August 17, 2017

Shoring up the boat-sharing industry, Boatsetter buys Boatbound, raises more funding

Boater

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

South Florida is already one of the world’s great boating capitals. Now the region can also claim to be a boat-sharing industry leader, as more people seek out accessible ways to get out on the water and more boat owners oblige by turning their pleasure crafts into money makers.

Boatsetter, a peer-to-peer marketplace for boat rentals, has acquired its Seattle-based rival Boatbound, powering up the South Florida startup’s presence throughout the United States. The Aventura-based company also announced that it has raised an additional $4.75 million in funding, on top of the $13 million announced in December, to fund its international expansion.

Like others in the boat-sharing economy, Boatsetter attempts to make the boat rental experience as seamless as booking a room on Airbnb by connecting people seeking rentals with boat owners looking to monetize the time their boats aren’t used. But Boatsetter differentiates itself by giving its users access to a large network of licensed captains as well as a growing roster of high-end boat rentals for yachting, cruising, fishing or sailing, 24/7 customer support and insurance coverage for renters, boat owners and captains.

Jackie headshot“This acquisition now makes us the No. 1 peer-to-peer boat rental community in the United States hands down,” said Jaclyn Baumgarten, CEO and co-founder of Boatsetter, who wouldn’t disclose terms of the deal. “It means about 5,000 quality vessels ready to be rented, it brings us 1,500 U.S. coastguard licensed captains, it will mean about 10,000 transactions between the companies in 2017 and it brings us 300 locations.”

Baumgarten said the acquisition particularly expands Boatsetter’s inventory in Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle and Washington, DC.

“Additionally, we will be getting some great new talent from the Boatbound team, and we will be relocating them and the entire Seattle office to South Florida with us – a true Miami startup expansion,” said Baumgarten, in an interview with the Miami Herald on Wednesday. Boatsetter’s team will grow to 27 employees.

While accelerating operations in the U.S. five-fold is the goal for 2017, Baumgarten said, the acquisition and additional funding will also help fuel Boatsetter’s international expansion in 2018. Boatsetter plans to focus first on the Caribbean and Mediterranean, driving demand through global partnerships. It already has “phenomenal boats” in Bali, Ibiza, Mexico and South Africa, she said.

“This market is ripe for consolidation and I believe we are strongly positioned to lead that consolidation,” Baumgarten said. “We worked with a third-party investment bank and they value the peer-to-peer and charter business at $50 billion that we expect in the years to come to grow to $100 billion. That’s a huge opportunity and we are primed to lead a rollup strategy over the years to come globally.”

To that end, Boatsetter extended its Series A round, adding $4.75 million in funding to the $13 million the company raised in December. Key investors of the most recent round include Nordic Eye Venture Capital and the Miami-based TheVentureCity.

Laura Gonzalez-Estefani, co-founder of the TheVentureCity, which acts as an incubator for international-focused high-growth startups, said it’s the “super-driven” CEO and Boatsetter team, their data-driven approach to growth, international strategy and local expertise that attracted TheVentureCity as an investor. “The numbers are astounding in terms of engagement rates, their expansion plans are very interesting in the U.S. but also in Europe and we hope we can help them,” she said.

The young boat-sharing industry began making waves in South Florida in 2013.

That year, Boatbound entered the market in Miami, setting up a small office in Key Biscayne and developing a local network of boats. Boat-sharing was just getting started then, and rival Cruzin, led by Baumgarten, had also put down stakes in South Florida, too. As other rivals such as Sailo began expanding into the market, several locally based startups were developing, including Boatsetter, led by South Florida marine industry veteran and serial entrepreneur Andrew Sturner. Boatsetter and San Francisco based Cruzin merged in 2015, and Baumgarten became the CEO of the combined company. Sturner is executive chairman.

