August 17, 2017

Apply now to present at VentureTech Showcase of South Florida with $25,000 cash award

Join the Florida Venture Forum/Venture Education Foundation in partnership with Space Florida for the 2017 VentureTech Showcase. The VentureTech Showcase of South Florida will be hosted in Boca Raton on Nov. 16 from 1:30 P.M. – 5:30 P.M. 

The showcase is a capital acceleration competition and business-networking event featuring presentations by some of Florida’s most promising early stage companies.  Presenters will compete for the Space Florida Accelerating Innovation Award, which amounts to a $25,000 cash award to the winning company. 

Presenters will be chosen by a selection committee comprised exclusively of active equity investors, who will be evaluating early stage companies from throughout the state of Florida. Selection preference will be given to early stage companies with business focuses in information technology and health technology, knowledge-based services, space transportation and advanced aerospace platforms, satellite systems and science payloads, ground and operations support systems, agriculture, climate/environmental monitoring, civil protection and emergency management, International Space Station and human life science (including medical research), communications, cyber security & robotics, adventure tourism, clean /alternative energy applications, advanced materials and new products. See Company Criteria on the Florida Venture Forum’s website for additional details. 

The Final Presenter’s Application Deadline Is Oct. 16. Here is the registration link  as well as the presenter’s application link for the South Florida event.

- Submitted by Florida Venture Forum

 

August 03, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

- submitted by Florida Venture Forum

July 29, 2017

App to help divorced parents manage everyday life featured on 'Planet of the Apps'

Gwyneth Paltrow Michael Daniels Fayr Presentation 1

Michael Daniels, with Gwyneth Paltrow, making his presentation for "Planet of the Apps." 

Fayr app was created by a divorced dad in Weston

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Weston resident Michael Daniels and his new iTunes app, Fayr, were featured on  Apple Music’s “Planet of the Apps” this week. Daniels, a divorced dad with two young children, created Fayr to help divorced parents streamline family management, such as scheduling and budgeting.

The app won the support of “Planet of the Apps” judges and Daniels secured a partnership with Academy Award-winning actress and “conscious uncoupling” advocate Gwyneth Paltrow, who's now an advisor for Fayr. This week, Fayr was the featured app on the iTunes store.

Daniels, 37, a custom home builder, says he was inspired to create Fayr when the challenges of co-parenting began to overwhelm him. The app creates a joint family calendar to track activities and time-sharing, and generates digital records of expenses and real-time location check-ins. It also offers in-app texting to simplify communication between parents.

“My favorite thing about Fayr is that it was created with the whole family in mind. Separating is a challenging transition for any couple. When children are involved, it’s especially tender and worrisome,” Paltrow said, in a news release. “Fayr removes unnecessary stresses and tension so parents can collaborate to create calm and stability for their children.”

Fayr launched in beta mode several months ago and attracted the attention of  “Planet of The Apps,”  Apple’s new reality series for aspiring app developers. Working with entrepreneur advisors Jessica Alba, Gwyneth Paltrow, Gary Vaynerchuk and Will.i.am, developers and their concepts endure an intense incubation period and then a high-stakes pitch. New episodes debut Tuesdays on Apple Music.

Fayr is available on iOS with a monthly subscription of $4.99. An Android version is planned by year's end. More information:  www.fayr.com.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter

 

July 18, 2017

Singularity U's Salim Ismail to be honoree, speaker at Endeavor Miami Gala. Here's what he's been up to in Miami.

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Go big.

That’s the advice an expert on exponential technologies has for the startup ecosystem in Miami.

IsmailSalim Ismail is the founding executive director and now the global ambassador for Silicon Valley’s Singularity University and a board member of XPRIZE, well-known organizations that inspire, educate and fund people and projects trying to solve world-changing problems through technology.

“In Silicon Valley, people think on a global scale. In many other parts of the world, Miami included, people are trying to build a niche product or feature,” said Ismail, the author of “Exponential Organizations.”

Yet Ismail, now a Miami area resident, also said Miami has passion that you don’t find everywhere. “When you can align the natural passion of the residents here with a very big purpose or outcome, there is literally no limit as to what could happen.”

Ismail is being honored with Endeavor Miami’s Impact Award at its fourth annual benefit gala, which will be held Oct. 21 at the Faena Forum in Miami Beach, Endeavor Miami announced. During an address to gala attendees, Ismail will share his vision for entrepreneurship and what emerging technology trends mean for the future. Endeavor Miami is an arm of the global organization that selects, mentors and accelerates high-impact entrepreneurs around the world.

“We choose honorees each year that reflect the characteristics we believe will inspire our entrepreneurs and exemplify the progressive mindset that Endeavor selects in its companies,” said Laura Maydón, managing director of Endeavor Miami. “Salim is a visionary leader whose accomplishments are shaping the future of entrepreneurship and technology.”

Of particular local interest, Ismail is also the co-founder of Fastrack Institute, along with South Floridians Rodrigo Arboleda, an architect who co-founded the global nonprofit One Laptop Per Child and CEO of Fastrack, and Dr. Maurice Ferré, co-founder of Mako Surgical and now is running Insightec and other healthcare-technology ventures. Fastrack, a one-year-old nonprofit developing in Miami, plans to partner with cities that then become launching pads to rapidly build companies that can solve critical urban problems – such as mobility or access to quality healthcare or education, for example – in those cities and then scale those technologies globally.

Because Fastrack teams work through legal, regulatory and safety issues with cities as they are building the companies, “we found with Fastrack we can solve a problem facing a city at about one tenth the current cost, which makes it economically very compelling,” said Ismail, in an interview this week. “What we want to do is make Miami the capital for this kind of thinking ... what an ideal city should look like.”

Fastrack, which counts University of Miami’s Center For Computational Science as a partner, has been running pilot programs in Medellín, Colombia, and now about 20 cities around the world are interested in becoming Fastrack cities, including Miami, he said. One Fastrack problem could be traffic, he said. “Think about it. If we can solve it in Miami then that becomes an export industry that applies to every city in the world.”

Exponential companies, however they are built, need to be information-based because that scales, said Ismail, who also helps established companies quickly incorporate an exponential mindset through his company ExO Works. “Airbnb’s information is enabling people’s extra bedrooms. Ride-sharing is creating more of a liquid workforce,” he explained. Just as importantly, he said, exponential companies also need to have a massive transformative purpose. “It’s not enough to have a great product – it needs to effect meaningful change in the world.”

Ismail believes solar energy will be one of the world’s most powerful exponential technologies.

“Energy has been scarce for the whole of the history of humanity. It is about to become abundant in the next five to seven years and that will radically change the global geopolitics of it,” he said. “The Middle East will be essentially rendered mostly worthless. In Canada, the Keystone Pipeline will be irrelevant before it is even built. The poorest companies in the world are also the sunniest countries in the world; solar will really change the global equation.”

And there are other exponential technologies, including autonomous cars, drones and artificial intelligence, he said. Bitcoin and blockchain-based technology will radically change government services and public services even more so than the private financial sector, he said. Biotech technologies give people the power to edit the human genome, allowing the human body to become a software engineering problem.

Ismail, who was an executive at Yahoo and started companies before joining Singularity in 2008, moved to Miami in 2014 and has led or spoken at several events, including most recently eMerge Americas. “I love it. I am an avid tennis player and I am from India originally so I am like a lizard on the rocks – I love the humidity. I travel a lot and the airport is one of the best connected airports in the world.”

He also loves the natural diversity of the region – the ethnic makeup, the arts, the mix of industries, he said. “Absolutely the biggest success factor for any city is diversity and the richness that comes from it. All great ideas come when you cross disparate domains together.” And it has the power to attract: “It’s fascinating to see the talent that is now arriving in Miami, it really is.”

