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 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   

World's largest nonprofit devoted to drones launches chapter in Miami

AUVSI Miami Email Signature LogoAUVSI, devoted exclusively to advancing the unmanned and robotics community, will hold local kickoff event Aug. 14 for Miami chapter.

Highlighting the proliferation of South Florida’s flourishing tech scene, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) is launching a new Miami Satellite Chapter focused on showcasing drones, robotics, and other unmanned systems throughout South Florida.

“Miami is quickly emerging as the innovation epicenter for Florida, Latin America, and the Caribbean,” said Brian Wynne, president and CEO of AUVSI.  “We are excited to join the South Florida community as drones, unmanned vehicles, and other autonomous systems spearhead the next great technology revolution.”

The Miami Satellite Chapter, a subsidiary of AUVSI’s Florida Peninsula Chapter, will focus on building awareness and dialogue among South Florida’s defense, civil, commercial, academic, and government sectors.

“Our expansion into South Florida will allow AUVSI to establish direct communication with key stakeholders at the local level,” said Brent Klavon, president of AUVSI’s Florida Peninsula Chapter and a member of AUVSI’s board of directors. “We expect to replicate this model in other parts of Florida in the very near future.”

Christopher Todd Director AUVSI Miami Chapter -South FloridaAUVSI has tapped local unmanned systems entrepreneur Christopher Todd to spearhead the launch of the new Miami Satellite Chapter.  Todd, who will serve as the interim chapter director, will look to capitalize upon the momentum already building throughout South Florida’s emerging technology corridor spanning throughout Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties.

“We are on the cusp of witnessing a total evolution in air-, land-, and sea-based autonomous systems,” according to Todd. “South Florida is uniquely positioned to play a key role in this transformation for a major portion of the Western Hemisphere.  This is a journey we are extremely excited about.”

The AUVSI Miami Satellite Chapter kickoff event is scheduled for Monday, Aug.14 starting at 6:00 p.m. at the 94th Aero Squadron restaurant, located next to Miami International Airport.  All persons interested in unmanned systems and technology are welcome to attend.  For more information and to RSVP, visit kickoff.auvsimiami.org

- Submitted by AUVSI

 

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

 

Argentina to Miami, a bridge worth building (Part 7)

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A Q&A with Alejandro Mainetto, Partner of Globant, a multinational company that creates innovative software products for brands, about Globant's footprint in Miami, collaboration and making Miami a living tech lab.

By Natalia Martinez-Kalinina

Miami has a ways to go before we can truly claim the title of regional epicenter, but Argentina has long been recognized as one of the primary entrepreneurial - albeit not particularly stable - ecosystems in Latin America. Figuring out how to support Argentina’s wave of growth and appetite for engagement represents a unique opportunity to add value to the region and truly deliver on our vision as a gateway.

As a first step to test these waters, a group of us came together last year  to co-author a full day of programming within StartupWeekBuenosAires - the largest event of its kind in Latin America-  specifically focused on how to engage with the U.S. ecosystem and market by way of Miami. From the CIC Miami perspective, we have been working to build tangible bridges with Argentina though a handful of partnerships that will be announced in the next few months, in addition to our general softlanding offering. But most recently, a few interested entrepreneurs have come together with the support of the Argentine Consulate in Miami to create a better toolkit for entrepreneurs and small companies looking to come to Miami from their native country. We are still finalizing the framework, but anyone interested in participating or learning more can email EmprendedoresArgMia@gmail.com

Glonbant_0888Given the aligned priorities and interests, it seemed worthwhile to continue featuring  interviews with a varied range of Argentine entrepreneurs and companies making their way to Miami. The first installments of this series have featured interviews with Balloon Group, Wolox, La Comunidad, and Oasis, Juana de Arco, and Socialmetrix. For this installment, we spoke with Alejandro Mainetto (pictured here) to shine a light on a major regional player, Globant, where he is a Partner.

Globant is a powerhouse of a company in Argentina and the region. What was the genesis story for the company? What has been the trajectory of growth these last years?

