March 21, 2015

Startup Spotlight: Caribbean Journal

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Guy Britton, executive vice president, and Alexander Britell, editor-in-chief/founder, of Caribbean Journal in the offices of Pipeline Brickell on March 16, 2015. WALTER MICHOT MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Caribbean Journal

Concept: Caribbean Journal is a daily digital magazine covering news and travel in what the publication likes to call the “Greater Caribbean.”

Story: Alexander Britell graduated from Harvard College cum laude and received a scholarship to attend the University of Miami School of Law, where he soon began studying Caribbean law. He had been a journalist since high school, and one night before graduating from law school, had the idea to launch a regional Caribbean news source. In 2013, Britell joined forces with longtime media executive and former Caribbean and Travel and Life Publisher Guy Britton and expanded the site with more robust travel and tourism content.

“The Caribbean is unique in the world in that it is a place that everyone wants to know about and visit, but for which there has long been a significant information deficit, even more so for people who live within the region,” said Britell, editor of Caribbean Journal. CJ aims to bridge that gap by focusing on two major areas: news (politics, economics, energy and the environment) coupled with travel and tourism, the region’s single largest economic driver. “The goal is to unite two often disparate worlds: the people who live in the Caribbean, and the people who travel and invest in the Caribbean, and to inform them about what’s happening in the region and why it matters to everyone,” Britell said.

Today, the magazine has grown to become the world’s largest website covering the Caribbean and the leading resource for news and travel information on the Caribbean, Britell said. It is read in more than 200 countries and territories, with the largest concentration (about 65 percent) in the United States.

CJ has its office at Pipeline Brickell, which has proven to a valuable collaborative resource for the company’s growth. CJ even hosts regular Rum Tasting at the space as part of its Rum Journal section.

Founded: 2011

Management team: Alexander Britell, editor-in-chief/founder; Guy Britton, executive vice president.

Number of employees: Five.

Website: www.caribjournal.com

Financing: $500,000 in angel equity financing

Recent milestones reached: 460,000 visits in one month in January, just topped 44,000 subscribers (email newsletter goes out every day of the week) and 88,000 Facebook likes, 268 percent year-over-year audience growth. Won two Caribbean Tourism Organization media awards. Hired Caribbean travel expert Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon as travel editor at the end of 2014. “Among our staff, we’ve now visited every country in the Caribbean,” Britell said.

Biggest startup challenge: Building an Internet audience from scratch. In the very early days, CJ was getting 50 people a day. Now it’s 15,000, Britell said. 

Next step: Hosting conferences and small events in Miami and expanding audience development. “We believe that there’s nothing stopping us from reaching 5 million visits a month or more. But what’s important is that we stay lean and efficient and maintain our editorial vision,” Britell said.

Partner’s view: “I knew the minute I saw Caribbean Journal what a great opportunity there was to grow the audience and make it valuable for advertisers,” said Britton, who has more than 20 years of digital publishing experience and knowledge of the Caribbean. “We will continue to produce new, useful and entertaining content that attracts the right readership. Events are a great way to grow. We will continue to host rum tastings, small press conferences and accept speaking engagements.”

Nancy Dahlberg @ndahlberg

March 20, 2015

NBCUniversal programming plans for eMerge Americas unveiled

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The upcoming Miami technology conference eMerge Americas will be covered live on popular programs such as CNBC’s Fast Money, MSNBC’s The Rundown with José Díaz-Balart and Telemundo’s Enfoque con José Díaz-Balart, Un Nuevo Dia and Al Rojo Vivo.

CNBC, MSNBC, NBC News and Telemundo announced the news Friday morning, and Manny Medina, Miami technology pioneer and founder of eMerge Americas, and Telemundo and MSNBC anchor José Diaz-Balart highlighted some of the plans, including for his own shows, at a gathering in Miami Beach Thursday night. eMerge Americas takes place May 1-5, with the main conference May 4-5 at the Miami Beach Convention Center. "We'll see you on the air," said Diaz-Balart.

Now heading into its second year, the conference is expected to attract more than 10,000 attendees. It will include a Government Innovation Summit, a Startup Showcase, Country Pavilions and a Women, Innovation & Technology summit, as well as speakers, panel discussions, contests, an expo and networking opportunities. Keynote speakers include author Deepak Chopra; Jim McKelvey, co-founder of Square and LaunchCode; and Armando Christian Perez, also known as Pitbull (pictured above in eMerge interview last year with Manny Medina).

Medina told the crowd he founded eMerge Americas because he believed there was a need for a tech hub of the Americas, and the partnership with NBCUniversal will accelerate the effort to build it in Miami. “If we come together as a community, Miami can have tech,” he said.

