Innovation Awards

Case Study: How Corporate Award Helped Distinguished Honoree Double Profits

Posted by Liz Dean on Wed, Feb 22, 2012 @ 06:06 PM

TECNET of Tokyo, Japan, was honored as a Distinguished Honoree in the company awards category for Most Innovative Company in Asia (China, Japan, and Korea) in The 2010 International Business Awards, the world's premier business awards program. (The 2012 IBAs are now accepting entries. Request your entry kit here and submit entries by the April 11 early-bird deadline for discounted entry fees.)  As part of our 10th anniversary celebration, we will be talking to a number of organizations around the world on how being honored in one of our corporate awards competitions has helped their business. Here we speak to the innovation awards winning CEO, Kiichiro Suda, about the role their Stevie® Award title has had in increasing profits.

How has being a Distinguished Honoree in The 2010 International Business Awards helped TECNET to promote its brand? Kiichiro Suda
First, we found that the actual process of entering the IBAs—preparing and filling out the application—was extremely useful for us, because it made us focus on our business plan and strategy.

When we received the IBA results, we announced the award on our corporate website, in handouts, and in our recruiting media. We also shared the news with colleagues, posting the news on 30 different social media sites in Tokyo.

Although TECNET had actually been in deficit in the five years prior to when we submitted our IBA entry in 2009, we began to see a turnaround after we were named a Distinguished Honoree in 2010. By 2011, our profits had doubled, and we expect to double those profits again (400% over fiscal year 2010) by the end of this year.

What event has had the most impact on your business over the past ten years?
We started TECNET from nothing in 2005. The biggest event for us was the Lehman Brothers financial crisis in 2008, after which we had to completely restructure our business. TECNET had its first monthly surplus in December 2008, but right after that went into deficit again. We struggled for another 18 months but eventually got back into profit by overhauling the organization and improving the quality of our service.

What are your company’s plans for the future?
Our company currently has a staff of 60 and we want to increase that to 200 by 2017 in order to be able to provide effective services to more small and medium-sized enterprises. Additionally we want to spread the concept of a good way of working that in Japan we call "rental-employees."

What are your top IT tips for small businesses?
Because every company has a different structure—from the market it serves and its business model to the maturity of its organization—I only have one suggestion:  I would recommend that smaller businesses consider the "rental-employee” model as an IT solution. This way, companies with smaller budgets can organize their IT to best suit their individual business style and structure.

What quality or qualities do you most value in your business associates?
I think both customer satisfaction and employee development are the most significant goals to achieve in business.

As someone at the top of your profession, what keeps you inspired or makes you hit the ground running in the morning?
The positive feedback I get from TECNET’s clients or “rental-employees” always gives me a tremendous rush.

About Kiichiro Suda:
TECNET’s President & CEO Kiichiro Suda is an entrepreneur.  After studying at Waseda University in Tokyo, Suda acquired hands-on experience of marketing and business development through employment at various companies. In 1997, he founded the Q&A Corporation and was its CEO/COO until 2004.  At the end of Suda’s 8-year tenure, Q&A Corporation’s annual sales were 4 billion yen (approx. $50 million). Q&A Corporation is now a leading Japanese provider of technical support services (Phone/Email/On-Site) for individuals, and in 2010 the company recorded sales of 10 billion yen (approx. $126 million).  Suda founded TECNET, Inc. in 2005. 

TECNET is an IT administration outsourcing company for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in Tokyo.  It helps SMBs’ IT operation, management, and strategy. TECNET doesn’t sell computer products: it provides a human service for its corporate clients by providing an overview of their IT organizations. TECNET currently has 220 clients, 60 employees, and a web community with more than 1,700 members.

Tags: business awards, corporate awards, International business awards, innovation awards, TECNET, corporate award, Kiichiro Suda, company awards

How an Innovation Awards Winner Is Putting America Back to Work

Posted by Liz Dean on Mon, Jan 09, 2012 @ 12:59 PM

RiseSmart, Inc., in San Jose, California, was named Most Innovative Company of the Year (up to 100 employees - all other industries) in The 2011 American Business Awards. (Entries to The 2012 American Business Awards are now being accepted. Request your entry kit and it will be emailed to you right away.)  See how RiseSmart stands out from the competition.

What are outplacement services and why do they matter?
Outplacement services are a series of services offered to employees by employers when employment setbacks occur. Traditionally, outplacement services have been inherently low-tech, simply assisting companies with downsizing events and providing office space, grief counseling, and on-site group seminars to laid-off workers.  As the U.S. unemployment rate rose between 2008 and 2010, the inefficiencies of traditional outplacement services became apparent.

In a 2009 front-page story, “Outplacement Firms Struggle to Do Job,” The Wall Street Journal reported that traditional outplacement support packages “offer little value” to workers and leave many feeling dissatisfied.  With home computer access now so common, workers have little interest in setting up shop in an outplacement provider’s office space to conduct their job search.

