Editor’s note: RTP Beat is a regular feature on Thursdays.

RESEARCH TRIANGLE … All too many start-up software companies still have not finished a product by their first birthday, but RedPelican, a year-old in June, already has more than a dozen customers and is rolling out the next generation of its product.

“A lot of software companies never make it to their first birthday, so getting there self-funded with not only a product but with significant sales makes me proud,” Sean Pan, co-founder and chief executive officer of RedPelican, tells Local Tech Wire.

RedPelican plans to roll out the latest, 1.5 version of its InFlight software on Aug. 22. InFlight allows small companies to automate email, direct mail and other marketing campaign processes without hiring information technology staff or outsourcing management of it. The software manages harvesting leads, responses, and actions taken on them, among other processes.

“It allows a non-technical marketing person to set it all up themselves,” Pan explains. The upgrade improves functionality, based on customer use and feedback.

Pan says the company is seeking a $3 million first round of venture backing to ramp up sales and marketing, but hasn’t been actively looking since the CED’s Venture Conference earlier this year. “We’ve been actively developing the business first,” he says. “It’s been a busy and frenetic year.”

RedPelican has more than a dozen clients, including Sprint, Allstar Automative Group, and a North Carolina state agency, Pan says. The average subscription price for the web-based software is $2,000, which Pan says may save a company from 200 to 300 percent of what it would cost to hire outside or inside IT help to do the same thing.

Pan says he and co-founders Randy Gray, director of business development, and Robert Wood, vice president of finance, and their friends and family funded the company at an undisclosed but “significant” amount. The company has sales people in California to cover the west, Louisiana to cover the central states, and the three founders in Durham.

Pan adds that with or without venture backing the company is considering adding sales people in the field.

Monica Doss, CED president, gave the company a ringing testimonial. “We are great fans of RedPelican,” Doss said in a statement. “What they accomplished in their first year, without outside funding is pretty impressive. The demonstration of their ability to execute was in the best entrepreneurial spirit.”

To USB or not to USB

You may have seen the Raleigh News and Observer story Wednesday about Gartner analyst Ruggero Contu, who wrote a report suggesting that portable flash memory storage devices such as IPods, and USB memory sticks may be threats to corporate networks or company secrets.

Ruggero suggested the portable devices should be banned from corporate networks.

Jeffrey LeRose, president of Research Triangle Software (RTS), Cary, which makes the keychain-sized “CryptoStick” USB storage devices in sizes from a gigabyte to 16 megabytes, tells Local Tech Wire, “That’s really a sledge-hammer approach. Banning devices doesn’t solve anything.”

LeRose says, “It’s not the device that’s causing the problem. It’s access to the information that has to be controlled. You could ban storage devices from a floppy disc on. When you use a CryptoStick properly, you probably have more security with the information you’re taking with you than you have on a network. It’s access to the information that has to be controlled, not the ability to use it.”

CryptoStick portable storage devices include very strong proprietary encryption techniques that would render the information useless to someone who happened to find it but who lacked access, he says. “At least with a device like ours, it’s secure once you copy it,” LeRose says. “And if they’re not entitled to it, why would they have access to it? If people have access to information they shouldn’t have, that’s a problem with the network, not that they can copy it.”

RedPelican: www.redpelican.net

Research Triangle Software: www.rtsz.com