Globant's history began in 2003, when four friends got together with the idea of creating an multinational company that could provide innovative IT services to brands across the world, while offering challenging career opportunities for IT professionals and talent. In just 12 years they built a company that today has more than 6,000 professionals working for companies like Google, LinkedIn, JWT, EA and Coca Cola, among others. Globant’s story has also been selected as a case study at MIT and Stanford.

What’s next - how do you see the company’s future growth and development?

Globant continues being focused in becoming a global digital thought leader, in creating software that appeals and connects emotionally with millions of consumers. We seek to deliver the optimal blend of engineering, design, and innovation to harness the potential of emerging technologies for our clients. While engineering is central to information technology, only by combining strong engineering capabilities with creativity and agility can we deliver innovative solutions that enhance end-user experiences while meeting our clients’ business needs.

We take a dive into our customers industry, culture, challenges and goals in order to understand their business. The harmonious integration future trends and existing IT, infrastructure, services and applications is a critical enabler of any Digital Transformation process.

The US is currently a big focus of expansion - Globant has recently made four acquisitions in the US in a very short period of time and we continue to increase the number of people we hire in key markets for us such as Seattle, Dallas, Raleigh, Orlando and also Miami. Finally, Globant will also expand and grow by continuing to invest in key emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Virtual Reality and Blockchain among others. In order to fuel this growth we strive to find the best talent possible - hopefully we'll find that talent coming from places such as South Florida and in particular Miami.

What is Globant’s footprint/engagement with Miami? Why did it choose to come here?

Globant has had a presence in Miami for the last 8 years working with several of the most important corporations in the city and the state of Florida. We are a global leader in advising clients in the travel and hospitality, financial services and healthcare industries - all big industries in Miami - We are currently working with many of the largest leaders in cruise lines, hospitality, entertainment, and software. However, the potential is still very large in terms of the number of companies that we could be helping in the South Florida area. We need to do a better job in getting the Globant brand and our capabilities recognized in the Miami market. We came to Miami because we believed in the city, the clients we could serve, its growing talent and specially its potential and what Miami could become one day.


What kinds of opportunities were you looking for here? What aspects or risks worried you? How have those played out over your time in Miami?

We were looking for opportunities to help companies become true transformational leaders in their own industries, we were looking to gain a presence in a city that could quickly become a tech hub within the US and the tech hub for Latin America, and finally we were also looking to establish a presence in a State which traditionally has been very pro business and easy to do business with.

How do you see Miami today? What works, what surprises you, what frustrates you? How have you found your industry reflected here?

It's a different Miami than the one from 5 years ago. A lot has happened and a lot more will continue to happen. - Places like co-working spaces came, innovation districts like CIC came, conference events like Emerge Americas came, accelerators and incubators came, powerful startups such as Magic Leap came, the money came but most importantly the talent came and the talent stayed.

Miami works because it's like putting together NYC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro all in one. Its weather, its lifestyle, its location - all major pluses, it's a good kept secret, but not for long. What surprises me, is that it still hasn't been able to attract bigger Fortune 500 companies and it hasn't built a new top technology and engineering education institution. The tech, creative and marketing industry which today has converged into a Digital Industry is not yet well represented, which is a huge opportunity for those who are smart enough to settle and lay roots in Miami - The city, the county and the state need to collectively join forces to attract more digital companies, more tech universities and more digital jobs.

What can Miami do better to become a truly value-adding “hub” for the region? (in your industry and in general)

I have written extensively about this and it goes back to five key points:

1) Need for a true coalition of government, corporate, vc, startups, academia and the community led by a set of progressive leaders

2) Need for development of innovation districts and the need for creating concentrated hubs/tech parks of technology and digital companies

3) Build a world class public transportation system and build somewhat affordable housing around these innovation districts

4) Make Miami a Living Tech Lab - Become the Smart City Poster Child, become the Autonomous Self-Driving Capital of the World, etc.

