April 16, 2015

AdMobilize launches its AdBeacon to collect data from physical spaces

Admobilize-logoBy Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

AdMobilize, a big data company for outdoor and indoor advertising,  launched its AdBeacon, which the company says is the world's first "plug and measure" analytics platform for outside digital signage advertising and retail, enabling  operators and agencies to understand ad campaign performance in real time.

The fast-growing Miami Beach company, now with 26 employees, has also moved into new offices, unveiled a new logo and has three four more "Internet of Things" products in the pipeline.

AdMobilize describes the AdBeacon this way: The AdBeacon device is about the size of an iPhone 5 and uses a camera sensor to collect data from physical spaces. Metrics such as impressions, confirmed views, dwell time, peak times, and audience demographics are captured and displayed on an intuitively designed dashboard all in real time.  For digital signage with built-in camera sensors, AdMobilize offers a seamless and comprehensive API solution. 

Roldolfo"AdMobilize's technology provides operators and agencies the only turnkey solution to solve the very complex physical world analytics problem.  Our goal is to work on the really hard things, so you can focus on growing your business while benefiting from this cutting edge disruptive solution," said AdMobilize's founder and CEO, Rodolfo Saccoman.

He explained that the  AdBeacon analytics platform is accompanied by an intuitive and intelligent dashboard.  "The big advantage of the system is just how easy it is to install, including the AdRemote App available for IOS and Android.  I'm a big fan of Apple, and we emulate UI/UX concepts of beautiful design that marries intuitive usability and function," Saccoman said.
He said the platform is now being piloted by several of the biggest Out of Home and Digital Out of Home companies in  the USA and the UK, and several global advertising agencies and brands are  experimenting with AdBeacon.
AdMobilize has been a partner of Rokk3r Labs for a couple of years and had been based at the Rokk3r offices, but it has just moved into its own offices in Miami Beach, which features an AdBeacon Technology Showroom and Big Data Control Center as well as several creative experience areas. There will be an open house at the new  offices at 1680 Michigan Ave., Suite 900 (upstairs from Rokk3r), Friday night at 5:30 p.m. and the community is invited, Saccoman said. With a little room to grow in (for now), Saccoman plans to have a community contest next month, and offer the winners free workspace.

In addition, AdMobilize has offices in Bogota and London,  where 11 of its 26 employees are currently based, and has a presence in Washington, Tel Aviv and Boston.

"We are in a strong hiring mode and will be hiring six to eight full-time employees and are also offering challenging internships starting now. We are hiring engineers, data scientists, computer vision, business development and marketing superstars," said Saccoman.

Saccoman has raised a total $4.5 million from a combination of VC firms, local and foreign angels and a Rokk3r fund. Launched in 2012, AdMobilize was a Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge winner in 2013.

Up next:  AdMobilize is working on three new products, all in stealth mode.  "During the the next four to six months we will be unveiling these products which have the potential to connect the physical environment to consumers in ways never thought of before," said Saccoman.  "Our team and products all work toward imagining what Internet of Things and Big Data can become."

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.


April 15, 2015

Coastal Risk Consulting announces seed investment

Coastal Risk Consulting, a South Florida startup helping property owners, businesses and communities become climate ready and storm safe, announced that management and consulting firm Trexin Consulting has agreed to make a $515,000 seed investment in CRC.  

 CRC has developed the Coastal Risk Rapid Assessment, an online tool that provides residential and commercial customers with an analysis of flooding risk at individual properties over a standard 30-year mortgage cycle, said Albert J. Slap, CRC's president. "Over 50 million residential property owners in coastal areas, as well businesses and municipalities, now can assess the impacts on their property values and make informed decisions regarding inevitable future rising water levels," he said.


Hungry? Caviar restaurant delivery service launches in Miami

Caviar Miami Web Screen


What's for dinner? Caviar, the restaurant delivery service now owned by Square, is hoping to find a hearty appetite in Miami.

Launching Wednesday, Caviar will allow Miamians to  easily place orders from local, independent restaurants via Caviar’s website or free mobile app for Android and iOS. Once customers place their orders they can track the status of their orders and follow along with their couriers via GPS. For consumers, the cost is $4.99, regardless of order size; the 18 percent tip is already included.

Participating restaurants include: Blue Collar, Doraku Sushi, Ms. Cheezious, Proof Pizza & Pasta, Momi Gyoza, Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop & Cafe , LOBA, Made in Italy Gourmet, Miami Smokers, Miam Café & Boutique, Hannya, Bryan in the Kitchen, Viva Mexico y Algo Mas, NOA Catering, Kone Sushi  and PM Steak and Seafood. More will be added soon, the company said.

Caviar Miami iOS-ScreenshotDaniel Serfer, owner and chef at Blue Collar in Miami's MiMo District, said he has always wanted to offer delivery but didn’t think there was a service that would deliver the restaurant's food with the proper attention. “With Caviar’s streamlined app and friendly couriers, we can just focus on doing what we do best and continue to cook guest favorites, from our spicy oxtail, to our shrimp and grits.”

Founded in 2012, Caviar now brings delivery to diners in 18 markets across the country, including San Francisco, New York, Boston, Chicago. Philadelphia and Portland. In the last six months alone, Caviar has tripled order volume and reduced delivery times by more than 20 percent — despite the rapid increase in orders, the company said. Caviar, purchased by Square last summer for a reported $90 million in stock, is part of Square’s  suite of tools and services for small businesses.

Caviar is part of a wave of fast-growing food-related urban tech delivery apps that took root in San Francisco or New York and are now spreading around the nation and attracting VC dollars, In Miami, other options are available, including Grubhub and as of last year, Postmates. In northern Broward and southern Palm Beach, locally based startup Foodoozle has started a service.

April 13, 2015

Wyncode expands to Fort Lauderdale's General Provision

After graduating four cohorts and nearly 70 students from their Wynwood location at The LAB Miami, Wyncode founders Juha and Johanna Mikkola have decided it’s time to expand to General Provision co-working space in downtown Fort Lauderdale’s FATvillage.

The development boot camp welcomes programming newcomers. Over the nine-week period in a small class, students spend at least 300 hours learning and working collectively to create their own web apps. At the end of the course, Wyncoders pitch their apps to a panel of South Florida technology leaders and could walk away with a cash prize and/or a job. In the first four cohorts, Wyncode has a 92 percent placement rate.

The Fort Lauderdale campus’ lead instructor, Damon Davison, will be leading a free information session and demo lesson at Wyncode’s Open House on April 13. Wyncode’s first cohort in Fort Lauderdale on April 20. For more information, visit www.wyncode.co.

Davison studied  web development at the University of Cologne and worked as the Director of Technology at Southern Records in London and at other companies. Since moving to South Florida, he has quickly integrated into the tech community, organizing Rails Girls South Florida and the Broward Ruby Brigade.

April 10, 2015

News from amp.it: Winner of Take Back the Mic contest to be unveiled at eMerge Americas





Today, Miami-based tech startup amp.it, founded by musician, entrepreneur and broadcast personality Derrick N. Ashong (DNA), announced the finalists for Season 1 of its first media property – TAKE BACK THE MIC: THE WORLD CUP OF HIP HOP.  They are ComboIO from Brazil, Crew Peligrosos from Colombia and Italee from Jamaica – all chosen from the competition’s inaugural country.sies by fans on amp.it, a social network that amplifies the voices of a new generation, by rewarding fans for sharing the music they love.

Each four-minute, digital episode of Take Back the Mic gives the audience an artist’s-eye view of the streets of Rio de Janeiro, Medellín, and Kingston, as the artists struggle to overcome the odds, using their talent as their launching pad.  Of the 9 semifinalists championed by fans on amp.it, 3 have advanced to the live May 4th finale to be held at Miami’s New World Center, where they will be joined by the highest-scoring fans. This culminating event will serve as the main entertainment for the eMerge Americas tech conference, launched last year by Medina Capital Founder and Managing Partner Manny Medina.

During the eMerge Americas party at the New World Center, fans will be able to vote at home for the winner of the World Cup of Hip Hop.

You can see the artist stories at www.takebackthemic.com.



April 07, 2015

Budsies: They are cute but will "Shark Tank" take the bait?

Alex Furmansky - Founder & CEO of Budsies small (1)


Will the Sharks bite on Budsies? Tune in Friday night to find out.

