Palm Beach Tech AssociationPalm Beach Tech Association

By Nancy Dahlberg

Member Spotlight | Back Office

Business: Automated bookkeeping platform for small businesses

HQ: West Palm Beach

Number of employees: 12 and hiring

Year founded: 2018

Co-founders: Felix Rodriguez, Glenny Rodriguez and Edwin Mejia

Website: backoffice.co

Fresh off a successful 500 Startups Demo Day, Back Office, which created an automated bookkeeping platform for small businesses, announced last week that it raised $1.8 million in seed financing to fund its growth. The round was led by Active Capital, and included PlugNPlay Ventures and angels from San Francisco, New York, Boston and Florida.

For this young startup, the funding news was another key milestone in a year marked by building, learning and rapid growth.

Back Office was co-founded by Felix Rodriguez, Glennys Rodriguez and Edwin Mejia in early 2018 and is based in West Palm Beach. The startup helps small- to medium-sized businesses by automating their accounting and finances, typically cutting accounting expenses in half and saving business owners at least 20 hours a month, the company said.  “We just take it off their hands,” said Felix Rodriguez, CEO.

The team will use the capital to expand operations, enhance its technology and add complementary tools to help small businesses succeed.

Felix and his co-founders have three exits under their belts. Their first tech company helped small businesses with their web presence and grew to 50 people and about 3,000 customers when they sold it.  “We’ve been building technology businesses ever since … but at the end of the day, the thing that kept coming back and was a core part of every business was having a good set of books.”

Yet for small companies, bookkeeping is intimidating, stressful and time consuming – and that’s where Back Office comes in. “We automate bookkeeping and allow business owners to see how they are doing all in an easy to use platform which saves businesses time and money,” added Glennys Rodriguez.

When Back Office was selected for the highly competitive 500 Startups Accelerator in Silicon Valley, as one of 20 companies in Batch 24, it had about 50 customers. By the completion of the accelerator, the company had close to 300 customers, said Felix. “We were getting as many new customers per month as it took us the whole first eight months. It was crazy growth and it was just the three of us — we had to quickly hire, we had to hire people over Christmas” for Back Office’s West Palm Beach office.

Said Mike Sigal, partner at 500 Startups Fintech Fund: “We liked Back Office from our first conversation with them, but were quite frankly surprised – and thrilled – with the ramp up of marketing, sales and customer service performance they were able to receive during our program.”

The team moved out to San Francisco for five months for the accelerator, and then moved back. “South Florida is a great place to build a company with an immense untapped talent pool here,” Felix said. “I just don’t think we have the [investment] support system yet.”

During the fund-raising process, Felix sent a letter to Active Capital, a seed fund that invests in B2B SaaS companies like his.

“It was a cold email, a really good email — he had a lot of credentials and in his reach-out to me he did a very good job of painting the picture of why we would be a good fit together,” said Pat Matthews, founder of the San Antonio-based venture fund. “We traded emails and I went out there to meet the team and we all hit it off.”

Matthews is the co-founder and former CEO of webmail.us, an Inc 500 B2B company that sold to public company Rackspace in 2007. With Active Capital, Felix said: “It was not just the money. It’s was like here’s how we did it and here’s how we can teach and leverage what we know to help you build the company.”

Added Matthews: “Back Office is solving a big problem for a huge market, their execution so far has been amazing and I really look for entrepreneurial teams that have made a lot of traction without a lot of capital. They also at the same time have stayed very focused and built the core of the business without trying to do too much. … I think they have the makings of something great here.  It’s time to scale the company up.”

Back Office has about 12 employees now in West Palm and is in a hiring mode. “I think we will be at 20 in the next month,” Felix said.

By Nancy Dahlberg

Member Spotlight | LexisNexis Risk Solutions

Business:  LexisNexis Risk Solutions provides customers with solutions and decision tools to assist them in evaluating and predicting risk and enhancing operational efficiency.

Local campus: Boca Raton

Parent company: RELX, based in the United Kingdom

No. of employees: In Boca Raton: 643; globally: 6,166

Website: Risk.LexisNexis.com

 

As the technology industry looks for ways to attract more women into its careers, perhaps it should pay more attention to what LexisNexis Risk Solutions is doing.

