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By Nikki Cabus

Tech Hub Announces 2023 Golden Palm Award Nominees

Read Time 2 Minutes

South Florida Tech Hub has announced the nominees for the 2023 Golden Palm Gala & Awards! 

The event will honor the companies, organizations and individuals who have greatly contributed to building South Florida’s technology community. The recipients range from successful CEOs, startup founders, and community leaders all recognized for their many achievements and contributions. Tech Hub received almost 100 nomination submissions. The event’s Presenting Sponsor is 35 Mules, an Innovation Hub powered by Florida Power & Light. 

The Golden Palm Awards will be held at the gorgeous Kravis Center for The Performing Arts located in downtown West Palm Beach down the street from the Brightline West Palm Beach Station. The event will open at 5:30 PM and close at 9:00 PM. Click Here to Purchase Tickets

 

Golden Palm Award Nominees:

Collaboration of The Year

Social Responsibility

Innovator of The Year

Community Connector

Inclusion Champion

EdTech Excellence

Leadership Excellence

 

Winners announced at the event. Get your ticket today! Save $25 with code NOM2023

By Nikki Cabus

Fiserv now on NYSE; new ticker celebrates company’s commitment to leading fintech innovation

Read Time 3 Minutes

Just last week, Fiserv, Inc. announced that it has completed the transfer of its stock exchange listing to the New York Stock Exchange.

Effective June 7th, the company began trading under the ticker symbol “FI.” To honor the occasion, Frank J. Bisignano, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, rang The Opening Bell® at 9:30 am EST alongside other representatives if Fiserv. You can watch the video clip here.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Fiserv, an established leader and trailblazer in fintech and payments, as the newest member of our NYSE community,” said Lynn Martin, NYSE President. “Fiserv joins our community of innovators, icons and disruptors, who routinely set the pace in advancing tech-driven innovation across the globe.”

Fiserv, Inc. (NYSE: FI), a Fortune 500 company, aspires to move money and information in a way that moves the world. As a global leader in payments and financial technology, the company helps clients achieve best-in-class results through a commitment to innovation and excellence in areas including account processing and digital banking solutions; card issuer processing and network services; payments; e-commerce; merchant acquiring and processing; and the Clover® cloud-based point-of-sale and business management platform. Fiserv is a member of the S&P 500® Index and one of Fortune® World’s Most Admired Companies™.

“To lead in fintech today means not just enabling commerce and money movement, but disrupting on behalf of, not in place of, its long-standing participants. Our decision to transfer to the NYSE and introduce a new ticker – FI – is a signal and symbol of our leadership position in fintech,” said Frank Bisignano, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Fiserv.

“Our focus on clients through innovation, talent, and investment has enabled us to drive sustained growth, as we reach more than 100 countries and serve nearly 100% of U.S. households.”

To mark its initial collaboration with the NYSE, this summer, Fiserv will publish the first Fiserv Small Business IndexSM, a monthly snapshot of consumer spending at small businesses with both cards and cash, online and in store. Combining Fiserv data with NYSE indexing expertise will enable new insights to those with a stake in the future of small business, including financial institutions, policy makers, investors, market researchers and businesses of all sizes.

With a satellite location in Coral Springs, Fiserv has been very involved in supporting the local small business community through their international Back 2 Business program. Fiserv has committed $50 million to help Black- and minority-owned small businesses get Back2Business through grants, coaching, and access to technology and networking opportunities.

Fiserv committed $50 million to help black and minority-owned small businesses get Back2Business through grants, coaching, and access to technology and networking opportunities. This number has continued to grow. Since 2020, more than 1,600 Black- and minority-owned small businesses across the U.S. and U.K. received grants and support to keep serving their communities.

On June 5, 2023, Fiserv was named to the FORTUNE® 500 for the eighth consecutive year. The ranking of 230 for 2023 is based on 2022 company revenue of more than $17 billion. Earlier this year, Fiserv was also recognized for its ability to inspire and deliver innovation on behalf of its clients with inclusion in Fortune® America’s Most Innovative Companies, which takes a holistic view of a company’s focus on innovation. Companies were chosen based on surveys of employees and experts in various fields, and an independent analysis of the quantity and value of the company’s patents.

In a world moving faster than ever before, Fiserv helps clients deliver solutions in step with the way people live and work today – financial services at the speed of life. Learn more at fiserv.com.

By Nikki Cabus

Title 1 Cypress Run Education Center collaborates with community and industry for final school year’s student hackathon

Read Time 4 Minutes

Combining art and coding, Cypress Run Education Center held it’s final Hackathon of the 2023 school year – and the student projects were amazing!

This year’s fourth quarter and final hackathon expanded the students’ creativity for the ‘Mark Art Hackathon.’ A Pokémon character, robots, race car, Hello Kitty, a city scape and so man other art projects were featured. School District representatives, community partners and even industry leaders were there as judges, sponsors and volunteers for the day. The event was sponsored by the Broward County School District, South Florida Tech Hub, and CloudHesive who provided gift bags, pizza and dessert for all students and cash prizes and swag bags for the contest winners.

At Cypress Run, the total minority enrollment is 90%, and 82% of students are economically disadvantaged. As a Title 1 alternative school in Broward County for K-12 students, Cypress Run doesn’t have access to all the resources that some students may have across the district, but Ms. Osas Guis-Obaseki, or Ms. “O” to her students, doesn’t let that stop her.

She is a programmer, engineer and current STEM and Computer Science teacher who has been instrumental in scaling up the school’s computer science initiatives and student engagement in community STEM programming. Ms. O was also named the 2021-22 Teacher of the Year for Cypress Run Education Center.

Ms. Osas has spearheaded a STEM Club that meets biweekly to expose students to programming and the computer science field. She has given students the opportunity to to build computers, learn coding and programming, and gain skills using digital tools. Ms. O hosts quarterly Hackathons where students demonstrate their coding skills and compete with other students. Under her leadership, students have complete the Microsoft certifications in HTML and CSS Programming, Website Design, and MS Office.

CloudHesive, an Amazon Premier Partner and an Amazon Managed Services Partner in the cloud technology space, provided gift bags for all students and cash prizes for the winners. People and Culture Leader, Mallory Ryska, volunteered to help set up the event and was there to greet the students as they entered the hackathon classroom.

“A big thank you to our friends at South Florida Tech Hub for including us in Cypress Run Education Center’s Hackathon this past Friday. CloudHesive welcomes any opportunity to develop and support the future engineers in our community. And we greatly appreciate the work Mrs. O does in her classroom to inspire the next generation in tech,” Mallory wrote in a social media post.

Using CoffeeScript, an easily understandable shorthand form of JavaScript, the middle school students had approximately a week to built their art master pieces. The were scored according to the following categories: Visualization, Creativity, Pictures & Background, Design Implementation, and Code Functionality. The high schoolers had to imagine their own high school or college and build a website for the school. They used HTML and CSS for their projects. Judges included Matthew Fritzius, Curriculum Supervisor with Broward County School District, Nikki Cabus, Tech Hub’s CEO, Monica Darville-Martinez, Math Coach for Broward County Schools.

Ms. O partnered with Tech Hub to give her students the opportunity to attend the annual TECHpalooza 2022 allowing students access to one of South Florida leading tech conferences, get exposure to tech professionals and companies across the region, and gain necessary communication skills through volunteering alongside event staff. She also worked with Tech Hub to get access to Broward County’s JROTC Fleet Week STEM Day 2023. In addition to Tech Hub, Ms. O has garnered various business partnerships to support the STEM Initiative at Cypress Run, such as Oracle, ReGenerate Tech, and many more.

Dr. Gastrid Harrington, Cypress Run Education Center’s Principal, Adjunct Professor at Broward College, and Podcaster, was in attendance.

“The goal and the objective is to expose students to coding and programming skills,” he told Tech Hub in an interview.  “Having industry connect with our students is an invaluable experience for them.”

