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.

Have news? Have an idea for a guest post? Send it to me at ndahlbergbiz@gmail.com. (See my Facebook announcement here)

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

March 22, 2018

Miami startup Caribu wins worldwide competition and $100,000

Maxeme

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Caribu CEO Maxeme Tuchman took home the big check at a global startup competition.

Tuchman beat out 19 other top teams from around the world at the Challenge Cup Global Finals, sponsored by accelerator and seed fund 1776 and Revolution, an investment firm started by AOL co-founder Steve Case. Caribu, a Miami-based education-tech startup, won a $100,000 equity investment from Revolution at the grand finale event in Washington DC Thursday night.

Caribu created a storytime app that connects families, even if they are miles apart. The Caribu app lets families to read books and draw together during a real-time video call. Tuchman’s co-founder is CTO Alvaro Sabido, who came up with and developed the concept with classmates in grad school in London before moving to Miami to pursue growing the company. Tuchman, the former executive director of Teach For America in Miami, and Sabido, a software developer, met through a co-founder matchmaker organization in 2016.

“We have an open seed round so this couldn't have happened at a better time or with a better fund. Steve Case and the Rise of The Rest Fund are focused on investing in companies in emerging startup ecosystems that are disrupting major industries so there is nothing more aligned than investing in a Latina CEO from Miami whose company is focused on improving early childhood literacy globally,” Tuchman said from Washington Friday morning.
 
Thursday night's big win caps off a year of accolades for the startup. Most recently Tuchman was named one of three top Mother of Invention winners by Toyota and Tina Brown’s Women in the World Foundation, which came with a $50,000 prize and exposure in the New York Times and in a Toyota commercial. Caribu was also a winner or finalist in 18 other contests, including Tech.co’s Collision pitch contest, Teach For America’s Social Innovation award, Harvard Business School’s New Venture competition and locally with eMerge Americas and the 2017 Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge, to name a few.
 
Among the diverse group of competitors in the 1776 contest was an Israeli startup that farmed and then sold roasted grasshoppers, as well as other startups in technology, education, finance, women's health and consumer products.
 
Caribu generates revenue through subscriptions and recently Caribu partnered with the Blue Star Families nonprofit on a campaign targeted at military parents so that active duty soldiers will never miss another storytime. Families receive six months of Caribu free.
 
Tuchman said Caribu doubled growth and brought on more publishers in the past year as well as raised pre-seed financing. She is also  participating in the Babson Win Lab accelerator for women entrepreneurs and Caribu was recently named a Startup to Watch by Platform Miami.
 
Tuchman, whose family are Cuban immigrants, makes it part of her personal mission to represent and promote women and minorities in tech, an industry with woeful statistics on those fronts.
 
“Being able to represent Miami, female founders, and Latinas on a global stage, and then take home the top prize was an insanely proud moment,” she said.
 
On Thursday, Tuchman also took home a big win for Miami. 
 

Caribu

Photo at top and above are photos at the 1776 Global Challenge from social media. Below is Tuchman and Sabido in a 2016 Miami Herald file photo.

BMStartupCaribu1200 Travele

March 09, 2018

How to apply to pitch at - and attend - this women-led startup challenge

Women

On April 18, MIT Enterprise Forum (MITEF) South Florida is teaming up with Aminta Ventures to present Geek Tank 5, a startup competition that will be fully funded by local South Florida female angel investors and will showcase the area’s most promising female-led, early-stage businesses. Four companies will be selected from all entrants to pitch their idea to an all-female panel of angel investors for the chance to win $15,000 in funding. The winner will be announced at the event on Wednesday, April 18.

All competing startups must have either a female founder or a C-level executive on their team and be looking to fund a new idea or fill their Seed round. The top four companies — based on innovativeness and viability of startup’s product or service — will be asked to pitch at MITEF’s Geek Tank 5: Presented by Aminta Ventures on April 18th at CIC Miami. At least one woman must be involved in delivering the pitch for each of the four finalist companies.

“Women make up less than 25% of angel investors“ says Alia Mahmoud of Aminta Ventures. “This is a problem because male investors, on average, favor male founders, even though businesses with female executive leadership outperform male-only led organizations. That is why Aminta Ventures is dedicated to creating an environment for female investors to thrive in South Florida and why we're thrilled to partner with MIT Enterprise Forum South Florida on this edition of Geek Tank to encourage more gender diversity in South Florida's investment community.”

The annual Geek Tank is open to the general public. In addition to learning about exciting new startups and gaining insights into how angel investors make funding decisions, this year’s audience -- for the first time in Geek Tank's history -- will get to vote for their favorite startup in the People’s Choice category. The event takes place Wednesday, April 18th, at 6:00pm at CIC Miami.

Register for the Event:

To Apply as a Startup: http://bit.ly/geektank2018 (Deadline March 25)

To Attend the Event: http://bit.ly/2FpccqL

- Submitted by Aminta Ventures

February 12, 2018

Future of Travel Summit: And the winners are ...

Futureoftravel

South Florida startups proved Miami is more than tourism and hospitality -- it's tourism-tech too.

Hundreds of entrepreneurs and professionals from the travel and hospitality industry gathered at The LAB Miami and the LightBox in Wynwood on Monday for the inaugural Future of Travel Summit produced by LAB Ventures, The LAB Miami's venture builder. Between panel discussions and keynote talks on everything from AR/VR to digital nomads to blockchain by executives from Ritz Carlton, Marriott, Visa, SeaTrade, JetBlue, Kayak, Spirit and others, 10 startups selected from around the world pitched for the opportunity to present at SeaTrade as well as other prizes.

Read about the 10 startups here.

And the winners were... both South Florida startups. Perhaps that shouldn't be a surprise given it is one the biggest industries here and a number of travel-tech companies have already blossomed in the Miami area, including Amadeus, Oasis, EveryMundo, Local Measure, Boatsetter and Nobox. 

Voyhoywinners

Voyhoy took the grand prize, selected by the judges. Voyhoy is an online booking platform that allows users to compare and buy plane, bus, ferry, and train tickets throughout Latin America. It offers simple and secure ways to acquire the best deal among thousands of travel tickets.

Read more about Voyhoy in the Miami Herald here. Also Platform.Miami recently named it a 2018 Startup to Watch: Read it here.

Daycation

Daycation was the People's Choice winner. Daycation allows users to book day-by-day access to various hotel amenities, such as the pool or spa, starting at $25 a day. It allows for membership as well as individual day pass purchases. (I haven't written about this startup yet, but I will).

Will Future of Travel be back next year? Absolutely, said Tigre Wenrich, CEO of LAB Ventures and The LAB Miami.

LAB Ventures has made a mission of bringing together startups and corporations. It's also running a Pitch to PERY (Perry Ellis International) fashion startup competition. There's still time to enter Pitch to PERY, but the deadline is Feb. 21. More info here: https://www.pitchtopery.com/

 

January 31, 2018

LAB Ventures announces 10 finalists for Future of Travel startup pitch competition

After carefully reviewing hundreds of applications, LAB Miami Ventures has chosen the 10 most disruptive startups to pitch at the first annual Future of Travel summit. At this unique event, guests will hear keynotes and panel discussions from travel industry leaders, meet startups set to shake up TravelTech, and mingle with investors - all on Feb. 12 at the Lightbox & The Lab Miami in the Wynwood Arts District.

LAB Ventures, a company-builder that designs and launches new digital businesses, held an open call for innovative TravelTech startups and received applications from five continents.  The 10 finalists offer services ranging from rental car meta search and multi/modal travel booking, to interactive city guides and hotel management systems: Viajala (Colombia), Axle (NY, US), VoyHoy (Chile), RentingCarz (FL, US),  Porter and Sail (NY, US), Daycation (FL, US), Simplenight (FL, US), PurpleCloud Technologies (PA, US),  Soundwalkrs (Colombia) and Hotel Online (Kenya).

The startups are competing for a chance to attend Phocuswright’s Startup Battleground in Las Vegas, a spot on stage at Seatrade Global, and over $20,000 of other prizes.  The panel of expert judges include Kerri Zeil, Director of Amadeus for Startups; Noam Beno, Corporate Strategy at Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd; Seth Cassel, President of EveryMundo; Andrew Sturner, Founder of Boatsetter; and Parker Stanberry, Founder of Oasis Collection.  

