August 15, 2016

Deadline this week to enter $10K competition for food and beverage entrepreneurs

Update: Deadline extended through Aug. 26

Only 5 more days before the Wild Card deadline.

That would be the Samuel Adams and Entrepreneur's 3rd Annual Brewing the American Dream Pitch Room Wild Card Competition, where food, beverage and craft brewing entrepreneurs from all over the country have a chance to “win it all”: a $10,000 grant and a year’s worth of mentoring from senior executives at Samuel Adams.

It works like this: From now to August 26th (updated), entrepreneurs prepare and upload their best two-minute video pitch ( on why their business should be selected to join regional winners from Boston, Denver, Washington and San Diego at the Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream National Pitch Room Finals in December. A panel of experts from Samuel Adams and Entrepreneur then judge the videos based on criteria including pitch quality, creativity, passion, and product viability.

The top five or six best video submissions, selected by the panel, will then be posted on, and the general public will be invited to vote for their favorite from September 1st –23. The small-business owner who receives the most votes for his/her sales pitch will be named the Wild Card winner and receive a trip for two to compete in the Brewing the American Dream Pitch Room competition finals in Boston this December.

Read more about the contest here.

July 20, 2016

Rightsyde Media and partners to challenge startups in pitch contest for cash and prizes

Submitted by Christopher Guzman and Marc Boulos of Rightsyde Media

Jonathan Vilma, Al Nelson, Gauthier Darrien and David Salmon will make up the judge’s panel that will grant one startup company the ultimate toolset to launch their product: a $3,000 cash prize, free Minimal Viable Product development, $1,000 worth of legal work, and $1,000 worth of social media marketing.

That’s not all— any one of the judges could bid to invest in your startup if you are extremely convincing.  

Meet the Judges: 

Jonathan Vilma is a Super Bowl winning football player and University of Miami Legend. Since leaving the NFL, he has shifted his focus to investing. He now invests in many different companies and ventures, most notably Brother Jimmy’s and Pincho Factory.

Al Nelson is a shark tank dealmaker who struck a deal with Daymond John and Mark Cuban and now works closely with Daymond John in multiple projects. He is the Co-Owner of the wildly popular House of Mac food truck and an avid investor.

Gauthier Darrien is no stranger to the startup world. After launching Uber in Miami and being the Miami city director for Velocity, Gauthier now runs his own startup.  He understands the kind of discipline and work ethic it takes to run a startup, whether it’s a well-oiled machine like Uber, or a pre-launch startup like the one he is currently working on.

David Salmon is a lawyer who specializes in startup law and on his free time he runs his own startup. David has a phenomenal understanding of what it takes to make sure a startup runs smoothly and experience in making his own startup a success as well.

Where: 8400 NW 36th St Doral, FL 33166 Suite #450

When: Thursday, July 28th

DVLPER, Salmon Legal, StartUP FIU, Tank Brewing Co., and Pipeline Doral have all teamed up with Rightsyde Media, a digital and social media marketing company, to complete this event’s lineup. All submissions come with two tickets to the event for the applicant and an associate [Editor's note: It costs  $150 to submit your startup but event organizers say that money goes to the prize pool].

You also can purchase general admission tickets to gain access to free food and drinks, tequila and beer tasting, networking, giveaways and the big pitch competition.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to grow your network and be a part of Miami’s booming startup future. You can buy your tickets today at


July 01, 2016

2016 American Entrepreneurship Awards: And the winners are ...


Two first place teams: Cheveral Deacon, above left, CEO of StatLab, accepts the first place American Entrepreneurship Award. Alain Fernandez, CEO of ValueDoc, below, also accepts the first place award. Each won $25,000 in funding and services from Libra Group.


