Palm Beach Tech AssociationPalm Beach Tech Association

By Nancy Dahlberg

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.

Frank Barbato, CEO of Third Wave Technology (and board member of Palm Beach Tech!)

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.”

Aerial shot of the 7 mile run in the Florida Keys…sponsored by Third Wave Technology.

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.”

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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