Calling himself a massive technology optimist, Ismail sees climate change as South Florida’s biggest urban challenge. “Miami has an opportunity to act as a world leader because it is going to be first affected. Whatever solutions come out of here, it will apply to about 60 percent of the global population.”

He calls Endeavor one of the most important and interesting initiatives to ever get created in entrepreneurship.

Endeavor Miami is the first U.S. affiliate of Endeavor Global. Since Endeavor Miami’s 2013 launch, 15 South Florida companies and 24 entrepreneurs have become part of Endeavor’s global network of business leaders, mentors and investors.

Previous IMPACT award recipients include Jessica Goldman Srebnick, CEO of Goldman Properties; Jim McKelvey, co-founder of Square and founder of LaunchCode; and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, co-founder of Gilt and GLAMSQUAD.

The 2017 Endeavor Miami Gala will be held Oct. 21 from 7:30 p.m. to midnight at the Faena Forum. Proceeds from the event directly support Endeavor Miami’s mission. Find more information about the gala here.

Nancy Dahlberg: @ndahlberg

July 05, 2017

American Entrepreneurship Awards: And the winners are ...

Aea

The American Entrepreneurship Award (AEA), a program created to support startup businesses and entrepreneurs, has announced the winners of its second annual contest.

The panel of judges selected winners on the basis of business plans that exhibited sustainability, financial prudence and innovation, while accruing revenue and creating jobs predominantly in the Bronx, New York, or Miami-Dade County. Entries were accepted from individuals or groups with no previous business experience, or from existing 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 from the Libra Group, a privately owned diversified business group with 30 subsidiaries active across six continents. The winners’ trophies for the Miami-Dade County contest were presented at a ceremony at Tuyo Restaurant in Miami Dade College's Miami Culinary Institute. Miami-Dade winners and finalists are pictured above.

The five winning companies in Miami-Dade County each won a $25,000 no-interest loan, mentorship and support services. The winners were:

Major Marketplace (majoritymarketplace.com): an online marketplace for minority businesses and those who want to support them. The company curates local and international products and services made and offered by passionate creators, bridging conscious buyers to minority businesses.

PIERCE Plan (gotpierce.com): a Software as a Service (SaaS) platform that automatically tracks academic requirements in real time so high school student-athletes are eligible for scholarships to play college sports, prepared to compete in the classroom, and positioned to succeed in life.

SOP Technologies (soptechint.com): provides cities with innovative solutions to manage and protect the environment. The company's mission is to Stop Ocean Pollution (SOP) and it works towards this goal by developing cost-effective physical and digital technologies to prevent trash and contaminants from entering waterways.

Ustaff: an on-demand healthcare staffing platform that serves as a conduit for healthcare facilities and healthcare professionals to directly connect, in order to service their scheduling and staffing needs.

UX Gofer (uxgofer.com): a user research platform that empowers start-ups and enterprises to create innovative experiences for their customers and make better design decisions by incorporating live user feedback through our guided usability tests.

Said Christopher Upperman, CEO of the American Entrepreneurship Award: “Our hope is these companies will inspire more to seek out support from organizations such as the AEA who serve as a spark to increase entrepreneurial participation across communities. We truly congratulate these winners and respect their drive, ambition, and comprehensive business approach—which has been acknowledged by our panel of judges, and team alike.”

Other finalists for the 2017 Miami-Dade awards were:

Arslin.com (arslin.com): provides consumers with a dealership-free online platform for purchasing of used cars.

Cargo42 (cargo42.com): a digital marketplace for local trucking committed to reduce empty miles for trucking companies and to offer lower freight rates for Less than Load (LTL) shippers.

Full Circle (gofullcircle.co): a platform where people can purchase products and services that ideally memorialize their deceased – both humans and pets. The company empowers people with the products and services that help them honor their loved one the way they deserve, and helps them through the grieving process.

Smart Barrel (smartbarrel.co): an Internet of Things (IoT) company that builds and designs products focusing on the construction industry. Smart Barrel products are physical field products that are introduced into the jobsite to assist and enhance the communication between Office and Field personnel.