Cypress Run Education Center has been awarded a few grants over the last couple years including the School Choice Enhancement Program (SCEP) and FPL’s $50,000 Classroom Makeover Grant via the NextEra Energy Foundation’s $2 million, four-year commitment. As part of FPL’s commitment to STEM education, the grant funds will improve technology, equipment and resources for the next generation of innovators.

The grant is intended to provide transformational learning opportunities for Black students in a classroom setting. Funds addressed needs in infrastructure, technology or resources (i.e. software, equipment, books, training of teachers, tutors, paraprofessionals) to advance the STEM curriculum and increase exposure of STEM education and careers.

Cypress Run Education Center would love to welcome you to their next Hackathon. Email team@techhubsouthflorida.org to find out how you can support.

By Nikki Cabus

The Broward UP™ Sunshine Health Training Center has officially launched in the City of Lauderhill

Read Time 4 Minutes

On Monday, May 22nd, Broward College celebrated the official opening of the new Sunshine Health Training Center.

In February, Broward College received a $100,000 grant from Sunshine Health to establish the Broward UP™ @ Sunshine Health Training Center in the City of Lauderhill.

Broward College and Sunshine Health are collaborating on this new initiative that will brighten the career landscape of the City and pave the way for a unique educational facility that will equip residents with the skills necessary to thrive in the health care job marketplace, one of the most in-demand career fields.

In attendance were the City of Lauderhill’s Mayor Ken Thurson and Commissioner Melissa Dunn, Sunshine Health’s President & CEO, Nathan Landsbaum, Broward UP students Voneshia Corbin and Abby Rayno, and Broward College’s Senior VP of Workforce Education and Innovation, Dr. Mildred Coyne, and Associate VP of Workforce Development, Diane Peart.

THE STATS

According to Data USA, the City of Lauderhill had a median household income of $43,658 and median household value of $178,500 in 2020. These stats included 1-year growth rates of 4.64% and 15.6%, respectively. 80% of the population (57.5k people) is Black or African American with 37.3% (26.8k people) of Lauderhill residents born outside of the country accounting for over 40 languages spoken.

Almost one fifth (19.1%) of the City’s total population lives below the poverty line which is higher than the national average of 12.8%. About nine times the amount of women received some sort of post-secondary education than men, yet black women are 42% of those living under the poverty line with young males under the age of eleven being the next.

Broward College’s Broward UP™ and Sunshine Health are set out to change these stats for the better.

 

THE PARTNERS

Broward UP™ (Unlimited Potential) has expanded Broward College’s service model to ensure all Broward County residents have access to post-secondary education. Through Broward UP, Broward College is offering FREE workforce training and student support services online and directly in neighborhoods throughout Broward County. Their goal is to help the community get the training needed to find a good job, make more money, and get the skills needed to thrive in a career.

Sunshine Health, headquartered in Broward County, is among the largest healthcare plans in Florida. Offering coordinated care and a network of support for its more than 2 million members, Sunshine Health is transforming the health of the community, one person at a time by focusing on under-insured and uninsured individuals. Sunshine Health offers government-sponsored managed care through Medicaid, Long Term Care, Medicare and Florida’s Health Insurance Marketplace. Additionally, our specialty plans include the Child Welfare Specialty Plan serving children in or adopted from the state’s Child Welfare system; the Serious Mental Illness Specialty Plan for people living with serious mental illness; and the Children’s Medical Services Health Plan, operated by Sunshine Health on behalf of the Florida Department of Health for children and adolescents with special healthcare needs.

 

ECONMIC DEVELOPMENT

Randall Deich, a former STEM educator in Lauderhill and current Director Talent Attraction and Education with the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance explained, “Post-secondary education plays an essential role in developing the foundation for individual growth, community prosperity, and economic development. When underserved communities have access to high-quality education there is a greater chance to reduce inequalities and promote social mobility.”

He gave the Broward Up model a big pat on the back stating, “Services such as these play a key role in community development by equipping individuals with advanced skills and cultivating a competitive workforce that is highly attractive to local businesses. Training programs that have this “Unlimited Potential” mindset are more than just an education model; it is an investment in community prosperity and resident empowerment.”

 

THE TRAINING CENTER

The new partnership brings free training and certification opportunities to Broward County residents interested in starting a career in healthcare.

The Broward College-Sunshine Health Training Center is located at Sunshine Health’s Lauderhill Welcome Room within the Lauderhill Mall at 1299C N.W. 40th Ave.

This will create an additional access point to help equip residents with the skills necessary to enter the healthcare job marketplace. The partnership is the latest venture in  Sunshine Health’s statewide workforce development program, called Sunshine Health Works, which provides pathways to prosperity for communities across the state.

“Sunshine Health is committed to the communities we serve by supporting and investing in resources that address critical community needs,” said Nathan Landsbaum, CEO of Sunshine Health. “This collaboration with Broward College allows residents to gain job skills and creates opportunities for them to have a successful future.”

Several courses will be offered, with a focus on providing essential skills for in-demand medical positions. These courses include Electronic Medical Records, Health Career Core, Medical Administrative Assistant, and Revenue Cycle.

Participants who complete these classes will receive a Broward College certificate and micro-credential, both of which can lead to career placement or opportunities for further study. For certifications that require additional testing, a testing voucher will be provided to students.

Sunshine Health’s new partnership with Broward College coincides with a larger expansion program that will provide a pathway for participants to secure a career in high-demand fields to better meet the needs of the workforce within Leon, Hillsborough, and Broward counties.

 

By Nikki Cabus

Ft. Lauderdale-based CloudHesive, an Amazon Web Services (AWS) Premier Partner, acquires Eplexity

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CloudHesive, an Amazon Web Services (AWS) Premier Consulting Partner, announced the acquisition of fellow Premier Partner Eplexity, with additional investment from Strattam Capital. 

The combination creates one of the top “pure play” AWS partners in the United States and Latin America, with deep Amazon Connect and application modernization expertise underpinning a focus on helping customers get the most from their cloud investments.

Eplexity is one of the fastest-growing Amazon Web Services Partners with expertise in managed services, large-scale legacy to cloud migrations, and automation through DevOps pipeline implementation and management. Their CXOS Cloud Management Services Platform is built to AWS best practice standards utilizing DevOps tools and practices. CXOS enables customers to provide faster cloud adoption through proven, secure, cost-effective, and optimized migration methodologies, which increase performance and reliability.

The combined company will serve over 500 clients across a diversified set of industries, including oil and gas, logistics, travel and hospitality, healthcare, high-tech, and the public sector.

This milestone will drive growth and elevate the service quality of the combined company’s growing customer list. “The acquisition of Eplexity brings together two AWS Premier Consulting Partner ecosystem leaders to deliver a pure-play solution of scale to the market,” said Jim Walker, CEO, CloudHesive.

“The Eplexity team’s proven success in the small to mid-size market, combined with CloudHesive’s strength at enterprise scale, gives us unmatched capabilities delivering products, services, and solutions to help customers achieve their AWS goals.”

This investment represents the second acquisition for CloudHesive. In 2022, CloudHesive acquired Dextr Cloud, the industry’s most powerful customer service and performance contact center, as a service solution developed on the AWS service eco-system. This was rebranded ConnectPath CX Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) platform, powered by Amazon Connect. The acquisition of Eplexity is critical to help CloudHesive grow its Contact Center, AI/ML, Big data, and application optimization practices. This acquisition will increase CloudHesive’s footprint in the United States to include an office in Denver, Colorado, and add additional Amazon Web Service Partner Programs and Competencies to its portfolio.

