August 17, 2017

Shoring up the boat-sharing industry, Boatsetter buys Boatbound, raises more funding

Boater

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

South Florida is already one of the world’s great boating capitals. Now the region can also claim to be a boat-sharing industry leader, as more people seek out accessible ways to get out on the water and more boat owners oblige by turning their pleasure crafts into money makers.

Boatsetter, a peer-to-peer marketplace for boat rentals, has acquired its Seattle-based rival Boatbound, powering up the South Florida startup’s presence throughout the United States. The Aventura-based company also announced that it has raised an additional $4.75 million in funding, on top of the $13 million announced in December, to fund its international expansion.

Like others in the boat-sharing economy, Boatsetter attempts to make the boat rental experience as seamless as booking a room on Airbnb by connecting people seeking rentals with boat owners looking to monetize the time their boats aren’t used. But Boatsetter differentiates itself by giving its users access to a large network of licensed captains as well as a growing roster of high-end boat rentals for yachting, cruising, fishing or sailing, 24/7 customer support and insurance coverage for renters, boat owners and captains.

Jackie headshot“This acquisition now makes us the No. 1 peer-to-peer boat rental community in the United States hands down,” said Jaclyn Baumgarten, CEO and co-founder of Boatsetter, who wouldn’t disclose terms of the deal. “It means about 5,000 quality vessels ready to be rented, it brings us 1,500 U.S. coastguard licensed captains, it will mean about 10,000 transactions between the companies in 2017 and it brings us 300 locations.”

Baumgarten said the acquisition particularly expands Boatsetter’s inventory in Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle and Washington, DC.

“Additionally, we will be getting some great new talent from the Boatbound team, and we will be relocating them and the entire Seattle office to South Florida with us – a true Miami startup expansion,” said Baumgarten, in an interview with the Miami Herald on Wednesday. Boatsetter’s team will grow to 27 employees.

While accelerating operations in the U.S. five-fold is the goal for 2017, Baumgarten said, the acquisition and additional funding will also help fuel Boatsetter’s international expansion in 2018. Boatsetter plans to focus first on the Caribbean and Mediterranean, driving demand through global partnerships. It already has “phenomenal boats” in Bali, Ibiza, Mexico and South Africa, she said.

“This market is ripe for consolidation and I believe we are strongly positioned to lead that consolidation,” Baumgarten said. “We worked with a third-party investment bank and they value the peer-to-peer and charter business at $50 billion that we expect in the years to come to grow to $100 billion. That’s a huge opportunity and we are primed to lead a rollup strategy over the years to come globally.”

To that end, Boatsetter extended its Series A round, adding $4.75 million in funding to the $13 million the company raised in December. Key investors of the most recent round include Nordic Eye Venture Capital and the Miami-based TheVentureCity.

Laura Gonzalez-Estefani, co-founder of the TheVentureCity, which acts as an incubator for international-focused high-growth startups, said it’s the “super-driven” CEO and Boatsetter team, their data-driven approach to growth, international strategy and local expertise that attracted TheVentureCity as an investor. “The numbers are astounding in terms of engagement rates, their expansion plans are very interesting in the U.S. but also in Europe and we hope we can help them,” she said.

The young boat-sharing industry began making waves in South Florida in 2013.

That year, Boatbound entered the market in Miami, setting up a small office in Key Biscayne and developing a local network of boats. Boat-sharing was just getting started then, and rival Cruzin, led by Baumgarten, had also put down stakes in South Florida, too. As other rivals such as Sailo began expanding into the market, several locally based startups were developing, including Boatsetter, led by South Florida marine industry veteran and serial entrepreneur Andrew Sturner. Boatsetter and San Francisco based Cruzin merged in 2015, and Baumgarten became the CEO of the combined company. Sturner is executive chairman.

