Palm Beach Tech AssociationPalm Beach Tech Association

By Nancy Dahlberg

Member Spotlight | Ship Sticks

Business: Ship Sticks picks up, ships and delivers golf bags and luggage to customers’ hotels, clubs or homes. 

Launched: 2011

HQ: West Palm Beach

Employees: 80

CEO: Nicholas Coleman

Website: shipsticks.com

No. of golfers served this year: More than 300,000

“Efficiency, convenience and cost — If you can nail all three of those and add value in the process you have a good opportunity to build a great business.”

That’s sage advice from Ship Sticks CEO and co-founder Nicholas Coleman, and his high-growth West Palm Beach-based company is showing how it’s done.

Ship Sticks picks up, ships and delivers golf bags domestically and internationally to customers’ hotels, clubs or homes. According to Coleman, Ship Sticks offers a simple, efficient alternative to traveling with your clubs in an airplane and, by leveraging the buying power of the masses, tamps down the pricing to make the service palatable and affordable to all traveling golfers.

“Prior to Ship Sticks, it was a very expensive proposition to ship your golf clubs, and the process was disenchanting to end consumers because consumers didn’t understand the difference between the quoted and actual price,” said Coleman. “One of the problems we were solving was to commoditize the price of golf bag shipping and to make sure the quoted price was the actual price so the consumer would never have a bad experience.”

How’s the company doing? The numbers tell the story.

This year, Ship Sticks will ship more than 300,000 golf bags to golfers in destinations worldwide, and the West Palm Beach-based company is growing at a high double-digit pace. Since its launch in 2011, the company has grown from two employees to 80 and has outgrown its HQ four times.  It’s brought on about 4,000 partnering facilities that use its technology and service, said Coleman, who worked on Wall Street, started two internet gaming companies that were sold, and worked for a hedge fund before starting Ship Sticks.

Ship Sticks charges from $39.99 and up depending on whether people want overnight, one day or five day service and how far they want to go. Shipments include $1,000 of insurance and customers can add additional coverage.

“Being a company of golfers for golfers … we were able to deliver A-plus customer service and in turn build a brand that was trusted by PGA of America and by professional golfers as well as the consumers,” said Coleman, a 2 or 3 handicap golfer himself.

What’s next? Ship Sticks has quietly added skis and luggage as other options for people to ship. Ship Skis is being test marketed and Ship Sticks will be launching a luggage vertical in Q1.

“We will also be launching an app that will allow people to schedule and ship directly from their phones and they won’t need to use a printer to print the label,”  said Coleman. “We will keep refining and bettering our process and making sure our customer experience is awesome.”

Coleman said he’s happy with his decision to launch in Palm Beach County, the epicenter of golf. West Palm Beach provided economic incentives that helped the company build out a bigger space and in the hiring and training of employees.  Now its headquarters on Datura Street is 12,000 square feet and Ship Sticks is outgrowing those offices, too.

Still, he says, recruiting talent is a challenge for the county and the city. New condo and office buildings are going up and BrightLine is a big deal – five of Ship Sticks’ recent hires live in Fort Lauderdale or south of there and use the high-speed train to get to the office — but he also believes focusing on improving the education system will pay dividends.

It’s just going to take a while, Coleman said.

“Typically people don’t think of Florida as a tech hub. They think of it as a vacation, and you have to shift the mindset from the beach to business. If you can get beach and business in the same sentence, well, more power to you.”

By Nancy Dahlberg

Member Spotlight | Third Wave Technology

Business: Software Development

Launched: 2011

HQ: West Palm Beach

Employees: 7

CEO: Frank Barbato

Website: thirdwave.it

CEO’s advice to new entrepreneurs: “This is advice I have to give myself all the time – don’t let your life get out of balance. If you go in that mode for too long, you will lose your creativity and you will lose yourself.”

Recommended books: “The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time” by Jeff Sutherland; “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success” by Deepak Chopra.

 

Frank Barbato has seen it all since writing his first line of code in 1976.

When he moved to Palm Beach County 25 years ago, there wasn’t much tech down here then but he found a job writing a Windows software application for a real estate settlement system that became the No. 1 such system in the country.

Then, in 1999, he had the chance to architect and build out VirtualBank. The bank then added private banking under its Lydian brand, where he was CIO, and it went from startup to a $2.2 billion bank, Barbato said.

“I learned a lot there and enjoyed it but when the financial crisis hit … it seemed like I was spending more time with auditors than with developers. In late 2010 I decided it was time to leave and go innovate again.”

Barbato started his current company, Third Wave Technology, in July 2011. Now, seven years later, he is making a big change to his business model – but we’ll get to that in a bit.  

Third Wave, a name inspired by Alvin Toffler’s book by the same name, is a software company that develops SaaS and PaaS cloud platforms, data analytics and IoT solutions, dashboards and mobile apps for industries including healthcare and finance. Clients include CareUSA, South Florida Vision and a number of mid-sized companies.

“Technology is moving so fast and I felt a lot of companies were being left behind … I want to help companies close that gap and help them succeed and make money and grow,” said Barbato, who has been on Palm Beach Tech’s board since 2016. “That is what I have done my entire career.”

Barbato said he also wanted to build his own company culture based on mutual respect, where ideas are listened to openly and discussed. “It is a culture of achievement and excellence but it is also about keeping it fun,” he said, noting that every year Third Wave has been a sponsor of the Seven Mile Run for charity in the Florida Keys and the team makes a weekend of it.

Third Wave doesn’t compete on price, but rather on business acumen and technology knowhow: “Being in the industry for over 40 years now, I feel like that is our advantage. We aren’t just order takers.”

