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By Nancy Dahlberg

Member Spotlight | Levatas

Read Time 3 Minutes

Business: Levatas helps clients understand, design and deploy artificial intelligence solutions across their enterprises.

HQ: Palm Beach Gardens, moving to West Palm Beach in early 2020

Management Team:

  • Ryan Gay | CEO
  • Chris Nielsen | Founder and Chairman
  • Daniel Bruce | CAIO
  • Brian Dunnam | CTO.

No. of employees: 95 (and poised to hire 50 more)

Website: Levatas.com

Levatas built a strong business by helping companies with their own digital transformations. Now the South Florida tech company is undergoing its own transformation, powered by an intense focus on artificial intelligence.

Let’s let Chris Nielsen explain. He founded the company in his Jupiter garage in 2006.

“Since 2006, we’ve been a digital transformation agency and we helped our clients bring to life their digital tools, their platforms, their data integration, you name it. But in recent years we strategically made this shift to be ready for the era of AI …  The biggest shift around here is that we are developing our own software and becoming more of a software product company than an agency or consultancy.”

Last month in Silicon Valley, at VentureBeat’s 2019 Transform conference, Levatas announced its first product while also discussing on stage how it has been partnering with its client Royal Caribbean to introduce AI and computer vision into its fleet, said Nielsen, chairman of Levatas. Computer vision, a subfield of AI, helps computers “see” objects in digital imagery. Royal Caribbean has begun using it to help it control crowds at ship dining destinations.

CONSULTANCY TO PRODUCT MAKER

 “We have the privilege of working with companies like Royal Caribbean, FPL, OrangeTheory, G4S and Johnson Controls. We have these great clients that we have been delivering AI solutions to and we just felt it was time for us to bring our own product to market …Our long-term goal really was to put our time, our energy, our brainpower, our people, and our passion into a product that we own and can evolve.”

Enter Recon.

It’s a computer vision platform that brings visual AI to life. For example, for a manufacturer with an assembly line or a builder with a construction site, Levatas trains its algorithms to understand productivity levels, spot a defect in a certain part or section or discover a safety concern. “Our algorithms will look through the cameras and analyze the images to make decisions based on safety or productivity. It’s a really cool platform,” Nielsen said.

EXPANDING ITS OFFICE

That’s not all. Levatas is moving its headquarters from Palm Beach Gardens to Rosemary Square (formerly CItyPlace) in West Palm Beach.

The new 16,000-square-foot space, planned to open around April of next year, will be 40 percent bigger than Levatas’s offices in Downtown at the Gardens. It will be in the former home of Revolutions, the bowling center. The space ticked off a lot of boxes: across the street from a Publix, near restaurants and entertainment options, near a world-class hotel (Hilton) and close to the airport.

“For us it was a no-brainer, but the Brightline really pushed us over the edge,” said Nielsen. That’s because Levatas can now hire talent from the Miami and Fort Lauderdale market and it also has a number of clients in those two counties.

 “We are working with some really sharp architects to create a modern space but also one that focuses heavily on productivity and culture. There will be a big space for community events, lunch and learns and happy hours, and because we will be right there in Rosemary Square, we are intending to be open and available to the community at large.”

Perhaps a bowling lane in the new space? “Everyone would love to have it except for the noise and the extreme waste of space.  We are in the design phase now so all the cool stuff is coming to life as we speak.”

50 NEW JOBS COMING

Today, Levatas employs 95 people, and is currently hiring for a computer vision engineer and a senior software engineer. Levatas used to be larger but within the last two years, it broke off two units into separate, autonomous companies – VXIT, an IT company, and 2Ton for branding and marketing.

As soon as Levatas moves into its new space, it will begin hiring about 50 new full-time employees.

“Not only is South Florida and more specifically West Palm Beach home to a thriving AI company but also the industry is thriving and growing,” Nielsen said. “We are excited about the ability to bring more high tech jobs here.”

By Nancy Dahlberg

Member Spotlight | Levatas

Read Time 3 MinutesHQ: Palm Beach Gardens

Business: A digital transformation agency

CEO: Ryan Gay

No. of employees: about 100

 

Digital transformation is in this company’s DNA.

Levatas, a digital agency serving a who’s who of national brands, uses technology and data science to enhance customer experiences, said CEO Ryan Gay. “We help drive revenue, increase operational efficiencies and create better experiences for employees and customers of brands.”

It comes down to this, Gay said: “We love helping our customers solve hard problems.”

A decade ago, Levatas started in founder Chris Nielsen‘s garage as a website development company. Gay was employee No. 4. Even then, Levatas asked its customers the why questions – why do you want this website and what do you hope to get from it? That led to a lot of hows – and new solutions to help drive eyeballs to the sites.

Under Nielsen’s creative energy and Gay’s operational expertise, Levatas spread its wings, solving harder technology problems for bigger clients. About 10 years ago, Levatas built a robotic arm for Cisco’s production functions.

“That set us on the path to becoming a digital transformation agency,” said Gay, an FAU business grad.
“Today we are about 100 people strong who work for some of the biggest brands.” Those include IBM, HSBC, NextEra, Office Depot, H-P, G4S, Emerson and Dell.

For HSBC, Levatas modernizes digital customer experiences, particularly with credit card signups. As part of the banking company’s innovation initiative, Levatas runs workshops with cross-functional HSBC teams that prototype solutions and pitch them to the C-suite. For other companies, Levatas’ work includes chat bots, augmented reality and other cutting edge technologies.

“We do a lot with machine learning and data science to help brands take data silos they already have and merge them into a data warehouse that can produce insights to drive their business forward,” Gay said. “That’s where we see the market heading.”

Levatas has posted 10 straight years of growth, and has no debt. Its annual revenues are north of $10 million.

Still, Levatas can’t hire data scientists and senior architects fast enough and may open satellite offices in other U.S. cities to attract more talent. Levatas’ weapon of choice for talent retention is work-life balance.

“Our ethos is to have happy clients and to be happy ourselves.” Gay explained. “A lot of agencies do it at the expense of the team – you see high turnover, low retention, you see 70 or 80 workweeks. … That’s not who we are.”

One of Levatas’ two offices in Downtown at the Gardens opens to a congenial café atmosphere complete with a bar and ping pong. In the other, teams are casually huddled in inviting communal areas. As the team grows, it may open a “destination headquarters” in Palm Beach County, perhaps on the water, that complements its live-work- play ethos, Gay said.

Along with good salaries, Levatas offers unlimited time off, 401K matching, flexible work hours, gym memberships, free lunches and bonuses. Its GenerosiTeam makes certain Levatas actively gives back to its community and Levatas matches employees’ charitable giving.

Said Gay: “We know happy people do great work.”

Member Spotlight | Levatas
Member Spotlight | Levatas