Pierre Naude moved to Wilmington from Atlanta in 2012 to become CEO of nCino Inc., which sells software that helps banks trim loan paperwork. He cruises the Intracoastal Waterway on his pontoon boat, doesn't miss big-city traffic and hopes to be in the Port City a long time. That may happen if nCino meets his projection of $50 million in annual sales by 2018, compared with $6.5 million this year. Employment has climbed to about 100 from 18 two years ago as banks in 19 states have bought nCino's products. "We want to build the company long term," says Naude, 56, a veteran of public companies Blue Bell, Pa.-based Unisys Inc. and Norcross, Ga.-based SI Corp. "Otherwise, I would have done this in a big city somewhere and then sold the company after two or three years."
Equally ambitious plans are afoot at Charlotte-based software developer Tresata Inc., where annual sales might top $1 billion within a decade, CEO Abhishek Mehta says. Before co-founding the company, he worked eight years for Bank of America Corp. on computer programs that analyzed massive amounts of consumer data to identify people likely to want credit cards or checking accounts and to spot credit and fraud risks. A native of India and former executive-in-residence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, he saw opportunity by looking out of his front window during the 2006-07 housing boom. "People who could not afford to buy homes were buying homes. I could see it in my neighborhood." In 2008-09, the housing market sank and foreclosures soared. "So why didn't we see it coming? The more you dug into it, you realize that the data existed, but the software to analyze it, find the intelligence in it, did not."
Mehta, 36, left the bank to start Tresata in 2011. Annual sales reached $10 million in 2013, and the company plans to double employment next year, adding 25 jobs in technology, data science, sales and marketing, most of them at its downtown Charlotte office. Software Development Times, a trade publication, named Tresata as one of 17 emerging U.S. tech companies to watch in 2015, calling it "a potential game-changer." Its software analyzes data in a way that is less expensive and more comprehensive than previous programs, spokeswoman Katie Levans says. Though the company focuses on banks, it also targets customers such as Matthews-based Harris Teeter LLC, which was acquired earlier this year by Cincinnati-based Kroger Co.
State officials hope Tresata and other...