September 23, 2016

For small businesses stung by Zika, here's help

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Small businesses who suffered business losses due to being in the Wynwood “Zika zone” may be eligible for a loan program.

Miami Bayside Foundation, an economic development nonprofit, will be extending loans of up to $20,000 to minority- and woman-owned businesses in the city of Miami that can demonstrate their business has been adversely affected by the Zika vrus.

The new Zika Emergency Assistance Loan Program, or ZEAL, part of the Miami Bayside Foundation’s micro-loan program, is designed to specifically provide assistance with payroll expenses in order to ensure job retention in what was previously designated “Zika Zone.” The loans are for two years at 6 percent and the only fees are $100 for pulling credit and closing costs, said Kathleen Murphy, the foundation’s executive director.

The Zika zone designation was lifted by Gov. Rick Scott on Monday, but businesses are still feeling the impact, said Murphy. "We know local small businesses are struggling to recover until the season kicks in and our number one priority is to help them stay open and ensure they are able to pay their employees."

For more information on loan criteria and to apply, visit www.miamibaysidefoundation.org.

September 12, 2016

WeWork Lincoln Road launches entrepreneur support program with partners

Wework lincoln road
 
By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com
 
Co-working center WeWork Lincoln Road launched a new initiative offering Miami area entrepreneurs a chance to receive support to achieve their missions, while at the same time giving back to their local community.
 
The new program, called Mission Possible, offers  Miami area companies of all sizes, stages and industries a chance to be selected for 3 to 12 sponsored months of membership at WeWork's Lincoln Road workspace free of charge, along with other services to help them grow their companies. This is a significant value as memberships at the Lincoln Road location begin at $220 a month.
 
"It is a specific way to support Miami locals who want to impact change but also may not have the resources to join the WeWork community otherwise," said Anna Prisse, WeWork's Miami community manager for Miami. 
 
In addition to the collaborative work space, the selected companies will receive:
 
 * Programming from partners such as Refresh Miami, South Florida's largest entrepreneur and tech meetup group, Mentor Day, a new initiative offering entrepreneurs mentorship sessions with experts in their needs; and AGP Miami, an active South Florida angel investor network;

 * A chance to participate in community Demo Day pitch competition and other events;

 * Mentorship and professional advice from members and industry experts;

 * Access to a global community of over 65,000 members through WeWork's mobile app for members;

 * Reduced rates on healthcare, payment processing, accounting/legal advice, and more offered by WeWork's global partners.

What's the catch? Give back.

"We ask that Mission Possible Members donate five hours per person to a nonprofit of their choice for each month that they are part of the program," Prisse said.

More info on the program and where to apply: we.co/missionpossiblemiami 

There is not a deadline for applications, as participants will be chosen on a rolling basis but applications are open so  "the sooner the better,"  Prisse said. There is not a specific number of participants WeWork is looking for. 

"We want the program to be inclusive, not exclusive. We are going to be selecting the members based on how much we can accomplish together during the time of the program," said Prisse. WeWork and the community partners have an outline of what they would like to accomplish but they will will evaluate the needs of each applicant  and tailor the program appropriately, she said.

Mission Possible was inspired by a WeWork program in  Brooklyn called "Take Your Business to New Heights" but will be unique to Miami, particularly because of the entrepreneurial partners involved, Prisse said.

"WeWork has been a valuable partner of Refresh Miami since they entered the South Florida market in 2015," said Brian Breslin, founder of Refresh Miami. “We're very excited to extend our partnership to now include the Mission Possible program. As an organization, providing our community with the tools and resources needed to build innovative businesses is our upmost priority." 

Part of a wave of co-working spaces rolling into South Florida, WeWork Lincoln Road opened last summer and is currently at 85 percent capacity, a WeWork spokesman said. The New York-based company recently opened its WeWork South of Fifth location. At least two more South Florida locations are on the runway: WeWork has recently leased four floors in Brickell City Centre and the entire Security Building in downtown Miami.

Founded by Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey in New York City in 2010, WeWork is a privately held company with over 1400 employees. Worldwide, Wework has  65,000 members at more than 100 locations in 12 countries. "The mission of this program is aligned with our own mission where people work to make a life, not just a living," Prisse said.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

 

September 10, 2016

How I became a Maker (again) -- and you can, too

  Moonlighter1

Join the movement. Let's make Miami a Maker town!

 

@MarioCruz

I often get asked by people what a maker or maker space is. A maker is someone who likes to DIY by repairing or creating electronic devices, building models, creating cosplay or 3D printing items, but in reality anyone who creates things can be considered a maker.

I was the kid who liked taking things apart and putting them back together. This was not always a successful process, but I got better and better. I eventually started to repair broken instruments, games, stereos and other electronic devices for my friends and me. The deal was when I repaired things for my friends, I charged a low price with the disclaimer that whatever I was repairing might end up as a pile of parts inside a Ziplock bag.

Additionally, I was interested in computers, which became an increasingly inexpensive way to create and invent because there was no need to purchase materials, no delay while waiting on mail orders, and no special tools were needed. My hardware career was short lived and my days of replacing broken screens or modifying gadgets were over as I got more and more into software and networking.

Last year the universe conspired to get me back into becoming a maker. First, Moonlighter Miami opened up and once again gave me access to all the things I had as the son of a mechanic: an awesome workshop and even new digital tools only available to real fabricators. Second, I took a job at Watsco Ventures and started working on extremely cool projects that required building prototypes using Raspberry Pi and Arduino. This made me spend even more time at Moonlighter tinkering and learning for my day job and as a curious maker.

Over the last year I have built lots of “stuff,” most of which is work related to be shown at a later date. However, I have made some things that have been shown off, including the Moonlighter photo booth that was built with a broken laptop’s monitor and a Raspberry PI, the modified PiGRRL 3 used for Moonlighter summer camp, and the poetry printer for the O'Miami poetry festival (See photo below). These are just some of the “stuff” that I have created as a maker, not to mention the bounty of projects I have in store for the future.

I have also helped on countless projects for others and have received help on my own projects. It's one thing to build something alone at home, but another thing entirely if you do it while surrounded by other makers. The communal experience of sharing thoughts and know-how, as well as having access to digital fabrication prototyping and manufacturing tools has made me more involved in the community. The teamwork and togetherness at Moonlighter this past year have not only been experienced by me, but also by my own young children, as they’ve created their own projects and received help and feedback from the community.

The barriers to becoming a maker have shrunk significantly with the cost of kits decreasing and with increasing availability of access to memberships to places like Moonlighter. These barriers that previously prohibited people from inventing, making prototypes or simply creating are a thing of the past. All you need today to become a “maker” is to use free tools like TinkerCad or Google Draw to make this into a reality.

The shop classes we all participated in when we were in school are nearly extinct, and there are little to no digital fabrication classes to take their place. Moonlighter and Learn01 have added summer camps, workshops, after-school classes  and events to fill the gap, but we have a long way to go before 3D printing and Raspberry Pi become household names.

Join the movement, mentor a future maker, and allow making to be something you do and share. Let's make Miami a Maker town!

Mario Cruz is a director at Watsco Ventures, an entrepreneur, a mentor and a drummer. He is not an investor in Moonlighter, but is a proud Moonlighter member and Maker Dad. 

Moonlighter3

Photos taken at Moonlighter provided by Mario Cruz.

September 08, 2016

Meet WIN Lab Miami's first accelerator class; 8-month program begins this fall

WinLAB2

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Fashion, food and beverage, sports, travel and hospitality, education, media, music, healthcare, technology. Women-led startups in all of these industries will be part of the first class of the WIN Lab entrepreneurship accelerator.

FarraWIN (Women Innovating Now) Lab, an eight-month early-stage accelerator program developed at Babson, announced Thursday the 24 entrepreneurs from 21 companies that will take part in the first Miami program, with $800,000 in funding from the Knight Foundation. Nelly Farra, director of WIN Lab Miami (pictured here),  said 183 entrepreneurs applied, 80 of them went through second-round interviews, and 40 pitched to a panel of entrepreneurs for the final selections.

"All the women who were accepted into WIN Lab truly are thinking big about their businesses and really are these women I feel will be the next generation of women CEOs," said Farra, adding that nearly all of the businesses have an MVP (minimal viable product) and some market traction  and most already  are generating some revenue.  

WIN Lab will kicks off at the end of this month with a retreat, and then the women will meet weekly on Tuesday evenings to learn about finance, growth planning, pitching, leadership and technology.  "What we will be focusing on is growth -- positioning their companies to scale as they build the foundations of their businesses," Farra said.