As the industry has matured and consolidated, locally based technology companies serving niches of the boat rental and sales industry have emerged here too, such as YachtLife serving the highest end of the market and Boatyard to handle boat-sharing related management and maintenance tasks for the owners. Meanwhile, a large online boat-sales marketplace, Boats Group, relocated its headquarters to Miami this year.

This summer, Boatsetter began offering uniquely curated experiences through the Airbnb platform in Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Barcelona, Baumgarten said. In Miami, the experiences range from watersports trips, experiences for fishing fanatics and luxury excursions with full course meals.

“We’ve taken boating from being a rare pastime for a fortunate few boat owners to being a universally accessible lifestyle activity for anyone with a smartphone and a credit card,” Baumgarten said in an earlier interview.

Nancy Dahlberg: @ndahlberg

August 16, 2017

A match made in startup heaven? Candidate.Guru acquires Elevated Careers by eHarmony

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Cadidate.Guru co-founders Chris Daniels and Steve Carter in 2016.

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

It's a match.

Boca-Raton startup Candidate.Guru, provider of a recruiting technology platform that matches job candidates to employers, has acquired Elevated Careers by eHarmony, an employee engagement, personality and skills matching solution by the dating-software pioneer.

Terms of the deal were now disclosed, but Candidate.Guru CEO Chris Daniels said eHarmony will become a shareholder in the company.

Elevated Careers will deepen Candidate.Guru’s technology holdings and widen its product offerings, Daniels said.

Candidate,Guru, founded in 2014, uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to help companies better vet and rank their massive candidate pipeline by culture fit and is used by companies in the early part of the recruiting process. Elevated Careers, founded about three years ago and launched last year, does a deeper analysis internally and externally with an employee engagement solution that assesses how its employees feel about their organization and a candidate-matching feature to determine whether job candidates match up by personality, culture and skills, he said. But eHarmony reportedly found some irreconcilable differences with the human resources industry and put Elevated Careers up for sale earlier this year.

“With this acquisition, we are gaining cutting-edge employee/job candidate survey and matching technology, the perfect complement to the artificial intelligence technology Candidate.Guru has already developed to predict a culture fit between job candidates and companies,” said Daniels, a former executive recruiter whose company won the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge in 2016.

Candidate.Guru will sell Elevated Careers as a separate product rather than incorporating it into Candidate.Guru's product, at least initially, Daniels said. Dan Erickson, general manager and vice president of Elevated Careers, will join Candidate.Guru and be based in Los Angeles.

Candidate.Guru is a team of eight based at FAU TechRunway. In March, Candidate.Guru received a $300,000 investment from the Florida Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research, closing out its financing round at $1.1 million, which also included a number of Florida angel groups. The revenue-generating startup has more than 20 corporate customers.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

 

 

 

August 11, 2017

Miami-based fintech startup Dvdendo attracts $1.5 million in funding

A Miami-based  startup that helps people make investments has landed an investment of its own.

Dvdendo has attracted $1.5 million in seed funding round led by Ideas & Capital Fund and including existing angel investors, according to a news release. Dvdendo  operates a high-tech financial management platform that develops and manages portfolios according to the risk profile of users. The funds will be used for customer acquisition and continued development of its technology.

This platform offers access to  diversified equity instruments typically reserved for clients with high equity, as well as a  a simple mechanism that facilitates and promotes the habit of saving through digital means. "Dvdendo was founded by a group of financial and technology professionals dedicated to making saving easy and automatic and making professional investment advice available to everyone," its website says. Users can open an account on Dvdendo from their cellphone and start saving with only $5, the company said.

The team is led by CEO Gabriel Montoya, an entrepreneur previously involved with Next University and before that was an executive at Cisneros Group of Companies,  and by COO Matthew Meehan, a former portfolio manager and trader for Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers in Latin America.

To read more funding news of South Florida startups, go to the "funding" category of this blog.

August 08, 2017

Traffic, transit - can we solve it? Fastrack Institute will marshall tech, talent and government

Traffic

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

When you think of Miami, images of traffic jams likely cloud the otherwise sunny picture. And don’t get us started on how mobility issues can weigh on the environment, personal livelihoods and the economy as a whole.

