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.

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

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

September 01, 2017

Inaugural ITWomen Leadership Summit coming to FAU Tech Runway

 

 

ITWomen, in partnership with FAU Tech Runway, will host the inaugural ITWomen Leadership Summit on Friday, Sept. 15 from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at FAU Tech Runway, 901 NW 35th Street, Boca Raton.

The ITWomen Leadership Summit is designed to provide women across the fields of technology with a rich development opportunity and will include influential keynote speakers and multiple sessions with more than 18 local leaders across different industries. Keynote speakers include Heather Cabot, an angel investor and author of “Geek Girl Rising,” and Angela Sebaly, an entrepreneur and author of “The Courageous Leader.” Sessions will feature CXO leadership insights, developing a culture of innovation and a startup showcase on FAU Tech Runway female founders.

ITWomen is a not-for-profit organization founded in 2002 by senior-level women across technology industries. Through their partnerships with nonprofits, universities, corporate sponsors and professional organizations, they work to narrow the gender gap in technology and increase the potential for innovation and economic growth through gender equity. ITWomen is a multi-generational organization, which began in South Florida and has expanded with a presence in the greater Orlando and Tampa metro areas.

All net proceeds from the event will fund camps and STEM programs for under-served girls in the community.

To purchase tickets to attend the event, click here. For more information on the ITWomen Leadership Summit, visit https://leadersummit.itwomen.org.

- Submitted by ITWomen

August 03, 2017

Want to pitch at the Florida Venture Capital Conference? Here’s how to apply

The Florida Venture Forum is calling for growth stage companies to apply to present at the 2018 Florida Venture Capital Conference, being held at the Marriott Harbor Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale on January 30-31, 2018.

The conference, now in its 27th year, is one of the largest gatherings of venture capitalists and investors in the Southeast, and features panel discussions, speakers, and presentations by some of Florida’s fastest growing private companies.

In addition to the opportunity to present before an audience of active equity investors, presenting companies meeting designated criteria will compete for the Accelerating Innovation (AI) Award, offered by Space Florida. The AI Award offers a cash prize totaling $100,000 to eligible Florida companies, and companies seeking to relocate or establish presence in Florida.

Presenter applications will be reviewed and companies chosen by a selection committee made up of active venture capitalists and investors. Presenter and AI Award eligibility criteria, and full conference details, may be found on the Forum’s website (www.flventure.org).

THE FINAL APPLICATION DEADLINE IS DECEMBER 20, 2017. Early submissions are welcomed and encouraged.

- submitted by Florida Venture Forum

June 13, 2017

Tech talk at eMerge: Startup life, cybersecurity and a Magic Leap to the future

 

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Call it Tech Tuesday at eMerge Americas.

While Day One of the homegrown technology conference at Miami Beach Convention Center was a mix of tech and politics, tech and startups took the spotlight on the conference’s second and final day.

Quite literally. Startups pitched on center stage throughout the day, competing for $175,000 in prizes — and investor attention, while hundreds of people milled around their tables. They also took in talks by some of the industry’s top entrepreneurs on topics including artificial intelligence, big data and cybersecurity.

The secretive Magic Leap has yet to reveal its highly anticipated product. But founder Rony Abovitz, whose Plantation-based company has brought in $1.4 billion in venture capital, described Magic Leap as an effort to experience the world more naturally. “We’re trying to build a computer that acts like people, so you don’t have to look at your phone all the time,” he said, in an on-stage discussion with Matt Haggman, Miami program director of the Knight Foundation, and Jean-Pierre Bardet, dean of the University of Miami’s College of Engineering.

READ MORE: Rony Abovitz on Magic Leap: We are trying to make science fiction real

While Magic Leap used to call its technology “mixed reality” — something like augmented reality, but different — Abovitz said he now prefers describing it as “spatial computing powered by a digital lightfield.” Translation: It will allow computing to become part of you.

Magic Leap is believed to be creating a wearable device such as glasses. But for the people who came to the talk wanting to know when they can get their hands on it, Magic Leap remained, well, vague, saying only that its first product launch is “not far away” and “if we were at NASA … you would see a rocket sitting on the launch pad.” Pricing, he said, was aimed at “affordability in the mass premium category. ... It’s not a Kindle kind of pricing but it’s not unattainable.”

READ MORE: Tech and politics do miss, if it’s eMerge Americas

Uri Levine, co-founder of the popular Waze, described the traffic app as “a social network for driving.” Everything on the app was created by the driver, he told the audience. “We the drivers help other drivers avoid the traffic jams we are in. This is the magic of Waze.”

