March 20, 2017

MIT Enterprise Forum to present "Early Stage Capital for Entrepreneurs" event March 30

Most high growth start-ups are fueled by capital – product development, staffing, go-to market. There are many avenues for raising capital and an increasing number of unique investment models available for entrepreneurs to pursue.  Listen to a panel discussion featuring 4 professional investors in early stage businesses. Hear what models they use to invest in, support, and help grow the companies they work with. What financing models and structures are available to entrepreneurs? What criteria to does each investor look for in transaction? What are the best ways to engage with sources of outside capital?

Date of Event:

March 30, 2017 from 6pm to 9pm @ Venture Hive

Panelist Moderator

Andrew Heitner - Andrew Heitner is founder and director of Alcon Partners, a buy-side advisory firm that assists Private Equity firms and corporate M&A departments source and evaluate acquisition opportunities, with offices in Miami, Boston, and Vermont.

Panelists:

Germán Montoya is a Co-founder and Chief Strategy & Creative Officer at Rokk3r Labs, where he oversees global business development strategy and new venture creation.

Melissa Krinzman is the Managing Partner of Krillion Ventures, a $50 million early stage venture capital firm that actively invests in early stage technology companies solving problems in healthcare, financial services, and real estate.

Tigre wenrich recently joined The LAB Miami as CEO and is launching LAB. Ventures, a “venture builder” that aims to create game-changing new businesses in partnership with the region’s best entrepreneurial talent and leading corporations.

Jeff Toewe joined AthenianVenture Partners, an established venture capital firm that specializes in early stage Information Technology, Digital Health and Healthcare investing, in 2015 and serves on the firm’s investment team, focusing on Information Technology investments. 

Tickets and All information found here: http://www.mitforumfl.org/event/earlystage

 

- submitted by MIT Enterprise Forum

Crunch-time guide to entering the Business Plan Challenge -- deadline is midnight tonight

Procrastinators, take note: The deadline to enter the Community Track or FIU Track of the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge is Monday night, March 20. Don’t worry, you are in good company — most of our entries come in on the last day. Here is your quick guide to entering your business or concept.

Who can enter: Entrepreneurs with businesses less than 2 years old or with business concepts in the works. There is a community track, FIU track and high school track.

What to enter: Up to a three-page business plan (one additional page for charts or photos is allowed).

Entry deadline: 11:59 p.m. March 20 for all tracks.

Email entries to: Challenge@MiamiHerald.com (for the community track), FIUchallenge@MiamiHerald.com or to highschoolchallenge@MiamiHerald.com. You should get a confirmation your entry was received. If you do not get a confirmation, please email ndahlberg@miamiherald.com so that we can ensure your entry makes it to us.

Contest rules, judges’ bios, other info: MiamiHerald.com/challenge

Questions: ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

March 16, 2017

$300,000 in Florida Institute funding closes $1.1 million round for Candidate.Guru

MONEY

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Candidate.Guru received a $300,000 investment from The Florida Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research, closing out its financing round at $1.1 million.

The Boca Raton-based startup developed its human resources software solution with technology developed at the Florida Institute for Human Machine and Cognition so it was eligible to apply for Florida Institute funding. The Florida Institute supports new company creation based on publicly-funded research, and bridges early funding gaps for companies spinning out of Florida-based universities and research institutions. To date, 65 Florida companies have been funded through the Institute, which makes matching investments up to $300,000; Candidate.Guru received the maximum.

Candidate.Guru developed a big-data software solution that can predict a culture fit between companies and prospective job candidates without the need for surveys and assessment tools. It was the winner of the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge in 2016.

ADVERTISING

“Our customers can easily submit job candidates to Candidate.Guru via LinkedIn, job boards and human resource systems, and we then return them in rank order based on strength of the culture fit with a specific hiring manager, team or the company itself. This enables our customers to prioritize thousands of job candidates instantly and reach out to the best culture fits first,” Candidate.Guru CEO Chris Daniels said in the news release. Daniels, a former executive recruiter, founded the company in 2014.

“Candidate.Guru is improving the hiring process by enabling companies to hire the best candidates more efficiently, thereby increasing long-term employee productivity,” added Jackson Streeter, Florida Institute’s CEO.

