October 16, 2016

Building entrepreneurs: Where Endeavor sees progress in year 3



By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

High-growth companies are “believed to create nearly all net new jobs,” although they make up a minority of companies in the U.S., according to a 2011 study for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy.

Developing a strong support system for helping increase sales at already-growing small businesses with proven business models can do more for economic development than promoting startups or luring large corporations with tax breaks, a recent Bloomberg Business article noted. Yet in Miami this year, the metropolitan area ranked No. 2 in the nation among major metro areas for small-business creation but second from last (no. 39) for growth, analyses by the Kauffman Foundation found.

Endeavor Miami, a nonprofit organization that selects, supports and accelerates high-impact entrepreneurs, aims to help grow the Miami economy by giving companies that already have traction a chance to secure a foothold and expand, Endeavor Miami Managing Director Laura Maydón said. To do that, it selects high-potential companies to support from a diverse cross-section of industries — including food/beverage, tech and healthcare — and in time, those entrepreneurs are expected to help other companies scale up. “These high-growth companies can add proportionally more jobs and wealth to our economy,” she said. 

Endeavor posted a new report this week marking progress, as well as challenges ahead, in its mission. Find it on here on EndeavorMiami.org. Here are a few highlights:

* Food and beverage has been among the most active entrepreneurial sectors, with a number of new companies gaining traction, many of them focused on healthier eating and convenient delivery. Four of Endeavor’s 15 companies are in this vertical and more are in the pipeline. Ginnybakes, for instance, launched a hospitality unit that focuses on putting its “mindfully indulgent” organic cookies and bars into hotel minibars. My Ceviche, already with a fast-casual chain, launched Zuuk, a healthy, fast-casual Mediterranean-style eatery in Brickell and at Miami International Airport. FastCasual.com, a media site for the $23.5 billion fast-casual restaurant industry segment, ranked the newest Endeavor Entrepreneur, Pincho Factory, at No. 11 in the Fast Casual Top 100 this year. DeliverLean, a fast-growing healthy-meal delivery service, employs 118, according to the report. 

[Read more: How millennial trends shape a new generation of food startups]

 * Young technology and healthcare companies are also making strides. EveryMundo, which provides airlines with proprietary technology and strategies, has commercialized two additional software solutions and signed deals with two of the top five airlines. It’s one of the eight Endeavor companies in the software, tech and IT area. In healthcare and medtech, seen as one of five key areas for entrepreneurial growth and potential global impact because of its hospital and university network already in place and its proximity to Latin America’s emerging markets. Already, three of the top 10 private employers in Miami are healthcare providers, according to the Beacon Council. In its buy-one-give-one social impact program, FIGS, a company modernizing medical apparel, has donated more than 90,000 sets of scrubs to medical professionals in Latin American, Caribbean and other emerging markets (co-founder Trina Spear is pictured above).

 * Some of Endeavor’s entrepreneurs are innovating the future of work itself. Encompass Onsite, which provides housekeeping, engineering maintenance and facilities management services, is mapping a step-by-step career path for every employee that even includes placing employees in opportunities in its partner network if they outgrow the company’s available opportunities. “We have a very deliberate and formalized way to provide our team members with new sets of skills within their chosen areas of expertise. Salaries inevitably increase as team members progress in this journey,” said CEO Marcell Haywood, who credits Endeavor with giving him a valuable advisory board. Meanwhile, Yandiki’s technology has empowered women around the world by providing them with access to work that allows for location and schedule flexibility. For instance, it partnered with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to allow more than 250,000 previously unemployed women to join the workforce working from home through an online employment program. In Saudi Arabia, many women were unable to work in gender-mixed environments. 

[Read more: It’s not all tech – five industries with strong growth potential

Endeavor Miami launched in 2013 with funding from the Knight Foundation and Endeavor Miami’s local board; Endeavor Miami was the global nonprofit’s first U.S. program. In the past three years, Endeavor has screened 265 companies, including 45 so far this year. Through an extensive selection process that culminated in judging by international selection panels, 24 entrepreneurs from 15 companies are now Endeavor Entrepreneurs, joining the global network of more than 1,300 entrepreneurs in 25 countries.

Together, these 15 companies have generated more than $100 million in revenue, up 55 percent since 2013 levels, and more than 1,500 jobs, up 70 percent, the report said. Fifty-seven mentors have donated 1,114 hours since 2013, and 20 of them sit on Endeavor Miami Entrepreneurs’ advisory boards. In addition to receiving mentorship and introductions, Endeavor companies have participated in or have been supported by programs such as EY’s Growth Navigator, Bain & Company’s “Externship” program, Harvard and Stanford business schools, and Kellogg’s executive MBA program. Maydón hopes to get more local companies involved in the next year.

Endeavor Miami banks on the multiplier effect: High-growth companies not only generate jobs, but their founders become role models and leaders in the entrepreneurship community, inspiring and mentoring future generations to think big and pursue high-growth entrepreneurship in the Miami area.

“We need to take a pause and acknowledge we’ve made progress, but there is still so much to do. This is a long-term play,” Maydón said. It’s also a team effort: “The sooner more stakeholders come together to support companies that are growing, the better position we will be in. Everyone has a place in this ecosystem.”


Find out more about Endeavor Miami and nominate a deserving entrepreneur for the program atEndeavorMiami.orgFind the report here.


Endeavor Miami is holding a gala on Saturday evening at Soho Studios in Wynwood, and all proceeds go to furthering the organization’s mission. Honored with the “Impact Award” will be Jessica Goldman Srebnick, CEO of Goldman Properties. Find out more and buy tickets at EndeavorMiami.org.


