August 24, 2016

The South Florida Accelerator, Greenspoon Marder law firm team up to foster Florida innovation

By Marcia Heroux Pounds / Sun Sentinel

The law firm of Greenspoon Marder has partnered with The South Florida Accelerator to create Innovation Florida, an advocacy organization for the advancement of technological innovation in the state.

Gerry Greenspoon, co-managing director of Greenspoon Marder, said the law firm will work to leverage strategic relationships and advocate for Florida's innovative entrepreneurs and technological pioneers. Greenspoon Marder has offices in Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Miami Beach.

Innovation Florida said founding sponsors also include technology companies Levatas in Palm Beach Gardens; Citrix Systems and AAJ Technologies, both in Fort Lauderdale; and Brightstar Corp. in Miami.

The South Florida Accelerator was founded earlier this year by Christopher Malter and Thomas Buchar in Fort Lauderdale.

Read more about the accelerator here.

August 22, 2016

Learn to code in 10 weeks? Try one day.

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Photos by Andrew Sierra of Digital Taste Makers

 

By Jocelyn Caster

This past Saturday morning, nearly one hundred young professionals flocked to the Wynwood Art District’s Miami Light Project for a truly unique experience. Unlike the crowd in Wynwood later that night, these men and women did not come for a chic gallery opening or a trendy bar night. No, these people gave up their Saturday to start on the path of learning how to code at Wyncode’s Wyntroduction to Code.

Wyncode Academy’s Lead Instructor, Ed Toro, helped attendees write their very first lines of code using the language Ruby. Less than eight hours later, these development newbies had completed an entire coding project - one that Wyncode’s own students work on during their first week at the web immersive bootcamp.

This wasn’t the first time Wyncode hosted a one day bootcamp. In the first iteration of the day-long introductory workshop, Wyncode welcomed ten students participating in the Ancient City Ruby Conference in St. Augustine to spend the day with Wyncode’s Head of Product Development Sean Sellek. Based on overwhelming positive feedback, Wyncode brought the workshop to Miami. The workshop was quickly waitlisted, despite the size of the Light Box, where there is much more room for increased participation compared to Wyncode’s traditional sample classes.

Wyncode Miami’s flagship classroom is just next door at The LAB Miami, which allowed interested students the chance to pop their heads in and see where they could be spending ten exciting but demanding weeks, should they apply and get accepted into the bootcamp. Wyncode also has a campus in Ft. Lauderdale’s trendy FATvillage district at co-working space General Provision.

The majority of participants showed up motivated and interested in learning how to code. But, many also came with an ulterior motive - a chance to figure out if the $11,500 investment in the full-time, immersive coding bootcamp is really worth it compared to other learning options, such as self-teaching, part-time courses, or online course routes.

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Auston Bunsen, Miami Tech leader and Wyncode Fort Lauderdale’s lead instructor, said:, “A full-time program really pushes you to learn how to code and challenges you more than you ever could by yourself...You’re firing on all-cylinders, with a massive amount of content coming at you.” While he understands that this intense environment is not for everyone, Auston said “you really need to be [mentally] prepared for it, [if you are] it’s definitely the highest return on investment.”

With the heavy burden of expectation placed on bootcampers from the get-go, many Wyntroduction attendees spent the day not only wiring their first lines of code, but also evaluating if they are up for the challenge of completely immersed in the world of coding and South Florida's up-and-coming startup ecosystem for 10 weeks. In order to be accepted into the web immersive bootcamp, a potential student must prove he or she is prepared for the rigors of the course through a series of interviews and challenges.

Attendees of last Saturday’s Wyntroduction event were additionally able to experience the networking potential from enrolling in Wyncode first-hand. Wyncode welcomed alumni Sara Hincapie of Careerscore, Matthew Kellough of Sandals and Christina Nguyen of SapientNitro to share their Wyncode experience as well as the challenges and rewards of learning to code. Auston Bunsen used emojis to present his version of Miami Tech history in 5 minutes. Hiring partners JC Carrillo of Kipu Systems, Ivan Rapin-Smith of Watsco Ventures and Emilio Cueto of LiveNinja talked about their need for talent and why they hire from Wyncode, as each have hired multiple developers out of the program. The day wrapped up with a happy hour at nearby Gramps bar, where the attendees mingled with the Wyncode team, alumni as well as with local players in the Miami tech scene. Everyone was documenting the day with Wyncode’s custom Snapchat filter.

