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News: Launch Pad Tech selects its first accelerator class

Launch Pad Tech has selected its first class of 10 startups in its downtown Miami accelerator.

TecheggStartups selected for the three-month Launch Pad Tech Accelerator program, which begins Jan. 23, had to be operating in one of three areas of strength in Miami-Dade’s economy — tourism/hospitality, healthcare or creative (art, music, fashion, film). Through the financial support of Miami-Dade County and the Miami Downtown Development Authority, each of the startups in the accelerator will receive free office space for a year, an intense, structured program for three months and then mentoring the rest of the year. Each team will also receive a $25,000 grant.

In all, 133 companies applied for the accelerator program from all over the world, said Launch Pad Tech founder Susan Amat. About 45 percent of the applicants came from outside the country. Of the 10 selected, five are international.

"I was incredibly impressed by the number, the diversity and the caliber of the applicants. It was a very tough decision," said Terremark founder Manny Medina, one of the five judges who determined the final choices. "These are exciting times for the technology industry down here."

Ivan Rapin-Smith, program director of Launch Pad Tech, said that while companies are not required to stay in Miami after the program is over, the accelerator did look for companies that expressed "a true emotional commitment" to do so. "It’s up to us and the community to make them fall in love with Miami and want to build and grow their companies here," he said.

Here is the first class of Launch Pad Tech’s accelerator:

Hair Construction Club: This Miami startup provides online education for hair stylists through high quality multimedia content and an innovative content distribution platform. Team: Cory Hoffart and Magdalene Palfi.

RawApps: This Miami startup lets small businesses create demo videos by providing online production tools and a marketplace for templates and content. RawApps won The Miami Herald’s Business Plan Challenge in 2011. Team:Antonio Otalvaro, George Estrella and Michael Diaz.

Kimetric: This Argentine company helps fashion retailers increase their sales by tracking and analyzing in-store customer behaviour with an innovative application of Microsoft Kinect technology. Team: Alejandro Muther and Florencia Muther.

Poolami: This Argentine startup’s peer-to-peer car sharing network mixes social profiles, community ratings and smartphones to connect drivers to passengers. Team: Charlie Deane, Ezequiel Purificato and Matias Bullrich.

BoatYard.com: On this peer-to-peer boat rental site, by a Miami startup, boat owners and renters use social tools and peer reviews to evaluate prospects. A proprietary suite of insurance products ensures protection. Team: Nathan Heber  and David Polinsky.

EveryPost: This startup from Argentina lets users create and share multimedia content on their mobile device. Team: Fernando Cuscuela and  Leandro Armas.

NightPro: The Miami startup has a cloud-based application that allows nightlife venues, event organizers and promoters to manage guest lists, reservations, table availability, promoters/staff member performance, payouts and data collection. Team: Juan Bermudez, Francisco Quintero  and Otto Othman.

Mobile Health Solutions: Nearly 30 percent of prescriptions are never picked up at the pharmacy, causing many hospitalizations and deaths. The European startup’s mobile app aims to simplify the way patients purchase medications. Team: Luis Angel.

SWOL: This Miami startup is creating a social community designed to unite and engage global soccer fans through original content and celebrity access. Team: Adam Davis and  Danny Karbassiyoon.

The Social Radio: This startup from Argentina lets you listen to tweets and posts while playing your favorite music in the background, and the service is available on iPhone, Android and on the web. Team: Roberto Gluck, Alejandra Negrete and Demian Renzulli.