RiseSmart has brought a new approach to the $3 billion industry by revolutionizing outplacement services through a combination of traditional services and use of technology. Through these new strategies, RiseSmart can aggressively focus on helping employees get what they need most: a new job.

Unprecedented Results
Sanjay SatheRiseSmart is helping to put America back to work by providing next-generation outplacement solutions to transitioning employees. The company combines a sophisticated technology with consulting services to not only help employers with their workforce strategies, but to help displaced employees with their career strategies.

“RiseSmart’s momentum continues, thanks to the passion and dedication of our entire team,” said Sanjay Sathe, founder and CEO of RiseSmart. “[The Stevie Award] is yet more evidence that we have disrupted the U.S. outplacement industry once and for all — delivering unprecedented results to employers and their transitioning workers.”

Transition Concierge
RiseSmart has injected the power of its proprietary, cloud-based technology and service platform into a market that had been dominated by brick-and-mortar business models. Its Transition Concierge outplacement solution, launched in 2008, has turned the outplacement industry on its head.

RiseSmart’s affordable, cutting-edge approach uses a web-based portal application that provides participants with personalized, relevant job leads, articles, blog posts, and other individualized content to help them find a job quickly. Every participant is assigned a highly trained, experienced Transition Specialist, who works to assist in each unique job search. With the new combination of support, RiseSmart is successfully placing individuals in new jobs 50 percent faster than the national average.

Those kinds of numbers have helped RiseSmart achieve some of the highest customer satisfaction scores in the industry. The company has enjoyed 100 percent customer retention to date. And it’s not surprising that RiseSmart is now among the fastest-growing outplacement companies in the United States.

Saving Money for Businesses
Because Transition Concierge participants find jobs so much faster, RiseSmart is helping employers save money in the form of reduced severance payments, unemployment taxes, and legal costs. RiseSmart is the first choice for organizations where individual needs and personal attention to both the corporation and the employee come first. More than a dozen Fortune 500 companies have switched from traditional outplacement firms to RiseSmart.

The Wall Street Journal has highlighted RiseSmart as a new kind of outplacement firm for Fortune 500 companies—one focused on results. Business Week touts the RiseSmart methodology as making “a lot of sense;” and the San Jose Mercury News says: “RiseSmart typifies the valley's knack for using technology to disrupt standard business practices.”

Time for a New Movie?
If all this is making you think of the movie “Up In The Air,” The Wall Street Journal thought so, too, and commented on it in a Venture Capital Dispatch blog.
Says Sathe: “The story of transition consultants working with employees to help them find new jobs is often an uplifting and inspiring one. Maybe that can be the story told in ‘Up In The Air 2.’”

About Sanjay Sathe:
Sanjay founded RiseSmart in 2006 after spending more than two decades in the management field leading successful sales and marketing organizations nationally and internationally. Prior to RiseSmart, Sanjay served as vice president for enterprise data management for Sabre Holdings as well as served as vice president of marketing for Brierley & Partners. Through his roles as vice president, Sanjay has gained a strong background in product marketing, CRM, loyalty programs, branding, marketing communications, public relations and strategic alliance initiatives across the telecommunications, banking, airline and technology sectors. By combining his professional background and entrepreneurial spirit, Sanjay has successfully transformed the outplacement services industry. 

About RiseSmart:
RiseSmart is the leading provider of next-generation outplacement solutions. The company leverages a cloud-based technology platform, proven methodologies, and one-on-one support to help employers with their workforce strategies, and displaced employees with their career strategies. RiseSmart drives significant ROI to organizations by offering affordable pricing while reducing unemployment insurance taxes and severance costs. For more information, visit

Tags: business awards, American business awards, stevie awards, innovation awards, Sanjay Sathe, Risesmart

Innovation Awards Entrepreneurs in Africa: Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology

Posted by Michael Gallagher on Thu, Dec 01, 2011 @ 01:33 PM

Meltwater Group in San Francisco, California, USA, received the Stevie Award for Corporate Social Responsibility Program of the Year in The 2011 American Business Awards for the company’s work encouraging and fostering Ghanaian entrepreneurial talent. The 2012 American Business Awards is now open for entries - get your entry kit - and will include the new Best of the ABA Awards. The second early-bird entry deadline is December 14.

Jorn LyseggenMeltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) is the brainchild of Jorn Lyseggen, the founder and CEO of the Meltwater Group. MEST was founded in 2007 in Accra, Ghana, by Meltwater Group’s nonprofit arm, the Meltwater Foundation.

As one of the least developed continents in the world, Africa is home to many stagnant economies where highly educated individuals have few job opportunities. Jorn, however, recognized this as an exceptional opportunity to transfer Meltwater’s knowledge and experience beyond the company walls and into the global community.