Alex Furmansky (pictured above) is the founder and CEO of Budsies, a Lake Worth company that turns drawings and pictures into custom-sewn plush figurines or stuffed animals. Furmansky launched Budsies out of his South Florida home in August 2013 and has sold about 8,000 Budsies so far. He will now get a chance at exposure to 8 million ABC "Shark Tank" fans – and a possible investment. (see a quick video cameo of Budsies products on Shark Tank's video promo here.

Budsies taped its Shark Tank episode last fall and is not allowed to say more about the investing outcome, but Furmansky is excited about the marketing opportunity:“Budsies has already brought a tremendous amount of joy into the lives of so many of our customers – including children who are fighting cancer and create Budsies of their superhero parents and armed forces members who can’t be home for the holidays but send Budsie Selfies of themselves instead. I cannot wait to see what the imaginations of this new influx of customers will create.”

The company has worked with and received orders from professional illustrators, corporate brands, video game producers, book authors, creative adults, teenagers and children, Furmansky said. The product line includes The Original Budsie, Budsie Selfies and Budsie Petsies.

Budsies is the second South Florida company to appear on Shark Tank already this year. Last month,  AquaVault was on the show, and ended up making a deal with Shark Daymond John: $75,000 for 25 percent of the company.

Here's the pitch! Let's see if the Sharks cuddle up to Budsies.


 UPDATE AFTER THE SHOW: No deal. Kevin O’Leary (aka Mr. Wonderful) and Daymond John both gave Alex offers (50% and 40% respectively for $100K) following his pitch but Alex Furmansky declined both believing the Sharks were undervaluing the company.  Over the weekend, the Budsies website received 100K visitors from fans, supporters and new customers, the company said.

Nice touch giving the Sharks Budsies that looked like them. 

April 06, 2015

Magic Leap hires a top mobile executive from Samsung

Magic Leap, the secretive Dania Beach-based tech startup Magic Leap developing "Cinematic Reality," has hired a mobile specialist from Samsung.

Yannick Pellet, now Magic Leap's vice president of software engineering. previously was a top executive at Samsung. As vice president, advanced software platform at Samsung Research America, he built software platforms for mobile phones and tablets. Before that, at Nokia, he built the Maemo software platform targeted at mobile devices and tables, among other positions. “I am very impressed with his combination of innovation, deep engineering chops, and ability to listen, synthesize, and problem solve,” said founder and CEO Rony Abovitz in a news release.

Magic Leap has made a number of high-profile hires, including appointing science fiction writer Neal Stephenson as the company’s Chief Futurist in December. The company lists nearly 100 open jobs on its website. Magic Leap received a $542 million investment led by Google in 2014. Abovitz co-founded Davie-based Mako Surgical Corp., acquired by Stryker Corp. for $1.65 billion in 2013.

Read previous Miami Herald story about Rony Abovitz here.


News: Pipeline Workspaces announces minority investor

Pipeline 3

Pipeline Workspaces, a fast-growing shared workspace concept that started in Miami and is expanding nationally, announced Monday that it has sold a minority stake valuing the company at about $15 million.

The investment comes from Gordon G. Pratt, founder and CEO of Fund Management Group (FMG), a private holding and investment company. Pratt has been a member of Pipeline Brickell, the company’s original location, for two years.  FMG became a limited partner in Pipeline’s second shared workspace located in Philadelphia and followed up with the minority investment in the Pipeline Workspaces general partner.

Todd Oretsky headshot“Gordon tested our business platform first-hand as a member and experienced how the concept we offer and our management team is different from other co-working spaces in the US today,” said Todd Oretsky, co-founder of Pipeline Workspaces, in a news release.

In 2 1/2 years, Pipeline has opened collaborative workspaces in Miami’s Brickell Financial District and Philadelphia’s Center City. A third location is under construction in Coral Gables and should open in the first half of this year. In the planning phase is a co-working and co-warehousing space in Little River area for artists and small business owners.

Philippe Houdard - headshot 2Pipeline is also exploring expansion in Atlanta, Charlotte, Denver and Dallas, as well as other locations in South Florida.

