May 22, 2017

NFTE high school entrepreneurs headed to national contest

Ashley

The student winner of the 2017 NFTE South Florida Entrepreneurship Challenge owned the stage during her presentation in front of hundreds of people. She executed her pitch so perfectly, she didn't even need the cute cameo role her little sister provided (though it didn't hurt.)

That was Coral Gables Senior High School student Ashley Bellinger (pictured above), who won first place in the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship South Florida Regional Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge last week.  Hialeah Gardens Senior High School students Manny Mollinedo and Danny Martinez placed second. They will represent the South Florida Region at the NFTE 2017 National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge in October in New York City where they will present and defend their business plans to compete for prizes totaling $20,000. 

Ashley  won $1,500 for her plan for Amber Ash, her t-shirt fashion company that celebrates diversity and individualism; her little sister modeled one of Ashley's designs during the presentation.  Manny and Danny  created Fresh Fit and won $1,000.  These students presented their plan for a company which creates and distributes liners for fitness shaker bottles. Jacqueesha Jones from Miami Northwestern Senior High School who presented her plan for The Brownie Factory, an organization that sells brownies to raise college scholarship funds for low-income students, was the third place finalist, receiving a prize of $500. 

 “NFTE activates the entrepreneurial mindset and builds startup skills in youth both to ensure their long-term success and a more vibrant economy and society,” says Shawn Osborne, NFTE President and CEO.  “Youth today are not prepared for the jobs of today or to create and fill the jobs of tomorrow.  Many of the high-growth jobs of today barely existed a decade ago and the jobs of the future likely do not exist today.  The entrepreneurial mindset is therefore key to success for any young person who wants to be ready for a fast-changing future.”            

The teens demonstrated their command of the entrepreneurial mindset, the way entrepreneurs recognize opportunities and overcome challenges.  Young people presented and defended their business plans before a prestigious panel of judges and an audience of key business and school leaders. All the finalists received mentoring before they competed, and the student winners will receive more mentoring before competing in New York this fall.

The judges for the South Florida regional competition were: Chris Caines, Miami Program Associate, Knight Foundation; Ralph Campbell, Managing Partner, 4D Associates; Ana Karina Felix, Senior Vice President, CCAR LATAM, Citi; Erik Pupo, Managing Director, Accenture; Dr. Stephanie Scott, Director of Research & Evaluation, United Way of Broward County, and Stephanie Sylvestre, Chief Programs Officer/Chief Information Officer, The Children’s Trust.

NFTE Regional Youth Entrepreneurship Challenges will take place in cities across the country supported by Microsoft and the Citi Foundation as part of its Pathways to Progress global expansion to prepare urban youth for today’s competitive job market.  Additional support for the South Florida Challenge was provided by Mastercard, along with Bank of America, Celebrity Cruises, EY, Royal Caribbean, and Santander. The South Florida regional competition was held on May 18 at Briza on the Bay in Miami.

Also part of the May 18 event was a fast-pitch contest involving about 10 students. Each gave a one-minute pitch and the audience voted.   And the winner of the fast-pitch was ... middle-school student Jonathan Jeancharles for his pitch for Extra Learning XL. Jonathan was a fan favorite for sure. Before the student fast-pitch competition started, the students networked with the audience and wore nametags that said "Ask me to pitch." Jonathan was an aggressive networker -- he didn't wait to be asked to tell us about his business idea.

The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) is an international nonprofit that activates the entrepreneurial mindset in young people and builds their knowledge about business startup. Students acquire the entrepreneurial mindset (e.g., innovation, self-reliance, comfort with risk), alongside business, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), and presentation skills—equipping them to drive their best futures in the 21st Century. NFTE focuses its work on under-resourced communities, with programs in 22 locations in 9 countries.

Congratulations to the South Florida teen winners!

NFTE_May2017-1185

First place winner Amber Ash.

  NFTE_May2017-1180

Second Place winners Fresh Fit.

  NFTE_May2017-1177
Third Place winner: The Brownie Factory.

 

May 08, 2017

2017 Business Plan Challenge: And the winners are ...

Challenge illustration

We are pleased to present the winners of the 19th annual Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge.

The winners’ circle contains concepts in education, hospitality, logistics, healthcare, tech, social impact and the sharing economy. To rise to the top, winners had to make a strong case for how they planned to execute their business plans.

South Florida is often recognized as one of the nation’s most entrepreneurial communities, and the 2017 winners and contestants represent the passion and diversity of the region’s emerging businesses. This year, a near-record of 234 entries competed in our three tracks of the Miami Herald Challenge, sponsored by Florida International University’s Pino Global Entrepreneurship Center; more than 200 people attended our free Business Plan Bootcamp in March.

The three-page plans were judged by experts from our community — executives, investors, entrepreneurs and academics — as well as by the public via our popular People’s Pick video competition. The Community Track attracted the most qualified entries in the contest: 109.

Nearly 100 high school student teams entered the Challenge this year. Their business plan entries were dominated by ideas for apps, most with a social-impact twist. For the FIU track, the judging included a live pitch session for the six finalists, which helped determine the final winners. Each team received up to five minutes to present their company, followed by time for Q&A and feedback.

