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By Nikki Cabus

Palm Beach-based HotelPlanner acquires leading travel platform Lucid Travel

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Downtown West Palm Beach-based, HotelPlanner, a leading travel technology platform and hotel booking engine, announced the the acquisition of Lucid Travel.

Lucid Travel is a leading sports travel technology company that serves universities, sports teams, and event directors. These market segments are core business segment and growth areas for HotelPlanner and areas in which the two companies share deep expertise plus operational synergies. Lucid believes that travel can be better for teams and that the real innovation needed in sports travel will come from automating the end-to-end booking & management process and focusing on great user experience, notification design, and software automation.

Lucid Travel was co-Founded in 2018 by CEO Ben Knosby and CTO Nick Karagiannis. The company’s software is currently used by more than 150 universities and 10,000+ teams. Under Ben and Nick’s leadership, Lucid Travel has experienced triple-digit growth year-over-year, which is a testament to their strategic vision and managerial talents.

The company currently serves 10,000+ teams, 1000+ events, and over 150 universities in the USA and Canada. Whether you’re a youth soccer club or a university with 40,000 students – booking, tracking and saving money should be easier. Lucid Travel offers a one-stop solution that allows teams to access the entire market of travel vendors in one place while making it easier to book & manage travel services.

“We’re proud to join the HotelPlanner team to supercharge growth across the sports, events, and university markets. With HotelPlanner’s vast network in sports and world-class technology, we’re perfectly positioned to expand our reach and continue making sports team travel better.” says Ben Knosby & Nick Karagiannis, Co-founders, Lucid Travel.

What makes this a smart acquisition for HotelPlanner? 

  • The strongest synergy is with Sports Tournaments & Team Travel, a very successful side of Lucid. HotelPlanner will work with Lucid Travel to drive more business from this segment.
  • Lucid has a very robust suite of software products designed to increase conversion and automate manual tasks. HotelPlanner will implement this software at a broader scale.
  • Lucid helps thousands of Event Directors source and book hotels using group room blocks and hotel contracts. HotelPlanner is integrating Lucid’s existing book of business to the HotelPlanner platform, to increase bookings and operational efficiencies.
  • Lucid provides a one-stop shop for universities and colleges to manage their travel. Adding the Lucid Travel brand to our university partnerships will help us grow this vertical.

Founded in 2003, HotelPlanner has enduring partnerships with the world’s largest online travel agencies, well-known hotel chains, individual hotels, online wedding providers, ancillary lodging providers, corporations, professional and youth sports teams and franchises, universities and government agencies.

HotelPlanner combines proprietary artificial intelligence capabilities, and a 24/7 global gig-based reservations and customer service network. Travel agents can customize all traveler hotel and accommodation needs from a single platform while providing localized advice. HotelPlanner is one of the world’s leading providers of individual, group and corporate travel bookings, specializing in unique “Closed User Group” discount rates offered in unpublished private sale environments.

“Partnering with Lucid Travel is very smart for our business and well-timed with the return of group and sports travel. This partnership plays to our mutual strengths, and it provides a runway for future growth. A Win-Win!” says Tim Hentschel, Co-founder & CEO, HotelPlanner.

Learn more at

By Nikki Cabus

Florida Venture Forum and South Florida Tech Hub partner for a Venture Capital Mid-Year Review

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Florida Venture Forum and South Florida Tech Hub partnered to host the Venture Mid-Year Review in downtown Ft. Lauderdale at the beautiful The Main Las Olas bringing together startup founders, investors, and entrepreneurs from Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Boca Raton and across the state.

As VC funding to startups is on a steady decline across the country, the state of Florida is certainly not immune. The fundraising environment isn’t getting easier for technology startups.

According to the Q2 2023 Pitchbook-NVCA Venture Monitor Report, startups in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties secured just under $400 million from venture capital investors over 79 deals during the second quarter. Compared to the same period in 2022, that’s a major decline from the $1.2 billion that investors directed to local companies.

Although fundraising is difficult in the current market, there are still opportunities for companies that are able to execute on their plans. Many hugely successful startups were born during a down market. This was the consistent message from the event’s expert panel of investors who discussed the state of raising capital in South Florida and if it’s time to be cautious or a great time to invest.

Panelist and entrepreneur turned venture capitalist, Mark Volcheck, told South Florida Tech Hub that “2023 seems like a great time to invest in startups! So, I’m puzzled by all the VC firms that are pulling back and waiting on the sidelines. What are they waiting for?” Mark is also a Founding Partner at Las Olas Venture Capital based in Ft. Lauderdale.

“2023 has been a very dynamic year, with the market environment changing rapidly.  Provisioning an update mid year on the state of the VC industry was very timely when many entrepreneurs are wondering what direction the market is moving. There were many key takeaways from the panel,” said Mark.

He continued, “First off, valuations and revenue multiples have come down dramatically in most sectors over the past 18 months.  However, funding is still available for companies that are growing and solving real problems.  The bar is higher than it has been in a long time, but many of the best companies are started in tough times!”

The other panelists included Tim Cartwright, Partner of Fifth Avenue Family Office in Tampa, Kathy Chiu, Founding Managing Partner of Deep Work Capital in Orlando,  and David Zinn, Co-founder and Managing Partner of Ocean Azul Partners in Miami. 

The panelists agreed that the decline in fundraising is due to a number of factors, including interest rates, the lack of IPOs, and the general economic uncertainty. However, they also stressed that there are still investors who are willing to write checks, but it’s important to be realistic about the challenges you face and align your expectations with investors.

Kathy Chiu emphasized the importance of finishing what you start and of focusing on achievable milestones. She also warned against trying to do too much at once and suggested that startups should focus on the areas where they have a competitive advantage.

Nate Vasel, Partner at Las Olas Venture Capital, shared similar advice in an interview with South Florida Tech Hub stating that “Founders should focus on getting to breakeven, improving their operating margins, and extending their runways.

“They should also be realistic about the challenges they face and align their expectations with investors.”