Each WINner, as the participants are called, will have a coach. Some include Cecile Alper-Leroux, Vice President of Innovation at Ultimate Software, Yamile Elias, Director of Business Innovation & Global Marketing for PepsiCo; Pamela Fuertes, Vice President of International Economic Development Programs for The Beacon Council; Julie Greiner, former Chief Corporate Officer of Macy's; and Teresa Weintraub, Managing Director at Merrill Lynch. Akerman will be sponsoring the 2016 program and providing legal education and support to the WINners.

The next WIN LAB public event will be a WIN Lab demo night on Oct. 27 at Venture Cafe, and there will be public WIN LAb  events monthly.

WIN Lab was born in the Boston area, Babson's home, in the fall of 2013. Miami is the organization's first expansion city.

Heatherjean MacNeil, co-founder and global director of WIN Lab who manages both the Boston and Miami programs, was impressed by the  high-quality applications from Miami. "Many of the applicants demonstrated high-growth potential that are eager to scale. This is very much reflected in Miami's inaugural WINners. Since the Lab in Boston focuses on the Babson student population, [Boston's] WINners are entrepreneurs that are both at the ideation and beta stage. Miami's WINners are post-proof of concept and positioned to grow."

MacNeil said the WIN Lab experience will be primarily the same in both  locations, but because of the support of the Knight Foundation, Miami's WINners also have access to CIC Miami's 24-hour co-working space in a dedicated WIN Lab area. There may be  virtual platforms to host a series of speed-networking events between both Labs  to further leverage the power of the WIN network, she said. "We look forward to raising the profile of these innovative, women leaders in Miami and beyond."

Here are the companies and the entrepreneurs who will be participating in the first group from Miami, announced at a community event  at Venture Cafe at CIC Miami Thursday night (WINners were introduced and gave their rocket pitches, pictured above).  Company descriptions provided by the entrepreneurs are provided below.

AASO: Luisa Santos

AASO believes that people want and deserve the ability to quickly make the freshest, highest-quality ice cream possible in the comfort of their home. Currently, the fastest option to make ice cream at home requires chilling a bowl in the freezer for a few hours then actively freezing for 25 minutes and delivers sub-par results. AASO enables its customers to make a serving of ice cream in less than five minutes using technology.

ALPHATECHBLOCKS: Marilu Rios Kernan

AlphaTechBlocks are traditional looking alphabet blocks that interact with our mobile apps, creating playful learning experiences for toddlers and preschoolers.

APOLLONIX: Terri-Ann Brown & Jessica Shin

Apollonix is an online exchange where dentists and dental laboratories can easily facilitate dental prosthetics transactions.

BAMMIES: Rosario Chozas & Julia Ford-Carther

Bammies is a fashion line that stands for business + jammies and is changing the way women get dressed. Bammies offers two capsule collections each year focused on minimizing morning decision fatigue as well as helping women use fashion to feel comfortable in their own skin.

BARRIO: Romina Ruiz-Goiriena

Not a network. Not an outlet. Not conforming to how you define Latino. We reach and breathe digitally—creating a Barrio of media properties.

ENDLESSLY ORGANIC: Stefani Paulinelli

Endlessly Organic is an organic buying club. Endlessly Organic sources the best farm fresh organic produce and delivers it to your home, neighborhood or workplace at a significant discount. Endlessly Organic's mission is to provide high-quality farm fresh organic produce to its members at a discount.

JAIMIE NICOLE: Jamie Nicole Shepard

JAIMIE NICOLE’s mission is to create innovative pieces of art in jewelry, by blending distinctive designs with absolute authenticity. It exists to provide its customers with a perfect mix of everyday luxury and simplicity through premium materials and product of unique elegance. Its products are thought and crafted to exceed its customers’ expectations.

LEMON CITY TEA: Gail Hamilton

Lemon City is founded and operated by first-generation American women, and strives to offer high-quality, ethically-sourced teas inspired by the crazy, complex, diverse, and exciting city we call home: Miami. Lemon City develops and curates its Miami-inspired teas with Latin American, Caribbean and South Floridian flavors in mind. From a complex summery mate, to a mango enhanced black iced tea and our soon-to-be-released signature Cafeci-té, our products proudly showcase this city's robust culture, vibe and energy.

MUNDO LANUGO: Carla Curiel

Mundo Lanugo is a children's entertainment property that helps connect kids to universal values through the lens of the Hispanic culture, and promotes the Spanish language.

