December 03, 2017

From Facebook to Miami, she’s investing in dreams, maybe even the next ‘iguanacorn’

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By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlbergbiz@gmail.com

When Laura González-Estéfani moved from Silicon Valley to Miami in 2015, the former Facebook executive said she was taken aback by the welcoming tech and entrepreneurship community.

“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,” she said in an interview this summer.

At eMerge Americas in June, González-Estéfani and business partner Clara Bullrich announced plans to start a venture-building company, called TheVentureCity, headquartered in Miami and Madrid, with an office in Silicon Valley, that would bring together a team from hyper-growth companies such as Facebook, Google and eBay. The venture builder would focus on accelerating high-potential tech startups with international growth aspirations. And that was just the beginning of a whirlwind six months for González-Estéfani and Bullrich.

Since then TheVentureCity team has begun offering free workshops and events for the community. The company has also partnered with Miami Dade College on an associate’s degree in entrepreneurship, and González-Estéfani and her team have assembled a group of instructors, including herself, who are CEOs or top executives of South Florida companies to teach the classes. The MDC program started this fall.

 “Those amazing young kids, their brains are so open,” said González-Estéfani, born in Spain and a mother of three. “What is your dream? That’s how I started my class. That was the first interview question I got at Facebook. When you can dream, things happen.”

And in September, TheVentureCity announced it has launched a $100 million venture capital fund, and kicked it off with 14 investments so far, including four investments in South Florida companies Boatsetter, RecargaPay, Above & Beyond and The FastMind.

Although her fund invests all over the world, González-Estéfani is a believer in Miami’s potential for tech. She even coined her own Miami term for so-called unicorns — companies valued at $1 billion or more. She calls them “Iguanacorns,” and Miami already has several.

To find the next iguanacorns, TheVentureCity is taking applications for its 36-month or 18-month accelerator-like program called The Garden Fellowships. 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. Using a data-driven approach, TheVentureCity builds on that foundation.

The Miami Herald interviewed González-Estéfani in her office in October about her time at Facebook and her new venture in Miami that includes a fund. These are excerpts of that conversation.

Q.  Why did you start TheVentureCity?

A. I worked for Facebook almost nine years, I’m 41, which is almost one-fourth of my life dedicated to that amazing company. I worked in Europe, Silicon Valley, Miami and Latin America. In 2000, I founded my own startup and we failed miserably. But I am surprised that after 20 years the problems in these emerging tech hubs are still the same.

A Silicon Valley startup founded by a Stanford guy is valued three times more than one founded by a Venezuelan guy based in Miami or a woman based in Spain. This is my passion — I want to fix that. I want to work with companies that are making a huge impact, not because of where the founders are.

A Silicon Valley startup founded by a Stanford guy is valued three times more than one founded by a Venezuelan guy based in Miami or a woman based in Spain. This is my passion — I want to fix that.

I believe the next billion-dollar companies won’t be coming from Silicon Valley only. There are so many huge problems to solve around the world. If you look at fin-tech, insure-tech, health-tech, feminine-tech, if you look at AR [augmented reality], those founders are so talented, so driven, but they don’t have the right people supporting them.

What moves our team is giving founders in those emerging tech hubs support to change the world in the best way they can. We have been busy executing.

Q. What do you look for in an investment?

A. We don’t invest in companies without at least a six-month track record with engagement and growth metrics. We need to understand the founders first, have chemistry with them, and then look at the product or their engineering, the core of what they are building.

If everything goes well, then we will look at the financial model and legal structure. Why? We are looking at the bones, what are the things we need to track to understand if the company is going somewhere. We are not looking at revenues from the very beginning, which is something that happens in Miami all the time [because] investors want to see early revenues. If I have a small company, I want everyone focused on growing the company. The Googles, Facebooks, eBays of the world, they didn’t start monetizing until the year three or five.

That’s the thinking. Even our term sheets are different. A lot of funds require a board seat. I don’t want that. I want the entrepreneur to feel at home and that they can call our team at any time. I don’t want to wait until the board meeting to hear what the problem is. It doesn’t make sense.

The transparency, the directness and information flow we request is very different, it is more like we are part of the same team. At the end of the day, the best deals are coming our way and our founders feel we can help them.

We need to bring more people here who want to support founders along the way. Not roadblocks; it’s already so difficult to be an entrepreneur.

Q. Tell me about The Garden Fellowships. How is it different from a startup accelerator?

A. Our program is not a fixed program; it is tailor-made for each of the startups. Our experience is giving to the talent.

We don’t require equity in advance; we invest as we go over 18 or 36 months. We have to keep earning it. If they want to leave at any point, they are free to leave at any point. We don’t want anyone to feel trapped. We are so sure of how much we can deliver, I am comfortably fine to demonstrate every day that we have earned it.

We are going to work with 25 companies. They can work wherever they want. Pushing the boundaries, that is what disruption is all about.

Every company should have a chief happiness officer. When I asked the kids at Miami Dade College what kind of company they want to work with, none of them said a corporation. They are mission-driven.

Q. What are some lessons you learned at Facebook and earlier?

A. Don’t pay attention to the noise, don’t pay attention to the drama, you can make it happen.

Figure out where you want to go and then deconstruct and move backward.

My first startup [a beach tourism portal in 2000] was a disaster. We didn’t plan in advance, of course 2000 the bubble burst, it was bad timing and we didn’t know what we were doing. I’m an angel investor who is on boards and my husband is building a company, and I’ve learned you have to think five years out and build backwards.

Five years in tech is a long time. I didn’t have that five-year vision when I was 20 years old. I needed to have an action plan with steps on how to get there. Now we are trying to embed that into everyone.

If you are a natural leader, people will follow you.

Have a suite of values that every member of the team speaks to. You need to do what you preach. Invest in the culture of the company, transparency, diversity, being fair to the founders, thinking of the founders first. Our list of mentors is pretty amazing and you need to connect them with the community. If you say you are going to do this, you have to do this. That’s something I learned at Facebook.

Every company should have a chief happiness officer. (At TheVentureCity that’s Miami campus director Elisa Rodríguez-Vila). When I asked the kids at Miami Dade College what kind of company they want to work with, none of them said a corporation. They are mission-driven. Millennials and those coming after are expecting to work with a purpose, not just for the money. Every company needs to invest in happiness officers guaranteeing that there will be an amazing culture.

I never hire people who want to work just because of the money. I’ve never done that. But we do pay people right. That is something Miami needs to understand — if you really want to attract the best talent, you should pay them in a fair way. You can’t expect them to work for $50,000, excuse me?

Q. How else can Miami’s entrepreneurial ecosystem be improved?

A. The showstoppers are there is a lot of money and a lot of awesome tech. Explore different ways to make an impact. We have to create those role models, the Jacqui’s [Baumgarten, CEO of Boatsetter] of the world, the guys from The FastMind, the founder of CareCloud, these are role models for the community. They need to mingle more and be more proactive. On the other side, to the founders, you can’t wait for things to happen for you. You need to put skin in the game. I’ve had founders who’ve wanted investment and they aren’t even working on their venture full time. I’m putting everything I have into this and I expect the same from you.

We need investors that really understand tech. We need traditional venture capitalists to understand that in tech it doesn’t work the same way, you can’t expect returns in a year. We need the talent to stay here because they are getting the right salary. You can’t be strangled by regulation, hello government.

We still have a long way with the government. I am not talking about handouts, I am talking about making it easier for them to thrive. Tech drives tons of high wage jobs.

Everyone contributes to what happens here.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.


Laura González-Estéfani

Position: Co-founder of TheVentureCity, a venture builder headquartered in Miami and Madrid.

Experience: González-Estéfani spent nearly nine years with Facebook in various roles supporting overall growth strategies, including as director of international business development and mobile partnerships for Latin America, spearheading the Internet.org and connectivity initiatives from Silicon Valley and later Miami. Before Facebook, she held management roles at eBay, Siemens and Ogilvy Group and co-founded Esplaya.com, the first international beach tourism digital platform.

Education: Universidad Europea de Madrid and Vlerick Business School in Belgium.

Personal: 41 years old, born in Spain, “citizen of the world.” Married, mother of three, lives in Miami.

Community involvement: Mentor for Endeavor Miami and Stanford Latina Entrepreneurship Program; coach for Babson College.

November 21, 2017

Startupbootcamp Digital Health Miami announces 13 startups for second cohort

 

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Startupbootcamp Digital Health Miami, an innovation program and fund, announces the 13 companies that will be joining their second cohort.

The cohort was selected after an intensive two-day evaluation and selection process on November 17-18. The 13 selected startups were chosen from over 300 applicants that applied during the recruitment months.

