November 29, 2017

As Argentina's entrepreneurial community grows, it looks to Miami as nexus point

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By Natalia Martinez-Kalinina 

Natalia martinez (1)Argentina’s entrepreneurial, tech, and research sectors are on a remarkable upswing, and Buenos Aires is looking toward Miami as the first community to bridge the gap between the US and LatAm startup ecosystems and serve as a gateway for tangible collaboration. How Miami steps up to play the role of a connector, anchor, support system, and co-creator will arguably be a powerful test of our ability to evolve into a true regional point of convergence around innovation.

“Buenos Aires is strategically positioning itself to become a major global entrepreneurial hub. Human capital is one of Argentina’s most valuable resources, and with various government programs launching, it is only a matter of time before the city is recognized as the innovation epicenter it has become,” says Lisa Besserman, the founder of Startup Buenos Aires who now works with the city on startup initiatives.

“Working closely with US cities like Miami will help bridge the gap between our nations, allowing us to create a more globalized startup ecosystem. Miami has always been regarded as the gateway to the Americas, so working with the city to create targeted soft landing programs and investment strategies creates opportunities for many global entrepreneurs,” says Besserman. Taking a more abstract view, she adds, “While some people are discussing building walls, Miami and Buenos Aires are working together toward building bridges.”

Argentina is already becoming South America’s new hotspot for venture capital, with the growth of inflow starting to outpace neighbors that have gotten much more attention over the last decade, mainly Chile and Brazil. George Soros has invested in an Argentine startup for the first time in 15 years, the country is regaining credibility by leaps and bounds and is expected to be upgraded to an ‘Emerging Market’ next year, and Wharton professor Stephen Sammut (a private equity and emerging markets expert) urges that, “Savvy people who are looking for a foothold in Latin America may see [investment in Argentina] as a golden opportunity.”

Startups in Argentina still face significant regulatory and quotidian challenges, including inflation, legal red tape, restrictive labor practices, and the overall recovery from more than a decade of disenfranchisement from the global economy. Luckily, current Argentine startups can gain inspiration from the country’s famous startups of the late 90s and early 2000s – Argentina has the most unicorn companies in LatAm. They can also rely on their capacitated human capital and tout the amount of agrotech, pharmaceutical, biomedical, and health tech research happening in several hubs. More relevantly, they can rely on changes from the federal and city governments, which have been focused on passing laws that support entrepreneurship, promote impact investment, incentivize startup acceleration, and even tackle the sacred cow of labor reform.

One such program, IncuBAte, is a government sponsored seed fund that offers startups from anywhere in the world as much as $30,000 in equity-free funding, free office space in Buenos Aires for a year, and access to mentorship, government resources, and investments. This year, 100 startups will be selected across ten verticals, applications close on December 28, and incubation begins in March 2018.

Given that the program is open internationally but will be conducted in Spanish, Miami is perceived as being in the best position to act both as a loudspeaker for startups in the Latin American region as well as the nexus point for promotion for US-based startups interested in expanding to the LatAm market. The Buenos Aires government is hoping to see more regional and U.S startups coming through, so there’s hope to see some Miami companies in the mix.
 
Andy Freire, Minister of Modernization for Buenos Aires, looks ahead at these increasing connections. “Diversity inclusion is a competitive advantage, one that has been recognized and catalyzed strongly in Miami," he says, "Connecting the entrepreneurial ecosystems between Buenos Aires and Miami will help more people reach the tools they need to scale their startups, through programs like IncuBAte and shared soft landing initiatives. We believe this will be key to empower families and drive economic growth between both of our cities.” 
 
Overall collaboration with Argentina is also being worked on from the Miami side. As a first step to test these waters, a group came together in late 2016 to co-author a full day of Miami-focused 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 our city. CIC Miami has expanded on and concretized these efforts by signing agreements with several public and private partners in Argentina to help softland startups, advise commercial missions, and promote investment opportunities.