5) Become obsessed about marketing the Miami Tech brand, its value proposition and reward those who take a bet in Miami.

How has it worked to have your company straddling Miami and Buenos Aires (and the US and Latin America overall)? Any lessons or advice for companies exploring similar moves?

It's has worked very well - There is a natural magnetic connection between Latam and Miami - Miami is both aspirational and inspirational. While our company is a global company, we find it hard for anyone to say no when we ask them to come work and spend some time in Miami. However, the key is in committing, betting and investing on it.

The advice I would give companies or entrepreneurs is to commit to Miami, leverage its virtues when hiring talent and finally get deeply involved in the transformation of the city.

Organizations like Endeavor have talked at length about the “Argentine Model,” but Argentina is also a country that has lived through rocky political and economic cycles. Is there something Miami can learn from the Argentine case study?

Miami can learn from Buenos Aires and many other cities in Latin America - From Buenos Aires you can learn about tenacity and hard work, about staying the course even when things may not be going right or you may be living under a not so ideal environment. It can also learn about the perseverance, vision and risk taking ability of the unicorns that Buenos Aires has produced - Globant being one of those. Miami can learn that "Si se Puede" - It's Possible.     

Do you see potential for collaboration and bridge-building between the entrepreneurial ecosystem and the creative economies in Buenos Aires and Miami? Why or why not?

Absolutely - I think, there are ways to formalize the informal collaboration and bridge-building that has been established already but much more can be done. Miami can make Buenos Aires a sister city and offer an immediate presence here to all key Argentinian technology firms. Miami could become the epitome of how easy it can be to do business in the US.  Miami companies should have the ability to penetrate Latin America by easily establishing their Latam HQ's in Buenos Aires. Co-working spaces and innovation districts have an opportunity to collaborate and forge exchange partnerships. The sky is the limit.


Natalia Martinez-Kalinina is the General Manager of CIC Miami and the Founder of Awesome Foundation MIAMI, and co-Founder of Aminta Ventures. If you are an Argentine company looking to expand to Miami or a Miami-based entrepreneur/investor looking to connect with the argentine ecosystem, please reach out to Natalia at martinez@cic.us. Past installments of this series can be found here: Balloon Group, Wolox, La Comunidad, and Oasis, Juana de Arco, and Socialmetrix.

Globant4

July 27, 2017

Modernizing Medicine to add 838 jobs, double office space

Health-tech company Modernizing Medicine announced on Thursday that it will be expanding, creating more than 800 new jobs and doubling its office space in Boca Raton.

Modernizing Medicine currently employs about 550 people and is generating $100 million in revenues annually, making it one of South Florida’s largest and fastest-growing tech companies. “There are not many companies growing as fast as Modernizing Medicine — in the world,” said Gov. Rick Scott, who was on hand for the announcement in Boca Raton.

Modernizing Medicine will receive $6 million in state, county and city incentives for creating the jobs by 2022, according to the Sun Sentinel. The 838 new, mostly software positions will have an average salary of $65,000 a year. In exchange, Modernizing Medicine will make a $15 million investment in the region.

To handle its growth, Modernizing Medicine is leasing 50,000 square feet at Boca Raton Innovation Campus, former home of IBM, to add to its similarly sized headquarters space at the FAU Research Park and an office in Weston. In May, Modernizing Medicine announced it had received a $231 million investment from private equity firm Warburg Pincus. “If there was any doubt that you could found and scale a company in South Florida, hopefully those doubts are now erased,” CEO Dan Cane said at the time.

Founded in 2010 by Cane and Dr. Michael Sherling, Modernizing Medicine has been one of the recent tech success stories in South Florida. Cane, a serial entrepreneur who earlier in his career co-founded and exited education-tech company Blackboard, met Sherling, his future co-founder, in the doctor’s office. Modernizing Medicine’s flagship product is EMA, which is a mobile, cloud-based, specialty-specific electronic health record system now used by more than 10,000 providers at thousands of specialty practices nationwide, and the company now offers a full suite of products and services including practice management, revenue cycle management, telehealth for dermatology and analytics.

