6+ things to know in #MiamiTech: ShipMonk CEO steps down; plus news from Novo, Paysend, Kind Designs, Zulu Pods, Kaseya & more


Bednar steps down from helm of ShipMonk

Jan Bednar, founder and CEO of Fort Lauderdale-based ShipMonk since the company’s founding in 2014, announced this week that he is stepping down as CEO, and that Josh McCarter will be ShipMonk’s new leader. McCarter has  held co-founder, CEO, president and board positions across a variety of SaaS, B2B2C, and FinTech related businesses, including most recently leading Mindbody.

Bednar said in a LinkedIn post that it was a decision he has been thinking about since early 2022. “I realized that for both my personal fulfillment and ShipMonk’s continued success, it was necessary for me to seek a new CEO who could take the company to the next level while allowing me to focus on what I love most within ShipMonk. I’m a builder and a creator.”

ShipMonk is now a leading provider of e-commerce fulfillment and technology solutions, but the company now with distribution centers across the world had humble beginnings. Bednar, a Florida Atlantic University graduate who immigrated from the Czech Republic, launched an early version of ShipMonk in his apartment in 2014 and he is one of FAU Tech Runway’s most successful alums. “The last nine years have been the greatest professional experience of my life,” he said, thanking his team, customers, vendors and investors, as he reflected on his journey:

“We started from zero, without any venture funding, to a global presence with over 18 warehouses worldwide spanning some 4,000,000 square feet. Our team has grown to over 2,000 exceptional employees. Together, we have shipped over 100 million orders to customers worldwide,” he wrote.

ShipMonk bootstrapped for years, but secured its first $10 million investment in 2018. this in 2020, the company closed a $290 million funding round led by Boston-based Summit Partners. In 2022, it doubled its global footprint when it acquired competitor Ruby Has Fulfillment for an undisclosed sum. “Despite the skeptics, we’ve outperformed traditional and venture-backed fulfillment companies, maintaining profitability while scaling to hundreds of millions of revenue per year,” Bednar wrote.

“How did we do it all? By intensely focusing on creating an amazing customer experience, hiring super-talented people, building the best technology that brings transparency and simplicity to an antiquated fulfillment world and, most importantly, allowing our customers to Stress Less and Grow More. It wasn’t and isn’t easy – logistics is freaking hard. But learning from mistakes, always doing the right thing, and continuously innovating has always been our “secret formula” to success.”


Novo makes Forbes Fintech 50 list

For a second year in a row, Miami-based Novo has been named to the Forbes Fintech 50. This year, Novo was the only fintech from Florida to make the prestigious list.

Novo, a fast growing Miami-based digital banking platform for small businesses, announced in March that it was opening its new headquarters to 801 Brickell, occupying the entire 22nd floor. Novo co-founders Michael Rangel and Tyler McIntyre launched Novo in New York City but relocated to the Magic City during the pandemic. Novo has raised more than $170 million in venture capital funding and employs several hundred people.

“From day one, Novo set out to serve the economic engine of this country; small businesses. At a time when many fintech companies have decided to focus on attracting larger venture-backed businesses, our entire team has continued to double down in our commitment to building a best-in-class platform that truly helps our 200,000+ small businesses succeed,” said Rangel, Novo’s CEO and a Miami native, in a LinkedIn post.

“A special shoutout to my hometown, the City of Miami, for welcoming us with open arms when we relocated our headquarters to this great city in 2021.”


Paysend partners with TelevisaUnivision, makes key hire

Paysend, a global card-to-card transfers pioneer and global payments platform with its regional HQ in Miami, has announced a new strategic partnership with the world’s leading Spanish-language content and media company, TelevisaUnivision.

As part of the partnership, TelevisaUnivision will become a shareholder in Paysend and will help the brand scale it’s presence with U.S. Hispanics and Latinos globally by leveraging TelevisaUnivision’s massive reach and media assets. This announcement follows more than a year of consistent expansion in the U.S., including opening an office in Miami in 2022 and the US launch of Paysend Business last month.

The U.S/LATAM market is a top priority for Paysend, serving the 62M Hispanic population based in the U.S., representing 20% of the overall population. Currently, a significant population in Latin America is unbanked, but still rely on money being sent from family members that have migrated to the U.S.

To that end, Paysend also recently appointed former Ernst & Young auditor and American Express executive Yuri Biondo as Chief Financial Officer for the Group’s US business. Based in Miami, he will report directly to the Group CFO, Wilhelm Rohde, and work alongside Chief Strategy Officer and Managing Director for the Americas, Jairo Riveros.

More recently Global Corporate Controller at Tribal Credit in Miami after a period as Vice President & Controller for Latin America and Caribbean for Visa, Yuri brings a wealth of financial services experience to Paysend and will help to drive the successful delivery of the recently announced partnership between Paysend and TelevisaUnivision in the United States and Latin America.


