May 02, 2016

UM graduate and team win 'Code for Hillary' hackathon

Hillary Clinton’s campaign hosted the first ever hackathon for a presidential candidate Saturday at the Impact Hub San Francisco. “Code for Hillary” brought together top technology talent from around the country to build solutions that will strengthen political engagement in this cycle’s pivotal election.

CapelliMiami resident and University of Miami graduate David Capelli was part of the winning team for their “Voter Equity App,” an easy to use bilingual mobile app for voters to request on-demand resources trying to get to the polls or while standing in line at the polls with a few clicks.

Joining Capelli were Carla Mays, Founder/CEO of Mays Civic Innovation (Obama ‘08 Campaign Alum & civic innovation advisor) and Rocio Lopez, a dreamer who recently left her job at Cisco to explore founding her own UI/UX Design & Storytelling Firm. The team won tickets to see and meet with Clinton herself on Friday evening at an event in San Francisco. The team hopes to join the campaign’s national tech team to bring diversity and insights on technology, voter engagement and protection.

The app concept hits home in Florida, where long poll lines, hot weather, and voter suppression make voting difficult for many people. This is the first mobile application that builds equity, inclusion and protection for voters in political elections. People of color, low-income communities, the elderly, and disabled now have a tool that empowers them to go to the polls and stay in line during long waits.

The civic tech team hopes to continue develop technology platforms that solve civic problems in communities like Miami, where there are minority-majorities. They are currently developing an all in 1 regional transportation mobile application that focuses on a market more accurately represented than current civic solutions. “Politicians, regardless of their political affiliation, have an opportunity to invest in entrepreneurs to build technology solutions that serve as tools to solve and mitigate problems in their community” shared Capelli. “We encourage leaders in Miami to embrace and invest in their diverse talent to help solve access and equity problems across disciplines,” continued Capelli. “Miami can be the place that gets it right.”

May 01, 2016

Last day to vote in Business Plan Challenge People's Pick - send a startup to winner's circle

An online platform for automotive services, the Lyft for healthcare, a tool for shoe addicts. Or maybe it’s a logistics software creator, a tool for hiring managers to measure cultural fit, an online legal marketplace, or a monthly goody box for the pampered pooch? How about interactive alphabet blocks, an international e-commerce checkout solution, a health and wellness marketplace for cash patients or a tool to negotiate consumer debt? We’ve even got selfie gift wrap.

Who is building the best new business? You’re telling us!

The top six finishers in the Community and FIU Tracks of the 18th annual Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge are competing for the The People’s Pick. View the videos and scroll down to vote here hrld.us/BizPlan2016 up to once per day through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, May 1. Follow their creative tweets on @ndahlberg.

More than 11,500 votes have been cast so far. Winners in each track will be announced May 9.

The contenders are:

COMMUNITY TRACK

AlphaTechBlocks, pitched by Marilu Kernan and Taryn Keim, will create digital interactive alphabet blocks. With the accompanying mobile apps, kids learn ABCs and words in English and Spanish.

Candidate.Guru, pitched by Christopher Daniels, is a big data-analytics solution that can predict a culture fit between corporate hiring managers and prospective job seekers without the need for surveys and assessment tools.

Gift Wrap My Face, pitched by Vanessa Clavijo and Aryel Rivero, is the cure for the common gift. It allows the gift-giver to design his or her own selfie wrapping paper.

Ride2MD, pitched by George Fernandez, is the Lyft for healthcare, providing an innovative solution that eliminates wasted time and effort by streamlining the transportation process with real-time technology that offers complete transparency.

Shoes Dsire, pitched by Jane Bernacca, is a dynamic social commerce tool that combines cutting-edge visual search technology with crowdsourcing to provide a faster and more personalized experience for shoe shoppers.

TradeLanes, pitched by Vijay Harrell, automates document preparation for exporters. Exporters can orchestrate demand planning, supplier performance, inventory management and end-to-end logistics in one application.

FIU TRACK

Joust, pitched by Franco Aquino, Julio Benavides and Jonas Erthal, is an online platform that facilitates the quoting and payment process for automotive services.

Jurbid, pitched by Aydin Bonabi and David Johns, is an online legal marketplace that seamlessly connects clients with lawyers.

Pooch Perks, pitched by Tina Vidal, is pet-parent purchased, dog-tested and veterinarian-approved; it provides a monthly customizable box of carefully curated goods for the pampered pooch.

Settleitsoft, pitched by Rich Rudner, offers a free, web-based debt negotiation platform that will help resolve the global economic problem of consumer default on contractual obligations.

SkyBox Checkout, pitched by Taylor Philippi, is an anywhere-to-anywhere international e-commerce checkout solution with shipment to 200 countries and territories and multicurrency in 140 local currencies.

ValueDOC, pitched by Alain Fernandez, is an online health and wellness marketplace for cash patients.

April 29, 2016

EY announces 14 South Florida finalists for Entrepreneur of the Year

Today EY announced the finalists for the Entrepreneur Of The Year 2016 Florida Program, including 14 South Florida entrepreneurs. 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. The business leaders were selected by a panel of independent judges. The 14 finalists from South Florida by category are:

Distribution and Manufacturing

Angel Alvarez – ABB Optical, Coral Springs, FL

Financial Services

Jorge Gonsalez – City National Bank of Florida, Miami, FL

Kent Ellert – Florida Community Bank, Weston, FL

Healthcare & Life Sciences

Nestor Plana – Independent Living Systems, Miami, FL

Armando Bardisa – SMP Pharmacy Solutions, Miami, FL

Amy Tseng – TissueTech, Inc., Doral, FL

Hospitality & Leisure

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

Sergey Petrossov – JetSmarter, Fort Lauderdale, FL

Rodger Bloss – Vantage Hospitality Group, Coral Springs, FL

Media, Entertainment & Communications

Jayson Dublin – Playwire, Deerfield Beach, FL

Real Estate & Construction

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

Dagan Kasavana – Phoenix Tower International, Boca Raton, FL

Retail and Consumer Products

Mario Murgado – Brickell Motors, Miami, FL

Services

Ellen Latham – Orangetheory Fitness, Ft Lauderdale, FL

Award recipients will be announced at a black-tie awards gala onJune 9, 2016, at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa, Florida.

April 13, 2016

Deadline is Friday for applications to present at Florida Early Stage Capital Conference with $150K in cash awards

The Florida Venture Forum, Florida’s largest statewide support organization for investors and entrepreneurs, in partnership with Space Florida, is now calling for early stage companies from throughout Florida to apply to present at the 2016 Florida Early Stage Capital Conference at the Hilton Carillon Park, 950 Lake Carillon Drive in St. Petersburg on Tuesday, May 17, 2016.  Past early stage presenters have attracted $36 million in funding.

The Conference, now in its 9th year, features presentations by some of Florida’s most promising early stage companies. Presenting companies in space-based technologies will compete for cash awards totaling $150,000 ($100,000 for the Winner, $30,000 for Second Place and $20,000 for Third Place). Space Florida is providing the cash award prizes.

Additional event details and presenter applications are available at www.flventure.org. The final application deadline April 15, 2016.

 

April 08, 2016

University of Miami's Business Plan Competition: And the winners are...

Groovy Guitar Picks-Undergraduate2

Groovy Guitar: Undergraduate student Grand Prize winner Ryan Pollowitz

 

AlulA-Graduate
AlulA; (L-R) Graduate student Grand Prize winners Jason Keasler, Thomas Byrd and Joe Rjeili

 

Amy & Her Friends-Alumni

Amy & Her Friends: (L-R) Alumni Grand Prize winners Andrew Aidman and Melanie DiPietro

Innovations in the areas of guitar picks, aerospace and cinema have taken top honors in the 2016 University of Miami Business Plan Competition, hosted by the University’s School of Business Administration. The competition winners, honored in an awards ceremony April 7, took home a combined total of $54,500 in first, second, third and other prizes.

Grand Prizes

Ryan Pollowitz won the Grand Prize and $10,000 in the undergraduate student category for Groovy Guitar Picks, a company that gives old, scratched vinyl records new life by turning them into high-quality guitar picks. In the graduate student category, Joe Rjeili, Jason Keasler, and Thomas Byrd took home the Grand Prize and $10,000 for their venture, AlulA Aerospace, whose patent-pending technology will securely gather and send to data centers, airplane black box data while still in air. And in the University of Miami alumni category, Andrew Aidman and Melanie DiPietro won the Grand Prize and $10,000 for Amy & Her Friends, a live-action movie that tells a story of a middle school girl’s journey to make friends.

