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.

February 17, 2018

How LaunchCode is tackling the tech talent gap in Miami with the help of community partnerships

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By Matt Mawhinney

Air Force veteran Judy Rincon was balancing her transition back into civilian life and being a single mother when she saw a newspaper article about LaunchCode, a nonprofit creating pathways for driven people seeking careers in technology. Although coding was something she never considered, Judy took the free class, honed her skills and started her journey on the path to become a developer.

“Being completely new to coding was frightening,” Judy admitted, “but the devoted LaunchCode staff made this new journey an effortless one for me.” This week, Judy was thrilled to find out she has been placed with MasterCard and will begin as an apprentice next month. “Working hard and staying focused throughout the program wasn’t easy, but well worth it in the end.”

Judy’s story is not uncommon to the staff at LaunchCode, which opened an office in South Florida in 2015 thanks to a grant from the Knight Foundation. LaunchCode provides free technology education to aspiring technologists like Judy looking to get their foot in the door without having to go into debt.

LaunchCode was founded as an innovative solution to the shortage of talent to fill tech jobs in America. Code.org estimates there will be 1 million more computing jobs than applicants who can fill them by 2020. By creating pathways for nontraditional students to enter the workforce, LaunchCode gives employers a low-risk way to add fresh, diverse talent to their teams and in turn, reduce this gap.

But the tech talent gap is an issue that no one individual or organization can solve alone. LaunchCode works closely with community partners in South Florida who are equally invested in creating career pathways in the region. The CodeCamp program, where Judy gained her skills, was funded by CareerSource South Florida and supported by Employ Miami-Dade and the Neighbors and Neighbors Association.

Judy’s apprenticeship marks the 120th career which began as a result of LaunchCode’s innovative training program in South Florida. In 2018, the mission to launch tech careers of even more Floridians continues. With the help of its partners, LaunchCode will continue to provide both technical and soft-skills training free of charge to make careers in technology as accessible as possible.

It takes a village to solve the shortage of tech talent in our region and when community partners come together, the success is shared by all.

Matt Mawhinney is the Candidate Engagement Manager - South Florida for LaunchCode. Find out more at:  https://www.launchcode.org.

 

January 31, 2018

With Wyncode's new UX bootcamp, students pay after they land jobs

Wyncode Academy has added a new bootcamp to its offerings: an  eight-week immersion course to help individuals jump-start careers in technology and digital design. What's more, students in the inaugural cohort will not have to make a single payment toward their tuition until they have finished the course and gained employment.

In the bootcamp, qualified students will collaborate through hands-on learning, user testing practices and client interactions led by UX specialists and career designers. Students will learn the fundamentals of UX/UI design and methodologies such as Lean UX and Design Thinking while working with design programs Sketch and InVision. The program will be led by Director of Product Design Gessica Tortolano, who has worked with companies such as Google, Samsung and the Miami Heat and recently relocated from San Francisco.

“Creating an accelerated UX/UI program was a no brainer considering Miami’s rich design presence,” said Johanna Mikkola, co-founder of Wyncode Academy. “Miami is home to an infinite talent pool of creatives, artists and designers who are seeking to elevate their careers and break into more technical roles as the city transforms into the tech capital of the sunshine state. This model shows our confidence in our team and curriculum to ultimately land Wyncode graduates jobs quickly after graduation."

After completing the program, Wyncode’s staff will place UX/UI graduates in jobs with Miami-Dade hiring partners where they can begin careers at the intersection of design and technology. "Now is the best time to tap into South Florida's growing technology market,” said Jenna Blake, Director at Wander Agency. “As a California based UX/UI specialized agency, we are excited to partner with Wyncode on their first UX/UI course to help grow Florida's technology market together."

Wyncode's hiring partners include some of South Florida’s leading companies and startups such as Royal Caribbean, Watsco Ventures and CareCloud. Per Wyncode’s independently verified outcomes report, 91 percent of Wyncode graduates in the Immersive Web Development program find jobs as programmers.

 To find more information on the UX/UI Bootcamp Course or to apply, click here.

- Submitted by Wyncode Academy

READ GUEST POST BY GESSICA TORTOLANO

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

 

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

December 14, 2017

Endeavor taps South Florida startups Boatsetter, Entic and Mediconecta to join global network

Endavor

The Airbnb for boating. On-demand energy savings for enterprise. Telehealth for the Spanish-speaking world.  Endeavor Miami announced Thursday that the co-founders of South Florida companies Boatsetter, Entic and Mediconecta were selected as Endeavor Entrepreneurs at Endeavor’s 76th International Selection Panel this week in Miami.

“Boatsetter, Entic and Mediconecta exemplify the high-impact traits that we select in our Endeavor Entrepreneurs, and it is a privilege to welcome their three technology companies into the Endeavor Miami portfolio,” said Laura Maydón, managing director of Endeavor Miami, in a news release.

The selected companies will receive services that include mentorship and access to capital, global markets and talent. Here are descriptions provided by Endeavor.

Boatsetter: Founded by Andy Sturner and Jaclyn Baumgarten, Boatsetter combines the rental mechanics of Airbnb with the on-demand labor dynamics of Uber to deliver a hassle-free boat rental experience. Boatless individuals choose from vetted boats in ports worldwide to rent for excursions at competitive prices on Boatsetter’s digital marketplace. Boatsetter recently entered a strategic partnership with Airbnb to provide exclusive nautical experiences in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami and Barcelona.

Entic: Founded by Carlos Diaz and Manuel Rosendo, Entic offers building owners and operators a reduction in energy usage with its cloud-based, SaaS platform that implements operational intelligence, analytics and advanced sensor technology to deliver portfolio-wide savings. Customers enjoy on-demand reports and live dashboards that display current costs and achievable savings, alert customers when buildings reach high energy thresholds and analyze the overall health of energy consuming systems.

Mediconecta: Founded by Daniel Silberman and Salomon Simkins, Mediconecta is the leader in telehealth for the Spanish-speaking world. The company provides on-demand remote health services via video conference using in-house physician networks and a platform accessible by web, mobile or point-of-care kiosks. Mediconecta provides access to real-time, on-demand virtual medical visits that can take place anywhere the patient is located, offering better access to higher standards of care across the entire healthcare landscape.

More than 50 entrepreneurs from 18 countries in the Endeavor network convened for interviews, private deliberations and networking at the ISP held at various locations around Miami. To be selected as Endeavor Entrepreneurs, they had to  receive a unanimous vote from a selection panel of six global executives, entrepreneurs or investors who interviewed founders about their business model, leadership potential and timing and gave them feedback.

“Endeavor was founded 20 years ago with a belief in the power of high-impact entrepreneurs to change lives and transform entire cities and countries,” said Endeavor co-founder and CEO Linda Rottenberg. “At each selection panel we hold, I’m reminded of just how true that is -- and just how far that belief has spread across the world. The passion that entrepreneurs, panelists and staff brought to our final ISP of our 20th Anniversary year in Miami is a testament to the potential of this movement.”

Endeavor Miami launched in September 2013 with the support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as the first U.S. affiliate of Endeavor Global. Endeavor Miami’s entrepreneurs generated nearly $130 million in revenues and 1,600 jobs in South Florida in 2017. With the addition of its newest companies, the affiliate currently supports 19 companies and 32 entrepreneurs. Headquartered in New York City, Endeavor operates in 27 countries throughout Europe, Latin America, North America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

For more information on Endeavor Miami or to nominate Miami entrepreneurs, visit www.endeavormiami.org.

READ MORE: Endeavor Miami's impact: It's in the numbers

Top photo, from left: Andy Sturner and Jaclyn Baumgarten from Boatsetter; Daniel Silberman of Mediconecta; Manuel Rosendo and Carlos Diaz of Entic, after being selected Endeavor Entrepreneurs in Miami this week. Photo provided by Endeavor Miami.

Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative brings entrepreneurs to Miami for learning and collaboration

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Entrepreneur Tania Rosas of Colombia at KROMA Art Space in Coconut Grove. Photo courtesy of Global Ties Miami.

 

By Maria de los Angeles

Twelve entrepreneurs from the Caribbean and Latin America arrived in Miami this fall for a month-long fellowship program hosted by Global Ties Miami. In its second year, the U.S. Department of State’s Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) paired 250 emerging social and business leaders with businesses in 24 U.S. cities. A preliminary Business Plan Pitch Competition gave each fellow a potential opportunity to compete in a final round in Washington, D.C.

Established in the late 1950s, Global Ties Miami facilitates citizen diplomacy through cultural, educational and professional exchange tours. For YLAI, this local nonprofit matched 12 young entrepreneurs from Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Haiti, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Suriname and Venezuela with businesses across Miami-Dade.

 The program was mutually beneficial for the “Entrepreneurs-in-Residence” and their host companies. Fellows applied their skills and shared their international perspectives, while their hosts provided YLAI fellows with mentoring and networking opportunities. The immersion program with local business leaders will help each Fellow’s startup venture back home.

KROMA Art Space in Coconut Grove hosted the pitch competition and was mentor to Colombian fellow Tania Rosas. The collective studio and gallery space was well suited for the organization Rosas founded, Fundación el Origen, which combines art and education to preserve the cultural legacy of Colombia’s indigenous cultures while breaking cycles of poverty.

Annette Green Alvarez, Executive Director of Global Ties Miami, says the integration of one of Miami’s artistic spaces with the YLAI program added creative energy to the event, which concluded with a tour of an exhibit Rosas curated at KROMA with local and international artists.

“We should care that Miami has all these little gems that aren’t often talked about,” she says. “The entrepreneurs are also creators and we celebrated their work in a space that supports an abundance of diversity. We make connections and these relationships developed. The space elevated what was taking place during the pitch competition.”

This year’s pitch competition winners include a tie for 3rd place with Karen Sandoval from Chile and Emiliano González from Paraguay, whose businesses focus on outdoor education in Patagonia and technology education, respectively. (González also won a VISA-sponsored hackathon with his host, Learn01, a tech and research lab located in Wynwood.) Second place went to Carolina “Nina” Guzmán of Costa Rica, whose company Hands-On! Lesco, offers training in sign language to break down discrimination barriers for the deaf.

Haitian fellow Miguelito Jerome, founder of 500Gourdes.com, won first place for the e-commerce website that works to mitigate a high unemployment rate by facilitating the sale of services and products offered by Haitians on the island to customers in the Haitian diaspora.

The website is similar in concept to Fiverr, an online services marketplace, where freelancers offer tasks and services for a starting fee of U.S. $5.  500 gourdes, a banknote in Haiti, currently exchanges for about U.S. $8.

Jerome’s host was Haitian-American Donard St. Jean, CEO and President of the Dade Institute of Technology, as well as Vice-Chairman of the Haitian-American Chamber of Commerce of Florida.

“He was a younger version of me,” says St. Jean, who has worked with the Haitian diaspora since he arrived in Florida 17 years ago. “I realized what they lacked,” he adds. “I needed to bring a higher level of technical training.” He founded the IT training and consulting institute in 2006.

St. Jean mentored Jerome on business culture in the U.S. and helped him sharpen his presentation skills, among other learning experiences that will help Jerome grow his business from Haiti.

The Miami partnership will grow. “I intend to work with him to see if we can launch this platform on a bigger scale,” St. Jean adds.

 Jerome says that YLAI made a deep impact on his personal and business life as a powerful and productive exchange program, and that Miami was the perfect location to influence his target market, the Haitian diaspora. Like the other Fellows, Jerome had a tight and full schedule of activities, which included networking events after hours.

“During my fellowship, I learned more about how to reach the Haitian diaspora, and what their needs are,” he notes. “I could observe the way St. Jean runs his business and what is required to conduct business in the U.S.”

Working with St. Jean and being in Miami helped Jerome clearly identify solutions for problems that his company seeks to solve, and to hone in on his vision. “I could think big and see the whole picture,” he adds.

Jerome has returned to Haiti and is updating and executing a new action plan, which includes making it easier for Haitian professionals and vendors to promote their products and services to the Haitian diaspora living in Miami, New York, Boston.

He hopes to expand globally to 20 countries by 2020, giving the world access to the services of professionals and vendors in the Caribbean and Latin America  “We’re creating opportunities,” he adds. “It’s a solution to stop the brain drain and economic issues in many communities.”

On November 20, about a month after Jerome returned to Haiti, the Trump administration announced that it would end Temporary Protection Status for over 59,000 Haitians who have lived and work in the U.S. since the devastating 2010 earthquake. Haitians with protection status -- about half of the estimated 110,000 Haitians living the U.S. without permanent permission -- have until 2019 to leave or face deportation. Their nearly 30,000 U.S.-born children are citizens who may remain in the country.

Jerome’s website may help maintain an economic and cultural bridge by helping skilled Haitians share their talents with other Haitians on and off the island, with a global customer reach.

“TPS will impact our country economically and socially,” Jerome says. “It’s going to be a huge repatriation.”

Independent journalist Maria de los Angeles writes for Global Ties Miami.

Gt2

YLAI pitch competition winners, left to right: Emiliano González (Paraguay), Karen Sandoval (Chile), Carolina “Nina” Guzmán (Costa Rica) and Miguelito Jerome (Haiti). Photo courtesy of Global Ties Miami.

 

December 12, 2017

#Miamitech leaders support Net Neutrality

 
Net-neutrality
An open letter to Congress:
 
Congressman Carlos Curbelo et al.
 
We are the founders & leaders of technology startups here in Miami. Collectively, we represent tens of millions of dollars in revenue and thousands of employees in Miami's burgeoning tech scene. We have a deep understanding of web technology as it is essential to our livelihood. We are writing to ask you to help stop the repeal of Title II classification of ISPs. It is unfortunate that we currently face a difficult question: Should we (the U.S.A.) repeal Title II's net neutrality protection or not?
 
We believe the answer is no. We should not repeal the Title II classification without a legitimate, well thought out replacement. As business owners, we understand the serious nature of regulation & its hampering effects on our ability to innovate. We believe these regulations are an exception to the rule. In 2015, the Title II classification of ISPs explicitly excluded more than 700 of the rules found in Title II regulation [1] for the exact reason of maintaining a "light touch" philosophy. Beyond the fact that it has indeed been a light touch approach, the most important thing to note is that there are guarantees that come with the current classification that are essential to maintaining a competitive environment for businesses like ours to thrive. Businesses like Clutch Prep which depends on open internet access to college students who use their platform to become the doctors of tomorrow [2]. Businesses like LiveNinja who depend on WebRTC communications to consumers across the entire country by customers like Apple, Samsung & HP [3]. Businesses like NomadsTV which provides OTT software to media companies [4].
 
Ajit Pai's original dissent [5] expressed valid concerns. However, the last two years have come to show that they are not currently an issue. Things like Universal Service Fund taxes are not being imposed (at least not to our knowledge), the classification has not stopped or prevented zero rating (T-Mobile is a great example of the current protections being in place without disrupting innovation [6]). Many small local ISPs are not overburdened due to this classification [7], broadband prices have stagnated or decreased in price [8]. Meanwhile, access to broadband is growing [9] [10] and speeds are increasing [11]. 
 
We believe the internet has grown and provided economic opportunity unfettered by existing regulations. However, bad behavior has arisen among ISP's covering the "last mile": providers have tried to charge companies for access to their own customers [12],  they have been caught blocking services that customers have paid for [13] [14], and found throttling traffic they deemed to be unimportant [15].
 
Because the draft order repeals net neutrality rules altogether, it allows ISPs to block or throttle lawful content, or give the highest-paying websites and apps a better ability to reach customers’ devices or to favor Internet traffic from the ISPs’ own subsidiaries and business partners, all without any legal repercussions. This could be devastating to our livelihoods and have many implications in the long term.
 
We believe Pai can and should continue to have a light touch and maintain the current Title II classification while he crafts a legitimate, better-designed replacement that guarantees no blocking of content, throttling or paid priority while providing an even less intrusive regulation than is currently in place. This is the United States of America; we can do better.
 
 
Thank You,
Auston Bunsen, Lead Instructor at Wyncode Academy
Johanna Mikkola, Co-founder of Wyncode Academy
Juha Mikkola, Co-founder of Wyncode Academy
Ivan Rapin-Smith, Managing Director at Watsco Ventures
Rob Dyson, CTO & Co-founder of Willing.com
Rebekah Monson, Co-founder of WhereBy.us
Lu Martinez, Founder of StardomUp
Mary Wolff, CEO & Co-Founder, Spacewolff
Brian Breslin, Co-founder of SimCase
Ulises Orozco, CPO of Saving for College
Maria Derchi, Executive Director of Refresh Miami
Erik Mendelson, CEO of RecordGram
Otto Othman, CMO & Co-founder of Pincho Factory
Miles Varghese, SVP of Sales for Octopi
Guille Carlos, CTO & Co-founder of Octopi
Luc Castera, Founder of Octopi
Andrej Kostresevic, CEO of Nomads
Will Weinraub, CEO & Co-founder of LiveNinja
Emilio Cueto, CTO & Co-founder of LiveNinja
Alfonso Ligares, CDO & Co-founder of LiveNinja
Brian Brackeen, Founder & CEO of Kairos
Herwig Konings, CEO of InvestReady
Alex Nucci, CEO of Gramercy
Richard Grundy, CEO of Flomio
Jose Rasco, Founder & CEO of dotHealth
Marcio Souza, CEO & Co-founder of Clutch Prep
Alain Fontaine, CTO & Co-founder of Clutch Prep
Juan Bermudez, CEO & Co-founder of Coach-HQ
Larry Ho, COO of Ziro
Javier Sarmiento, Founder and VP, Payments at Open English
 
 
4. Information on Nomads OTT product: http://nomads.co/product/whitelabelottvideo/
5. Ajit Pai's 85 page original dissent on Net Neutrality order: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-15-24A5.pdf
6. Get "free" streaming with a special plan from T-Mobile: https://www.t-mobile.com/offer/free-music-streaming.html
14. ISP Madison River blocking VOIP traffic FCC ruling: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-05-543A2.pdf
15. Comcast blocking / throttling legal peer-to-peer traffic: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comcast_Corp._v._FCC#Background
 
HAVE YOUR SAY: here is more info, including how to reach all yourblocal lawmakers. Sign a petition to save net neutrality here.

November 29, 2017

As Argentina's entrepreneurial community grows, it looks to Miami as nexus point

ArgentinaIMG_7239-153

By Natalia Martinez-Kalinina 

Natalia martinez (1)Argentina’s entrepreneurial, tech, and research sectors are on a remarkable upswing, and Buenos Aires is looking toward Miami as the first community to bridge the gap between the US and LatAm startup ecosystems and serve as a gateway for tangible collaboration. How Miami steps up to play the role of a connector, anchor, support system, and co-creator will arguably be a powerful test of our ability to evolve into a true regional point of convergence around innovation.

“Buenos Aires is strategically positioning itself to become a major global entrepreneurial hub. Human capital is one of Argentina’s most valuable resources, and with various government programs launching, it is only a matter of time before the city is recognized as the innovation epicenter it has become,” says Lisa Besserman, the founder of Startup Buenos Aires who now works with the city on startup initiatives.