Entrepreneurs in Training
MEST is a non-profit, three-phase, entrepreneurial training program that provides training and mentoring to young African entrepreneurs aspiring to launch new, Ghana-based software companies. “Entrepreneurs in Training” (EITs) are selected through a comprehensive interview process by a panel of successful global entrepreneurs.

Upon selection, the EITs begin Phase One, a rigorous, two-year training course.

Those EITs with business ideas that are deemed to be viable then move on to Phase Two—Incubation—where graduates from the training program are given an opportunity to bring their business ideas to life through seed funding, access to advisors, and office space.

Finally, in Phase Three, the Meltwater Foundation and its network of experienced mentors and advisors provide assistance for companies that emerge from the MEST Incubator.

One of MEST’s biggest accomplishments is the burgeoning success of the current students and their companies, which include RetailTower, Nandi Mobile, Streemio, and Leti Games. In some cases these companies are utilizing corporate partnerships with retailers, telecommunications companies, or banks to distribute solutions to the market.

Success Story
One specific success story is that of Wesley Kirinya and Eyram Tawia. Wesley and Eyram created Leti Games, which through MEST’s guidance and support became Africa’s first commercial contribution to the multibillion-dollar computer gaming industry. MEST awarded the company $100,000 in seed financing that turned it from an idea into a functioning business. It's first game, iWarrior, is available for download on iTunes.

Significant Accomplishment
The success of MEST and its students is made even more significant when taking the Ghanaian economy into consideration. Prospective Ghanaian entrepreneurs face an uncertain marketplace with little economic or political stability. Last year it was reported that Ghana dropped in the ranks relating to the ease of doing business, falling to 95 among the 183 economies and to 113 for ease of obtaining credit.

A Bright Future
With young Ghanaians constituting over 40% of the country’s population, the potential impact that MEST could have on the country as a whole is immense. MEST was a challenging undertaking. It was the first program of its kind in Africa, and there is still no similar program in this part of the world helpting guide potential software entrepreneurs. The sophistication of the technology, ideas, and ultimate success of companies such as Leti Games are a testament not just to the success of the MEST program, but also to the promise of further innovations that will emerge from Africa in the future.

About Jorn Lyseggen
In 2001, with only $15,000, Jorn founded Meltwater News, a business-to-business media search engine company offering business-intelligence services. That company has now grown into the Meltwater Group. As CEO, Jorn leads the expansion of Meltwater with new ventures in the Software as a Service (SaaS) market. Jorn also founded the non-profit Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), designed to provide training and mentoring to young African entrepreneurs aspiring to launch new, Ghana-based software companies.

A Norwegian entrepreneur and patent holder with four start-ups, Jorn has two trade sales and one IPO to his credit. The most rewarding aspect of Jorn's career continues to be helping young people develop into confident and capable managers.

Jorn earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Bergen Ingeniorhogskole in Norway, and a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering, with specialization in digital signal processing and artificial intelligence, from Iowa State University.  He also studied entrepreneurship at Harvard Business School. Jorn and his family now live in Palo Alto, California.

About The Meltwater Group
The Meltwater Group is a privately held software company founded in Norway in 2001. It currently serves more than 20,000 clients through 57 offices located across North America, South America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Australia. Meltwater is committed to challenging existing business models by introducing disruptive technologies.​ The Meltwater Group delivers B2B solutions based on search engine technology, cloud computing, and search engine marketing. For more information, please visit

Tags: American business awards, stevie awards, ABAs, innovation awards, csr awards

The ABAs Introduce 18 Smartphone App Awards Categories

Posted by Liz Dean on Sun, Nov 27, 2011 @ 07:52 PM

The Stevie® Awards is introducing 18 new app awards categories honoring smartphone and tablet apps in The 2012 American Business Awards ℠. These app awards will recognize excellence in apps for handheld and tablet devices, and for PCs, issued or updated since January 1 2011. (Entries are now being accepted, request your entry kit here.)

The app awards will be considered in the following categories:

  1. Business/Government
  2. Education & Reference
  3. Entertainment
  4. Experimental & Innovation
  5. The Stevie AwardsGames
  6. Guides/Ratings/Reviews
  7. Integrated Mobile Experience
  8. Lifestyle
  9. Marketing
  10. Music
  11. News
  12. Professional Education
  13. Shopping
  14. Social
  15. Sports
  16. Training
  17. Travel
  18. Utilities & Services

Submissions for these categories should include:

a. An essay of up to 100 words describing the app's purpose and results to date. Include here the platforms your app supports.
b. The app itself, in the form of a demonstration video of up to three (3) minutes in length, or a URL to the app. In either case you must attach the demonstration video or the URL to your entry through our attachment/link uploading tool online.
c. Optionally, you may list creative and production credits for your app - a list of the people and organizations that contribute to its development.

