CEO Sean Belanger accepts Tampa Bay Business 100 Award and Most Innovative Company Award on behalf of Stratus Video Interpreting and ZVRS, crediting Apple’s role in technology development and the subsequent growth of the company’s video remote interpreting (VRI) services.
November 19, 2014, Clearwater, FL – Clearwater-based video communications firm CSDVRS, LLC was recently honored by the Tampa Bay Business Journal at an awards ceremony celebrating the achievements of the area’s top 100 privately held businesses. As the parent company behind Stratus Video Interpreting and The Z® Video Relay Service (ZVRS), CSDVRS holds the number 77 spot in the Tampa Bay Business 100 and was one of just a few companies to receive a special recognition award, being dubbed as the “Most Innovative” company among the honorees. The success of CSDVRS and its inclusion in the Tampa Bay Business 100 is largely attributed to its subsidiary Stratus Video Interpreting, which boasted outstanding growth in 2013 and is on track to grow 400% in 2014.
The Tampa Bay Business 100 Awards ceremony was held October 23 at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay and was well attended by local business leaders. CEO Sean Belanger accepted the Tampa Bay Business 100 Award and Most Innovative Award on behalf of Stratus Video Interpreting and ZVRS, and was interviewed onstage by Tampa Bay Business Journal Editor-in-Chief Alexis Muellner about the companies’ history of innovation.
While the business’ original incarnation and earliest work in video relay service (VRS) for the deaf and hard-of-hearing dates back to the mid-1990s, Belanger recounted how the intervention of Steve Jobs and a team of Apple engineers helped drive the development of Z’s mobile VRS application. “When Apple introduced its FaceTime video calling service, I knew the technology could be of tremendous benefit to our clients,” he asserted. “However, we struggled with how to go about implementing it.”
Belanger decided to appeal directly to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. “I sent him a very concise email about who I was and what I did, and said we needed help. Four days later, I received a call from a guy who said, ‘I’ve been told to help you. I don’t know why; I don’t know who you are. I work for Apple and I can’t tell you who told me to call you.’”
Shortly afterward, Apple sent three engineers to Clearwater to meet with Belanger; and a week later, Z’s mobile VRS app was operational. It officially launched on July 26, 2010 – which also marked the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
After perfecting its VRS offerings for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, the company decided to leverage its video communication technology and expand its interpretation services to address the needs of individuals with limited English proficiency (LEP). To that end, CSDVRS spun off a new business unit called Stratus Video Interpreting in 2012. Stratus offers on-demand video remote interpreting (VRI) services in more than 175 spoken and signed languages.
“While ZVRS created a strong foundation for our business, I believe Stratus will drive our future growth,” predicted Belanger. “When we introduced Stratus in 2012, we started off with virtually zero revenue. By 2013, we earned a little over $1 million in revenue; this year, we’re at $4 million. I anticipate equally strong growth in the coming years as more organizations discover that our interpretation services offer an effective and affordable way to comply with government mandates for equal language access.”
Stratus video remote interpreting combines the benefits of face-to-face interpretation with the convenience and affordability of over-the-phone interpreting (OPI). The company’s on-demand video interpretation services offer solutions for a wide range of industries, and haven already proven successful in court systems, the Federal government and healthcare. In fact, Stratus has grown its client roster from 20 hospitals in 2012 to more than 500 healthcare facilities today.
“On behalf of CSDVRS, I’m grateful to have been recognized by the Tampa Bay Business Journal for our company’s growth, leadership and innovation,” said Belanger. “It has always been our mission to overcome language barriers and foster better communication between cultures. As ZVRS and Stratus Video Interpreting continue to grow, my team and I take pride in knowing that we are helping to improve the lives of deaf, hard-of-hearing and LEP individuals nationwide. I pledge to maintain our focus on quality, service and innovation, so our customers will always have access to the best interpretation services and the latest technology available.”
About Stratus Video Interpreting and ZVRS
Stratus Video Interpreting provides on-demand interpreter services by using technology to connect clients with interpreters in over 175 spoken and signed languages in less than 30 seconds. Stratus’ cloud-based video solution delivers an array of unique features to virtually any Internet-enabled PC, Mac, smartphone or tablet. Stratus clients use the technology to connect with their own staff interpreters, as well as with Stratus interpreters, who have years of healthcare and courtroom experience and hold multiple certifications. With Stratus, state-of-the-art video remote interpreting is made available with virtually no capital investment. Stratus averages 65,000 video calls a day, up from 40,000 in mid-2013. Stratus Video is the sister company of The Z® (CSDVRS, LLC, dba ZVRS), which was established in 2006 and developed by and for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, setting the industry standard as the nation’s premier Video Relay Service Provider and the first VRS Provider to receive a 5-year certification from the FCC. In 2014, Stratus was recognized as one of the fastest-growing privately held companies, ranking #3,827 on Inc. magazine’s Inc. 5000 list. For more information, visit http://www.stratusvideo.com.
Karla Jo Helms
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