April 11, 2017

Young Miami entrepreneur Andres Cardona honored by Gov. Scott

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On Tuesday, during a meeting of the Florida Cabinet, Gov. Rick Scott recognized Andres Cardona, 23, with the Young Entrepreneur Award. Cardona is the founder and CEO of Elite Basketball Academy, a youth basketball program founded in 2011 and is based in Miami.

Gov. Scott said, “I’m proud to present Andres with the Young Entrepreneur Award today. It’s great to see Florida entrepreneurs follow their dreams of starting a business and make a difference in their community. It takes dedication and hard work to start a business, and I look forward to seeing Elite Basketball Academy’s success in Florida.”

Cardona, a finance student at FIU,  launched his business at age 14. It all began when Cardona joined the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) program after his mother lost her job, and decided he was going to help the family financially. A basketball player, he recognized the lack of affordable options for learning the sport in South Miami and started the camp.  Since then the camp has grown steadily, and he has won a number of honors, including being honored as  Global Entrepreneur of the Year for NFTE,  representing NFTE at the E&Y World Entrepreneur of the Year Award event and winning the regional competition of the Entrepreneurs' Organization Global Student Entrepreneurship Award.

“It’s an honor to be recognized with the Governor’s Young Entrepreneur Award," Cardona said. "Elite Basketball Academy is focused on providing youth with everlasting principles in the Miami area. We work hard to develop outstanding citizens. I’m grateful for the success we have seen, and I can't wait to see what the future holds.”

To learn more about Elite Basketball Academy, visit eliteballacademy.com. To learn more about the Governor’s Young Entrepreneur Award, visit HireFloridaGrads.com.

Incubator program for food entrepreneurs launches at FIU

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

AnnaEtienneStartUP FIU, a university-wide entrepreneurship initiative at Florida International University, this month has opened its second program: StartUP FIU FOOD.

Funded with a $500,000 grant from Citi Foundation, StartUP FIU FOOD assists small community food entrepreneurs to grow their businesses, leveraging the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management’s large commercial kitchen and providing workshops for skills development, food science training and mentorship. StartUP FIU FOOD also helps food entrepreneurs to incorporate, generate financial statements and apply for micro-finance loans and traditional commercial bank loans.

READ MORE: Multi-campus StartUP FIU gets ready for takeoff

“There is an unmet need in Miami for not only affordable commercial kitchen space, but also for startup incubator services, business advising and entrepreneurial networking. Sometimes we have to create opportunity.” said Emily Gresham, an FIU assistant vice president and co-founder of StartUP FIU.

Anna Etienne (pictured here)  will lead day-to-day activities as director of StartUP FIU FOOD. The inaugural cohort includes these local food entrepreneurs:

Joe’s Sweets: Specialty fresh baked pastries and bread

Greathouse Gourmet Inc: Gourmet condiments and sauces that blend Caribbean flavors.

Lemon City Tea: High-quality, ethically-sourced teas inspired by Miami.

Helene's Ice Cream, LLC: Artisanal frozen desserts: ice cream, frozen custard, sorbet, and custom ice cream cakes.

Frice Cream: Handcrafted ice cream and pastries using locally sourced and natural ingredients.

Timeline Brewery: Beer with flavors influenced by culture and history.

Sweet Jalane's Inc: “Made from scratch” desserts, flavored cakes and cupcakes, mini bundt cakes, pies, pastries, fruit cobblers and cookies.

Etienne plans to accept new applicants to the program throughout the year. More information: http://startup.fiu.edu/food.

StartUP FIU launched an accelerator program last fall on the Modesto Maidique campus and has a technology-focused program planned for a Kendall location in the plans for launch within the next year.

READ MORE: How millennials tastes shape a new generation of food startups

March 30, 2017

NewME accelerator program now in Miami gets Knight funding  

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

AngelabentonThe NewME technology accelerator has already relocated its headquarters from Silicon Valley to Miami, and $191,000 in new funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation will help it expand programming.

