May 26, 2015

Fishackathon returns to Venture Hive to find sustainable solutions for fishing industry

Fishackathon Miami

Venture Hive has partnered once again with the State Department to host the 2nd Annual Fishackathon, the world’s largest hackathon supporting our oceans.

The Fishackathon brings together technologists and coders over a weekend to create tools to address challenges in sustainable fishing around the world. There are 15 cities participating including London, Kuala Lumpur, Vancouver, New York City, Boston and Santiago.Chile.

Miami's Fishackathon 2015 kicks off on June 5th until June 7th and welcomes hackers, coders and enthusiasts to create solutions that can impact the health of our oceans.

More prizes will be confirmed soon but include a trip to the second annual Our Ocean's conference in Chile this fall and a trip and a chance to present at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. 

Click here to learn more and register.


StartupBus Florida invites Miami techies to Highway Hackathon



StartupBus produces the most intense startup competition in the world, where top talent compete as 'buspreneurs' to build the next generation of technology companies over the course of a 3-day roadtrip. 

This is StartupBus' 5th year embarking on their fast-paced highway hackathon, where 5 buses from different regions of the continent compete for startup glory.

Basically, you have 3 days and 700 miles to build something epic.  


StartupBus Florida leaves from Tampa on June 4th, and ends in Nashville, TN on June 8th.


We've coined the following terms for participants who are looking to push themselves to 70mph:

Hackers (Developers)
Hipsters (Designers)
Hustlers (Entrepreneurs, Biz Dev, Marketing)

Whether you're a hacker, developer or hustler, StartupBus is for anyone who's looking to network with top tech talent in North America, while building an awesome product along the way. 

Much like the Startup Weekend model, you enter the bus not knowing most of your fellow buspreneurs. Ideas are then pitched/selected, ice is broken, and before you know it, you're building something epic, and making lifelong friends along the way.


After 3 days of continuous building, StartupBus ends at Nashville's 36 | 86 Conference, where teams will pitch/demo their product to a panel of notable tech founders and VCs. (There is no bus ride back to Florida, however) 

Additional links and resources:

StartupBus Website:

May 21, 2015

Miami Dade College's inaugural Startup Challenge: And the winners are ...

Start Up_6893-

Photos by Carlos Llano/Miami Dade College

Leando Finol, executive director of the Idea Center, and Matt Haggman, Miami program director of the Knight Foundation, flank the winners of Miami Dade College's Startup Challenge: Socrate Elie and  Felix Puello of Onetown Boards. Below, Puello and Elie pose at their display.


Four months of work came down to this: Six finalists pitched for prize money and bragging rights at  Miami Dade College’s inaugural Startup Challenge on Wednesday. Leandro Finol, executive director of the Idea Center, said the entrants came from all MDC campuses and many different areas of study.

The grand prize, $5,000, went to Onetown Boards, which presented a prototype for an interactive experience for skaters. Second place, wining $3,000, was Marketing Connections, a provider of affordable, high quality, digital marketing solutions for small businesses, and third place, also winning $3,000, was Hi Foods, a food cart offering a variety of healthy, alternative seafood options.

“We offer a waterproof longboard with dual cameras, one that points forward and one pointing toward the rider, with lights and LED lighting for safety, a speedometer and distance tracker that can be viewed in an LED screen,” said Felix Puello, who pitched Onetown Boards – his first business – in the contest and said his Idea Center mentor has been helping him every step of the way.

Puello, who has an art and design background, at first was hand-painting skateboards, but came up with the idea for a teched-up board that would both record the skater’s experiences and mitigate safety risks. The business student from MDC’s North Campus and his business partner, Socrate Elie, will use the $5,000 for product development and the patent process. “I’m meeting with engineers tomorrow,” said Puello, who is also planning a Kickstarter campaign.

In all, 80 teams participated in the Challenge. Finol said it is not just about winning but the education – each contestant now knows how to start a business. “We planted the seeds of a program that will become part of the DNA of Miami Dade College in years to come.”

  Start Up_6734- (1)

Global Impact Competition for sea-level rise: And the winners are...


Photo by Mario Cruz

Ana C. Benatuil and Carlos Tamayo are pictured with the Knight Foundation Miami program director Matt Haggman after winning the Global Impact Competition.

With the clock ticking, Silicon Valley’s Singularity University, a teaching organization and accelerator, launched a Global Impact Competition in Miami calling on innovators to find solutions for South Florida’s sea-level rise by using technology. According to research by the University of Miami’s Department of Atmospheric Sciences, sea-level rise has been accelerating. If the rate of sea rise over the last five years holds steady for the next 50 years -- and indications are it could rise faster -- high tide levels in Miami would go up over five feet, leading to high risks of flooding and saltwater intrusion. "The Miami metropolitan region has the greatest amount of exposed financial assets and 4th-largest population vulnerable to sea-level rise in the world," the research said.

Last week, eight finalists were invited to pitch their concepts to judges, and two of them received full tuition to Singularity University’s 10-week Graduate Studies Program in Mountain View, Calif., this summer where they will work in teams with participants from around the world to develop their concepts. The contest was supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Ana C. Benatuil, a graduate of FIU and now an architectural designer at Zyscovich Architects, believes sea level rise in South Florida needs to be addressed in an urban master plan. Her “Cut Fill City” proposes strategies at three different scales –regional, city and building scale – allowing for different municipalities and entities to implement these ideas according to their needs and capabilities. Benatuil, who began this project as part of her FIU studies and has continued it on her own the past two years, believes that technology plays an important role in creating strategies to deal with Sea Level Rise, from raising awareness to developing building systems that use water as a valued resource for energy generation, conservation and consumption.

“The implementation of Cut Fill City in South Florida could become a prototype to many other coastal cities around the world at risk of sea level rise, improving the lives of millions, if not billions of people,” she said.


 See her video here.

Carlos Tamayo, an engineer working on this PhD at FIU, envisions comprehensive assessment and modeling of dike-subsurface barrier systems for adaptation in coastal areas. Providing effective protection against inland and coastal flooding and eliminating or minimizing the effects of groundwater flow and piping are the main goals, he said. In addition to sea level rise and saltwater intrusion protection, his system is intended to provide effective protection against surge overflow and inland/coastal flooding by eliminating or minimizing the effects of groundwater flow through Miami’s limestone aquifer.

One of the beauties of events like this, beyond the obvious benefits to the winners, is bringing together like-minded people. It was interesting to see the finalists talking with one another at the breaks, discussing how they could partner up on various projects or recommending connections or research they have read. Tina Cornely of Bridging Humanity, one of the eight finalists, had some advice for Benatuil: Get your presentation in front of the sea-level rise boards of the county and cities, she said. "They need to see this and if you need some help getting in the door  I will help you."



May 15, 2015

Health startups pitch at AARP convention to tap huge senior market


Mel Taylor, president/CEO of Splitsecnd, demonstrates how her portable emergency roadside device competes against other health tech startups during the AARP Health Innovation50+ LivePitch, part of a three-day expo in Miami Beach, on Thursday, May 14, 2015.  | CARL JUSTE 

 By Ana Veciana-Suarez

One company offers a mobile medication management platform that reminds patients to take their meds and alerts caregivers if they miss a dose. Another company helps people improve their brain function with personalized exercises and data. And a third combines neuroscience research with the latest in virtual reality technology to evaluate key brain functions, such as balance and reaction time.

These were some of the 15 health startups that duked it out before a panel of venture capitalists in Thursday’s AARP Health Innovation50+ LivePitch, one of the events at the advocacy group’s annual conference in the Miami Beach Convention Center. The four-hour program gave companies access to thousands of potential consumers as well as a handful of potential angel investors who might, at a later date, open their wallets. 

In the end, Splitsecnd a Nashville-based maker of a portable device that plugs into a cigarette lighter to provide automatic car crash notifications, got the nod from the judges. The $99 device’s ability to provide real-time GPS tracking and connection to a 24/7 emergency response center appeared to be the most scalable of the companies and the one with big numbers behind it: Of the 230 million drivers in the U.S., 33 million are 65 and older. What’s more, 500 people are injured in crashes every day.

While the winner of the LivePitch competition won’t get money a la Shark Tank, the company staff member will receive hours of free mentoring and lots of exposure. 

“We’re incredibly passionate about what we do, so to have judges believe in it too is a great affirmation and vote of confidence,” said Splitsecnd CEO Mel Taylor after the win. “Just being able to be here has given us a great platform.”

Thursday was the first day of the AARP Life@50+ National Event & Expo, a three-day extravaganza of speakers, celebrity guest appearances, and a 150-exhibitor fair. It is AARP’s first time in Miami and five of the 15 companies that pitched their health tech products were from Florida.

In addition to the judges’ choice, AARP conference-goers voted two companies, Audicus and Constant Therapy, as AARP Consumer Winners. Audicus seeks to reach the 40 million people suffering from hearing loss by offering less expensive hearing aids online. Constant Therapy helps people improve their brain function after a stroke or brain injury, by providing personalized exercises.

This is AARP’s fourth LivePitch, an event aimed to attract more startups to the 50-and over market. The first LivePitch, in New Orleans, attracted 80 applicants. This year, 228 companies worldwide applied for a spot onstage.

The previous LivePitch events helped 15 of the past 30 finalists raise $50 million in investments.

“It’s become a real destination for startups, entrepreneurs and investors,” said Jody Holtzman, AARP’s senior vice president of Thought Leadership.

 The market for health technology is certainly there. Almost 45 percent of Americans are over 50 and this group spends between 9 to 18 percent of their money on healthcare-related products, said Lisa Suennen, managing partner at Venture Valkyrie Consulting.


Miami Beach, FL
AlzhUp seeks to improve the quality of life of people with Alzheimer’s by integrating actual memories and scientifically-proven therapies in a single platform, slowing the cognitive decline of the patient, as well as facilitate the active participation of the entire family and care team in the treatment process.

Tesser Health
Miami, FL
Deliver custom and personalized educational content to the patient to improve health outcomes. By educating the patient at the moment of need with appropriately sized content on relevant medical information increases engagement, the result is a better patient experience, and lowers costs for healthcare focused organizations.


May 12, 2015

South Florida entrepreneurs honored at White House


Young South Florida entrepreneurs were honored at or invited to the White House this week: Felipe Gomez del Campo V, a student entrepreneur at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland who went to high school at Cypress Bay High School in Weston; Vicente Fernandez, co-founder of Miami-based Sportsmanias, and Felice Gorodo, CEO of Clearpath.

Also representing the 305 at the White House's #StartTheSpark event, Gorodo said: Melissa Medina of eMerge Americas and Tony Jimenez of Richmond Global. Both took part in an investor segment. 

Felipe Gomez del Campo (pictured above)  began his work for a science fair project at Cypress Bay. The founder of FGC Plasma Solutions is one of five entrepreneurs President Barack Obama recognized at a White House event yesterday to highlight the importance of investing in women and young entrepreneurs. Gomez del Campo’s application was selected from among the many business startups that had been assisted by a U.S. government initiative.  The other four were from Virginia, Colombia, Nigeria and Lebanon.

Since his science fair days, Gomez del Campo turned his idea into a company with two patents (the latest just filed last Friday) and has conducted research with NASA.

Gomez del Campo, a junior who is majoring in mechanical and aerospace engineering, founded FGC Plasma Solutions in 2013 to bring to market a device that shoots a precise amount of plasma into jet engine fuel. That plasma injection blows the fuel apart into its component molecules, allowing the engine to burn it more efficiently. The product can improve the safety and efficiency of jet engines, as well as lead to a 10 percent decrease in fuel consumption. His work could result in significant savings and reduce harmful gas emissions for both jet engines on airliners and industrial gas turbines used to generate power.

A native of Mexico City, Gomez del Campo moved to the Miami area at the age of 6. Now, after becoming a U.S. citizen just last year, he hopes to set up an “entrepreneurship ecosystem” in Mexico, similar to the one he’s had at Case Western Reserve.

Also on Monday, Vicente Fernandez from Sportsmanias (pictured below at the event with Mark Cuban) was an invited guest for the Emerging Global Entrepreneurs Event. About 70 entrepreneurs were invited as part of the White House's emphasis on young and female entrepreneurs creating innovative business solutions to tackle the world's toughest challenges. Fernandez was being recognized for carrying on his family's entrepreneurial spirit with his grandfather creating a family bus company that has thrived for 40 years since fleeing Cuba and moving to the U.S., and Fernandez enduring all his success since launching Sportsmanias.

Sportsmanias, launched in 2012 by Fernandez and his mother, Aymara Del Aguila,  is a comprehensive and personalized media site for die-hard sports fans that has formed partnerships with sports journalism sites, including the Miami Herald, and has attracted several million in Series A funding. Fernandez, who started Sportsmanias when he was a student at University of Chicago, was the only sports or media entrepreneur invited.



ClearpathFelice Gorordo, the son of Cuban immigrants, is CEO of Clearpath, a venture-backed tech company that revolutionizes the confusing, costly, paper-based immigration filing process by making it easier, more affordable and secure for individual immigrants to file their own immigration applications.