As the industry has matured and consolidated, locally based technology companies serving niches of the boat rental and sales industry have emerged here too, such as YachtLife serving the highest end of the market and Boatyard to handle boat-sharing related management and maintenance tasks for the owners. Meanwhile, a large online boat-sales marketplace, Boats Group, relocated its headquarters to Miami this year.

This summer, Boatsetter began offering uniquely curated experiences through the Airbnb platform in Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Barcelona, Baumgarten said. In Miami, the experiences range from watersports trips, experiences for fishing fanatics and luxury excursions with full course meals.

“We’ve taken boating from being a rare pastime for a fortunate few boat owners to being a universally accessible lifestyle activity for anyone with a smartphone and a credit card,” Baumgarten said in an earlier interview.

Nancy Dahlberg: @ndahlberg

August 03, 2017

Apply now for second cohort of Startupbootcamp Digital Health

Applications for Startupbootcamp's Digital Health innovation program in Miami are now open. Submit your application and you could be one of the companies selected to gain access to a national network of healthcare providers, insurers and investors. The application deadline is Oct. 6
 

Selected companies will receive:

  • Implementation opportunities with leading hospital systems including the Miami Children's Hospital, University of Miami, Jackson Health, Mayo Clinic (Jacksonville), Carolinas, local and national insurers, pharma and many others
  • Extensive mentorship from industry leading experts, entrepreneurs and investors 
  • $20K with up to a $100K convertible note and access to follow-on capital 
  • Office space in the heart of Miami
  • $500K in partner services from Google, Amazon, Salesforce, Intel and Paypal

- Submitted by Startupbootcamp Digital Health

June 15, 2017

Wanted: 'Fearless, ambitious and extraordinary entrepreneurs' for startupbootcamp Miami

 

By Christian Seale

Today, we are excited to announce the launch of applications for the second cohort of our digital health innovation program, startupbootcamp Miami.

If you share our passion and vision to transform healthcare, we want to meet you. Apply here!

We are a year older and have assembled an even deeper bench of local and national healthcare providers, insurers, pharma companies, industry leaders and top-tier healthcare investors committed to helping you refine and scale your companies.

Boot1Last year our program resulted in multiple implementations, customer contracts and financings for our portfolio companies from the likes of Miami Children’s Health System, University of Miami, Florida Blue, Jackson Health System, Univision and many others (read more here). Local entrepreneur Wolf Shlagman, CEO of CareAngel and founder of Consult-a-Doc (sold to Teladoc and Kleiner Perkins) highlighted: "the program surpassed our expectations and resulted in multiple customer contracts and venture financing. I highly recommend this program to any serious entrepreneur looking to take their healthcare business to the next level."  (pictured here: Rene Lerer, President Florida Blue, discusses healthcare reform with Startupbootcamp entrepreneurs.)

We encourage you to apply and accelerate your business. We are looking for fearless, ambitious and extraordinary entrepreneurs working at the intersection of healthcare and technology with proven and tested models and committed to making our system more equitable, efficient and accessible for all. If chosen to participate, you will receive funding, implementation and contract opportunities, mentorship from our dedicated expert network, office space and a comprehensive suite of portfolio and in-kind services.

We are proud to be part of Miami’s growing entrepreneurial ecosystem recently named the top city in startup activity by the Kauffman Foundation and grateful to be recognized by Inc. for our work to build the city into a globally recognized hub for healthcare innovation.

We invite you to join us and our partners at the Knight Foundation, Miami Children’s Hospital and many others as we build Miami into a globally recognized hub for innovation and together transform the future of healthcare. If you are a healthcare entrepreneur, please reach out and set up a time for virtual office hours.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Christian Seale is founder and managing director of startupbootcamp Miami. Follow on Twitter @sbchealth. For more information, email digitalhealth@startupbootcamp.com.

 

Boot3

Shane Battier, NBA and NCAA Champion, shared leadership lessons with Startupbootcamp entrepreneurs.

Boot2

Dr. Maurice Ferre Jr., Co-Founder of Mako Surgical and CEO of Insightec, shares lessons on building and selling a company with Startupbootcamp entrepreneurs.