NewME was founded in San Francisco in 2011, and was the first accelerator focused on helping entrepreneurs of color. It offered traditional 12-week full-time accelerator programs; Brian Brackeen of Kairos went through the program. Two years ago, while still in San Francisco, the accelerator began offering one-week bootcamps instead, because as NewME founder Anglela Benton (pictured here) said, “many minority entrepreneurs just aren’t able take 12 weeks out of life.”

Last year, NewME offered its more accessible boot camps in Miami and they were well received, Benton said, proving a Silicon Valley address wasn’t necessary to help entrepreneurs of color. She said Miami was a natural choice for NewME’s base given its diverse makeup.

“The old [accelerator] model works for a particular type of entrepreneur. Our model is more about the entrepreneur and what they want to accomplish,” she said, adding that many NewME startups bootstrap their businesses. “The times are changing.”

Over the years, NewME has accelerated hundreds of entrepreneurs through its online platform, residential boot camps and equity portfolio, helping its companies raise over $25 million in funding. By expanding its programming, NewME aims to improve the success of black-led startups through mentorship, coaching and weekly and monthly events.

As it already has been doing, the accelerator will host quarterly one-week residential boot camps in Miami, with the next one beginning June 5. Benton said cohorts are small and personal – about eight people – and four slots will be reserved for Miami-area entrepreneurs. At the boot camps, industry experts will work with the entrepreneurs to help accelerate their businesses. With the funding, NewME also will hire a Miami-based program manager.

“NewME will provide important opportunities for black entrepreneurs to grow and thrive in Miami,” said Matt Haggman, Miami program director for Knight Foundation, in a news release. “NewMe’s move to Miami highlights our city’s strength as a place for inclusive growth, entrepreneurship and innovation.”

In the past four years, Knight has made more than 200 investments totalling more than $25 million in entrepreneurship in South Florida.

 

February 26, 2017

Ironhack bootcamp gave me foundation to go all-in on building Stardom Up charity

By Lu Martinez

About six years ago, the tech bug bit me hard.

I Lu matrinez was a graduate of the University of Miami Law School and a licensed attorney. I worked as Chief Privacy Officer for Jackson Health System, where I had grown from a manager role and later became Director of Policies, Training and Education. From the outside view, my traditional career was growing. However, I realized a need to ramp up my technical abilities to better form, test, and scale ideas for new programs and innovations that I wanted to develop.  While I contemplated how to best be an intrapreneur within a large corporate setting, my long-term goal was contribute to society and help others.

In my free time, I co-founded a small, self-funded charity called Stardom Up, Inc. To accelerate my tech knowledge and apply it to Stardom Up, I enrolled in Ironhack, a bootcamp in Miami, which offers full-time and part-time courses in web development, coding, and design.  I created the initial version of StardomUp.com as my final project during the Ironhack course in the summer of 2015.

Ironhack was the glue that brought my diverse skill sets and community impact aspirations together. Once I completed my Ironhack training, and after considering multiple factors and alternatives, I left my job in 2016 and devoted myself full-time to building Stardom Up.

Stardom Up creates educational programs to support student curiosity about technology and innovation. We're currently partnered with Miami-Dade County Public Schools, via Shenandoah Middle School in Miami, to enhance the STEAM (Science, Technology, Arts, Engineering, and Math) curriculum.  As the first and only program in the region to combine an online platform with in-person learning during school hours, Stardom Up expands students’ problem solving and critical thinking abilities and engages them into Miami’s growing tech community. We help prepare young talent for an unpredictable future.

Stardom Up is currently in the "scale up" phase at Shenandoah Middle School. It’s supported by Shenandoah’s administrators and teachers, as well as volunteers from Miami’s growing tech community.  Best of all, it generates results: along with helping them in their core subjects, the students in the program - especially girls - are fascinated by technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship, and have expressed their interest in pursuing careers in technology-related fields.

Our plan is to continue to collaborate with tech leaders and innovators in the community and engage at least 10,000 middle school students within the next five years. With approximately 80,000 middle schoolers in Miami-Dade County alone, there’s a lot of young talent we hope to nurture and inspire to become tomorrow’s technologists and innovators. It begins by showing them what’s possible, and by supporting their ambitions to become the community’s future stars.

Lu Martinez is the founder of Stardom Up.

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February 08, 2017

Wyncode coding school raises $1 million to fund growth

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Juha and Johanna Mikkola, founders of coding education company Wyncode, announce that the startup has received $1 million in funding. The announcement was made during the opening party for Wynbase, their new Wyncode campus.Photo by Nancy Dahlberg.

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

As the Wyncode Academy team celebrated the opening of their new coding school campus Wednesday night with the Miami technology community, the founders announced they have raised $1 million from a leading Swedish consulting and education group to fund their growth. 

Wyncode, which offers in-person coding bootcamps teaching computer programming in 10 weeks, will receive the funding from Academic Work X Group, a sister company of Academic Work. Academic Work is one of the largest education, consulting and placement companies in Sweden with operations in six European countries.  This investment is the company’s first step into the the U.S. market.

Wyncode was co-founded by the husband-wife team of Juha and Johanna Mikkola in 2014; in 2015 they were selected as Endeavor Entrepreneurs, giving them a global network of mentorship and support. Last month Wyncode opened Wynbase, its new 3,100-square-foot dedicated code school campus in Wynwood. It has two classrooms, an open space for students to work in and conference rooms. “It definitely feels like we are growing up but it also feels like we are putting down stronger and stronger roots here,” Wyncode co-founder Johanna Mikkola told the crowd. “We’re all working together to build something great.”

Juha Mikkola said Wyncode has graduated 400 people, called Wyncoders, who gained the skills needed to get entry level coding jobs in tech. About 190 companies have hired Wyncoders with 49 companies hiring at least two, he said. CareCloud, Kipu Systems and Watsco have each hired six to eight graduates.

Although its bootcamps will always be at the core of what Wyncode does, Wyncode will also form a training and consulting arm of the business that will place more experienced coders into companies. “A comment we hear from Miami companies is they face an ongoing challenge finding vetted talent,” Johanna Mikkola said. “We are going to be working with companies to provide specific talent and specific training for needs at all levels of tech positions. That’s going to be a whole new phase and wave and we are here to provide that to this community.”

That’s where Academic Work’s expertise will come in, as that company is focused on connecting talented individuals with opportunities in the work force. “We fell in love with the entrepreneurs and we have a very similar model in Europe, so we know this business works and what potential it has,” Academic Work CEO Johan Skarborg told the crowd.

Wyncode’s next full-time coding bootcamp begins on Feb. 13 and $10,000 in scholarships are still available, the company said. Wyncode also launched its first part-time course on Feb. 6 and is accepting applications for its next cohort. Wyncode’s Wyntroduction, a one-day coding bootcamp, takes place Feb. 25 at the Lightbox in Wynwood.

Nancy Dahlberg: @ndahlberg

READ MORE: Wyncode outgrows The LAB, will open its own campus Jan. 8

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The Mikkolas with their team, above, and the crowd, shown below, at the opening of Wynbase, Wyncode's new campus. Photos by Nancy Dahlberg

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February 02, 2017

Meet the entrepreneurs in Cohort 2 of StartUP FIU accelerator

StartUP C2

StartUP FIU is launching  its second cohort of its 14-week accelerator, Empower, this month. The cohort includes entrepreneurs from 17 businesses or concepts in a variety of industries, including music, fashion, shipping, health and education. It also includes a number of social entrepreneurs. The free program accepted entrepreneurs from the idea stage to revenue-producing companies; it includes community members as well as FIU students and alumni. Read more about the program here: Multi-campus StartUP FIU gets ready for takeoff

Who's in Cohort 2 of StartUP FIU?  Find the list below: 

Audio EP

Founder: Stephen Sullivan

Audio EP provides music students interactive exercises to develop various music related skills essential to music production and songwriting in today's digital age. It also connects students with music instructors through the online platform for coaching services.

BECOS

Founder: Jorge Arias

BECOS produces handbags, book bags, wallets and others, with recycled materials in order to create conscience within our customers. The recycled materials are from cement bags and food sacks for animals, and these bags are put together by employees with disabilities. In addition to that, 15% of  annual profit will support children that have been displaced by violence.

BENBO

Founder: Carolina Hoyos

BENBO is a new interactive, simple and easy to use business networking app, where we try to simplify the user’s interaction when sharing business cards.  BENBO lets you: Create and customize your very own business card, uniquely designed, in just a few seconds.

Boatrax

Founder: David Villegas

Boatrax facilitates the logging experience for boat owners with a mobile app that allows them to organize their logs and share them with local service providers to purchase right-on-time services using our marketplace platform.

Cargo42

Founder: Francine Gervazio

Cargo42 is a marketplace for trucking committed to reducing idle time and capacity. We seek to provide shippers (local businesses) a more competitive rate and simplify the shipping process, while carriers (local trucking companies) enjoy an additional revenue stream and maximize the trucks productivity.

Clutch Couture Bags

Co-founders: Jordan Johnson and Tia Plagata

Clutch Couture Bags provides a luxury handbag rental service that serves US customers via an online store. We provide a service that allows fellow fashion-lovers to experience the luxury of carrying some of the world’s most sought-after handbags, while paying a fraction of the price on a monthly basis.

Container Retail

Founder: Charles Sims

Retail Incubator space developed with reused shipping containers located in (Liberty City) Miami, FL. The hope is that a sustainable model can be created and deployed in similar communities throughout the U.S.

Extreme Weather Experience

Founder: Erik Salna

Extreme Weather Experience is a one-of-a-kind concept to develop an immersive, experiential, interactive, hands-on weather education theme park attraction with entertainment, retail, restaurants, a weather forecast center and a media broadcast center.

Give Wink

Founder: Francine Delarosa

Give Wink is a full-service boutique that provides added value services such as full space planning and design, nursery set up and reveals, customization and personalization of many products, gift registries and educational classes/events

 

GlanceHouse Cloud

Founder: Andrew Ritch

GlanceHouse allows businesses and organizations to automate the backup and archiving of video surveillance data to the Cloud. Users can store that data from 30 days to an indefinite amount of time.

Mind&Melody

Founder: Cristina Rodriguez

Mind&Melody has designed a proprietary music curriculum with three goals: to deliver live musical performances; teach music theory concepts in a simple, fun and artistic way; play sheet music and create original composition through our color-coding system. Our program is highly individualized to reach and engage different levels of dementia and musical ability.

SkillCourt LLC

Founder: Gudmundur Traustason

SkillCourt is an athletic training system consisting of pads built with LED lights for cue targets. The goal of the illuminated targets is to be hit with an object like a soccer ball through a timed sequence. Inside each pad are sensors that provide feedback for detailed performance which reports performance information to the SkillCourt app.

Stealth Simulation

Founder: Christian Gutierrez

Stealth Simulation by Boorpus™ LLC was born out of the need to increase the fidelity of standardized patient physical examination. We focus on technology-driven innovative solutions aimed to improve medical simulation while maintaining the highest degree of realism of virtual patient encounters.

Viera Academy

Founder: Carlos Raul Garcia

Viera Academy provides a playground e-learning platform that specializes in Standardized Tests, as well as world level Mental Math and Memory courses, developed by Guinness World Record holders.

WeWomen

Founder: Dorothy Peck

WeWomen is aiming to solve the lack of feminine hygienic pads in refugee camps. Their solution is using banana leaves from banana trees to produce hypoallergenic and environmentally friendly menstrual pads. Providing women with a product that will allow them to work, go to school and be productive members in society

Worcket

Founder: Sergio Klarreich

­

Worcket is a millennials-ready phone app and a cloud service that enterprises use to recruit University and College students or professionals for employment opportunities, in the US first and then worldwide. It leverages disruptive technologies like Video Profiles, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence. We are a truly innovative Seattle based start-up, that is part of the Microsoft BizSpark incubation initiative. Our first production release will be ready in mid-December.

No Name Company

Founder: Megan Twomey

The idea presented here is for a novel class of Nitric Oxide (NO) probes that are based on unique metal photoluminescent complexes that directly react with NO to provide highly sensitive and cost-effective detection. This novel class of probes would benefit the scientific and medical communities by advancing the understanding of NO's biological roles and subsequent pathological conditions that arise from NO dysfunction.

January 04, 2017

Combining two chapters, the South Florida Founder Institute launches; first two info sessions planned

The Founder Institute, a global idea-stage accelerator and startup launch program, announced that South Miami Founder Institute and Fort Lauderdale- Boca Raton Founder Institute chapters will merge to form the new South Florida Founder Institute.

The first South Florida Founder Institute program will begin in April of 2017, and applications are open now to anyone interested in launching a technology company at http://fi.co/apply/south_florida.

“We have seen great results from running South Miami and Fort Lauderdale independently, because the greater Miami region is one of the fastest growing startup hubs in the U.S.,” says Adeo Ressi, founder & CEO of the Founder Institute. “However, combining the amazing talent and mentor pools from across these two chapters gives us an opportunity to really push things forward and help build a wide range of new companies under one program umbrella.”

The South Florida Founder Institute will host a series of free startup events for the general public starting in January 2017 with:

*Tuesday, Jan, 12 “How to Start a Startup in South Florida” @ Venture Cafe Miami

*Thursday,  Jan. 24 “Founder Institute Graduate Showcase” @ BUILDING Miami

In the new South Florida chapter, program participants will be able to leverage the experience and mentorship of over 70 of the region’s top entrepreneurs, including;

*Randy Wood, co-founder of Citrix, one of the largest technology companies that has originated in South Florida. Randy is also an active angel investor through New World Angels.

*Sergey Petrossov, founder and CEO at JetSmarter, an organization that is reshaping history by changing the way people fly by making the private air travel industry accessible to the entire World.

*Felipe Sommer, co-founder and CEO at NearPod, a mobile platform that empowers educators to create learning experiences that engage and inspire millions of students around the world.

*Juan Pablo Cappello, co-founder at Private Advising Group and Board member at AGP Miami, one of the most significant Angel Investing organizations in the region.

*Michael O’Donnell, CEO at StartupBiz.com. Michael is a highly experienced venture-backed entrepreneur, angel/VC investor, business buyer and business seller, who advises entrepreneurs and investors on starting, buying or selling a business.

*Leonel Azuela, founder and managing partner at Quaxar, a premier provider of Community & Loyalty solutions.

*Marshall Swatt, founder and advisor at ATS Inc, a proprietary algorithmic trading system focused on trading strategies in exotic financial instruments (including digital currencies) currently licensed exclusively to a private fund.

And many more (http://fi.co/mentors/south_florida)

Leading the Founder Institute’s efforts in South Florida are Mark Volchek, a successful entrepreneur that built a project from three founders on a college campus into a public company listed on NYSE; Rodolfo Novarini, a seasoned entrepreneur and intrapreneur with over 15 years of experience creating and growing billion-dollar businesses; and Michel Triana, a tech entrepreneur, investor and founder of Ninut, Cine en Casa and Intelerit.

The Founder Institute is a part-time startup launch program that provides aspiring and early-stage founders with the challenging step-by-step curriculum, mentor support, and global network of entrepreneurs needed to start an enduring company. Over 2000 companies have graduated from the program (http://fi.co/companies), and promising startups that have already graduated from the Miami and Fort Lauderdale programs include:

*Carlos Romero and Juan Romero, founders of Livi (http://liviapp.co). Livi is a fast-growing “Live Stream by Request” mobile app.

*Susan Perry, founder of SpeechMED (http://www.speechmed.com/). SpeechMED is growing really fast and delivering on its focus on creating technology that battles a lack of health literacy by allowing patients to hear their information in the language that they understand.

*Matt Hall, founder of Dronelancer (http://dronelancer.io). Dronelancer is a marketplace to connect licensed drone owners with businesses looking for aerial photos and videos.

*Scott Greenhouse, founder of GameFace ( http://www.getnasty.com/). GameFace has just launched its product line of Natural ingredient based, multi-functional body care designed for athletes, which is delivered to your door every two months.

*Melanie Berguero, founder of Oneness (http://www.onenesscleanup.co/). Oneness is a solution for cities and marinas to meet their sustainability goals for water clean-up, has recently demonstrated its proprietary green boats at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show with tremendous success.

*Michelle Bazargan and Stefanie Gross, founders of VIA HALO (http://viahalo.com). VIA HALO  brings  today's  health  and  wellness  consumers  together  with  a  trusted,  accredited  network  of  proactive  providers. 

*David Karim, founder of ResolveBid (http://resolvebid.com). ResolveBid is a marketplace that allows companies and community associations to find service professionals and submit bids.

*Timothy Hamilton, founder of Rentlit (http://rentlit.com). Rentlit is a retail property management software that helps investors self-manage their residential rental properties.

*Carlos Ferra, founder of ThankStation (http://thankstation.com). ThankStation offers customer appreciation solutions to let small businesses better engage with their customers and increase happiness and retention in a cost-effective way.

*Camilo Silva and Jose Aliaga, founders of Voice Your Voice (http://voiceyourvoice.co). Voice Your Voice aims to encourage the public to actively engage in politics and democracy by addressing issues that impact them through a mobile platform.

Learn more about the Founder Institute at http://fi.co.

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Graduating class of Fort Lauderdale chapter in November, 2016.

-Submitted by Founder Institute

 

 

December 18, 2016

Startup Spotlight: Caribu app bridges the miles to connect families for reading, learning

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 Miami-based Caribu offers a free app and marketplace that brings together children and family members through a video-call to read books, draw and learn together.

Company name: Caribu

Headquarters: Miami

Concept: Caribu is an innovative app and marketplace that allows families to connect through a video-call to read books, draw and learn together in real-time no matter where they are. Think FaceTime meets Kindle in a shared screen.

Story: By the time Alvaro Sabido conceived of the idea for Caribu with his co-founders, he had lived in four countries across the Americas and Europe and was accustomed to talking to his family via phone or video-calling services. Both of his parents worked at media and publishing companies, so he grew up exposed to books and the importance of literacy as a skill.

Around the time he and his teammates were brainstorming business ideas during their master’s program at Imperial College in London, a picture of a soldier that was trying to read a book to his daughter by holding up a book to his laptop was trending, That very image struck them into thinking: surely, there must be a better way to engage with your kids when you’re not together.

“We did a bit of research and found that the concept of sharing content through a video-call did not exist for the children’s content market,” said Sabido, who studied entrepreneurship and management in graduate school and industrial engineering and computer science as an undergraduate. His team won two competitions at the business school and used the prize money to bring the concept to life.

Shortly after releasing the first version, the team joined the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator in London and the UK’s Sirius Programme and went on to raise $100,000. Caribu brought international brands on board such as Mattel, Maverick and Usborne as well as worked with talented content creators big and small.

By the end of that first year, reality hit, and the startup went from a fun school project to a business that had to be run. Three of the guys opted to take their post-grad school offers and Sabido decided to come back to Miami, where he grew up, to continue with Caribu.

To rebuild his team, he looked for someone who could run the business side of Caribu, had a background in education, and was willing to move to Miami. Enter CoFounders Lab, a website that helps founders find each other. After five months of searching he found Maxeme Tuchman.

Tuchman was finishing up a White House Fellowship in D.C. but was from Miami, had run Teach For America Miami-Dade and was a former Miami-Dade County Public Schools teacher. She taught 12th grade Government and Economics to struggling readers, and because of that, recognized how important it was to get the fundamentals of literacy right in the early grades. “I was determined to provide the resources to parents and educational programs that are also focused on ensuring that all of our children have the basic skills to succeed in school and life,” she said.

BMStartupCaribu1200 PhoneDeThe app is free in the Apple App Store and revenue comes from in-app purchases of books that range from free to $3.99. Once Caribu introduces its B2B strategy, it plans to transition to a subscription model that will allow organizations to purchase access for their employees, patients, members, etc. The team is prototyping new literacy products that complement the platform and would add another revenue stream. The app’s bookshelf contains over 200 books, including educational workbooks and drawing pads, from publishers such as Mattel, Ustime and Santillana,in English, Spanish, Mandarin, French, German and Arabic. Caribu plans to include an Android and web version in the next development cycle.