Nancy Dahlberg: @ndahlberg



September 18, 2016

Why every incubator needs social entrepreneurs


Photo by Daniela Cadena

By Robert Hacker

In January 2016, Emily Gresham and I began to design the program that became StartUP FIU, Florida International University’s (FIU) new incubator. Emily, who is Assistant Vice President for Research and Economic Development, holds the strong belief that hospitals and universities are the anchor institutions in cities. This philosophy lead to StartUP FIU’s focus on serving the entire community and not just the Brickell-Wynwood corridor. I believe there is much confusion between small business management and entrepreneurship and that Miami would be best served if StartUP FIU supported the entrepreneurship that grows large, scalable ventures. With community and scalable ventures in place as the founding principles, Emily and I quickly added other key principles:

Inclusion We welcome everyone to apply to StartUP FIU, from high schoolers and college students to faculty from any university in South Florida. We welcome retired people, FIU alumni and people with no formal education. We received 160 applications to Cohort 1 and the applications were split almost evenly between students, alumni and the community. As they say, “we bet on the jockeys and not on the horses”.

Free: To be truly inclusive a program cannot have financial barriers to entry. The signature, 13-week incubator program “Empower” is totally free--no application fees, no payments or charges during the program and no equity participation for the incubator. We also provide mentors, consultants, space and university resources at no charge.

Stage Agnostic: When we first started talking to prospective entrepreneurs, we realized that many people did not even know how to advance their ideas beyond their first doodles on a piece of paper. Therefore, we decided that we would accept people who just had ideas, people that had a minimal viable product (MVP) but no revenue and companies with revenue. Applicants did not even have to have a company formed.

General Incubator: We think of StartUP FIU as a startup. We are iterating to determine the best way to serve the South Florida community. Today we accept all types of ideas from food and fashion to edtech, high tech and medical diagnostics. We even have a chair company in Cohort 1. We may experiment with specially “themed cohorts” in the future as we continue to explore what types of entrepreneurship will best serve South Florida, but today we welcome applications from all industries.

Authenticity: When one spends a lot of time with students, one realizes that they are most engaged by hands on, experiential learning. StartUP FIU’s incubator is offered through a group of entrepreneurs that use the customer fieldwork approach in a modified Lean Startup methodology. We do not use the professorial approach so common in most academic incubators. Demo Day at StartUP FIU is a pitch day to angel, seed and “A” round VCs.

The last key decision Emily and I made was to combine traditional and social entrepreneurs in the same cohort. Several institutions have separate incubators for traditional and social entrepreneurs, but we found that perhaps only Y Combinator shares our view that all the entrepreneurs should be combined in one cohort. We opted for this approach in part because we believe that diversity breeds better collaboration.

Secondly, we believe that the social entrepreneurs will help the traditional entrepreneurs to remember their responsibility to not only make a profit but also to improve society.

Lastly, millennials have a high level of genuine social concern. As they reach the years where they become the major purchasers, they will force all entrepreneurs to become social entrepreneurs.

Perhaps the evidence for this view of social entrepreneurship comes from the people and companies that began Cohort 1 Sept. 6 (pictured above). We have a former Detroit schoolteacher trying to provide better information about higher education alternatives to students. We have a team originally from Venezuela working to use bee keeping as a micro-entrepreneurship concept to help poor women raise their standard of living. We have a team composed of about fifteen FIU computer science graduate and undergraduate students from all over the world creating a new pedagogy for early child learning using the agile development methodology. We also have a PhD researcher from Baskin Palmer working on a new approach to eye diagnostics and a team building prosthetics with 3-D printers. As is obvious, the line between social and traditional entrepreneurship is becoming very cloudy.

[Who's in Cohort 1? See the list here.]

StartUP FIU will begin accepting applications Sept. 19, 2016, for its second cohort beginning in January 2017. Applications and more information about StartUP FIU can be found at Startup.FIU.edu.

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. He consults to companies in the U.S., the Caribbean and Central America on growth strategies and complex problems through GH Growth Advisors. His books on entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship are available on Amazon.

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

READ MORE: Q&A with Robert Hacker on scaling social entrepreneurship, finding partners, thinking big


 Above, Bob Hacker introduced the mentors to the StartUP FIU entrepreneurs. At top of post, the first cohort of StartUP FIU.

September 17, 2016

Meet the entrepreneurs in StartUP FIU's Cohort 1

StartUP FIU launched its first cohort of its 13-week Empower incubator Sept. 6. The cohort, selected from 160 applications, includes 20 entrepreneurs from 19 businesses or concepts in a variety of industries. It also includes social entrepreneurs. The free incubator program accepted entrepreneurs from the idea stage to revenue-producing companies; it includes community members as well as FIU students and alumni. Read more about the program here: Multi-campus StartUP FIU gets ready for takeoff

Who's in Cohort 1 of StartUP FIU?  Find the list below: 


Founder: Jason Dettbarn.

Addigy provides a cloud based IT Management platform for organizations to manage their growing portfolio Apple Mac computers.


Founder: Andru Fratarcangeli

eSport is a marketplace for players to seek competitions and funding.

BAHL Design Group LLC

Founder: Brandt H. Labastille

BAHL Design Group offers world's lightest deskchair in waterproof backpack with solar panel/battery pack


Founder: Anthony Leon

Bid.Aero is a sourcing & procurement platform for aircraft and engine part sales.

College Pop

Founder: Oneika Osborne

College Pop is the mobile student development and college preparation hub.

Delta Designs

Founder: Christopher Scull

Delta Designs is proposing a locally-sourced, rapid-prototyping business with the exclusive goal to produce prosthetic components using 3D printing.

Helene's Ice Cream

Founder: Helene's Ice Cream

Helene's handcrafts highly addictive frozen custard. Happiness in a jar.


Founder: Delia DeBuc

'One Stop Mobile Eye Care' idea is to provide convenient comprehensive eye screening to rural and urban seniors as well as the general population


Founder: Steve Aitken

Jarly is a subscription box service for artisan made fresh baked goods. We've launched. We have customers and revenue.

Master Honey

Founder: Andrea Saladrigas

Master Honey empowers low income women by giving them all the resources necessary to start their own beekeeping business.


Founder: Giovanna Gallardo

Discover, personalize and share transportation loops linking cultural destinations.

MPG (The Molecular Pearl Group)

Founder: Xavier González & Argelio Maldonado

Technology designed for automated creation of avant-garde food/beverage pearls

Neat Study

Founder: Ranjeet Deshmukh

Neat Study's app helps students ace their assignments while making learning fun.

NPC Publishing

Founder: Ivan Rodriguez

NPC Publishing creates a game universe where the players control their content

Pilot VR

Founder: Jose Maldonado

 Pilot VR is an all-in-one affordable VR system aimed at physical therapy.

SD Technologies

Founder: Sebastian Duque

SD Technologies is disrupting a niche market within the sports industry.

SoundBite LLC

Founder: Daniel Gonzalez

SoundBite brings the beauty of audio to the social media world.


Founder: Christopher Knowles

VoterAid connects voters and candidates with heuristics based on a set of questions designed to highlight the differences between candidates in a given election.

No Name Company

Founder: Rory Kennedy

Natural organic banana juice based beverage marketed towards individuals with active healthy lifestyles.


 Photo of StartUP FIU's Cohort 1 of Empower by Daniela Cadena

September 08, 2016

Meet WIN Lab Miami's first accelerator class; 8-month program begins this fall


By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Fashion, food and beverage, sports, travel and hospitality, education, media, music, healthcare, technology. Women-led startups in all of these industries will be part of the first class of the WIN Lab entrepreneurship accelerator.

FarraWIN (Women Innovating Now) Lab, an eight-month early-stage accelerator program developed at Babson, announced Thursday the 24 entrepreneurs from 21 companies that will take part in the first Miami program, with $800,000 in funding from the Knight Foundation. Nelly Farra, director of WIN Lab Miami (pictured here),  said 183 entrepreneurs applied, 80 of them went through second-round interviews, and 40 pitched to a panel of entrepreneurs for the final selections.

"All the women who were accepted into WIN Lab truly are thinking big about their businesses and really are these women I feel will be the next generation of women CEOs," said Farra, adding that nearly all of the businesses have an MVP (minimal viable product) and some market traction  and most already  are generating some revenue.  

WIN Lab will kicks off at the end of this month with a retreat, and then the women will meet weekly on Tuesday evenings to learn about finance, growth planning, pitching, leadership and technology.  "What we will be focusing on is growth -- positioning their companies to scale as they build the foundations of their businesses," Farra said.

Each WINner, as the participants are called, will have a coach. Some include Cecile Alper-Leroux, Vice President of Innovation at Ultimate Software, Yamile Elias, Director of Business Innovation & Global Marketing for PepsiCo; Pamela Fuertes, Vice President of International Economic Development Programs for The Beacon Council; Julie Greiner, former Chief Corporate Officer of Macy's; and Teresa Weintraub, Managing Director at Merrill Lynch. Akerman will be sponsoring the 2016 program and providing legal education and support to the WINners.

The next WIN LAB public event will be a WIN Lab demo night on Oct. 27 at Venture Cafe, and there will be public WIN LAb  events monthly.

WIN Lab was born in the Boston area, Babson's home, in the fall of 2013. Miami is the organization's first expansion city.

Heatherjean MacNeil, co-founder and global director of WIN Lab who manages both the Boston and Miami programs, was impressed by the  high-quality applications from Miami. "Many of the applicants demonstrated high-growth potential that are eager to scale. This is very much reflected in Miami's inaugural WINners. Since the Lab in Boston focuses on the Babson student population, [Boston's] WINners are entrepreneurs that are both at the ideation and beta stage. Miami's WINners are post-proof of concept and positioned to grow."

MacNeil said the WIN Lab experience will be primarily the same in both  locations, but because of the support of the Knight Foundation, Miami's WINners also have access to CIC Miami's 24-hour co-working space in a dedicated WIN Lab area. There may be  virtual platforms to host a series of speed-networking events between both Labs  to further leverage the power of the WIN network, she said. "We look forward to raising the profile of these innovative, women leaders in Miami and beyond."

Here are the companies and the entrepreneurs who will be participating in the first group from Miami, announced at a community event  at Venture Cafe at CIC Miami Thursday night (WINners were introduced and gave their rocket pitches, pictured above).  Company descriptions provided by the entrepreneurs are provided below.

AASO: Luisa Santos

AASO believes that people want and deserve the ability to quickly make the freshest, highest-quality ice cream possible in the comfort of their home. Currently, the fastest option to make ice cream at home requires chilling a bowl in the freezer for a few hours then actively freezing for 25 minutes and delivers sub-par results. AASO enables its customers to make a serving of ice cream in less than five minutes using technology.


AlphaTechBlocks are traditional looking alphabet blocks that interact with our mobile apps, creating playful learning experiences for toddlers and preschoolers.

APOLLONIX: Terri-Ann Brown & Jessica Shin

Apollonix is an online exchange where dentists and dental laboratories can easily facilitate dental prosthetics transactions.

BAMMIES: Rosario Chozas & Julia Ford-Carther

Bammies is a fashion line that stands for business + jammies and is changing the way women get dressed. Bammies offers two capsule collections each year focused on minimizing morning decision fatigue as well as helping women use fashion to feel comfortable in their own skin.

