Pensacola entrepreneur credits 2014 Innovation Awards for bringing his tech startup to life

By Ione Villegas, Innovation Coast Staff Writer

For Lloyd Reshard, CEO of Cognitive Big Data Systems, competing as an exhibiting finalist in the 2014 Innovation Awards provided the expert coaching and visibility he needed to bring his tech startup to life. 

He didn’t walk away with one of the top three cash prizes that year, but he said the connections he made throughout the competition led to other opportunities, such as participating in the Venture Hive business accelerator program that helped him fine-tune his revenue model. 

Fast forward two years later, the Pensacola entrepreneur hopes to be on the cusp of a winning streak. He was recently named the winner of Get Started Pensacola sponsored by Cox and received a $5,000 cash prize. 

Reshard said competitions, like the Innovation Awards and Get Started Pensacola, forced him to think through key issues in his business model and learn how to pitch it to an audience.

“These competitions make you collect information that you need to advance your idea to a viable business,” he said. “It requires a lot of preparation, but it’s a good way to grow.”  

With more than $250,000 in cash and technical and consulting prizes available, the 2017 Innovation Awards is designed to give winning companies a financial boost. Startups have until Jan. 31 to register their business for the two-day competition on April 12 and 13 at the Pensacola Beach Hilton. 

The chance of winning Innovation Award’s $100,000 cash prize was the impetus for launching his startup in 2014. Reshard said their app utilizes artificial intelligence software invented by his business partner Dr. Stephen Thaler to analyze structured and unstructured data instantly. Developed in 2015, A Video Analytic Engine, is a security application that uses computer vision to memorize pixel patterns in video feeds and generate intelligent video analytics. 

Video surveillance is big business. It is used to monitor public places, such as airports, hospitals and universities, and private businesses and homes. But current surveillance technology is highly dependent on operators watching the video feeds to identify threats. 

“AVAE monitors the video feeds 24/7,” Reshard said. “AVAE can learn and understand what’s normal for its environment and alert the user when something unusual happens.”

Reshard said Cognitive Big Data Systems has partnered with three international video surveillance companies: Axis Communications, OnSSI and Pelco.

David Deliman, Cox’s market vice president for the Gulf Coast, said entrepreneurs and local businesses are the lifeblood of a community’s job growth.  

“Cox is committed to assisting local entrepreneurs expand their business along the Gulf Coast, to provide jobs and services to the communities we serve,” he said. “At our recent Get Started event in Pensacola, it was exciting to see the types of ideas generated by entrepreneurs in this area. Cox looks forward to working with these groups to help their businesses grow.”

Tiffany Sullivan, executive director of Innovation Coast, said business plan competitions provide startups with a stepping stone on the path to success.

“The Innovation Awards and Get Started Pensacola spur innovation and economic growth,” she said. “But they also provide entrepreneurs with the means of developing the skills and contacts to be successful. Stories like Reshard’s illustrate how these competitions are contributing to the growing entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region.”

To register for the Innovation Awards or to find out more information, visit

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