Over the years Barbato has had to buy out two partners and he’s had raiders from Silicon Valley steal four or five of his employees. But dealing with long sales cycles and the ups and downs of the custom software business has been the biggest challenge.

Now in a major change in its business model, Third Wave will be developing its own intellectual property, allowing the company to continue to build products for clients but also to be able to market and resell those products. Look for Third Wave to begin releasing some of its own applications and SaaS-based products in the next six months, marking the first phase of its transition.

“That’s reinvigorated me, that’s what I love, that’s what I enjoy. I’m very excited about what the next couple of years will bring for Third Wave.”

For his team, now seven, Barbato said he is always looking for self starters with skillsets such as data analytics, QA and project management, among others. He credits Palm Beach Tech with helping him maintain a solid core of talent. “Palm Beach Tech can help businesses accelerate building relationships it has taken me 25 years to build.”

Barbato also wants to help stem brain drain, a passion he shares with Palm Beach Tech. Instead of Boston, Austin or Silicon Valley, he’d like to persuade entrepreneurs to build it here. “I mentor and come across so many great business ideas – we have everything we need here, we just need to work together to build it.”

He believes more founders should get involved in Palm Beach Tech. “If you love living in Palm Beach County, it is the best way to commit time, energy or a simple membership — it’s the best way to grow this thing.”

By Nancy Dahlberg

Member Spotlight | Bridge Connector

Business: Bridge Connector is an integration platform as a service that delivers streamlined secure integration solutions for healthcare organizations. 

Launched: 2017

HQ: Palm Beach Gardens, with offices in Nashville and Knoxville, Tenn.

Employees: 25

CEO: David Wenger

Website: bridgeconnector.com

CEO’s advice to new entrepreneurs: “You will be knocked down over and over again, but what’s important is that you keep getting back up.”

There’s no magic key that opens the startup funding door. It takes persistence, a great product and team, and perhaps a bit of luck.

Just ask David Wenger, CEO of the Palm Beach Gardens-based health-tech startup Bridge Connector. He said he reached out to 300 to 400 investors before a friend knew someone who knew someone who introduced him to the Jenkins family of Publix Super Markets fame. “They agreed to a meeting and here we are,” said Wenger.

Bridge Connector recently announced a seed investment of $4.5 million, led by Tampa-based emerging-technologies funder Axioma Ventures backed by Howard Jenkins, former CEO of Publix. The financing will be used to continue hiring developers and bolstering its support, sales and management teams.

Bridge Connector, which launched in May 2017, is a secure integration platform as a service for healthcare. “We connect whatever disparate systems that healthcare facilities or systems use,” Wenger explained, using the example of a nursing home brand with 100 facilities around the country, each with different systems. “What we have done is found a way to do it for a relatively low cost compared to what else exists out there and we are full service. That means they won’t need to devote a whole team to build these integrations.”

Wenger, who grew up in Palm Beach County, formerly ran a marketing and advertising agency for six years. It was hired to build an integration for a healthcare client. “It took six months. I said to myself there has got to be a better way to do this.”

His father, a doctor and now also a Bridge Connector investor, inspired him to push on. “My dad always said, ‘create something that is yours and own it’.”

Without taking a salary for a year, Wenger and Judson Lathe, COO of Bridge Connector, went into stealth mode to bootstrap their platform. Developers Adam Henry and Aaron Wallace built the original platform. Wenger and Lathe assembled an executive team that includes Director of Sales Mike Iggulden, a former pro hockey player and Cornell grad who helped deliver a Salesforce partnership; Jason Raphael, VP of Client Relations, who joined from Accenture; CTO Joshua Douglas with 20 years’ experience in healthcare; and VP of Sales Andy Harlen.

“Now it’s literally clicking five buttons and we can build that whole integration that took us six months,” says Wenger about Bridge Connector’s integration tool. “We said to ourselves ‘this is really something’ and then we branched out. We partnered with Salesforce and some very big EMR companies.”

Since the fund-raising, Bridge Connector has been on a hiring spree. The startup, just six people in January, is now 25 in a recently expanded Palm Beach Gardens headquarters and offices in Knoxville, Tenn., and on Nashville’s Music Row. The company aims to be at 40 to 45 employees by year’s end.

“Our motto is master what we are good at and grow out other streams of revenue. There is a lot of opportunity,” said Wenger, who is married and has two toddlers. “We think Palm Beach Gardens is paradise. We think we can grow something very big in South Florida.”

But he added, “Regardless of how big we get, I always want to be the company that responds and communicates fully and transparently to our customers and associates. That’s very important to us.”

Over the next year, Bridge Connector plans to expand its platform and announce more key partnerships.

“Now we have the money to grow the company,” Wenger said. “We plan to be the integration solution for healthcare.”

His new funder thinks so too.

Howard Jenkins, co-founding partner of Axioma Ventures and former CEO of Publix, has joined Bridge Connector as chief strategy officer and a board member, as part of his company’s investment. Other investors in the $4.5 million round include Alex Jenkins, co-founding partner of Axioma; Hannibal Baldwin, CFO of Baldwin Beach Capital and Co-CEO of SiteZeus; and Dr. Jeffrey S. Wenger, a gastroenterologist.

“We are excited to back Bridge Connector,” said Howard Jenkins. “It’s a great example of thinking outside the box and leveraging the value of existing healthcare systems, rather than being disruptive for the sake of it.”

By Nancy Dahlberg

Member Spotlight | Child Rescue Coalition

 

Mission: a nonprofit that spreads its technology globally to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse.