Teams pitched their businesses to over 100 healthcare executives, investors and mentors industry experts from Startupbootcamp’s corporate partners such as Nicklaus Children’s Hospital and Accenture as well as representatives from Marsh, Towers Watson, Philips, UnitedHealthCare, Zaffre Investments, Mayo Clinic, CVS Health, Optum, Carolinas Healthcare, Catholic Health Services, Thorek, Health Choice Network, University of Miami and Baptist Health. These representatives also mentored the participating companies and explored collaboration opportunities.


The 13 selected startups are:


B.well: is a consumer centered health management platform designed to deliver what consumers want and monetize to what payors, employers and providers need.
 
BrainFX: BrainFX 360 assessment is a web and tablet based assessment of Neurofunction that measures complex cognitive skills using real world context.
 
Cybexys: proprietary platform CARAT uses a natural language processing to detect details that humans might miss when they are processing unstructured information from a clinician's narrative and trying to properly code the severity level of each patient disease state.

Empower Capital: is a financial engineered HSA plus program that ensures liquidity to all employees with high deductible plans.

Epharmix: creates and validates disease-specific "digital interventions" to help care teams manage and support medically underserved patient populations across twenty of the most expensive and difficult medical indications.

FRND: is a platform used to connect MDs, payors, and providers to a network of mobile practitioners for housecalls.

HealthTensor: clinically-validated algorithms automatically diagnose and create documentation from patient data, saving physicians time, improving patient care, and improving note accuracy for coding and billing.

NarrativeDx: collects patient feedback and satisfaction data from internal sources, discharge surveys, HCAHPS surveys, social media channels, and physician review websites.

NeuraMetrix: has developed a technology, based on typing cadence, to detect and monitor the progression of brain diseases, disorders and injuries by measuring human cognitive and motor function at the sub-clinical level based on significant capabilities in quantitative methods and proprietary software.

Quick’rCare: is the only platform focused on assisting patients find the shortest  wait time at  an ER or Urgent care, and hold their place in line.

SaveMyScope: has created a mobile phone adapter and application on the App Store that removes the need for physicians to use bulky, expensive video towers.

Twiage: allows EMTs and paramedics to collect and send high-quality prehospital data instantly via a smartphone.

Wellth: is focused on improving adherence and decreasing readmissions by helping patients change their behaviors so they get better faster.

“We are proud to see this set of companies build on our first cohort with greater diversity of founders, product category, stage, geography and revenue. Miami is poised to become recognized as a global hub for healthcare innovation," said founder and General Partner Christian Seale.

"Startupbootcamp continues to help fill important gaps in our innovation ecosystem by attracting new talent to Miami and providing a platform for startups to scale and grow. This second cohort of entrepreneurs will bring fresh ideas and energy to our city, adding to the momentum of our expanding startup community," said Chris Caines, interim program director for Miami at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, a Startupbootcamp supporter, which helped bring the accelerator program to the United States in 2015.

The program kicks off on January 15, 2018 when the startups will relocate to Miami. The program offers participating companies partnerships with leading hospital systems, insurers and pharma to accelerate and scale their businesses, extensive mentoring from over 150+ healthcare entrepreneurs, investors, and executives in addition to six months of free office space and seed funding.

- Submitted by Startupbootcamp Digital Health 

 

November 12, 2017

Doing well by doing good: Social ventures on the rise in South Florida

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By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com 

Chances are you’ve popped a pod into a Keurig machine today, and you may have felt a wee bit guilty about the environmental impact of that convenient jolt of java.

Daniel Buelhoff is aiming to mitigate the damage. Buelhoff is the co-founder of Gourmesso, the online market leader for environmentally friendly Nespresso compatibles in the U.S. and Germany. The company, now located in Miami, also has launched a 100 percent-compostable Keurig alternative, called Glorybrew, with Fair Trade-certified coffee to end the negative environmental impact of the billions of coffee pods ending up in landfills.

Though research and development on the compostible product took about two years, it’s paid off. Sales quickly climbed into the millions and the business is profitable.

 “I saw an opportunity and I went for it,” he said.

Buelhoff, who moved from Germany last year, thinks of himself as an entrepreneur first and foremost — he has also co-founded companies in gaming and other e-commerce and food ventures. But with Gourmesso, he is also a social entrepreneur, because his company has an environmental return as well as the financial bottom line.

His and other social enterprises present solutions to challenges such as global warming, healthcare and poverty. It’s also a growing trend in South Florida’s startup scene, with new programs designed to fund, nurture and grow companies that can improve life here.