A first for this contest: Two winners, one from the FIU Track and one from the High School Track, tackled the same big problem — restaurant food waste — with somewhat similar solutions. We suggest they team up!

And the winners are ...

Community Track: Cargo42, a B2B sharing-economy solution that matches shippers in need with local trucking companies with cargo space to fill, won the Community Track. Apollonix, an online platform for marketing and ordering and oral prosthetics, came in second. Third was Caribu, an app that marries video-calling and e-books to provide an interactive experience when family members are far apart.

FIU Track: Nuvola, creator of guest management software that helps hotels monitor and respond to hotel and guest needs, won the FIU Track. MunchSquad, a mobile app that enables restaurants, bakeries and supermarkets to reduce surplus food by selling it to hungry college students, was second. Third went to Use Your Words, an app used by parents to teach language and communication to their pre-verbal and nonverbal children on the autism spectrum.

High School Track: Smart Straws, a plan to offer a straw that detects the most common rape drugs when placed in drinks, won the track. Micki’s, an app that would enable restaurants to advertise real-time flash sales on specific meals when business has been slow, was second. VetNet, an app that would help veterans combat issues including unemployment and unavailability of resources, won third. An honorable mention went out to LocatED, a community emergency response app.

The weeklong People’s Pick competition, which attracted 12,130 votes, heated up on social media. In the end, SettleiTsoft, a web-based and mobile platform that offers 24/7 assistance to debtors and creditors to streamline debt negotiation, won the FIU Track with 2,812 votes and the most elaborate consumer-focused social media campaign, in two languages and spanning the Americas. Use Your Words came in second with 1,225 votes, and MunchSquad came in third in the FIU race.

In the Community Track’s People’s Pick competition, Cargo42 came in first with 1,820 votes, Caribu was on its tail with 1,682, and School Climate Solutions, customized on-demand content for educators, parents and students that helps improve school environments, came in third.

And, drumroll please ... The Challenge Champion, our overall winner, was Cargo42 because of the high judges’ scores and the strong People’s Pick showing.

What separated today’s featured winners from the pack? The written business plans scored well in most of the key areas, including business model, marketing strategy, financials, management team, value proposition and market opportunity. Many of the teams have sought mentorship and support from community entrepreneurship organizations — and it showed.

Some of today’s winners are first-timers or hoping to turn a side hustle into a full-time business; some are serial entrepreneurs or professionals with decades of industry experience. Yet they all are in the early stages of their startups. We will be following their progress!

Find profiles of the 2017 Challenge winners through the links below or on MiamiHerald.com/challenge.

Challenge Champion: Trucking meets tech in Cargo42’s winning strategy

FIU Track Winner: Software created by hoteliers for hoteliers is primed to scale

High School Track Winner: A simple straw to help combat a widespread rape problem? ‘Brilliant’

This startup wants to help you keep your toothy smile

Far away, yet so near: App lets kids, distant loved ones read together

Excess restaurant food + hungry college students = winning social venture idea

Startup developing a useful, affordable tool to help nonverbal children

Attacking consumer debt with a next-generation tech solution

Flash sales for foodies can help restaurants tackle food waste

Helping and connecting U.S. veterans is mission of VetNet

Emergency response app has real-time potential to save lives

Challenge finalists represents a range of industries

Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge judges

Entrepreneur bootcamp basics: Focus your vision, build a great team, listen to your customers

 

April 28, 2017

More contest news: FAU Wave Competitions announces winners

Florida Atlantic University’s Division of Research has announced the winners of the 2017 FAU Wave Competition, an undergraduate and entrepreneurial research contest. Participants received $500 this past fall to develop new ideas to address societal problems, and worked throughout two semesters to develop their proposed projects.

Vithulan Suthakaran, a FAU High School student who is dual-enrolled in FAU’s College of Engineering and Computer Science, took home $1500 in prize money for his SEA Skimmer project, which won first place. Suthakaran developed an inexpensive autonomous oil skimmer to decontaminate oil from large bodies of water to protect aquatic species. The SEA Skimmer is cost effective, efficient, sustainable and collects oil nearly three times faster than current devices on the market.

“I’ve always had a passion for marine life and love to visit marine life centers,” he said. “I started noticing more marine mammals showing up at these centers because of oil pollution and I wanted to find a way to help out.”

Alexis Base, a FAU High student studying ocean engineering at FAU, tied for second place with electrical engineering undergraduate Ben Coleman, earning them $1000 for their projects. Base developed an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) with an onboard camera image recognition system to locate lionfish, an invasive fish species in the Atlantic Ocean. Coleman’s Transient-Image Density Evaluation System (TIDES) improves smartphone sensing technology by deleting additive noise and reducing the effect of multiplicative noise.

“The FAU Wave competition teaches students how to get published in journals, launch a start-up, file for a patent and connect with other experts in their fields,” said Dan Flynn, Ph.D., vice president for research. “It primes them for future opportunities in entrepreneurship and technology start-ups, like FAU Tech Runway or a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship.”

FAU High student Hannah Herbst, also studying biology at FAU, tied for third place with Pedro Flores, an undergraduate majoring in physics. Herbst developed an inexpensive device that quickly identifies the presence of airborne chemicals and issues a warning or evacuation notice. Flores created an artificial intelligence project that uses math algorithms to create music.

