February 08, 2016

10 startups selected for 4th Venture Hive Miami Accelerator class



By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com Heroboy

As parents of young boys, Crissi and Ed Boland found that super-hero toys on the market were associated with PG-13 rated movies and violent videogames but marketed for kids 5 and up. “There was a disconnect there,” Ed Boland said. “We thought there was an opportunity to provide meaningful, thoughtful, developmentally appropriate content for children 4 to 9.”

So they created the HeroBoys, an initial line of toys and comic books made for young boys about young boys. Last fall, the Bolands raised more than $58,000 on Kickstarter, with more than 200 backers, providing proof of concept and an initial production run. The couple had been working on the project on the side for a couple of years, but last summer Ed Boland left a career in venture capital and investment banking to launch the startup with his wife.

The Bolands’ Miami-based company is Whimzy Entertainment and they will participate in the fourth class of Venture Hive’s Miami Accelerator. “Having spent time on the investor side, I’ve seen first-hand how well prepared and ready to scale the companies that come out of Venture Hive are,” Ed Boland said. “Venture Hive is the gold standard for accelerators here.”

Each of the 10 selected companies will participate in an intense three-month acceleration program beginning Feb. 29 designed to take the companies to the next level, will get free office space in Venture Hive’s incubator for six months, and will get a $25,000 grant. Each class ends with a Demo Day, called The Swarm (pictured above).

Unlike other years when the great majority of accelerator companies chosen were international, this year there are five Miami companies in the class, along with companies from San Francisco, Argentina and Ecuador. “I think the quality in Miami was greatly improved because there was another year of companies maturing. There were dozens of Miami applicants and many were ready to take on the training we do to take a team with a validated product to the next level,” said Susan Amat, founder of Venture Hive.

“Since the Miami DDA, Mayor Gimenez, and Miami WorldCenter made Venture Hive possible three years ago, we have had startups from more than 50 countries in our programs. Our Miami Accelerator is the heart and soul of Venture Hive and the support from the Knight Foundation will help ensure this is the best program we have offered yet,” Amat added.

I n this year’s class there is a biotech company, an Internet of Things venture and a smart hardware products company. “A quarter of our applicants were logistics businesses and three were selected for the program,” Amat said (pictured below). Along with Whimzy, the other companies selected for the accelerator are:

AmatAsombro Extremo Digital (Buenos Aires, Argentina): Founded by professional illusionists and technology experts, this company aims to create stunning technological campaigns.

Big Propeller (Miami): A company designed to help agencies and brands to better manage their social media content workflow, especially when collaborating with stakeholders and clients.

Cetus Labs (Miami): A tech company that builds and sells software to simplify and streamline port terminal operations. Its first product is a Terminal Operating System.

Datil (Guayaquil, Ecuador): A company that builds digital tools to make commerce simple and sustainable for micro, small and medium businesses. by using simple point of sale, accounting and e-billing applications together with legally complaint digital certificates.

Einsof Biohealth (Miami): A biotech company focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of novel, proprietary therapies and OTC products. Its first product, Speedlyte, is an oral rehydration solution.

OneClickShip (San Francisco): A web-based platform that empowers small businesses to take control of their global supply chain. By taking control of their supply chains, small businesses take control of their profits.

SmartLoc (Miami): An asset-tracking company whose core product LugLoc will let you know the location of your device anytime and anywhere. It utilizes both GSM-GPRS and Bluetooth BTE technology to provide you with the location of your device."

Wayniloans (Buenos Aires): A peer-to-peer lending platform based on blockchain technology for the Latin American and U.S. Hispanic market. To bring access to credit for the unbanked and underbanked, Wayniloans makes financial solutions more efficient and transparent for borrowers and lenders.

Webee(Córdoba, Argentina): A smart home system that goes beyond simple home automation and remote control to also provides an entertainment box, which learns from users and programs itself.

Venture Hive also houses an incubator, virtual accelerators and high school programs at its downtown Miami hub. Venture Hive also runs an accelerator for U.S. veterans in Fort Walton Beach and a new class will begin in March. Veterans can apply though Feb. 12 at Veterans.venturehive.com/apply

Nancy Dahlberg; 305-376-3595; @ndahlberg

January 22, 2016

AT&T Aspire opens applications for ed-tech accelerator

For-profit and non-profit organizations focused on social impact can apply; relocation not required.

AT&T is looking for local companies working on a product or service that uses technology to support students’ educational and career success.

The company announced it has opened the application process for its AT&T Aspire Accelerator program. The program works with organizations that use technology to help students succeed, strengthen schools and communities, or prepare learners for employment.

Potential areas of focus include mobile applications that drive education outcomes; platforms for teachers, students and/or parents; learning and curriculum management tools; assessment and outcome tracking platforms; and increased access for existing best practices.

Solutions for students at-risk of dropping out of school will receive special consideration.

Aspire Accelerator is part of AT&T’s $350 million commitment to empower students to reach their full potential.

The customized 6-month program includes:

* Aspire Investment – $100,000 AT&T investment and an additional $25,000 for each venture to cover costs of the program. For non-profit companies, the investment will be a general contribution. They receive this in exchange for participating in the Aspire Accelerator and meeting certain requirements, including submitting impact measurements.

* Mentorship – Access to AT&T and external mentors from education and technology.

* National Platform – Inclusion in the broader AT&T Aspire initiative, which is committed to driving innovation in education.

* Flexible Location – Organizations can participate from where they are, without relocating.

Both non-profits and for-profit companies of any size are eligible to apply at aspireaccelerator.fluidreview.com.

Applications will be accepted through February 5. The Aspire Accelerator program will begin in May.

-submitted by AT&T

January 15, 2016

The Idea Center’s MarketHack to launch digital marketing class Feb. 2

An Information Session about Miami Dade College’s digital marketing training program for working professional will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 19

Submitted by Dan Grech, MarketHack Program Manager

 The Idea Center at Miami Dade College (MDC), Miami’s hub of innovation and entrepreneurship, is launching the second edition of its successful MarketHack digital marketing training program. The 16-week course offers a dynamic combination of lectures from top professionals, hands-on skills workshops, and real-life group projects that teach participants how to influence customers, create connections, and grow their businesses.

Aimed at filling a talent gap for highly skilled digital marketers in South Florida, the program will continue its successful partnership with República, a leading, independent cross-cultural advertising, communications and digital agency based in Miami. It will also build on relationships with other local companies and creative agencies that will help shape its curriculum and create a pipeline for internships, apprenticeships and jobs.

“Staying on top of digital trends is not easy, it seems like there’s a new social networking platform popping up every day, but understanding the nuances of 21st century communication is indispensable in nearly every industry,” said Jorge Azze, social media community manager at República and participant in the inaugural class. “MarketHack's stable of digital marketing pros makes staying up to speed feasible and actually really fun. The course provides a professional, yet laid back environment with people from all industries, ages and walks of life, that sparks new friendships, perspectives and opportunities.”

MarketHack is taught by two of South Florida’s top digital marketing professionals: program lead Dan Grech, Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations at OfferCraft, and co-teacher Mike Schott, Director of Online Marketing at Open English.

An Information Session with both instructors will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 19, at The Idea Center at Miami Dade College, 315 NE 2nd Ave Building 8, 5th Floor, Miami, FL 33132. RSVP here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/markethack-mixer-info-session-tickets-20509268775

Guest speakers in the fall course included NBCUniversal’s Cesar Conde, Uber’s Kasra Moshkani, República’s Jorge A. Plasencia, Natcom Global’s Bob Rodriguez and many other leading digital executives and marketers. MarketHack’s January course will build on this successful platform.

“The core of the MarketHack experience is working in teams on high-stakes group projects with real clients,” said Leandro Finol, executive director of the Idea Center at Miami Dade College. “We want to give participants a taste of life in a marketing department or at a top digital marketing agency.”

The upcoming 16-week course, MarketHack Introduction to Digital Marketing,” will begin Feb 2.'Classes take place on Tuesdays from 6:30 pm to 9 pm at the MDC Idea Center, Building 8, Fifth Floor, 315 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami, FL.

Registration is now open at http://www.theideacenter.co/markethack. The course costs $1,999, with an early-registration price of $1,499. This is a non-credit class, and participants receive a Certificate from the Idea Center upon completion.

MarketHack is one of the 21st century skills-training programs for students and working professionals offered by the Idea Center at Miami Dade College. The program also offers coding education through its CodePro program.

