December 14, 2017

Endeavor taps South Florida startups Boatsetter, Entic and Mediconecta to join global network

Endavor

The Airbnb for boating. On-demand energy savings for enterprise. Telehealth for the Spanish-speaking world.  Endeavor Miami announced Thursday that the co-founders of South Florida companies Boatsetter, Entic and Mediconecta were selected as Endeavor Entrepreneurs at Endeavor’s 76th International Selection Panel this week in Miami.

“Boatsetter, Entic and Mediconecta exemplify the high-impact traits that we select in our Endeavor Entrepreneurs, and it is a privilege to welcome their three technology companies into the Endeavor Miami portfolio,” said Laura Maydón, managing director of Endeavor Miami, in a news release.

The selected companies will receive services that include mentorship and access to capital, global markets and talent. Here are descriptions provided by Endeavor.

Boatsetter: Founded by Andy Sturner and Jaclyn Baumgarten, Boatsetter combines the rental mechanics of Airbnb with the on-demand labor dynamics of Uber to deliver a hassle-free boat rental experience. Boatless individuals choose from vetted boats in ports worldwide to rent for excursions at competitive prices on Boatsetter’s digital marketplace. Boatsetter recently entered a strategic partnership with Airbnb to provide exclusive nautical experiences in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami and Barcelona.

Entic: Founded by Carlos Diaz and Manuel Rosendo, Entic offers building owners and operators a reduction in energy usage with its cloud-based, SaaS platform that implements operational intelligence, analytics and advanced sensor technology to deliver portfolio-wide savings. Customers enjoy on-demand reports and live dashboards that display current costs and achievable savings, alert customers when buildings reach high energy thresholds and analyze the overall health of energy consuming systems.

Mediconecta: Founded by Daniel Silberman and Salomon Simkins, Mediconecta is the leader in telehealth for the Spanish-speaking world. The company provides on-demand remote health services via video conference using in-house physician networks and a platform accessible by web, mobile or point-of-care kiosks. Mediconecta provides access to real-time, on-demand virtual medical visits that can take place anywhere the patient is located, offering better access to higher standards of care across the entire healthcare landscape.

More than 50 entrepreneurs from 18 countries in the Endeavor network convened for interviews, private deliberations and networking at the ISP held at various locations around Miami. To be selected as Endeavor Entrepreneurs, they had to  receive a unanimous vote from a selection panel of six global executives, entrepreneurs or investors who interviewed founders about their business model, leadership potential and timing and gave them feedback.

“Endeavor was founded 20 years ago with a belief in the power of high-impact entrepreneurs to change lives and transform entire cities and countries,” said Endeavor co-founder and CEO Linda Rottenberg. “At each selection panel we hold, I’m reminded of just how true that is -- and just how far that belief has spread across the world. The passion that entrepreneurs, panelists and staff brought to our final ISP of our 20th Anniversary year in Miami is a testament to the potential of this movement.”

Endeavor Miami launched in September 2013 with the support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as the first U.S. affiliate of Endeavor Global. Endeavor Miami’s entrepreneurs generated nearly $130 million in revenues and 1,600 jobs in South Florida in 2017. With the addition of its newest companies, the affiliate currently supports 19 companies and 32 entrepreneurs. Headquartered in New York City, Endeavor operates in 27 countries throughout Europe, Latin America, North America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

For more information on Endeavor Miami or to nominate Miami entrepreneurs, visit www.endeavormiami.org.

- Submitted by Endeavor Miami

READ MORE: Endeavor Miami's impact: It's in the numbers

Top photo, from left: Andy Sturner and Jaclyn Baumgarten from Boatsetter; Daniel Silberman of Mediconecta; Manuel Rosendo and Carlos Diaz of Entic, after being selected Endeavor Entrepreneurs in Miami this week. Photo provided by Endeavor Miami.

December 12, 2017

#Miamitech leaders support Net Neutrality

 
Net-neutrality
An open letter to Congress:
 
Congressman Carlos Curbelo et al.
 