If Saturday was any indication, interest in the Miami Tech scene is at an all-time high. Wyncode was able to show how they can help totally inexperienced coders gain the skills and confidence necessary to tackle the process of learning to code and can supply you with a local community of similarly-minded individuals in the process.

Given how much was accomplished in one day, we look forward to what this group of ambitious individuals will do should they join Wyncode’s 350 graduates and 80 hiring partners in the future.

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To learn more about Wyncode or sign up for the next Wyntroduction event, please visit www.wyncode.co

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Photos by Andrew Sierra of Digital Taste Maker

August 21, 2016

Startup Spotlight: Banana Wave hits Whole Foods, now expanding nationally

Banana milk 2

Company name: Fresh Start Beverage Co. (Banana Wave)

Headquarters: Palm Beach Gardens

Concept: Fresh Start Beverage Co. is creating a new category in the milk-alternative industry. “We are the first company to actually make milk from a universally loved fruit — bananas. We call it Banana Wave,” said H.E. Neter Kush Ben Alkebulan (pictured above), co-founder and chief beverage officer.

Story: Entrepreneurial passion can take you to places you never thought you’d go. For these co-founders, getting their business off the ground meant living in a car for a while — and success still means donning a banana suit.

Banana wave 3Fresh Start Beverage Co.’s mission is to make humanity healthy, happy and strong one refrigerator at a time, said Neter, who founded the Palm Beach County startup along with his fiancée Trendolyn Hopkins and his mother Claudette Patron. Their first product is a nondairy beverage called Banana Wave banana milk. Neter says the delicious superfood originated in Africa’s Nile Valley around 3000 B.C., and has been his family’s specialty for generations.

While attending Florida Memorial University and working three jobs in 2012, he and Hopkins went to the Nova Southeastern University library every night to learn everything they could about business plans and running a company. Saving money by living in a car for six months, they went all-in working on their business full time in 2014; their first break came that year, when they won the People’s Choice award in Florida Atlantic University’s business plan competition and a couple of others.

The winnings, plus about $727,300 raised from family, friends and angel investors after the contests, allowed them to spend most of 2014 and 2015 testing out the product in farmers markets across South Florida, including ones run by Whole Foods, gathering feedback and making tweaks, testing price points and making sales. By January of this year they had the product made commercially and began selling it.

In May, their big break came: Banana Wave is now in Whole Foods throughout the state. The couple have done demonstrations (Neter wears a banana suit) at stores throughout the summer. The banana milk is a first for Whole Foods, Neter said. “They sell a lot of products but they have never seen anything like Banana Wave.”

He has had meetings with Wal-Mart and Kroger over the summer. Wal-Mart has already said yes, Neter said, and they are discussing 2017 launch plans. “I really want to get into Publix; Publix is on my radar.”

Launched: March 19, 2013

Banan2Management team: Co-founders H.E. Neter Kush Ben Alkebulan, chief beverage officer; Trendolyn Hopkins (pictured here), chief brand officer; Claudette Patron, chairman of the board (pictured here).

No. of employees: 9

Website: bananawave.com, www.facebook.com/drinkbananawave

Financing: $727,300 raised from family, friends and angel investors.

Recent milestones reached: Expanded distribution into the Northeast, through Market Basket, into the Southwest, through HEB, and into the West Coast, through Unified Grocers. Won the Category Pioneer Award in Beverage World Magazine in July. Currently working on a chocolate version of Banana Wave.

Biggest startup challenge and why: “Our biggest startup challenge was obtaining distribution for Banana Wave. We created the new category so food & beverage distributors had no historical data to rely on to determine sales volume,” Neter said.

