Apparently, many models and others in the talent industry, such as photographers, makeup artists and wardrobe stylists, want to manage their own careers, and the winner of Refresh Miami's Demo Night gives them the tools to do just that.
"There was no solution for talent or clients to be able to do business seamlessly in one safe place, so we built that," says Mario Aguayo, who co-founded My Style Blox with Sandy Kacura, a professional model. With peer reviews, an availability system, a booking platform -- and a way for e talent to be paid within 48 hours, not months -- My Style Blox provides a marketplace for talent and their clients to discover, book and manage their projects.
What clearly impressed the judges: My Style Blox picked up 950 users and several thousand in revenue in its first couple months of beta testing, which started in July. Agents? "They don't like us much," Aguayo says.
Although it was the co-founders' first pitch of My Style Blox, they won first place and the people's choice vote at the 2015 Demo Night for Refresh Miami, South Florida's largest and oldest tech and entrepreneurship meetup group. Aguayo said the company plans to have version 1 ready in early November, when the Funkshion fashion shows start. Agauyo, who has been a talent manager and also worked in retailing, learned to code at Miami bootcamp Wyncode earlier this year (a graduate of Cohort 4) before launching My Style Blox's beta -- proving once again entrepreneurs come from everywhere.
Also winning Thursday night at Refresh: Yodel, formerly named Tracks, which makes messaging more like face-to-face, capturing reactions, took 2nd place; that company has also been making tracks with investors; and Tesser Health, a platform that lets employees compare prescription drug pricing and is marketed to big employers, took 3rd.
SoftLayer, an IBM company, provided the generous prize pool, giving the winner a premium Catalyst membership worth $10,000 per month in hosting credits as well as business and technical mentorship. The runners up received $1,000 per month in SoftLayer credits. All of the several hundred people attending Demo Night got free admission (and pizza) from HelloDotMiami. The judges were: Brian Brackeen, Kairos; Ivan Rapin-Smith, Watsco Ventures; Adam Boalt, Live Answer; and Julian Balderas, SoftLayer.
Everyone gave five-minute pitches with two minutes of judge questioning. The other finalists were: Birdie Fantasy Golf, Flow KPI, Record Gram, Room2Care and Woolton (see more pictures on my tweet stream, @ndahlberg).
"I was a judge at the Refresh Miami demo day for the third year in a row and I feel the quality of startups that are pitching is getting better and better every year," said Rapin-Smith. "The ideas and teams seem to be getting more mature, more sophisticated."