Just recently, the City Government of Buenos Aires brought an entrepreneurial mission to Miami, in addition to a more traditional enterprise delegation; it was the first pilot of what could come with more local on-the-ground support and was a successful first step toward more exchanges. Conferences and gatherings with a proven track record - such as Red Innova - will also be landing in Miami from Argentina next year with workshops and events aimed at connecting stakeholders across entrepreneurship and innovation.

In addition, a few interested and more seasoned 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. The Entrepreneurship Committee has officially launched, is looking for local collaborators as well as startups in need of support, and can be reached at EmprendedoresArgMia@gmail.com

Natalia Martinez-Kalinina is the General Manager of CIC Miami and the Founder of Awesome Foundation MIAMI, and co-Founder of Aminta Ventures. She can be reached at Martinez@cic.us

 

November 16, 2017

Miami is fertile ground for world-class product design

By Gessica Tortolano

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 01, 2017

Miami’s TheVentureCity launches $100M global fund for tech startups

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Clara Bullrich, left, and Laura González-Estéfani at their TheVentureCity office in Miami Beach. TheVentureCity is now launching a $100 million fund for startups. Alexia Fodere for The Miami Herald

 

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@Miamiherald.com

This summer, when former executives of Facebook, Google, eBay and other hyper-growth companies formed a global “city” based in Miami with everything a tech startup needs to scale internationally, they were missing one key element: the money.

But not anymore.

The founder and CEO of TheVentureCity, Laura González-Estéfani, former director of international business development and mobile partnerships for Facebook, and co-founder Clara Bullrich, a 20-year private banking and asset management veteran, have launched a $100 million fund for tech entrepreneurs. This will be a tool in its unique TheVentureCity, which offers a tailored fellowship program and consultancy for tech startups with global hypergrowth potential.

TheVentureCity Fund I has already has already put $20 million to work, investing in about 14 companies globally – four of them based in the Miami area.

The new fund has invested in Boatsetter, a boat-rental platform; gaming venture The FastMind; and financial-technology startups Above & Beyond and RecargaPay, all from South Florida. It has also funded three Silicon Valley companies; the remainder are from Latin America and Europe. One has roots in Angola. Another five companies are in the pipeline. TheVentureCity typically invests more than $1 million.

“We want to accelerate emerging tech hubs around the world with amazing entrepreneurs who want to make their dreams come true. The way to do that is to guarantee that the right, smart money is there,” said González-Estéfani, in an interview last week. “There’s a lot of money in Miami but many of the LPs [limited partners] don’t understand tech.”

TheVentureCity Fund I joins several new funds launched in South Florida in the past couple of years for early-stage investments, including Krillion VenturesRokk3r Fuel ExOLas Olas Venture Capital and AGP Miami, an active angel investing network. But the number of South Florida startups has risen 63 percent in the past two years, and the lack of local venture capital options has long been an issue in the area.

Some of South Florida’s most successful startups have gone elsewhere, including Silicon Valley, for their funding. Some don’t come back.

González-Estéfani said the fund is looking for companies that can show at least six months of strong growth and customer engagement. “We are not looking at revenues from the very beginning, which is something that happens in Miami all the time – investors want to see early revenues,” said González-Estéfani, a native of Spain who worked in Silicon Valley, Europe, Latin America and Miami at Facebook for nine years, and before that was with eBay, Siemans and Ogilvy.

“But if I have a small company, I want everyone focused on growing the company. The Googles, Facebooks, eBays of the world, they didn’t start monetizing until the year three or five.”

With an “international-first” approach, TheVentureCity aims to create cross-functional bridges between key regions to scale startups on a global level through its consultancy, its acceleration programs and in-house product and engineering expertise, González-Estéfani said.

The headquarters of TheVentureCity is in Miami Beach, but the team of 17 is looking for a 10,000-square-foot office in Miami. There is a second campus in Madrid and an office in San Francisco. It just added a presence in Sydney, Australia, and Singapore may be in the works, González-Estéfani said. Elisa Rodríguez-Vila, who co-founded The LAB Miami, runs the Miami campus.

TheVentureCity’s 36-month or 18-month tailored acceleration programs, which will be called The Garden Fellowships, will launch this month at WebSummit in Lisbon, Portugal. TheVentureCity will take equity in the startup as the partnership progresses, not upfront, González-Estéfani said.

This fall, Miami Dade College and TheVentureCity launched a two-year degree in entrepreneurship. TheVentureCity recently received a “key” from the Miami-Dade Beacon Council for locating and investing in Miami.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

October 24, 2017

Need help? Me, too. A woman's view: 'It is time we support one another and speak up'

 

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By Pilar Guzman Zavala

I consider myself a strong woman. I am the owner and CEO of Half Moon Empanadas. I am also the CEO of my home, where I am helping raise two wonderful children along with my husband and business partner.

Recently I had an interview with a panel of community leaders. The idea of this panel was to understand if I could be really someone who can commit to making a difference in Miami, to leading the way, to helping bridge the gap between the poor and rich. We talked about my experience over these years and their questions took me back to some of the most painful moments of being an entrepreneur. Like the time we suddenly got a notice of eviction, both from the business and our apartment. I left the restaurant to go to my car, sat in there and screamed. Or the time when my first child was born, I remember being at the hospital after the c-section and learning that the checks were bouncing because we did not have enough money in the bank.  I remembered how stressed and scared I was; I vividly remember the pain I felt.  I talked about how in the past two years, we tried really hard to focus on streamlining the operation and created a structure that finally set us in the path of growth, and made us the 2016 Best Concession Overall for Miami Airport. And how proudly we did it.  This also took me back to the many dark places I had been, how much I have fought, how much I had sacrificed to be where I am today, to have what I have today, to be who I am today.

During the interview, they asked me where I thought I could use help personally. I went straight to my entrepreneurial side and spoke about my operational challenges, but the panel pressed on and asked again what help I needed. Nothing else came out. 

I left the interview thinking about all of the things I didn’t say, and should have.  But there was no time to pause or think. This day was like many in my life where the responsibilities of being a mom, wife, business owner, and daughter took over. I had to pick up my kids and take them to a play date that I had promised. I was grateful to have had 20 minutes to speak with my father, which I rarely do because of time, but which I cherish so much. Then there was my Facebook feed full of friends posting #MeToo and me sharing the same two words. It was all so overwhelming.

That day I kept thinking of the question, “How can we help?” I wish I could have said “Of course! Of course, I do need help, I need help in all fronts of my life. I still feel lonely; I still would like to have a woman that I can look up to. I still would like to have another woman entrepreneur to just talk to, and for that someone to understand how I feel. I feel stressed many times. I am afraid I am not doing the right things as a mother. Am I a good example of this “working mom”, or do they need more of me? All of these questions that sometimes, more often than not, cross your mind. I wanted to tell them how hard it is to be this woman, but I couldn’t.

I had a hard time sharing my story during the interview. I talked about the hard times. I almost cried, but I controlled myself. I said that I am a true believer that entrepreneurship is the best equalizer force, that despite all the ups and downs and the sacrifices, that I truly believed my business was helping me make a difference. 

"I want to say that it is possible to have it all, just not all at once. I have learned that the life I chose as working/wife/mom/entrepreneur is about trade-offs, and that perfection doesn’t exist."

This day reminded me how strong I am, and how far I have come. I, ME TOO, struggle, and continue to stand on my two feet, despite it all. I have shared my story and days like this with other women, and I realized how lonely we all feel, and how little help we ask for.  The overwhelming statistics of gender inequality say it all.  I wanted to share this story because I understand that our lives as women, business owners, and mothers is hard.  I want to say that it is possible to have it all, just not all at once. I have learned that the life I chose as working/wife/mom/entrepreneur is about trade-offs, and that perfection doesn’t exist.  I have learned the importance of creating a support system around oneself. I continue to learn to be kind to myself, and to understand that if I take care of myself first, I will be a better at all fronts. And that quality is 10 times better than quantity with my children.

I still have a way to go. I want to be the best kind of mother my kids can have. I continue to dream Half Moon Empanadas will become a national name. I even just started a new business, and I also want to be able to make a difference in my community. I want to continue to work hard, and dream higher. I want it all.

But most of all, I decided that I am OK with being this strong woman who sometimes doesn’t have it all together, and who sometimes needs to reach out for help. I think it is time we all support one another and speak up.

Pilar Guzman Zavala is the owner and CEO of Half Moon Empanadas, based in Miami.  She is a mentor for women entrepreneurs in Miami with the WIN Lab Miami from Babson College and the FIU Startup Food Lab and is a Ricardo Salinas Scholarship recipient for the Aspen Institute and a Young American Leaders Program fellow from Harvard School of Business.

READ MORE ABOUT HALF MOON EMPANADAS IN THE MIAMI HERALD: Passion, perseverance powered empanada maker through tough start 

 

 

Maxeme Tuchman of Caribu wins South Florida award at Demand Solutions Start-up Challenge

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Maxeme Tuchman, CEO of Caribu, was the South Florida winner of the Miami Dade College – InterAmerican Development Bank “Demand Solutions” Start-up Challenge that featured nearly 20 start-ups from Latin America and Miami, most owned by women entrepreneurs.

Tuchman took home the $15,000 prize and the “Most Innovative Startup in South Florida” distinction for Caribu, described as the place where FaceTime meets Kindle, for kids.

The education platform helps parents, family, and mentors read and draw with children when they’re not together. It provides an engaging livestream shared-screen experience in a carefully designed, platform with an in-app bookstore containing hundreds of books, in six languages, and educational workbooks with interactive drawing overlays. It was also a winner in the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge and other contests.

 Here are the other awards:

An Ecuadorian startup that created a platform for Latin American emerging writers was declared the winner of the Inter-American Development Bank's fifth pitch competition, held as part of the Demand Solutions event in Miami last week.

The event, featuring 18 innovative startups from across Latin America and the Caribbean, was co-hosted by the IDB and Miami Dade College (MDC). Demand Solutions, the IDB's flagship event on innovation and entrepreneurship, brings together creative minds from around the world to share solutions that improve lives.

The event closed with a pitch competition featuring 18 startups from Barbados, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Miami.

Galo Vargas, cofounder of the Ecuadorian startup Inkspired, won the top prize of $30,000 for being the Creative Entrepreneur with the Highest Potential for Global Impact. Inkspired is a platform that allows emerging fiction writers from Latin America and the world to publish their books and creative series, connecting them with interested readers and providing them with metrics to improve their work and make their stories more appealing.

Ariana Green, cofounder of Couple Six from Barbados won the Disruptive Creativity for Development Award, a $15,000 USD cash prize from the IDB. Couple Six is the first videogame development studio in Barbados; it features games based on narratives of the history and culture of the Caribbean.

Ariana also won a special award by Creative Business Cup : an invitation to participate in the Global Finals competition in Copenhagen in November.

Barbara Arteaga, cofounder of Ecoplaso from Mexico, won the Creativity for Social Impact Award, a $7,000 USD award by the IDB. Ecoplaso is a Mexican startup run by 5 women who use their proprietary biotechnology to turn fruit waste into textile substitutes of leather and fast fashion fabrics.

The entrepreneurs pitched their startups' innovations to an audience of more than 300 people and a jury composed of leading specialists from Santander Universidades, the Innovation Lab of Miami Dade College, Creative Business Cup, the Cambridge Innovation Center in Miami (CIC Miami), Latam Startups, Endeavor Miami, Babel Ventures, 23 Design, Lobo Ecosystem Builders, Babel Ventures and the Inter-American Development Bank.

The startups were selected from over 300 candidates to showcase their innovative products and services at the one-day Demand Solutions event, designed to connect startups with investors, mentors and thought leaders.

One representative from each startup traveled to Demand Solutions Miami for the Pitch Competition and to take part in two days of activities with innovators, mentors, entrepreneurs and investors, organized by MentorDay.

Other awards include:

Linda Franco, cofounder of Machina, won the award for the High-Growth Woman Entrepreneur, an invitation to participate in WeXchange Annual Forum in Santiago, Chile, in December 2017.

