i2o Technologies Wins 2012 Guardian Bank Business Plan Competition

Barbara Kieker

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Donnee Upson of i2o Technologies in Valdosta is the winner of the 2012 Guardian Bank Business Plan Competition.  Sponsored by Guardian Bank and the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Valdosta State University and Wiregrass Georgia Technical College, the competition awards $15,000 in start-up capital and thousands of dollars in in-kind professional services to a for-profit venture in the seed or start-up stage with potential to create in Lowndes County employment requiring a technical college or university degree.   

"The competition process was invaluable," said Upson.  "You get an education in what's required to start a business and meet people who can help you develop a good business plan."

"And while the prize money is great, the competition actually helped me get my business funded through an SBA loan about a month ago."

Getting i2o Technologies Off the Ground

Upson plans to start the first commercial data center in Valdosta to offer IT services to companies in a wide range of industries including finance, health care and education.  He expects to begin operations in early 2013.

"I have the facility and equipment in place, thanks to the SBA loan.  The communication line is scheduled to be installed next week," Upson said.  

"Right now I'm working on several certifications that will confirm data security in the center.  I think we will be ready to begin operations after the first of the year."

According to Upson, i2o Technologies, which stands for "intelligence to output," can offer a combination of services depending on client needs.  For example, i2o can develop secure, reliable network solutions for clients to use in their facilities or host servers in the i2o facility and provide network solutions.  Alternatively, a client could choose to move their entire IT infrastructure into the i2o facility.

Upson has approximately 25 years of IT experience.  Most recently he worked on computer and communications operations for a billion-dollar financial services company in Valdosta.  Prior to that he helped set up the computer and communications network for the Mississippi Department of Human Services.  Upson also worked for Raytheon on one of the "Star Wars" defense projects during the Reagan administration.

Bringing Business Ideas to Life

Started in 2005, the Guardian Bank Business Plan Competition is an eight-month process of workshops, classes and coaching sessions that enable participants to develop a business plan.  The competition is an initiative by the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce and its partners to foster new business development in the area that will raise per capita income and better the quality of life.

"With Donnee announced as this year's winner, 55 jobs have been created by Guardian Bank Business Plan Competition winners," said Varian Brown, director of Economic Development for the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce.

"This year, we received eight registrations for the competition.  Five participants submitted their first draft and three submitted their final draft and participated in the finalist pitch."

Past competition winners include Code 3 Response Security (2007), Azalea Health Innovations (2008), Sega Medical Research (2009), Innovate! Engineering Solutions, LLC (2010) and Fowler and Company, LLC (2011).

For more information on the Guardian Bank Business Plan Competition, contact Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Director Varian Brown at 229-247-8100.

About Barbara Kieker

Barbara Kieker is a freelance writer who writes on business-related topics for a number of web-based properties. She also provides communications services to Fortune 500 corporations, small businesses and nonprofit organizations.