What if entrepreneurs, engineers, corporations, legal minds and governments came together to build mobility solutions that could help Miami and be used by other cities?

It’s an experiment that is already being tested in Colombia by a trio of South Florida’s most accomplished entrepreneurs: Rodrigo Arboleda, co-founder of the global nonprofit One Laptop Per Child; Dr. Maurice Ferré, co-founder of Mako Surgical who is now running the brain-health biotech firm Insightec; and Salim Ismail, founding executive director of Singularity University and a guru on the power of exponential technologies.

Their young Miami-based nonprofit foundation, Fastrack Institute, is now turning to Miami, where it will look at the mobility challenge with fresh eyes, seek ideas and “fastrack” some of them into prototypes that can be tested and developed further. Fastrack announced Tuesday that it will launch a 16-week program to help address Miami-Dade's transportation problems, with funding from the Knight Foundation, Miami-Dade Expressway Authority and local real estate developer and investor Armando Codina.

The Miami program will kick off Aug. 24 with a free daylong workshop open to the public.

The Miami announcement follows a year of experience in Medellín, Colombia, where Fastrack Institute has launched eight startups aimed at solving urban problems in fast, cost-effective ways using technology. These include not only potential solutions for mobility and air quality but also widening citizens’ access to banking and finance, healthcare and early education.

The Fastrack framework is based on ideas spearheaded by Singularity University and Ismail’s ExO Works, organizations that focus on the impact of “exponential” technologies — that is, technologies doubling in power or speed while their cost drops. The Institute runs 16-week programs, also called Fastracks, in which tech companies or nonprofits collaborate with government regulators, attorneys, sociologists and other experts to solve urban issues. The idea is that legal, regulatory and societal hurdles can be addressed while the concepts are being built and the technology is being being tested. Once deployed, the technologies can be used by other cities.

The three entrepreneurs came together serendipitously, each independently looking at ways to put technology to work on urban issues. Arboleda was looking for ways to engage more young people in Latin America in technology and the sciences after finishing his work with One Laptop Per Child, which provided laptops to more than 3 million children in emerging markets. Ferré was exploring how to accelerate and support advanced healthcare innovation locally as well as globally. Ismail had recently moved to Miami from Silicon Valley, and was helping corporations learn how to develop an innovative mindset.

“In Fastrack, what we have uncovered is a mechanism so that as you are investigating these technologies like solar or autonomous cars, you can ramp up the regulatory, legal and safety changes that need to be made as you are looking at the technology,” said Ismail, in an interview last month.

“We found with Fastrack we can solve a problem facing a city at about one-tenth the current cost, which makes it economically very compelling,” he said. Twenty other global cities, about half in Latin America, have expressed interest in Fastrack programs, according to Ismail.

Arboleda, the Institute’s CEO, Ferré and Ismail launched the first Fastrack programs in Medellín, about a year ago, and found the city to be an ideal partner for its pilot programs. The city has “earned its wings” because it which has risen from the brink of economic collapse by smartly employing the power of innovation, said Arboleda. Fastrack partnered with Colombian entrepreneurial organization Ruta N, which was founded by the city of Medellín and links academia and the private and public sectors, according to Arboleda.

“Cities should embrace and accelerate the adoptions of these technologies but try to minimize the collateral damage to those portions of societies these types of exponential, viral and disruptive technologies will be affecting. We need to complete the circle. Technology alone cannot make it,” Arboleda said in an interview earlier this summer. “That is the genesis of Fastrack Institute.”

Fastrack’s first foray spawned two startups to tackle access financial access and two more focused on transportation, including autonomous vehicles. Programs on air quality and healthcare have followed; one on education is in the works. Large corporations from various industries are providing most of the funding in Colombia, Arboleda said.

