August 06, 2017

Travel-tech company Oasis sets its sights on Asia, with new funding from Hyatt

OASIS 2 3

An Oasis property in Miami. Photo from Oasis 

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

StanberryWith just 15 portfolio properties  in 2009, entrepreneur Parker Stanberry started Oasis, a curated marketplace of private homes offering upscale travel accommodations. Today, Miami-based Oasis offers 2,400 properties in 22 markets worldwide, and has 150 employees.

Last week, Hyatt made a significant, strategic minority investment in Oasis, which brings the brand’s total fund-raising to $35 million, Oasis said. This new investment will allow Oasis to expand its footprint to additional cities in the U.S., Europe and Latin America and enter Asia.

In 2014, Oasis joined the ranks of Latin American tech startups moving their headquarters to Miami. Stanberry, an expat from the U.S. who lived in Argentina for eight years, relocated to Miami in 2015 but spends about two-thirds of his time traveling to Oasis’ expanding portfolio of locations that include Barcelona, Cartagena, New York and Paris.

“Oasis is home meets hotel, the next generation of accommodations,” said Stanberry, who started Oasis as a passion project. “We have all the benefits of home sharing – bigger spaces, better locations, more value – with an added layer of quality control, curation and hospitality services.”

Those hospitality services include Oasis staff onsite for check-ins, on-demand concierge services and a members club. Others apparently also see the opportunity.

“Travelers who book Oasis Collections homes are looking for something different than a traditional hotel experience. They’re leisure and often business travelers who seek more space for a longer time, but also want the peace of mind, personalized service and amenities they expect when staying with Hyatt,“ said Steve Haggerty, global head of capital strategy, franchising and select service for Hyatt, in a statement. “While we are at an early stage, we believe this category has the potential to serve new stay occasions for our customers and to add meaningfully to Hyatt’s growth over time.”

Oasis grew revenues 100 percent year over year in 2015 and 2016, and is on track to surpass that this year, Stanberry said. In the past 18 months it has launched in 13 new markets in the U.S., Europe and Latin America. Oasis was the leading accommodations partner for sponsors of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, including Nike and Visa. 

Stanberry said he will use the funding to take customer experience to the next level in current markets, and expand into Asia.

 “It’s not just about a place to stay, it’s about maximizing your experience. We’re adding a concept called Upgrades, where a guest can order extras like a stocked fridge or an airport transfer, and generally creating a seamless mobile-driven experience for the traveler,” said Stanberry, who was selected as an Endeavor Entrepreneur in 2014.

Neither Hyatt nor Oasis would disclose the size of the Hyatt funding, but Stanberry called it "significant" in a Skift article and it brings total funding to $35 million. After some initial angel funding that allowed Oasis to expand and move its headquarters from Argentina to Miami, last year Oasis raised a $10.6 million Series B round, said Stanberry. Oasis also raised a $2.5 million convertible debt financing earlier this year.

Oasis advisor and angel investor Marco Giberti cited Stanberry's work ethic, courage and strong commitment to keep learning and improving the product and user experience. “He is a great leader, and I’m really glad to see his new deal and excited about future opportunities for him and Oasis.”

With the new Hyatt funding, Oasis joins a number of Miami area startups who have raised significant funding rounds this year, including Modernizing Medicine, Nearpod, Neocis, MealPal, Boatsetter, Nymbus and Kairos.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter

Read more

From Argentina to Miami - a bridge worth building (guest post featuring Oasis)

Hatching a tech future: South Florida startups are gaining strength 

How international startups are making Miami their U.S. base

Rioproperty

 A residence in Rio offered by Oasis. Photo from Oasis

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 27, 2017

Modernizing Medicine to add 838 jobs, double office space

Health-tech company Modernizing Medicine announced on Thursday that it will be expanding, creating more than 800 new jobs and doubling its office space in Boca Raton.

Modernizing Medicine currently employs about 550 people and is generating $100 million in revenues annually, making it one of South Florida’s largest and fastest-growing tech companies. “There are not many companies growing as fast as Modernizing Medicine — in the world,” said Gov. Rick Scott, who was on hand for the announcement in Boca Raton.

Modernizing Medicine will receive $6 million in state, county and city incentives for creating the jobs by 2022, according to the Sun Sentinel. The 838 new, mostly software positions will have an average salary of $65,000 a year. In exchange, Modernizing Medicine will make a $15 million investment in the region.

To handle its growth, Modernizing Medicine is leasing 50,000 square feet at Boca Raton Innovation Campus, former home of IBM, to add to its similarly sized headquarters space at the FAU Research Park and an office in Weston. In May, Modernizing Medicine announced it had received a $231 million investment from private equity firm Warburg Pincus. “If there was any doubt that you could found and scale a company in South Florida, hopefully those doubts are now erased,” CEO Dan Cane said at the time.

Founded in 2010 by Cane and Dr. Michael Sherling, Modernizing Medicine has been one of the recent tech success stories in South Florida. Cane, a serial entrepreneur who earlier in his career co-founded and exited education-tech company Blackboard, met Sherling, his future co-founder, in the doctor’s office. Modernizing Medicine’s flagship product is EMA, which is a mobile, cloud-based, specialty-specific electronic health record system now used by more than 10,000 providers at thousands of specialty practices nationwide, and the company now offers a full suite of products and services including practice management, revenue cycle management, telehealth for dermatology and analytics.

July 26, 2017

In growth spurt, AGP Miami funds Animusoft, other South Florida startups

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By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Why are local investors a critical piece of South Florida’s entrepreneurship community? Look no further than what AGP Miami is doing to help fill a funding gap.

AGP, a South Florida network of angel investors, closed on its latest investment last week: Animusoft. The Miami-based startup, which built a software platform for the drone industry called ALIVE under founder and CEO Daniel Rodriguez, has raised $1 million in funding, of which about half was raised from AGP members.

Now with nearly 100 members, AGP focuses on investing in South Florida companies, many of whom have made significant traction through bootstrapping, such as Animusoft. At a time when access to capital continues to be a challenge for South Florida entrepreneurs, AGP, originally funded by the Knight Foundation and now self-sustaining, is one of the locally based networks that has been doubling down on its mission to address the funding gap and expanding its funding activity.

Raul Moas (c) (2)In the past quarter, AGP Miami invested $1.25 million into local, early-stage companies, said Raul Moas, managing director of the network. In addition to Animusoft, recent fundings include Home61, Nearpod, Gramercy, Birch and Eventplicity.

AGP recently added Melissa Krinzman, managing partner of Krillion Ventures, Mark Kingdon, founder of Quixotic Ventures, and Tigre Wenrich, CEO of the LAB Miami who heads up LABVentures, to its board of directors. “All three of them are exceptional individuals – that was a big win for us,” Moas said. They join Nico Berardi, AGP’s former managing director, Juan Pablo Cappello and Marco Giberti.

AGP’s staff is also growing. Rebecca Danta, a Miami native, returned to Miami this summer to be AGP’s venture associate, where she's heading up AGP’s dealflow management, Moas said. Most recently she worked for General Assembly in New York City.

Although South Florida deals will continue to be AGP’s primary focus, Danta will also be looking around Florida, including Gainesville, for potential deals.

“Miami is home and will continue to be home base ... but there are great deals around Florida, in particular Gainesville, and the same thing in Latin America,” Moas said. “We think that in the next 12 months, we will be positioned to start either establishing a presence in some of these markets or at the very least scouting them more actively.”

Feathr, Birch and Eventplicity are all AGP portfolio companies founded in Gainesville. “We have an opportunity to bring them into the fold of what is happening here,” Moas said. They plan to hire a scout there for the fall.

At a time when international startups are increasingly making Miami their corporate or U.S. base, AGP will also look more aggressively for companies in Latin America that members can get into early, and as the companies grow and if it makes sense for them, AGP could be their soft landing in Miami, Moas added. “We want to be there to support them. The expertise is already here.”

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

Since 2014, AGP has invested in 24 companies and invested $7.2 million, Moas said. That’s up from $4.6 million a year ago, when AGP had about 80 members.

AGP screens hundreds of deals to find companies that could be a good fit for members. Then a screening committee further selects companies that will be invited to pitch to the full membership. AGP members decide individually whether to invest in a startup.

To be sure, AGP is not the only local funder that has been expanding activity – for instance Krillion Ventures and New World Angels have invested in a number of local companies in the last couple of years, and others such as Las Olas Venture Capital are beginning to take off. At a time when venture capital still lags in Florida, AGP and other local funders are providing critical seed and Series A capital.

Animusoft will be using the new funding to build out marketing, sales and business development efforts as well as augment engineering staff with additional data scientists, Rodriguez said. 

Five large architecture, engineering and construction firms are now piloting ALIVE, an operating system for drones, on job sites. Animusoft is also partnering with seven drone manufacturers, which will be packaging its software with their drones. “We are in active conversations with maritime cargo companies, logistics companies, law enforcement and farmers for other applications of drones powered by the ALIVE platform,” Rodriguez said.

As it expands, including a presence in the California Bay Area, Rodriguez says he plans to keep engineering, product and research efforts in Miami. “I am a Miami native, and plan to keep a solid footing here in South Florida. This is my home.”

For Animusoft and other portfolio companies, local investors provide critical capital to grow their early-stage ventures.

June 13, 2017

Rony Abovitz on Magic Leap: ‘Launch is not far away’

Rony

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

On the eMerge Americas stage, Rony Abovitz shared his thoughts on the future of technology, his vision for more natural computing that will bring science fiction to life and the tech ecosystem in South Florida. But as to details about the billion-dollar startup’s first product, well, the world will have to wait.

To experience the world more naturally, “we’re trying to build a computer that acts like people, so you don’t have to look at your phone all the time,” said Abovitz, in a discussion on stage with the Knight Foundation’s Miami program director, Matt Haggman, and Jean-Pierre Bardet, dean of University of Miami’s College of Engineering.

While Magic Leap coined the “mixed reality” description – something like augmented reality, but different – Abovitz said he prefers a different description for Magic Leap’s technology now: “Spatial computing powered by a digital lightfield.” It will allow you to experience the world more naturally. Goodbye tech neck.

But people who came to the talk wanting to know when they can get their hands on the tech, Magic Leap remained vague, as usual.

When will the first product launch? “Launch is not far away.” ... “If we were at NASA … you would see a rocket sitting on the launch pad.”

What will it cost? “It’s being priced for affordability in the mass premium category. .. It’s not a Kindle kind of pricing but it’s not unattainable.”

READ MORE: Tech talk at eMerge: On the ‘rollercoaster’ of startup life, Waze, cybersecurity and Elon Musk

Is Magic Leap raising another big round of venture capital that will value the company at $6 billion to $8 billion, as has been rumored? “You never stop being in the mode of talking to investors. It never stops. It’s like breathing.”

He encouraged students and universities to be drilling in on artificial intelligence – but with an “inward ethical path.”

“You can be replaced by AI computing or you can be amplified by it. ... We are people-first. Everything is about amplifying you, not replacing you.”

Abovitz said Magic Leap has more than 1,000 employees, with about 800 in South Florida. “We are bringing in people from all over the world. This brain trust will at some point spin out their own startups.” The Magic Leap platform also will empower hundreds of thousands of creators, maybe the next Facebook or Snapchat, he said.

“We’re trying to make science fiction real.”

He said basing his company in Plantation allows him to get away from “the noise and group think” of the West Coast and think clearly. He believes South Florida could become a hemispheric tech hub, something he didn’t feel when he was co-founding and growing Mako Surgical, he said. “There is something going on – I feel it.”

Update: Here's the talk:

 

Nancy Dahlberg: @ndahlberg

June 12, 2017

Facebook alum pulls back curtain on TheVentureCity, to be based in Miami

Newcity

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Former executives of Facebook, Google, eBay and other hyper-growth companies have come together to form a global “city” with everything a startup needs to scale internationally.

Laura headshotCo-founding the unique venture, called TheVentureCity, is Laura González-Estéfani (pictured here), former director of international business development and mobile partnerships for Facebook, and Clara Bullrich, a 20-year private banking and asset management veteran. They call it an accelerator for the global tech ecosystem.

With an “international-first” approach, the accelerator will create cross-functional bridges between key regions to scale startups on a global level, González-Estéfani said. The headquarters of TheVentureCity will be in Miami Beach, currently in the 1111 building off Lincoln Road, with a second campus in Madrid and a presence in San Francisco, with plans to expand into a number of cities worldwide by 2020, González-Estéfani she said.

“All my team has worked all over the world, they have all spent years working outside their countries of origin,” González-Estéfani said, in an interview last week. “When we see a startup that has all the right bones, we will advise where to scale first and how the product needs to be tailored for those companies.”

In addition to the international focus, the all-in-one approach for startup needs and consistent support is what will set TheVentureCity apart, said González-Estéfani, who is a native of Spain. “While others provide entrepreneurs with the initial tools to get them started, TheVentureCity is our response to the need for a solution that offers startups everything from engineering and product optimization to data analysis, guiding them throughout the entire process.”

To be considered for either theVentureCity’s 36-month incubator or 18-month accelerator program, startups that can be in any place in the world must demonstrate at least a six-month track record and solid numbers on growth and engagement metrics, not necessarily revenue. Using a data-driven approach, TheVentureCity builds on that foundation of solid data to help them make the best business decisions to achieve long-term growth. “We aren’t afraid of working with international-first companies all over the world, we just have to fall in love with the founders,” she said.

About 25 startups a year from all over the world will be selected to enter the “factory” each year. Other parts of the “city” include the “data library,” the heart of the city, the airport for internationalization, the laboratory for the product engineering and the bank for venture capital. TheVentureCity will help startups with their funding strategy and tapping into funding resources, she said.

TheVentureCity will be paid in startup equity as the partnership progresses, González-Estéfani said.

Directing the Miami campus will be Elisa Rodriguez-Vila, who formerly worked at Fusión and was part of the co-founding team at The LAB Miami. TheVentureCity is already working with 15 startups, including Boatsetter, Playground, The Fastmind and RecargaPay from South Florida.

TheVentureCity has forged partnerships with a number of entitities including Beacon Council, Startupbootcamp, Venture Café and Facebook on the local level. She said TheVentureCity has been working with Miami Dade College on a two-year degree in entrepreneurship and innovation, for instance. “We make things happen, we are not afraid of taking risks,” González-Estéfani said. “That is the mindset we want to bring here and we are learning everyday from the pioneers and we want to partner with them.”

González-Estéfani came to Miami 2 1/2 years ago with Facebook; she also worked in Facebook’s operations in Silicon Valley and Europe from 2008 to 2014. Before that she worked at eBay, Siemans and Ogilvy.

Upon arrival from Silicon Valley she noticed something quickly: a welcoming community.

“The Medinas [Manny Medina, founder of eMerger Americas] opened the door to their home to us. That is something I have never seen before in Business. "They introduced me to to everything that was happening here. That soul, that spirit, is something that I have never seen anywhere else. Everyone they introduced me to, the Knight Foundation, the Endeavor family, everyone was the same way,” González-Estéfani said.

“There must be something in the water in Miami that makes everyone so welcoming and so enthusiastic about the unknown. I found that willingness to take a risk. Hopefully I can contribute with my team to help make this one of the most exciting and vibrant ecosystems in tech around the world.”
González-Estéfani will be giving a talk about TheVentureCity at eMerge Americas at Miami Beach Convention Center on Tuesday.

Nancy Dahlberg: @ndahlberg.

June 01, 2017

Boats Group decides Miami is the place to be, anchors headquarters

BG-Portals

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

A quarter of Boats Group’s customers are in Florida, many of them in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area. Now the parent company of the world’s largest online marketplaces for boats is steering its corporate headquarters to Brickell.

Sam Fulton - Boats Group - HeadshotCurrently based in Norfolk, Virginia, Boats Group owns recreational marine brands Boat Trader, boats.com, YachtWorld, CosasDeBarcos, all online portals for buying and selling boats, and YachtCloser, which sells a tool used for yacht closings to yacht brokers. The company plans to complete the relocation to Miami this summer and will add 80 new jobs in the Miami area, said Sam Fulton, CEO of Boats Group (pictured here).

Boats Group has already filled about 20 of the 80 positions, many of those tech positions such as software engineers and product managers, and are actively recruiting for more, said Fulton, an e-commerce executive who took the helm of Boats Group CEO in November.

Fulton formerly held senior executive positions at Orbitz for more than 13 years, most recently as senior vice president of the company’s U.S. consumer travel business and president of Orbitz.com, and continued in e-commerce leadership roles at Groupon. Then he got a call from Apax Partners, the private equity firm that acquired Boats Group last summer.

The opportunity: Although Boats Group was already the leading marketplace for buying and selling boats, there were strategies and processes not being done in a best-in-class way that could be fixed, driving even more growth, Fulton said.

Once on board, Fulton wanted to bring the company closer together — literally. In addition to its headquarters in Norfolk, many of the company’s software developers were in Vancouver, and it also had offices in the United Kingdom and Spain. Boats Group has already begun closing the Norfolk and Vancouver operations in order to consolidate most of the functions in Miami.