VITAL On Demand (vitalondemand.com): dietician-approved, nutritious and delicious meals and snacks delivered in under 15 minutes for a $1 delivery fee. They serve the professional lunchtime crowd the most flavorful, nutritious meal faster and for a lower delivery fee than anyone else.

To learn more about the American Entrepreneurship Award, please visit www.americanaward.com.

-Submitted by AEA

 

June 26, 2017

5 Miami business leaders win EY Entrepreneur of the Year honors

EY named five business leaders in South Florida winners of its annual Entrepreneur Of The Year Award for Florida.
This group of winning entrepreneurs were part of a group of nine selected by an independent judging panel made up of previous award winners, CEOs, investors and other regional business leaders. The winners were unveiled at a special gala on Friday night in Orlando hosted by the accounting giant.
Winners from the Miami area are:
Lifetime Achievement Award: Cesar L. Alvarez, Greenberg Traurig, Miami
Emerging: Adriana Cisneros, Cisneros Interactive, Miami
Retail and Consumer Products: Edie Rodriguez, Crystal, Miami
Services: Brett Beveridge, The Revenue Optimization Companies, Coral Gables
Technology: Pete Pizarro, Ilumno, Miami
Since its founding in 1986, the EY Entrepreneur of the Year program has expanded to recognize business leaders in over 145 cities in 60 countries. Finalists from Florida were announced in May.
Regional award winners will be considered for the Entrepreneur Of The Year National program. Those winners will be announced in November and the overall winner will compete for the World Entrepreneur Of The Year Award in Monaco in June 2018.

 

 

June 20, 2017

4 South Florida startups advance to finals in WeWork Creator Awards

BM cover tech hub 4 d epf

WeWork today announced that four Miami entrepreneurs have been selected as finalists for The Creator Awards South Regional Final on June 27 at ACL Live in Austin, Texas. Chosen from a pool of more than 2,000 applicants from all across the South, these finalists, along with approximately 30 others, will present before a live audience and compete for financial awards, which range from $18,000 up to $360,000.

“We’re beside ourselves to be accepted by the WeWork Creator Awards to compete against what we know is a massive community of exceptional thinkers, inventors, entrepreneurs: creators,” says AlulA co-founder Thomas Byrd. “To be recognized for our vision to be fellow ‘creators’ by WeWork and the Creator Awards, an organization centered on creators is humbling to say the least.”

Byrd and his founders were inspired by the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. They wanted to find out how this was possible and prevent it from happening again in the future. The team has worked over the past two years to find a simple and affordable crowdsourcing method of retrieving aircraft data to make air travel safer and more efficient.

This will not only help track planes location but will also help with collect data for environmental research and help improve air travel over all -- shorter flights, cheaper flights and less burning of fossil fuels.

According to previous winners, these awards can be a game changer for companies and organizations looking to reach the next level.

Jill Bigelow, founder of a company making products for new mothers called Pelv-Ice, says her company’s prize money “allowed us to launch our sales team expansion sooner than anticipated.”

“It’s going to allow us to take advantage of a bunch of opportunities that we were going to have to skip before we won,” says Bigelow. “It will certainly help us scale faster.”

The AlulA team is at the stage where they are ready to begin product testing. “We have completed the prototype for the small box to allow our vision to become a reality,” explains Byrd. “ With the winnings we could put these small boxes on aircrafts and immediately impact flight safety and climate change research. This, we feel is the least we can do out of respect for those who lost loved ones on MH370, and the future of our planet.”

In addition to the pitch competition and awards show, the Creator Awards involves masterclasses with celebrity influencers, a career fair, pop-up market with local food vendors and live music. Creators from Austin, Houston, Dallas, Miami, Atlanta, San Antonio, Santa Fe, to name a few, will be competing. 

Subsequent events will take place in North America, Europe, and the Middle East. Winners from each event will come together for the global finals, to be held at Barclays Center in New York City on November 30.

Complete List of Miami Finalists

Launch: Businesses or nonprofits that have launched but are still learning ($72K - $180K)

AlanaAt Alana Athletica, we focus on combining four factors that we think are currently not intertwined into any women™s active-wear brand in the market – quality, price, women empowerment, and social responsibility. We design and manufacture premium quality yoga pants that enable empowerment for ALL women (regardless of size, race, background, age, etc.) at an affordable price, and we do so by employing and empowering women abuse survivors in Sri Lanka who are joining our all-women production facility - all while giving back to deserving local communities.

AlulA - Inspired by the tragic disappearance of Malaysia flight MH370, we have innovated a system to stream black box data in real time affordably from planes in flight. This allows safer air travel, as well as enabling the ability to predict and fix critical aircraft components before they fail. This makes air travel safer and more affordable!

Scale: Proven record of success and are ready for the next level (Awards: $180K - $360K)

Debris Free Ocean (nonprofit) - We provide in-classroom education about marine debris, host adventure cleanups, host zero-waste lifestyle awareness events, provide sustainability consulting services to businesses, and propel pro-ocean legislation. While providing all of these services, we ensure that our messaging is positive and uplifting so as to motivate individuals to take action towards cleaner oceans on a daily basis. We consider ourselves a warm and inviting environmental group, specifically positioned to captivate audiences who may ordinarily not appreciate aspects of the environmental movement.

Viera Academy - Viera Academy is a free college prep platform that helps students gain admission to college by maximizing their academic development and providing a personalized application strategy. We conduct a proprietary analysis of students' academic profile, personal interests, and financial need to recommend colleges and create an individualized month-by-month action plan.

- Submitted by WeWork

Meet the finalists of the American Entrepreneurship Awards; winners announced Friday

The American Entrepreneurship Award, a non-profit that aims to support American start-up businesses and entrepreneurs, will announce the selected winners of their business plan competition at their second annual ceremony taking place Friday, June 23, 2017. The awarded entrepreneurs will win business services, mentorship, and a share of $250,000 towards their businesses.

The American Entrepreneurship Award will work with their partner, Miami Dade College to present the awards. The ceremony is set to take place at Tuyo, Miami Dade College’s acclaimed restaurant located on the top floor of the Miami Culinary Institute. The event will commence with a cocktail reception at 6:00pm – 7:30pm followed but the presentation of awards at 7:30pm.  

“We’re excited for these tremendous companies who’ve shown the courage to apply and make it this far through the process. I truly believe entrepreneurship can be a catalyst for helping individuals and families achieve economic self-sufficiency. The skills and knowledge one has the opportunity to gain through their entrepreneurial pursuit stands to enhance their viability. The American Entrepreneurship Award exists to aid these business owners and help them harness their true potential.” Said Christopher Upperman, CEO of the American Entrepreneurship Award.

The finalists are... 

* UX Gofer (com): a user research platform that empowers startups and enterprises to create innovative experiences for their customers. Make better design decisions by incorporating live user feedback through our guided usability tests.

* PIERCE Plan (com): a SaaS LMS licensing and delivery model to automatically track academic requirements in real time so high school student-athletes are eligible for scholarships to play college sports, prepared to compete in the classroom, and positioned to succeed in life.

* VITAL On Demand (com): dietician-approved, nutritious and delicious meals and snacks delivered in under 15 minutes for a $1 delivery fee. They serve the professional lunchtime crowd the most flavorful, nutritious meal faster and for a lower delivery fee than anyone else.

* Full Circle (co): a platform where people can purchase products and services that ideally memorialize their deceased – both humans and pets. The company empowers people with the products and services that help them honor their loved one the way they deserve, and helps them through the grieving process.

* SOP Technologies (com): provides cities with innovative solutions to manage and protect the environment. The company's mission is to Stop Ocean Pollution, and it works towards this goal by developing cost-effective physical and digital technologies to prevent trash and contaminants from entering waterways.

* Ustaff: an on-demand healthcare staffing platform that serves as a conduit for healthcare facilities and healthcare professionals to directly connect, in order to service their scheduling and staffing needs.

* Major Marketplace (com): an online marketplace for minority businesses and those who want to support them. They curate local and international products and services made and offered by passionate creators, bridging conscious buyers to minority businesses.

* Arslin.com (arslin.com): provides consumers with a dealership-free online platform for purchasing of used cars.

* Smart Barrel (co): an Internet of Things (IoT) company that builds and designs products focusing on the construction industry. Smart Barrel products are physical field products that are introduced into the jobsite to assist and enhance the communication between Office and Field personnel.

* Cargo42 (com): a digital marketplace for local trucking committed to reduce empty miles for trucking companies and to offer lower freight rates for Less than Load (LTL) shippers.

Prior to the ceremony, The American Entrepreneurship Award will host a small business expo located next door to Tuyo, at the Idea Center at Miami Dade College. Doors to the expo will open at 4pm and will host a multitude of Miami’s local business support services such as Neighborhood Lending Partners, Beacon Council, and Venture Café among others.

All members of the community are encouraged to attend both the expo and ceremony. Both events are free of charge and open to the public.

Past American Entrepreneurship Award winners from Miami-Dade County are:

* StatLab Mobile (com): a complete mobile laboratory with the capabilities to test blood and urine samples on site at any location. Their goal is to provide quality blood testing for the insured and the uninsured at a fraction of the traditional cost.

* ValueDoc (valuedoc.com) a free online health and wellness marketplace where cash or self-pay patients find local, quality, pre-screened doctors offering basic services, like dental cleaning, cardiology consultations, MRI, urgent care visits, plastic surgery, physical therapy, acupuncture, skin consultation, etc., at discounted prices of up to 80% off retail.

* CourtBuddy (com): an automated legal matchmaking system that pairs consumers and small businesses with solo attorneys for a-la-carte legal services based on an individual’s budget.

 To learn more about the American Entrepreneurship Award, please visit: www.americanaward.com.

 

- Submitted by AEA

June 15, 2017

NFTE students pitch -- and win -- on the eMerge Americas stage

  Ash2

Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) students got a chance to pitch on the eMerge Americas center stage last week -- and some of them took home winnings to fund their businesses.

Like in the regional finals last month, Ashley Bellinger (pictured above) took home the big prize, followed by the team of Fresh Fit. They will represent the South Florida Region at the NFTE 2017 National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge in October in New York City where they will present and defend their business plans to compete for prizes totaling $20,000. 

Here is a rundown of all the eMerge Americas winners:

1st Place - $2,500 – AmberAsh – Ashley Bellinger

AmberAsh is a fashion business dedicated to creating clothing with graphic designs that represent minority women. She was inspired by a trip to the clothing store with her litter sister, Amber who was disappointed that none of the little girls on the t-shirts looked like her. Ashley decided to create a t-shirt for her and AmberAsh was born!

2nd Place - $1,500 – Fresh Fit – Manny Mollinedo & Danny Martinez

Fresh Fit is provides customers with a time saving and inexpensive way to keep their protein-blending bottle Fresh with the perfect Fit.

3rd Place - $500 – Brushah Brushah – Addy Gold & Allison Heighl

Brushah Brushah is a mobile app that encourages young children to brush their teeth regularly through gamified characters and songs that all sync to the parents’ account.

4th Place - $500 – Tech Trade In – Jorge Troitino & Mark Hurtado

Tech Trade In specialized in conveniently purchasing used and broken tech devices, repairing and selling them to new owners.

The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship  is an international nonprofit that activates the entrepreneurial mindset in young people and builds their knowledge about business startup.  NFTE focuses its work on under-resourced communities, with programs in 22 locations in 9 countries. In South Florida, thousands of students across 38 schools are enrolled in the NFTE program.

Ash1

 

June 13, 2017

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

 

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Call it Tech Tuesday at eMerge Americas.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nancy Dahlberg: @ndahlberg