Other projects included a drone that can detect air pollution, filters that reverse the effect of sea coral diseases, an African-inspired clothing company and a portrait project focused on better understanding the LGBTQ population.

            For more information on the FAU Wave competition, visit www.fau.edu/research/fau-wave/fau-wave-competition.php.

- Submitted by FAU 

April 27, 2017

FAU Business Plan Competition: And the winners are ...

FAUbusiness-plan-competition-newsdesk

Pictured left to right are: FAU College of Business Dean Daniel Gropper, Barbara Ruiz, Rodrigo Gayoso, Christopher Waddington, Regynald Augustin, Kendrick Dubuisson, Kristopher Stewart, William Hahn, Brandon Jadotte, Kurtis Rodriques, Quintin Warren.

 

A team of four engineering students took home the top prize at this year’s Florida Atlantic University Business Plan Competition with a system that helps prevent the theft of printed classified or proprietary documents. 

Their company is Protection Against Physical Element Removal or PAPER for short. Founding members Alyssa Harris, Kris Stewart, Quintin Warren, and Wesley Klemas formed PAPER earlier this year in their senior engineering design class. 

The idea started when Harris, who previously worked as an intern in the defense industry, read news articles detailing one of the issues the defense community grapples with – how to prevent people walking out with pages containing proprietary or classified information. 

“She came up with the initial idea of trying to track the pages, and from there all of us together developed the idea of printing RFIDs onto the page,” Warren explained. 

RFID stands for radio-frequency identification, which uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags containing electronically stored information, which are attached to objects. PAPER utilizes conductive nanoparticle ink to tag classified documents, allowing its system to detect if documents are being removed from the premises. 

Andrew Duffell, president and CEO of the Research Park at FAU and one of the judges for the competition, said the fact that government would be a good customer for PAPER’s services and the company could get funding through various grant mechanisms gives them a good opportunity to ramp up their business to become revenue-positive. 

“They showed us a huge market that really has never been addressed in a comprehensive way,” he said. “Their technology and their solution and the way prepared their plan and they pulled out the answers very carefully was impressive. It was just a very interesting concept, well thought out and well presented.”

While classified information is well-secured and encrypted in a cyber environment, government and large enterprise businesses haven’t had a successful solution to securing their printed classified documents. This has led to these sensitive materials being leaked online. The PAPER team said this can be remedied using their system, which allows organizations to know when printed, classified material is removed before it even leaves the premises, ensuring it doesn’t get leaked.

The PAPER team won $10,000 for taking first place in the competition, along with an additional $1,000 for being named Best Interdisciplinary Team.

Ripple, a creative micro-influencer and marketing agency that empowers local celebrities by offering them the ability to rent their social media real estate, was awarded $5,000 for second place.

Idle Automation, which uses a mobile app to provide self-driving shuttles for university campuses, retirement communities and resorts where short-distance travel is cumbersome or inaccessible, took third place and $2,500.

Fit Families of South Florida won the People's Choice award and $1,000.

The students on the PAPER team said they received support from faculty in the College of Engineering & Computer Science, as well as the College of Business, which hosted the competition in conjunction with the Adams Center for Entrepreneurship. The competition took them out of their comfort zone as engineers, but they got the result they wanted.

“Coming up with the actual business plan was probably the most difficult part of the competition because it was out of our discipline,” Stewart said. “The part I enjoyed the most was competing and getting to talk about the business aspect of it versus the technical side of the project.”

 - Submitted by Florida Atlantic University

April 24, 2017

Deadline extended until May 2: Enter American Entrepreneurship Award contest now

The American Entrepreneurship Award business plan competition offers aspiring and early stage entrepreneurs the opportunity to win a share of $125,000 as well as free mentorship and business support services. The competition is available to entrepreneurs currently living in, currently operating in, or who plan to open or expand their businesses to the areas of The Bronx, New York and Miami-Dade County, Florida.

To enter this competition, please visit: http://www.AmericanAward.com/ and click the “Register Here” on the page. Follow the instructions to create a profile and you will be taken to the online application. Once you complete the online application, you will be entered into the contest.

The deadline to complete your application is  now 11:59 p.m. May 2 so start your application today!

For any questions about the application or the award please contact: info@americanaward.com

April 17, 2017

You be the judge: Vote in the Business Plan Challenge People's Pick

Challenge illustration

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

A way to combat restaurant food waste, an online platform for dental prosthetics, or a line of toys for boys of color? Or maybe it’s the sharing economy for trucking, the sharing economy for home-care services, or a grow-light for cannabis?

Or how about or a tool to negotiate consumer debt, a guest management platform for the hospitality industry, or a new clinic for mental health therapy? In the education space, an app that helps kids on the autism spectrum communicate with their parents, a solution for schools to combat bullying and a tool to bring families together at storytime complete the offerings.

Who is building the best new business? You tell us!

Today, we unveil the top six finishers in the Community and FIU Tracks of the 19th annual Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge, and we are asking you to support your favorite competitors. The People’s Pick is open for voting.

With just a couple of days’ notice, the contenders, all with emerging South Florida companies, presented elevator pitches under the hot lights of the Miami Herald and FIU studios.

To vote for your favorite startups, here’s what to do:

Find the voting page here or at hrld.us/BizPlan2017. View the short videos of the finalists’ elevator pitches. The six selections in the FIU Track follow the Community Track. Then scroll to the bottom of the voting page to cast your ballot, voting for one video in each track. You may vote once per day.

Lastly, get out the vote! Give your favorite entrepreneurial team more support by asking your social networks to vote. . Use hashtag #2017BizPlanMiami to follow along.

Voting closes at 11:59 p.m. April 24. The top voted team from each track track will be awarded the People’s Pick and honored in the May 8 Business Monday section along with the judges’ selections.

The contenders are:

COMMUNITY TRACK

Apollonix, pitched by Jessica Shin and Terri-Ann Brown, is the first online marketplace for ordering oral prosthetics and provides a win-win solution for both dentists and labs in this $10.9 billion industry.

Cargo42, pitched by Murilo Amaral and Alfredo Keri, is a B2B marketplace for local trucking. It helps shippers find lower rates, access quality service and have their goods delivered on time by matching them with pre-verified trucks with empty space in them.

Caribu, pitched by Maxeme Tuchman, marries video-calling and e-books to provide an interactive experience when family members are far apart. You simply make a call, choose a book together, and read or draw in real time as if you were in the same room.

Melanites, pitched by Jennifer Pierre, designs and creates diverse toys, storybooks and games that celebrate brown boyhood. Its mission is to inspire children of color to dream big, stand tall and live out their childhood.

Modulux Lighting, pitched by Bill Cummings, has created an LED-based grow-light product called GroMax focused on the massive cannabis market. GroMax lights are modular, programmable and scalable and can be assembled like Lego Blocks to create an efficient lighting solution for any size grower.

School Climate Solutions, pitched by Maribel Gonzalez, delivers customized on-demand content for educators, parents and students that helps improve school environments and creates pathways that lead to academic and social success.

FIU TRACK

DoUCare, pitched by Maurice Pinto, is a cloud-based platform that connects freelance caregivers to families seeking nonmedical home-care services for elderly loved ones. Careseekers get immediate or future-scheduled care services through a phone or web app. Caregivers get access to an online marketplace that gets them hired at the rate of their choice.

Ketamine Health Centers, pitched by Dennis Diaz and May Nunez, will own, develop and operate multiple outpatient clinics to provide ketamine infusions, a new treatment modality for patients suffering from mental-health disorders. The clinic provides an innovative use of the FDA-approved anesthetic ketamine, gaining recognition in the medical community.

MunchSquad, pitched by Tara Demren and Eliana Alba, is a mobile app providing a real-time marketplace that allows restaurants, bakeries and supermarkets to reduce surplus food being thrown out at the end of the day by having it sold at a discount to students. MunchSquad also facilitates partnerships with homeless shelters for the distribution of remaining food.

Nuvola, pitched by Juan Carlos Abello, provides guest management software that helps hotels monitor and respond to hotel and guest needs and activities. Nuvola, staffed entirely by professionals with hospitality industry experience, has created a customer-service platform with mobile applications designed to be used by the hotel staff and by hotel guests.

SettleiTsoft, pitched by Rich Rudner, provides a web-based and mobile accessible platform that offers 24/7 assistance to debtors and creditors as a bridge to facilitate and streamline the debt-negotiation process. It is designed to replace the traditional methods of debt resolution with an intuitive, interactive, transparent and secure online debt settlement process.

Use Your Words, pitched by Yanesa Montenegro, will develop an app used by parents to teach language and communication to their pre-verbal and nonverbal children on the autism spectrum. At its core, the app will be an interface of buttons with symbols representing words the child will press to communicate with parents, and will offer video tutorials and a progress recording feature.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

READ MORE: Find the complete list of semifinalists, including the High School Track, here.

April 10, 2017

234 entries, now it’s down to 30. The Business Plan Challenge semifinalists are ...

 

 

 

 

 

Challenge illustration
By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Education-related startups and social-mission concepts were two big trends among this year’s entries in the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge.

Passion poured from the pages of the 234 business plan entries in the 19th annual Challenge, a near record, and included concepts for healthcare, education, the sharing economy, fashion, music, healthy living, toys, pets and food products.

Today, we reveal the semifinalists in the Community, FIU and High School tracks.

Having the right ingredients to win over our judges wasn’t easy. They were looking at the viability of the business model and the market opportunity. They wanted to see a strong team to carry out the big vision, a smart marketing strategy and realistic financial projections. For concepts in crowded fields — and there were a lot of those — product or service differentiation was critical. A good idea alone wasn’t enough: Our judges demanded a strong plan for execution.

To be sure, our three panels of judges — serial entrepreneurs, investors, academics and executives — had their work cut out for them. In addition to our judges, we called upon experts from CIC Miami, SCORE Miami-Dade and the Small Business Development Center at FIU to help us evaluate the plans. The Community Track drew the most entries, 109, presenting a mix of businesses representative of South Florida’s entrepreneurial diversity.

Competition in the High School Track, co-sponsored by the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship South Florida, heated up with nearly 100 entries. Ransom Everglades and Gulliver Prep made them part of class projects and accounted for about half of the total entries. The track was rich with ideas for social-impact ventures.

For all 234 of you who entered, congratulations! You now have a strong start on your business plan — your road map to growing your business.

Whether or not you made this cut, we encourage you to take advantage of community resources to get help with your businesses, such as SCORE chapters around South Florida, the Small Business Development Centers at FIU and in Broward, or StartUP FIU, which is open to the community and has opened a new food incubator, and other accelerators. If you are in Miami-Dade, enter the American Entrepreneurship Award contest (americanaward.com), with a share of $125,000 in prizes up for grabs, by the April 27 deadline.

What’s ahead? Next week we will launch our People’s Pick video competition, which includes the top six finishers in the Community and FIU Tracks. We hope you will support them with your votes. The winners, finalists and semifinalists in all three tracks will be included in a special section of Business Monday on May 8.

Here, in alphabetical order, are the semifinalists:

COMMUNITY TRACK

Apollonix, by Jessica Shin, Paul Shin and Terri-Ann Brown, is the first online marketplace for ordering oral prosthetics and provides a win-win solution for both dentists and labs in this $10.9 billion industry.

Aquaco Farms, by Joe Cardenas, is an aquaculture company that has selected the Florida Pompano as the best species for its grow-out. This high-margin fish has been limited on menus due to the challenge of meeting demand from wild stock.

Cargo42, by Francine Gervazio, Murilo Amaral and Alfredo Keri, is a B2B marketplace for local trucking. It helps shippers find lower rates, access quality service and have their goods delivered on time by matching them with pre-verified trucks with empty space in them.

Caribu, by Maxeme Tuchman and Alvaro Sabido, marries video-calling and e-books to provide an interactive experience when family members are far apart. You simply make a call, choose a book together, and read or draw in real time as if you were in the same room.

Melanites, by Jennifer Pierre, designs and creates diverse toys, storybooks and games that celebrate brown boyhood. Its mission is to inspire children of color to dream big, stand tall and live out their childhood.

Modulux Lighting, by Bill Cummings, has created an LED-based grow-light product called GroMax focused on the massive cannabis market. GroMax lights are modular, programmable and scalable and can be assembled like Lego Blocks to create an efficient lighting solution for any size grower.

Pierce Plan, by Kelly Pierce, is the first software platform to automatically track academic requirements in real time to help high school student athletes more easily obtain scholarships to play in college, compete in the classroom and succeed in life.

School Climate Solutions, by Maribel Gonzalez, delivers customized on-demand content for educators, parents and students that helps improve school environments and creates pathways that lead to academic and social success.

Surgical & Aesthetic Supplies, by Camilo F. Sanchez and Dr. Sheri Prentiss, sells designer compression garments created to support recovery and healing at an affordable price for many inflammatory conditions including lymphedema, arthritis, swelling following surgery, fractures, burns or other trauma.

VarDragons, by Thomas Byrd Jr., Jason Keasler and Joe Rjeili, has created technology to transform real airplanes into dragons through mobile devices. VarDragons (Virtual / Augmented Reality Dragons) is an innovative massive multiplayer online mobile game using a new mixed-reality technology.

VideoRehearser, by Carlos Vazquez and David L. Kay, is a cloud-based training management system using neurobehavioral and educational principles to increase retention and improve professional and personal performance.

Zulubots, by Elizabeth, Monica and Julian F. De Zulueta, is a consumer robotics company that focuses on the design and fabrication of assistive robots for the home to improve the resident’s quality of life and provide prolonged independence. Zulubots is developing Carrli, a robot that helps customers lift and carry objects around the home.

FIU TRACK

DoUCare, by Maurice Pinto, is a cloud-based platform that uses a crowdsourcing business model to connect freelance caregivers to families seeking nonmedical home-care services for their elderly loved ones. Careseekers can get immediate or future-scheduled care services through a phone or web app. Caregivers can get access to an online marketplace that gets them hired locally at the rate of their choice.

Ketamine Health Centers, by Dr. Raul Cruz, Dr. Francisco Cruz, Dennis Diaz and May Nunez, will own, develop and operate multiple outpatient clinics to provide ketamine infusions, a new treatment modality for patients suffering from mental-health disorders. The clinic provides an innovative use of the FDA-approved anesthetic ketamine, whose effectiveness in the treatment of mental health is gaining recognition in the medical community.

MunchSquad, by Tara Demren, Eliana Alba and Don Sirivat, is a mobile app providing a real-time marketplace that allows food vendors (restaurants, bakeries, supermarkets) to reduce surplus food being thrown out at the end of the day by having it sold at a discount to students. MunchSquad also facilitates partnerships with local homeless shelters for the distribution of remaining food after student sales.

Nuvola, by Juan Carlos Abello, provides guest management software that helps hotels monitor and respond to hotel and guest needs and activities. Nuvola, staffed entirely by professionals with hospitality industry experience, has created a customer-service platform with mobile applications designed to be used by the hotel staff and by hotel guests.