Compiled by Libra Group

The American Entrepreneurship Award (AEA), a program created to support startup businesses and entrepreneurs, has announced the winners of its first contest. The award focuses on traditionally underserved communities in the United States and this year operated exclusively in Miami-Dade County and the Bronx. The AEA organizers, international business group the Libra Group, had originally pledged a prize of $25,000 in business start-up funding in each of the award regions. The quality of entrants was, however, so high that Libra raised prize funding to a total of $125,000 with multiple award winners being declared in each region. Winners will also receive mentorship and a range of business support services.

The winners in Miami-Dade are a mobile medical laboratory, an online healthcare marketplace and a legal services access system.  The winners in the Bronx are an eco-lighting company and an organic drinks company with the runner-up award going to a food market. The panel of judges selected winners from hundreds of entrants on the basis of business plans that exhibited sustainability, financial prudence and innovation, while accruing revenue and creating jobs predominantly in Miami-Dade County, Florida, or the Bronx, New York. Entries were accepted from individuals or groups with no previous business experience, or from existing private companies with an all-new business idea that was not related to their core activities.

The AEA was launched in October 2015 with an initial commitment of $500,000 from the Libra Group, a privately owned diversified business group with 30 subsidiaries active across six continents. The winners’ trophies for the Miami-Dade region were presented at a ceremony at The Idea Center at Miami Dade College by Jimmy Athanasopoulos, Head of Social Responsibility, Libra Group; and Carla Brillembourg-Clark, Deputy Head of Social Responsibility, Libra Group.

The winners in Miami-Dade County who were announced at a ceremony at The Idea Center at Miami Dade College are:

Statlab Mobile (, winning $25,000 in funding. A complete mobile medical laboratory with the capabilities to test blood and urine samples at any location. The company’s goal is to provide quality blood testing for the insured and the uninsured at a fraction of the traditional cost.

ValueDOC (, winning $25,000 in funding. A free health and wellness marketplace where self-pay patients find pre-screened doctors offering services like dental cleaning, doctor visits, urgent care, acupuncture, and massage therapy, all at discounted prices up to 80% off retail. Doctors can be found based on their years of experience, convenience and patient reviews. Appointments can be booked online via credit card. [ValueDoc was also a first-place winner in the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge this year; read its story here.

The runner-up, winning $12,500 in funding, is Court Buddy (; James and Kristina Jones pictured below. An automated legal services matching system that pairs small businesses with attorneys. The legal services offered are à la carte, so clients pay based on their budget. [Court Buddy was a winner of the Business Plan Challenge People's Pick in 2015. Read its story here.]


Winning companies in the Bronx are:

Watt + Flux (, an LED Inspire Company, winning $25,000 in funding. This company upgrades existing inefficient lighting systems in businesses, schools and marine vessels to new LED lighting systems that save time and money, and reduce environmental impact.

Ginjan Bros (, winning $25,000 in funding. A NYC based drinks company that develops and markets traditional African beverages. Their first product offering is "Ginjan", a popular West African drink made with all-organic fresh ginger, cold-pressed pineapples, fresh lemons, vanilla, anise extracts, and organic cane sugar.

The runner-up, winning $12,500 in funding, is South Bronx Food Market ( a market that offers healthy, home-style menu items and meals made fresh daily with minimally-processed and locally-sourced ingredients.

In addition to the funding, which comes in the form of an interest-free loan, each winner will receive business support spanning legal, accounting, communications and IT consultancy services. They will also be assigned a mentor who will provide advice and guidance throughout every stage of their business start-up.

Commenting on the winners, Jimmy Athanasopoulos, Head of Social Responsibility at the Libra Group stated:

“This is the inaugural year for the American Entrepreneurship Award and has demonstrated the rich seam of innovation and sound commercial thinking in this country. We hope that the success of these smart young companies will inspire others to have the same self-belief and take the bold step of translating an idea into a business plan," said Jimmy Athanasopoulos, Head of Social Responsibility at the Libra Group. "New businesses are the raw materials of economic growth – they create employment and have the power to transform communities. We sincerely congratulate these winners whose innovation and sound commercial thinking has won the admiration and endorsement of the panel of judges.”

