May 28, 2017

How to be selected for cohort 3 at StartUP FIU

Startupfiu

Pitch Day for StartUP FIU's Cohort 2

By Robert Hacker

StartUP FIU has just opened applications for the third cohort of its Empower Accelerator. The first two cohorts each received over 150 applications and we expect the same number by the June 11 deadline. The new cohort will begin the formal 14-week accelerator program in September and there is no cost or equity position given to participate. The program is open to both social and traditional entrepreneurs and their early stage companies.

The question we are most frequently asked is how can I improve the chances of being selected for the StartUP FIU accelerator.

 Coachability

We have interviewed over 90 applicants, worked with another 60 entrepreneurs that did not necessarily apply and advised the 39 teams comprising Cohorts I and II. The first thing all our staff are trained to look for is coachability--can the entrepreneur listen to critical feedback, thoughtfully consider it and make a reasoned adjustment. Every team in the program is assigned at least one mentor and these seasoned entrepreneurs are a critical success factor in incubators and accelerators worldwide. If the entrepreneur is not able to demonstrate they can take critical feedback from mentors and staff, their likelihood of commercial success and acceptance to the program is much lower.

 Problem Validation

Everyone who applies to Empower has a concept for a new business. Many applicants have a prototype or a beta, particularly the engineers. Surprisingly few have talked to potential customers about their problem, pain or need. After coachability, the next characteristic we look for is a demonstration of customer knowledge gained in the market. Of course, the best demonstration of customer knowledge may be revenue.

 Uniqueness

Competitive advantage, barriers to entry, what Warren Buffet calls moats--these are all descriptions of the same factors that can create value for customers and particularly shareholders. Perhaps the simplest way to demonstrate uniqueness is to describe the founder’s insight about the customer or problem that the company is addressing. Another effective technique is to describe the technology and simply describe how it is proprietary.

 Team

Entrepreneurship is the epitome of a team endeavor, hopefully beginning with co-founders and then building out the minimally necessary technical and management team. In our experience, companies with a team already established get more benefit out of the program and make more progress.

As we progress with the Empower Accelerator, we encounter an insatiable demand for all aspects of the entrepreneurship experience.  We are excited to be a part of Miami’s entrepreneurial support network and will continue to iterate to be able to offer different services for the multiple needs of the community and FIU.

Robert Hacker is the Director of StartUP FIU and teaches social entrepreneurship at FIU, MIT and UM. He is the former CFO of One Laptop per Child and prior to that built a publicly traded billion-dollar company in seven years in Indonesia. His books on entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship are available on Amazon.

 

May 27, 2017

Calling all Miami area creators: WeWork holding regional contest awarding $1.5M+ in grants open to all

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The way we work is changing and WeWork believes that the way we recognize and reward work must change too. Miami entrepreneurs, SMBs, non-profits, artists or anyone with a great idea are eligible to compete for a grant from the $1.5 million-plus prize pool available at the Creator Awards South Regional Finals in Austin over June 26 and 27. But hurry, the application deadline is June 5.

What's exciting about the opportunity is that it's open to everyone (WeWork members, non-members, all industries, all stages, even folks who may just have a good idea) and that beyond the financial awards there will be two full days of public programming in Austin. This is the first year of what will become an annual program. 

Grants from $18,000 to $360,000 will be awarded in three categories: Incubate (ideas or projects); Launch (startups and nonprofits that have launched but still learning); and Scale (a record of success, ready for next level).  

Winners have ranged from a nonprofit teaching tech skills to low income individuals, to a new coalition of journalists who improve care for Alzheimers patients by writing their life stories, to a new trading platform for sustainable agriculture. (See photo from Washington DC regional event below)

"WeWork wants to honor all types of creators from entrepreneurs to artists to nonprofits. There are incredible things happening and big ideas being born in Miami every day,” said Adam Wacenski, WeWork’s General Manager for the South. “The Creator Awards is a new opportunity to share their ideas, connect with other creators and hopefully win a grant that can make a real difference in their work and in their life."

Here are the details:

WHAT: Entries are now open for the Creator Awards, a new global initiative from WeWork that will award $20 million-plus to entrepreneurs who are thinking in new ways, building fresh projects and achieving real change across all industries.

Miami applicants are eligible to compete for $1.5 million-plus at the Austin Regional Finals on June 26 and 27 and have the opportunity to advance to the Creator Awards Global Finals in New York in November where additional prizes will be awarded.

