South Florida Tech HubSouth Florida Tech Hub

By Nikki Cabus

FAU’s Research Park celebrates recipients of the Annual Awards & Celebration of Entrepreneurship

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On October 18th at the Boca West Country Club, the Research Park at Florida Atlantic University® celebrated the recipients of its Annual Awards & Celebration of Entrepreneurship.

Since its thirtieth anniversary in 2015, the Research Park at FAU has been celebrating distinguished contributors to its mission of promoting scientific research and development in affiliation with Florida Atlantic University and fostering economic development in Palm Beach and Broward counties. Each year, impactful contributions and greater potential for the future can be seen: South Florida has a vibrant, diverse economy ahead, driven by the work of all these distinguished recipients, partner organizations in the Research Park, and others.

The Research Park at Florida Atlantic University® is home to technology companies and research-based organizations working to support the research and development activities of Florida Atlantic University and to foster economic development and broaden the economic base of Broward and Palm Beach counties. The Research Park at FAU hosts Global Ventures, an international soft-landing center for second-stage technology companies and FAU Tech Runway, a South Florida public-private partnership that serves as a hub to accelerate technology development and incubate startup companies.

The Research Park at FAU is a 70-acre destination for R&D companies to thrive, established in 1985, it is widely regarded as South Florida’s laboratory for new entrepreneurial ideas and technologies. The Research Park at FAU is governed by the Florida Atlantic Research and Development Authority, an independent special district created by Palm Beach and Broward counties in partnership with Florida Atlantic University.

This year’s awards are made as the South Florida region experiences record-setting growth, facing new challenges, and benefiting from stronger regional institutions. Florida Atlantic University has emerged as a regional healthcare leader, addressing the need for better, more accessible healthcare. Technologies developed at the Research Park at FAU help provide more predictable, positive outcomes and they are made as more people recognize the virtue and strength of diversity in our society and economy.

Each year, friends and stakeholders – business, government and academic leaders – of the Research Park at FAU gather to celebrate the achievements of the entrepreneurs and innovators who make the Park community stronger. Approximately 200 leaders from the business, academic and governmental fields strengthen relationships and share ideas for the future.

This year’s honorees are:

Bob Swindell | Chair’s Distinguished Service Award

Mr. Swindell was appointed to the Florida Atlantic Research and Development Authority, which governs the Research Park at FAU, in 2005 by the Broward County Commission; he went on to serve with distinction for eighteen years, including twice as chairman. Swindell was appointed president & CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance in 2009 where he has led the strengthening of Broward County’s economy and become a universally respected servant leader and authority across industries and sectors.

A lifelong Broward resident, Swindell has served in several business and community leadership roles, including leading the American Red Cross during and after Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Since that time, he has been appointed to statewide roles by governors Martinez, Chiles, Bush and Scott. Bob’s knowledge and guidance have been indispensable to the development of the Research Park at FAU.

 

Michael Allison | Distinguished Leader

Mr. Allison distinguished himself as a leader in every role he took on. From leading student government at Ohio State University where he earned his law degree, to coaching young football and baseball players, to leading at both Office Depot as Executive Vice President of Human Resources, and at Burlington as Executive Vice President & Chief Administrative Officer, to leading the Florida Atlantic Research and Development Authority. Allison’s leadership style was to empower those around him to achieve their full potential, having done so with his own life.

Allison joined the Authority in retirement, as a commitment to his community. Later, when he came out of retirement and consulting at Allison Consulting, which he created in 2018, to join Burlington, he maintained his commitment and he led the development of the Research Park at FAU’s current strategic plan through extensive collaboration during his unprecedented three years as chairman of the Authority. He helped so many see, pursue, and achieve their own potential, including himself. Sadly, Michael untimely passed away on August 11, 2023, and this award is made in memoriam.

 

Robert Colton, M.D. | Distinguished Entrepreneur 

Dr. Colton is the co-founder and Chairman of Thema Brain Health (Thema), a Research Park at FAU-based company. Thema is revolutionizing how the world approaches cognitive brain health. Over the last five decades, tremendous progress has been made in the prevention and treatment of all major diseases of aging except for Alzheimer’s Disease. While aging is inevitable, Thema Brain Health is on a mission to ensure that cognitive decline is not.

Before founding Thema, Colton was the co-founder and chairman of ClearlyDerm, a multi-location easy access dermatology company. ClearlyDerm currently has five locations in South Florida with twelve dermatologists, nine nurse practitioners and physician assistants and 100 employees. Prior to founding ClearlyDerm, Colton conceptualized and co-founded MDVIP, the largest concierge medicine company in the United States; he sold MDVIP to Procter and Gamble in 2009. Today MDVIP’s more than 1,100 affiliated physicians serve more than 385,000 patients nationwide. Colton’s contribution to South Florida’s innovation and knowledge economy has already been distinguised, and his entrepreneurial energies continue with Thema.