But not all see themselves as social entrepreneurs, even when they are, says Rebecca Fishman Lipsey, whose organization, Radical Partners, has been running social entrepreneurship bootcamps in Miami for three years. The bootcamp itself is already showing a social return because 75 percent of the bootcamp organizations have significantly expanded services or scaled their social ventures to other cities.

“The whole genre has expanded in people’s consciousness,” Lipsey said. “I would love to make a magnet out of Miami, where great people who want to solve social impact issues want to be here doing that work, and people who want to fund work like that would look to Miami and wonder what social innovations we are cooking up.”

If it seems like social entrepreneurship is the flavor of the year, you’re right. Gustavo Grande has seen more and more social entrepreneurship ventures come through the Miami Dade College’s Idea Center, where he is programs manager.

“We already have a lot of students with ideas in social entrepreneurship, but we want to give them the structure to develop sustainable social ventures and collaborate with different partners in the community to accelerate that,” Grande said.

[RELATED STORY: Four ways Miami startups are trying to save the planet]

It’s a movement that gets a significant boost from the burgeoning millennial generation but encompasses all ages and ethnicities. In South Florida, a growing percentage of participants in high schools and university entrepreneurship programs are focusing on social enterprises — about half, according to Grande — and a community of serial entrepreneurs and investors is forming to help them.

Some notable social enterprises in South Florida include Rising Tide Car Wash, now in two Broward locations, which employs people on the Autism spectrum; Mela Artisans, a seller of luxury lifestyle products handmade by artisans in emerging markets; and FIGS, which sells antimicrobial, breathable and fashionable scrubs and has donated more than 75,000 sets of scrubs in emerging markets. EcoTech Visions focuses on incubating green manufacturing businesses, while the Urban.Us fund invests in tech companies with solutions that help cities.

But across the region, there are now also scores of startups in development that are focused on the environment (read related story), employment, alleviating poverty and improving access to education.

It’s a global movement. An estimated 11 percent of adults in the United States between 18 and 64 are attempting to start or are operating in a social enterprise, according to a Global Entrepreneurship Monitor study about social entrepreneurship by Babson College and other partners in 2016. That’s up from about 7 percent in its 2010 report. Social ventures are led by women 45 percent of the time, according to the study — far more than in commercial ventures.

Despite their noble goals, more than three-quarters of social enterprises fail before their fourth birthday, according to a Failure Institute study. Among key reasons, according to studies: the unequal access to financial, mentoring and educational resources and opportunities.

“The world will be a better place if we can determine the most appropriate ways to support social entrepreneurs and scale up their solutions,” said one of the GEM report’s authors, Siri Terjesen.

That’s where new resources come in. A few recent developments in South Florida:

READ THE FULL STORY HERE.

 

 

November 02, 2017

Blubeta and Healthsnap Solutions take part in MarketFit Acceleration Bootcamp in Silicon Valley

 

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In partnership with Global Silicon Valley Labs (GSVlabs) and Google Developers Launchpad, MarketFit traveled to Silicon Valley with the team of co-founders from Healthsnap Solutions and Blubeta for its 2017 MarketFit Acceleration Bootcamp. For 5 days, they attended series of talks and 1-on-1 mentoring sessions in areas such as Lean Business Canvas, Product, Growth Hacking, and Fundraising, along with six other local and international startups. As part of the program, the startups spent a day at the Google Launchpad San Francisco campus discussing UX/UI and Design Sprint with Google mentors.

In total, the startups individually met over 20 local mentors, ranging from successful entrepreneurs, investors and senior level executives. The mentors spent approximately 1 hour with each startup, giving an outside look into their businesses and challenges and allowing for constructive dialogue and feedback. The Silicon Valley week concluded with a “mock” pitch competition in front of a jury of seven, including Venture Capitalists, entrepreneurs and angel investors from Silicon Valley. Yenvy Truong, CEO of Healthsnap Solutions carried the Miami pride by winning best pitch from the jury.

Back in Miami, the teams spent two additional days focusing on actionable milestones, fundraising strategy, and team structuring.

“We received a lot of feedback forcing us to look into what we have been doing so far and where do we go from here. Every startup should consider going through this program. MarketFit gave us an opportunity to reset and evaluate our position in the market. From this enriching experience, we were able to pivot and shift focus in order to scale,” stated Antonio Manueco, Co-Founder of Blubeta.

“The experience was amazing and the knowledge we brought back, we feel will trickle into the Miami system. After that opportunity in Silicon Valley, we feel as a company; we're able to take a big jump to hyper-growth,” Truong said.

