South Florida Tech HubSouth Florida Tech Hub

By Nikki Cabus

FAU offering free course to military veterans who want to become business owners

Read Time 3 Minutes

Military veterans hoping to start or grow a business can learn the basics through a free course offered by Florida Atlantic University’s Adams Center for Entrepreneurship.

The FAU Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program (VFEP) consists of workshops and networking sessions to help veterans determine whether their ideas, businesses, products or services are marketable to the general public. It will take place every Tuesday and Thursday, beginning Oct. 24 through Nov. 16, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., at FAU’s College of Business Building, Room 112, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton campus.

Participants will produce and complete a business model and be paired with an entrepreneur mentor to guide them through the program. To register, click here.

“Creating a business is a dream for many Americans, and this is a vitally important program that gives veterans the opportunity to learn what it takes to start, run and maintain a successful venture,” said Kevin Cox, Ph.D., director of the Adams Center.

The program is in partnership with Veterans Florida, a nonprofit organization created by the State of Florida to help military veterans transition to civilian life and to promote Florida’s status as the nation’s most veteran-friendly state. The FAU Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program is completely funded by Veterans Florida. Veterans Florida provides powerful tools for veterans to take advantage of the benefits of living and working in the Sunshine State.

This 8-week entrepreneurship course is a comprehensive educational program designed for current or future business owners providing Veterans the knowledge and skills they need for starting and/or growing their businesses. In addition to the in-depth educational program, all participants are paired with a successful entrepreneur who provides direct guidance and mentorship throughout the program and beyond.

The classes are open to Florida residents who are honorably discharged veterans, active-duty members or members of the United States Reserves. It also is open to spouses who attend with another participant who meets the qualifications.

Those who successfully complete the course will be eligible to enter FAU’s Business Pitch Competition for veterans in spring 2024. The annual event gives prospective entrepreneurs the chance to compete for startup seed funding.

This is the ninth consecutive year that FAU has hosted VFEP, but the first time offering a startup course in the fall. Past participants of FAU’s VFEP include Steve Edwards, owner of Premier Virtual; Logan Skees, of Valdaeon; and Jonathan Borgwing, CEO of LearnVig.

“It’s great having a lengthy and successful history,” Cox said. “We now benefit from an extensive network of alumni who support the program.”

Each year the program invites local CEOs and business professionals to present their startup ideas as part of their ‘pitch competition. Last year, one of the program’s winners was Steven Edwards, a U.S. Army Veteran in the 82nd Airborne Division and former Florida National Guard. He completed the program in 2020 and one of the program’s winners. Not only did Steve’s company win the pitch contest at the local level, but he also went on to win at the national level, which earned him additional funding and resources.

“Through the Florida Veterans Entrepreneurship Program, I not only found the tools to build and run a successful business but a community that understood the unique challenges veterans face when transitioning to entrepreneurship,” said Edwards.

“This program didn’t just change my life; it empowered me to shape my own destiny. Winning the annual VFEP Statewide pitch competition was the icing on the cake, showcasing the program’s incredible capacity to turn veteran entrepreneurs into success stories. Like every program, the more you put in it, the more you get out of it.”

Just last month, Edwards announced that Premier Virtual has been acquired by the global firm Careerminds.

The FAU Adams Center prepares students and entrepreneurs in all disciplines who are looking to become successful business owners. It was named in 2001 for Scott Adams, an FAU Tech Runway alumnus and CEO and co-founder of STRAX Intelligence Group.

For more information about FAU’s VFEP, contact the Adams Center at or 561-297-3653.


By Nikki Cabus

Boca Raton startup Owwll officially launches connecting experts for instant 1:1 advice

Read Time 3 Minutes

As Elon Musk said “Instead of baby showers, let’s host business showers. When a friend starts a business, we all come together, celebrate them and bring resources for their business to start!” This was all Jason Hill, Founder of the Owwll app, needed to hear.

About 100 people attended the official community launch and business shower for the Owwll app held at the NSU Alan Levan Innovation Center in Davie, FL. As one of the first companies to go through the Incubate Program at the new center, the Owwll team felt is was only fitting to have the launch in the new space.