Second Place

Second Place in the undergraduate category and $5,000 went to Justin Levy and Tommy Rappa for U-brella, an automated umbrella rental kiosk that can be located, and reservations made, via mobile app. Second Place in the graduate category and $5,000 went to Kristina Francillon of Savert Food, which manufactures a line of all-natural seasoning pastes for home chefs and is already in a few stores and farmers markets. Second Place in the alumni category was a tie with each team winning $3,750. One prize went to Sabrina Taldone, Bhaumik Shah, and Lokesh Ramamoorthi of Pathologix, an online platform that allows physicians in India to obtain real-time consultations with pathological sub-specialists in the U.S.; the other went to Carlos Lovera, George Wayne, Mark Jacobs, Anthony Perez-Sanz, and Aaron Bronshtein for Flolink, a venture developing a medical device that automates patient monitoring. 

Third Place

Third Place in the undergraduate category and $2,500 went to Jaqueline Gulla and Dominic Annecca for On-Demand Wash, an Uber-like laundry service phone app. Third Place in the graduate category and $2,500 went to David Getz for Fly Feet, a sock company that will introduce patented Snap Socks that snap together with a heat-proof plastic snap so they don't get lost in the laundry. 

In addition to the undergraduate, graduate and alumni category prizes, the Paul K. Sugrue Entrepreneurial Spirit Award and $1,000 was presented to Paula Landron and Michaela Senior of FUOCO, a pizzeria for the late-night crowd, made out of a shipping container. 

The new Heffner Spirit of Social Entrepreneurship Award and its $1,000 prize was awarded to Ashley Wrushen of Nutritexts, a free texting service for low-income families to purchase local, fresh and nutritious produce directly from food producers and retailers.  

“This year’s presentations were very sophisticated,” said Susy Alvarez-Diaz, director of entrepreneurship programs at the University of Miami School of Business. “Having events on campus such as Shark Tank tryouts and the coursework that involves practice pitching really prepares the students. This was not their first at-bat.” 

The Business Plan Competition started last fall when concept papers were submitted to the judging committee. Ultimately 15 final teams were selected to present to the judges on April 6-7, with the winners named on the second day. This year’s presenting sponsor was the Finker Frenkel Legacy Foundation.

Now in its 14th year, the Business Plan Competition is open to all University of Miami students and alumni. Past winners in the competition have gone on to build their ventures into businesses that have garnered national attention. They include such companies College Hunks Hauling Junk and My Therapy Journal.com, both of which have been featured on ABC Television's “Shark Tank,” a reality program in which entrepreneurs share their business ideas with a group of five self-made millionaires in hopes of getting venture capital to help them attain similar levels of success.

6 things not to miss at AngelSummit Americas next week

Angelsummit

By Mack Kolarich

With less than a week left till AngelSummit we wanted to give you a sneak peak at the 6 most exciting happenings during the course of this 2-day conference for current and aspiring startup investors, at the InterContinental Miami, Thursday, April 14th and Friday,  April 15th.

The event will be hosted by Univision’s Silicon Valley Correspondent, Diego Graglia and feature moderators and panelists like CNET en Español’s Claudia Cruz, William Crowder of Comcast Ventures and Christian Seale of  Startupbootcamp.

  1. What’s next for Cuban Entrepreneurs?

Will Cuba truly grow into its nickname of ‘Silicon Island’? Will American startups expand to the country? Will Cuban startups expand their creativity and hustle beyond their borders? Learn what’s next for Cuban founders and investors over the coming years. John McIntire will chat with Cuban entrepreneurs Ubaldo Don of Itopia, Sergio Lazaro of Ingenius and Eliecer Cabrera of ConoceCuba on what exciting opportunities are in store Cuba’s startup community.

This is a panel not to be missed with a very exciting announcement to take place exclusively at AngelSummit Americas.

Keynote: Thursday, April14th at 5:00PM.

  1. Harnessing your city’s angel potential

Techstars has become synonymous with tech disruption and startup acceleration with over 700 portfolio companies and over $2.2B collectively raised since 2006. They’ve made tech startups like Sphero, SendGrid, ClassPass and Plated household names and fostered cities like Boulder, Boston, Seattle and New York City to become some of the most recognizable tech hubs in the world.

Hear from Marc Nager Chief Community Officer of Techstars, one of the world’s foremost experts on startup communities about what it takes to build successful startup communities that activate their local angel community.

Lunch Keynote: Friday, April 15th at 1:30PM

  1. Debut of Lean Angel Workshop

This year, the summit will debut the Lean Angel Workshop as a track for new investors. Developed under the guidance of Brad Feld and other startup investment leaders, the objective of the workshops is to provide new angels, wealth managers and RIAs an introduction to the business of investing in technology startups.

  1. The latest on investment platforms

Startup investing has gotten a whole lot more mainstream in the last decade, and the changing SEC regulations are paving the way for greater investor participation. Don’t miss the perspectives from the entrepreneurs who’ve built some of the most successful investment platforms like SeedInvest and FundersClub, on how they are helping more investors get involved in startups worldwide.

