« April 2014 | Main | June 2014 »

66 posts from May 2014

May 30, 2014

Reaching another goal, SWOL releases World Cup fantasy game

SwolYou may recall SWOL, Soccer Without Limits, began focusing on creating mobile fantasy games as an extension of its popular soccer content platform. Just in time for the World Cup soccer-mania, the Miami startup released its first game, Fury 90, this week in the Apple iTunes store, and after just a couple of days more than 50,000 games have already been played in the app.

But watch out. According to the reviews, it’s highly addictive.

Fury 90 is a hybrid between a social game and your traditional fantasy game. You can quickly create your team, challenge your friends and celebrities, talk trash in an in-game messaging tool complete with soccer specific stickers and earn different achievements as you level up in SWOL’s XP (experience points) system, says Adam Davis, co-founder and CEO of SWOL. 

“We think the traditional fantasy model is broken especially with millennials, which is why we created a fantasy simulation where the entire game is based off of players' real life form but after selecting your team you are allowed to immediately challenge your friends and celebrities in a fast-paced simulation. Hence the drama of 90 minutes in 90 seconds,” says Davis, adding that SWOL has been working on the game for much of the past year.

Swol2A few of Fury 90's celebrity users are also active players. These include Lukas Podolski, Arsenal star and German National team player, and Leandro Damiao  of Santos. SWOL co-founder Danny Karbassiyoon is a former Arsenal player and scout and Davis is a former agent so they will  be leveraging their relationships to bring more soccer celebrities into the game.

"It's a new type of fantasy game for people who have lived with soccer on the Internet. They know all the data and stats around a player and they want to test their knowledge," says Davis, "And of course that want to prove to their friends on social media that they are the best. The competition is bound to get intense over the World Cup and then continue into next season."

After the World Cup edition of game, watch for SWOL to roll out a unique new feature to address its "gaming for good" philosophy. SWOL, based at Venture Hive and part of the accelerator's first class, has held events and campaigns to fight  racism in soccer.


Fishing to make a difference? A hackathon for you

Looking for a different kind of hackathon? Check out the overnight Fishackathon and help save a livelihood for small-scale fishermen. 

What: Fishackathon: Fishing for Sustainable Code is a hackathon (brainstorming plus developing a web or mobile solution) focused on challenges in fishery management. Hackathons will be in Miami, Baltimore, Boston, New York and San Francisco.

Who: Marine industry experts and hobbyists, coders, business people and any innovators!

When: Friday, June 13th at 6:00 pm to Saturday, June 14th at 2:00 pm

Where: Venture Hive, 1010 NE 2nd Ave, Downtown Miami, 305-735-1274


Friday, June 13th

5:30 – 6:00 pm Registration/check in

6:00 – 6:15 pm Welcome by State Department & Venture Hive

6:15 – 7:15 pm Presentations and Q&A by fishery and marine science experts, including David Die, Cooperative Institute of Marine and Atmospheric Studies, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami.

7:15 – 8:30 pm Dinner and group brainstorm

8:30 – ON Break into project teams and get to work!

Project teams can work at Venture Hive all night (snacks & support will be provided)

Saturday, June 14th

8:00 – 9:00 am Breakfast and mentoring

9:00 – 12:00 pm Mentoring

12:00 – 12:30 pm Lunch and presentations due

12:30 – 1:30 pm Final project presentations

1:30 – 2:00 pm Judging and winners announced

The Challenge

Small-scale fishermen in developing countries face growing challenges. Their catches are declining because of overfishing and, in some cases, the degradation of the marine environment. They spend more money on fuel and more time out on the ocean to catch enough to make ends meet. And they can’t keep up with competition from larger vessels that in some cases are fishing illegally. With 50 percent of the fish caught for human consumption coming from small-scale and artisanal fisheries, the livelihoods of these fishermen are crucial for their communities and for food security. In order to address these fishery management challenges, we need to find innovative ways to collect data and utilize it to formulate solutions.

The Context

Innovative coding approaches that produce concrete prototypes to help solve the fisheries management challenges are being sought for a variety of applications. The U.S. Department of State, in collaboration with White Label Partners and GSM Association, is launching mFish: Empowering the sustainable fishery ecosystem, a new initiative to capitalize on the expansion of mobile phone use across the developing world to address sustainable fishery challenges. mFish seeks to capitalize on the spread of mobile networks in the developing world, where about five billion people now use cell phones. New applications and/or voice and text messaging services for mobile phones and devices can provide real-time information to help fishermen work smarter and more safely, allow them to report catches and build the capacity for better management, and create networks to improve the monitoring of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

The Hackathon

Fishackathon brings together volunteer technologists for a day or two of work, using minimal resources and maximum brainpower to create applications and innovative technology prototypes to address sustainable fishery challenges that will be deployed on multiple platforms, including mFish. Fishackathon is a unique forum for collaborative problem solving where fishery experts define the challenges for technologists to work on, resulting in concrete prototypes that can be implemented to create real and sustainable impact. The Fishackathon will be held the weekend before Secretary of State Kerry’s Ocean Conference, June 16 and 17 and the winning project from each location will present their concept to the conference.

The Call

If you have design, coding, or project management skills, you can help design solutions for sustainable management of fishing stock while protecting the welfare of small-scale fishermen in the developing world. Participants will be featured via video feed at the Secretary’s Ocean Conference. The best prototypes will be awarded prizes and challenged to continue to develop their work and compete for a grand prize. Plus, Fishackathon will feature plenty of free seafood and ocean-inspired drinks.

For more information or to RSVP, please visit Fishackaton.co.


May 29, 2014

HealthCare.com announces funding, to launch search and comparison tools

HealthCare.com, which provides solutions for consumers to compare, customize and save money on their healthcare plans, announced on Thursday a $2 million founders round of financing along with plans to launch its health insurance search and comparison tools ahead of the next health insurance open enrollment period. 

HealthCare.com co-founder Jose Vargas said the company will unveil tools that allow consumers to search, compare and customize insurance plans, streamlining the process based on information the consumer provides. The company said it is also planning to offer its own private label supplemental plans, including those that fill coverage gaps caused by high deductibles. 

HealthCare.com also features a care provider directory, which now has more than 1.2 million listing profiles. The HealthCare.com domain name, acquired by the company’s current founders in 2006, attracts more than 1 million unique visitors per month. 

“We are creating a better consumer-driven experience that tailors plans to their individual needs”, said Jeff Smedsrud, chief executive officer of HealthCare.com, based in Miami. “We are committed to making it easier, faster and more rewarding for people to shop for healthcare.”

May 27, 2014

Gov. Scott proposes $10 million technology prize


TALLAHASSEE -- Rolling out part of his re-election platform, Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday proposed offering a $10 million prize that would reward people who devise new technology to address challenges confronting Florida.

The Risk Taker Reward, funded through state and private dollars, was announced as Scott discussed parts of his platform dealing with small businesses and job creation. It came after Scott promised last week that, if re-elected, he'd spend $300 million during his second term for upgrades at most of the state's 15 seaports.

Few details were immediately available about how the entrepreneur contest would be administered. According to information posted on Scott's campaign Facebook page, the prize would go to a Florida-based entity, non-profit or for-profit, that uses private capital to successfully tackle issues such as "water supply and quality issues, transportation and infrastructure, and medical breakthroughs in cancer and other diseases."

The campaign drew comparisons between the prize and a $25,000 reward offered in 1919 by New York hotel owner Raymond Orteig to the first aviators to fly non-stop from New York to Paris and to the $10 million "X Prize" offered in 1996 to the first non-governmental organization to twice within two weeks launch a reusable manned spacecraft.

The Orteig award was won by Charles Lindbergh in 1927. The "X Prize" was won in 2004 by the SpaceShipOne venture, which was financed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

In addition to the Risk Taker Reward, Scott on Tuesday also proposed teaming with the state's universities and colleges on an annual business-plan competition. The business-plan program, which would offer cash prizes, would be intended to "incentivize start-ups and innovative businesses" around the schools, according to the Scott campaign.

When asked about Scott's proposals, a spokesman for potential Democratic gubernatorial challenger Charlie Crist replied, "The real risk in this election is allowing Rick Scott another shot at defunding education and hurting more middle class Floridians."

Posted 5/27/14

Save the date: TigerDirect announces next Tech Bash

This announcement just in from TigerDirect:

If you think 10,000 techies is a whole lot of geek power, how about 20,000? This year, TigerDirect has signed with the iconic Marlins Park in Miami to host an even bigger evening of innovation, emerging technology and interactive entertainment for its third annual TigerDirect Tech Bash this fall. Along with the expected bonanza of technology exhibits, demonstrations and large-scale activities, TigerDirect promises several new features, including on-site purchasing and even bigger names in tech.

“We are thrilled to double the size of last year's Tech Bash and to expose our customers to the latest technology products and innovations,” says Steven Leeds, Director of Corporate Marketing at TigerDirect. “We are equally excited about our partnerships with local companies and organizations as this is our effort to further propel South Florida into the international tech spotlight."

With so many groundbreaking changes occurring regularly in the tech world, it is only fitting that the internationally covered Tech Bash would need to expand its offerings to keep up with the current state of affairs. At the 2013 Tech Bash, over 10,000 attendees immersed themselves in a stadium takeover event worthy of CES, where 115 exhibitors- including Sony, LG, Alienware, Intel, and others- wowed crowds with activations, product launches and presentations of the latest tablets, laptops, big screens, cloud storage tech and other emerging technologies.

Attendees of this year’s TigerDirect Tech Bash can expect live media coverage, complimentary food and beverage, interactive brand activations and exclusive deals.  Additionally, TigerDirect will be letting the kids in on the fun- entry age to open up to 13+. Most notable of the current smattering of updates is allowing consumers to make on-site purchases, allowing attendees a chance to not only test new products, but to also take home exclusive products before the rest of the world has a chance.

Third Annual TigerDirect Tech Bash

Friday, November 7, 2014

Time: TBD

Location: Marlins Park

Link to website: http://www.tigertechbash.com/

How to build a $100 million sales pipeline

By Craig J. Lewis

They say that revenue is king.

CraigI would say similarly that the sales pipeline is queen as they both go hand-in-hand. Sales revenue is the lifeline of B2B tech startups. Unlike with many B2C tech startups, the only metric that counts is paying customers. 

So, how does one get those paying customers?

It starts with a big pipeline.

It’s impossible to know which deals will result in a win, in advance, until you get closer to the buyer’s purchase decision. If you only focus on a number of perceived “guaranteed deals”, too early in the process, you risk not having enough of those by the end to reach your ARR goal.

Simply put, you need to front-load your pipeline if you have any hope of winning enough business. And that number needs to be big.

How did Kairos do it?

Going from $0 to $100 million in your sales pipeline takes a well-designed MVP, a compelling brand story and marketing that’s focused on a Minimal Viable Segment (MVS).

  • Brian Brackeen launched Kairos from NewMe Accelerator in 2012 and started growing the pipeline in Silicon Valley through word-of-mouth.
  • Via alpha testers we started refining the product, messaging and market position.
  • From the beginning we've had an obsessive relationship with user experience and paid incredible attention to customer feedback and kept the pipeline growing.
  • Brian had some great contacts from his days at ADP, and as one of the world’s top Kronos consultants. Incorporating my own relationships in the startup payroll and payment space, as well as firms like ADP, we were able to leverage that to get us in the door with some potential clients, brand ambassadors and beta testers.
  • Again this generated real world feedback and got mid-market firms talking about our product to others.
  • 50% of our pipeline growth came from existing users sharing their beta experience with others. We hit $10MM in the pipeline.
  • Brian was pitching and pitching and pitching. I was talking to potential customers, and in combination with investor and user feedback, the Kairos story became even more clear.
  • We stayed focused on design; coding was about design, marketing was about design, and internal docs were about design. We were design first and the market was drawn to that.
  • We analyzed the users and potential customers we were attracting and figured out our Minimal Viable Segment and focused on it hard.
  • We were then voted one of WSJ Top 2013 Startups. The exposure pushed us to a $30MM inbound pipeline.
  • Right around this time we raised a $1.2MM Series A and hired our growth team in Dallas; 2 sales professionals and a sales engineer. That moved the needle to $40MM and allowed us to start collecting signals from prospects, as well as users.
  • With a clear vision of what problem we could solve best, and who we could help the most, we spent a few thousand dollars on an industry specific tradeshow and generated an additional $60MM. Bringing our total pipeline for our growth team to work to $100MM.

Focused strategy, a market to aim at, and a niche solution defines your Minimal Viable Segment. ARR is important, but you have to have business to win. More chicken, more egg.

You need to prime that pump with enough leads to generate 10X the numbers you want to hit. As a startup it’s easy to focus on building your MVP and not think you have the bandwidth to handle even a couple of leads, you still need to be creating an atmosphere where people want to buy and building out that pipeline.