CloudHesive is an Amazon Premier Partner and an Amazon Managed Services Partner founded in 2014 by veterans in the cloud technology space. We help our customers adapt and transform their organizations by leveraging the power of the public cloud ecosystem through consulting, and next-generation managed services with a focus on Operational Excellence, Security, Reliability, and Application Optimization. We service global customers and have headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, FL, and offices in Norfolk, Virginia, Santiago, Chile, Bogota, Colombia and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

“Joining forces with CloudHesive allows us to merge their cutting-edge technologies and service solutions with our Managed and Application Modernization Services,” said John Clendennen, CEO of Eplexity. “This powerful combination will provide unique, customized solutions for customers looking to modernize or transition to AWS environments.”

Strattam Capital first invested in CloudHesive in 2021 to enable CloudHesive to accelerate its pace of innovation while continuing to provide best-in-class services to its high-profile customer base. In addition, the investment provided CloudHesive with the resources to expand its operations and sales team, supporting customers in both the public sector and commercial space, and to pursue rapid geographic expansion.

Click here to learn more about CloudHesive

By Nikki Cabus

Broward-based eVTOL startup Doroni Aerospace launches Series A and FAA releases blueprint for air taxis

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Just last week Doroni Aerospace announced the exclusive launch of their Series A Reg D funding round available to accredited investors. 

Morgan Stanley research predicted that the eVTOL (electric vertical taken off and landing) market will reach over $1 trillion by 2040. Doroni is on a mission to capitalize on this opportunity today and aims to make this technology accessible to everyone.

With backing and support from Space Florida, Doroni has already raised over $3.6 million from over 2000 investors and taken just under 300 pre-order requests for vehicle purchases. Just this past February, the startup completed its first untethered test flight with the Doroni H1 eVTOL. Only a handful of companies worldwide have been able to achieve this milestone.

Some of Doroni’s recent accomplishments are pretty remarkable.

  • successfully completed 53 unique flight tests with the Doroni H1 P1
  • built full 3D cockpit simulator tested by thousands of flight enthusiast and experienced pilots
  • completed the H1 airframe with fully functional cockpit complete with software, avionics, and a computer system that’s ready for flight integration
  • recruited Dan Saccani, a former Tesla and Lucid Motors CFO as our fractional CFO
  • raised an impressive seed round of over $3.5M through equity crowdfunding on StartEngine.com
  • working with major OEMs like Honeywell, Garmin, and Amphenol to incorporate aviation systems and components
  • received an overwhelming response of 270+ preorder requests
  • expanded our R&D capabilities by moving to a state-of-the-art 13,000 square foot R&D facility in Coral Springs
  • received another technology patent on their latest technology in design and aerospace features from the USPTO
  • garnered support from esteemed organizations such as the City of Pompano Beach, The Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, and Space Florida

Doroni’s mission is to bring new sustainability to commuter transportation by making flight accessible to the masses. The Doroni H1 is their go-to-market personal eVTOL (AKA “flying car”) that the company says will offer a safe, practical, and environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional automobiles. They are helping define the future of Urban Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) by engaging with the aviation industry, academia, the military, and the FAA as well as our prospective civilian and commercial customers.

On May 3rd, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released an updated blueprint outlining the next steps for future future air taxi, or eVTOL aircraft, operations in the United States.

Under the blueprint developed by NASA and industry stakeholders, AAM operations will begin at a low rate with air taxis flying much as helicopters do today. They’ll use existing routes and infrastructure such as helipads and early vertiports.  As the number of operations increases, air taxis are expected to fly in corridors between major airports and vertiports in city centers. The complexity of the corridors could increase over time from single one-way paths to routes serving multiple flows of aircraft flying in both directions. Over time, these corridors could link an increasing number of routes between vertiports.

The FAA expects aircraft technology will evolve as well. Aircraft automation and real-time data sharing between aircraft will likely play increasing roles in these corridors. The operational blueprint is a key step — along with certifying the aircraft and pilots — in the FAA’s effort to safely usher in and support this next era of aviation. The blueprint aims to provide a common frame of reference to the FAA, NASA and industry to help guide their research and decision-making.

Doroni is targeting a Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) certification with the FAA that would make the company extremely viable when compared to the complicated and time-consuming certification processes of larger air taxi competitors. From its inception with the Doroni Y6 and X8 prototypes that came before it, the Doroni H1 was designed to maximize safety and will undergo exhaustive multi-level quality control. As Doroni likes to say, “Safety Is In Our DNA.”

What was once only seen in futuristic sci-fi movies in now becoming a reality. The world’s first eVTOL vertiport, Air-One, was opened in April 2022 in the United Kingdom. This is just one of the first of over 200 vertiport sites planned across the globe for Air-One. The vertiport was a collaboration between Urban-Air Port, a U.K.-based ground infrastructure developer, and Supernal, Hyundai Motor Group’s urban air mobility division.

According to Urban-Air Port, multiple international locations are already on the company’s order book for additional sites including efforts to bring air taxi services to Miami as soon as 2028.

The difference between Doroni and it’s competitors is its plans to offer their vehicles for personal purchase and use. The eVTOL market is divided into cargo, personal, and air taxi segments with many competitors popping up, but according to Doroni, these competitors are not focusing on personal purchase.

The personal segment is further subdivided into 1- and 2-seater categories. 1-seaters typically have an open frame with exposed propellers, have limited range, and are intended for recreational/leisure use. The Doroni H1 falls under the 2-seater + Payload category. Doroni sees a tremendous benefit and value of entering the personal segment under this category and believes that as a US-based company located in the eVTOL hub of Florida, they can become a major industry player.

Flying an aircraft may seem like a daunting task, but Doroni’s Founder and CEO, Doron Merdinger, explains that anyone with a driver’s license and 20 hours of flight training from the company can do it. He also claims that it’s cleaner, quieter and more sustainable.

Doron explains this in a recent ABC News Miami interview by asking, “Why do we need to destroy nature in general when we introduce a system that doesn’t require roads, does not pollute, doesn’t make noise at that level?”

He continued, “I can tell you 100% that the technology for what we are doing is here now. It’s not in the future – it’s here now.”

“We will experience nature. . . It will be safer, quieter and more efficient.”

The 1650 lb. 2-seater, Doroni H1, can fly a couple hundred feet off the ground with a flying distance of 60 miles, cruising speed at 100 miles per hour, and maximum speed of 140 miles per hour. The aircraft is expected to charge from approximately 20% to 80% in just 15 – 20 minutes which is extremely fast.

The Doroni H1 aircraft cockpit was a popular exhibit at Tech Hub’s 10th annual TECHpalooza 2022. The company brought out the full size cockpit for attendees to experience the future of transportation.

Using a virtual reality headset and simple joystick (not steering wheel), attendees could imagine gliding through the sky in the Doroni H1 eVTOL aircraft. For most, this was the first flying car prototype they had ever seen or even heard of.

Flying cars could be a reality within the next 2 years. The cost is currently around $250k, but once the cost of materials levels out, the technology such as batteries becomes more accessible, the company expects the prices to lower, or at least not increase, over time.

“This is real and this is happening – We have come a long way from where we were just a decade ago,” stated Billy Nolen,  FAA acting administrator.

Investors, visit the Doroni website now to learn more and secure your stake in the future of mobility: https://www.doroni.io/

 

By Nikki Cabus

Ft. Lauderdale’s FIT:MATCH honored as high impact tech startup in the international The Lead 100 List 2023

Read Time 5 Minutes

The Leading 100 List 2023, the highly anticipated international annual research list recognizing innovative tech start-ups driving the future of brand-to-consumer has been announced and the local Ft. Lauderdale-based FIT:MATCH has made the list.

FIT:MATCH is a ‘Digital Twin Matching Platform’ for B2B apparel brands enabling them to match their customers with the best-fitting products. The company’s patented algorithms derive a shopper’s 3D body shape, or “digital twin,’ using augmented reality and LIDAR-powered devices, to make personalized product recommendations in hard to fit categories. FIT:MATCH is designed to eliminate brands’ and consumers’ questions about fit in order to drive conversion and loyalty, while reducing returns.

The Leading 100 List, produced by The Lead, recognizes high impact technology start-ups that are transforming the direct-to-consumer business model and driving business value for brands as well as retailers. These young companies are venture capital funded and predominantly in their seed or series A round of financing. The Leading 100 companies are solving business problems, powering growth, and helping brands deliver on customer expectations through innovative, accessible, and powerful technology solutions. All companies were vetted and selected using a rigorous methodology which measured Innovation, Business Impact, Commercialization & Customers, Teams & Experience, Competition, Media Buzz, and Investor Value Creation. Company data was collected via a combination of CEO interviews, company nomination data, and publicly available market data.

FIT:MATCH, the digital twin platform, recently partnered with disruptor brand Savage X Fenty, in collaboration with Intel to launch the next generation of its award-winning, patented body shape technology. The product, dubbed Fit Xperience, gives shoppers the opportunity to get scanned in an in-store fitting room using Intel’s RealSense technology and the Intel Distribution of OpenVINO toolkit.

Within seconds, customers are matched with the best-fitting Savage X styles based on their exact body shape. This first-of-its-kind experience is available exclusively at Savage X Fenty retail stores, debuted at its new Lenox Square Mall location in Atlanta, Georgia in February.

This new experience weaves together augmented reality, computer vision and artificial intelligence, creating a re-imagined in-store fitting room experience. Shoppers who take part in Fit Xperience step into the fitting room where Intel RealSense depth sensors create an anonymized avatar based on their exact body shape. The technology then compares the shopper’s body to the database of digital twins (bodies that have been scanned previously), and – with an AI assist from Intel OpenVINO – recommends the best-fitting products to the shopper. By using depth sensors, and not cameras, to generate a mapping of a shoppers’ shape, FIT:MATCH has ensured the entire experience is both safe and private, with no videos and pictures taken or stored. The process is also extremely fast — it takes less than 30 seconds from beginning to end — saving time, both for the shoppers and the store associates.

Savage X Fenty closed a strategic investment in FIT:MATCH last year to accelerate expansion of the AR-powered technology, which solves the fit challenge that has long plagued brands and consumers by utilizing body shape data rather than just standard measurements.

This is the type of “high impact technology” that The Lead is looking for in their startups honored in The Lead 100 List 2023.

“Capitalizing on the learnings from the initial Fit Xperience rollout, we wanted to take the entire experience to the next level. This new product leverages Intel’s RealSense technology, as well as OpenVINO software to deliver a powerful, fast, and immersive shopping experience,” said Haniff Brown, Founder and CEO of FIT:MATCH. “We truly believe this is the most frictionless in-store fitting experience on the market.”

Companies from across the value chain all around the world — including marketing, ecommerce, customer experience, stores, data, AI, last mile, checkouts and payments, sustainability, merchandising, and Web3 — were nominated & considered. All companies were vetted and selected using a rigorous methodology which measures Innovation, Business Impact, Commercialization & Customers, Teams and Experience, Competition, Media Buzz, and Investor Value Creation. The selection committee, led by The Lead’s Chief Content Officer, Sonal Gandhi, conducted the analysis and final selection.

“The pace of change in the fashion, beauty and consumer industries has become dizzyingly fast, even for the industry leaders,” says Gandhi. “The companies selected for The Leading 100 list represent some of the best examples of how technology innovation is helping address the needs of this rapidly evolving business environment. Some are helping brands get the best out of the latest advances in powerful technologies such as AI, while others are creating solutions to optimize efficiency and productivity across the value chain.”

The Leading 100 List of 2023 is presented in partnership with RILA, NYFTL, XRC Ventures, Plug & Play, The Robin Report, and SUBTA. The Leading 100 Selection Committee includes: Pano Anthos, Founder & Managing Director, XRC Ventures; Jackie Trebilcock, Managing Director, New York Fashion Tech Lab; Nicholas Ahrens, Senior Vice President of Strategy, Innovation & Content, RILA; Nick Reasner, Director, Innovation & Customer Experience, Simon Property Group; Chip Korn, Partner & Co-chair, Emerging Company & Venture Capital Practice Group, Foley Hoag; Ken Pilot, Founder, Ken Pilot Ventures; Will Decker, Head of Brand & Retail, Plug & Play Tech Center; Christine Russo, Principal, RCC Agency; Tom Barbaro, Co-Founder, Cogent; Juan Mejia, Managing Director, BrightTower; Ian McGarrigle, Chairman, World Retail Congress; and Robin Lewis, Founder & CEO, The Robin Report.

“At XRC Ventures, we are excited about new technologies that empower brands and retailers to innovate,” says XRC Ventures Founder & Managing Director, Pano Anthos. “The Leading 100 List includes startups that are doing just that by developing and leveraging new approaches in AI applications, spatial intelligence, supply chain redesign, sustainably-focused methods, and more. I look forward to seeing these startups help lead our industry into the future.”

The Leading 100 will be honored at The Lead Innovation Summit on July 12th & 13th, The Lead’s flagship event where the entire fashion, beauty, home, CPG, food, beverage, health, wellness, and retail innovation community will converge to engage the future of the direct-to-consumer business model. The annual event will bring together executives from enterprise brands and retailers, challenger DTC brands, innovative unicorns, technology start-ups, enterprise technology, investors, dealmakers, analysts, and stakeholders that comprise The Lead’s network.

 

 

The Leading 100 List of 2023

Accrue Savings
Adentro
Alloy Automation
Anvyl
Archive Resale
Archive.com
Breinify
Browzwear
buywith
Canal
Carro
Catch
Checkmate
Chord
Cogsy
Constructor.io
Crossing Minds
Curated for You
Cymbio
Daasity
DataMilk
Disco
Drop
EcoCart
EON
Factored Quality
Fairing
Feel
Fermat
Fillogic
FIT:MATCH.ai
FlagshipRTL
FloorFound
Floship
Fondue
Fuse Inventory
Hang.xyz
Haus Analytics
Hexa 3D
Howl Technologies
Humankind
Intelligems
Kahoona
KERV
Kevel
Leap
Lexer
Lily AI
Link Money
LiquiDonate
 Loop
Maropost
MasonHub
Measured
Northbeam
Nostra.ai
Novel
Obsess
Okendo
Osa Commerce
Outerspace
Pairzon
Pandion
Pathr.ai
Pipe 17
Postscript
Quorso
Radar
Rebuy
Recurate
ReFundid
Retention.com
RevLifter
Revuze
Rutter
Seek.AI
Shoppinggives
Skipify
Smartrr
SoundCommerce
Sparkplug
Storyblok
SuperCircle
Superfiliate
Syrup Tech
Tapcart
Thankful.Ai
Toki
Toolio
Tracer
Treat.xyz
Triple Whale
Try your best
TryNow
Vizit
Vntana
Vyrill
Wizard
Yogi
ZMO.AI

By Nikki Cabus

For the second year in a row, South Florida will once again welcome the Mark Cuban AI Bootcamp for high schoolers

Read Time 6 Minutes

For the second year in a row, South Florida will once again welcome the Mark Cuban AI Bootcamp for high schoolers to our region in the Fall. BUT, this year will be even better!

South Florida Tech Hub was able to connect the Mark Cuban Foundation with the wonderful folks at Florida Power & Light and with offices in both Palm Beach and Miami, FPL immediately saw potential to bring this program to the entire region.  Having a great relationship with Miami Dade College, FPL reached out to the MDC team who quickly hopped on board to be the first Miami location. The program launched in October 2022 in both Miami and Palm Beach counties.

We are proud to announce that this year, not two, but four Tech Hub member organizations have committed to bringing this program to South Florida ensuring that students all across all three counties (Miami, Broward and Palm Beach) can apply!

The AI Bootcamp will be targeted at underserved high school students (9th -12th grade) especially those from underrepresented groups and will introduce these high school students to basic AI concepts and skills.

