Palm Beach Tech AssociationPalm Beach Tech Association

By Vanessa Calas

Introducing the New Palm Beach Tech Speakers Bureau

Introducing the New Palm Beach Tech Speakers Bureau

We’re excited to announce the launching of our new Speakers Bureau program for the Palm Beach community!

We at Palm Beach Tech decided to launch the Speakers Bureau to better educate our community about the booming tech industry, and it’s exponential growth.

This program links different professionals from a variety of industries to speak to classrooms, businesses, clubs, and community organizations. Our goal is to provide speakers to teach, share, and spark a conversation.

About the Speakers Bureau

Speakers Bureau is our new initiative in conjunction with our partners Junior Achievement and the School District of Palm Beach County.

Through the Speakers Bureau, Palm Beach Tech finds and pairs speakers in tech and business with organizations, classrooms, and groups.

We’re especially proud to have have entrepreneurs, coders and tech wizards available able to speak about how to utilize and implement tech in business.

For classrooms,  they inspire and excite students, sharing with them the infinite number of jobs you can have — and create.

Why a Speakers Bureau?

The Speakers Bureau gathers our community around a single uniting factor: learning.

You can submit a request for a speaker online. You can request speakers for your group from different industries or with knowledge in different topics. From there, our staff goes through to identify the best speaker for your event.

You can be a teacher, civic leader, or anyone with an audience; we welcome all to send in requests. Each speaker aims to provide quality knowledge, valuable insights, and even a bit of fun!

Moving our community forward

The Speakers Bureau will allow Palm Beach Tech to bring our industry’s talent to our community. Our organization is a part of Palm Beach County, and we want to help further connect the community around us.

Whether speaking in classrooms to empower the youth or with community organizations who want to grow their understanding, we welcome all to learn about technology.

Are you interested in having a speaker talk to your group? Click here to learn more and request your speaker.

By Nancy Dahlberg

Talking Tech with 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

Talking Tech with 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

Talking Tech with 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 Joe Russo

Palm Beach Tech Announces Golden Palm Award Recipients

The Palm Beach Tech Association has announced 15 winners of the 1st Annual Golden Palm Awards.

The event will honor those who have contributed greatly through their companies and own personal commitment to building the Palm Beaches into a Tech Hub.

The recipients range from successful CEOs, elected officials, startup founders, and community leaders all recognized for their many achievements and contributions. Additionally, Palm Beach Tech will honor several of its board members who have given generously of their time and service to the organization.

Palm Beach Tech’s Co Chairs Cam Collins (DockMaster Software) & David Bates (Gunster will lead the event with Adam Steinhoff (Dedicated IT) being the master of ceremonies.

The Golden Palm Awards will be held at the Downtown West Palm Beach Lake Pavilion on June 15 from 6:00-10:00 PM. Click Here to Purchase Tickets

 

Golden Palm Award Winners:

Excellence

Awarded to those who have contributed exceptional efforts to build our tech industry

Emerging Leadership

Awarded to emerging business & community leaders in our tech industry

Community Leadership

Awarded to those who have selflessly impacted our tech community

Meritorious Service

Awarded to Board Members who have gone above and beyond to build the Palm Beach Tech Association

  • TO BE ANNOUNCED AT EVENT

By Joe Russo

Wyncode & Palm Beach Tech Partner on new Coding Bootcamp

Wyncode Academy and The Palm Beach Tech Association are partnering to bring the first of its kind Part Time Coding Bootcamp to Palm Beach County.

“We’re excited to bring Wyncode Academy’s world-class education program to the Palm Beaches,” said Joe Russo, Executive Director of Palm Beach Tech. “We’re focused on building a sustainable talent pipeline for our tech companies, and with Wyncode we’re doing just that.

The part time Front End Web Development course, focused on HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, will be offered in the evenings at two locations in West Palm Beach & Boca Raton.

Students will learn to build front-end web applications using the latest web development technologies. The course requires no previous coding experience, taking students from zero to front-end developer using JavaScript and the React library in just twelve weeks.

“We’re proud to stand with Palm Beach Tech in supporting South Florida’s flourishing tech industry,” said Tim Reen, Wyncode’s Head of Product Development.

The courses will take place at Palm Beach Tech Space  (313 Datura Street #100, West Palm Beach) and Lynn University (3601 N Military Trail, Boca Raton).