All app awards will be presented at the ABA's new tech awards ceremony in San Francisco in September 2012. Learn more about the event.

Have a favorite smartphone or tablet app? Request an entry kit and nominate your favorite app!

Tags: business awards, app awards, website awards, stevie awards, innovation awards, web awards

How Business Award-winner Touch Bionics Transforms Lives

Posted by Michael Gallagher on Thu, Jul 14, 2011 @ 09:00 PM

Touch Bionics of Livingston, Scotland and Hillard, Ohio USA won the Stevie Award for Most Innovative Company of the Year in Europe in The 2010 International Business Awards. Here we review the amazing accomplishments of this company’s bionic solutions.

Touch Bionics is the developer of the groundbreaking i-LIMB Hand, the
world’s first commercially available, fully articulating, bionic hand. This
product was launched to worldwide acclaim in 2007, but the company has
continued to expand its innovative product lines since then.


In December 2009, Touch Bionics introduced ProDigits, the world’s first bionic finger solution. Extending the technology innovation behind the i-LIMB Hand, the ProDigits solution brings the life-changing technology to partial-hand patients, whose finger absence is due either to congenital anomalies or to amputation from a traumatic incident or medical condition. The amputee population that can benefit from ProDigits is considerable, estimated at around
40,000 in the U.S. and 1.2 million worldwide and, before ProDigits, such people had no commercially available powered prosthetic solution open to them.

i-LIMB Pulse

In May 2010, Touch Bionics introduced the new i-LIMB Pulse. This product is the latest evolution of the i-LIMB product line and a host of innovations have gone into the new product, including:
- Bluetooth-enabled software to allow the customization of the device for the
- Automated grip patterns, allowing users to select the grips that are most
useful to them on a daily basis;
- Pulsing grip strength, allowing incremental additional grip force to be
applied when required;
- Low-profile design, achieved by miniaturizing many of the components of the
device and changing the design to cater almost all male and female users; and

- A new aluminum mechanical structure, for increased overall robustness.

ProDigits and the i-LIMB Pulse were the two most significant innovations from Touch Bionics in 2009-2010, but the company continues to be an innovator.

New Leadership

In June 2011, Touch Bionics appointed a new Chief Executive Officer, Ian Stevens.   With his background at medical devices companies Mpathy Medical and Optos, he will be leading the company through its next phase of growth.

 “I am very pleased to be joining Touch Bionics at such an important point in the company’s evolution and I am looking forward to working with the team at Touch Bionics to ensure that the company enjoys continued success,” said Stewart.

About Ian Stevens
Ian Stevens joined Touch Bionics from medical devices company, Mpathy Medical, where he had served as CEO since November 2007. Prior to that, Stevens worked for Optos, a medical technology company specializing in devices that image the retina, from 1999-2007. At Optos, he served as General Manager for North America, where he had responsibility for all operations in the United States and Canada. Stevens also served as Chief Financial Officer and Director of Operations during his time at Optos.

About Touch Bionics
Touch Bionics is a developer of advanced upper limb prosthetics designed to bring a greater return to form and function for amputees and people with congenitally missing limbs. Touch Bionics created the i-LIMB Hand, the world's first powered prosthetic hand with five articulating fingers, and was the first company to offer a powered prosthetic solution for patients with missing fingers, ProDigits. In addition to its powered prosthetic hand and partial-hand products, Touch Bionics offers a range of custom aesthetic restoration solutions through its LIVINGSKIN business, which are passive prosthetic devices designed to match exactly to a person's natural skin tone. For more information, visit

Tags: International business awards, innovation award, Touch Bionics, most innovative company, IBAs

How Diaper Rash Drove Innovation and New Product Award

Posted by Michael Gallagher on Fri, Feb 04, 2011 @ 03:11 PM

Tereson DupuyIf the Stevie Awards gave awards for best-named product of the year, “FuzziBunz” would be the winner hands down.  Instead, our judges named a new, one-size version of the patented FuzziBunz® pocket diaper Best New Product of the Year in the 2010 Stevie Awards for Women in Business.

Now referred to as the Mother of the Modern Cloth Diaper, Tereson Dupuy, CEO of Mother of Eden, invented FuzziBunz cloth diapers after her son suffered from chronic diaper rash; prior to her invention, nothing helped.  This determined mother founded a company to produce her patented cloth diapers and it is now a multi-million dollar industry.

Tereson has been featured in national newspapers and television, and is also a popular motivational speaker.  She is available to speak on the topics of women in business; accidental entrepreneurship (how Tereson created a product to solve a personal dilemma, and ended up with a highly successful company); and, of course, anything related to cloth diapers.

arrow spacer Read the Full Text of FuzziBunz's Stevie Award-winning Nomination...

Tags: stevie awards, tereson dupuy, product of the year, product awards, product award, fuzzibunz