As part of the three-year media partnership between eMerge Americas and the NBCUniversal News Group announced in January, coverage plans for the conference include:

* CNBC’s Fast Money (airs at 5 p.m. Monday-Friday), anchored by Melissa Lee, will broadcast live from the event. In addition, CNBC’s Chief International Correspondent Michelle Caruso-Cabrera will report live from eMerge Americas for CNBC’s Business Day programming.

* MSNBC’s The Rundown with José Díaz-Balart (9 a.m. weekdays) will broadcast live Monday, May 4, and MSNBC reporters will cover eMerge Americas live for msnbc.com/shift.

* Miami-based Telemundo plans coverage on multiple programs. Telemundo’s Enfoque con José Díaz-Balart (noon Sunday) will air a segment about eMerge on May 3. Telemundo’s Diego Schoening will report live May 4 and May 5 for Un Nuevo Día (7 a.m.-10 a.m. Monday-Friday). Telemundo’s Al Rojo Vivo (4 p.m. Monday-Friday), hosted by María Celeste Arrarás, will feature stories about fashion and technology.

In addition, NBCUniversal network websites will live-stream portions of eMerge Americas, and NBC News’ Chuck Todd, moderator of Meet the Press, MSNBC, Díaz-Balart and CNBC’s Melissa Lee will moderate panels at the event, NBCUniversal said. The NBCUniversal News Group of on-air and digital news properties in the world reaches more than 147 million people each month.

For more information about eMerge Americas and tickets: emergeamericas.org

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.

 

March 19, 2015

Modernizing Medicine's $20M fundraising round includes IBM

To help bring Watson’s cognitive computing power to the mass market, IBM on Thursday announced an investment in Modernizing Medicine, a provider of cloud-based, specialty-specific electronic medical records  systems and other technologies that capture structured data, track outcomes and deliver clinical decision support.

The undisclosed investment, caps $20 million in Series D funding secured by Boca Raton-based Modernizing Medicine, raising its overall funding total to $49 million. The first $15 million in the latest round, which included Summit Partners and Pentland Group,  has already been announced. This is the latest direct investment that IBM has made through its $100 million fund to seed innovations using  Watson, the super computer that famously beat the humans on Jeopardy! Last year, IBM announced a $1 billion program to bring Watson into healthcare and other industries.

Modernizing Medicine created of the Electronic Medical Assistant, or EMA, a specialty-specific EMR system and provider of comprehensive specialty-specific billing, revenue and inventory management Solutions.  Over 5,000 healthcare providers in the U.S., including 30 percent of dermatologists, use Modernizing Medicine's platform.

 "Today's announcement is an exciting milestone in our journey to deliver specialty-specific solutions to healthcare providers, including an entirely new class of cognitive-infused patient care apps powered by Watson," said Daniel Cane, co-founder and CEO of Modernizing Medicine, in a news release, noting its partnership with IBM that began last spring.

Modernizing Medicine will use the funding to accelerate market expansion in eight medical specialties, as well as enhance its products.  This includes further development of schEMA, the company's mobile app accessed through EMA that leverages the cognitive computing power of Watson to give physicians rapid clinical decision support at the point of care. 

schEMA  does this by analyzing massive amounts of published, peer-reviewed medical data and healthcare research. “Watson gets incredibly good at conversational style questions and answers. So when our dermatologist asked about a certain treatment, ...Watson can say here is the answer and here’s the journal it came from and here’s the citations and with one touch on the iPad, it can all be cited in the patient’s record,” said Cane in an interview last year.

schEMA is in beta testing now and the company will be looking for other beta clients at the American Academy of Dermatology Annual Meeting this week, said Cane on Thursday. schEMA will be available for general availability to EMA Dermatology clients later this year, he added.

The fast-growing Modernizing Medicine, based at the Research Park at FAU, now has 258 employees  and plans to add about 100 new positions within the next 18 months, the company said.

"Modernizing Medicine is a great example of the breakthrough innovation we have seen from our partners who are building a new class of cognitive computing solutions powered by Watson," said Stephen Gold, vice president of IBM Watson.  "IBM's investment will help speed the introduction of their schEMA app and demonstrates how Watson can be used by medical professionals to improve how they practice evidence-based medicine."

See earlier in-depth Miami Herald profile of Modernizing Medicine  here and news story about its Watson partnership here.

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Modernizing Medicine co-founders Dan Cane, right, and Dr. Michael Sherling in their Boca Raton offices.