LexisNexis Risk Solutions provides customers with solutions and decision tools that combine public and industry specific content with advanced technology and analytics to assist them in evaluating and predicting risk and enhancing operational efficiency. Its Boca Raton offices employ more than 600 people.

It doesn’t surprise Lisa Simmons, VP of Technology for LexisNexis Risk Solutions in Boca Raton, that 51 percent of Boca’s workforce and 25 percent of its development team are women.

”It’s an amazing company to work for. We promote from within. There are two tech [career] paths – manager-director-vice president, my path, or you can be an individual contributor on the path to become an architect,” she said.

“We move people around. If you’ve proved yourself in IT, and you want a developer position, we will do that. We allow you to learn and we teach on the job.”

Simmons’ LexisNexis career spans 20 years but her interest in technology reaches back to high school, when she talked her parents into buying her an early home computer – a TI-99 – and she started writing games. “I had a passion for programming since then. It’s in my blood. I am proud to say both of my children are in the field,” said xxx, who majored in the computer information systems.

Simmons started her career at LexisNexis Risk about 20 years ago, first as a developer and then began managing developers. In 2004 she became VP of product development and ran public records system. “Accurint is my baby — I brought it up and made the product what it is today. I am very proud of that,” she said.

Today, as VP of technology, Simmons leads all of the company’s development of its products and technology for the government side of the business.

In order to attract more women into technology, outreach in the community is key, and LexisNexis Risk Solutions is very active.

“We have events all the time,” said Simmons. “We do a lot with middle schools, high schools and FAU.” said Simmons, noting that one of the women she recruited right out of FAU five years ago is already on her way to becoming a software architect.

One of LexisNexis Risk Solutions’ programs is Tomorrow’s Technologists, a free computer science/STEM initiative that LexisNexis Risk Solutions funds and hosts in events around the country. On Jan. 16, LexisNexis Risk Solutions kicked-off its technology education initiative with “She IS Tomorrow’s Technologist” — a free event held in Boca Raton that focused on educating young women about the advantages of pursuing a career in technology. More than 50 female high school and college students attended the event featuring female executives from LexisNexis Risk Solutions, including Simmons.

LexisNexis Risk Solutions also hosts programs for children on the autism spectrum. It does events with iRISE2, which is part of Florida Atlantic University. The camp and mentoring program helps help students with autism and other related disabilities develop skills in the field of technology, as well as provides coaching on resume creation and interviewing.

In another program, Simmons said, “middle school students come to our engineering conference and demonstrate what they have done in robotics. This past year they started doing agricultural robotics. They get to know Lexis, they get to know technology and the opportunities here.” 

Simmons lauded the company’s CARES program, in which the company gives two additional paid days off to employees to support the community in many different ways. She said other benefits include flexible hours, stock option purchases and an excellent bonus program. “If the company does well, every single employee of LexisNexis Risk Solutions gets a bonus.”

“It’s amazing how [Palm Beach County] has grown up into a big tech sector,” said Simmons. “It is very hard to find talent because … we have some of the most amazing companies right here in the tri-county area, We have all these companies drawing from the same pool of people so we need more.”

Software developers need to be dedicated and “the logic background needs to be with you,” said Simmons, whose mother would take five 30-piece puzzles and throw all the pieces together and at age 5 Simmons would do them all.

To be a good leader, the number one quality is integrity, she said. “You need to be a great manager, of course, you have to be able to work through all kinds of good and bad. But without integrity it doesn’t really matter if you are good at managing.”

By Nancy Dahlberg

Member Spotlight | SAMA Labs

Business: E-commerce marketing agency

HQ: Boca Raton

Websites: SAfishing.com, alphadefencegear.com, sama-labs.com

Founder: Thomas DeSernia

No. of employees: 150

Secrets to success: Believing in the people who work for you and allowing them to be creative and have their free range of motion, said DeSernia, adding that persistence and hard work are also important attributes.