SettleiTsoft, by Antonio Garcia, Carlos Garcia and Rich Rudner, provides a web-based and mobile accessible platform that offers 24/7 assistance to debtors and creditors as a bridge to facilitate and streamline the debt-negotiation process. It is designed to replace the traditional methods of debt resolution with an intuitive, interactive, transparent and secure online debt settlement process that gives consumers complete control of negotiations.

Use Your Words, by Yanesa Montenegro and Pablo Gomez, will develop an app used by parents to teach language and communication to their pre-verbal and nonverbal children on the autism spectrum. At its core, the app will be an interface of buttons with symbols representing words the child will press to communicate with parents, and will offer video tutorials and a progress recording feature.

HIGH SCHOOL TRACK

BEST-Ware, by Eitan Dooreck-Aloni, Julia Ortiz and Erin Bakes of Ransom Everglades, is user-friendly software that enables parents to efficiently and effectively monitor and regulate their children’s phone usage while limiting the power struggle between parents and their children.

Coegi, by Yoav Grainer and Corey Kraftsow of Ransom Everglades, is a fun, innovative app that utilizes user restraint and gamification to discourage drivers from texting and driving. Coegi’s game rewards drivers for not using their phones while driving.

Equix, by Leonardo Nadais, Victor Rego and Aaron Carey of Gulliver Preparatory, is a portable, reusable water bottle that also includes a charger. Its target market is college students, athletes and office workers.

Gluton Free Zone, by Jamie Shapiro, Alexandra Yaniz and Juliana Yaniz of Gulliver Prep, is an app that would provide all the information necessary for anyone following a gluten-free diet, including what goods have gluten, gluten-free replacements, restaurant and supermarket recommendations, meal plans and more.

HART (High Altitude Rocket Transport), by Sebastian Abisleiman and Adrian Ruiz of the School for Advanced Studies, will inspire students around the world to consider engineering and STEM fields by providing innovative model rocket kits that can be improved upon by the collaborative global community.

LocatED, by Chase Feldman, Clinton Jules, Ben Manley, Marissa Manley, Eliza Morton, Stephanie Morton and Monica Wang of Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High, is a community emergency response app, helping registered users having a medical emergency find a medical device such as an inhaler or EpiPen nearby.

Micki’s, by Simon Bindefeld-Boccara and Jake Pelayo of Ransom Everglades, would create an app that enables restaurants to advertise real-time flash sales on specific meals when business has been slow, combating food waste and allowing more consumers to try their dishes.

Shock-Block, by Caroline Krystoff, Kate Heatzip and Danna Martinez of Pine Crest School, envisions Lacrosse Concussion Helmut Sensors that attach to the inside of a helmet to evaluate the impact and send an alert to the coach.

Smart Straws, by Susana Cappello, Carolina Baigorri and Victoria Roca of Gulliver Prep, would develop and market a line of straws that detect the most common rape drugs when they are placed in nonalcoholic or alcoholic drinks.

Speckey, by Aditya Devendra, Mihail Rogatykh and Paridhi Kapadia of American Heritage, is an innovative way to learn music and play a new instrument for beginners. Users can use the app to play via an interactive virtual diagram of the chords or keys.

SupportMe, by Harrison Kellner, Vivi Cardoso and Axel Rizzo of Gulliver Prep, is a social media app designed for teens who are victims of bullying or suffering from depression and anxiety. SupportMe will connect users who are going through similar struggles and also connect them with psychology students.

VetNet, by Carlos Esber, Austin Acosta and Julian Zighelboim of Ransom Everglades, is an app that would help veterans combat issues including unemployment, unavailability of resources like proper mental health therapy and lack of communication with people suffering similar experiences.

Congratulations to the semi-finalists and all 234 teams who completed plans and entered the Challenge. Keep us posted on your progress reaching your entrepreneurial dreams.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

April 03, 2017

Eight schools compete in teen entrepreneurship showdown Innovate South Florida -- And the winners are...

Rentall

 

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

A concept for leveraging the sharing economy, a healthy food restaurant chain for lower income communities, a product for athletes and a video production service wowed the judges at last week's Innovate South Florida, a business plan competition among South Florida private schools to benefit the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) South Florida. It was held last Monday at the IDEA Center at Miami Dade College.

 In the event, eight of the top private schools in South Florida competed first in semi-final rounds and then in a final round to determine the winner. Each team did a 7-10 minute business plan presentation in front of the judges -- angel investor Greg Diamond, Ramiro Almeida of Miami Dade College's Innovation Lab, Ryan Cohen of Chewy.com and Jordy Levy of Softbank Capital  -- who then had five minutes to question them.

The team from American Heritage's Plantation Campus won with  RentAll, a business focused on  providing a consumer-to-consumer rental platform for products of all kinds.  The students presenting for American Heritage were Yash Daftary and Brandon Dinner (pictured above).

RentAll was also the 3rd place winner in the high school track in the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge in 2016, and the student entrepreneurs have been working hard to make their concept a reality. After winning in the Challenge, the teens also participated in a Startup Weekend to continue building their idea. The team recently developed and finalized more marketing and advertising strategies such as a student ambassador program that it will launch during upcoming beta testing.

What was RentAll's winning strategy for Innovate South Florida?

