Palm Beach Tech AssociationPalm Beach Tech Association

By Nancy Dahlberg

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.”

A.J. Ripin (Merging Traffic) and by his daughters participate in the Women Empowerment Expo’s inaugural Venture Pitch Event joined by expert judges and women-owned early-stage companies in 2017.

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. 

A.J. Ripin and Joe Russo kick-off the Palm Beaches’ Startup Pitch Competition on November 15, 2017.

“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.”

Nancy Dahlberg

Nancy Dahlberg

I am a writer, editor and a leader with extensive media experience and a passion for journalism and serving the community. Most of my career has been spent with the Miami Herald in business news, and my expertise is writing about entrepreneurs. I'm also good at research and project planning. I enjoy running community-focused projects and utilizing social media. Contact me at ndahlbergbiz@gmail.com.
Nancy Dahlberg

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