the speed and range of the vehicle. “We want to develop a navigation system that uses multi-modal routing so it can tell you the quickest way to get somewhere utilizing different types of public transportation,” the 44-year-old Delgatty said. “So it is techie.” URB-E was founded in January and has so far sold about 700 of the 27-pound, 36-inch high scooters that can be folded up and carried by arm or stored in the trunk of a car. The startup was self-funded by Delgatty, who teaches industrial design at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, and received about $317,000 through crowdfunding. After initially selling for between $800 and $900, the scooters are currently priced at $1,499 on the company website. While designed for urban commuters to get the “last mile” to their destination after using public transportation, the scooters can also be used on corporate or college campuses and for delivery food or other items, Delgatty said. “A lot of people say this is perfect for an RV or a boat,” he added. “It gives the option to travel around and sightsee.” As for being named to the SocalTECH50, Delgatty said that he had not been aware his name had been submitted but that it was an honor. Ben Kuo, founder and editor of SocalTECH, said the goal in compiling the list, created with assistance from a nine-member nominating committee of tech industry professionals, is to highlight innovators in the industry with a low profile. Nominees came from people that Kuo already knew about, public submissions and those suggested by the nominating committee. “It is interesting how many people whose names we got even though their companies have not launched yet,” Kuo said. Other than Delgatty the only other person on the list with a Valley connection was Rick Eiserman, chief executive at creative agency Trailer Park in Los Angeles which has offices in Burbank. Cloudy Growth Key Information Systems Inc. has made changes to its executive ranks and is looking to hire sales and marketing staff as it seeks staying on a growth trajectory into next year. The Agoura Hills information technology provider is on track to see revenue in excess of $80 million this year, an increase of about 15 percent from last year. President Lief Morin said that a stable economy is partly why Key is doing well, but a bigger factor was in its August 2013 acquisition of ISWest, an Agoura Hills data center that allowed the company to offer cloud computing services. “We needed to make some changes to our business model to be relevant to our clients in the long term,” Morin said. The company also created the position of national technology director and named Mark Laughlin, former chief information officer for Guitar Center Inc., in Westlake Village, to fill it. Laughlin’s role will be to assist the sales team by meeting with high ranking executives to lay out how Key can provide IT services while meeting security and regulatory goals – and staying within budget. “He can have those conversations and help them navigate the process,” Morin said. Other changes at the company were to split sales duties between two people, with Rob Kent as the new senior director of sales and the distributed sales team, and Brian Levine promoted to director of sales. Since January, the Key headcount has grown by 10 to more than 70 employees at offices in Agoura Hills, Orange County, San Francisco and Phoenix. Additional hires in sales and technical support is expected in the new year. Expert Validation Financial software developer Blackline Systems was recognized as a Best of Breed provider by Gartner Inc., a technology research and advisory firm. The Woodland Hills company received the designation for its software that automates the processes of closing out financial books and reconciling accounts to make sure the amount of money coming in matches the money being spent. Chief Executive Therese Tucker said it is good to have the prominent Stamford, Conn. firm recognize it because so many companies subscribe to Gartner’s research. “This validates the value of what we do for our customers,” he said. The Blackline software was included in the Enhanced Finance Controls and Automation Software category. In an October report, Gartner forecast that by 2019 about 40 percent of corporate finance departments will use Enhanced Finance software to improve their processes and that a majority of that software will be provided by specialist vendors such as Blackline. Staff Reporter Mark R. Madler can be reached at (818) 316-3126 or mmadler@sfvbj.com.

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
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