David Zwick, founder and CEO of RedCap, and Videoo co-founders Barry Stamos, CEO, and Joshua Stedman, COO, won the Emerging Technologies and Business Showcase. Photo by Jim Donnelly
By Nancy Dahlberg / email@example.com
South Florida tech startups are finding more opportunities to pitch their businesses – and perhaps take home some big checks.
Twenty-four startups from around the state presented to a roomful of investors and business people on Wednesday at the day-long Emerging Technologies & Business Showcase hosted by Enterprise Development Corporation of South Florida, Florida Venture Forum and Space Florida and held at the Hyatt Regency Coral Gables.
They were selected from about 150 submissions, said Rob Strandberg, president of EDC. EDC has been running the event for several years, but this year the event was greatly expanded with Space Florida’s sponsorship. Along with the opportunity to pitch on stage and network with investors in the exhibit area, offering the winners a meaningful prize that will help take their companies to the next level was important, said Strandberg. Companies received pitch coaching from the EDC, which runs startup incubators and mentors startups.
The winners, selected by panels of investor judges: RedCap (redcapvalet.com), a company that brings car sales and service to the consumer, won the growth stage category, and Videoo (videoopro.com), a startup that helps brands leverage social video, won the early-stage category. They took home $100,000 and $50,000 respectively.
The 24 companies represented all areas from the state and included medical device companies from Gainesville, a drone startup and a solar energy company from Jacksonville, ed-tech companies from Naples and a predictive analytics startup from St. Petersburg.
“Events like the Emerging Technologies & Business Showcase promote the growth of Florida-based, high-tech businesses, but also highlight the growing capital formation community in the state and showcase that we have the quality innovation-based businesses as well as the experienced management teams to execute bringing them to market,” said Space Florida President Frank DiBello. “The quality of the presentations was truly outstanding.”
Here’s a closer look at the winners:
Everybody loves their cars – except when they have to buy, sell or service them, said RedCap founder David Zwick. RedCap has a solution for that.
RedCap has developed software that enables automotive dealers to offer their customers “out of store” experiences, which allows a customer to service and purchase without leaving their home or office. “We take all of the pain out of buying and servicing a car,” said David Zwick, CEO of RedCap, based in Fort Lauderdale.
In its pilot tests, RedCap has found that the software improves customer satisfaction, increases revenue by 18 percent and reduces loaner expense by almost 50 percent. “The message is clear that dealers and manufacturers have to change the way they do business,” he said.
Now five years into RedCap (RedCap also offers a successful on-demand driver service for consumers), Zwick says the growth-stage company is at an inflection point. Nationwide, its software solution for auto businesses is in 50 to 60 locations around the country, but plans are to be in close to 1,000 stores next summer. South Florida customers include Warren Henry dealerships, Ferrari-Maserati in Fort Lauderdale, The Esserman Group in Miami, and several area AutoNation stores.
Zwick says he plans to use the money to help hire four additional software engineers and expand its customer service team as it ramps up more pilot programs.
Miami Beach-based Videoo offers software-as-a-service technology built for brands and publishers to better engage audiences through social video, said co-founder and CEO Barry Stamos. Videoo automatically pulls content from Vine, Twitter and Instagram for all-in-one playlists that re-order in real-time as audiences watch, vote, upload and share. Early adopters include A+E Networks, The Huffington Post, Mitu Networks, Bob Marley and Fusion (a joint venture between ABC, Disney and Univision).
Videoo signed two new clients this month, and has about eight new commitments from TV networks and major publishers to use Videoo in pilots, Stamos said. For example, Videoo is helping Fusion figure out how to be more creative with user-generated video and advance its methods of storytelling. It is also planning pilots with the History Channel for more social TV early next year.
Videoo also recently added Spanish and Portuguese and will be launching in Latin America soon, beginning with NBCUniversal Live from E! Latino. Stamos said Videoo, which has raised about $1.64 million, will likely raise another $400,000 to bridge to its Series A.
Other South Florida companies that presented at ETBS were BDEX, ClassWallet, EGLA Communications, Neocis, SettleitSoft, 71 Pounds, SirenMD and Symptify.
“I was humbled and inspired by so many of the other incredible entrepreneurs who were selected to participate. It’s inspiring that so many people have the courage and the commitment to bring new innovations to the marketplace,” said Stamos. “We all talked about how we could get together and help each other.”
More opportunities await. Startups and early-stage companies can apply for the Startup Showcase exhibition and competition at eMerge Americas April 18-19; find more information at emergeamericas.org/startups. The Florida Venture Forum is also taking applications to pitch at the Florida Venture Capital Conference in January; find more information at www.flventure.org.
Follow me on Twitter @ndahlberg
Action in the exhibit hall at ETBS; photos by Jim Donnelly.