“The future global competitiveness of our country depends on having as many AI literate people as possible. I think there is an untapped wealth of knowledge and innovation in underserved communities,” stated Mark Cuban, entrepreneur and founder, Mark Cuban Foundation.

The Bootcamp sessions will be held over four consecutive Saturdays starting on Oct. 14 and ending on Nov. 4. The bootcamp will run each Saturday from 2-6 PM and if accepted, high school students must commit to attending all four sessions. Aimed to increase AI literacy and understanding in students from underserved communities, the high schools students don’t need any prior experience with computer science, programming, or robotics to apply and attend. Students interested should apply by Friday, Sept. 8. (Apply at bottom of article.)

With AI being a relevant topic on many news sources, students will learn what artificial intelligence is and is not, where they already interact with AI in their own lives, and the ethical implications of AI systems—including but not limited to TikTok recommendations, smart home assistants, facial recognition, and self-driving cars, to name a few. Participants will also learn how Large Language Models like ChatGPT are changing life as we know it by answering questions, telling original stories, and even writing computer code.   

Students will benefit from volunteer corporate mentor instructors who are knowledgeable about AI, ML and data science and able to help students quickly understand material normally taught at a collegiate level. As part of the 4-hour curriculum, students will work with open source tools each day to build their own AI applications related to Computer Vision, Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing and Generative AI.  

In 2022, Grace Kurian, Executive Director of Information Technology-Nuclear at NextEra Energy Inc, led the launch of the AI Bootcamp in Palm Beach County. She told South Florida Tech Hub that months of planning, hundreds of hours, and over 22 volunteers brought the program to life. From entry-level developers to tech executives such as Grace and Michael Fowler, VP of IT and Business Unit CIO at FPL the students got to interact with tech professionals of all levels.

In it’s fifth year, the Mark Cuban AI Bootcamp is still a fairly new initiative that was founded in 2019 by the Mark Cuban Foundation. With just about 30 locations across the entire United States chosen for this program, we are so proud to have three of them right here in our backyard. The Mark Cuban Foundation has impacted 900+ students to date and has a goal to increase that number year over year.

FPL is pleased to be the host company for Mark Cuban’s AI Boot Camp (Palm Beach) for the second consecutive year. As a company, we believe success begins with people, and this program helps introduce STEM and computer science to students that grew up with limited technology exposure,” said Jason Price, Agile Leader – EP Technologies & Innovation @ NextEra Energy Inc. (FPL parent company). “We are excited to help inspire bright young talent right in our backyard about how technology can elevate the world around them.”

Normally taught at the collegiate level, students had the opportunity to interact in hands-on workshops about chatbots, AI, Machine learning and Natural Language processing – topics many had never encountered before.

FPL is excited to welcome this year’s students into the new PGA Office Center.

 

Office Depot is excited to support such a wonderful program this year. Exposing our students and future talent to new technologies will help the talent pool down the road by sparking their interest in AI and showcasing how it’s being used in the real world,” said Andy Parry, VP of Application Development & Support at Office Depot.

Being able to add Broward county to the programming this year and support students in the underserved community fits right in line with Office Depot’s giving efforts.

Office Depot will be sponsoring the Broward bootcamp and partnering with Nova Southeastern University’s  Levan Center of Innovation as the host venue.

“We believe that this program will help to cultivate the next generation of AI leaders, who will shape the future of technology and create a more equitable world,” said John Wensveen, Ph.D., NSU’s Chief Innovation Officer and Executive Director of the Levan Center of Innovation.

 

Miami Dade College‘s Mark Cuban Foundation AI Bootcamp was a huge success. After only 4 weeks the high school students that attended created impressive projects around AI in Music, AI in Healthcare and AI in Safety and Security,” wrote Antonio Delgado, VP of Innovation and Technology Partnerships at Miami Dade College, in a social media post.

“Kudos to everyone involved to bring this opportunity for free to Miami students. They represent a diversity that it’s not widely seen in tech companies today. They are the next generation that will be creating meaningful AI products and applications.”

Antonio told South Florida Tech Hub that this year Miami-Dade College will be sponsoring the Miami bootcamp and hosting two camps in Miami, one at each of their AI Centers (North Campus and Downtown Wolfson) allowing them to impact even more student within the county.

The Mark Cuban Foundation is a 501(c)(3) private non-profit led by Dallas Mavericks proprietor Mark Cuban. The AI Bootcamps Program at MCF seeks to inspire young people with emerging technology so that they can create more equitable futures for themselves and their communities. The Mark Cuban Foundation provides the Bootcamp’s curriculum materials, trains corporate volunteer mentors, and recruits and scores applications for local student selected to attend camp. In addition, the corporate sponsors, work to provide food, transportation, and access to laptops for students at no cost throughout the duration of Bootcamp.

Over the course of the four four-hour-long sessions, students will:

  • identify AI in the real world
  • build their own application
  • discuss AI ethics and bias in data
  • meet and learn from AI experts

The AI Bootcamp is open to students who:

  • live and attend high school (9th–12th grade) in Miami, Broward or Palm Beach county
  • have an interest in technology and machine learning
  • can attend in-person at one of the locations outlined below

Application deadline: Friday, September 8, 2023. For answers to some of your questions, please visit markcubanai.org/faq

👉🏽 Click here to apply today!

By Adam Elitzur

18th annual SoFlo DevCon brings together developers, designers, tech professionals and educators

Read Time 7 Minutes

Just last month during #SoFloTechMonth, South Florida’s month-long celebration of all things tech and innovation across the region, South Florida Tech Hub hosted its 18th annual SoFlo DevCon once again bringing hundreds in attendance for the event.

Held at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, the location was a perfect place to bring together those from Miami, Broward, Palm Beach, Martin County and even a few from the west coast of the state. In attendance were software developers, designers, engineers, tech professionals and event school district teachers and college professors from across South Florida.

The event is the only fully regional tech education event FREE and open to the public with classes and sessions running all day long that are completely geared towards STEM and innovation. The event was free to attend, thanks to the support of community partners and sponsors such as this year’s Presenting Sponsor, Cognizant.

The day kicked off with breakfast (sponsored by FAU’s College of Engineering) and 8:30 AM sessions. The first 300 guests through the door were also given a free conference t-shirt (sponsored by Streann Media), and a pizza party lunch was provided for all attendees sponsored by CITY Furniture.

This year’s event featured a Leadership Track and Leadership Lunch in collaboration with Cognizant, CITY Furniture and SIM South Florida. Jeffrey Richman, Customer Relationship Manager and Kishore Dandu, Client Partner of Energy & Utilities at Cognizant addressed the audience as Presenting Sponsor. Kishore spoke about the importance of events such as SoFlo DevCon in the tech community and how proud they are to give back to a local organization helping build the local tech talent. With hundreds of thousands of employees across the globe, Cognizant employs many technical and sales people in the South Florida region. As tech in South Florida continues to blossom, they are happy to be a contributing part of the ecosystem.

Rebecca Bakels, Software Engineer and Tech Community Advocate at CITY Furniture, highlighted that CITY Furniture is more than just a furniture company. CITY Furniture employs hundreds of people in technology and is using all sorts of innovative tech such as AR, data science, and app development all in-house to ensure the best customer experience. CITY Furniture also gives back thousands of dollars towards local community programs and nonprofits each year.

Rebecca is a benefactor of local tech initiatives and the South Florida Tech Hub community. As she began her journey into tech in 2020, she connected with South Florida Tech Hub, completed Software Engineering course with Boca Code, became an intern at CITY Furniture and then was offered a full time role to continue with the company. Rebecca is now involved with many nonprofit organizations and initiatives in the tech space in the region.

Each year, the conference attracts almost 1000 attendees and over 100 speakers, sponsors and exhibitors. The event featured 6 time slots for workshops and 12 seperate tracks to choose from such as mobile/web development, professional development, entrepreneurship, AI/ML, blockchain & web3, UI/UX, and more. These tracks included a range of topics and workshops, including Machine Learning, AI, VR/AR/MR, IoT, .NET, DevOps, MVC Framework, JavaScript, JQuery, SQL Server, Business Intelligence, Software Testing, Xamarin/Mobile Development, Azure/Cloud, Business/Career Development.