July 18, 2017

Matt Haggman resigns as Knight's Miami program director

Haggman

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

After five years largely spearheading a movement in Miami to develop an entrepreneurship hub, Matt Haggman, Knight Foundation program director for Miami, has resigned, the foundation said on Tuesday.

Chris Caines, who has served as Haggman’s associate since January 2016, will assume responsibilities as Knight interim program director for Miami, the foundation said. The resignation is effective Friday.

“It has been the best job I have ever had in my life,” Haggman said on Tuesday. “The opportunity to work with amazing entrepreneurs, amazing innovators, to re-imagine how Miami could evolve into a center for innovation and play a role in building all of that has been the greatest privilege of my life. And that work for me will continue but that will continue in different ways.”

Haggman has been rumored to be considering running for U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s District 27 seat that will be up for grabs in November 2018. Tuesday, he would not talk about what’s next for him; all he would say is “stay tuned.”

Since Haggman joined Knight in 2011 and launched entrepreneurship funding in 2012, Knight has invested more than $28 million in supporting high-growth entrepreneurship in Miami and South Florida. Knight pledged its continued support to the entrepreneurship focus.

“We intend to continue this important work and to generate a more connected, better supported community of entrepreneurs. Our goal continues to be to make Miami a hub of ideas and innovation,” said Sam Gill, Knight Foundation VP/Communities and Impact in a note sent to supporters. 

“Chris has been working closely with Matt, our grantees and partners. He embodies Knight Foundation’s commitment to informed and engaged communities and will continue the work seamlessly,” he said in the note. “Matt leaves Knight with our profound gratitude for his leadership and efforts.”

After about six months of fact-finding, Haggman and Knight laid out a strategy and launched the Miami office’s focus on accelerating tech and entrepreneurship in mid-2012. Soon after Knight  made the foundation’s first investments to organizations that supported entrepreneurship, including a founding grant to The LAB Miami, one of the area’s first entrepreneurial co-working spaces. In October, Knight followed with a $1.25 million investment to launch venture-building and corporate innovation programs within The LAB.

“By leading Knight Foundation's efforts to support entrepreneurship, Matt has been the cornerstone of a renaissance in Miami tech,” said Thomas “Tigre” Wenrich, CEO of The LAB. “While we are still only in the early innings, we would not have the dynamic ecosystem we have today without Matt’s tireless work over the past five years. We will miss Matt’s presence on the board of The LAB, but we are excited to support him as he enters a new phase in his career.” 

Since the founding investment in the LAB, Knight has made grants or investments ranging from about $20,000 to more than $2 million to over 200 organizations, events and projects, from funding the weekly Waffle Wednesday gatherings in Wynwood to supporting a number of education programs, startup accelerators and coding school scholarships to funding the relaunch of Accelerated Growth Partners, an angel investing network.

Some of the larger investments over the years include: $2 million committed to bring Endeavor, a global organization that supports high-growth entrepreneurship, to Miami in 2013 for its first U.S. chapter; $2.18 million in 2014 to help launch the Miami Dade College Idea Center, a campus-wide entrepreneurship program; $1.25 million announced in 2014 to help bring LaunchCode, a tech apprentice program, to Miami; $1.5 million for eMerge Americas, a homegrown technology conference, as it headed into its second year in 2015; $2 million to bring Startupbootcamp to Miami, an accelerator for digital health that launched in 2016; and in February, $1.2 million in new support for Code Fever’s signature event Blacktech Week. Knight’s funding was also instrumental for the Miami launch of Babson WIN Lab, an accelerator for women-led companies, last year.

Laura Maydón, managing director of Endeavor Miami, said: “It was thanks to Matt Haggman’s leadership through Knight Foundation’s support that Endeavor Global considered launching its first U.S. affiliate. He has been a pioneer in Miami and has spearheaded the entrepreneurial movement by bringing many proven entrepreneurial organizations to Miami through Knight Foundation’s contributions. I consider Knight Foundation a key partner and contributor to our success.”

Before joining Knight, Haggman, who has a law degree, worked at the Miami Herald as a business reporter covering real estate and then metro reporter covering politics and won several awards for investigative reporting, and during that period also got to know Alberto Ibargüen, Knight’s CEO who previously was Miami Herald publisher. Before that, he worked at the Daily Business Review. 

Haggman was past co-chair of Miami-Dade Beacon Council’s One Community One Goal, Miami-Dade County economic development initiative. Haggman serves on the boards of Endeavor Miami, New World Symphony, The Underline and The LAB Miami. He is a longtime volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Miami.

Singularity U's Salim Ismail to be honoree, speaker at Endeavor Miami Gala. Here's what he's been up to in Miami.

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Go big.

That’s the advice an expert on exponential technologies has for the startup ecosystem in Miami.

IsmailSalim Ismail is the founding executive director and now the global ambassador for Silicon Valley’s Singularity University and a board member of XPRIZE, well-known organizations that inspire, educate and fund people and projects trying to solve world-changing problems through technology.

“In Silicon Valley, people think on a global scale. In many other parts of the world, Miami included, people are trying to build a niche product or feature,” said Ismail, the author of “Exponential Organizations.”

Yet Ismail, now a Miami area resident, also said Miami has passion that you don’t find everywhere. “When you can align the natural passion of the residents here with a very big purpose or outcome, there is literally no limit as to what could happen.”

Ismail is being honored with Endeavor Miami’s Impact Award at its fourth annual benefit gala, which will be held Oct. 21 at the Faena Forum in Miami Beach, Endeavor Miami announced. During an address to gala attendees, Ismail will share his vision for entrepreneurship and what emerging technology trends mean for the future. Endeavor Miami is an arm of the global organization that selects, mentors and accelerates high-impact entrepreneurs around the world.

“We choose honorees each year that reflect the characteristics we believe will inspire our entrepreneurs and exemplify the progressive mindset that Endeavor selects in its companies,” said Laura Maydón, managing director of Endeavor Miami. “Salim is a visionary leader whose accomplishments are shaping the future of entrepreneurship and technology.”

Of particular local interest, Ismail is also the co-founder of Fastrack Institute, along with South Floridians Rodrigo Arboleda, an architect who co-founded the global nonprofit One Laptop Per Child and CEO of Fastrack, and Dr. Maurice Ferré, co-founder of Mako Surgical and now is running Insightec and other healthcare-technology ventures. Fastrack, a one-year-old nonprofit developing in Miami, plans to partner with cities that then become launching pads to rapidly build companies that can solve critical urban problems – such as mobility or access to quality healthcare or education, for example – in those cities and then scale those technologies globally.

Because Fastrack teams work through legal, regulatory and safety issues with cities as they are building the companies, “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,” said Ismail, in an interview this week. “What we want to do is make Miami the capital for this kind of thinking ... what an ideal city should look like.”

Fastrack, which counts University of Miami’s Center For Computational Science as a partner, has been running pilot programs in Medellín, Colombia, and now about 20 cities around the world are interested in becoming Fastrack cities, including Miami, he said. One Fastrack problem could be traffic, he said. “Think about it. If we can solve it in Miami then that becomes an export industry that applies to every city in the world.”

Exponential companies, however they are built, need to be information-based because that scales, said Ismail, who also helps established companies quickly incorporate an exponential mindset through his company ExO Works. “Airbnb’s information is enabling people’s extra bedrooms. Ride-sharing is creating more of a liquid workforce,” he explained. Just as importantly, he said, exponential companies also need to have a massive transformative purpose. “It’s not enough to have a great product – it needs to effect meaningful change in the world.”

Ismail believes solar energy will be one of the world’s most powerful exponential technologies.

“Energy has been scarce for the whole of the history of humanity. It is about to become abundant in the next five to seven years and that will radically change the global geopolitics of it,” he said. “The Middle East will be essentially rendered mostly worthless. In Canada, the Keystone Pipeline will be irrelevant before it is even built. The poorest companies in the world are also the sunniest countries in the world; solar will really change the global equation.”