Julio Oliveto, cofounder of Livre, won the Lean Case award: legal and accounting services directed to startups from the creative and cultural industries to expand their business to Colombia.

All 18 startups were awarded free co-working space and network connections for programmatic objectives at the Cambridge Innovation Center in Miami (CIC Miami).

The event was sponsored by Santander Universidades. Other partners included Endeavor MiamiBabson Win Lab and Americas Society/Council of the Americas.

The livestream of the startup pitches is available here.

This was the ninth edition of Demand Solutions. The next edition of Demand Solutions will take place on November 9th in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

 

October 04, 2017

Court Buddy co-founder becomes 14th African American woman ever to raise $1 million or more

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By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Only 14 African American women have raised $1 million or more in venture capital, and Kristina Jones of Miami-based Court Buddy is one of them.

Court Buddy is a legal tech startup founded by James and Kristina Jones that helps clients save money on legal fees by avoiding paying high retainers and hourly fees that traditional law firms charge while also helping thousands of attorneys grow their law firms. The company announced Wednesday that it has raised $1 million in seed funding.

When Court Buddy launched in 2015 in Miami, its web-based instant-matching platform allowed consumers to choose the a-la-carte legal services  at flat rates and then matched them to pre-screened solo and small law firm attorneys. Since then, Court Buddy has launched an app, CourtBuddy Chat, and a secured attorney-client payment exchange, CB Direct Pay. Now once matched, consumers can instant message, video chat and pay  attorneys for the legal services that they need, and solo attorneys can create and manage the legal tasks they perform for clients and collect legal fees.

The Court Buddy platform has grown to match over 11,000 consumers with attorneys across the country.

Earlier this year while participating in the 500 Startups seed program, Court Buddy soft-launched Instaclient for lawyers, which allows lawyers to pre-screen payment-verified clients who have pending court appearances or court-related matters before representing them. More than 5,000 lawyers signed up within 30 days of the launch. It also opened its San Francisco office.

LDR Ventures led the seed funding round, with participation from XFactor Ventures/Flybridge Capital, UpHonest Capital, GingerBread Capital/KKR, LSS Fund, Equipo Ventures, 500 Startups, L.A. Women Angels, and angel investors. Andrew Koven of LDR Ventures will join Court Buddy’s board of directors as part of the deal.

“With the new infusion of capital from our investors, not only can we continue building on our core products, but we can also hire more top talent to support the company’s rapid growth and expansion,” said CEO James Jones Jr., also a Florida attorney.

Court Buddy was named the winner of the American Bar Association’s Brown Select Award for Legal Access earlier this year, a winner of the inaugural American Entrepreneurship Award in 2016, and was the 2015 Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge People’s Pick Winner.

September 27, 2017

11 South Florida leaders selected for cohort 4 of Social Entrepreneurship Bootcamp

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Rebecca Fishman Lipsey, center, is founder and CEO of Radical Partners, a social impact accelerator.

 

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

What are some of the most pressing issues facing our region, and how can we solve them?

Ask the alumni and new cohort of Social Entrepreneurship Bootcamp, an accelerator program for social-impact ventures based in South Florida.

The program, led by Radical Partners, announced its fourth cohort on Wednesday, selecting 11 leaders at the helm of some of the most innovative organizations seeking to improve our region. From expanding opportunities for diverse food entrepreneurs to providing a support network for transgender locals, the cohort of both for-profit and non-profit companies is committed to strengthening communities, increasing equity, and improving the quality of life for those in our city.

Each participant is offered a full scholarship to enable participation in the 12-week accelerator program focused on scaling the impact of their ventures. Upon completion of the program, participants are welcomed into an active alumni network, where they will continue to focus on strengthening Miami alongside some of the most celebrated social innovators in the region.

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In an effort to diversify the investor base in the social innovation sector, Radical Partners sought to fund the entire program through support from female investors and philanthropists. All scholarships for this fourth cohort were made possible by female investors who are committed to the future of Miami, including Tere Blanca of Blanca Commercial Real Estate, Leslie Miller Saiontz of Achieve Miami and Teach For America, CL Conroy of The Conroy Martinez Group, Ruth Admire of The William J. and Isobel G. Clarke Foundation, Dr. Elizabeth Leight, Stephanie Ansin, and Michelle Huttenhoff, among others.

