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By Nikki Cabus

All-electric circuit shuttle BocaConnect makes getting around downtown a lot easier

Read Time 4 Minutes

The City of Boca Raton held a ribbon cutting on June 17th celebrating the new BocaConnect circuit bus.

Circuit Transit Inc. is an affordable (sometimes free), electric, micro-transit solution. Circuit uses fleets of nimble cars that fulfill the first-mile last-mile gap that’s experienced by municipalities around the world. The service is made possible by collaborating with municipal organizations and executing innovative out of home/experiential advertising campaigns with some of the world’s most recognizable brands. Co-founders Alexander Esposito, CEO, and James Mirras, COO, started Circuit as a fun and free beach shuttle in the Hamptons in 2011, then quickly partnered with Jason Bagley in Fort Lauderdale to expand the service into Florida markets. Since then, Circuit has grown to provide over 5 million rides to people across the country without burning an ounce of gas. The all-electric fleet of vehicles have given over 5 million rides in locations across eight different states – NY, FL, CA, NJ, CO, MA, IL and TX.

Circuit has been operating in the South Florida area for over 10 years, with services in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Miami, Hollywood Beach, Palm Beach Gardens and Pompano Beach. With the help of innovative Cities, CRAS, private companies and national brands, Circuit is able to provide low-cost shuttle rides without emitting greenhouse gases. Circuit Transit aims to operate the best to bridge the first / last mile gap, connect riders to public transit, improve circulation, reduce congestion, and reduce parking issues. Circuit Transit also offers innovative out-of-home advertising opportunities promoting local economic development.

At a City Council meetig on April 9th, 2024, a contract was signed with with Circuit Transit Inc. to provide on-demand shuttle service in the City of Boca Raton downtown area and beyond. The new “Boca Connect” circuit shuttle will help with connectivity by offering the first-mile-last-mile rides within and around the downtown area and in the City. This will also be avaiable to those arriving at the Brightline Boca Raton Station located at 101 NW 4th St, Boca Raton, FL 33432 and nerby transporation hubs. Providing a convenient and sustainable multimodal transportation service for the community falls under the City’s strategic goal of improving mobility and connectivity across Boca Raton.

“We’re very excited to welcome Circuit. It’s a project in the making for over a year. It aligns with our strategic priorities of transportation and mobility so anytime you can offer residents, neighborhoods another way of moving around, a multimodal option, which is Circuit, it’s a great day,” shared Yvette Drucker, Deputy Mayor of Boca Raton, during the ribbon-cutting event. “We want people to get out, less traffic and it also helps our environment so we’re really, really excited to offer another option.”

Deputy Mayor Drucker later shared a social media post highlighting the benefits of such a service in the City, “It’s so exciting to move forward with this initiative that can reduce traffic congestion and make our city more innovative. It’s a win-win for our neighborhoods and our downtown and I’m pleased to be part of it. Download the app and begin riding the circuit let me know how you like it.”

The shuttle service began June 17, 2024 and the initial contract spans one year, during which Circuit and City staff will conduct regular assessments to optimize operations and service coverage. Circuit’s mobile app allows users to request rides, just like other ride-sharing companies. However, a ride with Circuit is a fraction of the cost. Riders can download the Circuit app, available on both iOS and Android platforms, to request a ride with just a few clicks. Ditch the car and catch a ride to and from Boca Raton’s favorite spots like the Museum of Art, Royal Palm Place, Mizner Park, and more.

“The Boca Chamber is so excited to have Circuit now in our downtown community,” said Boca Chamber CEO and President Troy McLellan, as he shares his excitment during the ribbon cutting ceremony. “Circuit solves the problem of connectivity for everyone is Boca Raton. For citizens, tourists and, of course, our employees, moving them from their home to their business and from their home to all the amazing amenities Boca Raton has to offer. Welcome Circuit to Boca Raton!”

“Getting around Downtown Boca just got a whole lot easier. Join us in welcoming Circuit to our beautiful city,” shared Jessica DelVecchio, Economic Development Manager of Boca Raton.

For more informationon BocaConnect, visit https://myboca.us/2460/BocaConnect—Circuit-Shuttle

By Nikki Cabus

Adam Elitzur, Tech Hub Intern and 12th grader wins 2023 Congressional App Challenge in Florida’s 25th District

Read Time 4 Minutes

Adam Elitzur, a South Florida Tech Hub intern and South Florida 12th grader won the 2023 Congressional App Challenge in Florida’s 25th District. 

The Congressional App Challenge is made up of members of the U.S. House of Representatives who host annual district-wide challenges for middle school and high school students, encouraging them to learn to code and inspiring them to pursue careers in computer science. Each challenge is district-specific and the U.S. Representatives publicly recognize the winning teams. Each winning app may be put on display in the U.S. Capitol Building for one year. The Congressional Internet Caucus initiates the annual CAC.

The Congressional App Challenge’s mission is to Inspire, Include and Innovate: inspire students from every corner of the country to explore STEM, coding and computer science through hands-on practice, to actively include and engage students from communities that are traditionally underrepresented in the tech community, and to innovate policymaking by connecting members of Congress to new and emerging technologies through personal interactions with their student constituents.

Songlingo is a fun, free website that helps people learn languages through songs. Songlingo will have you singing your way to fluency in no time! The app allows you to save specific words, songs and even compete against others with its leader board. For the price of a coffee (or or more), you can support this student-built app by making a donation.

The winning app was created by Adam Elitzur, a 12th grader currently enrolled at Posnack School which is a private Jewish day school located in Davie and the premier college preparatory Jewish school in Florida equipping students for success in a complex & interdependent world. Posnack School is a leader in the use of educational technologies to improve learning and engage students and has hosted events such as Hackathons to engage students in STEM-related activities that also support the community.

After moving to Broward with his family, Adam quickly realized the diversity of the South Florida region and the multitude of languages in the region. Over 25% of Broward County’s population speaks spanish and of that group almost 40% of that group speaks limited English. Adam also encountered a kindergarten student while volunteering with a local youth group witnessing how difficult is was for this child to communicate with other children and to make friends. Adam knew he had to learn spanish. He decided to build Songlingo.

Adam quickly gained proficiency in the language allowing him to better communicate with the spanish-speaking community around him. He quickly realized how impactful this technology could be used for those struggling to learn the English language. Removing the language barrier could improve access to healthcare, education, higher paying jobs and a plethora of other resources and opportunities.

“I began spreading the word through language learning social media channels. The site now has over 5,500 language learners across the globe, bridging language and cultural barriers,” Adam stated in an interview for a Congressional App Challenge article.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, serves as the U.S. representative for Florida’s 25th congressional district, first elected to Congress in 2004. She was in attendance for Songlingo’s pitch and announcement of the first place award stating, “Congrats to this year’s FL-25 Congressional App Challenge winner!”

She continued, “Adam Elitzur’s app, Songlingo, aids language learning through music! I’m so inspired by all the STEM students, parents and teachers who made this year’s challenge a success.”

Adam is also an intern working at South Florida Tech Hub as a contributing writer. He was introduced to the organization when he attended Soflo DevCon 2023, a annual software developers conference, currently being held at Nova Southeastern University’s Davie campus. He attended the conference, attended classes and workshops, and connected with the CEO at the conference offering to write a recap article of the event.

As he awaits responses to a few of the universities he applied for, Adam just received an offer letter from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). We are awaiting to hear what he officially decides!

The 2024 Congressional App Challenge will launch in May of 2024, and eligible students can pre-register for the competition now.

To learn more about Songlingo, visit www.song-lingo.com

By Nikki Cabus

Boca-based startup Guiltless to Go awarded funding on Entrepreneur Media Elevator Pitch reality show

Read Time 3 Minutes

South Florida startup, Guiltess To Go, pitched their startup on the reality show Elevator Pitch and received funding from one of the prestigious investors. 

In each episode of the show, entrepreneurs are challenged to pitch their business to a panel of investors. If the team of investors like what they hear, the business owner is invited into the board room to see if they can strike a deal. The entrepreneurs can’t see the investors or their reactions as they pitch.

After each pitch, the investors each vote whether they want to hear more from that entrepreneur or not. If the investors likes what they hear, the elevator doors open to reveal the boardroom, and the business owner/executive is invited into the board room to discuss further and negotiate. Contestants have the chance to walk away with life-changing funding, mentorship from the smartest minds in business and a personal and brand-defining moment.

Founder, Lucie Allaire, made her 60 second pitch in an elevator to the prestigious panel of investors which included Kim Perell, Serial Entrepreneur and CEO of 100.co, Marc Randolph, Co-founder and first CEO of Netflix, and Logan Stout, Keynote Speaker and Best-Selling Author of Grit Factor. The board room of judges wanted to hear more.

Guiltless To Go is a technology company that has developed an ordering platform and app that makes healthy on-demand ordering easy. The app allows users to filter, search, and order from nearby grocery retailers and restaurants by diet types, ingredients, allergies, calories, and price for either pick up or delivery so users can “order smarter, eat healthier, and guilt-less”.

Powered by AI technology, Guiltless To Go curates its own set of menus from nearby restaurants, applying specifications and modifications to menu items to create a wider variety of less guilty, diet-friendly options. This way, users can stick to their dietary restrictions or lifestyles with less thinking, more time, and fewer distractions.

After her pitch and a round of intense questioning, Lucie thought she had missed the opportunity when all investors decided to pass for one reason or another with the common feedback being that the startup was still a little too early. Lucie had requested $500k for 7% of the company.

As she began to walk back to the elevator empty-handed, Lucie was called back into the board room by Netflix Co-founder March Randolph.

Marc told Lucie, “For a $500k investment for 7% of the company, you are just too early, but I think you’re close to being able to prove the premise so I’d be happy to write a check for $25k at the existing valuation.” To which Lucie responded, “Absolutely! Let’s do it.”

“As Marc pulled me back into the room my heart jumped with hope and anticipation of what he would say next…then as he proceeded to offer me a smaller check, I was elated to be getting any offer at all considering a minute earlier I thought I was leaving without a deal,” said Lucie.

And just like that, a deal was made. Congratulations, Guiltless To Go and South Florida Founder, Lucie Allaire.

To watch the Guiltless To Go pitch and learn more about how Lucie scored an investment, read her interview with Entrepreneur staff writer here

All-electric circuit shuttle BocaConnect makes getting around downtown a lot easier
Adam Elitzur, Tech Hub Intern and 12th grader wins 2023 Congressional App Challenge in Florida’s 25th District
Boca-based startup Guiltless to Go awarded funding on Entrepreneur Media Elevator Pitch reality show