BARRIO: Romina Ruiz-Goiriena

Not a network. Not an outlet. Not conforming to how you define Latino. We reach and breathe digitally—creating a Barrio of media properties.

ENDLESSLY ORGANIC: Stefani Paulinelli

Endlessly Organic is an organic buying club. Endlessly Organic sources the best farm fresh organic produce and delivers it to your home, neighborhood or workplace at a significant discount. Endlessly Organic's mission is to provide high-quality farm fresh organic produce to its members at a discount.

JAIMIE NICOLE: Jamie Nicole Shepard

JAIMIE NICOLE’s mission is to create innovative pieces of art in jewelry, by blending distinctive designs with absolute authenticity. It exists to provide its customers with a perfect mix of everyday luxury and simplicity through premium materials and product of unique elegance. Its products are thought and crafted to exceed its customers’ expectations.

LEMON CITY TEA: Gail Hamilton

Lemon City is founded and operated by first-generation American women, and strives to offer high-quality, ethically-sourced teas inspired by the crazy, complex, diverse, and exciting city we call home: Miami. Lemon City develops and curates its Miami-inspired teas with Latin American, Caribbean and South Floridian flavors in mind. From a complex summery mate, to a mango enhanced black iced tea and our soon-to-be-released signature Cafeci-té, our products proudly showcase this city's robust culture, vibe and energy.

MUNDO LANUGO: Carla Curiel

Mundo Lanugo is a children's entertainment property that helps connect kids to universal values through the lens of the Hispanic culture, and promotes the Spanish language.


Palmpress is a personal craft coffee press for hot and cold brew. Superb coffee, brewed by you.

PIERCE PLAN: Kelly Pierce

The Pierce Plan is the only Learning Management System (LMS) that automates a cumbersome process to ensure high school student-athletes are academically eligible per NCAA to play in college and academically prepared to compete in the classroom.

QUVEL: Katherine Clase

Quvel is an innovative limited edition casual footwear brand that allows customers to enjoy unprecedented degrees of customization and personalization at an unmatched value in the industry. Each shoe is made to order, carefully handcrafted and delivered at record speeds.

ROOMS2NIGHT: Anemone Hartmann

Rooms2night brings hotel e-commerce to independent and local hotels in rural areas of Latin America where good internet connection is not available. Rooms2night's software allows these hotels to gain access to a new market.


School Climate Solutions (SCS) is the premier online solution for 1st to 12th grade student success related to student safety, social emotional skills, and mental health. SCS provides online educational material that helps schools and districts implement and grow successful schoolwide programs that emphasize whole child development and positive school cultures.

STOW SIMPLE: Silvia Camps

Stow Simple is an on-demand storage company designed to eliminate the hassles of traditional self-storage. Developed with the customer in mind, Stow Simple will pick up, photo-catalog and store items in a fully climate controlled facility, which can be delivered back to the customer with the click of a button. Offering easy online scheduling, clients can see and access their belongings without ever having to visit a storage facility. [Stow Simple was also a 2015 Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge winner.}

TAPTL: Mary Wolff

taptl is the world’s first company to invent, manufacture and sell customizable transparent touch-screens. Our displays can be used as windows, kiosks, directories, “TVs,” or computers for personal or business use.

THINK LIQUOR: Jamie Futscher

Think Liquor is redefining the traditional liquor store and becoming the #1 place to purchase alcohol. Bringing modern technology and premium customer service to the liquor industry. Removing the complexity and making it as easy to purchase wine & liquor online as it is for any other product.

UNA PIZCA: Andreina Morales & Ana Schloeter

Una Pizca is creating the most trusted cooking site in Latin America, offering curated recipes and cooking tips that are tested for quality and ease of use. At Una Pizca, we are bringing our love of food to every corner of Latin America, by breaking down regional language barriers.

UX GOFER: Jacqueline Stetson Pastore

UX Gofer is a web and mobile app that makes User Experience Research easier, faster, and more accessible.

ZUKE MUSIC: Arielle Cohen

Zuke Music is a networking and project management tool for music industry professionals with the ultimate goal of enabling better music discovery,collaboration, and promotion.

ZULUBOTS: Elizabeth De Zulueta

Zulubots is a consumer robotics company that focuses on the design and fabrication of assistive robots for the home.

"I am truly honored to be the director of this program  and very very excited to be be working with the caliber of the women that are in the program this year," said Farra. "This will be an exciting year for WIN Lab and an exciting year for Miami too."

Read more about the launch of WIN Lab Miami here and here.

Follow Nancy on Twitter @ndahlberg.

August 26, 2016

Radical Partners' social impact accelerator reveals next cohort of changemakers


Greetings from Cohort 2 of Social Entrepreneurship Bootcamp


By Rebecca Fishman Lipsey

Social Entrepreneurship Bootcamp, co-hosted by Radical Partners and AkermanIN, is excited to announce the innovators who have been accepted into Cohort 3.  

Amy Renshaw, Co-founder and Executive Director of CodeArt, an organization focused on increasing gender diversity in tech by highlighting the creative side of coding.

Brandon Okpalobi Founder of DIBIA, a sports development program that fosters excellence and success in life through sports and recreational training and DIBIA Dream, which brings their programming to underserved youth.   

Felecia Hatcher, Serial entrepreneur, Co-founder of Code Fever, an organization that teaches minority students ages 13-21 how to code, and Black Tech Week, a massive national conference focused on increasing racial diversity in the tech sector.

Isabella Acker, Founder and President of Prism Creative Group, focusing on strengthening Miami through the production of powerful local events, locally-conscious storytelling, and compelling content.  

Lauren Reskin, Co-Founder, President & CEO of Sweat Records, a world-class independent music store, event space, and a portal through which to discover Miami's music and cultural scenes.