The cohort will also benefit from expert advice from financial advisors, branding experts, and lawyers through partnerships with Desnoyers CPA, Fiscal Management Associates, and Milkcase Creative. Participants will also receive legal health checks from Akerman and have access to the AkermanX/Radical Partners innovation space housed at the Cambridge Innovation Center for all 12 weeks of the program.

Here are the 2017 Social Entrepreneurship Bootcamp cohort members (list provided by Radical Partners):

Communities In Schools of Miami

Elyssa Linares, President and CEO

Nonprofit providing wraparound resources to help students succeed, whether that’s clean clothes, help with school work, or emotional support to cope with or recover from a traumatic event.

Melanites

Jennifer Pierre, Founder and CEO

Toy company that creates diverse toys, storybooks, and games that celebrate brown boyhood and inspire children of color to dream big.

Mind&Melody

Cristina Rodriguez, President and Co-Founder

Nonprofit that creates novel music programs at healthcare facilities to improve the quality of life for individuals with neurological impairments like dementia.

Moonlighter

Tom Pupo, Co-Founder

S.T.E.A.M. Learning Center, Fabrication Lab, and Co-Working Space that encourages creative collaboration among artists, designers, engineers, students, educators, and innovators in order to catalyze meaningful solutions through education, technology, and community.

O, Miami

Scott Cunningham, Founder and Director

Annual festival with the goal of every single person in Miami-Dade County encountering a poem.

Open Referral Initiative

Greg Bloom, Founder and Leader

Open-access platform that enables people in need (and related organizations) to get accurate information about the health, human, and social services available in our region.

The New Tropic

Ariel Zirulnick, Director

Local media startup that connects people to their cities through storytelling and events.

TransSOCIAL

Ashley Mayfaire, Co-Founder and Director of Operations

Trans-led nonprofit working to build LGBTQ+ unity and expand community resources and support.

Unconventional

Jordan Magid, Founder and CEO

Art production agency beautifying neighborhoods, strengthening relationships and inspiring citizenship.

The Wynwood Yard

Della Heiman, Founder and CEO

Culinary incubator and community hub designed to foster the development of innovative Miami-based food, culture, design and fitness entrepreneurs.

Young Musicians Unite

Sammy Gonzalez, Co-Founder, President and CEO

Nonprofit giving students a voice through music by providing underserved communities with free, comprehensive music programming.

 

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A scene from Radical Partners Social Entrepreneurship Bootcamp Cohort 2 workshop

 

September 24, 2017

MealPal raises $20 million in venture funding, expands services

 
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Mary Biggins, right, and Katie Ghelli founded MealPal, a restaurant lunch subscription service, in Miami. It's now international.
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By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

MealPal, the Miami-based startup offering a subscription restaurant lunch service, announced it has raised a $20 million Series B investment, led by Silicon Valley firm Menlo Ventures.

The round brings MealPal's total funding to $35 million since its Jan. 2016 launch. In February, MealPal raised a $15 million Series A round; Miami-based Krillion Ventures is an investor. MealPal aims to make lunch pick-up from restaurants convenient and affordable. MealPal offers its service in  Miami, as well as New York, Boston, San Francisco, Toronto and a number of other cities around the world. 

Along with the funding, the company recently announced it expanded its lunch pickup service to include dinner, starting in New York City, its largest market. 

"MealPal has helped thousands of people upgrade their lunch break by skipping long restaurant lines and getting lunch for as little as $6. Now we're excited to bring this quality, affordability and efficiency to dinner," said CEO Mary Biggins, who co-founded MealPal with Katie Ghelli.

MealPal has serviced more than 3 million lunches and expended to 12 markets, most recently Manchester in the United Kingdom and Melbourne, Australia, said Biggins, who previously co-founded ClassPass, which offers fitness classes by subscription.

Previous MealPal investors, including Bessemer Venture Partners, Comcast Ventures, Haystack Partners and Next View Ventures, all participated in this new round.

