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By Nikki Cabus

Securitize announces $47 Million Strategic Funding Round led by BlackRock

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Securitize, the leader in tokenizing real-world assets, announced the successful completion of a $47 million funding round led by BlackRock.

Miami-based Securitize is driving the compliant digitization of financial assets through next generation blockchain technology. Securitize, or through its subsidiaries, is a registered broker dealer (member SIPC) and operates a primary marketplace, an alternative trading system as well as a top 10 transfer agent and has an exempt reporting adviser.

This investment which also includes funding from Hamilton Lane (Nasdaq: HLNE), ParaFi Capital, and Tradeweb Markets (Nasdaq: TW), underscores Securitize’s industry pioneering efforts in digitizing capital markets with blockchain technology. The contributed capital will fuel Securitize’s continued innovation and expansion as it further solidifies its position as a leader in the digital asset securities ecosystem.

“At BlackRock, we believe that tokenization has the potential to drive a significant transformation in capital markets infrastructure. Our investment in Securitize is another step in the evolution of our digital assets strategy,” said Joseph Chalom. “We are pleased to lead this investment round alongside other participants and help foster innovation that will help meet the future needs of our clients.”

BlackRock (Nasdaq: BLK) is a global asset manager and technology provider with a purpose of helping more and more people experience financial well-being. They help millions of people invest to build savings that serve them throughout their lives making investing easier and more affordable. BlackRock advances sustainable investing because they have a conviction to deliver better outcomes for investors contributing to a more resilient economy that benefits more people.

As part of the investment, BlackRock’s Global Head of Strategic Ecosystem Partnerships, has been appointed to Securitize’s Board of Directors.

“We are thrilled to have the support of such distinguished investors as we continue to drive the digitization of capital markets through tokenization,” said Securitize Co-Founder and CEO Carlos Domingo. “In our view, the transformative potential of blockchain technology to reshape the future of finance in general – and tokenization in particular – is promising.”

Juan Delgado, Hamilton Lane Co-CEO, commented: “Hamilton Lane has a deep history with Securitize, having partnered initially in 2022 and since then enabling access to our Senior Credit Opportunities Fund (SCOPE) as well as our Equity Opportunities Fund V. We are committed to making the private markets accessible to a broader set of investors, including through digital first, token-based technology. Securitize continues to be a leader in this space and we are thrilled with this investment and excited to continue our collaboration.”

Hamilton Lane (Nasdaq: HLNE) is one of the largest private markets investment firms globally, providing innovative solutions to institutional and private wealth investors around the world. Dedicated exclusively to private markets investing for more than 30 years, the firm currently employs nearly 700 professionals operating in offices throughout North AmericaEuropeAsia Pacific and the Middle East. Hamilton Lane has approximately $903 billion in assets under management and supervision, composed of $120 billion in discretionary assets and nearly $783 billion in non-discretionary assets, as of December 31, 2023. Hamilton Lane specializes in building flexible investment programs that provide clients access to the full spectrum of private markets strategies, sectors and geographies.

“Securitize has built cutting edge infrastructure that enables traditional assets to move onto the high speed, modern rails of blockchains — enabling greater transparency, immediate settlement, reduced counterparty risk, and heightened programmability,” said Ben Forman, Founder and Managing Partner of ParaFi.  “At ParaFi, we’ve invested broadly across digital asset and tokenization infrastructure and are thrilled to partner with Carlos and the Securitize team to enable this vision of the future.”

ParaFi Capital is a leading alternative asset management firm that operates hedge fund and venture capital strategies focused on the digital asset ecosystem. Founded in 2018, ParaFi was among the earliest investors in the blockchain industry and has evolved into a trusted partner by leading institutions globally. ParaFi’s investment and technology team pursues idiosyncratic opportunities across venture, liquid, and quantitative strategies with a focus on bridging traditional capital markets and blockchain technology. As a firm, ParaFi is committed to a culture of rigorous research, technical development, and institutional underwriting to enable exceptional results for our partners and portfolio companies.

“Tokenization has the potential to drive greater efficiency and accessibility across financial markets,” said Tradeweb Chief Product Officer Chris Bruner. “Securitize’s expertise in digital asset securities aligns nicely with Tradeweb’s focus on delivering cutting-edge technology that strengthens market infrastructure for our clients.”

Tradeweb Markets Inc. (Nasdaq: TW) is a leading, global operator of electronic marketplaces for rates, credit, equities and money markets. Founded in 1996, Tradeweb provides access to markets, data and analytics, electronic trading, straight-through-processing and reporting for more than 50 products to clients in the institutional, wholesale and retail markets. Advanced technologies developed by Tradeweb enhance price discovery, order execution and trade workflows while allowing for greater scale and helping to reduce risks in client trading operations. Tradeweb serves more than 2,500 clients in more than 70 countries. On average, Tradeweb facilitated more than $1.5 trillion in notional value traded per day over the past four quarters.

Other strategic investors in the round include Aptos Labs, Circle and Paxos. Securitize will leverage the proceeds of the funding round to accelerate product development, expand its global footprint, and further strengthen its partnerships across the financial services ecosystem.

The funding round coincides with the launch of BlackRock’s first tokenized fund issued on Ethereum, the BlackRock USD Institutional Digital Liquidity Fund (BUIDL), available to investors by subscribing to the fund with Securitize.

BUIDL seeks to offer a stable value of $1 per token and pays daily accrued dividends directly to investors’ wallets as new tokens each month. The Fund invests 100% of its total assets in cash, U.S. Treasury bills, and repurchase agreements, allowing investors to earn yield while holding the token on the blockchain. Investors can transfer their tokens 24/7/365 to other pre-approved investors. Through Circle, BUIDL holders can transfer their shares to Circle for USDC through its smart contract functionality.  Fund participants will also have flexible custody options allowing them to choose how to hold their tokens.

To learn more, visit www.securitize.io

By Nikki Cabus

Open AI CEO Sam Altman invests in South Florida AI data center energy startup Exowatt

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Exowatt, a next-generation renewable energy company, unveiled a first-of-its-kind modular energy platform designed to power energy-intensive data centers along with a $20 million seed round from a16z, Atomic, and Sam Altman.

As the boom in AI technology escalates both the demand and the energy costs for data centers, Exowatt’s solution arrives at a critical time.

Exowatt, headquartered in Miami, is a next generation renewable energy company providing commercial and industrial customers with modular energy solutions tailored for energy-intensive applications like data centers. Founded in 2023 by Hannan Parvizian and Atomic CEO Jack Abraham, Exowatt’s mission is to make sustainable renewable energy always available and almost free. Exowatt is backed by a16z, Atomic, and Sam Altman.

Exowatt’s flagship product, the Exowatt P3, represents a significant innovation in energy technology. It consists of a modular, 3-in-1 system, a heat collector, a heat battery, and a heat engine capable of providing dispatchable power and heat throughout the day. Unlike traditional solar panels that convert sunlight into electricity directly, Exowatt uses a unique approach by storing solar energy in a thermal battery, which can retain this energy for up to 24 hours per day. The Exowatt P3 modules are designed to fit the space of a standard 40-foot shipping container. They can be deployed on small and large commercial and industrial projects, linearly scaling with workload size and infrastructure requirements.

“Unlike traditional solutions that require significant upfront costs and extended setup times, Exowatt’s modular system can be deployed rapidly and cost-effectively – and it’s available this year,” said Exowatt CEO and Co-Founder Hannan Parvizian.

“Exowatt is built to respond quickly to the escalating energy demands of the modern world, especially those spurred by the rapid growth of AI.”

Exowatt’s approach involves storing heat instead of electricity, allowing it to store energy at a fraction of the cost of electrochemical batteries and without any supply chain dependency on scarce rare earth materials. Its heat engine design will enable it to dispatch electricity 24 hours a day, ensuring that Exowatt’s energy solutions are reliable around the clock, regardless of weather conditions.