Emerging Investment Platforms: Thursday, April14th at 3:30PM.

  1. Investing in real estate innovation

Constance Freedman of Moderne Ventures will share how her real estate background led her to fund one of the few early-stage venture funds investing in technology companies that are revolutionizing real estate, mortgage, finance, insurance, and home services.

Keynote: Friday, April 15th at 9:30AM

  1. Finding investment opportunities across spanish-speaking markets

With nearly 500 million Spanish speakers and an ever growing Spanish speaking population in countries like the US, the possibilities to invest in countries other than one’s own is increasing. Pedro Sorrentino of Funder’s Club, Hernan Fernandez of Angel Ventures Mexico and Andres Barreto of Socialatom will share why as an investor, you should look for opportunities across the region.

Keynote: Friday, April 15th at 10:45AM

Check out the full 2-day agenda at www.americas.angelsummit.io where you can still purchase tickets and view the full list of speakers. Don’t forget to follow the live action on Twitter by following @StartupAngelsCo and #AngelSummit.

Mack Kolarich is co-founder and VP of Product of Startup Angels and AngelSummit Americas, taking place April 14th-15th, 2016 in Miami. AngelSummits are highly curated gatherings of startup influencers, investors, industry and community leaders for a 2-day conference on the future of startup investing.  Since 2014 they have hosted more than 1,200 participants at Summits in Dallas, Madrid and Chattanooga with Dublin scheduled for June 2016.

 

 

March 25, 2016

5 reasons to enter the Business Plan Challenge

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

You have about a few more days to participate in the 2016 Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge — and a little more time if you are a high school student. If you are on the fence about whether to enter, jump over. Here are five reasons to get moving:

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

The deadline is March 28 for the Community and FIU Tracks; the High School Track deadline is April 4. Contest rules are at MiamiHerald.com/challenge.

If you entered last year and weren’t one of the top three winners, regroup and try again. Business ideas in the ideation stage are fine for this contest. Class projects are welcome, and we love high school entries.

Do you have questions? Email ndahlberg@MiamiHerald.com or tweet @ndahlberg.


March 18, 2016

14 fintech companies faced off in Temenos Innovation Jam: And the winners were....

PictureWinnersF60A9053 (1)

From right to left: Joel Brown from DocuVital, author and futurist Brett King and Javier Mira from FacePhi

Submitted by CVOX Group

Last week, the Temenos Innovation Jam  at The Lightbox at Goldman Warehouse in Miami’s Wynwood Arts District featured fintech companies from South Florida and around the Americas. Each  had the opportunity to pitch products and solutions to renowned financial institutions. 

Fourteen companies were pre-selected to showcase their company: AppDome, BillBit, Billshark, Coinapult, Facephi, DocuVital, HID Global, iQuantifi, Lenddo, Mesfix, Quotanda, Strands, VU and Zave App Inc. 

Each company had even minutes to make a presentation and the audience of bankers and community supporters voted to choose two winners. And the winners were (drumroll please)...

The first prize went to Javier Mira from Facephi and second prize to Joel Brown of Miami-based DocuVital.

Facephi, headquartered in Spain, is a global leader in facial recognition technology.   Its product is rapidly becoming a service used by banks all over the world.  This innovative technology enhances the client experience effortlessly by simply using the camera on their mobile device to take a selfie; this then becomes their method of identification and interaction with the bank’s mobile application. 

DocuVital is the turbo tax for end of life planning.  Over 100 tasks need to be completed by the family after a loved one dies.  DocuVital, based at Miami's Venture Hive, solves this problem by organizing your vital information and documents, automating the process, storing it all using bank level security and encryption, and finally delivering it all seamlessly to your loved ones when you are gone.   Banks now want to provide services for the whole life cycle of their clients and Docuvital is a great tool for end-of-life issues and planning. 

The DocuVital platform is very simple to use, guiding the user through a simple step-by-step process of uploading all their vital information and documents. Using a set-up wizard, the platform quickly and easily instructs the user what information will be needed and then takes them to a dashboard page where they can seamlessly navigate through different sections, including personal, financial, legal, funeral and miscellaneous. (This was Brown's second fintech win)

“The Fintech Innovation Jams provide a unique opportunity for each for us to engage, identify and partner with the hottest fintech companies in the world. Through the Temenos MarketPlace, fintech companies get access to the more than 2,000 financial institutions running our software, who serve more than 500 million banking customers. Our clients in turn get access to cutting-edge innovation, making it a true win-win situation,” said Ben Robinson, CMO for Temenos.