HQ: Boca Raton

Employees: 9, plus contractors for specific projects

CEO: Carly Asher Yoost

Website: childrescuecoalition.org

 

In its mission to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse, the Child Rescue Coalition has assisted in the arrest of more than 10,000 online predators and the rescues of over 2,300 abused children in the last four years.

Now that’s impact.

Using technology for good is what CRC is all about. CRC’s Child Protection System, used by law enforcement officials in all 50 states and 84 countries, allows law enforcement to track predators, monitor their activities, prevent potential assaults and make arrests. The Boca Raton-based nonprofit partners with law enforcement to get its technology into the hands of the crime fighters.

And it is a huge mission. Each year, more than 300,000 children are abused in the U.S. alone. Predators leverage social media, chat applications and the Dark Web to target and coerce children. As many as 85 percent of online offenders viewing child sexual exploitation material are also sexually abusing children, according to CRC’s research. 

Over the last year in Palm Beach County alone, CRC’s tech has identified 45 targets, or individual IP addresses, in possession of illegal child pornography. CRC has seen 2,721 total targets statewide. Globally, the nonprofit’s technology has tracked 54 million offenders.

 

“We have made a good name for ourselves in the law enforcement community. They know us and love us and use our technology,” said Carly Asher Yoost, CEO and founder of CRC.  “The most exciting thing is seeing it is really working. It’s not just us talking about a problem or trying to do something, it really is proactively putting a stop to it.”

 

CRC’s story begins well before 2013, when the nonprofit was founded. The technology was originally created by a team of law enforcement. Yoost’s father, the late data technologist, entrepreneur and philanthropist Hank Asher, heard about the work they were doing and was impressed that it was identifying and catching child predators. It was always his passion to keep children safe from sexual exploitation, his daughter said.

Asher brought the whole team to his company, TLO, in Boca Raton in 2008 and funded development of the tool that is still being used today.

When Asher unexpectedly passed away in early 2013, Yoost and her sister led the 140-employee TLO and sold it to Transunion. But in the sale, they kept the technology that had been saving children and identifying child predators and transitioned to a nonprofit, CRC. Since then, CRC has nearly tripled the number of countries that use the technology.

“It was always free for law enforcement to use, and after selling the company and our father’s passing we wanted it to continue to be free,” said Yoost. “We continue to evolve the technology and keep it cutting edge.”

The nonprofit has attracted a host corporate sponsors including Transunion, which also provides office space for CRC, Yoost said. “We do events called Blankets and Bear Hugs, where the community comes in and makes care packages containing a homemade blanket, a coloring book that says police officers are my friends, and a teddy bear. Police officers can keep the care packages in the trunks of their cars to give to kids at a scene of crimes.”

CRC is hosting an open Blankets and Bear Hugs event for the community August 4 in its offices. Register here.

A trend in the nonprofit world is to develop a revenue-generating strategy so a nonprofit doesn’t have to rely only on grants and sponsors. CRC is doing this too.

While the core technology will always be free for law enforcement, CRC is now exploring allowing companies, such as online baby-sitter services, to use it for a fee, Yoost said. “Anytime someone pops up with an IP address that we saw as trading child pornography, we can alert them to that.”

In addition, CRC is developing a new forensics tool that it will charge for. Once officers have made the arrest and seized the suspect’s devices, they can run CRC’s new application to help them find the illegal files, even if the suspect deleted them. The tool should be available later this year.

These revenue streams are important because the biggest challenge of running the nonprofit has been funding, Yoost said.

“If we had more funding we could make a bigger impact, but I am very thankful for the support we have received. We would love introductions to corporations that want to find out what we do.”

By Nancy Dahlberg

Talking Tech with Merging Traffic

HQ: Orlando (A.J. Ripin is based in Palm Beach County)

Business: a global capital formation engine catalyzing growth, investment and access to capital in emerging technologies.

Management team: Dr. David Metcalf, chairman; Dr. Max Hooper, managing director; A.J. Ripin, COO.

Employees: Under 10

Website: MergingTraffic.com

Talk to A.J. Ripin about his adventures in tech and you’ll soon find out this is really a story about his passion for accelerating high-tech clusters in his home state of Florida.

For starters, the serial entrepreneur is COO of Merging Traffic Inc., a global capital formation engine that uses its unique ecosystem to bring the best of Florida to the world; and the best of the world to Florida. Merging Traffic, launched in 2015, is not a broker dealer; it connects investors with early-stage ventures.

“The founders have had personal and professional success and we really think of Florida as our home and are looking to help Florida compete and grow for future generations,” said Ripin, a Lake Worth resident who has two daughters, 6 and 8, and hopes that his contribution will help their generation grow up to find meaningful opportunities in a thriving economy.

“We are playing our part to contribute to the state to help companies born in Florida, stay in Florida, and companies outside Florida to discover and select Florida to grow. We think of ourselves as the future of private equity.”

Merging Traffic, which includes prominent Florida technology and business leaders David Metcalf and Dr. Max Hooper at the helm, currently works with dozens of startups, sometimes making direct investments. It partners with the Mixed Emerging Technology Integration Lab (METIL) at the University of Central Florida and serves as a conduit to the private sector looking to advance R&D in the state.

 “We connect the parties together,” Ripin said.  “It’s about planting the seeds for future early stage ventures.”

Merging Traffic supports Florida Angel Nexus, which has also been working to connect early stage companies with funders on a statewide level. Ripin is on board of directors of Palm Beach Tech and the Florida Opportunity Fund. He is a mentor for UCF’s i-Corps, which promotes the Lean Startup methodology to promote innovation. Ripin formerly co-founded Mem-Cards, a card-based learning system, and is working with several startups. He commutes to Orlando a couple of days a week (yes, he is looking forward to Brightline’s Orlando leg) and works the rest of the week in various South Florida co-working spaces.

In addition to helping homegrown startups, Ripin is founding member of StartUp Nation Ventures, which supports Israeli companies looking to base their U.S. operations in Florida.

Ripin cites a Massachusetts study showing that Israeli tech innovation represented 4.2 percent of that state’s GDP and thousands of tens of thousands of jobs. 

“My hypothesis is that Israeli tech innovation will really advance certain technology clusters, which would be good for the entire market of Florida. Florida has a lot to offer and as Israeli tech companies discover Florida, that will in aggregate serve as a catalyst for the state’s technology clusters.”

Ripin says clusters are developing around Florida, including Orlando, Miami, Palm Beach County and Tampa. Miami’s strength is as the gateway to Latin America and Ripin also sees a lot of activity in drones. Although Palm Beach’s identity is still being developed, HR-tech is an interesting vertical emerging. Orlando is developing clusters in heath-tech and cybersecurity, he said. A recent global entrepreneurship report cited ad-tech and health-tech clusters emerging in Tampa Bay.

The challenge is supporting the advancement of clusters across Florida that is so spread out, Ripin said. “We think there is a rising tide that will lift all boats.”

By Nancy Dahlberg

Member Spotlight | HotelPlanner.com

 

HQ: West Palm Beach

Business: leading online platform for group travel bookings worldwide

Co-founders: Tim Hentschel and John Prince

Employees: 150

Website: Hotelplanner.com

 

HotelPlanner’s technology is cutting edge, but the co-founders grew the global leader for group travel bookings the old-fashioned way: through passion, perseverance and hard work.  

Tim Hentschel and John Prince started the hospitality-tech company in Prince’s San Diego apartment in 2003, after the dot-com bust. “He was customer service sitting on my couch, and I was the programmer,” said Prince, who back then had recently studied computer science at Northeastern graduating top of his class and was working full time as a software engineer.

Hentschel grew up in the hotel business (he’s a third generation hotelier), studied hospitality management at Cornell and was working at his mother’s travel company at the time. He saw how negotiations of group blocks were being done very manually and asked Prince to automate it online.

“When we looked into it, one in three hotel rooms was booked into a group block and there was no real online player at the time. This gigantic market was all fragmented offline and we built a system where hotels could bid and compete for a group block,” said Prince, recalling the early days and the reverse auction process.

“We both quit our jobs to start the company and raised a small amount of money from friends and family. We were paying ourselves about $1,000 a month and that is how we got started.”

Prince and Hentschel grew the team over the next five years in California, but decided the state wasn’t a fit for their big vision. For one thing, the time zone made it difficult to work internationally, and business-friendly Florida invited a look.

In 2010, they checked out several areas around Florida but settled on West Palm Beach because of the quality of life and easy access to the business community. It’s also a good place to raise a family, said Prince, who grew up in Maine and was once a commercial fisherman.

At this point HotelPlanner.com, then about 15 employees, began to take off.

HotelPlanner made a big push into the corporate travel world and acquired Meetings.com, a leading corporate meetings brand, in 2012. Around the same time, HotelPlanner opened satellite offices in Hong Kong, London and Las Vegas. Hentschel. the CEO, moved his family to London to run the international operations. And the company ultimately leased 15,000 square feet of space in the downtown West Palm’s PNC Building, overlooking the intercoastal, for its new headquarters.

Now the company is 150 employees strong, with about 75 in the West Palm headquarters. Last year, HotelPlanner added about 25 people.

The company services 3,000 to 4,000 new groups a day all over the world booking blocks ranging from 10 to 500 rooms a night. “We power the group bookings for all the major travel sites,” Prince said.

That includes wedding blocks, teen travel, college groups, professional sports travel, corporate and government meetings and family reunions. HotelPlanner booked about $600 million in hotel reservations last year, growing about 30 percent, and expects another 40 percent growth this year, Prince said.

And it did all this without raising institutional financing, a rare feat in the world of travel-tech. “We are 100 percent employee owned,” Prince said. “It’s great because we have complete control but it definitely puts a strain on cash flow. At the same time we don’t have a private equity or VC company breathing down our neck. We figured we would grow the company the old-fashioned way — with blood, sweat and tears.”

Growing a company in Palm Beach County has its upsides, beyond the sun and fun.

“If we were running the company in San Francisco or New York, we would probably be just another interesting tech company. Being in Palm Beach, I feel like the area really appreciates and supports us and I feel like we get access to a lot of the best tech talent. There are benefits to being a big fish in a small pond.”

What’s the secret sauce? Working hard and smart, said Prince.

“We are all into this for the long term and building something great. The time we put into this is unparalleled.

“We didn’t do this overnight. It’s been 15 years of excruciatingly hard work.”

By Nancy Dahlberg

Member Spotlight | Quantuvis

 

HQ: West Palm Beach

Business: A healthcare IT company

CEO: Lisa Bair

Employees: 40

                                                                                 Website:  Quantuvis.net

It was her love of horses that brought this entrepreneur to Palm Beach County, but Lisa Bair is also making major tracks in the local and national technology industry at Quantuvis.  

Bair, a competitive equestrian, came up with the concept for Quantuvis, a healthcare-tech company, while she was renting a home in Wellington during the competition season in 2013. After the serial entrepreneur got buy-in from the healthcare industry about her concept, Bair incorporated the company and settled in to the area. Today she lives on a 10-acre horse farm.