The panel discussion was a valuable opportunity for entrepreneurs to learn from experienced investors about the current state of fundraising and how to position their companies for success. The panelists’ advice is clear and concise and provided valuable insights for startups that are looking to raise money in the current environment.

Here are the takeaways from the panel discussion:

  • The fundraising landscape is challenging, but there are still opportunities for companies that are able to execute on their plans.
  • Investors are looking for companies that have a clear path to profitability and that are able to demonstrate traction.
  • It is important to be realistic about the challenges you face and to align your expectations with investors.
  • Focus on finishing what you start and on achieving achievable milestones.
  • Don’t try to do too much at once.
  • Focus on the areas where you have a competitive advantage.

Pat Schneider, VP of Florida Venture Forum said, “The willingness of the VC panelists to share their knowledge and insight; coupled with the engagement level of the audience was the best part of the event. Plus, taking guests out to walk on the glass sky deck of The Main, while gauging their level of courage, was fun and a good ice breaker!”

By Nikki Cabus

World Fuel Services changes name to World Kinect; reflects company’s ongoing transformation into a diversified energy and solutions provider

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World Fuel Services Corporation announced it has changed its corporate name to World Kinect Corporation.

The Company’s shareholders approved the name change during a June 15th Annual Meeting. The Miami-based company began trading under its new name and ticker symbol (NYSE: WKC) on June 16, 2023.

This change is intended to better reflect the Company’s ongoing transformation into a more resilient, diversified energy and solutions provider. As the energy transition unfolds, this name change reflects the company’s commitment to continue evolving alongside their customers. World Connect has vowed to support their customers core energy requirements, while also meeting their growing energy transition needs with an expanding portfolio of products and services, empowering them to navigate their sustainability journeys most successfully.

Headquartered in Miami, Florida, World Kinect Corporation is a leading global energy management company, offering a broad suite of energy advisory, management and fulfillment services, digital and other technology solutions, as well as sustainability products and services across the energy product spectrum.

In addition to core energy offerings to customers in the transportation sector, World Kinect has expanded their product and service offerings to include energy advisory services, sustainability and renewable energy solutions, as well as supply fulfillment for natural gas and power. The company continues to focus on advancing the energy transition to lower carbon alternatives through expanding their portfolio of energy solutions and providing customers with greater access to sustainably sourced energy.

“For nearly 40 years we have been dedicated to providing a comprehensive and reliable supply of energy, logistics and finance solutions for aviation, marine and land-based customers worldwide,” said Michael J. Kasbar, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

“Through our relationships with more than 150,000 customers globally, we are uniquely positioned to understand their operational requirements and provide innovative products, services and digital solutions to meet their evolving needs. Our new name, World Kinect, represents our role as a bridge, connecting our customers to the resources, expertise and support they need to successfully navigate their energy transition journeys.”

Company executives will ring the New York Stock Exchange closing bell today to celebrate this occasion. The Company will discuss this name change and broader corporate strategy at a forthcoming Investor Day event. Further details will be provided shortly.

New name and a new ticker symbol — hear what World Kinect Corporation CEO Michael Kasbar has to say about this next step in the company’s journey and what he’s focused on for the future. See below.

By Nikki Cabus

Hi-tech production BrandStar Studios expands to Miami-Dade through new multi-year partnership

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BrandStar Studios has inked a multi-year agreement to offer virtual production capabilities at GRUP MEDIAPRO’S facilities in Miami, Florida.

One of South Florida’s largest and most experienced production studios, BrandStar Studios has state-of-the-art cinematic technology and a dedicated team of artists and engineers that produce original content with stunning in-camera visual effects (ICVFX) rendered in real-time – allowing creatives to see their scenes unfold as they are captured and composed on set.

The venture will be called ‘BrandStar Studios at GRUP MEDIAPRO,’ and is BrandStar’s first studio facility in Miami-Dade County, complementing its existing Broward County location and Palm Beach County studio within Lynn University. BrandStar established itself in Miami-Dade in 2021 through a merger with Coral Gables-based KrepsPR & Marketing, who will be supporting the partnership through its integrated services.

With locations in Ft. Lauderdale, Palm Beach and now Miami, BrandStar Studios offers five Virtual Production stages, feature state-of-the-art LED video walls capable of providing In-camera Virtual Production with immersive environments for producing TV shows, movies, commercials, music videos, podcasts, hybrid events and much more all powered by Unreal Engine software, the world’s most advanced real-time 3D creation tool.

Spain-based GRUP MEDIAPRO, a multimedia conglomerate with expansive experience in content creation, production and distribution for television and film, has had a presence in the U.S. for more than 25 years, and boasts a team of 200 broadcast professionals. They currently offer production services out of their studios in Miami for entities such as ESPN, CNN, beIN Sports, HolaTV, Hemisphere Media Group, CONCACAF and many others.

The agreement calls for BrandStar to design, build and install the largest LED Wall in South Florida in their new 9,900 sf studio, along with providing management and support services needed to operate fully the in-camera Virtual Production system. It also includes a revenue sharing component along with 2,000 square feet of office space to house BrandStar’s staff.

“We are extremely pleased to have reached an agreement to further GRUP MEDIAPRO’S vast offerings,” said Irantzu Diez-Gamboa, CEO, MEDIAPRO North America. “BrandStar has a stellar reputation as an industry leader in- Production with a specialty in real time Virtual Production, and we’ve no doubts that this will be an extremely positive relationship.”

The fully operational studio includes a 1,000 panel LED wall that measures 100 feet long and 23 feet tall and is capable of providing immersive environments for filming movies, series, TV shows, commercials, music videos and hybrid events. The system will feature Unreal Engine software, the world’s most advanced real-time 3D creation tool, allowing real-time shooting while exponentially reducing editing and post-production work. The LED volume uses the latest technology allowing for state-of-the-art resolution.

“This state-of-the-art masterpiece is set to transform your creative visions into captivating realities. Get ready to step into immersive worlds and bring your visions to life like never before,” posted BrandStar Studios.