We are the founders & leaders of technology startups here in Miami. Collectively, we represent tens of millions of dollars in revenue and thousands of employees in Miami's burgeoning tech scene. We have a deep understanding of web technology as it is essential to our livelihood. We are writing to ask you to help stop the repeal of Title II classification of ISPs. It is unfortunate that we currently face a difficult question: Should we (the U.S.A.) repeal Title II's net neutrality protection or not?
 
We believe the answer is no. We should not repeal the Title II classification without a legitimate, well thought out replacement. As business owners, we understand the serious nature of regulation & its hampering effects on our ability to innovate. We believe these regulations are an exception to the rule. In 2015, the Title II classification of ISPs explicitly excluded more than 700 of the rules found in Title II regulation [1] for the exact reason of maintaining a "light touch" philosophy. Beyond the fact that it has indeed been a light touch approach, the most important thing to note is that there are guarantees that come with the current classification that are essential to maintaining a competitive environment for businesses like ours to thrive. Businesses like Clutch Prep which depends on open internet access to college students who use their platform to become the doctors of tomorrow [2]. Businesses like LiveNinja who depend on WebRTC communications to consumers across the entire country by customers like Apple, Samsung & HP [3]. Businesses like NomadsTV which provides OTT software to media companies [4].
 
Ajit Pai's original dissent [5] expressed valid concerns. However, the last two years have come to show that they are not currently an issue. Things like Universal Service Fund taxes are not being imposed (at least not to our knowledge), the classification has not stopped or prevented zero rating (T-Mobile is a great example of the current protections being in place without disrupting innovation [6]). Many small local ISPs are not overburdened due to this classification [7], broadband prices have stagnated or decreased in price [8]. Meanwhile, access to broadband is growing [9] [10] and speeds are increasing [11]. 
 
We believe the internet has grown and provided economic opportunity unfettered by existing regulations. However, bad behavior has arisen among ISP's covering the "last mile": providers have tried to charge companies for access to their own customers [12],  they have been caught blocking services that customers have paid for [13] [14], and found throttling traffic they deemed to be unimportant [15].
 
Because the draft order repeals net neutrality rules altogether, it allows ISPs to block or throttle lawful content, or give the highest-paying websites and apps a better ability to reach customers’ devices or to favor Internet traffic from the ISPs’ own subsidiaries and business partners, all without any legal repercussions. This could be devastating to our livelihoods and have many implications in the long term.
 
We believe Pai can and should continue to have a light touch and maintain the current Title II classification while he crafts a legitimate, better-designed replacement that guarantees no blocking of content, throttling or paid priority while providing an even less intrusive regulation than is currently in place. This is the United States of America; we can do better.
 
 
Thank You,
Auston Bunsen, Lead Instructor at Wyncode Academy
Johanna Mikkola, Co-founder of Wyncode Academy
Juha Mikkola, Co-founder of Wyncode Academy
Ivan Rapin-Smith, Managing Director at Watsco Ventures
Rob Dyson, CTO & Co-founder of Willing.com
Rebekah Monson, Co-founder of WhereBy.us
Lu Martinez, Founder of StardomUp
Mary Wolff, CEO & Co-Founder, Spacewolff
Brian Breslin, Co-founder of SimCase
Ulises Orozco, CPO of Saving for College
Maria Derchi, Executive Director of Refresh Miami
Erik Mendelson, CEO of RecordGram
Otto Othman, CMO & Co-founder of Pincho Factory
Miles Varghese, SVP of Sales for Octopi
Guille Carlos, CTO & Co-founder of Octopi
Luc Castera, Founder of Octopi
Andrej Kostresevic, CEO of Nomads
Will Weinraub, CEO & Co-founder of LiveNinja
Emilio Cueto, CTO & Co-founder of LiveNinja
Alfonso Ligares, CDO & Co-founder of LiveNinja
Brian Brackeen, Founder & CEO of Kairos
Herwig Konings, CEO of InvestReady
Alex Nucci, CEO of Gramercy
Richard Grundy, CEO of Flomio
Jose Rasco, Founder & CEO of dotHealth
Marcio Souza, CEO & Co-founder of Clutch Prep
Alain Fontaine, CTO & Co-founder of Clutch Prep
Juan Bermudez, CEO & Co-founder of Coach-HQ
Larry Ho, COO of Ziro
Javier Sarmiento, Founder and VP, Payments at Open English
 
 
4. Information on Nomads OTT product: http://nomads.co/product/whitelabelottvideo/
5. Ajit Pai's 85 page original dissent on Net Neutrality order: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-15-24A5.pdf
6. Get "free" streaming with a special plan from T-Mobile: https://www.t-mobile.com/offer/free-music-streaming.html
14. ISP Madison River blocking VOIP traffic FCC ruling: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-05-543A2.pdf
15. Comcast blocking / throttling legal peer-to-peer traffic: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comcast_Corp._v._FCC#Background
 
HAVE YOUR SAY: here is more info, including how to reach all yourblocal lawmakers. Sign a petition to save net neutrality here.

November 27, 2017

CarePredict tracks seniors’ health for caregivers in a natural way

CAREPREDICT (2)

Startup Spotlight: CarePredict of Plantation, founded by health-technology veteran Satish Movva, provides an AI-driven platform for elder care that uses deep learning to surface insights based on the activities of daily living of seniors.

Company: CarePredict

Headquarters: Plantation; also has an office in Silicon Valley.

Concept: Elder care powered by artificial intelligence.

Story: Health-technology veteran Satish Movva founded CarePredict to help him take care of his now 90- and 80-year-old parents. They live 10 miles away from where he lives in western Broward County, and because of their advancing age, he could not rely on one to keep an eye on the other.

He noticed that changes in activity and behavior patterns showed up well before the underlying issues manifested into medical conditions and sought a system to observe his parents continuously and let him know of these changes early enough to intervene.

Finding the existing technologies inadequate and outdated, Movva set about creating a first-in-the-industry system to observe the daily activity and behavior patterns of each parent individually and with privacy, and alert him to anomalies. Movva has worked in technology for 30 years, 23 of them in healthcare, including being the founding CIO for Sheridan Healthcare and creating its first mobile EMR device on the Palm Pilot. He also created the first web-based home-care platform at Interim Healthcare.

CarepredictBM STARTUP SPOTLIGHT CARE P_2CarePredict is an AI-driven platform for elder care that uses deep learning to provide insights based on the daily activities of seniors. It starts with a wearable — a bracelet — that collects data that is sent to an app.

“We collect our data through lightweight sensors for contextual cues and a wearable,” Movva said. “We detect activities a senior is performing such as eating, drinking, bathing, cooking, sleeping, functional activity, and we couple that with contextual cues to surface insights like self-neglect, for example, due to depression, unusual toileting patterns, for example, due to UTIs, malnutrition and dehydration, all without any self-reporting by the senior or need for any other human observer.”

That includes fall prediction, too: “This whole industry has been fixated on fall detection ... but the issue is when someone falls it is too late. Falls are the single biggest inflexion point in aging, ... if you can prevent those falls you are better off. We are probably the pioneers in figuring out fall prediction rather than fall detection.”

CarePredict has been commercially available to senior group living facilities and home care agencies since March. Four senior living chains are already using the platform. CarePredict, now a team of 17 engineers and data scientists, has hired a sales team to ramp up business development in 2018. The company plans to address the direct-to-consumer market in the future.

“This company has the DNA to be enormously successful — the right team, the right market and the right solution. It’s not going to happen overnight, but they have all the right things going for them,” said Peter Livingston, a CarePredict investor and board member.

Launched: Company formed in May 2013

Website: www.carepredict.com

Management team: Satish Movva, founder and CEO; Greg Zobel, chief growth officer.