  • In the Web Development track, Todd Albert, Lead Instructor and Founder at Boca Code remarked, “This year, we added several code-along workshops to our lineup, including Next.JS and ChatGPT by Jonathan Sanchez, building a game in Unity with SoFlo DevCon’s youngest speaker, 19-year-old Idan Fischer, and my talk where we live-coded a mobile app in React-Native. Each year, the conference seems to be more energetic and attended by more people. It’s always a great place to expand our knowledge and our networks.”
  • In the AI/ML track, Founder of Indulgent Gifts and Thrivve Group, Roberta Barbosa, and US Managing Director of Exo Mindset, Bruno Savoca Albors, spoke. Barbosa presented the workshop Intro to Intelligent RPA. The workshop covered “the fundamentals of intelligent process automation and how it is helping businesses become more efficient and increase employee engagement. It also shared the RPA leaders in the industry, the tools available on the market, and the most common use cases.” Albors delivered a talk on the evolution of AI and ML, tracing its journey from early beginnings to the present day. He highlighted key milestones, including the emergence of machine learning as a subfield of AI, the rise of neural networks and deep learning, and the transformative impact of the digital age on AI and ML. Albors showcased modern applications across industries such as healthcare and finance and addressed ethical considerations and challenges, including bias and privacy. In conclusion, he provided a future outlook for AI and ML, emphasizing their significance in solving complex problems and shaping the future of technology.
  • In the Web Development track, Todd Albert, Lead Instructor and Founder at Boca Code remarked, “This year, we added several code-along workshops to our lineup, including Next.JS and ChatGPT by Jonathan Sanchez, building a game in Unity with SoFlo DevCon’s youngest speaker, 19-year-old Idan Fischer, and my talk where we live-coded a mobile app in React-Native. Each year, the conference seems to be more energetic and attended by more people. It’s always a great place to expand our knowledge and our networks.”
  • In the blockchain track, ApparelMagic CEO and cryptocurrency veteran Brandon Ginsberg, and Azure Migrate & Modernize Lead at Microsoft and Co-Founder of Nebulai, Renatto Garro were two of the presenters. Ginsberg spoke about recent developments in the Ethereum ecosystem, including The Merge, Shanghai updates, and ERC-4337. His talk highlighted the importance of these updates in enhancing Ethereum’s scalability, security, and efficiency, and their potential implications for decentralized applications and the broader cryptocurrency landscape. Garro led the workshop Unlock the Power of Decentralized Identities. “Decentralized Identities promise to change the way we use the Internet giving us more control, security, and the ability to monetize our data,” Garro stated. “We discussed about solutions from Microsoft like Entra and PolygonID, among others. It is truly inspiring what developers can start building with this technology.”
  • In the AR/VR track, Principal engineer at Microsoft for Mixed Reality, Denise Mendez, Head of Emerging Tech & Innovation Division at PeakActivity, Rob Petrosino, and Harshal Sanghvi, Doctoral Candidate at Florida Atlantic University and Research and Development Specialist at Advanced Research LLC, presented workshops. Mendez talked about the scale of the XR industry, its value in the South Florida economy, and well as how to get started building cross-platform XR experiences in Unity. Petrosino spoke about AI & its impact on 3D, AR & XR. “Generative AI has changed how most organizations and teams will approach visualizing information, floor plans and their standard operating procedures without additional technical teams.” Sanghvi discussed the impacts of AI & AR on Medical Interventions and Imaging as diagnosing and treatment methods.
  • In the Leadership track, Founder of B-Grade Media and Technology Advisor at Leafplanner, Q. Wade Billings led the session on “How to engineer a thriving engineering culture”. “In 2019, I had the opportunity to build an engineering culture from scratch, which is more complicated than it might sound,” Billings remarked. “To help my team and me in the effort, we designed a framework called the “Cultural Development Lifecycle (CDLC)” modeled after the well-known Software Development Lifecycle. This framework enabled us to conceive of, plan, develop, test, and measure our thriving engineering culture. My sincere hope and goal are that presenting the CDLC at SoFlo DevCon will inspire others to think about culture in a new and exciting light.”
  • In the Entrepreneurship track, was a session, “Practical Steps to Turn Your Idea Into a Revenue Generating Business”, Managing Partner at Argent Strategies and CSO of Doxci, Aaron Chavez, covered everything from ideation to product development to early-stage scaling activities. His talk emphasized the significance of proper solution validation, as well as a heavy focus on non-capital-intensive activities that are accessible to all founders. During his talk, he stressed the significance of South Florida’s idea-rich founder economy and the need for said founders to progress by taking practical and cost-effective steps to move their ventures forward.

One of the unique aspects of SoFlo DevCon is that it is open to anyone interested in the tech and innovation community in South Florida. Attendees did not need to be developers to participate in the conference. Designers, project managers, creatives, entrepreneurs, founders, and anyone connected to the tech industry were all welcome to attend.

Software engineer and game developer presented the workshop ‘Unleashing Your Creativity: Unity game development.’ “Participants learned how to create a game where the player collects coins while avoiding obstacles,” Fischer explained.

“We went through the process of making a game, from making game objects to making scripts to control our objects. Overall, speaking at SoFlo Devcon was an amazing experience, especially for my first time speaking anywhere and first time at SoFlo Devcon. Thank you to everyone who came!”

Idan was also voted the audience favorite receiving the Scott Katarincic Speaker Award, in remembrance of Scott who recently passed this year. He was a major part of planning past SoFlo DevCon events and working with all the speakers to ensure a successful event. It was only fitting that our youngest speaker ever at only 19 years old received the award and on his birthday, no less! The award was presented to Idan by Naomi Gayz, Scott’s girlfriend, and Annette Katarancic, Scott’s mother.

SoFlo DevCon 2023 was a huge success, bringing together the South Florida tech community and providing a platform for learning, networking, and collaboration. The day ended with an after-party happy hour and karaoke!

South Florida Tech Hub’s Dev Con 2023 was made possible because of its sponsors: Presenting Sponsor, Cognizant, T-shirts, Streann Media, City Furniture provided lunch and Telerik by Progress sponsored ASL interpretation. Thanks to the supporting sponsors, including Florida Atlantic University, OZ Digital Consulting, NRG Way, Boca Code, SIM, Algorand, Agile Infoways, Total Wine & More, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft TEALS Program, Code Magazine, FPL, Office Depot, Carrier, Modernizing Medicine, Florida Crystals, Social Mobile, Verizon, and Dedicated IT, for their contributions to the event.

See more photos here.

By Nikki Cabus

BCEx and Tech Hub celebrate Black Founders at exclusive annual brunch

Read Time 3 Minutes

The Broward College Entrepreneurship Experience, or “BCEx,” and South Florida Tech Hub collaborated to host the 2nd Annual Black Founders Brunch in an effort to bring together black entrepreneurs across the region to support stronger relationships in the back startup community.

The exclusive event was held on Saturday, February 25th at the Beach House in Pompano Beach with approximately 35 startup founders from across all three South Florida counties in attendance.

The guest speaker of the morning was BCEx Faculty Coordinator and Associate Dean (AD) of the Institute of Public Safety at Broward College, Rudy Jean-Bart. He is also the college’s Chair of the Advisory Council for the Advancement of Diversity, Equity, (ACADEI) and Inclusion. The Advisory Council for the Advancement of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ACADEI) oversees the College’s focus across seven areas— accountability, benchmark best practices, cultural competence, communication and discussion, training and education, policy/procedure/practice, and community outreach.

A former African American history professor, Jean-Bart, was exposed to the meaning of activism at a very young age. He has always been at the forefront of issues such as racial equity and social justice, participating as a keynote speaker and panelist in many events. Jean-Bart spoke to the founders on the topic of ‘Generational Trauma to Generational Wealth.’

Jean-Bart closed his speech out by saying, “It is important that people believe in the power and the ability of Black founders.”

This quote resonated with attendees and spoke to the importance of supporting, celebrating, and elevating minority founders as we continue to grow the tech ecosystem in South Florida. As an ecosystem, we must be intentional about inclusion of our founders from all corners of the region ensuring inclusion and overall innovation for the region.

According to a recent Tech Crunch article, “In total, U.S. Black founders raised an estimated $2.254 billion out of the $215.9 billion in U.S. venture capital allocated last year. That’s about 1%, a slight drop from the 1.3% raised in 2021.” It seems like no matter the efforts of organizations across the country working to diversify funding and across all marginalized groups of founders, that black founders continually remain around the 1% mark for funding. This percentage has stayed stagnant even though the overall VC numbers continue to rise.

Assistant Director of BCEx, Quinella (Queen) Davis, told South Florida Tech Hub that these events are crucial to ensuring strong connections in the black founder community, but also making sure they have connections to industry organizations such as Tech Hub and are able to see themselves in other successful entrepreneurs and leaders such as keynote speaker, Jean-Bart.

“I’d like to give a special thank you to Rudy Jean-Bart for delivering an impactful message, sharing valuable information about generational wealth, and helping our founders discover ways to think differently about the businesses we develop to have an everlasting presence in the tech ecosystem,” stated Davis.

BCEx helps 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 began assisting participants innovate, create, and prepare for the future of work through mentorship, coaching, funding, and training.

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.

The next Ideation Phase cohort is a student-community friendly introduction to the entrepreneurial mindset, customer discovery and business model canvas. Students, faculty, staff and community will develop or refine your business idea by focusing on your customer segment and value proposition while finding your WHY. This 4-6 week virtual program will prepare you for the next phase while helping you articulate a well-developed idea.

To learn more about the next cohort that begins March 21st, visit https://forms.gle/ToscjC3CfTDT6M1k7

By Nikki Cabus

Inspire CIO announces 20 finalists for South Florida CIO Awards 2023

Read Time 3 Minutes

SouthFloridaCIO has announced the 20 finalists for the 2023 South Florida CIO ORBIE® Awards. 

For over 20 years, the CIO ORBIE Awards have recognized technology executives for leadership and excellence across the country. Since inception in 1998, over 500 CIO of the Year winners have received the prestigious ORBIE Award. SouthFloridaCIO is one of 25 chapters of the InspireCIO Leadership Network, a national membership organization comprised exclusively of CIOs from public and private businesses, government, education, healthcare and nonprofit institutions.

The South Florida CIO ORBIE® Awards will honor the CIOs who are driving innovation and transforming South Florida’s leading organizations. The CIOs are typically recognized in multiple categories, based on the size and scope of their organization and responsibilities.

“Every organization is technology-dependent, but strong leadership is the X-factor that can turn day to day IT into a remarkable strategic differentiator,” said Ann Dozier, SouthFloridaCIO Chair and Large Enterprise category winner in 2022.

“The ORBIE Awards are meaningful because they are judged by peers – CIOs who understand the challenges of technology 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.

According to the South Florida Business Journal, the finalists were named in 5 categories including:

  • Global: Over $5 billion annual revenue and multi-national operations.
  • Large Enterprise: Over $5 billion annual revenue.
  • Enterprise: Up to $5 billion annual revenue.
  • Large Corporate: Up to $1 billion annual revenue.
  • Corporate: Up to $500 million annual revenue.

 

Meet Our 2023 Finalists:

  • Global Finalists:
    • Eric Firer (Bacardi)
    • Kevin Grayling (Florida Crystals)
    • Tim Langley-Hawthorne (Hertz)
    • Rocky Wiggins (spirit)
  • Large Enterprise:
    • Margaret Brisbane (Miami Dade County)
    • Sam Jaddi (ADT), Christos Kotsakis (AutoNation)
    • Tom Moreno (Lennar Financial Services)
  • Enterprise:
    • Patrick Hale (VITAS Healthcare)
    • Steven May (JenCare – a ChenMed Company)
    • Ram Puppala (ACI Worldwide)
    • Brad Rohrer (University of Miami)
  • Large Corporate:
    • Mary Desmarais (NCH Healthcare System)
    • David Seo (Nicklaus Children’s Health System)
    • Daniel Tehrani (ScribeAmerica)
    • William M. Velez (Harvard Maintenance Inc.)
  •  Corporate:
    • Lakshmi.N B. (Now Optics)
    • Tony Casciotta (Broward College)
    • Ely Garcia (Cisneros)
    • Mark Moch (American Oncology Network)

“Being a finalist for the SouthFlorida CIO ORBIE awards is a recognition of the entire team and the work they have delivered through our digital transformation agenda over the last 5 years. This journey has been delivered with great quality and is driving enormous value for the company,” said Kevin Grayling, CIO of Florida Crystals and one of the 2023 finalists told South Florida Tech Hub,

It is because this award is judged by our peers that sets it apart from others.

Winners will be announced at the CIO ORBIE Awards on June 9, 2023 at the The Diplomat Beach Resort.

 

Check out highlights from the South Florida CIO ORBIE Awards 200 here —>>> https://sofloridacio.org/awards#highlights

 

By Nikki Cabus

CITY Furniture announces equity stake in Palm Beach County-based PeakActivity

Read Time 3 Minutes

Broward-based CITY Furniture, a family-owned American furniture and mattress retailer, fine upholstery manufacturer, and one of America’s Top 20 furniture retailers, announced it has recently taken an equity stake in PeakActivity, a digital acceleration and technology services company based in Palm Beach county that enables progress for businesses at every point of their digital journey through modernization, optimization, innovation, and engineering services.

As long-time partners, CITY’s equity stake, which represents a minority position, is a win-win for both parties. For CITY, this investment solidifies their position as a pioneer in Home Tech, integrating technology into everything they do. PeakActivity will use this investment to accelerate their overall growth and fund further innovation in the home furnishings category.

With shared goals and shared financial outcomes, the partnership between the companies will be strengthened to a level they have not had previously and is a testament to the quality of the work they have done together over the past five years.

“CITY is working hard to build a world class organization that is best in class in technology. The future of the home industry and all industries hinge on technology and innovation,” said Andrew Koenig, CEO of CITY. “Our partnership with PeakActivity is more important now than it has ever been. We are convinced that taking a position in PeakActivity will accelerate our technological advantages in the market and result in a better customer and associate experience overall.”

CITY Furniture operates over twenty-two showrooms from Miami through Vero Beach, and in Southwest and Central Florida, as well as fourteen Ashley Home Store showrooms as the brand’s Southeast and Southwest Florida licensee. The company is one of the country’s top furniture retailers and continuing to grow.

As technology becomes more and more fundamental to everyday business and everyday living, CITY looks to embrace it and actively learn about the opportunities that tech provides businesses. CITY looks to be a driving force in taking the home furnishing world from “old school” to “industry cool” by investing in their long-time tech partner, PeakActivity.

As part of its investment, CITY looks forward to their ability to share knowledge, ideas, and strategies, while leveraging both companies skilled tech teams to work on some of the best home projects in the industry. Given their long-standing client-agency relationship, the companies are already working on several projects together in the areas of ecommerce, AR Design, CITY Moves, and more, that will continue to grow and expand as their relationship advances in the months and years to come.

“CITY has been one of our longest standing and best clients, driving us to innovate, to think, and work both faster and better,” said Manish B. Hirapara, CEO of PeakActivity.

“With this investment, our relationship becomes even more significant and is unlike that of any other client relationship we have. I expect that we continue to grow together and thrive together in the future. We are stronger than we’ve ever been before now as true partners.”

PeakActivity is a digital strategy and implementation company, partnering with businesses to accelerate their growth through eCommerce, Digital Marketing, and Technology solutions. By leveraging its unique methodology of Dream, Deliver, Elevate, PeakActivity simultaneously focuses on short-term wins with a constant eye towards longer-term innovation and business growth.

This relationship with PeakActivity just further reinforces CITY’s long-time commitment to being tech forward for both their internal stakeholders and external stakeholders. For CITY, seamless technology integration is just as important to a customer looking to furnish their living room in Miami, as it is to a warehouse worker in Orlando and a corporate employee in Tampa. Over the years, the company has enjoyed significant success building out their own tech department, making all of areas of the company better, faster, easier, and safer, while building out teams for e-commerce, data analytics and cybersecurity.

With tech at the forefront of CITY’s business strategy from the start, this relationship is an investment in the success of CITY’s tech-focused future and a step towards achieving their long-term goals.

By Nikki Cabus

Broward-based minority-owned businesses receive $10k grants from Fiserv

Read Time 3 Minutes

Two Broward-based minority-owned businesses were awarded $10k grants from Fiserv at this year’s 2nd Annual EmpowerHER event held at the Nova Southeastern University Davie campus. The effort is part of Fiserv’s Back2Business Program.

Fiserv’s Back2Business program is a $50 million initiative to provide financial grants, community support and critical resources, including complimentary consulting and leading technology solutions such as the Clover® point-of-sale platform, to minority-owned small businesses.

Eligible businesses may use the grant funds to assist with payroll, rent or lease payments, technology or equipment purchases, or premise redesign.

This year’s grant recipients were two black-owned and woman-owned healthcare businesses based in Broward County: Cornerstone Medical Group Inc. and the Preventative Health & Wellness Center.

Cornerstone Medical Group Inc is lead by Dr. Sabine Delinois Elisee, a Board-Certified Family Medicine Physician who is fellowship-trained in Hospice Palliative care and holds a Master’s degree in Public Health. Just prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, in the Fall of 2019, Cornerstone Medical Group opened its doors in the city of Coral Springs, FL

Born and raised in South Florida, Dr. Elisee is vested in the community and actively participates in outreach events. The heart behind Cornerstone Medical Group is to Transform Healthcare through Patient Education and the Reconnection of Physical Spiritual and Cognitive Health to enhance Quality of Life. It was fitting for Dr. Elisee to receive the grant at this event being her Alma Mata is Nova Southeastern University College of Medicine.

Preventative Health & Wellness Center is lead by Atou Diarra, a nurse practitioner with over 17 years of nursing experience with a true passion for health and fitness, disease prevention and improving overall health. The center recently opened it’s doors in Coral Springs, FL.

Originally born and raised in Marseille, France, Atou moved to the U.S. in 2000. She attended Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA where she graduated in 2004 with a degree in Bachelor of Nursing Science. As a traveling nurse she found her way to South Florida, which she is now proud to call her home. In 2013, she earned her Master’s degree as a family nurse practitioner from Barry University in Miami, Florida.

The EmpowerHER event included guest speakers from Fiserv, a panel discussion with South Florida Tech Hub CEO, Nikki Cabus, Executive Director of Environmental Health and Safety at Nova Southeastern University, Beth Welmaker, and Moderator and VP of Business Development & Strategy at Fiserv Corporate Social Responsibility, Shane Caldwell.

Partner organizations included Clover, Coral Springs Coconut Creek Regional Chamber, Nova Southeastern University’s Alvin Sherman Library, Research, and Information Technology Center, Nova Southeastern College of Computing & Engineering, South Florida Tech Hub, and Broward County Black Chamber of Commerce.

Fiserv, Inc. (NASDAQ: FISV) is a leading global technology provider serving the financial services industry, driving innovation in payments, processing services, risk and compliance, customer and channel management, and business insights and optimization. For more information, visit www.fiserv.com.

By Nikki Cabus

Miami startup Modern Trials wins IDEA Showcase for investment from Seedfunders

Read Time 4 Minutes

Modern Trials, a Miami-based startup, pitched at this year’s IDEA Showcase held on Thursday, June 23rd at the Broward County Convention Center. The startup took home first place which included an investment opportunity with Seedfunders, a Florida-based investment firm.

The HIPAA-compliant platform, Modern Trials, leverages electronic medical record data from a broad network of healthcare organizations to match patients in need of advanced treatment options with appropriate clinical trial opportunities.

IDEA Showcase is part of the #TECHSUPERSHOW at the ITEXPO which has been coming to South Florida for decades. South Florida Tech Hub has been partnering with the expo for three years now. The IDEA Showcase pitch contest has become one of the most popular and best-attended events at the ITEXPO. It features cool startup pitches and networking with open bar.

ITEXPO and the collocated events that comprise the #TECHSUPERSHOW all feature educational sessions presented by industry-leading experts. Attendees also gain valuable new insight from keynotes presented by thought-leaders from around the globe. The expo floor is filled with more than 200 companies demonstrating the latest innovations in a marketplace setting.

Startups that pitched included CERA, Envonics, flo-ops, Modern Trials, Nebulai, Unitii, and In My Team. Six of the seven startups to pitch were from South Florida and for the first time ever a prize package including an investment opportunity. Modern Trials took home the judges prize!

“Despite 20 years of experience and many friends in the [healthcare and clinical trials] industry, I was not able to find an appropriate trial for my own mother,” said Dr. Christopher Ochner, Co-Founder of Modern Trials whose mother was diagnosed with a stage IV glioma. “I came to the startling realization that there exists no way for patients in need to gain access to appropriate clinical trial opportunities.”

Immediately after his mother’s passing, he circled back with his Co-Founder, Dr. Alex Logsdon and said; “you were right; this system is broken and we need to fix it”. After countless hours working through a modernized process flow with regulatory experts, legal counsel and consultants, Modern Trials was born.

The IDEA Showcase judges panel included Tahl Milburn, former tech executive and founder from Silicon Valley turned investor, Danielle Mousseau, Manager of 35 Mules, Florida Power & Light’s Company’s (FPL) innovation hub, Akshay Sharma, former Gartner Analyst having authored or co-authored over 280 research notes and current CTO at Kovair, Ariana Pareja, startup founder with three exits and current President and Co-founder at Pareja Family Foundation which provides tech bootcamp scholarships for women and minorities, and Dave Chitester, Founder of Florida Funders, Founder of Seedfunders, and named one of Florida Trend’s 500 Most Influential Business Leaders in the state.

Dave Chister announced the judges winner and awarded Modern Trials with a minimum of $5000 investment through his firm Seedfunders. He said that after due diligence the investment could be much more significant. South Florida Tech Hub also added a free Startup level membership for Modern Trails for one full year.

Seedfunders is investing in pre-revenue scalable technology throughout the state of Florida. Led by a group of leading visionaries, Seedfunders is paving the way for technology startups throughout the state with a presence in St. Petersburg, Orlando and Miami. Dave recently moved to Miami to be able to support startups across the entire South Florida region.

With a unique focus on pre-revenue stage concepts, Seedfunders brings a different approach with mentoring and guidance for developing an MVP and bringing your concept to market.

“No question that cash is the lifeblood of every startup, particularly given the current economic environment,” said Modern Trials Co-Founder Dr. Ochner. “To us, however, an investment from SeedFunders means much more than that. Good mentorship is even more valuable than cash and the intellectual investment that Dave Chitester and his group make in the companies they chose to work with is the real prize.”

With approximately 200 people in attendance for the IDEA Showcase, there was an audience winner chosen as well. The audience used a real-time voting tool to choose their favorite pitch and the winner was CERA – Critical Emergency Response Applications.

Judge and investor, David Chister assured a handful of the startups that pitched that they were close behind, He urged each of them to apply for investment from Seedfunders as well.

Click here for more info on Seedfunders, Modern Trials, CERA and the ITEXPO.

 

 

 

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