Charlie Key Unlocks Success for Progressive Startup

Tuesday, November 04, 2014
Key Profile Photo

Charlie Key, CEO, Modulus

Charlie Key's role as co-founder and chief executive officer of an innovative startup with six employees, a few contractors, and lots of worries has evolved into responsibilities that oversee a multi-million dollar company.

Key's Modulus was acquired this summer by Progress Software Corp., a publicly traded global software company with $334 million of revenue in 2013. This transaction has brought an infusion of finances, more employees, higher expectations, and more challenges for the boss.

"Progress told everybody 'We believe in you guys, we believe in the product.' Now, we have to prove that our product is that good," says Key, a 2007 computer engineering graduate.

Like many of his fellow Rose-Hulman alumni, Key is a problem solver. He and co-founder Brandon Cannaday, a 2006 software engineering alumnus, couldn't find a web hosting platform for a Facebook game application that the duo developed as employees for a Fortune 500 company. That's when their entrepreneurial instincts kicked in at Key's hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Started in 2012, Modulus helps nearly 500 clients manage their digital applications and websites, and analyzes the data those apps generate. The firm is a leading provider of Node.js hosting, and provides a complete technology stack for application developers.

"Web development is in a period of dramatic change as apps now need to be more event driven than ever in order to provide the best user experience," Progress Software Chief Technology Officer Karen Tegan Padir states. "The Modulus Node.js and MongoDB cloud platform is the best solution for creating, deploying, and monitoring these types of real-time connected apps and is part of an incredible, thriving open source community."

Modulus, Cincinnati's 2013 Startup Champion, has released a new set of add-ons as part of its add-on marketplace, designed to make it easy for Node.js developers to build new functionality into their applications quickly. One add-in is SendGrid, a cloud-based e-mail service that gives businesses a cost efficient and simple way to send messages.

Being a part of Progress Software's corporate entity hasn't dampened Key's entrepreneurial spirit. He hopes Modulus will eventually provide a significant piece of the company's revenue, and he intends to remain in a decision-making role.

"I get inspired every time I see someone using something I've built in the real world, especially when it's making their life easier," Key says.

Before starting Modulus, Key worked as a consultant for several Fortune 500 companies. He's dedicated to building a highly technical company in the Midwest and continuing to encourage other startups in his hometown region. He has returned to campus as a guest speaker at Rose-Hulman's student-organized startup conference in 2012 and 2014.