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46 posts from June 2014

June 30, 2014

Funding news: Posto7 raises nearly $1 million in convertible note offering

Posto7Posto7, an app that serves as a meeting place for friends and family to share their favorite bars, restaurants and hotels with each other, producing relevant and reliable recommendations, just raised $925K via convertible notes from NXTP Labs and other investors in New York City, San Francisco, Brazil and Miami, said co-founder Patrick Curley. Posto7, which moved to  Miami from New York City late last year, recently returned once again after  finishing the NXTP Labs’ accelerator program in Buenos Aires.

TechCocktail reported that Post07 will use the funding to build out the team, and is also  focusing on building  partnerships with key hospitality and travel brands. The company, which was named after a popular lifeguard station in Rio, has  already signed partnerships with UberBooking.com and Oasis Collections.



Startup Spotlight: Panda



Operational headquarters: Miami

Concept: Panda produces high-end sunglasses hand-crafted from sustainable bamboo sourced from China and then hand-crafted in a wood shop. For every pair sold, Panda provides the Gift of Vision to someone in need.

Story: Panda was founded by a group of friends who had attended Georgetown University together. Reunited by an idea to revolutionize the ethical and social impact of sunglasses, they combined their backgrounds, experiences and passions into a singular mission. From day one, Panda’s goal was to fill a void in conscious capitalism: a trail-blazing fashion accessories company that offers innovative sunglasses, said Vincent Ko, Panda’s founder (pictured above). “We wanted to build a business where the product’s design is just as important as the product’s ethical, environmental and social impact,” said Vincent Ko, Panda’s founder. “For every Panda purchase, a person in need is given a free eye exam and eyewear.”

Panda2To meet growing demand for its sunglasses, which float on the water and retail for about $120, Panda started developing business relationships with retailers located in beach communities such as Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach. Today, more than 100 retailers are selling the Panda sunglasses. In South Florida, these include Shade Boutique at the Intercontinental Hotel Miami, Sole on the Ocean store on Collins Avenue, and Miami Blues in Pompano Beach.

Launched: 2011

Management team: Vincent Ko, Founder and Head of Development; Nitu Patel, Vice President of Business Development.

No. of employees: 5

Website: WearPanda.com

Financing: Panda was jump-started in 2011 by 300 supporters who contributed $20,000 on Kickstarter.com, the world's largest funding platform for creative projects. The business’s 2013 revenue was $350,000, and revenues have increased by about 20 percent since the brand began to grow its presence in the Southern Florida region.

Recent milestones reached: When Panda took off, the company worked with the TOMA Foundation, a small nonprofit group in Austin, Texas. In April, Panda launched a new partnership with Optometry Giving Sight to help provide on a larger scale the Gift of Vision to people in need from around the world and help train and establish eyecare centers globally. The company is approaching 7,000 Gifts of Vision delivered. Panda participated in COAST, which debuted in Miami and has become one of the largest trade shows in America today, and showcased its sunglasses to 500 retailers .

Biggest startup challenge: Within the first six months of being in business, Panda’s sunglasses started selling in Nordstrom and Urban Outfitters’ Anthropology. “We tried to grow way too fast and were unable to meet the production delivery schedule to meet their demand. We learned a big lesson from that experience. Sometimes you have to evaluate whether you are ready to take on a big opportunity. If we would have been fully prepared at that time, we could have established a long-lasting business partnership with the two retailers,” said Ko.

Next steps: Expanding the brand in the South Florida market and penetrating new markets in coastal regions.

Strategy for next steps: “We’ve joined shared workspace Pipeline Brickell, which has allowed us to make new business connections and familiarize ourselves with Miami’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. We are also continuing to meet and introduce our lines of sunglasses to new retailers to carry our brand,” said Ko.

“We are focusing on working with smaller partners to help educate customers about our product and brand, rather than pursuing mass distribution. For example, the U.S. Men's Soccer team recently wore our sunglasses,” Ko said. “We are a young company and need partners to help us share our message.”

Photos by Daniel Bock.


Knight provides $105,000 grant to MIAMade

MIAMade will host the second annual Miami Mini Maker Faire to help foster the city’s innovation community with $105,000 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The support will also help establish two other programs as part of MIAMade’s 2014 Miami Makers Initiative, the Wynwood Maker Camp, which will introduce youth to innovative tinkering and thinking, and the DesignLife Make-a-thon, a competition to develop home and lifestyle products with the latest maker technologies.

The second Miami Mini Maker Faire will take place on Nov. 8, 2014, bringing together makers, technologists, artists, entrepreneurs and other do-it yourself enthusiasts in the city’s Wynwood district. Based on the success of the 2013 event, this year the Mini Maker Faire will expand to include 120 maker exhibits; close to 4,000 people are expected to attend. Held in November 2013, the inaugural event drew 1,700 people and hosted 60 exhibits. 

The Wynwood Maker Camp immerses approximately 85 students, ages 8-15, in a collaborative, hands-on environment to work on independent projects covering electronics, microcomputers, virtual reality, 3-D printing, collaboration, communications and entrepreneurship.  Completed projects will be invited to participate in the Miami Mini Maker Faire.  The camp is offering two-week programs throughout the summer, ending Aug. 15; visit wynwoodmakercamp.com for more information.

The DesignLife Make-a-thon is a weekend-long competition that will ask participants to develop prototypes for home and lifestyle products using different types of maker technology, such as 3-D printers and CNC mills.  Winners will get prizes and advice on submitting ideas to invention marketplaces. They will also be part of a special exhibition in the Mini Maker Faire.  The event will take place in the fall prior to the Miami Mini Maker Faire.

Information provided by the Knight Foundation. See guest post by MIAMade's Ric Herrero here. 

Why Miami has joined the #NationOfMakers

An DIU  Telebot demonstration at the Miami Mini Maker Faire on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013.  Photos by MARSHA HALPER / MIAMI HERALD STAFF

By Ric Herrero

“Is the Maker Movement real or just a really cool fad?” Several people asked me this after the huge success of our first Miami Mini Maker Faire last November. There, regional inventors and entrepreneurs both young and old showcased over 60 innovative projects, products and services they conjured up using technology such as 3D printers, desktop tools, design software and good old-fashioned craftsmanship.

Seeing the creativity of our local makers was energizing, and the Miami Mini Maker Faire proved it had the potential to be a hugely popular community event for years to come. But beyond the undeniable gee-whiz factor of these gatherings, some asked, could the ideas in display actually spawn effective solutions to real-world problems?

I wish those people could have joined me at the San Francisco Bay Area and White House Maker Faires earlier this year. Either event would have made a believer out of the most hardened skeptic.

Aside from the communal sense of wonder, the most exciting quality of Maker Faires is to witness how the tools and thinking behind many of the projects found in them are rapidly evolving and being applied in fascinating new ways to improve lives and revolutionize industries.

In the Bay Area (host of the world’s largest Maker Faire with over 130,000 attendees and 1,100 makers), architects and engineers used 3D software Sketch Up and CNC mills to produce components that could be latched together to construct custom-made houses and otherworldly living spaces. I was also moved by the MakerNurse initiative, which tracks DIY health technologies created by hospital nurses around the country and shares them with the medical community at large.

Less than one month later, at the very first White House Maker Faire, it was surreal to see a 3D printed bust of President Obama among the many presidential busts lining the State Floor. I was particularly blown away by SolePower, a Pittsburgh-based startup that invented a shoe insole that charges portable electronics by walking, and OpenROV, a low-cost open source underwater robot that links users to a community of ocean explorers around the world.