“South Florida is a fast-growing startup ecosystem, and we are very excited to be part of this process, bridging the gap between Miami and Silicon Valley in partnership with GSVlabs, Google Launchpad and our team of mentors," said Roberto Machado from MarketFit.

MarketFit is currently receiving applications for the next Silicon Valley/Miami Bootcamp, which will take place late January 2018.

To learn more about the growth acceleration programs and how they are ideal for second stage startups, please visit https://marketfit.us/startup-bootcamp/.

- Submitted by HealthSnap

 

November 01, 2017

Miami’s TheVentureCity launches $100M global fund for tech startups

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Clara Bullrich, left, and Laura González-Estéfani at their TheVentureCity office in Miami Beach. TheVentureCity is now launching a $100 million fund for startups. Alexia Fodere for The Miami Herald

 

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@Miamiherald.com

This summer, when former executives of Facebook, Google, eBay and other hyper-growth companies formed a global “city” based in Miami with everything a tech startup needs to scale internationally, they were missing one key element: the money.

But not anymore.

The founder and CEO of TheVentureCity, Laura González-Estéfani, former director of international business development and mobile partnerships for Facebook, and co-founder Clara Bullrich, a 20-year private banking and asset management veteran, have launched a $100 million fund for tech entrepreneurs. This will be a tool in its unique TheVentureCity, which offers a tailored fellowship program and consultancy for tech startups with global hypergrowth potential.

TheVentureCity Fund I has already has already put $20 million to work, investing in about 14 companies globally – four of them based in the Miami area.

The new fund has invested in Boatsetter, a boat-rental platform; gaming venture The FastMind; and financial-technology startups Above & Beyond and RecargaPay, all from South Florida. It has also funded three Silicon Valley companies; the remainder are from Latin America and Europe. One has roots in Angola. Another five companies are in the pipeline. TheVentureCity typically invests more than $1 million.

“We want to accelerate emerging tech hubs around the world with amazing entrepreneurs who want to make their dreams come true. The way to do that is to guarantee that the right, smart money is there,” said González-Estéfani, in an interview last week. “There’s a lot of money in Miami but many of the LPs [limited partners] don’t understand tech.”

TheVentureCity Fund I joins several new funds launched in South Florida in the past couple of years for early-stage investments, including Krillion VenturesRokk3r Fuel ExOLas Olas Venture Capital and AGP Miami, an active angel investing network. But the number of South Florida startups has risen 63 percent in the past two years, and the lack of local venture capital options has long been an issue in the area.

Some of South Florida’s most successful startups have gone elsewhere, including Silicon Valley, for their funding. Some don’t come back.

González-Estéfani said the fund is looking for companies that can show at least six months of strong growth and customer engagement. “We are not looking at revenues from the very beginning, which is something that happens in Miami all the time – investors want to see early revenues,” said González-Estéfani, a native of Spain who worked in Silicon Valley, Europe, Latin America and Miami at Facebook for nine years, and before that was with eBay, Siemans and Ogilvy.

“But if I have a small company, I want everyone focused on growing the company. The Googles, Facebooks, eBays of the world, they didn’t start monetizing until the year three or five.”

With an “international-first” approach, TheVentureCity aims to create cross-functional bridges between key regions to scale startups on a global level through its consultancy, its acceleration programs and in-house product and engineering expertise, González-Estéfani said.

The headquarters of TheVentureCity is in Miami Beach, but the team of 17 is looking for a 10,000-square-foot office in Miami. There is a second campus in Madrid and an office in San Francisco. It just added a presence in Sydney, Australia, and Singapore may be in the works, González-Estéfani said. Elisa Rodríguez-Vila, who co-founded The LAB Miami, runs the Miami campus.

TheVentureCity’s 36-month or 18-month tailored acceleration programs, which will be called The Garden Fellowships, will launch this month at WebSummit in Lisbon, Portugal. TheVentureCity will take equity in the startup as the partnership progresses, not upfront, González-Estéfani said.

This fall, Miami Dade College and TheVentureCity launched a two-year degree in entrepreneurship. TheVentureCity recently received a “key” from the Miami-Dade Beacon Council for locating and investing in Miami.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

October 08, 2017

StartUP FIU: Your chance to change the world

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By Kate Sackman

What do fair trade yoga pants, paying off student loans, and promoting minority businesses have in common? Yep, all of these opportunities, and more, are being addressed by the StartUP FIU Empower Accelerator companies.

