April 16, 2014

New Businesses in Florida

What were these small businesses thinking?

Amid one of the nation's worst recessions, these entrepreneurs forged ahead.

Mike Vogel | 1/30/2012

Davide Di Cillo
Fifth Layer, Miami
Startup costs: Minimal

In Sync with Tech

Davide Di Cillo
"During the economic crisis is when you see the disruption in every industry happen. People look for cheaper solutions and more efficient solutions," says Davide Di Cillo.[Photo: Bill Wisser]
Davide Di Cillo, 31, has some mature ideas about starting a tech company in Florida rather than Silicon Valley. True, Silicon Valley has a critical mass of venture capital and talent. But in Florida he knew he wouldn't have to compete with Google and the like for talent, there's no income tax and the cost of living is so much lower that you can build a company on a credit card rather than swap half the ownership for a $30,000 investment.

Di Cillo's SyncPad software, available from the Apple app store and direct from SyncPad, allows remote users on iPads, iPhones and browsers to simultaneously draw and share images and pdf files on a whiteboard screen. He offers a free version that allows only two people to collaborate with some limitations. Paid plans have varying prices, depending on the number of people connected at a time. SyncPad has gotten positive reviews for its design, ease of use and efficiency relative to competing solutions. Teachers like it.

Di Cillo is an entrepreneur by plan and a Floridian by accident. As a 7-year-old in Milan, Italy, he and a pal built and sold things, and in high school and college he took design jobs on the side. After graduating with a major in graphic design from the Istituto Europeo di Design, he came to Miami to visit a friend in 2005. An interview at a Miami design firm produced a job offer, but soon his entrepreneurial bent took over. He founded 39 Inc. — 39 is Italy's country code for international dialing — and it grew to five people developing applications for the web and for mobile devices.

With a colleague from 39, which he still operates, and a friend and neighbor, he started working on SyncPad. With a fourth friend, none drawing a salary, they founded Fifth Layer, with SyncPad as its first product. The company has revenue of less than $100,000. He believes new features to be released this year will take SyncPad to a new level.

Tags: Florida Small Business

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