In a proclamation declaring June 18 a National Day of Making, the President Obama called “upon all Americans to observe this day with programs, ceremonies and activities that encourage a new generation of makers and manufacturers to share their talents and hone their skills… This event celebrates every maker -- from students learning STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills to entrepreneurs launching new businesses to innovators powering the renaissance in American manufacturing." The President went on to announce a series of new initiatives led by 13 federal agencies and companies such as Etsy and Kickstarter to help makers launch new businesses and create jobs, expand the number of students that have the opportunity to become makers, and challenge makers to tackle the nations most pressing problems.

The President’s message was deeply gratifying because creating “programs, ceremonies and activities that encourage a new generation of makers and manufacturers” is what MIAMade is all about. Since our launch in 2013, MIAMade has been connecting local DIY innovators to the wider maker community. This year, with the support of the Knight Foundation, we launched the Miami Makers Initiative (“MMI”), a three-part series of events to bolster awareness, engagement and support for local makers in South Florida.

The MMI kicked off with our ten-week Wynwood Maker Camp, launched earlier this month at The LAB Miami to introduce local elementary and high school students to many of the same tools and projects showcased at Maker Faires and enhance their interest and confidence in pursuing careers in STEM fields.

Following the Camp, MIAMade will host the DesignLife Make-a-thon, which will invite local engineers, coders and industrial designers to develop prototypes for home & lifestyle products using various maker technologies such as 3D printers, micro-controllers and CNC machines.

Miami Mini Maker Faire_teaser_2014Capping it all off, the 2nd annual Miami Mini Maker Faire will once again take over Wynwood on Nov. 8, 2014. This year we’re having a full-on street festival where Camp and Make-a-thon participants will join over 100 makers of all stripes (artists, engineers, entrepreneurs and educators) to show what they’ve made and share what they’ve learned to an expected audience of close to 4,000 attendees.

As if that weren’t enough to dispel doubts about the viability of the Maker Movement, AmeriCorps and the Maker Education Initiative have selected MIAMade to host the three-year Maker VISTA program, which assigns volunteers to help develop “maker hubs” in underserved areas. Starting this July, our VISTAs will make it easier for Miami’s inner city youth to have access to these same groundbreaking tools and programs the President got to tinker with at the White House.

I strongly encourage anyone who wishes to exhibit his or her DIY creations at the Miami Mini Maker Faire to complete our online application by Sept. 30 at http://www.makerfairemiami.com.

Ric Herrero is the co-founder of MIAMade. On twitter at @MIA_Made.


"Swamp Thing" robot, demonstrated at the Miami Mini Maker Faire in Wynwood on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013, is part of Children of the Swamp, which mentors more than 3,000 robotics teams globally.

 Read previous Miami Herald stories about the maker movement in South Florida and the first Mini Maker Faire here.


June 29, 2014

Momentum event brings together diverse group of social entrepreneurs

Photo (7)

S Corp, LLC, nonprofit ... or B Corp?

Businesses with a social entrepreneurial mission often struggle with selecting the right corporate form to reflect their commitment to being profitable and doing social good. Well, struggle no more.

Starting Tuesday, Florida joins 26 other states and the District of Columbia in offering a new, voluntary corporate form known as a benefit corporation, or “B Corp,” that allows businesses to consider profit as well as society and the environment when they select a corporate form, said Irene Revelas, a B Corp evangelist for South Florida. She introduced the new designation at the Momentum for Social Innovation event Thursday night in Wynwood. She’ll also be doing introduction meetups in Broward and Palm Beach this summer.

B Corps have been championed by Pennsylvania-based nonprofit B Lab, which works with states to draft and pass benefit corporation legislation, such as the bills Florida passed this spring, said Revelas, founder of Startup Delray. Revelas also presented a community challenge: Make South Florida the B Corp capital of the U.S. by forming 100 new Florida B Corps in 100 days. The campaign kicks off Tuesday and ends Oct. 8, when B Lab will hold community sessions in South Florida. To find out more, contact her at startupdelray@gmail.com.

Thursday’s Momentum event brought out about 120 people, including high school and college students to The Light Box. The event series is designed to bring Miami’s social entrepreneurs together, with the mission of scaling social innovation, said organizer Jorge Andres Cortes Restrepo.

