Bio: In August 2008, waiting for a flight from the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, Ben Kazez got sick of having to constantly check and recheck his boarding pass and gaze at departure screens. The computer programmer created FlightTrack, a mobile app that gives travelers flight-status updates, live maps, and weather news, among other information. Kazez launched his company, Mobiata, in November 2008 and created a fleet of travel apps for iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, and Palm Pre users. The $5 FlightTrack helps fliers keep up with changing flight information, while the free HotelPal app lets users book rooms at thousands of hotels, including Ritz-Carlton and Hyatt, for which Mobiata receives a commission. Kazez says the 12-employee startup, based in Ann Arbor, Mich., had $1 million in revenue in 2009 and is on track to double the figure this year. The profitable company recently launched a mobile check-in site for AirTran (AAI) and plans to announce similar partnerships later this year
Topic: Venture Capital, HCP
Bio: Michael joined Highland in 1999 and serves as Senior Vice President. He spearheads a number of key strategic market, portfolio and entrepreneurial development initiatives.
Michael is also responsible for the firm’s marketing programs, media relations, events, speaking, online and direct marketing activities across all funds and geographies (follow on Twitter via @MichaelGaiss). In his role, Michael advises Highland portfolio companies on marketing strategy, positioning, launches, communications, programs and overall marketing effectiveness. Since joining the firm, he has had the opportunity to work individually with over 100 startups and emerging growth companies on a variety of marketing-focused initiatives. He has also focused on implementing programs that deliver competitive advantage for Highland portfolio companies. This includes CEO Summits, Marketing Summits, industry forums, best-practice workshops, the Highland Extranet and Highland Career Network, a first-of-its-kind industry program which has enabled Highland-backed companies to more effectively compete for talent across all levels of their organization. In addition, Michael works closely with the top entrepreneurial organizations, industry associations, universities and other leaders in the entrepreneurial ecosystem to help the next generation of innovative entrepreneurs become successful.