"We prepared for the competition by creating a pitch deck for investors and pitching that to the judges. We tried to hit every aspect possible so that not too many questions could be asked. We also watched a lot of startup pitches online so we could see what kind of questions could be asked and so we could get creative ideas for pitching our own presentation," said Daftary.

Other finalists in order of finish were Gulliver (second place) for Fresh Zone, an affordable healthy fast-food concept targeted at lower-income neighborhoods. The students were Dania Fernandez, Alex Anton and Orest Danyliv.

Third place went to Pine Crest School for Protecht Sports, an ankle support for high school and college athletes, presented by  students Jordan Taney, Blake Kravitz and Jared Gould.

Fourth place went to Palmer Trinity and the students' idea was TeenVe, which would provide video production services to schools supporting charitable endeavors. It was presented by students Henry Fernandez and Duncan Stoner.

Other schools participating were Ransom Everglades, Columbus High School, American Heritage Delray Campus and Hebrew Academy(RASG). Many of the schools, like Gulliver, held their own internal business plan competitions to determine their representative at this event. 

The event was supported by Wheels Up, Celebrity Cruises, PNC Bank, Seeman Holtz, EY, Evensky & Katz/Foldes Financial and DDB. Miami Dade College was the host for the second year in a row.

"I am so grateful for the support of the schools and their students who did an incredible thing participating in an event whose purpose is to raise awareness of and support for NFTE and its mission of providing entrepreneurship education to under-resourced students," said Richard Jackson, advisory board chairman of NFTE. NFTE South Florida is currently serving 39 public schools and has helped over 30,000 students learn about entrepreneurship and leadership.

NFTE also has been running school competitions in the run-up to its final showdown in its Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge May 18 from 6  pm to 9 pm at Briza on the Bay. Meet the young entrepreneurs at the event's Student Business Expo and cheer on NFTE South Florida's top youth businesses as they compete for a chance to represent South Florida at the National Challenge in New York City. Register here.

Innovate

All of the winners of the 2017 Innovate South Florida competition are pictured here. At top, Yash Daftary and Brandon Dinner pitch RentAll, which won the contest.

 

March 31, 2017

University of Miami School of Business awards nearly $50K in Business Plan Competition. And the winners are...

Ventures producing a high-performance computer with a water cooling system and an online portal to help high school student athletes obtain college scholarships have taken top honors in the 2017 University of Miami Business Plan Competition, hosted by the University’s School of Business Administration. The competition winners, who took home a combined total of nearly $50,000 in first, second, third and other prizes, were announced March 30 following the final round of competition the same day.

Grand Prizes

1st

David Gantt, pictured above, an international finance and marketing major at the School of Business and Chester Montefering, an industrial engineering major, won the Grand Prize and $10,000 in the undergraduate student category for XIX Computing. Their venture aims to produce a computer system with a water cooling system to better address the high-performance computing needs of the computer gaming industry.

1st too

In the graduate student and alumni category, Kelly Pierce, pictured above, who graduated in 2012 as a community and social change major, took home the Grand Prize and $10,000 for her venture, Pierce Plan. It’s billed as the first SAAS LMS licensing and delivery model to automatically track academic requirements in real time to help high school student athletes more easily obtain scholarships to pay for college. Pierce also won the People’s Choice Award and $1,000.

Second Place

2nd twoo

Second Place in the undergraduate student category and $6,000 went to Dylan Cohen (pictured above), a biology major, for Frest, a hand-held device and mobile application that facilitates contact information exchange.

2nd

 

Second Place in the graduate student and alumni category and $6,000 went to Thomas R. Byrd Jr. and Jason S. Keasler (pictured above), both 2016 MBA graduates from the School of Business, along with Joe Rjeili, for VarDragons, a reality mobile game that turns airplanes into dragons through mobile devices.

Third Place

3rd 22

Third Place in the undergraduate student category and $4,000 went to Nelly Sudri, an advertising management major and Lauren Peaslee, a public relations major, for Sobe Media Group (pictured above). It’s a Miami-based social media marketing agency aimed at helping brands increase their social media reach.

3rd

Third Place in the graduate student and alumni category and $4,000 went to Josh Fu, who graduated from the School of Business in 2010 as an international finance and marketing major, for Haathi Cloth (pictured above). The venture aims to produce modern, comfortable and machine-washable kurtas, an outfit worn at Indian weddings and dance competitions.

Honorable Mentions

An honorable mention and $1,000 was presented in the undergraduate student category to Don Sirivat, an engineering major, and Kevin Fich, a computer science major, for Cleanswipe, a mobile payment platform for scheduling laundry appointments. The honorable mention in the graduate student and alumni category went to Marcella McCarthy, who graduated in 2005 as an English major, for Skillied, a web platform where schools and other institutions can list their local classes and people can book a seat.

The 2017 Business Plan Competition started last fall when 81 concept papers were submitted to the judging committee. From those submissions, 31 semifinalist teams prepared business plans and were then presented to the judges on March 29. Four winners in each of the two categories were then named to compete in the final round on March 30, with the winners named shortly afterward.

This year’s competition sponsors included Sean Goldstein, The Gomberg Family, The Heffner Family, JES Global Capital Partners, The Nunez Family, and Oscar Callejas. Now in its 15th year, the Business Plan Competition is open to all University of Miami students and alumni.