“Caribu has been a huge hit in our house and with my mother-in-law in Las Vegas. She is a speech pathologist and loves that she can see the same thing my son does, so she can help him sound out tougher words,” said Brooks Anderson, a mother of three who lives at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C. “It's interactive and by having a grown-up reading along, my son was able to work on books above his reading level. Anything to help kids with their reading proficiency is a plus.”

Launched: January 2014

Website and social: Caribu.co / @CaribuApp / fb.com/Caribu

Management team: CEO: Maxeme Tuchman / CTO: Alvaro Sabido (pictured above)

Financing: $100,000 from a friends and family round and a $60,000 grant from UK Sirius Programme. Caribu seeks to raise $600,000 in seed capital.

Recent milestones: Officially global. Caribu is available worldwide and features 200-plus books in five languages. Caribu recently partnered with Education.com and Santillana to bring educational workbooks and Spanish-language stories to the platform. The company will also be introducing a new product in 2017 to build literacy skills and reading comprehension."

Biggest startup challenge and why: Taking its mainly B2C (business to consumer) company and incorporating a B2B model where it can license Caribu to partners that can reach more people who need its services, such as hospitals, early childhood centers, military organizations, organizations focused on seniors and corporate clients where employees work late or travel frequently.

“I would say that another challenge, that personally pains me, is fighting to keep our company in Miami,” Tuchman said. “We have a lot of potential investors that don’t know enough about the startup infrastructure here in Miami. I was born and raised here and believe deeply in Miami’s diverse community and the entrepreneurial ecosystem that community investors like Matt Haggman and the Knight Foundation have nurtured here. I want to keep our company in Miami and believe we can build the network of funding and mentorship that we need without leaving to an ed-tech mecca like New York City or Boston.”

Next steps: To move from a reading app to a literacy app. “Most parents know that reading to their child is important, but they aren’t trained to teach their children how to read. There is a huge demand for better apps that enrich literacy skills and have the added benefit of videoing in a tutor/ teacher/ parent,” Tuchman said. The team’s strategy is proprietary but it would involve adding features that will help parents know if and how their child is progressing in their ability to read on grade level. Stay tuned.

Nancy Dahlberg  @ndahlberg 

Read more Startup Spotlights

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How a trip to the Congo inspired a skincare startup

One juicy story: Caribe Exotic offers tastes of the tropics

Would you wear business jammies? Fashion startup creates ultra comfy work clothes

Toy inventors believe 'there's a hero inside every boy'

This startup wants to take you shopping – through virtual reality

Octopi making waves in shipping industry

Mediconecta brings telehealth to emerging markets.

 

December 12, 2016

Uber, Ironhack team up to offer coding bootcamp scholarships to Uber drivers, riders

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By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

South Florida Uber drivers and riders can apply for scholarships to learn to code, thanks to a partnership announced Monday between ride-hailing giant Uber and Ironhack, one of Miami’s leading coding bootcamps.

The partners will offer $100,000 in scholarships to acquire professional skills in coding and design. Two winners will be awarded full scholarships to take one of Ironhack’s bootcamps in 2017, and 50 partial scholarships will be awarded to additional winners.

“Uber’s roots will always be in building world-class technology, and this scholarship will help fuel South Florida’s growing tech ecosystem and startup scene – while making invaluable learning opportunities accessible to even more people looking to launch careers in tech," said Uber South Florida General Manager Kasra Moshkani.

It’s the first time Uber has offered coding scholarships in its markets, however it has sponsored UberPitch events in Miami and other cities that match entrepreneurs with investors, a spokesman said.

Ironhack is located in downtown Brickell at Building.co, a shared workspace for growing tech companies and startups. The school, which opened in Miami two years ago, also has campuses in Madrid and Barcelona.

To apply for the Uber/Ironhack scholarships, Uber riders and driver-partners in South Florida should check their rider or driver app before Dec. 21 and click the posted link to apply to one of Ironhack’s three courses (make sure you have the latest version of the Uber app installed). Scholarship applications must be received by 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 21.

Selected finalists will be contacted for second-round interviews, and winners will have six months to redeem their scholarships at Ironhack.

“Uber is making an incredible opportunity available to deserving students in South Florida who wish to become the next generation of digital creators,” said Ironhack Co-founder Ariel Quiñones, who runs the school in South Florida. “Miami has immense entrepreneurial energy, and there are massive opportunities for people who want to learn how to build and design the products and tools that will improve our lives.”

Interested Uber driver-partners and riders can also apply for the scholarship at Ironhack’s free open house on Dec. 18 at noon at Ironhack’s campus at 120 SW Eighth St. in Miami. To attend, RSVP here. For more information about the event or Uber’s scholarship, contact Ironhack at (305) 907-7086.

In Miami, Ironhack offers five nine-week nine-week bootcamps a year in Web Development and another five full-time UX/UI Design, Quiñones said. This year it began offering part-time courses held over six months to accommodate students with jobs. The goal of all the programs is to gain the skills needed to land an entry-level job in the industry. Bootcamps, capped at 20 students, cost $11,000 in 2017. Ironhack says it has an 83 percent job placement rate for its students within three months of graduation and was ranked Miami’s No. 1 student-rated coding and design bootcamp by national rating site Course Report. For more information, go to Ironhack.com.

On Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Building.co, Ironhack will be hosting its two-year anniversary party and Hackshow, a demo day for students in its most recent Web Development and UX/UI Design cohorts. RSVP here.

December 02, 2016

StartUP FIU helps Miami software startup Addigy scale

Addigy

Jason Dettbarn with part of his Addigy team.

By Jason Dettbarn

Addigy,  a local Miami software company that helps corporations manage their Apple Mac fleet, is preparing to expand its global reach with the help of Florida International University’s StartUP FIU.  Addigy is a quintessential Miami startup with deep roots within FIU.  As founder and CEO, I hold a Masters in Computer Science from Florida International University and cut my teeth in the industry managing worldwide sales operations at Kaseya, a major Miami tech company.  Three years ago, I left Kaseya in order to devote my full energy on creating and building the first full-stack IT management platform for managing Apple Mac computers.

Addigy is a self-funded company based on the sweat labor of extremely talented local Miami talent.  The engineering team consists fully of FIU computer science graduates who have immigrated from Cuba over the past 10 years.  Addigy was recently honored as one of the Top Ten late-stage Miami startups selected for eMerge Americas two years running and is one of the fastest growing companies in StartUP FIU's program.  Building upon Addigy’s 100-plus customers globally that use Addigy to manage their company's world-wide Mac networks, the company’s growth is expected to increase significantly in 2017. Addigy continues to expand at a record pace helping customers not only secure and manage the ever vulnerable Macs in their enterprise, but also helping them attract the top millennial talent, some of whom have never used a PC.

StartUP FIU is an intensive 14-week accelerator program that rapidly guides entrepreneurs through the paces needed to develop their new business ideas into successful growth companies. The accelerator program is open to FIU students, faculty and early-stage startup entrepreneurs in South Florida. All types of companies are welcome including traditional companies, high-tech ventures and social enterprises.

StartUP FIU has been integral to helping Addigy prepare for the next stage in funding and scaling our growth. StartUP FIU has provided us with an abundance of resources at FIU and very deep networks of talent throughout Miami.  Our mentor Mario Cruz (director of Watsco Ventures), for example, has been integral in guiding us through critical areas of the Addigy business.  There is nothing else like StartUP FIU in South Florida, period.

Keep an eye on Addigy as it breaks new ground in Miami and globally in the coming years, as well as the many other great companies being groomed for success in the StartUP FIU Accelerator program in Miami.

Jason Dettbarn is founder and CEO of Addigy, a Miami-based tech startup.

You’re invited to FIU Pitch Day on Dec. 6

Pitch Day is an important milestone for the inaugural Empower Accelerator Program cohort. By this day, StartUP FIU teams will have successfully completed the 14-week Empower Accelerator program. They would have participated in nearly 30 presentations and workshops, taken part in critical mentoring and business advice, and presented their required weekly deliverables in preparation for this one day. It will be 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Dec. 6 at the Graham Center Ballrooms on the Modesto Maidique campus.

To RSVP, click here.

Read more about the StartUP FIU teams here.