May 19, 2015

Grocery delivery service Instacart launching in Miami

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Grocery delivery: Has its time finally come?

Instacart SCREENSHOTInstacart, the fast-growing grocery delivery service, has expanded to Miami, its 16th city. Beginning Tuesday, customers in Instacart's initial delivery area can order from Whole Foods Market, Costco, Winn-Dixie, BJ’s Wholesale Club and Petco and have everything delivered by Instacart in as little as one hour. Instacart customers do not need a Costco or BJ’s membership to shop from those stores. As of now, Publix is not included in the service.

“We had thousands of requests for service in the Miami area, and strong interest from retail partners such as Whole Foods Market and Winn-Dixie, so the time was right,” said Apoorva Mehta, founder and CEO of Instacart and a former supply chain engineer at Amazon.

Launched in San Francisco in 2012, Instacart connects customers with personal shoppers, or independent contractors who shop for and deliver grocery orders, providing their own transportation. This eliminates the need for expensive infrastructure such as inventory, warehouses, trucks and full-time drivers, Instacart said.

Costly infrastructure was one of the downfalls of grocery shopping and delivery services that have tried and failed, including the national player Webvan in the 1990s, Publix and Farm Stores. Instacart and other on-demand services rely on technology to make the logistics and customer experience as efficient as possible.

Indeed, Instacart has shifted its emphasis in the past year; instead of depending on delivery fees and product markups for its revenue, the company now partners with existing retailers. For the consumer, this means most of the prices are the same as in the stores (and when they are not, the information is disclosed).

Instacart, named “America’s Most Promising Company” by Forbes magazine in January, has grown exponentially — from serving a single city in 2012 to 15 metros, including New York, Chicago and Austin, Texas. In 2014, it brought in $100 million in revenue, according to Forbes. Nationally, it is becoming a marquee name in on-demand delivery, an exploding category of startups that includes companies such as Uber, Lyft, Postmates, Airbnb, Caviar and Shyp, all of which have launched in the Miami market.

Instacart ss 2.jpgInstacart has raised $275 million from venture capitalists, including a $220 million round in January, to support rapid expansion plans that included Miami. It ranks as the fourth most-funded startup in the category, according to a recent report on the on-demand economy by CB Insights.

Instacart’s initial delivery area in Miami covers Miami Beach, downtown Miami, Brickell, The Roads, Coconut Grove, West Flagler, Little Havana, West Miami, Coral Way, Coral Gables, Key Biscayne, Miami airport area, Virginia Gardens, Grapeland Heights, Allapattah, Civic Center, Little Havana, Wynwood, Midtown/Edgewater, Buena Vista, Liberty City, Brownsville and Little Haiti.

North Miami, South Miami, Aventura and the western suburbs are not in the initial area but could be added as demand increases. “Once we build up our user base in our initial zone, ... what we usually see is requests from other areas spike, and we open other zones in the very near future,” said Maxx Freedman, who directs Instacart’s city launches. A Fort Lauderdale launch is not in the immediate plans but “is definitely on the road map,” he said.

“Once you sign up, you can see what stores serve your ZIP code. ... You browse through the different stores and you can order from multiple stores at the same time and add items to your cart,” said Freedman. Customers can browse by categories — for instance, produce — or search directly for a particular item, such as avocados. “When you are ready to check out, you choose the delivery option. It’s all up to the customer.”

Options include one-hour delivery for $5.99; two-hour delivery for $3.99 or a scheduled delivery (you pick the day and hour) for $3.99. Instacart will launch the service with 60 “personal shoppers” in Miami and will ramp up as needed, an Instacart spokeswoman said.

Whole Foods Market was one of the first national grocery chains to partner with Instacart. The grocer reports significant incremental sales gains in cities Instacart serves. “Instacart has already proven itself as a strong partner for Whole Foods Market in 15 other cities, and we’re very excited to now offer our Miami customers this great shopping and delivery experience,” said Juan Nuñez, president, Florida Region for Whole Foods Market.

New customers can open an account at www.Instacart.com or by downloading the app; their first order of $10 or more is delivered free. Instacart also offers Instacart Express, an annual $99 membership that eliminates delivery fees for all orders of $35 or more. Customers can sign up for a free two-week trial at www.instacart.com/express. In the Miami area, all who place their order on Tuesday will receive a month of free deliveries through Instacart Express.

To celebrate the Miami launch on Tuesday, Instacart will offer an only-in-Miami perk: Deliveries also will be made via a Boatsetter chartered delivery vessel that can deliver on the dock or on deck within the company’s delivery zone.

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.

May 14, 2015

Next Galaxy, Miami Children's team up to create VR content

Under a multi-year agreement, Next Galaxy Corp. and Miami Children's Hospital are jointly creating virtual reality instructional content for patient and medical professional education on cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and other lifesaving procedures, which will be released as an application for smartphones, Next Galaxy CEO Mary Spio said.

Incorporating eye gaze control, gestures and voice commands while "walking around" inside an emergency medical experience or crisis, Next Galaxy's Virtual Reality Model engages participants far beyond today's methodology of passively watching video and taking written tests.

“Assessments are incorporated directly into the medical VR models. We will design situations where participants are required to make the appropriate decisions about proper techniques," said Spio. "The Virtual CPR instructional will measure metrics and provide real-time feedback ensuring participants accurately perform CPR techniques. Further, the instructional will explain any mistake and prompt users to try again when errors are made. Supportive messages are delivered upon success."

 The medical VR models will be viewable through smartphones and desktops as 3D,  and via VR devices such as Google Cardboard, VRONE and Oculus Rift.

See earlier interview with Mary Spio here.