Craig J. Lewis is chief strategy officer of Kairos.

May 26, 2014

Chill-N entrepreneurs mixing it up for success


IN PINECREST: Brittany Anderson creates a flavor that includes gummy bears at Chill-N ice cream owned by Chuck Woodard. Chill-N, also shown below. makes flavored-to-order ice cream in minutes using a liquid nitrogen process. C.W. Griffin / Miami Herald Staff


From its menu board that looks like the toBreaking Bad — with its reliance on the scientific shorthand of the periodic table of chemical elements — to its menu that includes only-in-Miami favorites dulce de leche and coffee made with real Cuban coffee, as well as the old standards vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, Chill-N seamlessly (the N is for “nitrogen” and “newfangled”_ melds the old with the new.

Although chefs have been using liquid nitrogen for years to enhance the dining experience, there remains a sense of alchemy when the folks at Chill-N create a dish of ice cream on the spot in a puff of smoke. Actually, it’s more like fog, as little sprays of liquid nitrogen — with a cool temperature of -320 degrees Fahrenheit — fast-freeze each bowl of basic liquid ice cream mix that has been individually flavored. The result is a rich ice cream that has the taste and consistency of gelato.

“Nitrogen will bring them in the door, but consistently good ice cream will keep them coming back,” says Chuck Woodard, who along with Danny Golik, opened Chill-N in Pinecrest’s Village Plaza two years ago. At the time, Woodard was a 20-year-old entrepreneurial wunderkind and a sophomore at the University of Miami, where he participated in UM's Launch Pad entrepreneurship program. Both he and Golik are alumni of the Westminster Christian School, and Woodard graduated from UM earlier this month.

While relying on a technique popularized in the 21st century, Woodard is not above borrowing what works for the more established ice cream shops.

“We started with vanilla and Googled the most popular ice cream flavors,” he admits. Aside from vanilla, there are 10 standard flavors to choose from and special holiday flavors such as pumpkin for Halloween and red velvet cake for Christmas.

In keeping with America’s tastes, Chill-N sells more vanilla than any other flavor. Nutella, a hazelnut-flavored chocolate sauce popular in Europe, is a close second. Patrick Silva, a 12-year-old who lives part time in Miami, explains why he likes Nutella with bananas and marshmallows: “It’s the perfect flavor in every spoonful.”


Founded: October 2012

Founders: Chuck Woodard and Danny Golik

Employees: 15

Annual revenues: $500,000

Most popular flavors: vanilla and Nutella

Daily customers: 300-400

Hours: Monday-Thursday: 2-10 p.m.; Friday: 2-11 p.m.; Saturday: noon-11 p.m.; Sunday: noon-10 p.m.

Contact: 786-732-6988www.chillnicecream.com

Locations: 17831 Biscayne Blvd., Aventura (which opened this year), and 8271 SW 124th St., Pinecrest (the flagship shop)

Also: “I get requests daily to franchise and once or twice a week to go international,” says Woodard, who is currently researching the best business model for franchising.


Read more about South Florida ice cream businesses here.

Happy Memorial Day, everyone!

Posted May 26, 2014


Entrepreneurship Datebook


TecheggBRAINFOOD: The Brainfood series continues Tuesday, May 27, 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m., at The LAB Miami, 400 NW 26th St., Wynwoond. Speaker: Juan Diego Calle, founder of .CO Internet that was recently sold for $108 million. Tickets: brainfoodwithjuan.eventbrite.com

BREWING INNOVATION: The MIT Enterprise Forum of South Florida presents “Technology and the Brewery Industry.” with speakers from local and national brewing companies, 7 p.m.-9 p.m., Tuesday, May 27, at The Stage Miami. $30 (includes a craft beer). Info: http://www.mitforumfl.org

REFRESH MIAMI: This month’s program for South Florida’s largest tech-entrepreneurship meetup: Startup fundraising in Miami, 6 p.m.-10 p.m., Thursday, May 29, Miami Science Museum, 3280 S. Miami Ave. The event will also be simulcast at Nova Southeastern University. More info: refreshmiami.com (click on Events)

BASIC QUICKBOOKS: SCORE Miami-Dade presents a workshop on learning how to use QuickBooks for your business, 6 p.m.-8 p.m., Thursday, May 29, SBA offices, 100 South Biscayne Blvd, seventh floor, Miami. $40 in advance. Register by email: events@scoremiami.org or call 786-425-9119.

