South Florida Tech HubSouth Florida Tech Hub

By Nikki Cabus

Dan Chait Promoted to President & COO of JM Family

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To best prepare for the future and continue positioning its core automotive companies to lead change and embrace the opportunities of the industry’s shifting landscape, JM Family Enterprises, a privately held company with more than $20 billion in revenue, announced Dan Chait, currently chief operating officer (COO), has also been named president.

JM Family Enterprises, Inc. was founded by automotive legend, Jim Moran in 1968. It is a privately held company with more than $20 billion in revenue and more than 5,000 associates. Rooted in automotive and united in its strong culture and core values, JM Family is in the business of helping other businesses succeed. As a long-term partner, it is invested in its companies, associates and its communities. Driven by exceptional performance, current subsidiaries are in the automotive, financial services, franchising and specialty distribution industries. Its family of companies includes: Southeast Toyota DistributorsJM&A GroupWorld Omni Financial Corp. (dba Southeast Toyota Finance), JM LexusHome Franchise Concepts®Futura Title & Escrow and Rollease Acmeda.

As president and COO, Dan will be responsible for all company operations within JM Family, working closely with the senior leadership team to execute on company strategies and drive key initiatives. He is succeeding Brent Burns as president, while Burns remains chief executive officer (CEO).

“Dan’s promotion to president is well-earned, spotlighting his leadership, wealth of knowledge, and experience gained over 30 years in the automotive and financial services industries,” Burns said. “Most importantly, Dan is deeply committed to the well-being of the 5,000 associates across our companies. He has a proven track record of enhancing results through trust, driving greater associate engagement and development, inspiring action among his teams and fostering inclusivity across the organization.”

As CEO, Burns will continue focusing on the long-term success of the company and working closely with JM Family’s board of directors. Together, Burns and Chait remain committed to preserving and enhancing the company’s rich culture and its unwavering dedication to its customers and associates.

Chait, who was named COO in May 2023 and previously held the role of president of subsidiary companies JM&A Group and Southeast Toyota Finance, has collaborated closely with JM Family’s leadership to navigate the dynamic automotive industry and align strategic priorities. With deep roots at JM Family, Chait has established strong relationships in the automotive, financial and banking industries and has successfully led through fluctuating business cycles.

Chait joined Southeast Toyota Finance in 2002 as vice president, Asset Management. In 2007 he became group vice president responsible for Southeast Toyota Finance’s Portfolio Management, Dealer Services, Operations, Sales and Marketing functions. In 2011, Chait was named senior vice president, and in 2012 became president before assuming full responsibility for leading Southeast Toyota Finance and JM&A Group in 2021. Chait has held senior level positions with US Airways, AutoNation, and UniCapital Corporation.

“I am grateful for the number of responses and comments, particularly from friends and colleagues from the past,” Dan Chait wrote in a social media comment. “I am excited to assume this new position and credit the amazing group of associates I’ve been working with for the last 21 years.”

Chait earned his Master of Business Administration and bachelor’s degree in Economics and Political Science from the University of Rochester. In 2019, he was named chairman of the American Financial Services Association board of directors, of which he has been a member since 2015. He resides in Wellington, Florida, with his wife and they have four children.

To learn more about JM Family Enterprises, visit www.jmfamily.com

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By Adam Elitzur

New Leadership at the Helm of South Florida’s Tech Hub

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South Florida Tech Hub is under new board leadership for 2024 with Deana Pizzo, CEO at I.T. Solutions of South Florida, taking over as chair and Grace Kurian, Executive Director at NextEra Energy, as vice chair.

Deana Pizzo has been involved in the tech industry for two decades. “I like to serve for non-profits. And the fact that the South Florida Tech Hub is a non-profit within my industry, I felt it was an organization that I really wanted to be part of. I wanted to help strengthen the tech footprint in South Florida and I felt that the Tech Hub was the best place for me to serve.”

Grace Kurian has been working with NextEra Energy for 22 years, and most recently has been leading the digital journey for the nuclear fleet. “Having grown up in South Florida, I have a passion to see the region grow our technology footprint, so that it continues to be a great place to live and work,” Kurian remarked. “I connected with the South Florida Tech Hub when I served on the board of TechLauderdale. When Tech Hub joined forces to include the entire tri-county area, it was exciting for me both personally and professionally because I lived and worked in Palm Beach, grew up in Fort Lauderdale, and I felt like we were bringing the unique strengths of the tri-county together.”

Pizzo, who recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of her company, I.T. Solutions of South Florida, has goals to unify the tech community in South Florida. “The primary goal is collaboration,” Pizzo stated. “Right now we are working on taking the three counties, Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade and creating a tech sector in the South Florida market. That is something that I want to continue pursuing this year and continue driving home. Collaboration for the tech community within South Florida.”

Kurian strives to expand the technology ecosystem. “I want to make sure that tech executives and professionals feel that South Florida is a great place to attract, develop and grow talent,” Kurian stated. “Florida’s economy is bigger than that of many countries. Our businesses are a vital part of Florida’s economic growth.”

Pizzo and Kurian are both looking forward to the role. “I’m very excited to lead the organization this year,” Pizzo remarked. “I’m very excited that at the helm are three women this year. Nikki, as the CEO, myself as chair and Grace as vice chair. I’m really excited about making a difference for girls in tech this year.”

“I have been in the energy and utility industry for more than two decades, so I’m excited to connect with technology professionals, beyond the energy sector, who are right here in my backyard,” Kurian stated.

Pizzo recognizes challenges that she is determined to overcome this year. “The biggest challenges right now are creating unity within the tech community in South Florida,” Pizzo mentioned. “It can be a little fractured. And this particular organization, the Tech Hub, we don’t want to take over where any other organization is. We want to help bring all of the different organizations together.”

Kurian sees another challenge. “Skill sets are constantly evolving and the programming language I learned when I first started my career after college is not what we need today,” Kurian remarked. “Attracting tech talent, but also keeping those skills fresh so that we are constantly innovating and keeping our skills current is a challenge we have to tackle. But one of our greatest opportunities is that the public and private sector are investing in powering our businesses with AI and the latest technology. So I feel that our trajectory in tech is bright.”

Both see major opportunities in capitalizing on emerging technologies like AI. “Data is king, and how businesses capitalize on that data to make good decisions by leveraging AI, by leveraging technology, which will be the differentiator between good and great businesses,” Kurian noted.

Fostering diversity is also a key focus. The Tech Hub works with organizations to inspire girls to pursue tech careers as early as high school. “We have a really strong women’s group and we foster the collaboration of women within tech,” Pizzo explained.

“I’m really excited that I get to work with two very talented women, Deana and Nikki,” Kurian stated. “I believe that diversity is not just diversity of gender and ethnicity, but diversity of thought. Inspiring more people to pursue careers, and sharing that this is a potential career path for young students who are thinking about where to start is important. I hope that the organization continues to grow, but also continues to diversify as more programs are opened up to students early on. One program that I’m really excited about is that the Tech Hub was a catalyst for bringing to South Florida the Mark Cuban Foundation AI Bootcamp for high school students.”

Pizzo and Kurian have distinctive leadership qualities. “I like to describe them as three tenets: character, commitment, and curiosity,” Kurian shared. “Character is showing up. Commitment is being fully devoted to the organization’s mission and values. And lastly, curiosity is being a continuous learner.”