March 18, 2015

SBA accepting applications this week for next Emerging Leaders program

Seventeen Miami-Dade small business owners and principals ready to grow their businesses will be chosen for the Small Business Administration’s free Emerging Leaders Program. Applications are now being accepted for the next class that will give selected small businesses a tailored three-year strategic growth plan to help bring their business to the next level.

Owners interested in the program should be the owner or principal in the small business that has annual revenues of at least $400,000, been in business for at least 3 years, and has at least one employee other than the owner. The participant must be dedicated to attend 13 evening training sessions and complete required homework.

The curriculum called the StreetWise Steps to Small Business Growth, is comprised of five modules: Business and Strategy Assessment; Financials; Marketing and Sales; Resources (People, Accessing Capital and Government Contracting); and Strategic Growth Plan Presentations.

The deadline to apply for the next class is March 20. Register here: www.interise.org/sbaemergingleaders.

Start-Up City: Miami returning March 30, speakers announced

The Atlantic, CityLab and the Knight Foundation are bringing back the third annual Start-Up City: Miami, a full day of speakers, panel discussions and networking, on March 30 at the New World Center in Miami Beach.

Speakers include The Walt Disney Company’s David Min, who will discuss The Disney Accelerator, Chef and Crafted Hospitality owner Tom Colicchio, who will talk about how opening a new restaurant compares to launching a startup, Slack’s Bill Macaitis on its plan for the billion-dollar brand, Veronica Juarez on Lyft'sgoals in Miami and beyond, MIT Sloan Leadership Center’s Hal Gregersen on how to become a better leader and increase creativity, Vikram Dendi of Microsoft Research, who will discuss Skype Translator, and Square and LaunchCode cofounder Jim McKelvey's insights.

The event is $99. For the full list of speakers or to buy tickets: www.theatlantic.com/live/events/start-up-city-miami/2015/.

 

March 17, 2015

Shyp makes tracks in Miami, adds feature to make the dreaded return easier

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If online shopping is all about the convenience, why are returns such a hassle?

Shyp, the on-demand shipping service that launched in Miami just before Art Basel, introduced a service this month that expedites the return of unwanted items. No more printing out the return label, repackaging the box and killing your lunch hour at the post office, the company says.

With the startup’s Shyp Returns feature, you simply launch the Shyp app (iOS or Android), select the retailer you’re returning to -- there are 13 popular ones right now such as Amazon, Target and J.Crew -- enter your order number, take a picture of what you’re returning, and you’re done. A Shyp courier will arrive within 20 minutes to  pick up your item and take care of the rest, including packaging, for $5, the company says. “We know where it needs to go in a couple of taps," said CEO, Kevin Gibbon, founder and CEO of the company in an interview last week. With less hassle to return, “consumers actually buy more," he said. “It’s beneficial for Shyp, it’s better for the retailers and better for the consumer.”

The return feature is new but Shyp, which simplifies the process of shipping packages using a mobile platform and a fleet of Shyp couriers, has already been making tracks in South Florida. Since launching in late November, its third expansion after San Francisco and New York (L.A. is next), Shyp has been experiencing 20 percent month-over-month growth, said Gibbon, who thinks easing online returns – now 15 percent of its business -- will increase that. Shyp has also raised $12.2 million in venture funding.

Shyp, now a team of six in Miami and hiring, is one of a growing army of startups targeting the entrenched logistics industry. Want to send a gift or do you have a large small-business order to get out? Shyp charges a $5 pickup fee no matter the number of items and does the packing for you at its warehouse; the consumer also pays the retail cost of shipping. The company makes money because it negotiates large volume discounts on shipping, says Gibbon, who was a eBay power seller in college who  experienced the hassle of shipping first-hand.

Shyp strategically launched in Miami just before Art Basel, Gibbon said. Along with small businesses, Gibbon said, “we are seeing traction with hotel concierges, who are using  it as an on-demand service for their guests. Property managers  have been promoting Shyp to their tenants, so we are seeing a lot of shipments from highrises. And of course shopping -- it becoming clear to us what people already know, Miami loves to shop.”

Miami is also skewing higher for international shipments, he said. "You don’t have to go to the post office for the custom declaration forms anymore. We do it all through the app.” And that includes art, lots of art. Shyp provides $1,000 of insurance for free; but customers can purchase more through Shyp.

 

Business Plan Challenge attracts 248 entries

A record 248 entries flowed into the 17th annual Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge by the deadline on Monday, making it the biggest year yet for business plan entries.

If you entered the Challenge and did not get a confirmation email from Nancy Dahlberg or have a question about whether your entry was received, please email her at ndahlberg@miamiherald.com and put Challenge in the memo line.

Education was a big trend in the contest this year, with ideas for apps, services, classes, books, videos and more. Food and fashion continued to draw a lot of interest, as did technology and plans with a social mission. This year there were also ideas and young businesses tied to South Florida’s biggest industries – real estate, construction and tourism – and this year drew more healthcare-related ideas than years past. The contest attracted entrepreneurs of all ages, including a number of people from the corporate world ready to make the jump into entrepreneurship for the first time.

Next the plans go to the Business Plan Challenge judges, who are serial entrepreneurs, investors, executives, advisors or professors in the field of entrepreneurship. The semifinalists in each of the three tracks – Community, FIU and High School – will likely be announced in Business Monday March 30. After that, finalists will be announced and a People’s Pick video contest launched on MiamiHerald.com. In that contest, finalists will present their elevator pitches and readers and views will determine the winners.

The judges’ winners in all three tracks, including an overall Challenge Champion, and the People’s Pick winners will be announced and profiled in a special section of Business Monday on April 27. The Business Plan Challenge is sponsored by Florida International University’s Pino Global Entrepreneurship Center.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

 

March 16, 2015

Last hours to enter the Business Plan Challenge: Do you have what it takes?

Bootcamp artWill you be the next winner of the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge? Entries are due at midnight Monday.

So put those final touches on your short business plan and email it in. Don’t forget to include highlights of all the business plan basics such as concept, target market, team, business model, growth, marketing and financial strategies. Tell us what differentiates your product or service from the competition, why it’s needed in the marketplace and why you are the one to execute the plan. If you entered before and didn’t win, you can update your plan and try again.

Your plan will be judged by a panel of angel and venture capital investors, serial entrepreneurs and senior executives, and the top six finalists in the Community and FIU tracks will also participate in our online popular contest. The top three winners in each track and the People’s Picks will be profiled in a special section of Business Monday.

Ready to take the Challenge? Here is your survival guide:

Who can enter: Entrepreneurs with businesses less than 2 years old or with business ideas. There is a Community Track, FIU Track and High School Track.

What to enter: Up to a three-page business plan (one additional page for charts or photos is allowed).

Entry deadline: 11:59 p.m. March 16

Email entries to: Challenge@MiamiHerald.com (for the Community Track), FIUchallenge@MiamiHerald.com or highschoolchallenge@MiamiHerald.com. You should get a confirmation your entry was received. If you do not, email ndahlberg@miamiherald.com.

Contest rules, judges’ bios, other info: MiamiHerald.com/challenge

Questions: ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

 

Entrepreneurship Datebook

ADVICE STRAIGHT UP: Zalmi Duchman, founder of The Fresh Diet, will speak on “The Essential Ingredients: What Every Business Needs for Success!” during the speaker series by the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship, 8-10:30 a.m. Tuesday, March 17, at the Urban League of Broward County. Get tickets here.

THE IDEA FACTORY - VALIDATE AND INNOVATE: A workshop designed to equip you the tools needed to develop innovative ideas and critical thinking, 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., Wedneday, March 18, The Idea Center at Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus, Building 8. Register here.

GLOBAL IMPACT COMPETITION INFO SESSION: SingularityUniversity is hosting Global Impact Competition Miami to find innovative ideas to address sea level rise. A free info session, along with a talk by Singularity University’s Salim Ismail, will be 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday at The LAB Miami in Wynwood. Register here.

PREMONEY MIAMI: 500 Startups brings its popular conference for accredited investors to downtown Miami on Friday. Speakers include Dave McClure of 500 Startups; Scott Kupor of Andreessen Horowitz; Mark Suster of  Upfront Ventures (by Skype) and Christine Herron of Intel Capital.   More info here.

MIA MUSIC HACKDAY: About 50 hackers will compete for cash and VIP tickets to the 16th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards and Official After Party in Las Vegas. The hackathon for music-related ideas  is March 21-22 at Building, 120 SW 8th St., Miami. Registration is free for the hackathon but limited: mms.co.

MIA MUSIC SUMMIT: A gathering of leading digital music experts, startups and investors from around the globe to discuss the latest trends at the intersection of music and technology, March 26, Colony Theater, Miami Beach. Tickets: mms.co

CITI FINTECH/REFRESH MIAMI MEETUP: Citi's second Miami  fintech meetup will be 6:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday, March 26,  at Miami's Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science,  where a panel of experts will discuss how financial technology can drive financial inclusion. Register here.

