Want to know about Miami startups? A user's guide to this blog

Dear reader, Starting Gate has been providing and archiving South Florida startup and tech community news, views and resources since 2012. New to the Miami area? Thinking about relocating here? Just want to keep up with news, events and opportunities? We're there for you.

How to use Starting Gate: Besides scrolling the blog for the latest entries, you can access news and views by category. The "Funding" category will capture venture capital and angel funding news of individual startups as well as stories about funders. The startup categories chronicle news and my regular "Spotlights," and in Q&As you'll find interviews with CEOs and leaders in the entrepreneurship ecosystem. There are also categories for guest posts, views, accelerators/incubators, resources, events and more.

Have news? Have an idea for a guest post? Send it to me at ndahlbergbiz@gmail.com. (See my Facebook announcement here)

Thank you for your support through the years and please come back often. Follow me on Twitter @ndahlberg. - Sincerely, Nancy Dahlberg

March 21, 2018

Can South Florida lead the future of work?

David
Employees need — and companies should be providing — avenues to gain new skills in things like artificial intelligence, blockchain, design thinking and analytics. Skills can't be siloed, and we have to think about more than technology. The ideas that are shaping the next wave of businesses are born out of curiosity.

- David Clarke, PwC  

Johanna
Since technology skill sets are in such high demand everywhere, it’s not sustainable to expect that we can poach from other markets. We need to invest and commit to training, developing and hiring talent locally.

- Johanna Mikkola, Wyncode Academy

Laura

I believe we won’t work from an office anymore. We won’t work for just one company. We will work per project, we will be more entrepreneurial, we will feel we will own our careers and our dreams again. I think the future will be fascinating.

- Laura Gonzalez-Estefani, TheVentureCity

 

By Romina Ruiz-Goiriena

Miami is booming with startup activity. Over the past decade, South Florida tech companies are booking tens of millions in revenue and employing hundreds of employees. It’s happening across other industries too. But, cultivating a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem is a process--one that can’t be done without digital transformation.

In business, digital transformation has become the buzzword of the hour. So much so that companies are now not only tasked with advancing their technological innovations, but also the personnel to support those innovations. So how can companies develop the digitally savvy workforce needed to make Miami a hub for the future of business?

This month, business festival NewCo Miami (March 25-26), showcases the companies that are shaping the future of business, and among them a few addressing the digital workforce transformation head on. We asked NewCo Miami presenters David Clarke, Global Chief Experience Officer of PwC, Johanna Mikkola, Co-Founder of Wyncode Academy, and Laura Gonzalez-Estefani, CEO of TheVentureCity, about the realities of digital transformation and how South Florida companies must prepare.

Let’s start with the biggest misconception of all: Many organizations define digital transformation as synonymous with IT. What does digital transformation mean?

David Clarke, Global Chief Experience Officer, PwC [DC]: Digital transformation is NOT migrating your enterprise systems or managing systems integration — that’s an IT function.

Digital transformation is making your organization fit for the digital age. An age of disruption, innovation, and heightened competition. Successful digital transformations change businesses inside and out while harnessing the power of technology to create new experiences. Digital transformations reimagine business models and products with a digital-first mindset while also improving experiences for the people in the business, including employees, suppliers and partners. To succeed, we must change the way we work, that includes the technology we use, and the behaviors we engage in.

Johanna Mikkola, Co-Founder Wyncode Academy [JM]: Digital transformation is usually synonymous with technology because every industry is a technology industry. There is literally no company that can build, design, and market products without the use of technology.  

Laura Gonzalez-Estefani, CEO, TheVentureCity [LGE]: What is digital transformation for me? It’s a mindset, a leadership type of thinking. It’s being able to take decisions based on data and not based in intuition and being able to operate fully through technology. To do that, you have to prepare your business to give you its "vital signs" in real time in a way that allows you to predict challenges and opportunities. Deep diving into all things business — team, processes, financials, expansion plans, legal, customer support — and being able to apply the required tech so that your business runs faster, smarter and more efficiently. It’s not just about transforming the way your IT (tech infrastructure), marketing or customer relationship processes are built. It’s about a new way of thinking and executing as leaders with technology at your core.

How does digital transformation and readiness directly correlate to the future of the workforce?

[DC] People are integral in shaping, deploying and powering digital transformations. We can invest in emerging technology, but without skilled workers to guide it, it will have little to no success. I believe that the power is in the people — not the technology. And right now, to successfully complete digital transformations that grow business, we need to dramatically change how we’re approaching development for our workforce. Employees need — and companies should be providing — avenues to gain new skills in things like artificial intelligence, blockchain, design thinking and analytics. Skills can't be siloed, and we have to think about more than technology. The ideas that are shaping the next wave of businesses are born out of curiosity. The problems and improvements that we can make for our customers and talent have to come from everywhere, not just a special incubator within the business. With those needs in mind, PwC's Digital Workforce Transformation helps businesses achieve successful digital transformation, starting with the workforce. Our workforce upskilling solution is powered through a mobile application called the Digital Fitness App, which provides personalized corporate training that’s currently being used by thousands of PwC employees, and we're developing customized versions for other companies too.

[JM]: Workforce preparation comes down to quality training and education. Ensuring high quality and access to this type of training is what will help build a solid ecosystem in South Florida. Since technology skill sets are in such high demand everywhere, it’s not sustainable to expect that we can poach from other markets. We need to invest and commit to training, developing and hiring talent locally. We have seen first hand through 500+ developer graduates working at over 230 companies that this is not only possible but already happening.

[LGE]: The sooner you learn and embrace the opportunity it brings to your business, the sooner your business is going to run smarter. There are so many different things your business is doing already relying on tech. Rather than adapting one piece at a time, think it through once, roadmap and start to execute. Artificial intelligence will make certain jobs disappear and others be created. Education needs to change so that new generations get ready for what’s coming. It’s impossible to compete with AI when we still study like we did 50 years ago. There is a huge gap there that we need to solve or the workforce won’t be ready. I believe we won’t work from an office anymore. We won’t work for just one company. We will work per project, we will be more entrepreneurial, we will feel we will own our careers and our dreams again. I think the future will be fascinating.

How does a company continue to work toward integrating what we now consider foundational technology (i.e. cloud, analytics, mobile, UX) while also keeping up with new technologies (i.e. IoT, AI, robotics)?

[DC]: Companies should invest in technologies that align with their overarching business strategy and goals  not just adopt the latest technology for the sake of being ‘cutting edge.’ Businesses need to be laser focused on customer needs and only implement technologies that smooth processes. Human experience is the strategy, and technology enables it. I’ve never seen a company solve its problem through a technology strategy.

[JM]: Companies need to invest in technologies that improve the customer experience. Foundational technology is now expected, and companies need to be at the forefront of that field. Those who are can focus on testing new technologies and how they apply best to their industry.

[LGE]: You need to execute the upcoming opportunities in a smart way, thinking long-term and ambitiously. Transforming a business in terms of tech means exponential growth if done well. You need to transform and educate your talent first, insert that mindset and operate towards it.

What are the biggest challenges the entrepreneurial ecosystem faces when it comes to tackling digital transformation?

[DC]: I think the toughest challenge is preserving some of the "start up" mentality after a company has matured. Growing while being able to stay nimble, continuously improve and build new things is the biggest challenge, and entrepreneurs, like CEOs of legacy companies are under tremendous pressure to stay competitive. This factor, and the challenge of preserving talent and keeping them motivated are the two biggest challenges I see.

Every year we take the pulse on the Digital IQ of business and IT executives around the world. In our 2017 Digital IQ Survey, we found that just 52% of companies rate their Digital IQ as strong. The most common obstacles companies face when tackling digital transformation include lack of properly skilled teams, outdated technologies, lack of integration of new and existing data and tech, and inflexible or slow processes.  Often, executives don’t even have the skills needed to guide an organization’s digital strategy. People have to be at the center of transformation projects, which often up-end years of processes, habits and cultural baggage.

[JM]: The biggest challenge is getting over the thinking that technology is only for developers. Understanding the language of technology (coding) is already as important as executing on things like marketing, finances and hiring. In the same manner in which we all learned to read and write but didn’t necessarily go on to be published authors, having a baseline understanding of coding will empower you to be a better entrepreneur.

[LGE]: I don’t think it’s that different from other places around the world. Maybe, this city is even in a better position because we are used to facing challenges constantly. It’s in our DNA. We are always ready to fight whatever comes our way. So, this is more of a call to action to start thinking about the opportunity we have to become the fastest digitized state of the U.S.

What are the biggest opportunities for businesses?

[DC]:  The biggest opportunity for businesses is creating a great culture, one that’s centered on experience for both customers and employees and powering growth. Among all this new technology, the focus needs be on real people — and a lot of times this is a huge missed opportunities. Businesses that create a strong culture, maintain a good employee experience, and move quickly are the ones that are set up for success.

[JM]: Diversity. Unlike established technology ecosystems that have a deeply rooted diversity problem, Miami has an opportunity to show that a diverse ecosystem is not only possible but will produce the best talent and the best products. For example, given that women make up 47% of the workforce and account for 85% of household buying decisions it makes sense that a product’s creators and builders be more reflective of their end user, meaning attracting more women makes business sense. In turn, it leads to stronger products and services and thus better businesses.

[LGE]: Let’s keep our talent home. Let’s create meaningful jobs here for the brains of the future that normally leave. Let’s be more open and inclusive to the crazy ideas the younger generations have and they want to test; from drone-based shipping to self-driven car circuits. Let’s have South Florida running on clean energy and transform the educational system completely, teaching kids coding and entrepreneurship from the very beginning of their school years.

Register for NewCo Miami here.


Romina Ruiz-Goiriena is a seasoned journalist and digital media entrepreneur who has worked in Paris, Cuba, and Israel for France24, El Mundo, and Haaretz. Most recently, she co-founded Prowell Media in 2016, a digital media news company that produces content for 14 million people across Mexico and the U.S. Previously to returning to Miami in 2015, she worked for CNN out of Guatemala and The Associated Press, where she reported on key regional issues such as migration and drug trafficking. She consults for media projects including Newco Miami, by M + D.  You can follow her on Twitter @RominaAdi.

February 12, 2018

Future of Travel Summit: And the winners are ...

Futureoftravel

South Florida startups proved Miami is more than tourism and hospitality -- it's tourism-tech too.

Hundreds of entrepreneurs and professionals from the travel and hospitality industry gathered at The LAB Miami and the LightBox in Wynwood on Monday for the inaugural Future of Travel Summit produced by LAB Ventures, The LAB Miami's venture builder. Between panel discussions and keynote talks on everything from AR/VR to digital nomads to blockchain by executives from Ritz Carlton, Marriott, Visa, SeaTrade, JetBlue, Kayak, Spirit and others, 10 startups selected from around the world pitched for the opportunity to present at SeaTrade as well as other prizes.

Read about the 10 startups here.

And the winners were... both South Florida startups. Perhaps that shouldn't be a surprise given it is one the biggest industries here and a number of travel-tech companies have already blossomed in the Miami area, including Amadeus, Oasis, EveryMundo, Local Measure, Boatsetter and Nobox. 

Voyhoywinners

Voyhoy took the grand prize, selected by the judges. Voyhoy is an online booking platform that allows users to compare and buy plane, bus, ferry, and train tickets throughout Latin America. It offers simple and secure ways to acquire the best deal among thousands of travel tickets.

Read more about Voyhoy in the Miami Herald here. Also Platform.Miami recently named it a 2018 Startup to Watch: Read it here.

Daycation

Daycation was the People's Choice winner. Daycation allows users to book day-by-day access to various hotel amenities, such as the pool or spa, starting at $25 a day. It allows for membership as well as individual day pass purchases. (I haven't written about this startup yet, but I will).

Will Future of Travel be back next year? Absolutely, said Tigre Wenrich, CEO of LAB Ventures and The LAB Miami.

LAB Ventures has made a mission of bringing together startups and corporations. It's also running a Pitch to PERY (Perry Ellis International) fashion startup competition. There's still time to enter Pitch to PERY, but the deadline is Feb. 21. More info here: https://www.pitchtopery.com/

 

February 04, 2018

The Entrepreneur and The Investor: Advice from both sides of the table

All about extraordinary exits and the journey to them: Ryan Cohen, CEO of Chewy.com, and angel investor Jason Calacanis share views at two separate events.

  IMG_7963

Angel investor and author Jason Calacanis and Melissa Krinzman, co-founder of Miami's Krillion Ventures, discuss investing in startups at Refresh Miami's event  Jan. 30. Earlier in the day, Ryan Cohen, CEO of Chewy, and David Coddington, VP at the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, shown below, discuss the startup journey at the Florida Venture Capital Conference in Fort Lauderdale

  Cohen

 

 One day in South Florida, two separate conversations, priceless insight.

Last Tuesday, during the day, Ryan Cohen, co-founder and CEO of Chewy.com, took the stage as the keynote speaker at the Florida Venture Forum's Florida Venture Capital Conference in Fort Lauderdale, for a couple hundred investors, entrepreneurs and service providers from around the state. In the evening, angel investor extraordinaire Jason Calacanis gave an entertaining, but insightful interview in front of 350 from the tech community at Refresh Miami’s monthly event.

Cohen sold his Dania Beach-based e-commerce company for $3.35 billion to PetSmart last year; it was the largest ecommerce deal in history and the biggest exit in South Florida. The pet supplies retailer is a homegrown success story, and as he relayed the Chewy story in an on-stage discussion with David Coddington, VP of business development at the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, it was clear the journey was anything but easy.

Cohen, who started his first business at 14 creating websites, said he started Chewy in 2011 to replicate the same great customer experience of a neighborhood store, but online. He used Zappos as a model and inspiration. When he needed capital to grow, he approached more than 100 investors – and they all passed. “But I thought there’s a chance … we are on to something genius. I just felt with scale we will prove them wrong,” said Cohen.

Challenges were setting up the company for hyper growth. The year 2014 was transformational, he said, because Chew went from having virtually no experience with operations to it becoming its core competency. “In order to scale to a billion dollar company we had to go through that, but it was very, very challenging. … Our management team was working 7 days a week 16 hours a day and everything that could go wrong went wrong.”

So what went right? Customer service was its differentiator.

“We are 100 percent customer obsessed. We want them to feel as though they would never dream of shopping anywhere else. We’re human we get it, and we really care about their pets,” said Cohen, who owns a teacup poodle. After all, this is the company where hand-written holiday cards writing is a massive department; 5 million Chewy customers received them last year.

Today, Chewy has more than 7,000 employees; about 1,500 in South Florida, including a giant new call center in Hollywood. It’s got six warehouses, including one recently opened in Ocala.

“I’m persistent, I’m obsessive, … I’m relentless, I’m a contrarian. When all these VCs passed I didn’t change our business plan at all,” said Cohen.

He said scaling a company is not for everybody.

"Scaling a business is going to test you physically and emotionally. ... It is a huge act of selflessness and dedication and if you are ready for it, it is going to be a crazy, crazy, crazy roller-coaster and it will be a the journey of a lifetime." If not, he said stick to your day job.

Calacanis would agree with that. 

That evening, at the Refresh Miami event, Calacanis’ conversation with Melissa Krinzman, co-founder of Miami-based Krillion Ventures, gave a view from the other side of the table.

“Startups are a shitshow, they are a complete utter disaster,” the angel investor with a private syndicate, author and podcaster said. Calacanis hosts a popular podcast called “This Week in Startups,” has authored the new book, “Angel: How to Invest in Technology Startups” and created Launch Festival and Launch Scale and Launch Incubator, among other endeavors.

 Just don’t get him started on ICOs. Uh-oh, Krinzman did.