And there are other exponential technologies, including autonomous cars, drones and artificial intelligence, he said. Bitcoin and blockchain-based technology will radically change government services and public services even more so than the private financial sector, he said. Biotech technologies give people the power to edit the human genome, allowing the human body to become a software engineering problem.

Ismail, who was an executive at Yahoo and started companies before joining Singularity in 2008, moved to Miami in 2014 and has led or spoken at several events, including most recently eMerge Americas. “I love it. I am an avid tennis player and I am from India originally so I am like a lizard on the rocks – I love the humidity. I travel a lot and the airport is one of the best connected airports in the world.”

He also loves the natural diversity of the region – the ethnic makeup, the arts, the mix of industries, he 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.” And it has the power to attract: “It’s fascinating to see the talent that is now arriving in Miami, it really is.”

Calling himself a massive technology optimist, Ismail sees climate change as South Florida’s biggest urban challenge. “Miami has an opportunity to act as a world leader because it is going to be first affected. Whatever solutions come out of here, it will apply to about 60 percent of the global population.”

He calls Endeavor one of the most important and interesting initiatives to ever get created in entrepreneurship.

Endeavor Miami is the first U.S. affiliate of Endeavor Global. Since Endeavor Miami’s 2013 launch, 15 South Florida companies and 24 entrepreneurs have become part of Endeavor’s global network of business leaders, mentors and investors.

Previous IMPACT award recipients include Jessica Goldman Srebnick, CEO of Goldman Properties; Jim McKelvey, co-founder of Square and founder of LaunchCode; and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, co-founder of Gilt and GLAMSQUAD.

The 2017 Endeavor Miami Gala will be held Oct. 21 from 7:30 p.m. to midnight at the Faena Forum. Proceeds from the event directly support Endeavor Miami’s mission. Find more information about the gala here.

Nancy Dahlberg: @ndahlberg

July 16, 2017

Startup Spotlight: Voyhoy

Voyhoy1

From left: Ignacio Vial, Mateus Rocha, Jake Moskowitz (seated) CEO, Juan Arredondo, and Roger Robinson at the offices of Voyhoy on June 22. Voyhoy, which recently won the big prize at eMerge Americas, has a travel app where people can buy tickets for Latin American travel on bus, flight, ferry and train — sometimes all in the same trip in one place online. Roberto Kolton/Miami Herald.

 

Company name: Voyhoy

Headquarters: Miami, with operations office in Santiago, Chile.

Concept: Voyhoy is a multimodal travel platform in Latin America, helping people compare and buy tickets on buses, planes, ferries and trains. The startup focuses on the most affordable tickets for the most price-sensitive travelers in the region.

Story: Despite diverse backgrounds, Voyhoy co-founders Jake Moskowitz, Roger Robinson and Ignacio Vial can thank coincidence and Santiago’s tightly-knit expat community for bringing them together. To affordably book trips for his clients at his former tourism company while working in Chile, Moskowitz, from Atlanta, would visit multiple bus terminals with wads of cash and sit in line for hours to buy seats on passenger buses rather than pay for an expensive charter bus. For personal travel, he and Robinson, an expat from Washington, D.C., struggled to find transportation information online and constantly encountered problems with disorganized ticket offices.

Jake Moskowitz, CEO of Voyhoy, at the company offices in Miami.

Roberto Koltun rkoltun@miamiherald.com

They found that travelers in Latin America are faced with ever-increasing options to get from point A to point B. But limited connectivity and route coverage, disproportionate trip prices, and a lack of transparent information, the best route is rarely apparent. Also, most travel sites that cater to Latin America only sell flights — the most expensive mode of transportation — whereas most travelers prefer more affordable options like buses and low-cost airlines, most of which are not even listed on travel sites in the region. This fragmentation forced travelers to buy their tickets in person or on the individual sites of each operator without comparing multiple companies at once.

