November 12, 2017

Doing well by doing good: Social ventures on the rise in South Florida

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By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com 

Chances are you’ve popped a pod into a Keurig machine today, and you may have felt a wee bit guilty about the environmental impact of that convenient jolt of java.

Daniel Buelhoff is aiming to mitigate the damage. Buelhoff is the co-founder of Gourmesso, the online market leader for environmentally friendly Nespresso compatibles in the U.S. and Germany. The company, now located in Miami, also has launched a 100 percent-compostable Keurig alternative, called Glorybrew, with Fair Trade-certified coffee to end the negative environmental impact of the billions of coffee pods ending up in landfills.

Though research and development on the compostible product took about two years, it’s paid off. Sales quickly climbed into the millions and the business is profitable.

 “I saw an opportunity and I went for it,” he said.

Buelhoff, who moved from Germany last year, thinks of himself as an entrepreneur first and foremost — he has also co-founded companies in gaming and other e-commerce and food ventures. But with Gourmesso, he is also a social entrepreneur, because his company has an environmental return as well as the financial bottom line.

His and other social enterprises present solutions to challenges such as global warming, healthcare and poverty. It’s also a growing trend in South Florida’s startup scene, with new programs designed to fund, nurture and grow companies that can improve life here.

But not all see themselves as social entrepreneurs, even when they are, says Rebecca Fishman Lipsey, whose organization, Radical Partners, has been running social entrepreneurship bootcamps in Miami for three years. The bootcamp itself is already showing a social return because 75 percent of the bootcamp organizations have significantly expanded services or scaled their social ventures to other cities.

“The whole genre has expanded in people’s consciousness,” Lipsey said. “I would love to make a magnet out of Miami, where great people who want to solve social impact issues want to be here doing that work, and people who want to fund work like that would look to Miami and wonder what social innovations we are cooking up.”

If it seems like social entrepreneurship is the flavor of the year, you’re right. Gustavo Grande has seen more and more social entrepreneurship ventures come through the Miami Dade College’s Idea Center, where he is programs manager.

“We already have a lot of students with ideas in social entrepreneurship, but we want to give them the structure to develop sustainable social ventures and collaborate with different partners in the community to accelerate that,” Grande said.

[RELATED STORY: Four ways Miami startups are trying to save the planet]

It’s a movement that gets a significant boost from the burgeoning millennial generation but encompasses all ages and ethnicities. In South Florida, a growing percentage of participants in high schools and university entrepreneurship programs are focusing on social enterprises — about half, according to Grande — and a community of serial entrepreneurs and investors is forming to help them.

Some notable social enterprises in South Florida include Rising Tide Car Wash, now in two Broward locations, which employs people on the Autism spectrum; Mela Artisans, a seller of luxury lifestyle products handmade by artisans in emerging markets; and FIGS, which sells antimicrobial, breathable and fashionable scrubs and has donated more than 75,000 sets of scrubs in emerging markets. EcoTech Visions focuses on incubating green manufacturing businesses, while the Urban.Us fund invests in tech companies with solutions that help cities.

But across the region, there are now also scores of startups in development that are focused on the environment (read related story), employment, alleviating poverty and improving access to education.

It’s a global movement. An estimated 11 percent of adults in the United States between 18 and 64 are attempting to start or are operating in a social enterprise, according to a Global Entrepreneurship Monitor study about social entrepreneurship by Babson College and other partners in 2016. That’s up from about 7 percent in its 2010 report. Social ventures are led by women 45 percent of the time, according to the study — far more than in commercial ventures.

Despite their noble goals, more than three-quarters of social enterprises fail before their fourth birthday, according to a Failure Institute study. Among key reasons, according to studies: the unequal access to financial, mentoring and educational resources and opportunities.

“The world will be a better place if we can determine the most appropriate ways to support social entrepreneurs and scale up their solutions,” said one of the GEM report’s authors, Siri Terjesen.

That’s where new resources come in. A few recent developments in South Florida:

READ THE FULL STORY HERE.

 

 

November 10, 2017

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

 

Startup Weekend_preview

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Submitted by Palm Beach Tech

 

November 08, 2017

Powerful, a fast-growing Miami food & beverage startup, attracts $4 million in funding

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

CarlosPowerful, a Miami-based food and beverage startup offering all-natural, high-protein products for active lifestyles, has been on a growth tear the past year, doubling the number of U.S. stores the product is sold in. Now the company has raised $4 million in funding as it expands into additional product categories.

The Series B funding was led by River Hollow Partners, a lower mid-market private equity firm focused on consumer and retail brands in the natural products space. The company has also secured ABL financing through a partnership with Gerber Finance, a leading asset-based lending financial company with headquarters in New York City.

Carlos Ramirez launched Powerful (then called Powerful Yogurt) in March 2013 after years as a marketing and strategy consultant for global companies. He helped launch or expand other food products around the world, including Greek yogurt, and wondered why no one was branding the product for athletes. Although it has since expanded its focus, Powerful was the first company to market dairy products to the needs of active men, said Ramirez, a Venezuelan native who received his MBA from the University of California Berkeley.

 “The idea of a dairy product designed with active men in mind was a very controversial concept to many. It completely disrupted the dairy category and put us in the spotlight, but most importantly, it proved very successful,” said Ramirez.

 But women were big buyers too, more than half of sales, and now Powerful is a multi-category active lifestyles brand for both genders. Its  products are in 10,000 U.S. stores -- up from 5,000 less than a year ago -- and they include Walmart, Target, Kroger, Stop n’ Shop and Shoprite, as well as Amazon and the company’s website. On its own website, powerful.co, Powerful offers a subscription where customers can create a custom recurring product bundle at a discounted price.

Powerful Yogurt, Powerful Drinks and Powerful Oatmeal are part of the lineup now, all of which are high in protein and made with natural ingredients, and there's more to come, including new product lines and international expansion, Ramirez said.  “The capital provided gives us the additional resources we will use to reach our ambitious goals as we continue to expand the product offerings and increase our footprint in the U.S. and beyond.”

In early 2018, Powerful plans to add a smoothie to its lineup, in a convenient on-the-go pouch format. Each all-natural smoothie will serve up 22 grams of protein in flavors like banana, mixed berry and vanilla.  

River Hollow is Powerful’s first institutional investment partner. The new funding will further support product development, manufacturing, and sales and marketing.

“We partnered with Powerful because it is uniquely poised for success,” said Charlie Baynes-Reid of River Hollow Partners, noting Powerful's seasoned management team and clear brand vision and mission. “You typically see new companies come in and try to create their own niche specialty, but what Powerful has done really makes a significant impact through disruption in an already successful category, and that is something l saw as very compelling as a private equity partner.”

Last December, Powerful's Ramirez was the fifth Miami food and beverage entrepreneur selected to join the global network of Endeavor, a nonprofit that selects, mentors and accelerates high-impact entrepreneurs. In an Endeavor Miami study in 2015, Endeavor found that food and beverage is one of five areas that could sizzle for entrepreneurial activity in South Florida because the ingredients are already here: a foodie culture, expertise, a talent base and educational opportunities, as well as a strong healthy and green trend to ride upon.

READ MORE ABOUT POWERFUL HERE.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

 

Powerful

November 07, 2017

Real estate software startup Gridics raises $1.6 million

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Gridics, a Miami-based real estate software startup, announced it has raised $1.6 million in additional seed capital.  

The round was led by BH3, a real estate developer with projects in South Florida and New York City, and includes existing investor Dune Road Capital. It builds on the $1.1 million Gridics raised in April and brings its total funding to  $3.74 million.

The company will use this investment to accelerate development and sales of the Zonar.City platform to cities and real estate developers.

Gridics, short for grid analytics, was founded in 2015 to change the way cities and real estate developers interact with zoning codes.  By bringing 2D text to a visualized 3D interface, the company is streamlining an antiquated process. Miami developer Avra Jain is also an investor in the company. 

 From applications on its platform, users can visualize real estate data in order to make smarter investment and development decisions while streamlining inefficient processes in the real estate world, the company said. For example, the Zonar.City application, launched earlier this year, helps bridge the gap between the private sector development community of architects, developers and attorneys by automating development feasibility analysis and streamlining the development plan approval process.

 CEO Jason Doyle said Gridics is seeing strong early adoption of the application by city and county planning, zoning and economic development departments as well as developers, architects, commercial brokers and land use attorneys in the private sector.

 “In the coming months, we will be opening all five boroughs of New York City on the platform and expect to add several direct city contracts," Doyle said.

In April, Gridics announced a contract with the City of Miami to use Zonar to streamline the analysis and processing of development plan reviews.  

 "Using Zonar, we are able to identify new development opportunities, quickly run custom scenario analyses and view applicable variances and waivers.  That analysis used to take us days to complete and cost thousands of dollars but can now be handled in a few minutes with Zonar, " said BH3 Principal Daniel Lebensohn, in a news release.

 

November 06, 2017

Boca Raton drone software company has eye on Florida's public safety

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On the left: Rex G. Ciavola Jr., co-founder and president of EagleEye Intelligence On the right: Scott H. Adams, co-founder and CEO of EagleEye. (EagleEye Intelligence / Courtesy)

 

By Marcia Heroux Pounds

Imagine a drone swooping in to identify a kidnapping suspect’s car on a road, potentially saving a child. Or identifying a shooter targeting a crowd, such as in the recent mass murder in Las Vegas. And after a storm like Hurricane Irma in Florida, documenting damage or even helping in search and rescue.

All of those and other applications are being pursued by EagleEye Intelligence, a two-year-old Boca Raton software company co-founded by long-time entrepreneur Scott Adams.

EagleEye’s drone security systems are catching the attention of public safety and law enforcement agencies, while also attracting investors.

READ THE SUN SENTINEL STORY HERE

November 05, 2017

Small business spotlight: A spoonful of EasyPeasie makes the vegetables go down

 

Easypeasie2

Small Business Spotlight: These sisters sought solutions to the age-old question: How do you get kids to eat their vegetables? Their solution: EasyPeasie Veggie Blends.

Company name: EasyPeasie

Headquarters: Hallandale Beach

Concept: EasyPeasie Veggie Blends is all-natural, mild-flavored, dried and ground vegetables that help picky eaters learn to love veggies.

Story: Like a lot of people, Dr. Jamelah Tucker, a pediatrician, and Dorielle Price, a mother of two and an engineer, have earnestly sought solutions to the age-old question: How do you get kids to eat their vegetables?

They are sisters who figured out how to warm kids up to vegetables by “veggie-hacking” every meal. Out of this necessity, EasyPeasie was born.

“In our family, we decided to give the kids exposures to veggie flavors as early and as often as possible, by drying and grinding lots of different vegetables and adding them to everything the kids were already eating,” Tucker said. “In doing this, we found an easy way to warm the palate and nose to lots of different vegetables. We call this vegetable palate priming.”

The veggie blends come in two blends: regular — carrots, peas and butternut squash, and green — carrots, peas, sweet potatoes, kale, spinach. EasyPeasie is adding a seasonal red blend featuring beets and other vegetables. The blends can be cooked into foods, shaken on top or used in shakes and smoothies.

The sisters — Tucker lives in South Florida; Price lives in the Orlando area — said their ultimate goal is to get kids to eat an adequate number and variety of whole vegetables, and EasyPeasie is a bridge to that goal. They have been hitting the farmer’s markets, which also provide a way to interact with customers, as well as selling the product online. They hope to continue ramping up sales and eventually get into more retail stores.

“It is easy to add to foods that the kids eat regularly and it doesn't change the taste of the food significantly. My 2- and 5-year-old never know when I add it,” said LeKecia Glover, a customer.

EasyPeasie currently can be found at the City of Parkland Farmer’s Market in South Florida, the Winter Garden Farmer’s Market in Central Florida, at the concierge pediatric practice Boca VIPediatrics in Boca Raton and at The Farmacy gourmet grocer in Central Florida. EasyPeasie Veggie Blends are also sold online at easypeasie.com and on Amazon.com.

Ashley Rudnick, president of VIPediatrics, said she discovered EasyPeasie at a farmer’s market and her 3-year-old daughter was the taste tester: “When she ate almost an entire serving of veggies hidden in some apple sauce, we were in awe. Then we learned that EasyPeasie was the handiwork of a fellow pediatrician, so it was a no-brainer to adopt this product for our office. There’s not a parent in the world who doesn’t want their child to eat more vegetables.”

Launched: January 2016

Website: www.easypeasie.com

Management team: Dr. Jamelah Tucker and Dorielle Price

Financing: EasyPeasie has been self-funded by investment from the owners, reinvestment of sales into the business, friends and family and crowdfunding.

Recent milestones: Chosen as one of 10 national finalists in the Small Business Association’s 2017 InnovateHER pitch competition. Began sales in Central Florida, through the gourmet grocery store The Farmacy, as well as being featured in the Launchpad program of Amazon.com. The small business is on track to increase sales by 250 percent over last year.

Biggest startup challenge: Getting exposure and reaching new customers.

Next step: “Our next step is updating our product packaging,” Tucker said. “We are seeking a marketing agency to focus-group test EasyPeasie to gather a larger amount of feedback on the product and packaging.”

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

November 04, 2017

Nuvola brings digital white-glove service to the hotel industry

SBDC-Success-Story_Juan-Carlos-Abello-NUVOLA-1
 

By Ana Acle-Menendez

Perhaps no other industry relies as heavily on customer service as the hotel industry.

So, imagine if there was a way for guests to communicate to staff directly and conveniently through the touch of a button on their mobile phone. And imagine if guests would be notified of happy hour specials while walking by the bar in real time, allowing hotels to gather behavioral data and provide better service.

Juan-Carlos-Abello-NUVOLA-2That communication platform was imagined and created. Now, it is offered by a guest service management software developed by Nuvola, a Miami-based company founded by Juan Carlos Abello, who worked as a manager at various hotels.

But while Abello developed a solution for hotels, he needed solutions of his own to grow his new startup business.

He heard about the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge, a contest for startup entrepreneurs, through Florida International University (FIU), his alma mater. While creating the video presentation for the contest, Abello then learned about the Florida SBDC at FIU — the small business development center at the College of Business, which provides no-cost consulting to entrepreneurs and small-business owners.

“My biggest obstacle was closing on my first customers,” said Abello, who earned an MBA from Emory University and a bachelor’s degree in international business from FIU. “In technology, if you don’t have references and you’re selling software that’s intangible, it’s a tough sales pitch. Closing on my first 20 to 30 customers was the biggest challenge.”

He specifically wanted guidance on finding an investor.  “In my particular case, I was looking to accelerate the growth of the company,” he said. “I was looking for funds and I was assigned to an advisor who had experience as an investor.”

For the next six months, he met with the expert consultant every two weeks on Saturdays, going over spreadsheets, sales pitches and the program to grow more capital.

It soon paid off.

“I was extremely satisfied because I was able to raise additional funds for the company,” Abello said. “I closed with two investors and now basically I’m living my dream.”

What started three years ago with business development and sales of $30,000 doubled every year. Now Nuvola is well over $1 million in sales this year, Abello said.

What’s more, his one-man team has now grown to 18 full-time employees.

“I would recommend the SBDC,” Abello said. “First, because they understand that you’re an entrepreneur — you don’t have a flexible schedule — and most of the time they were able to accommodate my needs.

“Second, I felt that every single member of the organization that I interacted with was professional, willing to assist and the advice they gave was definitely significant in terms of the objective that I had,” he continued.

“Lastly, it’s a free service,” Abello said. “They do understand that starting a business is not easy and you’re going to face a lot of obstacles. Most of the time they know what obstacles you’re going to face so you can anticipate them, which is great.”

Additionally, he said he made friends during the process and still keeps in touch with his advisor. He is also mentoring others so they can sell to their first 20 to 30 customers before going to investors.

By the way, in case you’re wondering, Abello and his team won first place in that Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge in the FIU Track category. That’s another feather in his cap that he can use for marketing purposes.

 

Ana Acle-Menendez wrote this article for Florida SBDC at FIU, which gave Starting Gate permission to post it.

 

READ MORE about Nuvola here. 

 

November 02, 2017

Blubeta and Healthsnap Solutions take part in MarketFit Acceleration Bootcamp in Silicon Valley

 

Marketfit

 

In partnership with Global Silicon Valley Labs (GSVlabs) and Google Developers Launchpad, MarketFit traveled to Silicon Valley with the team of co-founders from Healthsnap Solutions and Blubeta for its 2017 MarketFit Acceleration Bootcamp. For 5 days, they attended series of talks and 1-on-1 mentoring sessions in areas such as Lean Business Canvas, Product, Growth Hacking, and Fundraising, along with six other local and international startups. As part of the program, the startups spent a day at the Google Launchpad San Francisco campus discussing UX/UI and Design Sprint with Google mentors.

In total, the startups individually met over 20 local mentors, ranging from successful entrepreneurs, investors and senior level executives. The mentors spent approximately 1 hour with each startup, giving an outside look into their businesses and challenges and allowing for constructive dialogue and feedback. The Silicon Valley week concluded with a “mock” pitch competition in front of a jury of seven, including Venture Capitalists, entrepreneurs and angel investors from Silicon Valley. Yenvy Truong, CEO of Healthsnap Solutions carried the Miami pride by winning best pitch from the jury.

Back in Miami, the teams spent two additional days focusing on actionable milestones, fundraising strategy, and team structuring.

“We received a lot of feedback forcing us to look into what we have been doing so far and where do we go from here. Every startup should consider going through this program. MarketFit gave us an opportunity to reset and evaluate our position in the market. From this enriching experience, we were able to pivot and shift focus in order to scale,” stated Antonio Manueco, Co-Founder of Blubeta.

“The experience was amazing and the knowledge we brought back, we feel will trickle into the Miami system. After that opportunity in Silicon Valley, we feel as a company; we're able to take a big jump to hyper-growth,” Truong said.

“South Florida is a fast-growing startup ecosystem, and we are very excited to be part of this process, bridging the gap between Miami and Silicon Valley in partnership with GSVlabs, Google Launchpad and our team of mentors," said Roberto Machado from MarketFit.

MarketFit is currently receiving applications for the next Silicon Valley/Miami Bootcamp, which will take place late January 2018.

To learn more about the growth acceleration programs and how they are ideal for second stage startups, please visit https://marketfit.us/startup-bootcamp/.

- Submitted by HealthSnap

 

November 01, 2017

Miami’s TheVentureCity launches $100M global fund for tech startups

THE VENTURE CITY FUND MH AF001

Clara Bullrich, left, and Laura González-Estéfani at their TheVentureCity office in Miami Beach. TheVentureCity is now launching a $100 million fund for startups. Alexia Fodere for The Miami Herald

 

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@Miamiherald.com

This summer, when former executives of Facebook, Google, eBay and other hyper-growth companies formed a global “city” based in Miami with everything a tech startup needs to scale internationally, they were missing one key element: the money.

But not anymore.

The founder and CEO of TheVentureCity, Laura González-Estéfani, former director of international business development and mobile partnerships for Facebook, and co-founder Clara Bullrich, a 20-year private banking and asset management veteran, have launched a $100 million fund for tech entrepreneurs. This will be a tool in its unique TheVentureCity, which offers a tailored fellowship program and consultancy for tech startups with global hypergrowth potential.

TheVentureCity Fund I has already has already put $20 million to work, investing in about 14 companies globally – four of them based in the Miami area.

The new fund has invested in Boatsetter, a boat-rental platform; gaming venture The FastMind; and financial-technology startups Above & Beyond and RecargaPay, all from South Florida. It has also funded three Silicon Valley companies; the remainder are from Latin America and Europe. One has roots in Angola. Another five companies are in the pipeline. TheVentureCity typically invests more than $1 million.

“We want to accelerate emerging tech hubs around the world with amazing entrepreneurs who want to make their dreams come true. The way to do that is to guarantee that the right, smart money is there,” said González-Estéfani, in an interview last week. “There’s a lot of money in Miami but many of the LPs [limited partners] don’t understand tech.”

TheVentureCity Fund I joins several new funds launched in South Florida in the past couple of years for early-stage investments, including Krillion VenturesRokk3r Fuel ExOLas Olas Venture Capital and AGP Miami, an active angel investing network. But the number of South Florida startups has risen 63 percent in the past two years, and the lack of local venture capital options has long been an issue in the area.

Some of South Florida’s most successful startups have gone elsewhere, including Silicon Valley, for their funding. Some don’t come back.

González-Estéfani said the fund is looking for companies that can show at least six months of strong growth and customer engagement. “We are not looking at revenues from the very beginning, which is something that happens in Miami all the time – investors want to see early revenues,” said González-Estéfani, a native of Spain who worked in Silicon Valley, Europe, Latin America and Miami at Facebook for nine years, and before that was with eBay, Siemans and Ogilvy.

“But if I have a small company, I want everyone focused on growing the company. The Googles, Facebooks, eBays of the world, they didn’t start monetizing until the year three or five.”

With an “international-first” approach, TheVentureCity aims to create cross-functional bridges between key regions to scale startups on a global level through its consultancy, its acceleration programs and in-house product and engineering expertise, González-Estéfani said.

The headquarters of TheVentureCity is in Miami Beach, but the team of 17 is looking for a 10,000-square-foot office in Miami. There is a second campus in Madrid and an office in San Francisco. It just added a presence in Sydney, Australia, and Singapore may be in the works, González-Estéfani said. Elisa Rodríguez-Vila, who co-founded The LAB Miami, runs the Miami campus.

TheVentureCity’s 36-month or 18-month tailored acceleration programs, which will be called The Garden Fellowships, will launch this month at WebSummit in Lisbon, Portugal. TheVentureCity will take equity in the startup as the partnership progresses, not upfront, González-Estéfani said.

This fall, Miami Dade College and TheVentureCity launched a two-year degree in entrepreneurship. TheVentureCity recently received a “key” from the Miami-Dade Beacon Council for locating and investing in Miami.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

October 30, 2017

The Idea Center at MDC launches $50K Innovation Prize competition

The Idea Center at Miami Dade College announces a $50K Innovation Prize from the Veronica and Gaston Taratuta Foundation. It is an exciting entrepreneurship competition open to all MDC students and recent alumni, within last three years, who have innovative business solutions.

The winners will share in the $50,000 in prize money with a potential for up to $250,000 in follow-on investment. In addition to the funds, the Idea Center will support entrepreneurs to develop their ideas through educational workshops and mentorship.

The Idea Center is looking for entrepreneurs and innovators who can bring fresh ideas forward to solve critical problems affecting lives in our community. Their business should have a direct positive impact on the community while demonstrating the potential for business growth and sustainability. Some areas of focus can include tackling climate change, income inequality and poverty, public transportation, housing or healthcare. There are no restrictions to the type of problem being addressed, however, applicants should demonstrate their business solutions to be repeatable and scalable.  

Four prizes will be awarded in two categories: start-up and existing business. One first place award for $25,000 and a runner-up $15,000 prize will be awarded for existing businesses and two for $5,000 each for startups. Winners will receive a complimentary branding strategy session with an industry expert, a featured page on The Idea Center website to profile the problems they are tackling and their proposed solution and enrollment at no cost into any Idea Center workshops and program for 2018. Winners will also be featured in The Idea Center newsletter and the Refresh Miami blog. 

To apply, those interested must complete a registration form at http://theideacenter.co/solutions/, which also consists of a video submission. The form must answer the following two questions: What is the problem that you are trying to solve or need that you would like to satisfy? Why is your approach innovative? The one-minute video should include a detailed explanation of your solution and highlight its three key benefits, and examples, stats, or facts that support its impact and uniqueness.  The deadline to apply is December 15.

-Submitted by Miami Dade College