No. of employees: 17

Financing: $5.2 million in prior rounds that included South Florida-based Las Olas Venture Capital.

Recent milestones reached: Started commercializing product in 2017; four commercial assisted living and memory care enterprises signed up in the U.S. and Canada in 2017; three U.S. patents granted in 2017; one of two U.S. companies selected by Google for their “Google for Entrepreneurs” mentorship in deep learning and AI in Waterloo/Toronto campus; opened office in Palo Alto, CA in 2017.

Biggest startup challenge: Building the team and funding the mission.

Next step: Scaling the company. CarePredict is raising funds to expand company operations for installations and training and bringing on experienced industry sales leaders to increase outbound sales.

“CarePredict is solving a big problem, in a rapidly growing market, in a novel way,” said Dean Hatton, a founding partner with Las Olas Venture Capital and a CarePredict investor/board member. “The company has built a robust pipeline of interested prospects. Interestingly, this has been accomplished without sales or marketing efforts, principally through word-of-mouth in the assisted living facility ecosystem. Recently, Satish has added sales resources and will soon launch an outbound sales effort. The demand will be immense. Meeting that demand will be the greatest challenge ahead.”

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

READ MORE STARTUP STORIES

LifeWallet helps consumers take control of their health

Is my mole cancerous? Miami-based DermaSensor developing a hand-held device to evaluate risk

BloomsyBox: A startup idea takes root that keeps on giving

How sea-rise ready is your home or business? Coastal Risk offers the lowdown

Need affordable travel in Latin America? Voyhoy has the ticket

November 16, 2017

Miami is fertile ground for world-class product design

By Gessica Tortolano

GessicaWith 20 yrs of experience building and leading User Experience (UX) teams from Boston to Silicon Valley on projects for Google, Facebook, Gap, Samsung and other exciting brands, I am bringing my expertise back to South Florida as head instructor of UX/UI Immersive, an intensive 8-week program at Miami’s Wyncode Academy.

UX is about solving real problems and addressing pain points, not just making something cool as a product or a feature. It is about storytelling, screen composition and clear paths to completion, while removing friction, not just rearranging elements on a screen. As a problem solving framework, UX puts the user at the heart of the process. It results in a better experience thereby producing better products.

With IOT, voice user interfaces, the blend of digital and physical experiences, and new devices entering the market daily, it is critical to realize a connected, holistic experience.

Miami is a beloved vacation destination, but I truly believe it is so much more. A creative and diverse culture like Miami’s is fertile ground for world-class design. This program will help nurture a new generation of product designers who will lead the charge in quality design in our ecosystem.

As a former resident of Miami, I worked with aspiring designers through community initiatives at University of Miami, IT Women, Honey Shine Inc., and Urgent Inc. I was overwhelmed and humbled by their interest in UX, it was palpable.

Since the beginning of my career I’ve worked with many of the world’s biggest brands, including Burger King, Instagram, IBM, the NBA, Chrysler, Coca-Cola, GM, Norwegian Cruise Lines and Carnival Cruise Lines.

It is after all these years, and diverse experiences that I am compelled to share and teach my expertise. I recall telling Johanna Mikkola, co-founder of Wyncode, it was time for me to foster a new generation of designers. Together with Wyncode that is what we will do.

It was clear, I had to partner with a school that was just as committed to quality in their programs as I was about design. I had to ensure the future UX designer would marry their skills with a methodology.

In the valley, large brands are anxious to blur the lines between physical and digital. They are running experiments and adopting Design Thinking, a human-centered methodology that reveals truths about how confident we are in a feature or product.

Product designers grasp the importance of being flexible, nimble, and are experts in team inertia and momentum. Most will hone their skills, but with a solid foundation, they can own end-to-end product development.

The Googles and Facebooks are looking for agility and iteration. Value over deliverables became my world and I am thrilled to help build an ecosystem rich with designers who practice true product development.

Curious to learn more? Join us at our UX/UI Design Workshop: Bridging The Physical & Digital World event December 7, 2018 7:00 - 9:00 PM. Classes start Jan. 22, 2018 Program details at wyncode.co or email weare@wyncode.co

Gessica Tortolano will be head instructor of  of UX/UI Immersive, an intensive 8-week program at Miami’s Wyncode Academy.

November 13, 2017

Miami is heating up with startups. Babson GEM report sheds light on who they are.

GEM

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

If it seems like everyone you meet is an entrepreneur these days, there’s a reason for that.

Miami has one of the highest rates of new entrepreneurial activity in the country, nearly twice the national average, according to a 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report released Monday by Babson College.

While 12.6 percent of Americans were starting or running new businesses during the past two years, 22 percent in Miami were doing so, according to the GEM report. And they are likely to be older and more educated with a higher income than their counterparts in many other cities.

Miami has long depended on small businesses more than large corporations. For the past decade, it has been a hotbed for new business creation — a trend that has caught fire as tech-related startups have increased. In South Florida, as in other areas of the country, organizations and universities have been focused on accelerating entrepreneurship with new programs, mentorship, pitch opportunities and co-working spaces. Even Babson itself has launched an accelerator for women and graduate programs in Miami recently.

 

For the first time, the highly-watched study included a city-level analysis of entrepreneurship in Boston, Miami and Detroit to provide a window into how entrepreneurship thrives locally. “It’s important to identify and monitor a city’s needs and monitor progress relative to entrepreneurship, whether that means, for example, supporting women or youth entrepreneurs or assisting ventures that introduce innovations or create jobs,” said Donna Kelley, a Babson College professor and co-author of the report.

The American Dream is alive and well, according to the study. Nationally during the past two years, more than 25 million Americans were starting or running new businesses in the United States. More than half of Americans see good opportunities around them for starting a business. That’s 57 percent versus 41 percent globally — a sharp rise from the depths of the recession in 2009, in which just 28 percent saw good opportunities.

In Miami, 65 percent perceive good opportunities around them and more ventures have international aspirations than a lot of other areas.

However, the report isn’t all sunny. Miami entrepreneurs start businesses out of necessity and don’t last more than a year more often than the nation as a whole. Miami also trails in innovation.

[READ MORE: What’s the average tech salary? How many startups are sprouting? A by-the-numbers look at Miami]

Here are some of the GEM report’s national and local findings about Americans who are starting or running new businesses:

▪ It’s not all millennials in hoodies eating ramen noodles, and that’s not because of the weather. Those most likely to start or run a new business in Miami are in the 35-54 age group and in the highest income category, above $100,000. Miami entrepreneurs are also more likely to have some graduate school education than the nation as a whole.

▪ U.S. entrepreneurs are driven most by opportunity (88 percent). Those who started businesses out of necessity nationally dropped to 11 percent. However, in Miami, nearly one in five entrepreneurs — 19 percent — are driven by necessity rather than opportunity.

▪ Thirty-seven percent of all U.S. entrepreneurs are developing and delivering innovative products or services, the highest level on this indicator in 15 years. However, in Miami, that level is just 24 percent, compared to 46 percent in Boston and 43 percent in Detroit.

▪ Miamians are most likely to start business in professional services, followed by wholesale/retail and manufacturing/transportation, the study found.

▪ The gender gap is wider in Miami — 28 percent of males versus 16 percent of females are starting or running new businesses than in the nation as a whole. Still, the slight overall rise in U.S. new entrepreneurial activity is because more women entered entrepreneurship last year than the year before, while this level has remained the same for men.

▪ Compared to national averages, Miami and Boston have more than twice the proportion of entrepreneurs who plan to have more than 25 percent of their total sales go to international markets. And in Miami, more new businesses have international aspirations than established businesses.

▪ Miamians are bullish. They are more positive about their entrepreneurial capabilities and report a lower fear of failure than the nation as a whole. More expect to add employees, too.