The new funding will support further team and market expansion in the United States, United Kingdom Canada and Australia, as well as new markets throughout Europe in the next several months.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter. 

READ MORE:

MealPass rebrands as MealPal, unveils ‘Pal’ feature, launches in Chicago, Washington, DC

Tech Talk: From ClassPass to MealPass, the Big Apple to the Magic City

September 19, 2017

Meet the next class of women selected for WIN Lab Miami

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By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

A straw that helps detect date rape, advances in breast pump technology, a dinner party in a box. These are products and services in development by just a few of the 17 companies selected by Babson College to participate in the 2017-2018 Women Innovating Now (WIN) Lab Miami.

WIN Lab Miami, an eight-month accelerator program entering its second year in the region, aims to catalyze the long-term success of female entrepreneurs by fostering creativity and collaboration, increasing visibility, providing mentorships, identifying branding and marketing tactics, and leveraging funding opportunities and competitions.

Around the world, female entrepreneurship is on the rise. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor's 2017 survey of 63 economies, Total Entrepreneurial Activity among women increased by 10 percent in the past two years, and the gender gap (ratio of women to men participating in entrepreneurship) narrowed by 5 percent. WIN Lab seeks to accelerate the trend by offering a supportive rather than a competitive environment of traditional accelerators. It's program is part-time over a longer period to better work with entrepreneurs at their own stages of growth. 

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 “We have selected a group of incredibly impressive women entrepreneurs to join WIN Lab Miami’s next cohort,” said Babson’s WIN Lab Miami Director Carolina Pina (pictured above). “One team won the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge, some have already made strides as participants of the Idea Center’s CREATE program at Miami Dade College; one has just recently won an American Entrepreneurship Award; and two have been selected to pitch their businesses at the upcoming Demand Solutions competition. We look forward to helping further develop and advance their businesses, and being witness to all of their accomplishments to come.”

WIN Lab's Advisory Board will be chaired by Carol Faber, Partner at Akerman LLP. Faber was recently named one of Real Estate Forum’s 50 Women of Influence in Real Estate, and is also the Chair of Akerman’s Women’s Initiative Network and Co-chair of its Distressed Property Practice Group.

WIN LAB has also named its Entrepreneurs-In-Residence and Investors-In-Residence for the second cohort.

Entrepreneurs-In-Residence are Johanna Mikkola, Co-Founder, Wyncode Academy; RJ Joshi, Co-Founder and COO, Bodhi Tree Asset Management; Silvina Moschini, Co-Founder and CEO, SheWorks!; and Ze’ev Feig MBA’03, CEO, Zensah.

 Its Investors-In-Residence are Adam Smith, investor; Blaire Martin, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Florida Angel Nexus; and Raul Moas, Managing Director, AGP.

WIN Lab Miami was founded with support from John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, FedEx, and Akerman LLP, and sponsor HSBC. The Miami program’s inaugural cohort of ‘WINners’ raised nearly $2 million in funding in the first year, WIN Lab said, and celebrated with a grand finale pitch competition in April 2017.

Here are the 2017-2018 Miami WINners (list provided by WIN Lab), which were to be announced Tuesday night at its  kickoff event at CIC Miami, where WIN Lab is based.

Caribu
Maxeme Tuchman, Co-Founder and CEO

Communication and collaboration platform that helps parents, extended family, and mentors read and draw with children when they are not in the same location. Caribu is one of two WINners selected by the Inter-American Development Bank to compete at Demand Solutions. It also won third place in the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge.

ETC

Karley Chynces, Founder and CEO

Mobile app that will allow students to buy and sell books and dorm supplies locally.

Ginger Straps
Leana Loh, Founder and CEO

Add-on ankle strap for high heels and flats to transform shoes from strapless to strappy.

Imalac, LLC
Noreen Gordon Sablotsky, Co-Founder and CEO; Rachael Sablotsky Kish, Co-Founder and COO

Healthcare technology company focused on increasing the efficiency and practicality of breast pumping.