Other finalists in the 2016 award were:

AlulA (, Miami-Dade County. An on-board aviation communications device (AlulA Heart) which enables affordable transmission of valuable ‘black box’ data in real time by broadcasting it to a new and innovative land-based, crowd sourced aircraft data receiver network.

Pepe Loves Books (, Miami-Dade County. The company creates connected toys and mobile applications for early childhood education. Their first toy is AlphaTechBlocks™, the world’s first interactive alphabet blocks and a child’s first introduction to the digital world.

Noga Tech, the Bronx. The company’s patent pending product is a multifunctional backpack that can be utilized as a briefcase or messenger bag and additionally serves as a high-visibility safety vest, with the added benefit of being on trend with current fashions.

WeIntervene (, the Bronx. A start-up that serves as an online Referral Management System, empowering school counselors to find, share, manage and monitor community resources needed by students and their guardians. The scope of resource provision spans health and wellbeing, counseling, and extra-curricular programs.

The contest will be back in Miami-Dade County next spring, the organizers said. To learn more about the American Entrepreneurship Award, visit

June 29, 2016

Code for Fort Lauderdale to host civic hackathon July 23

By Code For Fort Lauderdale

Code for Fort Lauderdale, a local civic technology group, along with coding bootcamp Wyncode, are proud to host the Fort Lauderdale Civic Hackathon (#FTLCivicHackathon) Saturday, July 23, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Axis Coworking Space in downtown Fort Lauderdale. This event is the first locally organized civic hackathon open to developers, designers, urban planners, and creatives of all types (technical and non-technical).

“We want to create an opportunity for new ideas and collaborations to emerge,” said Rob Davis, Code for Fort Lauderdale co-organizer. “Civic Hackathons are a great way for citizens to get hands-on with civic information and meet others who share the same passion for programming and volunteering.”

Participants are tasked with pitching an idea, forming a team, and attempting to build a prototype to present at the conclusion of the event. Key Challenge themes include Transportation, Water & Outdoor Recreation, Upcycling/Recycling, Non-Profits and Open Challenge.

The City of Fort Lauderdale is a proud supporter, providing not only key open data sets instrumental in addressing these challenges, but also food, drinks, and snacks to keep teams fed and energized.

Kevin Keimel, Applications Manager for the City of Fort Lauderdale and a judge for the event added, “While this is our first involvement in a local technology event, we’re excited to see what the local community can do.”

A team of local technology leaders will act as judges and will critique final presentations on Saturday evening. Related prizes will be unveiled during the opening kick-off at 8:30 a.m.

An exciting element of the event will be the presentation of practical problems from local non-profit organizations that participants will have the opportunity to tackle. Sea Turtle Oversight Protection and The Fort Lauderdale Historical Society are just two of the participating non-profits.

At the recent National Day of Civic Hacking, hosted by Code for Miami, demonstrated projects included a data visualization using White House Promised Zones data, a Facebook Chat Bot whose goal is to make it easier starting a business in Miami, and a website for affordable housing information.

“We expect to see that same ingenuity at Fort Lauderdale’s Civic Hackathon,” Rob Davis added.

Eager Civic Hackers can register at http://FTLCivicHackathon or (one per guest).

Sponsorship opportunities are available at


Fort Lauderdale Civic Hackathon

Date: Saturday, July 23, 2016

Time: 8:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Location: Axis Space Coworking, 333 Las Olas Way CU 1, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301



June 23, 2016

3 South Florida companies make Forbes’ list of innovative growth companies

South Florida companies Ultimate Software in Weston, Mednax in Sunrise and Opko Health of Miami made Forbes' 2016 list of the 100 "Most Innovative Growth Companies" in the world.

Ultimate Software, which provides software for human resources, ranked No. 8; Opko Health, a pharmaceutical company ranked No. 21; and Mednax, a national physician network, came in at No. 65.