For the many entrepreneurs on hand, he said launching a startup is like falling in love. “Fall in love with the problem you are solving, not your solution,” he advised. Focus is key too; if an entrepreneur loses focus of the central problem he is solving, he won’t be building the right thing. Timing helps: Waze started on a PDA — remember those? — but the smartphone enabled scale.

READ MORE: Hatching a tech future: South Florida startups are gaining strength

Startups he is involved in now include Moovit, an app similar to Waze but for public transit; Engine, technology that runs ongoing diagnostics on a car and gets repair quotes; and Solomoto, an all-in-one platform for small businesses .

What was his best startup? “The next one.” His advice for Miami entrepreneurs: Solve the high cost of U.S. healthcare.

The recent Wannacry hack put the ever-hot topic of cybersecurity on high boil. On Tuesday, eMerge founder Manny Medina unveiled details about his latest venture, Cyxtera Technologies. The “giant startup,” as he called it, combines 57 data centers and four cybersecurity-and-data analytics companies that already serve 3,500 customers with 1,100 employees.

“We believe the next revolution is the era of cybersecurity. We believe security has to be adaptive and intelligent ... but also made for the cloud,” Medina said. “This is a giant opportunity and we are in the forefront and it will be based in Miami.”

READ MORE: Done deal: Medina Capital, BC Partners form Cyxtera Technologies in $2.8 billion transaction

The conference’s final keynote came from a celebrity investor better known for baseball than business. Miami’s Alex Rodriguez — better known as A-Rod — started his business holdings with a Miami duplex 18 years ago; today his 400-employee company, Arod Corp., manages 15,000 housing units in 12 states. And real estate is just one arm of his business; he also owns fitness centers and auto dealerships and holds investments in a number of ventures, including eMerge Americas.

Most recently, he has dived into the media world, a business Rodriguez called “fun and exciting but tough.” He said he’s proud to be the first Latino Shark on “Shark Tank,” he said.

“Every business I have has a huge digital component. As an entrepreneur, you always have to be looking around the corner. What’s next, what is the competition? Whoever figures out digital will be the winner.”

But not everything should be digitized, he said — including the sport that brought him wealth. Using the example of a player’s worth for instance, he said, “you need character, you need grit and you need toughness. And that cannot be appraised in a computer.”

Throughout the day, startup finalists in various categories took to the stages to pitch their products to investor judges.

The top prize of the conference went to later-stage company Voyhoy, a travel site that lets consumers compare and buy tickets combining transportation on bus, plane, train and ferries throughout Latin America. Since launching in late 2015, Voyhoy has acquired more than 6 million users, and relocated to Miami to grow the business. Its prize: $100,000.

Chirrp, a multichannel platform for customer engagement, won the competition for early-stage companies, a prize worth $50,000. TSOLife, an online tool to help users record and share their stories for future generations, won the university category, worth $25,000.

At the high school level, eMerge partner Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship awarded its first-place prize of $2,500 to fashion business AmberAsh, created by Ashley Bellinger.

Xavier Gonzalez, eMerge CEO, said the conference will return April 23-24, 2018.

Nancy Dahlberg: @ndahlberg

The ‘rollercoaster’ of startup life, Waze, cybersecurity and Elon Musk

Waze2 (1)

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Chances are you will use Waze today.

“Everything on the app was created by the driver,” said Uri Levine, co-founder of Wave, to a full house at eMerge Americas on Tuesday. “It’s a social network for driving. We the drivers help other drivers avoid the traffic jams we are in. This is the magic of Waze.”

Levine kicked off Day 2 of eMerge Americas, the homegrown technology conference at the Miami Beach Convention Center. His keynote talk about the Waze journey and the startups he is building now was full of advice for the rollercoaster ride that is startup life.

Waze1 (1)

The entrepreneur he admires most? “Elon Musk is the most amazing person on the planet.”

Launching a startup is like falling in love, he said, but “fall in love with the problem you are solving, not your solution.” Focus is key too; if you lose focus of the central problem you are solving, you won’t be building the right thing. Timing helps: Waze started on a PDA – remember those – but the smartphone enabled scale.

Waze 3

On startups that fail, he often hears “the team was not right.” But digging deeper, he finds that the team was not right from the first month and the CEO did not make the tough decisions.

