Four Washington area companies were crowned winners at the Northern Virginia Technology Council’s Destination Innovation event Wednesday, bringing an end to a months-long competition that pitted companies against one another in four distinct categories: social, commerce, government and security.
The winner in the social category was LynxFit from Byte an Atom Research of Alexandria. It uses Google Glass to simulate the experience of working out with a personal trainer.
The commerce winner was District-based Homesnap. It has created an app for home buyers to find real estate information by snapping a picture of a home.
McLean-based LMI won the government category for its OpenPolicy product, which makes it easier to sift through massive documents.
Dumfries-based Key Cybersecurity, whose CyberMerlin software helps companies detect and report problematic files like child pornography on corporate networks, won the security category.
NVTC organized the annual contest, held at The Washington Post headquarters in downtown D.C. Capital Business served as a sponsoring partner.
The first ballots were cast nearly a month ago as Capital Business readers used online polls to narrow the number of companies in each category to four. Those 16 semi-finalists were then invited to pitch their products in person Wednesday.
“How many people know the difference between a hallucination and a vision?” asked Jim Thompson, the chief technology officer at Unisys, one of the semifinalists. “It’s how many people see it.”
Each presenter had just two minutes to make their vision clear to the audience. Attendees then had to select their favorite company in each category by texting a six-digit code that corresponded with their pick.
Ultimately, the top two vote getters in each category advanced to the third and final round in which a panel of three judges — Gerald L. Gordon, chief executive of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, Matthew Koll, chairman of 410 Labs and Rose Wang, chief executive of Binary Group — were tasked with choosing a single winner.
In between the rounds of competition, attendees were treated to keynote addresses from former Blackboard co-founder Michael Chasen and former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina.
To open the event, Fiorina recounted her own roots in entrepreneurship. Though she is best known as the head of a major tech firm, Fiorina got her start as a secretary in a small commercial real estate office where she said the owners saw her potential as more than a typist.
“This is the only nation on the face of the Earth where a young woman can start as a secretary typing and go on to become CEO of the largest tech company in the world,” Fiorina said. “That is only true in the United States of America still.”
But the former California political candidate also delved into challenges that small businesses face due to Washington inefficiency. Fiorina told the audience of about 200 that the federal government should simplify the tax code and reduce regulations, as well as reform the nation’s approach to energy and education.
What’s more, these policies would allow the country to “unlock human potential,” create jobs and experience greater economic growth by encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation, Fiorina contends.
“We have to broaden our definition of what innovation and entrepreneurship is. Yes it’s about great technologies. It’s about generating patents. It’s about the great companies and breakthroughs you represent,” Fiorina told the crowd.
“But it’s [also] about the real estate company, the corner taqueria, the lawn care company. It’s about somebody saying, ‘I’m going to build something new. I’m going to build the life I imagine for myself and my family.’ ”
Follow reporter Steven Overly on Twitter: @StevenOverly