December 07, 2016

Deadline is Friday to apply to present at Florida Venture Capital Conference

The Florida Venture Forum, Florida’s largest statewide support organization for investors and entrepreneurs with offices in Tampa and Miami, is in search of 20 - 25 later stage companies to tell their story to a national audience of investors and business professionals at the 26th annual Florida Venture Capital Conference being held February 2 - 3, 2017 at the Waldorf Astoria in Orlando.

Presenters at past Florida Venture Capital Conferences have raised approximately $3 billion in equity capital. More than 500 people attended the 2016 Conference, including 200+ private equity investors from across the U.S., Europe and Latin America, representing billions of dollars in deployable capital.

Companies from across Florida in all industries with dedicated management teams, proprietary technology and high growth potential are encouraged to apply.

Detailed application criteria and the presenter application can be accessed online www.flventure.org  (hard copy submissions will not be accepted). The final deadline to submit is December 9, 2016.

November 15, 2016

CareCloud raises $31.5 million to compete in changing healthcare market

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

In CareCloud’s world, when you walk into your physician’s office, you aren’t handed that ubiquitous clipboard but rather a tablet and you enter your information — just once. And after the appointment, your doctor can serve up a bill for the growing portion not covered by your insurance with a transparent, consumer-friendly way to pay.

To that end, CareCloud, a Miami-based management platform for high-growth medical groups, announced Tuesday it has raised $31.5 million to finance its continued growth. Investors include a diversified financial services leader, The PNC Financial Services Group, and commerce technology giant First Data Corporation. Blue Cloud Ventures joined as a new investor and led the round.

With this capital injection, CareCloud has raised about $102 million since its founding in 2009. The company’s prior investors participated in the new Series C financing round, including Norwest Venture Partners, Intel Capital, Tenaya Capital and Adams Street Partners. Earlier this year, the company previously entered into a $15 million debt financing agreement with Wellington Financial and that was included in this round.

ComeeThe homegrown healthcare technology company will use the new capital to rapidly grow its team and its clinical and financial platform, said Ken Comée, who took the helm as CEO in April 2015.

“We are seeing more and more that patients are becoming payers. Our deductibles are rising faster than ever. Where just a few years ago we were paying a $20 or $30 co-pay, 4 percent of our overall bill, now we all face potentially thousands of dollars a year in medical deductibles,” said Comée, in an interview Monday.

“Doctors are ill-equipped to have that consumer-oriented point of sale, and that is where we are focusing our growth — the patient payment side of healthcare technology,” Comée said, adding that the company released a research paper Tuesday on the trends. “We’re modernizing the healthcare experience for both physicians and patients at the precise point where care happens — the medical practice.”

CareCloud’s cloud-based platform streamlines workflow for medical practices — everything from electronic health records to accounting and insurance to patient interaction — and is tailored to medical groups focused on expanding operations, especially in cardiology, general surgery, orthopedics, dermatology, ophthalmology, neurology, internal medicine, urology and family medicine specialties. “You need a technology platform that is flexible with tools as easy to use as we see in banking, shopping and our other everyday activities,” Comée said.

CareCloud, founded by Albert Santalo, currently manages more than $4 billion in annualized accounts receivables. CareCloud now has nearly 300 employees, about 200 of them in Miami, said Comée. He declined to disclose revenues, only saying that the company is selling to multiple growing multi-million-dollar practices.

Previously, Comée was CEO at Cast Iron Systems, a cloud integration company acquired by IBM. He was also CEO of PowerReviews, a leader in product ratings and reviews, also acquired, and CEO of Badgeville, a gamification startup. Before assuming the helm of CareCloud, he was a CareCloud board member, investor and operational adviser for three years.

While the $20 billion-a-year marketplace is crowded with competitors, Comée said many of the traditional players still use 20- or 30-year-old technology. “They aren’t growing; they are not taking on new business,” he said.

To be sure, the fast-moving tech company has suffered growing pains with reports of layoffs and turnover in the past three or four years. Still, Comée said CareCloud has hired 118 people since he came aboard. In August, the company held an inaugural weekend hackathon for the company and community with cash prizes, and ended up hiring three people.