For more information on MarketHack and to enroll in the class, please visit http://www.theideacenter.co/markethack


January 07, 2016

Babson College to launch Women Innovating Now Lab in Miami this year, with Knight support

WIN Lab_2015-2016 Cohort (4)

Babson College's WIN Lab, an accelerator program for women entrepreneurs, will be coming to Miami this year. This is the current WIN Lab cohort in Boston. 


By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

The typical startup accelerator is technology-focused and the company founders it helps are overwhelmingly male. A Babson College program wants to change that.

Babson’s Women Innovating Now Lab, known as the WIN Lab, is designed to help women entrepreneurs launch successful businesses. The accelerator-like program offers training sessions and connects women entrepreneurs to a wide range of experts for guidance. It also provides access to strategic networks and co-working space so participants can build and expand their ventures.

The WIN Lab will receive $800,000 in support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as part of a three-year grant to launch WIN Lab in Miami. The first cohort will begin this fall.

Babson, well known for its acclaimed business and entrepreneurship programs, is no stranger to South Florida. The WIN Lab in Miami is part of the college’s growing presence in the region, which includes one of the university’s most active alumni networks with 1,300 Miami-based alums, an advisory role at The Idea Center at Miami Dade College and its connection to Miami Dade College as the academic architect of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. This will be the first WIN Lab outside of Boston, and the organization is planning to expand to other cities.

The Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership at Babson launched the WIN Lab in Boston in October 2013. It has been designated as one of the top two “specialty” programs for Excellence in Entrepreneurship Education by the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship; earned BostInno’s designation as one of Boston’s “50 on Fire” innovators and visionaries; and was honored by the prestigious Rosoff Awards for diversity.

Susan Duffy, executive director at the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership, said she and her co-founder, Heatherjean MacNeil, both entrepreneurs, believed  it was time to disrupt the accelerator model. They saw  gender imbalance even in Babson's own entrepreneurship programs.

"Accelerators around the country have less than 13 percent women, and Babson was courageous enough to say we can do more," said Duffy in a phone interview. "It is really important to begin to tap into the entrepreneurial potential of both men and women. When it comes to venture acceleration, one size doesn't fit all."

Duffy said that Miami ranks in the top five metro areas for its high rate of women-owned businesses but also ranks in the bottom five metro areas when it comes to women entrepreneurs' economic clout, a measure that combines the number of women-owned businesses, their revenues and employment numbers. "Women-owned businesses in Miami are not scaling up. Some would look at that as a problem, we look at that as an opportunity."

In addition to being for females, Duffy said the WIN Lab will be different from other accelerators in that it will be sector agnostic rather than focused solely on tech and it will be an eight-month program instead of  compressed into three months. WIN Lab will be focused on building competent confident CEOs with programing full of female role models as well as coaches and experts of both genders, she said.

Since launching WIN Lab in Boston, Babson has seen dramatically increased female participation in its rocket pitch contests, its Beta competitions and its summer venture programs. “We have the numbers to prove that what we are doing is having an impact,” said Duffy. “It changes the understanding of what is possible.”

Babson presidentBabson President Kerry Healey and Matt Haggman, the Knight Foundation's Miami program director, announced the launch of WIN LAB in Miami Thursday at a Babson College event hosted at MBAF in downtown Miami. "This is a first-of-its-kind program designed by women entrepreneurs to support women entrepreneurs," said Healey at the event. "We're honored to be a part of the [Knight] Foundation's mission here ... to make Miami a place where ideas are built."

Never has there been a time when entrepreneurs can solve such big important problems as now, said Haggman. In creating an ecosystem, he said, "this really has be about all of Miami. WIN Lab is the next step in this ... We can't wait to see the impact this will create."

Babson anticipates kicking off its Miami launch with a community event in March and then recruiting 20 WIN Lab Miami participants for the first cohort. Entrepreneurs will mostly be in the beta stage with their companies, but some strong candidates in the ideation stage may be accepted. The WIN Lab, which will be free for participants, is expected to officially launch in the fall. In the coming weeks, Babson will hire a director to head the program in Miami, secure a location for the WIN Lab and establish a regional advisory board comprised of local investors, women entrepreneurs, experts and coaches.