Quantuvis created rebate management technology aimed at improving consumer access to affordable medications. When pharmaceutical companies are contracting with managed care, the data is captured instantly and continuously and they can negotiate in real time and efficiently move into contracting, she explained. Until Quantuvis came along, the processes were highly manual.

Quantuvis saves time, increases efficiencies and reduces errors in the process, said Bair. “That’s where we think we are spot on where everyone wins.”  

Before founding Quantuvis, Bair founded and ran The Hobart Group, a healthcare advertising agency that she grew to 150 people with operations in Chicago, New York and New Jersey before she sold it. To get a grounding in the healthcare space years ago, she started as a pharma rep and also held leadership positions.  

Today, Quantuvis, which means “as you please” in Latin, has 40 employees between the West Palm Beach headquarters and a new office in Alexandria, Virginia. The Quantuvis platform is now used by over 170 pharmaceutical companies and almost a dozen payers managing over 125 million patients.

In Quantuvis’ early years, the concept of software-as-a-service was very new. “The technology was logical, but behavior change – moving away from manual processes and using technology to replace that – was a much longer process than I calculated.”

In June of 2015, Quantuvis opened its headquarters on Clematis Street. Last month, it opened its Alexandria office to house its development team.

To finance its growth, the company has raised nearly $10 million to date from private investors, including a Series A round last June. “That allowed us to round out the management team, customer service, marketing and operations. We got pretty aggressive in growing our headquarters team,” said Bair, who looks for integrity, boldness and work ethic in her potential employees.

Finding seasoned developers has been a challenge in Palm Beach County, but Bair has a strategy for that, too. She allows her developers to work remotely or in Alexandria, but she’s found that many later opt for the Sunshine State. “We encourage them to bring their family down and try it out. A lot of people are in a point in their career where this is a complete upgrade in lifestyle. … It is a very big decision but it comes with a big upside.”

What’s next? The company is always expanding services, such as a recently launched contract management module. Beyond that: Going global. “From the first step of negotiating the cost of drugs through the billing and administrative piece of it, we can do this all over the world,” Bair said.

As for life on the farm, Bair took a year off from competing (she had been competing up to three horses), but said she will be back next year; her daughter is taking up the sport, too. Bair does most of her riding on weekends but treasures that time and the balance it creates. “Once you get that release from something that you are very, very passionate about, you are much more productive mentally.”

By Nancy Dahlberg

Member Spotlight | The SilverLogic

HQ: Boca Raton

Business: Custom Software Engineering Company

CEO: David Hartmann

Employees: 34

Website: thesilverlogic.com or tsl.io

The SilverLogic is not your typical tech company. And the 26-year-old CEO, David Hartmann, wouldn’t have it any other way.

“We build iOS and Android apps, websites, web apps, business automation, iOT, augmented reality and blockchain technologies,” said Hartmann, who co-founded the Boca Raton-based custom software engineering company 5½ years ago as a Florida Atlantic University student.

But don’t call The SilverLogic a dev shop, because it is so much more, he said. In clients, “we look for long-term relationships. We will build the MVP but then we also help maintain and support it.”

What’s more, once The SilverLogic has built a product for a client, an integrated TSL marketing team helps acquire users and reach the masses with the new technology.

“Some of our clients were hiring agencies and not getting the same value-focused delivery they were getting from us for software,” said Hartmann. That’s when it became clear that TSL needed to be involved from development through user acquisition, he explained. This year, marketing is an integral part of TSL’s services.

In 2017, the company built 17 products for new clients, including Alf Boss, a resource for assisted living facilities, and entertainment-tech company VuPulse, in addition to supporting and enhancing others.

To support the growth, The SilverLogic has hired at least one employee every month since Dec. 2016, growing from 17 to 34 employees today, said Rory Michaels, who heads up marketing.

Consider this: 80 percent of its employees started as interns. Each employee has a personal development plan, promising plenty of experiences using emerging technologies on a variety of projects.

“No one has to swim in their own lane because there is no lane,” said Michaels, who previously worked in politics and Hollywood and was attracted to The SilverLogic because of the impact it can create. “Everyone is committed to build products that drive success.”

Hartmann, born in Germany, studied computer science and mathematics while at FAU. He had been doing contract development work on his own, and while taking an iOS development class, he teamed up with a classmate to form the startup. The concept: they could do better work by working together.

After graduating with bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Hartmann focused fulltime on developing the company. This marked the beginning of TSL’s growth spurt.

“Because I have that technical background, I care a lot that the software we deliver has to be very high quality and follows good engineering principals. So we have built up pretty strong infrastructure … that we share with all our clients. By working with us, they have an infrastructure level they wouldn’t have at the startup level,” he explained.

Entering hackathons allows team members to stretch their creativity and work with new technologies. The company’s “hackathon SEAL team,” led by Hartmann, has won or placed at every hackathon it has entered the past couple of years – nine of them – including Money2020 and Visa Developer Challenge in Las Vegas, the Miami Bitcoin Conference and eMerge Americas, where it will compete for a fourth time later this month. “It’s a great team experience,” he said.

And the learning never stops. The past few months, members of the company have been on a “world tour,” meeting experts and participating in conferences from San Francisco, LA and Seattle to Barcelona, Singapore and Dubai.

Then the company will bring it back to Boca. This summer, The SilverLogic will start a speaker series, bringing tech experts to town, some of whom team members have met on their world tour. The events will be open to the community. Stay tuned.

