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By Riley Kaminer

Former Bay Area startup experts convene at LAB Miami for Seedfunders pitch competition

Read Time 4 Minutes

Three startup experts who recently relocated from the Bay Area to South Florida judged an early stage startup pitch at the LAB Miami to compete for a $5,000 investment from Seedfunders Miami.

Seedfunders founder, Dave Chitester, told South Florida Tech Hub that they all didn’t realize the connection until sitting on the judges panel. Technologist and Seedfunders Miami investor Tahl Milburn, Miami Angels Principal Jared Schwitzke, and Silicon Valley Bank executive Derek Barnett judged the startups at the event. All three of these startup experts relocated to South Florida.

Barnett told South Florida Tech Hub that he was attracted to South Florida because it is an emerging tech hub with a lower cost of living, exciting culture, and ideal location near the beach. “Miami and South Florida have an amazing multi-cultural community,” he said. “The community here is very warm and inviting. They want to get to know you and they make you feel welcome.”

Barnett believes that South Florida is at an inflection point. “There are a lot of home grown founders that have been working hard to make the Miami ecosystem great,” he noted. That, combined with the influx of founders from other places, leads to the right conditions for startup success.

South Florida’s inviting environment also attracted Milburn. For our region to continue to grow, Milburn hopes that more technical talent and investors move to our region.

“We don’t have enough senior / strategic technology people in SoFlo at this point,” he told South Florida Tech Hub. “We also don’t have any notable technology-oriented colleges in Florida or enough technology majors.”

Schwitzke also underscored the need of talent in the South Florida market. “It’s no secret that Florida, particularly Southern Florida, lags far behind areas like the Northeast or California when considering the availability of tier-1 computer engineering programs. In order for us to truly rival Silicon Valley, it won’t be enough just to recruit talent; we’ll need to be able to produce it ourselves.”

That said, Schwitzke is still bullish on the South Florida market: “I like Miami because I believe it has the potential to become a global hub (rather than just a North American hub) for early-stage tech. Miami’s ties to Latin America are obvious and need no introduction. And as the Latin American early-stage tech market continues to mature, no city is better positioned than Miami to become the de facto HQ.”

For Barnett, the key to continued success for South Florida’s tech scene will be constantly evolving. “Florida needs a consistent reminder that it is unique and should not try to be like Silicon Valley but keep its own identity.”

“We need to focus on evolving and making each other better,” he added. Barnett also believes we need to focus on developing a startup talent pipeline – as well as enough housing stock to keep providing a high standard of living at a reasonable cost for South Floridians.

Events like these are crucial to helping build and support the tech, innovation and startup ecosystem in South Florida.

Ultimately, Miami-based fintech Dinerazo prevailed. The startup, which focuses on the Hispanic community, has developed an app that aims to make investing easy, low-cost, and transparent. Co-founder and CEO Israel Hernandez, who presented at the event, is a computer scientist and serial entrepreneur.

The other two startups chosen to present at the event were emergency response GovTech startup Emergency Ventures and catering talent marketplace Bookstaff.

Seedfunders founder David Chitester told South Florida Tech Hub that these three startups were chosen from around 25 submissions. “We narrowed it down by focusing on two things. First: Is it investible? And second: Are the founders coachable?”

For Chitester, a company’s investability often boils down to its uniqueness. “If there is a lot of competition already in their space, that means that it’s not unique.”

This event was unique because it featured South Florida companies that are pre-revenue. “At other pitch events, you see companies that are well established, with some revenue,” Chitester noted. He underscored that this event furthers Seedfunders’ unique mission of investing in pre-revenue, scalable tech companies in Florida.

Approximately 40 people were in attendance, with companies given 10 minutes to pitch and then a further 10 minutes for questions and answers. Chitester saw this event as a success for three reasons: it featured high quality companies, had good attendance, and featured a credible group of judges.

By Riley Kaminer

Seedfunders 3rd deal in South Florida; leads CERA’s inaugural investment round of up to $500k

Read Time 3 Minutes

Davie-based public safety startup CERA is on a mission to arm first responders with the digital tools they need to efficiently and effectively respond to active threats. 

Edward McGovern, a former Major in the Hallandale Beach Police Department, is acutely aware of this need. During his years in uniform, McGovern responded to some of the most tragic events in our region, including the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in 2018 and the Fort Lauderdale Airport shooting in 2017.

McGovern has leveraged this experience to develop a unique suite of digital platforms that aim to eliminate the chaos and confusion during a critical event. The startup has already received some early traction, including its deployment in the Davie Police Department. 

CERA has just announced that Seedfunders will lead its first major investment round. The tech-focused fund has pledged up to $500,000 for this round, dependent on how many additional partners join the deal.

Seedfunders invests in pre-revenue, scalable technology throughout Florida. Originally founded in St. Petersburg, it now has a presence in Orlando and Miami as well.

Angel investor David Chitester founded Seedfunders in 2017 and this year relocated to Miami to spearhead the fund’s efforts in South Florida. He told South Florida Tech Hub that this is the fund’s third deal in our region.

“The Miami market is underserved for what we do, and we’ve proven our business model,” Chitester explained. “Now we want to duplicate this success here.” Previously, Chitester also founded Florida Funders, which is now one of Florida’s most active venture capital firms. 

According to Chitester, CERA’s timing is right. “When you look at what’s happening in the world, unfortunately, and see the need to help first responders to save lives. That’s the biggest reason we wanted to invest.”

Chitester also underscored the importance of McGovern’s leadership and the law enforcement experience he brings to the table.

“Investors always talk about, ‘Is it the horse or the jockey that you bet on?’ And really, it’s both. You can’t just bet on a person if the concept is not fundable and not scalable. And you can’t depend on a concept if you have a founder who can’t lead the company. So it’s both the horse and jockey – and in CERA’s case, we have both.”

McGovern is excited about jumping into this new chapter in CERA’s story. “This investment from Seedfunders represents the next phase of CERA’s growth and acceleration,” he commented. 

“Our goals to expand sales and create new innovations will not just benefit from funding, but also with the experience and mentorship Seedfunders brings with it,” McGovern continued. “We are grateful to Dave Chitester and the Seedfunders team for believing in our mission and our business.”

“Together we will continue to drive development and leverage technology in this space to make our communities and citizens safer.”

Chitester hopes this funding will enable CERA to grow nationally. “We’d like to see them deploy their system to all the first responders in the country that need it.”

Learn more about Seedfunders by visiting, and follow along in CERA’s startup journey at

Former Bay Area startup experts convene at LAB Miami for Seedfunders pitch competition
Seedfunders 3rd deal in South Florida; leads CERA’s inaugural investment round of up to $500k