The new funding extends Candidate.Guru’s previously reported round to $1.1 million, which also included funding by Florida angel groups The FAN Fund, Florida Funders and Miami Innovation Fund. Before that, Candidate.Guru raised about $475,000 from friends and family. The revenue-generating Candidate.Guru has more than 20 corporate customers.

The Florida Institute has also funded South Florida companies Vigilant BioscienesBiscayne PharmaceuticalsKairos, Heart Genomics and Genetic Networks, among others.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

READ MORE: Candidate.Guru’s big-data solution solves HR quandary: Will the new hire fit in?



Alta5 joins 500 Startups to bring automation to your online brokerage account

Alta5 team

Miami-based Alta5 team, from left: Jack Slocum, Rocco Savage, Adam Mishcon.

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Fintech startup Alta5 received a $150,000 investment from 500 Startups, and its co-founders are part of 500’s current accelerator class in San Francisco.

Alta5, which created an automation platform for individual investors, is the second Miami-based upstart that 500 Startups has invested in this year; Court Buddy, a legal-tech company, also received an investment and is part of the accelerator.

The team at Alta5 has been working behind the scenes to bring its innovative technology to the retail investing market. The platform gives investors the ability to build bots that trade automatically out of their online brokerage account, eliminating the risks in missing trading opportunities and managing their portfolio around unforeseen market events, said Rocco Savage, who co-founded the company with Jack Slocum and Adam Mishcon.

Slocum, CEO, and Mishcon, COO, co-founded Sequoia-backed Sencha.com, so they have an extensive background in building frameworks that are adopted by millions of people. Sencha is a developer framework used by 80 percent of the top financial institutions, most of the Fortune 100 and over 2 million developers worldwide, Savage said. Savage, who oversees business development, also worked at Sencha, as well as Nomi and Tony Robbins. In addition to the 500 Startups funding, Alta5 previously received an undisclosed seed investment and it is currently raising another small round of financing. 

Fintech is a growing specialty in South Florida, and it’s no secret the trends in finance are moving toward automation. Automated trading programs have even impacted Goldman Sachs, which recently laid off 600 traders to hire 200 engineers. “We think it’s important that everyone has a fighting chance, and what that means is creating technology for individual investors to succeed in today’s markets dominated by computerized trading,” Savage said. “Think of Alta5 as your personal automation platform for investing in the stock market.”

 Founded in 2014, Alta5 is putting its platform through final testing and will be opening it to consumers in the coming months, giving more than 6.5 million investors with a TD-Ameritrade account access to its automation features. Sign up to receive early access here.

The team is currently in Silicon Valley participating in the accelerator, which ends with a Demo Day in May. 

“The 500 Startups network is best in class and we feel privileged to be a part of their accelerator,” Savage said. “There’s an abundance of resources at our fingertips including mentorship, networking and investor opportunities, and we are excited to be a part of it.”

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

Have a big idea to tackle climate change? Singularity U’s Global Impact Challenge wants you

Miami

Have an idea to tackle climate change in South Florida? Singularity University and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced the 2017 Global Impact Challenge in Miami on Thursday.

Singularity University is an education and innovation center based in Silicon Valley that uses exponential technologies to tackle the world’s biggest challenges. Its Miami Global Impact Challenge invites individuals from any technology or science discipline to enter.

Previously hosted in Miami in 2015, the Knight-supported Global Impact Challenge is open to all U.S. residents and citizens over the age of 21. Applications can be submitted through April 16. The winning team will receive a full sponsorship to attend Singularity’s Global Solutions Program held June 17-Aug. 17 and work with Singularity’s network of mentors and technology labs.

“This year, we are looking for applicants who have the skills and passion to develop big ideas to help solve climate-related challenges in South Florida, including ideas ripe for innovation, such as sea level rise, extreme flooding and other vulnerabilities to civic strategies of awareness, education and resiliency,” said Regina Njima, director of Singularity University Global Impact Challenges.

More information on the Singularity Global Impact Challenge: https://su.org/gic/2017/miami/

 

March 15, 2017

Most tech employees would leave state for better job, survey shows

Bigdata2 (1)

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Nearly 60 percent of tech employees would consider moving out of state because of a limited job market, an annual survey of more than 1,300 tech professionals in South Florida revealed.