 

Siri Terjesen, M.D. | Distinguished Researcher

Dr. Terjesen is Associate Dean, Research & External Relations, founding Executive Director of the Madden Center for Value Creation, and Phil Smith Professor of Entrepreneurship at Florida Atlantic’s College of Business. She is a nationally recognized expert in higher education, strategic management, entrepreneurship, and philanthropy. She was nominated by the president of the United States to serve as one of 15 voting directors to the National Board for Education Sciences (NBES) which advises the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute for Education Sciences. Terjesen serves as a reviewer for the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 project and the Swedish and Norwegian governments’ higher education agencies, and as advisor to the World Bank, Kauffman Foundation, and a variety of think tanks.

Terjesen’s research on entrepreneurship, corporate governance, and strategy includes over 80 articles, 2 books, many white papers, and manuscripts (Kauffman Foundation, World Bank, and U.S. Small Business Administration, for example). She is amongst the world’s top 2% most cited scholars (Clarviate) and has over 13,000 citations in Google Scholar. Terjesen’s distinguished work has inspired several Research Park and Global Ventures companies to get further involved with Florida Atlantic’s work and her research has helped innovate companies’ strategies.

Read more about Dr. Terjesen here.

 

Canada-Florida Chamber of Commerce | Distinguished Organization 

The Canada-Florida Chamber has partnered with the Research Park at FAU since before the creation of Global Ventures, the second-stage entrepreneur support initiative to attract and grow innovative technologies in South Florida. Through its innovative programming, relationships, engaged membership and trade missions, the Canada-Florida Chamber has contributed to the growth and success of Global Ventures. Several entrepreneurs have learned about Global Ventures through the chamber’s events and programming, resulting in two Canadian companies expanding their offerings with Global Ventures, and a robust pipeline of prospects.

 

The Awards & Celebration of Entrepreneurship is made possible by the investments of Palm Beach County and the City of Boca Raton in the Research Park at FAU’s programs and by the support of Gold Partner Florida Power & Light and 35 Mules and Silver Partner Kaufman Rossin. Innovation Partners include: 2TON, Baptist Health, Banyan Development, Boca Raton Airport, CBIZ, CohnResznick, Comcast, FAU College of Engineering & Computer Science, FAU Executive Education, HGreg, Invest: Palm Beach, Lorium Law, PEBB Enterprises, People’s Trust Insurance Company, Neptunya Ocean Power, Seascoast Bank and the BV Group at UBS.

To learn more about the FAU Research Park, visit http://www.research-park.org/

By Nikki Cabus

GrowFL Announces 13th Annual Florida Companies to Watch Honorees

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GrowFL has announced the 50 companies selected as the 13th Annual GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch Honorees.

The awards program – now in its thirteenth year – honors impressive second-stage companies from throughout the state for developing valuable products and services, creating quality jobs, enriching communities, and broadening new industries throughout Florida.

The 13th Annual GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch awards celebration is brought to you by Duke Energy and Nperspective CFO & Strategic Services, in association with the Edward Lowe Foundation.

Companies to Watch was developed by the Edward Lowe Foundation as a unique way to recognize and honor second-stage companies that demonstrate high performance in the marketplace with innovative strategies and processes. In addition to evaluating past growth and projected success, applicant companies are judged according to their special strengths and impact in their markets, communities, and within the state – thus deeming them worth watching.

71 finalists were announced earlier this year, and the 50 honorees were selected after a final round of judging by a panel comprised of past honorees, economic development leaders and corporate partners of GrowFL. Companies were judged on a number of criteria including growth in number of employees; impact of the business in the job market; increase in sales and/or unit volume; current and past financial reports; innovativeness of the product or service; response to adversity; and contributions to aid community-oriented projects.

“GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch was designed to celebrate the spirit of entrepreneurship and to shine a spotlight on the deserving second-stage businesses in our state,” said Jennifer Taylor, president, and CEO of GrowFL. “Second-stage companies are the lifeblood of our economy, creating jobs and fueling prosperity. This diverse group, spanning 20 different counties, representing 18 different industries and 32% of them being woman, veteran, or minority owned, proves Florida is a place where entrepreneurs can thrive. We look forward to celebrating their success for years to come.”

Since the first awards celebration in 2011, GrowFL has honored 600 companies from throughout Florida with this prestigious award. With this year’s honorees, GrowFL has now recognized 650 companies throughout the state that are making a positive impact on the economy and the communities in which they live. Many of the past honorees have now grown their companies to stage 3 and stage 4 businesses employing more than 500.

“The companies selected as Honorees are some of the most vibrant and dedicated entrepreneurs in our state,” said Pete Previte, GrowFL Advisory Board Chair. “They are the visionaries and trailblazers of our economy who face challenges head on, lead with innovation and give back to their communities. It is our privilege to recognize them and their achievements.”

To qualify for the award, companies must be headquartered in Florida and have between 6 and 150 employees and revenue between $750,000 and $100 million. From 2019 through 2022, these companies generated close to $2 billion in revenue and added 871 employees, reflecting a 99% increase in revenue and a 62% increase in jobs for the four-year period. That translates into a 27% average annual revenue growth and a 19% average annual growth in employees.

These companies projected continued growth in 2023, with a 28% revenue increase and a 22% growth in employees compared to 2022. If their projections hold, these companies will have generated more than $2.8 billion in revenue and added 1,370 employees over the last five years — a 155% increase in revenue and 97% increase in jobs since 2018.

Companies named to the list will be officially recognized at the 13th Annual GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch Celebration on February 15, 2024, at the Hard Rock Live in Universal CityWalk, Orlando, FL. Tickets are on sale now. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit https://growfl.com/about-growfl-flctw/.

Five of the companies hailed from South Florida and the Treasure Coast. One of those companies was Streann Media.

One of the second-stage company honorees is Streann Media, a content-creation and streaming company, disrupting the content landscape. The company has built the most complete OTT platform in the world with a powerful Content Management System, Content App Editor and 150 tools to distribute, engage and monetize live and on demand content. Streann’s innovations include proprietary integration with Artificial Intelligence and Patent Technologies for Monetization. The Miami-based company has won multiple industry awards, has millions of active users and has been deployed in 141 countries.

Founder and CEO of Streann Media, Gio Punzo, told South Florida Tech Hub, “We are thrilled to be selected for the GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch Awards. This reconfirms the dedication and expertise of our talented team who consistently strive to provide innovative solutions and exceptional service to our clients.”

He continued, “We are delighted to be a part of Florida’s thriving business community and look forward to continuing our growth trajectory. We have grown to 70 million unique viewers in 141 countries around the world thanks to our breakthrough technology made in Florida.”

Below is the complete list of the companies named 13th Annual GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch Honorees:

Company Name County Industry
Alternative Repair & Machining Services Duval Other Services (except Public Administration)
AME International Hernando Wholesale Trade
Aspire Communications Seminole Telecommunications
Baker Design Build Duval Construction
Billed Right LLC Seminole Other Services (except Public Administration)
BlueWind Technology LLC Escambia Manufacturing
Charter Research Sumter Scientific Research and Development
Cigent Technology Inc. Lee Information Technology
Continuum Health IT St. Johns Scientific and Technical Consulting Services
Cromulence LLC Brevard Scientific Research and Development
DACKOR Orange Manufacturing
Data Graphics Inc. Lake Manufacturing
Delamere Industries Inc Hernando Manufacturing
Design Interactive, Inc. Orange Scientific Research and Development
Fort Myers Brewing Company Lee Manufacturing
Fox Logistics Bradford Transportation and Warehousing
GRACE Aerospace, LLC Duval Manufacturing
HOLLYWOOD WOODWORK Broward Manufacturing
Integrated Security Consultants Hillsborough Utilities
INTELLITEC PRODUCTS LLC Volusia Manufacturing
International Insulation Products Orange Manufacturing
Kinley Construction Brevard Construction
KMI International Orange Architecture and Engineering Related Services
Macrocap Labs Seminole Manufacturing
Mainstream Engineering Corporation Brevard Manufacturing
Martin Aquatic Orange Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services
Martinez Construction Services Brevard Construction
McGaw.io Orange Management Consulting Services
NLP Logix Duval Information Technology
Nona Scientific Laboratory Marion Health Care and Social Assistance
Optimus Energy Solutions Lake Construction
Paragon Cyber Solutions, LLC Hillsborough Information Technology
Pem-Air Turbine Engine Services Hernando Manufacturing
Pointer Construction Group Broward Construction
Pro-Tec Plumbing Collier Other Services (except Public Administration)
ProfileGorilla Duval Information/Media
PVM, Inc. Pinellas Information Technology
Spot Pet Insurance Miami-Dade Finance and Insurance
SSM Enterprises Duval Manufacturing
Streann Miami-Dade Information Technology
SunBlest Gardens Wakulla Wholesale Trade
SwiftPaws Brevard Retail Trade
SYL Roofing Supply Orange Wholesale Trade
Tech Rage IT Seminole Information Technology
The Association Partner St. Johns Advertising, Public Relations, and Related Services
Thompson Pump Volusia Manufacturing
TruPoint Communication Solutions Seminole Telecommunications
Volt Lighting Hillsborough Manufacturing
Weedoo Greenboat, Inc. Palm Beach Manufacturing
Young Innovators Academy Seminole Educational Services

By Nikki Cabus

Tech Hub Announces 2023 Golden Palm Award Honorees

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For the first time, the Golden Palm Gala & Awards, hosted by the South Florida Tech Hub, brought together a convergence of leaders, technologists, and organizations from across the region, all gathered to celebrate exceptional achievements and to acknowledge their collective impact on our vibrant tech ecosystem.T he event unfolded on August 3rd at the iconic Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in downtown West Palm Beach. It was an evening that marked a significant milestone in the South Florida technology landscape.

With the event’s presenting sponsor, 35 Mules, an Innovation Hub powered by Florida Power & Light, the evening held the promise of honoring the remarkable talent that South Florida nurtures within its technology community. Tech Hub received almost nominations in its first year which is a testament to the innovation and dedication that define this thriving tech hub. Each nomination was a story of determination, creativity, and a commitment to pushing the boundaries of possibility.

As the doors of the Kravis Center opened with a VIP reception with passed hors devours and open bar, a palpable sense of excitement filled the air. The attendees, representing a diverse spectrum of expertise and backgrounds, were met with an elegant ambiance that set the stage for an evening of recognition, connection, and inspiration. The atmosphere was charged with enthusiasm, as conversations flowed and new connections were forged.

Special guest Miss Florida 2023, Juliette Valle, made her way around the room interviewing attendees and honorees for the well-known #minimicminute segments usually held by Tech Hub’s own Nadia Volkova. The guests were also captured by Miss Valle’s opera serenade as she welcomed guests into the main dining hall.

The core essence of the evening was to acknowledge the transformative contributions of individuals, companies, and organizations that have played pivotal roles in shaping the South Florida tech landscape. CEOs who have steered companies to unprecedented heights, startup founders who have dared to dream differently, and community leaders who have tirelessly advocated for progress were all in the spotlight.

The emcee and our Mistress of Ceremonies was Founder and CEO of Entreprenista, Stephanie Cartin. She guided us through an evening that will remain etched in the memories of those who attended, not just as an evening of recognition, but as a testament to what can be achieved when visionaries, leaders, and technologists unite. As the lights dimmed and the attendees dispersed, the echoes of inspiration continued to reverberate, a reminder that the journey of the South Florida tech community is one of limitless possibilities.

 

Golden Palm Award Honorees:

  • Collaboration of The Year | Owwll, Premier Virtual, TEDxBocaRaton, and FAU Adams Center Entrepreneurship – For their achievements and efforts to provide free valuable mentors and experts to the those in the field, and those new to it, to veterans and students, and to the ever-expanding tech community.
  • Social Responsibility | Virtual Intelligence Briefing (ViB) – Woven throughout the fabric of the organization are the core values of humanitarian, economic and philanthropic servant leadership. “Service over Self” is not just a TedTalk for this outstanding organization, but a mantra relected in the staff, the Board of Directors, volunteers, and all who support them. This honoree is a shining example who inspires to provide technology and talent to those in need.
  • Innovator of The Year | BiFarm Tech – For their efforts to not only increase crop yields in state where Agriculture is a significant factor in our economy but they did so while reducing the environmental footprint AND adapted their technology for small indoor and home-based farms.
  • Community Connector Venture Mentoring Team (VMT) – For their tremendous efforts to develop and connect mentors and startup entrepreneurs to provide in-valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities of the startup world.
  • Inclusion ChampionUrban League Palm Beach County – This Honoree works to prepare young adults who are unemployed and underemployed for career-readiness to address socio-economic challenges and advocate for diversity in the tech sector to create a more equitable and inclusive environment for all.
  • EdTech Excellence | Code/Art – This Honoree Code Art has worked with 8,000 girls, trained 400 teachers, impacted 23 states, and can boast that 87% of their clients are motivated to continue coding in the future.
  • Leadership ExcellenceSaif Ishoof, Founder, Lab22C – A true visionary, leading by example, and encouraging those around him to take the work seriously but never to take themselves too seriously, he injects a sense of joy into every conversation. Known as “Miami’s Connector-in-Chief”, he has had a significant impact on entrepreneurs and founders across the region by making meaningful connections, providing sound advice, and being a trusted ear or shoulder.

A special award, the Ethos Award, was given at the close of the ceremony. This award was not a category open for nomination, but one that Tech Hub CEO Nikki Cabus felt was a hugely important one. The award was presented to the entire Florida Power & Light team there that night from senior execuitives to entry-level developers. They all make up the FPL fabric we all know.

“In todays world every company has the opportunity to be an innovator, to be a sustainability leader, to provide opportunity, and to put the larger community first. Few succeed at demonstrating each of these pillars, and even fewer at all four,” stated Cabus.

“Supporting 2000+ nonprofits, $3.8 Million donated by employees, 46,000+ hours by employees, 180+ nonprofit boards served by employees, awarding 5 makeover grants of $50,000 each to schools in our area, educating and protecting our natural resources, embracing future generations, delivering books to improve reading levels, developing curriculum for STEM, implementing Communications, and Leadership Development, working to lower costs to our nonprofit sector, and serving alongside our neighbors to make South Florida an even better place to live, work, and raise a family. I’m honored to present the Ethos Award to Florida Power & Light.”

The evening closed with robots, music and dancing with Digital Vibez. It was the perfect close to a perfect evening. Thank you to all our speakers, sponsors, media partners, production partners, The Kravis Center of Performing Arts, our event Chair, Cathy Miron, event organizing committee, Tech Hub Board of Directors, and a HUGE congratulations to all the nominees and honorees of the evening!

By Nikki Cabus

Meet the CIO Winners of the South Florida 2023 ORBIE Awards

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On June 9th with over 350 in attendance, SouthFloridaCIO announced the winners of its 2023 ORBIE® Awards.

SouthFloridaCIO is the preeminent peer leadership network of South Florida chief information officers. SouthFloridaCIO is one of over 30 chapters of the Inspire Leadership Network, a national membership organization comprised exclusively of CIOs from public and private businesses, government, education, healthcare and nonprofit institutions.

For over 20 years, the CIO ORBIE Awards has been the premier technology executive recognition program. The Awards have recognized technology executives for leadership, innovation and excellence in this rapidly growing, CIO-led national professional association. For the third year, the South Florida CIO ORBIE® Awards has honored chief information officers who have demonstrated excellence in technology leadership.

CIOs are typically recognized in multiple categories, based on the size and scope of their organization and responsibilities. This year’s awards were held at The Diplomat Beach Resort in Broward County where technology executives were recognized in six key categories – Leadership, Global, Large Enterprise, Enterprise, Large Corporate, Corporate.

“Through member-driven, non-commercial initiatives like the ORBIE Awards, we forge powerful professional bonds with peers, collaboratively overcoming obstacles and sidestepping pitfalls,” emphasized Darryl Maraj, SouthFloridaCIO Chair. “Astute leaders recognize that the currency of connections is a formidable ‘superpower’—one nurtured within our trusted circle. Rest assured, when technology leaders unite, solutions emerge from the very room they inhabit.”

The 2023 South Florida ORBIE Award winners are:

  • Ashish Gupta, VP & CIO, NextEra Energy received the Leadership ORBIE.
  • Tim Langley-Hawthorne, EVP, CIO, Hertz received the Global ORBIE for organizations over $5 billion annual revenue & multi-national operations.
  • Margaret Brisbane, CIO, Miami Dade County received the Large Enterprise ORBIE for organizations over $5 billion annual revenue.
  • Patrick Hale, EVP, CIO, VITAS Healthcare received the Enterprise ORBIE for organizations up to $5 billion annual revenue.
  • William Velez, CIO, Harvard Maintenance Inc. received the Large Corporate ORBIE for organizations up to $1 billion annual revenue.
  • Mark Moch, CIO, American Oncology Network received the Corporate ORBIE for organizations up to $500 million annual revenue.

Lacey Elmange, Executive Director for SouthFloridaCIO and FloridaCIO, told South Florida Tech Hub, “It is extremely special and meaningful to watch the hard work of the CIO led Advisory Board come to fruition with the execution of the ORBIE Awards. Year round the Advisory Board officers are working hard to ensure great technology leadership is recognized in South Florida and one way to do that is through the ORBIE Awards. This not only gives recognition locally but also puts South Florida on the national stage where CIO peers across the network can see the exceptional leadership coming from our region.” She continued, “All ORBIE winners are able to compete in the National ORBIE Awards that take place during Converge the Inspire Leadership Network National Member Conference every summer.”

Since inception in 1998, over 700 technology leaders have received the prestigious ORBIE Award. The ORBIE honors chief information officers who have demonstrated excellence in leadership. Finalists and winners are selected by an independent peer review process, led by prior ORBIE recipients, based upon leadership and management effectiveness, business value created by technology innovation. and engagement in industry and community endeavors.

The South Florida ORBIE Awards keynote was delivered by Ashish Gupta, VP & CIO of NextEra Energy (NYSE: NEE), a leading clean energy company, In a fireside chat, Ashish was interviewed by Ann Dozier, SVP & CIO at Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits. In attendance we other leaders from the NextEra/FPL team in support of their leader.

In his role Ashish oversees all aspects of the company’s information technology, including technology strategy, driving digital transformation, cybersecurity, and communication services. He joined NextEra Energy in February 2017. Prior to joining NextEra Energy, Mr. Gupta worked at GE Energy Connections as the chief information officer. During his more than 20-year tenure at General Electric Company, Mr. Gupta held CIO positions at GE Capital and GE Energy. Mr. Gupta has been recognized for his leadership and ability to consistently create broad, innovative strategies to leverage technology for competitive advantage, drive business productivity and growth. He received Computerworld’s 2015 Premier 100 Technology Leaders award for the positive impact he had on his organization through technology. He was also recognized in 2009 with CIO Magazine’s CIO 100 honorees and in 2012 by CIO-Asia Magazine CIO 100 honorees.

In a recent South Florida Business Journal interview, ORBIE Leadership Award recipient Ashish Gupta shares advice for the next generation of IT leaders.

“CIOs are the change agents who can share the art of what’s possible with technology and communicate interdependencies across the company,” said Gupta. “They are advocates who promote digital concepts, innovation and experimentation.”

As he looks to the future, Gupta reflects on the evolving role of CIOs and recommends up-and-coming IT leaders apply their energy in three areas: focus on business impact and business value rather than technology outcomes, always be a change leader, and hire teams of professionals who are better than you and who bring different skills and alternate perspectives.

“Leadership is about creating other leaders, not about having all the answers,” Gupta said. “In the end, your legacy will be about the teams and careers you helped build.” He urged the CIOs in the room that morning to hire those who are better than you. 

To see all nominees and categories, visit https://sofloridacio.org/awards/2023

By Nikki Cabus

CEO and Founder of Social Mobile was named an Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2023 Florida Award finalist

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Ernst & Young LLP (EY US) today announced that Robert Morcos, CEO and Founder of Social Mobile was named an Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2023 Florida Award finalist.

Now in its 37th year, Entrepreneur Of The Year is one of the preeminent competitive business awards for transformative entrepreneurs and leaders of high-growth companies who are building a more equitable, sustainable and prosperous world for all by unstoppable entrepreneurs. These visionary leaders deliver innovation, growth and prosperity that transform our world. The program engages entrepreneurs with insights and experiences that foster growth. It connects them with their peers to strengthen entrepreneurship around the world. Entrepreneur Of The Year is the first and only truly global awards program of its kind. It celebrates entrepreneurs through regional and national awards programs in more than 145 cities in over 60 countries. National Overall Award winners go on to compete for the EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year™ title.

Robert was selected by an independent panel of judges. Entrepreneurs were evaluated based on their demonstration of building long-term value through entrepreneurial spirit, purpose, growth and impact, among other core contributions and attributes.

“As the CEO and Founder of Social Mobile, I am honored to be selected as a finalist for Entrepreneur of the Year,’ said Robert Marcos. Twelve years ago, I embarked on a journey to build a technology company that would make a meaningful impact on the world. Today, we are recognized as a global leader in enterprise mobility, and I am proud of the hard work and dedication that our team has put in to make this dream a reality. Thank you to EY and to all those who have supported us on this incredible journey.”

Regional award winners will be announced on June 8, during a special celebration. The winners will then be considered by the National judges for the Entrepreneur Of The Year National Awards, which will be presented in November at the annual Strategic Growth Forum®,one of the nation’s most prestigious gatherings of high-growth, market-leading companies. The Entrepreneur Of The Year National Overall Award winner will then move on to compete for the EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Award in June 2024.

The Entrepreneur Of The Year program has recognized more than 11,000 entrepreneurs throughout the US since its inception in 1986, and it has grown to recognize business leaders across 145 cities in over 60 countries around the world.

Founded and produced by Ernst & Young LLP, the Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards include presenting sponsors PNC Bank, N.A.; SAP America; and the Kauffman Foundation. In Florida, sponsors also include – regional Platinum sponsors, Cresa, and DLA Piper.

EY exists to build a better working world, helping create long-term value for clients, people and society and build trust in the capital markets. Enabled by data and technology, diverse EY teams in over 150 countries provide trust through assurance and help clients grow, transform and operate. Working across assurance, consulting, law, strategy, tax and transactions, EY teams ask better questions to find new answers for the complex issues facing our world today.

EY refers to the global organization, and may refer to one or more, of the member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients. Information about how EY collects and uses personal data and a description of the rights individuals have under data protection legislation are available via ey.com/privacy. EY member firms do not practice law where prohibited by local laws. For more information about our organization, please visit ey.com.

As Advisors to the ambitious™, EY Private professionals possess the experience and passion to support private businesses and their owners in unlocking the full potential of their ambitions. EY Private teams offer distinct insights born from the long EY history of working with business owners and entrepreneurs. These teams support the full spectrum of private enterprises including private capital managers and investors and the portfolio businesses they fund, business owners, family businesses, family offices and entrepreneurs.

Congrats, Robert!

By Nikki Cabus

9 South Florida & Treasure Coast companies honored at GrowFL Awards 2023

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GrowFL recently awarded the 50 companies selected as 12th Annual GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch Honorees and 9 of them came from South Florida and the Treasure Coast region!

The awards program – now in its twelfth year – honors impressive second-stage companies from throughout the state for developing valuable products and services, creating quality jobs, enriching communities, and broadening new industries throughout Florida. The 12th Annual GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch awards celebration is brought to you by Nperspective CFO & Strategic Services, in association with the Edward Lowe Foundation. 

Companies to Watch was developed by the Edward Lowe Foundation as a unique way to recognize and honor second-stage companies that demonstrate high performance in the marketplace with innovative strategies and processes. In addition to evaluating past growth and projected success, applicant companies are judged according to their special strengths and impact in their markets, communities, and within the state – thus deeming them worth watching. 

66 finalists were announced last year, and the 50 honorees were selected after a final round of judging by a panel comprised of past honorees, economic development leaders and corporate partners of GrowFL. Companies were judged on a number of criteria including growth in number of employees; impact of the business in the job market; increase in sales and/or unit volume; current and past financial reports; innovativeness of the product or service; response to adversity; and contributions to aid community-oriented projects. 

“GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch was designed to celebrate the spirit of entrepreneurship and to shine a spotlight on the most deserving companies,” said Jennifer Taylor, president, and CEO of GrowFL. “This year’s honoree span 21 different counties, represent 22 different industries and 50% of them are woman, veteran, or minority owned. This diverse group of honorees can only mean one thing – Florida is the place where entrepreneurs thrive!” 

Since the first awards celebration in 2011, GrowFL has honored 550 companies from throughout Florida with this prestigious award. With this year’s honorees, GrowFL has now recognized 600 companies throughout the state that are making a positive impact on the economy and the communities in which they live. Many of the past honorees have now grown their companies to stage 3 and stage 4 businesses employing more than 500. 

“These are some of the most vibrant and dedicated entrepreneurs in our state. They are the champions that keep our communities strong by stimulating the economy, keeping the workforce employed, and giving back in ways that will change the course of our state for years to come. Like all the classes before them, this class of GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch honorees truly embody success and I know they’re only getting started,” said Dr. Tom O’Neal, GrowFL founder. 

To qualify for the award, companies must be headquartered in Florida and have between 6 and 150 and revenue between $750,000 and $100 million. From 2018 through 2021, these companies generated $1 billion in revenue and added 881 employees, reflecting a 96% increase in revenue and a 104% increase in jobs for the four-year period. That translates into a 24% average annual revenue growth and a 26% average annual growth in employees. 

These companies projected continued growth in 2022, with a 40% revenue increase and a 20% growth in employees compared to 2021. If their projections hold, these companies will have generated $1.5 billion in revenue and added 1,233 employees over the last five years — a 174% increase in revenue and 146% increase in jobs since 2018. 

Below is the list of the 12th Annual GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch Honorees from South Florida & Treasure Coast:

  • 2TON Agency | Advertising, Public Relations, and Related Services  (Palm Beach)
  • Affinity Management Services | Management Consulting Services (Miami-Dade)
  • Bug Bite Thing | Retail Trade (St. Lucie)
  • Casabianca Home | Wholesale Trade (Miami-Dade)
  • Earth And Sugar LLC | Wholesale Trade (Palm Beach)
  • FloSpine LLC | Scientific Research and Development (Palm Beach)
  • Misfits Gaming Group | Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation (Palm Beach)
  • Pharma Natural Inc. | Manufacturing (Miami-Dade)
  • Sloane Staffing | workforce staffing (Palm Beach)

One of those companies, Sloane Staffing, specializes in filling Marketing Technology, Digital Marketing, SaaS Sales, and Technology positions. The were founded in Palm Beach County in 2018. From 2018 – 2021, the company saw a 91% increase in revenue and 300% increase in employee growth.

When asked what’s his advice for entrepreneurs, Founder & President, Max Spanier, told GrowFL “Take the leap. It’s going to be scary. It’s going to be tough. You’re going to be anxious. You’ll probably get anxiety even if you’ve never had anxiety. But, if you have a good idea, why not give it a try? Otherwise, you might go through your whole life wondering what if. Failing at something is way better than never doing something.”

To read Sloane Staffing’s full interview with GrowFL, click here

 

 

 

By Nikki Cabus

BCEx celebrates their inaugural 2022 Showcase and honors community partners

Read Time 4 Minutes

Broward College Entrepreneurial Experience (BCEx) helps program participants achieve their dreams. Those dreams were celebrated at the inaugural BCEx 2022 Showcase in Coconut Creek on November 17th – just in time for Global Entrepreneurship Week.

Due to the pandemic and primarily virtual programming, the BCEx Showcase was the first in person event for current and past cohorts in 2 years.  The launch of the first cohort was summer 2020.

The celebration was the culmination of another successful year at BCEx and awarding community leaders, volunteers and supporters of the program’s mission. The program has been supported by fiserv and Bank United.

BCEx is Broward College’s lean launchpad startup and small business accelerator. Different from most accelerators, participants are majority female and many are minorities coming from underrepresented communities in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Participants in BCEx receive support through six main strategies: Campus Accelerators and Events at Broward College, Student Learning at Broward College, the Innovation Hub at Broward College, LaunchBC – the BCEx business accelerator, the J. David Armstrong, Jr. Student Venture Fund, and Partnership Opportunities with Broward College.

BCEx doesn’t just support entrepreneurs, but empowers participants from students to faculty and community members through business and the cultivation of a lifelong entrepreneurial mindset. The mindset is key to the success of the program. The event featured a panel titled “Intrapreneurship in the Workplace” where four Broward College staff members (all women) shared how BCEx programs helped them take their careers to the next level. Panelists included Deborah Pinnock DebTalk LLC, Carole Hargrett, PhD, CEO of CDH Florida Groupo, Julan Samuels, PhD, CEO of IRISAJ Self-Care Hub, and Mitzi Fulwood, Broward College, Director of the iSTEM Center.

The following community supporters including our very own Tech Hub CEO, Nikki Cabus, received recognition and physical plaques for their support of the program:

  • BCEx Champion of the Year 2022: Fiserv / Shane Caldwell, BankUnited/Katrina Wright, Amazon/ Angelica Santibanez, Florida Panthers/Rob Stevenson, South Florida Tech Hub/Nikki Cabus
  • BCEx Advocate of the Year 2022: Dr. Mildred Coyne
  • BCEx Trailblazer of the Year 2022: Terry Bentley/ Mike O’Donnell
  • BCEx Academic Innovator of the Year 2022: Dr. Jamonica Rolle/Dr. Paul Moore
  • BCEx Faculty Coordinator of the year 2022: Joshua Kimber, Rudy Jean Bart, Trish Joyce, Andrea Apa

“I’m passionate about uplifting, empowering, and encouraging others; so, it was an honor to take part in BCEx’s Showcase, which was all about that! It was inspiring to be in a room with others who were empowered and equipped by this Broward College initiative to bring their business ideas to life, or/and improve their businesses if it already existed,” stated Deborah Pinnock, Broward College staff member and BCEx program alum.

“I am also grateful to BCEx for the opportunity I got to be part of a panel with passionate, powerful and authentic women, sharing on a topic that was substantive: entrepreneurship vs intrapreneurship. If you replace intrapreneur and entrepreneur with courageous, creative, problem solvers, it’s easy to understand why the right mindset is vital.

Imran Siddiqui, Associate Vice President of Broward College’s Employment Solutions division and BCEx, believes that the entrepreneurial mindset can change lives.

In his role he supports Senior Vice President, Mildred Coyne in building a revolutionary approach to higher-ed job placement with a goal of effectively transforming Broward College into a high-level job placement agency. He also oversees all entrepreneurship activity related to BCEx, the Broward College Innovation Hub and the J. David Armstrong Student Venture Fund.

BCEx has hosted notable events such as a a fireside chat with Chris Bosh, NBA legend and author of “Letters to a Young Athlete” and recently selected as the inaugural site for the Perkins V Entrepreneurship Education and Training Grant (EET). They have also received high-impact grants to help Broward College students, faculty, and staff cultivate their entrepreneurial mindset and turn their ideas into reality by launching high-quality businesses at little-to-no cost. Started in 2018, BCEx helps participants innovate, create, and prepare for the future of work through mentorship, coaching, funding, and training.

Learn more about the upcoming 12-week FREE-of-charge BCEx Lean Launchpad Accelerator coming Feb 2023. BCEx is accepting applicants for Cohort 6 this Spring and those that want to turn their start-up into reality while building your business foundation. Students, faculty, staff, and the community are encouraged to participate. There are only 20 SPOTS so act now and don’t miss out!

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BCEx celebrates their inaugural 2022 Showcase and honors community partners