“The film industry is one of Miami-Dade’s most special economic drivers,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. “Expanding the footprint of Miami-Dade County’s film and production capabilities is one of our key strategic initiatives, and we are honored to see this new partnership bring a first-of-its-kind studio to our county. I look forward to seeing a new level of production coming into Miami-Dade thanks to this new partnership.”

“As Miami-Dade County emerges as a hub for innovation and creativity, the development of virtual reality redefines the boundaries of TV and film,” said Senator René Garcia, County Commissioner District 13. “Harnessing the power of technology paves the way for a future where imagination knows no bounds and offers unparalleled opportunities for our workforce.”

“Almost 80% of all of Florida’s TV and film production is realized in Miami-Dade County,” said Marco Giron, Film and Entertainment Commissioner, Miami-Dade County Office of Film and Entertainment. “The world of virtual production/reality offerings is changing literally by the day, so having this level of technology being offered within the County will only expand our region’s capabilities and reach.”

“BrandStar is absolutely thrilled to open a facility in Miami-Dade County, expanding our services to an entirely new audience,” said Mark Alfieri, Founder & CEO of BrandStar. “The ability to combine our expertise of producing over 300 episode of Television and over 1,000 commercial video projects per year with GRUP MEDIAPRO’s team of industry professionals is sure to create exponential opportunities for Miami-Dade’s TV and film industry. A true win/win for all.”

In a previous press release, Alfieri had stated that, “There’s a reason the technology leverages ‘Unreal. It allows us to create super high-end productions quickly, utilizing the same in-camera virtual environments that major studios are deploying to film their most technology-intensive programming. We will use this technology to produce music videos, virtual events, high-end commercials, television shows, feature films, basically anything anyone can dream up, we can produce it.”

BrandStar is using this advanced technology in production of their own shows, which include The Balancing Act and Military Makeover with Montel, airing on Lifetime and with some of their largest clients in the industry.

To learn more about BrandStar Studios, visit

By Nikki Cabus

West Palm Beach-based Digital Resource acquires South Florida territory Fortune Management

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Digital Resource announced the acquisition of the South Florida territory of Fortune Management. 

This acquisition positions Digital Resource as a one-stop-shop for dental practices in South Florida seeking both business and marketing support to grow their businesses.

Founded in 2014, Digital Resource is a full-service internet marketing agency headquartered in West Palm Beach, FL. The company’s winning solutions and experience deliver great results for businesses in all verticals across several key areas, including but not limited to search engine optimization, social media marketing and lead generation. Digital Resource has a proven track record in generating online leads and sales, elevating brand market share, and proving return on investment.

Fortune Management has been providing dental coaching services to dentists for over 30 years. Their proprietary approach helps dentists achieve their professional and personal goals by providing guidance in leadership, team building, financial planning, marketing, and more.

In partnership with Brian Houlahan, a Fortune Management Executive Coach from the Connecticut area, Digital Resource will take on the South Florida territory of Fortune Management and provide a holistic approach to dental practice management, combining Fortune’s expertise in dental coaching with Digital Resource’s marketing solutions.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Brian Houlahan and start Fortune Management South Florida to provide comprehensive support to dental practices,” said Shay Berman, President of Digital Resource. “With our expertise in digital marketing and Fortune’s experience in dental coaching, we’re able to provide a complete solution for South Florida dentists looking to grow.”

Digital Resource’s services will enable dental practices to gain a competitive edge in today’s digital landscape. The agency’s services include search engine optimization (SEO), digital advertising, social media marketing, website design and development, internal practice marketing, and more. With this acquisition, dentists will be able to receive customized marketing and coaching solutions that are tailored to their unique needs.

Brian Houlahan says, “It’s no secret that practices need new patients to grow! By partnering with Digital Resource, we are able to help practices with all the fun things that need to happen next – perfecting a new patient experience, implementing systems to retain patients, increasing case acceptance, controlling overhead expenses, establishing a culture of success, and much more.”

One of Digital Resource’s biggest goals this year was to invest deeper into their franchise partnerships. This is one of the main strategic decisions that has helped Digital Resource double in size over the last couple years.

The acquisition of the South Florida territory of Fortune Management marks a significant milestone for Digital Resource and strengthens the agency’s position as a leading marketing provider in the dental space.



By Riley Kaminer

Founder of OZ Digital Consulting Reflects on 25 Years of South Florida Innovation

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Business: Offering clients the strategic technical tools and expertise to guide their decision-making, drive data, improve customer experience, and increase efficiency. 

Founded: 1998

HQ: Fort Lauderdale

Employees: 300+


Leading South Florida tech entrepreneur reflects on the lessons he learned over the last two and a half decades.

OZ Digital Consulting recently celebrated their 25th anniversary with a celebratory breakfast and networking event in their newly renovated office space in Ft. Lauderdale. Attendees included Bob Swindell, Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance CEO, South Florida Tech Hub Board and Staff, business partners and community members. Distinguished guest, Broward County Commissioner Mayor Lamar P. Fisher, facilitated the event.

For Amjad Shamim, the key to long-term business success is a relentless focus on the people that make business happen: both customers and employees alike. That’s why at Fort Lauderdale-based OZ Digital Consulting, CEO Shamim takes pride in delivering top-tier solutions to clients while also offering employees a great place to work.

“You do good work for your clients, and business will come – money will come,” Shamim told South Florida Tech Hub. He added that OZ Digital Consulting has a customer retention rate of around 90%, which is much higher than average for services firms. 

But critical to achieving this high level of success is having a strong team powering these efforts. “It’s so difficult to retain good talent, but we’ve had people with us for 20 years,” he shared, noting that employees appreciate the strong culture Shamim and his colleagues have invested in building over the decades.

“We treat people with mutual respect,” Shamim continued, acknowledging that employees and customers alike enjoy the consensus-building approach OZ Digital Consulting takes to every project.

Shamim attributes part of the firm’s early success to the fact that he and his brother and co-founder Asad had technical backgrounds rather than sales backgrounds – and approached business development accordingly.