With a panel, drinks & hors d’oeuvres, a live interactive podcast booth, photo booth, and raffles and prizes, the event was full of energy. Panelists included those such as Olivia Gaudree, Partner and Core Analyst at Fuel Venture Capital and Steven Edwards, Founder & CEO of Premier Virtual, and other founders, lawyers, and investors.

“It’s so hard to launch a business so why not throw a shower. All these people that attended came with love, came with gifts, and celebrated the launch of Owwll,” said Jason Hill, as he said with a smile. “

Hill told Tech Hub that the idea for Owwll all started during his commutes to work. While we drive, we listen to podcasts and audio books, but you never get the chance to speak to these experts directly. Hill began reaching out to these experts on Instagram and LinkedIn to have no response 9 out of 10 times.  Even when they responded, getting a meeting set was a whole other issue.  Hill said he knew the world needed a platform where people could connect with one another on demand through audio calls at a moments notice and this was a gap that we had in the market that could be filled. Out of frustration and necessity, the idea for Owwll was born.

“From first hearing about the idea, giving feedback on different logo/mascot versions, and having Owwll pitch first the first time in front of a public audience at a Tech Hub pitch night during GEW 2021, it’s been so exciting t0o watch the growth of Owwll,” said South Florida Tech Hub CEO, Nikki Cabus. “Knowing that Owwll had the support of local organizations such as South Florida Tech Hub, OZ Digital Consulting, and the Alan Levan Innovation Center is even better.”

Jason has been working with Murray Izenwasser and his team at Fort Lauderdale-based OZ Digital Consulting over the past 18 months to build and perfect the app. As a local company, OZ appreciates being able to support local and help grow South Florida’s growing and successful tech community. OZ Digital Consulting is celebrating their 25th anniversary this year.

Before a full-scale launch, the application was tested using TestFlight, a software that implements real-time patchwork while getting direct feedback from Beta testers. After a couple of months, the interface between users, creators, and development had proven itself worthy of being downloaded by the masses.

“It was an incredible experience partnering with Jason on his entrepreneurial journey, from those initial conversations where the idea behind Owwll wasn’t even written down on a napkin,” Izenwasser told South Florida Tech Hub.

“Seeing his ideas come to shape and finally to the public launch has been one of the most rewarding projects of my career. And no client has done more or worked harder than Jason to drive his well-earned success. The entire OZ team is very excited to have been a part of bringing Owwll to flight.”

The app now has over 3000 users and growing with hot topics such as Startups, Entrepreneurship, Social Media, Podcasting, Marketing and even some folks from Hollywood and different musicians. Anyone with a large audience on social tend to enjoy the benefits of being able to connect to their audience better.

Download the app from the Apple iTunes store, or the Google Playstore to gain access to one-on-one sessions.

By Riley Kaminer

Tech Hub South Florida hosts region’s top Tech Leaders at Summer BBQ

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Last week, Tech Hub South Florida hosted a barbecue for members of its Startup Founders and CxO peer groups. This event provided a laid-back environment for founders and executives to connect, network, and celebrate the start of summer.

The event was held at the new Delray Beach headquarters of Premier Virtual, which recently held a ribbon cutting ceremony. The startup, which has developed a platform for holding large-scale virtual event and career fairs, has experienced exponential growth as in-person events became replaced by digital alternatives.

Nikki Cabus, Tech Hub South Florida’s Interim CEO, said that “these kinds of informal events are so important because people ultimately work with people they like. It’s that simple.” 

She continued, “It removes the transactional business card exchange that seldomly yields any genuine connection. Once you have a chance to connect over beer and BBQ, have a conversation about baseball and family, you really get to know somebody. This is where friendships are made, business opportunities arise, and referrals stem from.”

Tech Hub South Florida’s peer groups offer an opportunity for members to meet, learn from, and share best practices with each other. Benefits include regular meetings, exclusive member communications, and access to unique speakers and networking opportunities.

