April 17, 2016

ClassWallet raises $1.5 million from Idea Bulb Ventures, others

ClassWallet, a platform for school funds disbursement and tracking, has closed a $1.5 million round of seed financing, bringing total fundingto date to $4.03 million, the company announced Sunday. 
 
The priced round was led by Idea Bulb Ventures, a U.S. based Investment company working with China’s Innovation Works, an early stage venture capital firm established by the founding President of Google China Dr. Kai-Fu Lee. Other investors include Techstars Ventures and William Guttman, as well as several education and financial technology angel investors.

“We have a number of investments in the education technology sector and we love what ClassWallet is doing,” says Chris Evdemon, partner at Idea Bulb. "We are excited by ClassWallet’s traction in K12 education and see universal application for its technology.”

ClassWallet’s patent-pending technology combines a virtual wallet with an online marketplace, the company aid. Partners such as Amazon, Office Depot, School Specialty, Scholastic, Nearpod and others in the ClassWallet marketplace accept ClassWallet as form for payment.

ClassWallet partners return SKU-level data to ClassWallet, affording school administration and funders with detailed reporting and pre-approval permissions on every item purchased, otherwise obtained through paper receipts or laborious purchase order processes.  In addition, DiscoverCard and Marqeta, the program manager behind Facebook and eBay’s card platforms, joined forces with ClassWallet to power the ClassWallet debit card for offline purchases such as professional development, field trips and more.  

Founder and CEO Jamie Rosenberg said ClassWallet’s  user base grew over 400 percent last year "and the company has already booked customers to exceed 400 percent growth in 2016.” Customers include some of the largest school districts across the United States including Chicago, Newark, and Broward.


April 14, 2016

Idea.me to expand to Miami, will launch Create Miami campaign to fund entrepreneurs

Idea.me, an international crowdfunding platform, on Thursday announced its expansion to Miami and the launch of the Create Miami campaign, which will help 20 Miami entrepreneurs receive funding for their ideas from investors in the United States, Latin America and beyond. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is investing $175,000 to bring Idea.me to the United States.

The Create Miami campaign will establish a platform to crowdfund ideas from entrepreneurs who are focused on creating social, urban or community impact in Greater Miami. The campaign aims to identify 20 entrepreneurs to feature on the Idea.me platform. The selected entrepreneurs will receive workshops, marketing support and coaching to help with business development and growth, in addition to fundraising opportunities through the Idea.me site. Knight Foundation will match 50 percent of any funds raised through the platform with a limit of $5,000 per project. Applications are open until June 15 at idea.me/createmiami.

Idea.me is the largest crowdfunding platform in Latin America, with more than 110,000 backers who have signed up to help fund cutting-edge ideas. Idea.me has funded about 1,700 projects, mainly in Latin America.

“As an international gateway, Miami was our first choice for global expansion,” said Alejo Nitti, Idea.me director. “Our goal is to engage and connect the Greater Miami community. We want to partner with passionate entrepreneurs to take their creativity around tech and innovation to the next level.”

April 13, 2016

Deadline is Friday for applications to present at Florida Early Stage Capital Conference with $150K in cash awards

The Florida Venture Forum, Florida’s largest statewide support organization for investors and entrepreneurs, in partnership with Space Florida, is now calling for early stage companies from throughout Florida to apply to present at the 2016 Florida Early Stage Capital Conference at the Hilton Carillon Park, 950 Lake Carillon Drive in St. Petersburg on Tuesday, May 17, 2016.  Past early stage presenters have attracted $36 million in funding.

The Conference, now in its 9th year, features presentations by some of Florida’s most promising early stage companies. Presenting companies in space-based technologies will compete for cash awards totaling $150,000 ($100,000 for the Winner, $30,000 for Second Place and $20,000 for Third Place). Space Florida is providing the cash award prizes.

Additional event details and presenter applications are available at www.flventure.org. The final application deadline April 15, 2016.

 

April 08, 2016

6 things not to miss at AngelSummit Americas next week

Angelsummit

By Mack Kolarich

With less than a week left till AngelSummit we wanted to give you a sneak peak at the 6 most exciting happenings during the course of this 2-day conference for current and aspiring startup investors, at the InterContinental Miami, Thursday, April 14th and Friday,  April 15th.

The event will be hosted by Univision’s Silicon Valley Correspondent, Diego Graglia and feature moderators and panelists like CNET en Español’s Claudia Cruz, William Crowder of Comcast Ventures and Christian Seale of  Startupbootcamp.

  1. What’s next for Cuban Entrepreneurs?

Will Cuba truly grow into its nickname of ‘Silicon Island’? Will American startups expand to the country? Will Cuban startups expand their creativity and hustle beyond their borders? Learn what’s next for Cuban founders and investors over the coming years. John McIntire will chat with Cuban entrepreneurs Ubaldo Don of Itopia, Sergio Lazaro of Ingenius and Eliecer Cabrera of ConoceCuba on what exciting opportunities are in store Cuba’s startup community.

This is a panel not to be missed with a very exciting announcement to take place exclusively at AngelSummit Americas.

Keynote: Thursday, April14th at 5:00PM.

  1. Harnessing your city’s angel potential

Techstars has become synonymous with tech disruption and startup acceleration with over 700 portfolio companies and over $2.2B collectively raised since 2006. They’ve made tech startups like Sphero, SendGrid, ClassPass and Plated household names and fostered cities like Boulder, Boston, Seattle and New York City to become some of the most recognizable tech hubs in the world.

Hear from Marc Nager Chief Community Officer of Techstars, one of the world’s foremost experts on startup communities about what it takes to build successful startup communities that activate their local angel community.

Lunch Keynote: Friday, April 15th at 1:30PM

  1. Debut of Lean Angel Workshop

This year, the summit will debut the Lean Angel Workshop as a track for new investors. Developed under the guidance of Brad Feld and other startup investment leaders, the objective of the workshops is to provide new angels, wealth managers and RIAs an introduction to the business of investing in technology startups.

  1. The latest on investment platforms

Startup investing has gotten a whole lot more mainstream in the last decade, and the changing SEC regulations are paving the way for greater investor participation. Don’t miss the perspectives from the entrepreneurs who’ve built some of the most successful investment platforms like SeedInvest and FundersClub, on how they are helping more investors get involved in startups worldwide.

Emerging Investment Platforms: Thursday, April14th at 3:30PM.

  1. Investing in real estate innovation

Constance Freedman of Moderne Ventures will share how her real estate background led her to fund one of the few early-stage venture funds investing in technology companies that are revolutionizing real estate, mortgage, finance, insurance, and home services.

Keynote: Friday, April 15th at 9:30AM

  1. Finding investment opportunities across spanish-speaking markets

With nearly 500 million Spanish speakers and an ever growing Spanish speaking population in countries like the US, the possibilities to invest in countries other than one’s own is increasing. Pedro Sorrentino of Funder’s Club, Hernan Fernandez of Angel Ventures Mexico and Andres Barreto of Socialatom will share why as an investor, you should look for opportunities across the region.

Keynote: Friday, April 15th at 10:45AM

Check out the full 2-day agenda at www.americas.angelsummit.io where you can still purchase tickets and view the full list of speakers. Don’t forget to follow the live action on Twitter by following @StartupAngelsCo and #AngelSummit.

Mack Kolarich is co-founder and VP of Product of Startup Angels and AngelSummit Americas, taking place April 14th-15th, 2016 in Miami. AngelSummits are highly curated gatherings of startup influencers, investors, industry and community leaders for a 2-day conference on the future of startup investing.  Since 2014 they have hosted more than 1,200 participants at Summits in Dallas, Madrid and Chattanooga with Dublin scheduled for June 2016.

 

 

March 16, 2016

New World Angels names new president

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@MiamiHerald.com

After a decade at the helm, Rhys L. Williams is stepping down as president of New World Angels. Stephen M. O’Hara of Fort Myers will become the third president in the Florida angel group’s 13-year history.

OHaraO’Hara (pictured here) has been a member of NWA since 2012 and has served on its Board of Directors and Investment Committee for the last three years. Before joining NWA, from 2003 until 2011, O’Hara was CEO of Angelica Corporation, a New York Stock Exchange listed company until it went private in 2008. Before joining Angelica, from 1998 until its merger with K-2 Corporation in 2003, he served as chairman and CEO of Rawlings Sporting Goods, a NASDAQ listed company. He is currently chairman of the board of Miami-based Kairos, an NWA portfolio company.

“Steve’s impressive for-profit and not-for-profit leadership experiences over a successful 35-year career make him the perfect leader for NWA’s next stage of development,” said Williams, who will become chairman of NWA’s board while he pursues other business interests.

Under Williams, NWA doubled its membership to 60 accredited investors and increased the group’s average deal size to $1 million. In 2015, NWA completed six investments, deploying over $2.8 million in new capital in companies including most recently Raw Shorts of Miami and TAO Connect of St. Petersburg. This follows NWA’s seven investments totaling about $3.5 million in 2014. “We will continue to invest in the most promising, young Florida companies and leaders and keep working closely with our portfolio companies as they grow and develop,” said O’Hara.

With members in nine Florida counties and hubs in South Florida and Tampa Bay, New World Angels is a structured group of private investors investing in early-stage entrepreneurial companies with a significant presence in Florida.

March 04, 2016

Q&A with Melissa Krinzman: Homegrown venture fund gets running start

Melissa

 

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

A number of early-stage investors are just beginning to dip their toes in the Miami startup market, meeting entrepreneurs and mulling over a few deals. But in just two years, one fund jumped right in and created quite a splash.

Already one of the most active early-stage funds operating in South Florida, Krillion Ventures is a $50 million homegrown venture fund founded by two longtime Miami investor/entrepreneurs. Jeffrey Miller is a prominent South Florida business and civic leader. He has been an active investor for nearly 30 years, with most of his holdings in the real estate, banking and energy sectors. Entrepreneurship is in the Miller DNA: His father, Leonard Miller, took Lennar public; today it is a Fortune 500 company and one of the nation’s leading homebuilders. Melissa Krinzman has a 20-year history of launching, growing and advising private companies and nonprofit organizations. She has been active in the entrepreneurship community as a speaker on capital raising and a judge of business plan competitions across the country, including the Miami Herald’s Business Plan Challenge.

“Krillion was born out of a desire to make South Florida an even better place to live and work,” Krinzman said. She met Miller more than four years ago through the Ransom Everglades School: He was chairman of the board of trustees, she was on the alumni board. “We were both Miami natives, career entrepreneurs, had experience growing businesses as well as nonprofit organizations, and shared a common vision about the importance of access to quality education for all children,” she said.

After many discussions about the imminent growth of South Florida’s tech sector and the corresponding need for active “hometown” early stage venture funds to support these nascent companies, they joined forces in January 2014 as managing partners to launch Krillion Ventures (www.krillionventures.com). They picked up the pace significantly in 2015 and closed the year with a total of 17 investments, including an equity crowdfunding platform for startups, an electric scooter-sharing company and a startup aiming to make it easier for consumers and businesses to use digital currencies.

Today, the firm actively invests in financial services, transportation, logistics, real estate and healthcare startups, and has developed a “Miami First” strategy. Eight of its 17 investments are from South Florida.

“We believe that local investors have an exciting opportunity as well as a responsibility to invest in and support South Florida’s next wave of high growth companies that will contribute to more and better local jobs and talent retention,” she said.

Still, Krinzman sees a potentially nasty venture slowdown ahead and believes entrepreneurs need to batten down. The Miami Herald talked to Krinzman about the firm’s first years and plans for the road ahead.

Why a ‘Miami-first’ and not a ‘Miami-only’ focus?

Like all venture capital funds, our primary goal is to earn a return on our investment. We call ourselves a “Miami-first” fund because we prioritize the review of and investment in opportunities in South Florida. Within two years, we have made eight investments in South Florida-based startups, which is approximately half of our portfolio. We have also made investments in early stage companies located in cities such as New York City, Boston and San Francisco. The relationships we make and insights we gain from these investments help our Miami entrepreneurs, and vice versa.

Why have you selected the verticals you have?

For the first two years, we decided not to focus on any verticals. We wanted to cast a wide net and see where it would lead us. This is evidenced by the diversity of our current portfolio. But at the end of 2015, we decided to take a note from New York City’s tech sector. In my role as founder and managing director of Venture Architects, a firm dedicated to helping startups raise investment capital, I saw that the New York-based companies that gained the most traction were the ones innovating in the verticals that New York dominated such as advertising, marketing, financial services and fashion.

So, after a rigorous analysis, we selected five focus areas in which we believe Miami has innate strength — financial services, real estate, health, transportation and logistics — and where we can provide value beyond our dollars invested. Moving forward, our investments will primarily fall into these categories.

What stage do you invest in?

We are making initial seed stage investments from $50,000 to $250,000. Once the company shows traction, we’ll then provide additional investment capital through their Series A, on a deal-by-deal basis. We prefer to be active investors and often take advisory board or director seats.

A differentiator is your nonprofit strategy. How did that develop?

In addition to supporting South Florida entrepreneurs and the overarching technology community, we are also committed to local education and civic initiatives. We believe that one can’t thrive without the other. For example, independent of Krillion, in September 2014, Jeffrey and I were part of the team that opened Beacon College Prep, a nonprofit charter school located in Opa-locka with 240 students in K-3, focused on developing college-bound students. Additionally, Jeffrey is chairman of the board of Breakthrough Miami and supports many cultural, educational and community organizations. And in a few weeks, Krillion will host an event for local investors and entrepreneurs to learn about The Miami Foundation’s leadership agenda, which is looking to the future and addressing transportation congestion, sea level rise and the need for more public spaces — all issues that impact the quality of life for South Florida’s current and future entrepreneurs.

What attributes do you look for in founders?

As we say on our website, we are seeking “one in a krillion.” We review both referred and unsolicited pitch decks from all over the country and hold office hours once a month to meet with local entrepreneurs. Thus far, we have backed entrepreneurs who believe passionately in their goals to solve a problem but who, at the same time, are willing to learn and be flexible. We believe that passion, tenacity and fearlessness are essential. But if not mixed with the ability to accept and process feedback, we’ve seen these three attributes quickly become negatives. We’ve also found that the entrepreneurs who have taken the time to educate themselves about the process and the etiquette of raising capital are the ones who shine.

Please tell us about a couple of your most recent investments. What attracted you to them?

Our two most recent investments were made in December 2015 and both are Miami-based companies — MealPass and Sktchy.

Mealpass is co-founded by Mary Biggins, one of the founders of ClassPass, a membership program for fitness classes across multiple gyms and studios that has raised $84 million from prominent venture funds.

For a flat fee of $99 a month, members can choose to eat lunch at one of over 50 restaurants each day. MealPass launched in Brickell in January and in downtown Boston earlier this month. From the moment Mary started to walk us through her business model, it was clear that she was a seasoned entrepreneur, highly analytical, and extremely focused and hardworking. We also liked that MealPass has a subscription business model and offers a significant cost savings to budget-conscious office workers.

Sktchy, founded by Jordan Melnick, is an app where users submit photos of themselves for inspiration and artists draw, paint or sculpt portraits. The before-and-afters can be discovered and shared on the app. With Jordan, it was clear that he had a deep understanding and connection with his audience and a steadfast vision for Sktchy. We immediately saw the simplicity, usefulness and addictiveness of the app, as well as the significant opportunity to provide a marketplace for these talented artists to sell their sketches. We believe the company is poised for exponential growth and can’t wait for the marketplace to launch in March so that the sketches can be purchased from the talented community of artists.

What keeps you up at night?

The venture investing and valuations have recently begun to lose velocity, a repeat of 2000 and 2008, when the venture market slowed to a crawl. In my mind, the only question is, how long will this one last? Having experienced both of the downturns up close and personal, it wasn’t pretty. But most local entrepreneurs that I have spoken with haven’t even begun to think about gathering the hurricane supplies that they’ll need to wait out the storm.

Investors are already putting on their battle gear. Those who have horses in the race are running the numbers to figure out which ones they are going to bet on and which are being released into the pasture. And they have already slowed down their decision-making and will wait out the storm in order to acquire new investments at attractive valuations.

On the other hand, optimists by nature, I haven’t seen many entrepreneurs suiting up. Our advice to entrepreneurs is to educate themselves about the past two market downturns by reading the recent articles by investors and entrepreneurs who survived them, revise their game plans and pro-actively cut costs to make sure their businesses will continue to thrive during the lean times ahead.

In general, how would you characterize the deal flow you have seen from South Florida?

Drawing from a broad and diverse gene pool, it is not surprising to us that potential deals in South Florida come in all sizes, shapes, colors and patterns. And we’ve seen a steady increase in the pure number of South Florida-based companies that are seeking investment capital. From our perspective, both are very good things.

Nancy Dahlberg; 305-376-3595; @ndahlberg

Melissa Krinzman

Investor: Managing partner of Krillion Ventures, a $50 million Miami-based early stage venture capital firm that actively invests in financial services, transportation, logistics, real estate and healthcare startups.

Business planning: Krinzman also founded Venture Architects, a business planning firm that has positioned early and growth stage companies for success in the capital-raising process since 1998.

Previous experience: Part of founding teams for three prominent, national nonprofit organizations.

Board appointments: Vice chairwoman of the board of The Miami Foundation as well as a board member of Beacon College Prep and the Ransom Everglades School Alumni Board. She also serves as a board member or adviser for a number of Krillion Ventures' investments.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in English and American studies from Tufts University.

Three most recent books read: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi; The Most Important Thing Illuminated: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor by Howard Marks; and The Prize: Who's in Charge of America's Schools? by Dale Russakoff.

More about Krillion Ventures: KrillionVentures.com.

March 01, 2016

Former Facebook VP Alexandre Hohagen will lead Miami-based Nobox

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Nobox1Alexandre Hohagen, who formerly headed up Latin America for both Facebook and Google, has acquired Nobox, a pioneering full-service marketing agency based in Miami. He will be CEO and partner. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Hohagen will bring his experience with advertising and technology in these markets with the goal to further enhance the agency's relevancy and footprint for its marquee clients including Netflix, PlayStation, Hotel Tonight, Marriott, Copa Airlines, Royal Caribbean and Volkswagen. Nobox, already a multi-million agency with a focus on the Latin America market, also has a keen focus on digital and social with more than 15 years in the market.

“Nobox's work for some of the world's leading brands, bringing relevant digital strategies to Latin America, made it quickly the most consistent digital agency in the region. We were attracted to Nobox because of the combination it brings of creativity and technology, to achieve amazing results for its clients. We are thrilled to be part of it,” Hohagen said in a statement announcing the transaction. Hohagen, most recently vice president of Latin America and U.S. Hispanics at Facebook, left the social media giant in early 2015 and has been an investor and board advisor based in Miami in recent years.

In addition to Hohagen, Pedro Cabral, founder and former CEO of Agencia Click in Brazil and former chairman of Isobar Global, will become the new chairman and investing partner, joining Nobox co-founder Jayson Fittipaldi, who will remain as chief creative officer. Carlos Garcia, co-founder and former CEO of Nobox, will remain a partner and advisor on innovation as he leads a new venture in marketing tech called HYP3R.

In 2016, Nobox has the opportunity to continue developing in the U.S. Hispanic and Latin America region, even though some markets are going through tough times, Hohagen said. “We see a big opportunity in Latin America. We believe that now is the perfect time for us to grow, especially as some markets struggle. Our approach is very much focused on impact and results; and that's exactly what clients will be focused on moving forward.”

READ MORE: Digital marketing agency Nobox goes all-in on Latin America, flexes social muscle

Nobox2

February 02, 2016

Magic Leap lands $793.5 million in mega-funding round led by Alibaba

MAGIC%20LEAP 2

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Magic Leap’s future is coming into focus, as a historic mega-round of funding could sharply accelerate its path to commercialization.

The secretive South Florida technology company working on a computing platform that simulates reality has raised $793.5 million in a new round of venture capital financing led by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group.

In the largest funding round of its kind, Magic Leap’s Series C investors also include Warner Bros., Fidelity Management and Research Co., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley Investment Management, Magic Leap said Tuesday. Existing investors Google, which led a previous funding round of $542 million in late 2014, and Qualcomm Ventures also participated. Alibaba Executive Vice Chairman Joe Tsai will sit on Magic Leap’s board, joining Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

The latest round pushes Magic Leap’s total funding to almost $1.4 billion. The funding will give Magic Leap a post-money valuation of $4.5 billion – that’s for a company that has yet to reveal its technology to the world.

“This funding allows us to accelerate the move from product development to pilot manufacturing, manufacturing and commercial launch,” said Magic Leap founder and CEO Rony Abovitz, in a phone interview Tuesday morning. “But beyond that, this gives the company a very long-term runway – effectively we can be sustainable. We may not need to raise capital again – it doesn’t mean we won’t – but it gives us the ability to think well beyond the initial product launch.”

It also brings Magic Leap a strategic partner in Alibaba, which will help introduce Magic Leap's technology to the Chinese market and the more than 400 million people using Alibaba's platforms.

“We invest in forward-thinking, innovative companies like Magic Leap that are developing leading products and technologies,” said Tsai, in a statement. “We believe Alibaba can both provide support to and learn from such a partner, and we look forward to working with the Magic Leap team.”

Abovitz called Alibaba his “first-choice strategic partner,” adding that “Google re-invested in this round significantly so we will have a great Internet company in the West and a great Internet company in the East helping us fulfill our mission of creating the next computing platform.”

Magic Leap, a company Abovitz founded a few years ago in the proverbial and literal garage, is currently headquartered in Dania Beach and is building a massive facility in Plantation. The company is developing a computing platform that will enable people to seamlessly combine and experience their digital and physical lives, said Abovitz on Tuesday, without revealing specifics about the technology.

“We want the digital world to bend to your physical life, your real emotional life as a person, and we don’t want you to bend to computers,” he said. “We are forcing our technology to fit people’s lives the way it was before computing. I think of this as a conceptual computer, a computer based on context and awareness that will help you be more intelligent. It will make you smarter, not a machine, and it will deliver an Internet of presence and experience rather than just data.

“Computing today is like watching a shark on an iPhone, but when you are snorkeling you are experiencing it in the present, it is really there. We want to do that on the tech side,” added Abovitz, who grew up snorkeling and scuba diving in Florida. “We want this to bring you joy and emotion, experiences that you may never be able to have.”

Calling its technology “mixed reality,” a combination of virtual and simulated reality, the company is reportedly creating a wearable device, perhaps a headset, that would use a type of light-field technology to simulate 3-D images superimposed on the real world by projecting patterns of light to the eye. It is different from Facebook’s Oculus or Microsoft’s HoloLens, Magic Leap says.

