November 24, 2015

GEW Shark Tank-style at Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy High School


Submitted by Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy High School

The  MAV Tank, a business plan competition featuring student business plans and celebrity judges, highlighted Global Entrepreneurship Week  at Archbishop Edward A McCarthy High School last week.

The third annual MAV TANK featured four entrepreneurial student teams who created companies for the annual competition.  FIND Me, an innovative way to find a wallet was presented by Tommy Rodriguez, Rhett O’Donnell and Andy Rodriguez; BEBECOEUR a crib sheet with an alarm to help prevent sudden infant death was presented by  Neilah Richadson, Vincente Giordano and Christina Martinez-Mercado; STOPIT, a magnetized multiuse door stopper, was presented by Daniel Imbriaco, Nick Henning, Adam deArmas and Andrew Infante; and EXERO, the ideal way to incentivize a fitness program, presented by Josh Samarista/Miramar and Osmar Coronel/Weston. 

The first-place winner of this year’s MAV Tank was STOPIT (pictured above) and  received $500.

“At its core, MAV Tank is a platform for our students to fully develop their ideas and then put them into practice,” commented Kim Zocco, a teacher of Business Education at Archbishop McCarthy. “Our faculty fosters a culture of innovation which empowers and inspires our students to enter college and the world as change-makers.”  John Anfuso and Ashley Murphy, members of the MAV Tank teaching team, implement the business plan element into all the economics classes, in addition to the business entrepreneurship classes.

MAVSThis year’s Celebrity Judges were Tim Robbie, former owner of the Dolphin Stadium and the Miami Dolphins, President of the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers Soccer Team; Bianca Moreiras, founder of Bianca Moreiras & Associates Consulting Firm, handles high level acquisitions and mergers, managed top level law firms for over 30 years; James Donnelly, founder of Castle Group, NOVA University’s Entrepreneur Hall of Fame recipient; Chris Cerda, Maverick Alumni, CEO & Founder of KANYU, FAU Business Student, Entrepreneur.

Led by Zocco, the entrepreneurial spirit thrives year round at Archbishop McCarthy.  Students have competed and placed in the top ten ranking at the Wharton School of Business Finance Competition for High Schools  and support the Café Cocano project by selling organic heirloom coffee beans and iced café lattes at the school directly benefiting and empowering Haitian Coffee Farmers to earn a fair wage. 


Big ideas come to life at Startup Weekend @ FIU


The winning team Headliner, shown with Startup Weekend @ FIU mentors and organizers.

By Amy Ellis

An idea to “disrupt” the music industry and make it easier for loyal fans to see hot new bands at local venues stole the show this weekend at Florida International University’s first Startup Weekend Miami event.

Headliner (pictured above) – an online platform designed to enable users to crowdfund for the bands of their choice to perform locally – took the $500 first prize during the event, along with high praise from organizers.

“Headliner worked hard on their idea throughout the entire weekend,’’ said Jeff Brown, FIU’s Entrepreneur in Residence at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and a key organizer of the event. “It wasn’t planned this way but they are an all-FIU team and we plan to support them on their journey to make this a reality.’’

Gregory Jean-Baptiste, a computer science major at FIU who came up with the idea for Headliner, said the concept empowers fans but also benefits artists and venues. 

“Everybody wins,’’ he said. “The venue gets the crowd. The artist gets the show and the fans get to see the bands they want to see.’’ 

More than 200 people – developers, designers, coders, investors and entrepreneurs – attended the three-day startup event, held at the university’s $3 million innovation hub, Tech Station.

Eighty-eight participants competed in 16 teams, pitching their business ideas to a panel of judges and investors on Sunday evening.

Second place went to an application called Tip N’ Go that allows users to tip for service without needing to carry cash. A social platform for soccer enthusiasts called XOGO took third place.

“The quality of teams that competed this weekend is the best I’ve ever seen out of any Startup Weekend event ever,’’ said Brown, who has participated in startup weekends for years. “On average, only 12 percent of teams go on to create a viable business. From this event, I believe nine of the teams will likely launch. That’s an impressive percentage possibly becoming viable companies.”

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Teams pitched ideas ranging from a mobile app for scheduling in-home hair and makeup appointments to online portals to connect would-be entrepreneurs or encourage civic engagement.