Over the past 3 1/2 years, Knight has committed about $20 million to more than 165 projects in entrepreneurship in South Florida and has been increasing its investments in programs such as Babson’s that aim to accelerate diversity. For more information about WIN Lab, visit babson.edu/WINLab.

Nancy Dahlberg; 305-376-3595; @ndahlberg

December 18, 2015

With Knight funding, PowerMoves entrepreneurship program to launch in Miami


Miami Beach entrepreneur Dawn Dickson, CEO of Flat Out of Heels, won a PowerMoves pitch competition earlier this year. Pitch contests are one of the programs that PowerMoves will bring to Miami.


By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

While black and Hispanic students earn nearly 20 percent of computer science degrees, they make up only 9 percent of the technology industry and less than 1 percent of technology company founders.

PowerMoves, a national initiative to increase the number of venture-backed, high-growth companies led by entrepreneurs of color, aims to help close that gap. The organization will open an office and program in Miami, with a $1.2 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

“Diversity is our greatest asset and differentiator and it’s our competitive advantage in Miami. As we continue to build Miami’s startup community and create more on-ramps into this rapidly growing community, we see PowerMoves as another important and impactful way to do that,” said Matt Haggman, Knight Foundation program director for Miami.

PowerMoves began in 2014 as a hyper-local program to position New Orleans as a hub for entrepreneurs of color. Since then, it has rapidly grown, offering education, mentorship and investment opportunities. It has helped 100 companies nationwide secure more than $27 million in capital commitments.

Miami will be the first city outside of New Orleans to host a PowerMoves office and year-round programming including pitch competitions, bootcamps and fellowship programs.

Earl RobinsonEarl Robinson, CEO of PowerMoves, said his goal in Miami is to help make the entrepreneurial ecosystem broadly inclusive, particularly for African-American, Afro-Caribbean historically under-represented startup entrepreneurs. “We want to give under-represented entrepreneurs the support they need in a nurturing way but also be a portal and plug them into the incredibly deep existing resources in Miami,” said Robinson, an entrepreneur with a background in the private equity industry.


Leveraging Miami’s diversity and increasing inclusion is also one of Knight’s key goals and there is more work to do, Haggman said. Knight’s efforts in this area kicked off with a $2.18 million commitment a year ago that opened the Idea Center entrepreneurship hub at Miami Dade College, America’s largest and most diverse college campus. Other efforts have included Knight support of Black Tech Week, Digital Grass, Code Fever, LaunchCode and Girls Who Code, as well as a scholarship program at Wyncode coding school. Noting the well-documented lack of diversity in Silicon Valley, “as we are building from the ground up in Miami, diversity and inclusion need to be a key part from the beginning,” Haggman said.

The new office will be led by Janelle Alexander, who has been an outstanding PowerMoves Entrepreneur in Residence in New Orleans, was a Goldman Sachs executive and has Caribbean family roots, Robinson said. She and her team, including entrepreneurs-in-residence and mentors, will help local entrepreneurs refine business models and market strategies and connect them with advisors and capital to launch and scale their businesses. The office will be in a co-working center, Robinson said, but the particular space has not been selected yet.

Janelle“I’m a true believer in the mission – I have a passion for early-stage companies and for inclusive innovation,” said Alexander, who also said she has always been a huge fan of Miami. In addition to running the programs, she plans to be on the lookout for outstanding companies. “My biggest worry is not that we can’t help them, it’s that there is a great entrepreneur of color out there who I don’t know about and I am not helping.”

PowerMoves Miami will host monthly meetups across the city open to the public. In addition, PowerMoves will hold bootcamps with six weeks of virtual classroom participation, three days of intensive in-person classroom development and a demo day. PowerMoves will also hold pitch contests for seed- and Series A-round companies. From those programs, six high-growth entrepreneurs will be selected to participate in a yearlong PowerMoves Miami Fellowship, Robinson said. The fellowship includes free rent at a co-working space; “Startup 201” education, part of which will be open to a broader population; mentoring; and access to investment capital and in-kind legal, marketing and financial services.

PowerMoves Miami will launch on Feb. 15 in conjunction with Black Tech Week, from Feb. 15-20, for which Knight is the founding sponsor. For more information about the organization: powermovesnola.org.

