A new initiative aims to bolster the national profile of Broward County’s technology sector and support area startup founders in growing their businesses.
TechLauderdale was launched through a partnership between the Broward Workshop and the South Florida Technology Alliance (SFTA) with Nova Southern University and Broward College as collaborators. The nonprofit will connect Broward entrepreneurs with the resources they need to scale their ventures, such as local incubators, accelerators, networking events and funding.
“What we’re asking of the business community is to follow the lead of the Broward Workshop and join as a member,” said Richard Berkowitz, executive chairman of Berkowitz Pollack Brant Advisors and Accountants and chair to the Broward Workshop’s technology committee. “We would like CIOs and even the CEOs of companies to become more involved in building this.”
Thirty-five members of the Broward Workshop, which includes about 100 people, have already joined to begin generating $100,000 in annual membership dues for TechLauderdale. Broward Workshop contributed an additional $100,000 to sponsor the creation of a full-time executive director position to lead the organization. SFTA plans to begin looking for a candidate in the summer, said SFTA Executive Director Bob Fitts.
“The SFTA remains committed to strengthening the South Florida Technology ecosystem,” Fitts said. “The joint venture with the Broward Workshop allows us to continue to do that with a much stronger balance sheet, expanded membership and with the experience, business acumen and relationships that the Workshop has to offer.”
Going forward, the SFTA’s largest activities, which include conferences such as SUP-X and ITPalooza that each attract thousands of attendees, will support the growth of TechLauderdale.
TechLauderdale was officially announced Friday at the Broward Workshop’s State of the County Address, but the initiative had been in the works since May 2017, Berkowitz said. That’s when at an annual Broward Workshop retreat, community leaders sought a solution for recruiting and retaining the talent needed to support the hundreds of technology companies in Broward — many of which are startups.
“We really didn’t have the type of resources that great tech communities have,” Berkowitz said. “We already had some wonderful events taking place and we found a number of volunteer organizations with networking events on a regular basis, but there was no one platform organization that had become strong enough to really be this central address for technology in Broward County.”
Berkowitz cited the 2017 Kauffman Foundation study that said the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach metro area is No. 1 in the nation for startup activity, but that many new companies could not sustain operations more than five years, with most failing after their first year, Berkowitz said.
“Our startups were having problems scaling up,” Berkowitz said. “Our hope is that the rest of the business community and technology community in Broward County joins in creating this very strong platform to enhance our tech ecosystem.”
Broward is home to South Florida’s largest technology startups and publicly traded technology companies, including Plantation-based Magic Leap, Fort Lauderdale-based Citrix Systems and Weston-based Ultimate Software, which recently agreed to be acquired in an $11 billion deal.
“The successes in Greater Fort Lauderdale and Broward County sometimes get overlooked, but Magic Leap, Ultimate Software, Citrix, Mako Surgical, e-Builder and Jet Smarter are Unicorns or even Decacorns, and they are all in Broward,” Fitts said. “We want the world to know that Greater Fort Lauderdale and Broward County are the hub of the South Florida tech ecosystem and the Broward Workshop and the SFTA together are going to make that happen.”
Companies can find out more information about how to get involved at techlauderdale.com.
First published in South Florida Business Journal.
By Emon Reiser – Digital Producer, South Florida Business Journal.
Read the complete article here: https://www.bizjournals.com/southflorida/news/2019/03/15/broward-workshop-sfta-launch-techlauderdale.html