At the same time, about half of the 138 tech managers that responded to the survey cite turnover as a chief concern and about 45 percent of them plan to invest more in employee training and retention programs.

The 2017 South Florida Tech Leadership and Workforce surveys released by South Florida IT search and staffing firm Protech revealed additional insights. The primary reasons cited by employers for losing staff are compensation (50 percent; down from 73 percent) followed by “lack of career path” (50 percent). Yet, 91 percent of tech employees said they would leave their current employer for a better opportunity, with compensation cited as the top reason by 45 percent, followed by “lack of career path” and “work-life balance.”

In a separate question asking what would be considered to be a top perk, about half of the employee respondents cited “flextime/telecommuting,” while about 10 percent cited additional vacation and 10 percent cited bonuses.

There was a significant jump in employees willing to consider a move out of Florida (57 percent versus 43 percent last year). Among the reasons: “limited job market/lack of career advancement” with a 51 percent response, followed by 24 percent citing “cost of living too high,” compared to 19 percent last year.

“Although salaries continue to increase, the rising costs of real estate directly influence the number of people considering an out-of-state move. Over the years, we’ve seen this number rise and fall in parallel with real estate market swings,” said Protech CEO Deborah Vazquez.

About two-thirds of hiring managers expect to grow their staffs this year, the surveys found. Another finding: The average pay increase reported by employees for 2016 was 4 percent, unchanged from 2015.

The Tech Leadership survey showed a continued shift from direct hire to contract employees with IT leaders reporting 28 percent of their workforce being contract employees, compared to 23 percent last year.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

READ MORETech talent in South Florida – making progress?



March 13, 2017

Startups: Apply now for eMerge Americas Startup Showcase, offering $175K in prizes

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By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

eMerge Americas, Miami’s homegrown technology conference now heading into its fourth year, is accepting applications for the June event’s Startup Showcase, which brings together entrepreneurs from around the world to compete in front of expert judges and thousands of attendees.

The eMerge Americas team traveled throughout Latin America meeting with accelerator partners and investment groups, and as part of that eMerge also hosted several startup competitions in the region. eMerge Americas CEO Xavier Gonzalez expects a number of those startups to be participating in the showcase.

“We think there will be a stronger than ever Latin American flair amongst the entrepreneurs. But at the same time, as evidenced by all the funding rounds coming out and startups bubbling up within South Florida, we think the showing and the quality from South Florida will also be stronger,” Gonzalez said. “We think it will be a good showcase of the continued evolution of the ecosystem here in South Florida and in Latin America.”

The Startup Showcase, presenting opportunities for startups to connect with investors and business leaders, is accepting applications at emergeamericas.com/startups through March 31. This year’s showcase, sponsored by Visa, will include participation from 125 startups in three tracks: Early stage, later stage and university.

All startups chosen for the showcase will be able to exhibit free of charge in the Startup Showcase area at eMerge Americas and participate in a free startup bootcamp before the conference. During the conference, they will pitch their ideas to judges for the chance to win up to $175,000 in cash and in-kind prizes, and finalists will present on stage.

The tech conference will return June 12-13 to Miami Beach Convention Center with a packed agenda of speakers and an active expo floor. WIT (Women, Innovation and Technology) Summit, launched in year two and bringing together women leaders from varying fields, and eGov, a gathering of public and private sector leaders, will also return as part of eMerge Americas. “We’ve spent the past few months working diligently to strike new partnerships and secure unique speakers to ensure eMerge 2017 surpasses all expectations,” Gonzalez said.

Last year’s conference, featuring Tony Hawk, Colin Powell, Ray Kurzweil, Monica Lewinsky and others, attracted about 13,000 attendees.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

 

 

March 12, 2017

5 reasons to enter the Business Plan Challenge by March 20

Challenge illustration

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

It’s down to this: You have one week left to participate in the 2017 Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge. If you are on the fence about whether to enter, jump over. Here are five reasons to get moving:

  1. Motivation. This might just be that kick in the behind you need. Writing down your business strategy and road map will help you focus, and give you a document for potential partners or investors. Whether you are entering the Community Track — open to all of South Florida; the FIU Track — open to students and alumni of that university; or the High School Track — which is also open to eighth-graders this year, entering the Challenge will help you get moving.
  2. Publicity. If you are one of the top three winners in each track or the “People’s Pick,” you will be profiled in a special section of the Miami Herald’s Business Monday announcing the winners, in print and online, on May 8. If you are in the top six in the Community or FIU Tracks, you will participate in the People’s Pick, our popular video contest hosted on MiamiHerald. com. We also announce our first cut, the semi-finalists, to keep the interest going. Social networking is a key component of our contest. Next year, we will look back on our winners and we follow our winners for years to come.
  3. Feedback and education. Winners and finalists will receive feedback and opportunities for entrepreneurial education. If you are chosen for the aforementioned People’s Pick contest, that’s a terrific opportunity to polish your elevator pitch — you need to capture an investor’s attention in 90 seconds or less. If you are entering the FIU Track and are a top finalist, a live pitch contest gives you a chance to get face-to-face feedback and advice. If you are entering the High School Track, remember that winning sure looks good on a college application.
  4. Exposure and connections. It can’t hurt to have your plan read by South Florida’s top entrepreneurial experts, including serial entrepreneurs and investors (judges’ bios are at here at MiamiHerald.com/challenge). Sometimes long-lasting mentorships are developed. Some winners have been introduced to investors or potential partners; others gained key customers. If you are one of the winners, you will receive other opportunities for mentorship and connections — for example, the top Miami-Dade winner will have the opportunity to compete in the finals of the American Entrepreneurship Award (www.americanaward.com), with a $25,000 prize, and top finalists will receive tickets to the eMerge Americas conference. All winners will be honored at a luncheon with the judges and Miami Herald executives and business staff.
  5. Pride. I know you’re passionate about your concept — and aren’t you just a wee bit competitive?

The deadline is 11:59 p.m. March 20 for all three tracks. Contest rules and guidelines are at here at MiamiHerald.com/challenge. Email your entries to challenge@miamiherald.com (Community Track); fiuchallenge@miamiherald.com or highschoolchallenge@miamiherald.com.

The entry is a three-page business plan; think of it like a meaty executive summary. You may include a fourth page for your financial chart or other visuals. See more details in our launch piece here.

If you entered last year and weren’t one of the top three winners or the People’s Pick, regroup and try again. Business ideas in the ideation stage are fine for this contest. Class projects are welcome, and we love high school entries. Know an entrepreneurial teen? Tell them about this contest.

Questions? Email ndahlberg@miamiherald.com (put Challenge in the subject line) or tweet @ndahlberg.

Good luck!

READ MORE

Think big and enter the 2017 Business Plan Challenge

2017 Business Plan Challenge rules and guidelines

Meet the Business Plan Challenge judges

Miss the Business Plan Bootcamp? Here’s a recap

 

March 10, 2017

More Miami startup capital on way: Rokk3r Labs launches investment fund

Rokk3r

Rokk3r Fuel team, clockwise from top left: Jeff Ransdell, Jonas Tempel, Germán Montoya and Nabyl Charania. Rokk3r Fuel is a new fund from Miami-based venture builder Rokk3r Labs. Rokk3r Labs

 

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Rokk3r Labs has launched an investment fund and it is already beginning to deploy capital into Miami’s startup community.

The Wynwood-based venture builder announced the launch of Rokk3r Fuel this week. The fund will be led by founding partners Jeff Ransdell and Jonas Tempel in partnership with Rokk3r Labs managing founders Nabyl Charania and Germán Montoya. Ransdell said the goal is that Rokk3r Fuel will be a $150 million fund, which would make it one of the region’s largest, and fund-raising is well underway.

Ransdell most recently was divisional director at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, joining Merrill Lynch in 1994, and was responsible for $138 billion in private client investments. Tempel, a serial entrepreneur, was co-founder of Beats Music, which Apple acquired in 2014 to create Apple Music, and the first CEO of Beatport, which SFX acquired in 2013.

“We see Miami as a growing international destination and hub for entrepreneurs throughout the U.S., Latin America, Western Europe and Northern Africa,” said Germán Montoya, co-founder of Rokk3r Labs, in the announcement. “Jeff and Jonas bring a unique combination of experience and expertise in entrepreneurship and investing at the most established levels. We are thrilled to have them connecting investors to what we’re building at Rokk3r Labs.”