The Tech Hub has an active year planned under Pizzo and Kurian’s leadership, including the Golden Palms Awards in August and TECHpalooza in December. “We just had our golf tournament, which was a huge success,” Pizzo stated. “We’re really looking forward to Golden Palms. We already have the wheels turning on TECHpalooza and it’s going to be huge. We’re moving it to a new location at the convention center, and it will knock it out of the park this year.”

Pizzo and Kurian offered advice for aspiring technology leaders. “Don’t take no for an answer,” Pizzo stated. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and you can find it. Work hard and be a good person.”

“Be willing to learn and take risks,” Kurian recommended. “Be willing to listen to the ideas of other individuals and have a willingness to experiment and innovate so that we are incrementally finding improvements that will be game changers over time.”

Pizzo envisions a bright future for the Tech Hub. “I see the Tech Hub in a few years as the pivotal go-to tech organization in South Florida that everybody can go to to find tech resources for the whole region. We can get there through collaboration and relationships.”

Kurian is hopeful for the future of the region. “I hope that the businesses that are here today have a bigger footprint in South Florida” Kurian stated. “I also hope that we’ve attracted a wide range of national and international businesses so that South Florida will be synonymous with the Silicon Valley of the South.”

By Nikki Cabus

Nicole Oropesa named President of BrandStar Entertainment

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BrandStar a solutions-driven, fully horizontally and vertically integrated production and strategic marketing company, has named Nicole Oropesa President of BrandStar Entertainment, its pioneering branded entertainment division.

BrandStar Entertainment is renowned for its award-winning television shows, offering companies of all sizes unparalleled opportunities to forge stronger connections with their audiences. Whether opting for our custom branded integrations on our national and local television shows, leveraging our digital services to deepen your connection with your audience, or partnering to build ‘something bigger’ together. Content is king at BrandStar Entertainment, no matter the platform.

Nicole Oropesa has been a driving force of BrandStar’s growth for the past 15 years and is an original producer of flagship show, The Balancing Act, which is the longest-running television show on Lifetime and hosted by Montel Williams.

“Nicole’s dedication, expertise, and journey with BrandStar exemplifies her exceptional leadership. Her vision and passion for the industry makes her an invaluable asset,” said Mark Alfieri, Founder & CEO of BrandStar.

“I’ve observed the leadership qualities she embodies through her previous role, along with a demonstrated track record of not only optimizing our shows’ potential but also dedicating herself to unlocking the full professional and personal capabilities of her team members. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

In her newly assumed position, she will leverage her extensive 25-year background in the branded entertainment industry to spearhead the division’s efforts in broadening BrandStar’s array of show properties. These properties encompass renowned programs such as Military Makeover with Montel, BELatina, Designing Spaces, Inside the Blueprint, and Access Health.

“As the newly appointed President of BrandStar Entertainment, I am deeply honored and enthusiastic about the journey ahead. With a dedicated team and exceptional show properties, I am committed to leading us to new heights of success,” adds Oropesa.

“Our focus will not only be on delivering outstanding programs, but also on nurturing the talents and potential of our team members. I look forward to the exciting collaborations and opportunities that lie ahead for our company.”

Prior to her new role, Oropesa was Executive Vice President of Programming with a focus on business development, company culture and marketing. One of the many impactful initiatives she has created is the company’s social responsibility and community engagement division, BrandStar Cares. Oropesa lives and breathes the culture of BrandStar which has an influence on the talented, high-performance, teams she builds.

To learn more about BrandStar, visit www.brandstar.com

By Nikki Cabus

TechGateway and South Florida Tech Hub team up for TechGatway Day and new regional tech map

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The Greater Fort Lauderdale’s regional initiative, TechGateway, released its new map of South Florida tech companies just in time for TechGateway Day 2024.

The South Florida TechGateway is a public/private partnership to grow, attract and retain technology business, capital and talent here in the thriving South Florida area. The initiaitive is supported by South Florida Tech Hub, Florida Power & Light (FPL), Wells Fargo and the Miami Dade Beacon Council.

Each year, TechGateway works with regional partners such as Tech Hub to aggregate businesses and technology companies across the three counties – Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade – that deserve recognition and visibility across the ecosystem. The map is then used to promote the region’s growing tech community to local students, higher education institutions, and new graduates outside the region looking for potential job opportunities.

“We’re proud to present the 2024 TechGateway map, launched at the South Florida Tech Hub Golf Tournament, ” Randall Deich, Director of Talent Attraction & Education at Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance.

“This tool does more than just showcase our tech region—it’s a strategic resource to attract businesses and top talent to South Florida. Our partnership with South Florida Tech Hub enhances the local tech culture, supports talent retention, and contributes to the vibrant community that makes South Florida a great place to work in the CLOUD and live in the SUN.”

“Thanks go to our partners Florida Power & Light, Wells Fargo, Miami-Dade Beacon Council, and South Florida Tech Hub for their support and efforts in coordinating, cooperating, and collaborating in this regional effort.”

The map was completed just in time for this year’s ‘TechGateway Day’ where technology professionals go into Broward County classrooms and provided a glimpse into the diverse and exciting tech career opportunities in South Florida. It’s an effort in partnership with the Broward County School District’s middle and high schools to expose students to local career exploration.

From Sunrise to Parkland and Hollywood, South Florida Tech Hub worked closely with the TechGateway team this year to ensure we had almost twenty Broward County public schools covered this year. Tech Hub members from CITY Furniture, Florida Power & Light (FPL), LAN InfoTech, CloudHesive, FAU Tech Runway and UKG all had representatives attend the schools, interact with the students, and contrubute to making this year’s event a true sucess.

“It’s very clear that at a younger and younger age yechnology is becoming more and more accessible. I think it’s really important to connect while they’re connecting and learning about technology which is now more in middle school than it is in high school,” said John Machado, CTO of UKG.

“What was most impactful was actually seeing them present their own projects and the camaraderie and the ability to help each other show really positive feedback as they showed their projects. I thought that was incredible – the energy and passion they have.”

“TechGateway Day is a pivotal bridge for our students, many of whom interacted with industry leaders for the first time, seeing themselves as the tech talent of tomorrow. This event has narrowed the gap between today’s innovations and the future’s possibilities, thanks to your support and participation. The day was a tremendous success, thanks to the collective efforts of our tech professionals, educators, and students.,” wrote Deich in a social media post thanking speakers and partners.

To learn more about The Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, please visit www.gflalliance.org

By Nikki Cabus

FIRST Robotics Competition South Florida Regional awards multiple teams with honors & on to World Championship

Read Time 7 Minutes

The FIRST® Robotics Competition South Florida Regional awarded several teams with honors that rewarded design excellence, competitive play, sportsmanship, and high impact partnerships between schools, businesses, and communities.

Combining the excitement of sport with the rigors of STEM, FIRST® Robotics Competition (ages 14-18) teams use sophisticated technology to build and program industrial-sized robots to play an action-packed, alliance-based game on a themed field. With professional mentors and sponsors, students learn engineering and problem-solving skills that they can apply to real-world situations today and in the future. Using Gracious Professionalism, each team creates a team identity, raises funds to meet its goals, and works to promote STEM in their community.

Attended by thousands of fans, families, educators and industry leaders, the regional competition was held at the Broward County Convention Center on March 1st & 2nd. Forty high school teams competed to earn a spot at the FIRST® Championship, to be held April 17-20 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas.

With the hope of winning one of the several coveted awards, high school students worked with professional mentors to design and build a robot over a six-week period that solved a problem using a Kit of Parts and a standard set of rules.

“Each team clearly demonstrated teamwork, professionalism, and strategic thinking in solving the competition’s challenges,” said Sandra Contreras, Regional Director, FIRST ®  South Florida.