May 06, 2015

Miami-based Munchkin Fun expands to Palm Beach

Munchkin Fun, a Miami-based startup, acquired a local competitor and expanded into Palm Beach County, the company announced Wednesday. With the move, Munchkin Fun, which offers a platform for kids’ activities, now connects with over 30,000 parents every week throughout the tri-county area.

Munchkin Fun is a digital calendar, newsletter and booking engine for helping parents find and book activities to do with their families. Its regional websites aggregate hundreds of local classes, camps, classes and activities into one interactive platform; while its curated newsletter highlights the top 10-20 activities for the upcoming week.

Munchkin“Palm Beach was a natural expansion for us. Both our readers and our advertisers were asking for expanded coverage," said founder Valerie Schimel, pictured here. "We’re very proud to be the tri-county’s only digital publication focusing on families."

Munchkin Fun, the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge winner in 2014, launched in Miami in 2012 and debuted in Broward in January 2015. The undisclosed Palm Beach acquisition increases Munchkin Fun’s customer base by 50 percent, she said.

The Munchkin Fun newsletter serves parents of children of all ages; sign up free on Munchkinfun.com. Submit items for the free calendar at Munchkinfun.com/submit.

May 04, 2015

New technology to save you from gym stress

 
By Isaac Imaka / imackisa@gmail.com
 
Miami Beach: You no longer have to spend an hour on a treadmill or ride a gym bicycle to keep your bones in good health.
 
Juvent Health's  new technology offered by OrthoNow can help you achieve that and more in 20 minutes or less without cutting a sweat,  the technology’s marketeers said at the ongoing eMerge Americas technology conference.
 
According to Eric Rylander, OrthoNow’s vice president in charge of franchise management, the technology is a micro-impact platform that gives the body the impact it needs to generate the cells and other therapeutic body processes. 
 
“As we get older we tend to become less active than we were in young age and then we miss the impact that reinvigorates the bone marrow because we are always either seated in our offices or driving our cars,” Rylander said. 
 
He further explained that, “What the Juvent does is to reinvent your body by sending thousands of low magnitude gentle pulses we call waves of relief through it to give the bones the impact they do not get because of our lifestyles.”
 
Mike Rada, Juvent field agent  added,  “You just need twenty minutes. You can stand on it as you take coffee. The bones will begin to feel and regulate cells and connect to tissues. Sportsmen use it to relax their bodies before they go in for strenuous exercises.”
 
According to Rada, the  Juvent health technology has been in the making for over 15 years and finally came out just last year. 
 
The man who designed and developed the technology, Rada says, died right after finalizing it and it never got marketed until two years ago when Peter Simonson bought the rights and resumed manufacturing and marketing it.
 
“There are already other 50 such machines (produced before the Juvent) but what sets this particular one apart is its precision,” he said. 
 
He added, “Even if you are 200 pounds or a kid, it calibrates precisely each time you step on it." 
 
Juvent Health partnered up with OrthoNow 30 days ago, and the product sells for $3,500 a piece.
 
“We search our relevant technologies and test them before bringing them to the market. We are now putting plans in motion to offer (the service) throughout the franchise system,” Rylander said. 
 
OrthoNow describes itself as the country's only urgent care franchise which focuses on the treatment of a range of orthopedic and sports injuries on a walk-in basis.
 
This post was updated to correct a price.

May 01, 2015

Cheers! Startups speed up booze delivery

Klink app screenshot (1)

Need a drink and need it now? Whether you order at the bar or want your liquor delivered, several South Florida tech startups have you covered.

Fort Lauderdale-based SpeedETab helps users skip the line at crowded bars and restaurants, and order and pay directly from their phone. Users receive a notification once their order is ready, and head to a pickup area.

The service launched in its first 12 locations this month. Users can use the free iOS app in some of South Florida’s hottest venues, including Brick House Miami, R House Wynwood, The District Miami, RedBar Brickell and the upcoming Drinkhouse Fire & Ice. The app leverages Apple Pay.

SpeedETab (speedetab.com) plans to expand into other major cities soon, starting with Boston this spring, said Adam Garfield, CEO and co-founder. “We really wanted to focus on creating a better in-store customer experience in the hospitality industry.”

Klink’s app, available on iOS and Android, and website, klinkdelivery.com, allow customers to order beer, wine and spirits for delivery in under an hour. The service launched three months ago in the Brickell-downtown-Wynwood area of Miami, but this week Klink announced it will be expanding its reach to North Miami, Sunny Isles and Aventura. The company is offering free delivery to all first-time users in Miami with promo code “MIAMI.”

Klink co-founder Craig Bolz says the expansion marks the beginning of Klink’s push to service all of South Florida. Klink, which also operates in Orlando, Washington, D.C, and Ann Arbor, Michigan, partners with local liquor stores to facilitate its deliveries, which are usually done between 20-40 minutes. Customers pay $3.87 for delivery, with no markups and a $20 minimum. “We have seen significant traction since launching and have been receiving great feedback from customers,” Bolz said.

These two services can say Cheers! to several already serving up libations in one way or another.

Minibar (minibardelivery.com), a New York-based alcohol-delivery startup spreading around the country, launched in Miami in January. And last year, Postmates set up shop to deliver, well, just about anything, including liquor. And Miami-based BarEye (BarEye.com), another digital way to buy drinks in a bar, has been testing its service and is preparing to launch shortly, said CEO Andrew Bennett.

Skosh (theskoshapp.com) is a free social-sharing iPhone application that enables users to send a drink from across the bar or across the country – via Twitter.

Sending a drink is a social gesture that goes beyond a simple ‘like’ or ‘favorite’ and harkens back to a sense of refinement and generosity,” said South Florida entrepreneur Gerard Bush, who launched the app with partner Christopher Renz at the Miami Open Tennis Tournament last month.

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg

SpeedeTab

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

Brasil

Colombia

Jamaica

 

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.