PALMPRESS: Jessica Do

Palmpress is a personal craft coffee press for hot and cold brew. Superb coffee, brewed by you.

PIERCE PLAN: Kelly Pierce

The Pierce Plan is the only Learning Management System (LMS) that automates a cumbersome process to ensure high school student-athletes are academically eligible per NCAA to play in college and academically prepared to compete in the classroom.

QUVEL: Katherine Clase

Quvel is an innovative limited edition casual footwear brand that allows customers to enjoy unprecedented degrees of customization and personalization at an unmatched value in the industry. Each shoe is made to order, carefully handcrafted and delivered at record speeds.

ROOMS2NIGHT: Anemone Hartmann

Rooms2night brings hotel e-commerce to independent and local hotels in rural areas of Latin America where good internet connection is not available. Rooms2night's software allows these hotels to gain access to a new market.

SCHOOL CLIMATE SOLUTIONS: Maribel Gonzalez

School Climate Solutions (SCS) is the premier online solution for 1st to 12th grade student success related to student safety, social emotional skills, and mental health. SCS provides online educational material that helps schools and districts implement and grow successful schoolwide programs that emphasize whole child development and positive school cultures.

STOW SIMPLE: Silvia Camps

Stow Simple is an on-demand storage company designed to eliminate the hassles of traditional self-storage. Developed with the customer in mind, Stow Simple will pick up, photo-catalog and store items in a fully climate controlled facility, which can be delivered back to the customer with the click of a button. Offering easy online scheduling, clients can see and access their belongings without ever having to visit a storage facility. [Stow Simple was also a 2015 Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge winner.}

TAPTL: Mary Wolff

taptl is the world’s first company to invent, manufacture and sell customizable transparent touch-screens. Our displays can be used as windows, kiosks, directories, “TVs,” or computers for personal or business use.

THINK LIQUOR: Jamie Futscher

Think Liquor is redefining the traditional liquor store and becoming the #1 place to purchase alcohol. Bringing modern technology and premium customer service to the liquor industry. Removing the complexity and making it as easy to purchase wine & liquor online as it is for any other product.

UNA PIZCA: Andreina Morales & Ana Schloeter

Una Pizca is creating the most trusted cooking site in Latin America, offering curated recipes and cooking tips that are tested for quality and ease of use. At Una Pizca, we are bringing our love of food to every corner of Latin America, by breaking down regional language barriers.

UX GOFER: Jacqueline Stetson Pastore

UX Gofer is a web and mobile app that makes User Experience Research easier, faster, and more accessible.

ZUKE MUSIC: Arielle Cohen

Zuke Music is a networking and project management tool for music industry professionals with the ultimate goal of enabling better music discovery,collaboration, and promotion.

ZULUBOTS: Elizabeth De Zulueta

Zulubots is a consumer robotics company that focuses on the design and fabrication of assistive robots for the home.

"I am truly honored to be the director of this program  and very very excited to be be working with the caliber of the women that are in the program this year," said Farra. "This will be an exciting year for WIN Lab and an exciting year for Miami too."

Read more about the launch of WIN Lab Miami here and here.

Follow Nancy on Twitter @ndahlberg.

August 26, 2016

Radical Partners' social impact accelerator reveals next cohort of changemakers

Bootcampers

Greetings from Cohort 2 of Social Entrepreneurship Bootcamp

 

By Rebecca Fishman Lipsey

Social Entrepreneurship Bootcamp, co-hosted by Radical Partners and AkermanIN, is excited to announce the innovators who have been accepted into Cohort 3.  

Amy Renshaw, Co-founder and Executive Director of CodeArt, an organization focused on increasing gender diversity in tech by highlighting the creative side of coding.

Brandon Okpalobi Founder of DIBIA, a sports development program that fosters excellence and success in life through sports and recreational training and DIBIA Dream, which brings their programming to underserved youth.   

Felecia Hatcher, Serial entrepreneur, Co-founder of Code Fever, an organization that teaches minority students ages 13-21 how to code, and Black Tech Week, a massive national conference focused on increasing racial diversity in the tech sector.

Isabella Acker, Founder and President of Prism Creative Group, focusing on strengthening Miami through the production of powerful local events, locally-conscious storytelling, and compelling content.  

Lauren Reskin, Co-Founder, President & CEO of Sweat Records, a world-class independent music store, event space, and a portal through which to discover Miami's music and cultural scenes.

