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Tampa startup founders wind down business, make future plans

Veronica Brezina

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Downtown Tampa. Photo by Veronica Brezina.

Tampa-based tech company Panther, which runs a talent hiring and payroll management platform, will be ceasing its operations. However, the founders are in the midst of creating another business. 

Panther CEO Matt Redler took to LinkedIn to announce the plans to wind down the business he co-founded with Vasil Popovski in 2020. 

“This wasn’t an easy decision to make. We knew we were taking on a huge challenge to streamline international hiring, compliance, and payroll. We went all in, fighting with all we had to make a meaningful difference,” he wrote. 

Redler and Popovski previously founded Chefit, which was a marketplace for in-home personal chefs that eased the process of managing customers’ orders. Chefit closed during the pandemic.

As the founders worked to help Chefit employees find new work, they realized many businesses didn’t have the infrastructure to hire internationally. Redler, who is from the United States, understood the obstacles as a majority of his former workforce lived in other countries.

The frustrating process led to the creation of Panther, which enables employers to quickly hire remote workers and manage payroll, compliant contracts and automated invoices. In 2020, the team raised $1.7 million from Silicon Valley executives. 

“Our efforts have made an impact, but we’ve reached a crossroads where we need to shift our focus. Though we’re closing this chapter, the spirit of daring greatly, of being ‘in the arena,’ will continue to motivate us for future endeavors,” Redler wrote.

“It has been an honor to serve you and we are immensely grateful for the trust and support you’ve shown Panther. So, while we’re closing the book on Panther, don’t mistake this for a surrender. Far from it. We’re just lacing up for the next big bout. The thrill of being ‘in the arena’ of rolling up our sleeves and daring greatly – that’s not something we’re saying goodbye to. We’re taking that spirit with us, charging into whatever comes next.”

Redler, who was also an angel investor of the management platform AngelList, was not immediately available to discuss further details about the hinted business plan. 

As the founders wrap up Panther’s operations, they will transition existing customers to Remote, a San Francisco-based management provider that optimizes payment disbursements for employers. 

The Panther team will be available until the end of July to help with the transition and reconcile any incoming payments.

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