Over the past three years, Knight has committed nearly $20 million to more than 165 projects in entrepreneurship in South Florida.

Nancy Dahlberg; 305-376-3595; @ndahlberg

December 06, 2015

500 Startups: 'We're all in," Miami Distro accelerator program will be back next fall


By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

500 Startups wrapped up its inaugural Miami Distro Program on growth marketing with an Investor Night last week, but you’ll be seeing more of the Silicon Valley venture firm.

“We are here not just to check things out, we are all in. Miami is an important hub for Latin America,” said Christine Tsai, co-founding partner of 500 Startups, who also spoke at Sime MIA last week. “We have a small team here, it will be growing.”

500 startups tsai

Startups, with investments all over the world and a growing presence in Latin America, is known for its high-volume investing approach. It’s invested in about 1,500 startups, typically putting in $50,000 to $100,000 and doubling down with some of those in future rounds. After bringing its PreMoney conference here in the spring, 500 Startups conducted its Miami Distro program this fall at Building.co. “Growth marketing is our secret weapon,” Tsai said.

500 Startups partner Juan Lopez Salaberry explained that the Distro program is all about high-paced experimentation in customer acquisition. 500 Startups flew in mentors in growth marketing throughout the program. The eight selected companies that participated spent three months at Building.co this fall. Each received a 500 Startups investment of up to $250,000, which provided a healthy marketing budget to work with during the program. “Mentoring and funding — we think that’s a killing combination,” Salaberry said.

In the presentations during Investor Night, each team highlighted its customer acquisition progress. Most had grown by multiples. The program will be back next fall, said 500’s Distro partner Susan Su.

These eight companies participated in the Miami Distro program:

ClutchPrep: Remember the SATs? Or how about organic chem 201? ClutchPrep, based in Miami, is the 21st century Kaplan test-prep meets online distribution meets subscriptions.

Kairos is a facial analysis technology that interprets human emotions to provide businesses with data and insights to help them better understand their customers and their marketing campaigns. Miami-based Kairos is also an Endeavor company.

Cinepapaya enables mobile and online movie ticket purchases in 22 emerging markets. The company also offers a B2B suite for movie theatre partners that includes market intelligence and ticket validation.

MXHero is a multisolution suite for enterprise and small and medium sized businesses that protects company email from hackers, plus makes it easier to find and track attachments. The company provides tools that combine an organization’s email with cloud storage.

OFI is a B2B procurement platform based out of Bogota selling technology products and “back office” subscriptions to corporations and small and medium sized businesses across Latin America.

Rocket: In Mexico, only 2 percent of credit card applications to major financial institutions are approved, but with Rocket, this jumps to 40 percent. Rocket helps users apply and be approved for credit cards.

Shopeando, an e-commerce platform, brings high-quality, nonbranded goods from platforms like Alibaba to millions of customers across Latin America.

Social Tools is a suite of solutions that enables Agencies and Marketer to run low-cost promotions and contests on Facebook.



November 30, 2015

Venture Hive accepting applications for its 2016 Winter Accelerator Class

Venture hive

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Venture Hive, an entrepreneurial education company based in downtown Miami, is accepting applications for its 2016 Winter Accelerator Class.

This competitive accelerator program, sponsored by the Downtown Development Authority and Miami-Dade County, will host 10 selected high-growth businesses. Each selected startup will receive a 12-week entrepreneurship education program, office space and a $25,000 non-equity grant. This will be Venture Hive’s fourth Winter accelerator program. In 2014, Venture Hive received about 400 applicants from more than 40 countries, said Susan Amat, founder and CEO of Venture Hive. 

 Since January of 2013, Venture Hive has supported entrepreneurs from over 25 countries in its downtown Miami location to help them develop and grow their startups in the industry verticals that are the strengths of South Florida, Amat said. Some of the program’s graduates have included Quotanda, Waleteros, SWOL, Criptext, The Fan Machine, GetMyRx, Hair Construction and many others.

To be selected, applicants must have an innovative web or mobile technology solution applied to the creative industries (art, design, music, photography, etc.), finance, healthcare, hospitality/tourism or trade/logistics solutions. Participating startups must also have initial customers and revenue streams; no more than $500,000 in external funding; and a team of two to four English-speaking founders with complementary backgrounds who will commit to spending the 12 weeks of the program full-time in Venture Hive’s accelerator space in downtown Miami.

