November 29, 2015

Busy fall for Blackdove: Startup launches app, Kickstarter campaign for digital canvas


Blackdove, a Miami-based tech startup, offers a global platform and marketplace for digital motion art. Founders Tito Gaudenzi, left, and Marc Billings are shown with samples of the art. On the wall is "Urban Decay" by Kazilla; Gaudenzi holds "whtEyesRoses" by jon Cates. Photo by Carl Juste/Miami Herald.

Shown in video below, works by George RedHawk and MarcPaperScissor.



By Nancy Dahlberg /

For those who believe collecting art is only for the rich, this Miami startup is on a mission to make art accessible for all.

Blackdove has created an affordable, global marketplace for works of digital art, with prices through its app ranging from about $10 to $100. To build a collection, users simply download the mobile phone app, browse, buy and press play to enjoy their motion art on smart screens or via media players including Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku or Amazon Fire TV. Some works are available free as part of the “Featured” collection.

With another tap on their app, users can easily change artwork or rotate their collections. For artists who already embrace the power of animation technology in their work, Blackdove has created a way to connect them to customers through technology, offering artists instant global distribution and royalties, Blackdove’s founders say.

“Art has been held out as an expensive luxury good that most of the world has been left out of. What has excited people is that this matches with the way world shares information. It’s not about holding information in the hands of the few; it’s about sharing this kind of content with the masses,” said Marc Billings, co-founder, CEO and the team’s tech wizard, who most recently was part of the founding teams of Boatsetter and Itopia. “Anybody, anywhere can consume art now.”

Blackdove released its free app for iOS and Android in September, and already has more than 1,000 active users in 25 countries. The Blackdove platform features about 50 artists and showcases nearly 500 works of art.

The company will be releasing a subscription model early next year that will allow users to enjoy 30 works of art a month, said co-founder and President Tito Gaudenzi, who has marketing and advertising experience and founded and ran a global event company. “We will rotate them every month so the cool part for the artists is the platform becomes a platform to showcase it. ... After that month, it moves into the marketplace where you can purchase it for your permanent collection.”

Blackdove is also targeting commercial clients, and the team said it has had interest from hotels, high-rise condos, restaurants and corporate offices. To make its offering more complete, Blackdove has partnered with Samsung on a commercial-grade screen, or “digital canvas,” that will come with Blackdove software and a lifetime subscription. For the canvases, the startup is running a “Blackdove” Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign now, which concludes Dec. 7.

In an interview in the Buro MiMo co-working space where the startup has an office — one of the three co-founders, Chief Curator Marisa Terrizzi, is based in New York — Billings and Gaudenzi are demonstrating how the platform works. “Every artist has a story. MarcPaperScissor is in Wynwood, and he had this art sitting on his hard drive — artists didn’t have a platform to distribute on. We are a marketplace and distribution platform for artists and collectors to connect. The artist on the wall right here, George Redhawk, he is legally blind,” said Billings, pointing out Gregoire Meyer Reflection by Redhawk, MarcPaperScissor’s Around the Track 8, Kazilla’s Urban Decay and whtEyesRoses by jon Cates. All the art can be previewed on the app, including the motion.

Kazilla was one of the first artists to join the platform. She was part of a small group of well-known Wynwood street artists Blackdove worked with last year to show what the platform could do.

“That my work can transcend the two-dimensional space and go into the three dimensional space was really interesting,” Kazilla said. “The paintings we chose have melty drippy elements to them, and to see them actually melt and drip made me so happy because that is how I see it in my mind, but I don’t have the tools to make it do that.”

MarcPaperScissor joined the platform in the past few months. “The whole concept of having artwork on a platform that can be easily changed and can change an environment really excited me,” said the artist, who is from Miami but now living in New York. “With the way the world is and screens taking over, the access of it is cool. ... and I love the movement.”

Now that the platform is built, the app available for downloads, and the Samsung partnership underway, the Blackdove team has begun its marketing push, much of which is through social media.