WHO: WeWork, a global platform for creators with 140+ locations including Miami, Miami Beach, Dallas, Austin, Atlanta and coming soon to Houston, Nashville and Kansas City

WHERE: Residents of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia

WHEN: Application Deadline: June 5

Creator Awards South Regional Finals: June 26-27

In addition to financial awards, the South Regional Finals brings together everything it takes to make a life, not just a living. The two-day public event will include a pop-up market with local sellers, a series of master classes and workshops, a job fair as well as live pitches and an awards ceremony and celebration.

HOW: To apply or to nominate others: https://creatorawards.wework.com/

Wework Creator Awards DC-366_Credit WeWork

Photo taken at a WeWork Creator Awards regional finals event in Washington DC. Photo provided by WeWork. 

 

May 23, 2017

FAU Tech Runway selects 5th accelerator class

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Florida Atlantic University’s Tech Runway has selected its fifth and largest Venture class of startup and early-stage companies to participate in its business accelerator program.

This year, four companies will receive a $25,000 non-equity grant, participate in a 16-week intensive boot camp, engage in a rigorous year-long mentoring program with a team of five accomplished business mentors, and will be provided a workspace for one year. The four companies are:

·    Videopura LLC is a video services company with patent-pending technologies to reduce the bandwidth necessary for video services.

·      Tap2Open LLC is a secure, convenient, and easy way for residents and guests to gain access to gated communities via smart devices. Tap2Open allows residents and invited guests enter a gated community or secured door at the push of a button on their smart phone or device.

·  Ridgeback Network Defense Inc. delivers enterprise network security by turning the tables on hackers, dynamically counter-engaging the adversary, causing them to absorb the expense of attack and eliminating them as a threat.

·      Hubspring Health is an innovative software company founded by physicians focused on solving several of the chronic problems plaguing our industry. Hubspring provides a cure for these chronic conditions and enables healthcare organizations to embrace the future with its innovative and powerfully flexible platform, The Hub.

In addition, 16 more companies were awarded based on various tracks including, community, student and faculty. This will give them many of the same benefits as the prior four companies, minus the $25,000 grant. Six companies are still in the process of being selected and confirmed, however, the 11 companies already identified are: Two Degrees Inc.; ScaleWize; Land of Zorth; WAHspace; Bacon Boxes; SlideMap; PAPER; STAX; Gaming Frog; MMP Biopharma Inc.; and PQSecure Technologies LLC.

“A record number of companies entered the 2017 FAU Tech Runway Launch Competition. They significantly raised the bar, in terms of their quality and breadth represented,” said Rhys L. Williams, associate vice president for research and the managing director for FAU Tech Runway. “Consequently, this year’s winning Venture Class will be expanded by 50 percent to 21 companies.  After they complete our year-long program, many of these companies will no doubt make a profound impact upon the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

Under the purview of the FAU Division of Research, Tech Runway is a public-private partnership formed to foster technology start-ups and early-stage companies. Since its inception in late 2014, 205 jobs and 76 internships have been created; 39 FAU students have been employed; 136 corporate partnerships have been created; more than $8 million in revenue has been earned; and more than $19 million investment capital has been raised.

“FAU Tech Runway serves as a core entrepreneurship hub for Florida Atlantic University and as a key resource for the regional technology eco-system,” said Daniel C. Flynn, FAU’s vice president for research. “As the program matures, it will continue to launch thriving, innovative companies that are ready for their next stage of growth, contributing to the university and the state’s economic vitality.”

For more information on FAU Tech Runway, visit techrunway.fau.edu.

- Submitted by FAU Tech Runway

 

May 12, 2017

Deadline approaching to apply for free Smart & Sustainable Neighborhood Development Executive Training Program

Here is an opportunity for small businesses: The first Smart & Sustainable Neighborhood Development Executive Training Program taking place at FIU Urban Studios June 9-23. The cost is free for the 25 small business professionals selected. 
 
You can access the 5 minute application here: 
 
Once the course with exam is completed successfully, you will be accredited in the following top accreditations that give you a competitive edge for over $15B worth of local infrastructure, construction, urban planning, resiliency and land use projects locally: 
  • EcoDistricts AP 
  • LEED Green Associates (GA) 
  • LEED Neighborhood Development (ND) 
The program will be taught by LEED Fellows Jonathan Burgess and Rob Hink of Spinnaker Group and Eric Corey Freed of EcoDistricts.  
 
The deadline to apply is Monday, May 15th. 