Impetus Social
Sonia Hinestrosa, Founder

Education technology company providing critical skills in areas like digital literacy, STEM, leadership, and financial literacy.

Lean Orb
Anastasia Mikhalochkina, Founder

Plant-based, biodegradable catering supplies. Lean Orb has also been selected to compete at Demand Solutions this fall.

Luxe Fête Social
Nathalie Anne Cadet-James, Founder

Service company that provides a dinner party in a box.

MADSTUDIOS, Inc.
Jennifer Nicole Hardcastle, Co-Founder

Platform that provides resources and access to all creatives with the tools needed to be successful.

Major Marketplace
Leyanis Diaz, Co-Founder and CEO

Online marketplace for minority businesses and those who want to support them. Diaz also participated in Miami Dade College Idea Center’s 10-week go-to-market program called CREATE. She recently won an American Entrepreneurship Award.

PEX+
Jessica Coane, Founder and President

Travel search engine for using miles and points.

Prizm Art Fair, LLC
Mikhaile Solomon, Founder and Director

Cutting-edge art fair that expands the spectrum of exhibiting international artists from Africa, the global African Diaspora, and emerging markets.

Sayblee
Ashley Sebok, Founder and CEO

100 percent natural, organic, handmade hair care system formulated to repair damaged hair, and maintain healthy hair.

Smart Straws
Susana Cappello, Victoria Roca, Carolina Baigorri, Co-Founders

Straw that detects the most common date rape drugs, GHB and Ketamine, found in alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Cappello, Roca, and Baigorri won this year’s Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge High School Track.

SpeechMED Inc.
Susan Alanna Perry, Founder and CEO

Patient engagement platform that makes healthcare information accessible to all patients regardless of age, language, or literacy levels.

TeaRado Tech
Nicole Tirado, Founder

Tech-infused tea cup that allows users to consume tea hands-free.

Voyz.es, Inc.

Ana Maria Carrano, Co-Founder and CEO

Agile and collaborative transcription platform that allows users to transcribe audio and video content fast, with high accuracy and affordable rates, using machine learning and crowdsourcing.

Wedding QuickQuote
Madeline Daryadel, Founder and President

Extranet software program featured on venue sites that expedites the search and sales process providing users with an instant reply to an online inquiry.

Massachusetts-based Babson College has also recently announced an expansion of its graduate programs to Miami. The new effort builds on the ongoing success of WIN Lab Miami, as well as its Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program hosted at Miami Dade College, which empowers local small business owners to help their companies grow. The application period for the graduate programs is open and classes are set to begin in Fall 2018.

WINlab_MiamiFinale2017_013

A scene from an event, shown above, for WIN Lab Miami's first cohort, shown below.

Group Photo - Lobby 2

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September 01, 2017

Inaugural ITWomen Leadership Summit coming to FAU Tech Runway

 

 

ITWomen, in partnership with FAU Tech Runway, will host the inaugural ITWomen Leadership Summit on Friday, Sept. 15 from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at FAU Tech Runway, 901 NW 35th Street, Boca Raton.

The ITWomen Leadership Summit is designed to provide women across the fields of technology with a rich development opportunity and will include influential keynote speakers and multiple sessions with more than 18 local leaders across different industries. Keynote speakers include Heather Cabot, an angel investor and author of “Geek Girl Rising,” and Angela Sebaly, an entrepreneur and author of “The Courageous Leader.” Sessions will feature CXO leadership insights, developing a culture of innovation and a startup showcase on FAU Tech Runway female founders.

ITWomen is a not-for-profit organization founded in 2002 by senior-level women across technology industries. Through their partnerships with nonprofits, universities, corporate sponsors and professional organizations, they work to narrow the gender gap in technology and increase the potential for innovation and economic growth through gender equity. ITWomen is a multi-generational organization, which began in South Florida and has expanded with a presence in the greater Orlando and Tampa metro areas.

All net proceeds from the event will fund camps and STEM programs for under-served girls in the community.

To purchase tickets to attend the event, click here. For more information on the ITWomen Leadership Summit, visit https://leadersummit.itwomen.org.

- Submitted by ITWomen