Kind Designs wins grand prize and investment

Anya Freeman, CEO of  Miami-based climatetech startup Kind Designs in Miami Beach, won the grand prize – and $140,000 in grants and investment – in the 2023 Florida Aerospace+EmergingTech Forum producted by Space Florida and the Florida venture Forum. Kind Designs has developed a process for 3D printing seawalls more cheaply, quickly, and flexibly than traditional methods, through its Living Seawalls product.

First runner up went to Rob Sladen, CEO of  Zulu Pods of Fort Lauderdale (read more in next item). Zack Ernst   of  Ainthoven based in Cocoa Beach was second runner up, and Don Gaspar of Gigantor Technologies of Melbourne Beach was third runner up. The awards were bestowed at an event at Groundswell Startups in Melbourne. The grand prize company received $40,000. The first runner up company won $30,000, the second runner up received $20,000, and third runner up took home $10,000.

As part of the grand prize award, DeepWork Capital, an early-stage venture capital firm based in Orlando, will invest $100,000 in Kind Designs.

The Forum aims to fuel the growth of emerging tech and aerospace companies and connect the entrepreneurs with industry experts, opening access to financial investment opportunities. “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,” said Space Florida President and CEO Frank DiBello, who is retiring this month.


Zulu Pods wins U.S. Navy contract

It’s been an exciting month for Fort Lauderdale startup Zulu Pods. In addition to winning second place at the 2023 Florida Aerospace+EmergingTech Forum, the company was  awarded a Small Business Innovation Research contract from the US Navy to develop innovative engine lubricating fluid and delivery systems for unmanned aerial vehicles and expendable weapon systems.

Zulu Pods, which produces lubrication systems for helicopters and jet engines and helicopters, makes a self-contained, hermetically sealed packaged oil delivery system called the Zulu Pod. The technology aims to reduce system weight, maintenance requirements and costs due to fluid leaks and lubricant shelf life.

The award will allow Zulu Pods, founded in 2020, to continue development and subscale testing of their pod technology in tandem with small engine Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to support technology transitions and future commercialization within both the military and commercial small UAV markets.


6 South Floridians, including Kaseya’s Fred Voccola, win EY Entrepreneur of the Year for Florida

Six South Florida executives were named 2023 winners of the EY Florida Entrepreneur of the Year awards. The winners will go on to compete for the national prize later this year. From there, the overall national winner will go on to represent the U.S. at EY’s World Entrepreneur of the Year competition. The winners are:

  • Fred Voccola, CEO of Miami based Kaseya, a global IT management company that also also sponsors Kaseya Center, home of the Miami Heat. (Read more about Kaseya here.)
  • Anthony Perera, founder and chief growth officer at Air Pros USA of Cutler Bay, ane AC installation and HVAC repair firm.
  • Ryan Moul, CEO at WAI (Wetherill Associates) of Miramar, a manfacturer and supplier in the automotive, agricultural, industrial and marine aftermarket.
  • Christopher Clementi, CEO of AEG Fuels of Doral, a fuel supplier to airlines, militaries and more.
  • Bret Jorgansen, chairman and CEO of Boca Raton’s MDVIP, a membership-based network of primary care physicians.
  • Richard Weissman, founder, chairman and CEO of The Learning Experience of  Deerfield Beach, which provides provides curriculum for early childhood education.


Opportunity knocks

  • This week for the first time, the Black Innovation Alliance is bringing its annual Sustainability Summit to downtown Miami’s Kimpton Epic Hotel.Led by BIA CEO Kelly Burton, the conference June 21-23 will bring together leaders, nonprofits and companies that support Black entrepreneurs, business owners, and creatives. About 50 Miami area founders and organizations plan to participate in the summit that includes hands-on workshops, masterclasses, networking and more. More info on the Summit here.
  • Want to build a career in tech but facing financial barriers? The Ironhack x eMerge Americas Community Impact Scholarship can help you break down those barriers and launch your dream career. Apply here.
  •  Venture Miami  and The Shrimp Society have partnered up to launch the Built in Miami Startup Program, a year-long initiative designed to support early-stage entrepreneurs in Miami. The Built in Miami Startup Program, free for participants, will feature three tracts for entrepreneurs at each stage of their startup journey: the Zero to One Sprint program, the Builders Summer Series, and the Miami Startup Accelerator. Applications for the Zero to One Startup Sprint are now open and can be accessed via builtmiami.com 
  • The Venture Miami Scholarship Fund provides tuition support to provide gap funding for at-need City of Miami residents who have been accepted into STEM or defined-demand occupation programs at participating colleges and universities, including Florida International University, Florida Memorial University, Miami Dade College, and the University of Miami. How to apply: Students who meet the program requirements and are interested in applying to the Venture Miami scholarship are encourage to complete this survey to begin the application process.
  • EndeavorLAB, an 8-week cohort-based initiative that equips founders with curriculum, mentorship and resources to grow their business, is accepting applications for its Black Founders Cohort Powered by Dell For Startups that begins in October. To be eligible, Black founders must be based in Florida, have achieved product-market fit, and are generating $50K to $500K in annual revenue. The program costs are covered by the sponsors.  Apply here by Sept. 10.


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Got news: Email Nancy Dahlberg at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @ndahlberg

Nancy Dahlberg