Blair Butterfield, director of the Art of Cultural Evolution, shared details about her organization’s Colony1 project, a sustainability hub being developed in Wynwood. All-solar housing from recycled shipping containers, ongoing research and on-site demonstrations on local farming are just part of the plans for this project, said Butterfield.

Other social entrepreneurs participating in panel discussions on sustainability and education included Brett Hudson of Axis Space, Juan Casimiro of UNA/Miami, Michael McCord of LearnerNation, Richard Schuchts of Miami Innovation Center, Wifredo Fernandez of The LAB Miami and now the CREATE incubator at Miami Dade College, Ana Maria Torres of TIC Americas (OAS), Johanna Mikkola of Wyncode and Maria Escorcia, the new director of Ashoka South Florida.  

And just who’s a social entrepreneur? Escorcia said a social media campaign Ashoka is running in July could help you find and connect with South Florida’s “changemakers.” Follow hashtag #30daysofchangemiami on twitter beginning Tuesday. Join in and highlight those who are making a difference.


Entrepreneurship Datebook

Tech eggSOCIAL MEDIA DAY: One of the largest #SMDay events in the nation convenes at the Adrienne Arsht Center from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, June 29, with a packed speaker lineup. Free but  donation requested. Register here.

10,000 SMALL BUSINESSES: Find out more about the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses at Miami Dade College, a free program open to selected companies ready to scale. Information sessions are 8 a.m. Tuesday, July 1 North Campus, 11380 NW 27th Ave., and 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 2, Homestead Campus, 500 College Terrace, Room F222. There is also a webinar 2-3 p.m. Tuesday, July 1: https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/901290846.

PITCH DAY: After an intense inaugural nine-week Wyncode Bootcamp, Wyncoders will present their final project Web application at the first Wyncode Pitch Day to a judging panel of Miami tech leaders, and you may find your next developer here. Event is 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 2, The LAB Miami. Info: Register here or go to thelabmiami.com (click on Events).

1 MILLION CUPS: South Florida startups present their challenges and gain feedback, 9-10 a.m. every Wednesday, Venture Hive, 1010 NE Second Ave., Miami. More info: 1millioncups.com/Miami.

STARTUP GRIND: Startup Grind hosts serial entrepreneur Dan Cane, CEO and co-founder of Modernizing Medicine, 6-9 p.m. July 8, Venture Hive. More info: startupgrind.com/miami.


Keep up with startup news, find resources for entrepreneurs and read community views on the Starting Gate blog, updated daily on MiamiHerald.com/business.


June 27, 2014

Keiretsu Forum angel network opening Miami chapter


In another sign of widening interest in Miami’s entrepreneurial ecosystem,  Keiretsu Forum, a large worldwide angel network, is opening a chapter in Miami.

The Keiretsu Forum South-East Region  opens for business on July 1 when its first forum meeting takes place in Miami.

Keiretsu Forum was founded in 2000 by Randy Williams in the San Francisco Bay Area, and now has 30 chapters and more than 1,100 accredited investor members. Keiretsu Forum members typically provide  capital in the  $250k – 2 million range in early-stage companies. Members collaborate in the due-diligence, but make their own investment decisions. Through the Keiretsu Forum, more than $400 million of capital has been invested into technology, consumer products, Internet, healthcare, life sciences and real estate companies, the forum said.

 “Miami becomes the first Chapter in the K4-SE Region and the 31st Chapter in the K4 network,” said Howard Lubert, the South-East Region founder and area president, in a press release.  “Our success in running winter meetings on FisherIsland off the coast of Miami led to the invitation from our host sponsor, Holland & Knight, to explore a permanent home in the heart of the Miami downtown business sector.”

John Inman, a commercial real estate executive and investor, will lead the Miami chapter and plans to select 20 founding members before year’s end. “Miami is an untapped gold mine of resources and I plan on helping grow the new South-East Region into a powerhouse,” he said.