 “Across our current locations, we already are seeing members take advantage of the opportunity to work out of multiple offices and network in new cities, which makes expansion of their businesses into new markets much more seamless,” said Philippe Houdard, co-founder of Pipeline Workspaces. “Imagine having a network with one degree of separation from many industries in multiple cities.”

That is what the Pipeline team is building.

News: Kairos acquires emotion analysis company IMRSV


By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

When Brian Brackeen, the founder and CEO of the facial recognition software company Kairos, was asked by his customers for a capability his Miami tech startup didn’t offer, he set out to add it.

Those customers -- software developers in a variety of industries, including healthcare, retailing, advertising and banking -- wanted not only the advanced facial recognition technology that Kairos offered, but they also wanted to know about emotions behind the faces. Were they happy, sad, attentive, agitated? How do they respond when they look at ads or products?

Rather than build the technology, Brackeen bought it. "We went looking at companies in the space and found one that was far and away the best,"  he said.

On Monday, Kairos announced it acquired the New York-based emotion analysis startup IMRSV. With this acquisition, Kairos becomes the only facial biometrics company offering both facial recognition and emotion analysis tools for developers, said Brackeen. The IMRSV team will be moving to Miami.

“I feel like I can finally offer my customers everything they want and it is all in house,” said Brackeen, who started the company in 2012. “The acquisition of IMRSV positions Kairos to take a leadership role in the rapidly growing facial biometrics sector. It also helps us, as a developer centric company, achieve our goal of delivering enterprise quality tools to developers and making facial biometrics and emotion analysis accessible to all.”

 Brackeen said that about a third of Kairos’ projected $4 million in revenue this year will come from the acquisition: “This is a big deal for us.”

Said Jason Sosa, founder of IMRSV who will be joining Kairos: “Kairos shares in our belief of converting the complex into the simple. The impact of these technologies has enormous potential to transform countless industries."

It wasn’t long ago when Brackeen was heading a small team working around a big table at The LAB Miami co-working space in Wynwood, going through the ups and downs of the startup journey, even running out of money at one point. But the company powered through it, and last fall Brackeen was selected as an Endeavor Entrepreneur, which brings with it a global network of mentorship and support. The Endeavor network helped Brackeen throughout the acquisition negotiations as well as with Karios' recent fund-raising roadshow plans, said Brackeen, who worked at Apple, IBM and other companies before starting Kairos.

Now, with 17 employees and soon to grow to 25 with the acquisition, Kairos has recently moved out of The LAB and into its own offices nearby. Marketing expert Freddie Laker, formerly with SapientNitro, Gui.de and other companies, joined the team three months ago as chief marketing officer and also oversees sales. Brackeen is interviewing candidates for COO and a chief science officer.

Brackeen says more acquisitions are most likely in Kairos’ future, and he believes startups teaming up, as his did with IRSV, will be the trend as startups strive for the exponential growth venture capitalists want to see, while still holding onto their startup cultures. “Our world, the facial recognition world, the computer vision world, are full of amazing PhDs who leave amazing universities to start companies, but they don’t have experience in running a company. We are really good at that and we feel like we have a lot to offer all these firms.”

Together with the acquisition, Kairos has raised $5.5 million in seed financing so far, and hopes to close a Series A round in the fall. Kairos' shareholders now include Kapor Capital, New World Angels, VenVelo, Quotidian Ventures, Great Oaks Venture Capital, Eniac Ventures, 500 Startups and TechStars.

In conjunction with the acquisition, Kairos released a new suite of tools and analytics software for developers. Kairos currently supports more than 4,600 developers.

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.


 KAIROS TEAM: Meyako Williams, Neil Pitts, CEO Brian Brackeen and Freddie Laker, at Kairos, a facial recognition company located in Wynwood. | Photo here and above by CHARLES TRAINOR JR MIAMI HERALD STAFF

How it all works:




Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/article17474594.html#storylink=cpy

March 21, 2015

Startup Spotlight: Caribbean Journal

Caribbean journal

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

Caribbean Journal

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

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

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

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

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

Founded: 2011

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

Number of employees: Five.

Website: www.caribjournal.com

Financing: $500,000 in angel equity financing

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

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

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

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

Nancy Dahlberg @ndahlberg