Benefits of the program include a $25,000 non-equity grant, a curriculum of highly practical workshops and training sessions, free dedicated space in its collaborative offices in downtown Miami for six months, mentoring from a vetted network of local, national and international entrepreneurs and experts, exposure to qualified investors and a Demo Day. 

The Venture Hive Winter Accelerator class will run from Feb. 29 – May 20. Applications for the class will be accepted from Nov. 30 – Jan. 15 at 11:59 p.m. Selected companies will be announced on Jan. 28.

Apply at apply.venturehive.com/miami 

Venture Hive’s existing programs in Miami have shown a $7.3 million economic impact in its first 18 months of operation, Amat said. After three years, Venture Hive’s startups have created more than 100 new jobs and an investment leverage of over 20:1.

"We now have hardware and IoT companies calling Venture Hive home, and our programs have included high growth food and product startups as well,” said Amat. “We have some exciting announcements of new partnerships to join the list that includes the Knight Foundation, DLA Piper, Ernst & Young, and Microsoft."

 In addition to its Accelerator, Venture Hive runs entrepreneurship education programs for K-12 students, an accelerator for U.S. veterans, virtual accelerators  and other entrepreneurial initiatives, and has supported entrepreneurs from more than 50 countries through its clients including Microsoft, the World Bank, US Aid, the U.S. State Department, and other university and corporate partners. In 2014 Microsoft chose Venture Hive to house the only Microsoft Innovation Center in the United States, one of more than 120 globally.

Find out more about Venture Hive here: www.venturehive.com

Sergi Alexander Venture Hive 141

November 12, 2015

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick: A 'champion's mindset' is what you need to succeed

5Travis and Melissa Media_2904

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

What separates the great entrepreneurs from all the rest? In a rare South Florida appearance, Travis Kalanick, co-founder and CEO of Uber, offered his inspiring perspective to several hundred Miami Dade College students and tech community leaders on Thursday.

And it was a love fest with this crowd. “There is no better way to set up our students for success than to host one of the most innovative companies of the 21st century,” said Leandro Finol, executive director of The Idea Center, an entrepreneurship hub for MDC. “I want to apologize, Travis, for any type of pushback you got from our community. ... I don’t even remember what it is like not to have Uber – I Ubered here today, as a matter of fact. Uber has truly made Miami a more connected place,” said Melissa Medina, a vice president of eMerge Americas tech conference, who introduced Kalanick to the packed room at the Idea Center (pictured above with Kalanick.

Although it took longer than he would have liked to launch Uber in South Florida last year, Kalanick said that never-give-up attitude is what one needs to succeed. “We fell in love with the idea of Uber being here,” he said. It was about putting everything you’ve got into it, getting knocked down and getting back up – every time, he said.

That “champion’s mindset” is one of the traits of a great entrepreneur, he told the students, many of them entrepreneurs or aspiring entrepreneurs. Kalanick came up with the idea for Uber in his UCLA apartment and launched it as a side project for his friends and network, before seeing the global potential. He co-founded Uber in 2009, and guided the company from a niche market in San Francisco to its global presence in over 60 countries and 350 cities today. Uber, for those living under a rock, is a technology platform that lets riders push a button and get a ride and connects drivers with flexible work.

To take a company from five people to Uber’s current workforce of 5,000, great entrepreneurs also need purpose – for Uber it’s making transportation as reliable as running water. Their product or service must also have magic, that something that makes your customers awestruck, and it must be something that everybody can’t offer, he said. Great entrepreneurs have to be comfortable going against the grain. and they are a cross between analytical and creative, said Kalanick, who came up with the idea for Uber Ice Cream Day, which has since gone viral.

Great entrepreneurs also enjoy the ride, because then even the hardest problems are fun to solve: “It’s a long journey and you have to push to a point where it hurts.” Getting over the fear of failure is also critical, and he said he faced that after facing “100 no’s a day for four years straight” at his previous entrepreneurial venture.

The CEO credits much of Uber’s success launching in city after city all over the world to a former marketing intern’s “This is how you launch a city” playbook. “We’ve turned in into a machine of sorts, tuned to go faster and faster.”

He said he is excited about building cities of the future and that is why Uber is investing heavily in uberPOOL, the company’s ride-sharing service, which matches multiple passengers who are traveling along the same routes to different destinations, taking more cars off the overly congested roads and ultimately lowering carbon emissions. “The price comes down, the driver can make more money and then because of all the efficiencies the city gets better.” He said uberPOOL will be coming very soon to Miami-Dade County.

Uber has been on an international expansion tear, focusing most recently on the Asia Pacific region, and particularly China.

Its warchest for expansion is hefty: Uber is planning to raise close to $1 billion in new venture capital from investors, its eighth funding round, according to a New York Times report last month. Investors are looking at a valuation of $60 billion to $70 billion, which would would make Uber the world’s most valuable private startup by far, the report said. To date, the company has raised more than $8 billion from Benchmark, Google Ventures, Goldman Sachs and others.

Kalanick was in town because he is a speaker at Summit at Sea, an invitational three-day voyage departing Miami on Friday with about 2,500 entrepreneurs, nonprofit leaders and artists across all industries. He’s giving one of the opening day talks with Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman, on the voyage.

The Idea Center @MDC, funded by the Knight Foundation, is the college’s hub of innovation, and includes programs such as the CREATE accelerator, CodePro, The Startup Challenge, Operation Startup and the Innovation Lab, to name a few. It brings in speakers nearly every week to talk to students.

Nancy Dahlberg; 305-376-3595; ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

November 10, 2015

French IT company opens U.S.-LatAm office in Venture Hive

The Beacon Council announced that Net Reviews, a France-based IT company opened an office at Venture Hive in downtown Miami to service the U.S. and Latin American markets.

Net Reviews created verified-reviews.com, a web solution that enables online retailers to collect and display genuine customer reviews.

 "Our objectives are to develop both the U.S. and LATAM markets," CEO Olivier Mouillet said. "We needed to employ people that know and speak both American [English] and Spanish languages. Miami is the best place to reach these markets and find this kind of valuable employee."

Net Reviews has more than 200 customers in South America and has already opened in Chile, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil and Peru, he said.

 The company invested $250,000 and is adding 22 direct jobs within three years, the Beacon Council said. The Beacon Council, Miami-Dade's economic development organization, assisted the tech company with site selection, research and marketing analysis, labor/training, business contacts and referrals. The IT sector has been the fastest growing sector of the seven targeted industries of the Beacon Council's One Community One Goal initiative.

With an accelerator, incubator and other programs, Venture Hive is an entrepreneurial hub in downtown Miami that is home to more than 30 companies from more than a dozen different countries. "The Venture Hive family is very diverse and to give a home and family to European entrepreneurs is a win-win for Miami-Dade County and for all of our resident startups," said Susan Amat, founder and CEO of Venture Hive.


November 02, 2015

With Knight funding, Startupbootcamp to open digital health accelerator in Miami next year


By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Startupbootcamp, Europe’s largest business accelerator operating in eight countries, will launch its first U.S. program in Miami, with $2 million in support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The organizations will announce Monday that the Miami program will focus on supporting and scaling startups in digital health, building on both the city’s reputation as a center for healthcare and life sciences and its position as a launchpad into Latin America.

Startupbootcamp operates 10 accelerators across Europe and one in Singapore — each focused on an industry suited to the location — and has been actively looking to expand into the United States, said Alex Farcet, who founded Startupbootcamp in Copenhagen in 2010. Since then, Startupbootcamp has supported 290 startups, of which over 70 percent have received an average of $660,000 in funding and together have created 1,160 jobs.

After three trips to Miami in the past three or four months, Farcet was sold on South Florida. “It just feels like the right time. We think we are in the sweet spot of being early but not completely pioneers. Miami itself and the health focus, access and visibility with Latin America, the support of the Knight Foundation — a lot of things came together that felt right,” Farcet said. “Miami is ready, and we are ready for Miami.”

Farcet said Startupbootcamp will put its proven accelerator and mentorship model to work helping to find, support, fund and grow 30 digital health startups over three years. Startupbootcamp Miami will invite entrepreneurs from across the globe to apply; 10 companies per year will be selected to participate in the three-month program. Applications will be due Feb. 1 and the first program will begin next spring; entrepreneurs can find more information and apply at https://www.f6s.com/startupbootcampdigitalhealthmiami2016/apply.