“Students, school groups, community members, and professional team mentors filled the stands and helped to bring a level of fun and excitement to the competition. With the sustained support of the South Florida community, this robotics competition will continue to grow and inspire students to study math, science, and engineering.”

“It’s safe to say the South Florida Regional has been upgraded to the status of LEGENDARY because we had 5-game finals (normally 2)!”

Among the many highlights of the competition, the winners of the coveted ‘Impact Award’ were the SigmaC@ts from Dillard High School – Team 108 (cover photo). They have won the wonderful opportunity to go to the World Championshipin Houston, Texas, but now need the community’s help to them get the funds to travel.

The FIRST Impact Award (formerly the Chairman’s Award) is the most prestigious award at FIRST, it honors the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the mission of FIRST. It was created to keep the central focus of FIRST Robotics Competition on the ultimate goal of transforming the culture in ways that will inspire greater levels of respect and honor for science and technology, as well as encouraging more of today’s youth to become science and technology leaders.

The SimgaC@T robotics team was founded in 1995 at Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to compete in the FIRST Robotics Competition. As the oldest consecutively running FRC team in Florida, the SigmaC@T Robotics Team has a rich history built on community, equity, and diversity.

CRESCENDOSM presented by Haas is part of the 2024 FIRST IN SHOWSM presented by Qualcomm season. In CRESCENDO, teams are encouraged to see all that is possible when combining their creative ideas and innovations with engineering and design. Through collaboration and communication, the FIRST robotics community around the world will celebrate the role that the arts play in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math). Our skills make it possible to create art and experiences that bring us together, entertain us, and move us.

FIRST has a proven impact to significantly improve students’ attitudes towards math, science, and teamwork.

With approximately 40 registered teams from across the county and even some international team, 25 were from South Florida and the Treasure Coast ranging from Miami to Stuart and over to Naples, Florida, there was quite the competition to be had. Ashton Adler, South Florida Tech Hub’s Director of Talnt Engagement, stopped to take photos with some of the local teams including Miami Coral Park Senior High (pictured here) who took home the “Innovation in Control Award.”

Another one of those teams was, S.P.A.M. from Stuart, Florida, who were the Regional Winners (Championship Qualifying Award) and took home the “Quality Award.” The team was sponsored by Florida Power & Light (FPL), one of the competition’s largest supporters each year. This year is FPL’s 12th year as a sponsor and mentor organization.

Zach Dean, the team’s mechanical lead, credits team mentor Elizabeth “Lily” Pawlak for expanding his machine skills and teaching him how to use the power tools and industrial machinery it takes to build the robots. Twelve years ago, Pawlak was a machinist for S.P.A.M. too, participating in the same competitions her mentees are in now and crafting robot parts from scratch. Today, she’s an equipment reliability engineer supporting Florida Power & Light Company’s (FPL) nuclear fleet.

“I wanted to come back and be a mentor because I want to show them that it’s not just a fun thing to do in high school, that it really can be an opportunity for your future,” Pawlak said. “I’ve taught them basic skills like how to use a tape measure to more advanced skills like how to use a milla lathe and Computer Numerical Control machining.”

One of the main benefits of STEM education is helping students develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which they can apply beyond the classroom. It also equips them to succeed in a rapidly changing world driven by technology and innovation.

Pawlak said robotics geared her toward engineering. It also helped her start a career at FPL. 

“I met a lot of incredible people back then, professionals who volunteered their time at these competitions, and I maintained those connections throughout college,” she said. “These connections really make a difference for the children involved. It shows them companies care, that companies are interested in them and that they have a future if they ever want to look forward to career opportunities with them.”

South Florida Tech Hub Board Member, CEO of eSilo, and FIRST judge, Cathy Miron, told Tech Hub, “I was reminded once again why I am passionate about supporting FIRST. This organization not only fosters a love for science, technology and engineering among young minds, but also cultivates essential skills like teamwork, leadership (what FIRST calls Gracious Professionalism), and problem-solving. My involvement with FIRST, which spans three years, has been a journey filled with inspiration and learning.”

Cathy continued reminiscing on this year’s competition, “This year, something that particularly stood out to me were the countless examples of cross-team mentorship that I heard and observed. These are teams who are competing against one another for an opportunity to go to the World Championships in April and represent their schools and communities, and yet I watched kids go out of their way to help their competitors by sharing tools and spare parts, or troubleshooting another team’s robot, or helping fix a bug in their code in between matches.”

“These kids exemplified what FIRST is all about: pushing boundaries, embracing challenges, and working collaboratively to achieve something truly remarkable. Their dedication and spirit were a true highlight of the weekend, and a reminder of the incredible impact FIRST has in shaping our next generation of innovators and leaders.”

Winners of the FIRST Robotics Competition 2024 South Florida Regional Awards include :

  • Regional FIRST Impact Award (Championship Qualifying Award) – 108 SigmaC@T Robotics Team – Dillard High School
  • Regional Engineering Inspiration Award (Championship Qualifying Award) – 3627 The Jungle Robotics – Pine View School
  • FIRST Dean’s List Finalist Award – 3390 Can O- ANATOLIAN EAGLEBOTS
  • FIRST Dean’s List Finalist Award – 5472 Derin A – The Wyld Stallyns
  • Regional Winners (Championship Qualifying Award) – 179 Children of the Swamp – Inlet Grove Community High School
  • Regional Winners (Championship Qualifying Award) – 180 S.P.A.M. – Martin County District High Schools
  • Regional Winners – 744 Shark Attack – Westminster Academy
  • Regional Finalists – 2383 Ninjineers – American Heritage
  • Regional Finalists – 5557 BB-R8ERS – Gulliver Preparatory School
  • Regional Finalists – 8817 Buccaneer Robotics – South Dade Senior High School
  • Woodie Flowers Finalist Award – 3627 Andrew Wormington – The Jungle Robotics
  • Industrial Design Award sponsored by General Motors – 5557 BB-R8ERS – Gulliver Preparatory School
  • Judges’ Award – 8861 – 06ANGORA – Ambassade de France en Turquie- Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle – Ankara
  • Rookie All Star Award – 9404 Forge – Family/Community
  • Rookie Inspiration Award – 9779 Gladiator Robotics – Hialeah Gardens Sr High School
  • Team Sustainability Award sponsored by Dow – 6317 Disruptive Innovation – West High School
  • Team Spirit Award – 6743 Tiger Engineering – Dunbar High School
  • Excellence in Engineering Award – 179 Children of the Swamp – Inlet Grove Community High School
  • Gracious Professionalism Award – 694 StuyPulse – Stuyvesant High School
  • Creativity Award sponsored by Rockwell Automation – 1744 Robo-Rays Robotics – Seacrest Country Day School
  • Quality Award – 180 S.P.A.M. – Martin County District High Schools
  • Innovation in Control Award – 59 RamTech – Miami Coral Park Sr High School
  • Autonomous Award – 4458 Infernobotix – Center Moriches High School
  • Imagery Award in honor of Jack Kamen – 1523 MARS (Mega Awesome Robotic Systems) – William T Dwyer High School & Palm Beach Gardens Community HS & Jupiter Community High School
  • Volunteer of the Year – Bill Landin – Lead Robot Inspector
  • Volunteer of the Year – Mark Hamilton – Alumni
  • Volunteer of the Year – Robert Cherinka – Judge

 

Learn more at www.firstinspires.org.

