July 11, 2016

Startup Spotlight: Mediconecta bringing telehealth to emerging markets

MKK00 Mediconecta News rk

Mediconecta, based in Miami, provides telehealth services in Latin America. The company, which won the eMerge Americas startup competition in April, now has 50 employees. Daniel Silberman, founder and CEO, and Daniel Fridzon, CTO, are pictured.

Company name: Mediconecta

Headquarters: Miami

Concept: Mediconecta.com is a telehealth innovator that provides on-demand medical consultations via videoconference. Using an in-house network of physicians and a robust proprietary platform, the company offers complete clinical resolution via web, its mobile app or telehealth kiosks.

Story: Daniel Silberman and Salomon Simkins, both engineers from Venezuela who received MBAs in the United States, started Mediconecta about five years ago and built it on the basic yet powerful premise that technology can be a pivotal element in the much-needed transformation of healthcare.

“By providing access to real time, on demand virtual medical visits that can take place anywhere the patient is located, we are able to drastically lower the constraints for delivering quality, affordable and timely medical care,” said Silberman, an industrial engineer who moved to the U.S. in 2004, received his MBA at MIT Sloan School of Management and did consulting and strategy work for a number of years before starting Mediconecta. Simkins, his co-founder and longtime friend, received an MBA from Harvard Business School and has a master’s in biomedical engineering from Penn State; he is based in Israel.

The company’s main business model is to provide telehealth services via the consumers’ insurance companies. “But what we are doing more and more is going straight to consumers through partnerships ... with channel partners who have broad reach in the mass consumer space,” Silberman said.

Today, Mediconecta is the largest telemedicine provider in Latin America with a presence in Mexico, Chile, Ecuador, Venezuela and Peru, with plans to expand into other specialties and product lines, including for U.S. Hispanics who have families in Latin America.

While Latin America is significantly behind the U.S. in telehealth adoption, “it’s really interesting how mainstream this will all become in the next few years,” Silberman said. “The business models that will exist and evolve in a few years will be different than they are today, so we are trying to stay ahead of the pack.”

Launched: July 2011

Management team: Daniel Silberman, founder and CEO; Salomon Simkins, founder and chairman; Daniel Fridzon, CTO

No. of employees: 50, most of them in Latin America.

Financing: $4.1 million in angel funding

Recent milestones reached: Mediconecta won the 2016 eMerge Americas late stage startup competition, winning $100,000 in investment as well as “giving us validation on a very credible platform” and “opening doors for investment and partnership opportunities,” Silberman said. Also, the company successfully deployed Medipunto health kiosks for employers and signed its first distribution partnership with a telecom company in Latin America.

Biggest startup challenge: Creating an entirely new service category in emerging markets. “Being the pioneers in the space, we now benefit from obvious advantages, although getting there was a lengthy process that took significant effort and resources,” Silberman said.

Next step: Mediconecta will continue to penetrate its core markets while expanding into several more countries in Latam and Spain. The service offering is also growing beyond its core in primary medical care and into other telehealth services including medical specialties and a virtual wellness hub, which provides access to virtual coaches in nutrition, fitness, maternity and other areas. The company will also be deploying more of its telehealth kiosks for employers for convenient, on-demand services.

In the United States, where the industry is growing more than 25 percent a year, Mediconecta has an opportunity to merge the medical need of Latinos in their home countries with the high quality medical care offered in the U.S. “This is a project the company will be pursuing via strategic partners, through a highly differentiated product to sell to their Hispanic customers,” Silberman said.

Nancy Dahlberg: @ndahlberg


July 10, 2016

Entrepreneurship Datebook: Workshops, events this week.

Tech eggStartup Grind: The monthly speaker interview and networking event hosts Ian Lucey of the Lucey Fund for a fireside chat on funding and software development, 6-9 p.m. Tuesday, July 12, 360Spaces, 220 NW 27th St., Wynwood. More info: startupgrind.com/miami.

Brainfood: Monthly speaker series will feature serial entrepreneur and author Felecia Hacker of Code Fever, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 12, The LAB Miami, 400 NW 26th St. More info: thelabmiami.com

Venture Law Project: Learn about intellectual property guidelines for your startup at a consulting session between 8:30 a.m.and 12:30 p.m. Thursday, July 14, Dade Legal Aid, 123 NW First Ave., Miami. Cost: $15. More info on Eventbrite.

South Florida Technology Association: Theme of networking event is the internet of beers, featuring several local breweries, 5:30-9 p.m. Thursday, July 14, FAU Tech Runway, 901 NW 35th St., Boca Raton. More info: southfloridatech.org

Venture Law Project: Schedule a consultation with a business law attorney, between 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Friday, July 15 Dade Legal Aid, 123 NW First Ave., Miami. Cost: $15. More info on Eventbrite.

Social Tech Live: Interested in social media, technology and business in the Miami community? Join Social Tech Live, a two-day conference featuring more than 50 speakers and an Innovation Challenge, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 16-17, College of Business Complex at Florida International University. Tickets: http://www.socialtechlive.com/conference-info/buy-tickets/ (use the discount code FIUSMA for 35 percent off. More info: www.socialtechlive.com

Have an entrepreneurship-related event you would like considered for the datebook? Email ndahlberg@miami"herald.com and put datebook in the subject line.


Keep up with startup news and community views on the Starting Gate blog on MiamiHerald.com/business.

Nancy Dahlberg: @ndahlberg



July 07, 2016

Big data startup Candidate.Guru raises $600K on way to $950K round


Candidate.Guru CEO Chris Daniels with co-founder Steve Carter 

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Big data startup Candidate.Guru has raised $600,000 in funding led by The Fan Fund, an Orlando-based, early-stage fund that invests in technology and life science companies.

Candidate.Guru, winner of the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge this year, uses data analytics to analyze whether job candidates are a good cultural fit with a potential boss or team, and it is led by CEO Chris Daniels. The company, now with nine full- or part-time employees, launched earlier this year, is generating revenue and previously raised $475,000 in angel funding.

In addition to the $600,000 in funding, Candidate.Guru is close to closing an additional $200,000, Daniels said, and the company hopes to close out its $950,000 round this month. The company plans to use the funding for primarily for sales and marketing, but also some product development related to integrations with larger HR systems.

Research has shown that 75 percent of voluntary job resignations are due to a poor fit between the employee and the manager resulting in significant productivity loss as well as replacement cost.  Candidate.Guru’s proprietary software uses objective big data methods to rank the entire candidate pool for cultural fit, and can be used either at the early stage of the recruiting process to streamline recruiters’ work process, or at the late stage of the process to minimize chances of costly hiring errors.

“Our decision to invest in Candidate.Guru was supported by the qualities of the management team: business and domain experience, commitment to the business, a working and innovative technological approach, and the drive to succeed,” said Mitchel Laskey, managing director of FAN Fund.

This investment is the sixth for the FAN Fund since launching operations on Nov. 1, 2015. In the initial eight months, the FAN Fund deployed $1.55 million in financing rounds that totaled approximately $7 million.

In addition to winning the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge in May, Candidate.Guru won first place and $100,000 in funding in the Florida Venture Forum Early Stage Capital Conference's startup business competition.

Candidate.Guru was selected in 2015 for Florida Atlantic University's Tech Runway startup accelerator program in Boca Raton.

Read profile of Candidate.Guru here.

July 01, 2016

2016 American Entrepreneurship Awards: And the winners are ...


Two first place teams: Cheveral Deacon, above left, CEO of StatLab, accepts the first place American Entrepreneurship Award. Alain Fernandez, CEO of ValueDoc, below, also accepts the first place award. Each won $25,000 in funding and services from Libra Group.


Compiled by Libra Group

The American Entrepreneurship Award (AEA), a program created to support startup businesses and entrepreneurs, has announced the winners of its first contest. The award focuses on traditionally underserved communities in the United States and this year operated exclusively in Miami-Dade County and the Bronx. The AEA organizers, international business group the Libra Group, had originally pledged a prize of $25,000 in business start-up funding in each of the award regions. The quality of entrants was, however, so high that Libra raised prize funding to a total of $125,000 with multiple award winners being declared in each region. Winners will also receive mentorship and a range of business support services.

The winners in Miami-Dade are a mobile medical laboratory, an online healthcare marketplace and a legal services access system.  The winners in the Bronx are an eco-lighting company and an organic drinks company with the runner-up award going to a food market. The panel of judges selected winners from hundreds of entrants on the basis of business plans that exhibited sustainability, financial prudence and innovation, while accruing revenue and creating jobs predominantly in Miami-Dade County, Florida, or the Bronx, New York. Entries were accepted from individuals or groups with no previous business experience, or from existing private companies with an all-new business idea that was not related to their core activities.