For Ultimate Software, it was the third year in a row ranking in the top 10; Ultimate ranked 7th in 2015 and 8th in 2014. “We remain focused on innovation and growth, consistently investing approximately 20 percent of our annual revenue in research and development and are committed to creating a culture that encourages new ideas,” said Scott Scherr, Ultimate Software’s CEO, president, and founder, in a statement.

To make the list, companies with seven years of public financial data and a total market value of $2 billion to $10 billion were ranked by a formula that includes the company's income and anticipated growth.  No. 1 on the list: Rightmove, a London-based residential and commercial property company.

To see the full list, go here.

Read more about Ultimate Software here. To see a Sun Sentinel slide show of Ultimate Software’s new building, go here.

June 22, 2016

Two Thiel Fellows are gaming entrepreneurs from Fort Lauderdale

Two Fort Lauderdale men were among  The Thiel Foundation's 2016 class of 29 Thiel Fellows announced today. The fellowship provides young people with $100,000 to learn by doing rather than by following conventional paths like college. This year’s cohort was selected from more than 6,000 applications received from around the world.

“We launched the fellowship in 2011 to test a simple thesis: college isn’t right for everyone—especially for young people who want to create new things,” said Blake Masters, president of the Thiel Foundation. “This has been proven true—by the successes of our past fellows, by the new applications we get every year, and by the growing numbers of young people who are creating their own career paths outside of college, with or without a fellowship from us.”

Thiel Fellows receive mentorship and guidance from current and former fellows, as well as from the Thiel Foundation’s network of technology entrepreneurs, investors, and scientists. The Fort Lauderdale fellows, both involved in gaming startups,  are:

Joey Levy (now living in New York)
Sports Gaming
Joey founded Draftpot, a daily fantasy sports platform, from his dorm room in 2014. He is now working on Quizr, a sports betting application that launches in Europe in late 2016.

Matthew Salsamendi (along with James Boehm) (now living in Seattle, WA)
Social Gaming
Matt and  James co-founded Beam, an interactive live-streaming platform for gamers. Beam lets viewers of live-streamed video game sessions get involved in the game, influencing gameplay in real time.



June 10, 2016

6 South Floridians named EY Entrepreneurs of the Year for Florida

At an awards gala Thursday night in Tampa, EY announced the 13 winners for the Entrepreneur Of The Year 2016 Florida Program. This group of leading entrepreneurs was selected by an independent judging panel made up of previous winners of the award, CEOs, investors and other regional business leaders

 “This year’s winners have not only taken their companies to the top, but they have also acted as mentors to their employees and made impressive contributions to the community,” said Greg Rosica, EY Entrepreneur of the Year program principal.

 The winners included six South Florida entrepreneurs, including the only two female entrepreneur winners:

Distribution and Manufacturing

Angel Alvarez – ABB Optical, Coral Springs

Financial Services

Kent Ellert – Florida Community Bank, Weston

Healthcare & Life Sciences

Nestor Plana – Independent Living Systems, Miami

Hospitality & Leisure

Michelle Fee – Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Representative, Coral Springs, FL

Real Estate & Construction

Vincent Signorello – Florida East Coast Industries, Coral Gables, FL


Ellen Latham – Orangetheory Fitness, Fort Lauderdale

The prestigious awards program recognizes entrepreneurs who demonstrate excellence and extraordinary success in such areas as innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities. A list of all 13 award recipients is attached or can be viewed here.

Regional award winners are eligible for consideration in the national competition in November in California.

May 24, 2016

Aging2.0 to hold competition for Miami startups June 2

An opportunity for startups focused on aging:

Aging2.0's 2016 Global Startup Search ( is a competition for aging-focused startups to showcase their company to an international audience.  Events are taking place worldwide.  

The Miami event will be June 2 at in Miami.  