Past winners in the competition have gone on to build their ventures into businesses that have garnered national attention. They include such companies College Hunks Hauling Junk and My Therapy Journal.com, both of which have been featured on ABC Television's “Shark Tank.”

Other Awards

In addition to the three top prizes and honorable mentions in each category, the Paul K. Sugrue Entrepreneurial Spirit Award and $2,000 was presented to Benjamin Leis, who graduated in 2004 as a broadcast journalism major, for Comic Cure. The venture uses the unifying power of laughter to uplift and engage communities around important causes.

The Best Presentation Award in the undergraduate student category went to Dylan Cohen for Frest. The Best Presentation Award in the graduate student and alumni category went to Jennifer Pierre, who graduated from the School of Business as an entrepreneurship and marketing major, for Melanites. Her venture designs diverse toys, storybooks and games that celebrate brown boyhood. Each Best Presentation Award winner received $2,000.

Entrepreneurship Symposium

In the lead-up to the competition finals, UM alumni Omar Soliman, co-founder and CEO of College Hunks Hauling Junk, Jamie Rosenberg, founder and CEO of ClassWallet and Albert Santalo, founder and former CEO of CareCloud, offered their ideas, advice and insights to students at the half-day Entrepreneurship Symposium, which also included panel discussions on Miami’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and venture capital opportunities.

“Starting a business is like running a marathon,” said Rosenberg. “You have to take micro steps one at a time. But the most important thing is understanding what’s driving your heart.”

“It has never been easier to become an entrepreneur,” added Santalo. “There are many great platforms to help you launch a business with very little outside funding. If you are serious about your idea and willing to work hard every day, I encourage you to jump in. Otherwise, you’ll be watching from the sidelines.”

READ THE ENTREPRENEURSHIP SYMPOSIUM RECAP HERE.

- Submitted by University of Miami

March 12, 2017

5 reasons to enter the Business Plan Challenge by March 20

Challenge illustration

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

It’s down to this: You have one week left to participate in the 2017 Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge. If you are on the fence about whether to enter, jump over. Here are five reasons to get moving:

  1. Motivation. This might just be that kick in the behind you need. Writing down your business strategy and road map will help you focus, and give you a document for potential partners or investors. Whether you are entering the Community Track — open to all of South Florida; the FIU Track — open to students and alumni of that university; or the High School Track — which is also open to eighth-graders this year, entering the Challenge will help you get moving.
  2. Publicity. If you are one of the top three winners in each track or the “People’s Pick,” you will be profiled in a special section of the Miami Herald’s Business Monday announcing the winners, in print and online, on May 8. If you are in the top six in the Community or FIU Tracks, you will participate in the People’s Pick, our popular video contest hosted on MiamiHerald. com. We also announce our first cut, the semi-finalists, to keep the interest going. Social networking is a key component of our contest. Next year, we will look back on our winners and we follow our winners for years to come.
  3. Feedback and education. Winners and finalists will receive feedback and opportunities for entrepreneurial education. If you are chosen for the aforementioned People’s Pick contest, that’s a terrific opportunity to polish your elevator pitch — you need to capture an investor’s attention in 90 seconds or less. If you are entering the FIU Track and are a top finalist, a live pitch contest gives you a chance to get face-to-face feedback and advice. If you are entering the High School Track, remember that winning sure looks good on a college application.
  4. Exposure and connections. It can’t hurt to have your plan read by South Florida’s top entrepreneurial experts, including serial entrepreneurs and investors (judges’ bios are at here at MiamiHerald.com/challenge). Sometimes long-lasting mentorships are developed. Some winners have been introduced to investors or potential partners; others gained key customers. If you are one of the winners, you will receive other opportunities for mentorship and connections — for example, the top Miami-Dade winner will have the opportunity to compete in the finals of the American Entrepreneurship Award (www.americanaward.com), with a $25,000 prize, and top finalists will receive tickets to the eMerge Americas conference. All winners will be honored at a luncheon with the judges and Miami Herald executives and business staff.
  5. Pride. I know you’re passionate about your concept — and aren’t you just a wee bit competitive?

The deadline is 11:59 p.m. March 20 for all three tracks. Contest rules and guidelines are at here at MiamiHerald.com/challenge. Email your entries to challenge@miamiherald.com (Community Track); fiuchallenge@miamiherald.com or highschoolchallenge@miamiherald.com.

The entry is a three-page business plan; think of it like a meaty executive summary. You may include a fourth page for your financial chart or other visuals. See more details in our launch piece here.

If you entered last year and weren’t one of the top three winners or the People’s Pick, regroup and try again. Business ideas in the ideation stage are fine for this contest. Class projects are welcome, and we love high school entries. Know an entrepreneurial teen? Tell them about this contest.

Questions? Email ndahlberg@miamiherald.com (put Challenge in the subject line) or tweet @ndahlberg.

Good luck!

READ MORE

Think big and enter the 2017 Business Plan Challenge

2017 Business Plan Challenge rules and guidelines

Meet the Business Plan Challenge judges

Miss the Business Plan Bootcamp? Here’s a recap