Boot4

A panel discusses the future of digital health in South Florida at Startupbootcamp’s Demo Day. From left: Christian Seale of Startupbootcamp, Jaret Davis of Greenberg Traurig, Elizabeth Lopez of Miami Children’s Health System and Juan Ortiz of Sonas Home Health Care.

Photos provided by startupbootcamp Miami

 

June 12, 2017

Facebook alum pulls back curtain on TheVentureCity, to be based in Miami

Newcity

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Former executives of Facebook, Google, eBay and other hyper-growth companies have come together to form a global “city” with everything a startup needs to scale internationally.

Laura headshotCo-founding the unique venture, called TheVentureCity, is Laura González-Estéfani (pictured here), former director of international business development and mobile partnerships for Facebook, and Clara Bullrich, a 20-year private banking and asset management veteran. They call it an accelerator for the global tech ecosystem.

With an “international-first” approach, the accelerator will create cross-functional bridges between key regions to scale startups on a global level, González-Estéfani said. The headquarters of TheVentureCity will be in Miami Beach, currently in the 1111 building off Lincoln Road, with a second campus in Madrid and a presence in San Francisco, with plans to expand into a number of cities worldwide by 2020, González-Estéfani she said.

“All my team has worked all over the world, they have all spent years working outside their countries of origin,” González-Estéfani said, in an interview last week. “When we see a startup that has all the right bones, we will advise where to scale first and how the product needs to be tailored for those companies.”

In addition to the international focus, the all-in-one approach for startup needs and consistent support is what will set TheVentureCity apart, said González-Estéfani, who is a native of Spain. “While others provide entrepreneurs with the initial tools to get them started, TheVentureCity is our response to the need for a solution that offers startups everything from engineering and product optimization to data analysis, guiding them throughout the entire process.”

To be considered for either theVentureCity’s 36-month incubator or 18-month accelerator program, startups that can be in any place in the world must demonstrate at least a six-month track record and solid numbers on growth and engagement metrics, not necessarily revenue. Using a data-driven approach, TheVentureCity builds on that foundation of solid data to help them make the best business decisions to achieve long-term growth. “We aren’t afraid of working with international-first companies all over the world, we just have to fall in love with the founders,” she said.

About 25 startups a year from all over the world will be selected to enter the “factory” each year. Other parts of the “city” include the “data library,” the heart of the city, the airport for internationalization, the laboratory for the product engineering and the bank for venture capital. TheVentureCity will help startups with their funding strategy and tapping into funding resources, she said.

TheVentureCity will be paid in startup equity as the partnership progresses, González-Estéfani said.

Directing the Miami campus will be Elisa Rodriguez-Vila, who formerly worked at Fusión and was part of the co-founding team at The LAB Miami. TheVentureCity is already working with 15 startups, including Boatsetter, Playground, The Fastmind and RecargaPay from South Florida.

TheVentureCity has forged partnerships with a number of entitities including Beacon Council, Startupbootcamp, Venture Café and Facebook on the local level. She said TheVentureCity has been working with Miami Dade College on a two-year degree in entrepreneurship and innovation, for instance. “We make things happen, we are not afraid of taking risks,” González-Estéfani said. “That is the mindset we want to bring here and we are learning everyday from the pioneers and we want to partner with them.”

González-Estéfani came to Miami 2 1/2 years ago with Facebook; she also worked in Facebook’s operations in Silicon Valley and Europe from 2008 to 2014. Before that she worked at eBay, Siemans and Ogilvy.

Upon arrival from Silicon Valley she noticed something quickly: a welcoming community.

“The Medinas [Manny Medina, founder of eMerger Americas] opened the door to their home to us. That is something I have never seen before in Business. "They introduced me to to everything that was happening here. That soul, that spirit, is something that I have never seen anywhere else. Everyone they introduced me to, the Knight Foundation, the Endeavor family, everyone was the same way,” González-Estéfani said.