A limited number of tickets are still available at futureoftravel.miami.

Meet the finalists:

Axle Travel (NY, US)  provides door-to-door ground transportation for long-distance travel. Axle works with bus companies to ensure the fastest, safest, most affordable and enjoyable trip possible.

Daycation App (FL, US)  allows users to book day-by-day access to various hotel amenities, such as the pool or spa, starting at $25 a day. Daycation allows for membership as well as individual day pass purchases.

Hotel Online (Kenya) is cloud-based reservations management and marketing system to help smaller hotels access more than 100 online sales and marketing channels.

Porter and Sail (NY, US) provides guest services technology to boutique and luxury hotel properties. These services include e-commerce platforms, guest-facing front-end mobile applications (iOS and Android), back-end operational dashboards, and industry-first analytics and data insights.

PurpleCloud Technologies (Philadelphia, US) offer a suite of mobile software products primarily for the hospitality industry. Their mobile software "Cielo" comprises of housekeeping, management, engineering and front office modules, and provides the fastest access to room status and guest information possible.

RentingCarz  (FL, US)  allows residents from Latin America and the Caribbean to compare all major car rental brands and get the lowest price when renting a car anywhere in the world.

SIMPLENIGHT (US) enables any company to provide a one-stop-shopping experience to search and book everything there is to do in any city. SIMPLENIGHT acts as merchant of record and takes commission on all inventory sold, pays transaction fees and shares the net revenue with the distribution partner.

Sound Walkrs  (Colombia) is a smartphone app that allows users to discover a new city through a series of GPS-guided, audio walks led by fictionalized versions of historical figures from a city’s past. Users can create and share their own personalized maps and find and bookmark exciting things to do within the city.

Viajala (Colombia) enables LATAM travelers to search dozens of travel sites at once, including local online travel agencies and airlines that cannot be found elsewhere. Viajala gives travel brands the opportunity to distribute and advertise their offers in front of a premium audience of LATAM travelers.

VoyHoy (Chile) is an online booking platform that allows users to compare and buy plane, bus, ferry, and train tickets throughout Latin America. VoyHoy offers simple and secure means to acquiring the best deal among thousands of travel tickets.

- Submitted by LAB Ventures Miami

 

January 23, 2018

Perry Ellis International, The LAB Miami and AGP team up for fashion pitch opportunity

Startups and suits don’t mix – or is that changing? New opportunities linking startups and Corporate America are beginning to grow in South Florida.

And if you are a fashion-tech, ecommerce or retail entrepreneur, this new pitching opportunity may be for you. Miami-based Perry Ellis International, a leading multi-billion dollar apparel designer, distributor and licensor, is teaming up with The LAB Miami’s venture builder, LAB Ventures, and angel network AGP Miami to launch Pitch to PERY (Perry Ellis International’s stock symbol), a search for the next great startup revolutionizing the fashion, e-commerce and retail industries.

Pitch to PERY is focused on finding novel solutions to some of retail’s biggest opportunities. Some of these could be driving brand awareness, increasing e-commerce sales, enhancing consumer in-store experience, and introducing new Internet of Things (IoT) products to PEI’s roster of brands, which include Perry Ellis®, An Original Penguin® by Munsingwear®, Laundry by Shelli Segal®, Cubavera®, Callaway® and Peony & Me®.  Building on the momentum of the company’s 50th anniversary, Pitch to PERY is part of a broader future-focused approach, which seeks to apply a digital mindset, technology and product innovation to PEI’s family of brands, the company said.

 "Our vision is to continue embracing our entrepreneurial spirit, foster our ability to adapt to change and integrate technology into our business strategy,” said Oscar Feldenkreis, CEO and President of Perry Ellis International, in a news release.

Through the competition, startups and entrepreneurs will receive private pitch-coaching from LAB Ventures, spend a day at PEI’s headquarters and ultimately, pitch their ideas in person to PEI executives during the Pitch to PERY Finals Night in March. The winning team will work with PEI and The LAB Miami to develop and implement a pilot program for their respective product or service, and have an opportunity to earn a long-term contract with PEI.

“When we started LAB Ventures our idea was always to try to build a bridge between corporations looking for external sources of innovation and startups looking for customers.  The one thing an early stage startup needs even more than investment capital is a marquee reference customer.” Said Thomas “Tigre” Wenrich, CEO of The LAB Miami and LAB Ventures.    “So when Perry Ellis International told us they wanted to meet local startups that might be able to provide technology relevant to their business, we jumped at the chance to help.”

Applicants are encouraged to attend The Future of Tech & Pitch to PERY Launch Night at The LAB Miami’s Wynwood offices on the evening of Wednesday, January 24 to meet executives from Perry Ellis International and learn specific details about the challenges they are looking to solve. The event will also feature a panel discussion with industry experts about where the worlds of fashion and retail are heading, and how startups can work with large corporations.

Applicants should preferably be companies with demonstrated proof-of-concepts, established client base and preliminary funding. To apply and learn more, visit: http://www.pitchtopery.com or visit the Pitch to PERY event page HERE.

It isn’t surprising to Wenrich that the Pitch to Pery Launch Night is already seeing a lot of signups on Eventbrite.

It’s part of a larger mission at The LAB to connect startups and corporations. Last year, LAB Ventures worked with Visa and Finnovista on the first annual Visa Everywhere startup search for the Latin America region, and coming up on Feb. 12, LAB Ventures will be present the finals of its TravelTech pitch competition at the Future of Travel Summit (www.FutureOfTravel.Miami).  That is another event that brings together not only startups and investors in TravelTech, but also corporate executives from the traditional travel companies, Wenrich said.

January 11, 2018

See who will be presenting at the Florida Venture Capital Conference in Fort Lauderdale

The Florida Venture Forum, Florida’s largest statewide support organization for investors and entrepreneurs, announced  its lineup of growth stage companies that will present and exhibit at the 2018 Florida Venture Capital Conference, to be held at the Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Resort and Spa on January 30-31, 2018. This includes eight companies from South Florida.

In addition to the opportunity to present before an audience of active equity investors, eligible presenting companies will be considered for the Accelerating Innovation (AI) Award offered by Space Florida, a cash prize totaling $100,000.

“Presenting at the Florida Venture Capital Conference has been a game changer for hundreds of Florida companies over the years, offering a unique opportunity to connect directly with more than 500 attendees, including 120+ equity investors actively looking for deals,” said Travis Milks, Chairman of the Selection Committee of the 2018 Florida Venture Capital Conference and a partner with Stonehenge Growth Equity Partners in Tampa. “In 2018, we had a near-record number of applications and we’ve selected a strong cohort of growth stage companies that are leaders in many of the markets and industry segments where investors are most heavily focused.”

The diverse group of presenters, selected from over 100 applicants by a committee of active equity investors, includes companies focused on industries and market segments such as life sciences and healthcare IT, enterprise software, on-demand economy technology solutions, cybersecurity and education technology.

“The growth of Florida’s venture capital market continues to make a lasting impact on the Florida economy and the presenting companies,” said Stanley “Stash” Jacobs, Jr. 2017-2018 Chair of the Florida Venture Forum and shareholder with Greenberg Traurig. “I would like to commend the investors on our selection committee, as well as congratulate the selected companies."

Speakers at the conference include Ryan Cohen, founder and CEO of Chewy and there will be panels on cybersecurity and blockchain as well as the state of the venture capital industry.

Selected presenting companies by region:

Southeast Florida

Catered Fit, (www.cateredfit.com), Fort Lauderdale, leverages technology, a fully integrated set of kitchens and an expansive network of last mile drivers to process, prepare and deliver 5,000 monthly orders as a sustainable lifestyle solution - not a diet. Each member receives perfectly proportioned, gourmet meals that are cooked fresh and delivered daily at an affordable price.

Global Shopex LLC, (www.globalshopex.com), Miami, enables small and medium size merchants in the US to sell to more than 200 countries. Globalshopex’s easy-to-integrate checkout technology is FREE and fast to integrate to any merchant, regardless of its ecommerce platform or technology. In a few hours, any merchant can start selling globally in local currency including shipping, taxes and duties, offering multiple international and local payment options.

Moocho, (www.moocho.com), Miami, is the leading college rewards and payment app. With Moocho, college students can pay with their phone at merchants around campus and earn exclusive rewards.

Prescriber's Choice, (www.prescriberschoice.com), Pompano Beach, is the solution to rising drug prices and vanishing insurance coverage in dermatology. In the last decade, prices for basic medications have skyrocketed, often to hundreds of dollars. Insurance hurdles, such as prior authorization, have killed access and therapy compliance, as insurers deem common medical dermatology conditions "non-essential."

ReloQuest, Inc., (www.reloquest.com), Sunrise, is a single platform sourcing solution initiating the evolution of global mobility in an industry that lacked a unified method. ReloQuest is the industry leader and the only temporary housing platform that provides an independent, unbiased and transparent resource to global mobility clients in need of sourcing temporary housing, service apartments, and hotels, worldwide.

Sensentia, (www.sensentia.com), Coral Gables, automates healthcare administration, unlocking access to information for both consumers and care providers through a new genre of natural-language self-service tools.

7Pets, (www.7petsco.com),  Pembroke Park, manufactures and distributes its unique and increasingly popular Garfield and Hello Kitty cat litters. Developed in-house, 7Pets’ novel formula is highly absorbent and odor-eliminating, fast clumping, all natural and biodegradable, and made solely with plant-based materials sourced out of Brazil. In addition to its trending premium litter, 7Pets has also successfully introduced a mineral-based “economical” formula competing in the mass market.

Tellus, (www.4tellus.com), Deerfield Beach, provides cost effective solutions to improve patient care and reduce fraud, waste and abuse. The company’s EVV solution is SaaS-based and licensed on a monthly basis.

Central/East Central Florida

 ITProTV, (www.itpro.tv ), Gainesville, delivers online IT training that is both comprehensive and entertaining. With a unique format where educators interact with hosts, ITProTV brings a human-to-human approach to the convenience and cost efficiency of eLearning.

RedTeam Software, (www.redteam.com), Orlando, is software as a service for commercial general contractors. The company was started by a general contractor when he could not find a solution to meet his need for project management. RedTeam has doubled in size to 50 people over the past 4 years and is entering its growth phase with very strong corporate partnerships.

Shadow Health, (www.shadowhealth.com), Gainesville, increases the effectiveness of healthcare practitioners by training them through measured improvement in practical application, patient interaction and personal empathy, empowering them to increase the health of those they serve.

Xhale Assurance, Inc. (www.xhale.com), Gainesville, provides from a single disposable sensor placed on the nasal ala (fleshy portion of the nostril) critically needed cardiorespiratory parameters that today require multiple sensors, or that in many cases are not currently available for patients from any other technology.

West Central/Southwest Florida

Homee, (www.homeeondemand.com), Tampa, is an on-demand property maintenance service that provides customers with instant access to electricians, plumbers, HVAC technicians and handymen from the convenience of their smart phones.

Ravti, (www.ravti.com), Tampa, provides a platform to quickly mobilize a complete HVAC inventory (in the United States) along with the world's largest organized HVAC database to drive capital savings for commercial real estate's largest M&R (maintenance and repair) expense. The company’s software tracks, manages, and procures HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) for sophisticated commercial real estate owners/operators.

SynDaver, (www.syndaver.com), Tampa, designs and builds the world’s most sophisticated synthetic human tissues and body parts. The company’s SynDaver Synthetic Human bleeds, breathes, and employs hundreds of replaceable muscles, bones, organs, veins and arteries – all made from materials that mimic the mechanical, thermal, and physicochemical properties of live tissue. This validated technology is used to replace live animals, cadavers and even human patients in medical device studies, clinical training and surgical simulation.

North Florida

HomeASAP LLC, (www.homeasap.com ), Jacksonville, is the leading provider of online marketing solutions for real estate professionals. The company offers a broad portfolio of integrated applications and services that help connect agents and brokers with home buyers, sellers and referral business, with an emphasis on Facebook.

LegacyShield, LLC, (www.legacyshield.com), Ponte Vedra Beach, is a B2B2C platform to help insurance and financial service organizations and their advisors onboard, engage and monetize their customers.

Rhode Island 

eNow, Inc., (www.enowwnergy.com), Rhode Island, is the leader in solar-based auxiliary power systems built exclusively for the transportation industry. The company’s proprietary solar products are designed to support and maintain auxiliary power to vehicle HVAC systems, hotel loads, liftgates, telematics, refrigeration units, and safety/emergency lighting.

 Exhibiting Companies:

Fortress Information Security, (www.fortressinfosec.com), Orlando, helps companies and people identify, prioritize, remediate, and monitor cybersecurity risks. Using flexible security orchestration and collaboration platform and managed services, the company focuses on providing custom solutions designed around clients’ regulatory, compliance and security goals.

 Vijilan Security LLC, (www.vijilan.com),  Ft. Lauderdale, specializes in threat intelligence monitoring and response, which represents 50% of the Cyber Security Market. The company’s services include threat detection and response in real time. It combines threat intelligence and correlation rules with a robust ticketing system that integrates with most CRM tools in the market (Connectwise, Autotask…) and provides monitoring through its 24/7 Security Operations Center in Ft. Lauderdale.

-Submitted by Florida Venture Forum

December 14, 2017

Endeavor taps South Florida startups Boatsetter, Entic and Mediconecta to join global network

Endavor

The Airbnb for boating. On-demand energy savings for enterprise. Telehealth for the Spanish-speaking world.  Endeavor Miami announced Thursday that the co-founders of South Florida companies Boatsetter, Entic and Mediconecta were selected as Endeavor Entrepreneurs at Endeavor’s 76th International Selection Panel this week in Miami.

“Boatsetter, Entic and Mediconecta exemplify the high-impact traits that we select in our Endeavor Entrepreneurs, and it is a privilege to welcome their three technology companies into the Endeavor Miami portfolio,” said Laura Maydón, managing director of Endeavor Miami, in a news release.

The selected companies will receive services that include mentorship and access to capital, global markets and talent. Here are descriptions provided by Endeavor.

Boatsetter: Founded by Andy Sturner and Jaclyn Baumgarten, Boatsetter combines the rental mechanics of Airbnb with the on-demand labor dynamics of Uber to deliver a hassle-free boat rental experience. Boatless individuals choose from vetted boats in ports worldwide to rent for excursions at competitive prices on Boatsetter’s digital marketplace. Boatsetter recently entered a strategic partnership with Airbnb to provide exclusive nautical experiences in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami and Barcelona.

Entic: Founded by Carlos Diaz and Manuel Rosendo, Entic offers building owners and operators a reduction in energy usage with its cloud-based, SaaS platform that implements operational intelligence, analytics and advanced sensor technology to deliver portfolio-wide savings. Customers enjoy on-demand reports and live dashboards that display current costs and achievable savings, alert customers when buildings reach high energy thresholds and analyze the overall health of energy consuming systems.

Mediconecta: Founded by Daniel Silberman and Salomon Simkins, Mediconecta is the leader in telehealth for the Spanish-speaking world. The company provides on-demand remote health services via video conference using in-house physician networks and a platform accessible by web, mobile or point-of-care kiosks. Mediconecta provides access to real-time, on-demand virtual medical visits that can take place anywhere the patient is located, offering better access to higher standards of care across the entire healthcare landscape.

More than 50 entrepreneurs from 18 countries in the Endeavor network convened for interviews, private deliberations and networking at the ISP held at various locations around Miami. To be selected as Endeavor Entrepreneurs, they had to  receive a unanimous vote from a selection panel of six global executives, entrepreneurs or investors who interviewed founders about their business model, leadership potential and timing and gave them feedback.

“Endeavor was founded 20 years ago with a belief in the power of high-impact entrepreneurs to change lives and transform entire cities and countries,” said Endeavor co-founder and CEO Linda Rottenberg. “At each selection panel we hold, I’m reminded of just how true that is -- and just how far that belief has spread across the world. The passion that entrepreneurs, panelists and staff brought to our final ISP of our 20th Anniversary year in Miami is a testament to the potential of this movement.”

Endeavor Miami launched in September 2013 with the support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as the first U.S. affiliate of Endeavor Global. Endeavor Miami’s entrepreneurs generated nearly $130 million in revenues and 1,600 jobs in South Florida in 2017. With the addition of its newest companies, the affiliate currently supports 19 companies and 32 entrepreneurs. Headquartered in New York City, Endeavor operates in 27 countries throughout Europe, Latin America, North America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

For more information on Endeavor Miami or to nominate Miami entrepreneurs, visit www.endeavormiami.org.