Each chosen startup will receive a three-month accelerator program, six months of free co-working office space, a seed investment of $20,000 with possible additional investments up to $100,000, and in-kind services from partners such as Google, PayPal and Amazon Web Services. More than 100 participating mentors will come from companies, venture firms and universities across the U.S., including Microsoft, CVS Health, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Healthways, Lyra Health, Bessemer Venture Partners, Google Ventures, MIT and Harvard.

The Miami area has a few accelerators, including the Knight-supported Venture Hive downtown, but it’s not enough to support the ecosystem, said Matt Haggman, the Miami program director of the Knight Foundation who is spearheading efforts to develop a tech and startup ecosystem. “We think Startupbootcamp is complementary to what is here because it is focused on a vertical,” Haggman said. “We have this huge healthcare system in Miami, and you are seeing some connection but not enough. This is a way to connect the dots.”

The Startupbootcamp funding is one of the top three Knight grants supporting Miami entrepreneurship. Knight has committed about $18 million to 165 organizations and projects in the past three years, including Endeavor, the Idea Center at Miami Dade College, LaunchCode and eMerge Americas.

Christian%20SealeChristian Seale will run the Miami program as managing director. Previously, he helped build Startupbootcamp’s Smart Transport & Energy accelerator in Berlin. He is also a founding member of Equitable Origin, a certification program for responsible energy production. Seale, who has an MBA from Harvard Business School, has also worked for venture capital firm Maveron, Goldman Sachs, Teach for America and has spent a year in Barranquilla, Colombia, as a Fulbright Scholar.

Seale and Farcet said the decision to focus on digital health emerged after a number of discussions with leaders in the entrepreneurship community. Startupbootcamp will look for companies at the intersection of technology, in areas such as remote-patient monitoring, population health management, personalized medicine, telemedicine, payer administration and analytics, big-data and fraud detection.

Seale hopes some of the Miami program’s startups will serve up solutions for the growing yet underserved U.S. Latino population: “Latinos soon will comprise 30 percent of the U.S. population yet fewer than 4 percent of healthcare providers speak Spanish and many do not know how to approach the cultural and economic diversity within the Latino population. More broadly, we seek to support the eradication of healthcare disparities in the U.S.”

The accelerator location hasn’t yet been selected, but it will likely be a 4,000- to 6,000-square-foot space in Wynwood or downtown Miami with room to grow, said Seale, who has been visiting the area for tech events for a couple years and is relocating to South Florida now. Miami-based Carevoyance, which provides a platform for healthcare companies to access and analyze data, and its co-founder Abhinav Gautam will be part of Startupbootcamp’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence program.

Startupbootcamp Miami will host an internship program, and it will produce educational events and pitch days open to the public as well as make training available online. One event is already planned: Startupbootcamp and the Idea Center at Miami Dade College will co-host an MIT Hacking Medicine hackathon Feb. 20-21, Seale said.

The accelerator will partner with the Frost Museum of Science to test products and services from Startupbootcamp ventures, and is working with the Idea Center at Miami Dade College and U Innovation at the University of Miami to support more local innovation. “We want to help transform Miami into a place where if you want to start a healthcare company Miami is flat out on the top of your list,” Seale said.

In addition to the Knight Foundation, Startupbootcamp is backed by Univision, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital and Microsoft’s BizSpark Program as well as Dr. Maurice R. Ferré, chairman of Insightec and co-founder of MAKO Surgical, Michael Simkins, president and CEO of Innovate Development Group, which is leading the Miami Innovation District project, Miro Ventures and Rokk3r Labs.

Farcet said that historically, the mix of teams in other Startupbootcamp accelerators has been about 80 percent international and 20 percent local, and one of the measures of success for the new program will be how many of the entrepreneurs stay and grow their companies in Miami after the program is over.

“This is a test of both Startupbootcamp and Miami’s broader startup ecosystem,” said Farcet. “There are good programs in Miami already and a lot of initiatives. We expect to inject new talent and new blood by importing people and showing that Miami is a really strong alternative to Boston and California.”

Nancy Dahlberg; 305-376-3595; @ndahlberg

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