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The five most promising startups in Broward

Startup.Miami is, of course, focused on Miami.

But when people think of an entrepreneurial ecosystem, they don’t think in terms of strict geographic boundaries

Which is why our neighbor to the north, Broward County, also deserves some attention. It’s the largest source of population inflows into Miami-Dade — though on net, more people move to Broward from Dade, according to Census data. That’s probably in part because it is also home to South Florida’s largest, most valuable tech companies, like Chewy.com, Citrix and Microsoft LatAm. Given that South Florida’s top universities are in Miami-Dade, that means there is going to be a natural migration of tech talent northward as Miami’s tech scene continues to develop.  

But it’s not just giants that are up there. The Miami Herald recently explained how “Broward has transformed from a tourism draw to a tech magnet,” noting it now has groups like the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance working to “make it the kind of destination that can continue to attract” tech “visionaries.”

We wanted to highlight five emerging startups from our neighbor to the north that are helping make that goal a reality. Some you may already be familiar with, from either Startup.Miami or elsewhere. And if you have, there’s a good reason for that — they’ve been doing stuff that’s newsworthy.

Apollonix

Year founded: 2016

Founders: Paul Shin, Terri-Ann Brown, Jessica Shin

For a company barely a year old, Apollonix has accomplished quite a bit. That’s because it was founded on the premise of disrupting an incredibly niche market ripe for disruption: dental prosthetics logistics. It turns out that market is $10.9 billion large, thanks to 200 million Americans having missing or broken teeth. That’s part of the reason why they were chosen to inaugurate Miami’s Babson WIN Lab accelerator, why they won second place and $15,000 at this year’s SUP-X conference, and second place in the Miami’ Herald’s Business Plan Challenge.

MAD Dev

Year founded: 2012

Partners: Marc Aptakin, Olivier Beuzelin, and Chris Stegner

“We create absurdly great digital products.” That is a hard tagline to live up to. But MadDev is doing it, having racked up clients from HBO to Miami Children’s Hospital. They specialize in creating bespoke apps that combine the talents of its 30 developers. Co-founder Olivier Beuzelin is a mobile apps and biometrics specialist. Chris Stegner is a “serial startup founder” and the former technology vice president at Weston-based Catalogs.com. He just won Tech Entrepreneur of the Year from the Miami Chamber of Commerce. Marc Aptakin is the founder of MAD Studios, MAD Dev’s umbrella company, which was founded in 2001 as a branding and marketing agency and has morphed into a full client solution firm.

SpeedETab

Year founded: 2013

Founders: Adam Garfield, Ed Gilmore

Startup.Miami profiled SpeedETab in June, not long after they were acquired by LatAm payments giant Paymentez. At the time, the team behind their app, which lets users order ahead at client restaurants to cut the line and get on-demand takeout, promised they would be adding more folks to their team. Since then, they’ve hired seven new employees, in client relations, sales, design, and engineering — instantly doubling the team. They also served as the designated food truck ordering service at this year’s eMerge Americas conference, and while some issues came up there, cofounder Adam Garfield told Startup.Miami he looks “forward to working [with eMerge] again next year in an even stronger capacity.” An eMerge rep did not return requests for comment.

The Spice Lab

Year founded: 2009

Founders: Jennifer and Brett Cramer

This woman-owned and family-run sea salt and food spice purveyor was named South Florida Business of the Year by the South Florida Business Journal earlier this year, and was just included on SFBJ’s list of fastest-growing South Florida companies. In February, the company announced it was moving to a larger facility that would allow it to produce 25,000 units a day. SFBJ says the company is on track to grow its annual revenue to $10 million this year.

Tender Armor/CVV+

Year founded: 2015

Founders: Maddy Aufseeser, Lester Diaz, Robert Steinman

It doesn’t get much more South Florida than a company whose cofounder include a Cuban-born FIU grad and a bank marketing expert who fled her northeast roots to settle in Fort Lauderdale. Tender Armor’s signature product, CVV+ is an amazingly simple but powerful product: It eliminates the need for using the regular CVV security code on the back of your card, replacing it instead with a security code that changes daily that you can get on your phone. That way, if someone gains access to your credit card information, they cannot simply enter in the CVV now in their possession. Earlier this year, the company was chosen to compete in the Florida Venture Forum’s 10th annual early-stage capital conference.   

 

By Rob Wile
Rob Wile, the curator for Startup.Miami, is a writer and entrepreneur living in Miami Beach. He’s a former staff writer for Fusion and Business Insider. His work has also appeared in Slate, Newsweek, Money Magazine and The New Tropic. He writes a newsletter on tech, business, and the South Florida economy called The Heatwave.