 

Thomas DeSernia started an e-commerce company out of his bedroom with 50 T-shirts and an Instagram account in 2013 and turned it in to what it is today – an outdoor lifestyle brand.

Through SA Company, headquartered in Boca Raton, consumers can purchase apparel, gear and accessories for fishing, hunting, boating and other outdoor activities. DeSernia also launched Alpha Defense Gear, a brand selling military-themed outdoor wear, and because of the company’s success marketing products – that Instagram channel now has a million followers — DeSernia also started a marketing company called SA Marketing, or SAMA.

This year, DeSernia was named to Forbes’ prestigious 30 under 30 for his success in the retail and ecommerce sectors.

His entrepreneurial story started while he was in dental school. DeSernia had already graduated from Nova Southeastern with a business degree and from Florida Atlantic University with a degree in biology.

But while she was supposed to be studying dentistry, DeSernia found he was always thinking about what he could invent and patent. He invented an accessory for fishing that protected the bottom of a fishing rod so it wouldn’t scar the deck of a boat. But he knew very little at the time about branding and marketing and the product did not sell.

But as DeSernia learned more about social media, he opened an Instagram account  and put his first T-shirt up. Salt Armour, the name of the company then, received about 10 orders that day and that marked the birth of the company. “At that point I knew this was what I wanted to do.”

Goodbye dentistry.

With a strong social media following, the company began expanding its product lines and selling all over the country. It changed its name to SA Company in 2015. “We believed Salt would not resonate with users in Middle America that were into hiking or hunting.”

So what started as an outdoor apparel company became a lifestyle brand as accessories and other consumer products were added, including a website for military-style apparel. Because SA Company owns its own manufacturing facilities (all in Boca Raton) and sells completely online, it is able to sell at better quality and more affordable prices than competitors, the company says.

“So we took the inception of one product, grew the brand to a successful e-commerce business, diversified the e-commerce, and then we saw that we had this unique opportunity and the talent to do marketing that also helped other companies. And that became our marketing agency,” DeSernia said.
SAMA calls itself the anti-agency.

SAMA is now also launching an incubator for entrepreneurs and private equity fund.

 “It’s a little of everything now,” DeSernia said, admitting it wasn’t a premeditated business model. “It’s about a passion for helping people. I’m a big believer in positive energy.”

SA Company has never raised capital; it is self-funded. It has been growing at a double digit rate since inception, DeSernia said. The company is hiring about 12 to 15 people a month – everything from fulfillment to graphic design, video editing, creative directing, digital marketing, research and development, sourcing, merchandising and logistics.

“A lot of people say to build a technology-based company in Southeast Florida is difficult because of the talent pool, but I think the talent pool here is amazing,” DeSernia said. “People are much more loyal, much more passionate. Being sunny 350 days of a year is really important for overall morale. We may not be a big tech community but I think we are disruptive in our own way.”

Growing into other similar direct-to-consumer markets and investing more into SA Company’s people and infrastructure are business goals for this year.

Longer term, DeSernia plans to continuously diversify SA Company, mirroring the Berkshire Hathaway model. “That’s the goal — so my children’s children and hopefully my employees’ children’s children can one day work in the same organization.”

By Nancy Dahlberg

Member Spotlight | TouchSuite

Business: TouchSuite is a financial technology company focused on the payment processing space.

CEO: Sam Zietz

HQ: Boca Raton

Year founded: 2004

No. of employees: more than 80 in Boca Raton; dozens more in other locations.

Recent acquisition: Grubbrr

Purpose statement: Empowering Entrepreneurs

TouchSuite, a leading financial technology company based in Boca Raton, has acquired companies all over North America. But it didn’t have to leave its own back yard to find and buy a disruptive AI startup, Grubbrr.

Formerly based in Miami, Grubbrr brings the frictionless shopping experience that kiosks provide to businesses of all sizes. Think kiosk technology like you see in McDonald’s or Panera, but you don’t have to be a giant chain to afford the technology anymore. That’s because Grubbrr’s platform enables a variety of businesses to rapidly implement self-service kiosks, point-of-sale systems, mobile ordering and online ordering.

