Want to know about Miami startups? A user's guide to this blog

Dear reader, Starting Gate has been providing and archiving South Florida startup and tech community news, views and resources since 2012. New to the Miami area? Thinking about relocating here? Just want to keep up with news, events and opportunities? We're there for you.

How to use Starting Gate: Besides scrolling the blog for the latest entries, you can access news and views by category. The "Funding" category will capture venture capital and angel funding news of individual startups as well as stories about funders. The startup categories chronicle news and my regular "Spotlights," and in Q&As you'll find interviews with CEOs and leaders in the entrepreneurship ecosystem. There are also categories for guest posts, views, accelerators/incubators, resources, events and more.

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

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

March 21, 2018

Can South Florida lead the future of work?

David
Employees need — and companies should be providing — avenues to gain new skills in things like artificial intelligence, blockchain, design thinking and analytics. Skills can't be siloed, and we have to think about more than technology. The ideas that are shaping the next wave of businesses are born out of curiosity.

- David Clarke, PwC  

Johanna
Since technology skill sets are in such high demand everywhere, it’s not sustainable to expect that we can poach from other markets. We need to invest and commit to training, developing and hiring talent locally.

- Johanna Mikkola, Wyncode Academy

Laura

I believe we won’t work from an office anymore. We won’t work for just one company. We will work per project, we will be more entrepreneurial, we will feel we will own our careers and our dreams again. I think the future will be fascinating.

- Laura Gonzalez-Estefani, TheVentureCity

 

By Romina Ruiz-Goiriena

Miami is booming with startup activity. Over the past decade, South Florida tech companies are booking tens of millions in revenue and employing hundreds of employees. It’s happening across other industries too. But, cultivating a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem is a process--one that can’t be done without digital transformation.

In business, digital transformation has become the buzzword of the hour. So much so that companies are now not only tasked with advancing their technological innovations, but also the personnel to support those innovations. So how can companies develop the digitally savvy workforce needed to make Miami a hub for the future of business?

This month, business festival NewCo Miami (March 25-26), showcases the companies that are shaping the future of business, and among them a few addressing the digital workforce transformation head on. We asked NewCo Miami presenters David Clarke, Global Chief Experience Officer of PwC, Johanna Mikkola, Co-Founder of Wyncode Academy, and Laura Gonzalez-Estefani, CEO of TheVentureCity, about the realities of digital transformation and how South Florida companies must prepare.

Let’s start with the biggest misconception of all: Many organizations define digital transformation as synonymous with IT. What does digital transformation mean?

David Clarke, Global Chief Experience Officer, PwC [DC]: Digital transformation is NOT migrating your enterprise systems or managing systems integration — that’s an IT function.

Digital transformation is making your organization fit for the digital age. An age of disruption, innovation, and heightened competition. Successful digital transformations change businesses inside and out while harnessing the power of technology to create new experiences. Digital transformations reimagine business models and products with a digital-first mindset while also improving experiences for the people in the business, including employees, suppliers and partners. To succeed, we must change the way we work, that includes the technology we use, and the behaviors we engage in.

Johanna Mikkola, Co-Founder Wyncode Academy [JM]: Digital transformation is usually synonymous with technology because every industry is a technology industry. There is literally no company that can build, design, and market products without the use of technology.  

Laura Gonzalez-Estefani, CEO, TheVentureCity [LGE]: What is digital transformation for me? It’s a mindset, a leadership type of thinking. It’s being able to take decisions based on data and not based in intuition and being able to operate fully through technology. To do that, you have to prepare your business to give you its "vital signs" in real time in a way that allows you to predict challenges and opportunities. Deep diving into all things business — team, processes, financials, expansion plans, legal, customer support — and being able to apply the required tech so that your business runs faster, smarter and more efficiently. It’s not just about transforming the way your IT (tech infrastructure), marketing or customer relationship processes are built. It’s about a new way of thinking and executing as leaders with technology at your core.

How does digital transformation and readiness directly correlate to the future of the workforce?

[DC] People are integral in shaping, deploying and powering digital transformations. We can invest in emerging technology, but without skilled workers to guide it, it will have little to no success. I believe that the power is in the people — not the technology. And right now, to successfully complete digital transformations that grow business, we need to dramatically change how we’re approaching development for our workforce. Employees need — and companies should be providing — avenues to gain new skills in things like artificial intelligence, blockchain, design thinking and analytics. Skills can't be siloed, and we have to think about more than technology. The ideas that are shaping the next wave of businesses are born out of curiosity. The problems and improvements that we can make for our customers and talent have to come from everywhere, not just a special incubator within the business. With those needs in mind, PwC's Digital Workforce Transformation helps businesses achieve successful digital transformation, starting with the workforce. Our workforce upskilling solution is powered through a mobile application called the Digital Fitness App, which provides personalized corporate training that’s currently being used by thousands of PwC employees, and we're developing customized versions for other companies too.

[JM]: Workforce preparation comes down to quality training and education. Ensuring high quality and access to this type of training is what will help build a solid ecosystem in South Florida. Since technology skill sets are in such high demand everywhere, it’s not sustainable to expect that we can poach from other markets. We need to invest and commit to training, developing and hiring talent locally. We have seen first hand through 500+ developer graduates working at over 230 companies that this is not only possible but already happening.

[LGE]: The sooner you learn and embrace the opportunity it brings to your business, the sooner your business is going to run smarter. There are so many different things your business is doing already relying on tech. Rather than adapting one piece at a time, think it through once, roadmap and start to execute. Artificial intelligence will make certain jobs disappear and others be created. Education needs to change so that new generations get ready for what’s coming. It’s impossible to compete with AI when we still study like we did 50 years ago. There is a huge gap there that we need to solve or the workforce won’t be ready. I believe we won’t work from an office anymore. We won’t work for just one company. We will work per project, we will be more entrepreneurial, we will feel we will own our careers and our dreams again. I think the future will be fascinating.

How does a company continue to work toward integrating what we now consider foundational technology (i.e. cloud, analytics, mobile, UX) while also keeping up with new technologies (i.e. IoT, AI, robotics)?

[DC]: Companies should invest in technologies that align with their overarching business strategy and goals  not just adopt the latest technology for the sake of being ‘cutting edge.’ Businesses need to be laser focused on customer needs and only implement technologies that smooth processes. Human experience is the strategy, and technology enables it. I’ve never seen a company solve its problem through a technology strategy.

[JM]: Companies need to invest in technologies that improve the customer experience. Foundational technology is now expected, and companies need to be at the forefront of that field. Those who are can focus on testing new technologies and how they apply best to their industry.

[LGE]: You need to execute the upcoming opportunities in a smart way, thinking long-term and ambitiously. Transforming a business in terms of tech means exponential growth if done well. You need to transform and educate your talent first, insert that mindset and operate towards it.

What are the biggest challenges the entrepreneurial ecosystem faces when it comes to tackling digital transformation?

[DC]: I think the toughest challenge is preserving some of the "start up" mentality after a company has matured. Growing while being able to stay nimble, continuously improve and build new things is the biggest challenge, and entrepreneurs, like CEOs of legacy companies are under tremendous pressure to stay competitive. This factor, and the challenge of preserving talent and keeping them motivated are the two biggest challenges I see.

Every year we take the pulse on the Digital IQ of business and IT executives around the world. In our 2017 Digital IQ Survey, we found that just 52% of companies rate their Digital IQ as strong. The most common obstacles companies face when tackling digital transformation include lack of properly skilled teams, outdated technologies, lack of integration of new and existing data and tech, and inflexible or slow processes.  Often, executives don’t even have the skills needed to guide an organization’s digital strategy. People have to be at the center of transformation projects, which often up-end years of processes, habits and cultural baggage.

[JM]: The biggest challenge is getting over the thinking that technology is only for developers. Understanding the language of technology (coding) is already as important as executing on things like marketing, finances and hiring. In the same manner in which we all learned to read and write but didn’t necessarily go on to be published authors, having a baseline understanding of coding will empower you to be a better entrepreneur.

[LGE]: I don’t think it’s that different from other places around the world. Maybe, this city is even in a better position because we are used to facing challenges constantly. It’s in our DNA. We are always ready to fight whatever comes our way. So, this is more of a call to action to start thinking about the opportunity we have to become the fastest digitized state of the U.S.

What are the biggest opportunities for businesses?

[DC]:  The biggest opportunity for businesses is creating a great culture, one that’s centered on experience for both customers and employees and powering growth. Among all this new technology, the focus needs be on real people — and a lot of times this is a huge missed opportunities. Businesses that create a strong culture, maintain a good employee experience, and move quickly are the ones that are set up for success.