The AEA was launched in October 2015 with an initial commitment of $500,000 from the Libra Group, a privately owned diversified business group with 30 subsidiaries active across six continents. The winners’ trophies for the Miami-Dade region were presented at a ceremony at The Idea Center at Miami Dade College by Jimmy Athanasopoulos, Head of Social Responsibility, Libra Group; and Carla Brillembourg-Clark, Deputy Head of Social Responsibility, Libra Group.

The winners in Miami-Dade County who were announced at a ceremony at The Idea Center at Miami Dade College are:

Statlab Mobile (statlabmobile.com), winning $25,000 in funding. A complete mobile medical laboratory with the capabilities to test blood and urine samples at any location. The company’s goal is to provide quality blood testing for the insured and the uninsured at a fraction of the traditional cost.

ValueDOC (doctors.valuedoc.com), winning $25,000 in funding. A free health and wellness marketplace where self-pay patients find pre-screened doctors offering services like dental cleaning, doctor visits, urgent care, acupuncture, and massage therapy, all at discounted prices up to 80% off retail. Doctors can be found based on their years of experience, convenience and patient reviews. Appointments can be booked online via credit card. [ValueDoc was also a first-place winner in the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge this year; read its story here.

The runner-up, winning $12,500 in funding, is Court Buddy (www.courtbuddy.com); James and Kristina Jones pictured below. An automated legal services matching system that pairs small businesses with attorneys. The legal services offered are à la carte, so clients pay based on their budget. [Court Buddy was a winner of the Business Plan Challenge People's Pick in 2015. Read its story here.]


Winning companies in the Bronx are:

Watt + Flux (www.wattandflux.com), an LED Inspire Company, winning $25,000 in funding. This company upgrades existing inefficient lighting systems in businesses, schools and marine vessels to new LED lighting systems that save time and money, and reduce environmental impact.

Ginjan Bros (drinkginjan.com), winning $25,000 in funding. A NYC based drinks company that develops and markets traditional African beverages. Their first product offering is "Ginjan", a popular West African drink made with all-organic fresh ginger, cold-pressed pineapples, fresh lemons, vanilla, anise extracts, and organic cane sugar.

The runner-up, winning $12,500 in funding, is South Bronx Food Market (www.southbronxfarmersmarket.com): a market that offers healthy, home-style menu items and meals made fresh daily with minimally-processed and locally-sourced ingredients.

In addition to the funding, which comes in the form of an interest-free loan, each winner will receive business support spanning legal, accounting, communications and IT consultancy services. They will also be assigned a mentor who will provide advice and guidance throughout every stage of their business start-up.

Commenting on the winners, Jimmy Athanasopoulos, Head of Social Responsibility at the Libra Group stated:

“This is the inaugural year for the American Entrepreneurship Award and has demonstrated the rich seam of innovation and sound commercial thinking in this country. We hope that the success of these smart young companies will inspire others to have the same self-belief and take the bold step of translating an idea into a business plan," said Jimmy Athanasopoulos, Head of Social Responsibility at the Libra Group. "New businesses are the raw materials of economic growth – they create employment and have the power to transform communities. We sincerely congratulate these winners whose innovation and sound commercial thinking has won the admiration and endorsement of the panel of judges.”

Other finalists in the 2016 award were:

AlulA (alulaaero.com), Miami-Dade County. An on-board aviation communications device (AlulA Heart) which enables affordable transmission of valuable ‘black box’ data in real time by broadcasting it to a new and innovative land-based, crowd sourced aircraft data receiver network.

Pepe Loves Books (www.alphatechblocks.com), Miami-Dade County. The company creates connected toys and mobile applications for early childhood education. Their first toy is AlphaTechBlocks™, the world’s first interactive alphabet blocks and a child’s first introduction to the digital world.

Noga Tech, the Bronx. The company’s patent pending product is a multifunctional backpack that can be utilized as a briefcase or messenger bag and additionally serves as a high-visibility safety vest, with the added benefit of being on trend with current fashions.

WeIntervene (www.weintervene.com), the Bronx. A start-up that serves as an online Referral Management System, empowering school counselors to find, share, manage and monitor community resources needed by students and their guardians. The scope of resource provision spans health and wellbeing, counseling, and extra-curricular programs.

The contest will be back in Miami-Dade County next spring, the organizers said. To learn more about the American Entrepreneurship Award, visit www.americanaward.com.

June 29, 2016

Code for Fort Lauderdale to host civic hackathon July 23

By Code For Fort Lauderdale

Code for Fort Lauderdale, a local civic technology group, along with coding bootcamp Wyncode, are proud to host the Fort Lauderdale Civic Hackathon (#FTLCivicHackathon) Saturday, July 23, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Axis Coworking Space in downtown Fort Lauderdale. This event is the first locally organized civic hackathon open to developers, designers, urban planners, and creatives of all types (technical and non-technical).

“We want to create an opportunity for new ideas and collaborations to emerge,” said Rob Davis, Code for Fort Lauderdale co-organizer. “Civic Hackathons are a great way for citizens to get hands-on with civic information and meet others who share the same passion for programming and volunteering.”

Participants are tasked with pitching an idea, forming a team, and attempting to build a prototype to present at the conclusion of the event. Key Challenge themes include Transportation, Water & Outdoor Recreation, Upcycling/Recycling, Non-Profits and Open Challenge.

The City of Fort Lauderdale is a proud supporter, providing not only key open data sets instrumental in addressing these challenges, but also food, drinks, and snacks to keep teams fed and energized.

Kevin Keimel, Applications Manager for the City of Fort Lauderdale and a judge for the event added, “While this is our first involvement in a local technology event, we’re excited to see what the local community can do.”

A team of local technology leaders will act as judges and will critique final presentations on Saturday evening. Related prizes will be unveiled during the opening kick-off at 8:30 a.m.

An exciting element of the event will be the presentation of practical problems from local non-profit organizations that participants will have the opportunity to tackle. Sea Turtle Oversight Protection and The Fort Lauderdale Historical Society are just two of the participating non-profits.

At the recent National Day of Civic Hacking, hosted by Code for Miami, demonstrated projects included a data visualization using White House Promised Zones data, a Facebook Chat Bot whose goal is to make it easier starting a business in Miami, and a website for affordable housing information.

“We expect to see that same ingenuity at Fort Lauderdale’s Civic Hackathon,” Rob Davis added.

Eager Civic Hackers can register at http://FTLCivicHackathon or http://ftlcivichackathon.eventbrite.com (one per guest).

Sponsorship opportunities are available at http://ftlcivichackathon.com.


Fort Lauderdale Civic Hackathon

Date: Saturday, July 23, 2016

Time: 8:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Location: Axis Space Coworking, 333 Las Olas Way CU 1, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301

Registration: http://ftlcivichackathon.eventbrite.com

Web: http://ftlcivichackathon.com

June 27, 2016

Startup Spotlight: Shanti Bar founders passionate about health, attract Hope Solo

Lauren Feingold_Ashanty Williams

Shanti Bar, a line of energy and protein bars sold in more than 150 venues, is created, manufactured and distributed by a Miami-based startup. The Olympic champ and soccer star Hope Solo recently endorsed Shanti Bar as her performance bar of choice.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/#storylink=cpy

Company name: Organically Raw (produces Shanti Bar line of products)

Headquarters: Miami

Business: Organically Raw is aiming to disrupt the functional food bar category by introducing superfoods to the masses, and to be the leader in the high-performance, high-protein, nutrient-dense, raw superfood space. “We want to create a revolution whereby sports and active performance nutrition is fueled by natural sources and superfoods,” CEO Lauren Feingold said. The company’s first product line is Shanti Bar. To the co-founders, Shanti Bar celebrates the raw power of female excellence and beauty and supports sexual equality.

Story: Feingold and Ashanty Williams (pictured above), who both studied culinary arts and have a passion for health and wellness, met at a local gym in Miami in 2012 and became friends. Williams asked Feingold to try a Shanti Bar she developed. “Once I did, I was hooked and the two of us formed a partnership based on a mutual dynamic skill set of the culinary arts, business management and ambition to see the endeavor through.”

Most all products in the market contained loads of unnecessary ingredients and lacked nutritional and functional health benefits, Feingold said. “We believe the consumer deserves more and should have a product they can rely on whether it is at the gym, work, traveling, or on the go.”

Shanti Bar is manufactured, produced and distributed from its facilities in Miami, and this summer, Organically Raw is set to launch Shanti Bar into mainstream retailers. While the market is crowded with competitors, this 100 percent raw, vegan and organic product has a secret weapon: Olympic champion Hope Solo.

Hope Solo (4)

Solo said “the brand represents the idea of what a powerful and purposeful woman is” and last month endorsed the Shanti Bar as her “performance bar of choice.”

“Female entrepreneurs are a very strong and vibrant community, and they want to help each other,” said Solo, who was already a fan and regular customer of Shanti Bar. “I’m excited to work with Lauren and Ashanty — they’re incredible women who want to chart their own path and have found something they love and believe in.”

The energy and protein bars are sold in nearly 150 locations in South Florida, including Tunies Natural Market, Beehive, One Hotel, The Standard, Soho House, Native Sun Grocers, Juice n Java and Miami Cafe, and are now distributed nationally in New York, Colorado, California, Georgia, Oregon and Nevada.

Company launched: March 2015

Management team: Lauren Feingold, CEO; Ashanty Williams, COO; Zussy Williams, facility manager.

Employees: 31

Website: shanti.bar

Financing: Mainly self-financed. Obtained a few equipment loans.

Milestones: Partnership with Hope Solo, a two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and FIFA World Cup Champion goalie, was announced in May. Also this year, the company further automated its production in order to manufacture mass quantities and launched a new flavor, Acai Lush, in its Shanti Bar Mini line.

Biggest startup challenge: “There isn’t anything easy about it,” Feingold said. “But probably the biggest challenge has been penetrating the natural channel’s mainstream retailers and mass market key accounts.”

Next steps: The company is working with a broker to help take Shanti Bar nationwide. It also plans to participate in various trade shows outside of its natural channel — for example, Shanti Bar could be marketed for hiking, biking, camping, skiing, etc.

“Ashanty and I are dedicated and determined to make a positive impact in the world of health and wellness nutrition and sports and active performance nutrition,” Feingold said.

Nancy Dahlberg @ndahlberg

[Read more Startup Spotlights here and here and see more small business coverage here.]

SHANTI Bar_Group

June 26, 2016

Entrepreneurship Datebook: Workshops, events in South Florida this week

Tech eggStartup Funding 101: Do you have a business idea or product that needs funding? A Founder Institute beginner fundraising workshop, 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 28, WeWork, 350 Lincoln Road. More info: http://FI.co/events

Founder Institute Graduate Startup Panel: Network with local graduates of the Founder Institute Fort Lauderdale chapter and learn about the program, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 28, General Provision, 525 NW 1st Ave., Fort Lauderdale. More info: http://FI.co/events

Dawnings: A new event with meditation and yoga, discussions with mindful entrepreneurs and healthy networking to start the day, 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. Wednesday, June 29, The LAB Miami, 400 NW 26th St., Wynwood. Tickets and more info: dawnings.co

Waffles After Work: Evening networking event modeled after the weekly morning #WaffleWednesday, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 29, LiveNinja, 120 NW 25th St., Loft #301, Miami. More info on Eventbrite.

StartUP FIU: Free speaker series will feature Startup FIU Director Bob Hacker and Wyncode coding bootcamp co-founder Johanna Mikkola; will include a coding 101 session, 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, June 30, FIU’s Ryder Building. More info on Eventbrite.

The State of Miami’s Tech Hub: Real or Hype? The second quarterly panel discussion and Q&A with tech community leaders hosted by Jurnid Sessions will be 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, June 30, Building.co, 120 SW Eights St. More info on Eventbrite.

StartupBlink June Networking Event: Meet new people and build your network at this StartHub Miami event, 7 p.m. Thursday, June 30, 766 W Flagler Street, 9th Floor, Miami. More info on meetup.com

Have an entrepreneurship-focused event listing you would like considered for Entrepreneurship Datebook? Email it to ndahlberg@miamiherald.com and put “Datebook” in the message line.

Starting Gate

Find startup news and community views on the Starting Gate blog on MiamiHerald.com/business.

Nancy Dahlberg @ndahlberg


June 23, 2016

3 South Florida companies make Forbes’ list of innovative growth companies

South Florida companies Ultimate Software in Weston, Mednax in Sunrise and Opko Health of Miami made Forbes' 2016 list of the 100 "Most Innovative Growth Companies" in the world.

Ultimate Software, which provides software for human resources, ranked No. 8; Opko Health, a pharmaceutical company ranked No. 21; and Mednax, a national physician network, came in at No. 65.

For Ultimate Software, it was the third year in a row ranking in the top 10; Ultimate ranked 7th in 2015 and 8th in 2014. “We remain focused on innovation and growth, consistently investing approximately 20 percent of our annual revenue in research and development and are committed to creating a culture that encourages new ideas,” said Scott Scherr, Ultimate Software’s CEO, president, and founder, in a statement.

To make the list, companies with seven years of public financial data and a total market value of $2 billion to $10 billion were ranked by a formula that includes the company's income and anticipated growth.  No. 1 on the list: Rightmove, a London-based residential and commercial property company.

To see the full list, go here.

Read more about Ultimate Software here. To see a Sun Sentinel slide show of Ultimate Software’s new building, go here.

Cooking up a combo: Hispanicize Media Group buys majority stake in Hispanic Kitchen


HispkitchenBy Nancy Dahlberg/ ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Hispanic Kitchen
, a Miami-based food website with a large social media following, looked mighty tasty to Hispanicize Media Group, which was looking to expand its digital media reach with brands.

“Hispanic Kitchen is a remarkable digital and social media platform for brands that want to engage audiences that are inspired by Latino culture and its passion for food, recipes and cooking in general,” said Manny Ruiz, founder and CEO of Hispanicize Media Group, the holding company for the annual Hispanicize event and DiMe Media.

Ruiz’s company recently announced it has acquired a majority stake in the Latino food media company. As part of the transaction, both Miami-based online advertising network Salvo Group and Hispanic Kitchen founder Jorge Bravo will own minority interests. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

This transaction is the first in a series of acquisitions that Hispanicize Media Group plans to enhance its expansion into digital media. “Combining the synergies of Hispanic Kitchen with our DiMe Media influencer network means we can now serve brands an incomparable 360-degree online solution that incorporates premium advertising, programmatic advertising, video integrations, social media engagement and influencer network marketing,” said Ruiz in the press release.

Founded in 2009 by veteran journalist Bravo, HispanicKitchen.com and its social media channels reach a combined 1.6 million monthly users. The newly re-launched website features a database of thousands of Latino recipes with 85 percent of its traffic coming from mobile devices and 90 percent driven by all major social platforms, especially Facebook, with nearly 1.2 million engaged fans.

“It's been a venture and an adventure,” Bravo said on his Facebook page. “I guess this is where I look back at what began as just an idea bouncing around in my head to where it is now, a growing, and much-loved food platform. We've had bumps along the way, but our fans have stuck with us. I value their loyalty and good wishes. I'm excited to begin this new chapter.”

Bravo, who like Ruiz formerly worked in the Miami Herald newsroom, said Hispanicize Media Group bought a minority stake in the company last year and they began working together, allowing the companies time to explore a larger partnership. “What we are trying to do is make HK the top destination for people looking for Latin flavors. This acquisition and the resources it provides ... brings the pieces together to help us get there. It’s been a seamless collaboration. ... We fully expect to be a major player in the space.”

Hispanic Kitchen will be led by Hispanicize Media Group’s Chief Operations Officer Piera Jolly. Bravo will continue as editorial director, overseeing the company’s team of writers and video producers. 

“When you start something like this you never know where it is going to go, but I knew there was a need because our fans told us so,” said Bravo. “We’re continuing to work on the product to meet that need and feed that hunger.”

June 22, 2016

Two Thiel Fellows are gaming entrepreneurs from Fort Lauderdale

Two Fort Lauderdale men were among  The Thiel Foundation's 2016 class of 29 Thiel Fellows announced today. The fellowship provides young people with $100,000 to learn by doing rather than by following conventional paths like college. This year’s cohort was selected from more than 6,000 applications received from around the world.

“We launched the fellowship in 2011 to test a simple thesis: college isn’t right for everyone—especially for young people who want to create new things,” said Blake Masters, president of the Thiel Foundation. “This has been proven true—by the successes of our past fellows, by the new applications we get every year, and by the growing numbers of young people who are creating their own career paths outside of college, with or without a fellowship from us.”

Thiel Fellows receive mentorship and guidance from current and former fellows, as well as from the Thiel Foundation’s network of technology entrepreneurs, investors, and scientists. The Fort Lauderdale fellows, both involved in gaming startups,  are:

Joey Levy (now living in New York)
Sports Gaming
Joey founded Draftpot, a daily fantasy sports platform, from his dorm room in 2014. He is now working on Quizr, a sports betting application that launches in Europe in late 2016.

Matthew Salsamendi (along with James Boehm) (now living in Seattle, WA)
Social Gaming
Matt and  James co-founded Beam, an interactive live-streaming platform for gamers. Beam lets viewers of live-streamed video game sessions get involved in the game, influencing gameplay in real time.