April 16, 2017

What would a venture capitalist say about that? Startups get chance to find out

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By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Access to capital is lacking — that’s a common refrain among Miami area entrepreneurs, and particularly in minority communities. So Derick Pearson and Felecia Hatcher, founders of Code Fever and Blacktech Week, thought let’s bring the venture capitalists here. 

At a recent conference Pearson talked Marlon Nichols, co-founder and managing partner at Cross Culture Ventures and former investment director at Intel Capital, into agreeing to be Code Fever and Blacktech Week’s first VC in Residence. As part of the program, thought to be one of the first of its kind, top venture capitalists will spend a month in Miami advising and guiding black, Latinx and Caribbean entrepreneurs. Nichols, who generally splits his time between offices in L.A. and Silicon Valley, took up residence at WeWork earlier this month and has been holding office hours, fireside chats and lunch and learns that will continue throughout the month to help sharp founders think through the businesses that they are building. 

It wasn’t a hard sell and the arrangement is benefiting both sides of the table. 

“You can’t beat coming to Miami in April, but more importantly, Miami is rich in culture and our investment thesis is about understanding global culture to try to predict where consumers are going to spend their dollars,” said the Jamaican-born Nichols, who leads one of the relative few black-led venture capital funds in the U.S. “Black and Latinx cultures have been known for early adopters, so for understanding what is going on in those communities as well as the Caribbean community, Miami is a melting pot. For me it is a lot of learning.”

The new VC in Residence program is one of a number of Code Fever initiatives, which include producing Blacktech Week and Weekend, and it recently received $1.2 million in Knight funding. Entrepreneur-in-residence programs are commonly hosted at universities and accelerators to support entrepreneurs, solve problems and help innovate. Code Fever believes that borrowing from this model and inviting VCs to spend a month in residence in communities where there’s little access to funding can help reshape the way black communities are valued in the innovation sector. 

It’s a big challenge. Only about 1 percent venture capital funding goes to black founders, and only 13 black women founders in the entire nation have raised a million dollars or more in venture capital. 

In the half-hour office hour visits so far, Nichols has met with tech startups developing products or services for student debt, media content, cloud-based secure storage, educating inmates, dentistry and others. Most of the entrepreneurs are not yet at the stage for venture capital or do not have appropriate businesses for that kind of funding, but the door is still open. 

Some were interested in advice for preparing themselves for investment, others wanted mentorship on starting up or just wanted to talk strategy. And it hasn’t been all tech — Nichols met with a cupcake entrepreneur who wanted to talk about the best way to grow her business. 

And when companies are ready for investment, he wants to know about them. “I think gone are the days when all investments happen in Silicon Valley. ... Amazing companies can be created any where in the world and I want to keep my finger on the pulse of that. ... The biggest thing I will get out of this is developing a network here – with entrepreneurs I will keep in touch with, with angels here and organizations. They will help be eyes and ears for great investment opportunities here.”

Nichols is also holding frequent fireside chats, bringing in entrepreneurs who have experience starting and growing companies. “The best resource for new entrepreneurs is successful entrepreneurs as well as unsuccessful entrepreneurs,” he said. “There is just a wealth of knowledge that can be learned from both.” 

Last week, Nichols hosted entrepreneurs Brian Brackeen of Miami-based Kairos and Chris Bennett of Wonderschool and Soldsie.com for a fireside chat, dinner and networking. Bennett grew up in Miami but moved to San Francisco in 2009. While both entrepreneurs have raised millions in venture capital and angel funding and gave advice on that, they also dished on the realities of startup life — including 180-degree pivots, botched pitches with important VCs, building and overbuilding without reaching product-market fit and somehow keeping a team focused through the toughest months. We also learned that Brackeen wakes himself up at 3 a.m. because he does his best work then, but don’t bother him at 3 p.m. — that’s nap time.

Bennett is a big proponent of accelerators – he participated in NewME and 500 Startups — and he said he would do another one today. He also said the benefit to Silicon Valley is there are so many entrepreneurs, engineers and investors to learn from. “Talk to as many VCs as you can, because you learn what they care about. ... The best way to get ready for talking to VCs is to join an accelerator. The next best way is to surround yourself with entrepreneurs who have been successful and learn from them,” he said. 

Brackeen is bullish on the 305, including on the number of angels in South Florida and the growing infrastructure such as co-working spaces and accelerators — and maybe soon, innovation districts. “You can have the same success as a San Francisco company if you find the right people, find the right lawyer, find the right investors. There is not one model for the result,” he said. 