Other participants talked of wanting to make a difference by using new technology to help Alzheimer’s patients remember simple tasks or individuals who are hard of hearing experience the joy of music.

“The passion and commitment we witnessed this weekend was transformational,’’ said FIU VP for Engagement Saif Y. Ishoof, another key organizer. "Our students demonstrated that our faculty have well prepared them to compete in the globally competitive entrepreneurial ecosystem in Miami.”

“As every part of our institution races forward to make our “BeyondPossible 2020” goals a reality, we intend to continuously capture, harness and expand the culture of innovation in every part of our FIU."

TipNGo (1)

Tip 'N Go (above) won second place and XOGO won third at Startup Weekend @ FIU.


November 23, 2015

Andres Cardona of FIU wins regional finals of Global Student Entrepreneur Awards


 Miami entrepreneur and college student Andres Cardona took home the big win at the regional finals for the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards last week.  The regional finals for the contest, in which college students from 50 countries ultimately vie for a prize of more than $500,000 in cash and services, was sponsored by Entrepreneurs' Organization South Florida and hosted at the Idea Center at Miami Dade College.

Six finalists were chosen to participate in a live pitch competition Nov. 19 at MDC’s Idea Center, which also included a keynote speech by Peter Kellner, venture capitalist and co-founder of Endeavor Global. For winning, Cardona received $1,000 in cash and $20,000 in services such as web, accounting and marketing from EO South Florida professionals.  Cardona will now go on to compete against 25 student entrepreneurs at the GSEA national finals in the spring, which will also be hosted at the Idea Center, and a $10,000 cash prize. The winner of the national competition will go on to complete in the global finals in Bangkok Thailand in May, with a $40,000 cash prize plus services.

Cardona, a  Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship alum and now a finance major at Florida International University, created the business plan for and began working on a youth basketball academy called Elite Basketball Academy ( while in high school because the student athlete was passionate about coaching young athletes and found a big need in the market. He's continued to grow the academy while a full-time college student,  and now the academy  has nearly 200 students/athletes. It's the largest of its kind in Miami, he said.

 “Our mission is to instill success principles in the youth of our community using the sport of basketball as a tool. We emphasize academic success, hard work, dedication, and a no-excuse mentality in order to achieve success. We focus on creating habits that will be everlasting and always present in the minds of our disciples,” said Cardona, who has also been honored by NFTE and Ernst & Young. Within three years, Cardona hopes to expand nationally, he said.

“This competition is special because the winners are not chosen solely on profit potential or the financial merits of their business plans, but largely based on their entrepreneurial journey,” said Mark Sanna, National GSEA Chairman, and EO-South Florida’s past president. “What challenges did these student entrepreneurs overcome, or what problem are they solving for others?  Compelling questions like these play a big role in the competition, and we know there are many great stories like this in South Florida.”

EO-South Florida is one of the world’s largest EO chapters, with  180 members whose businesses account for more than $1 billion in annual revenues and 30,000 jobs in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. EO-South Florida and the Idea Center, Miami Dade College's entrepreneurship hub, have partnered to support entrepreneurial innovation for MDC student entrepreneurs and other South Florida startup businesses.  To learn more about the GSEA competition or EO-SOFLO, visit

 Photo above is Andres Cardona presenting his business at the event and to the left is Mark Sanna of EO-SOFLO.


November 20, 2015

ITPalooza to return with hiring fair, expo, talks

Palooza crowd in exhibit area(8)


By Nancy Dahlberg /

Looking for tech talent for your business? Want to find out who is hiring or learn more about the tech community? It will all be in one place. 

More than 2,500 IT professionals, tech entrepreneurs, corporate executives and students are expected to turn out for a day of learning and networking at ITPalooza Dec. 3 at Nova Southeastern University.

The fourth annual event will offer a hiring fair, IT Expo, an after-party and nine education tracks on subjects such as agile technology, cybersecurity, women in IT, the Internet of Things, professional development and the startup lifecycle, among others. “This is a great opportunity for the IT community to gain critical knowledge, make new contacts or explore new career opportunities,” said Rick Sebaly, event leader and vice president of the South Florida Technology Alliance. “It will be a day of learning and a night of celebration and networking.”

A big focus of the event is the hiring fair and educational sessions on technologies and trends. In conjunction with the upcoming event, ITPalooza co-founder Alex Funkhouser administered an online survey of 200 South Florida-based chief information officers and IT professionals.