“There must be something in the water in Miami that makes everyone so welcoming and so enthusiastic about the unknown. I found that willingness to take a risk. Hopefully I can contribute with my team to help make this one of the most exciting and vibrant ecosystems in tech around the world.”
González-Estéfani will be giving a talk about TheVentureCity at eMerge Americas at Miami Beach Convention Center on Tuesday.

Nancy Dahlberg: @ndahlberg.

May 28, 2017

How to be selected for cohort 3 at StartUP FIU

Startupfiu

Pitch Day for StartUP FIU's Cohort 2

By Robert Hacker

StartUP FIU has just opened applications for the third cohort of its Empower Accelerator. The first two cohorts each received over 150 applications and we expect the same number by the June 11 deadline. The new cohort will begin the formal 14-week accelerator program in September and there is no cost or equity position given to participate. The program is open to both social and traditional entrepreneurs and their early stage companies.

The question we are most frequently asked is how can I improve the chances of being selected for the StartUP FIU accelerator.

 Coachability

We have interviewed over 90 applicants, worked with another 60 entrepreneurs that did not necessarily apply and advised the 39 teams comprising Cohorts I and II. The first thing all our staff are trained to look for is coachability--can the entrepreneur listen to critical feedback, thoughtfully consider it and make a reasoned adjustment. Every team in the program is assigned at least one mentor and these seasoned entrepreneurs are a critical success factor in incubators and accelerators worldwide. If the entrepreneur is not able to demonstrate they can take critical feedback from mentors and staff, their likelihood of commercial success and acceptance to the program is much lower.

 Problem Validation

Everyone who applies to Empower has a concept for a new business. Many applicants have a prototype or a beta, particularly the engineers. Surprisingly few have talked to potential customers about their problem, pain or need. After coachability, the next characteristic we look for is a demonstration of customer knowledge gained in the market. Of course, the best demonstration of customer knowledge may be revenue.

 Uniqueness

Competitive advantage, barriers to entry, what Warren Buffet calls moats--these are all descriptions of the same factors that can create value for customers and particularly shareholders. Perhaps the simplest way to demonstrate uniqueness is to describe the founder’s insight about the customer or problem that the company is addressing. Another effective technique is to describe the technology and simply describe how it is proprietary.

 Team

Entrepreneurship is the epitome of a team endeavor, hopefully beginning with co-founders and then building out the minimally necessary technical and management team. In our experience, companies with a team already established get more benefit out of the program and make more progress.

As we progress with the Empower Accelerator, we encounter an insatiable demand for all aspects of the entrepreneurship experience.  We are excited to be a part of Miami’s entrepreneurial support network and will continue to iterate to be able to offer different services for the multiple needs of the community and FIU.

Robert Hacker is the Director of StartUP FIU and teaches social entrepreneurship at FIU, MIT and UM. He is the former CFO of One Laptop per Child and prior to that built a publicly traded billion-dollar company in seven years in Indonesia. His books on entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship are available on Amazon.

 

May 23, 2017

FAU Tech Runway selects 5th accelerator class

Fau

Florida Atlantic University’s Tech Runway has selected its fifth and largest Venture class of startup and early-stage companies to participate in its business accelerator program.

This year, four companies will receive a $25,000 non-equity grant, participate in a 16-week intensive boot camp, engage in a rigorous year-long mentoring program with a team of five accomplished business mentors, and will be provided a workspace for one year. The four companies are:

·    Videopura LLC is a video services company with patent-pending technologies to reduce the bandwidth necessary for video services.

·      Tap2Open LLC is a secure, convenient, and easy way for residents and guests to gain access to gated communities via smart devices. Tap2Open allows residents and invited guests enter a gated community or secured door at the push of a button on their smart phone or device.

·  Ridgeback Network Defense Inc. delivers enterprise network security by turning the tables on hackers, dynamically counter-engaging the adversary, causing them to absorb the expense of attack and eliminating them as a threat.