“Working closely with US cities like Miami will help bridge the gap between our nations, allowing us to create a more globalized startup ecosystem. Miami has always been regarded as the gateway to the Americas, so working with the city to create targeted soft landing programs and investment strategies creates opportunities for many global entrepreneurs,” says Besserman. Taking a more abstract view, she adds, “While some people are discussing building walls, Miami and Buenos Aires are working together toward building bridges.”

Argentina is already becoming South America’s new hotspot for venture capital, with the growth of inflow starting to outpace neighbors that have gotten much more attention over the last decade, mainly Chile and Brazil. George Soros has invested in an Argentine startup for the first time in 15 years, the country is regaining credibility by leaps and bounds and is expected to be upgraded to an ‘Emerging Market’ next year, and Wharton professor Stephen Sammut (a private equity and emerging markets expert) urges that, “Savvy people who are looking for a foothold in Latin America may see [investment in Argentina] as a golden opportunity.”

Startups in Argentina still face significant regulatory and quotidian challenges, including inflation, legal red tape, restrictive labor practices, and the overall recovery from more than a decade of disenfranchisement from the global economy. Luckily, current Argentine startups can gain inspiration from the country’s famous startups of the late 90s and early 2000s – Argentina has the most unicorn companies in LatAm. They can also rely on their capacitated human capital and tout the amount of agrotech, pharmaceutical, biomedical, and health tech research happening in several hubs. More relevantly, they can rely on changes from the federal and city governments, which have been focused on passing laws that support entrepreneurship, promote impact investment, incentivize startup acceleration, and even tackle the sacred cow of labor reform.

One such program, IncuBAte, is a government sponsored seed fund that offers startups from anywhere in the world as much as $30,000 in equity-free funding, free office space in Buenos Aires for a year, and access to mentorship, government resources, and investments. This year, 100 startups will be selected across ten verticals, applications close on December 28, and incubation begins in March 2018.

Given that the program is open internationally but will be conducted in Spanish, Miami is perceived as being in the best position to act both as a loudspeaker for startups in the Latin American region as well as the nexus point for promotion for US-based startups interested in expanding to the LatAm market. The Buenos Aires government is hoping to see more regional and U.S startups coming through, so there’s hope to see some Miami companies in the mix.
 
Andy Freire, Minister of Modernization for Buenos Aires, looks ahead at these increasing connections. “Diversity inclusion is a competitive advantage, one that has been recognized and catalyzed strongly in Miami," he says, "Connecting the entrepreneurial ecosystems between Buenos Aires and Miami will help more people reach the tools they need to scale their startups, through programs like IncuBAte and shared soft landing initiatives. We believe this will be key to empower families and drive economic growth between both of our cities.” 
 
Overall collaboration with Argentina is also being worked on from the Miami side. As a first step to test these waters, a group came together in late 2016 to co-author a full day of Miami-focused programming within StartupWeekBuenosAires - the largest event of its kind in Latin America - specifically focused on how to engage with the U.S. ecosystem and market by way of our city. CIC Miami has expanded on and concretized these efforts by signing agreements with several public and private partners in Argentina to help softland startups, advise commercial missions, and promote investment opportunities.

Just recently, the City Government of Buenos Aires brought an entrepreneurial mission to Miami, in addition to a more traditional enterprise delegation; it was the first pilot of what could come with more local on-the-ground support and was a successful first step toward more exchanges. Conferences and gatherings with a proven track record - such as Red Innova - will also be landing in Miami from Argentina next year with workshops and events aimed at connecting stakeholders across entrepreneurship and innovation.

In addition, a few interested and more seasoned entrepreneurs have come together with the support of the Argentine Consulate in Miami to create a better toolkit for entrepreneurs and small companies looking to come to Miami from their native country. The Entrepreneurship Committee has officially launched, is looking for local collaborators as well as startups in need of support, and can be reached at EmprendedoresArgMia@gmail.com

Natalia Martinez-Kalinina is the General Manager of CIC Miami and the Founder of Awesome Foundation MIAMI, and co-Founder of Aminta Ventures. She can be reached at Martinez@cic.us

 

November 21, 2017

Startupbootcamp Digital Health Miami announces 13 startups for second cohort

 

SD Press Release Image

Startupbootcamp Digital Health Miami, an innovation program and fund, announces the 13 companies that will be joining their second cohort.

The cohort was selected after an intensive two-day evaluation and selection process on November 17-18. The 13 selected startups were chosen from over 300 applicants that applied during the recruitment months.

Teams pitched their businesses to over 100 healthcare executives, investors and mentors industry experts from Startupbootcamp’s corporate partners such as Nicklaus Children’s Hospital and Accenture as well as representatives from Marsh, Towers Watson, Philips, UnitedHealthCare, Zaffre Investments, Mayo Clinic, CVS Health, Optum, Carolinas Healthcare, Catholic Health Services, Thorek, Health Choice Network, University of Miami and Baptist Health. These representatives also mentored the participating companies and explored collaboration opportunities.


The 13 selected startups are:


B.well: is a consumer centered health management platform designed to deliver what consumers want and monetize to what payors, employers and providers need.
 
BrainFX: BrainFX 360 assessment is a web and tablet based assessment of Neurofunction that measures complex cognitive skills using real world context.
 
Cybexys: proprietary platform CARAT uses a natural language processing to detect details that humans might miss when they are processing unstructured information from a clinician's narrative and trying to properly code the severity level of each patient disease state.

Empower Capital: is a financial engineered HSA plus program that ensures liquidity to all employees with high deductible plans.

Epharmix: creates and validates disease-specific "digital interventions" to help care teams manage and support medically underserved patient populations across twenty of the most expensive and difficult medical indications.

FRND: is a platform used to connect MDs, payors, and providers to a network of mobile practitioners for housecalls.

HealthTensor: clinically-validated algorithms automatically diagnose and create documentation from patient data, saving physicians time, improving patient care, and improving note accuracy for coding and billing.

NarrativeDx: collects patient feedback and satisfaction data from internal sources, discharge surveys, HCAHPS surveys, social media channels, and physician review websites.

NeuraMetrix: has developed a technology, based on typing cadence, to detect and monitor the progression of brain diseases, disorders and injuries by measuring human cognitive and motor function at the sub-clinical level based on significant capabilities in quantitative methods and proprietary software.

Quick’rCare: is the only platform focused on assisting patients find the shortest  wait time at  an ER or Urgent care, and hold their place in line.

SaveMyScope: has created a mobile phone adapter and application on the App Store that removes the need for physicians to use bulky, expensive video towers.

Twiage: allows EMTs and paramedics to collect and send high-quality prehospital data instantly via a smartphone.

Wellth: is focused on improving adherence and decreasing readmissions by helping patients change their behaviors so they get better faster.

“We are proud to see this set of companies build on our first cohort with greater diversity of founders, product category, stage, geography and revenue. Miami is poised to become recognized as a global hub for healthcare innovation," said founder and General Partner Christian Seale.

"Startupbootcamp continues to help fill important gaps in our innovation ecosystem by attracting new talent to Miami and providing a platform for startups to scale and grow. This second cohort of entrepreneurs will bring fresh ideas and energy to our city, adding to the momentum of our expanding startup community," said Chris Caines, interim program director for Miami at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, a Startupbootcamp supporter, which helped bring the accelerator program to the United States in 2015.

The program kicks off on January 15, 2018 when the startups will relocate to Miami. The program offers participating companies partnerships with leading hospital systems, insurers and pharma to accelerate and scale their businesses, extensive mentoring from over 150+ healthcare entrepreneurs, investors, and executives in addition to six months of free office space and seed funding.

- Submitted by Startupbootcamp Digital Health