Nancy Dahlberg: @ndahlberg

Read more: From 3 to 300 - CareCloud hires three from hackathon and looks to hire a dozen more

October 31, 2016

With $750K in new funding, what's ahead for The New Tropic? Expansion

Newtropicphoto

Photo from The New Tropic

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Boosted by growing community engagement and new funding, media company WhereBy.Us, publisher of The New Tropic, announced its first expansion outside South Florida. The Miami startup is taking its New Tropic business model to Seattle, “with more cities on the way,” said CEO and co-founder Christopher Sopher.

The New Tropic serves up a popular daily newletter, with about 30,000 subscribers. It offers stories and tools on its website, such as a how to decipher ballot initiatives or understand sea level rise and its engaging neighborhood guides. It also partners with organizations that run events, and produces some of its own; its recent debate watch event at Gramp's (pictured above) was packed. “Whether it is a forum on a really tough civic issue or it’s a beer tasting, these kinds of things are all happening in the same moment in Miami, and we think that is really fun,” Sopher said in an interview Friday.

Through the expansion, a Seattle team of journalists has started a sister company, Evergrey, which launched a digital newsletter last week with plans for a website and events to quickly follow. The New Tropic has raised $750,000 from Knight Foundation’s Enterprise Fund, the AGP Miami angel network, Tilia Media and other angel investors. WhereBy.Us’s staff has expanded from three to 13 in the past two years.

The funding will help Whereby.Us expand to new markets but also  continue building a technology platform for serving and engaging the Miami community. The tech tools help the team understand what gets millennials and other residents motivated to want to experience the city so that The New Tropic can  help them get connected to issues they care by  serving up information useful in these pursuits. “We take a concept where there is a lot of interest, like the voter guide, and make it into something that fits the digital behavior of people, optimized for mobile and is ready for people to explore or share. We see big opportunities for those kinds of resources,” Sopher said.

In a medium post last week, Sopher described the research that went into launching The New Tropic two years ago with Rebekah Monson and Bruce Pinchbeck: “We vetted financial models, gathered advisors, and secured a bit of funding. But nothing tests your assumptions like a sudden impact with the real world. Fortunately, somewhere between exploring Miami’s dive bars, diving into transit policy, and running Pitbull for Mayor, The New Tropic started to catch on.”

The New Tropic will be launching a new version of its website in the coming months and plans a couple of local conferences in addition to expanding to new cities next year. The community-focused mission isn’t changing, Sopher said: “We’re diving deeper into it and running faster.”

He adds, “It’s easy to get lost in the coding or scaling or fundraising or some other aspect of building a company, but at the end of the day if you don’t understand the community you serve in a deep way, it’s hard to build something that lasts.”

October 26, 2016

LocalBlip of Fort Lauderdale received $225K New World Angels investment

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Merchants who complain about using Groupon may now have a more affordable and flexible alternative.

New World Angels is investing  $225,000  in Fort Lauderdale-based LocalBlip to fund its market entry into South Florida. Through its website and mobile apps, LocalBlip provides merchants and consumers with more affordable and customizable local programming and marketing tools versus sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial that require expensive, inflexible contracts.

LocalBlip’s founder and CEO Nick Mazzio has identified the largest problem with current online couponing sites as not providing merchants the flexibility to adjust their offers in real time and being cost prohibitive for most small businesses. LocalBlip allows merchants to target local customers without long term contracts or onerous offer terms. Small businesses can now leverage the power of couponing and online marketing at a fraction of the cost of the current large discount/coupon sites.

 “New World Angels is delighted to fund the initial roll out of LocalBlip to South Florida,” said NWA President Steve O’Hara, in a news release.  “When our due diligence team, led by John Benckenstein and Randy Wood, provided its usual detailed insights, team member Barry Spiegel started using LocalBlip for his Dunkin’ Donuts franchises, affording us real time experience with the LocalBlip product.”

New World Angels is a group of 63 accredited, private investors that  provide equity capital to early-stage entrepreneurial companies with a strong presence in Florida.   NWA has invested $8 million in the last three years.

 

October 25, 2016

Knight invests $1.1 million into The LAB Miami expansion; new CEO named

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Lab Miami

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

The LAB Miami, one of South Florida’s co-working pioneers, on Tuesday announced expansion plans that include the launch of two entrepreneurship programs and a new CEO. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is investing $1.1 million to support The LAB’s evolution.

With the new funding, The LAB Miami will launch a venture builder called LAB.Ventures, which will work with entrepreneurs, engineers and designers to test and build promising business ideas. The program aims to incubate several technology startups by 2019, the majority of which will be run by women and minorities. The LAB Miami announced it will also launch LAB.ID, which will use educational, community programming to encourage greater collaboration between startups and established businesses.

“The LAB is evolving to match the growing needs of our community. For more than three years, it has played an integral part in connecting innovators and forging new collaborations,” said Matt Haggman, Miami program director for Knight Foundation, on Tuesday. “[The LAB] will now also work to close gaps that still exist in our startup ecosystem by helping entrepreneurs foster relationships with business players and find the funding they need to scale and grow.”

TIGRE_WenrIchThomas “Tigre” Wenrich will be the new CEO. Wenrich is an active angel investor and startup mentor who helped Open English, a online English language education company, raise over $120 million in venture capital funding while serving as its founding CFO/COO. Prior to Open English, he was a partner at The Boston Consulting Group, a leading strategy consultancy to the world’s largest companies, where he worked for 16 years. Over the years he has been a mentor for Venture Hive’s startups and he is an investor and on the board of Miami startup LiveNinja.

The LAB Miami, co-founded by Wifredo Fernandez and Daniel Lafuente, opened its 10,000-square-foot center at 400 NW 26th St. in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood in late 2012, with $650,000 in initial funding from the Knight Foundation and a group of local investors. It offered co-working space and community programming at a time when there were few resources for entrepreneurs in Miami and co-working was coming alive in other cities. Over the years, the LAB has attracted a diverse membership of entrepreneurs, techies, nonprofits and artists, hosted hundreds of events, including its monthly Brainfood speaker series, and is the home of Wyncode, a coding school (a Wyncode Pitch Night is pictured above). The LAB currently has about 150 members, Wenrich said.

But since 2012, a wave of co-working spaces have swept in, including the global WeWork chain that has in the last year opened two 40,000-square-foot centers in Miami Beach, a 62,000-square-foot center at Brickell City Centre and has a 100,000-square-foot downtown Miami facility on the way and plans for more. The LAB has also gone through a number of management changes since Fernandez, then CEO, and Lafuente, then CFO, stepped down from the top management jobs in 2014. Wenrich replaces Ricardo Mesquita who came aboard as CEO in August 2015 and left the position about a month ago to return to Europe.

Wenrich said co-working will continue at The LAB but “we don’t view that as something we want to grow – we think that market is well served. We asked, what can we do next and how can we leverage what has been built there?”

LAB.Venture will not be an accelerator, which works intensely with startups for a set period of time to get them to market or the next level. Instead, the LAB.Ventures team, which includes Marco Giberti and Juan Pablo Cappello, will focus on solving problems for local industries and “will bring together educational resources and our own experiences building businesses to help build other successful businesses in Miami,” said Wenrich.” “We’re looking for big problems to be solved and bring them together with capital and great entrepreneurs guided by us and turn them into big companies.”

The LAB.ID will build on progress The LAB has already connecting corporations with startups. Over the years, a number of large companies have had offices at the LAB and have hosted events and workshops. This programming will be increased, and corporate partners will help LAB.Venture startups do pilot testing, Wenrich said.

“We’ll find an opportunity, invest a small amount of capital to build an initial minimum viable product and take it to our corporate partners and try to do a proof of concept. When we find something that we think has legs, we’ll invest in hiring a team to scale it up and take it to market,” said Weinrich. “Eventually we will look for outside capital for these businesses at a later stage.”

Wenrich said The LAB is in the process of raising several million dollars from private investors. Over the past three years Knight has made more than 200 investments in entrepreneurship in South Florida.

 

October 14, 2016

South Florida companies dominate state's venture funding in a weak Q3

Money (1)

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Venture capital investments in Florida companies plunged again in the third quarter, compared to a year ago, according to a new report released Friday. Still, South Florida companies led the state, and thanks to Magic Leap’s mega-raise in the first quarter, Florida is still on track for its best year since 2000.

Nearly $92.8 million flowed into Florida companies in 18 venture capital deals in the third quarter, according to the MoneyTree Report from PricewaterhouseCoopers, based on data provided by Thomson Reuters. That’s about half of the take from a year ago, when $182.1 million was invested in 13 deals. The third quarter also trailed the $101.2 million in 22 deals invested during the second quarter, according to MoneyTree.

Florida, despite being the country’s third most populous state, typically takes less than 1 percent of the venture capital pie, and that was again the case in Q3.

South Florida firms dominated the funding in the state, hauling in more than $79.5 million, or 86 percent of the state’s take. The top five deals were all from South Florida, led by a $40 million investment in Woundtech (Podicare) of Hollywood, a later-state wound-care management services company.

Other top deals, according to MoneyTree: Altor Bioscience, a biotech company based in Miramar, $14 million; Nymbus, a financial technology software company in Miami Beach, $12 million; Zenedge, an Aventura cybersecurity company, $6.2 million; and Iatai Enterprises, a Boca Raton fin-tech company, $5 million. Vigilant Biosciences, Carson Life, OrthoSensor and Synkt Games, all of South Florida, were also funded in Q3.

The numbers over time show growth in early stage deals in Florida and that is a good sign for the future, said Darach Chapman, PwC’s leader of its deals practice in Florida.

“The startup base is generating quality ideas and opportunities," said Chapman, who is based in Miami. "It doesn’t surprise me that we see South Florida, in particular, as a breeding ground .. because of the diversity of perspectives that come together here.”

Nationally, venture capitalists invested $10.6 billion in 891 deals in the third quarter of 2016, according to the MoneyTree Report.

Total venture dollars deployed to startup companies for the quarter decreased 32 percent and total deal count was down 11 percent, compared to the second quarter when $15.6 billion was invested in 999 deals. Compared to Q3 2015, dollars and deals are down 36 and 25 percent, respectively. The third quarter also saw fewer mega-deals; Airbnb’s $555 million investment led all the deals.

Whether the VC bubble is bursting is a matter of debate, but it's clear it's in a slowdown.

The headline of the report is that dollar and deal values are down over Q2 and over last year, Chapman said. But Q3s are usually seasonably softer quarters and in presidential election years they are softer still, he cautioned. “From a sector perspective, I think we’re seeing an evolution away from pure software plays. … Looking at Q3's top deals, it’s more diversified, … but we’re still seeing technology companies disrupting traditional sectors.”

As the fourth quarter gets underway, it's clear Florida will have the best year since 2000 when $3 billion in venture was raised. The strong 2016 is thanks to Magic Leap's $793.5 million raise in the first quarter, more than three quarters of the $1.05 billion raised in the state so far.

MoneyTree Report results are available at http://www.pwcmoneytree.com/.

 

October 12, 2016

Crowdfunding for all: What it means for entrepreneurs and economy

JasonBest

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Sherwood Neiss and Jason Best (pictured above), along with a third partner Zak Cassady-Dorion, spearheaded the writing of crowdfund-investing legislation in the 2012 JOBS Act ratified by President Barack Obama. They have also authored “how-to” guides for entrepreneurs and investors looking to raise money from the crowd and invest in crowdfunded opportunities.

Since regulated crowdfunding was legalized in the United States — the third prong of the crowdfunding legislation that allows many more people to invest went into effect in May — the serial entrepreneurs have continued to champion crowdfunding. Working with governments and stakeholders in Mexico, Colombia, Turkey, Canada and the United Arab Emirates, they are helping to educate the world about harnessing the multibillion-dollar crowdfunding movement. Regulation crowdfunding allows any American startup or small business to raise up to $1 million on debt and equity crowdfunding platforms registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Their company, Crowdfund Capital Advisors, is a partner in the U.S. State Department’s Global Entrepreneurship Program. Neiss and Best have testified in front of the U.S. Congress and presented at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, the World Economic Forum in New York, the Global Entrepreneurship Forum in Istanbul and the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Dubai.

In September, Neiss and Best conducted a daylong workshop on crowdfunding at Venture Hive, an entrepreneurship education company in downtown Miami. “The two of them saw this incredible need and have been fighting all of our battles to make it happen,” said Susan Amat, founder of Venture Hive. Venture Hive partnered with Neiss and Best on one of the first accelerated education programs for entrepreneurs navigating crowdfunding.

Neiss1Neiss (pictured here) shared his own war stories about raising money the traditional way for one of his former startups, FLAVORx, when he spent months knocking on rich people’s doors and meeting with venture capitalists around the country. “It’s exhausting, and it totally takes your eye off the ball of your company.”

While crowdfunding can be a far more efficient tech-enabled solution to raising investment funds, Neiss is quick to point out that it’s not for everybody.

“Crowdfunding is not a fishing expedition,” Neiss said at the event. Instead, crowdfunding is raising money from friends, family and followers who are already engaged in what the entrepreneur is doing, he said. “You have to know your crowd.”