Independent of Rokk3r Fuel, Ransdell and Tempel recently were investors in Miami-based Taxfyle’s $2 million fund-raising round. Taxfyle matches tax specialists with consumers and small businesses. Ransdell said he is an investor in 30 to 40 companies although Taxfyle is the first Miami startup he has backed.

But that will likely change soon. Through Rokk3r Fuel, “we are going to make some deployments next month. Of those investments in April, they will all be Miami companies,” Ransdell said in an interview. Some of those will be Taxfyle as well as Rokk3r companies AdMobilize and Emerge, he said, as well as some earlier stage companies they will begin to develop. “We will be making more deployments in June.”

Rokk3r Fuel is aimed at bringing early-stage capital to the best-performing companies emerging from Rokk3r Labs, which partners with entrepreneurs to cobuild ventures. About half of the Fuel portfolio will be from the Rokk3r universe. But Ransdell said the other half of the fund could be from anywhere in the world, as well as other South Florida companies.

“The whole idea is to inject fuel into these companies at strategic times of their growth,” Ransdell said. “I am here and purposely in Miami to support what I believe is a very, very expanding startup ecosystem.”

Rokk3r Labs, founded in 2012, is currently working with about 40 companies, including Hyp3r, AlzhUp and HotSwitch. It has recently moved its headquarters from Miami Beach to Wynwood.

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.

READ MORE: Rokk3r Labs relocating its headquarters to Wynwood

READ MORE: Miami-based Taxfyle raises $2 million, launches version 2.0 of app

 

March 09, 2017

To help social entrepreneurial ventures grow, Social Venture Partners launches in Miami

 

Launch

Lauren Harper (center), founder of Social Venture Partners Miami, introduces the organization’s founding partners at the launch event Thursday at New World Center. SVP Miami will support selected social impact ventures with capital, mentoring and connections. Nancy Dahlberg ndahlberg@miamiherald

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

A new group of venture philanthropy funders will be taking young social impact ventures under its wing, offering mentoring, strategy advice and connections, as well as capital.

Social Venture Partners Miami (www.svpmiami.org) launched on Thursday and it is part of a global network of 3,500 venture philanthropists now in 43 cities in nine countries who have collectively invested more than $63 million in about 840 social ventures since 1997.

SVP partners are professionals, executives, entrepreneurs and community leaders; together they select social ventures in the community to back, and they contribute their time, talent, capital and connections to help the ventures grow, using a venture capitalist model to reap social returns.

At the launch of SVP Miami at the New World Center, Paul Shoemaker, the Seattle-based founder of the global Social Venture Partners and author of "Can’t Not Do," said every SVP chapter needs an energizer bunny and Lauren Harper, the founder of Miami’s chapter is that. “Join the movement, write your check, be a part of this network that is going to make Miami a better place,” said Shoemaker, who also spoke at the Philanthropy Miami event earlier in the day.

The idea is that SVP will be an on-ramp, helping promising concepts that already have traction to grow and become “venture ready” for social impact funders, said Harper. Over time, SVP Miami will mentor and fund a number of ventures. A big differentiator with other programs, she said, is that SVP plans to partner with the ventures they back for three to five years.

Harper also co-founded the Center for Social Change, a Miami co-working and education center for nonprofit and for-profit social ventures.

“The center does an incredible job bringing people together ... but more is needed,” said Harper, noting that Miami is a city of startups but not scaleups. “The SVP model provides the right combination of resources and capital to support social ventures that can scale. And this is the right time to do this in Miami.”

At the launch, attended by a couple hundred people, Harper introduced the founding partners – 11 so far.

“The big vision is we need to transform the way we give and the way we invest, the way we do business and the way we do nonprofit work,” Harper said. “Globally, there is a whole new movement and a whole new industry, a trillion dollar industry, called social impact investing that allows for financial returns social and environmental returns.

“I think Social Venture Partners will this be an amazing bridge that will bring the non-profit and for-profit world together to drive change.”

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg

READ MORE: The do-good Sharks pick a winner: pop-up barbershops

Lauren

Paul Shoemaker, founder of the global Social Venture Partners and author of “Can’t Not Do,” makes remarks at the SVP Miami launch event at the New World Center with Lauren Harper, founder of the Miami chapter. Nancy Dahlberg ndahlberg@miamiherald.com