Meet our 12th Annual GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch Honorees!

Celebrate with us! Tickets on sale for the annual awards celebration on Thursday, February 23, 2023.

Critical Frequency Design, LLC

Brevard County, Florida
Founded: 2019

Critical Frequency Design is developing state-of-the-art Communication equipment that uses advanced photonics concepts that enable operation in harsh electromagnetic environments. Critical Frequency Design primarily serves the defense community developing advanced communication equipment and will expand into the commercial market in the future for beyond 5G and Optical Intersatellite Links.


Scientific Research and Development


166% increase from 2019-2021

Revenue Growth

617% increase from 2019 – 2021

Jonathen Warren 300dpi

Johnathen Warren


Tell us a bit about your background. What led you to start your company?

I grew up along the Space Coast and went to the University of Central Florida where I earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. I started working for Lockheed Martin while in school. A few years later I joined Harris Corporation, where I had the opportunity to lead several large pursuits and projects.  From these experiences, I developed a passion for using cutting-edge technology to support the warfighter, and these opportunities are what gave me the idea of starting my own business, Critical Frequency Design, in 2019.

Did you know you always wanted to be an entrepreneur?

I’ve always had that entrepreneurial spirit and being an entrepreneur was something I knew I always wanted to do. When I was young, I would buy candy from the grocery store and sell it during first period. I also mowed lawns around the neighborhood to earn money. By the time I was in college, I knew wanted to start a business around engineering and manufacturing.

Tell us about what Critical Frequency Design does.

We provide advanced photonics communications and sensing solutions for warfighters in contested environments. There is so much data being created in today’s battlespace – from new sensors to video-enabled drones – it requires a tremendous amount of bandwidth to share it and make it effective and actionable. Our technology uses light to provide higher data rates than traditional radio solutions. It also increases the security of communications so they can’t be disrupted or disabled.   

What’s the competition in your market like? How do you set yourself apart?

Critical Frequency Design is uniquely situated. We have an agile, innovative team of experts. Our team has experience in developing and delivering technology for Major Defense Acquisition Programs including the F-35, F/A-18, F-15, JSTARS, P-8A, and RC-135. In addition, our photonics experts have authored more than 30 patents. We utilize Digital Engineering practices and have engineering expertise in the full system lifecycle from technology development and qualification through production and sustainment. We also have operational expertise in the supply chain, manufacturing, and program management.

We have the expertise to drive concepts to delivery more effectively than our small business competitors, yet we are able to be more agile and quick than a traditional prime.

Tell us about your company culture. What makes it unique?

At Critical Frequency Design, we strive to bring a family environment and closeness to our team. We have developed a culture that allows us the freedom and flexibility to work on challenging problems while eliminating layers of roadblocks. We also enjoy creating those personal connections within our team through holiday parties, family get-togethers, food truck Fridays, and taking the team out to lunch or dinner. These moments are important to us and are a great way to build a quality team that works well together.

What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced while growing your business?

The biggest challenge we faced was starting our business in 2019 right before COVID. We had our foundation and some initial funding, but our contracts were delayed. In our business, creating personal relationships is incredibly important. Doing sales calls via Zoom wasn’t as effective as our traditional face-to-face meetings, and it was difficult to maintain sufficient cash flow. However, we did use the situation to focus on our work in the lab so we were ready to demonstrate capabilities to our customers when things began to re-open.

What goals do you have for your company?

We’re doing cutting-edge, state-of-the-art development projects that are challenging. Our major goal is to get our products into a major platform in the next three to five years.

Do you have a proudest moment so far?

It’s hard to pick one single moment. I’d say the most meaningful moments are when our team members experience the success of their ideas and impact firsthand. It’s rewarding to see how every single team member plays a role in our success. That’s what makes me most proud.

What does it mean to you to be selected as GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch Honoree?

We are honored to be selected as a GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch Honoree. We are proud to be recognized for our impact to the state of Florida and for delivering solutions at the speed of light for the warfighter. 

It’s been very rewarding to go from starting our company in 2019 to now being recognized as a top company in Florida. It’s a validation of our vision, and the entire team is very excited.

Is there anyone special you’d like to thank?

I would like to thank my wife and business partner, Rebecca. The support and work that she’s put into the company has been very important for our growth, and we would not be here today if it weren’t for her. In addition, I would like to thank all our friends and family who were encouraging us as we were starting out and the trust our team members had in us to join CFD. We are appreciative of their support.

What is your advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

My advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is that you’ve got to be prepared to pivot. You might have a great idea, but it may not work in the timeframe or way that you had intended. Be prepared to quickly adapt. The second piece of advice is to be mindful of cash flow and ensure you have sufficient funds to make it through the ebbs and flows that come with starting a business.

Thank you to our event sponsors: