June 23, 2016

3 South Florida companies make Forbes’ list of innovative growth companies

South Florida companies Ultimate Software in Weston, Mednax in Sunrise and Opko Health of Miami made Forbes' 2016 list of the 100 "Most Innovative Growth Companies" in the world.

Ultimate Software, which provides software for human resources, ranked No. 8; Opko Health, a pharmaceutical company ranked No. 21; and Mednax, a national physician network, came in at No. 65.

For Ultimate Software, it was the third year in a row ranking in the top 10; Ultimate ranked 7th in 2015 and 8th in 2014. “We remain focused on innovation and growth, consistently investing approximately 20 percent of our annual revenue in research and development and are committed to creating a culture that encourages new ideas,” said Scott Scherr, Ultimate Software’s CEO, president, and founder, in a statement.

To make the list, companies with seven years of public financial data and a total market value of $2 billion to $10 billion were ranked by a formula that includes the company's income and anticipated growth.  No. 1 on the list: Rightmove, a London-based residential and commercial property company.

To see the full list, go here.

Read more about Ultimate Software here. To see a Sun Sentinel slide show of Ultimate Software’s new building, go here.

June 22, 2016

Two Thiel Fellows are gaming entrepreneurs from Fort Lauderdale

Two Fort Lauderdale men were among  The Thiel Foundation's 2016 class of 29 Thiel Fellows announced today. The fellowship provides young people with $100,000 to learn by doing rather than by following conventional paths like college. This year’s cohort was selected from more than 6,000 applications received from around the world.

“We launched the fellowship in 2011 to test a simple thesis: college isn’t right for everyone—especially for young people who want to create new things,” said Blake Masters, president of the Thiel Foundation. “This has been proven true—by the successes of our past fellows, by the new applications we get every year, and by the growing numbers of young people who are creating their own career paths outside of college, with or without a fellowship from us.”

Thiel Fellows receive mentorship and guidance from current and former fellows, as well as from the Thiel Foundation’s network of technology entrepreneurs, investors, and scientists. The Fort Lauderdale fellows, both involved in gaming startups,  are:

Joey Levy (now living in New York)
Quizr
Sports Gaming
Joey founded Draftpot, a daily fantasy sports platform, from his dorm room in 2014. He is now working on Quizr, a sports betting application that launches in Europe in late 2016.

Matthew Salsamendi (along with James Boehm) (now living in Seattle, WA)
Beam
Social Gaming
Matt and  James co-founded Beam, an interactive live-streaming platform for gamers. Beam lets viewers of live-streamed video game sessions get involved in the game, influencing gameplay in real time.

 

 

June 10, 2016

6 South Floridians named EY Entrepreneurs of the Year for Florida

At an awards gala Thursday night in Tampa, EY announced the 13 winners for the Entrepreneur Of The Year 2016 Florida Program. This group of leading entrepreneurs was selected by an independent judging panel made up of previous winners of the award, CEOs, investors and other regional business leaders

 “This year’s winners have not only taken their companies to the top, but they have also acted as mentors to their employees and made impressive contributions to the community,” said Greg Rosica, EY Entrepreneur of the Year program principal.

 The winners included six South Florida entrepreneurs, including the only two female entrepreneur winners:

Distribution and Manufacturing

Angel Alvarez – ABB Optical, Coral Springs

Financial Services

Kent Ellert – Florida Community Bank, Weston

Healthcare & Life Sciences

Nestor Plana – Independent Living Systems, Miami

Hospitality & Leisure

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

Real Estate & Construction

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

Services

Ellen Latham – Orangetheory Fitness, Fort Lauderdale

The prestigious awards program recognizes entrepreneurs who demonstrate excellence and extraordinary success in such areas as innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities. A list of all 13 award recipients is attached or can be viewed here.

Regional award winners are eligible for consideration in the national competition in November in California.

May 24, 2016

Aging2.0 to hold competition for Miami startups June 2

An opportunity for startups focused on aging:

Aging2.0's 2016 Global Startup Search (http://www.aging2.com/gss/) is a competition for aging-focused startups to showcase their company to an international audience.  Events are taking place worldwide.  

The Miami event will be June 2 at BUILDING.co in Miami.  

Tickets can be found at http://www.eventbrite.com/e/aging20-global-startup-search-miami-fl-usa-tickets-24781046778?aff=es2 and those interested in pitching their startups can sign up at aging2.com/startup.

May 22, 2016

Entrepreneurship Datebook: Workshops, events in South Florida

Tech eggVisual Story-telling Institute: Learn how to step up your game with best practices and actionable tips on how to create a winning online video strategy for business impact, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday, The Screening Room, 2626 NW Second Ave., Miami. More info: www.visualstorytell.com.

South Florida Technology Alliance: Theme of monthly program: “The Evolution and State of Coding,” 5:30-9 p.m. Thursday, Axis Space Coworking, 333 Las Olas Way. Tickets: www.southfloridatech.org (Click on events).

Founder Institute Showcase: Early-stage investors and South Florida entrepreneurs are invited to meet the most-recent graduates of the Founder Institute, 7-9:30 p.m. (Private investor VIP reception at 6 p.m.) May 31, Broward College, Reubin O’D Askew Tower, 220 South East Second Ave., Floor 7, Fort Lauderdale, RSVPL http://fi.co/e/91701

Aging2.0's 2016 Global Startup Search: This competition is for aging-focused startups to showcase their company to an international audience; events are taking place worldwide. The Miami event will be 6:30 to 9 p.m. June 2 at BUILDING.co, 120 SW 8th St., Miami. Tickets on Eventbrite. Apply to pitch startups at the event here: aging2.com/startup.

Miami GovJam: This project-based, hands-on professional training teaches participants how to increase the efficacy of service delivery and customer satisfaction, while fostering innovation and teamwork within and outside of government. June 1-2, Miami Beach City Hall. More info: http://contexto.co/miamigovjam/

National Day for Civic Hacking: This event will bring together urbanists, civic hackers, government staff, developers, designers and community organizers to collaboratively build new solutions using publicly released data, technology, and design processes to improve Miami communities and the governments that serve them, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. June 4, The Idea Center @ MDC, Wolfson Campus, Building 8, Fifth Floor. More info on Eventbrite.

Starting Gate

Find startup news and community views on Starting Gate blog on MiamiHerald.com/business. Have an event to list? Email ndahlberg@"miamiherald.com and put Datebook in the subject line.

Nancy Dahlberg @ndahlberg

May 18, 2016

A South Florida trifecta: Candidate.Guru, Symptify, Streann Media win at Early Stage Capital Conference

GURU0400 FAU2 CTJ

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com 

Candidate.Guru of Weston took home the top prize, $100,000, at the  Florida Venture Forum Early Stage Capital Conference in St. Petersburg on Tuesday.

The company, also the  winner of the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge, offers a big data solution  that can predict a culture fit between corporate hiring managers and prospective job seekers without the need for surveys and assessment tools, says CEO Chris Daniels (pictured above with co-founder Steve Carter). Candidate.Guru has been part of FAU Tech Runway for the past year.

Candidate.Guru was not the only South Florida winner -- in fact all three of the top cash winners were from South Florida. Space Florida, the state’s public-private effort to grow aerospace-related businesses, provided $150,000 in prize money to the winning presenters at the conference.

Symptify of Sunny Isles Beach, which helps users figure out causes for their symptoms and where to go for help, won second place, winning $30,000; Symptify also won the early-stage competition at eMerge Americas in 2015.

Streann Media of Miami, took third, winning $20,000. Streann Media,  offers cloud-based software  that enable content providers to offer their viewers a “TV everywhere experience” on any smart device. Streann recently received funding from the Tamiami Angel Fund II.

The Florida Venture Forum  selected 20 Florida-based companies to present at its all-day Florida Early Stage Capital Conference held at the Hilton Carillon in St. Petersburg. The presenting companies -- five from South Florida -- were selected from a pool of about 100 applicants by a committee of active Florida venture capitalists and other investors. In addition to the awards, the conference offered the presenting companies the opportunity to pitch on stage to a couple hundred attendees and meet individually with investors. The 2016 conference attracted the best investor attendance in the event's nine-year history, said Kevin Burgoyne, president and CEO of the Florida Venture Forum.

This is the first time cash prizes have been awarded at an Early Stage Conference, he said. "Our partnership with Space Florida added an exciting dimension to the event, providing three worthy companies with much needed capital they can use to continue to grow and scale their businesses."

Read more about the conference from the Tampa Bay Business Journal here.

Read more about Candidate.Guru here.

Read more about Symptify here.

Read more about Streann Media here.

 

May 17, 2016

Startup Weekend Education @ FIU: And the winners are ...

By @MarioCruz

What an amazing honor to be a Judge with Startup Weekend Education (#swedumiami) at FIU this past Sunday, May 15. The judges heard pitches from 8 teams, some teams with members as young as elementary school students.

The pitches were phenomenal and the amount of work these teams put in such a short amount of time was impressive. The best pitches clearly communicated the value proposition of the idea, had a simple prototype or flow that showed how the product or service would work, and addressed the business potential and educational impact of the concept. The prize winners were as follows:

Here are the top three winners:

1st Place: Liber-P, an Online/Offline content delivery platform that allows inmates to gain access to bridge the skills of higher education and help them prepare for the 21st century workforce. As a prize, three team members from Liber-P will be traveling next year to South-by-Southwest EDU in Austin, with flights and hotel covered!

Sw1

2nd Place: Blueprint Created a tool to help students set academic goals, understand their GPA and its determinants, and provide them with a suite of resources that will ultimately improve their life trajectory.

Sw2

3rd Place: @BookCloud Making education more affordable by offering unlimited e-textbooks to students on a subscription model.

Sw3

The judges also named Beyond the Grade with “Education Impact Award,” as an honorable mention. Beyond the Grade’s mission was to focus on growth, not grades, and created a parallel grading tool for schools and districts.

Sw4

Congratulations, not only to our winning teams but to everyone who participated this past weekend. A big thank you to The Knight Foundation for making the weekend possible as well as the mentors, volunteers and other judges (pictured below) who contributed so much to make Startup Weekend Education such a huge success.

Swjudges

May 12, 2016

5 South Florida startups to present at Florida Early Stage Capital Conference

The Florida Venture Forum has selected 20 Florida-based companies to present at its 9th annual Florida Early Stage Capital Conference being held at the Hilton Carillon in St. Petersburg on Tuesday, May 17.

Presenters were selected from a pool of about 100 applicants by a committee of active Florida venture capitalists and other investors. In addition to company presentations and other programming, the conference will feature a total of $150,000 in cash awards presented to the first, second and third place winning companies, provided by Space Florida.

Twenty companies were selected to present. The five from South Florida are:

Candidate.Guru, Weston (www.candidate.guru), is a paradigm changing human resource tool that uses cloud-based, big data analytics to predict a culture “fit” between job candidates and potential employers. (Also winner of the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge)

Festival Pros, Miami (www.FestivalPros.com), organizes the world’s festivals and enables commerce for event organizers and local businesses to sell any product or service, creating a one stop shop for visitors. 

Generatorsmart, Doral (www.generatorsmart.com), is a designer and manufacturer of a wide range of power generation equipment and other engine-powered products designed to be ultra light, compact and easy to use. Its hybrid drone is set to revolutionize the commercial drone market by allowing drones to fly for hours.

Streann Media, Miami (www.streann.com), provides the tools required for content providers (cable operators, TV broadcasters, mobile operators) to go “over the top” (OTT) of their current distribution technology platforms and offer their viewers the next generation “TV Everywhere Experience.”

Symptify, Sunny Isles Beach (www.symptify.com), is a virtual doctor that helps users decipher causes for their symptoms, what to do about them and where to go for help. 

More information about the conference: www.flventure.org

May 11, 2016

Still time to join Startup Weekend EDU, coming to FIU this weekend

Swedu-logo1

By Kiesha Moodie

Want to know what it’s like to launch a company in a weekend? Do you have ideas for new educational tools, school models or learning spaces? Are you passionate about creating change in the education sector? Then join us this weekend, May 13-15!

Teach For America has teamed up with The Knight Foundation, Florida International University and 4.0 Schools to host Startup Weekend EDU, a 54-hour event that takes you from pitch to prototype. We are looking for educators, technologists, designers, students and parents to develop new ideas that will impact the education system.

With support from NBCUniversal Open Possibilities, we are presenting the challenge of “21st Century Readiness.” The weekend will be filled with collaboration and lots of food (all meals included), fun, swag and prizes!

Friday night, individuals pitch their ideas, which are voted on and teams are formed. Saturday, expert mentors will be on site to coach teams through their prototyping and business modeling. Sunday, teams will pitch their solutions to an all-star panel of entrepreneurs, investors and education leaders.

The event, to be held at FIU's Tech Station on the Modesto Maidique campus, is free for students and parents. For others to register with a 50% discount, use the code “future305” at http://miamiswedu2016.splashthat.com

Mentors:
Brian Brackeen, Founder & CEO - Kairos
Johanna Mikkola, Co-Founder - Wyncode
Matt Mawhinney, Community Manager - Launchcode
Juha Mikkola, Co-Founder - Wyncode
Christina Freire, Senior Instructional Designer - FIU Online

Robert Gordon, Advisor - Investor Solutions
Willie Avendano, Co-Founder - Zero1 & Wynwood Maker Camp

Judges:
Jade Palomino, Manager - Endeavor Miami
Mario Cruz, Director - Watsco Ventures
Leslie Miller Saointz, Board Chair – Teach For America
Sasha Lopez, Executive Director - Miami Dade County Public Schools Human Capital
Archie Cubarrubia, Vice Provost for Institutional Effectiveness – Miami Dade College
Alia Mahmoud, Sales & Business Development Exectuive, Kairos

Kiesha Moodie is the Managing Director of Alumni and Community Impact at Teach For America Miami-Dade.

 

May 09, 2016

2016 Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge: And the winners are ...

Challenge illo (1)

We are pleased to introduce you to the winners of the 18th annual Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge.

The winners’ circle contains concepts in healthcare, mobile commerce, big data, retail, human resources and law. To rise to the top, winners had to make a strong case for how they planned to execute their business plan.

South Florida is often recognized as one of the nation’s most entrepreneurial communities, and the 2016 winners and contestants represent the passion and diversity of the region’s emerging businesses. This year, a record 255 entries competed in our three tracks of the Miami Herald Challenge, sponsored by Florida International University’s Pino Global Entrepreneurship Center, and about 250 people attended our free Business Plan Bootcamp in March. The three-page plans were judged by experts from our community — successful entrepreneurs, investors, executives and academics — as well as by the public via our popular People’s Pick video competition.

For the FIU track, the judging included a live pitch session for the six finalists, which helped determine the final winners. Each team received up to five minutes to present their companies, followed by time for Q&A and feedback.

And the winners are ...

Community Track: Candidate.Guru, big data for human resources, won first place; Ride2MD, the Lyft for medical transport, came in second; and Shoes Dsire, a robust tool for shoe lovers, was third. Candidate.Guru was also named the Challenge Champion for having the highest judge rating in the contest.

FIU Track: ValueDOC, an online health and wellness marketplace for cash patients, won first. Second place was Jurbid, a platform for legal services; and SkyBOX Checkout, an international e-commerce tool, was third.

High School Track: Digifeet, a solution for flat feet by a School of Advanced Studies student, was first. Smart-BagPack, a backpack reimagined by a Ransom Everglades student, was second; and RentAll, a peer-to-peer renting marketplace being developed by a trio from American Heritage, was third.

The weeklong People’s Pick, which attracted 12,646 votes, heated up social-media networks with images of sexy shoes, cars, kids and dogs in the quest to attract votes. In the FIU track, Joust, an automotive-services quote platform run by FIU students, tried to fight off Pooch Perks, a goodie-box subscription service for pampered pets. But in the end dogs won over cars. Pooch Perks drew 1,707 votes, while Joust fetched 1,556. ValueDOC was in third place.

In the Community Track’s People’s Pick competition, Ride2MD coasted to victory with 1,927 votes, but not without a fight from second-place Shoes Dsire, with 1,709 votes. Social-media followers were treated to shoe eye candy throughout the week. Coming in third was AlphaTechBlocks, creator of smart toys for kids.

What separated today’s featured winners from the pack? The quality of entries was so high that the written business plans scored well in all key areas, such as marketing strategies, financials, management teams, market opportunity, value propositions and growth plans. With many of the plans that were entered, judges liked the ideas, but the plans themselves were not developed enough to win.

Some of today’s winners are first-timers; others are serial entrepreneurs or professionals with decades of industry experience. But all are in the early stages of their businesses — we’ll be following their progress!

Read the accompanying profiles of the 2016 Challenge winners linked above and on MiamiHerald.com/challenge.