The Startup Founders Peer Group brings together our region’s most ambitious entrepreneurs leading companies with fewer than 10 employees. Its chair, Mike Maniscalco, is the founder of Better Living Technologies, which develops products to help patients manage their type 1 diabetes. Gaida Zirkelback, Co-Founder & CEO of carbon accounting platform SustainaBase is the peer group’s co-chair. As the South Florida tech ecosystem grows, this Peer Group will continue to act as a resource for founders looking to scale in this dynamic region.

CxO Peer Group members include top executives of tech companies with more than 10 employees that are headquartered in South Florida. Manish Hirapara, CEO of Boynton Beach-based digital strategy firm PeakActivity, is Chair of the peer group. He sits alongside Co-Chair Amit Rastogi, physician and CEO at Jupiter Medical Center. Tech Hub South Florida believes that it is crucial to have more established tech firms supporting younger companies that are pushing the boundaries of innovation in South Florida.

Tech Hub South Florida would like to thank Think Consulting and their President Tony Gruebl, which sponsored the event. 

Gruebel said that Tech Hub South Florida “curated an amazing event with a great turnout of founders and C-Level Executives from the area.” He continued, “The relaxed atmosphere created the perfect space to connect, network, and have some fun. We are looking forward to the next event.”

Ed Mullin, Vice President & CIO at Think, said that he especially enjoyed Premier Virtual’s diverse contributions to the night’s success: “Steve Edwards CEO of Premier Virtual cooks an awesome brisket! It was also nice to see Premier Virtual’s brand new offices and meet their inspired staff. They have quite the story to tell.”

Think is a national technology and operations advisory practice that provides on-the-ground transformation and consulting, led by executives, adapted for the mid-market. The team aligns company culture to business mission and goals, leading to positive and sustainable change and meaningful results. Think is engaged in a variety of sectors including EdTech, financial services, and publishing.

Tech Hub would also like to thank Premier Virtual and Co-Founders, Steve Edwards and Gary Chambers for hosting this event in their beautiful new space.

Might you be interested in joining a Tech Hub South Florida peer group? If so, please get in touch via our website.

By Riley Kaminer

Member Spotlight | Steve Edwards & Premier Virtual

Read Time 3 Minutes

Business: Digital platform for virtual events like job fairs and trade shows

Launched: 2018

HQ: Delray Beach

Full-time employees: 19


In early 2020, no one was really ready for a global pandemic. The one exception just might be Steve Edwards, Founder and CEO of Delray Beach-based startup Premier Virtual.

Edwards had worked in the job fair industry for the better part of a decade, “living on the road” and traveling as far north as North Carolina and as far west as Texas. He started running virtual events in 2018, and decided to build and license out a platform to help others run virtual job fairs too.

In 2019, when Edwards launched Premier Virtual’s first platform, he did not have a very receptive audience. “People laughed at me,” said Edwards of his early days. “People told me that I would never have clients.”

Enter the pandemic. “We went from small – just me, my business partner, and an administrative assistant – to international almost overnight,” recalled Edwards. Premier Virtual hosted 1,500 events on their platform from April to December 2020. 

Now, the startup has hosted over 200,000 candidates across more than 2,000 virtual events. They have a diverse set of clients including the US Army, who has run their national recruiting event through Premier Virtual’s platform, as well as colleges like the University of Arizona and a host of private corporations. All in all, 25,000 organizations have participated in job fairs run on Premier Virtual’s platform.

The startup is leveraging this growth to continue improving on its core product. Edwards told Tech Hub South Florida that Premier Virtual will launch its 2.0 platform later this year. “Our goal is to make it one of the most user-friendly platforms out there.”

Edwards explained how Premier Virtual’s platform both aims to replicate and improve upon the in-person job fair experience. Jobseekers can easily learn about participating companies and share a video resume. Through Premier Virtual’s “my journey” feature, candidates can keep track of the companies they have seen. They can also customize their resume for each company, which is crucial to stand apart in an increasingly competitive job market.