The Palm Beach Tech location will be led by Jeremy Lawson, who has over fifteen years of experience in the industry as a developer, instructor, and more. The Lynn University location will be led by Andrea Bailey who has over ten years of experience as a talented front end engineer and instructor.

The course will begin at both locations on Monday, June 25th and take place on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:30 PM – 9:30 PM for twelve weeks. The technologies and frameworks covered will include JavaScript, HTML, CSS, Git, ReactJS and JQuery.

Palm Beach Tech will be hosting an introduction  workshop  for those interested in the program:

Tuition is $4,000, with financing options for individuals available through Climb and workforce development grants available for companies through CareerSource Florida.

For more information or to register please email joe@palmbeachtech.org

###

ABOUT WYNCODE:

Wyncode Academy is the premier accelerated learning destination in South Florida. Wyncode currently offers in-person courses for Full Stack Web Development, User Experience & User Interface (UX/UI) Design, Front End Web Development, and Digital Marketing in Wynwood, Miami, Florida in addition to the two new Front End Web Development courses in Palm Beach.  

Wyncode also has the ability to create custom cohorts and corporate training programs. Wyncode’s newest venture, Wyntalent, is a consulting service for mid and senior level dev talent. Wyncode’s network reaches far and wide with over 500 alumni and more than 220 hiring partners including CareCloud, Watsco Ventures, and KIPU Systems among many others. Wyncode’s full stack web development course is independently audited by MBAF and in 2016 had a 91% job placement rate within 120+ days of graduating, 93% of whom obtained a technical role.

ABOUT PALM BEACH TECH ASSOCIATION:

The Palm Beach Tech Association is a non-profit 501(c)6 membership association uniting and Building the Palm Beaches into a Tech Hub.

As a countywide trade association, Palm Beach Tech promotes industry growth by working with business groups, educational institutions, and government entities to support the goals of member companies. The core focus is fixed on producing long-term economic impact by attracting new business, supporting startups, and building the talent pool. With a scope of services that meets the needs of a wide range of industry professionals, from corporate CEO’s to freelancers, Palm Beach Tech believes in fostering the industry through a unified and holistic approach.

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 Vanessa Calas

There’s a new shindig in town: Palm Beach Tech Talks

There’s a new shindig in town: Palm Beach Tech Talks

This gathering of local tech-minded people will be taking place thrice monthly around Palm Beach County. Come join us in West Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens and/or Boca Raton for a taste of the Palm Beach Tech community, without the long drive.

The first get together took place last month. It took place at Palm Beach Tech and featured Alejandra Palacios, a cloud engineer at Microsoft. Over a few cold beers at the Space, Alejandra spoke about cloud infrastructure.

How it works

Palm Beach Tech Talks will take place every month throughout Palm Beach County:

Each Tech Talk gathering will feature a local tech community member who will present for 15 minutes on an intriguing topic. Events will take place after work as a way for people to unwind, chat, and enjoy a happy hour.

Upcoming Tech Talks speakers

Be sure to sign up for our Newsletter, join our Meetups, and follow along on Facebook for exact dates on our upcoming speakers! And we’re always looking for more speakers, but here’s who’s coming up:

West Palm Beach

Palm Beach Gardens

Boca Raton

Interested in attending a Tech Talk?

To stay up to date on the next Tech Talk in your area, sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Facebook. We’ll keep you informed with news and happenings in our Palm Beach Tech community!

If you’re a local business that would like to hold an internal Tech Talk session at your company, contact us and we will be happy to support you as we grow the tech community in Palm Beach County: Team@PalmBeachTech.org

By Joe Russo

Palm Beach Tech releases Education Forum Report

Palm Beach Tech Members & Partners,

On February 13th of this year, the Palm Beach Tech Association’s Education Committee held our first Palm Beach Tech Education Forum with the support of the Business Higher Education Forum (BHEF).

Click Here to Download our Report

The gathering was to focus on attaining three (3) predetermined goals as defined by the organizing team of Michael Fowler (NextEra Energy), Debbie Hughes (BHEF), Barbara Cambia (Lynn University), and myself:

  • Build Academic Partnerships
  • Strengthen Talent Initiatives
  • Identify Actionable Insights & Trends

With the support of our members, partners, and staff, we identified seven (7) gaps and six (6) opportunities listed in following report for our industry to address in the coming year. The Education Committee will take on these tasks through a yearlong 2018-2019 tactical plan set in June 2018, and as approved by the Board of Directors.