Tickets can be found at and those interested in pitching their startups can sign up at

May 22, 2016

Entrepreneurship Datebook: Workshops, events in South Florida

Tech eggVisual Story-telling Institute: Learn how to step up your game with best practices and actionable tips on how to create a winning online video strategy for business impact, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday, The Screening Room, 2626 NW Second Ave., Miami. More info:

South Florida Technology Alliance: Theme of monthly program: “The Evolution and State of Coding,” 5:30-9 p.m. Thursday, Axis Space Coworking, 333 Las Olas Way. Tickets: (Click on events).

Founder Institute Showcase: Early-stage investors and South Florida entrepreneurs are invited to meet the most-recent graduates of the Founder Institute, 7-9:30 p.m. (Private investor VIP reception at 6 p.m.) May 31, Broward College, Reubin O’D Askew Tower, 220 South East Second Ave., Floor 7, Fort Lauderdale, RSVPL

Aging2.0's 2016 Global Startup Search: This competition is for aging-focused startups to showcase their company to an international audience; events are taking place worldwide. The Miami event will be 6:30 to 9 p.m. June 2 at, 120 SW 8th St., Miami. Tickets on Eventbrite. Apply to pitch startups at the event here:

Miami GovJam: This project-based, hands-on professional training teaches participants how to increase the efficacy of service delivery and customer satisfaction, while fostering innovation and teamwork within and outside of government. June 1-2, Miami Beach City Hall. More info:

National Day for Civic Hacking: This event will bring together urbanists, civic hackers, government staff, developers, designers and community organizers to collaboratively build new solutions using publicly released data, technology, and design processes to improve Miami communities and the governments that serve them, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. June 4, The Idea Center @ MDC, Wolfson Campus, Building 8, Fifth Floor. More info on Eventbrite.

Starting Gate

Find startup news and community views on Starting Gate blog on Have an event to list? Email ndahlberg@" and put Datebook in the subject line.

Nancy Dahlberg @ndahlberg

May 18, 2016

A South Florida trifecta: Candidate.Guru, Symptify, Streann Media win at Early Stage Capital Conference


By Nancy Dahlberg / 

Candidate.Guru of Weston took home the top prize, $100,000, at the  Florida Venture Forum Early Stage Capital Conference in St. Petersburg on Tuesday.

The company, also the  winner of the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge, offers a big data solution  that can predict a culture fit between corporate hiring managers and prospective job seekers without the need for surveys and assessment tools, says CEO Chris Daniels (pictured above with co-founder Steve Carter). Candidate.Guru has been part of FAU Tech Runway for the past year.

Candidate.Guru was not the only South Florida winner -- in fact all three of the top cash winners were from South Florida. Space Florida, the state’s public-private effort to grow aerospace-related businesses, provided $150,000 in prize money to the winning presenters at the conference.

Symptify of Sunny Isles Beach, which helps users figure out causes for their symptoms and where to go for help, won second place, winning $30,000; Symptify also won the early-stage competition at eMerge Americas in 2015.

Streann Media of Miami, took third, winning $20,000. Streann Media,  offers cloud-based software  that enable content providers to offer their viewers a “TV everywhere experience” on any smart device. Streann recently received funding from the Tamiami Angel Fund II.

The Florida Venture Forum  selected 20 Florida-based companies to present at its all-day Florida Early Stage Capital Conference held at the Hilton Carillon in St. Petersburg. The presenting companies -- five from South Florida -- were selected from a pool of about 100 applicants by a committee of active Florida venture capitalists and other investors. In addition to the awards, the conference offered the presenting companies the opportunity to pitch on stage to a couple hundred attendees and meet individually with investors. The 2016 conference attracted the best investor attendance in the event's nine-year history, said Kevin Burgoyne, president and CEO of the Florida Venture Forum.

This is the first time cash prizes have been awarded at an Early Stage Conference, he said. "Our partnership with Space Florida added an exciting dimension to the event, providing three worthy companies with much needed capital they can use to continue to grow and scale their businesses."

Read more about the conference from the Tampa Bay Business Journal here.

Read more about Candidate.Guru here.

Read more about Symptify here.

Read more about Streann Media here.