·      Hubspring Health is an innovative software company founded by physicians focused on solving several of the chronic problems plaguing our industry. Hubspring provides a cure for these chronic conditions and enables healthcare organizations to embrace the future with its innovative and powerfully flexible platform, The Hub.

In addition, 16 more companies were awarded based on various tracks including, community, student and faculty. This will give them many of the same benefits as the prior four companies, minus the $25,000 grant. Six companies are still in the process of being selected and confirmed, however, the 11 companies already identified are: Two Degrees Inc.; ScaleWize; Land of Zorth; WAHspace; Bacon Boxes; SlideMap; PAPER; STAX; Gaming Frog; MMP Biopharma Inc.; and PQSecure Technologies LLC.

“A record number of companies entered the 2017 FAU Tech Runway Launch Competition. They significantly raised the bar, in terms of their quality and breadth represented,” said Rhys L. Williams, associate vice president for research and the managing director for FAU Tech Runway. “Consequently, this year’s winning Venture Class will be expanded by 50 percent to 21 companies.  After they complete our year-long program, many of these companies will no doubt make a profound impact upon the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

Under the purview of the FAU Division of Research, Tech Runway is a public-private partnership formed to foster technology start-ups and early-stage companies. Since its inception in late 2014, 205 jobs and 76 internships have been created; 39 FAU students have been employed; 136 corporate partnerships have been created; more than $8 million in revenue has been earned; and more than $19 million investment capital has been raised.

“FAU Tech Runway serves as a core entrepreneurship hub for Florida Atlantic University and as a key resource for the regional technology eco-system,” said Daniel C. Flynn, FAU’s vice president for research. “As the program matures, it will continue to launch thriving, innovative companies that are ready for their next stage of growth, contributing to the university and the state’s economic vitality.”

For more information on FAU Tech Runway, visit techrunway.fau.edu.

- Submitted by FAU Tech Runway

 

May 06, 2017

Zuke Music was $10K winner at Babson WIN Lab finale event

Zuke

Babson College’s Women Innovating Now (WIN) Lab celebrated its inaugural cohort’s completion of the eight-month Miami program on April 25, with over 250 guests at The Jewel Box at the National YoungArts Foundation headquarters. The WIN Lab® expanded into Miami in 2016 with the support of The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and corporate sponsors including Akerman LLP.

WIN Lab Miami’s Director Carolina Pina led the evening’s progression stating, “We are determined to impact the existing growth gap in the city; Miami ranks No. 2 in entrepreneurial activity but No. 38 in growth. By having more scalable businesses run and led by women, we’re hoping investors will be more willing to invest in them so we can also contribute to narrowing the funding gap.”

Matt Haggman, Knight Foundation Miami Program Director, added, “We’re trying to build a community that’s unlike any other. Innovation is built on a diversity of ideas and people.”

Haggman was one of three representatives judging WIN Lab Miami’s grand prize pitch session, with $17,500 in prizes sponsored by FedEx. For the pitch, three cohort companies who exceptionally leveraged the venture accelerator’s resources were given five minutes each to share their business vision in hopes of winning the grand prize.

Arielle Cohen’s Zuke Music—a digital networking platform for music industry professionals—took home the evening’s top honor of $10,000. (pictured above)

Kelly Pierce’s PIERCE Plan—a NCAA standards tracking software program—landed second place and $5,000.

Jessica Do’s Palmpress Coffee—a personal craft coffee maker for hot coffee and cold brew—earned third place and $2,500.

The accelerator is currently accepting applications for its second cohort, which has been extended until May 19. WIN LAB Miami applications can be found at www.thewinlab.org/apply.

- submitted by WIN LAB MIaimi

May 03, 2017

StartUP FIU Pitch Day for cohort 2 of Empower accelerator is May 9

Supfiucohort2 (20)

 

StartUP FIU, the university-wide initiative in innovation and entrepreneurship at Florida International University (FIU), announced today the companies to pitch at their Spring Pitch Day on May 9.

The pitch event connects venture capitalist and angel investors with a group of the most disruptive companies in South Florida. The event features FIU students, faculty/staff, alumni and members of the Miami community whose companies span innovation in consumer products, medical devices, social networks and cloud computing. This group represents the second cohort of the 14-week StartUP FIU Empower Accelerator program.

“I am truly inspired by the discoveries and innovations that are coming through StartUP FIU's Empower Accelerator and especially by the startups that will take to the stage on May 9,” said Emily Gresham, Cofounder of StartUP FIU and an Assistant Vice President of the University. “One of the missions of StartUP FIU is to commercialize the intellectual property developed here in South Florida and each cohort brings us closer to that objective.”

The 14 companies that will pitch at Graham Center Ballroom on May 9 include:

·       Benbo: The most interactive, simple and easy to use business networking app that will help you create, customize, exchange and scan business cards.

·       Boatrax: Boatrax facilitates the logging experience for boat owners with a mobile app that allows them to organize their logs and share them with local service providers.

·       Cargo42: Cargo42 is a marketplace for trucking committed to reducing idle time and capacity.

·       Clutch Couture Bags: Clutch Couture Bags is a designer handbag rental service that is changing the way fashion-lovers experience luxury.

·       Extreme Weather: A national network of weather education-entertainment-resilience centers. Visitors will experience dangerous weather through immersive, experiential technologies.

·       Give Wink: First ever subscription box service for grandparents, delivering an assortment of age appropriate essentials and goodies on a bi-monthly basis.  

·       Master Honey: We empower low-income women to start their own micro beekeeping business and sell us the urban honey they produce for commercialization.

·       MmMaps: Public Transportation for Tourism

·       NIROS: NIROS Technology Inc. is developing a safe hand-held optical scanner to help wound care specialist image under the skin, to improve prognosis in wounds healing process

·       Renu Shops: Redesigning retail, Removing blight, and Empowering communities with reused shipping containers.

·       SkillCourt: SkillCourt application helps you create, perform and compare through our wireless LED Target pads.  

·       StealthSimulation: Bridging the gap between healthcare education and technology by engineering solutions for clinical simulation.

·       Viera Academy: A free Test-Preparation Playground, mentored by Guinness record holders committed to helping students play, learn and train like Champions do.

·       Wrocket: Teaching organizations recruit Millennials in their language! Candidates and recruiters video, swipe and chat themselves to the perfect match

 Click here to reserve your tickets for Pitch Day. For ongoing coverage of StartUP FIU, follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram or view curated content via the hashtag #StartUPFIU.

Applications for StartUP FIU’s Cohort 3  are currently open. You can apply at startup.fiu.edu to be a part of the Empower Accelerator.

StartUP FIU, a university-wide initiative, has two programs currently in operation. StartUP FIU Empower Accelerator is a formal14-week program and StartUP FIU FOOD is a year-round food incubator. A third program, StartUP FIU West Kendall, an incubator focusing on software and hardware technology, will open later in 2017.

- Submitted by StarUP FIU

April 18, 2017

WIN Lab accepting applications for Cohort 2

WINLAB

Cohort 1 of WIN Lab Miami.

WIN Lab Miami is looking for female entrepreneurs ready to think big and scale their businesses.

Created by the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership at Babson College, Women Innovating Now (WIN) Lab provides women entrepreneurs with an inspiring community and a rigorous, experiential eight-month program that aims to catalyze innovative thinking and enable them to successfully launch or transform businesses.

