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15 posts from March 2018

March 09, 2018

How to apply to pitch at - and attend - this women-led startup challenge


On April 18, MIT Enterprise Forum (MITEF) South Florida is teaming up with Aminta Ventures to present Geek Tank 5, a startup competition that will be fully funded by local South Florida female angel investors and will showcase the area’s most promising female-led, early-stage businesses. Four companies will be selected from all entrants to pitch their idea to an all-female panel of angel investors for the chance to win $15,000 in funding. The winner will be announced at the event on Wednesday, April 18.

All competing startups must have either a female founder or a C-level executive on their team and be looking to fund a new idea or fill their Seed round. The top four companies — based on innovativeness and viability of startup’s product or service — will be asked to pitch at MITEF’s Geek Tank 5: Presented by Aminta Ventures on April 18th at CIC Miami. At least one woman must be involved in delivering the pitch for each of the four finalist companies.

“Women make up less than 25% of angel investors“ says Alia Mahmoud of Aminta Ventures. “This is a problem because male investors, on average, favor male founders, even though businesses with female executive leadership outperform male-only led organizations. That is why Aminta Ventures is dedicated to creating an environment for female investors to thrive in South Florida and why we're thrilled to partner with MIT Enterprise Forum South Florida on this edition of Geek Tank to encourage more gender diversity in South Florida's investment community.”

The annual Geek Tank is open to the general public. In addition to learning about exciting new startups and gaining insights into how angel investors make funding decisions, this year’s audience -- for the first time in Geek Tank's history -- will get to vote for their favorite startup in the People’s Choice category. The event takes place Wednesday, April 18th, at 6:00pm at CIC Miami.

Register for the Event:

To Apply as a Startup: http://bit.ly/geektank2018 (Deadline March 25)

To Attend the Event: http://bit.ly/2FpccqL

- Submitted by Aminta Ventures

March 07, 2018

Adriana Cisneros joins Knight Foundation board of trustees

Adriana_CisnerosAdriana Cisneros, the Miami-based CEO of global media and real estate group Cisneros, will join the John S. and James L. Knight board of trustees. With the appointment, Knight gets an executive who has played a leading role in supporting Miami’s burgeoning startup ecosystem.

Adriana Cisneros is the third generation to head the family company, with offices throughout Latin America but much of its operations in Miami. Before taking the helm as CEO in 2013, she led the group’s digital strategy and created the company’s three divisions: Cisneros Media, Cisneros Interactive and Cisneros Real Estate.

Cisneros is also active in the Miami entrepreneurship community. She has been the founding co-chair since 2013 of Endeavor Miami, which supports high-impact entrepreneurship. She is also on the advisory board member of coding school Wyncode and accelerator and fund TheVentureCity.

 “Knight Foundation’s support for the arts and entrepreneurship in Miami has been transformative, and the foundation’s work on trust, media and democracy puts it at the center of one of the most important discussions of our time,” said Cisneros, in a statement. “I am honored to be able to contribute to the foundation’s work promoting informed and engaged communities.” 

Cisneros also is president of Fundación Cisneros, the family’s non-profit focused on improving education in Latin America. She is on the boards of the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the Paley Center for Media, MoMA’s Latin American Acquisition Fund, which is dedicated to contemporary art, the University of Miami and Parrot Analytics.

“Adriana Cisneros’ leadership is characterized by innovation, the smart utilization of new technology and a commitment to the communities where her family’s company operates,” said Alberto Ibargüen, Knight Foundation president. “She reflects, in the 21stcentury, the values that guided the Knight brothers as they built a 20th century news company and created Knight Foundation.”

She holds a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and a master’s degree in journalism from New York University. She is also a graduate of Harvard Business School’s Program for Leadership Development, and is an Aspen Institute Henry Crown Fellow.

RECENT COVERAGE: Knight Foundation chooses Raul Moas to run Miami program

Yes, more, more, more: Magic Leap raises $461 million, primarily from Saudi investors

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlbergbiz@gmail.com

Magic Leap, the Plantation-based mixed-reality startup, announced Wednesday that it has raised $461 million from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s investment arm, The Public Investment Fund. Magic Leap has raised more than $2.3 billion in funding to date.

 The Saudi Arabian fund contributed $400 million of the raise, which was forecast by Bloomberg.

The additional Series D funding is in addition to a previously reported $502 million funding round led by Singapore’s Temasek in October. The  Series D funding now stands at $963 million, the company says.

 “The Magic Leap team and I are happy to welcome The Public Investment Fund and the other new investors to the Magic Leap family. We look forward to having them join us on our journey to build an amazing future,” CEO Rony Abovitz said in a statement.

Magic Leap’s “mixed reality” glasses feature its digital lightfield technology. In December, it unveiled some more details of its first product in development, Magic Leap One, which will be available first to selected developers and designers. '

Magic Leap, founded in 2011 by Abovitz, is based in the former Motorola plant space in Plantation. Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance president and CEO Bob Swindell told the Sun Sentinel that the company already is outgrowing the space and the economic development agency is working with Magic Leap on options.



March 05, 2018

Magic Leap sues employee who allegedly tried to extort ‘millions’

Magic Leap sued its senior director of global security, asserting he attempted to “extort millions of dollars” by threatening to make legal claims against the Plantation company, the Sun Sentinel reported.

In a lawsuit filed by Magic Leap on Feb 28 in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Texas, the company alleges that Todd Keil has demanded the payment of millions from Magic Leap in exchange for not publicly filing “whistleblower claims” that include alleged illegal conduct concerning competitor Microsoft’s HoloLens virtual reality headset, the Sun Sentinel report said.

Keil is a Texas resident who was hired in 2015 after leaving his assistant secretary position at the Department of Homeland Security in 2012. He oversees workforce and intellectual property-related security as well as strategic business risk mitigation, according to the lawsuit.  According to the South Florida Business Journal, Keil has said he was forced to resign from his Homeland Security post after criticizing management of a program to protect U.S. chemical plants from terrorist attacks.

At Magic Leap, Keil alleges wrongdoing centered on the company's receipt of advance copies of HoloLens. Magic Leap said they were obtained legally but returned as soon as they were discovered, all but one unopened.

Read the full story in the Sun Sentinel or the South Florida Business Journal.

READ MORE: More, more, more? $400 million investment may be in works for Magic Leap  

March 01, 2018

Former UM basketball star takes stake in MyRentHero, with big assist from LAB.Ventures

Davon Reed HeadshotBy Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlbergbiz@gmail.com

Davon Reed, a former University of Miami basketball star who is now a shooting guard for the Phoenix Suns, jumped at the opportunity to invest in a young Miami startup.

MyRentHero  is a real estate-technology startup focused on simplifying the off-campus housing process for students, parents, and landlords. With Reed as a shareholder, MyRentHero is now launching now on the campuses of UM and the University of South Florida.

The startup received a big assist from LAB.Ventures, the venture building arm of Wynwood's The LAB Miami. “We are very excited to be launching LAB.Ventures' first internally developed business MyRentHero, which goes live today at UM and USF,” said Thomas “Tigre" Wenrich, CEO of The LAB Miami and LAB.Ventures. 

LAB.Ventures, funded by the Knight Foundation in 2016, works with entrepreneurs, engineers and designers to test and build promising business ideas. LAB.Ventures also connects startups to corporate partners through programs such as the ongoing Pitch to PERY fashion-tech startup competition and the inaugural Future of Travel Summit it held in February.

Wenrich is an active angel investor and startup mentor who helped Open English, a online English language education company, raise over $120 million in venture capital funding while serving as its founding CFO/COO. Prior to Open English, he was a partner at The Boston Consulting Group. He is also on the board of Miami Angels.


MyRentHero allows students and parents to easily find pre-screened housing that best meets their needs – including price, distance, and amenities – and to apply online or through a mobile app, which can be downloaded from the App Store here.  

The startup (team pictured below) plans to add another six markets by the end of the year while building awareness and gaining student feedback, said CEO and co-founder Greg Rothman, who worked with Wenrich, a former VP of strategy at Open English who had been itching to build his own startup.

“Davon is not that far removed from knowing first-hand how hard it is to find the right place off campus,” Rothman said of Reed, who signed with the Suns out of the 2017 NBA draft. “Davon is a very smart guy who is going to help us with strategy and marketing as we prepare to roll out MyRentHero across the nation.”

Wenrich said the idea for MyRentHero came out of a discussion with people working in the shared economy,  including Parker Stanberry from Oasis Collections who has become an advisor to the business. Rothman came aboard in November, and since then LAB.Ventures and the MyRentHero team has been developing the business full speed ahead.

LAB.Ventures has built out an internal staff to take ideas further before bringing in a full time team, Wenrich said. It is currently also building a product in the food delivery space and another in the B2B marketplace.   "In both cases, we have a number of potential corporate partners lined up, and this is still the model we believe in for successful company building," Wenrich said. "This is our point of differentiation: If we work collaboratively with industry leaders to solve real world problems from the outset we will be able to move much faster to revenue traction."

  MyRentHero UM Team Photo


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