By Nikki Cabus

Broward College iSTEM Center Opens its Doors to Faculty at Professional Development Day

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Earlier this month Broward College introduced faculty and staff to the brand new iSTEM Center during their annual Professional Development Day.

A cutting-edge mobile technology center equipped with state-of-the-art software, hardware, and tools, the iSTEM Mobile’s debut marks a significant milestone in Broward College’s commitment to advancing STEM education. Designed to ignite students’ interest in careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), the iSTEM Center provides an immersive, hands-on experience in robotics, coding, autonomous vehicles, and more.

Broward College’s “Accelerating College Completion by Engaging Students in STEM” (ACCESS) Project Grant through Title III addresses the academic and support services needs of Hispanics and underrepresented population and the growing need of employers in the region and needs of the students to improve completion and transfer rates in the Information Technology field of study.

The five-year, $5 Million grant was funded through the U.S. Department of Education’s Title III Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI) STEM and Articulation program. The goal of this grant is to increase enrollment of full-time Hispanic and low-income degree-seeking students in STEM fields; expand integrated student academic and support services for Hispanics & low-income students in IT Career Pathways; increase success and completion of Hispanics and other low-income students in IT Career Pathway programs, and strengthen and develop articulation agreements and activities in IT Career Pathways.

This Spring the iSTEM Center will visit select Broward County public high schools, where students can explore tools that will be available to them in classes offered at Broward College. The mobile unit that will offer experiential learning experiences within Broward UP (Unlimited Potential) communities which have the high rates of unemployment in Broward County.

During the unveiling, faculty members had an exclusive opportunity to discover the mobile bus’s incredible capabilities. Engaging in virtual reality simulations, interacting with robots, and operating autonomous vehicles were just a glimpse of the exciting experiences. The mobile center encourages faculty to explore integrating these technologies into their course designs.

“I’m thrilled to present iSTEM Center to our faculty, as it serves the powerful purpose of enhancing our hands-on learning experiences and providing community members and students with an opportunity to delve into computer science and IT,” said Senior Project Director, Robert Diaz.

“These careers are in high demand, and our continuous aim is to equip students with opportunities, tools, and pathways for successful careers in these industries.”

Funding for the iSTEM Center comes from the U.S. Department of Education HSI STEM & Articulation Program, with additional support from the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) Community Project. Key personnel include Senior Director Robert Diaz, iSTEM Director Dr. Mitzi Fulwood, Apprenticeship Director Dr. Rehana Seepersad, Student Success Coordinator Arthur Rose, and part-time student assistants.

Learn more about Broward College’s STEM programs here.

By Nikki Cabus

Adam Elitzur, Tech Hub Intern and 12th grader wins 2023 Congressional App Challenge in Florida’s 25th District

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Adam Elitzur, a South Florida Tech Hub intern and South Florida 12th grader won the 2023 Congressional App Challenge in Florida’s 25th District. 

The Congressional App Challenge is made up of members of the U.S. House of Representatives who host annual district-wide challenges for middle school and high school students, encouraging them to learn to code and inspiring them to pursue careers in computer science. Each challenge is district-specific and the U.S. Representatives publicly recognize the winning teams. Each winning app may be put on display in the U.S. Capitol Building for one year. The Congressional Internet Caucus initiates the annual CAC.

The Congressional App Challenge’s mission is to Inspire, Include and Innovate: inspire students from every corner of the country to explore STEM, coding and computer science through hands-on practice, to actively include and engage students from communities that are traditionally underrepresented in the tech community, and to innovate policymaking by connecting members of Congress to new and emerging technologies through personal interactions with their student constituents.

Songlingo is a fun, free website that helps people learn languages through songs. Songlingo will have you singing your way to fluency in no time! The app allows you to save specific words, songs and even compete against others with its leader board. For the price of a coffee (or or more), you can support this student-built app by making a donation.

The winning app was created by Adam Elitzur, a 12th grader currently enrolled at Posnack School which is a private Jewish day school located in Davie and the premier college preparatory Jewish school in Florida equipping students for success in a complex & interdependent world. Posnack School is a leader in the use of educational technologies to improve learning and engage students and has hosted events such as Hackathons to engage students in STEM-related activities that also support the community.

After moving to Broward with his family, Adam quickly realized the diversity of the South Florida region and the multitude of languages in the region. Over 25% of Broward County’s population speaks spanish and of that group almost 40% of that group speaks limited English. Adam also encountered a kindergarten student while volunteering with a local youth group witnessing how difficult is was for this child to communicate with other children and to make friends. Adam knew he had to learn spanish. He decided to build Songlingo.

Adam quickly gained proficiency in the language allowing him to better communicate with the spanish-speaking community around him. He quickly realized how impactful this technology could be used for those struggling to learn the English language. Removing the language barrier could improve access to healthcare, education, higher paying jobs and a plethora of other resources and opportunities.

“I began spreading the word through language learning social media channels. The site now has over 5,500 language learners across the globe, bridging language and cultural barriers,” Adam stated in an interview for a Congressional App Challenge article.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, serves as the U.S. representative for Florida’s 25th congressional district, first elected to Congress in 2004. She was in attendance for Songlingo’s pitch and announcement of the first place award stating, “Congrats to this year’s FL-25 Congressional App Challenge winner!”

She continued, “Adam Elitzur’s app, Songlingo, aids language learning through music! I’m so inspired by all the STEM students, parents and teachers who made this year’s challenge a success.”

Adam is also an intern working at South Florida Tech Hub as a contributing writer. He was introduced to the organization when he attended Soflo DevCon 2023, a annual software developers conference, currently being held at Nova Southeastern University’s Davie campus. He attended the conference, attended classes and workshops, and connected with the CEO at the conference offering to write a recap article of the event.

As he awaits responses to a few of the universities he applied for, Adam just received an offer letter from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). We are awaiting to hear what he officially decides!

The 2024 Congressional App Challenge will launch in May of 2024, and eligible students can pre-register for the competition now.

To learn more about Songlingo, visit www.song-lingo.com

By Nikki Cabus

Broward-based Digibee Appoints MuleSoft and Domino Alum as VP of Product

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Digibee, the first serverless integration platform empowering seamless connection and business agility, announced that Pablo Luna will join the company as its Vice President of Product.
Founded in 2017, Digibee is a born in the cloud, serverless integration platform that empowers developers to integrate applications at scale. Digibee extends the value of IT resources by allowing existing teams to rapidly build integrations and automations in a visual environment, eliminating bottlenecks and modernizing your approach to delivering powerful products and services.
Pablo Luna, MuleSoft’s former Senior Director of Product Management, will lead product strategy to create an enterprise-class serverless iPaaS product and a world-class product organization.

“Having Pablo Luna join Digibee as VP of Product is a transformative move for us. With over two decades of experience, including key roles at MuleSoft, Pablo’s strategic vision aligns seamlessly with ours for Digibee‘s future,” said Peter Kreslins, chief technology officer (CTO) at Digibee. “His leadership will drive our product strategy to new heights, accelerating momentum. His expertise will elevate our product management organization and deliver unparalleled value to our customers. We are thrilled to have him on board to further Digibee‘s product innovation.”

Along with his deep industry experience in the integration, iPaaS, API management and business process management (BPM) domains, Luna will bring his understanding of customer needs and successful product delivery to further build upon Digibee’s innovative momentum. He will also work to accelerate transformation in the industry to a more efficient and scalable solution that connects applications, data and people.

Digibee has an industry-leading innovative iPaaS platform, and I’m thrilled to further accelerate its growth and momentum,” said Pablo Luna, VP of product at Digibee.

“The integration market has changed dramatically in the last 5 years, with customer needs evolving rapidly in new market conditions. Digibee has built an incredibly robust and flexible iPaaS that leverages new technologies and integration approaches to address these evolving challenges. I’m excited to work with the talented Digibee team to accelerate the evolution of the platform, so customers can truly revolutionize the value they get from integration.”
Before joining Digibee, Luna was the vice president of product management at enterprise data science management platform Domino Data Lab. He was also responsible for core products and was a key contributor to exceeding company financial goals in his previous role at MuleSoft. Luna will report to Digibee’s CTO, Peter Kreslins.
This appointment builds upon a banner year in 2023 for Digibee with key achievements including AI enhancements to the Digibee Integration Platform, new customer deployments and a $60 million series B investment to fuel the company’s growth.
The Growth Equity business within Goldman Sachs Asset Management (Goldman Sachs) was the lead investor in the Series B round which was announced in June 2023. It includes Leadwind, a growth fund at K Fund, a leading venture capital firm in Southern Europe, Vivo Ventures, the corporate venture capital (CVC) arm of Brazilian telco Vivo, Kinea and G2D, two of Latin America’s largest private equity investment firms. Digibee is the preferred iPaaS solution for more than 250 customers including Assai, B3, Banco Itaú Unibanco, Barkley, Bauducco, Johnson Brothers and Payless. The Series B round follows a $25 million Series A round led by Softbank Latin America Fund (later renamed to Upload Ventures) and announced in February 2022 and a $6 million seed investment in February 2019.
Learn more about Digibee at www.digibee.com 

By Nikki Cabus

Broward-based CentralReach Aquires SILAS, a Rapidly Growing, Provider of SEL and Behavior Solutions for PreK-12 Students

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CentralReach announced the acquisition of SILAS – a social and emotional learning (SEL) and behavior solution for PreK-12 general, special, and transition vocational education programs.

Founded in 2012 in Pompano Beach, CentralReach has become the #1 ABA and Multi-Disciplinary Software Provider for Autism and IDD Care featuring end-to-end applied behavior analysis and multi-disciplinary software that supports the delivery of ABA, speech, occupational, and related therapies for care at home, school, and work. Today, under the leadership of Chris Sullens, award-winning CEO in the technology space, CentralReach is the leader in the applied behavior analysis (ABA) field continually striving to propel the autism and IDD care industry forward through cutting-edge technology, an unrelenting commitment to excellence, and a culture devoted to serving the growing neurodiverse population.

The SILAS software will be incorporated into CentralReach’s suite of education solutions, which currently includes ABLLS-R|AFLS digital assessments, IEP management and student rostering, data collection, parent training and professional development tools – making CentralReach one of the only providers in the space to offer a comprehensive education suite that serves the entire student body, from general education to special education.

“We’ve been looking at what Chris and the SILAS team have been doing for quite some time and the impact they are having on the U.S. schools and students they work with,” said CEO Chris Sullens.

“The positive outcomes of their interactive, animation-first approach to social skill acquisition are truly impressive. Unlocking the power of SEL for this generation of children will have exponential impacts on our society as a whole and I’m honored to work alongside Chris and his team to accelerate their mission and increase their impact by expanding their reach in education, to embed their curricula into the market leading offerings we have for ABA providers and to add SEL and executive functioning curricula into our caregiver training products for families with a child diagnosed with autism and broader IDDs.”

Founded by Chris Dudick, SILAS offers research and evidenced-based, CASEL-aligned screening solutions to measure students’ abilities, SEL programs for all tiers with CASEL-aligned lessons, applied behavior analysis-based instruction tools, executive functioning solutions built by renowned industry-leader Dr. George McCloskey, transitional vocational solutions, and so much more. SILAS uses proprietary assessments to customize the learning plan for each student and accelerates reinforcement and retention of those skills through an interactive, animated app that allows students to make bespoke animated videos tied to each lesson. SILAS has almost tripled in size since 2020 purely through word of mouth and teacher referrals and now touches 35,000 students across over 40 school districts in New Jersey. SILAS’s increasing adoption among districts is tied to its effectiveness as a solution. A 2019 study also concluded that the use of SILAS curriculum and software generated a statistically significant increase in student ratings in all competency areas.

Research has shown that treating the whole child by providing social skills training alongside academic training both leads to improved academic achievement as well as helps students learn the skills necessary to navigate their emotions and relationships, ultimately having long-term benefits on students’ lives and outcomes both in and outside of the classroom. While investment in SEL programs continues to grow as seen with the U.S. Department of Education’s announcement last year of a 13.6% increase in investment for these programs; schools have struggled to find tools and curriculum that enables fast adoption and success of these programs. SILAS has been able to step in to help schools unlock the potential of SEL programs by accelerating student understanding and outcomes thanks to the software’s gamification features in ways that have exceeded administrators’ and teachers’ expectations.

Another SILAS customer, Ettie Luban, MA, CCC-SLP, BCBA, Speech Pathologist from Bright Beginnings, also shared, “The students are highly motivated by the moviemaking component. It has been exceedingly beneficial when teaching a wide range of SEL skills to my students.”

“I’m very proud of the solution we’ve built and the impact that we’ve made on our customers’ programs,” said Chris Dudick, CEO of SILAS. “I chose to partner with CentralReach because of their strong, mission-driven culture and the vast amount of resources, expertise and talent they bring, which will enable us to take the product to new levels and unlock even more potential within the schools that we serve. I look forward to helping the CentralReach team integrate and expand the reach of SILAS’s SEL and executive functioning programs in both the education and ABA provider markets and am particularly excited about adding this curricula as a tool for caregivers through CentralReach’s caregiver-focused application, CR Care Coordinator.”

In addition to SILAS, CentralReach offers leading solutions for special education including the well-known ABLLS-R | AFLS CR Assessments product, which is used by 300+ school districts to help teachers assess students on over 2,400 skills.

Learn learn more abou CentralReach, please visit https://centralreach.com/

By Nikki Cabus

2000 Students Attend the Annual ‘Claim Your Future Showcase’ in Palm Beach and Broward Counties

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On January 30th and 31st, almost 2000 high school students in both Palm Beach and Broward counties hosted events allowing for a day of career exploration.

An ecominic development and career readiness initiative, the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County, Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, CareerSource Palm Beach, and the Palm Beach and Broward County school distrcits hosted events in their respective counties to showcase career opportunities to high school students. Companies were invited to participate as exhitors, speakers, mock interview volunteers, and more.

The “Claim Your Future Showcase,” was started by The Business Development Board of Palm Beach County and and then Broward County got in on the action hopsting their own as well. Each year, the goal of the events are to inspire and showcase the many career paths available to local high school students from the School District of Palm Beach County and Broward County in hopes that the students stay in South Florida after graduation. It’s a day for businesses to shine a light on their industries and for students to take another step toward their future careers.

In Palm Beach County, almost 1200 students had the opportunity to meet with companies such as Amazon, Bank of America, Cox Science Center, Discover the Palm Beaches, ESPN West Palm, Farm Credit, Finfrock, Florida Crystals, Florida Power & Light, HCA Healthcare, HotelPlanner, Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County, Keiser University, Kravis Center for Performing Arts, Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County, Memorial Healthcare System, Nova Southeastern University, Oxbow Carbon, , Palm Beach County Planning, Zoning & Building, Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa, Palm Beach State College, PBC STEM Ecosystem, Port of Palm Beach, Regions Bank, School District of Palm Beach County, The Wertheim UF Scripps Institute, Tropical Shipping, U.S. Army, Wells Fargo and many others.

In Broward County, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, in partnership with Broward County Public Schools, hosted the 7th annual Claim Your Future Showcase. The Broward event offered workforce preparation and business exposure to nearly 1,000 students from Career and Technical Education programs awaiting them in our community.

One of those companies was LAN InfoTech, a professional information technology consulting and engineering firm specializing in cybersecurity. Glen Benjamin, LAN InfoTech’s Community Account Manager and South Florida Tech Hub Board Member attended the event as an exhibitor.

Glen is a huge advocate in the community supporting talent and workforce development efforts and STEAM events for students all acros the South Florida region. Creating a proper pipeline of talent and then ensuring they are aware of the opportunities locally are crucial to building a strong and thriving ecosystem for years to come.

The day was filled with workforce development activities, including mock interviews, an executive panel discussion, and a showcase of local businesses. The sponsors that made this possible were: Advanced Roofing, the City of Fort Lauderdale, Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, Memorial Healthcare System, Amerant Bank Arena, and Delaware North.

“Investing in our future is important. These are the future leaders of our community,” said Ft. Lauderdale City Manager, Greg Chevarria.

The panelists included:

  • Greg Chavarria | City Manager for Fort Lauderdale
  • Andrew Zullo | CEO of Leadership Broward
  • Barkha Herman, Technology CEO and non-profit founder
  • Cathy Miron | President and CEO of eSilo
  • Bryce Hollweg | COO of Florida Panthers
  • Bob Swindell | President and CEO of Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance

“Events like these have a profound impact on students, especially young women, many of whom are interested in careers in tech, but aren’t sure how to get started or who worry they don’t “fit the mold,” said Cathy Miron, CEO of eSilo and Tech Hub Board Member.

“There are plenty of local women blazing new trails across South Florida and I hope that our stories inspire the next generation of women engineers, developers, cyber analysts, and project managers,” she continued.

Students not only have the chance to meet with local employers, but they have the chance to practice networking and communication skills, apply for internships, and hear from local experts on the benefits of staying local, the business economy we have in South Florida, and some of the exciting work being done right in their backyard!

 

By Nikki Cabus

Social Mobile Welcomes Geoff Leonard as New Chief Revenue Officer

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Social Mobile recently announced the appointment of Geoff Leonard as Chief Revenue Officer.

Social Mobile is an enterprise mobility solutions provider who designs, engineers, and manages custom mobility solutions for clients in all industries from healthcare to retail to defense. Our team of certified Android Enterprise experts work to deliver a fully custom mobility solution that includes hardware, software, managed mobility services, connectivity, and more.

Geoff Leonard brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to Social Mobile, with a rich history working on Google’s Android Enterprise team, both directly with clients and partners.

“We are thrilled to welcome Geoff to the Social Mobile leadership team as our Chief Revenue Officer,” said Founder and. “His proven track record in driving revenue growth and building successful teams will undoubtedly contribute to the continued growth and success of this company.”

Before joining Social Mobile, Geoff served as the General Manager of North America at CleverTap, a global mobile marketing automation company headquartered in San Francisco. Prior to CleverTap, Geoff served as North American Regional Manager of Android Enterprise at Google, successfully launching the world’s first Android Enterprise purpose-built and BYOD projects for renowned clients such as Pitney Bowes and Guardian Health. 

Prior to Google, Geoff served as Director of Sales at Divide, the company responsible for building the original Android Enterprise framework. Geoff and Mike Burr (Social Mobile’s CTO) worked together at Divide. Their technology became what is now Android Enterprise after the company was acquired by Google in 2014.

Geoff expressed his excitement, stating, “Social Mobile has a strong reputation as a leader in enterprise mobility, and I am honored to join the team to help drive new business opportunities, expand our partnerships, and nurture our client relationships.”

Geoff has 15 years of experience building and managing go-to-market teams for SaaS, Mobile, Martech, and Cloud companies, with 2 successful SaaS acquisitions by Google and Clevertap. Social Mobile’s commitment to innovation, growth, and fostering partnerships remains steadfast, and the addition of Geoff Leonard to its executive team signifies a new chapter of collaboration.

“Looking forward to helping take Social Mobile to new heights with you Robert Morcos, Benjamin Y., Ed Shulman and Mike Burr, CISSP, GIAC GMOB,” Geoff wrote in a social media post. “Lookout Android Enterprise, I’m back!”

By Nikki Cabus

Research Park at Florida Atlantic Elects 2024 Officers; Vote Marks First Time an FAU President is Chair Since 1985

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The Research Park at Florida Atlantic University® is pleased to announce the election of Stacy Volnick, Ph.D., FAU President, and Imran Siddiqui, JD as chair and vice chair of the Florida Atlantic Research and Development Authority (the Authority), respectively, for 2024.

The Research Park at Florida Atlantic is governed by the seven-member Authority, an independent special district which supports and promotes research and development in affiliation with and related to Florida Atlantic. It fosters technology-based economic development in both Palm Beach and Broward counties. The Research Park at FAU is widely regarded as South Florida’s laboratory for new entrepreneurial ideas and technologies.

Established in 1985, Research Park at Florida Atlantic University® is a 70-acre destination for R&D companies and home to technology 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 Florida Atlantic Tech Runway, a hub to accelerate technology development and incubate startup companies.

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, organized under Chapter 159, Part V, Florida Statues. (www.research-park.org)

In their leadership roles, Chair Volnick and Vice Chair Siddiqui will work closely with the members of the Authority and executive management to continue the Research Park’s mission of promoting research and economic development in South Florida, and to complete the execution of the Research Park’s 2023-2025 strategic plan.

“The work of the Research Park at Florida Atlantic has a significant impact on both the University and its surrounding communities,” said Volnick. “I am proud to lead its governing authority this year as we continue to advance its mission for the benefit of our entire region.”

President Volnick became a member of the university’s administrative staff in 1991, advancing steadily through the ranks. In 2013, she became vice president for administrative affairs and chief administrative officer, and more recently, she was promoted to chief operating officer. A three-time alumna, she earned a doctorate and master’s degree in educational leadership from FAU’s College of Education, as well as a bachelor’s degree in communication from the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters. Appropriately, her doctoral dissertation addressed the challenges facing women college presidents. Dr. Volnick joined the Authority in 2022.

Siddiqui, also a Florida Atlantic graduate, is a dynamic leader with a rich track record in law, civic engagement, higher education technology and public service. Most recently, he served as the Executive Director of Tech Equity Miami, leading a $100 million funding consortium dedicated to promoting equity in the tech industry. Before that role, he served as an Associate Vice President at Broward College where he launched Employment Solutions, a new division dedicated to corporate partnerships and job placement initiatives. Mr. Siddiqui was appointed to the Authority by Commissioner Marci Woodward and the Palm Beach County Commission in 2023.

“I am truly honored and humbled to accept the nomination for the position of Vice Chair at an exciting time not only for the Research Park but for Florida Atlantic University as a whole,” commented Imran Siddiqui. “Working under the leadership of our new chair, President Stacy Volnick is an exciting prospect, and I am eager to contribute to our shared vision for advancing research and development initiatives.”

Membership of the Authority is made up of private sector appointees by the Broward County Commission and the Palm Beach County Commission, each appointing three members. FAU’s president, or designee, rounds out the membership total of seven.

