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Sun Sentinel, August 2015

Software Developer TouchSuite Adds an Artsy Touch to the Workplace

Fast-growing software company TouchSuite hopes to attract employees with an artsy overhaul of its offices in Boca Raton.

The space, with pop art and urban landscape murals, fits with the open culture founder and chief executive Sam Zietz has worked to create.

Zietz said he looks for workers who are energetic, solution-oriented and focused on creating “disruptive technology,” or products that revolutionize an industry.

He tells workers to take risks that won’t risk their jobs. If a risk could endanger their jobs, “then come ask me,” he says.
That attitude builds confidence among employees at TouchSuite, which makes software to help small businesses increase sales and save time.

The CEO said he believes the new space will attract employees. “I think this will give us a huge competitive advantage,” he said.

Farshad Tafazzoli, chief product officer, said he turned to local artist Elizabeth “Melo” Hutchinson for a design that would bring energy to the space.

“To live a creative life we must lose our fear of being wrong” is one of the inspirational sayings on a wall in the space. One mural shows a hand reaching for a dove, which depicts “reaching for an idea,” she said.

Another mural says “dope,” as in “cool.” Tafazzoli “gave me a lot of creative freedom,” she said.

TouchSuite developer Olga Lastra, who has been with the company for more than three years, said she likes the change in the space, which once looked like a warehouse.

“Everything was dark,” she said. Now with the colorful murals, it’s “as if I’m in Europe.”

Lastra, who joined the company more than three years ago, said TouchSuite management listens to its employees. “I like that.”

TouchSuite, founded in 2005, was recently named to the Inc. 500, a list of the nation’s fastest-growing companies. TouchSuite climbed to No. 160 from No. 259 last year, with $26.7 million in 2014 revenue. This year, with new products and recent acquisitions, the company projects $45 million to $50 million in revenue, Zietz said.

Besides creating the unique space, TouchSuite is working to fill the office with new talent. The company has grown to 81 employees over the past three years.
Recently, TouchSuite hired its first employee from Wyncode, a South Florida coding program co-founded by Juha Mikkola. Wyncode has graduated more than 100 students from a nine-week program that prepares them for jobs with today’s tech companies.

Besides TouchSuite, 62 companies, including Cloud Logistics in West Palm Beach and MD Live in Sunrise, have hired Wyncode’s graduates.

In April, TouchSuite hired Wyncode graduate Widny St. Louis, 28. St. Louis had attended Palm Beach Atlantic College and was working for State Farm when he decided to apply for Wyncode.

“It has totally changed my career,” he said. “I’m more challenged. I love it. Wyncode is the best decision I’ve made.”

TouchSuite also sponsors paid high school and college internship programs and works with Lynn University students, giving classes real business problems to solve.

Lynn associate professor Jose Lopez said a recent MBA class did market research for TouchSuite on offering its products in Europe. Five students were hired by TouchSuite after their presentations.

The real-world tasks are “an incredible experience for them. It changes the whole attitude when they have to respond to someone other than a professor,” Lopez said.

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