Next steps: Obtain a national presence within Whole Foods Market. Give back to the community by sponsoring sporting events and local festivals. Provide impeccable service to distributors and retailers, while creating healthy beverage products that add value to consumers’ lives.

Nancy Dahlberg: @ndahlberg

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Entrepreneurship Datebook: Events, workshops in South Florida this week

Tech eggBrainfood Speaker Series: Brainfood with Endeavor @ The LAB Miami featuring Brian Brackeen of Kairos, Seth Cassel of Everymundo and Jaclyn Baumgarten of Boatsetter. 6:30-8:30 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 23,  at The LAB Miami: 400 NW 26th St., Miami. $30. Brainfood with Endeavor @ The LAB is a monthly, hands-on discussion with successful entrepreneurs, investors, and CEOs. More info here.

NelyGalan_0435_RGBConnecting Minds:  "Connecting Minds," a new of business event series will launch in Miami on Wednesday geared to help Hispanic small business owners bolster their success. Topics include access to capital, experts and resources to grow small businesses. Nely Galán, media executive, entrepreneur, author and founder of the Adelante Movement, will kickoff the first event with learnings and best practices on building relationships.Chase and the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce (GMCC) are joining forces to kick off the free business breakfast meeting event, 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 24,   Coral Gables Country Club, 997 N. Greenway, Coral Gables, FL 33134. Registration required: http://events.miamichamber.com

Venture Cafe: The free weekly Thursday Gathering will feature networking and  a  “Choose Your Own Beer Adventure” and discussion  on the growth of Miami’s craft beer industry over the last few years with four local brewery founders (and tastings), CIC Miami, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., 1951 NW 7th Ave., Miami. More info here.

StartUP FIU Match-UP Night: Have you ever wanted to work on a startup but lacked an idea or team?  StartUP FIU invites you to attend its Match-UP Night. StartUP FIU has already selected  19 startups to join its Incubator, which begins this Fall. These startups are looking for additional team members. 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 25, College of Business Complex (CBC) Room 232,  11200 Southwest 8th Street, Miami. More info here.

Refresh Miami: Ever wonder w:at goes on in a startup incubator & how to pick which is the right fit for your business? Join us as we discuss how incubators are changing the start-up landscape and the future of financial technology. Jeff Cain, from Envestnet|Yodlee Corporate Incubator, based in the Silicon Valley will share his experiences via a Fireside chat, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Thursday, August 25, WeWork Lincoln Road. More info: refreshmiami.com

Next week:

Advertising and Public Relations for Your Business; In this free seminar in Spanish, you will learn how to effectively communicate in today’s multicultural environment, including effective strategies and plans to successfully portray your businesses to the public. The session is  offered by the Hispanic Business Initiative Fund and hosted at the Florida Blue Center in Fort Lauderdale, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 31.  To register, click here or call 786-329-5830.

How VR and AR will Change the World: The Idea Center in collaboration with MAGIC at Miami Dade College introduces IMMERSIVE TECH MIAMI, a program that teaches you everything you need to know about starting your own VR and AR business. To kick it off, listen to Sivan Iram, general manager of River Studios, a company that is pushing the boundaries of VR, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 1, The Idea Center at Miami Dade College, 315 NE 2nd Ave, Building 8, 5th Floor. More info here.

Have an event you would like considered for Entrepreneurship Datebook? Email it to ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

 

August 18, 2016

Ride2MD, Lyft team up to fuel patient transport

Miami-based startup Ride2MD rolled out its service in Miami-Dade and Broward, and announced a partnership with Lyft for on-demand medical transportation. 

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Ride2MDMiami startup Ride2MD hit the streets this summer with its new medical transport service. This week it picked up a well-known partner in the on-demand transportation world: Lyft.

Ride2MD provides efficient, technology-enabled patient transportation to doctors’ offices, outpatient facilities and hospitals. George Fernandez, Ride2MD’s CEO, believes Lyft could provide 25 percent to 40 percent of Ride2MD’s transportation needs, primarily for Ride2MD clients who do not require ambulatory or wheelchair-accessible vehicles.