“We are thrilled to have President Volnick and Mr. Siddiqui step up and be elected to lead the Research Park at Florida Atlantic at this important time,” said Andrew Duffell, president of the Research Park. “Their leadership and expertise will be invaluable as we drive innovation and collaboration between the companies based in the Research Park and the research faculty and students at Florida Atlantic. I look forward to working with both of them to achieve our goals and support economic growth in our region.”

For more information about the Research Park at Florida Atlantic, visit www.Research-Park.org.

By Nikki Cabus

Guest Blog: Digital Transformation South Florida Style at TECHpalooza

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I was privileged to be invited to participate on a panel for the CIO Breakfast as part of the recent TECHpalooza event here in South Florida (Ft. Lauderdale to be exact). The panel was entitled, “The Future of the AI Revolution.”

I must admit I had modest hopes for the discussion taking place at the ungodly hour of 7am, but I was pleasantly surprised – not only with the sophistication and maturity of the state of digital transformation at the companies represented on the panel, but equally so by the companies represented in the audience.

Having lived in South Florida for almost 22 years now, I have come to accept that this isn’t Silicon Valley, Boston, Austin or any of the other hot tech markets. However, due to Covid, digital nomads and the hard work of local organizations like Tech Hub South Florida, that isn’t the case anymore.

There is a vibrant tech scene stretching from Miami, past Ft. Lauderdale and all the way up to Northern Palm Beach County – and even beyond.

Besides myself, on the panel was Michael Fowler, who is a VP and business unit CIO at Florida Power and Light (FPL), Sam Jaddi, SVP and CIO at ADT, Caroline Roche, VP and Senior Partner IBM’s Transformation Services, and Chad Simpson, the CIO for City Furniture. The panel was moderated by Colby Brannan and Lee Buchness, senior partners at Culture Partners.

Also not able to join us, and missed, were John Machado, the CTO of UKG and Tamecka Mckay, CIO of the City of Ft. Lauderdale. The audience had an equally impressive roster of well-known brands, as well as a good mix of consultants, smaller companies and startups.  All attendees were pre-approved and had to be a CIO or of the equivalent level to attend.

Though the discussion centered primarily around how the attendees were using AI or planned on using AI in their organizations, I was struck by the state-of-the-art technology that was being used almost universally across the board. These companies were almost all hybrid cloud users, shifting more and more of their infrastructure to the cloud.

To a person, they all were deep into DevOps and Cloud Native. Because several of them were in highly regulated industries, security and compliance processes were also very sophisticated. The level of digitization of these businesses was remarkable. ADT, for instance, is looking at how the smart home of the future will function and how they can be the hub of that. FPL is extremely forward thinking in communication with their customers via an app and being able to monitor their grid using every technology within their reach. Even City Furniture is digital first, with supply, shopping and delivery services all highly automated and digital.

We tend to think of our local companies, as just that – local. But hearing how they have transformed in the last few years and what their plans are to harness AI and other technologies to become the providers of tomorrow was extremely uplifting. The panel ran for near 90 minutes, as the standing room only audience would not let us off the stage.

Many members of the audience shared their own transformation stories with us. One interesting fact shared was that near 75% of the audience was already using gen AI in their business. Near 100% were well ahead on their digital transformation journeys. Another surprise for me was that their budgets for these initiatives were full speed ahead. I deal so much with tech tool vendors and venture backed companies that I have become used to hearing about budget cuts and delays on projects; but these participants whose companies are not generally thought of as “tech companies” were full speed ahead on their transformations.

We should remember that in the tech world. There is a big economy out there of companies doing exciting things around transformation. More than that, they are really jazzed about what else is coming down the pike and what that can mean as they seek to transform the very fabric of our day-to-day lives – not just in South Florida, but in the entire US and the world beyond that.

Shout out to the South Florida Tech Hub folks for putting on an amazing event.

 

Posted with permission from TechStrong Group and Digital CXO. Visit their website here.

By Nikki Cabus

UKG Ranks #3 Best Place to Work in IT by Computerworld

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UKG is ranked #3 in the world among large companies on the Foundry’s Computerworld 2024 Best Places to Work in IT list.

In addition to the overall #3 global ranking for companies with 5,000 or more employees, UKG also ranked #3 for Diversity, #7 for both Benefits and IT Growth, and #8 for Career Development on associated Computerworld lists.

This marks the third consecutive year that UKG has climbed the Computerworld Best Places to Work in IT list, advancing two spots from #5 on the 2023 list and ranking #6 in 2022 on the U.S.-only list, prior to the award going global. The annual recognition honors top organizations that challenge their IT staff with purposeful and meaningful careers while providing great benefits and compensation. Rankings are based on a comprehensive questionnaire about company offerings in categories such as career development; diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEI&B); the future of work; training; and retention.

UKG cares for its more than 15,000 employees — known as U Krewers — worldwide through a range of comprehensive benefits, employee resource groups (ERGs), and opportunities for career development and pursuing passion projects through its quarterly “Spark[Tank]” and “48 Hours” global innovation and programming events.

Standout Benefits

The company’s standout benefits program is highlighted by:

  • Fully paid healthcare premiums for medical, dental, and vision — including for spouses, domestic partners, and dependents — for the majority of employees, with coverage for infertility treatments, gender affirmation surgery, and surrogacy reimbursement, where allowed.
  • A 45% dollar-for-dollar company match on employee retirement-fund contributions in the U.S. and Canada, up to federal limits, as well as retirement-matching programs worldwide.
  • A global equitable benefits program called U Choose, launched in January 2023, which provides annual funds that U Krewers can use for over 150 different life expenses, from childcare and kids’ extracurriculars to pet care and personal wellness or lifestyle activities.
  • At least two paid days off for volunteering annually, through the company’s Global Volunteer Time-Off Policy. Together, this represents more than 245,000 hours of global impact each year.

Inclusive ERGs

UKG offers nine diverse, inclusive ERGs for community members and their allies to help build a culture of trust, equity, and belonging for all U Krewers. This includes groups such as BUILD (Black U Krewers in Leadership and Development); FIRE Up (Female Inclusion, Resilience, and Excellence) for women at all levels of the organization; NEST, which nurtures, empowers, and supports parents and caregivers through community, resources, support, and advocacy; and VETS for military veterans, their families, and their friends, along with UKG colleagues and supporters of veterans.

Spark[Tank], 48 Hours Programming Events

Recognizing that great ideas and innovation can come from anyone in the organization, UKG hosts two structured innovation programs open to all U Krewers worldwide: Spark[Tank] and the corresponding 48 Hours event. Spark[Tank] is a hybrid event that connects people across the company to foster innovation at UKG, and 48 Hours is a two-day, marathon coding event during which UKG engineers help bring the Spark[Tank] ideas to life. Participants present working concepts to a panel of UKG leaders, and the winning projects are often added to the UKG product roadmap. Over the years, concepts from 48 Hours have become award-winning UKG solutions, such as UKG Pro Giving, which allows companies to easily create and match charitable giving campaigns directly through employee payroll deductions.

“UKG strives to help every organization become a great place to work, and that mission shows up in the ways we value, respect, and care for our U Krewers every day,” said Scott Howitt, chief digital officer at UKG. “Just as we’re committed to providing our 80,000 customers across industries with innovative HCM solutions that help create top workplaces for their employees, we’re equally focused on making UKG the best place to work for our more than 15,000 U Krewers across the globe — including the hundreds who work in enterprise-technology roles.”