By Nancy Dahlberg

Membership Spotlight | Dedicated IT

Business: IT services for companies.
HQ: Palm Beach Gardens; second office in Melbourne, Fla.
CEO: Adam Steinhoff
Employees: 28

 

Adam Steinhoff once tried working for someone else. It lasted a year.

“It became very apparent that I am a much better entrepreneur than an employee,” he quipped.

That one-year stint as a senior network engineer was 17 years ago, and since then, Steinhoff has built his own tech company, Dedicated IT, into a strong employer and tech player in Palm Beach County.

Dedicated IT, based in Palm Beach Gardens, is an IT services company specializing in serving mid-sized companies. “Businesses with 100 to 500 employees do business with Dedicated IT because we are the best at turning around poorly performing IT departments and/or other IT services companies who are dropping the ball,” said Steinhoff, founder and CEO, during an interview in the hammock chairs at Palm Beach Tech, where he is vice chair of the board of directors.

Like Dedicated IT, Steinhoff was officially made in Palm Beach County. A geek all his life, Steinhoff started fixing other people’s computers as a teen. “My parents drove me to friends’ houses to fix their computers, and I would have to call them afterward to pick me up.”

Steinhoff attended college, but dropped out quickly because “everything they were teaching was obsolete.” Instead he acquired relevant certifications: Microsoft, Cisco, Citrix, NetApp, Nimble and others. That knowledge was supplemented with real-world experience – “many years of hard-learned and often expensive lessons,” he said.

Fast forward to today and Steinhoff hasn’t changed: “A lot of people tinker on cars and stuff – I like to tinker on businesses.”

Today, Dedicated IT has 28 employees and Steinhoff has plans to add 20 this year. Revenues have doubled in the past year, and the company has 167 clients in 40 states and three countries, Israel, France and the UK. In 2016, Dedicated IT merged with Medical IT Solutions in Melbourne, where it now has its second office.

“They are in high-growth mode typically, and they are frustrated and tired of technology problems. The guy they hired early on in the company isn’t cutting it any longer. That’s when we get the call.”

One of Steinhoff’s keys to success is “being cool with not being the smartest person in my company,” he said. “I have built a pretty successful company in Palm Beach County by hooking my buggy up to smart people.”

During the hiring process, Dedicated IT looks for all of these specific values in candidates – optimism, relentlessness, charisma, passion and a thirst for growth, Steinhoff said.

Dedicated IT offers its employees unlimited vacation and no-questions- asked family personal leave, he said. “We work hard but have fun.”

Steinhoff advises aspiring entrepreneurs to subscribe to Audible and ask every person they respect what books they should be reading.

What books inspired Steinhoff? “How to Win Friends and Influence People is the bible of charisma. Be Obsessed or Be Average by Grant Cardone gave you permission to be obsessive about what you are passionate about. Traction by Gino Wickman is good for companies that are closing in one the million dollar revenue mark and are trying to turn a big little business into a little big business.”

Dedicated IT’s goal for 2018 is to spend more time with its best clients to figure out how its service can be even better, Steinhoff said. Within five years, Steinhoff hopes to have 20 national accounts with offices in 10 states or more and annual revenue of at least $20 million.

By Nancy Dahlberg

Member Spotlight | Digital Resource

HQ: West Palm Beach
Business: A digital marketing agency
President: Shay Berman
No. of employees: 27

 

 

Shay Berman hasn’t been sleeping much – by design. He typically rests from 4 to 6:30 a.m. and again from 6 to 8:30 p.m. He read about successful people using this snooze strategy and thought he would give it a try.

And besides, who has time for sleep when you have a fast-growing tech company to run?

Berman is founder and president of Digital Resource, which helps clients with SEO, website design, social media and live chat services. “Everything we do is custom. We don’t do anything cookie cutter,” he said. “We will custom create a strategy that fits our client’s needs.”

Berman graduated from Michigan State in advertising, and while there his professors, who were also Google executives, helped him develop a proprietary link-building system for SEO. Then he founded a landscape construction company and dove into internet marketing to grow his business. He loved the marketing part and learned about management, but “being in the weeds literally myself was not what I wanted to do long term.”

Berman sold that business to a friend and moved to Palm Beach County “paradise” about five years ago. After working briefly for another marketing company, he thought he could do it better. Digital Resource was born on his couch.

Its customers are dentists, ice cream shops, car places, roofers, landscapers, pet stores, you name it. “We have clients that spend $300 a month and others are spending tens of thousands – it really depends on what they are trying to accomplish.”

Many of them come for the SEO services but social media marketing is also a big company focus.

Unfortunately, companies often don’t do that well on their own, Berman said. “They think that they don’t have to be personable through their presence or they think it will be the be-all- end-all to get them success. It has to be worked at and earned and you have to play the long game with it.”

Berman believes 2018 will be the year of video marketing but he also thinks managed live chat is underutilized: “There is no other medium online that allows you to reach out to the potential customer before they reach out to you.”

Today, Digital Resource has 27 employees, tripling in the last year because it strengthened relationships with strategic partners and focused harder on sales and client retention.

“Our goal is to double if not triple again this year,” he said. “We have hundreds of customers in the state of Florida alone. We are keeping our revenues private but I will tell you that we will place on the Inc 500 list of the 500 top companies this year. It’s not official but based on the past year we will qualify this year.”

Company culture is key, he said: “When a business gets to this size, it is the people that drive it. We try to live by our three principles in everything we do: transparency, fun, efficiency. I want my employees to feel like when they wake up in the morning this is where they really want to go.”

The office exudes energy, with writing all over every wall. Said Berman, “We call it organized chaos and it is how I think, too.”