Additionally, it’s imperative to note we would not have been successful in this effort without the support of several South Florida Higher Educational Institutions. Of the following, we also had eight (8) Deans or High Level Administrators attend

  • Florida Atlantic University
  • Lynn University
  • Palm Beach State College
  • Keiser University
  • Nova Southeastern University
  • Miami Dade College
  • Palm Beach County School District

It’s our hope that this continued effort will lead to further building our Educational Pipeline for technology jobs in the Palm Beaches and South Florida.

Sincerely,

Joseph R. Russo

Executive Director, Palm Beach Tech Association

By Nancy Dahlberg

Talking Tech with HotelPlanner

 

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

Talking Tech with 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.  

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 Vanessa Calas

Hacking for a Cause: The 2018 Palm Beach Tech Hackathon

Palm Beach Tech Hackathon, Palm Beach County’s first ever 24-hour hackathon, was held on February 23 to 25 and brought in over 75 attendees. Hosted by Palm Beach Tech and the South Florida Science Center, the attendees ranged in age from middle school students to seasoned professionals with 20 years in the industry.

All hackers were invited to bond over the local community and their shared love of technology.

 

Hacking with a Purpose

This was wasn’t your typical hackathon… Instead of having teams just compete for money or to seed a business, the goal was to give back to the community by helping out a local nonprofit that is hungry for technology. By involving participants in building and providing high-quality tech in every facet of the community, including non-profits, we’ll grow our overall innovation at an exponential rate.

This year, Palm Beach Tech partnered with the Palm Beach County STEM & the Palm Beach County School DistrictThey brought three definitive problems for the hackers to solve:

 

  1. Matchmaking Classrooms with STEM Professionals: Creation of a platform where classrooms can post their needs and companies can submit their abilities.
  2. Promoting Events & Organization Opportunities: Creation of a software tool that integrates events from partner organizations, to aggregate then disseminate that information to parents, teachers, and the community.
  3. Your Own Idea and Project: Any team who can identify a credible problem and tangible solution to present their own idea. The project must be presented to the School District Staff on Friday evening for vetting and approval.

 

The Event

Participants coded, hacked, built, and tested as the hours ticked by. The animated atmosphere encouraged most to work through the night. There was palpable energy through the Science Center as the end of the 24 hours got closer.

When the hackathon ended, and each hacker sat back with a deep breath. They’d spent the past 24 hours creating and collaborating towards a shared goal. Despite their exhaustion, they felt immense pride, energy, and accomplishment.

Team Red Stapler, comprised mostly of employees of Florida Power & Light, came in first place. They worked 24 hours straight to build a website that automatically aggregated STEM and community events, and even included an integrated FAQ chatbot.

 

The Results

1st Place* | Team Red Stapler: Carolyn Gadigan, Rita Borraccio, Kirk Suscella, Dmitri Soroka, Laura Fagley, Sathiya, Venugopalakrishnan

*This team donated their winnings to Palm Beach Tech & Tech Garage

2nd Place | Team Undecided: Brett Wright, Colton Zecca, David ‘Mack’ Seager

3rd Place | Team Nebular: Ryan Wang, Gabriel Ferguson, Greg Perlman, Dani Healy, Sarah Nohe

4th Place | Team Tech Garage: Arman Alexis, Oalis Husband, Julia Cardoso, Christopher Cox, Devin Willis, and Dexter Dixon

 

Getting Involved

Palm Beach Tech is already planning next year’s hackathon. We’re looking to turn this 24-hour event into an annual competition that helps nonprofits and community organizations for years to come.

Are you looking to get in on the action?

Attend one of our upcoming Palm Beach Tech events or become a member today! We look forward to having you on board for our other exciting events.

 

By Nancy Dahlberg

Talking Tech with 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

Talking Tech with 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

Talking Tech with 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.”

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Introducing the New Palm Beach Tech Speakers Bureau
Talking Tech with Third Wave Technology
Talking Tech with Bridge Connector
Talking Tech with Child Rescue Coalition
Palm Beach Tech Announces Golden Palm Award Recipients
Wyncode & Palm Beach Tech Partner on new Coding Bootcamp
Talking Tech with Merging Traffic
There’s a new shindig in town: Palm Beach Tech Talks
Palm Beach Tech releases Education Forum Report
Talking Tech with HotelPlanner
Talking Tech with Quantuvis
Hacking for a Cause: The 2018 Palm Beach Tech Hackathon
Talking Tech with The SilverLogic
Talking Tech with Dedicated IT
Talking Tech with Digital Resource