At UKG, our purpose is people. We are on a mission to inspire every organization to become a great place to work through HCM technology built for all. More than 80,000 customers across all sizes, industries, and geographies trust UKG HR, payroll, and workforce management cloud solutions to drive great workplace experiences and make better, more confident people and business decisions. With the world’s largest collection of people data, work data, and culture data combined with rich experience using artificial intelligence in the service of people, we connect culture insights with business outcomes to show what’s possible when organizations invest in their people. To learn more, visit ukg.com.

By Nikki Cabus

13 South Florida companies named winners of the 2023 Deloitte Technology Fast 500

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Deloitte today released its “North America Technology Fast 500™,” an annual ranking of the fastest-growing North American companies – and thirteen South Florida companies were winners this year!

Now in its 29th year, the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 list highlights the passion and dedication it takes to be an industry disrupter across the technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences, fintech, and energy tech sectors. Each year, companies can receive increased visibility, brand recognition, and growth opportunities by joining this elite group,

“Each year, we look forward to reviewing the progress and innovations of our Technology Fast 500 winners. This year is especially celebratory as we expand the number of winners to better represent just how many companies are developing new ideas to progress our society and the world, especially during a slow economy,” said Paul Silverglate, Vice Chair, Deloitte LLP and U.S. technology sector leader.

“While software and services and life sciences continue to dominate the top 10, we are encouraged to see other categories making their mark. Congratulations to all the winners who show us how creativity, hard work and perseverance can lead to success.”

The Deloitte Technology Fast 500 winners represent 41 states and provinces across North America. California’s Bay Area continued to lead the regional pack with 18% of the Technology Fast 500 winners, followed by the Tri-State Area representing 13% of the winning companies. Software and services is the leading industry in all major markets, even New England, where historically life sciences has dominated.

Eighty-five percent (85%) of the companies listed in the 2023 Technology Fast 500 were backed by venture capital or private equity funding at some point in their company history.

Software and services companies once again topped this year’s Technology Fast 500 listing, representing the majority of the winners for the 28th straight year (57%). Of the software and services companies on the list, digital platforms represented the majority of winners (49%) with enterprise infrastructure and productivity following with 31% of the winners. Security (13%), consumer software (5%) and education (2%), comprised the rest of the subsectors within software and services. Life sciences and fintech rounded out the top three industry categories with 16% and 12% of total winners, respectively.

Overall median growth rate of the winners was 497%. Life sciences had the highest median revenue growth rate at 665%.

 

The South Florida companies honored this year are:

  • #20 | MyFBAPrep
    • Software & services
    • 8,792% Growth
    • Coral Springs (Broward County)

MyFBAPrep is the highest ranked company in Florida and in the logistics and transportation category. The are a leading eCommerce warehouse logistics network, MyFBAPrep’s hypergrowth comes on the back of several major CPG client wins and the expansion of its warehouse network footprint to 85-million-square-feet of warehouse space globally.

Achieving a three-year growth rate of 8,792%, MyFBAPrep is one of the highest-ranked logistics and transportation companies on the list. This hypergrowth comes on the back of several major consumer packaged goods (CPG) client wins and the expansion of its warehouse network footprint to 85-million-square-feet of warehouse space globally. Handling all eCommerce needs from port to porch, MyFBAPrep offers its roster of enterprise-level customers and top eCommerce sellers cutting-edge warehousing and logistics solutions powered by its SaaS platform Preptopia®.

“Our team has been on a mission since Day One to change the face of eCommerce logistics as it exists today. Being recognized on the 2023 Deloitte Technology Fast 500™ list alongside the other high-flying  technology companies is a testament to our team’s commitment to this mission,” said Tom Wicky, Co-Founder and CEO of MyFBAPrep. “Our tech-first approach leveraging customer service and execution has been a winning formula, complimenting a client roster that has responded well to our product and continues to help us make our network and suite of services even better.”

  • #41 | Fox Ordering
    • Software & services
    • 4,143% Growth
    • Boca Raton (Palm Beach County)
  • #114 | ClassWallet
    • Fintech
    • 1,263% Growth
    • Hollywood (Broward County)
  • #162 | Honorlock
    • Software & services
    • 865% Growth
    • Boca Raton (Palm Beach County)
  • #165 | ViB
    • Software & services
    • 855% Growth
    • North Palm Beach (Palm Beach County)
  • #186 | Social Mobile
    • Hardware & semiconductors
    • 779% Hollywood (Broward)
  • #202 | Drawbridge
    • Software & services
    • 694% Growth
    • Palm Beach Gardens (Palm Beach County)
  • #215 | Instreamatic
    • Software & services
    • 660% Growth
    • Boca Raton (Palm Beach County)
  • #235 | Taxfyle
    • Software & services
    • 612% Growth
    • Coconut Grove (Miami-Dade County)
  • #257 | Launch Potato
    • Digital content/media/entertainment
    • 534% Growth
    • Delray Beach (Palm Beach County)
  • #276 | PlanHub
    • Software & services
    • 490% Growth
    • West Palm Beach (Palm Beach County)
  • #355 | springbig
    • Software & services
    • 365% Growth
    • Boca Raton (Palm Beach County)
  • #361 | CloudHesive
    • Software & services
    • 360% Growth
    • Fort Lauderdale (Broward County)

 

“As for growing companies, it’s always rewarding to be recognized for the ongoing commitment it takes to navigate obstacles, transform when necessary and ultimately create a thriving business,” said Christie Simons, Partner, Deloitte & Touche LLP and industry leader for technology, media and telecommunications within Deloitte’s Audit & Assurance practice.

“Over the nearly 30 years we’ve been compiling the Technology Fast 500, we’ve seen new categories emerge, growth rates explode, and certain regional markets shine from the bright talent they attract. We are proud of all the winners for achieving this well-deserved honor.”

Technology Fast 500 awardees are selected based on percentage fiscal year revenue growth from 2019 to 2022. Overall, the 2023 Technology Fast 500 companies achieved revenue growth ranging from 201% to 222,189% over the three-year time frame, with an average growth rate of 1,934% and a median growth rate of 497%.

The rankings are based on submitted applications and public company database research, with winners selected based on their fiscal-year revenue growth percentage over a three-year period. With so many entrants meeting the eligibility criteria this year, we expanded the 2023 Winners’ List to include those companies that achieved a growth rate of 200 percent or higher, as a celebratory sign that tech companies are thriving even amidst challenging economic times.

For more more information and full data points on the winners, please visit www.Fast500.com

1 2 3
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New Leadership at the Helm of South Florida’s Tech Hub
Nicole Oropesa named President of BrandStar Entertainment
TechGateway and South Florida Tech Hub team up for TechGatway Day and new regional tech map
FIRST Robotics Competition South Florida Regional awards multiple teams with honors & on to World Championship
Broward College iSTEM Center Opens its Doors to Faculty at Professional Development Day
Adam Elitzur, Tech Hub Intern and 12th grader wins 2023 Congressional App Challenge in Florida’s 25th District
Broward-based Digibee Appoints MuleSoft and Domino Alum as VP of Product
Broward-based CentralReach Aquires SILAS, a Rapidly Growing, Provider of SEL and Behavior Solutions for PreK-12 Students
2000 Students Attend the Annual ‘Claim Your Future Showcase’ in Palm Beach and Broward Counties
Social Mobile Welcomes Geoff Leonard as New Chief Revenue Officer
Research Park at Florida Atlantic Elects 2024 Officers; Vote Marks First Time an FAU President is Chair Since 1985
Guest Blog: Digital Transformation South Florida Style at TECHpalooza
UKG Ranks #3 Best Place to Work in IT by Computerworld
13 South Florida companies named winners of the 2023 Deloitte Technology Fast 500