BARCAMP MIAMI: Dubbed an “unconference,” this ad-hoc gathering was born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, demos and interaction from attendees. Everyone is expected to participate in some way: by giving a talk, asking questions, or organizing a session. Saturday, March 28, at Miami Ad School in Wynwood. Free. Register here:  www.barcampmiami.org

CODE4GOOD HACKATHON: Quantum Foundation is teaming up with Modernizing Medicine and Florida Atlantic University’s new entrepreneurship program and accelerator, Tech Runway, to stimulate health-related innovation with a hackathon and tech weekend March 28 – 29 at Tech Runway: To learn more or to register: www.code4goodPBC.org

START-UP CITY MIAMI: Atlantic Magazine’s one day event returns March 30 with speakers such as Jim McKelvey, co-founder of Square and LaunchCode, Vikram Dendi of Skype Translator and those at the helm of Slack, Lyft, Postmates, Courssera and more. More information here.

 

Startup Spotlight: Wyncode

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Johanna and Juha Mikkola are the founders of Wyncode, which runs nine-week-long coding boot camps at its school at The LAB Miami. AL DIAZ MIAMI HERALD STAFF

 

Wyncode

Headquarters: The LAB Miami in Wynwood.

Concept: Wyncode is a nine-week development boot camp immersing ambitious individuals in a demanding and inspiring learning environment engineered to develop successful coders with business acumen. “We believe in promoting programming literacy using a disruptive education model and feel that a boot camp environment is the best way to learn practical and relevant coding skills quickly,” said Juha Mikkola, who co-founded Wyncode with his wife, Johanna (pictured above).

Story: WyncodeAcademy aims to address the need in Miami’s tech ecosystem for developer talent, which parallels what’s seen elsewhere in the country: recent estimates show that there will be a million more computer programming jobs in 2020 than candidates to fill them. The rapidly growing demand for developers provides an opportunity for a career accelerator for those determined to change their path and make an impact in the startup technology scene.

Wyncode got started after Juha Mikkola attended a development boot camp in Toronto, Canada, where he saw firsthand the power and effectiveness of the accelerated learning model. Improving upon that experience with better hiring partner relationships and a “Made for Miami” curriculum, Wyncode hit the ground running with a 14-person inaugural class in May 2014. Wyncode graduated its fourth cohort last week.

Wyncode has held four Pitch Days with each drawing an audience of about 250 people to see the app creations of Wyncode students. Last week’s Pitch Day drew 267 people and six of the students received full-time job offers even before the event.

Launched: Website went live in February 2014; first classes started in May.

Management team: Co-founders Juha and Johanna Mikkola.

Website: www.wyncode.co.

Number of employees: Five full-time employees, five part-time employees, in addition to the co-founders. Wyncode’s lead instructor, Edward Toro, is an MIT graduate, veteran of six startups, and a Miami tech scene pioneer.

Financing: Self-financed. Currently raising $500,000.

Recent milestones: Nearly 70 students have graduated from the program while Wyncode has maintained a 92 percent placement rate within three months of graduation; first Code School/Development Bootcamp in Florida to receive Florida Department of Education licensing; won Tech Cocktail’s Best Company Culture Award; invited to the White House to participate in its Accelerated Learning Program panels and meet the US CTO Megan Smith, and then invited back; Wyncode and nine other coding schools nationwide recently formed a new trade organization called the New Economy Skills Training Association (NESTA) to establish best practices, standards and increase accountability in the industry.

Biggest startup challenge: Finding out that accelerated learning programs required Florida Department of Education licensing, after students joining the first cohort had already quit their jobs to attend Wyncode. “We’re fortunate that the state saw the great impact we are having and worked with us as we fulfilled the requirements, but it made for a lot of sleepless nights,” Juha Mikkola said. “Even through the difficult times all of our students stuck by us!”

Next steps: Expanding programming at flagship location in Wynwood. “We introduced our first part-time course in February, which is for iOS App Development. Next we plan to expand to our second location in Fort Lauderdale in April, pending state approval, and add more part-time courses,” Johanna Mikkola said.

Strategy for next step: “Our strategy is laser-focused on maintaining our quality no matter what we do. We will continue working closely with our hiring partners to make sure that we are teaching relevant tech skills that allow our graduates to jump straight into the workplace and contribute from day one, or build a minimum viable product and start their own tech company,” Juha Mikkola said.

Nancy Dahlberg @ndahlberg

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The Wyncode team, left to right, Walter Latimer, Damon Davison, Bryce Kerley, Frank Ortiz, Juha Mikkola, Diego Lugo, Edward Toro and Johanna Mikkola, above. Below, Alexander Moraleza and other students participate in a class at Wyncode at The LAB Miami. AL DIAZ MIAMI HERALD STAFF

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