Now in its 18th year, GEM is the largest single study of entrepreneurship in the world. The GEM U.S. team, based at Babson College in Massachusetts, is one of 65 national research teams that conducted an annual adult population survey in their economy in the summer of 2016.

The survey results tracked similar trends found in the Kauffman Foundation’s reports, which showed the Miami metro area as No. 1 in the country for new business creation. However, Kauffman’s reports also ranked Miami near the bottom of 40 metro areas for growth entrepreneurship.

Read more about the GEM report here.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

November 08, 2017

Powerful, a fast-growing Miami food & beverage startup, attracts $4 million in funding

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

CarlosPowerful, a Miami-based food and beverage startup offering all-natural, high-protein products for active lifestyles, has been on a growth tear the past year, doubling the number of U.S. stores the product is sold in. Now the company has raised $4 million in funding as it expands into additional product categories.

The Series B funding was led by River Hollow Partners, a lower mid-market private equity firm focused on consumer and retail brands in the natural products space. The company has also secured ABL financing through a partnership with Gerber Finance, a leading asset-based lending financial company with headquarters in New York City.

Carlos Ramirez launched Powerful (then called Powerful Yogurt) in March 2013 after years as a marketing and strategy consultant for global companies. He helped launch or expand other food products around the world, including Greek yogurt, and wondered why no one was branding the product for athletes. Although it has since expanded its focus, Powerful was the first company to market dairy products to the needs of active men, said Ramirez, a Venezuelan native who received his MBA from the University of California Berkeley.

 “The idea of a dairy product designed with active men in mind was a very controversial concept to many. It completely disrupted the dairy category and put us in the spotlight, but most importantly, it proved very successful,” said Ramirez.

 But women were big buyers too, more than half of sales, and now Powerful is a multi-category active lifestyles brand for both genders. Its  products are in 10,000 U.S. stores -- up from 5,000 less than a year ago -- and they include Walmart, Target, Kroger, Stop n’ Shop and Shoprite, as well as Amazon and the company’s website. On its own website, powerful.co, Powerful offers a subscription where customers can create a custom recurring product bundle at a discounted price.

Powerful Yogurt, Powerful Drinks and Powerful Oatmeal are part of the lineup now, all of which are high in protein and made with natural ingredients, and there's more to come, including new product lines and international expansion, Ramirez said.  “The capital provided gives us the additional resources we will use to reach our ambitious goals as we continue to expand the product offerings and increase our footprint in the U.S. and beyond.”

In early 2018, Powerful plans to add a smoothie to its lineup, in a convenient on-the-go pouch format. Each all-natural smoothie will serve up 22 grams of protein in flavors like banana, mixed berry and vanilla.  

River Hollow is Powerful’s first institutional investment partner. The new funding will further support product development, manufacturing, and sales and marketing.

“We partnered with Powerful because it is uniquely poised for success,” said Charlie Baynes-Reid of River Hollow Partners, noting Powerful's seasoned management team and clear brand vision and mission. “You typically see new companies come in and try to create their own niche specialty, but what Powerful has done really makes a significant impact through disruption in an already successful category, and that is something l saw as very compelling as a private equity partner.”

Last December, Powerful's Ramirez was the fifth Miami food and beverage entrepreneur selected to join the global network of Endeavor, a nonprofit that selects, mentors and accelerates high-impact entrepreneurs. In an Endeavor Miami study in 2015, Endeavor found that food and beverage is one of five areas that could sizzle for entrepreneurial activity in South Florida because the ingredients are already here: a foodie culture, expertise, a talent base and educational opportunities, as well as a strong healthy and green trend to ride upon.

READ MORE ABOUT POWERFUL HERE.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

 

Powerful

November 07, 2017

Real estate software startup Gridics raises $1.6 million

Gridicsimage
 

Gridics, a Miami-based real estate software startup, announced it has raised $1.6 million in additional seed capital.  