With the virtualization of many IT jobs, local employers must now compete for talent with companies from higher-paying regions, the survey showed.

“Companies based in Silicon Valley and New York are paying 25 percent salary premiums to hire local South Florida talent – and they are remote work jobs. We’re in a candidate-driven market and local companies must pay more than ever to hire tech talent,” said Funkhouser, CEO of the tech-focused staffing firm SherlockTalent.

For example, a web application developer in South Florida makes about $110,000, but in Silicon Valley, $140,000. A network security engineer makes about $115,000 in South Florida but his or her counterpart working for a Boston-based company commands $145,000.

The survey showed high demand for mobile application software developers, network security engineers and now, in its infancy, virtual reality and augmented reality software developers. “There is also high demand for chief information officers from larger corporations and tech startups,” said Funkhouser.

There could be plenty of matchmaking going on: About 37 percent of respondents said their companies are hiring new IT personnel, while 33 percent said they are considering new hires. About 65 percent of IT professionals surveyed said they are seeking new career opportunities or are unsure.

The homegrown event that involves more than a dozen tech organizations is hosted by NSU’s College of Engineering and Computing and will be held in the CarlDeSantisBuilding at 3301 College Ave. in Davie. Admission is $35, which will be reduced to $20 if attendees bring at least one unwrapped toy or free with two toys, to be donated to Toys for Tots. Register online at at or on Eventbrite. Student tickets are $10.

Since its inception, ITPalooza has raised more than $125,000 in cash and toys for various South Florida non-profits including Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ STEM Advisory Board, The Stockdale Foundation, Marine’s Toys for Tots and others. Last year, about 2,000 people attended the event.

On Friday, AT&T and ITPalooza will host a two-day hackathon at NUS for software developers, engineers and students interested in gaining additional skills in software and mobile application development. More information is here.


November 17, 2015

Sime MIA update: Startup contest, discounted tickets, new sponsors

If you haven’t purchased your Sime MIA ticket yet, here’s a way to get a big discount and help a South Florida startup win exhibit space at the same time. The Sime MIA conference, taking place Dec. 1-2, explores the intersection of media, innovation, technology and art. The events take place in Miami on Dec 1-2, 2015, at the beginning of Art Week.

 This week, a competition launched for select startups called "Bring Your Fans to Sime MIA." They are competing to win a free demo area to showcase their company at the Sime MIA Summits dedicated to FinTech and Big Data on December 2 at the LAB Miami and Lightbox, and attend the Sime MIA VIP exclusive events.

Fans can use the unique discount code for their favorite startup between Monday 11/16 at 9am and Friday 11/20 at 5pm. The startup that has the most fans purchase discounted tickets will be given a high-profile demo area.

With the fan discount, ticket purchasers can attend the half-day Sime MIA FinTech and Big Data Summits for $48 (normally $249), participate in the full day of Sime MIA Converge for $148 (regularly $399); get an “All Access Pass” for $248 (normally $799)

The startups for “Bring Your Fans to Sime MIA” 2015 Contest and their discount codes are:

SimeAdmobilize: AdmobilizeSimeMIA

Alzhup: AlzhupSimeMIA

Blackdove: BlackdoveSimeMIA

Centric Consulting: CentricSimeMIA

Eco Tech Visions: ETVSimeMIA

Kurator: KuratorSimeMIA

LiveNinja: LiveNinjaSimeMIA

Pidelo Rapido: PideloRapidoSimeMIA

POS Movil: POSMovilSimeMIA

SoStereo: SoStereoSimeMIA

Tesser Health: TesserSimeMIA

Tracks: TracksSimeMIA

Videoo: VideooSimeMIA

Sime MIA's speaker list includes startup founders, musicians, artists, inventors, social entrepreneurs an author, a neuroscientist and a Special Olympics World Champion. Day 2 is the summits. Recently, MIA Collective, the co-producer of Sime MIA, said Citi will be the co-host of the Sime MIA | Fintech summit; and arago will co-host the Sime MIA | Big Data summit, both taking place Dec. 2.

Each summit will be a half-day conference and will gather 400 attendees comprised of global entrepreneurs, startup founders, industry executives and investors. During the course of each summit, attendees can expect knowledge-packed keynotes, engaging panel discussions between industry leaders and hands-on workshops. 