SMALL BUSINESS WORKSHOP: Free event hosted by U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Saturday, May 31, at the Broward County Convention Center provides marketing, management and financial guidance. To register: http://wassermanschultz.house.gov/smallbizevent.shtml


Read about Lyft’s launch in Miami, last week’s Business Plan Challenge winners and other startup news and community views on the Starting Gate blog on MiamiHerald.com/business 

May 25, 2014

Startup Spotlight: Nexus Clinical


Tim Langan, chief operating officer, and Dr. Abhinav Gautam, chief medical officer of Nexus Clinical, a fast-growing healthcare-technology startup in Miami, discuss their product, Nexus EHR. C.W.Griffin / Miami Herald Staff.


Headquarters: Miami Beach

Concept: Nexus Clinical provides a cloud-based, clinician-centric EHR (electronic health records) platform to clinical healthcare providers. Nexus’ multidisciplinary team has relentlessly pursued the goal of developing software that allows clinicians to work in a natural and more efficient manner.

Story: After completing medical school in 2008, Dr. Abhinav Gautam moved to Miami to start his residency in clinical anesthesiology at the University of Miami. Throughout his training he encountered a tremendous amount of inefficiency that he felt could be solved through technology. Around the same time he met Pradeep Tripathi, who previously founded and ran a leading technology company and who shared the same sentiments regarding the potential for improvement.

They co-founded Nexus Clinical in late 2009 and began engineering the product, Nexus EHR, to be a low-cost, no long-term contract software platform that manages electronic health records in a language any doctor can understand. Its focus is on preserving clinician interaction while maximizing the application of modern technology.

Fast forward to today and Nexus has grown 300 percent in the last year and now has 50 employees. Tim Langan, with executive experience leading sales teams at software companies, joined Nexus Clinical in 2013 to spearhead the operations and scaling of the company. “It is troubling to observe the challenges providers face in the form of documentation, decreased reimbursements, and poorly designed software. Overall, the market has completely missed the crux — that a physician's duty and focus is centered on the patient, not on documenting for documentation's sake,” said Langan.

Launched: 2010

Management team: Pradeep Tripathi, co-founder and CEO, whose last company, SysTech International, transformed the automative emmissions testing market and was acquired by Opus International; Dr. Abhinav Gautam, co-founder and chief medical officer, who is also assistant professor of clinical anesthesiology at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine; Tim Langan, chief operating officer, a software industry veteran who was an executive from inception to sale at Simplexis and Accurent.

No. of employees: 50

Financing: Privately owned and funded

Nexus3Recent milestones reached:
One of the first 25 companies to achieve the ONC 2014 Complete Ambulatory Certification. Now offers a complete, cloud-based medical imaging solution that allows physicians and patients to access images anytime, anywhere. Established multiple strategic partnerships with industry leading practice management companies, most notably Kareo. Nexus has taken several large, head-to-head deals from entrenched, multibillion dollar healthcare software companies in the past two months, the company said.

Biggest startup challenge: gaining visibility and market share in a hyper-saturated market.

Next step: continue to forge strategic partnerships to exponentially increase distribution.

Strategy for next step: “Our domestic distribution strategy centers on establishing strategic business partnerships with practice management and revenue cycle management companies that do not have a sophisticated and flexible EHR product that is integrated,” said Gautam.

“We are a company comprised of clinicians and engineers. The industry norm is the approach that one company can do everything best. We all know that to be a fallacy ... Our expertise is clinical software and that’s what we focus on,” he added.

Nancy Dahlberg 

Posted May 25, 2014


May 22, 2014

Clutch Prep selected for Techstars Chicago

Miami-based startup Clutch Prep has been  accepted into Techstars Chicago for the summer accelerator program. 

Clutch Prep, started by FIU undergrads at the time,  is an online tutoring program that helps college students simplify their studying. The program equips students with in-depth, textbook-specific videos and practice materials to help students better understand the material and improve their grades, says CEO Marcio Souza.

Clutch Prep and nine other companies will set up shop at 1871, a co-working space in Chicago, and over the next three months work on honing their businesses with the help of Techstars mentors. The program ends with Demo Day at the House of Blues Aug. 27.

South Florida startup 71 Lbs was also a graduate of Techstars Chicago (then called Excelerate Labs).