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 10, 2015

Cohealo hires Miami-based execs to lead marketing, finance

Cohealo, a technology company founded in South Florida that leverages the sharing economy for hospitals and health systems, announced that it has added two Miami-based senior managers who bring to Cohealo decades of experience successfully scaling high-growth businesses in their respective domains.

As the new Chief Marketing Officer, Joe Sawyer will be responsible for building Cohealo’s corporate marketing as well as a complete go-to-market for its innovative solutions. He joins Cohealo from CareCloud, where he led a marketing team that helped drive three years of average 100% revenue growth, landing the company on the Inc. 500 and Forbes list of America’s Most Promising Companies.

As Vice President of Finance, Ryan Lissauer will lead Cohealo’s financial strategy and operations while also helping build repeatable, scalable infrastructure across its key functions. Prior to joining Cohealo, Ryan was with H.I.G. Capital, a leading global private equity firm, where he acquired middle market companies and helped grow their enterprise value as a member of their Board of Directors.

 “In recent months, Cohealo has gained significant traction among health systems looking for an innovative but proven approach to managing their clinical assets more efficiently and profitably,” said Mark Slaughter, CEO and co-founder, who moved his company to Boston early last year. “We are thrilled to welcome Joe and Ryan. We will apply their talents in rapidly expanding our reach in the market while taking the positive results we deliver for clients to the next level.”

Cohealo utilizes a cloud-based software platform to bring the benefits of the sharing economy to managing and optimizing the utilization of medical equipment across hospitals and care facilities in health systems, a $100 billion market.

Founded about five years ago when Slaughter was an MBA student at the University of Miami, Cohealo closed a $9 million Series A financing round that included Romulus Capital and Miami-based Krillion Ventures last fall. Slaughter said at that time he planned to establish an office in South Florida, and these moves bring it closer to the goal. Sawyer and Lissauer will remain based in South Florida.

May 06, 2015

For small businesses and startups, Legal Hero launches in Miami

Legal Hero is a New York-based on-demand legal services provider for startups and small businesses that want to find quality lawyers at reasonable and fixed prices. The startup announced this week it is launching its services in Miami.

The founder and CEO,  Annie Webber, grew up in Coral Gables and went to Harvard for her undergrad and JD-MBA degrees. But she said the seed of Legal Hero was planted much earlier, talking business around the dinner table with her parents about their family's flower importing business. “I was really cognizant of how difficult it was to get good legal help at reasonable prices, but most importantly at fixed prices. It is just so hard for small businesses to manage their legal budget when they are billed by the hour,” said Webber, who spent a couple years as a lawyer before launching Legal Hero.

Founded in November, Legal Hero offers services in New York, Massachusetts and now Florida. So far, the network has 60 attorneys; 15 of them are in Florida with most of them in South Florida, Webber said. They handle issues from entity formation, business contracts and employment agreements, to immigration and intellectual property concerns, she said.

Unlike most legal services providers that rely on retainers and hourly billing, Legal Hero shows the full price of 30 common projects on the website. After a customer chooses a project, the customer is provided a selection of vetted lawyers to complete the project at that price. Legal Hero will manage a bidding process for other services; the prices may vary lawyer to lawyer, but the fee will be fixed.

Webber says her biggest competitor by far is traditional law, and she also considers do-it-yourself advocates like Legal Zoom a type of competition. But there are also a number of online startups nationally going after a slice of the $60 billion small business law services market, including Court Buddy, a Miami-based startup that launched recently and chose South Florida as its initial market.

Legal Hero secured startup funding last fall from a group of angels that includes Jose Rasco of Miami’s STRAAT.

“There is a different energy in Miami now than there was 10 to 15 years ago and I love the ecosystem that has spring up to support entrepreneurship,” said Webber, who has started to work with startup groups in the area. “We’re so excited to be a part of it, and that is why we decided to come here.”

For more information, visit www.legalhero.com/miami.

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.  "South Florida has so many incredible things going on and we’re so happy to be sharing them with 30,000 parents. We want to grow quickly and provide as many parents as possible with the info they need to have fun with their kids."

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 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.

 

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.