Chief Technology Officer, Voalte
Benjamin King was into the Internet way before it was cool.
He was into it so early, actually, that in 1994, when he was in high school in his native Toronto, people would come up to him and ask him questions about it. “A lot of people,” says King, “were asking me what Netscape was, what a browser was.”
The entrepreneurial-minded King, with an idea to sell Internet consulting services, entered a business plan contest sponsored by a local Rotary Club. He wrote up a business plan, made elevator pitches before judges' panels, and even had business cards printed up with a stick figure that represented him. King eventually won the contest, a triumph he still calls his coolest business experience. Says King: “It was a lot of fun.”
King has since had two other standout experiences.
First, soon after he graduated from Georgia Tech, King took a job with Cardiomems, an Atlanta-based startup that develops wireless pressure heart sensors. King was the third employee, joining right after the launch, and the company has since grown to more than 200 employees. “I loved it,” says King. “It was wonderful.”
After about five years at Cardiomems, King, in 2008, got into iPhone app software development, which was then in its infancy. King met Trey Lauderdale, a fellow iPhone software fan, at a tech conference in San Francisco and through that meeting Voalte was born.
Five years later Voalte is a Sarasota startup success story: The firm, which created technology that allows nurses and hospital employees to communicate with each other over smartphones, has gone from four employees in 2008 to 125 today. Annual sales, which the firm no longer discloses, exceeded $10 million a few years ago. And King’s level of enthusiasm hasn’t wavered since the startup days. Says King: “Our goal is to be in every hospital.”
— Mark Gordon
City of residence: Sarasota
Birthplace: Toronto, Canada
Years on the Gulf Coast: Five
Twitter handle: @VoalteKing
Alma mater: Georgia Institute of Technology
Best place to network: Bars. The idea of Voalte started in a bar.
The most important business lesson I’ve learned: Everything is always harder and takes longer than you think.
One website that makes your job easier: Google.
Favorite off-hours activity: Anything athletic and being outside like running, playing tennis, and kayaking.
Two people, dead or alive, you’d like to have dinner with: Steve Jobs and Isaac Newton.
Book you’re reading now: “No Easy Day: The Autobiography of a Navy Seal” by Mark Owen.
Favorite techno gadget: My iPhone and iPad mini.
Who would play you in a movie about your life: Maybe Matt Damon, but that’s up for discussion.
If I had a magic wand I’d: Cure cancer.