“Transportation no longer needs to be an inconvenience or barrier to those who need it most,” Fernandez said. “This is another conduit to providing good service to our clients. .. It’s cheaper than sending a taxi, it’s usually faster than sending a taxi, and it is something that people are getting more and more used to as a service level.” And as to Lyft team, Fernandez added: “They get healthcare.”

Fernandez, an executive in the healthcare insurance business before launching Ride2MD, said Thursday he was impressed with Lyft’s tool called Concierge that allows third parties to book rides on patients' behalves, and its commitment to the sector, including bringing on Gyre Renwick, who used to help run Google’s industry sector for healthcare.

“Every year, around 3.6 million Americans miss or delay medical care because they lack appropriate transportation to their appointments. We want to fix that. Getting a patient to their doctor appointment can lower the cost of care and increase the quality of care,” said Renwick, head of enterprise healthcare partnerships at Lyft. “Ride2MD has a similar viewpoint so our partnership is well-aligned.”

For patients that do need wheelchair-equipped or ambulatory vehicles, Ride2MD partners with medical transport companies. 

A few weeks ago, Ride2MD began its service in Miami-Dade and Broward, and plans to move into Palm Beach and Monroe as well as Central Florida in coming months.

Ride2MD, which won second place overall in the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge this year and also was the Challenge’s People’s Pick winner, is forecasting an aggressive growth trajectory, expecting to manage over half a million members within the next 24 months and upwards of 3 million within five years.

For now the service is for private-paying customers, but Fernandez said Ride2MD has reached agreement with two major health plans and those details will be rolled out soon. The company is also establishing contracts with assisted living facilities, nursing homes and healthcare providers.

Most of the trips so far have been to doctor’s offices but Fernandez said Ride2MD has also served patients with rides to family events. “It’s kind of evolved into patients with special needs that need a helping hand getting around,” said Fernandez. “And that’s great, that’s what I want to see.”

Nancy Dahlberg: @ndahlberg

Read more: Ride2MD: Driving a plan to vastly improve medical transport

 

LaunchCode partners with City of Miami to place tech apprentices

LaunchCode, a nonprofit founded by Square co-founder Jim McKelvey, announced this week that it will partner with the City of Miami to place technology apprentices across a number of departments.

 LaunchCode opened its South Florida office in 2015 and has partnered with more than 100 local companies to place more than 80 technologists in jobs and apprenticeships in tech. In addition to placing qualified candidates into jobs, the nonprofit also hosts computer programming classes and bootcamps with Miami Dade College. LaunchCode is supported by national and local organizations, including the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

 “This partnership between LaunchCode and the City of Miami creates a new pathway for emerging technologists from diverse backgrounds to help solve our community’s most pressing problems. It’s an important step as we commit to strengthen collaboration between City government and Miami’s growing tech scene,” said Mike Sarasti, Chief Innovation Officer at the City of Miami.

Learn more at www.launchcode.org.

Florida Venture Tech Showcase offers opportunity to pitch, win $100K

The Florida Venture Forum and Space Florida, in partnership with Hillsborough County, will co-host the inaugural 2016 Florida Venture Tech Showcase on November 1, 2016 at CAMLS  in downtown Tampa.

The half-day afternoon Showcase is a capital acceleration competition and business-networking event featuring presentations by some of Florida’s most promising growth-stage companies who are cash positive and established in business. Troy Knauss, instructor with the Angel Resource Institute will be the special guest speaker.  Selected presenting companies will compete for the Space Florida Accelerating Innovation (AI) Award totaling $150,000: $100,000 for the Winner and $50,000 for the First Runner-Up.

Event details, company criteria and presenter’s application are available on the Florida Venture Forum’s website at www.flventure.org. The final application deadline for presenters is Friday, Oct. 14.

 

August 17, 2016

Pipeline Workspaces opens Fort Lauderdale co-working location

Pipeline

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

 Pipeline Workspaces is on the move again.

Thea national shared workspace company that started in Miami opened its fifth U.S. location this month in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

Pipeline occupies a floor at One Financial Plaza at 100 SE Third Ave., marking its entry into the Broward market and expanding Pipeline’s presence in South Florida. The 28-story office tower is one block off of Las Olas Boulevard and home to the popular dining spot Tower Club.

Pipeline Lauderdale is the company’s fourth location in South Florida; it previously opened in the Miami's Brickell neighborhood, Coral Gables and Doral. Part of a wave of co-working spaces opening around the Miami area, all the spaces offer sleek open co-working space, tech-enhanced conference rooms, phone booths, dedicated desks and private offices designed to foster productivity and collaboration.  Each space has a different theme or feel fitting with the neighborhood; Pipeline Lauderdale has a nautical theme, and it was designed by architecture firm Gensler and built by high-end interior specialists Amicon Construction. 

 “The opening of our Fort Lauderdale workspace is a natural next step in our growth strategy given the established and growing high-tech, legal and international business community in Downtown Fort Lauderdale,” said Todd Oretsky, who co-founded the company with Philippe Houdard, in a news release.  “Our goal is to create a business and social network that makes it possible for individuals in different stages of the business cycle to have access to each other’s talents and resources to build meaningful connections that will help them prosper.”

Pipeline also runs a Pipeline location in Philadelphia.

 

Fintech company Nymbus closes $12 million financing round

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com 

On the heels of a summer acquisition spree, Nymbus, a Miami-based financial technology company, announced this week that the company has completed a $12 million financing round led by major shareholders of Vensure Enterprises.

Nymbus, founded in 2015 and now with about 150 employees, provides mission-critical core technology for financial institutions that not only drives day-to-day operations, but also serves as the institution’s backbone for new capabilities and growth. 

With the funding, Nymbus will accelerate product deployment and infrastructure teams to support the company’s SmartCore platform, as financial institutions of all sizes attempt to transform their technology for the new digital economy.

"Nymbus is here to help the 12,500 financial institutions encumbered by some of the oldest enterprise technology still in use, many developed as long as 30 to 40 years ago,” said Scott Killoh, Nymbus’ executive chairman. “This additional funding will help us rapidly convert the already high demand for our SmartCore platform." 

This summer, the company announced a trio of acquisitions: KMR, a provider of software services and products to credit unions; R.C. Olmstead, which serviced credit unions in the Midwest; and Sharp BancSsystems, a Texas-based financial software provider. With the Sharp acquisition, the company acquired $200 million of intellectual property, running software that has been tried and tested in publicly-traded financial institutions, Nymbus said.

At least two executives on the Nymbus team, Killoh and Harry Flood, were recently listed as directors in Miami Beach-based Vensure Enterprises.

 

125 South Florida companies make 2016 Inc. 5000 list

The 2016 Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing private companies includes 125 South Florida companies. The list, released on Wednesday, ranks companies by revenue growth between 2012 and 2015.

Tribeca Marketing Group in the education sector, with 8,395 percent revenue growth over the three-year period, clocked in at No. 20; the Hollywood-based company was the highest Florida company on the list. No. 27 was healthcare company Blackstone Labs of Boca Raton, with 7,546 percent growth. Fitness player Orangetheory of Fort Lauderdale was No. 60 with 4,308 percent growth. Rounding out South Florida players in the top 100 was Deerfield based Solar Media Team, with 3,428 percent growth.

Other South Florida companies in the top 500 were Herman Integration Services (100); the K Company Realty (116); Engage PEO (127), Greenlight Staffing Group (157), Florida Premier Realty of the Palm Beaches (170), Florida Solar One (261), Nearpod (297). WebME Technologies (298), Rafael Marrero and Co. (350), The Retail Outsource (376), HealthCare.com (388), CentralCloseout.com (398), Fresh Meal Plan (490), SoBe Promos (448) and Ultimate Jet Vacations (465).

Last year, 139 South Florida firms made the 5000 list. To see the full list of Inc. 5000 companies, go to www.inc.com/inc5000/list/2016.

To see the full list of South Florida companies, go here.