“The goal of the summits is to complement the Sime MIA journey with a multi-sensory experience, ranging from coding classes to virtual reality exhibits, and covering some of today’s more significant opportunities in the tech space; all of which will be designed in partnership with our thought-leading partners Citi and arago,” said Demian Bellumio, co-founder of MIA Collective. Mr. Bellumio added, “The Co-Hosts will not only work with Ola and the rest of the team to select the most important topics to cover during the events, but also collaborate with us to ensure we gather the industry’s leading experts, executives and entrepreneurs under one roof."

Sime MIA is  supported by the Knight Foundation,  as well as leading local organizations such as The LAB Miami, New World Symphony, eMerge Americas, YellowPepper, Rokk3r Labs, Wyncode Academy and Senzari.  The event is produced by MIA Collective and Stockholm-based Sime, led by Ola Ahlvarsson. To learn more about Sime MIA 2015,  visit


Tips for success at Startup Weekend Miami at FIU this weekend

By Adam Boalt and Tara Demren

AdamSouth Florida entrepreneur Adam Boalt is founder and CEO of tech company LiveAnswer. Tara Demren, an international business major at Florida International University, is LiveAnswer’s communications and strategy manager. Boalt, who hired Demren after her team took third place at a Startup Weekend event in May, will be the keynote speaker at Startup Weekend at FIU, scheduled for Nov. 20-22 at the university’s Tech Station on the Modesto Maidique Campus.  The event is designed to enable aspiring entrepreneurs to create, pitch and launch their startup ideas over one 54-hour weekend. To register visit StartupWeekend.Miami.

Why should someone attend Startup Weekend at FIU?

Adam: People think starting their own company is impossible or being an entrepreneur is something that they aren’t capable of. Helping them overcome that fear and take the plunge is the reason that I love going to Startup Weekends. I used to shuck oysters on the weekends at Monty’s. You can go from there to running a successful business in a relatively short period of time if you work really hard.

TaraTara: For me, the success of going to Startup Weekend is not necessarily walking out with a company built but it’s more that you create this new sense of awareness that there’s more to life than just being idle and going with what you’re familiar with. You get out of your comfort zone, you pitch your idea to strangers and you begin to understand that there’s a lot more you can do in life.

What’s the best advice you can give participants?

Adam: You have to embrace failure in order to be successful. You can’t be afraid of the one thing that prevents so many people from becoming an entrepreneur. Once you can accept that, it becomes a lot easier. If you can remember where you came from and remain humble, you know you can always go back and you’re not afraid to move forward.  

Tara: You have to portray confidence, that you are sure of what you’re doing and you really believe in your idea. You can be unsure inside but you have to project confidence to your team and to your mentors. And bring a yoga mat. Take breaks. You’re going to be sitting for an absurd amount of time.

What are some pitfalls to avoid?

Adam: Don’t try to take over the world in one weekend. Be hyper-focused on the goal, which is to build your team, build out your concept and refine your pitch for the judges. Don’t get hung up on details that don’t matter. The teams that are successful are structured, organized and they’re not biting off more than they can chew. You’re not going to go from zero to Uber in one weekend.

Tara: Look for the “MVP” – the minimal viable product. You want something that is valid but it could be the small, most minimal part of your startup. It doesn’t have to be a full-fledged company. It could be a small, bite-sized idea that you are able to prove is viable.  

Is there anything participants can do to prepare?

Adam: Yes, get your friends to go with you. And don’t overthink it. Be open-minded. It’s a wonderful learning opportunity, a way to experience entrepreneurship without taking a big risk.

Tara: Be flexible. You shouldn’t prepare too much with your own personal idea because that might not be the one you move forward with and that can be demoralizing. That’s not the attitude you want to have, that it has to be your idea.

Why is FIU a good place for startups and entrepreneurs?

Tara: The biggest thing is they are willing to support students like me who want to get involved with the startup community. I’d like to see a ripple effect, where more professors begin advocating for events like Startup Weekend to give students the confidence they need to get out of their comfort zone.

Adam: Miami is riding this wave of startup activity and it’s because we have pulled our resources together to work as a community. That’s true of FIU and other universities as well. Fear prevents students from taking risks. Anything universities can do to allow students to experiment with entrepreneurship without taking a huge risk is a good thing.

