Craig Patnode started a winner in 2004 with then-fledgling Sterilmed, a cleaner and refurbisher of medical devices. He hired veteran executive Brian Sullivan to succeed him as CEO in 2007 and drive the company forward.

Sterilmed rocketed from about $20 million to $100 million in revenue and several hundred employees by 2010. It was acquired by two private equity firms for about $175 million. And it was later sold to Johnson & Johnson for $350 million. It is still based in Maple Grove.

At about the same time he started Sterilmed, Patnode, 45, also acquired for not much a fledgling software program developed by the Wilder Foundation and the General Mills Foundation. It has since been refined, reformulated and evolved into a small business called Eldermark.

Minnetonka-based Eldermark employs 50 and expects revenue of $10 million this year. It automates and streamlines "senior housing" operations as well as connects with the electronic medical records of the residents through their health providers. The business has grown significantly amid federal health care requirements for integrated electronic records and the swelling ranks of senior citizens. Also, insurers, including Medicare, increasingly are moving to pay less on a fee-for-service model and more of an outcomes-based model. That requires an integrated housing-to-health care software or "personal health record."

"Our software focuses on senior housing; independent living to assisted living and memory care," Patnode said. "The other side of the fence is nursing homes, and that's declining. The government [through Medicare and Medicaid] wants to move increasingly to less-expensive senior housing … and as you age, you add services and the rates move up incrementally.

"We're a full software suite. One database. And the [housing] operators need a software partner … from marketing to risk management, general ledger, nurse care … core operations. And the electronic records need to be integrated and in sequence with hospitals, clinics and physicians for transitional care of residents. Still a lot of paper records [in senior housing]. We're developing the electronics that follows the patient."

The federal Affordable Care Act accelerated electronic records, and provided hospitals and clinics with financial incentives. The senior care operators follow the lead of health care providers.

Patnode said he has invested more than $5 million of his Sterilmed earnings into the Eldermark software platform. He hopes to get to a leading position over the next few years in a still-fragmented industry where he intends to grow organically and possibly through acquisitions.

"'I've gone deep on this, and I haven't taken a salary in 10 years," he quipped. "I still live in the same Minnetonka house I bought out of college, and we're living on the Sterilmed deal. The industry is just starting to consolidate, and we're going to get bigger."

'Geekettes' all winners at Hack the Gap MN

The winning team at the Hack the Gap MN hackathon last weekend hacked a Star Wars toy and turned it into a headset that could measure brainwaves.

The event, held at Lead Pages, the fast-rising sales analytics company in Minneapolis, was billed as the first hackathon in the Twin Cities that was just for women.

At hackathons, programmers and engineers form teams and brainstorm new products, then try to build them under a deadline. At Hack the Gap MN, they had 14 hours.

The team called NeuroVisionaries created a headset data visualization tool that measured meditation and attention and displayed it on a laptop screen. "As I focused on meditating and clearing my mind, the visual quickly went from red to blue," said Kristen Womack, a Lead Pages executive who helped organize the event.

The second-place team created a travel app they called Trip Me.

Other teams created apps for meeting people, encouraging meditation among children and accessing public information from Minnesota cities. More than 50 female "geekettes," as they like to be known, participated. They also proved that software and technology is not just a male domain.

Evan Ramstad

Minneapolis in energy conservation top 10

Minneapolis has been ranked among the nation's top 10 cities that are making strides to reduce costs and pollution through energy efficiency, according to a new report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

The city ranking, issued every two years, said Boston did the most to conserve energy. Minneapolis was ranked seventh. The scoring system examines a range of factors, including actual energy reduction, adoption of new energy technologies and policies to encourage conservation.

"Our findings show that cities continue to be laboratories of innovation when it comes to energy efficiency, with many pushing the envelope for more energy savings in the last few years," said the report's lead author, David Ribeiro.

Here are the rankings with scores on a scale of 100.

David Shaffer

Minnesota business ethics award winners

Victory Auto Service & Glass of Fridley (under 100 employees), North Star Resource Group (100-500) and Mary T of Coon Rapids (500-plus) were the small- to large-category winners in the 2015 Minnesota Business Ethics Award competition, announced this month.

"Earning the Minnesota Business Ethics Award can be aspirational for many organizations, but those who receive the award find it an affirmation of their true business culture," said David Rodbourne, co-chairman of the business ethics awards. "Ethics is an obligation of business that begins with the true structure of the organization."

Other finalists lauded by the panel included Corporate Finance Associates, Star Choice Credit Union, Bay West, HealthPartners and Medtronic.

The awards, now in their 16th year, were founded by the Twin Cities chapter of the Society of Financial Service Professionals and the Center for Ethical Business Cultures at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business. More information: