12/14/2014

Entrepreneurship Datebook

AWESOME FOUNDATION DEADLINE: What do a water-testing submarine, a community garden in Little Haiti and a pilot program for assisting asylum seekers have in common? They are all grantees of the Awesome Foundation Miami. To enter your awesome idea for a monthly $1,000 grant, apply here by the 15th of every month: http://www.awesomefoundation.org/en/chapters/miami

VENTURE LAW PROJECT: Free workshop by a Yahoo! in-house attorney on “Internet Law & Social Media – Changing Rules, Legal Compliance & Savy Strategies Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know,” 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, The LAB Miami, 400 NW 26th St. More info: TheLABMiami.com

COFOUNDER’S LAB: This meetup brings together people who are looking for co-founders or team members and others who are looking to join a team, 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday, 525 NW First Ave, Fort Lauderdale. More info: www.meetup.com/microvc/

SMALL BUSINESS SEMINAR: Join the SBA, SCORE and Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce for this seminar that will offer a presentation on the different funding options available in the marketplace, 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, 100 Miracle Mile, Suite 200, Coral Gables. Fee applies. More info: coralgableschamber.org (click on Events).

STARTING GATE

On the Starting Gate blog on MiamiHerald.com/business, you will also find reports on the whirlwind of tech events the past two weeks, new funds from Richmond Global Ventures and Medina Capital, Endeavor’s choice of Kairos and NovoPayment as Endeavor Entrepreneurs, blackdove’s recent launch of its app featuring works by some of Wynwood’s finest artists and others as well as plans for a marketplace for digital motion art, and much more.

Nancy Dahlberg @ndahlberg

Posted Dec. 14, 2014

 

12/12/2014

Citrix adds startup’s email solution to its enterprise platform offerings

Citrix Systems of Fort Lauderdale and an email solutions startup with ties to Miami are teaming up to better compete in the Cloud Wars.

mxHero announced this week its Mail2Cloud product suite now supports Citrix ShareFile, a secure file sync and sharing solution for businesses, for better email management, security, and collaboration. mxHero’s suite of products are providing key cloud players, such as Citrix, the critical value-added services needed to win in the Cloud Wars, mxHero said.

 “MxHero is on the fast-track to bringing top-of-the-line enterprise email solutions to today’s biggest cloud storage players. This news is just the beginning of our email revolution,“ said Faquiry Diaz Cala, chairman of mxHero and a Miami investor.

Users of ShareFile can now connect and integrate their email and cloud storage services using Save & ShareRetriever and Fusion.

 “Mail2Cloud’s technology is well-built, secure, simple for businesses to install, easy for their employees to use, and—best of all—it really helps our customers get even more out of ShareFile,” Bill O’Boyle, Business Development Manager of Citrix, said in a news release.

Posted Dec. 12, 2014

Florida Venture Capital Conference announces presenting companies

The Florida Venture Forum, a statewide support organization for venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, today released the partial list of mid-to-later-stage, Florida-based companies selected to present their company pitches at the 2015 Florida Venture Capital Conference. The final deadline for entries isTuesday, Dec. 30. Companies interested in presenting may apply here.

At the 24th Annual Florida Venture Capital Conference, attendees may learn from and network with thought-leaders and decision-makers from Florida’s top companies, and company executives with selected mid-to-later-stage companies are invited to present their company pitches before an international audience of angel investors, venture capitalists, and industry professionals. The event takes place from 8:30 a.m. Thursday, January 29, to Noon on Friday, January 30, at the Diplomat Resort & Spa, 3555 S Ocean Drive, Hollywood, FL33019.

Since 1992, presenting companies have included Payformance, Mako Surgical, Channel Intelligence, Open English, CareCloud, Tissue Tech and InformedDNA. More details on the conference are available in the conference schedule

The following companies have been selected to present:

Banyan Biomarkers - Alachua, FL www.banyanbio.com is a medical device/diagnostics company creating the first objective test to diagnose brain injury in less than 30 minutes by a simple blood test. 

BoxyCharm, - Hialeah, FL www.boxycharm.com is an online beauty box subscription service that provides subscribers full-size beauty products and helps connect cosmetic brands with qualified, engaged customers.

Entic - Pembroke Pines, FL www.enticusa.com provides building owners and facilities managers with comprehensive visibility into major energy consuming systems, allowing them to see true performance and receive insights and recommended actions necessary to achieve significant, documented energy savings and sustained peak performance. 

Fresh Meal Plan - Boca Raton, FL www.freshmealplan.com is a consumer products food and beverage company that provides fully cooked meals delivered to a consumer’s home or business.  The company serves Southeast Florida and Orlando.

GENICON - Winter Park, FL www.geniconendo.com  is a sterile surgical instrumentation company that specializes in the concept, design, manufacture and distribution of patented, single use, sterile surgical instrumentation utilized in the field of laparoscopy. 

PowerPHASE - Jupiter, FL www.powerphasellc.com has developed the Turbophase system, the world’s most cost effective and fuel-efficient source of new gas fired power generation.

Senzari – Miami, FL www.senzari.com is a technology company applying the latest techniques in machine learning and big data technologies to generate real time semantic graphs around users and media.

Skypatrol– Doral, FL www.skypatrol.com is a GPS technology company that provides turnkey solutions using GPS technology to manage mobile assets, including vehicles, equipment and people.

Snow Lizard Products - Miami, FL www.snowlizard.com is a consumer electronics company that manufactures rugged, wearable, waterproof cases that endure the toughest conditions as well as charge your device on-the-go via an auxiliary, solar powered battery.

Vascular Pathways - Boca Raton, FL www.vascularpathways.com is a medical device company that has rapidly developed a line of Intravenous, Arterial, and Extended Dwell Catheters.

Posted Dec. 12, 2014 

12/11/2014

Linda Rottenberg: 'If you aren't being called crazy, you aren't thinking big enough'

 

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"If you aren't being called crazy, you aren't thinking big enough," Linda Rottenberg, co-founder and CEO of Endeavor, told gatherings of entrepreneurs at the WeXchange conference and a book signing at The LAB Miami this week. She was in town for Endeavor's International Selection Panel being held in Miami and her best-selling book, "Crazy is as  Compliment,"  is  out. She shared her own "kitchen table moment" when she and Peter Kellner hatched the idea for Endeavor, a global nonprofit that finds, mentors and accelerates high-impact entrepreneurs,  and  how everyone including her parents thought they was crazy.

Indeed, the biggest barriers  entrepreneurs face are themselves and getting past the fear is key, she said. Sometimes the people closet to you don't get it either.  In fact, in a survey by Babson College,  the No. 1 regret entrepreneurs expressed was telling friends and family too early -- friends don't let friends start businesses. She said that is why it is really important that an ecosystem has entrepreneurial role models in the community, a key mission of Endeavor, a global nonprofit that selects, mentors and accelerates high-impact entrepreneurs.

Find like-minded communities at entrepreneurship centers like The LAB Miami and online, she said. Crowdfunding can be a great way to find the like-minded too, and they can become your storytellers and carry your message forward, she said.

Telling stories of other famous entrepreneurs, including several females such as Este Lauder, she left us with this message, especially well received at WeXchange, a conference focused on women entrepreneurship in Latin America where she was the keynote speaker: Being an entrepreneur is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor.  "You don't need a hoodie to be an entrepreneur."

Posted Dec. 11, 2014

 

12/10/2014

Endeavor selects Kairos, NovoPayment as Endeavor Entrepreneurs at Miami ISP

By Nancy Dahlberg

On their home turf, the founders of two South Florida tech companies — a payments and cash management venture and a facial recognition software developer — were chosen as Endeavor Entrepreneurs on Wednesday.

The companies were selected during Endeavor’s 56th International Selection Panel, which took place in Coral Gables and Coconut Grove on Monday through Wednesday and attracted more than 200 people, including the entrepreneurs being considered for selection, as well as business executives and serial entrepreneurs who are Endeavor mentors, advisors and board members around the world.

Endeavor, founded in 1997, is a global nonprofit that selects, mentors and accelerates high-impact entrepreneurs who are entering the critical growth stages with their companies and have the potential to create large global businesses. The organization aims to select entrepreneurs who will go on to be role models and give back to their communities as mentors and investors in the next generation of innovators. Endeavor, which has affiliate offices around the world, established its first U.S office in Miami last year.

“Endeavor now has supported 1,000 entrepreneurs in 22 countries. We have helped those entrepreneurs generate over 400,000 new jobs and they now generate $7 billion annually,” said Linda Rottenberg, co-founder and CEO of Endeavor Global. “We don’t focus on the start-up — we focus on the scale-up.”

BrianaEarlier this year, entrepreneurs from South Florida companies KidoZen, My Ceviche, Leapfactor, LearnerNation, Ginnybakes and DeliverLean were selected and have been getting help with strategy, growth and partnerships. The two entrepreneurs tapped Wednesday were Brian Brackeen of Kairos and Anabel Perez of NovoPayment.


Brackeen, founder and CEO, said that Kairos’ facial recognition technology captures the depths and contours of a 2D facial image through 85 points of interest and renders the image as a 3D model to ensure 99 percent identification accuracy. The identification technology can be used in many different industries, from hospital groups to schools to cruise lines, and Brackeen, who worked at IBM and Apple before launching Kairos, already has contracts with key enterprise clients. “With Endeavor’s support, I will be working on sales talent and sales strategy, setting up reselling relationships and working on our $10 million capital raise,” Brackeen said, praising the feedback he’s received from Endeavor Miami over the last year and at the ISP this week.

FullSizeRender (20)Perez, NovoPayment’s co-founder and CEO who is originally from Venezuela, launched NovoPayment in 2004 and has built it into a sizable venture that provides a proprietary technology platform for cash-management software solutions for corporations in Latin America. NovoPayment, with 260 employees throughout the region, works in five countries now with plans for rapid expansion. “We made a lot of important connections, and I think Endeavor will help me accelerate my growth and business. I am excited about the next steps,” said Perez, who will get advice on making key high-level hires and help with her expansion strategy.

The Miami entrepreneurs were part of a group of 40 entrepreneurs from 22 companies in 13 countries, including Argentina, Egypt, Jordan, Mexico and Turkey. chosen to join the network on Wednesday. Each entrepreneur or entrepreneur team went through three intense one-hour interviews involving six Endeavor panelists, often board members or mentors. The 36 panelists included Endeavor Miami board members Alberto Beeck, Maurice Ferre, Sean Wolfington, Andres Moreno and Ernest Bachrach.

After a full day of interviews with entrepreneurs from 32 companies on Tuesday, the panelists took most of Wednesday to decide their fates in passionate and sometimes heated discussions. To be chosen an Endeavor Entrepreneur, each entrepreneur or team had to receive a unanimous vote of all six panelists. All received feedback and suggestions; some were told they can work to meet certain milestones and try again at a future ISP.

At least one new Endeavor Entrepreneur might be soon joining the Miami ecosystem, said Wolfington, a South Florida entrepreneur who owns businesses in the auto, technology, real estate, marketing and film industries. Rafael Atijas of Uruguay rocked his presentation so well that all the panelists that interviewed him, including Wolfington, are planning to invest in his company, which is unusual at an ISP, Wolfington said after the ISP concluded. Atijas’ company, Loog Guitars, makes three-string small-scale pink guitars that make it easy and fun for kids to learn on and becomes an art piece when not in use. The guitar is even delivered in pieces so it becomes a family project to assemble it. Loog Guitars already has operations in New York, and 60 percent of its business is in the U.S., so a base in Miami, the gateway to Latin America, makes strategic business sense, Wolfington said.

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The South Florida entrepreneurs and all the companies selected will be getting an Endeavor advisory board based on the needs of the entrepreneur — whether that is specialists in rapid hiring, pricing models, growth strategy or capital-raising, for instance.

The fact that Endeavor Miami has had much success presenting companies at ISPs this year — there have been five held around the world and Miami entrepreneurs were chosen at every one — is a testament to the strength of Miami’s growing ecosystem and its new office, led by Managing Director Laura Maydón, and a very committed board, said Matt Haggman, Miami program director of the Knight Foundation, which provided the first $2 million in funding to launch Endeavor Miami.

To be sure, persuading Endeavor to make a bet on Miami in 2013 for its first U.S. office was not the easiest sell. Endeavor started out in Latin America and then moved into emerging markets throughout the world, including Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and more recently began moving into Europe, including Greece and Spain.

“When we started out [considering Miami], people were skeptical as to whether we could find entrepreneurs of the same quality … so I ended up having two goals,” said Rottenberg, who co-founded Endeavor with Peter Kellner. “In addition to Endeavor’s work to have role model successes, I said I want to create through Endeavor Miami an environment where the next Jeff Bezos and the next Sheryl Sandberg, who were both from Miami, would stay. And can we show that we will have breakout success stories where people keep the talent here? I think that is already happening,” she said at a book signing Tuesday night at The LAB Miami for her new book, Crazy is a Compliment, which was one of the ancillary events planned during the ISP.

With Miami’s office working out well, Endeavor has now launched a national expansion. It will be opening its second U.S. office in Detroit early next year, said Rottenberg. Louisville is also in the plans, she said, and other cities have been lobbying because they have heard about Miami’s success, she said.

As for Miami, the office will continue to add qualifying entrepreneurs in 2015 and beyond, Maydón said.

“We are always open and looking for those great entrepreneurs who are out there,” Maydón said. “We are looking for entrepreneurs with the leadership potential to scale their companies but who also are willing to give back and are interested in growing an entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.

Posted Dec. 10, 2014

 

Medina Capital closes $182 million fund for tech growth companies

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Medina Capital, a private equity firm started by South Florida tech pioneer Manny Medina that is focused on high-growth technology companies, announced Wednesday the closing of the firm’s first fund with $182 million of committed capital.

Manny Medina 1691 jpgMedina said he established the fund to continue the work of Medina Capital and capitalize on “truly exciting times in information technology,” an industry that has moved into an era of agile IT — mobile and cloud technologies — to cope with an explosion of data. That’s creating “fantastic opportunities” in a potential multi-trillion dollar global marketplace, he said. Medina is managing partner of Medina Capital, and he founded, grew and sold Terremark Worldwide.

The new private equity fund will invest in early growth-stage companies in cyber-security, big data, mobility and cloud computing — “the infrastructure side of technology,” Medina said in an interview Monday.

The fund’s typical investment size is $10 million to $20 million, Medina said. “We are looking for early-growth companies that already have traction with products or services that we can then help not only with capital but also with our significant experience, track record and contacts in the industry.”

To date, Medina Capital’s investments in the areas of cyber-security and big data have included Easy Solutions, a  cyber-security company that Medina brought from Bogota to Sunrise, Cryptzone, Brainspace, Catbird and Prolexic, the firm’s first exit, or sale. The Hollywood-based cyber-security company was acquired by Akamai for about $370 million in February.

Medina said the new fund’s investors include pension funds and large financial institutions. Most of the fund-raising, which took about a year, was done outside South Florida, he said.

Medina Capital’s partners include Nelson Fonseca, Barry Field, Rene A. Rodriguez and other former top executives who helped Medina build Terremark into a global player before selling it to Verizon in 2011 in a transaction valued at $2 billion. Medina Capital’s partners provide tactical direction to the firm’s portfolio companies in various areas including market acquisition, product development and partnership building.

Medina, who calls Medina Capital his “day job,” also recently founded eMerge Americas, which will hold its second annual technology conference in Miami Beach in May, with a goal of attracting 10,000 attendees. The mission of the conference and his Technology Foundation of the Americas is to help establish Miami as a tech hub for the Americas.

The fund news follows last week’s announcement that Richmond Global Ventures is opening an office in Miami and raising a venture fund that will invest in early-stage high-growth companies in the Series A and B fund-raising stages. That followed news of Scout Ventures, Krillion Ventures and Thesis Ventures also launching funds focused on earlier stage companies and setting up South Florida offices, as well as new angel investor groups finding Miami startups attractive.

“We are thrilled to see other new funds coming into town. This will continue to increase the awareness in the significant opportunities Miami has here,” Medina said.

“The fact that the Medina Capital team was able to raise such a significant fund with top-tier individual and institutional investors is a testament to their strength as a team and the robust opportunity in the market,” said Bob Dickinson, former CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines, a limited partner in the fund and member of Medina Capital's board. “It also strongly reinforces that Miami is becoming a hotbed of activity for technology investors and entrepreneurs.”

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.

Posted Dec. 10, 2014 

 

12/09/2014

Schools, South Florida techies participate in Hour of Code: In pictures

Middle school classes -- and some elementary classes -- across South Florida participated in Hour of Code on Tuesday, a national initiative aimed at getting kids interested in learning more about technology. Dozens of South Florida's top developers, tech execs and entrepreneurs taught the classes. Here is just a small sampling.

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Mario Cruz of Choose Digital reports that about  60 students, some shown above, took part in the event over two class periods at Carol City Middle. The teacher was Kara Lungmus. All of them started coding and about 70 percent completed and got a certificate and were able to share the game the created and play on smartphone.

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Susan Amat and Venture Hive hosted about 60 Palm Beach County middle school students in conjunction with the Microsoft Innovation Center that is hosted at Venture Hive. Microsoft employees taught them some basics of coding.  

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Youger kids got involved too. Kevin Levy of Gunster was at his son's 1st grade class of Ms. Alicot at Pinecrest Elementary (shown above):  "I explained what software and code is, and the kids (1st graders) were psyched to get started. They chanted 'We are going to code' all the way to the computer lab. After they got started, they dove in. Mostly boys working on the Angry Birds code and the girls on the Frozen code. They were really getting it, including thinking through the steps as the coding got progressively more difficult. Walking back to the classroom, the chanted 'We got to code'. "

Posted Dec. 9, 2014

 

Miami Microsoft Innovation Center @ Venture Hive celebrates opening

The Miami Microsoft Innovation Center, the first one in the United States and one of more than 120 around the world, has been open seven months at the Venture Hive and has already held more than 50 events and workshops and Microsoft executives and specialists hold regular "office hours" for mentoring, said Susan Amat, founder of Venture Hive. Next week, the Hive and MIC will host teams from four countries -- Chile, Pakistan, Nepal and Armenia -- taking part in a global Pre-Accelerator Venture Hive and the Miami MIC are launching. Amat is considering opening a Pre-Accelerator for Miami as well.  

On Tuesday morning, the MIC celebrated its first half year  at Venture Hive with a roomful of community and technology leaders. The MIC is a state-of-the-art technology facility open to students, software developers, academic faculty, entrepreneurs and startups for collaboration and skills development.  The event hosted many Microsoft representatives and local government leaders including City of Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, CIO of Miami-Dade County Angel Petisco and the Microsoft VP of US Developer Experience Larry Orecklin.

A couple of examples of how the MIC has been used: Miami entrepreneur Antonio Otalvaro, founder and CEO of Raw Shorts, a member of Venture Hive incubator and part of its accelerator's first class, attended workshops at the Miami MIC on the Azure platform, which has allowed him the ability to scale his explainer-video production business for commercial customers.  After receiving a grant from BizSpark, Hair Construction, which provides educational content to hair stylists to help them succeed, is working with the MIC to transition everything it does to Microsoft – Azure servers and Office 365 – to it the company scale.

To learn more and attend upcoming events at the Miami Microsoft Innovation Center, which is free and open for the public, click here (www.microsoftinnovationcenters.com/miami). On the agenda for next week: More office hours and an introduction to Imagine Cup, a global student tech competition.

Here are a few pictures of the MIC space.

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 Posted Dec. 16, 2014

Aiding active eldercare: MobileHelp builds up its digital safety net

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

There’s no slowing down for a Boca Raton technology company focused on helping the elderly be safer and live longer.

MobileHelp began its life in the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” industry, with a system that gave their customers a way to seek medical help by pushing a button on pendants worn around their necks. But in a few short years, the company has put medical alert technology to use not only to detect falls without requiring an elderly person in distress to push a button, but to prevent falls as well.

MobileHelp does this with the help of its new MobileHelp Connect app that notifies authorized family members or caregivers of emergencies, provides location information to caregivers, and offers verbal medication notifications for customers. Now it is releasing its newest feature on the app: a tracker that monitors activity levels and gives caregivers reports.

The big vision: empowering the elderly to live more safely on their own while easing the worries of their loved ones.

Rob Flippo 2014 Headshot
“We wanted to move away from being a completely reactive system to being more proactive and really providing service to the customer besides just waiting for a bad event to happen,” said Robert Flippo, CEO of the company. “It’s not about frail and old and feeble, it’s about being prepared, and in the case of the activity tracker, it’s about getting data in real time that you can share to actively monitor your health. These are features where our industry as a whole has not been very innovative and really separate us from the pack.”

MobileHelp, founded in 2006 and based at the Research Park at Florida Atlantic University, today has more than 100,000 customers in all 50 states and generated nearly $18.7 million in revenue in 2013. With a three-year sales growth of 3,305 percent from 2010 to 2013, the 125-employee company ranked No. 111 in the 2014 Inc. 500|5000, a prestigious ranking of the nation's fastest-growing private companies.

To support its rapid growth, MobileHelp has now raised $15 million, including an investment from Tampa-based Stonehenge Growth Equity Partners this year. “In addition to innovative technology, MobileHelp has demonstrated a history of solid growth and a scalable recurring revenue business model,” Steven Lux, managing partner of Stonehenge Growth Equity Partners, said in a statement. “With an expanding aging population that is more mobile than in past generations and the increasing cost of healthcare, we see a huge opportunity for MobileHelp.”

The global medical alert systems market is expected to move from around $1.23 billion in 2013 to about $2 billion by the year 2020, according to 2014 IndustryARC research. Personal alert systems that offer wellness-focused monitoring systems as well as social connectedness technologies are predicted to grow in market share from 15 percent in 2012 to 61 percent in 2017.

The big numbers are supported by underlying trends: In the United States, there will be more than 74 million people 65 or older by the year 2020. Seniors are becoming more tech-savvy, and under the Affordable Care Act, hospitals and health networks are looking for ways to maintain medical oversight while keeping people out of the hospital.

MobileHelp’s former CEO, Scott Adams, brought in Flippo, who previously worked for Motorola in product development and for Emergin, a healthcare alert software firm sold to Philips in 2007, to lead the company as president and COO in 2008.

Back then, the product was still in prototype stage, with entrenched competitors like Life Alert and its much-maligned “I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up” commercials. With research showing that nearly half of falls happen outside the home, MobileHelp began moving into product lines that differentiated itself from its rivals. The company said it was first to introduce a mobile solution for seniors who wanted access to emergency assistance, but who were also active and therefore frequently away from a traditional home-based station. “By adding mobility in the early days, we had a real differentiator out of the gate,” Flippo said.

Adams, a serial entrepreneur, handed Flippo the CEO reins in 2011. Adams remains chairman, but he has gone on to found the startup GroupCare Technologies, which is creating a medical alert tracking device for people with Alzheimer's and autism.

In the past year, MobileHelp introduced another innovation: the Fall Button, a neck pendant with motion signal processing technology capable of detecting a fall automatically — no press of the emergency button required.

OTTOThe fall detection technology was key for MobileHelp because in four out of five falls, seniors aren’t able to press that button and signal for help, said Chris Otto, vice president of product development. Furthermore, the American Academy of Family Physicians has published research that links the fear of falling to increased immobility. “Seniors who are living at home trying to maintain their independence but are afraid of falling avoid activities that put them at risk of falling,” he said.

Following the fall detection, MobileHelp this year introduced an application to help people manage their medications — one of the largest proactive steps to prevent falls from happening in the first place. And most recently, the company is using its fall detection algorithm to not only detect if a fall has taken place, but to monitor activity levels in general — providing people with the capability to proactively track trends related to mobility.

Activity Tracking MHC app Samsung phone
For instance, a caregiver or an authorized family member living miles away can see at a glance if the MobileHelp customer has been as active as they have in the past, as the activity can be graphed over the week, month or year and patterns can emerge. A family member can also get a regular email that might say something like: Sam was 19 percent more active this week compared to last week. Sam had three days of moderate activity instead of two.

“The fall detection and the activity tracker together help you ease your concern about falling but also encourage you to stay active and well. As studies indicate, the less mobile you are, the more likely you will have a fall; it’s a natural marriage of a reactive safety product and a proactive wellness product,” said Otto, who developed the most recent technologies for MobileHelp.