An exciting array of startups are in the third cohort of companies now going through the fall 2017 Empower Accelerator on the main campus of Florida International University.  This 14-week intensive program guides early stage companies rapidly through the key analyses and decisions for building a strong company foundation and scaling. Of the eleven companies in Cohort 3, six are FIU-affiliated (students, alumni, and faculty) and five are from the Miami community.  All of the companies at least have a prototype in development and four of them are generating revenue. The industries represented include apparel, food service, finance, ecommerce, supply chain monitoring and digital marketing

Companies in Cohort 3 are working to provide fair incomes and humane treatment of garment workers in Sri Lanka, help people get out from under crushing debt, and reduce fraud at construction sites.  Cool technologies such as artificial intelligence, the internet of things, and predictive analytics are being applied by companies to improve consumer intelligence, make online marketing more fair and efficient, and yes, help you get fit.

Here are the companies in Cohort 3:

Alana Athletica: Alana designs and sells yoga pants made to employ and empower women in Sri Lanka who are abuse survivors.

Aromas del Peru: A successful Peruvian restaurant chain in Miami that plans to franchise nationally.

CoinStash: An automatic savings plan that helps users pay off student and credit card debt by automatically rounding up their purchases to the nearest dollar and applying the difference to their debt.

Ekkobar: A sophisticated application of machine learning, Ekkobar enables companies to analyze their digital media in real time and interact directly with their audience.

Lunchology: A healthy meal delivery service for schools using only fresh, local ingredients.

Major Marketplace: An online marketplace for minority businesses and those who want to support them.

Merkari: A digital marketing company that enables companies to run multi-channel campaigns across any device.

Mettosof: Mettosof makes InstanRate, a SaaS system that expedites customers’ review process and helps business operators analyze customer feedback   to improve their operations.

Origo: A blockchain-based web platform that allows businesses to validate the true identity and fair trade practices of traders in the Americas.

Smart Barrel: Provides rugged, solar-powered IoT products for construction jobsites that enable construction workers to punch in and out without an RFID tag or other device and enables project managers to oversee and plan construction sites more efficiently.

Sodima Solutions: A chatbot company that provides customer management and a lead generation fitness assistant for the Facebook business page of fitness professionals and gyms.

APPLICATIONS OPEN FOR NEXT COHORT

Applications are now open for Cohort 4! Aspiring entrepreneurs from throughout South Florida are invited to apply.  Companies that have a prototype in development and a good understanding of their customers and market are eligible. Preference is for companies with some revenue, but companies at any stage are welcome to apply. You can apply on the StartUP FIU website: http://startup.fiu.edu. Cohort 4 begins in January 2018.

On the website you can also find StartUP FIU workshops, speakers, and other programs for the public. Upcoming workshops by leading experts include A Beginner’s Guide to Crowdfunding (October 5), and Sea Level Rise Mitigation (October 12). 

Kate Sackman is the director of the StartUP FIU Empower Accelerator and a seasoned entrepreneur.  She has a background in finance, marketing, high-tech, and media. She is also a consultant and a professor of Global Social Entrepreneurship at FIU.

 

September 27, 2017

11 South Florida leaders selected for cohort 4 of Social Entrepreneurship Bootcamp

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Rebecca Fishman Lipsey, center, is founder and CEO of Radical Partners, a social impact accelerator.

 

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

What are some of the most pressing issues facing our region, and how can we solve them?

Ask the alumni and new cohort of Social Entrepreneurship Bootcamp, an accelerator program for social-impact ventures based in South Florida.

The program, led by Radical Partners, announced its fourth cohort on Wednesday, selecting 11 leaders at the helm of some of the most innovative organizations seeking to improve our region. From expanding opportunities for diverse food entrepreneurs to providing a support network for transgender locals, the cohort of both for-profit and non-profit companies is committed to strengthening communities, increasing equity, and improving the quality of life for those in our city.

Each participant is offered a full scholarship to enable participation in the 12-week accelerator program focused on scaling the impact of their ventures. Upon completion of the program, participants are welcomed into an active alumni network, where they will continue to focus on strengthening Miami alongside some of the most celebrated social innovators in the region.

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In an effort to diversify the investor base in the social innovation sector, Radical Partners sought to fund the entire program through support from female investors and philanthropists. All scholarships for this fourth cohort were made possible by female investors who are committed to the future of Miami, including Tere Blanca of Blanca Commercial Real Estate, Leslie Miller Saiontz of Achieve Miami and Teach For America, CL Conroy of The Conroy Martinez Group, Ruth Admire of The William J. and Isobel G. Clarke Foundation, Dr. Elizabeth Leight, Stephanie Ansin, and Michelle Huttenhoff, among others.