He added that “Latin America is a region bubbling with technology innovation and we are excited to help propel fintech to the forefront as a sector with great opportunities for innovative entrepreneurs.”

Now the winner has the opportunity to travel to Barcelona in May 2016 and compete in the Temenos Community Forum (TCF) with finalists from Singapore, Dubai and London.  

 

March 17, 2016

Flat Out of Heels founder wins 2nd place in national contest

 

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

DawnMiami Beach entrepreneur Dawn Dickson took home second place Tuesday in the 2016 InnovateHER: Innovating for Women Business Challenge, the Small Business Administration’s nationwide business competition to highlight innovative products and services created and launched by cutting-edge entrepreneurs. Dickson won $20,000.

Dickson’s company designs and sells rollable ballet flats that can easily fit in a purse — a convenient way for women to relieve stiletto sore feet on the go. She has partnered with Loren Ridinger of Market America on an exclusive collection, and has won a number of contests, including a national pitch competition by PowerMoves last year.

Other winners in the InnovateHER contest were Elizabeth Caven from Upcraft Club in Des Moines, Iowa, winning $40,000 and first place, and Dr. Agnes Scoville from Scoville & Company in St. Louis, Mo., taking third place and winning $10,000.

In making the announcement, SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet said: “SBA created this challenge to empower women in the face of ongoing gender inequities in the technology and investment sectors. Women venture capital partners are stuck below 10 percent. The amount of venture capital funding that goes to women entrepreneurs is even lower — only about 4 percent. On behalf of SBA, I congratulate all of our winners and contestants. Their incredible talent is proof that America’s small businesses and entrepreneurs are launching and growing businesses that not only disrupt the status quo but have the power to improve countless lives.”

The InnovateHER Business Challenge began in August 2015 and drew nearly 2,000 competitors, who competed first in regional competitions around the country. The contest culminating in Tuesday’s live pitch competition involving 10 finalists in Washington, D.C.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter

March 15, 2016

Meet the 8 South Florida companies incubated at Founder Institute

Fi

Submitted by Founder Institute

Ten entrepreneurs from eight companies pitched their new startup at General Provision last Friday in front of their families, friends, mentors, business leaders and colleagues.

These entrepreneurs are the first graduating cohort from the Fort Lauderdale-Boca Raton chapter of the Founder Institute, a global entrepreneur training and startup program that has helped launch over 1,600 companies through chapters across 85 cities and 40 countries

For the ten graduating entrepreneurs, Graduation Day was the culmination of a 3.5 month program where they “learn by doing” and launched their company with structured training, expert feedback, and support from experienced startup CEOs. Thirty-four candidates initially joined the program in November 2015 after going through the application and ‘entrepreneur DNA aptitude’ testing process.

Rodolfo Novarini, Michel Triana and Mark Volchek, three serial entrepreneurs and business leaders, led the Founder Institute’s efforts in Fort Lauderdale and were supported by a strong network of 34 CEOs and founders in the South Florida business community.

The eight emerging startups from the Fort Lauderdale-Boca Raton chapter are:

  • GameFace (com): an ecommerce subscription-based men’s personal care called ‘Nasty’ for athlete consumers.
  • ONENESS: a solution for cities and marinas to meet their sustainability goals for water clean-up with proprietary line of green boats.
  • SpeechMED (com): a voice and video information platform that gives people the ability to see and hear their medical information in their native language (see Startup Spotlight).
  • Teak Health: the “mint.com” of medical health records striving for patient empowerment and provider solutions.
  • Velatino (com): an internet video network exclusively curated for Hispanic audiences.
  • Vendor Hive (com): centralized platform that manages information and transactions between festival event producers and retail vendors.
  • VidTec (co): automated tool for digital marketers that converts products and other website content into videos.
  • Winspire: a software solution to help people improve their people and leadership skills by partnering with Leadership Coaches.

Robert Valli, one of the graduates and the CEO of VidTec Corporation, emphasized the access to the mentor network as a key benefit of his participation. “Thanks to the new Founder Institute chapter here in Fort Lauderdale, anyone in Southeast Florida with a good idea has a very real opportunity to build a tech company—backed by their own local network—by the time they graduate, even if they had neither to start. I know, because I did it," says Valli.

The Fort Lauderdale-Boca Raton Chapter will accept applications for the next session this summer. Interested applicants can visit fi.co for more information and to join the mailing list.

Fi crowd