“We are not limited by the walls of a gallery, where if you don’t walk through the door you won’t see the art. We get to see what is most viewed, most liked. Every artist has his or her market niche, and we have all this data we can analyze,” said Gaudenzi. (Some of Blackdove’s Facebook artist spotlight posts have attracted tens of thousands of views).

For the team, the partnership with Samsung is a validation of their concept, which they have been working on for a couple of years. “It’s a major vote of confidence,” Billings said. The Blackdove Digital Canvas features Samsung’s 48- and 55-inch high-definition commercial display screens embedded with Blackdove software to provide consumers and businesses with an easy, intuitive way to enjoy personal digital art galleries. The screens may be mounted horizontally or vertically and can be remotely managed from anywhere in the world. The art is stored locally in the Samsung screen, allowing users to schedule their art collections to display during the hours they choose without incurring streaming fees. While the 48-inch display retails for $999, special pricing applies to Kickstarter backers.

“Samsung aims to lead through innovation, and working closely with Blackdove gives us the ability to drive a new wave of transformation for businesses and high-end homes through the digital display of extraordinary motion art,” said Ronald Gazzola, vice president of display marketing for Samsung Business.

What’s next for the young company? Blackdove will continue building out its commercial business, including hotels and restaurants, condos and interior designers. For these clients, Blackdove integrates with Samsung screens in 40 sizes and will custom-curate collections. For example, a South Florida developer will soon showcase a 70-inch Samsung screen beaming art via Blackdove’s platform, Gaudenzi said.

Blackdove will also continue to add artists to the platform and launch the subscription model for consumers, which will be priced under $9 a month.

“Now that we have built what we envisioned, we need to create the accessibility and adaption we want it to have,” Gaudenzi said.

Blackdove has been funded by AGP, Miami Innovation Fund and other local angel investors and is working with strategic investors to bring Blackdove to market. This week the company will be participating in industry events in connection with Art Week and will also have a booth at the technology conference Sime MIA on Wednesday.

“Artists are merging with software developers now and the future of where this art form is going will be transformative,” Billings said. “It is only just the beginning. The artists are pushing us forward.”

Nancy Dahlberg; 305-376-3595; @ndahlberg

Entrepreneurship Datebook: Events, workshops in South Florida

Tech eggSIME MIA: The conference that has explored technology trends by bringing in speakers from Singularity University, Hollywood and the Oslo Freedom Forum is returning to Miami Beach for a third year Tuesday and Wednesday. Speakers on Tuesday include startup founders, artists, musicians, filmmakers, a neuroscientist and a Special Olympics world champion. On Wednesday, there will be half-day summits on fintech and big data. Tickets and info:

ITPALOOZA: Now in its fourth year, the conference Thursday at Nova Southeastern University in Davie brings together the South Florida IT community. The all-day event includes discussions, an expo, a hiring fair and an after-party. Bring two unwrapped toys for charity for free admission. Tickets and info:

LAW TALK: Planning an exit strategy during the “honeymoon” stage of your business can save you, your partners and investors time, money and animosity. Attorney Zachariah Evangelista informs entrepreneurs of the important issues to consider during the early planning stages of their businesses, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.Thursday, Dade County Bar Association, Second Floor, 123 NW First Ave., Miami. RSVP here.

AT&T HACKATHON: ITPalooza and AT&T are teaming up to host a free hackathon at Nova Southeastern University on Friday and Saturday; form teams, build solutions in a weekend and compete for prizes. More info: http://developer.att .com/community/events.

TECHWEEK MIAMI: Activities Dec. 7-13 will include the national finals of the Launch startup competition Dec. 10 with startup champions from Miami and five other cities. Another featured event is Hatch Match Miami on Dec. 8. Tickets and info:

SPEAKER SERIES: The Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship’s Advice Straight Up speaker series features Phyllis Newhouse, CEO and co-founder of Xtreme Solutions, 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Dec. 8 at the Urban League of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale. More info:

PIONEERS@MDC: The speaker series features Juan Lopez Salaberry, partner of 500 Startups, who will discuss lessons learned working with and investing in about 100 startups, 5:30 to 8 p.m. Dec. 8 at the Idea Center, Wolfson Campus, Building 8, 5th Floor. More info:

STARTUP GRIND: The monthly interview features tech entrepreneur and angel investor Mark Kingdon, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Dec. 8 at WeWork Miami Beach. Tickets:


Find startup news, resources and community views on the Starting Gate blog at

Nancy Dahlberg: 305-376-3595, @ndahlberg


November 28, 2015

InternetCoast report analyzes Florida university R&D trends

 InternetCoast released its 2014 analysis of R&D expenditures at Florida’s colleges and universities

The Florida Academic R&D Highlights 2010 – 2014 Report analyzes Florida R&D expenditure trends by institution and Enterprise Florida Region, including sources of funds, R&D personnel, and R&D expenditures in the fields of science and engineering.  The report benchmarks Florida with other states using two metrics:  R&D expenditures and R&D expenditures per State GDP.  The report also benchmarks Florida academic institutions with more than 500 U.S. academic institutions.

According to Dale Gregory, executive director at the nonprofit InternetCoast, “2014 R&D expenditures were at their highest level in ten years.  The University of Central Florida and University of South Florida had record R&D expenditures in 2014, accounting for 89 percent of Florida’s increase from 2013.  The good news is that there are significant opportunities to increase R&D funding from Federal agencies, through partnerships with the private sector and nonprofit organizations, and improvements in R&D funding per R&D personnel.”

Report Findings For 2014:

  • Florida R&D expenditures increased 5% to $2.3B, compared to a .3% increase nationwide.  Florida R&D expenditures ranked 9th compared to other States.  
  • Florida total R&D and science and engineering R&D per State GDP continued to lag other States, ranking 41st and 44th respectively.
  • Florida academic institutions employed 32,449 people in R&D functions, ranking 9th nationwide.
  • Productivity of Florida R&D personnel decreased in 2013 and 2014.  Compared to other States, Florida ranked 24th in 2014 compared to 21st in 2012 and 2013. 
  • The University of Central Florida and University of South Florida had record R&D expenditures in 2014, reaching $186M and $497M respectively. 
  • Seven Florida academic institutions ranked in the top 200 U.S. institutions based on total R&D expenditures:  UF (26), USF-Tampa (41), U. Miami (65), FSU (84), UCF (105), FIU (131) and FAMU (199).

The Florida Academic R&D Highlights 2010 – 2014 Report is available for download at the Florida Innovation Highlights portal at InternetCoast also analyzes venture capital, tech workforce  and SBIR/STTR trends in the state.

- Submitted by InternetCoast


Magic Leap seeking $9 million in incentives for Broward expansion

By Marcia Heroux Pounds / Sun Sentinel

The virtual reality company Magic Leap could get $9 million in economic incentives to create 725 jobs.

Broward County Commissioners will consider the package Tuesday. The county's portion would be $507,500, plus a $500,000 cash incentive.

The average pay for the jobs would be $100,000, twice Broward County's average annual wage.

The city of Plantation approved more than $1 million in incentives on Nov. 4 for a company fitting the description of Magic Leap. The company is renovating a 260,000-square-foot space at 8000 W. Sunrise Blvd. in Plantation, formerly home to Motorola Mobility.

The state would pay $4 million to the company as well as $3 million from Gov. Rick Scott's discretionary Quick Action Closing fund used to close deals.

Magic Leap was founded by Rony Abovitz, co-founder of robotic-assisted surgical company Mako Surgical in Davie, which was sold for $1.65 billion in 2013 to competitor Stryker Corp.

Abovitz soon began Magic Leap, attracting venture capital interest in his line of "cinematic reality" products under development. Last year, the startup received a $542 million investment led by Google.

The company already employs 217 in Dania Beach and has started moving into its new headquarters in Plantation. Magic Leap's projected capital investment is $150 million, according to Broward County's economic development staff.

The company has been hiring for a wide range of jobs including software engineers, game and Android designers and cinematic animators as well as human resources professionals, finance and accounting positions. The company lists nearly 200 jobs on its website,

At the unveiling of the new Plantation headquarters in October, Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance president Bob Swindell said Magic Leap is a critical part of the technology hub that the county has been trying to build.

Plantation Mayor Diane Veltri Bendekovic said Magic Leap "is going to put Plantation on the map," giving it international recognition as a place of technological innovation.

Magic Leap also has locations in Santa Cruz, Los Angeles and Mountain View, Calif.; Seattle; Austin, Texas; the United Kingdom; and New Zealand.

If the incentives package for Magic Leap is approved, it would be one of the highest in the tri-county area in recent years. In April, the Broward County Commission approved a $7.86 million package for what was later revealed as local manufacturer Hoerbiger's expansion in Coral Springs adding 420 jobs.

In 2013, the commission approved a total package of up to $10 million in incentives for American Express, which is building its regional headquarters in Sunrise. American Express' decision on Sunrise retains 5,000 jobs statewide, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance said at the time. The credit card company has had major operations in Plantation and Fort Lauderdale.

Palm Beach County Commissioners approved a $10.56 million incentive package for United Technologies Corp., which is building its Center for Intelligent Buildings in Palm Beach Gardens with the promise of 380 jobs.


November 25, 2015

Miami Heat player, other eclectic speakers join Sime MIA's speaker roster

Miami Heat player and NBA all-star Luol Deng, 500 Startups co-founder Christine Tsai, singer-songwriter Imogen Heap,Erik Voorhees, creator of the instant bitcoin and altcoin exchange, and Val Spiridonov, the first full-body transplant candidate, are some of the recent additions to the speaker lineup at next week’s Sime MIA technology conference. They join startup founders, artists, musicians, filmmakers, a neuroscientist, a Special Olympics world champion and four multisensory performances already on the agenda for the third year of the creative homegrown conference, which explores trends and innovation in technology, art, media, fintech and big data.

The event, hosted by Ola Ahlvarsson, takes place on Tuesday at the New World Center in Miami Beach with the main event, called Converge, and continues Wednesday with “Summit” sessions on fintech and big data and startup demos at The LAB Miami in Wynwood. “The goal of the summits is to complement the Sime MIA journey with a multi-sensory experience, ranging from coding classes to virtual reality exhibits, and covering some of today’s more significant opportunities in the tech space,” said Demian Bellumio, co-founder of MIA Collective, which is producing the conference.

For more information: (for 50 percent off, use discount code SimeMIA50).

November 24, 2015

GEW Shark Tank-style at Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy High School


Submitted by Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy High School

The  MAV Tank, a business plan competition featuring student business plans and celebrity judges, highlighted Global Entrepreneurship Week  at Archbishop Edward A McCarthy High School last week.

The third annual MAV TANK featured four entrepreneurial student teams who created companies for the annual competition.  FIND Me, an innovative way to find a wallet was presented by Tommy Rodriguez, Rhett O’Donnell and Andy Rodriguez; BEBECOEUR a crib sheet with an alarm to help prevent sudden infant death was presented by  Neilah Richadson, Vincente Giordano and Christina Martinez-Mercado; STOPIT, a magnetized multiuse door stopper, was presented by Daniel Imbriaco, Nick Henning, Adam deArmas and Andrew Infante; and EXERO, the ideal way to incentivize a fitness program, presented by Josh Samarista/Miramar and Osmar Coronel/Weston. 

The first-place winner of this year’s MAV Tank was STOPIT (pictured above) and  received $500.

“At its core, MAV Tank is a platform for our students to fully develop their ideas and then put them into practice,” commented Kim Zocco, a teacher of Business Education at Archbishop McCarthy. “Our faculty fosters a culture of innovation which empowers and inspires our students to enter college and the world as change-makers.”  John Anfuso and Ashley Murphy, members of the MAV Tank teaching team, implement the business plan element into all the economics classes, in addition to the business entrepreneurship classes.

MAVSThis year’s Celebrity Judges were Tim Robbie, former owner of the Dolphin Stadium and the Miami Dolphins, President of the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers Soccer Team; Bianca Moreiras, founder of Bianca Moreiras & Associates Consulting Firm, handles high level acquisitions and mergers, managed top level law firms for over 30 years; James Donnelly, founder of Castle Group, NOVA University’s Entrepreneur Hall of Fame recipient; Chris Cerda, Maverick Alumni, CEO & Founder of KANYU, FAU Business Student, Entrepreneur.

Led by Zocco, the entrepreneurial spirit thrives year round at Archbishop McCarthy.  Students have competed and placed in the top ten ranking at the Wharton School of Business Finance Competition for High Schools  and support the Café Cocano project by selling organic heirloom coffee beans and iced café lattes at the school directly benefiting and empowering Haitian Coffee Farmers to earn a fair wage. 


Entrepreneurship Datebook: What's coming up after Thanksgiving

TecheggSIME MIA: The conference that has explored technology trends by bringing in speakers from Singularity University, Hollywood and the Oslo Freedom Forum is returning to Miami Beach for a third year Dec. 1-2 . Speakers on Dec. 1 include startup founders, artists, musicians, filmmakers, a neuroscientist and a Special Olympics world champion. Speakers recently added: NBA star Luol Deng, Christine Tsai of 500 Startups; Val Spiridonov, full body transplant candidate; and Erik Voorhees, creator of the instant Bitcoin. On Dec. 2, there will be half-day summits on fintech and big data. Tickets and info: (get 50% off with discount code  SimeMIA50)

ITPALOOZA: Now in its fourth year, the conference on Dec. 3 at Nova Southeastern University in Davie brings together the South Florida IT community. The all-day event includes discussions, an expo, a hiring fair and more. Bring two unwrapped toys for charity for free admission. Tickets and info:

AT&T HACKATHON: ITPalooza and AT&T are teaming up for a free hackathon at Nova Southeastern University on Dec. 4-5; form teams, build solutions in a weekend and compete for prizes. More info: http://developer.att .com/community/events.

TECHWEEK MIAMI: Activities Dec. 7-13 will include the national finals of the Launch startup competition Dec. 10 with startup champions from Miami and five other cities. Another featured event is Hatch Match Miami on Dec. 8. Tickets and


South Florida startups Kairos and Genetics Networks received funding from the Florida Institute for the Commercialization of Public Resources. Büro Group opened a co-working center in Coconut Grove, its fourth location. CappSci Inventors announced the winners of its first two $100,000 prizes. The winners will build their solutions at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science. Read more on the Starting Gate blog at

Nancy Dahlberg @ndahlberg

Big ideas come to life at Startup Weekend @ FIU


The winning team Headliner, shown with Startup Weekend @ FIU mentors and organizers.

By Amy Ellis

An idea to “disrupt” the music industry and make it easier for loyal fans to see hot new bands at local venues stole the show this weekend at Florida International University’s first Startup Weekend Miami event.

Headliner (pictured above) – an online platform designed to enable users to crowdfund for the bands of their choice to perform locally – took the $500 first prize during the event, along with high praise from organizers.

“Headliner worked hard on their idea throughout the entire weekend,’’ said Jeff Brown, FIU’s Entrepreneur in Residence at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and a key organizer of the event. “It wasn’t planned this way but they are an all-FIU team and we plan to support them on their journey to make this a reality.’’

Gregory Jean-Baptiste, a computer science major at FIU who came up with the idea for Headliner, said the concept empowers fans but also benefits artists and venues. 

“Everybody wins,’’ he said. “The venue gets the crowd. The artist gets the show and the fans get to see the bands they want to see.’’ 

More than 200 people – developers, designers, coders, investors and entrepreneurs – attended the three-day startup event, held at the university’s $3 million innovation hub, Tech Station.

Eighty-eight participants competed in 16 teams, pitching their business ideas to a panel of judges and investors on Sunday evening.

Second place went to an application called Tip N’ Go that allows users to tip for service without needing to carry cash. A social platform for soccer enthusiasts called XOGO took third place.

“The quality of teams that competed this weekend is the best I’ve ever seen out of any Startup Weekend event ever,’’ said Brown, who has participated in startup weekends for years. “On average, only 12 percent of teams go on to create a viable business. From this event, I believe nine of the teams will likely launch. That’s an impressive percentage possibly becoming viable companies.”

CUXglmfUsAA26MH.jpg large

Teams pitched ideas ranging from a mobile app for scheduling in-home hair and makeup appointments to online portals to connect would-be entrepreneurs or encourage civic engagement.

Other participants talked of wanting to make a difference by using new technology to help Alzheimer’s patients remember simple tasks or individuals who are hard of hearing experience the joy of music.

“The passion and commitment we witnessed this weekend was transformational,’’ said FIU VP for Engagement Saif Y. Ishoof, another key organizer. "Our students demonstrated that our faculty have well prepared them to compete in the globally competitive entrepreneurial ecosystem in Miami.”

“As every part of our institution races forward to make our “BeyondPossible 2020” goals a reality, we intend to continuously capture, harness and expand the culture of innovation in every part of our FIU."

TipNGo (1)

Tip 'N Go (above) won second place and XOGO won third at Startup Weekend @ FIU.


November 23, 2015

Andres Cardona of FIU wins regional finals of Global Student Entrepreneur Awards


 Miami entrepreneur and college student Andres Cardona took home the big win at the regional finals for the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards last week.  The regional finals for the contest, in which college students from 50 countries ultimately vie for a prize of more than $500,000 in cash and services, was sponsored by Entrepreneurs' Organization South Florida and hosted at the Idea Center at Miami Dade College.

Six finalists were chosen to participate in a live pitch competition Nov. 19 at MDC’s Idea Center, which also included a keynote speech by Peter Kellner, venture capitalist and co-founder of Endeavor Global. For winning, Cardona received $1,000 in cash and $20,000 in services such as web, accounting and marketing from EO South Florida professionals.  Cardona will now go on to compete against 25 student entrepreneurs at the GSEA national finals in the spring, which will also be hosted at the Idea Center, and a $10,000 cash prize. The winner of the national competition will go on to complete in the global finals in Bangkok Thailand in May, with a $40,000 cash prize plus services.

Cardona, a  Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship alum and now a finance major at Florida International University, created the business plan for and began working on a youth basketball academy called Elite Basketball Academy ( while in high school because the student athlete was passionate about coaching young athletes and found a big need in the market. He's continued to grow the academy while a full-time college student,  and now the academy  has nearly 200 students/athletes. It's the largest of its kind in Miami, he said.

 “Our mission is to instill success principles in the youth of our community using the sport of basketball as a tool. We emphasize academic success, hard work, dedication, and a no-excuse mentality in order to achieve success. We focus on creating habits that will be everlasting and always present in the minds of our disciples,” said Cardona, who has also been honored by NFTE and Ernst & Young. Within three years, Cardona hopes to expand nationally, he said.

“This competition is special because the winners are not chosen solely on profit potential or the financial merits of their business plans, but largely based on their entrepreneurial journey,” said Mark Sanna, National GSEA Chairman, and EO-South Florida’s past president. “What challenges did these student entrepreneurs overcome, or what problem are they solving for others?  Compelling questions like these play a big role in the competition, and we know there are many great stories like this in South Florida.”

EO-South Florida is one of the world’s largest EO chapters, with  180 members whose businesses account for more than $1 billion in annual revenues and 30,000 jobs in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. EO-South Florida and the Idea Center, Miami Dade College's entrepreneurship hub, have partnered to support entrepreneurial innovation for MDC student entrepreneurs and other South Florida startup businesses.  To learn more about the GSEA competition or EO-SOFLO, visit

 Photo above is Andres Cardona presenting his business at the event and to the left is Mark Sanna of EO-SOFLO.


November 22, 2015

Startup Spotlight: Mundo Lanugo


From left, Mundo Lanugo’s Natalia Becerra, Avery Bailey, Roberto Castro and Carla Curiel. Photo by Hector Gabino.

Company: Mundo Lanugo

Headquarters: Venture Hive, downtown Miami.

Concept: Mundo Lanugo is a Latino entertainment brand that, through fun and authentic stories shared via digital videos and apps, inspires children to maintain their Latin culture and Spanish language while building the child’s self-esteem and identity.

Story: The second Carla Curiel became a mom, she had an urge to share with her twins her culture’s traditional songs, games and stories. She also wanted to pass along her Latino values and traditions as well as give them the gift of being bilingual. “But when I went to the stores looking for tools to help me raise proud bilingual and bicultural children, I just could not find any products that resonated with me,” she said. “I longed to see our spice, our culture, our uniqueness represented in media and consumer products.”

Next, the Babson College graduate set out to figure out if this was just the experience of “one crazy Latina mom” or a real unmet need in the market. Seeing the staggering numbers from her research, she concluded: “My calling was to develop those characters and that brand that I so desired for my kids, and that would serve as a bridge to help them grow a healthy identity with both cultures.” Curiel is creating a Latino children’s lifestyle and entertainment brand of American appeal and Latin feel that promotes the Spanish language and rich Latino culture.

Launched: September 2014.

Management team: Carla Curiel (co-founder and CEO), Roberto Castro (co-founder and VP), Natalia Becerra (creative director).

No. of employees: Four.


Financing: Mundo Lanugo has mostly been financed by Curiel’s husband and co-founder, Roberto Castro, and herself. Four months ago, the company raised a friends and family seed round of $200,000 and plans to raise more money in 2016. 

Recent milestones: Mundo Lanugo’s special 45-second animated interstitials centered on teaching values through Latino idioms were broadcast on Univision’s Despierta America during the summer, and ratings increased while animations were on the air. The company’s Christmas YouTube and Facebook videos have reached 1 million views and over 33,000 shares. Corporate partners have included Macy’s, Humana, Seventh Generation, Jackson Memorial Hospital, Hialeah Hospital and Miami Children’s Museum. The Mundo Lanugo: Juega & Aprende app has been downloaded more than 25,000 times. Alongside President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, Curiel celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month and the 25th anniversary of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics in Washington, D.C.

Biggest startup challenge: “Our biggest startup challenge has been organizing a complex and comprehensive idea for teaching culture to children into one single product, and also finding an ecosystem in Miami that supports entrepreneurs building brands, rather than a tech product,” Curiel said. 

Next steps: Continuing the path toward developing a full children’s animation series. In the meantime, the company will continue to share the Latino story and culture through shorter animations and interactive apps. “There are so many opportunities in the works for Mundo Lanugo,” Curiel said. “I can’t spill the beans on some of those yet, but you can expect great partnerships with broadcasters, co-production companies, distributors and direct-to-retail programs.”

Advisers’ views: As a board member, Michelle Spinale lends her expertise to help direct brand efforts anchored in content development and key partnerships to drive awareness, grow a loyal audience and connect with both Latino parents and kids in memorable ways. “I believe Carla and Roberto have the right vision, commitment and passion to make Lanugo Mundo a tremendous success,” said Spinale, brand marketing strategist and principal at The Spinale Group.

Venture Hive mentor Andrew Heitner, an entrepreneur and investor, has been helping Mundo Lanugo on the business side: “Carla is the expert on animation and creative endeavors. I have helped them create a sales funnel in order to categorize and prioritize potential key partners for the animation series, as well as future licensing opportunities. We have also explored together their go-to-market strategy and pricing model for their apps.”


 By Nancy Dahlberg; @ndahlberg