“It hits the sweet spot of tech and it is completely disruptive to the hospitality industry but it is really wider than that,” Sam Zietz, TouchSuite’s founder and CEO and one of South Florida’s most successful entrepreneurs, said about Grubbrr. “It’s exciting stuff. “

TouchSuite purchased Grubbrr late last year and moved the company to TouchSuite’s headquarters in Boca.

“Grubbrr built this incredible product — they spent three years writing millions of lines of code and they have the best product on the market. There is not really a competitor right now that does what they do,” Zietz explained. “So this is all about building out the distribution and making people aware of it.”

TouchSuite provides Grubbrr with the corporate infrastructure, systems, processes, management expertise and access to growth capital to take on what is a very ambitious disruptive technology, Zietz said. “Literally any restaurant, every stadium, any QSR, candidly, any place with a line is a client.”

Zietz explains that during the company’s due diligence, it visited businesses with kiosks. While there’s nothing like a long line at the counter to make people seek out another option, TouchSuite’s team also saw that customers – especially millennials — go right to kiosks even when there was no counter line, Zietz said.

“What happens is you end up generating 12 to 22 percent higher revenue and that’s because of what we call the hover effect. At a kiosk, you don’t feel pressured and you can take as long as you want. You see the pictures, I’ll take that and I’ll take that, too.”

Because of this, more workers are needed in the kitchen, which negates the job losses of counter personnel, he added.

TouchSuite targets the SMB business community in a wide range of verticals. The Grubbrr product offering and ecosystem targets the largest total addressable market that TouchSuite already sells to – the hospitality industry, Zietz said.

TouchSuite is in a pilot with a number of very high profile sports teams to completely improve the customer experience, such as ordering concessions from your seat or at one kiosk instead of multiple crowded food counters. It also allows TouchSuite to provide analytics back to the stadium owner to provide a better experience and easily provide discounts to season ticket holders.

“And we are in pilots with some of the largest QSRs in the nation and at the same time individual business owners,” Zietz said.

Acquisitions like Grubbrr fit with TouchSuite’s AI strategy, Zietz said. “We are rolling out facial recognition with AI. We are demoing it for a very large company that you would get coffee from and they want it for the drive-thru.”

In addition to knowing what your usual is, with the AI component, the business will also know you like a double expresso in the morning and cold brew in the afternoon and can make recommendations that 10 other vegans like you also like. “You are providing a better customer experience because it gets to know you.”

Zietz founded TouchSuite in 2004. He was a lawyer at one of the largest firms in the country and was doing structured finance deals, which led him to his interest in the payments space. Because he always wanted to be an entrepreneur, he launched TouchSuite in the space but pivoted to the technology side in order to better differentiate the company. TouchSuite’s offerings include point-of-sale systems, payment processing services, SEO solutions, working capital and marketing services.

In 2018, TouchSuite was named to Entrepreneur magazine’s Entrepreneur 360 list and awarded Business of the Year by South Florida Business Journal. Today it has more than 80 employees in its Boca headquarters. Largely because of its acquisitions, it has another 40 or so in Montreal, 35-40 in Washington state, a dozen in Maryland and a half dozen or so in its Miami office, said Zietz, the EY Entrepreneur of the Year for Florida in 2015.

What’s next for TouchSuite? “We are continuing to develop or acquire technologies to provide complete solutions for businesses,” Zietz said. “Our purpose statement is empowering entrepreneurs. The more successful we can make a business owner by default we’ll become more successful.”

TouchSuite is a big sponsor of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy run by the Boca Raton Chamber, and its employees have been mentors and speakers at YEA events. You’ll also find TouchSuite supporting community races and other charitable competitions, among other philanthropic initiatives. TouchSuite also runs an active intern program for both university and high school students, typically hiring 15-20 interns each year.

Zietz’ advice to entrepreneurs: “First and foremost, find what you are passionate about. You are going to encounter all kinds of obstacles, and it is your passion that keeps you from staying down when you get knocked down. You need that passion to get back up, dust yourself off, and do it again and again and again.”

What he’d like the community to know: “We are actively hiring developers. If someone is talented and wants to learn in an entrepreneurial setting, reach out, because we are very active in trying to bring talent in. We’re selective but we also do a great job of developing our team members.”

By Nancy Dahlberg

Member Spotlight | Meetings.com

Business: Meetings.com gives corporations the tools to easily and efficiently source meetings all over the world.

Parent company: West Palm Beach-based HotelPlanner.com

No. of employees: 20, plus shared staff with HotelPlanner

Management: Bas Lemmens, CEO; Bruce Rosenberg, COO

Business growth: 100 percent in 2018

 

In 2012, HotelPlanner.com purchased Meetings.com and it turned out to be a match made in event-planning heaven.

That’s because West Palm Beach-based HotelPlanner.com is mainly a consumer brand, allowing groups of people to book blocks of hotel rooms for occasions like weddings, reunions, school trips, etc. Organizations use HotelPlanner.com too, of course, but typically corporations prefer to have a booking platform geared completely to them, with a unique look and feel.

“Meetings.com is our business to business brand. It’s designed to work with larger companies and to perform event planning services for them,” said Bruce Rosenberg, Chief Operating Officer of HotelPlanner and Meetings.com.

Rosenberg explained that companies can source a meeting anywhere in the world on Meetings.com.

“If you want to book a meeting in Taiwan, we have local experts that cover that designation. Use the technology to find the right hotel offering for that particular event. Meetings.com can also build an ongoing event platform for that company. If a company had 40 departments, it can be set up so each department has its own entity.”

Meetings.com gave HotelPlanner an entry and a focus on corporate business. Its services include site search and selection, contract negotiations, and conference, housing and registration management for meetings and events large and small.

“We recognize there is business to consumer and business to business, and we wanted to have a brand, leadership, staff and technology that is driven toward the corporate market.  It’s built for ongoing management and relationships with repeat event planners,” said Rosenberg. “Often corporations have event planning staffs but they don’t have the tools. We say use our tools to source your meetings.”

Meetings.com has about 20 employees and shares tech staff and administrative functions with the larger HotelPlanner.  Both have offices in West Palm Beach. Traffic on the Meetings.com site is up about 1,000 percent year over year, Rosenberg said. The mobile-friendly software is available in 28 languages.

“Business will be up over 100 percent. Its sizable growth, and a lot of it is repeat buyers. Once they are in there they start building profiles. There is going to be a lot of stickiness to the site,” Rosenberg explains.

What makes the software better than competitors’ offerings?

Rosenberg says it’s the development team. The software is built in a modular manner that allows for a great deal of customization.

“We are winning business,” he said. “People say ‘we looked at other competing products but they can’t do what we need.’ Everyone wants customization. The way we built our software, we can provide a lot of customization.”

Meetings.com recently built new software specifically built for large events. Because corporations want to make sure to take care of their people, Meetings.com’s Book A Block software puts the right person in the right room for a specific event, Rosenberg said.

“If you are a CEO or board member or large investor, we want to make sure you are taken care of differently. We want to make sure each person gets a curated individualized hotel experience.”

With Meetings.com’s booking engine, once a room block is sold out, attendees can still book retail rates easily at the headquarters hotel or show hotels across the street, he said.

What’s next for the brand? With a strong base already in the U.S and Europe, Meetings.com plans to put more focus on expanding in Asia. Already Asia is the No. 3 market behind North America and Western Europe, but it is growing rapidly. “We are seeing a big uptick in Asia requests.”

Meetings.com is truly a global company; its CEO, Bas Lemmens was co-founder of Booking.com and is based in Amsterdam.  But HotelPlanner’s and Meetings.com’s corporate HQ will stay rooted in West Palm Beach.

“We are big fans of Palm Beach Tech,” Rosenberg said. “We think it has added vitality to the tech environment in West Palm Beach. We’ve been members from day 1.”

