Want to know about Miami startups? A user's guide to this blog

Dear reader, Starting Gate has been providing and archiving South Florida startup and tech community news, views and resources since 2012. New to the Miami area? Thinking about relocating here? Just want to keep up with news, events and opportunities? We're there for you.

How to use Starting Gate: Besides scrolling the blog for the latest entries, you can access news and views by category. The "Funding" category will capture venture capital and angel funding news of individual startups as well as stories about funders. The startup categories chronicle news and my regular "Spotlights," and in Q&As you'll find interviews with CEOs and leaders in the entrepreneurship ecosystem. There are also categories for guest posts, views, accelerators/incubators, resources, events and more.

Have news? Have an idea for a guest post? Send it to me at ndahlbergbiz@gmail.com. (See my Facebook announcement here)

Thank you for your support through the years and please come back often. Follow me on Twitter @ndahlberg. - Sincerely, Nancy Dahlberg

February 22, 2018

Home61 launches flat-fee service aimed at increasing efficiency, decreasing costs of home-selling

Home61_2

The traditional way isn’t the only way.

A Miami real estate-tech startup is offering owners a flat-fee service to sell their house or condo, rather than paying the traditional 3 percent.

Until now, Home61, which uses technology to streamline the residential home buying process, was primarily tackling the buying side of the market. But on Thursday, Home61 launched a flat-fee service that provides homeowners with dedicated agents who use  a data-driven platform to efficiently list, market, schedule viewings and close the sale of their properties.

“We are now entering the sell side with this flat fee structured home-selling service, aimed at offering a better service at an honest price to homeowners,” Olivier Grinda, CEO and co-founder of Home61, told Starting Gate. “Our ambition at Home61 has always been to become the real estate ecosystem for our clients. Adding the sell side offering was the natural next step.”

The fee, $6,100, would be lower than the traditional 3 percent real estate agent commissions for listing most homes . For any home selling for about $332,000 – the median existing-home sales price in South Florida – the service would save more than $4,000. On a $500,000 home or condo, the savings would be about $9,000. Home61 aims to sell over 200 homes through the service in 2018 and double that number in 2019.

“Our agents will maintain their commission split on deals with buyers, but for selling properties, the clients will work with a specialized team that has been trained on selling homes and work with the flat fee model,” said Grinda (pictured below), who was raised in France and moved to Miami from Brazil in late 2013. “We see both sides of the business as complementary, as managing listings brings new buyers to our traditional team and buy side clients will eventually sell.”

Home61

Home61 tested the service with a client in December. That client introduced Home61 to other clients and it ended up with seven properties under management. Two properties have already sold. “We did not anticipate such a ramp-up and had to hire more people faster,” Grinda said.

Home61 has about 65 real estate agents and expects to reach 100 agents by June on the buy side. In 2017, it generated more than $100 million and sales and completed its 1,000th closing of homes and rentals. Home61 expects to do 800 closings this year. [Read about its startup story here.]

Last fall, Home61 raised a $4 million round of financing from FF Angel, Founders Fund’s early stage investment vehicle, global marketplace investment firm FJ Labs, co-founded by brother Fabrice Grinda, and Miami Angels, South Florida's largest angel network formerly called AGP Miami, to help fund its national expansion.

“This new service is a continuation of our aim to bring honesty and transparency to the real estate industry,” said Grinda. “Innovation is sorely lacking in the space, and consumers end up paying the price for it – they pay overinflated commissions for sub-par service. Adding on this service allowed us to take a more holistic approach in addressing this problem by serving both sides of the market, buying and selling.”

February 15, 2018

Fort Lauderdale insure-tech startup ChronWell raises $4.5 million in funding

ChronWell, a Fort Lauderdale startup that is developing a technology-enabled platform company for the workers’ compensation insurance industry, raised $4.5 million in Series A funding, the company announced this week.

The investors were not disclosed.

ChronWell was launched in September 2017 by long-time veterans in the healthcare information technology and insurance industries. Dr. Joe Rubinsztain, ChronWell's CEO, and his brother Sam Rubinsztain, VP of Product Development, together founded Weston-based gMed in Weston in 1997, which was sold to Modernizing Medicine in 2015. ChronWell's president, Salomon Sredni, was formerly president and CEO of TradeStation, one of the largest online brokers in the U.S.

The company said that it aims to be the first line of care for injured workers, while getting them back to work faster and reducing costs.

 “Our mission is to use technology to bridge the gap between employee, employer and insurance company,” said Joe Rubinsztain. “In making the process more efficient, we will improve outcomes and help injured workers receive the care they deserve. Everyone agrees the workers’ compensation market is long overdue for disruption, and this is the right time to do it.”

The funding will support the first phase of the company’s innovative platform, which covers triage, on-site care, care coordination and personalized assistance service, the company said. When an employee is injured on the job, a ChronWell healthcare professional backed by Artificial Intelligence will determine the best course of action by recommending self-care, on-site care or a health care facility. The service provides follow-up with the worker and manages the claim.

“The current workers’ comp system is broken,” said Sredni. “We strongly believe in bringing compassion and empathy back into a system that is failing to serve those most in need.”

February 06, 2018

Miami startup’s just-launched mystery box for crypto sells out - twice

 

Screen Shot 2018-02-06 at 11.56.48 AM

 

Three Miami coders were just messing around one Friday night and thought, "what if we could build a Birchbox for crypto?"

And they did.

Mario Aguayo, PK Banks and Auston Bunsen launched CBlocks, a mystery box of cryptocurrency, on Jan. 16. Their idea: To give anyone access to investment in cryptocurrencies without being a blockchain expert.

Despite January being a wild ride down for Bitcoin, the Miami startup still sold over 320 CB Wallets worth $17,000 in just two weeks, selling out twice.

“I have been interested in cryptocurrency for some years now in my personal life,” said Bunsen, in a press release. “But we’ve realized that the process of getting started was too difficult and fairly risky because you have to trust online exchanges with your private keys.”

How it works: Users choose how much to invest from the four CB Wallet tiers available ranging from $75 to $500. A proprietary algorithm loads your CB Wallet with a unique set of five alt-coins at random from the top 300 on CoinMarketCap. Your CB Wallet in the form of an encrypted USB arrives at your house by mail in a collectors case until you decide you want to open it. 

While Bitcoin’s rise and recent plunge has grabbed the headlines, CBlocks loads the mystery box with so-called alternative coins (alt-coins), a lesser-known but fast-growing segment that accounts for roughly $11 billion in daily transaction volume.

CBlocks takes $50 for processing, so a CB Wallet costing  $500 wallet would contain $450 worth of cryptocurrency. Because of demand, the startup has temporarily paused orders and hopes to start accepting orders again within the next three to five days.

“We think this is a no-brainer way to get started in crypto,” Aguayo said. More info: https://www.cblocks.io

January 25, 2018

Tender Armor secures multi-million-dollar investment to prevent payment fraud

Tender Armor, a financial technology startup based in Fort Lauderdale, announced it has closed “a multi-million-dollar Series A investment.”

The Series A round enables Tender Armor, a global fraud prevention technology provider, to drive new business and product innovation, expand its workforce, and meet increasing demand by financial institutions for its multi-patent-pending CVV+ solution.

The investment was led private investors Aubrey Strul and Barry Beck, with additional funding through Strul Logistics and Technology.

Maddy Higher Res shot“Three years ago, the market void in fraud prevention solutions was evident as it still is today. We set out to create a highly effective payment fraud prevention tool that deputizes cardholders to protect them from fraudsters," said Madeline K. Aufseeser, co-founder and CEO of Tender Armor, in a press release. "Now, with the support of investors, Tender Armor enters the next phase of growth, expanding our product and workforce, and driving new business within the payments industry and beyond.”

According to American Express, nearly half of consumers who shop online report they have been the victim of payment fraud, representing nearly 80 million online shoppers. The CVV+ solution addresses the growing threat of card-not-present (CNP) fraud, which can result in customer hassles and significant losses for financial institutions. In the U.S. alone, CNP fraud is forecast to increase by 68 percent from 2016 to 2018, according to U.S. Payments.

The company's CVV+ technology anonymously authenticates the cardholder where ever payment cards are accepted, including through mobile devices, online, and over-the-phone, by generating a security code that only the cardholder can obtain, the company said. Tender Armor was founded in 2015.

January 15, 2018

Chatting with Chirrp: Miami company uses AI to engage with customers

Chirrpteam

 

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlbergbiz@gmail.com

Startup Spotlight: CHIRRP.AI

Headquarters: Miami

Concept: Chirrp is a conversational platform that harnesses the power of artificial intelligence to create engaging interactions with customers. Through Chirrp, companies can rapidly offer intelligent conversation that is engaging, personalized and targeted.

Story: Since working together on their first project many years ago, the founders of Chirrp — Mallesh Murugesan and Stephen Yuan — have been passionate about using technology to deliver better experiences for consumers. Over the past three years, their team has explored the capabilities of current Artificial Intelligence technologies, identifying weakness and working on ways to apply AI to enhance user interactions. In 2016, they decided to bring these ideas together to create a platform that would enable richer conversations and better experiences for their users.

Once the platform foundation was created, the Chirrp team focused on making the conversations robust, flexible and accurate. Through their research, they explored linguistics and communications in an effort to make Chirrp’s AI more human-like. The company has now created a patent-pending methodology that uses a unique way to understand the context of human intentions and provide human-like engagement.

Murugesan, CEO and co-founder, has been very involved in the startup community here in South Florida. “The startup community has evolved so much in Miami in the past few years right in front of us. There is a very vibrant startup community here and is growing tremendously,” Murugesan said. Prior to Chirrp, he started Abeyon to bring intuitive design, as well as great user experience design and user interface design (UI/UX) to complex business processes, be it health data, manufacturing or government.

Yuan is COO and has more than 25 years of experience working on technology products. He heads the R&D team of Chirrp’s Washington, D.C., office. Having two locations has allowed the company to work successfully in the healthcare industry, as well as with the federal government.

Chirrp is being implemented at hospitals around South Florida as a patient engagement tool, Murugesan said. Chirrp is also working on a project with the U.S. Department of the Navy to analyze data and find patterns and attributes to enable Navy to make better decisions. The company is having conversations with several other federal agencies as well, he said.

Launched: January 2017

Website: www.chirrp.ai

Management team: Mallesh Murugesan, co-founder and CEO, Stephen Yuan, co-founder and COO.

No. of employees: Five.

Financing: Currently raising seed funding.

Recent milestones: In June, Chirrp.ai won the eMerge Americas Early Stage Startup Showcase, taking home $50,000 in prizes. Since then, the company has brought in business development partners and advisory board members to grow and realize the potential of Chirrp.ai. The company also recently obtained another major healthcare client for which it will deliver customer engagement through digital channels.

Biggest startup challenge: “Our biggest challenge is the timing of the technology. Artificial Intelligence-based solutions are still new, especially in the enterprise space. Finding the right solution for an enterprise has been a challenge and a focus for us at Chirrp.ai. In the upcoming year, we believe AI will take a central role in solution offerings and we see Chirrp at the forefront of that movement,” Murugesan said.

Next step: To continue strengthening the platform and improve its capabilities. The startup is working on several proof-of-concepts for specific industries to showcase the applicability of AI-based conversations.

Strategy for next step: The strategy is to have a well-defined product road map from a technology perspective, continue to develop the capabilities of the platform, and then bring in the right strategic partners to capture the healthcare market using Chirrp.ai.

Mentor’s view: “Chirrp is also very well positioned and in the early stage of utilizing artificial intelligence to improve and streamline processes and customer interaction, specifically within the healthcare industry. Mallesh has a great attitude and is open to ideas and critique and able to executed changes quickly,” said Nathaniel Pool, an angel investor and adviser. “As with any startup, the key to Chirrp’s success will be to solidify their niche, then remain laser-focused.”

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter. Email Nancy at ndahlbergbiz@gmail.com

READ PAST STARTUP SPOTLIGHTS UNDER THE STARTUP SPOTLIGHT CATEGORY OF THIS BLOG.

ChirrpCEOandMaite Nogales

Chirrp Co-Founder & CEO Mallesh Murugesan and Maite Nogales, office manager, stand outside their office in Coral Gables on Nov. 21. Chirrp is a tech company that uses artificial intelligence to create engaging chat conversations. AL DIAZ adiaz@miamiherald.com

January 11, 2018

See who will be presenting at the Florida Venture Capital Conference in Fort Lauderdale

The Florida Venture Forum, Florida’s largest statewide support organization for investors and entrepreneurs, announced  its lineup of growth stage companies that will present and exhibit at the 2018 Florida Venture Capital Conference, to be held at the Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Resort and Spa on January 30-31, 2018. This includes eight companies from South Florida.

In addition to the opportunity to present before an audience of active equity investors, eligible presenting companies will be considered for the Accelerating Innovation (AI) Award offered by Space Florida, a cash prize totaling $100,000.

“Presenting at the Florida Venture Capital Conference has been a game changer for hundreds of Florida companies over the years, offering a unique opportunity to connect directly with more than 500 attendees, including 120+ equity investors actively looking for deals,” said Travis Milks, Chairman of the Selection Committee of the 2018 Florida Venture Capital Conference and a partner with Stonehenge Growth Equity Partners in Tampa. “In 2018, we had a near-record number of applications and we’ve selected a strong cohort of growth stage companies that are leaders in many of the markets and industry segments where investors are most heavily focused.”

The diverse group of presenters, selected from over 100 applicants by a committee of active equity investors, includes companies focused on industries and market segments such as life sciences and healthcare IT, enterprise software, on-demand economy technology solutions, cybersecurity and education technology.

“The growth of Florida’s venture capital market continues to make a lasting impact on the Florida economy and the presenting companies,” said Stanley “Stash” Jacobs, Jr. 2017-2018 Chair of the Florida Venture Forum and shareholder with Greenberg Traurig. “I would like to commend the investors on our selection committee, as well as congratulate the selected companies."

Speakers at the conference include Ryan Cohen, founder and CEO of Chewy and there will be panels on cybersecurity and blockchain as well as the state of the venture capital industry.

Selected presenting companies by region:

Southeast Florida

Catered Fit, (www.cateredfit.com), Fort Lauderdale, leverages technology, a fully integrated set of kitchens and an expansive network of last mile drivers to process, prepare and deliver 5,000 monthly orders as a sustainable lifestyle solution - not a diet. Each member receives perfectly proportioned, gourmet meals that are cooked fresh and delivered daily at an affordable price.

Global Shopex LLC, (www.globalshopex.com), Miami, enables small and medium size merchants in the US to sell to more than 200 countries. Globalshopex’s easy-to-integrate checkout technology is FREE and fast to integrate to any merchant, regardless of its ecommerce platform or technology. In a few hours, any merchant can start selling globally in local currency including shipping, taxes and duties, offering multiple international and local payment options.

Moocho, (www.moocho.com), Miami, is the leading college rewards and payment app. With Moocho, college students can pay with their phone at merchants around campus and earn exclusive rewards.

Prescriber's Choice, (www.prescriberschoice.com), Pompano Beach, is the solution to rising drug prices and vanishing insurance coverage in dermatology. In the last decade, prices for basic medications have skyrocketed, often to hundreds of dollars. Insurance hurdles, such as prior authorization, have killed access and therapy compliance, as insurers deem common medical dermatology conditions "non-essential."

ReloQuest, Inc., (www.reloquest.com), Sunrise, is a single platform sourcing solution initiating the evolution of global mobility in an industry that lacked a unified method. ReloQuest is the industry leader and the only temporary housing platform that provides an independent, unbiased and transparent resource to global mobility clients in need of sourcing temporary housing, service apartments, and hotels, worldwide.

Sensentia, (www.sensentia.com), Coral Gables, automates healthcare administration, unlocking access to information for both consumers and care providers through a new genre of natural-language self-service tools.

7Pets, (www.7petsco.com),  Pembroke Park, manufactures and distributes its unique and increasingly popular Garfield and Hello Kitty cat litters. Developed in-house, 7Pets’ novel formula is highly absorbent and odor-eliminating, fast clumping, all natural and biodegradable, and made solely with plant-based materials sourced out of Brazil. In addition to its trending premium litter, 7Pets has also successfully introduced a mineral-based “economical” formula competing in the mass market.

Tellus, (www.4tellus.com), Deerfield Beach, provides cost effective solutions to improve patient care and reduce fraud, waste and abuse. The company’s EVV solution is SaaS-based and licensed on a monthly basis.

Central/East Central Florida

 ITProTV, (www.itpro.tv ), Gainesville, delivers online IT training that is both comprehensive and entertaining. With a unique format where educators interact with hosts, ITProTV brings a human-to-human approach to the convenience and cost efficiency of eLearning.

RedTeam Software, (www.redteam.com), Orlando, is software as a service for commercial general contractors. The company was started by a general contractor when he could not find a solution to meet his need for project management. RedTeam has doubled in size to 50 people over the past 4 years and is entering its growth phase with very strong corporate partnerships.

Shadow Health, (www.shadowhealth.com), Gainesville, increases the effectiveness of healthcare practitioners by training them through measured improvement in practical application, patient interaction and personal empathy, empowering them to increase the health of those they serve.

Xhale Assurance, Inc. (www.xhale.com), Gainesville, provides from a single disposable sensor placed on the nasal ala (fleshy portion of the nostril) critically needed cardiorespiratory parameters that today require multiple sensors, or that in many cases are not currently available for patients from any other technology.

West Central/Southwest Florida

Homee, (www.homeeondemand.com), Tampa, is an on-demand property maintenance service that provides customers with instant access to electricians, plumbers, HVAC technicians and handymen from the convenience of their smart phones.

Ravti, (www.ravti.com), Tampa, provides a platform to quickly mobilize a complete HVAC inventory (in the United States) along with the world's largest organized HVAC database to drive capital savings for commercial real estate's largest M&R (maintenance and repair) expense. The company’s software tracks, manages, and procures HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) for sophisticated commercial real estate owners/operators.

SynDaver, (www.syndaver.com), Tampa, designs and builds the world’s most sophisticated synthetic human tissues and body parts. The company’s SynDaver Synthetic Human bleeds, breathes, and employs hundreds of replaceable muscles, bones, organs, veins and arteries – all made from materials that mimic the mechanical, thermal, and physicochemical properties of live tissue. This validated technology is used to replace live animals, cadavers and even human patients in medical device studies, clinical training and surgical simulation.

North Florida

HomeASAP LLC, (www.homeasap.com ), Jacksonville, is the leading provider of online marketing solutions for real estate professionals. The company offers a broad portfolio of integrated applications and services that help connect agents and brokers with home buyers, sellers and referral business, with an emphasis on Facebook.

LegacyShield, LLC, (www.legacyshield.com), Ponte Vedra Beach, is a B2B2C platform to help insurance and financial service organizations and their advisors onboard, engage and monetize their customers.

Rhode Island 

eNow, Inc., (www.enowwnergy.com), Rhode Island, is the leader in solar-based auxiliary power systems built exclusively for the transportation industry. The company’s proprietary solar products are designed to support and maintain auxiliary power to vehicle HVAC systems, hotel loads, liftgates, telematics, refrigeration units, and safety/emergency lighting.

 Exhibiting Companies:

Fortress Information Security, (www.fortressinfosec.com), Orlando, helps companies and people identify, prioritize, remediate, and monitor cybersecurity risks. Using flexible security orchestration and collaboration platform and managed services, the company focuses on providing custom solutions designed around clients’ regulatory, compliance and security goals.

 Vijilan Security LLC, (www.vijilan.com),  Ft. Lauderdale, specializes in threat intelligence monitoring and response, which represents 50% of the Cyber Security Market. The company’s services include threat detection and response in real time. It combines threat intelligence and correlation rules with a robust ticketing system that integrates with most CRM tools in the market (Connectwise, Autotask…) and provides monitoring through its 24/7 Security Operations Center in Ft. Lauderdale.

-Submitted by Florida Venture Forum

Magic Leap once again lifts Florida venture capital results

Magic Leap led 2017 and fourth-quarter venture capital financing in Florida with its previously reported  financing round of $502 million, according to the quarterly MoneyTree Report released Wednesday by PricewaterhouseCoopers and CB Insights.

Magic Leap’s investment round was led by Singapore’s Temasek Holding. The Plantation-based mixed reality technology company, which has raised $1.9 billion in total, made news this month when it announced its first product, the wearable Magic Leap One, Creator's Edition, would be released to developers.

According to MoneyTree, the Sunshine State snagged 88 venture deals worth $2.14 billion in 2017, up from 87 deals worth $1.24 billion in 2016.

Other South Florida companies raising venture capital in the fourth quarter, according to MoneyTree:

* CarSaver of Miami, provider of online car deals, $30 million;

* Vix, formerly Batanga Media, of Coral Gables, a marketing company, $6 million;

* Home61, an online real estate brokerage based in Miami, $4 million;

* SpringBIG of Boca Raton, a customer loyalty and marketing platform for cannabis retailers, $3.2 million.

In addition to Magic Leap, top South Florida fund-raises for the year included Boca Raton-based health-tech company Modernizing Medicine, which raised $231 million in the second quarter, and F1 Oncology in West Palm Beach, a biotech company that raised $37 million in the first quarter.

Nationwide, venture-backed companies saw $71.9 billion invested in 2017 across 5,052 deals. San Francisco-based Lyft received $1 billion during the fourth quarter, the fourth quarter’s largest investment tracked by MoneyTree. Magic Leap’s investment was second.

READ MORE HERE

December 29, 2017

SpringBIG, a Boca Raton-based tech startup serving the cannabis industry, raises $3.2 million

SpringBIG, a Boca Raton-based startup serving the cannabis industry, announced this month that is has raised $3.2 million in capital. The round was led by Green Acre Capital and HALLEY Venture Partners, with participation from members of The Arcview Group and other investors, and it brings the startup’s total amount raised to $6.3 million.

SpringBIG is a customer engagement and marketing platform for cannabis dispensaries and brands.  Its data-driven approach includes loyalty and rewards, personalized messaging and analytics and its customers are cannabis stores in California, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan and Washington state.

Springbig-Jeff-HarrisSpringBIG said the funding will be used for product development, for new hires in technology development, product management, sales and support, finance and analytics and for national expansion. “Over the past year, we have established ourselves as a leader in the customer loyalty space, by integrating with over 300 cannabis retailers and providing SMS, loyalty marketing, and other tools to encourage repeat business for their locations. We look forward to continued growth as we help cannabis retailers build, retain, and grow their customer base with our world-class technology,” said Jeffrey Harris, founder and CEO of springBIG, in a press release.

Harris told the Palm Beach Post that springBIG first focused on selling its services to mom-and-pop pizzerias, yogurt shops and nail salons, but saw that cannabis dispensaries that had signed up for springBIG’s platform were far more lucrative than other types of merchants.

SpringBIG also won a $50,000 grand prize after Harris pitched at an investor conference in Palm Beach hosted by The Arcview Group in September.

 READ MORE ABOUT CANNABIS STARTUPS IN SOUTH FLORIDA

December 22, 2017

Streann Media’s bold bet: ‘We are here to rescue the broadcast industry’

BM STREANN MEDIA0010 JAI

 

Startup Spotlight: Streann Media of Miami seeks to reinvent digital content for media customers and brands through distribution, engagement and monetization.

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlbergbiz@gmail.com

Company Name: Streann Media

Headquarters: Miami

Concept: Reinventing digital content for media customers and brands through distribution, engagement and monetization.

Story: The beginnings of Streann Media trace back six years, when the paths of Giovanni Punzo and Antonio Calderón crossed during their roles with disruptive technology provider LiveU. Around this time, Netflix’s new media content business model was just emerging, and the pair of innovators discovered firsthand the struggles that other content providers were having making the shift to digital and then to streaming content. Knowing that these other providers would soon be forced to follow the Netflix model to save their businesses, they sought a new solution — and Streann Media was the result.

 “We are here to rescue the broadcast industry,” said Calderón, Streann’s chief technology officer. “Thanks to our technology, our customers are building next-generation digital networks, their own version of Facebook, Netflix, YouTube, etc. With our technology, our customers are finally really engaging with end users and most importantly they are monetizing in digital,” added Punzo, CEO.

How does a TV station or radio station make money? Selling advertising. While traditional advertising spending is down and it’s boring; digital ad spending is up and should be more engaging, said the co-founders, who previously worked in the broadcast industry. “We built a digital advertising technology that can increase digital ads revenue times 10 in live video, audio and video on demand. Our customers create campaigns like Facebook Ads Manager but the ads are in their own digital networks. Content providers are in control and they monetize,” Punzo said.

Game shows and contests are ways a radio or TV station can engage their audiences. So Streann created a new feature in the platform for content providers to create contests on mobile with cash rewards, such as video Selfie-Ads.

“Already customers like TCS Digital in Central America, Actualidad Radio in Florida, Cariflix in the Caribbean, Iriejam in New York and Puravida in Costa Rica are using our new inventions and engaging with their customers,” said Punzo. “The results have been great — new user generated content, real testimonials, real storytelling.”

Streann’s technologies touches millions of people with more than 160 digital entertainment networks deployed for Web, iOS, Android, Roku, AppleTV, Virtual Reality, streaming in 141 countries, Punzo and Calderón said.

“Streann looks at the future of television like no one else is. Its user experience and monetization platforms make companies take a huge leap in technology. They are at the forefront constantly and have a personalized and exceptional relationship with each client,” said Raúl Domínguez, digital and new business director of TCS Digital.

Founded: 2014

Website: www.streann.com

Management team: Giovanni Punzo, CEO and co-founder; Antonio Calderón, chief technology officer and co-founder.

No. of employees: 15

Financing: The company has received investment from Tamiami Angels and Florida Angel Nexus investors.

Recent milestones: Launched Inside-Ads in Q3 2017 and Selfie-Ads user-generated content in November 2017. The Selfie-Ads product attracted regional brands such as Nestle, KFC, Subway, Pizza Hut and Diana. Streann recently launched Vlixers, an influencer platform for its customer TCS-Digital. It’s a unique platform designed for millennials with original content created by millennials available on Web, iOS and Android. The company won at the Early Stage Capital Conference in 2016 and was a finalist in eMerge Americas Startup Showcase.

Biggest startup challenge: Educating content providers to make the digital switch utilizing Streann technologies.

Next step: Launching new engagement and monetization features by NAB 2018, a broadcasting trade show in April. “The soccer World Cup in 2018 will help us grow even more as many of our customers will transmit World Cup content through our platform,” Calderón said.

Advisor’s view: Eric Giler, a Boston-based serial entrepreneur and on the board of Streann, said he worked with Punzo at his previous company, and admires his vision and energy level. “Gio’s partner and co-founder Antonio Calderón is a superb technical complement to Gio’s market and business sense,” Giler said.

“A laser-like focus on the Latin American market has been key to Streann’s early success. No other company is approaching the market like Streann. The challenge will be scaling the business as they continue to expand. Building out the team and attracting capital will be important as they continue to grow.”

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter. Email ndahlbergbiz@gmail.com

 

Pictured above: Antonio Calderón, CTO, at left, and Giovanni Punzo, CEO, co-founders of Streann Media, in their office in Doral. Jose A. Iglesias jiglesias@elnuevoherald.com

December 20, 2017

Magic Leap reveals its first product: Magic Leap One, Creator Edition

Magicleap1 (1)

By Nancy Dahlberg and Jane Wooldridge

South Florida’s secretive virtual reality wunderkind has finally revealed its long-anticipated technology — sort of.

On Wednesday, Broward-based Magic Leap unveiled Magic Leap One, a mixed-reality headset that allows wearers to see and interact with people and objects that aren’t in the room with them — but will appear as if they were. Unlike current virtual reality headsets that replace the experience of the physical setting, Magic Leap’s technology allows for experiences within the existing physical setting.

The version released Wednesday includes goggle-like headgear, called Lightwear, hooked to a pocket-sized Lightpack computer. It is aimed at digital creators “who could change how we experience the world,” according to the company’s website — to create interactive shopping, games and lifelike meet-ups between people in different physical spaces. (Think Star Trek’s hologram room, and you’re heading toward the right galaxy.) The technology simulates 3-D images superimposed on the real world by projecting patterns of light to the eye.

According to the company’s digital release, the technology will ship in 2018, when the company led by local entrepreneur Rony Abovitz will also reveal a “Creator’s Portal.”

READ THE FULL STORY IN THE MIAMI HERALD HERE.