[JM]: Diversity. Unlike established technology ecosystems that have a deeply rooted diversity problem, Miami has an opportunity to show that a diverse ecosystem is not only possible but will produce the best talent and the best products. For example, given that women make up 47% of the workforce and account for 85% of household buying decisions it makes sense that a product’s creators and builders be more reflective of their end user, meaning attracting more women makes business sense. In turn, it leads to stronger products and services and thus better businesses.

[LGE]: Let’s keep our talent home. Let’s create meaningful jobs here for the brains of the future that normally leave. Let’s be more open and inclusive to the crazy ideas the younger generations have and they want to test; from drone-based shipping to self-driven car circuits. Let’s have South Florida running on clean energy and transform the educational system completely, teaching kids coding and entrepreneurship from the very beginning of their school years.

Register for NewCo Miami here.


Romina Ruiz-Goiriena is a seasoned journalist and digital media entrepreneur who has worked in Paris, Cuba, and Israel for France24, El Mundo, and Haaretz. Most recently, she co-founded Prowell Media in 2016, a digital media news company that produces content for 14 million people across Mexico and the U.S. Previously to returning to Miami in 2015, she worked for CNN out of Guatemala and The Associated Press, where she reported on key regional issues such as migration and drug trafficking. She consults for media projects including Newco Miami, by M + D.  You can follow her on Twitter @RominaAdi.

March 09, 2018

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

Women

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

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

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

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

Register for the Event:

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

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

- Submitted by Aminta Ventures

February 12, 2018

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

Futureoftravel

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

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

Read about the 10 startups here.

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

Voyhoywinners

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

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

Daycation

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

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

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

 

February 04, 2018

The Entrepreneur and The Investor: Advice from both sides of the table

All about extraordinary exits and the journey to them: Ryan Cohen, CEO of Chewy.com, and angel investor Jason Calacanis share views at two separate events.

  IMG_7963

Angel investor and author Jason Calacanis and Melissa Krinzman, co-founder of Miami's Krillion Ventures, discuss investing in startups at Refresh Miami's event  Jan. 30. Earlier in the day, Ryan Cohen, CEO of Chewy, and David Coddington, VP at the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, shown below, discuss the startup journey at the Florida Venture Capital Conference in Fort Lauderdale

  Cohen

 

 One day in South Florida, two separate conversations, priceless insight.

Last Tuesday, during the day, Ryan Cohen, co-founder and CEO of Chewy.com, took the stage as the keynote speaker at the Florida Venture Forum's Florida Venture Capital Conference in Fort Lauderdale, for a couple hundred investors, entrepreneurs and service providers from around the state. In the evening, angel investor extraordinaire Jason Calacanis gave an entertaining, but insightful interview in front of 350 from the tech community at Refresh Miami’s monthly event.

Cohen sold his Dania Beach-based e-commerce company for $3.35 billion to PetSmart last year; it was the largest ecommerce deal in history and the biggest exit in South Florida. The pet supplies retailer is a homegrown success story, and as he relayed the Chewy story in an on-stage discussion with David Coddington, VP of business development at the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, it was clear the journey was anything but easy.

Cohen, who started his first business at 14 creating websites, said he started Chewy in 2011 to replicate the same great customer experience of a neighborhood store, but online. He used Zappos as a model and inspiration. When he needed capital to grow, he approached more than 100 investors – and they all passed. “But I thought there’s a chance … we are on to something genius. I just felt with scale we will prove them wrong,” said Cohen.

Challenges were setting up the company for hyper growth. The year 2014 was transformational, he said, because Chew went from having virtually no experience with operations to it becoming its core competency. “In order to scale to a billion dollar company we had to go through that, but it was very, very challenging. … Our management team was working 7 days a week 16 hours a day and everything that could go wrong went wrong.”

So what went right? Customer service was its differentiator.

“We are 100 percent customer obsessed. We want them to feel as though they would never dream of shopping anywhere else. We’re human we get it, and we really care about their pets,” said Cohen, who owns a teacup poodle. After all, this is the company where hand-written holiday cards writing is a massive department; 5 million Chewy customers received them last year.

Today, Chewy has more than 7,000 employees; about 1,500 in South Florida, including a giant new call center in Hollywood. It’s got six warehouses, including one recently opened in Ocala.

“I’m persistent, I’m obsessive, … I’m relentless, I’m a contrarian. When all these VCs passed I didn’t change our business plan at all,” said Cohen.

He said scaling a company is not for everybody.

"Scaling a business is going to test you physically and emotionally. ... It is a huge act of selflessness and dedication and if you are ready for it, it is going to be a crazy, crazy, crazy roller-coaster and it will be a the journey of a lifetime." If not, he said stick to your day job.

Calacanis would agree with that. 

That evening, at the Refresh Miami event, Calacanis’ conversation with Melissa Krinzman, co-founder of Miami-based Krillion Ventures, gave a view from the other side of the table.

“Startups are a shitshow, they are a complete utter disaster,” the angel investor with a private syndicate, author and podcaster said. Calacanis hosts a popular podcast called “This Week in Startups,” has authored the new book, “Angel: How to Invest in Technology Startups” and created Launch Festival and Launch Scale and Launch Incubator, among other endeavors.

 Just don’t get him started on ICOs. Uh-oh, Krinzman did.

“I have seen this movie before. It’s not going to end well,” said Calacanis. “It’s a giant scam right now, 90 percent are incompetent, criminal people. UPDATE: For his rant on ICOs, watch this just-published video below! (rant starts at about 12:30.)

But once he [sort of] got back on track, Krinzman asked Calacanis, an an early investor in Uber and scores of other startups) about the questions investors should ask themselves. Among them: Why have the founder chosen this business? Why is he/she doing this? How skilled are the founders and the team and what do their customers think?

His advice to entrepreneurs: Go big.

“We need to take big bold risks,” he said. “If something doesn’t have long odds, it’s not worth doing as an investor or an entrepreneur. Don’t do the easy things, do the hard things.”

For startups raising money (always), he said the stakes are higher.

“I want to see what you are capable of. …. It’s a different world than 10 years ago. You have to up your game.  Traction speaks, show me your traction.”

Signals of a downward spiral”: If the founder stops sending you updates.

“I always know when I hear I am going to WebSummit or Summit at Sea, that is a really bad sign. I go, 'why don’t we summit revenue, why don’t we summit hiring a CTO?' ”

While a great entrepreneur can come from anywhere he thinks opening up an office and spending some time in Silicon Valley is a good thing. “You have to be cutthroat.”

For some practical advice he listened to three pitches by South Florida startups. Some of his advice, in no particular order:

  • Never read a script, it becomes robotic. Say it is your own words.
  • He’s not a fan of unpaid pilots. “You need to know if people are willing to pay for it, you need to get that piece of data.”
  • Always include an example of how your product or service would work and walk us through it.
  • The more reality you can give investors the better. Answer the questions crisply.
  • Get to the point sooner. When you have the nuts, you got a get to this immediately.

  UPDATE: I can’t do his talk justice, so watch the show below, courtesy of Refresh Miami.

 

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

January 31, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

Meet the finalists:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Submitted by LAB Ventures Miami

 

January 23, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 27, 2017

Buzzfeed and NBCUniversal discuss the future of digital advertising in the age of Google, Facebook

The Starting Gate 1 2017.12.14_BizHack_Wellington_GuzmanDSC_8355

 

Two leaders of the international expansion of some of the world’s largest and fastest growing media companies spoke in Miami about the strategic importance of their growing digital audiences overseas, particularly in Latin America. Top sales executives from NBCUniversal and Buzzfeed met before a packed audience at Venture Café Miami this month to discuss the challenge of growing their digital advertising business at a time of growing industry domination by Facebook and Google.

Silvia Bruegger of NBCUniversal said Latin America is a growth market for digital ads. Forty percent of NBC’s online video views of English-language content, such as Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, actually comes from audiences in Latin America. These Latin American viewers account for 1.9 billion video views a year on YouTube.

“There is a sophistication of the audience in Latin America, of Colombians and Brazilians and Mexicans,” said Silvia Bruegger of Latin America TV and Digital Advertising Solutions at NBCUniversal. “They are curious to know what’s going on in the U.S. And they want snackable content they can watch on their phones.”

Bruegger said that NBCUniversal, which owns dozens of television networks and film studios, is exploring new ways to deliver digital advertising to the underserved market in Latin America. For example, NBCU offers an advertising program called Social Synch that allows brands to post promotional content on more than one thousand online social media handles it controls, such as feeds from Jimmy Fallon and other TV stars. And last year NBCU launched Audience Studio, a one-stop shop for data-driven ad targeting.

Buzzfeed, named The World’s Most Innovative Company by Fast Company in 2016 for its innovations in clickable content and native advertising, similarly sees untapped revenue in its international audience. The company has a global audience of 650 million people, half of them under age 35.

“About 50 percent of Buzzfeed’s audience is outside the U.S.,” said Matthew Drinkwater, who is Buzzfeed’s Senior Vice President of International Expansion. “But a much smaller percentage of our revenue comes from outside the U.S.”

NBCUniversal is actually Buzzfeed’s largest single investor, having invested $400 million dollars in the company.

The importance to media companies of increasing ad revenue overseas is underscored by the growing dominance of Google and Facebook at home. The IAB earlier this year estimated that Google and Facebook captured 77 cents on every digital ad dollar spent in the U.S. in 2016. And the Internet giants are growing their lead, accounted for an extraordinary 99% of every new ad dollar spent in the US in 2016. That means the average growth rate for every other media company was close to zero.

“The fact is that our part of the market share is frozen, and we’re fighting that,” Bruegger of NBCUniversal said. “It forces us to push the boundaries and reinvent ourselves.”

“It does keep me up at night,” Drinkwater said, adding that Facebook and Google “need our content to keep audiences spending time on their platforms. And the ROI [return on investment] that we get as a media content provider is not quite adequate.”

Drinkwater said the challenge to all other media companies when competing for digital ad dollars is the advertising platforms built by Google and Facebook work really well. The Facebook Ads and Google Adwords platforms are self-service, relatively easy to use and allow an advertiser to track their return on investment.

“They both built really great mousetraps,” Drinkwater said. “If I were a small or medium business owner, I would absolutely put a bunch of my budget into those platforms.”

SEE A RECORDING HERE: 

 

The event was part of the BizHack Presents speaker series and was moderated by Dan Grech, a former journalist at The Miami Herald, NPR’s Marketplace and PBS’s Nightly Business Report.

The four-year-old public speaker series about innovations in digital marketing, entrepreneurship and media has featured guests from IBM, 500 Startups, Google, Facebook, Twitter, The Washington Post, and Stanford University.

The audience of more than 100 entrepreneurs and business owners asked the speakers what lessons they could share about how Miami businesses could learn to use digital advertising to grow.

“It took six months of daily work learning on the job before I started to feel like I even knew what I was doing in digital marketing,” said Dan Grech, the founder and lead instructor of BizHack, a digital marketing academy that’s trained more than 200 entrepreneurs and business owners in South Florida. “I don’t want any other professional who decides they want to learn digital marketing to grow their business or level up to get that promotion to have to go through six months being lost in the woods.”

-Submitted by BizHack

The Starting Gate 3 2017.12.14_BizHack_Wellington_GuzmanDSC_8353

November 29, 2017

'The Future' is Dec. 14 - Miami startups to unite for massive holiday party at a secret location

 On December 14, something massive is happening in Miami. It doesn’t involve the beach, models, bottles or any of the glitz, glamour or beauty that Miami has become known for.

In a secret location somewhere in Little Haiti, the city’s coders, creatives, founders and investors will gather. The celebration will bring together the entire Miami startup ecosystem for one night, and one huge party.  Attendance is expected to exceed 1,000 attendees, nearly triple last year’s 1st annual event at Wynwood Yard.

here is much to celebrate from the year past and for the even brighter future that lies ahead for the Magic City.  The party is aptly named, The Future. It’s produced by Miami made., a grassroots organization uniting Miami’s top founders as one tribe committed to a collaborative startup community that thrives together with founders backing founders.

“Many startups here in Miami don’t have the time, money or resources to host a holiday party for their company for all employees, investors and favorite service provides. Now they can all celebrate together as one community,”  said Miami made founder Barry Stamos.

Joining Miami made. in creating an ecosystem wide holiday party in partnership with nearly every organization involved in Miami’s startup scene. This includes Refresh Miami, The LAB Miami, Endeavor Miami, Building.co, CIC, Ironside, WeWork, Creative Glue, 1heart, Prism, AGP, New World Angels, The Venture City, Rokker, Unbound, Bridges Unite, Reset and others…. The event is generously sponsored by Knight Foundation, JP MorganChase, Wyncode Academy, Innergy Meditation, A.N Other and Springtech Partners

“Miami has a lot to celebrate and even more to look forward to. As an organization dedicated to helping the founders of Miami thrive, we felt compelled to help create a collective celebration. We are proud to be Miami made!” added Brandon Evans, co-founder of Miami made.

Much of what will occur at The Future celebration is being kept secret. The location, performers, and other surprises are being withheld. Just like the actual future, you can’t predict it, you can’t fully know it. Most of those in Miami best at predicting the future will be in attendance, but they too will have to wait to realize how glorious The Future will be.

Here’s what we can tell you:

Date: Thursday, Dec. 14 @ 8:00pm - late

Location: Secret Location in Little Haiti (to be revealed at 11:11am on Dec. 14)

Tickets and info: bit.ly/thefutureparty - Early bird prices currently available. Tickets start at $15 and go up to $750 for a VIP table for 10 for those companies that want to bring their team in style.

 

Sponsorships: Limited sponsorships still available. E-mail weare@miamimade.org for details

List of Sponsors: Knight Foundation, JPMorganChase, Wyncode Academy, Innergy Meditation, A.N Other, Springtech Partners

List of Community Partners: Refresh Miami, 1heart, Endeavor, WeWork, LAB Miami, CIC, Building.co, The New Tropic, Ironside, Prism, AGP, New World Angels, The Venture City, Rokker, Unbound Miami, Bridges United, Reset MIA

Find event details here: bit.ly/thefutureparty.com

-submitted by miami Made

November 15, 2017

ITPalooza is back Dec. 7 and SFTA has big plans for it

Itpalooza

 

The South Florida Technology Alliance announced its 6th annual ITPalooza  will take place on Thursday December 7 at a new venue, The Greater Fort Lauderdale-Broward County Convention Center, located at 1950 Eisenhower Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale.

ITPalooza-Logo-White-500x500ITPalooza is an annual gathering of South Florida's technology professionals, CIOs and CTOs, user groups, educators and companies. This year’s event will feature over 120 exhibitors and more than 2,000 registrants, 50 speakers and tech meet-up and user groups from across South Florida are expected to attend the biggest and best ITPalooza ever.

“ITPalooza 2017 is a celebration of technologists in South Florida,” said Rick Sebaly, SFTA’s immediate past president and this year’s ITP event leader. 

This event Includes Educational Speaker Tracks, Keynotes, several panel discussions, Agile Group, Expo, charity toy drive, After Hours Tri-county vBeers Networking event and VIP After-Party. ITP will also feature a dedicated Management Track in conjunction with the CIO Council of South Florida focusing on the unique needs of CIOs and other top-level IT executives.  

IT User and Meet-up groups are invited at no charge provided they bring an unwrapped toy for Toys-For-Tots. They will be entitled to a display table and free admission for their members after 5:30.

ITP registrations start at 8 AM with the following schedule:

8:45 a.m. Opening Remarks by Tom Conophy, CIO, Autonation

9:00 – 7:00 P.M. Expo and Vendor Exhibits

9:00 a.m. Morning Keynote Address by Corey Williams

10:00 a.m. Panel: The Impact of Women in Tech

11:00 a.m. Panel: Entrepreneurship

12:00 p.m. CIO Council CIO and VIP luncheon featuring Kyle Leciejewski, VP, Dell EMC – Dell’s perspective on the industry

1 P.M. Afternoon Keynote

 Additional panel discussions from 2:00 to 4:00 P.M.

5:00 P.M. Awards Ceremony and Toys for Tots presentation

5:00 P.M. – 7:00 P.M. Tech Groups and Meet-Ups

5:30 P.M. – 8:30 P.M. Tri-county vBeers beers and networking

5:30 P.M. – 8:30 P.M. VIP Cocktail/Dinner Reception

Since its inception in 2012, ITPalooza has raised more than $193,000 in cash and toys   for various South Florida non-profits including Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ STEM Advisory Board, The Stockdale Foundation and US Marine’s Toys for Tots.   

Admission is $65 or they can bring two unwrapped toys - for the “Toys for Tots” charity and pay only $35.  VIP tickets are available for $250, providing participants access to all CIO and ITPalooza events with breakfast, lunch, dinner and entertainment included – plus entry into VIP Lounge.  Student admission to evening events only is $15, with the presentation of a valid student ID.

Admission to the after hour tech meet-ups and vBeers events are free – just bring a toy.

Online registration can be accessed at itpalooza.org/tickets.  VIP and Student tickets are also available for purchase. Information on sponsorship opportunities is also available on the site.

- Submitted by ITPalooza

 

November 10, 2017

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

 

Startup Weekend_preview

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Submitted by Palm Beach Tech