Holland & Knight is one of the largest law firms in the United States with more than 1,000 attorneys in 19 offices.  Its attorneys Chris Boyett, Rod Bell and Danielle Price were instrumental in bringing the new chapter here.

“We saw the potential for the Keiretsu Forum to be a success in South Florida and there  is a huge need for an organization like this,” said Bell, a partner who heads up the domestic corporate practice in South Florida. “The time is right for something like this to come along and help these companies get to the next level.”

Posted June 27, 2014

June 26, 2014

Miami Dade College to open entrepreneurship center, names leaders

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

To prepare its students for success in the entrepreneurial economy, Miami Dade College plans to open a new entrepreneurship center in September and has named its leadership.

Rafael Saldaña_tcm6-85204 (1)The Idea Center @ MDC, to be headed by entrepreneur Leandro Finol, will serve as Miami Dade College’s hub for entrepreneurship and will serve its 165,000 students. It will include a venture incubator, called CREATE, with programming and resources to help nurture and accelerate the entrepreneurial ideas and ventures of students. The center, which will be located on the 5th floor of Building 8 on the Wolfson campus, will also be tasked with creating and upgrading entrepreneurship curricula and may partner with a major educational organization in that effort, said Rafael Saldaña, dean of MDC’s School of Business and is launching this major endeavor.

“The social contract has changed. Just because you have a great education does not mean that the job will be there. And we all know you don’t go to a job and stay there 30 years anymore,” said Saldaña. “Entrepreneurship is a mindset and a skill-set students need to be able to do it on their own. That’s why Dr. Eduardo Padrón [president of MDC] says this is the future of the college.”

Saldaña said the center will be open to all MDC students, not only those in the School of Business, and it will help students with entrepreneurial pursuits in all industries, from technology to healthcare to aviation to culinary businesses, for instance. It could also serve students who want to help their parents take their small family businesses to the next level, Saldaña said. The center and incubator will provide mentorship, assistance in raising capital, programs and advisory services.

The 11,500-square-foot center also will house organizations with resources that can help its students. For example, MDC’s Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program will have a presence there, and MDC is working on partnerships with other organizations now, Saldaña said. Noting the increasing number of resources available for entrepreneurs, "We want to be a hub for students that will complement what is already being done in Miami," he said.


To run the center and the incubator, Saldaña said the college looked for leaders with entrepreneurial and industry experience.

Finol, who grew up in Venezuela and moved to the U.S. in 1999 on a Fulbright scholarship, will be executive director. Finol, who has 15 years experience in both startups and multinational organizations, is a sales and marketing executive who co-founded Direc4U in 2001, later sold to Red Ventures, and was an executive for MDU Communications and consultant for Liberty Power. He’s also an investor in retail and telecommunications businesses, Finol said.

“Education can change people’s lives," Finol said. "I’m a product of education and entrepreneurship and to be involved in such an ambitious project is a great opportunity.”

Wifredo Fernandez (2)
Directing the incubator will be Wifredo Fernandez, well-known in Miami’s startup community in his role as co-founder of The LAB Miami, a 10,00-square-foot co-working and education space in Wynwood, where he has worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs and helped launch programming for students. Fernandez, who grew up in South Florida, is also an adjunct professor at MDC. “I’m excited to be able to take my learnings in the LAB and apply it to education. We have a lot of raw talent in Miami, and this is about democratizing access to everything going on in the startup community.”

Finol explained that the Idea Center will have programs to help students at every stage and will model programming and methodology after what has worked well at universities in other parts of the country. There will be programs for students who don’t know where to start and another for students who already have a tangible idea. Once the students have developed a prototype and a team, they may be eligible for a semester-long program that will offer world-class mentorship and resources.

“We believe everyone can become an innovator,” Finol said.

Earlier this year, MDC launched the 10,000 Small Businesses program. The program is open to qualifying growth-stage companies in the community, and the program’s second cohort is underway now.

Posted June 26, 2014


Speakers, parties, networking on tap for Social Media Day Miami on Sunday

On Sunday, June 29, social media professionals and enthusiasts looking to find inspiration and expand their knowledge will once again swarm the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County for Social Media Day Miami 2014. Popularized by Mashable, Social Media Day is an international celebration of social media that attracts thousands of meet-ups across the world.

 The free conference celebrates the art and craft of social media through presentations benefiting the beginner as well as advanced user. Panel discussion topics include best practices for digital marketing; reaching Hispanics, using social media metrics to target your audience; journalism and social media; the role of mobile; personal branding; and measurement and ROI. The event will take place throughout the Arsht Center’s campus, with registration being held at Knight Hall starting at 11 a.m.

Dan McCabe, director of Kevin Bacon’s 6 Degrees Foundation will give the closing remarks, along with a briefing on the foundation’s mission of using celebrity influence through social media to highlight happenings throughout the country. Attendees will have the opportunity to socialize with the online community offline while enjoying music, hors d’oeuvres and drinks at the open bar happy hour mixer sponsored by Liqs at The Nest proceeding the event.

Now in its fourth year, Miami hosted one of the largest Social Media Days in the country in 2012 and 2013, and this year is expected to grow even larger, with more than 900 potential attendees. Mashable has named Miami as one of the top five cities to attend a Social Media Day event this year.

“Social Media Day showcases speakers from many perspectives throughout South Florida, and gives their audiences a chance to meet offline," said Grant Stern, SMDayMIA organizer and President of Morningside Mortgage.   

Mashable launched Social Media Day in 2010 as a way to recognize the digital revolution unfolding in homes and workplaces everywhere. From Australia to the Philippines, all the way to Sri Lanka and Morocco, countries come together every June to participate in this global movement.

Social Media Day Miami is being organized by local social media industry leaders including Grant SternNatascha Otero-SantiagoJames EcholsAnnette PeikertBrenda Leguisamo, Annush MacLeodChristine de la HuertaKarl NyberghHeather LopezSandi AbbottLee HodsonCynthia K. Seymour and Deb Hopkins.  The event is sponsored by the Ford Motor Company, rbb Public Relations, Keurig, and ONE | Sotheby's International Realty.

If you are interested in attending Social Media Day Miami please visit www.smdaymia.com

Attendance is free with registration, while tax-deductible donations are encouraged.

Social Media Day Miami Schedule 

  • * Sunday, June 29
  • * Venue: Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County
  • * 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.: Registration
  • * 12 – 5 p.m.: Social Media Day Conference
  • * 5 – 8 p.m.: Happy Hour Social / Networking Mixer at The Nest

 - Submitted by Social Media Club of South Florida

CareCloud raises $25.5 million in venture debt

CareCloud, the Miami-based healthcare-technology company, announced Thursday that it has received a $25.5 million debt financing commitment from Hercules Technology Growth Capital, a specialty finance company that provides senior secured loans to venture capital-backed technology companies.

CareCloud, now with about 270 employees, provides  cloud-based practice management, electronic health records and medical billing software and services.  One of the leading venture companies in South Florida, CareCloud last summer announced it closed its Series B round of more than $29 million, bringing total VC investment in the company to $55 million from firms such as Intel Capital, Norwest Venture Partners, Tenaya Capital and Adams Street Partners.

CareCloud, founded in 2009 by CEO Albert Santalo, said that in the first quarter the company signed  more than 170 new medical groups to its cloud-based platform, which now serves about 1,200 clients in 48 states.

Hercules Technology Growth Capital focuses on companies in technology-related markets, including technology, biotechnology, life science, and energy and renewable technology industries, at all stages of development. Since its inception in December 2003, Hercules has committed more than $4.2 billion to more than 270 companies, Hercules said in a news release.

Read an earlier Miami Herald Q&A with Albert Santalo here.