[READ ABOUT HOTELPLANNER.COM HERE]

 

 

By Nancy Dahlberg

Member Spotlight | PATHOS

Business: Marketing firm specializing in “creative intelligence”

Headquarters: West Palm Beach

Leadership:

Ann Savage, Founder & CEO

Shane Savage, Chief Strategy Officer

Employees: 20

Website: wearepathos.com

Tagline: Connect Minds. Build Brands

Step into Pathos’ funky offices in downtown West Palm, and you’ll see an open, collaborative space with skateboards riding the walls and perhaps some augmented reality projected. Employees are working on laptops, some in teams, some solo. A couple of them may be taking a mental break at the ping pong table.

Pathos calls itself a creative intelligence firm, specializing in enterprise innovation marketing. The West Palm Beach based company acts as a chief marketing officer for regional and national corporate clients.

“We’re full-service. We’re a CMO supplement to these corporations but we bring the power of an entire marketing department. Whether or not they have in-house solutions, we supplement or become their marketing department,” explained Shane Savage, who joined his mother’s company about four years ago as chief strategy officer.

Pathos works with hospitality groups, automotive, retailers, financial firms, hospitals and the Community Foundation of Palm Beach and Martin County. It often works with parent companies and services their entire portfolios. For instance it works with the parent company of Palm Beach Outlets, which has outlet malls across the country, and with Tenet, with hospitals across South Florida and beyond.

Ann Savage, Pathos’ CEO and co-founder, said Pathos’ services extend through implementation, including developing advertising materials, developing sales tools, building out companies’ digital presence, video production and content creation. For an e-commerce company, for instance, Pathos might manage their platform, and do their product design, branding and packaging.

The company was founded in 1991, but rebranded recently as part of its move downtown to Clematis Street. “We really reimagined the firm. Pathos is a new name for us,” said Ann.

“Pathos is one of the modes of persuasion founded by Aristotle, Pathos being the art of persuasion by appealing to one’s emotion. In everything we do, we are trying to tap into someone’s emotions. Through marketing, we need people to feel in order to make an impact and have something be memorable,” added Shane.

“The big piece is our involvement in the community. We are trying to help establish West Palm Beach as a creative capital by partnering with Joe [Russo of Palm Beach Tech] and all the other companies that are here,” he continued.

Shane said clients tend to stay with them an average of 15 years, but they have also brought in a plethora of clients in new industries.

What are some trends Pathos is seeing?

Creating authentic experiences is key, said Shane. “Consumers, especially millennials and Gen-X, are very intuitive and the key is to make things intuitive, easy to use and experiential but still maintaining the integrity of the brand.” He said experiences work because people want to be entertained and engage and interact with people and a brand. They don’t want the brand just to talk at them.

Another trend, said Ann, is that marketing companies are no longer thinking of content in terms of a beginning and an end, like an ad campaign: “Now it is more about creating content. Whether it is digital assets, animation or photography, it is very fluid and we are assembling it in all sorts of ways. It’s a different way to think about creative materials.”

Adds Shane, “the pace of change is so fast, we are helping companies find more ways to be dynamic and flexible internally as well.”

The team moved to West Palm Beach in November and the transition has gone well.

“It’s an exciting time to be in downtown West Palm. This kind of growth, with incubators for entrepreneurs and more collaborative work environments such as co-working spaces, it’s a priority for the city,” said Shane.  “For our team. we can feel it — the energy that is igniting amongst our group as we are venturing out more.”

To stoke the creative culture inside Pathos, the team takes outings and team cultural events, such as a recent trip to Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood where they took at street art class. It does a regular office event called IPA and FYI for creative endeavors such as book clubs, game nights and team building exercises, Shane said.

“The goal for the rebrand and creating that type of culture is we want to be more than just 20 people, we want to open our doors into the community, have that neighborhood feel, and start building things with those around us.”

By Nancy Dahlberg

Member Spotlight | 3Cinteractive

Business: 3Cinteractive is a mobile marketing company serving enterprise clients.

Headquarters: Boca Raton

Co-founders: John Duffy, Mike FitzGibbon, and Mark Smith

No. of Employees: 100

Company mission statement: “Each day we strive to inspire our clients, inspire each other and make a difference.”

 

For 3Cinteractive, leading the deployment of next-gen RCS messaging for brands and staying on the cutting edge of chat bot technologies, loyalty programs and multi-channel engagement strategies is just another day at the office. But the foundation of a great company is the culture.

How do you build a great culture and then maintain it at a leading mobile marketing company 100-employees strong? We asked 3C CEO John Duffy about that, because in addition to racking up industry and business awards, 3C has been repeatedly recognized by the South Florida Business Journal, Sun Sentinel and Florida Trend as one of the best places to work.

It all started with the commitment Duffy and his co-founders, Mike FitzGibbon and Mark Smith, made to each other about the kind of company they wanted to build. That was back in 2007, in the early, early days of mobile marketing.

“Before we opened our doors,  we spent a lot of time thinking about what success looks like, what will make us happy, what is going to be sustainable, what are we working toward, and how will we measure ourselves along the way. And we came up with a series of principles.”

These were (1) being sustainable and not controlled by investors, (2) doing something important for a world-class client and (3) investing in a culture focused on the personal and professional development of its team.

“As our business grew, we decided to make repeating those principals part of every message we have in the organization: This is who we are, this is what we stand for and this is how you know whether this is the place for you.”

And of course it is important to practice what you preach, he said, and that starts from the top.

It’s the basis of all 3C’s decision making. When deciding whether to buy a competitor in 2017 – the go or no go discussion — they asked themselves if the integration goes badly will it jeopardize 3C’s sustainability? It wouldn’t. And even though the failure rate for integrations after mergers and acquisitions is high, the team members who would be most responsible for getting that work done saw it as a professional development opportunity and said they wanted to be part of a team that successfully identified, acquired and integrated a company into 3C. So it was a go, and it went very well, by the way.

And yes, culture affects the bottom line.

“For a company like ours in a competitive market and environment like South Florida and wireless, reducing churn is an extraordinarily important component of the bottom line. Every day we are doing at least one new thing, and all those learnings translate to future success. If all of that expertise and scar tissue is going out the door, that would be a challenge,” said Duffy.

“If we are a good place to work, it makes us a desirable place for the best people. If we maintain that, those best people will stay with us.”

That goes for customers too, he said. They value consistency of the team.

One of 3C’s best customers is Tracfone of Miami. 3C employees who work on 3C’s Tracfone support team are building a career of helping that customer — and in turn, helping both businesses solve problems and be successful, he said.

Here is some more advice from Duffy:

On building a top engineering team: “Create an interesting environment for building a great engineering team by giving them awesome problems to solve.”

On management style: Practice what you preach, be transparent with the team about the decisions the company makes and problems it faces, and be consistent.

On choosing customers: “For me, the higher the quality of the customer and problem, the more likely to create value. They aren’t mutually exclusive. … Let’s be proud of what we do and who we work for.”

On the flip side, Duffy said, “we will fire a customer that doesn’t treat us right.”

On recruiting talent: “We do the work before making the hiring decision so both parties understand what’s expected and what a cultural fit is. We understand who’s coming in and they understand what they are coming in to.”

 “Personally what I get the most joy in professionally is seeing the most junior employee entering the company and succeeding.”

On building a board: “We have the luxury of choosing our board members; we aren’t controlled by investors or banks. I think diversity in thinking is key. If you get people who are qualified and competent, and have different perspectives and are empowered to challenge our thinking, then you’ve got an opportunity to do something special.”

Advice for young entrepreneurs: Agree in advance about what’s important and what success looks like.

“I see teams struggle when things are tougher than expected, and they always are, and the team comes apart because they haven’t built a sustainable plan to keep themselves together. Or worse, the team does very well, but they go in different directions because they didn’t agree in advance what’s important — someone wants to sell real quick, someone wants to build. You can’t solve for every scenario upfront but you can get the big picture things right.”

By Nancy Dahlberg

Member Spotlight | Dockmaster

Business: DockMaster Software pioneered the marine management software industry, deploying the first marine management system.

Launched: 1984

HQ: West Palm Beach

Employees: 20

CEO: Cam Collins

Website: dockmaster.com

 

Cam Collins is a 7th generation Floridian. In fact, his great-great-great-great grandfather was the first elected governor of Florida.

But this sun-loving Floridian flew the coop for a while, working at startups and building a successful software business, Lexington Software Associates, in Massachusetts that was acquired by a Silicon Valley darling during the dotcom boom.

By 2002, after the dotcom bust, the world had changed and so had Collins. Collins had become a new dad and traveling five days a week just wasn’t going to cut it, though he wanted to continue in the software business.

“I’ve always been a big boater and grew up in South Florida, and we found the DockMaster business for sale. I thought what a great match for me. ”

Collins bought DockMaster and began running the business in 2003.

DockMaster today is a business management software platform for the recreational marine industry. For businesses like boatyards, marinas and dealerships, “we sell a product that effectively runs the businesses of these companies,” Collins said.

Still it was a sea change from the last company he had worked for, Interwoven, the Silicon Valley company that had acquired his company in Massachusetts.  

“Interwoven was on the bleeding edge of Internet technology in the dotcom era, so I am now trying to shift my thinking from fast moving Web 1.0 to ‘now I own a software technology that is character based and is selling to a very slow moving, very conservative marine industry’.”

Yes, you read that right: DockMaster was a character based software system. The company was founded in 1984, a year marked by the launch of DOS. Yet, Collins and his team were up for the challenge: “My vision back then was just to migrate the character based system to Windows.”

Fast forward through the years, and DockMaster has evolved and innovated. In 2012, the company was one of the first in the marine industry to come out with an API to connect various third-party applications to it.  Today, the cloud-based DockMaster has 16 integration partners, including Salesforce and apps for SMS messaging and mobile fuel management. “That’s how the vision has evolved. “

DockMaster today can handle accounting, inventory control and business management for the marine industry. There’s a reservation system for booking a slip, a visualization tool for moving boats around and applications for sales and service.

“One of the things unique about DockMaster is that we have a full marina component and we can manage multiple marina properties,” Collins said. “If you are a boat dealership and you have a marina, we are a real good fit for you.”

Since 2013, DockMaster has been sold twice, but Collins has continued to stay at the helm. In the most recent ownership change, in May 2017, DockMaster was purchased by Valsoft. Based in Canada, Valsoft is a vertical market software company that owns 14 companies so far.

Since the sale, DockMaster has been cruising and Collins’ role has grown, too.  

Collins, an executive with Valsoft, is president of Dockmaster and also runs Valsoft’s GG Golf, the leading golf management software in Canada.

Since Valsoft acquired DockMaster, DockMaster has tripled profits and improved top line growth at the same time. In 2018, ARR alone grew 12 percent, Collins said.

DockMaster, with 20 employees, is continuing to grow its market space with new product offerings. It recently announced it is about to roll out a mobile app for field service techs.

These days, Collins is also co-chair of Palm Beach Tech with David Bates. In that role, he has been focused on the launch and rollout of 1909, a rebranding and total refacing of Palm Beach Tech’s downtown West Palm Beach co-working space, including the move to larger quarters on the second floor.

“What I am mostly focused on is promoting the space and getting people to see it and be a part of the culture and connect with the energy. You can rent a desk for a day or you could have a dedicated office, and everything in between. It really is one of the top tier entrepreneurial spaces in the county.”

This 7th generation Floridian, who also mentors young companies, has some advice: Connect with other entrepreneurs in the area.

“When you get into a place like 1909, you realize you are not alone and there is a support network there for you.”

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

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.

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Member Spotlight | Back Office
Member Spotlight | LexisNexis Risk Solutions
Member Spotlight | SAMA Labs
Member Spotlight | TouchSuite
Member Spotlight | Meetings.com
Member Spotlight | PATHOS
Member Spotlight | 3Cinteractive
Member Spotlight | Dockmaster
Member Spotlight | Ship Sticks
Member Spotlight | Third Wave Technology
Member Spotlight | Bridge Connector
Member Spotlight | Child Rescue Coalition
Member Spotlight | HotelPlanner.com
Member Spotlight | Quantuvis
Member Spotlight | The SilverLogic