Along with Tony Jimenez, Gorordo co-founded Roots of Hope, a national non-profit focused on youth empowerment in Cuba. He previously was appointed by President Obama as one of 15 2011-2012 White House fellows.

President Obama spoke at the #StartTheSpark event, as well as guest speakers such as Sharks Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran and Daymond John.

These entrepreneurs were only the latest to be invited to the White House. Other South Florida entrepreneurs who have been honored there or have been invited there include Champions for Change Susan Amat of Venture Hive, Felecia Hatcher of Code Fever and Rob Davis of Code for Fort Lauderdale, as well as Juha and Johanna Mikkola of Wyncode, Jim McKelvey of LaunchCode and NFTE student Karen Bonila of John A. Ferguson Senior High and FIU, who was invited to participate in the White House Science Fair this year.

As global entrepreneurs gathered for the event at the White House, the White House said President Obama announced several steps to increase support for emerging entrepreneurs here in the United States and around the world.  First, the president made investing in women and youth entrepreneurs the top priority for his Administration’s global entrepreneurship programs.  Second, ahead of his travel to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi this July, the president issued a call to action, challenging companies, organizations, and individuals to increase their investments in global emerging entrepreneurs.  Third, the president announced nine new Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship, enlisting even more of America’s top talent to expand the frontiers of inspiration, opportunity, and development around the world.  Finally, he recognized the creation of the Spark Global Entrepreneurship coalition, made up of leading entrepreneurship organizations who will support his call to action and better connect, coordinate, and communicate entrepreneurship efforts across the globe.


May 11, 2015

University of Miami’s RoboCanes win RoboCup US Open 2015



The RoboCanes, the University of Miami’s team of autonomous soccer-playing robots developed by students and faculty in the College of Arts & Sciences Computer Science Department, won the 2015 RoboCup US Open – claiming victory for the first time since entering the competition in 2012.

Functioning as the American RoboCup playoffs, the US Open is one of three key events leading up to the annual World Championships. This year’s contest will take place in July in Hefei, China.

 After defeating 2012 world champions Austin Villa (from the University of Texas at Austin) 3-0 in Saturday’s semi-final match, the RoboCanes met the Bowdoin College Northern Bites in the final match. It was a close game, which showcased the impact of new rules in the robot soccer league.

Ubbo Visser, an associate professor of computer science in the College of Arts & Sciences and leader of the RoboCanes project (alongside a group of dedicated graduate students), said, “The public has seen very close games the whole weekend and we have seen significant improvements among the teams. One of the new rules this year consists of the robots listening to the human referee starting a game with a whistle. RoboCanes was the only team that could handle this situation. We gained from that by having extra 15 seconds at the start of the game.”

He added that the American teams will be tested in China, when they face perennially strong squads from Europe and Asia.

RoboCup aims to promote robotics and artificial intelligence research, by offering an integrated research platform that covers areas including vision, context recognition, strategy acquisition, motor control and more.

- submitted by the University of Miami


Code Fever’s Felecia Hatcher to be honored with leadership award

Felecia Hatcher Photo 2The Miami Foundation announced today that Felecia Hatcher, the co-founder of Code Fever and Black Tech Week, will be the recipient of the 2015 Ruth Shack Leadership Award.

The Ruth Shack Leadership Award is given annually to an emerging community leader that embodies the hard work and dedication to community of the foundation’s former president Ruth Shack. Hatcher has earned widespread recognition as the co-founder of the ice cream company Feverish Pops and Code Fever, an initiative that trains African American youth technology and entrepreneurship. In 2014, the White House named her a Champion for Change for her work in STEM access and diversity. This year, Hatcher and Code Fever hosted their first Black Tech Week celebration, which celebrates innovators of color in the United States and all over the world. “Felecia found a way to take her passion for technology and entrepreneurship to inspire and empower others, and in the process create a cadre of emerging tech innovators in Miami,” said Hank Raattama, Co-Chair of LEAVE A LEGACY.

“Ruth Shack has been phenomenal in the work she’s done and it’s an honor to even be considered,” said Hatcher. “To me this award reassures me that we are doing the work in the right communities and are headed in the right direction by impacting families.”

LEAVE A LEGACY also announced today that Baptist Health South Florida is the recipient of the 2015 Community Champion Award, which honors the person or organization that contributes to the wellbeing of the community through its work and philanthropy. Baptist Health South Florida is the largest healthcare organization in the region, with seven hospitals, 30 outpatient and urgent care centers, 15,000 employees and 2,200 doctors. Baptist Health Foundation, the fundraising arm of the organization, is highly regarded for its support of community programs for families in need.

Both awards will be presented at the 17th Annual Donor Next Door Luncheon, Thursday, May 14 at Jungle Island.

May 06, 2015

eMerge Americas Startup Showcase: And the winners are...

This year, 125 startups competed for $175,000 in investment during the eMerge Americas Startup Showcase. They were selected from more than 200 entrants, said Ricardo Weisz, who helped organize the showcase, as he also did in 2014.

Weisz said there were a higher number of high quality companies this year, and more of them were local.   “The audience was better too — more investors, clients, potential customers — [the startups] were all very happy with that,” he said.

Startups selected for the Showcases received mentoring, free eMerge tickets for their team, and could attend a full-day Startup Bootcamp at Venture Hive the Sunday before the Showcase. “Get to know each other, this is about finding synergies and cooperation and leveraging all the talent in this room,” Susan Amat, founder of Venture Hive told the startups. “eMerge is really about networking and leveraging connections long after the conference is over."

In addition to more pre-event activities, the other big difference this year: The judges had skin in the game. Each of the judges from each of the contests – early-stage, late-stage and university -- was expected to invest $10,000 in the winner. They all received company information a few days before the event and met with  the finalists in addition to judging the pitches.

In an interview before the competition, Miami Heat star Chris Bosh said he was not yet an investor in any Miami tech companies — but now Bosh will have a stake in VSNMobile, a Fort Lauderdale company that has developed a technology for seamless 360-degree high-definition images. (During its pitch, VSNMobile demonstrated its V.360 -- think a 360-degree version of a GoPro camera, with applications for outdoor sports, security, video conferences and drone overviews.)

 That’s because Bosh was a judge in the late-stage competition and VSNMobile (pictured below) won. The prize: a $100,000 in investment from the judges.


During the 9-minute pitch, VNSMobile said its 360-degree images can be viewed with a low-cost VR viewer it provides (shown below).


"It's a very big win for VSN. ...  eMerge brought us exposure to a larger audience — potential business partners, investors and customers," Greg Page, director of marketing and sales for VSNMobil, told the South Florida Sun Sentinel after the win. VSNMobil, founded  by former product designers from Motorola, Foxconn, Samsung and General Dynamics, has about 30 employees.

Winning the early stage competition was Symptify (shown below) of Sunny Isles Beach, which won a $50,000 in investment. Symptify is an online self-assessment tool that uses a customized algorithmic engine to help users educate themselves about causes of symptoms. Like a virtual doctor’s visit, Symptify uses professional medical sources to help a user identify potential conditions, possible remedies and where to go for help.


Winning the university track, which was new this year, was JOOX Music of University of Central Florida. Joox, an awards-based music stock exchange, won a $25,000 investment from the Miami Innovation Fund.

According to the eMerge Americas website, judges included Bosh; Adam Smith, Medina Capital; David Senerman, Groupo Arcano; Felipe Matta, Chile Ventures; Franc Nemanic, CrunchFire Ventures; Greg Ferrero, Goldman Sachs; Ivan Rapin-Smith, Watsco Ventures; Julian Mesa, Sabadell Bank; Luis Zaldivar, Palladium Equity; Melissa Krinzman, Krillion Ventures; Paras Jain, Macquarie; and Rhys Williams, New World Angels.

See the list of finalists who pitched to the judges here.

This Miami Herald video contains some cuts from the Startup Showcase:


- Nancy Dahlberg

May 05, 2015

eMerge Americas Startup Showcase: And the finalists are...

Want to know who made it to the finalist round of the Startup Showcase? Here they are.  Watch their pitches today and winners will be announced at 4:50.
1. JOOX Music
2. Booklock
3. Bedabox
4. Pat Miner 
5. Nawboi Technologies
Early Stage:
1. Dzzom
2. Graph Study
3. Metricsco
4. Rotation Manager
6. SportsBuddy
7. Symptify LLC
8. The Highboy
9. Traderion
10. Videoo
Later Stage:
  2. Collaborative Boating Inc. - Boatsetter
  3. Entic
  4. Holography Box USA
  5. Itopia, Inc.
  6. Moocho
  7. SmartProcure
  8. Snow Lizard Products
  9. Streaan Media
  10. VSN mobile