Take healthcare, for example. A town two hours from Medellín has the highest rate of Alzheimer’s in the world; it was profiled on CBS’ 60 Minutes and has been drawing the interest of scientists and doctors globally, including Ferré.

“There is a tremendous opportunity [in Colombia] to set up a living laboratory with gigantic potential for mankind,” Arboleda said. “One of the most difficult health challenges will be the aging populations and in that age bracket Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s will become the most damaging elements we have ever seen in humanity for older people and the younger people taking care of them.”

[READ MORE: How a Silicon Valley big thinker is helping to bring world-changing ideas to life – in Miami]

Closer to home, where expanding mass transit it a hot topic, Miami-Dade County and the Miami-Dade Expressway Authoring have asked Fastrack Institute to explore the transportation solutions of the future.

“Traffic — think about it. If we can solve it in Miami, then that becomes an export industry that applies to every city in the world,” Ismail said.

To launch the Miami-Dade Fastrack, the institute received $500,000 from the Knight Foundation, Miami-Dade Expressway Authority and local real estate developer and investor Armando Codina, representing the Codina Family.

“This initiative is a prime example of how public/private partnerships are beneficial to the community,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez, in a statement.

Gimenez will accompany a delegation from Miami attending a Singularity University program next week, Arboleda said. The University of Miami’s Center for Computational Sciences and Rokk3r Labs are among the organizations already involved in Fastrack programs in Latin America.

In Miami-Dade, Fastrack will kick off Aug. 24 with a daylong public workshop in the Board of County Commission Chambers of the Stephen P. Clark Government Center. Register here to attend.

The workshop will begin with a presentation and discussion about Miami-Dade's transit issues and the institute will launch an open call for mobility solutions. Two teams will be selected from the pool of applicants to participate in the 16-week Fastrack. The teams will include global experts, local participants, organizations, educational institutions and public offices. The Fastrack will be directed and supported by a full-time Miami-based team and a local advisory board.

Climate change, accessible healthcare and affordable housing all could be issues for future Miami Fastracks.

“What we want to do is make Miami the capital for this kind of thinking,” Ismail said. “Absolutely the biggest success factor for any city is diversity, and the richness that comes from it. All great ideas come when you cross disparate domains together.” 

Nancy Dahlberg: @ndahlberg   

Yes, it’s safe to go into the water with this startup’s invention

Aquavault

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

But who’s going to watch the stuff?

It’s a familiar question, if you are among friends at the beach who want to take a swim. One Aventura-based startup, AquaVault, has a solution for that – and the crowd gives it a thumbs up.

The crowd is fans on Indiegogo, a crowdfunding platform that lets companies solicit donations, with promises of thank you gifts, generally the products themselves, in return. Crowdfunders donated $235,598 to AquaVault, which plans to produce a new version of its portable safe that can be attached to beach chairs or other objects, safely storing electronics, wallets and other valuables. Strategically, AquaVault held its campaign in prime beach-going season.

Jonathan Kinas, Avin Samtani and Robert Peck founded the Aventura company in 2014 after their valuables were stolen while, you guessed it, they were cooling off with a swim at a South Beach resort. They brought their first product to market with the help of ABC’s Shark Tank in 2015, where they lured in an investment from Daymond John (pictured below with AquaVault team). Since then, nearly all South Beach hotels have been offering the safes to their guests, Kinas said.

The newest version of the startup’s safe, called FlexSafe+, is made with cut-and-slash resistant material and sports a motion sensor alarm and a water-proof solar charger. Like the other portable safe, FlexSafe can be locked to a beach chair, a golf cart or a bike, or even a rod in a dormatory or hotel room. It was offered at the $99 giving level.

With the Indiegogo campaign over, AquaVault moves into production with FlexSafe+. “We will be producing roughly 10,000 units and will be delivering in November right before the holidays,” Kinas said.