The service costs $37 to $42 a month depending on whether the customer pays monthly or annually. There are no contracts. MobileHelp has maintained an “A” rating with the Better Business Bureau and often shows up on lists of top personal medical alert services.

That doesn’t surprise Shirley Mazursky. “I’ve found the service to be terrific. It has saved my life,” said the 85-year-old South Florida resident, describing two emergencies where she got help within minutes.

Medication reminder smart phone screenWhen Mazursky thought she was having a heart attack, she pushed the button on the MobileHelp pendant she wears around her neck. That alerted 911 as well as her loved ones. And before that, she fell and broke her hip last year. She had just bought MobileHelp two days earlier.

The active senior likes the mobility of the system — she can even take the MobileHelp with her when she goes on extended visits to New York. She also appreciates that the technology has the geo-location feature.

Mazursky feels so strongly about the service that she agreed to go on a national commercial for MobileHelp: “I’m on a commercial on TV. I do not get paid by them, I just felt it is very important for the public to know that there is something that can help them and save their lives.”

Flippo said MobileHelp will be unveiling more “proactive” technologies in the digital health arena at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

“As we continue to grow and innovate, we will continue to change the lives of our customers,” Flippo said. “It’s pretty rewarding. Business is great, but really helping people and changing lives is even better.”

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.

 

 

12/08/2014

LiveAnswer now speaks Spanish, services 1 millionth call

Adam_Boalt_LiveAnswerMiami entrepreneur Adam Boalt, an innovator in the traditional world of call centers, said  his startup LiveAnswer has just released a number of service enhancements.

LiveAnswer’s technology platform creates a marketplace for small businesses and marketers to buy excess capacity -- or unoccupied time -- from call centers by allowing for the seamless creation of individual call center campaigns in under 60 seconds.

This month, Boalt’s LiveAnswer announced that the platform’s Spanish- and French-language capabilities have launched, particularly good news for South Florida businesses looking for bilingual capabilities to support customers 24/7/365. Other languages are on the way.



Moblie_Message_DetailBoalt also said a new LiveAnswer website launched with additional features beyond multilingual capabilities. These include a Smart Transfer feature, which allows a team to preview the message and direct the transfer to the correct member, an Outbound Dialer, allowing the on-the-go client to be able to essentially create an office line and not disclose  his mobile or home phone and MMS attachments for photos.

Since launching LiveAnswer, previously known as Useful Tools, in March 2013, Boalt knew he wanted to add language capabilities but wanted to find the right partners. According to a recent report on Global Consumer Online Buying Preferences, more than 70 percent of customers say they are more likely to buy a product when product information is in their own language.

The new service makes available about 100 Spanish-speaking agents through partner Listen Up Espanol. LiveAnswer's call center partner for French is Skybridge Americas. 

"LiveAnswer is helping businesses across America sell more and provide better customer service. Listen Up Espanol is excited to be chosen as a premier partner to help bring LiveAnswer's solution to the Spanish speaking market," said Tom Sheppard, vice president of Listen Up Espanol.

Boalt’s career started in 1999 in online advertising and then in 2007 he began creating his own products and started and sold several online businesses, including RushMyPassport.com, which he successfully exited last December. Along the way one of the biggest challenges and frustrations that he and his clients encountered was the increasing difficulty in having a real person answer the phone, simply take a message or even route the call. Adding to this is the fact that traditional  call centers require large monthly commitments and long lead times for setting up campaigns, making it unfeasible for most small businesses, he said. He set out to solve the problem by creating a technologically advanced call center platform that is fast, easy-to-use, and accessible for small businesses by using unoccupied agents at call centers.

Today, LiveAnswer has grown to service about 3,000 businesses, including Uber, Nissan, Precision Hawk and Dome9, a few of which have subscribed to Spanish-language services the instant it was made available, Boalt said. It has partnered with 10 call centers. LiveAnswer is now a team of 10 and work out of Pipeline Brickell.  LiveAnswer recently serviced its 1 millionth call.

"We continue to onboard customers and call centers," said Boalt on Monday. "All of our  calls are answered in less than nine seconds, which is really great in call center terms, so we are going to continue to be hyper-focused on aquiring more customers."

 

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 Posted Dec. 8, 2014