County congratulates local TechNite
award nominees and winners

May 16, 2014

Montgomery County, Virginia
Economic Development Department


Montgomery County, Virginia – The Montgomery County Economic Development Department congratulates all of the TechNite award  nominees and winners.  Montgomery County was well represented among the nominees with a total of 47 nominations within the six award categories. Impressively, five of the six awards went to individuals or businesses from Montgomery County. 

The Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council (RBTC) hosted the 2014 TechNite Awards Banquet last week in Roanoke.  Seven hundred area leaders in business and innovation gathered together to celebrate the growing technology community in the New River and Roanoke valleys. The evening was highlighted with an awards ceremony.

“Congratulations to the RBTC for hosting another great TechNite Awards banquet,” said Craig Meadows, County Administrator of Montgomery County. “The caliber of companies, entrepreneurs and educators that were nominated this year was quite impressive. We are very fortunate to live and work in one of the most innovative, tight-knit technology communities in the country.”

Craig Meadows, County Administrator of Montgomery County, presents the Rising Star Award to Alex Obenauer, co-founder of Mindsense. Photo courtesy of the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council.
Craig Meadows, County Administrator of Montgomery County, presents the Rising Star Award to Alex Obenauer, co-founder of Mindsense. Photo courtesy of the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council.

The Montgomery County Economic Development Department sponsored the TechNite Rising Star Award which went to Blacksburg-based Mindsense.  Located at the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, Mindsense developed a successful email management app for the iPhone and iPad called Mail Pilot. The app has reached the No. 1 paid app spot in the iTunes App Store in over 50 countries and was even dubbed the “Best New App” by Apple.

The other award winners from Montgomery County include:

  • Entrepreneur Award, Michael Rihani – Rihani is the co-founder and CEO of Koofers, a consumer internet platform that makes college easier for students by providing free access to testbanks, practice exams, professor ratings and grade distribution data, flashcards, and a class schedule maker. Koofers also has an enterprise Campus Recruiting solution that allows employers and recruiting firms to easily find and quickly vet through 1 million college students looking for internships and full-time job opportunities.
  • Innovator Award, Bob Summers – Summers is the founder and CEO of Fitnet, a mobile fitness app that provides clients with a score based on their performance during individual workout sessions. Since being launched earlier this year, Fitnet popularity has grown quickly and has been featured as one of the top fitness apps in the iTunes App Store. Summers is also the Founder and Managing Director of TechPad, a 6,000 square-foot co-working space for software startups.  He also successfully crowdfunded the downtown Blacksburg gigabit project.
  • People’s Choice Award, VirtualU – Launched in 2012, VirtualU is a leader in the evolution of 3D scanning and human avatars. The company’s VFit 3D body scanner is placed in health and fitness gyms to allow users to create a hyper-realistic avatar of their bodies to show change over time, providing one of the easiest and most user friendly ways to track health.
  • Regional Leadership, Jack Lesko – Lesko is the Associate Dean for Research & Graduate Studies in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech and the cofounder of PowerHub Systems. Lesko pioneered the first “startup” class at Virginia Tech and was instrumental in getting a regional Innovation Corps (I-Corps) node established for the Roanoke-Blacksburg region.

The full list of TechNite award nominees from Montgomery County is provided below.

Educator Award

Award recognizes an educator in the Roanoke-Blacksburg region that promotes math, science, and/or use of technology in creative ways to transfer knowledge and help develop future technology leaders.

Alison Goforth - Auburn High (MCPS)
Kim Dickerson - Gilbert Linkous Elementary (MCPS)

Alison York - Pathway Christian Academy

Let's Code Blacksburg

Brian Kitts - Blacksburg High (MCPS)

Michael Collver - Blacksburg High School (MCPS)

Erin Rust - Christiansburg High (MCPS)

Entrepreneur Award

Award recognizes someone in our community who exemplifies what it means to be a risk-taker in the technology field.

Mindsense - Alex Obenauer and Joshua Milas
VirtualU - Louis Cirillo, Nick Gagianas and Caroline Pugh

Fitnet - Bob Summers
Koofers - Michael Rihani (AWARD WINNER)

Techulon - Brett Malone
Aeroprobe - Nanci Hardwick

JPI - Doug Garnett-Deakin,
Heyo - Nathan Latka

Smart College Visit - Kelly Queijo
Card Isle - Stephan Sabo, Adam Donato and David Henry

UIU Link - Kim Griffo
Trivedi Chemistry - Ketan Trivedi

Innovator Award

Award recognizes an individual, a group of individuals, company, or organization that sets the standard for thought-leadership and innovation in their respective field. Their innovation represents a significant technological breakthrough or addresses a great market opportunity.

P&P Coatings

BC Genesis
TORC Robotics

Bob Summers - Fitnet (AWARD WINNER)

Tracy Wilkins - TechLab

FoxGuard Solutions

Jim Rancourt - Polymer Solutions
Marc Junkunc - VT Innovate Living Learning Community

People's Choice Award

Award recognizes an up and coming company in the Roanoke-Blacksburg that is voted on vote by the TechNite audience.

Card Isle

VirtualU (WINNER)

Dine & Dash

Regional Leadership Award

Award recognizes someone who not only succeeds in the workplace, but also leads by example by contributing significantly to the Roanoke-Blacksburg region.

Ben Knapp - VT Institute for Creativity, Arts and Technology Jack Lesko - VT College of Engineering (AWARD WINNER)

Bob Summers – Blacksburg Gigabit Project Jim Flowers - VT KnowledgeWorks

Charlie Jewell - Montgomery County Economic Development Dept. Mary Miller - IDD Inc.

Doug Juanarena - Rackspace Hosting Steve Grant – Modea

Iccha Sethi - Let's Code Blacksburg

Rising Star Award

Award recognizes a local technology company whose "star is rising." It may not be a household name yet, but it could soon be another local success story.

Card Isle LawnStarter

Fitnet Mindsense (AWARD WINNER)

JPI New River Computing

Koofers Qualtrax

About Us

Montgomery County, Virginia - home of Virginia Tech and the towns of Blacksburg and Christiansburg - is a progressive, technology-driven community with an abundance of outdoor amenities. The Montgomery County Economic Development Department actively supports the startup, retention and expansion of companies in Montgomery County as well as the recruitment of new businesses to the community.  To learn more, visit

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