Crowdfunding has its fans, especially among consumer product makers. But few score funding at the level that AquaVault did, in its campaign that ended July 30. Although Indiegogo does not publish statistics, its more dominant rival Kickstarter does. On Kickstarter, only about 1 percent of companies launching campaigns raise more than $100,000.

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.

Aquavault founders

August 06, 2017

Travel-tech company Oasis sets its sights on Asia, with new funding from Hyatt

OASIS 2 3

An Oasis property in Miami. Photo from Oasis 

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

StanberryWith just 15 portfolio properties  in 2009, entrepreneur Parker Stanberry started Oasis, a curated marketplace of private homes offering upscale travel accommodations. Today, Miami-based Oasis offers 2,400 properties in 22 markets worldwide, and has 150 employees.

Last week, Hyatt made a significant, strategic minority investment in Oasis, which brings the brand’s total fund-raising to $35 million, Oasis said. This new investment will allow Oasis to expand its footprint to additional cities in the U.S., Europe and Latin America and enter Asia.

In 2014, Oasis joined the ranks of Latin American tech startups moving their headquarters to Miami. Stanberry, an expat from the U.S. who lived in Argentina for eight years, relocated to Miami in 2015 but spends about two-thirds of his time traveling to Oasis’ expanding portfolio of locations that include Barcelona, Cartagena, New York and Paris.

“Oasis is home meets hotel, the next generation of accommodations,” said Stanberry, who started Oasis as a passion project. “We have all the benefits of home sharing – bigger spaces, better locations, more value – with an added layer of quality control, curation and hospitality services.”

Those hospitality services include Oasis staff onsite for check-ins, on-demand concierge services and a members club. Others apparently also see the opportunity.

“Travelers who book Oasis Collections homes are looking for something different than a traditional hotel experience. They’re leisure and often business travelers who seek more space for a longer time, but also want the peace of mind, personalized service and amenities they expect when staying with Hyatt,“ said Steve Haggerty, global head of capital strategy, franchising and select service for Hyatt, in a statement. “While we are at an early stage, we believe this category has the potential to serve new stay occasions for our customers and to add meaningfully to Hyatt’s growth over time.”

Oasis grew revenues 100 percent year over year in 2015 and 2016, and is on track to surpass that this year, Stanberry said. In the past 18 months it has launched in 13 new markets in the U.S., Europe and Latin America. Oasis was the leading accommodations partner for sponsors of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, including Nike and Visa. 

Stanberry said he will use the funding to take customer experience to the next level in current markets, and expand into Asia.

 “It’s not just about a place to stay, it’s about maximizing your experience. We’re adding a concept called Upgrades, where a guest can order extras like a stocked fridge or an airport transfer, and generally creating a seamless mobile-driven experience for the traveler,” said Stanberry, who was selected as an Endeavor Entrepreneur in 2014.

Neither Hyatt nor Oasis would disclose the size of the Hyatt funding, but Stanberry called it "significant" in a Skift article and it brings total funding to $35 million. After some initial angel funding that allowed Oasis to expand and move its headquarters from Argentina to Miami, last year Oasis raised a $10.6 million Series B round, said Stanberry. Oasis also raised a $2.5 million convertible debt financing earlier this year.

Oasis advisor and angel investor Marco Giberti cited Stanberry's work ethic, courage and strong commitment to keep learning and improving the product and user experience. “He is a great leader, and I’m really glad to see his new deal and excited about future opportunities for him and Oasis.”

With the new Hyatt funding, Oasis joins a number of Miami area startups who have raised significant funding rounds this year, including Modernizing Medicine, Nearpod, Neocis, MealPal, Boatsetter, Nymbus and Kairos.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter

Read more

From Argentina to Miami - a bridge worth building (guest post featuring Oasis)

Hatching a tech future: South Florida startups are gaining strength 

How international startups are making Miami their U.S. base

Rioproperty

 A residence in Rio offered by Oasis. Photo from Oasis

August 03, 2017

Apply now for second cohort of Startupbootcamp Digital Health

Applications for Startupbootcamp's Digital Health innovation program in Miami are now open. Submit your application and you could be one of the companies selected to gain access to a national network of healthcare providers, insurers and investors. The application deadline is Oct. 6
 

Selected companies will receive:

  • Implementation opportunities with leading hospital systems including the Miami Children's Hospital, University of Miami, Jackson Health, Mayo Clinic (Jacksonville), Carolinas, local and national insurers, pharma and many others
  • Extensive mentorship from industry leading experts, entrepreneurs and investors 
  • $20K with up to a $100K convertible note and access to follow-on capital 
  • Office space in the heart of Miami
  • $500K in partner services from Google, Amazon, Salesforce, Intel and Paypal

- Submitted by Startupbootcamp Digital Health

July 29, 2017

App to help divorced parents manage everyday life featured on 'Planet of the Apps'

Gwyneth Paltrow Michael Daniels Fayr Presentation 1

Michael Daniels, with Gwyneth Paltrow, making his presentation for "Planet of the Apps." 

Fayr app was created by a divorced dad in Weston

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Weston resident Michael Daniels and his new iTunes app, Fayr, were featured on  Apple Music’s “Planet of the Apps” this week. Daniels, a divorced dad with two young children, created Fayr to help divorced parents streamline family management, such as scheduling and budgeting.

The app won the support of “Planet of the Apps” judges and Daniels secured a partnership with Academy Award-winning actress and “conscious uncoupling” advocate Gwyneth Paltrow, who's now an advisor for Fayr. This week, Fayr was the featured app on the iTunes store.

Daniels, 37, a custom home builder, says he was inspired to create Fayr when the challenges of co-parenting began to overwhelm him. The app creates a joint family calendar to track activities and time-sharing, and generates digital records of expenses and real-time location check-ins. It also offers in-app texting to simplify communication between parents.

“My favorite thing about Fayr is that it was created with the whole family in mind. Separating is a challenging transition for any couple. When children are involved, it’s especially tender and worrisome,” Paltrow said, in a news release. “Fayr removes unnecessary stresses and tension so parents can collaborate to create calm and stability for their children.”

Fayr launched in beta mode several months ago and attracted the attention of  “Planet of The Apps,”  Apple’s new reality series for aspiring app developers. Working with entrepreneur advisors Jessica Alba, Gwyneth Paltrow, Gary Vaynerchuk and Will.i.am, developers and their concepts endure an intense incubation period and then a high-stakes pitch. New episodes debut Tuesdays on Apple Music.

Fayr is available on iOS with a monthly subscription of $4.99. An Android version is planned by year's end. More information:  www.fayr.com.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter

 

July 26, 2017

In growth spurt, AGP Miami funds Animusoft, other South Florida startups

Money2

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Why are local investors a critical piece of South Florida’s entrepreneurship community? Look no further than what AGP Miami is doing to help fill a funding gap.

AGP, a South Florida network of angel investors, closed on its latest investment last week: Animusoft. The Miami-based startup, which built a software platform for the drone industry called ALIVE under founder and CEO Daniel Rodriguez, has raised $1 million in funding, of which about half was raised from AGP members.

Now with nearly 100 members, AGP focuses on investing in South Florida companies, many of whom have made significant traction through bootstrapping, such as Animusoft. At a time when access to capital continues to be a challenge for South Florida entrepreneurs, AGP, originally funded by the Knight Foundation and now self-sustaining, is one of the locally based networks that has been doubling down on its mission to address the funding gap and expanding its funding activity.

Raul Moas (c) (2)In the past quarter, AGP Miami invested $1.25 million into local, early-stage companies, said Raul Moas, managing director of the network. In addition to Animusoft, recent fundings include Home61, Nearpod, Gramercy, Birch and Eventplicity.