“I come from a background where you try to get your team in close proximity to each other so that they can collaborate … and those are all businesses that scaled very effectively,” he said. “In one facility, you will get more productivity and better communication between the teams.”

Why Miami? A big reason was the customer base already in Florida.

“Every company should want to be close to their major customers and should want to have regular engagement with their customers, and being headquartered out of Norfolk, that was more difficult,” said Fulton, who has lived in Chicago for the past 20 years and has moved his family here, settling into Pinecrest.

The relocation also offers Boats Group a physical presence in the largest boating market in North America. The region’s thriving marine industry is responsible for more than 136,000 jobs and $11.5 billion in annual economic output, according to the Marine Industries Association of South Florida.

Boats Group will occupy the 23rd floor at 1221 Brickell Ave. Beyond the panoramic views of Biscayne Bay, Boats Group’s new headquarters will feature an open layout without offices, he said. The common area can also be utilized for hosting meetups and hackathons to engage with local talent, Fulton said. “I love the vibrancy of Brickell. It is one of the things that attracted us here as a company. There are a bunch of reasons to think we made a really good decision.”

The Miami-Dade Beacon Council assisted Boats Group with the relocation.

“This successful relocation showcases Miami’s growing innovation ecosystem and Florida’s ranking as the boating capital of the U.S.,” said Sheldon T. Anderson, interim president and CEO of the Miami-Dade Beacon Council, in a statement. “Boats Group perfectly matches our community of entrepreneurs and innovators.”  

Boats Group is recruiting for software engineers and product managers as well as marketing, finance, sales and account management talent. “These are good paying, in-demand jobs. We will be actively competing for them and looking to bring more opportunities for those higher paying jobs,” Fulton said.

Boats Group employs about 190 worldwide. Its brands attract over 65 million unique visitors annually to more than 300,000 boat and yacht listings. Its digital solutions serve over 5,000 dealers and brokers in more than 143 countries.

Fulton said South Florida’s tech community will be seeing Boats Group’s teams hosting meetups, user groups and hackathons and quickly getting involved in the community.

Nancy Dahlberg: @ndahlberg

May 31, 2017

Blackstone invests in Broward tech startup Entic

Entic

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@MiamiHerald.com

When a satisfied customer becomes an investor, that’s a good day for any early-stage company — especially when that customer is a giant private equity firm.

Entic, a South Florida technology company that helps commercial building owners save energy, announced Wednesday that it has received a strategic investment from Blackstone.

Blackstone has used Entic’s technology to provide operational efficiency and energy savings at several buildings owned by the firm’s real estate funds, including Park Avenue Tower in midtown Manhattan and the Howard Hughes Center in Los Angeles. “We’ve closely followed Entic’s track record for some time as part of a search for a best-in-class energy analytics platform,” said Don Anderson, executive director for Blackstone.

Entic CEO Carlos Diaz said the investment will help accelerate six-year-old Entic’s growth plans. Blackstone will also provide the company support and expertise from Blackstone’s Real Estate and Innovations teams. Before the deal with Blackstone, Entic had attracted about $13 million in investments and provided services to about 65 properties, according to the Wall Street Journal. Terms of the investment were not disclosed.

“Blackstone’s investment and decision to deploy our technology are together a major recognition of our success in reducing energy waste and increasing operational performance in commercial buildings,” said Diaz, a seasoned software architect who co-founded the company with Manuel Rosendo, an HVAC industry veteran (pictured above).

Entic, headquartered in Pembroke Pines with more than 45 employees, uses real-time data analysis of major energy-consuming systems to provide prescriptions for improving building operations. Its longtime customers include Marlins Park and the Diplomat Resort & Spa.

 

May 22, 2017

Florida Early Stage Capital Conference: And the winners are ...

SiteZeus  Tampa - First Place $75 000

The Florida Venture Forum and Space Florida announced the three top winners of the 10th Annual 2017 Florida Early Stage Capital Conference and Space Florida’s Accelerating Innovation prize, held at the Omni ChampionsGate in Orlando on May 19.  A total of 22 Florida-based companies from across the state and a variety of industry sectors were selected to present before an audience of investors, deal professionals and entrepreneurs. Ten startups from South Florida participated.

A panel of judges reviewed each selected company’s presentation and supporting materials. The top three cash prize winners were:

First Place $75,000 - SiteZeus, Tampa (www.sitezeus.com), pictured above, the new evolution in location intelligence, driven by exceptionally engineered big data systems and unparalleled data visualization technology.

Second Place $50,000 -  Auxadyne, Keystone Heights (www.auxadyne.com) has an exclusive licensing agreement with FSU for the design, manufacture and distribution of the first commercially available auxetic foam in a variety of medical device and protective equipment applications.

Third Place $25,000 - Admiral, Gainesville (www.getadmiral.com) offers an advanced adblock analytics and automatic revenue recovery. They provide a multi-faceted platform that enables publishers to size and solve the unique adblock problem presented by their unique userbase.

The 22 presenting companies were selected from a statewide pool of more than 130 applicants by a committee of active Florida venture capitalists and other investors. Space Florida provided the Accelerating Innovation prize money totaling $150,000.

“The Forum’s Early Stage Capital Conference set a few important records in 2017: our largest-ever number of applicants, record overall attendance and the largest investor attendance in the event’s 10-year history,” said Kevin Burgoyne, President and CEO of the Florida Venture Forum. “We take these milestones as very positive indicators of an increasingly robust and well-rounded early stage ecosystem. We congratulate our winning companies, and thank Space Florida for their strong support.”

In conjunction with the 2017 Early Stage Capital Conference, The Florida Venture Forum  also announced the three winners of the 7th Annual 2017 Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition, also held on May 19. A total of 13 universities from a cross section of Florida brought their top students to compete for best in the state. The top three winners were:

 Winner: Sensatek Propulsion Technologies, Reamonn Soto - Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Fort Lauderdale

First Runner Up: Logentix LLC, Randy Lopez - Florida Polytechnic University, Lakeland

Second Runner Up: Spared, Ryan Lockwood - University of Tampa

 

 

May 18, 2017

South Florida companies team up: Paymentez buys majority stake in SpeedETab

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

SpeedetabHomeSometimes startups should team up to take off.

SpeedETab, a Fort Lauderdale startup that enables customers to order and pay for food and drinks from their smartphones, and Paymentez, a Miami-based payments platform for goods and services in Latin America, did just that.

On Thursday, Paymentez announced that it has acquired a majority stake in SpeedETab. The partnership marks Paymentez’s entry into the U.S. market. SpeedETab’s co-founders, Adam Garfield and Ed Gilmore, will continue to run SpeedETab and its current team of 11.

Under terms, of the investment, SpeedETab will implement Paymentez’s technology to expand the SpeedETab app. Garfield said SpeedETab will also have access to Paymentez’s top tech team of about 25 to 30 engineers. Financial details were not disclosed. 

Juan Franco, CEO of Paymentez, said that together they will offer “a superior mobile commerce experience.”

“Our strategy for the USA is 100 percent aligned with SpeedETab’s. The U.S. has always been interesting to us — my co-founder and I live in Miami — and especially when it comes to mobile ordering, there is a market readiness here that surpasses that of Latin America. The space is moving so fast, we felt we would be much more successful building upon what SpeedETab has already done and incorporating our technical capacity, [point-of-sale] integrations and lessons learned in Latin America,” said Franco, who has been watching SpeedETab’s growth for more than a year.

SpeedETab, which launched in mid-2015, provides an app-based mobile ordering, mobile payments and analytics platform for the food service industry. The fast-growing startup powers mobile ordering and payments at more than 200 U.S. locations, including Panther Coffee, Zaro’s Bakery, Gregory’s Coffee, Toby’s Estate, and the Adrienne Arsht Center.

“It’s never easy for a founder to part with a majority stake in their company, but Ed and I felt this was an opportunity for us to position ourselves as a major player in the mobile ordering and mobile payments market,” said Garfield, who will be showcasing SpeedETab at the National Restaurant Show in Chicago next week. “Juan and the Paymentez team bring to SpeedETab a tremendous amount of strategic value — from strong channel partnerships to essential point of sale integrations – and their addition to SpeedETab propels us forward exponentially.”

Founded in 2010 by serial entrepreneurs Franco and Jaime Roldan, Paymentez is a leading monetization platform for micro transactions in Latin America. Paymentez has about 50 employees across Latin America and five in Miami.

“We started Paymentez in Brazil, Mexico and Colombia and today have presence in seven countries in Latin America. ... Last year, in partnership with MasterCard, we launched a mobile ordering app that is now being used by the most relevant merchants in the region,” Franco said.

Nancy Dahlberg: @ndahlberg