Still, startup life is learning from failures, large and small, and second-time entrepreneurs are five times more likely to succeed than first-timers, he said. And “if startups are a rollercoaster, fund-raising is a rollercoaster in the dark – you never know what’s coming.”

He also said while he admires Snapchat and its brethren and the businesses they have built, if he had been presented with the opportunity early on, he would have missed it. “There was no problem. There is enough for me to do to solve problems.”

Startups he is involved in now include Moovit, like Waze but for public transit and it is growing faster than Waze did, he said; Engine, technology that runs ongoing diagnostics on your car and gets the quotes for you, and Solomoto, an all-in-one platform for small businesses that is expanding in the U.S. from Miami.

Waze 4

Among his startups that failed was a group-buying platform. “The underlying assumption that people know what they want [to buy] was wrong.”

What was his best startup? “The next one.” His advice for what Miami entrepreneurs should try to solve? Why does healthcare cost five times as much in the U.S.? Solve that, Levine told the crowd.

Talk about big problems that need to solved and cybersecurity has to be near the top. Wannacry was a wakeup call, and cybersecurity was a hot theme of morning and afternoon talks and Manny Medina’s keynote address on Tuesday. He introduced Cyxtera Technologies, his latest venture. Cyxtera, “a giant startup,” combines 57 data centers and four cybersecurity and data analytics companies out of the gate. Medina said it already serves 3,500 customers and has 1,100 employees, including about 500 cybersecurity and data experts.

“We believe the next revolution is the era of cybersecurity. We believe security has to be adaptive and intelligent ... but also made for the cloud,” said Medina. “This is a giant opportunity and we are in the forefront and it will be based in Miami.”

READ MORE: Done deal: Medina Capital, BC Partners form Cyxtera Technologies in $2.8 billion transaction

eMerge Americas continues Tuesday with a startup competition with $175,000 in prizes, the WIT (Women, Innovation & Technology) Summit, and keynotes by Magic Leap’s Rony Abovitz and a closing talk with baseball legend and businessman Alex Rodriguez.

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.

June 12, 2017

The Woz and Marcelo Claure talk tech – and a little soccer – to open eMerge Americas

 

  Woz (2)
By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

A little rain and traffic tangles from convention center construction didn’t keep hundreds of conference goers to file into eMerge Americas, the homegrown technology conference that opened Monday and continues through Tuesday.

Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, shared tales of Apple’s beginnings and the revolution he and Steve Jobs seemed to see coming. The world was very different then; computers were limited to mainframes, and the cost of memory to hold a single song was $1 million. “We needed to find a way to make computing affordable for the people – that was my role and the result was Apple 1 and Apple2,” he told the packed room.

The biggest innovation of the Apple 2 was turning arcade games from hardware to software, so that a 9-year-old could make things move on a screen for the first time. Some of those kids who got their hands on Apple 2’s are now CEOs of companies today, he said. “Young people being inspired to be entrepreneurs is the most important thing in the world, in my mind.”

The folksy, often funny “Woz,” as he is commonly known, also offered his views of the present and future of innovation, admitting that he didn’t see ride-sharing coming. “When Uber came along, I thought it wouldn’t suceed – we already had taxis.”

As to whether tech will eventually eliminate too many jobs, he scoffed, “I don’t think we will ever be the secondary species to machines. ... it will replace jobs ... but as one job category disappears, another comes along.”

Apple, Google (for its artificial intelligence) and Tesla are currently among the world’s most disruptive companies, he said.

For Woz, privacy is a key concern; he canceled a talk in Turkey because he would have to check in his laptop on the plane. “Anything you’ve got the government can peek into it. I don’t like that and I think it is unconstitutional.”

Marcelo Claure, a hometown entrepreneurial hero who built Miami-based telecom Brightstar, reminded entrepreneurs and business people in the audience that a customer-first strategy is key, for any stage company (and he talked a little soccer). After Sprint shareholder SoftBank purchased Brightstar in 2014, Claure was tapped to take over CEO of the then-troubled Sprint. At the time, Sprint’s 60,000 employees had “a legacy culture of being not used to winning.” His first move: turn the behemoth back into a startup, he said.

And part of the startup culture is talking to customers. On an early listening tour, Claure asked a woman what she thought of Sprint. “Does it still exist?” she said. That comment helped drive him to find the actor who starred in Verizon’s “Can You Hear Me Now?” ads. The result: an award-winning campaign that featured that actor switching to Sprint. “That was an iconic moment for Sprint.”

Regarding a potential merger of Sprint and T-Mobile, Claure said that possibility is still in discussions. But now that Sprint’s turnaround is well underway, many more partnership options exist, including with a cable company.

At Sprint and elsewhere in the industry, the focus is now on widespread rollout of 5G service, an investment requiring $275 billion industrywide.

When he isn’t involved in running Sprint, Claure said he will be engaged in helping choose tech companies that will be funded by [Sprint parent] SoftBank’s recently announced $100 billion fund. “Our job is to find tech companies that will change the world.”

Switching to soccer, he said of his effort with superstar David Beckham to bring major league soccer to Miami: “We are this close. My only ask is for the politicians in Miami to work together on this last piece,” he said, referred to required zoning approvals for a stadium in Overtown. “We’re 90 percent there. If everything works out we will have soccer by 2020, which is our goal.

But, he said, the soccer group knows Miami doesn’t show up for losing teams. “So we are determined to bring in a top soccer team.”

eMerge Americas continues Monday afternoon and Tuesday with exhibits, talks, startup competitions and networking. As to the unusual logistics caused by the convention center renovation, eMerge Americas founder Manny Medina quipped, “if you had seen this place 48 hours ago we were sweating bullets.”

May 31, 2017

Q&A with Xavier Gonzalez: What's in store for eMerge Americas and Miami tech?

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com Xavier Gonzalez

When eMerge Americas’ team was planning the inaugural homegrown technology conference in 2014, the executives scribbled a list of dream speakers on a white board. It contained names of top technology and business leaders, both from the U.S. and Latin America, people like Steve Wozniak, Uri Levine, Marcelo Claure and Gustavo Cisneros.

As eMerge Americas heads into its fourth year, those big names representing Apple, Waze, Sprint and the Cisneros Group and others, including Magic Leap’s Rony Abovitz and perennial crowd favorite Pitbull, are on the 2017 eMerge Americas agenda, which was released last week. “These are world-class speakers that are recognized across the globe for their leadership, vision and success. We’re very excited about our speaker lineup this year, not just because of these luminaries but also because of the 100 additional speakers our attendees will see over the two days of the event,” said CEO Xavier Gonzalez.

With a mission of promoting South Florida as a hub of the Americas for technology, eMerge Americas is a startup itself. Founded by tech pioneer Manny Medina, the annual conference launched in 2014, attracting about 6,000 attendees from 30 countries, and grew to 13,000 attendees last year. With Medina launching Cyxtera, a major data center and cybersecurity company, in Miami this year, Gonzalez and Melissa Medina, eMerge’s vice president, have taken on strategic leadership roles as well as the day to day operations. Gonzalez has been part of eMerge’s executive team since day 1, and became CEO in late 2015.

The Miami Herald talked with Gonzalez about the evolution of the conference and the technology ecosystem as well as plans for this year’s conference June 12-13 at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Here are excerpts of his remarks.

Q. In your view, what have been the most positive developments in the past year in terms of Miami ecosystem building?

A. The most positive developments have really been around the investments and company building we’ve seen in the market over the last six or seven months. With so many rounds of funding that have been significant — $10 million-plus — in addition to the acquisition of Chewy.com for $3 billion just recently, that tells me that all the work the entire community has been doing to develop and grow an entrepreneurial ecosystem, is starting to pay big dividends in a short amount of time. Add to that the creation of a global cybersecurity company, Cyxtera Technologies, right here in Miami, and there’s something very significant happening in terms of making headway on the global scene.

Q. And the biggest challenges?

A. There are the usual suspects in this category — funding and talent. But in my view we’re making good progress across all the areas that are challenging today. One thing that we as an ecosystem must have is patience. I always say we’re still very early on in the development of Miami as a tech hub. We’ve made huge strides, but there’s still much to do and we must have a level of patience to allow the various programs and initiatives to bear fruit. And we must also have the patience for our ecosystem to develop in its own way and build its own identity.

Q. In many ways, it seems to me," eMerge Americas is a startup that mirrors the development of the Miami ecosystem as a startup. Do you agree with that?

A. We are absolutely a startup that has evolved in lock step with the ecosystem. If you look back to when we hosted our first event, many of the major success stories that we talk about today were either at their infancy or hadn’t even been fully fleshed out yet. And we owe a great deal of the success of eMerge Americas to how much Miami has developed over the last five years and how much interest it has drawn across the globe. Our ecosystem is delivering on the promise that we promoted from the very beginning, which is a place where entrepreneurs and large technology companies focused on the Latin American market can connect with leaders from across the region, as well as those in the U.S. and European markets.

Q. Looking into your crystal ball, what will it take for the ecosystem to hit that critical inflection point?

A. Time. With the major successes we’re seeing like Modernizing Medicine, Chewy.com and Cyxtera — not to mention the massive potential impact of Magic Leap – we are poised to have a number of very large, global technology companies based in this ecosystem. That’s in addition to all the innovative companies that are growing here like Kairos and Nearpod. These companies and many others will continue to grow, innovate and attract talent from all over the world. That talent will develop new companies and bring even more interest from investors. Like I said before, I firmly believe we’re just at the beginning of the maturation of Miami’s technology sector.

Q. When you think of the Miami ecosystem, what’s the first word that comes to mind?

A. Unique. There are very specific characteristics and circumstances that are leading Miami to grow as a technology hub that doesn’t mirror any other in the world. Some of that has to do with the benefits our community has traditionally enjoyed — access to global markets, connection to Latin America, a multicultural city, great place to live and work — and some of it has to do with the incredible developments and energy surrounding our community in the last five years. Miami has truly matured as a global city, and our technology ecosystem will have a very unique position on the global scene that plays off that maturation.

Q. Local universities have always had a big presence at eMerge, particularly last year. Will that continue and what might we expect to see from them this year?

A. We’re always excited to see what innovative technologies and leading-edge research the universities will display at eMerge Americas. This year we’re fortunate to have the continued support of the University of Miami, Florida International University, Miami Dade College, Nova Southeastern University and Florida Atlantic University. We also are excited to have the University of Florida, Columbia University, and Babson College participating, as well as the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey from Mexico.

Q. I know they are all your babies but I’m going to force you to be selective. What are five speakers, exhibits or eMerge events not to be missed?

A. I’m going to cheat a little on this one. From a content perspective, we’re receiving a tremendous amount of interest for the keynotes in general — Steve Wozniak, Uri Levine, Marcelo Claure, Gustavo and Adriana Cisneros, Manny Medina, Blanca Trevino, Mauricio Ramos, Claudio Muruzabal, and, of course, Suze Orman and Armando Christian Perez, a k a Pitbull. On the exhibit floor we’re very excited about what Cyxtera Technologies will be showcasing in what’s their coming out party, as well as what Miami-Dade County will be featuring with their technology partners. The Startups Showcase will have another tremendous set of companies showing off very innovative technologies, including a number of companies from throughout Latin America and a strong contingent from our ecosystem. Based on the attendees we have registered, there’s going to be a very strong group of C-level executives from across Latin America, the United States and Europe, so the networking will be at another level this year. Finally, the networking events we offer on Sunday night always result in a good time for our attendees while they meet leaders from around the world.

[READ MORE: Done Deal: Medina Capital, BC Parttners form Cyxtera Technologies in $2.8B transaction]

Q. Any lessons learned last year that resulted in changes in the conference itself that we will see?

A. One of the elements of eMerge Americas that’s critical to the continued success of the event and our impact on the ecosystem is the networking events. we organize around eMerge Americas." So this year we decided to expand the reach of the networking opportunities to all of our attendees through a happy hour inside the convention center on Monday, June 12. This allows the thousands of attendees to connect right inside the convention center after all the keynotes and panel discussions are completed.

Q. What trends did you see in the Startup Showcase applicants and the ones that you selected?

A. One thing we’ve seen every year with the Startup Showcase is that the companies applying to participate are more and more sophisticated. This year in particular we’re seeing more later-stage companies than ever before, as well as a strong representation of companies from Latin America. One other trend we’ve noticed is that there are always a good number of South Florida-based companies that apply, but their level of success and quality has continued to improve on a yearly basis.

[To see the list of startups selected for the 2017 Showcase, go here: emergeamericas.com/startups]

Q. I don’t think most people know about all the ways you’ve been engaging startups, either through the showcase or in other ways. Tell us about some of those.

A. There are a few things we do to help support and engage entrepreneurs in Miami and Latin America. Throughout the year we host different small startup competitions throughout our main target markets in Latin America and in Miami with partners. The goal is to identify top startups that will have the opportunity to participate in the eMerge Americas Startup Showcase. For all the companies that are selected for the Startup Showcase, we partner with Visa and Venture Hive to provide the entrepreneurs with a monthlong virtual boot camp program and a full day of sessions at Venture Hive’s building in downtown Miami. The thinking is that we are able to provide significant value to all the entrepreneurs selected to participate in the showcase regardless of whether they win the overall competition.

[READ MORE: Upcoming eMerge Americas Hackathon dangles cash prizes and a meet-and-greet with Steve Wozniak]

Q. When we are talking in 2024, eMerge’s 10-year anniversary, what will we be talking about? What do you hope eMerge will look like then?

A. At the 10-year mark, eMerge Americas will serve as the anchor for a week-long series of events celebrating innovation in one of the globe’s top technology hubs and the strength of a robust technology sector in Latin America. eMerge will draw tens of thousands of attendees and be widely recognized as the world’s top event for innovators, government leaders and top technology executives looking to connect across Latin America, the United States and Europe. In 2024, we’ll also be talking about various Miami-based technology companies that are having great success, growing their employment opportunities, securing significant amounts of investment from private equity investors and venture capitalists with offices in Miami, and spawning a new set of technology companies that will grow in our community into 2034 and beyond.

Nancy Dahlberg: @ndahlberg

Xavier Gonzalez

Age: 36

Title: CEO, eMerge Americas

Previous positions: Vice president and director of corporate communications for Terremark Worldwide, 2007-12; director of marketing and communications for Beacon Council, 2003-07.

Community involvement: Board member for the Greater Miami Chamber, Miami-Dade Beacon Council and Camillus House; serves on Orange Bowl Committee; recent graduate of Leadership Florida.

Education: Bachelor’s in Journalism, Master’s in Mass Communications, University of Florida; Belen Jesuit Prep.

Books he recommends: “Shoe Dog;” “An Unfinished Life;” “Who Stole the American Dream?”

eMerge Americas

About the conference: eMerge Americas will be June 12-13 at Miami Beach Convention Center. More information and where to buy tickets: www.emergeamericas.com

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May 22, 2017

Florida Early Stage Capital Conference: And the winners are ...

SiteZeus  Tampa - First Place $75 000

The Florida Venture Forum and Space Florida announced the three top winners of the 10th Annual 2017 Florida Early Stage Capital Conference and Space Florida’s Accelerating Innovation prize, held at the Omni ChampionsGate in Orlando on May 19.  A total of 22 Florida-based companies from across the state and a variety of industry sectors were selected to present before an audience of investors, deal professionals and entrepreneurs. Ten startups from South Florida participated.

A panel of judges reviewed each selected company’s presentation and supporting materials. The top three cash prize winners were:

First Place $75,000 - SiteZeus, Tampa (www.sitezeus.com), pictured above, the new evolution in location intelligence, driven by exceptionally engineered big data systems and unparalleled data visualization technology.

Second Place $50,000 -  Auxadyne, Keystone Heights (www.auxadyne.com) has an exclusive licensing agreement with FSU for the design, manufacture and distribution of the first commercially available auxetic foam in a variety of medical device and protective equipment applications.

Third Place $25,000 - Admiral, Gainesville (www.getadmiral.com) offers an advanced adblock analytics and automatic revenue recovery. They provide a multi-faceted platform that enables publishers to size and solve the unique adblock problem presented by their unique userbase.

The 22 presenting companies were selected from a statewide pool of more than 130 applicants by a committee of active Florida venture capitalists and other investors. Space Florida provided the Accelerating Innovation prize money totaling $150,000.

“The Forum’s Early Stage Capital Conference set a few important records in 2017: our largest-ever number of applicants, record overall attendance and the largest investor attendance in the event’s 10-year history,” said Kevin Burgoyne, President and CEO of the Florida Venture Forum. “We take these milestones as very positive indicators of an increasingly robust and well-rounded early stage ecosystem. We congratulate our winning companies, and thank Space Florida for their strong support.”

In conjunction with the 2017 Early Stage Capital Conference, The Florida Venture Forum  also announced the three winners of the 7th Annual 2017 Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition, also held on May 19. A total of 13 universities from a cross section of Florida brought their top students to compete for best in the state. The top three winners were:

 Winner: Sensatek Propulsion Technologies, Reamonn Soto - Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Fort Lauderdale

First Runner Up: Logentix LLC, Randy Lopez - Florida Polytechnic University, Lakeland

Second Runner Up: Spared, Ryan Lockwood - University of Tampa

 

 

May 03, 2017

10 South Florida startups selected to present at Florida Early Stage Capital Conference

The Florida Venture Forum has selected 22 Florida-based or operating companies to present at its 10th annual 2017 Florida Early Stage Capital Conference, and nearly half are from South Florida.

“We continue to receive applications from high quality early stage companies from all regions in Florida and we received a record number of applications again this year,” said Jennifer Dunham, partner at Arsenal Venture Partners, chair of the conference selection committee and a board member of the Florida Venture Forum. The conference is being held at the Omni ChampionsGate in Orlando on May 19.

In addition to company presentations and other programming, the conference award a total of $150,000 in cash awards presented to the first, second and third place winning companies, provided by Space Florida.

Presenters were selected from a pool of over 130 applicants by a committee of active Florida venture capitalists and investors. Selected companies will present to an audience of investors, other deal professionals and entrepreneurs.

The presenting companies from South Florida will be:  

Boatyard, Fort Lauderdale (www.boatyard.com), is the world's first on-demand marketplace for recreational boating. Their app provides boat owners with the ability to order fuel, boat washing, service and captains directly to their boat with a few clicks on their mobile device.

Caribu, Miami (www.caribu.co), is an education platform that helps parents, extended family, and mentors read and draw with children when they’re not together. The result is an engaging experience in a carefully designed, curated, and secure platform.

Honorlock, Boca Raton (www.honorlock.com), the company’s on-demand proctoring solution combines classic proctoring methods with a proprietary new method of multi-device detection. 

Kugadi, Miami (www.kugadi.com), allows security companies to move into the 22st century by enabling them with a mobile app and web based portal that makes their employees both more efficient and more accountable.

Neuro Pharmalogics, Boca Raton, is a Biopharmaceutical company developing/commercializing innovative therapies for people with rare (orphan) neurological diseases treatable by PKG signaling modification such as: Hemiplegic Migraine, Orphan Epileptic conditions, Neural Trauma (TBI, Spinal shock), and other Ischemic conditions.

Papa, Hollywood (www.joinpapa.com),  is a home health technology platform that allows members to connect to home health services in their community. They are working to simplify healthcare. Though the Papa Platform, they make it easy for members to access and manage health care services for their family members.

Rotation Manager, Miami (www.rotationmanager.com), is an online platform for hospitals, schools, and nurses to manage clinical rotation scheduling and compliance. Software as a Service.

Symplast, Plantation (www.symplast.com), is the first practice management platform that revolutionizes patient engagement from any smartphone. A complete eHealth solution for aesthetic practices, Symplast increases communication between patients, providers and staff. Fully functional on any computer, tablet, or smartphone, Symplast provides doctors the freedom to focus on what matters most: their patients.

Tender Armor, Fort Lauderdale (www.tenderarmor.com), CVV+ is a real-time, two-factor fraud prevention solution that authenticates cardholders conducting Card-Not-Present (CNP) transactions including e-commerce and phone transactions. CVV+ validates the authorized cardholder conducting the transaction, not just the payment card.

Whoop Wireless, Boca Raton (www.whoopwireless.com), their patented technology is used by major academic, hospitality, and corporate institutions to provide in-building cellular coverage at less than half the cost of a distributed antenna system (DAS).

The other companies are:

Admiral, Gainesville (www.getadmiral.com), offers an advanced adblock analytics and automatic revenue recovery. They provide a multi-faceted platform that enables publishers to size and solve the unique adblock problem presented by their unique userbase.

Feathr, Gainesville (www.feathr.co), is a digital marketing SaaS company focused on the vertical of live events, such as trade shows and music festivals.

Auxadyne, Keystone Heights (www.auxadyne.com), has an exclusive licensing agreement with FSU for the design, manufacture and distribution of the first commercially available auxetic foam in a variety of medical device and protective equipment applications.

Droplit, Melbourne (www.droplit.io), provides software development tools for hardware companies in the Internet of Things. With full-stack cloud infrastructure and rich developer tools, Droplit enables rapid development of IoT products, allowing product teams to accomplish in weeks what currently takes years.

RedTeam Software, Orlando (www.redteamsoftware.com), is a true cloud application built and optimized for construction by people that know the business. From collaboration through accountability, RedTeam is the most comprehensive project management and accounting solution for commercial construction.

GO PUCK, Sarasota (www.gopuck.com), GO PUCK’s founders invented the lithium starting battery, and patented the Supercharger technology used by Tesla Motors. Their work is found in every IndyCar, championship NASCAR & Formula 1 vehicles and recharge millions of Electric powered miles. They now have patented claims for the 1st Wearable Power device, with all the speed, safety and reliability trusted around the World.

Prime Medical, Largo (www.primemedical.com), is revolutionizing infection prevention in healthcare and other verticals with its complete line of SAF-T™ products and OEM capability. Using a patented fabric technology, SAF-T apparel and textiles retain a lasting shield of chlorine molecules after each laundering in EPA-registered bleach. Simple, superior and sophisticated, the chlorine-activated textiles are powered to continuously kill the colonization of harmful bacteria and viruses during use/wear, are completely safe, and feature next-gen color technology that will not fade in bleach.

QURE4U, Bradenton ( www.qure4u.com), the platform answers the need for health professionals to increase patient engagement. The interactive tools, patient monitoring and alerts enable providers and their staff members to more efficiently interact with patients, identify patients at risk, give better treatment, and reduce visits to the ER and hospital admissions as well as gaps-in-care.

SiteZeus, Tampa (www.sitezeus.com), the new evolution in location intelligence, driven by exceptionally engineered big data systems and unparalleled data visualization technology.

TripShock, Santa Rosa Beach (www.tripshock.com), is both B2B and B2C. For the B2B model, they provide booking solutions for activity and tour suppliers. They generate bookings through their distribution outlets and collect a commission for each confirmed sale.

NeuroInitiative, Jacksonville (www.neuroinitiative.com), 100% of attempts to stop or slow progression of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases have failed. They can change that, and in the process bring relief to 57 million patients worldwide, introduce a new way to develop effective drugs, and capture sizable portions of both the $37 billion annual pharma R&D market.

Ardusat, Salt Lake City, UT (www.ardusat.com),  creates hands-on and engaging STEM experiences on earth and in space. Ardusat’s open STEM platform provides curriculum resources mapped to national and state standards, classroom management tools for teachers, and step by step guides for students to build experiments. Ardusat has operations in Florida.

 - Submitted by Florida Venture Forum

 

April 04, 2017

Knight invests in 6 projects aimed at advancing Miami tech, entrepreneurship

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation on Tuesday announced new funding for six projects aimed at advancing Miami as an inclusive tech and innovation hub, from web development scholarships for low-income students to Miami’s first full-scale Maker Faire. The grants total $741,000.

Here are the projects receiving funding:

Digital Grass ($186,000) – Digital Grass aims to strengthen the region’s startup community by sharing the stories of South Florida’s entrepreneurs and hosting programs that educate entrepreneurs on topics related to business development.

International Women’s Forum ($105,000) – A two-day Executive Development Roundtable workshop that aims to help Miami’s rising female leaders and entrepreneurs will take place this summer. The program will focus on scaling an endeavor, building leadership skills, increasing confidence and self-efficacy and addressing risk aversion.

Miami Made ($75,000) – Miami Made supports Miami’s startup community by connecting startup founders through a series of events — including themed dinners, breakfast meetups and member-led outings — and creates a network of resources focused on helping founders thrive.

MANO ($125,000) – MANO fosters connection among Miami’s artists, entrepreneurs and tinkerers through the Miami’s first full-scale Maker Faire April 8-9 at Miami Dade College, featuring inventions and exhibits. After three years of presenting the Miami Mini Maker Faire, the event is now one of only 30 featured Maker Faires in the world. Purchase tickets for the Maker Faire Miami at miami.makerfaire.com.

NewCo ($175,000) – A one-day conference will promote awareness of emerging local employment and business opportunities. It will combine the style of an artist open studio with the feel of a music festival and connect Miami's growing entrepreneurial class with established businesses and budding startups.

Wyncode ($75,000) – Wyncode will offer full scholarships to low-income and under-represented minority students for the company’s 10-week web development boot camp teaching computer programming. After the course, students will take part in a three-month paid technical internship at CareCloud, Clutch Prep, DVLPER, Kipu Systems, Trim Agency or Watsco Ventures. Wyncode is now accepting scholarship applications to join the April 24 cohort. Visit wyncode.co/futureleaders.

“These projects ... foster local talent by supporting entrepreneurs of all kinds, while creating new pathways for innovators from under-represented groups to access resources and connect with Miami’s wider innovation community,” said Matt Haggman, Knight Foundation program director for Miami.

Over the past four years Knight has made more than 200 investments totalling more than $25 million to entrepreneurship in South Florida.