AGP recently added Melissa Krinzman, managing partner of Krillion Ventures, Mark Kingdon, founder of Quixotic Ventures, and Tigre Wenrich, CEO of the LAB Miami who heads up LABVentures, to its board of directors. “All three of them are exceptional individuals – that was a big win for us,” Moas said. They join Nico Berardi, AGP’s former managing director, Juan Pablo Cappello and Marco Giberti.

AGP’s staff is also growing. Rebecca Danta, a Miami native, returned to Miami this summer to be AGP’s venture associate, where she's heading up AGP’s dealflow management, Moas said. Most recently she worked for General Assembly in New York City.

Although South Florida deals will continue to be AGP’s primary focus, Danta will also be looking around Florida, including Gainesville, for potential deals.

“Miami is home and will continue to be home base ... but there are great deals around Florida, in particular Gainesville, and the same thing in Latin America,” Moas said. “We think that in the next 12 months, we will be positioned to start either establishing a presence in some of these markets or at the very least scouting them more actively.”

Feathr, Birch and Eventplicity are all AGP portfolio companies founded in Gainesville. “We have an opportunity to bring them into the fold of what is happening here,” Moas said. They plan to hire a scout there for the fall.

At a time when international startups are increasingly making Miami their corporate or U.S. base, AGP will also look more aggressively for companies in Latin America that members can get into early, and as the companies grow and if it makes sense for them, AGP could be their soft landing in Miami, Moas added. “We want to be there to support them. The expertise is already here.”

[READ MORE: Hatching a tech future: South Florida startups are gaining strength]

Since 2014, AGP has invested in 24 companies and invested $7.2 million, Moas said. That’s up from $4.6 million a year ago, when AGP had about 80 members.

AGP screens hundreds of deals to find companies that could be a good fit for members. Then a screening committee further selects companies that will be invited to pitch to the full membership. AGP members decide individually whether to invest in a startup.

To be sure, AGP is not the only local funder that has been expanding activity – for instance Krillion Ventures and New World Angels have invested in a number of local companies in the last couple of years, and others such as Las Olas Venture Capital are beginning to take off. At a time when venture capital still lags in Florida, AGP and other local funders are providing critical seed and Series A capital.

Animusoft will be using the new funding to build out marketing, sales and business development efforts as well as augment engineering staff with additional data scientists, Rodriguez said. 

Five large architecture, engineering and construction firms are now piloting ALIVE, an operating system for drones, on job sites. Animusoft is also partnering with seven drone manufacturers, which will be packaging its software with their drones. “We are in active conversations with maritime cargo companies, logistics companies, law enforcement and farmers for other applications of drones powered by the ALIVE platform,” Rodriguez said.

As it expands, including a presence in the California Bay Area, Rodriguez says he plans to keep engineering, product and research efforts in Miami. “I am a Miami native, and plan to keep a solid footing here in South Florida. This is my home.”

For Animusoft and other portfolio companies, local investors provide critical capital to grow their early-stage ventures.

July 18, 2017

Ironhack receives $3 million in funding for global expansion

Ironhackclass

Ironhack, a coding bootcamp in Miami with campuses in Madrid, Barcelona and most recently Paris, received $3 million in financing led by Madrid-based JME Venture Capital.

The funding will be used for international expansion, including coding campuses in Latin America and Europe, TechCrunch reported.

Founded by Ariel Quinones, who is based in Miami, and Gonzalo Manrique, Ironhack launched its bootcamp in Miami in 2015 after launching them in Madrid and Barcelona. The company opened its Paris location earlier this year. Its Miami bootcamps are held at Building.co.

"We’re very excited to have JME join us as our partners. Their investment will allow us to accelerate our pace of expansion, improve our product and curriculum, and hire top talent as we continue build one of the world’s top tech schools," said Quinones in TechCrunch.

Ironhack has been part of a wave of coding bootcamps opening across the nation, including Wyncode in Miami. Its cohorts end with demo nights, and it recently provided coding school scholarships to Uber drivers and riders in Miami.