« April 2016 | Main | June 2016 »

28 posts from May 2016

May 30, 2016

Entrepreneurship Datebook: Workshop, events May 30-June 5 and upcoming deadlines

Tech eggFounder Institute Showcase: Early-stage investors and South Florida entrepreneurs are invited to meet the most recent graduates of the Founder Institute, 7-9:30 p.m. (Private investor VIP reception at 6 p.m.) Tuesday, Broward College, Reubin O’D Askew Tower, 220 South East Second Ave., Floor 7, Fort Lauderdale, RSVPL http://fi.co/e/91701

Miami GovJam: This project-based, hands-on professional training teaches participants how to increase the efficacy of service delivery and customer satisfaction, while fostering innovation and teamwork within and outside government, Wednesday-Thursday, Miami Beach City Hall. More info: http://contexto.co/miamigovjam/

Aging2.0’s 2016 Global Startup Search: This competition is for aging-focused startups to showcase their company to an international audience; events are taking place worldwide. The Miami event will be 6:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday at BUILDING.co, 120 SW Eighth St., Miami. Tickets on Eventbrite. Apply to pitch startups at the event here: aging2.com/startup.

National Day for Civic Hacking: This event will bring together urbanists, civic hackers, government staff, developers, designers and community organizers to collaboratively build new solutions using publicly released data, technology and design processes to improve Miami communities and the governments that serve them, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, The Idea Center @ MDC, Wolfson Campus, Building 8, Fifth Floor. More info on Eventbrite.

Upcoming deadlines

Mentor Day: Mentor Day is a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs to receive FREE one-on-one mentorship from industry leaders in Miami. The next MentorDay is Friday, June 17th. Applications close on Monday, June 6th. Apply at mentorday.co.

Read more about Mentor Day here.

Startupbootcamp Digital Health: A new accelerator to Miami begins this fall, providing a three-month accelerator program, seed funding, mentorship, six months of free office space in the heart of Miami and in kind-services. Application deadline is June 10. Apply here.

Read more about Startupbootcamp here.

Starting Gate

Find startup news and community views on Starting Gate blog on MiamiHerald.com/business. Have an event to list? Email ndahlberg@miamiherald.com and put Datebook in the subject line.

Nancy Dahlberg @ndahlberg

May 27, 2016

FAU Tech Runway announces fourth accelerator class

Florida Atlantic University’s Tech Runway has selected its fourth Venture Vintage class of startup and early-stage companies to participate in its business accelerator program.

This year, five companies will receive a $25,000 non-equity grant, participate in a 16-week intensive boot camp, engage in a rigorous year-long mentoring program with a team of five accomplished business mentors, and will be provided a workspace for one year. The five companies are:

  • Aquaco Farmsis designed to be one of the largest saltwater fish grow-out facilities in Florida and will provide a sustainable, highly sought-after commodity in the seafood industry. 
  • Faceplay is a communications tool that harnesses picture and video technology to bring back intuitive and personal exchange between users.
  • Rotation Manager is an online and mobile document management platform that enables students in the healthcare professions to submit documents for clinical rotations by connecting them to schools and hospital employers.
  • Squeeze is a FinTech application designed to be a financial concierge that analyzes your spending habits, reduces your bills, and grows your wealth through expert coaching, and comparative pricing analysis.
  • Symptify is a versatile and powerful symptom evaluator, coupled with a facility geo-locator, check-in application, health library, emergency contact notifier, and transmissible health bank.

In addition, seven more companies were awarded special designations based on other FAU programs and the pillars of the FAU strategic plan. This will give them many of the same benefits as the prior five companies, minus the $25,000 grant. The seven companies are:

  • Marine Science/Ocean Engineering Pillar Designee: BGB Designs is small, portable, hydrokinetic device which generates electrical power via flowing water from streams, rivers, or water moving past a paddled canoe or kayak.
  • Tech Garage Designee:The Bionic Glove Project is a technology with the capacity to deliver ambidextrous function to people who have lost, or were born without, a working hand.
  • Non-Profit Designee: Mind & Melodyis focused upon improving the quality of life for people experiencing dementia, Alzheimer's, and other neurocognitive impairments, through music and novel musical instruments.
  • FAU WAVE Competition Designee: Meti Co. develops and employs multiple platforms to promote career and business development for users.
  • Environmental Science Pillar Designee: Let It Rot is revolutionizing the gardening and waste processing industries by giving rotten food and other “garbage” a new purpose.
  • Neuroscience Pillar Designee: Neuro Pharmacologicsis exploiting genetic adaptations to develop therapeutic drugs focused on neurological indicators such as migraine headaches.
  • Healthy Aging Pillar Designee: RENAL TRKRRis a mobile chronic disease management platform that educates, supports, and motivates patients with kidney disease into making needed behavioral changes that can lead to the retention of kidney function, postponement of dialysis, and improvement of their quality of life.

Two additional companies qualified for the TechRunway program on equal terms and will receive the same benefits as the aforementioned seven designee companies:

  • Invoice Syndicateenables approved investors to purchase, at a discounted rate, buyer-approved invoices from the Invoice Marketplace™.
  • KISScientific Instrumentsproduces inexpensive chemical education instrumentation, as well as educational materials, appropriate for high schools and colleges.

            “The extremely high caliber of the companies which qualified for this incoming class demonstrates the strong draw of FAU Tech Runway’s Launch Competition and class program, which can optimally position a venture as it prepares to step out into the marketplace, compete, generate revenues, and create jobs,” said Rhys L. Williams, associate vice president for research and the managing director for FAU Tech Runway, in a statemen.

Under the purview of the FAU Division of Research, Tech Runway is a public-private partnership formed to foster technology start-ups and early-stage companies. Since its inception in late 2014, FAU Tech Runway  has supported 15 companies that have produced more than $3 million in total revenue. One of the companies from the second class, Candidate.Guru, won the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge and took first place and a $100,000 cash prize at the statewide Florida Venture Forum Early Stage Conference.

For more information on FAU Tech Runway, visit techrunway.fau.edu.

 

May 26, 2016

It’s all about efficiency: A conversation with SpeedETab’s cofounders

By Rhiya Mittal / RhiyaMittal@gmail.com

PicturePicture this. It’s already 6:50 pm and you just arrived to the Wynwood Art District to attend Startup Grind Miami’s monthly Fireside Chat. Only 10 minutes remain until the chat begins but you need to get your medium latte from Panther Coffee after your grueling day at work. For the average person, this may seem like quite the dilemma. But not for you! You’ve already ordered and paid for your coffee ahead of time through your SpeedETab app on your smartphone. You quickly run into Panther Coffee, snigger at the long line of eager coffee drinkers, spot an inviting to-go cup with your name on it on SpeedETab’s signature black and green mat, scoop it up, and leave the store- all in a span of two minutes. You then head on over to LAB Miami, Wynwood’s hub for entrepreneurs and innovators (and the venue for the night’s Startup Grind event), and make it just in time for the Fireside Chat, caffeinated and ready to go! You whip out your laptop and get ready to take notes on tonight’s conversation with SpeedETab cofounders, Adam Garfield and Ed Gilmore, to see how they made the magic happen.

(Side note- the above anecdote is a true story based on my personal experience/)

So, what is SpeedETab? After working long hours at a corporate finance firm in Boston, Adam Garfield would often go out with his friends to grab a beer at a local bar. It was then that he noticed a recurring problem that did not yet seem to have a solution: he would often be standing at the bar after ordering his drink, with his cash in hand, for upwards of 10 minutes, waiting for a bartender to process his order and deliver his beverage. Something had to be done. Adam and cofounder Ed Gilmore decided to take matters into their own hands and create SpeedETab, a mobile ordering app that allows users to discover nearby restaurants, order food and drinks, and pay for their order- all in one go. To retrieve their orders, users simply skip the line at their favorite venues, walk up to the SpeedETab mat by the cashiers, and pick up their items. It’s that easy! Launched in March 2015, SpeedETab has taken the South Florida region by storm and is used at over 100 venues, with plans to expand to New York soon.

NewstartupgrindProduct is king. Focus is key. In the tech environment, there are countless ways to improve a product and add new, shiny features that may seem revolutionary. However, constant feature upgrades and additions may prove to actually detract from the product itself and could be economically impractical. So how does one choose which features stay and which ones go? Adam and Ed believe that in order to be successful, a team’s main focus must be guaranteeing that its main product works efficiently and successfully while consistently delivering and achieving its ultimate goal. SpeedETab’s team focuses primarily on the ultimate user experience, for both its merchants and its clients. Before updating the app in any way, Adam and Ed ensure that the user experience will remain streamlined and reliable, as their goal is to create a frictionless connection between technology and hospitality. To do this, both cofounders constantly keep each other balanced and evaluate each change they make to make sure that the modifications will benefit the company both technologically and economically. Product success will also help in other ways. While advertising, marketing, and sales promotions do build hype around a product, the best PR comes from letting the product speak for itself. Allowing customers to share their own experiences with a product and tell their friends and families about the reasons why they love it is invaluable and extremely effective. The easiest way to make sure this happens is to have a team that focuses on the product itself, not the revenue it generates.

Healthy competition. When direct competitors are out there in the market, do not hide from them, embrace them! Your competitors will have products that serve a purpose similar to yours and may even utilize a similar platform as yours- this is extremely beneficial as it familiarizes the consumer population with your product type. For example, SpeedETab’s major competitors include other mobile ordering platforms such as the Starbucks app, Chipotle app, etc. Users who have been using these apps to order their favorite items from various venues are already educated about the benefits of mobile ordering. This reduces the efforts SpeedETab has to make to inform the public about the uses of mobile ordering, thus cutting down on promotional costs the company would have to incur. Furthermore, SpeedETab can use the fact that it has so many competitors to capitalize on the way that it streamlines mobile ordering from many venues into just one simple app. This way, instead of users having pages of mobile ordering applications on their phones, they can maximize their efficiency by just having one, SpeedETab. So remember, use your competitors’ similarities to further highlight your unique factors.

Team dynamics. To be successful in any venture, it is essential to have a diverse yet coherent team. At the inception of many startups, entrepreneurs often find themselves wearing many hats: that of a brand ambassador, marketing executive, operations director, financier, product developer, etc. While it may seem invigorating at first, this causes many entrepreneurs to burn out quickly, thus making their startup suffer. In a tech-centered business, it is often beneficial to have one cofounder who handles the business aspect and one who focuses on product development and technology. After acquiring the necessary funds, however, cofounders must recruit a structured team of specialists and delegate tasks to ensure that the company’s goals are met in an efficient manner. Communication amongst team members is necessary to make sure all team members are connected and aware of the company’s overall progress and direction. Good leaders should also focus on seeing that relationships between colleagues are both professional and amicable.

Want to gain more advice from leading entrepreneurs? Come to Startup Grind Miami’s next event on June 13. More information will be on StartupGrind.com/miami.

Rhiya Mittal is a student at the University of Miami, currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Neuroscience along with minors in Chemistry, Health Sector Management & Policy, and Marketing. She hopes to work on further merging the fields of healthcare and marketing and attend medical school in the future. Reach her at RhiyaMittal@gmail.com

May 25, 2016

Calling all healthcare entrepreneurs and innovators

MiamiHerald24MAY

By Christian Seale

If you are reshaping the future of healthcare, Startupbootcamp Digital Health wants to meet you. And offer our help.

With our partners at the Knight Foundation, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, the University of Miami Health System, Univision and Microsoft we are building Miami into a global hub for healthcare innovation. We encourage you to join us.

As part of our mission to find the best healthcare entrepreneurs globally and plug them into Miami’s growing ecosystem, we have traveled to over 20 cities to meet fearless, ambitious and extraordinary founders like yourself. If you haven’t already, reach out and set up a virtual or in person office hours in Miami.

Our applications close on June 10. So, the time to act is now!

We are looking for entrepreneurs working at the intersection of healthcare and technology and focused on making our healthcare system more equitable, efficient and accessible for all.

Our promise is simple: you will achieve one year of progress in three months. Take a look at the over 300 startups that have already done so.

For the companies selected to our program we will provide seed funding, mentorship, six months of free office space in the heart of Miami, in kind-services from Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, Salesforce for Startups, Intel and Paypal and access to the most relevant network of corporate clients, investors and mentors.

During our program, you will interact with national network of healthcare providers and insurers including Ascension, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, Jackson Health System, the University of Miami Health System, Duke University Health System, Mount Sinai, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Florida Blue, Aetna and Healthways among many others. Over 100 mentors will help you refine, grow and scale your business and prepare you to present at our 400+ attendee Demo Day in Miami.

We invite you to join us as we build Miami into a globally recognized hub for innovation and together transform the future of healthcare.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Christian Seale is Founder and Managing Director of startupbootcamp Miami. Follow on Twitter @sbchealth. For more information, email digitalhealth@startupbootcampdotcom.

Read More: Startupbootcamp chooses Miami for first U.S. accelerator

May 24, 2016

Broward College launches accelerator in downtown Fort Lauderdale

Broward College announced the launch of its business accelerator, to be located at the downtown Fort Lauderdale campus on Las Olas Boulevard.

“This marks an exciting time for startup companies in Broward County,” said J. David Armstrong, Jr., president of Broward College. “Our business community partners have shared with us the need for support beyond the initial planning and business plan phase. We listened, and our accelerator will provide wraparound services to budding entrepreneurs as they refine their businesses to seek funding.”

The announcement comes on the heels of the success of the Innovation Hub at Broward College. In less than a year, Innovation Hub, directed by Enrique Triay with support from Professor Steven Gross, has generated significant activity. At the present time, there are 20 companies that reside -- or have weekly contact with -- the Innovation Hub, and many are capitalizing on the expertise provided by Triay and Professor Gross; business people who serve as consultants; and numerous students who actively are involved as interns in these companies. Two companies currently at Innovation Hub will be a part of Broward College’s new accelerator program.

Broward College launches accelerator in downtown Fort Lauderdale

Broward College announced the launch of its business accelerator, to be located at the downtown Fort Lauderdale campus on Las Olas Boulevard.

“This marks an exciting time for startup companies in Broward County,” said J. David Armstrong, Jr., president of Broward College. “Our business community partners have shared with us the need for support beyond the initial planning and business plan phase. We listened, and our accelerator will provide wraparound services to budding entrepreneurs as they refine their businesses to seek funding.”

The announcement comes on the heels of the success of the Innovation Hub at Broward College. In less than a year, Innovation Hub, directed by Enrique Triay with support from Professor Steven Gross, has generated significant activity. At the present time, there are 20 companies that reside -- or have weekly contact with -- the Innovation Hub, and many are capitalizing on the expertise provided by Triay and Professor Gross; business people who serve as consultants; and numerous students who actively are involved as interns in these companies. Two companies currently at Innovation Hub will be a part of Broward College’s new accelerator program.

3 tips for training your startup salesforce

By Mark Crofton

MarkcroftonI wrote  an earlier blog post here  on 4 sales tips for startups. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to speak to many more early-stage Miami companies as well as take a new role leading a global sales training program. Here are (just) three tips based on those experiences:

1. Sales can be taught

It’s an age old assertion: Salesmen are “born, not made.” In fact, many people have told me that I’m a “natural” sales person or that I was “born” with all the attributes and talent to be a salesperson. Yet the truth is that while there are many attributes or traits which correlate to success in sales --such as enjoying interacting with others, ability to express oneself well-- there are also numerous skills to be learned to effectively run an enterprise sales cycle.

Few people enter this world intuitively knowing the best techniques for generating new opportunities, qualifying those opportunities, identifying all the relevant decision makers/influencers/stakeholders, or negotiating tactics. This is especially true if your early stage company is selling a product or solution that is even marginally complex to another business, as is an enterprise sale. The good news? There is a wealth of material, research and documentation on what works and doesn’t work in enterprise sales. You certainly can be taught the necessary skills.

2. Don't set and forget. Learning is an ongoing thing

Another well-known tenet in sales is that things change. Whether it’s your product, the competition, or the way your customer buys, if you don’t continuously give your sales team learning opportunities to catch up with change, they risk falling behind. At that point, it’s not only about losing to the competition, but the fact that their hard-earned customers simply won’t buy from them anymore, because they aren’t selling the way the customer buys.

Consider a fundamental way that selling has changed: determining where in the sales cycle to engage customers. When I began selling 20 years ago, most sales cycles began with a customer telling me about his challenges or problems. I would then look into my sales bag and present a solution, or better yet, several solutions that would solve his problem. I’d explain what each product did and how it would addresses his problem. The customer didn’t know very much about my products or often even about what was available in the market place. There was asymmetrical information: I knew a lot about my products and the customer generally knew considerably less. I was essentially engaging my customer in the early stages of the sales cycle.

Fast forward to today: It’s often the case that by the time the customer calls your sale rep, she understands their problem, is familiar with your product, as well as your competitors’, and has read all the reviews. She is simply much further along in the buying cycle. Therefore, the approach to the customer is different, and you need to provide your sales executive the ongoing training to sell accordingly.

3. Measure the impact, and then course-correct

Training your sales force is probably going to be a costly endeavor, both in terms of money and time. In addition, if you consider the cost of being out of the field, and not selling while occupied in class, the true cost can be much higher. So, why do so many organizations fail to track their return on this important investment?

In companies where I have worked, we compared the performance of a sales executive who took the new-hire onboarding class, versus those who did not. The data helped determine that it was a good use of his/her first week on the job, and this information was also used to convince other managers of new hires to make the investment. Ultimately, this could have an important impact for the company.

However, it is also valuable, but generally much more difficult, to track the effect of a single course. For example, what happens two quarters after your sales executives took a new Prospecting class? Was pipeline multiple affected? If not, is it necessary to eliminate the class or perhaps retool it? Having the right data on hand for instructional re-design is critical, as well as incorporating specific feedback to help course-correct.

As you consider your ongoing investment in your sales team, don’t forget to factor in some time and budget for training. If you follow these 3 tips, investment is sure to pay off.

Mark Crofton is a Vice-President at SAP SE. He is a leader of the SAP Academy, the global sales training program for developing the next generation of SAP sales executives. Mark is also involved locally in Miami mentoring and advising startups.

Read more: Four sales tips for startups

 

 

 

Read more:

Aging2.0 to hold competition for Miami startups June 2

An opportunity for startups focused on aging:

Aging2.0's 2016 Global Startup Search (http://www.aging2.com/gss/) is a competition for aging-focused startups to showcase their company to an international audience.  Events are taking place worldwide.  

The Miami event will be June 2 at BUILDING.co in Miami.  

Tickets can be found at http://www.eventbrite.com/e/aging20-global-startup-search-miami-fl-usa-tickets-24781046778?aff=es2 and those interested in pitching their startups can sign up at aging2.com/startup.

May 22, 2016

Entrepreneurship Datebook: Workshops, events in South Florida

Tech eggVisual Story-telling Institute: Learn how to step up your game with best practices and actionable tips on how to create a winning online video strategy for business impact, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday, The Screening Room, 2626 NW Second Ave., Miami. More info: www.visualstorytell.com.

South Florida Technology Alliance: Theme of monthly program: “The Evolution and State of Coding,” 5:30-9 p.m. Thursday, Axis Space Coworking, 333 Las Olas Way. Tickets: www.southfloridatech.org (Click on events).

Founder Institute Showcase: Early-stage investors and South Florida entrepreneurs are invited to meet the most-recent graduates of the Founder Institute, 7-9:30 p.m. (Private investor VIP reception at 6 p.m.) May 31, Broward College, Reubin O’D Askew Tower, 220 South East Second Ave., Floor 7, Fort Lauderdale, RSVPL http://fi.co/e/91701

Aging2.0's 2016 Global Startup Search: This competition is for aging-focused startups to showcase their company to an international audience; events are taking place worldwide. The Miami event will be 6:30 to 9 p.m. June 2 at BUILDING.co, 120 SW 8th St., Miami. Tickets on Eventbrite. Apply to pitch startups at the event here: aging2.com/startup.

Miami GovJam: This project-based, hands-on professional training teaches participants how to increase the efficacy of service delivery and customer satisfaction, while fostering innovation and teamwork within and outside of government. June 1-2, Miami Beach City Hall. More info: http://contexto.co/miamigovjam/

National Day for Civic Hacking: This event will bring together urbanists, civic hackers, government staff, developers, designers and community organizers to collaboratively build new solutions using publicly released data, technology, and design processes to improve Miami communities and the governments that serve them, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. June 4, The Idea Center @ MDC, Wolfson Campus, Building 8, Fifth Floor. More info on Eventbrite.

Starting Gate

Find startup news and community views on Starting Gate blog on MiamiHerald.com/business. Have an event to list? Email ndahlberg@"miamiherald.com and put Datebook in the subject line.

Nancy Dahlberg @ndahlberg

May 18, 2016

A South Florida trifecta: Candidate.Guru, Symptify, Streann Media win at Early Stage Capital Conference

GURU0400 FAU2 CTJ

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com 

Candidate.Guru of Weston took home the top prize, $100,000, at the  Florida Venture Forum Early Stage Capital Conference in St. Petersburg on Tuesday.

The company, also the  winner of the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge, offers a big data solution  that can predict a culture fit between corporate hiring managers and prospective job seekers without the need for surveys and assessment tools, says CEO Chris Daniels (pictured above with co-founder Steve Carter). Candidate.Guru has been part of FAU Tech Runway for the past year.

Candidate.Guru was not the only South Florida winner -- in fact all three of the top cash winners were from South Florida. Space Florida, the state’s public-private effort to grow aerospace-related businesses, provided $150,000 in prize money to the winning presenters at the conference.

Symptify of Sunny Isles Beach, which helps users figure out causes for their symptoms and where to go for help, won second place, winning $30,000; Symptify also won the early-stage competition at eMerge Americas in 2015.

Streann Media of Miami, took third, winning $20,000. Streann Media,  offers cloud-based software  that enable content providers to offer their viewers a “TV everywhere experience” on any smart device. Streann recently received funding from the Tamiami Angel Fund II.

The Florida Venture Forum  selected 20 Florida-based companies to present at its all-day Florida Early Stage Capital Conference held at the Hilton Carillon in St. Petersburg. The presenting companies -- five from South Florida -- were selected from a pool of about 100 applicants by a committee of active Florida venture capitalists and other investors. In addition to the awards, the conference offered the presenting companies the opportunity to pitch on stage to a couple hundred attendees and meet individually with investors. The 2016 conference attracted the best investor attendance in the event's nine-year history, said Kevin Burgoyne, president and CEO of the Florida Venture Forum.

This is the first time cash prizes have been awarded at an Early Stage Conference, he said. "Our partnership with Space Florida added an exciting dimension to the event, providing three worthy companies with much needed capital they can use to continue to grow and scale their businesses."

Read more about the conference from the Tampa Bay Business Journal here.

Read more about Candidate.Guru here.

Read more about Symptify here.

Read more about Streann Media here.