By Nancy Dahlberg

Member Spotlight | Arrow Digital

HQ: West Palm Beach; offices in Dallas. Ukraine and India
Business: A boutique digital consulting firm that builds custom software, websites
and RPA solutions.
CEO: Mark Landry
No. of employees: Over 120

 

In Arrow Digital’s West Palm Beach offices off Clematis Street, the company’s core values hang proudly on the walls. One of the first ones that a visitor sees: “We Make Our Moms Proud.”

Below the large letters, employees busily create software solutions for their customers and bounce ideas off one another while a couple of them take a break at the ping-pong table.

Teamwork is critical at Arrow Digital, a boutique digital consulting firm, and it’s why the company’s core values such as “We’re A Family,” “We’re a Teaching Hospital” and “We Know That ‘Good Enough’ Isn’t” are so important, said Robert Wells, VP of strategy.

Arrow was founded in 2005 by Ryan Morgan, and in 2007 he joined with Raul Rodila to grow the company. Now, under the direction of the two managing partners, CEO Mark Landry and an experienced leadership team, the company has more than 120 employees servicing customers such as Cracker Barrel, Hilton, GL Homes, NASCAR and a large global financial services client.

After understanding and strategically mapping out a customer’s business goals, Arrow Digital designs a customer experience and creates custom applications and large-scale websites that enable the customer to reach its goals. As the digital revolution has gained steam, Arrow launched emerging technology and services practices in Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Cloud Enablement, Digital Experience, User Experience and Data Analytics. Much of all this is facilitated by Arrow’s project governance program.

“Over its 12+ year history, the company has developed a deep library of IP for methodologies, governance and delivery. The company has doubled in revenue and size every two years since its inception in 2005 and was highlighted as one of the INC 5000 fastest growing companies in 2015,” said Wells, who joined Arrow in 2015. “Our biggest competitive advantage is our highly skilled people and a unified commitment to quality.”

On tap for 2018: Scaling the business and driving more growth to its RPA practice. Longer term, “we will continue to build our practice areas and innovate as new relevant technology and business needs arise,” Wells said.

To be sure, growing a tech company in Palm Beach County was difficult early on. “But with Palm Beach Tech and the resurgence of entrepreneurs, technology and innovation, it has made it easier. There is more buzz here now,” Wells said.

To keep nurturing the tech industry, Wells believes there should be a strategic focus at the county level to grow the talent pool. “With our dynamic growth, we have definitely helped bring people from other states here, that’s for sure.“

Arrow Digital’s reputation and company culture are attractors: It’s on Clematis, offers flex time, hosts events and even has a Fun Committee, Wells said. “We encourage our people to be a part of the community.”

That includes inspiring young entrepreneurs at Place of Hope and helping Palm Beach Atlantic with their business plan competition. Morgan invests in startups through New World Angels. Wells is a mentor for #MadeInPBC. Arrow manager Jeremy Lawson runs the Palm Beach Java Script Meetup that has grown from 20 people to 700-plus and also coordinates the Palm Beach Tech Hackathon for the STEM Council. Said Wells, “We’re all trying to give back.”

By Nancy Dahlberg

Member Spotlight | ScriptSender

HQ: West Palm Beach

Business: Enables secure, instant communication between healthcare providers.

CEO: Chris Craft

No. of employees: 30

 

 

Don’t tell Chris Craft it can’t be done.

The former CIO at a healthcare system found that simply and securely sending or receiving health information, be it prescriptions, health records or other documents, was time consuming and staff intensive – not to mention archaic. That’s because the systems the doctors, labs and hospitals used weren’t compatible with one another; documents often had to be faxed and then input on the other end, an inefficient process that could be prone to errors.

But when Craft thought there had to be a better way, doctors said it couldn’t be done. The company’s board told the healthcare executive that “not everything is a technology problem to be solved.”

So on his own time, Craft built a solution and his company agreed to be the first user. In year one, the organization reaped large savings, Craft said.

If it worked for that organization, others could benefit too, Craft believed. That’s when he launched ScriptSender in New England and moved it to Palm Beach County in 2014.

“We connect healthcare systems, hospitals, specialty physicians and labs. All their systems speak different languages and it causes a lot of unnecessary work and delays in patient care,” said Craft, founder and CEO of ScriptSender. “Our software makes their systems speak the same language.”

And it has to be ridiculously easy to install and use. After all, doctors can be demanding customers.

Today, ScriptSender offers six subscription-based products, including its original product for sending scripts between entities and another for transmitting diagnostic images. They are used by major healthcare systems in every state and other countries, Craft said.

“We also work with the independent facilities [such as] the small to midsize lab or pharmacy, and we are able to provide them technology to compete at the enterprise level.”

In December alone, ScriptSender sold more subscriptions than the entire year before. Profits grew significantly last year, Craft said. Craft credits the company’s success with having a skilled team that is customer-centric.

“Every customer comes with different challenges,” said Craft. “We’ve had to be versatile and willing to change our approach and our model. Our whole product suite is built on customer need.”

Nationwide, ScriptSender has about 30 employees, and Craft expects that to double over the next 12 months in Palm Beach County.

What’s ahead? Robust growth. ScriptSender’s headquarters at 319 Clematis St. is expanding, and nine products are planned for 2018 rollout. The expansion roadmap includes South America and Australia, and more innovation is on the way. “We’re working on data projects to help our customers not only run their business better but help make better decisions about treating patients using their own data,” Craft said.

Craft likes the way the county’s close-knit tech community is developing, and he’s part of Palm Beach Tech’s education committee. “We need more continual investment, not only in retaining technical companies, but also in growing our technical resources and training.”

By Nancy Dahlberg

Member Spotlight | MyTaskit

HQ: West Palm Beach

Business: A work-coordination platform

CEO: Kevin Hutchinson

No. of employees: 21

 

What’s a successful health-tech entrepreneur doing making waves in the marine business? Let’s ask Kevin Hutchinson.

He is founder and CEO of MyTaskit, a subscription-based work coordination platform for service and repair professionals. MyTaskit started out innovating in the marine sector, but is now also navigating the 10x larger property management and construction industries, among others.

Hutchinson found similarities with building systems for coordinating patient care. He is founding CEO of Surescripts, a health information network used by most physicians and nearly all pharmacies in the U.S. Before that, his companies built one of the first electronic medical record systems, purchased by GE, and created a physician portal acquired by WebMD.

Now with startup No. 4, this serial entrepreneur isn’t slowing down.

With MyTaskit, service work is coordinated internally between staff and externally with subcontractors and customers, eliminating workflow and communication inefficiencies. “Our system takes a task, and not only is the task description there, but [technicians] can chat with the supervisor, add photos and videos, they can add labor notes and hours … and it immediately goes into the company’s accounting system,” Hutchinson said.

One of MyTaskit’s marine service customers was seeing an abundance of unscheduled overtime and didn’t know why. The company put MyTaskit in place to track jobs and communicate with workers throughout. The result, according to an independent ROI study: The company reduced unauthorized overtime by 50 percent and billing time by 44 percent.

Although Hutchinson’s vision was always big, MyTaskit first tackled recreational marine, a microcosm of other markets with its plethora of mechanical, electrical, plumbing and carpentry tasks, said the lifelong boater. Like all startups, MyTaskit made course corrections. In 2012, it was called The Boat Village, a platform enabling better communication between the consumer and business. But its business customers told Hutchinson they had a bigger problem – communicating with their own workers. After moving to Palm Beach County, MyTaskit relaunched in 2015.

Today, MyTaskit employs 21 people and has expanded into property management, construction, industrial equipment and commercial marine domestically and abroad. More than 1,000 industry professionals are using the platform. The startup has raised $12 million in financing.

While service workers haven’t typically been tech’s early adopters – just like doctors – that’s also the way to learn, Hutchinson said: “I love the guys that resist because they are going to be the ones who help you the most make a better product.”

His advice to first-time entrepreneurs: Stay resilient. “These are long hours, long days, you have to find a balanced life. But you really have to work your life into the work, not the other way around.”

Wait, he’s done this before. Doesn’t it get easier?

“You can be a parent of four kids and they will all be different. Any startup you do is going to have its own personality – with different growing pains. But by keeping the team focused, we are seeing tangible results for our customers and that is exciting to see.”

By Nancy Dahlberg

Member Spotlight | Levatas

HQ: Palm Beach Gardens

Business: A digital transformation agency

CEO: Ryan Gay

No. of employees: about 100

 

Digital transformation is in this company’s DNA.

Levatas, a digital agency serving a who’s who of national brands, uses technology and data science to enhance customer experiences, said CEO Ryan Gay. “We help drive revenue, increase operational efficiencies and create better experiences for employees and customers of brands.”

It comes down to this, Gay said: “We love helping our customers solve hard problems.”

A decade ago, Levatas started in founder Chris Nielsen‘s garage as a website development company. Gay was employee No. 4. Even then, Levatas asked its customers the why questions – why do you want this website and what do you hope to get from it? That led to a lot of hows – and new solutions to help drive eyeballs to the sites.

Under Nielsen’s creative energy and Gay’s operational expertise, Levatas spread its wings, solving harder technology problems for bigger clients. About 10 years ago, Levatas built a robotic arm for Cisco’s production functions.

“That set us on the path to becoming a digital transformation agency,” said Gay, an FAU business grad.
“Today we are about 100 people strong who work for some of the biggest brands.” Those include IBM, HSBC, NextEra, Office Depot, H-P, G4S, Emerson and Dell.

For HSBC, Levatas modernizes digital customer experiences, particularly with credit card signups. As part of the banking company’s innovation initiative, Levatas runs workshops with cross-functional HSBC teams that prototype solutions and pitch them to the C-suite. For other companies, Levatas’ work includes chat bots, augmented reality and other cutting edge technologies.

“We do a lot with machine learning and data science to help brands take data silos they already have and merge them into a data warehouse that can produce insights to drive their business forward,” Gay said. “That’s where we see the market heading.”

Levatas has posted 10 straight years of growth, and has no debt. Its annual revenues are north of $10 million.

Still, Levatas can’t hire data scientists and senior architects fast enough and may open satellite offices in other U.S. cities to attract more talent. Levatas’ weapon of choice for talent retention is work-life balance.

“Our ethos is to have happy clients and to be happy ourselves.” Gay explained. “A lot of agencies do it at the expense of the team – you see high turnover, low retention, you see 70 or 80 workweeks. … That’s not who we are.”

One of Levatas’ two offices in Downtown at the Gardens opens to a congenial café atmosphere complete with a bar and ping pong. In the other, teams are casually huddled in inviting communal areas. As the team grows, it may open a “destination headquarters” in Palm Beach County, perhaps on the water, that complements its live-work- play ethos, Gay said.

Along with good salaries, Levatas offers unlimited time off, 401K matching, flexible work hours, gym memberships, free lunches and bonuses. Its GenerosiTeam makes certain Levatas actively gives back to its community and Levatas matches employees’ charitable giving.

Said Gay: “We know happy people do great work.”

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