Leigh-Ann Buchanan, Executive Director of Venture Cafe, a local hub focused on strengthening Miami’s local innovation sector.  They host massive weekly networking and educational events and offer support for entrepreneurs, investors, students, and innovation and educational organizations.

Michel Hausmann, Founding Producing Artistic Director of Miami New Drama, a presenting and producing organization committed to theatrical excellence and theater-making as a means of social engagement, cultural conversation and human interaction.

Pioneer Winter, Founder and Executive Director of Pioneer Winter Collective, an innovative arts organization that uses dance as an anchor for social change, development, and community engagement by providing a platform for risk-taking, progressive, and experimental arts initiatives.

Rob Biskupic-Knight, Executive Director of Engage Miami, focused on building a powerful youth voting bloc in Miami-Dade County.

Sheila Womble, Executive Director of Arts For Learning, an organization focused on making the arts a central component of every child's education. Their programs are delivered at preschools, schools and out-of-school locations throughout Miami-Dade County

Valencia Gunder, Founder and Executive Director of Make the Homeless Smile, which heals disenfranchised communities by treating them with dignity, providing them with access, and empowering them knowledge.

These innovators join two groups of alumni who are deeply committed to strengthening Miami, addressing issues from sea level rise to human trafficking.  Bootcamp kicks off  in September, hosted at Akerman’s offices in Brickell City Center.  Scholarships for Bootcamp were made available with the help of The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Center For Social Change, and others.

More information on Radical Partners and its bootcamp:   http://www.radical.partners/


Members of Cohort 1 of Social Entrepreneurship Bootcamp participating in a team-building exercise.


August 24, 2016

The South Florida Accelerator, Greenspoon Marder law firm team up to foster Florida innovation

By Marcia Heroux Pounds / Sun Sentinel

The law firm of Greenspoon Marder has partnered with The South Florida Accelerator to create Innovation Florida, an advocacy organization for the advancement of technological innovation in the state.

Gerry Greenspoon, co-managing director of Greenspoon Marder, said the law firm will work to leverage strategic relationships and advocate for Florida's innovative entrepreneurs and technological pioneers. Greenspoon Marder has offices in Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Miami Beach.

Innovation Florida said founding sponsors also include technology companies Levatas in Palm Beach Gardens; Citrix Systems and AAJ Technologies, both in Fort Lauderdale; and Brightstar Corp. in Miami.

The South Florida Accelerator was founded earlier this year by Christopher Malter and Thomas Buchar in Fort Lauderdale.

Read more about the accelerator here.

August 01, 2016

Startupbootcamp Digital Health announces inaugural Miami cohort

Selection days

Startupbootcamp, Europe’s largest family of innovation programs, on Monday announced the 10 teams that will join its Miami-based digital health accelerator. A diverse range of solutions – from pre-natal remote monitoring to Latin America’s largest telehealth provider – were selected.

“We are proud that our inaugural class includes a diversity of founders, product category, stage and geography. We focused our selection on later stage companies with real revenue and traction poised to scale across our network of healthcare customers. We are hopeful that Miami will soon become recognized as a global hub for healthcare innovation," said Christian Seale, founder and managing director of Startupbootcamp in Miami.

After reviewing close to 300 applications from over 40 countries, Startupbootcamp invited 15 digital health companies  to attend Startupbootcamp’s Selection Days this past weekend. Over two days, the companies were evaluated by executives from the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, University of Miami Health System, Jackson Health System, Memorial Healthcare System, Aetna, Abbvie, Univision, Microsoft, GE Healthcare and top-tier healthcare investors.

After the two-day selection process, the following program finalists were invited to form part of the 2016 cohort.


Babyscripts (US) - The first mobile, clinical solution to seamlessly provide remote monitoring of an OB’s patient population in-between visits.

CareAngel (US) - Care Angel has developed ANGEL, the world's first Artificially Intelligent Caregiver providing device-free care management and telemonitoring via telephone.

Mediconecta (Venezuela/Miami) - The largest telehealth provider in Latin America. Currently operating in Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, Chile and expanding to the US. [Read more here.]

QoC Health (Canada) - QoC Health helps health organizations take their digital health ideas to scale / commercialization with its patient-centered technology platform.

TruClinic (US) - A modular cloud-based  telemedicine platform that combines video collaboration with clinical workflow management solutions to help healthcare providers better serve their patients.

VoiceITT (Israel) - A voice-translation technology platform for people with speech disability;  compiling a propriertary sound bank of unintelligible speech for research purposes.


Aces Health (US) - The first end-to-end clinical trial management app for patients and researchers.

Overl.ai (US) - A healthcare automation intelligence company that makes it easy for providers to control the apps and web services they use to deliver care and communicate with patients.

Keep Livin (US) - A patient engagement platform with a mission to eradicate health disparities that adversely impact racial/ethnic communities.

LineHealth (Portugal) - A hardware company helping you to take the right pill at the right time, leading to a longer and healthier life.

The 10 companies have raised $13.85 million and are valued at over $48 million collectively.

Startupbootcamp is also welcoming two Entrepreneurs-in-Residence: Carevoyance of Miami, a data analytics platform that helps medical device companies expand their market, and Personomics, a healthcare company founded by Jordan Kavana to revolutionize consumer-driven wellness by providing health, diet, beauty and lifestyle solutions based on your DNA.

The selected companies are provided with seed funding, matched with an international network of healthcare customers to accelerate sales and given access to a network of top-tier venture investors to raise seed-Series A financing to scale their business. The accelerator program will begin Sept. 6 and culminate with a Demo Day on Dec. 1.

Startupbootcamp launched in Miami late 2015 with $2 million in Knight Foundation support  and a diverse group of founding partners including Microsoft’s BizSpark Program; Miro Ventures LLC; Nicklaus Children’s Hospital; Univision;  Maurice R. Ferré, executive chairman of Insightec and co-founder of MAKO Surgical; Jaret Davis, co-managing shareholder of Greenberg Traurig; and Michael Simkins, president and CEO of Innovate Development Group leading the Miami Innovation District project. 

“By focusing on health, [Startupbootcamp] is really building out the ecosystem for innovation," said Dr. Narendra Kini, CEO at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. "We hope to see the next major healthcare players originate in Miami.” 

The program offers startups access a mentor and alumni network from across the globe and partnerships with leading hospital systems, insurers and investors  to accelerate and scale their businesses. The program also aims to focus its companies on the eradication of healthcare disparities.

"We look forward to seeing how the program’s model, previously successful in Europe, will bring new energy and talent to Miami’s innovation ecosystem and provide a fresh avenue for startups to grow and thrive in our city,” said Matt Haggman, program director for Miami at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Startupbootcamp programs are currently active in 13 other cities across the US, Europe and Asia, with other cities and vertical programs to soon be announced.



Read more on Startupbootcamp here.

Read "Prescription for economy: Healthcare startup energy" here.

Selection days2

Photos were taken during Startupbootcamp's  Selection Days in Miami July 30 and 31 at Building.co. At top, Christian Seale addresses crowd; above, one of the teams meets with selection panelists.


June 06, 2016

Multi-campus StartUP FIU gets ready for takeoff



Emily Gresham and Robert Hacker, shown at Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, are spearheading the StartUP FIU program. It will include three hubs, with programs for food businesses, tech and social entrepreneurship, and will be open to the community as well as to students. Alexia Fodere For The Miami Herald

Below: One of the events held for students as part of StartUP FIU. Photo by Daniela Ferrato.


By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Cheng photoIn the culinary kitchens of Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Michael Cheng smelled opportunity. The commercial facilities were only being used about half time; as the director of the food-and-beverage program, Cheng thought FIU should offer the excess capacity to companies for a fee.

But after a discussion with Emily Gresham, who is spearheading a university-wide StartUP FIU program, and its student leader Valeria Siegrist, Cheng’s mindset changed. “They opened my eyes... They told me ‘there is an entire community of food entrepreneurs out there who would die to have this space but they can’t afford it.’ and I said ‘Well, let’s open that up to them.’ That’s how Food FIU got started.”

Beginning this fall, the Food FIU program will help entrepreneurs from low- and moderate-income communities in three stages of development – those at the idea stage, entrepreneurs selling in farmers’ markets but are ready to move to the next level, and later stage companies that want to scale. Cheng (pictured at right), who is also an associate processor, said StartUP FIU will start working with firms from North Miami, where the Biscayne Bay Campus is located, with a potential Homestead outpost at a later time. The program is free, and the entrepreneurs do not have to be affiliated with FIU in any way.

The Food innovation hub, supported in part by a $500,000 grant from Citi Foundation, will be one leg of a larger effort called StartUP FIU launching this fall. The interdisciplinary multi-campus resource for students, faculty, staff, alumni and entrepreneurs in the community will include physical spaces, programs and events for entrepreneurs and entrepreneur-wannabes to meet, collaborate, be mentored and take training. An accelerator will work with teams on commercializing concepts.

“Our economy increasingly offers opportunities to people who are able to make good jobs rather than take good jobs. We see this transformation as emblematic of what we have to do at FIU,” said FIU President Mark Rosenberg. “FIU is a huge cluster of talent ... What we are trying to do is provide platforms for that talent to come together around the capabilities that we have. ... We want to provide a safe haven for that talent to come together, with some supervision, to develop products, ideas and opportunities.”

Initially, StartUP FIU, will take root in three locations: the Modesto Maidique campus in Sweetwater, the Hospitality School at the Biscayne Bay campus, and a facility near Tamiami airport serving the growing cadre of technology and medical businesses there. The program has been appropriated $1.25 million from the state in addition to the Citi Foundation funding. It is run by Gresham, FIU’s assistant vice president for Research – Innovation and Economic Development, and Robert Hacker, StartUP FIU’s director.

The program joins existing FIU entrepreneurship resources including the Small Business Development Center, a new Tech Station, the Miami Fintech Forum and the Pino Global Entrepreneurship Center, most located on the Maidique campus on Tamiami Trail. FIU is also a designated “changemaker campus” for Ashoka, the global network for social entrepreneurship.

Despite those existing resources, students had no one-stop-shop for connecting with resources, concluded StartUP FIU’s team after conducting more than 100 interviews with students, faculty and community leaders. Often, students didn’t know where to go, nor were they connecting with the larger community.

“Our students are our energy, our talent, and the diversity of our students, faculty, alumni and the community improves collaboration,” said Gresham. “We’ve decided to have a more inclusive StartUP FIU, which means everyone’s welcome.”

Regionwide, students have more resources than just a few years ago. The Idea Center at MDC opened 18 months ago with an accelerator for MDC students, startup contests, events and a coding school. The University of Miami has been expanding its commercialization efforts, particularly in the healthcare area, working closely with dozens of startups. Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton opened Tech Runway, an accelerator that also offers funding and mentorship for student and community teams. Broward College opened its incubator last month.

These join a region-wide effort, fueled by the Knight Foundation, to accelerate entrepreneurship by expanding resources for mentorship, talent-building and funding. Entrepreneurial co-working spaces, incubators and accelerators have been proliferating, but most are in Miami’s urban core.

That’s the void in the ecosystem StartUP FIU hopes to help fill by focusing on Miami-Dade’s lower income communities and far west suburbs. “There’s a lot of activity, but we are still looking for depth, right?,” said Gresham. “We think we have something to offer in terms of depth building.”

Social entrepreneurship will be a key facet of the program, said Hacker. He expects ongoing themes to include sustainable cities, sea level rise, food supply, medical technology and education technology. An international businessman, Hacker has been teaching entrepreneurship and socially concsious business for more than a decade at FIU’s Honors College and Engineering School and MIT’s Sloan School.

“Miami enjoys the distinction of being the only city in the world that has two Ashoka Changemaker campuses – FIU and MDC. I think that both universities are fomenting all kinds of social entrepreneurs looking for support. We are interested and committed to putting incubators in communities that have not been served by incubators, and I think that will also naturally produce social entrepreneurs,” said Hacker.

As a startup itself, StartUP FIU has been developing over the past year, gaining grassroots support. StartUP FIU student directors Siegrist and Alessia Tacchella took Hacker’s course on Entrepreneurship and Design Thinking. That got the entrepreneurial juices flowing. But instead of working on their own startups, they jumped on the opportunity to help develop StartUP FIU. Tacchella, a finance/economics major who recently graduated, took the lead.

They gathered a diverse group of students with marketing, finance and technical expertise and began meeting weekly to plan the launch and test concepts, she said. About 80 to 100 students have been turning out for events. “When you tell them you want to help them to make their idea become a company, they are thrilled about it. They can’t believe all the resources we are bringing in on campus,” said Siegrist, a communications student.

Wifredo Fernandez, who co-founded The LAB Miami and was one of the founders of MDC’s’ Idea Center, offered insights on best practices and valuable connections, said Gresham. He now works with Gresham in the Innovation and Economic Development department and is StartUP FIU’s associate director.

Applications are being accepted at startup.fiu.edu for the accelerator’s first class. The free 13-week program will begin Sept. 6, will include weekly programs, mentorship and regular milestones for teams to meet, and end with a traditional demo day in which teams pitch to investors. The new StartUP FIU hub at the Maidique campus, a-10,000-square-foot space in the Marc building, should be ready by January; the program will operate in temporary space until then. Programs at the Biscayne Bay campus and near the Tamiami Airport will also get underway in the fall. The services are free.

“It’s an idea whose time has come,” said Rosenberg. “We’re pumped, we’re ready to go.”

Nancy Dahlberg; 305-376-3595; @ndahlberg





June 05, 2016

Q&A with EcoTech Visions’ Pandwe Gibson: Going green from ground up


EcoTech Visions team, from left: Tamara Wendt, director of sales and manufacturing, Pandwe Gibson, CEO, executive director and Justin Knight, director of marketing, at their new facility, 670 NW 113th St. in Miami, for green manufacturing companies that is still under construction. PEDRO PORTAL 


When Pandwe Gibson set out to build EcoTech Visions, an incubator for green manufacturing businesses, she had no team, no funding and no space. Three years ago it was only a big vision that lived on her iPad, which she shared with anyone she could get to listen.

What was the vision? EcoTech would help “ecopreneurs” in its incubator launch and grow, including connecting them with grants and other resources. EcoTech would also hold programming such as coding courses, green internship programs and fellowships to help prepare the workforce in underserved communities to transition from blue collar to “green collar” jobs.

Gibson wasted no time bringing her big idea to life.

By the end of 2014, and after knocking on many doors and winning initial Miami-Dade County and Community Redevelopment Agency funding, Gibson moved EcoTech into its first location, a small space west of Interstate 95 with communal office space and a community garden, and with a handful of incubator companies she had already begun working with. Although the building had no space for manufacturing, a key goal of Gibson’s, it served as a minimal viable product. A few months later, EcoTech secured some additional office and classroom space in another Liberty City building, which allowed the company to expand its programming. The EcoTech team began forming, and EcoTech began attracting more green companies.

Last month, EcoTech Visions began partially moving into its new Miami headquarters space it leased to own at 670 NW 113th St., in the newly designated “green corridor.” Upon buildout, plans call for the building to provide 24,000 to 25,000 square feet of multilevel co-working space, offices, event space, maker space and manufacturing facilities. EcoTech will also use its Liberty City space during buildout.

Today, 26 companies are members of EcoTech (ecotechvisions.com), and the EcoTech team now numbers seven.

EcoTech Visions recently announced the launch of Digital Citizen, a technology boot camp that aims to provide real-world technology programs and entrepreneurship training to local underserved communities, funded by $200,000 from the Knight Foundation. The first cohort will begin June 20 and will run for eight weeks in the evenings at D.A. Dorsey Technical College in Liberty City. Applications for the boot camp are being accepted at etvfoundation.org/digitalcitizen.

“This program is desperately needed not only to fill the tech staffing gap but also to combat the economic hardships and growing income gap in inner-city Miami,” Gibson, CEO "of EcoTech, said in announcing the launch and funding. “We all succeed when the best and most diverse solutions are brought to the table.”

Since its founding, EcoTech has created 15 new jobs and more than 300 students graduated from EcoTech Visions workshops and certification programs, Gibson said. It has secured $10,000 start"up prototyping grants for nine incubator companies and assisted in securing seed loans for three of its ecopreneurs, Gibson said. It was named 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year by the Beacon Council, among other honors.

By the end of the year, Gibson hopes to see buildout of its headquarters get under way and be completed in one year. Plans include an urban vertical garden across the entire front of the warehouse-style building, space for creating prototypes and light manufacturing as well as co-working and a rooftop cafe.

Appropriately, the building is planned to be entirely powered by solar energy.

“Our goal is to have a net-zero-energy building,” said Tamara Wendt, EcoTech’s director of sales and manufacturing, explaining that there is currently only one other much smaller net-zero building in Miami. “Presently, we have on-site office space and will be holding events here. We expect to have our injection-molding equipment installed by early July and will move into production, warehousing and fulfillment.”

The Miami Herald toured the new EcoTech location last month and sat down with Pandwe Gibson to discuss EcoTech Visions and what’s ahead for the company.

Q: What’s your mission for EcoTech?

A: Our mission is to create opportunities for businesses to grow and to bring green manufacturing jobs to Miami.

Q: What does success look like to you?

A: In the next two years, to have at least five breakout companies. That sounds very ambitious, doesn’t it? But we already have some companies pursuing multimillion-dollar contracts, and when we start seeing the production actually occurring from here, that is very exciting.

The first year [in this building], we will be in massive construction, but we are starting with injection molding and I think we can make a lot of progress in the beginning with that one vertical. We provide the equipment, and there are a lot of businesses that have different molds and prototypes we can help. We plan to have two different machines.

Q: How are you funding all this?

A: We have private funding and public funding. We just completed a seed round of half a million dollars. We have public funding from Miami-Dade County and the CRA totaling about half a million and are pursuing more grants from the county. We recently found out we received a grant from the Knight Foundation. It’s a combination.

Q: Is EcoTech a for-profit or a nonprofit?

A: We have two arms. The for-profit is the maker space, the physical space that you are in, and the services associated with the production equipment. … The nonprofit really focuses on helping to facilitate training, the programs we administer.

Some of those programs are coding education boot camps and a green manufacturing internship program. These programs help prepare the community and workforce for careers in green manufacturing.

Q: Tell me about a few of your incubator companies.

A: Geeks Global is an internet services provider and sustainability-focused technology consultant. Darrell Russell and his team help greenify businesses by using technology like LED lighting, windmill-powered Wi-Fi towers and other innovations. Make The Homeless Smile Miami is an organization started and led by powerhouse community activist Valencia Gunder. They transition homeless Miami residents off the streets and into self-sustained lives. HBCNS LLC, run by Dawn Davis, is a distributor of water-based, biodegradable, protective coatings including the nation’s only non-slip coating. It’s main product is called Strong Seal. (All three entrepreneurs are pictured below with Gibson)

Earthware, led by Michael Caballero, is a producer of compostable cutlery, cups and containers for a better world. The company is committed to the restoration and preservation of our planet by replacing landfill-destined products with 100 percent compostable, tree-free products.


Q: What do you do for member companies?

A: You can do prototyping here, you can have office space here, you can hold events here, you can run your company here, prototyping and distribution — it’s a one-stop shop and it is sorely needed in Miami.

Q: Explain what the “green corridor” designation is and what it can do for the neighborhood where EcoTech is?

A: The Green Corridor was created by proclamation by the Miami-Dade County Commission and stretches along Northwest Seventh Avenue from 79th Street to 119th Street. It is the first green corridor of its kind in the United States created with the purpose of establishing a citywide, countywide, statewide and regional hub of sustainable and environmentally friendly businesses. The Green Corridor and EcoTech Visions promote economic opportunity for the community where they sit and far beyond.

Q: Where do you see EcoTech in five years?

A: In five years, we want to start multiplying. We want to be in other communities, such as Los Angeles. When you look at the two markets, Miami and L.A., there are a lot of similarities. We are already forging relationships there. California is probably the largest green-tech community in the country. Connecting the two will help infuse vitality and innovation into Miami and help move us as a country into a really great space in green technology.

Q: What is your vision for the vertical garden covering the front of the building?

A: Ted Caplow, of CappSci and Miami Science Barge, is designing a game-changing vertical farm based on work by his company, BrightFarms Inc., which creates hydroponic farms for Whole Foods amongst other clients. The vertical farm will be a hydroponic system to grow organic produce inside a glass and screened-in enclosure on the façade of EcoTech Visions’ new building located at 670 NW 113th St. Installation and ongoing maintenance and production will be managed by Urban Green Works working with marginalized resources including women recently exiting incarceration. In addition, an aquaponics system will be incorporated by Fruit of Life Organics, one of our incubator companies, to grow organic fish and produce in one system that recreates the natural water cycle.

Q: There are even plans for a rooftop café?

A: Yes, and we will serve food from our vertical garden.

Q: What’s next for EcoTech?

A: We’re taking applications to fill out our pipeline of companies, educating people on the opportunities in green technology, and educating entrepreneurs on what is available in terms of funding so they can succeed by being clean and green.

Nancy Dahlberg; 305-376-3595; @ndahlberg

Read more entrepreneurship Q&As on this blog by going to the Q&A category.


from left, EcoTech Visions'  staff Carlos Vazquez, Kenyona Pierre, Marisabel Lavastida, CEO Pandwe Gibson, Tamara Wendt and Justin Knight, at their new facility, 670 NW 113th St. in Miami, under construction. PEDRO PORTAL pportal@miamiherald.com


May 24, 2016

Broward College launches accelerator in downtown Fort Lauderdale

Broward College announced the launch of its business accelerator, to be located at the downtown Fort Lauderdale campus on Las Olas Boulevard.

“This marks an exciting time for startup companies in Broward County,” said J. David Armstrong, Jr., president of Broward College. “Our business community partners have shared with us the need for support beyond the initial planning and business plan phase. We listened, and our accelerator will provide wraparound services to budding entrepreneurs as they refine their businesses to seek funding.”

The announcement comes on the heels of the success of the Innovation Hub at Broward College. In less than a year, Innovation Hub, directed by Enrique Triay with support from Professor Steven Gross, has generated significant activity. At the present time, there are 20 companies that reside -- or have weekly contact with -- the Innovation Hub, and many are capitalizing on the expertise provided by Triay and Professor Gross; business people who serve as consultants; and numerous students who actively are involved as interns in these companies. Two companies currently at Innovation Hub will be a part of Broward College’s new accelerator program.