The cohort will also benefit from expert advice from financial advisors, branding experts, and lawyers through partnerships with Desnoyers CPA, Fiscal Management Associates, and Milkcase Creative. Participants will also receive legal health checks from Akerman and have access to the AkermanX/Radical Partners innovation space housed at the Cambridge Innovation Center for all 12 weeks of the program.

Here are the 2017 Social Entrepreneurship Bootcamp cohort members (list provided by Radical Partners):

Communities In Schools of Miami

Elyssa Linares, President and CEO

Nonprofit providing wraparound resources to help students succeed, whether that’s clean clothes, help with school work, or emotional support to cope with or recover from a traumatic event.

Melanites

Jennifer Pierre, Founder and CEO

Toy company that creates diverse toys, storybooks, and games that celebrate brown boyhood and inspire children of color to dream big.

Mind&Melody

Cristina Rodriguez, President and Co-Founder

Nonprofit that creates novel music programs at healthcare facilities to improve the quality of life for individuals with neurological impairments like dementia.

Moonlighter

Tom Pupo, Co-Founder

S.T.E.A.M. Learning Center, Fabrication Lab, and Co-Working Space that encourages creative collaboration among artists, designers, engineers, students, educators, and innovators in order to catalyze meaningful solutions through education, technology, and community.

O, Miami

Scott Cunningham, Founder and Director

Annual festival with the goal of every single person in Miami-Dade County encountering a poem.

Open Referral Initiative

Greg Bloom, Founder and Leader

Open-access platform that enables people in need (and related organizations) to get accurate information about the health, human, and social services available in our region.

The New Tropic

Ariel Zirulnick, Director

Local media startup that connects people to their cities through storytelling and events.

TransSOCIAL

Ashley Mayfaire, Co-Founder and Director of Operations

Trans-led nonprofit working to build LGBTQ+ unity and expand community resources and support.

Unconventional

Jordan Magid, Founder and CEO

Art production agency beautifying neighborhoods, strengthening relationships and inspiring citizenship.

The Wynwood Yard

Della Heiman, Founder and CEO

Culinary incubator and community hub designed to foster the development of innovative Miami-based food, culture, design and fitness entrepreneurs.

Young Musicians Unite

Sammy Gonzalez, Co-Founder, President and CEO

Nonprofit giving students a voice through music by providing underserved communities with free, comprehensive music programming.

 

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A scene from Radical Partners Social Entrepreneurship Bootcamp Cohort 2 workshop

 

September 19, 2017

Meet the next class of women selected for WIN Lab Miami

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By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

A straw that helps detect date rape, advances in breast pump technology, a dinner party in a box. These are products and services in development by just a few of the 17 companies selected by Babson College to participate in the 2017-2018 Women Innovating Now (WIN) Lab Miami.

WIN Lab Miami, an eight-month accelerator program entering its second year in the region, aims to catalyze the long-term success of female entrepreneurs by fostering creativity and collaboration, increasing visibility, providing mentorships, identifying branding and marketing tactics, and leveraging funding opportunities and competitions.

Around the world, female entrepreneurship is on the rise. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor's 2017 survey of 63 economies, Total Entrepreneurial Activity among women increased by 10 percent in the past two years, and the gender gap (ratio of women to men participating in entrepreneurship) narrowed by 5 percent. WIN Lab seeks to accelerate the trend by offering a supportive rather than a competitive environment of traditional accelerators. It's program is part-time over a longer period to better work with entrepreneurs at their own stages of growth. 

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 “We have selected a group of incredibly impressive women entrepreneurs to join WIN Lab Miami’s next cohort,” said Babson’s WIN Lab Miami Director Carolina Pina (pictured above). “One team won the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge, some have already made strides as participants of the Idea Center’s CREATE program at Miami Dade College; one has just recently won an American Entrepreneurship Award; and two have been selected to pitch their businesses at the upcoming Demand Solutions competition. We look forward to helping further develop and advance their businesses, and being witness to all of their accomplishments to come.”

WIN Lab's Advisory Board will be chaired by Carol Faber, Partner at Akerman LLP. Faber was recently named one of Real Estate Forum’s 50 Women of Influence in Real Estate, and is also the Chair of Akerman’s Women’s Initiative Network and Co-chair of its Distressed Property Practice Group.

WIN LAB has also named its Entrepreneurs-In-Residence and Investors-In-Residence for the second cohort.

Entrepreneurs-In-Residence are Johanna Mikkola, Co-Founder, Wyncode Academy; RJ Joshi, Co-Founder and COO, Bodhi Tree Asset Management; Silvina Moschini, Co-Founder and CEO, SheWorks!; and Ze’ev Feig MBA’03, CEO, Zensah.

 Its Investors-In-Residence are Adam Smith, investor; Blaire Martin, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Florida Angel Nexus; and Raul Moas, Managing Director, AGP.

WIN Lab Miami was founded with support from John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, FedEx, and Akerman LLP, and sponsor HSBC. The Miami program’s inaugural cohort of ‘WINners’ raised nearly $2 million in funding in the first year, WIN Lab said, and celebrated with a grand finale pitch competition in April 2017.

Here are the 2017-2018 Miami WINners (list provided by WIN Lab), which were to be announced Tuesday night at its  kickoff event at CIC Miami, where WIN Lab is based.

Caribu
Maxeme Tuchman, Co-Founder and CEO

Communication and collaboration platform that helps parents, extended family, and mentors read and draw with children when they are not in the same location. Caribu is one of two WINners selected by the Inter-American Development Bank to compete at Demand Solutions. It also won third place in the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge.

ETC

Karley Chynces, Founder and CEO

Mobile app that will allow students to buy and sell books and dorm supplies locally.

Ginger Straps
Leana Loh, Founder and CEO

Add-on ankle strap for high heels and flats to transform shoes from strapless to strappy.

Imalac, LLC
Noreen Gordon Sablotsky, Co-Founder and CEO; Rachael Sablotsky Kish, Co-Founder and COO

Healthcare technology company focused on increasing the efficiency and practicality of breast pumping.

Impetus Social
Sonia Hinestrosa, Founder

Education technology company providing critical skills in areas like digital literacy, STEM, leadership, and financial literacy.

Lean Orb
Anastasia Mikhalochkina, Founder

Plant-based, biodegradable catering supplies. Lean Orb has also been selected to compete at Demand Solutions this fall.

Luxe Fête Social
Nathalie Anne Cadet-James, Founder

Service company that provides a dinner party in a box.

MADSTUDIOS, Inc.
Jennifer Nicole Hardcastle, Co-Founder

Platform that provides resources and access to all creatives with the tools needed to be successful.

Major Marketplace
Leyanis Diaz, Co-Founder and CEO

Online marketplace for minority businesses and those who want to support them. Diaz also participated in Miami Dade College Idea Center’s 10-week go-to-market program called CREATE. She recently won an American Entrepreneurship Award.

PEX+
Jessica Coane, Founder and President

Travel search engine for using miles and points.

Prizm Art Fair, LLC
Mikhaile Solomon, Founder and Director

Cutting-edge art fair that expands the spectrum of exhibiting international artists from Africa, the global African Diaspora, and emerging markets.

Sayblee
Ashley Sebok, Founder and CEO

100 percent natural, organic, handmade hair care system formulated to repair damaged hair, and maintain healthy hair.

Smart Straws
Susana Cappello, Victoria Roca, Carolina Baigorri, Co-Founders

Straw that detects the most common date rape drugs, GHB and Ketamine, found in alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Cappello, Roca, and Baigorri won this year’s Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge High School Track.

SpeechMED Inc.
Susan Alanna Perry, Founder and CEO

Patient engagement platform that makes healthcare information accessible to all patients regardless of age, language, or literacy levels.

TeaRado Tech
Nicole Tirado, Founder

Tech-infused tea cup that allows users to consume tea hands-free.

Voyz.es, Inc.

Ana Maria Carrano, Co-Founder and CEO

Agile and collaborative transcription platform that allows users to transcribe audio and video content fast, with high accuracy and affordable rates, using machine learning and crowdsourcing.

Wedding QuickQuote
Madeline Daryadel, Founder and President

Extranet software program featured on venue sites that expedites the search and sales process providing users with an instant reply to an online inquiry.

Massachusetts-based Babson College has also recently announced an expansion of its graduate programs to Miami. The new effort builds on the ongoing success of WIN Lab Miami, as well as its Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program hosted at Miami Dade College, which empowers local small business owners to help their companies grow. The application period for the graduate programs is open and classes are set to begin in Fall 2018.

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A scene from an event, shown above, for WIN Lab Miami's first cohort, shown below.

Group Photo - Lobby 2

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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