“I have seen this movie before. It’s not going to end well,” said Calacanis. “It’s a giant scam right now, 90 percent are incompetent, criminal people. UPDATE: For his rant on ICOs, watch this just-published video below! (rant starts at about 12:30.)

But once he [sort of] got back on track, Krinzman asked Calacanis, an an early investor in Uber and scores of other startups) about the questions investors should ask themselves. Among them: Why have the founder chosen this business? Why is he/she doing this? How skilled are the founders and the team and what do their customers think?

His advice to entrepreneurs: Go big.

“We need to take big bold risks,” he said. “If something doesn’t have long odds, it’s not worth doing as an investor or an entrepreneur. Don’t do the easy things, do the hard things.”

For startups raising money (always), he said the stakes are higher.

“I want to see what you are capable of. …. It’s a different world than 10 years ago. You have to up your game.  Traction speaks, show me your traction.”

Signals of a downward spiral”: If the founder stops sending you updates.

“I always know when I hear I am going to WebSummit or Summit at Sea, that is a really bad sign. I go, 'why don’t we summit revenue, why don’t we summit hiring a CTO?' ”

While a great entrepreneur can come from anywhere he thinks opening up an office and spending some time in Silicon Valley is a good thing. “You have to be cutthroat.”

For some practical advice he listened to three pitches by South Florida startups. Some of his advice, in no particular order:

  • Never read a script, it becomes robotic. Say it is your own words.
  • He’s not a fan of unpaid pilots. “You need to know if people are willing to pay for it, you need to get that piece of data.”
  • Always include an example of how your product or service would work and walk us through it.
  • The more reality you can give investors the better. Answer the questions crisply.
  • Get to the point sooner. When you have the nuts, you got a get to this immediately.

  UPDATE: I can’t do his talk justice, so watch the show below, courtesy of Refresh Miami.

 

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

January 31, 2018

LAB Ventures announces 10 finalists for Future of Travel startup pitch competition

After carefully reviewing hundreds of applications, LAB Miami Ventures has chosen the 10 most disruptive startups to pitch at the first annual Future of Travel summit. At this unique event, guests will hear keynotes and panel discussions from travel industry leaders, meet startups set to shake up TravelTech, and mingle with investors - all on Feb. 12 at the Lightbox & The Lab Miami in the Wynwood Arts District.

LAB Ventures, a company-builder that designs and launches new digital businesses, held an open call for innovative TravelTech startups and received applications from five continents.  The 10 finalists offer services ranging from rental car meta search and multi/modal travel booking, to interactive city guides and hotel management systems: Viajala (Colombia), Axle (NY, US), VoyHoy (Chile), RentingCarz (FL, US),  Porter and Sail (NY, US), Daycation (FL, US), Simplenight (FL, US), PurpleCloud Technologies (PA, US),  Soundwalkrs (Colombia) and Hotel Online (Kenya).

The startups are competing for a chance to attend Phocuswright’s Startup Battleground in Las Vegas, a spot on stage at Seatrade Global, and over $20,000 of other prizes.  The panel of expert judges include Kerri Zeil, Director of Amadeus for Startups; Noam Beno, Corporate Strategy at Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd; Seth Cassel, President of EveryMundo; Andrew Sturner, Founder of Boatsetter; and Parker Stanberry, Founder of Oasis Collection.  

A limited number of tickets are still available at futureoftravel.miami.

Meet the finalists:

Axle Travel (NY, US)  provides door-to-door ground transportation for long-distance travel. Axle works with bus companies to ensure the fastest, safest, most affordable and enjoyable trip possible.

Daycation App (FL, US)  allows users to book day-by-day access to various hotel amenities, such as the pool or spa, starting at $25 a day. Daycation allows for membership as well as individual day pass purchases.

Hotel Online (Kenya) is cloud-based reservations management and marketing system to help smaller hotels access more than 100 online sales and marketing channels.

Porter and Sail (NY, US) provides guest services technology to boutique and luxury hotel properties. These services include e-commerce platforms, guest-facing front-end mobile applications (iOS and Android), back-end operational dashboards, and industry-first analytics and data insights.

PurpleCloud Technologies (Philadelphia, US) offer a suite of mobile software products primarily for the hospitality industry. Their mobile software "Cielo" comprises of housekeeping, management, engineering and front office modules, and provides the fastest access to room status and guest information possible.

RentingCarz  (FL, US)  allows residents from Latin America and the Caribbean to compare all major car rental brands and get the lowest price when renting a car anywhere in the world.

SIMPLENIGHT (US) enables any company to provide a one-stop-shopping experience to search and book everything there is to do in any city. SIMPLENIGHT acts as merchant of record and takes commission on all inventory sold, pays transaction fees and shares the net revenue with the distribution partner.

Sound Walkrs  (Colombia) is a smartphone app that allows users to discover a new city through a series of GPS-guided, audio walks led by fictionalized versions of historical figures from a city’s past. Users can create and share their own personalized maps and find and bookmark exciting things to do within the city.

Viajala (Colombia) enables LATAM travelers to search dozens of travel sites at once, including local online travel agencies and airlines that cannot be found elsewhere. Viajala gives travel brands the opportunity to distribute and advertise their offers in front of a premium audience of LATAM travelers.

VoyHoy (Chile) is an online booking platform that allows users to compare and buy plane, bus, ferry, and train tickets throughout Latin America. VoyHoy offers simple and secure means to acquiring the best deal among thousands of travel tickets.

- Submitted by LAB Ventures Miami

 

January 11, 2018

See who will be presenting at the Florida Venture Capital Conference in Fort Lauderdale

The Florida Venture Forum, Florida’s largest statewide support organization for investors and entrepreneurs, announced  its lineup of growth stage companies that will present and exhibit at the 2018 Florida Venture Capital Conference, to be held at the Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Resort and Spa on January 30-31, 2018. This includes eight companies from South Florida.

In addition to the opportunity to present before an audience of active equity investors, eligible presenting companies will be considered for the Accelerating Innovation (AI) Award offered by Space Florida, a cash prize totaling $100,000.

“Presenting at the Florida Venture Capital Conference has been a game changer for hundreds of Florida companies over the years, offering a unique opportunity to connect directly with more than 500 attendees, including 120+ equity investors actively looking for deals,” said Travis Milks, Chairman of the Selection Committee of the 2018 Florida Venture Capital Conference and a partner with Stonehenge Growth Equity Partners in Tampa. “In 2018, we had a near-record number of applications and we’ve selected a strong cohort of growth stage companies that are leaders in many of the markets and industry segments where investors are most heavily focused.”

The diverse group of presenters, selected from over 100 applicants by a committee of active equity investors, includes companies focused on industries and market segments such as life sciences and healthcare IT, enterprise software, on-demand economy technology solutions, cybersecurity and education technology.

“The growth of Florida’s venture capital market continues to make a lasting impact on the Florida economy and the presenting companies,” said Stanley “Stash” Jacobs, Jr. 2017-2018 Chair of the Florida Venture Forum and shareholder with Greenberg Traurig. “I would like to commend the investors on our selection committee, as well as congratulate the selected companies."

Speakers at the conference include Ryan Cohen, founder and CEO of Chewy and there will be panels on cybersecurity and blockchain as well as the state of the venture capital industry.

Selected presenting companies by region:

Southeast Florida

Catered Fit, (www.cateredfit.com), Fort Lauderdale, leverages technology, a fully integrated set of kitchens and an expansive network of last mile drivers to process, prepare and deliver 5,000 monthly orders as a sustainable lifestyle solution - not a diet. Each member receives perfectly proportioned, gourmet meals that are cooked fresh and delivered daily at an affordable price.

Global Shopex LLC, (www.globalshopex.com), Miami, enables small and medium size merchants in the US to sell to more than 200 countries. Globalshopex’s easy-to-integrate checkout technology is FREE and fast to integrate to any merchant, regardless of its ecommerce platform or technology. In a few hours, any merchant can start selling globally in local currency including shipping, taxes and duties, offering multiple international and local payment options.

Moocho, (www.moocho.com), Miami, is the leading college rewards and payment app. With Moocho, college students can pay with their phone at merchants around campus and earn exclusive rewards.

Prescriber's Choice, (www.prescriberschoice.com), Pompano Beach, is the solution to rising drug prices and vanishing insurance coverage in dermatology. In the last decade, prices for basic medications have skyrocketed, often to hundreds of dollars. Insurance hurdles, such as prior authorization, have killed access and therapy compliance, as insurers deem common medical dermatology conditions "non-essential."

ReloQuest, Inc., (www.reloquest.com), Sunrise, is a single platform sourcing solution initiating the evolution of global mobility in an industry that lacked a unified method. ReloQuest is the industry leader and the only temporary housing platform that provides an independent, unbiased and transparent resource to global mobility clients in need of sourcing temporary housing, service apartments, and hotels, worldwide.

Sensentia, (www.sensentia.com), Coral Gables, automates healthcare administration, unlocking access to information for both consumers and care providers through a new genre of natural-language self-service tools.

7Pets, (www.7petsco.com),  Pembroke Park, manufactures and distributes its unique and increasingly popular Garfield and Hello Kitty cat litters. Developed in-house, 7Pets’ novel formula is highly absorbent and odor-eliminating, fast clumping, all natural and biodegradable, and made solely with plant-based materials sourced out of Brazil. In addition to its trending premium litter, 7Pets has also successfully introduced a mineral-based “economical” formula competing in the mass market.

Tellus, (www.4tellus.com), Deerfield Beach, provides cost effective solutions to improve patient care and reduce fraud, waste and abuse. The company’s EVV solution is SaaS-based and licensed on a monthly basis.

Central/East Central Florida

 ITProTV, (www.itpro.tv ), Gainesville, delivers online IT training that is both comprehensive and entertaining. With a unique format where educators interact with hosts, ITProTV brings a human-to-human approach to the convenience and cost efficiency of eLearning.

RedTeam Software, (www.redteam.com), Orlando, is software as a service for commercial general contractors. The company was started by a general contractor when he could not find a solution to meet his need for project management. RedTeam has doubled in size to 50 people over the past 4 years and is entering its growth phase with very strong corporate partnerships.

Shadow Health, (www.shadowhealth.com), Gainesville, increases the effectiveness of healthcare practitioners by training them through measured improvement in practical application, patient interaction and personal empathy, empowering them to increase the health of those they serve.

Xhale Assurance, Inc. (www.xhale.com), Gainesville, provides from a single disposable sensor placed on the nasal ala (fleshy portion of the nostril) critically needed cardiorespiratory parameters that today require multiple sensors, or that in many cases are not currently available for patients from any other technology.