Best said he was happy to see that the final regulations contained significant measures aimed at lowering risk, such as income and investment caps and a test on risk tolerance. But make no mistake, he said: equity crowdfunding is a risky business for investors. While the rewards could be rich, the reality is that the majority of startup companies fail.

While donation-based crowdfunding has exploded in popularity, critics of regulated crowdfunding warned of a wild wild west of fraud. Yet, since May 16, when Title III (which opens regulated crowdfunding to the masses) was approved, more than $10 million in capital has been committed to campaigns, most of that into California companies, according to a new index that CCA publishes on its website, crowdfundcapitaladvisors.com. About a third of the 120 offerings so far have been funded. So far, the process has been slow and measured, Neiss said.

Here are excerpts of history, best practices and tips for success that Neiss and Best shared with workshop participants and in follow-up questions from the Miami Herald.

When most people think of crowdfunding, they think of Kickstarter, but you saw this as just the beginning. How did you get started?

Kickstarter and Indiegogo (unregulated, donation-based crowdfunding) can be incredibly powerful if you have a prototype. You can test the market and see if there is truly a customer for your product, as well as raise money to produce your product. As the product is up there, people are giving you valuable feedback, and you can use that product validation to go to retailers to sell your product.

The opportunity we saw was to create crowdfund investing not just for consumer products you can pre-sell through Indiegogo, but maybe you have a B2B startup or a traditional business and you need to expand your operations. In August of 2010, we asked ourselves, “If you can give away money on Kickstarter and lend money to entrepreneurs in developing companies via Kiva, why can’t you invest in businesses with products you use everyday?” That was the jumping-off point for us.

But setting out to change securities laws that haven’t changed in 80 years … takes equal parts stupidity and naivete, which we brought loads of to this process to make change. In 2011, we created the Startup Exemption Framework and began walking the halls of Congress and talking to anyone who would listen. … By opening the opportunity for regular Americans to invest in businesses that they know and trust, this could help spark job creation, innovation and American entrepreneurship. … In 2012 we were in the Rose Garden when President Obama signed the JOBS Act into law. It was a surreal moment.

Fast-forward, and in 2014 Title II of the JOBS Act went into effect. In 2015, Title IV, and in May of this year, Title III went into effect. In August, our firm launched an index that tracks crowdfunding on a day-to-day basis. We and Venture Hive are looking at the data results over time to continue to hone and build best practices. Now we are working with 37 countries around the world to change regulation in other countries, we are working with fin-tech companies in the industry, and we are investing in tech companies that are building this infrastructure.

What are the differences between the three crowdfunding JOBS Act titles?

Briefly, Title II provides the ability to raise money from accredited investors or wealthy individuals. Instead of having to know someone to know someone, I can go to one of these platforms. It saves the entrepreneur time, energy and money, cuts down on the funding cycle and brings the process online. … It can be appropriate for tech startups looking for connected investors.

Title IV, also called the Reg A-Plus, offers the ability for companies to raise up to $50 million, from accredited and non-accredited investors, but the documentation costs are substantial. It is more appropriate for large, sophisticated companies, such as a regional brand looking to expand nationally. … It allows for what is essentially a mini-IPO … But the reality is that most companies aren’t ready to do Reg A-Plus offerings, and the majority of them fail.

Title III offers the opportunity for regular investors to invest in companies they use every day or entrepreneurs they believe in. There are limits to how much you can invest, per investment and per year. Those are put into place to help people understand these are high-risk investments … but they also give you the ability to invest in those deals and participate in making the economy grow.

Crowdfunding can make entrepreneurs better entrepreneurs because it trains them early on on what investors need to make an informed decision. If they do it right, they get the capital that they need from the people that they know.

What are some tips for creating a successful campaign, whether it’s donation-based, such as Kickstarter, or a campaign seeking investments in exchange for a stake in the company?

Look for 10 successful campaigns that were similar to yours. What platforms were they using? How did they tell their story successfully? It’s also important to look at a few that failed. Understand where they fell short and what you can do to not repeat their mistakes. Call up the founders; you will be surprised how open they can be.

Your campaign video is incredibly important. "Watch a lot of videos to see what has been successful and what has not.

Your video is your front door to your offering. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it has to look good. Plan 12 hours for filming that two- to three-minute video. No matter how well you think you know your business or opportunity, write a script. Take your time to get it right.

Before a campaign starts and you are setting up the campaign page, begin establishing media contacts. You want to have a big first couple of days. Share your campaign before it is live; that is the way you get PR.

You need to bring your own crowd to your crowdfund. Most of your investors will likely be LinkedIn connections, people you already have a relationship with. You have to be able to connect with them emotionally so they understand what you are trying to achieve. Customer service is important, too. Your crowd already feels connected, so you need to spend the time answering their questions, listening to their suggestions, etc.

If things go wrong, and they will … get out in front of the issue and communicate openly and honestly with your crowd about what went wrong, how it went wrong and what you are doing to mitigate the problem.

Crowds often contain “smart money,” or investors with experience or connections that may be able to help you. Always communicate early and often with your crowd.

You talk a lot about post-campaign. What is some advice on that?

It’s really important to satisfy your first customers. They will be your brand ambassadors, and they will give you critical feedback.

Post-campaign, thank your supporters. Then communicate how you will communicate with them — is it emails, a LinkedIn group, Twitter? They need to understand how they can track your progress. You can use video, audio and photographs in your updates to them. You just raised money for your business, and you will need to raise more and build your crowd out over time.

Engage your crowd and you can can return to them over time, whether it’s for money or their expertise or their feedback.

What happens if your campaign doesn’t make it over the finish line?

First, thank those people who supported you. Then look at the campaign and the product or service or company and what you were trying to build. One of the the magical things about crowdfunding is the opportunity to understand what your product market fit is before you build thousands of products and try to scale a business. It may be that that product that you fell in love with, that you thought would hit its target, didn’t quite do that. Or maybe it just needs a tweak or a pivot.

Should you try again? The answer is maybe. Look at it to see if there’s a tweak or pivot, or it might be time to move on.

What are some other benefits?

We’ve worked with many different entrepreneurs around the world. In addition to learning a lot, they have gained press exposure, they made long-term business partnerships, found other types of investors over time, and they have found new customers.

What does the data you are tracking show about how equity crowdfunding has gone so far?

About $10 million has been committed to regulation crowdfunding campaigns since it launched May 16. Based on the number of offerings going live each week and the growth of investor commitments, we estimate by the end of the first year, May 2017, $100 million in capital commitments will be made. We think this represents a logical start to the industry. It shows that investors are being methodical with how they deploy capital and that companies, that otherwise wouldn’t qualify for bank financing or hit the sweet spot of Angels or VCs, are finding capital from engaged communities.

What are some key trends you are seeing in the early campaigns?

Looking at all the campaigns, you can tell that those that have well-produced videos — that include the entrepreneur and discuss the market opportunity and how they will use the proceeds — get funded over campaigns that just show videos that explain the product or service.

The data also show early signals that regulation crowdfunding is living up to its expectation that it will help main street businesses that don’t qualify for traditional financing. Those companies that have realistic valuations are getting funded three-times faster than companies that have set unrealistic valuations for their firms. And companies that have robust disclosures are getting funded over those whose disclosures seem almost whimsical.

Nancy Dahlberg: 305-376-3595, @ndahlberg

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October 10, 2016

itopia raises $3.5 million to fund growth

Jon Lieberman Photoitopia  has secured $3.5 million in funding to accelerate its growth, the Miami-based technology company’s CEO said on Monday.

itopia, founded in 2012, is in the “Workspace-as-a-Service space and is the only technology company offering an end-to-end, cloud workspace management platform designed exclusively to help IT service providers simplify the migration to and ongoing management of cloud services from a single dashboard, said Jonathan Lieberman, itopia co-founder and CEO.

“The global market is rapidly moving to a cloud-first world where businesses are demanding that their IT service providers deliver secure and seamless access to data anywhere, anytime and on every device,” said Lieberman, in a statement (pictured at right). “Our new funding exceeded our target and the time is now to capitalize on the market growth and the potential around WaaS by providing channel partners with the technology and tools they need to lead and thrive in this new reality.”

Ubaldo Don Photo (1)itopia said it plans to use this funding for expanding channel development teams, including inside and field sales, digital marketing and partner support; enhancing itopia’s IT service provider partner program with additional training and educational resources; and accelerating itopia’s innovative engineering effort.  “With this new funding, itopia gains the resources to generate greater awareness for its proprietary Cielo cloud workspace management platform,” said Ubaldo Don (pictured at left), itopia co-founder and CTO. itopia would not disclose total funding raised.

The new funding is co-led by John McIntire and Eric Kamisher, both early investors in Open English and other ventures, and IT industry leader Sean Charnock. McIntire and Kamisher will join Charnock on itopia’s Board of Directors. Other prominent local investors who are also on itopia's board include Bill Pruitt, founding investor in Mako and VirtualStream, Sherrill Hudson, former Chairman of the Board and CEO at TECO Energy and Managing Partner at Deloitte, and Steve McKean, Co-Founder at Acceller and BillShark.

itopia has 33 employees including its software development team and plans to grow to more than 50 soon, Lieberman said. Nearly 1,500 leading enterprise software applications are certified on itopia’s platform, with new applications added regularly. Last year, itopia was just named one of the 15 coolest cloud companies by CRN, a well-respected technology industry publication.

September 08, 2016

Aventura-based Zenedge, a cybersecurity company, closes $6.2 million financing round

Zenedge, a  provider of cybersecurity solutions, announced Thursday that  it has completed a $6.2 million Series C investment led by growth equity investor Pilot Growth Equity.  Pilot Growth led the round with a $5 million investment, with additional funds coming from Zoho Corporation, as well as from existing investors TELUS Ventures and Yehuda Neuberger. 

The financing will be used to fund Zenedge's continued global expansion, sales and marketing activities and for further investment in its patent-pending technology. William Lee, co-founder and managing director at Pilot Growth, will join Zenedge's board of directors. With this new Series C round, total investment in the Aventura-based company is $13.7 million.

Founded in July 2014, Zenedge provides organizations a cloud-based enterprise-class, managed cybersecurity Infrastructure-as-a-Service to help secure their web applications and networks against vulnerabilities and DDoS attacks. Unlike other Web Application Security solutions in the market, Zenedge said it leverages patent-pending deep machine-learning capabilities to detect anomalies, dynamically alter security postures, and initiate auto-mitigation and automatic routing with minimal to no human intervention. This allows the company to provide better cybersecurity and faster time to mitigation than traditional cloud and on-premise cybersecurity vendors, ultimately resulting in less and shorter business interruptions, while helping reduce operational costs, said its founder and CEO, Yuri Frayman.

 “We are thrilled to welcome Pilot Growth to lead our Series C round and have William Lee join our board of directors, as they represent a partner that provides us not only with capital, but vast strategic experience and relationships,” said  Frayman, who sold his last company to Google. "We are also excited to welcome Zoho, already a strategic Zenedge customer, as a new investor in this round.”

 

September 07, 2016

New World Angels invests $538K in Gainesville medical device company

It's been an active year for the New World Angels.

This week, New World Angels announced the completion of its third investment in OBMedical, the developer of a wireless fetal monitor.

NWA closed a $538,000 investment into OBMedical’s Third Series Convertible Notes.  OBMedical has recently begun sales and marketing of the LaborView, an FDA-approved wireless device designed to replace current cumbersome fetal heart monitors used during labor.   The OBMedical LaborView interfaces to existing legacy fetal monitors and provides enhanced performance combined with total freedom of movement as compared to ultrasound devices in common use.

“New World Angels is delighted to continue to support the growth of OBMedical and the expansion of a product that improves the labor and delivery process for women,” said NWA President Steve O’Hara, in a statement.  “New World Angels’ member, Dr. Scott Dresden, has worked closely with management since our original investment in September, 2014 serving on OBMedical’s board for the last two years.”

Previously, New World Angels had invested $1.1 million in OB Medical’s Series 1 Convertible Notes and $527,500 in OB Medical’s Series 2 Convertible Notes.  The Series 1 and Series 2 Convertible Notes were converted into Series A Preferred Stock in May 2016. OBMedical is based in Gainesville.

New World Angels, based in Boca Raton,  is a group of 63 accredited, private investors, operators and entrepreneurs dedicated to providing equity capital to early-stage entrepreneurial companies with a strong presence in Florida.

NWA's 2016 investments include both add-on investments in portfolio companies and new investments including Synkt Games, a South Florida-based sports fantasy game startup, Miami-based Kairos, a facial recognition software company, and Gainesville-based Admiral, which has developed software to prevent ad blocking. Its biggest investment this year has been $750,000 in Polarean, a Durham, N.C., company with Florida operations that has developed a device to improve the readability of lung scans. Early this year, NWA announced it led a $1 million investment round in Miami-based Raw Shorts, a Miami startup that enables users to easily create explainer videos.