As an example, Abovitz said the technology will bring film, games and books to life like never before, but it will also allow you to buy a must-have pair of Italian shoes, bringing the runway in Milan to you.

“All this means we have had to invent and create a lot of new technologies, some of which we will be mass fabricating here in our factory in Plantation; others we will be fabricating in our supply chain around the world.”

Abovitz has not yet disclosed when its first product would be hitting the market and few outside the Magic Leap family have seen the technology – which is highly unusual for a tech company attracting this range of venture capital. Likening it to how artists or film directors deliver their creations to the world, or even to the Beatles, his favorite band, Abovitz said the world will be happy it waited to see the finished product.

“I’m a big believer in really putting our heart and soul into the product, crafting it so that when we do launch it is finished and it is great. .. It should be like the Beatles making Sergeant Pepper and then they drop it ... The public got to hear Sergeant Pepper in its full glory and that was really fun ... Hopefully in our own way we will do something along those lines.”

Although funding rounds have been getting larger, this size round is historic for a company at this stage. Nikhil Krishnan, tech analyst with CB Insights, a data-analysis firm that closely tracks the venture capital industry, said Magic Leap's round of $793.5 million is the largest Series C round that CB Insights has tracked, with the next largest being $500 million rounds raised by Wish and Zenefit. For some context, the median Series C size since 2010 is $12 million, he said. This is also by far the biggest investment in the nascent but growing AR/VR space, bigger than the last four quarters of investment into the space combined, Krishnan added. All this and “Magic Leap doesn't have a commercial product yet to launch, and has been pretty much stealth about what's happening within the company,” he said.

Also highly notable is the funding group Abovitz has assembled, Krishnan said. In its previous round, Magic Leap assembled a group from all different industries, including venture capitalists such as Obvious Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz; corporations such as Google and Qualcomm Ventures, financial institutions and even film companies such as Legendary Entertainment.

“This was already a group of some of the top investors in their respective fields,” said Krishnan. “This new round of financing was led by Alibaba, providing a good entry for the technology into foreign markets. Warner Bros also participated, fortifying a strategic partnership that will help bring them into studios, and a host of crossover investors with deep pockets that can finance these types of large rounds, Wellington Management, T. Rowe Price, Morgan Stanley, etc.”

Alibaba has invested in about five U.S. startups a year since 2013, according to CB Insights data. Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma said last year that the company would fund U.S. tech startups and help them expand to China.

While most tech companies doing what Magic Leap is attempting would likely be in Silicon Valley, Magic Leap is headquartered in Dania Beach and moving its team to a 260,000-square-foot facility under construction in the former Motorola facilities in Plantation. Magic Leap, which also has locations in Silicon Valley’s Mountain View as well as Santa Cruz, Los Angeles, Seattle, Austin, the United Kingdom New Zealand and Israel, employs about 500 people with more than 200 in South Florida. Local and state governments last year approved $9 million in economic incentives to create 725 jobs with an average salary of $100,000 by 2020. Abovitz, a University of Miami alum who studied biomedical engineering, co-founded the pioneering robotics firm Mako Surgical in Davie, which was sold to Stryker for $1.65 billion in 2013.

“We are setting up our facility in Plantation, we’re hiring, and I currently expect that to be the primary hub of the company although we are setting up centers of excellence built around the U.S.,” said Abovitz. “We really want the greatest brains in the world, creative and technical, and we are also going where these brains are and setting up these centers of excellence. Think of it as a core planet, which is here, and satellites around it.”

In Plantation, the company will do pilot production runs, but also will be manufacturing parts for Magic Leap’s commercial shipments.

“We hope we will be part of reinvigorating the Florida and U.S economy. We are believers in that – that’s going against the grain, but we think that’s the right thing to do,” Abovitz said.

Noting Magic Leap’s group of long-term investors, Abovitz said, “You don’t change computing in one day, it’s something you do with great collaborative partners. ...Now it’s heads down for us and we will be accelerating everything. We are super focused on our getting first product out and getting it right, and letting it speak for the company. We know we have to deliver against high expectations.”

Nancy Dahlberg; 305-376-3595; @ndahlberg

This post was updated at 1:30 p.m.

January 30, 2016

Daymond John to speak at American Entrepreneurship Award kick-off at MDC Feb. 4

Daymond


Entrepreneur Daymond John of ABC’s Shark Tank will hold a fireside chat during the kick-off presentation of the American Entrepreneurship Award (AEA), a new annual award program that provides startup funding of up to $25,000 for entrepreneurs that is sponsored by the Libra Group and the Idea Center. The free event will be at Miami Dade College at 11:30 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 4.  

The AEA is a business plan competition that seeks to stimulate entrepreneurial spirit through practical support, expert mentorship by industry leaders and start-up funding for America’s most promising early-stage businesses.

John, an AEA celebrity judge, will share with participants about being an entrepreneur the “Shark Tank Way.”  An entrepreneur in every sense of the word, John has come a long way from starting FUBU with $40 to growing it into a six-billion-dollar brand. The founder of FUBU, Presidential Ambassador of Global Entrepreneurship, and co-star of ABC's Shark Tank is a celebrated pioneer in the fashion industry, best-selling author, branding guru and highly-sought-after motivational speaker.

At the launch event, attendees will also have the opportunity to meet past winners of the Hellenic Entrepreneurship Award, the sister program to the AEA that has been running in Greece for the past four years, and learn how winning accelerated their own entrepreneurial and business success.

Entries can be submitted via an online application, which  opened on The American Entrepreneurship Award website on January 28, 2016. Entries will be due April 29. Winners will be announced in June 2016.

To register for the event, please visit http://aealaunch.eventbrite.com

WHAT:            American Entrepreneurship Award with Daymond John

WHEN:            Thursday, Feb. 4, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. (Doors open at 11 a.m.)

                        (Daymond John to speak at 12:10 p.m.)

WHERE:         The Idea Center at Miami Dade College

315 NE 2nd Ave., Building 8, 5th Floor

Submitted by Miami Dade College.

Read past coverage of the American Entrepreneurship Award here.

January 27, 2016

South Florida fintech startups invited to compete at Temenos’ series of innovation events

Temenos, the market-leading provider of mission-critical solutions to the financial services industry, has announced its investment in creating various platforms that will allow fintech companies and start-ups to pitch their products and solutions to the world’s largest financial institutions.  

“The Fintech Innovation Jams provide a unique opportunity for us to engage, identify and partner with the hottest fintech companies in the world. Through the Temenos MarketPlace, fintechs get access to the more than 2,000 financial institutions running our software, who serve more than 500 million banking customers. Our clients in turn get access to cutting-edge innovation, making it a true win-win situation,” said Ben Robinson, CMO for Temenos. He added that “Latin America is a region bubbling with technology innovation and we are excited to help propel fintech to the forefront as a sector with great opportunities for innovative entrepreneurs.”

The series of events will include demo presentations from fintech companies and startups showcasing their innovations to Temenos’ world class banking customers. It will also include presentations from various thought leaders providing insights to the opportunities that market disruptive forces offer to innovative companies, including a feature presentation from financial disruption guru and best-selling author, Brett King.

Fintech companies and startups can register for a demo slot by January 29, 2016 (subject to the rules of entry) and compete for an opportunity to win a place in the Global Innovation Jam finals taking place at the upcoming Temenos Community Forum (TCF) in Barcelona, in May 2016.

About the series:

-           March 10, Miami

-           March 22, Singapore

-           April 6, Dubai

-           April 13, London

The Miami Innovation Jam will take place at The Lightbox at Goldman Warehouse in Miami’s Wynwood Arts District. Each demo will last for 7 minutes and the audience will vote to choose two winners at the end of the event.

For more information, visit the Innovation Jam Miami page.

- Submitted by Maria L. Mancuso, FinTech Americas