West Central/Southwest Florida

Homee, (www.homeeondemand.com), Tampa, is an on-demand property maintenance service that provides customers with instant access to electricians, plumbers, HVAC technicians and handymen from the convenience of their smart phones.

Ravti, (www.ravti.com), Tampa, provides a platform to quickly mobilize a complete HVAC inventory (in the United States) along with the world's largest organized HVAC database to drive capital savings for commercial real estate's largest M&R (maintenance and repair) expense. The company’s software tracks, manages, and procures HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) for sophisticated commercial real estate owners/operators.

SynDaver, (www.syndaver.com), Tampa, designs and builds the world’s most sophisticated synthetic human tissues and body parts. The company’s SynDaver Synthetic Human bleeds, breathes, and employs hundreds of replaceable muscles, bones, organs, veins and arteries – all made from materials that mimic the mechanical, thermal, and physicochemical properties of live tissue. This validated technology is used to replace live animals, cadavers and even human patients in medical device studies, clinical training and surgical simulation.

North Florida

HomeASAP LLC, (www.homeasap.com ), Jacksonville, is the leading provider of online marketing solutions for real estate professionals. The company offers a broad portfolio of integrated applications and services that help connect agents and brokers with home buyers, sellers and referral business, with an emphasis on Facebook.

LegacyShield, LLC, (www.legacyshield.com), Ponte Vedra Beach, is a B2B2C platform to help insurance and financial service organizations and their advisors onboard, engage and monetize their customers.

Rhode Island 

eNow, Inc., (www.enowwnergy.com), Rhode Island, is the leader in solar-based auxiliary power systems built exclusively for the transportation industry. The company’s proprietary solar products are designed to support and maintain auxiliary power to vehicle HVAC systems, hotel loads, liftgates, telematics, refrigeration units, and safety/emergency lighting.

 Exhibiting Companies:

Fortress Information Security, (www.fortressinfosec.com), Orlando, helps companies and people identify, prioritize, remediate, and monitor cybersecurity risks. Using flexible security orchestration and collaboration platform and managed services, the company focuses on providing custom solutions designed around clients’ regulatory, compliance and security goals.

 Vijilan Security LLC, (www.vijilan.com),  Ft. Lauderdale, specializes in threat intelligence monitoring and response, which represents 50% of the Cyber Security Market. The company’s services include threat detection and response in real time. It combines threat intelligence and correlation rules with a robust ticketing system that integrates with most CRM tools in the market (Connectwise, Autotask…) and provides monitoring through its 24/7 Security Operations Center in Ft. Lauderdale.

-Submitted by Florida Venture Forum

November 15, 2017

ITPalooza is back Dec. 7 and SFTA has big plans for it

Itpalooza

 

The South Florida Technology Alliance announced its 6th annual ITPalooza  will take place on Thursday December 7 at a new venue, The Greater Fort Lauderdale-Broward County Convention Center, located at 1950 Eisenhower Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale.

ITPalooza-Logo-White-500x500ITPalooza is an annual gathering of South Florida's technology professionals, CIOs and CTOs, user groups, educators and companies. This year’s event will feature over 120 exhibitors and more than 2,000 registrants, 50 speakers and tech meet-up and user groups from across South Florida are expected to attend the biggest and best ITPalooza ever.

“ITPalooza 2017 is a celebration of technologists in South Florida,” said Rick Sebaly, SFTA’s immediate past president and this year’s ITP event leader. 

This event Includes Educational Speaker Tracks, Keynotes, several panel discussions, Agile Group, Expo, charity toy drive, After Hours Tri-county vBeers Networking event and VIP After-Party. ITP will also feature a dedicated Management Track in conjunction with the CIO Council of South Florida focusing on the unique needs of CIOs and other top-level IT executives.  

IT User and Meet-up groups are invited at no charge provided they bring an unwrapped toy for Toys-For-Tots. They will be entitled to a display table and free admission for their members after 5:30.

ITP registrations start at 8 AM with the following schedule:

8:45 a.m. Opening Remarks by Tom Conophy, CIO, Autonation

9:00 – 7:00 P.M. Expo and Vendor Exhibits

9:00 a.m. Morning Keynote Address by Corey Williams

10:00 a.m. Panel: The Impact of Women in Tech

11:00 a.m. Panel: Entrepreneurship

12:00 p.m. CIO Council CIO and VIP luncheon featuring Kyle Leciejewski, VP, Dell EMC – Dell’s perspective on the industry

1 P.M. Afternoon Keynote

 Additional panel discussions from 2:00 to 4:00 P.M.

5:00 P.M. Awards Ceremony and Toys for Tots presentation

5:00 P.M. – 7:00 P.M. Tech Groups and Meet-Ups

5:30 P.M. – 8:30 P.M. Tri-county vBeers beers and networking

5:30 P.M. – 8:30 P.M. VIP Cocktail/Dinner Reception

Since its inception in 2012, ITPalooza has raised more than $193,000 in cash and toys   for various South Florida non-profits including Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ STEM Advisory Board, The Stockdale Foundation and US Marine’s Toys for Tots.   

Admission is $65 or they can bring two unwrapped toys - for the “Toys for Tots” charity and pay only $35.  VIP tickets are available for $250, providing participants access to all CIO and ITPalooza events with breakfast, lunch, dinner and entertainment included – plus entry into VIP Lounge.  Student admission to evening events only is $15, with the presentation of a valid student ID.

