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Computility seeks $1 million for growth


An Urbandale company has changed its name to reflect a new trend in the computing industry: “utility computing,” which gives businesses the flexibility of utility pricing for computing power, storage, services and applications.

Harvest Services Inc., 10641 Justin Drive, became Computility earlier this month. Its chief executive, Joseph Meshi, said the shift in the company’s focus puts Computility well ahead of a trend that will change computing dramatically in the future. IBM Corp., for example, is investing $10 billion, including $800 million this year, in utility computing. Microsoft Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Sun Microsystems Inc. are making similar investments in utility computing. The market research firm Gartner Inc. expects utility computing to grow from an $8.6 billion industry in 2003 to a $25 billion industry by 2006.

As Computility, the company Brian Donaghy and Mike Stuart founded in April 2000 as Harvest Services Inc. will continue to target small and mid-sized companies with its real-time Web-enabled services, which offer utility pricing that allows customers to pay for only the services used, in the same manner that water and other utility companies bill their customers.

Donaghy and Stuart believe their services will be especially attractive to small businesses that can’t afford complex information technology infrastructures.

“Computility is positioned to be on the cusp of this wave,” said Meshi, who also is CEO of Growth Ventures Group, a venture development company that focuses on seed-level technology companies. Unlike business incubator programs, Growth Ventures doesn’t initially provide funding. Rather, it follows a business model of “fix, filter, fix and then fund,” Meshi said. It loans executives, attorneys and accountants to portfolio companies such as Computility, remaining involved until the company is on solid financial ground. Meshi came on board as CEO in November 2002 as part of Growth Ventures’ commitment.

The computing company began operations with an equity investment of $100,000, but now it’s ready to grow and capture more market share. As Harvest Services, it achieved modest success, building a base of about 75 small-business customers in Greater Des Moines for subscription-based computing services, which included customized computing infrastructures, business management and maintenance services.

Computility will make a pitch for $1 million in funding from angel investors during Tuesday’s Iowa Venture Capital Conference at the Polk County Convention Complex. The funding will help the company, which currently holds more than $2.5 million in long-term contracts and projects revenues of approximately $1.4 million in 2003, expand its market. Meshi said the company is “a premier example of a successful company starting at the downturn of the technology industry.”

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