The co-founders, including Vial, a Chilean native, created a free version of Voyhoy as a proof of concept. “After traffic grew quickly and more and more travelers were using Voyhoy to find the best trip, we decided to make this our lives’ mission,” Moskowitz said.

Voyhoy received initial funding from local Chilean investors to hire developers and build a monetized version of Voyhoy: “We then simply followed the demand, partnering with the companies that offered the routes with the highest search volumes in Voyhoy. Each time we added a new company, our revenue increased.” Voyhoy was then accepted into a highly competitive Techstars accelerator program focused on mobility.

As it was Santiago’s community that brought the team together, it was a leader in Miami’s tech community that brought the startup to Miami. “A charismatic” Kairos CEO Brian Brackeen met the co-founders by chance at a pitch event in Detroit and immediately began to pitch them on relocating to Miami. A subsequent 30-minute call with Brackeen turned into two hours; Brackeen made introductions; and soon, they were flying down for a tour by Brackeen and meetings with tech community leadors and entrepreneurs. The Voyhoy team relocated in January, believing Miami to be the ideal location for an international headquarters for its growing customer base in Latin America.

“I’m glad they chose Miami as their headquarters after TechStars. The entrepreneurs have a lot of passion, are hard workers and are good listeners,” said mentor Laura Maydon, managing director of Endeavor Miami. “Importantly, they are solving an important problem.”

Today, travelers can use Voyhoy to buy tickets from over 1,000 providers across transport modes for over 100,000 routes in Chile, Argentina, Peru, Brazil and Colombia, with other markets on the way. For transport operators, Voyhoy increases their ticket sales by modernizing their technology capabilities and diversifying their passenger base.

Voyhoy also helps some partners increase their ticket inventory by combining their existing trips with other providers to sell interlined tickets to new destinations both on Voyhoy.com and on their own sites.

“We realized that providing a simple tool to find the best tickets wasn’t enough,” Moskowitz said. “We developed virtual interlining technology that allows travelers to buy multiple travel legs in single transactional tickets. We call them smart tickets. (Bus + flight, train + ferry, etc.). Our smart tickets help travelers find new ways to get to their destinations, save money against overpriced direct options, and save time for inefficient overland journeys.”

Launched: September 2015

Website: voyhoy.com

Management team: Jake Moskowitz, CEO; Roger Robinson, CTO; Ignacio Vial, COO; Mateus Rocha, marketing director; Juan Arredondo, project manager.

No. of employees: 16

Financing: $500,00 pre-seed from angel investors, Techstars and CORFO (Chilean government); undisclosed seed round from Fontinalis Partners, 1776, Outbound Ventures and Autonebula. Currently look to raise additional $500,000.

Recent milestones: Finalized partnership agreements and technical integrations to launch Voyhoy in four new markets. Recently relocated headquarters to Miami. After closing a round of funding, made strategic hires in Miami and in Chile. In June, won the eMerge Americas Startup Showcase, taking home $100,000 in prizes.

Biggest startup challenge: “Our biggest challenge is trying to accomplish too much too quickly and the opportunity cost that comes with being forced to prioritize one thing over another,” Moskowitz said.

Next step: Implementing marketing campaigns across all Voyhoy’s markets, releasing smart tickets for the routes with the largest price discrepancies or most limited trip options, and providing a more personalized and targeted customer experience. “We’re also developing new technologies, making new hires, and signing new strategic partners to diversify our product, add more tickets, and open up new revenue channels,” Moskowitz said. “We’re currently hiring a full-stack developer and a commercial director.”

Investor’s view: “Voyhoy has done a great job of quickly establishing numerous partnerships, which signals to us that its approach is validated by others in the market,” said investor and advisor Christopher T. Stallman, partner of Fontinalis. “Each market has its own nuances — both opportunities and challenges — and it’s important that they execute well in each country they operate within. As we’ve advised the company, this means leaning on in-country experts, whether they’re advisors or strategic partners, and growing deliberately and effectively versus quick but haphazardly.”

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg

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