The platform offers a suite of tools to make it easier for organizers to set up fairs, and more attractive for companies to join them. This includes live reporting, which gives these parties an easily-digestible and constantly-updating dashboard with figures about what is happening on the platform.

Premier Virtual’s success is also a success of the South Florida tech ecosystem. Edwards took part in 1909’s accelerator program, which he credits with helping him learn the ropes of leading a startup. Equally, he noted that the Premier Virtual team actively participates in Tech Hub South Florida events: “there’s always something going on – from peer groups to coffee chats. I feel like Tech Hub is creating a really good community, so we try to give back.”

Ultimately, Edwards said that Premier Virtual’s MO is simple: “We connect people.” After a year of social distancing, perhaps there is no more important pursuit in the business world than forging strong digital connections. For that, Premier Virtual is happy to help.

By Nikki Cabus

This Just In | Steve Edwards and Premier Virtual

Read Time 3 Minutes

From Local Startup Founder to Nationwide Connector

Last week, Palm Beach Tech member and local startup, Premier Virtual, signed a contract with CareerSource Florida who enables the local entities to provide needed job placement services across the state.

“Providing a virtual career fair platform to the CareerSource Florida network statewide eliminates geographical barriers and enables better accessibility to events for both career seekers and employers,” writes Andrew Collins, COO of CareerSource Florida. “Additionally, a single platform used by all local workforce development boards provides the opportunity for statewide outreach and hiring events.”

U.S. Army Veteran and small town Wisconsin guy, Steve Edwards, is the Co-Founder & Managing Partner of Premier Virtual. He moved to South Florida where he received his Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Florida Atlantic University. After getting into sales and running a successful job fair company for over seven years, Steve noticed changes in hiring practices within large organizations. 

In 2018, Palm Beach Tech’s VP of Development, Nikki Cabus, met Steve at a local event where Steve discussed his ideas and plans for Premier Virtual, a virtual career fair platform. In November 2019, she was a guest judge for a 1909 Pitch Competition which included Steve where he was in the pitch competition because he took part in 1909’s, Startup Spark program, a mini accelerator hosted in Boynton Beach. 1909’s Executive Director Shana Ostrovtiz, also connected him to mentors through the program that have helped him refine his pitch deck and connected him to Kevin Cox at FAU for the Veterans Program. He also won the Veteran’s Expo Pitch Competition.

His company was just starting to get off the ground. He was a great presenter, truly believed in his service, and understood his market, but there were still lots of questions from the audience about whether people really were ready to move virtual. He was one of the 6 finalists to make it to the final pitch competition.

“My biggest obstacles were getting people to believe that virtual career fairs could work. I had a lot of people tell me I was wasting my time and money on building the software,” said Steve. He was one of the 6 finalists to make it to the final pitch competition. 

Then COVID hit.  

Over the past year, Steve put his blood, sweat, and tears into building a virtual platform that unknowingly then would save many unemployed professionals from these current uncertain times during the pandemic. Today, Premier Virtual is actively one of the fastest growing startups within our South Florida Tech Association. 

His wife and two young boys is what encourages Steve to get up early and work hard. Building a virtual world that connects the right candidates and companies is what drives him to get the job done. 

From Tech Associations to Workforce/CareerSource Organizations to Colleges and individual companies, Steve has landed gigs with organizations throughout the country including Workforce Texas, Baltimore Public School District, Kentucky Dept. of Education, Maryland Dept. of Labor/Veteran Program and Maryland National Guard and more.

He was also accepted into FAU Tech Runway’s Venture Class 8. Rhys L. Williams, Managing Director of FAU Tech Runway, says that he is “confident that this Venture Class will leave its mark as South Florida’s next generation of global entrepreneurs.” We tend to agree. 

Bravo Steve Edwards!


FAU offering free course to military veterans who want to become business owners
Boca Raton startup Owwll officially launches connecting experts for instant 1:1 advice
Tech Hub South Florida hosts region’s top Tech Leaders at Summer BBQ
Member Spotlight | Steve Edwards & Premier Virtual
This Just In | Steve Edwards and Premier Virtual