Coming up on Tuesday is a lunch and learn with Silicon Valley startup attorney Brian Patterson and a fireside chat with Diishan Imira, CEO and co-founder of Mayvenn. Pearson and Hatcher plan to bring more VCs down. Find more information about the VC in Residence program at blacktechweek.com/funding.

For his part, Nichols said he has been impressed so far with the potential of Miami.

“Successful ecosystems have universities spinning out technologies and talent, investors and angel groups, accelerators and co-working spaces — and challenges unique to those communities, that is the biggest thing. I don’t want to invest in the next Uber or the next Lyft. I want new market creators. What are big pain points for people in Miami that haven’t been met? Let’s figure out what those are and go solve them.”

Nancy Dahlberg; @ndahlberg 

READ MORE: Blacktech Week receives $1.2 million in Knight funding to expand entrepreneur programs

Btw

Marlon Nichols, co-founder of Cross Culture Ventures, Chris Bennett, founder of Soldsie.com and Wonderschool, and Brian Brackeen, founder of Miami-based startup Kairos, talk about startup life at a VC in Residence fireside chat at WeWork in this photo and above.

Photos by Blacktech Week. 

 

April 15, 2017

Linda McMahon, from WWE to now heading the SBA: ‘I’ve walked in their shoes’

Mcmahon

U.S. Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon and HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson share a laugh at the cafe bar at Versailles Cuban restaurant in Miami. After the gathering with Carson, she headed to the SBA offices to meet with small businesses. C.M. GUERRERO cmguerrero@elnuevoherald.com


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/article144511784.html#storylink=cpy

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Linda McMahon, 55 days into her job as the new chief of the U.S. Small Business Administration, spent 24 hours in Miami on Thursday, in the first of a number of city visits she intends to make.

The co-founder and former CEO of wrestling entertainment giant WWE said the Cabinet position is in her wheelhouse.

“My husband and I built our business from the ground up, starting with sharing a desk in the basement, and at one point we went bankrupt and lost everything ... I like to tell small business owners and entrepreneurs I get it, I have your back on this, I understand about regulation, I understand how taxes are taxing, I understand what it is like not to be able to borrow money when you need it.”

She said when she talks about and to small businesses, she is using every skill she learned scaling WWE: How to start and grow a company, how to manage people and processes, how to expand into new markets and how to go international. “I’ve walked in their shoes. I don’t talk about things I don’t know about.”

McMahon said she will first be examining all existing SBA programs, such as its flagship 7(a) loan program and its export programs, and making sure they are the best they can be before launching new programs. She also said she wants to update the website and expand marketing and outreach.

Her goals for the SBA: “Some of them are the obvious. We want to create more jobs, we want to qualify more lenders and expand lending markets. But also I want a very different SBA – it’s not your father’s SBA. I want to modernize it and reposition it so when people think about jobs, they think about how the Small Business Administration would really be helpful.”

During the short visit, she attended a housing briefing with HUD Secretary Ben Carson and local mayors, lunched at Versailles and met with the district SBA office staff and small businesses.

One of the small businesses she met early in the day was Freebee, a local startup that provides free city transportation via golf cart-like vehicles and said she enjoyed hearing the co-founders’ story. “They had worked very closely with SBDC [Small Business Development Center] and it was terrific to hear them talk about how the technical assistance and the counseling was as important as money. You hear those stories and you know that SBA services in so many different ways.”

Later in the afternoon, McMahon held a roundtable discussion for local small businesses and organizations to talk about what SBA does right, what needs to improve and what needs to be jettisoned.

“We’ve seen over the past few years a decline in startups,” she said. “But what you are starting to see now is a bit more confidence. More entrepreneurs are looking to come back to start businesses, and that is where SBA is perfectly positioned to be helping more people to realize their dreams.”

Nancy Dahlberg: @ndahlberg

 

April 11, 2017

Incubator program for food entrepreneurs launches at FIU

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

AnnaEtienneStartUP FIU, a university-wide entrepreneurship initiative at Florida International University, this month has opened its second program: StartUP FIU FOOD.

Funded with a $500,000 grant from Citi Foundation, StartUP FIU FOOD assists small community food entrepreneurs to grow their businesses, leveraging the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management’s large commercial kitchen and providing workshops for skills development, food science training and mentorship. StartUP FIU FOOD also helps food entrepreneurs to incorporate, generate financial statements and apply for micro-finance loans and traditional commercial bank loans.

READ MORE: Multi-campus StartUP FIU gets ready for takeoff

“There is an unmet need in Miami for not only affordable commercial kitchen space, but also for startup incubator services, business advising and entrepreneurial networking. Sometimes we have to create opportunity.” said Emily Gresham, an FIU assistant vice president and co-founder of StartUP FIU.

Anna Etienne (pictured here)  will lead day-to-day activities as director of StartUP FIU FOOD. The inaugural cohort includes these local food entrepreneurs:

Joe’s Sweets: Specialty fresh baked pastries and bread

Greathouse Gourmet Inc: Gourmet condiments and sauces that blend Caribbean flavors.

Lemon City Tea: High-quality, ethically-sourced teas inspired by Miami.

Helene's Ice Cream, LLC: Artisanal frozen desserts: ice cream, frozen custard, sorbet, and custom ice cream cakes.

Frice Cream: Handcrafted ice cream and pastries using locally sourced and natural ingredients.

Timeline Brewery: Beer with flavors influenced by culture and history.

Sweet Jalane's Inc: “Made from scratch” desserts, flavored cakes and cupcakes, mini bundt cakes, pies, pastries, fruit cobblers and cookies.

Etienne plans to accept new applicants to the program throughout the year. More information: http://startup.fiu.edu/food.

StartUP FIU launched an accelerator program last fall on the Modesto Maidique campus and has a technology-focused program planned for a Kendall location in the plans for launch within the next year.

READ MORE: How millennials tastes shape a new generation of food startups

April 04, 2017

Knight invests in 6 projects aimed at advancing Miami tech, entrepreneurship

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation on Tuesday announced new funding for six projects aimed at advancing Miami as an inclusive tech and innovation hub, from web development scholarships for low-income students to Miami’s first full-scale Maker Faire. The grants total $741,000.

Here are the projects receiving funding:

Digital Grass ($186,000) – Digital Grass aims to strengthen the region’s startup community by sharing the stories of South Florida’s entrepreneurs and hosting programs that educate entrepreneurs on topics related to business development.

International Women’s Forum ($105,000) – A two-day Executive Development Roundtable workshop that aims to help Miami’s rising female leaders and entrepreneurs will take place this summer. The program will focus on scaling an endeavor, building leadership skills, increasing confidence and self-efficacy and addressing risk aversion.

Miami Made ($75,000) – Miami Made supports Miami’s startup community by connecting startup founders through a series of events — including themed dinners, breakfast meetups and member-led outings — and creates a network of resources focused on helping founders thrive.

MANO ($125,000) – MANO fosters connection among Miami’s artists, entrepreneurs and tinkerers through the Miami’s first full-scale Maker Faire April 8-9 at Miami Dade College, featuring inventions and exhibits. After three years of presenting the Miami Mini Maker Faire, the event is now one of only 30 featured Maker Faires in the world. Purchase tickets for the Maker Faire Miami at miami.makerfaire.com.

NewCo ($175,000) – A one-day conference will promote awareness of emerging local employment and business opportunities. It will combine the style of an artist open studio with the feel of a music festival and connect Miami's growing entrepreneurial class with established businesses and budding startups.

Wyncode ($75,000) – Wyncode will offer full scholarships to low-income and under-represented minority students for the company’s 10-week web development boot camp teaching computer programming. After the course, students will take part in a three-month paid technical internship at CareCloud, Clutch Prep, DVLPER, Kipu Systems, Trim Agency or Watsco Ventures. Wyncode is now accepting scholarship applications to join the April 24 cohort. Visit wyncode.co/futureleaders.

“These projects ... foster local talent by supporting entrepreneurs of all kinds, while creating new pathways for innovators from under-represented groups to access resources and connect with Miami’s wider innovation community,” said Matt Haggman, Knight Foundation program director for Miami.

Over the past four years Knight has made more than 200 investments totalling more than $25 million to entrepreneurship in South Florida.

 

March 30, 2017

NewME accelerator program now in Miami gets Knight funding  

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

AngelabentonThe NewME technology accelerator has already relocated its headquarters from Silicon Valley to Miami, and $191,000 in new funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation will help it expand programming.

NewME was founded in San Francisco in 2011, and was the first accelerator focused on helping entrepreneurs of color. It offered traditional 12-week full-time accelerator programs; Brian Brackeen of Kairos went through the program. Two years ago, while still in San Francisco, the accelerator began offering one-week bootcamps instead, because as NewME founder Anglela Benton (pictured here) said, “many minority entrepreneurs just aren’t able take 12 weeks out of life.”

Last year, NewME offered its more accessible boot camps in Miami and they were well received, Benton said, proving a Silicon Valley address wasn’t necessary to help entrepreneurs of color. She said Miami was a natural choice for NewME’s base given its diverse makeup.

“The old [accelerator] model works for a particular type of entrepreneur. Our model is more about the entrepreneur and what they want to accomplish,” she said, adding that many NewME startups bootstrap their businesses. “The times are changing.”

Over the years, NewME has accelerated hundreds of entrepreneurs through its online platform, residential boot camps and equity portfolio, helping its companies raise over $25 million in funding. By expanding its programming, NewME aims to improve the success of black-led startups through mentorship, coaching and weekly and monthly events.

As it already has been doing, the accelerator will host quarterly one-week residential boot camps in Miami, with the next one beginning June 5. Benton said cohorts are small and personal – about eight people – and four slots will be reserved for Miami-area entrepreneurs. At the boot camps, industry experts will work with the entrepreneurs to help accelerate their businesses. With the funding, NewME also will hire a Miami-based program manager.

“NewME will provide important opportunities for black entrepreneurs to grow and thrive in Miami,” said Matt Haggman, Miami program director for Knight Foundation, in a news release. “NewMe’s move to Miami highlights our city’s strength as a place for inclusive growth, entrepreneurship and innovation.”

In the past four years, Knight has made more than 200 investments totalling more than $25 million in entrepreneurship in South Florida.

 

March 10, 2017

More Miami startup capital on way: Rokk3r Labs launches investment fund

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Rokk3r Fuel team, clockwise from top left: Jeff Ransdell, Jonas Tempel, Germán Montoya and Nabyl Charania. Rokk3r Fuel is a new fund from Miami-based venture builder Rokk3r Labs. Rokk3r Labs

 

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Rokk3r Labs has launched an investment fund and it is already beginning to deploy capital into Miami’s startup community.

The Wynwood-based venture builder announced the launch of Rokk3r Fuel this week. The fund will be led by founding partners Jeff Ransdell and Jonas Tempel in partnership with Rokk3r Labs managing founders Nabyl Charania and Germán Montoya. Ransdell said the goal is that Rokk3r Fuel will be a $150 million fund, which would make it one of the region’s largest, and fund-raising is well underway.

Ransdell most recently was divisional director at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, joining Merrill Lynch in 1994, and was responsible for $138 billion in private client investments. Tempel, a serial entrepreneur, was co-founder of Beats Music, which Apple acquired in 2014 to create Apple Music, and the first CEO of Beatport, which SFX acquired in 2013.

“We see Miami as a growing international destination and hub for entrepreneurs throughout the U.S., Latin America, Western Europe and Northern Africa,” said Germán Montoya, co-founder of Rokk3r Labs, in the announcement. “Jeff and Jonas bring a unique combination of experience and expertise in entrepreneurship and investing at the most established levels. We are thrilled to have them connecting investors to what we’re building at Rokk3r Labs.”

Independent of Rokk3r Fuel, Ransdell and Tempel recently were investors in Miami-based Taxfyle’s $2 million fund-raising round. Taxfyle matches tax specialists with consumers and small businesses. Ransdell said he is an investor in 30 to 40 companies although Taxfyle is the first Miami startup he has backed.

But that will likely change soon. Through Rokk3r Fuel, “we are going to make some deployments next month. Of those investments in April, they will all be Miami companies,” Ransdell said in an interview. Some of those will be Taxfyle as well as Rokk3r companies AdMobilize and Emerge, he said, as well as some earlier stage companies they will begin to develop. “We will be making more deployments in June.”

Rokk3r Fuel is aimed at bringing early-stage capital to the best-performing companies emerging from Rokk3r Labs, which partners with entrepreneurs to cobuild ventures. About half of the Fuel portfolio will be from the Rokk3r universe. But Ransdell said the other half of the fund could be from anywhere in the world, as well as other South Florida companies.

“The whole idea is to inject fuel into these companies at strategic times of their growth,” Ransdell said. “I am here and purposely in Miami to support what I believe is a very, very expanding startup ecosystem.”

Rokk3r Labs, founded in 2012, is currently working with about 40 companies, including Hyp3r, AlzhUp and HotSwitch. It has recently moved its headquarters from Miami Beach to Wynwood.

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.

READ MORE: Rokk3r Labs relocating its headquarters to Wynwood

READ MORE: Miami-based Taxfyle raises $2 million, launches version 2.0 of app