“We’re not sales guys, so we just started working with our clients. We did good work, we continued to get more work, and we continued to grow.”

But it wasn’t all about growth for the Shamim brothers. “For us it wasn’t about growing really big, it was about maintaining the culture.” Of course, maintaining their culture played a role in helping them grow.

As Shamim looked back on the last 25 years of OZ Digital Consulting during our interview, his excitement about his work is palpable. “I really enjoy what I do. The reason I keep doing it is because, honestly, it’s not work for me – it’s fun.”

“My wife already knows that I’ll never retire. Even if I do something with this company, I’ll do something else because this is so fun.”

Shamim hopes to share this same enthusiasm with all of OZ Digital Consulting’s 300+ staff members around the world. “I want you to keep our culture of making sure that everyone is enjoying what they do.”

OZ Digital Consulting has grown alongside South Florida’s tech ecosystem. “20 plus years ago, I remember going to Tallahassee lobbying for technology investments in our area,” he said, explaining that there was no major enthusiasm for South Florida tech at that time. His clients felt the same, with one San Francisco-based client seven years ago delivering Shamim the backhanded compliment that she was “surprised there were good tech companies like yours in South Florida.”

Now, Shamim affirmed that the situation is much different: “We’re still in the early stages, but people are taking us seriously. So I see good things happening.”


By Nikki Cabus

Tech Hub hosts first ever event in the Treasure Coast with Jensen Beach Technologies

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South Florida Tech Hub held our first event in the Treasure Coast – and it was amazing!

With Tech Hub supporting the Miami Metro region (Miami, Broward and Palm Beach counties) for almost 30 years now, we weren’t quite sure what to expect when we held our first event in Martin County. We kept hearing rumblings of technology startups, a research park, biotech spaces, and the local college doing some great work in the Treasure Coast (Martin, St. Lucie, and Indian River counties). Then, we heard about more and more of our founders buying homes and businesses opening up north. So we decided to take a peek.

According to World Population Review, Port St. Lucie is in the top ten largest cities in the state of Florida coming in at number six. Of course, Miami and Ft. Lauderdale are up there too, but Port St. Lucie had the largest increase in population over the last two years. The once under-the-radar city isn’t so much any more these days.

Our first event in the Treasure Coast was sponsored by the newly rebranded Jensen Beach Technologies (formerly GMS East) who’s office was literally located just across the street in the technology center. They company has dependable rugged manufacturing experience; from rackmount to small form factor servers, their rugged industrial and commercial servers and display systems are rooted in patented technologies, innovative designs and proven manufacturing protocols. Scott Kaplan, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Jensen Beach Technologies was there to greet everyone.

The modern Jensen Beach Tech Center facilities serve as the focal point in the middle of the Jensen Beach Technology Campus. The technology campus is home for tech-centric businesses and an offers an educational curriculum that serves as the epicenter for advanced technology development in Florida’s Treasure Coast. The Tech Campus is home to both residential, retail, hospitality, and commercial businesses.

The happy hour was held at the brand new Circa69 America Gastro Pub in Jensen Beach right across from the water. The location is beautiful, the staff was so friendly, and the food and drinks were delicious. A big shoutout to Jacob DiBiasio, Business Data Analyst at Kyle G’s Restaurants who was our host and even donated bottles of wine and a gift card to our raffle.

The event attracted almost fifty attendees from across four different counties including Martin, St. Lucie, Palm Beach, and yes, even Broward! Those in attendance ranged from startup founders, technology leaders, nonprofit executives and even technology students. Some of those organizations in attendance were Indian River State College, 365 Data Centers, Crescent Solutions, Lifescale Analytics, Junior Achievement Palm Beach & Treasure Coast, Crown Castle, Sloane Staffing, Start Martin County Chamber of Commerce, AVA Intelligence, IT News and Events, WaveFront Consulting, Gather Zen, LLC and so many others.

So many technology leaders who live and work in the Treasure Coast all had conversations around what’s being built, the opportunities ahead of them, and how we can begin coming together to hep support real tech innovation and connection in the area.

Those conversations included current Claudio Kirk Barto, CEO of Junior Achievement of the Palm Beaches & Treasure Coast,  about the need for more STEM-related industry engagement for k-12 students and the connection to higher education institutions with technical degrees. Indian River State College is stepping up to the plate. Amy Pearlstine, Membership Director at Stuart/Martin County Chamber of Commerce, also talked about the growth of the chamber which is the region’s largest chamber with over 1300 individual members.

“It is only fitting that Indian River State College, a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Two-Year Education and host of multiple National Science Foundation centers focused on expanding laser, optics, photonics, electric vehicles, and renewable energy workforces would join the Tech Hub as it moves north into Florida’s Treasure Coast,” says IRSC President Dr. Timothy Moore.

“We look forward to touring this esteemed group through the Eastman Advanced Workforce Training Complex—Florida’s most technologically advanced workforce training center—when it opens on our Fort Pierce campus this fall and to forging new partnerships and collaborations that support the growth of Florida’s tech workforce pipeline.”

Thank you to all who attended our first event in the Treasure Coast. Stay tuned for more to come. Sign up for our weekly newsletter here.

By Nikki Cabus

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

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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

By Nikki Cabus

Meet the CIO Winners of the South Florida 2023 ORBIE Awards

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

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

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

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

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

The 2023 South Florida ORBIE Award winners are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To see all nominees and categories, visit

By Nikki Cabus

Miami-based Kind Designs wins Florida Venture Forum’s Aerospace + EmergingTech Forum 2023

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The Florida Venture Forum and co-host, Space Florida, hosted the 2023 Aerospace + EmergingTech Forum awarding over $200,000 in cash and VC investment.

The event is a capital acceleration competition and business networking event featuring presentations by some of Florida’s most promising early and mid-stage tech companies bringing together aerospace and tech enthusiasts and investors. The closing reception for the Aerospace Innovation awards was held on June 8th at the newly expanded Groundswell Startup Incubator in Melbourne, Florida. The reception featured speakers, panel discussion, and pitches from the finalists.

The panel discussion featured area tech resources and successfully funded entrepreneurs from companies such as Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Groundswell Startups, Sensatek Propulsion Technology, Inc. and Helicon. It was moderated by Danielle Mousseau, Manager of Economic Development at 35 Mules, an innovation hub started by Florida Power & Light Company (FPL), a subsidiary of NextEra Energy. FPL was the Title Sponsor of the evening.

Florida Venture Forum is Florida’s largest statewide support organization for investors and entrepreneurs, helping fast-growth companies connect with sources of capital from across the country. Since 1984 more than 2000 companies have presented at Forum events and have gone on to raise upwards of $16B in equity capital, producing billions more in economic value to Florida. The Forum’s 250+ members represent a “who’s who” of venture capital and private equity dealmakers, including equity and debt investors at all stages, as well as major law, accounting, and investment banking firms, and large corporates active in the innovation ecosystem.

The finalists were chosen from a pool of over sixty applicants. The panel of investors reviewed each company’s presentation along with additional supporting materials giving insight into the company’s growth potential. Selected presenting companies were innovative and have a focus in aerospace and/or emerging technologies. This year’s event was one of the most competitive to date.

“The selection of companies from the long list of qualified applicants was made by a committed group of early stage investors. A special thanks to the selection committee for their hours of work and an equal thanks to the companies that provided information and presentations, and made this selection process the most competitive to date,” said Ben Patz, Managing Partner of DeepWork Capital.

“We were incredibly impressed by all the presenting companies and are excited about the opportunities for continued investment in this space,” said, Benjamin Patz, managing partner, DeepWork Capital. “Investing in cutting-edge sectors that stem from the transformative power of emerging and aerospace technology is a strategic move and critical to driving success.”

The “Final Four” winning companies are listed below:

GRAND PRIZE WINNER ($40,000) | Kind Designs

Miami Beach headquartered, Kind Designs (, is addressing the rising sea-level challenge by 3D Printing structural seawalls that both protect coastal communities and function as artificial reefs, sequester CO2 and have built-in sensors to track essential water quality data. The Living Seawalls are exponentially cheaper and faster to produce and permit than any conventional seawall products on the market.

It’s estimated that by the year 2100, Miami will be completely submerged by water. Kind Designs founder, Anya Freeman, a Ukraine native, lived in Israel before coming to Miami to study law. The love of technology drew her to 3D printing. Originally interested in building 3D-printed homes, Any changed her focus towards seawalls once she learned about the ability to mitigate the effect of climate change and rising sea levels.

In addition to the cash prizes awarded, DeepWork Capital, an early-stage venture capital firm based in Orlando, is announced they will invest $100,000 in Kind Designs.

1ST RUNNER UP ($30,000) | Zulu Pods, Ft. Lauderdale, FL.,, is an aerospace and defense company who design and manufacture decentralized fluid delivery systems. The company is focused on unitizing part counts on components such as jet engines and/or geartrains, thereby reducing cost, reducing weight and increasing performance. With their patented pod technology, they can drastically reduce part counts for expendable jet engines (think of engines that power drones or missiles) or back-up emergency lubrication systems (think of helicopters or single engine fighter jet engines).

2ND RUNNER UP ($20,000) | Ainthoven, Cocoa Beach, FL.,, the company is bringing life-saving electrocardiogram (“ECG”) heart screenings to pediatrics and young adults in the United States and beyond.

3RD RUNNER UP ($10,000)Gigantor Technologies, Inc., Melbourne Beach, FL.,, provides an AI accelerator that can speed up neural network models to speeds nVidia, Tesla, that the company says – others cannot touch. If the process latency is reduced to a fraction of other solutions it can enable Deep and Convolutional neural networks (computer vision, radar, lidar) to work with any frame size, HD, 4K and above with no data loss, it also reduces power by over 90%.

Event co-host, Space Florida, was created to strengthen Florida’s position as the global leader in aerospace research, investment, exploration and commerce. As Florida’s aerospace development organization, we are committed to attracting and expanding the next generation of space industry businesses. With its highly trained workforce, proven infrastructure and unparalleled record of achievement, Florida is the ideal location for aerospace businesses to thrive – and Space Florida is the perfect partner to help them succeed.

“This year’s applicants exhibited exceptional innovation and leadership, and we believe they are poised to make an impact on the aerospace industry in today’s business climate,” said Space Florida President and CEO Frank DiBello. “To date, capital accelerator programs supported by Space Florida have attracted more than $600 million in funding and investments for companies. We are proud be the financial propellant that helps new ideas take off.”

“Congratulations to Kind Designs, Zulu Pods, Ainthoven, and Gigantor Technologies from this year’s forum,” said Kevin Burgoyne, president and CEO of the Florida Venture Forum. “Through our work and collaborations, we continue to be on the forefront of driving innovation and progress with early-stage companies across various industries.”

To see the images of all winning companies, click here.

By Nikki Cabus

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

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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 to find out how you can support.

By Nikki Cabus

Research Park at Florida Atlantic University® entrepreneur support initiative welcomes four new companies, graduates two

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The Research Park at Florida Atlantic University’s entrepreneur support initiative, Global Ventures at Florida Atlantic, is proud to welcome four (4) new companies into its incubator program which serves both international and domestic second-stage technology companies.

To be considered second-stage, a company has achieved annual sales of at least $750,000 and has at least six (6) employees. Global Ventures focuses on healthtech and smart systems technologies.

The companies, which have all opened physical offices at Global Ventures in Boca Raton, FL this year include:

  • Biobeat Medical – The first Israeli company to join Global Ventures, Biobeat’s solution uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to provide actionable insights for patient care. More than just analyzing the data, Biobeat also generates it, using a proprietary sensor for continuous monitoring of vital signs unique to Biobeat. For more visit:
  • Ecosign Technologies –Ecosign was established as a spin-off of Contech Brazil, a company with over 30 years of experience in the pulp and paper industry. Ecosign is committed to providing innovative solutions for diverse industrial sectors working towards a more sustainable future. Through its technological leadership the company brings constant improvements to control of process contaminants in pulp and paper, textile, agribusiness, and poultry, among others. For more visit:
  • Isolab USA – Originating in Germany with manufacturing operations in Turkey, ISOLAB dedicates itself to providing products and solutions to its customers worldwide for various applications and research activities in universities, institutions, laboratories and home use. For more visit:
  • Triangulate Labs – Based in South Florida, Triangulate Labs created Skinmap™ to find skin cancer early. Skin cancer kills someone every five minutes. When discovered early, skin cancer is easily treated. Skinmap digitizes skin to save lives. For more visit:

“The addition of so many international companies to Global Ventures brings new intellectual and financial capital to South Florida while creating job opportunities for FAU students and alumni well as existing residents. The impact is overwhelmingly positive for this region,” stated Andrew Duffell, president of the Research Park at FAU.

Companies are served within Global Ventures at Florida Atlantic for two (2) years, accessing resources at Florida Atlantic University’s campus, networking opportunities and introduction to relevant businesses before expanding out of the incubator to the South Florida business community.

This month, two (2) companies will graduate from the initiative, having leveraged its resources for growth and success, reaching new heights.

  • FloSpine – An industry leader in spinal implants, the company is graduating after securing its fourth FDA device clearance. It now has six (6) issued patents with three (3) additional patents pending. FloSpine’s staff of seven (7) includes four (4) FAU alumni. Recognized in 2022 as one of the 50 Florida Companies to Watch by GrowFL, FloSpine has built strong relationships in the South Florida healthcare community and will expand to larger facilities within the Research Park at FAU itself. For more visit:


Peter Harris, Founder and CEO of FloSpine, said, “We are extremely grateful for the guidance and opportunities we received from Global Ventures. The support from their management team has been tremendous in helping accelerate FloSpine’s growth. We look forward to continued collaboration with Global Ventures.”

  • Gustie Creative – Gustie is a leading disruptive retail solutions provider for brands, businesses, agencies and nonprofits. The company develops, markets and sells design and strategy products and services. Gustie is graduating after completing research and development, obtaining three copyrights, publishing two business workbooks and launching Create Disruptive Retail, a mobile design platform devoted to creating disruptive retail solutions for a global user. Gustie has a new office in Boca Raton and will expand nationwide. For more visit:

“While at Global Ventures, Gustie gained global recognition as a disruptive retail thought leader, and the company’s next stage of growth includes launching a SaaS learning platform for Disruptive Retail,” said Karen S. Herman, CEO and Design Director of Gustie Creative.

The Research Park at Florida Atlantic University® is home to technology companies and research-based organizations working to support the research and development activities of Florida Atlantic University and to foster economic development and broaden the economic base of Broward and Palm Beach counties. The Research Park at FAU hosts Global Ventures, an international soft-landing center for second-stage technology companies and FAU Tech Runway, a South Florida public-private partnership that serves as a hub to accelerate technology development and incubate startup companies. The Research Park at FAU is a 70-acre destination for R&D companies to thrive, established in 1985, it is widely regarded as South Florida’s laboratory for new entrepreneurial ideas and technologies. The Research Park at FAU is governed by the Florida Atlantic Research and Development Authority, an independent special district created by Palm Beach and Broward counties in partnership with Florida Atlantic University, organized under Chapter 159, Part V, Florida Statues.

To learn more about Research Park at Florida Atlantic University, visit

By Nikki Cabus

ChenMed, a leading primary care provider, recognized for using intelligence and automation in HR practices

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ChenMed, a national leading primary care provider based in South Florida, was recently recognized at the Phenom Intelligent Talent Experience Awards as this year’s Intelligent Talent Experience: Advocate of the Year.

Phenom, a purpose-driven HR tech company, recently announced the winners of the Phenom Intelligent Talent Experience Awards, recognizing organizations for exceptional achievements using intelligence, automation and experience to hire employees faster, develop them to their full potential and retain them longer. Through AI-powered solutions, employers increased efficiencies, and saved valuable time for all talent stakeholders — candidates, recruiters, managers, employees, HR and HRIS teams. Award recipients were honored at IAMPHENOM, the company’s premier conference for human resources hosted in Philadelphia.

“We’re celebrating the organizations whose platform use and partnerships are driving lasting impact across their businesses, their industries, their teams and HR as a whole,” said Jess Elmquist, Chief Human Resources Officer at Phenom.

On a mission to hire faster and better and simultaneously empower employee development and mobility with a talent marketplace, ChenMed is a model example for hypergrowth peers. By infusing hyper-personalized experiences into their hiring, development and retention strategies, ChenMed has increased quality applies, reduced time to fill and improved employee retention despite a challenging talent landscape.

When three out of every four professionals in healthcare are looking to leave the industry, providing a better talent experience is no longer optional — it’s critical to hire, develop, and retain workers.

Being a rapidly-growing primary care provider, ChenMed knows this firsthand. To succeed, they needed:

  • A reliable, robust talent community of quality candidates
  • An improved candidate experience for both internal and external job seekers
  • Automated, time-saving talent acquisition processes for recruiters

ChenMed is a family-owned, family-oriented organization serving underserved moderate-to-low-income seniors with complex chronic diseases. The company’s high-touch, VIP, preventive primary care works for patients and team members. Unlike typical primary care providers, ChenMed has a much lower doctor-patient ratio which allows doctors to spend more time with their patients, getting to know them and their concerns so we can better serve them. ChenMed has 100+ centers across 15 states and is a privately held and physician-led company.

“Because we’re in hypergrowth, we’re looking for ways to automate things so our recruiters don’t have to do them. Phenom helps us do that so our recruiters aren’t bogged down by administrative tasks and have time to spend with candidates,” stated Christin Davis, ChenMed’s Managing Director of HR Operations and Technology.

Above all, the ChenMed culture is what’s most important for Davis and her team to maintain: “This company’s mission is simple: helping seniors live longer and healthier lives. The only way to manage that mission is to buy into it. Now that we can easily see who identifies with our culture, it’s easier to make the right hiring choices.”

ChenMed is using the Phenom Intelligent Talent Experience platform to increase applies, reduce time to fill, and level employee turnover. Through AI-powered solutions, ChenMed is increasing efficiencies and saving valuable time for candidates, recruiters, managers, employees, HR, and HRIS teams and in a candidate-driven market time could cost you.

Additionally, when candidates have options, a streamlined professional and timely process helps give candidates the first impression they are looking for and HR professionals not lose out on that next best candidate.

Phenom has a purpose of helping a billion people find the right job. Through AI-powered talent experiences, employers are using Phenom to hire employees faster, develop them to their full potential, and retain them longer. The Phenom Intelligent Talent Experience platform seamlessly connects candidates, employees, recruiters, hiring managers, HR and HRIS — empowering over 500 diverse and global enterprises with innovative products including Phenom Career Site, Chatbot, CMS, CRM, AI Scheduling, Video Assessments, Campaigns, University Recruiting, Talent Marketplace, Career Pathing, Gigs, Mentoring, and Referrals.

Phenom has earned accolades including: Inc. 5000’s fastest-growing companies (3 consecutive years), Deloitte Technology’s Fast 500 (4 consecutive years), five Brandon Hall ‘Excellence in Technology’ awards including Gold for ‘Best Advance in AI for Business Impact,’ Business Intelligence Group’s Artificial Intelligence Excellence Awards (3 consecutive years), and a regional Timmy Award for launching and optimizing (2020).

Click here to read more about all award recipients.

By Nikki Cabus

Broward College’s Health Sciences Simulation Center is leveling up their OB training for nursing using mixed reality

Read Time 5 Minutes

The Broward College Health Sciences Simulation Center is leveling up their obstetrical training for nursing students by turning to the one woman they knew could handle the job: VICTORIA.

VICTORIA® S2200, to be exact.

A medical mannequin designed by the Miami-based medical training company and industry leader of simulation technology for healthcare education, Gaumard Scientific, is behind the technology used in VICTORIA® S2200.

The mannequin is a top-of-the-line, totally comprehensive birthing simulator. VICTORIA comes equipped with a bevy of tools and software services designed to help improve patient safety in women’s health through education and training. As part of the Broward College SIM Center mannequin lineup, she has already helped to facilitate teamwork and deepen critical thinking skills in learners of all levels.

The Broward College Health Sciences Simulation Center (HSSC) is a state-of-the-art educational facility that models a hospital setting. Designed to provide students with a safe learning environment where they transfer their understanding of theory into hands-on practice, the HSSC offers the opportunity for students to practice in realistic simulations the development of decision-making skills, the reduction of errors, and the improvement of communication and teamwork.

Managed by Dr. Lilia Chavarria, district director of Broward College, the Simulation Center has already provided aspiring healthcare students with more than 80,000 simulations on various medical training devices and mannequins. But when the center received its VICTORIA S2200 medical training mannequin in September of 2022, Dr. Chavarria knew they had acquired the gold standard of obstetric training.

“From early pregnancy complications, high-risk deliveries, and postpartum emergencies to non-gravid scenarios for general nursing care, VICTORIA simulates a full range of obstetrical situations,” said Dr. Chavarria. “More than a childbirth simulator, VICTORIA is a complete simulation solution developed from decades of obstetrical experience. She is a comprehensive package of tools and support designed to help improve patient safety in women’s health through education and training.”

After all, VICTORIA is much more than a training mannequin. Engineers at Gaumard Scientific have equipped her with the latest medical training technology, including interactive eyes and automatic visual object tracking; a fully programmable airway; and true-to-life shoulder dystocia, breech, and C-section deliveries. VICTORIA even births a lifelike, full-term baby featuring programmable vitals for Apgar scoring. Students can also tether VICTORIA to monitoring equipment such as an EKG, capnography, defibrillator, and pulse oximeter for even more realistic training.

What’s more, VICTORIA’s mixed reality feature uses holographic visualization to allow students to see inside VICTORIA and observe the physiological process of birth.

In 2021 with the release of VICTORIA®, Gaumard Scientific announced that CoObstetric MR™ technology was honored in Fast Company’s Innovation by Design Awards in the Learning category. To view a video that demonstrates Obstetric MR in use, click here.

Obstetric MR is a next-generation mixed reality training solution designed to help learners bridge the gap between theory and practice faster than ever before. Comprised of a Microsoft HoloLens 2 preloaded with proprietary software for the VICTORIA S2200 maternal and neonatal patient care simulator, Obstetric MR provides an unparalleled training tool for medical schools, nursing schools, and hospitals worldwide. This new mixed reality system uses advanced holographic imaging technology that allows the wearer to see inside VICTORIA and observe the dynamic physiology and anatomy underlying child birth deliveries.

Obstetric MR brings digital learning content into the physical simulation exercise, allowing participants to link knowledge and skill through an entirely new hands-on learning experience. The future of labor and delivery simulation has arrived at the simulation center.

“Gaumard has harnessed mixed reality technology to bring healthcare education to a new level – bridging the physical and digital world,” stated James Archetto, Gaumard’s Vice President, U.S. Direct Sales.

“Obstetric MR technology synchronizes precisely anatomically detailed holograms with the physical world to enable learners to interact with mother and baby in an extensive range of birthing scenarios that learners may never encounter until clinical practice, providing an unparalleled learning experience.”

Gaumard Scientific is recognized by health care educators and students worldwide for its commitment to innovation with the development of the most advanced patient simulation technology. Gaumard designs and manufactures simulators at its global headquarters in Miami and markets them directly in the U.S. as well as through distributors in 70 countries. Gaumard’s customer base includes militaries, emergency medical services, major teaching hospitals and nursing schools.

VICTORIA couldn’t have arrived at a better time. It has become increasingly clear that health care training is more critical now than ever. Per a report by WLRN, the South Florida community is facing an acute nursing shortage, with the Florida Hospital Association predicting a shortfall of 59,100 nurses by 2035. Fortunately, Broward College has stepped up to provide the healthcare workers of tomorrow and train them with the best tools available, including VICTORIA.

As recently announced, Broward College is also offering healthcare nursing training through their new Sunshine Health Training Center in the City of Lauderhill. Broward College’s BrowardUP 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. This is just one other example of the impact that Broward College is making in healthcare education and training.

As the largest provider of higher education programs in Broward County, Broward College is committed to fostering and achieving success for all students. The College has been recognized by the Aspen Institute three times consecutively as one of the nation’s top ten Community Colleges of Excellence for its outstanding commitment to student success and equitable student outcomes.

Dr. Chavarria said these students were ready and eager to meet the challenge of adapting to new technology.

“The transition has been seamless,” she said. “We have excellent simulation specialists at the forefront of the latest technology and genuinely want to work with our students. The learners and the staff absolutely love the experience. “The nursing students love the technology, which fits well with the younger generation of students,” said Dr. Chavarria. “This is by far the World’s Most Lifelike Childbirth Simulator.”

VICTORIA, so it seems, has found a home at Broward College. For now, she will continue to help Broward College nursing students hone their obstetric skills before taking their training into the real world, to the benefit of birthing patients across South Florida. VICTORIA, quite simply, is a lifesaver.

To learn more about Broward College’s Health Sciences Simulation Center, visit

By Nikki Cabus

Fuel Venture Capital Announces The Launch of $300 Million Flagship Fund II

Read Time 3 Minutes

Fuel Venture Capital announced the launch of their $300 million Flagship Fund II bringing the Miami-based firm’s four funds to $700 Million. 

Fuel Venture Capital Flagship II, LP is built upon the success of Flagship Fund I following a refined investment thesis and well-defined proprietary model of Phased Investing.

Fuel Venture Capital is committed to propelling groundbreaking ideas into world-changing companies and democratizing access to the creative economy to shape the future of society. A core team leads the firm’s “founder focused, investor driven” approach with more than 80 years of combined experience in investment banking, wealth management, executive leadership, and entrepreneurship. The fund boasts a portfolio of 33 companies based around the globe across numerous sectors, bringing positive impact to virtually all corners of our modern economy.

Institutional investors will be able to participate in Fuel Venture Capital Flagship Fund II, which is aiming to raise $300 million and will target disruptive technology companies that transform how
businesses and consumers transact, consume, work and enjoy their life journey. The fund is primed to invest in seven warehouse companies, all previously backed by Fuel Venture Capital funds, which include Betr, RecargaPay, Soundtrack Your Brand, Curve, CookUnity, AEXLAB and Novopayment. Fuel will continue to find additional disruptive global, tech-driven companies to construct a portfolio across multiple geographic locations, sectors and financing stages.

“This fund will make it easier and more efficient than ever before to access the private markets,” said Maggie Vo, Managing General Partner and Chief Investment Officer of Fuel Venture Capital. “It’s our goal at Fuel VC to democratize the process of investing in private market transactions and this will make it possible.”

Fuel Venture Capital has been one of the most aggressive venture capital firms in Florida since launching in 2017. Fuel identifies innovative founders changing the world, propelling groundbreaking ideas into world-changing companies, and democratizing access to the creative economy to shape the future of society. The firm is a leading early-stage investor in technology and digital companies.  With a portfolio of over 33 companies in technology companies across a broad spectrum of areas including FinTech, Marketplace, Enterprise SaaS, Entertainment Tech, Food & Consumer Goods Tech, Sports Tech, Space Tech and more, Fuel is where institutional investors go to diversify their venture capital portfolio.

Its most recent success story is Terran Orbital, the aerospace, and defense company that is the global leader in small satellites. Terran Orbital was recently listed on the NYSE as $LLAP with a $1.8 billion valuation. Fuel’s most recent deployment made headlines with Jake Paul’s microbetting app Betr which raised a $50 million Series A. In addition, Fuel Venture Capital is a lead investor in Taxfyle, which closed its $20 Million Series B last year. Fuel Venture Capital also invested in cloud-based supply chain platform Tradeshift, smart city infrastructure platform Ubicquia, and construction technology company Eyrus, among others.

“We believe that our latest fund will be a game-changer in the private markets space, offering investors a new level of accessibility, liquidity and transparency,” said Jeff Ransdell, Founding Partner and Managing Director of Fuel Venture Capital. “The diversification of our fund is what sets us apart.”

To learn more about Fuel Venture Capital, visit

1 6 7 8 9
Palm Beach-based HotelPlanner acquires leading travel platform Lucid Travel
Florida Venture Forum and South Florida Tech Hub partner for a Venture Capital Mid-Year Review
World Fuel Services changes name to World Kinect; reflects company’s ongoing transformation into a diversified energy and solutions provider
Hi-tech production BrandStar Studios expands to Miami-Dade through new multi-year partnership
West Palm Beach-based Digital Resource acquires South Florida territory Fortune Management
Founder of OZ Digital Consulting Reflects on 25 Years of South Florida Innovation
Tech Hub hosts first ever event in the Treasure Coast with Jensen Beach Technologies
Fiserv now on NYSE; new ticker celebrates company’s commitment to leading fintech innovation
Meet the CIO Winners of the South Florida 2023 ORBIE Awards
Miami-based Kind Designs wins Florida Venture Forum’s Aerospace + EmergingTech Forum 2023
Title 1 Cypress Run Education Center collaborates with community and industry for final school year’s student hackathon
Research Park at Florida Atlantic University® entrepreneur support initiative welcomes four new companies, graduates two
ChenMed, a leading primary care provider, recognized for using intelligence and automation in HR practices
Broward College’s Health Sciences Simulation Center is leveling up their OB training for nursing using mixed reality
Fuel Venture Capital Announces The Launch of $300 Million Flagship Fund II