Leigh-Ann Buchanan, Executive Director of Venture Cafe, a local hub focused on strengthening Miami’s local innovation sector.  They host massive weekly networking and educational events and offer support for entrepreneurs, investors, students, and innovation and educational organizations.

Michel Hausmann, Founding Producing Artistic Director of Miami New Drama, a presenting and producing organization committed to theatrical excellence and theater-making as a means of social engagement, cultural conversation and human interaction.

Pioneer Winter, Founder and Executive Director of Pioneer Winter Collective, an innovative arts organization that uses dance as an anchor for social change, development, and community engagement by providing a platform for risk-taking, progressive, and experimental arts initiatives.

Rob Biskupic-Knight, Executive Director of Engage Miami, focused on building a powerful youth voting bloc in Miami-Dade County.

Sheila Womble, Executive Director of Arts For Learning, an organization focused on making the arts a central component of every child's education. Their programs are delivered at preschools, schools and out-of-school locations throughout Miami-Dade County

Valencia Gunder, Founder and Executive Director of Make the Homeless Smile, which heals disenfranchised communities by treating them with dignity, providing them with access, and empowering them knowledge.

These innovators join two groups of alumni who are deeply committed to strengthening Miami, addressing issues from sea level rise to human trafficking.  Bootcamp kicks off  in September, hosted at Akerman’s offices in Brickell City Center.  Scholarships for Bootcamp were made available with the help of The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Center For Social Change, and others.

More information on Radical Partners and its bootcamp:   http://www.radical.partners/

Bootcampers2

Members of Cohort 1 of Social Entrepreneurship Bootcamp participating in a team-building exercise.

 

August 24, 2016

The South Florida Accelerator, Greenspoon Marder law firm team up to foster Florida innovation

By Marcia Heroux Pounds / Sun Sentinel

The law firm of Greenspoon Marder has partnered with The South Florida Accelerator to create Innovation Florida, an advocacy organization for the advancement of technological innovation in the state.

Gerry Greenspoon, co-managing director of Greenspoon Marder, said the law firm will work to leverage strategic relationships and advocate for Florida's innovative entrepreneurs and technological pioneers. Greenspoon Marder has offices in Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Miami Beach.

Innovation Florida said founding sponsors also include technology companies Levatas in Palm Beach Gardens; Citrix Systems and AAJ Technologies, both in Fort Lauderdale; and Brightstar Corp. in Miami.

The South Florida Accelerator was founded earlier this year by Christopher Malter and Thomas Buchar in Fort Lauderdale.

Read more about the accelerator here.

August 18, 2016

LaunchCode partners with City of Miami to place tech apprentices

LaunchCode, a nonprofit founded by Square co-founder Jim McKelvey, announced this week that it will partner with the City of Miami to place technology apprentices across a number of departments.

 LaunchCode opened its South Florida office in 2015 and has partnered with more than 100 local companies to place more than 80 technologists in jobs and apprenticeships in tech. In addition to placing qualified candidates into jobs, the nonprofit also hosts computer programming classes and bootcamps with Miami Dade College. LaunchCode is supported by national and local organizations, including the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

 “This partnership between LaunchCode and the City of Miami creates a new pathway for emerging technologists from diverse backgrounds to help solve our community’s most pressing problems. It’s an important step as we commit to strengthen collaboration between City government and Miami’s growing tech scene,” said Mike Sarasti, Chief Innovation Officer at the City of Miami.

Learn more at www.launchcode.org.

Florida Venture Tech Showcase offers opportunity to pitch, win $100K

The Florida Venture Forum and Space Florida, in partnership with Hillsborough County, will co-host the inaugural 2016 Florida Venture Tech Showcase on November 1, 2016 at CAMLS  in downtown Tampa.

The half-day afternoon Showcase is a capital acceleration competition and business-networking event featuring presentations by some of Florida’s most promising growth-stage companies who are cash positive and established in business. Troy Knauss, instructor with the Angel Resource Institute will be the special guest speaker.  Selected presenting companies will compete for the Space Florida Accelerating Innovation (AI) Award totaling $150,000: $100,000 for the Winner and $50,000 for the First Runner-Up.

Event details, company criteria and presenter’s application are available on the Florida Venture Forum’s website at www.flventure.org. The final application deadline for presenters is Friday, Oct. 14.