Admission to the after hour tech meet-ups and vBeers events are free – just bring a toy.

Online registration can be accessed at itpalooza.org/tickets.  VIP and Student tickets are also available for purchase. Information on sponsorship opportunities is also available on the site.

- Submitted by ITPalooza

 

November 10, 2017

Global Entrepreneurship Week kicks off Friday with Startup Weekend West Palm Beach; $50K up for grabs in VentureTech Showcase next week

 

Startup Weekend_preview

Palm Beach County has organized its entrepreneurial community for Global Entrepreneurship Week, an international event taking place from November 10 – 18.


GE WEEK PB_previewThe week’s activities commence on November 10, when Palm Beach Tech hosts Startup Weekend West Palm Beach, powered by TechStars and Google for Entrepreneurs. The 54-hour experiential and educational event is designed for aspiring entrepreneurs to learn how to create a company with the support of mentors. The companies will then pitch their ideas in front of a panel of top-notch investors and industry leaders.

“Events like these help foster the growth of our innovation economy,” said Joseph R. Russo, Executive Director of the Palm Beach Tech Association.

Global Entrepreneurship Week participants are competing for the chance to win $50,000 in prize money at the 2017 Florida VentureTech Showcase, hosted by the Florida Venture Forum on November 16 at FAU Tech Runway®. The showcase is a capital acceleration competition and business networking event with presentations by some of Florida’s most promising startups.

“Collaborative efforts like Global Entrepreneurship Week have a direct impact on our community and the entrepreneurs we serve,” said Rhys L. Williams, Managing Director of FAU Tech Runway. “Through broad support from Palm Beach County, as well as local leaders we are shaping a community of promising entrepreneurs and connecting them with the resources and capital they need to succeed.”

Junior Achievement is also participating through their Launch Lessons program, bringing local entrepreneurs to educate more than 2,000 high school students in Palm Beach County.

“Junior Achievement is excited to engage a diverse group of entrepreneurs sharing their launch lessons with young people in our community,” said Claudia Kirk Barto, President and CEO of Junior Achievement of the Palm Beaches and Treasure Coast.

On November 15, The Palm Beach Tech Pitch Competition is featuring eight local startups competing for $12,500 in business services, in partnership with the Florida Angel Nexus and Florida Venture Forum.

Community & coworking spaces like Social House, Flamingo House, Palm Beach Tech Space and Elizabeth Ave Station are all hosting free events to engage with their communities. Urban Youth Impact is hosting a Pitch Night on November 14 and Creative Mornings Palm Beach is taking place November 17.

Global Entrepreneur Week centers around innovation, collaboration and education. To learn more, visit: www.EWeekPB.com

- Submitted by Palm Beach Tech

 

October 27, 2017

Innovation festival unbound lands in Miami Nov. 1-2

 

  Unbound

By Daniel Seal 

Daniel SealFive years ago, I saw there was a need for a forum that could connect brands and corporations with grassroots startups and the cutting-edge technology that they offer. With so much innovation and ingenuity on the start-up stage, I saw an opportunity to bridge that gap between growing and established brands and the new ideas that will inevitably shape how we live and how we do business. That is how unbound was born. For startups, festivals are the opportunity to meet individuals crucial to their future success: investors, clients and partners, and for organizations, unbound festivals are where they can build their own platforms, connect with key audience members, and deliver but also look beyond their strategic objectives.

Anchored by annual festivals in London and Singapore, we wanted to add a third festival to the roster, and Miami was the best destination for us. As the gateway to the Americas, Miami and its thriving entrepreneurial community – connecting the US and Latin America – is the perfect backdrop as it’s now on everyone’s radar, from venture capitalist firms, to funds and angel investors from across the globe.

Next week, Mana Wynwood will host the first unbound Miami festival. The two-day event kicks off on Wednesday, November 1, and will gather 100+ future-focused speakers from the worlds of fintech, adtech, AI, healthtech, eCommerce, robotics and more, as well as feature immersive brand experiences, pitch sessions and startup battles. We have assembled a prestigious lineup of speakers (from VICE Media, Twitter and Slack to Marriott, VISA and Johnson & Johnson), sessions, and partners that set this event apart from any other taking place in South Florida.

ProColombia will be using unbound Miami as a platform for its annual Colombia Bring IT On campaign, bringing together 120 Latin American startups to meet brand and corporate decision makers in Miami with experience in mobile applications, digital animation, video games, digital marketing and IT solutions.

In addition, unbound Miami will present the Female Founders Startup Challenge, which will see eight female founders battle for access to a place on the Babson College Women Innovating Now (WIN) Lab program. Claro Americas will also be hosting a startup battle to showcase the best innovations in the areas of Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and ecommerce, among others. The winner will have the chance to visit the company’s facilities in Guatemala.

We hope you can join us and participate in what is sure to be a memorable event. Please follow this link to register and use discount code sgate50.

 

When: November 1 & 2, 2017- 9:00am – 5:00pm

Where: Mana Wynwood, 2217 NW 5th Ave, Miami, FL 33127

Who: 3,000 attendees – made up of 35% corporate and brand executives, 35% founders and entrepreneurs, 15% digital and media agencies, 5% government and trade agencies, 5% investors, 5% journalists.

 

Daniel Seal is the Founder & CEO of unbound.

October 24, 2017

The SilverLogic of Boca Raton wins Money20/20 Hackathon and Visa Developer Challenge in Las Vegas

  Hack1IMG_2919 2

 

The SilverLogic, a Boca Raton based custom software development company, ran the table at the Money20/20 Hackathon in Las Vegas this weekend, taking home both the 1st place prize for the Visa Developer Challenge and 1st place in the overall Hackathon.

The winnings: $40K in cash plus prizes.

The Money20/20 hackathon, in which more than 120 teams competed, is an annual hackathon connected to the Money20/20 conference in Las Vegas sponsored by some of the world's most recognizable FinTech companies. These companies represent teams with innovative and fun challenges that are aimed at stimulating hacking and creative-problem solving skills. The team from The SilverLogic chose to take on the challenge presented by Visa.

Visa challenged teams to re-imagine the cardholder experience in a smart city of tomorrow that is totally cashless. Developers were tasked with coming up with a solution that answered the question: “How will the customer experience in payments evolve in this setting?”

Teams were tasked with building a solution that could help card issuers and/or merchants provide seamless payment experiences through connected devices, mobile applications or other emerging cutting-edge technologies (e.g., VR or AI). They were asked to use Visa APIs along with third-party APIs, to create that solution.

The team from The SilverLogic decided to tackle the issue of scarcity in urban parking, developing a peer-to-peer parking application called “OmniPark” that would connect people who needed parking spaces with residents who have spots available. This solution would allow individuals to monetize an under-utilized resource while providing a real benefit to individuals who are struggling to find parking on our ever-congested roadways.

OmniPark implemented a two-part navigation feature allowing users first to be directed to the general vicinity of the parking spot and then to have an Augmented Reality (AR) driven map guide users directly to the exact spot they have reserved. Users are then presented with an AR version of a parking meter where they can select a time period to remain parked in that location and initiate payment to the spot owner using Visa Direct. The application also allows merchants to “sponsor” parking locations nearby for their customers using the Visa Offers Platform.

“Tackling the Visa challenge of re-imagining the smart city of tomorrow that is cashless, OmniPark was able to quickly integrate Visa APIs via the Visa Developer Platform into their urban parking solution to enable secure, seamless payments opportunities for merchants and consumers alike. Visa applauds OmniPark who has a similar vision of ushering in a new era of digital commerce and driving towards a more cashless tomorrow,” said Paul Walsh, SVP of Platform Strategy & Innovation at Visa

David Hartmann, CEO of The SilverLogic and leader of the OmniPark team, said: “I am so proud of our team here at Money20/20 for representing the best of what The SilverLogic has to offer. Our motto is ‘We Make Ideas Happen’ and nowhere is it more apparent how committed we are to that motto than in settings like this where our teams are challenged to strengthen their relationships while exercising and developing creative problem-solving skills.”



October 10, 2017

Miami Dade College hosting MIA Animation Conference & Festival this weekend

  MIA Animation 2015_028

 

Miami Dade College  will again host the renowned MIA Animation Conference & Festival on Friday, Oct. 13 and Saturday, Oct. 14, at MDC’s Wolfson Campus in downtown Miami. The renowned event features world-renowned speakers, technology influencers from the nation’s top animation studios, universities, and the best talent in the industry. It has become one of the most exciting and cutting edge events in Miami, alongside a community of advanced technology-explorers, decision-makers, trend-setters, software developers, and creative industry professionals.

The industry conference focuses on Computer Animation, Gaming, Visual Effects and Motion Graphics, Virtual and Augmented Reality.  It draws some of the world’s top leaders in animation and education, and features exhibitions, workshops and master classes.  It has been designed to be a forum for active networking and practical information exchange with strong commitment and emphasis in education while developing and nourishing new talent. 

Featured speakers at this year’s MIA Animation Festival include Matt Shumway, animation supervisor at ILM and 2016 Oscar Nominee for “The Revenant”; Aliki Theophiloupolos, supervising producer at Dreamworks; Leah Hoyer, vice president of creative at Telltale Games; and Kat Thorson Good, director at the Walt Disney Company.

Some of this year’s highlights include the Arts & Technology Breakfast, which will explore the ways in which the arts and tech industries can work together to build a connected creative ecosystem.   Also, exploring the power that creativity can bring to everything it touches, specifically to amplify technology as a true connector and catalyst for innovation. This year’s breakfast topic will focus on virtual reality storytelling for areas like gaming, journalism, broadcasting and animation.

Another highlight is Game On, the third annual indie game competition, which is sponsored by MIA Animation and the Idea Center @ MDC.  The competition was created to encourage independent game development and fresh voices in the video game industry. The winner will receive a consulting meeting at the IDEA Center. The finalists will be showcased at the MIA Animation Festival where attendees will be able to play the prototype. 

The MIA Animation Festival will also hold a Pitching Contest for applicants to submit animation projects for a TV animated series.  The top submissions in both categories will be invited to pitch their idea in person to a panel of animation industry experts and professionals. The top pitch overall will be set up with interviews with major animation studio execs in Los Angeles.

Another highlight of the MIA Animation Festival is the Students and Young Directors competitions, which are currently taking submissions for animated films to be judged for conceptual, technical, and aesthetic innovation and excellence. 

The conference is free for MDC students and faculty; $65 for students and $195 for professionals.

For more information: visit miaanimation.com or contact (305) 521-3429

 - Submitted by Miami Dade College