READ MORE: Endeavor Miami's impact: It's in the numbers

Top photo, from left: Andy Sturner and Jaclyn Baumgarten from Boatsetter; Daniel Silberman of Mediconecta; Manuel Rosendo and Carlos Diaz of Entic, after being selected Endeavor Entrepreneurs in Miami this week. Photo provided by Endeavor Miami.

November 10, 2017

Global Entrepreneurship Week kicks off Friday with Startup Weekend West Palm Beach; $50K up for grabs in VentureTech Showcase next week

 

Startup Weekend_preview

Palm Beach County has organized its entrepreneurial community for Global Entrepreneurship Week, an international event taking place from November 10 – 18.


GE WEEK PB_previewThe week’s activities commence on November 10, when Palm Beach Tech hosts Startup Weekend West Palm Beach, powered by TechStars and Google for Entrepreneurs. The 54-hour experiential and educational event is designed for aspiring entrepreneurs to learn how to create a company with the support of mentors. The companies will then pitch their ideas in front of a panel of top-notch investors and industry leaders.

“Events like these help foster the growth of our innovation economy,” said Joseph R. Russo, Executive Director of the Palm Beach Tech Association.

Global Entrepreneurship Week participants are competing for the chance to win $50,000 in prize money at the 2017 Florida VentureTech Showcase, hosted by the Florida Venture Forum on November 16 at FAU Tech Runway®. The showcase is a capital acceleration competition and business networking event with presentations by some of Florida’s most promising startups.

“Collaborative efforts like Global Entrepreneurship Week have a direct impact on our community and the entrepreneurs we serve,” said Rhys L. Williams, Managing Director of FAU Tech Runway. “Through broad support from Palm Beach County, as well as local leaders we are shaping a community of promising entrepreneurs and connecting them with the resources and capital they need to succeed.”

Junior Achievement is also participating through their Launch Lessons program, bringing local entrepreneurs to educate more than 2,000 high school students in Palm Beach County.

“Junior Achievement is excited to engage a diverse group of entrepreneurs sharing their launch lessons with young people in our community,” said Claudia Kirk Barto, President and CEO of Junior Achievement of the Palm Beaches and Treasure Coast.

On November 15, The Palm Beach Tech Pitch Competition is featuring eight local startups competing for $12,500 in business services, in partnership with the Florida Angel Nexus and Florida Venture Forum.

Community & coworking spaces like Social House, Flamingo House, Palm Beach Tech Space and Elizabeth Ave Station are all hosting free events to engage with their communities. Urban Youth Impact is hosting a Pitch Night on November 14 and Creative Mornings Palm Beach is taking place November 17.

Global Entrepreneur Week centers around innovation, collaboration and education. To learn more, visit: www.EWeekPB.com

- Submitted by Palm Beach Tech

 

November 04, 2017

Nuvola brings digital white-glove service to the hotel industry

SBDC-Success-Story_Juan-Carlos-Abello-NUVOLA-1
 

By Ana Acle-Menendez

Perhaps no other industry relies as heavily on customer service as the hotel industry.

So, imagine if there was a way for guests to communicate to staff directly and conveniently through the touch of a button on their mobile phone. And imagine if guests would be notified of happy hour specials while walking by the bar in real time, allowing hotels to gather behavioral data and provide better service.

Juan-Carlos-Abello-NUVOLA-2That communication platform was imagined and created. Now, it is offered by a guest service management software developed by Nuvola, a Miami-based company founded by Juan Carlos Abello, who worked as a manager at various hotels.

But while Abello developed a solution for hotels, he needed solutions of his own to grow his new startup business.

He heard about the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge, a contest for startup entrepreneurs, through Florida International University (FIU), his alma mater. While creating the video presentation for the contest, Abello then learned about the Florida SBDC at FIU — the small business development center at the College of Business, which provides no-cost consulting to entrepreneurs and small-business owners.

“My biggest obstacle was closing on my first customers,” said Abello, who earned an MBA from Emory University and a bachelor’s degree in international business from FIU. “In technology, if you don’t have references and you’re selling software that’s intangible, it’s a tough sales pitch. Closing on my first 20 to 30 customers was the biggest challenge.”

He specifically wanted guidance on finding an investor.  “In my particular case, I was looking to accelerate the growth of the company,” he said. “I was looking for funds and I was assigned to an advisor who had experience as an investor.”

For the next six months, he met with the expert consultant every two weeks on Saturdays, going over spreadsheets, sales pitches and the program to grow more capital.

It soon paid off.

“I was extremely satisfied because I was able to raise additional funds for the company,” Abello said. “I closed with two investors and now basically I’m living my dream.”

What started three years ago with business development and sales of $30,000 doubled every year. Now Nuvola is well over $1 million in sales this year, Abello said.

What’s more, his one-man team has now grown to 18 full-time employees.

“I would recommend the SBDC,” Abello said. “First, because they understand that you’re an entrepreneur — you don’t have a flexible schedule — and most of the time they were able to accommodate my needs.

“Second, I felt that every single member of the organization that I interacted with was professional, willing to assist and the advice they gave was definitely significant in terms of the objective that I had,” he continued.

“Lastly, it’s a free service,” Abello said. “They do understand that starting a business is not easy and you’re going to face a lot of obstacles. Most of the time they know what obstacles you’re going to face so you can anticipate them, which is great.”

Additionally, he said he made friends during the process and still keeps in touch with his advisor. He is also mentoring others so they can sell to their first 20 to 30 customers before going to investors.

By the way, in case you’re wondering, Abello and his team won first place in that Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge in the FIU Track category. That’s another feather in his cap that he can use for marketing purposes.

 

Ana Acle-Menendez wrote this article for Florida SBDC at FIU, which gave Starting Gate permission to post it.

 

READ MORE about Nuvola here. 

 

November 02, 2017

Blubeta and Healthsnap Solutions take part in MarketFit Acceleration Bootcamp in Silicon Valley

 

Marketfit

 

In partnership with Global Silicon Valley Labs (GSVlabs) and Google Developers Launchpad, MarketFit traveled to Silicon Valley with the team of co-founders from Healthsnap Solutions and Blubeta for its 2017 MarketFit Acceleration Bootcamp. For 5 days, they attended series of talks and 1-on-1 mentoring sessions in areas such as Lean Business Canvas, Product, Growth Hacking, and Fundraising, along with six other local and international startups. As part of the program, the startups spent a day at the Google Launchpad San Francisco campus discussing UX/UI and Design Sprint with Google mentors.

In total, the startups individually met over 20 local mentors, ranging from successful entrepreneurs, investors and senior level executives. The mentors spent approximately 1 hour with each startup, giving an outside look into their businesses and challenges and allowing for constructive dialogue and feedback. The Silicon Valley week concluded with a “mock” pitch competition in front of a jury of seven, including Venture Capitalists, entrepreneurs and angel investors from Silicon Valley. Yenvy Truong, CEO of Healthsnap Solutions carried the Miami pride by winning best pitch from the jury.

Back in Miami, the teams spent two additional days focusing on actionable milestones, fundraising strategy, and team structuring.

“We received a lot of feedback forcing us to look into what we have been doing so far and where do we go from here. Every startup should consider going through this program. MarketFit gave us an opportunity to reset and evaluate our position in the market. From this enriching experience, we were able to pivot and shift focus in order to scale,” stated Antonio Manueco, Co-Founder of Blubeta.

“The experience was amazing and the knowledge we brought back, we feel will trickle into the Miami system. After that opportunity in Silicon Valley, we feel as a company; we're able to take a big jump to hyper-growth,” Truong said.

“South Florida is a fast-growing startup ecosystem, and we are very excited to be part of this process, bridging the gap between Miami and Silicon Valley in partnership with GSVlabs, Google Launchpad and our team of mentors," said Roberto Machado from MarketFit.

MarketFit is currently receiving applications for the next Silicon Valley/Miami Bootcamp, which will take place late January 2018.

To learn more about the growth acceleration programs and how they are ideal for second stage startups, please visit https://marketfit.us/startup-bootcamp/.

- Submitted by HealthSnap