Want to know about Miami startups? A user's guide to this blog

Dear reader, Starting Gate has been providing and archiving South Florida startup and tech community news, views and resources since 2012. New to the Miami area? Thinking about relocating here? Just want to keep up with news, events and opportunities? We're there for you.

How to use Starting Gate: Besides scrolling the blog for the latest entries, you can access news and views by category. The "Funding" category will capture venture capital and angel funding news of individual startups as well as stories about funders. The startup categories chronicle news and my regular "Spotlights," and in Q&As you'll find interviews with CEOs and leaders in the entrepreneurship ecosystem. There are also categories for guest posts, views, accelerators/incubators, resources, events and more.

Thank you for your support through the years and please come back often. Follow me on Twitter @ndahlberg. - Sincerely, Nancy Dahlberg

October 06, 2017

Hallandale Beach's EasyPeasie a finalist in national SBA InnovateHER contest

The U.S. Small Business Administration announced the 2017 finalists of the SBA’s InnovateHER Business Challenge, the nationwide competition highlighting innovative products, services or technology developed by visionary entrepreneurs that have a measurable impact on the lives of women and families, and in the marketplace.

Sisterly duo and Hallandale Beach natives, Dr. Jamelah Tucker and Dorielle T. Price, a pediatrician and electrical engineer, respectively, co-founded “EasyPeasie” Veggie Blends, a custom blend of all natural vegetable powders.  The company initially pitched their undetectable veggie products during an event sponsored by Miami’s Mindwarehouse before advancing to the final round of competition.

“We are extremely proud to have a South Florida company recognized amongst the finalists for the 2017 InnovateHER competition,” said South Florida District Director Francisco “Pancho” Marrero. “Over the last couple of years, our District has been home to the second place overall winners in both 2015 and 2016.

South Florida is a breeding ground for innovation, and creating an undetectable veggie product as a way to get children to eat their vegetables is a testament of just that,” he added. “I wish them the best of luck in the next round of judging and with all their future endeavors."

The 10 finalists were selected through a rigorous nationwide competition held by host organizations, including universities, accelerators, and SBA Resource Partners that ran local area competitions through June 3, 2017.  Next, an executive committee of SBA officials evaluated more than 120 semi-finalist nominations and chose 10 finalists to participate in the National Pitch Competition, whose products and services best meet the competition criteria and present the greatest potential for success. 

The InnovateHER Business Challenge finalists are invited to conduct a marketing pitch before a team of expert judges at the National Pitch Competition held on October 26, 2017, in Washington, D.C., as they compete for the top three awards totaling $70,000 in prize money, provided by the Sara Blakely Foundation.

For details on the competition and to read about the other finalists, visit www.sba.gov/innovateHER 

September 28, 2017

SpringBIG, a cannabis marketing platform, wins Shark Tank style pitch event -- and $50K

SpringBIG Pitch Jeffrey Harris

 

Arcview Forum Palm Beach brought in a crowd of over 100 high net-worth investors who gathered to observe 20 cannabis-related companies competing for investment at the Eau de Palm Beach Resort  during the September 19-20 event. The Arcview Investor Network includes more than 600 accredited investor members who have put more than $152 million behind 162 cannabis-related companies. Nine of the companies competed “Shark Tank” style to a panel of judges and investor attendees with the hope of coming out on top and bear the title of most investible concept. 

Judges agreed that springBIG, a Boca Raton based company pictured above, was the best. SpringBIG takes home the “Best Pitch” trophy  and the $50,000 “Winner’s Fund” award as well (pending due diligence).  

SpringBIG is a customer engagement and marketing platform for cannabis dispensaries and brands.  Their data-driven approach includes loyalty and rewards, personalized messaging and analytics.  The team has extensive experience in the loyalty sector and launched their platform in January of this year. 

"We've been working hard to solve some of the marketing and sales challenges that these new cannabis firms are facing. It feels great to know that the true insiders that are placing capital in this space have validated that we are on the right track and are putting their faith in us to deliver the best loyalty marketing and communications solution for this burgeoning industry,” said Jeffrey Harris, CEO of SpringBIG.

August 24, 2017

Friday is deadline to apply to pitch at Refresh Miami Demo Day

Refresh2

Join  Refresh Miami's annual pitch competition featuring South Florida’s top startups. Refresh's largest event of the year invites entrepreneurs to give their best 5-minute pitch in front of an audience of their peers and a panel of judges. Winners walk away with a host of amazing prizes to help propel their business forward.

Date: Tuesday, September 19
Time: 6:30pm to 8:30pm
Location: Miami Dade Wolfson Campus, Chapman Conference Center (Room 3210)

300 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami, FL 33132

Tickets: FREE

Register here!

Interested in pitching? Apply here by end of day Friday, Aug. 25.

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