What’s the biggest takeaway you want to leave participants with about Startup Weekend at FIU?

Adam: I do what I do because I love it. The money is a byproduct. You can’t do this just to make money. You’ve got to love what you do, that’s the most important thing.

Tara: Go big or go home!

 To register visit StartupWeekend.Miami.



November 16, 2015

CappSci Inventors program awards inaugural innovation prizes

Class 1

005 CappSci Local DS

Rivah Winter, top photo by World Red Eye, presents to Miami-Dade high school students and later that evening, all the CappSci finalists, including Prasoon Diwakar, above in photo by David Santiago of El Nuevo Herald, talk with community members at their booths at Gramp's in Wynwood.


By Nancy Dahlberg /

To win the CappSci Inventors Prize, it wasn’t enough for the scientists and engineers to be able to present their work to fellow academics and scientific leaders — they also had to win the hearts of a group of students representing three high schools and startup community members attending “Nerd Nite” in Wynwood. That’s just one of the ways that the new prize program is unique.

CappSci, a science nonprofit that runs innovation prize programs, and the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science announced that Andrew Baker and Rivah Winter of the University of Miami and Prasoon Diwakar of Purdue University were selected as the winners of two inaugural CappSci Inventors challenges; one called for solutions for protecting coral reefs and the other was for protecting humans from carcinogens. And when the new museum opens next summer, patrons will be able to watch the innovations come to life over the course of a year.

The CappSci Inventors program will distribute $1 million over five years to 10 inventors, offering fresh approaches to solving major global problems. Winners received a $100,000 grant to support a 12-month residency at Miami’s new Frost Science to build out and test their early stage technology.

Baker and Winter, both Miami residents, won for their project on stress-hardening corals, which involves priming corals with heat-tolerant processes to increase stress resistance and make reef restoration more effective as ocean temperatures rise. At their booth at Nerd Nite at Gramp’s bar in Wynwood last week, Winter, a PhD student, said she was excited about the possibility of getting out of the lab and being able to interact with museum goers and the science community in such an interactive and public way, combining her passions for scientific research and education.

Diwakar, a resident of Indiana and a research scientist, won for his proposed Laser-induced Breakdown Spectroscopy Detector, a portable instrument for real-time detection of carcinogens in airborne material as well as solid or liquid samples. His solution, a sampling kit that can be used by anyone, is quick, effective and less expensive than existing solutions, making it accessible to schools, airports, museums, government and private office buildings and other venues, Diwakar said on Thursday while showing off his booth. He, too, likes the idea of “bringing science to the people.”

Gillian Thomas, president and CEO of Frost Science, said that the residency with the Frost Science Innovation Labs will offer mentorship, important contacts and critical feedback. “The visitor interface is a critical component of the program and showcases the capacity of the Innovation Labs to engage the entire community in addressing 21st century challenges,” she said.

Inventors will work in an open laboratory housed in the museum’s Innovation Labs, Thomas said. Museum visitors will be able to observe the inventors in action, see a real-time log of their progress and share ideas with them. Accompanying exhibits will explain the underlying science and technologies in coral restoration and carcinogen detection.

The inaugural winners were chosen from dozens of global entries and were among six finalists who participated in a rigorous final evaluation process, which included input from Miami-Dade County Public Schools students, the local startup community and an expert judging committee. Winners were selected based on their invention’s technical potential and suitability for public participation in a museum setting.

“Part of the prize is about technology, but part of it is engaging the community, and we wanted winners who could do both,” Ted Caplow, CEO of CappSci, said Monday. “There’s tremendous excitement in Miami around trying to make Miami a tech city, and CappSci Inventors is my effort to play an important role in that. We have a new and unique model to harness the power of the crowd to incubate startups and foster good ideas that have the potential for global impact.”

The other two finalists presenting coral reef research were Remy Okazaki and Benjamin Mason of the University of Washington and Steve Whalan of Southern Cross University in Australia. The other two finalists with carcinogen-detecting solutions were Vinay Bhardwaj of Florida International University and Jose Almirall and Anamary Tarifa, also of FIU.

For the carcinogen category, the judges were Norma Kenyon, University of Miami’s vice provost for innovation; Svetlana Shtrom, director of technology commercialization at the University of Central Florida; and Jon Yoo, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Buffalo. For the coral reefs prize, judges were Reia Guppy, assistant professor at the University of Trinidad and Tobago (Marine Sciences and Environmental Studies Department); Carrie Manfrino, founder of the Coral Reef Conservancy; and Ken Nedimyer, founder of the Coral Restoration Foundation.

Interestingly, the high school honors students from Miami Beach Senior High, Sunset Senior High and WilliamH.TurnerTechnicalSchool chose the same winners as the judges, Caplow said. 

Caplow said next year’s CappSci contest will do a better job of conveying the full spectrum of what the prize offers from a career standpoint; it’s not just money to build a technology, but the opportunity to gain professional exposure to mentors and other experts as well as investors and potential partners. He said CappSci will continue the interactive judging process. “All of our finalists said they really appreciated the opportunity to speak to school kids in the morning, adults in the evening in an informal setting, and have a more formal pitch to experts the next day. ... My hope is that anyone who is involved with any of our contests learns something and gains something.”

For more information on CappSci Inventors, visit

In addition to the CappSci Inventors program, CappSci is also leading the Miami Science Barge project, a public floating marine sustainability lab that won the inaugural 2015 Knight Foundation Cities Challenge and will be stationed near Frost Science.

Nancy Dahlberg; 305-376-3595; @ndahlberg.

November 05, 2015

RedCap, Videoo rocket to top in ETBS competition, take home the big checks


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 /

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 (, a company that brings car sales and service to the consumer, won the growth stage category, and Videoo (, 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 The Florida Venture Forum is also taking applications to pitch at the Florida Venture Capital Conference in January; find more information at

Follow me on Twitter @ndahlberg


Action in the exhibit hall at ETBS; photos by Jim Donnelly.




October 22, 2015

ETBS chooses 24 startups to pitch for $150K in prizes; 10 are from South Florida

 Florida Venture Forum, Space Florida, and Enterprise Development Corp of South Florida have selected  twenty-four Florida-based companies to present at the Emerging Technologies & Business Showcase (ETBS), to be held at the Hyatt Regency in Coral Gables on November 4.

In addition to presentations and other programming, the ETBS will feature $150,000 in awards presented to winning companies in the early and growth-stage categories. The awards will be provided by Space Florida.

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

Presenting companies from South Florida are:

BDEX, LLC, Coral Springs (, is the first ever Data Exchange Platform (DXP). BDEX is a market-driven exchange platform combining all of the functionality, data and reach of traditional Data Management Platforms (DMP) in a true marketplace environment. The DXP is disruptive cloud-based innovation that will revolutionize how data is bought and sold across all industries.

ClassWallet, Miami (,is the leading end-to-end digital solution for schools and teachers that manages funds disbursement, e-commerce and tracking in a single platform designedfor maximum simplicity and accountability. ClassWallet brings an unprecedented efficiency to a a $23B system that relies heavily on cash, checks and purchase orders that add up to 40% transaction costs and a fund-spend-track lifecycle that takes weeks. ClassWallet reduces these costs to less than 5%, and the lifecycle to same day.

EGLA COMMUNICATIONS, Boca Raton (, is a cloud-based multimedia streaming platform that delivers multimedia content to cable and telecommunication operators with hundreds to thousands of subscribers in mobile, cable systems, web, and over-the-top. Mediamplify provides music, tv, and video experiences to its affiliates.

Neocis, Miami (, creates a robotic guidance system for the dental implant market. It reduces surgeon time and improves clinical performance through a minimally invasive approach. With 1M-2M implant procedures annually in the US, dental implants are the standard of care for tooth replacement, and the dental implant market totals nearly $15B with a 15% growth rate. Neocis uses a recurring revenue model by tracking implant placement in the software.

RedCap, Ft. Lauderdale (, has developed technology and business process that transforms the current experience of buying and servicing a vehicle. The integration of RedCap's software enables any automotive dealer to offer their customers "out of store" experiences which not only allows a customer to service and purchase without ever leaving their home or office but allows the dealer to extend their brand and services beyond the property of the dealership. Most importantly, the software improves customer satisfaction by nearly 40 points, revenue by 18% and reduces loaner expense by as much as 40%. RedCap is working with leading Connected Car players to fully integrate RedCap software into the connected car experience.

Settleitsoft, Ft. Lauderdale (, has identified an enormous business opportunity in the debt settlement and financial services industry.  The Company's flagship product, SettleiTsoft® system platform has been developed using the latest technology to address the ever-growing problem of consumer default on contractual debt obligations.   SettleiTsoft® web-based, self-help debt settlement software is accessible 24/7; encapsulating the debt settlement process in an automated, intuitive and user-friendly experience where debtors may electronically communicate and virtually negotiate with their creditors in ways never before possible.  SettleiTsoft® not only offers effective solutions for consumers in need of debt settlement, but also provides debt relief alternatives to those who want to control and manage personal finances, achieve savings goals, and improve their financial situation through a worldwide data-mining platform.

71 Pounds, Ft. Lauderdale ( ), is a "set-and-forget" system that automated the FedEx & UPS money-back guarantee (MBG) policy. Did you know that if an overnight, ground, or international shipment is late - even by 60 seconds - customers are entitled to 100% refund? Not many businesses do, as $2 Billion are left unclaimed each year.

Symptify, Sunny Isles Beach ( ), is a virtual doctor. It helps users figure out causes for their symptoms, what to do about them and where to go for help. Millions of people turn to the web to self-evaluate their symptoms everyday but they rely on the use of web search engines which often lead them to erroneous conclusions, needless anxiety and unwarranted doctor visits. Symptify is a powerful decision aid that helps users discern which conditions are amenable to self-treatment, which require immediate attention and which ones can be cared for at lower acuity venues. It is made available as an API to health systems, governments, payers, ACOs and health plans interested in improving patient engagement, promoting health literacy and curbing healthcare costs.

SirenMD, Miami (, is an enterprise created to offer efficiencies and improvements in healthcare communications, and its signature product is a real-time, medical case collaboration platform. Through its multimedia, telemedicine application, SirenMD facilitates coordinated communication between caregivers and patient advocates (doctors, nurses, athletic trainers, and other medical personnel) using mobile and web systems.

Videoo, Miami Beach (, is new technology (SaaS) built for brands and publishers to better engage audiences in collaborative social broadcasting. Videoo takes social media to the next level; They call it “living media"! Now passive viewers become active participants in social storytelling. Videoo automatically pulls content from Vine, Twitter, Instagram & YouTube for all-in-one playlists that re-order in real-time as audiences watch, vote, upload and share. Use cases: News feeds, social storytelling, events, contests and social TV. Early adopters include: The Huffington Post, NHL, Bob Marley and Fusion (Joint venture between ABC, Disney & Univision). Results are deeper engagement and monetization: 40x impressions, 11.64 clip views per user, +408% time on site, +267% social referrals.

In addition, 14 other companies from other parts of the state will also be presenting.

Pre-registration for the Emerging Technologies and Business Showcase is available until November 2, 2015. Walkup registration rate will apply thereafter, based on availability.  Attendees have the opportunity to listen to pitches from leading Florida companies, an investor panel and a guest luncheon speaker, retired NASA Astronaut Captain Winston Scott.  Additionally, on November 3, 2015, registered attendees are invited to register for a Pitching to Investors workshop, taught by lead instructor Troy Knauss of the Angel Resource Institute. The workshop is an add-on event with an additional charge to the November 4th Showcase.

Visit for more information.

FIU's SJMC names Jeff Brown its first Entrepreneur in Residence

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication  at Florida International University has named Jeff Brown, an angel investor and
founder of Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corporation, its 2015-2016 Entrepreneur in Residence.

As the program’s first Entrepreneur in Residence, Brown will work with SJMC students and faculty to foster a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation, as well as guide students through the process of honing their ideas into marketable proposals. Brown will mentor the student teams that enter the International Scripps Innovation Competition, which will begin with Startup Weekend on Nov. 20 and culminate in PantherCage, a “Shark Tank” style competition held on March 23, 2016, during SJMC’s Communications Week.

Over the years, Brown has mentored and advised potential investors and
innovators through Honey Tree Holdings, of which he is a founding member, as well as Startup Quest, Digital Venture Capital Association and Palm Beach Angels. He has also founded various tech and media startups since 1988, and is a past director of Gold Coast Venture Capital Association. He is an organizer and founding trustee of Awesome Journalism, which funds innovative journalism projects around the world.

Read more about Startup Weekend here.