The round was led by BH3, a real estate developer with projects in South Florida and New York City, and includes existing investor Dune Road Capital. It builds on the $1.1 million Gridics raised in April and brings its total funding to  $3.74 million.

The company will use this investment to accelerate development and sales of the Zonar.City platform to cities and real estate developers.

Gridics, short for grid analytics, was founded in 2015 to change the way cities and real estate developers interact with zoning codes.  By bringing 2D text to a visualized 3D interface, the company is streamlining an antiquated process. Miami developer Avra Jain is also an investor in the company. 

 From applications on its platform, users can visualize real estate data in order to make smarter investment and development decisions while streamlining inefficient processes in the real estate world, the company said. For example, the Zonar.City application, launched earlier this year, helps bridge the gap between the private sector development community of architects, developers and attorneys by automating development feasibility analysis and streamlining the development plan approval process.

 CEO Jason Doyle said Gridics is seeing strong early adoption of the application by city and county planning, zoning and economic development departments as well as developers, architects, commercial brokers and land use attorneys in the private sector.

 “In the coming months, we will be opening all five boroughs of New York City on the platform and expect to add several direct city contracts," Doyle said.

In April, Gridics announced a contract with the City of Miami to use Zonar to streamline the analysis and processing of development plan reviews.  

 "Using Zonar, we are able to identify new development opportunities, quickly run custom scenario analyses and view applicable variances and waivers.  That analysis used to take us days to complete and cost thousands of dollars but can now be handled in a few minutes with Zonar, " said BH3 Principal Daniel Lebensohn, in a news release.

 

November 06, 2017

Boca Raton drone software company has eye on Florida's public safety

Sfl-eagleeye-drone-photo-fl0044459140-20161107

On the left: Rex G. Ciavola Jr., co-founder and president of EagleEye Intelligence On the right: Scott H. Adams, co-founder and CEO of EagleEye. (EagleEye Intelligence / Courtesy)

 

By Marcia Heroux Pounds

Imagine a drone swooping in to identify a kidnapping suspect’s car on a road, potentially saving a child. Or identifying a shooter targeting a crowd, such as in the recent mass murder in Las Vegas. And after a storm like Hurricane Irma in Florida, documenting damage or even helping in search and rescue.

All of those and other applications are being pursued by EagleEye Intelligence, a two-year-old Boca Raton software company co-founded by long-time entrepreneur Scott Adams.

EagleEye’s drone security systems are catching the attention of public safety and law enforcement agencies, while also attracting investors.

READ THE SUN SENTINEL STORY HERE

November 04, 2017

Nuvola brings digital white-glove service to the hotel industry

SBDC-Success-Story_Juan-Carlos-Abello-NUVOLA-1
 

By Ana Acle-Menendez

Perhaps no other industry relies as heavily on customer service as the hotel industry.

So, imagine if there was a way for guests to communicate to staff directly and conveniently through the touch of a button on their mobile phone. And imagine if guests would be notified of happy hour specials while walking by the bar in real time, allowing hotels to gather behavioral data and provide better service.

Juan-Carlos-Abello-NUVOLA-2That communication platform was imagined and created. Now, it is offered by a guest service management software developed by Nuvola, a Miami-based company founded by Juan Carlos Abello, who worked as a manager at various hotels.

But while Abello developed a solution for hotels, he needed solutions of his own to grow his new startup business.

He heard about the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge, a contest for startup entrepreneurs, through Florida International University (FIU), his alma mater. While creating the video presentation for the contest, Abello then learned about the Florida SBDC at FIU — the small business development center at the College of Business, which provides no-cost consulting to entrepreneurs and small-business owners.

“My biggest obstacle was closing on my first customers,” said Abello, who earned an MBA from Emory University and a bachelor’s degree in international business from FIU. “In technology, if you don’t have references and you’re selling software that’s intangible, it’s a tough sales pitch. Closing on my first 20 to 30 customers was the biggest challenge.”

He specifically wanted guidance on finding an investor.  “In my particular case, I was looking to accelerate the growth of the company,” he said. “I was looking for funds and I was assigned to an advisor who had experience as an investor.”

For the next six months, he met with the expert consultant every two weeks on Saturdays, going over spreadsheets, sales pitches and the program to grow more capital.

It soon paid off.

“I was extremely satisfied because I was able to raise additional funds for the company,” Abello said. “I closed with two investors and now basically I’m living my dream.”

What started three years ago with business development and sales of $30,000 doubled every year. Now Nuvola is well over $1 million in sales this year, Abello said.

What’s more, his one-man team has now grown to 18 full-time employees.

“I would recommend the SBDC,” Abello said. “First, because they understand that you’re an entrepreneur — you don’t have a flexible schedule — and most of the time they were able to accommodate my needs.

“Second, I felt that every single member of the organization that I interacted with was professional, willing to assist and the advice they gave was definitely significant in terms of the objective that I had,” he continued.

“Lastly, it’s a free service,” Abello said. “They do understand that starting a business is not easy and you’re going to face a lot of obstacles. Most of the time they know what obstacles you’re going to face so you can anticipate them, which is great.”

Additionally, he said he made friends during the process and still keeps in touch with his advisor. He is also mentoring others so they can sell to their first 20 to 30 customers before going to investors.

By the way, in case you’re wondering, Abello and his team won first place in that Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge in the FIU Track category. That’s another feather in his cap that he can use for marketing purposes.

 

Ana Acle-Menendez wrote this article for Florida SBDC at FIU, which gave Starting Gate permission to post it.

 

READ MORE about Nuvola here. 

 

November 02, 2017

Blubeta and Healthsnap Solutions take part in MarketFit Acceleration Bootcamp in Silicon Valley

 

Marketfit

 

In partnership with Global Silicon Valley Labs (GSVlabs) and Google Developers Launchpad, MarketFit traveled to Silicon Valley with the team of co-founders from Healthsnap Solutions and Blubeta for its 2017 MarketFit Acceleration Bootcamp. For 5 days, they attended series of talks and 1-on-1 mentoring sessions in areas such as Lean Business Canvas, Product, Growth Hacking, and Fundraising, along with six other local and international startups. As part of the program, the startups spent a day at the Google Launchpad San Francisco campus discussing UX/UI and Design Sprint with Google mentors.

In total, the startups individually met over 20 local mentors, ranging from successful entrepreneurs, investors and senior level executives. The mentors spent approximately 1 hour with each startup, giving an outside look into their businesses and challenges and allowing for constructive dialogue and feedback. The Silicon Valley week concluded with a “mock” pitch competition in front of a jury of seven, including Venture Capitalists, entrepreneurs and angel investors from Silicon Valley. Yenvy Truong, CEO of Healthsnap Solutions carried the Miami pride by winning best pitch from the jury.

Back in Miami, the teams spent two additional days focusing on actionable milestones, fundraising strategy, and team structuring.

“We received a lot of feedback forcing us to look into what we have been doing so far and where do we go from here. Every startup should consider going through this program. MarketFit gave us an opportunity to reset and evaluate our position in the market. From this enriching experience, we were able to pivot and shift focus in order to scale,” stated Antonio Manueco, Co-Founder of Blubeta.

“The experience was amazing and the knowledge we brought back, we feel will trickle into the Miami system. After that opportunity in Silicon Valley, we feel as a company; we're able to take a big jump to hyper-growth,” Truong said.

“South Florida is a fast-growing startup ecosystem, and we are very excited to be part of this process, bridging the gap between Miami and Silicon Valley in partnership with GSVlabs, Google Launchpad and our team of mentors," said Roberto Machado from MarketFit.

MarketFit is currently receiving applications for the next Silicon Valley/Miami Bootcamp, which will take place late January 2018.

To learn more about the growth acceleration programs and how they are ideal for second stage startups, please visit https://marketfit.us/startup-bootcamp/.

- Submitted by HealthSnap