For information on eligibility, program requirements and the application process. visit www.thewinlab.org/apply

Deadlines

  • Application Due May 12 at 5PM EST
  • Semi-finalist Interviews, May 12 to June 9h
  • Pitch Days, June 29–30
  • WINners Announced July 15

Fees

  • $0 until April 4 at midnight (extended from April 1st)
  • $25 from April 5 until April 15 at midnight
  • $50 from April 16 until May 12 at 5PM EST

 

Admissions Criteria

Power as SheO

The WIN Lab is dedicated to catalyzing women founders who are passionate, committed, and want to build scalable ventures! These women will form part of a diverse cohort that will build their business as they accelerate their entrepreneurial journey as peers. Their potential and drive may speak louder than their business concept. We look at the entrepreneur and their potential, not only their traction to date.

Think Big Ventures
WIN is industry agnostic and curates cohorts that include products and services from all sectors. The accelerator is looking for high-growth, well-vetted, BIG ideas, with a clear secret sauce and strong positioning in the market.

Timing is Everything
WIN seeks businesses that are in beta stage with a functioning prototype, a strong go-to-market strategy, and are positioned to scale. This will enable them to best leverage Lab resources. We are open to candidates that are slightly earlier or later stage if they have a clear idea on how they will leverage the WIN experience (i.e. idea stage or growth stage that are franchising or launching a new product or service).

Community Fit
Applicants should be ready to join and contribute to an entrepreneurial community. We are looking for founders that are willing to fully engage by committing time and energy to the program and their peers. WIN Lab provides its entrepreneurs with an immense amount of expertise, coaching, and resources, and we ask for commitment and contribution in return. Participants (WINners) are required to show up to weekly sessions, meet monthly milestones, provide feedback to their fellow founders, and operate with openness and transparency during the program. 

Team
Research shows that start-ups with co-founders are more likely to achieve early success and scalability. We seek founders that are part of strong, women-led, teams with co-founders and/or employees that are committed to venture growth (founder agreements must be submitted before entering the Lab). Solo founders that are actively seeking team members or have a strong organizational plan in place are encouraged to apply. 

- Submitted by WIN Lab Miami 

April 11, 2017

Incubator program for food entrepreneurs launches at FIU

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

AnnaEtienneStartUP FIU, a university-wide entrepreneurship initiative at Florida International University, this month has opened its second program: StartUP FIU FOOD.

Funded with a $500,000 grant from Citi Foundation, StartUP FIU FOOD assists small community food entrepreneurs to grow their businesses, leveraging the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management’s large commercial kitchen and providing workshops for skills development, food science training and mentorship. StartUP FIU FOOD also helps food entrepreneurs to incorporate, generate financial statements and apply for micro-finance loans and traditional commercial bank loans.

READ MORE: Multi-campus StartUP FIU gets ready for takeoff

“There is an unmet need in Miami for not only affordable commercial kitchen space, but also for startup incubator services, business advising and entrepreneurial networking. Sometimes we have to create opportunity.” said Emily Gresham, an FIU assistant vice president and co-founder of StartUP FIU.

Anna Etienne (pictured here)  will lead day-to-day activities as director of StartUP FIU FOOD. The inaugural cohort includes these local food entrepreneurs:

Joe’s Sweets: Specialty fresh baked pastries and bread

Greathouse Gourmet Inc: Gourmet condiments and sauces that blend Caribbean flavors.

Lemon City Tea: High-quality, ethically-sourced teas inspired by Miami.

Helene's Ice Cream, LLC: Artisanal frozen desserts: ice cream, frozen custard, sorbet, and custom ice cream cakes.

Frice Cream: Handcrafted ice cream and pastries using locally sourced and natural ingredients.

Timeline Brewery: Beer with flavors influenced by culture and history.

Sweet Jalane's Inc: “Made from scratch” desserts, flavored cakes and cupcakes, mini bundt cakes, pies, pastries, fruit cobblers and cookies.

Etienne plans to accept new applicants to the program throughout the year. More information: http://startup.fiu.edu/food.

StartUP FIU launched an accelerator program last fall on the Modesto Maidique campus and has a technology-focused program planned for a Kendall location in the plans for launch within the next year.

READ MORE: How millennials tastes shape a new generation of food startups