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The Download: Decision Lens hires CEO with a focus on growth

By StevenOverly,

Decision Lens, a company whose software helps executives to establish business priorities and make decisions, has hired a veteran technology executive to oversee its expansion.

John Kealey has joined the firm as chief executive, replacing co-founder John Saaty, who will remain president. Kealey also held the chief executive job at Vivisimo and iDirect Technologies, which were sold to IBM and Singapore Technologies Engineering, respectively.

The leadership change comes as Arlington-based Decision Lens looks to grow. The firm, which has raised no venture capital to date, employs 45 people, up from 37 at the end of last year. Executives say it’s profitable.

“As the team, we’re going to spend a lot of time thinking about what’s a very clear picture of what we want to look like in two years,” Kealey said.

Decision Lens was founded in 2003 by brothers John and Dan Saaty. They developed decision-making softwarebased on an algorithm created by their father, Thomas Saaty, a business professor at the University of Pittsburgh.

Entering what in many ways is a family business has its challenges, Kealey admits. But he likens them to entering a company with an existing board of directors.

“Building those relationships and being aligned is critical to success,” he said.

Venga hires

District-based start-up Venga has raised money from investors to hire salespeople as it prepares to expand a program, called MyLoyalFamily, that aims to help restaurants retain patrons.

The company began as a mobile app for restaurants to promote special events and offerings. It now allows eateries to track visits and spending habits.

Last month, Venga hired sales and marketing reps away from Fishbowl, a marketing software provider for restaurants, and Open Table, a reservation Web site. Leesburg-based Piedmont Investment Advisors led the initial investment as part of a round that should total $1 million when complete.

Cupid across America

The University of Maryland has taken its annual Cupid’s Cup competition national, accepting business pitches from entrepreneurs at universities across the country. Supported by Under Armour founder and Maryland alumnus Kevin Plank, the contest will award $70,000 in cash. The final will be held in April.

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