 

August 15, 2016

Deadline this week to enter $10K competition for food and beverage entrepreneurs

Update: Deadline extended through Aug. 26

Only 5 more days before the Wild Card deadline.

That would be the Samuel Adams and Entrepreneur's 3rd Annual Brewing the American Dream Pitch Room Wild Card Competition, where food, beverage and craft brewing entrepreneurs from all over the country have a chance to “win it all”: a $10,000 grant and a year’s worth of mentoring from senior executives at Samuel Adams.

It works like this: From now to August 26th (updated), entrepreneurs prepare and upload their best two-minute video pitch (http://entm.ag/SamAdamsPitch) on why their business should be selected to join regional winners from Boston, Denver, Washington and San Diego at the Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream National Pitch Room Finals in December. A panel of experts from Samuel Adams and Entrepreneur then judge the videos based on criteria including pitch quality, creativity, passion, and product viability.

The top five or six best video submissions, selected by the panel, will then be posted on Entrepreneur.com, and the general public will be invited to vote for their favorite from September 1st –23. The small-business owner who receives the most votes for his/her sales pitch will be named the Wild Card winner and receive a trip for two to compete in the Brewing the American Dream Pitch Room competition finals in Boston this December.

Read more about the contest here.

August 08, 2016

Transition at the top as AGP angel network enters 3rd year

By Nancy Dahlberg, ndahlberg@MiamiHerald.com

AGP, the homegrown Miami-based angel network, is headed into its third year with a surge in investment activity and new leadership at the top.

Raul Moas (c) (1) croppedNico Berardi, who has led the relaunch of AGP (Accelerated Growth Partners) since 2014, is headed to Harvard Business School this month. Taking his place at the helm will be Raul Moas (pictured here), who for the last four years was executive director of the nonprofit Roots of Hope, an international network focused on youth empowerment in Cuba.

To ensure a smooth transition, Berardi and Moas have been working together for about five weeks. Berardi will also be visiting frequently and continue his involvement in AGP as a member of its board.

Moas said he wants to continue to help make AGP "the go-to angel network in South Florida" for the most promising startups in his hometown. Before Roots of Hope, Moas worked at Ernst & Young as a CPA in its international tax practice.

Berardi, who also came from the nonprofit world as a leader in Techo, said about 50 candidates applied for the leadership job at AGP. Autonomy  and the ability and desire to learn were traits AGP looked for in a leader, Berardi said.

It has been two years since its 2014 relaunch [AGP existed as a much smaller and less active angel group for a few years], which was supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Since then, the angel network has made 21 investments in 17 South Florida companies, totaling about $4.6 million.

Recent AGP investments have included media company Whereby.us, publisher of The New Tropic, Papatel, a fintech company focused on alternatives to remittances, and a follow-on investment for Nearpod, an education technology company.

NicoCurrently, AGP has about 80 active investors. "We got off to a very quick start. In the first two years we proved out AGP as an MVP [minimal viable product], and now with the transition we want to focus on building the 2.0," said Berardi (pictured here).

Going forward, Moas and Berardi said AGP will be focused on leveraging the AGP network to help the companies post-investment and on more community engagement, with resources like angel office hours.

"We’ve proved there is a critical mass of really good companies and a critical mass of value-add angels and that we can have a process that is efficient and entrepreneur-friendly. That is what sets us apart – we’re quick efficient and we give out good term sheets. ... The goal is to keep on onboarding investors that will write more checks and larger checks," said Berardi, noting the average check size right now is about $250,000. Angel education efforts, such as AGP's seminars it has been producing with Kellogg School of Management and other partners, are helping.  

While growing the base of angels and securing follow-on investments are challenges, Berardi said AGP is seeing more quality deals. He said the arrival of programs like startupbootcamp and 500 Startups' Growth Marketing program and new funds such as Las Olas Ventures are good signs of a maturing ecosystem. "But it's a long game. ... Slowly but surely we are getting there; the right things are happening," Berardi said.

Moas added, "I would love to see AGP continue to be a thought leader in the space. We want to be the go-to angel group in South Florida for the most promising startups in the area. We want to make sure we are accessible, that our members are reachable, and to be more engaged in the community. We’ve proven the concept, we know we are onto something and now it is about fine-tuning and growing."

South Florida startups can contact AGP at agpmiami.com.

Read more: Q&A with Nico Berardi

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg