NewME brought its first PopUp Accelerator to Miami this week, and together with the Knight Foundation and LAB Miami, gave 65 South Florida participants a two-night pitch workshop, a one-on-one mentoring session with a Silicon Valley VC or NewME expert and the opportunity to present their ventures at Demo Night.
On Wednesday evening, 38 startup teams pitched to a roomful of people packed in on the risers of The Light Box Theater in Wynwood, and competed for tens of thousands of dollars in prizes. On the intimate stage, the teams made their two-minute pitches, each one accompanied by a pitch deck of 8 to 10 slides.
"Can't you feel the energy? This is super exciting," said Matt Haggman, program director of the Knight Foundation's Miami office, which has been supporting and funding projects to help the South Florida startup community. "What's going on here clearly shows there is something special happening here and we look forward to contributing to it further."
After the pitches, which were judges by two investors and Angela Benton, founder of NewME, Benton announced the winners:
First place: Sew Love, pitched by Sabrina Scandar. Sewlove.co, founded by sisters Sabrina and Silvia Scandar, is a platform for crowdsourcing fashion design. They won a prize package worth $45,000 in goods and services to help them build their startup, plus they were accepted into NewME's 2013 Accelerator class.
Second place: Gozump, pitched by Charleston Malkemus. Gozump is a platform to help people buy homes, which will begin by targeting the military market. "We are Marines on a mission to change the way real estate works forever." Gozump won $23,000 in goods and services.
Third place, Indira, pitched by Carrie Ann Mantha: Indira is a fashion tech platform that creates personalized fashion and decor for weddings. It has a factory up and running in Little Haiti and is launching next month. Indira won $7,000 in goods and services.
Because there were so many great pitches, according to Benton, honorable mentions were also named. They were: ToddlerTV, SkillU, GoGeekster and NightPro.
All winners also received co-working space at LAB Miami, which will be moving into a much larger space in coming weeks. All participants of the PopUp received a one-month "connect" membership to LAB Miami, which entitles them to discounts, invites to members-only events and drop-ins. "Please stay connected with us, engage us, we want to grow with you. We're excited to share this dream with you," Wifredo Fernandez, one of the co-founders, told the participants.
Benton said it seemed like a lot of the startups didn't know one another before the event so it was great to see them connect. She also said when NewME decided to do the PopUp, the team knew it would be a lot to condense in a few days but wanted to be sure the participating startup founders received a lot of value. "Since we've been back, we’ve been getting emails from Miami about how it helped transform their businesses," she said on Friday from San Francisco, where the NeweME Accelerator is based.
And what was her impression of the tech startups? "I was really impressed. There were so many good ideas. We thought the judging process would be a lot easier."
Sabrina Scandar said the one-on-one coaching that was part of the PopUp was particularly beneficial because it "made us sit down, look at our business, plan out the next steps and work on our pitch. When you are working so hard you get caught up in your business and forget to take a step back."
The Scandars want to raise $300,000 to help them continue to develop their platform, make some key hires and fire up a marketing strategy. Sabrina is hoping being part of the accelerator class in San Francisco, where her sister is already based, will help them make the connections to help make all that happen.
"We were really excited to meet more of the startup tech community," said Mantha of Indira, who moved her company from New York City to Little Haiti about six months ago. "It is a much more dynamic than we realized."
(Photos by C.W. Griffin of the Miami Herald Staff show, at top, Will Hatcher of Delicious Bath Water pitching his entertainment/comedy website; second photo, judges Angela Benton of NewME and investors Marcelo Bellona and Erik Moore evaluating the pitches; third photo; Angela Benton awards first place to sisters Sabrina and Silvia Scandar of Sew Love; bottom photo, Sean Daly, right, studies his pitch before taking the stage as other contenders also wait to pitch.)
Here is another post on the event from the Knight Foundation blog.
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