As its technology scales, Exowatt expects to be able to offer electricity for as low as $0.01 per kilowatt-hour, or even less in some cases, which will make it lower cost than fossil fuels and other renewable energy alternatives.

“AI models have been doubling in size every three months—a pace that requires significantly more data center power,” said Jack Abraham, CEO of Atomic and Co-Founder of Exowatt.

“In order to keep up with AI advancements, we need more sustainable energy solutions, which is why we started Exowatt. Our mission is to provide extremely low-cost energy that advances the capabilities of global AI infrastructure while protecting our planet.”

Founded in 2012, Atomic is the venture studio headquartered in Miami that pioneered the model of starting companies by pairing founders with the best ideas, teams, and resources and funding those with the most potential. When entrepreneurs co-found with Atomic, they team up with an experienced group of operators who have started dozens of companies and created billions of dollars in enterprise value. Companies like Butter, Found, $HIMS, Homebound, OpenStore, and Replicant were started at Atomic along with dozens more.

Jack Abraham and Hannan Parvizian founded Exowatt at Atomic to tackle the significant energy needs of AI and data centers. Hannan brings extensive experience from the energy sector and a background in building complex hardware products at scale, having worked at Tesla, General Electric, and Siemens and founded and sold a company that developed and sold advanced delivery drones. Jack has started dozens of companies and built Atomic into the leading venture studio, with a vision to identify some of the world’s biggest problems and build companies to solve them.

“Exowatt is an innovative company helping to meet our country’s growing energy needs,” said Katherine Boyle, General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz. “By committing to full U.S. manufacturing with domestically sourced components, Exowatt will significantly strengthen our national infrastructure and resilience.”

Andreessen Horowitz (aka a16z) is a venture capital firm that backs bold entrepreneurs building the future through technology. They are stage agnostic investing in seed to venture to growth-stage technology companies, across AI, bio and healthcare, consumer, crypto, enterprise, fintech, games, and companies building toward American dynamism. a16z has $42B in assets under management across multiple funds.

Exowatt has a backlog of demand for over 500 megawatts for data centers across the U.S. and plans to begin deployments later this year. With this $20 million seed funding, Exowatt intends to expand its team and deploy the Exowatt P3 with its first set of data center customers.

To learn more about Exowatt, visit www.exowatt.com

By Nikki Cabus

U.S. Department of Labor awards Palm Beach State College a $1.75 million grant to expand skilled trades training

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The U.S. Department of Labor announced the award of $65 million in grants to 16 colleges in 14 states to expand their capacity to provide training to meet the skill development needs of employers and help students obtain good jobs. One of those colleges was Palm Beach State College. 

At a press conference held on April 15th, U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel announced that Palm Beach State College is not only one of sixteeen colleges nationwide to receive funds, but the only one in Florida to receive $1.75 million in funding in this fourth round of Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grants.

“Florida’s population is growing—by more than 1,000 people a day—and there’s lots and lots of building going on.” Rep. Frankel stated.

“Here’s the challenge: 85% of the contractors in this country are having a problem finding workers, and Palm Beach County is almost at the top of that list. We are blessed to have in this county a college that responds to the needs of the workforce. This grant is a very big boost, not only for students but for our county.”

Administered by the department’s Employment and Training Administration, the fourth round of Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grants will support individual community colleges, as well as consortia of colleges, to prepare students for jobs that pay family-sustaining wages and offer career development opportunities based on the Good Jobs Principles developed by the departments of Labor and Commerce in 2022. Grantees will work with industry stakeholders to identify the workforce needs of multiple employers within a selected industry in the labor market area.

“Training programs should not end in a job search; they should end in a job. The Biden-Harris administration is investing in training programs that are demand-driven; Strengthening Community Colleges grants will help connect people to good jobs and employers to the people they need,” said Acting U.S. Secretary of Labor Julie Su.

“The Department of Labor is awarding funding today that will help community colleges equip workers with the skills they need right now, and that will strengthen workforce infrastructure in their respective communities.”

Palm Beach State will dedicate the funds to expanding its plans to transform construction trades education at the College, which started with the $1 million award PBSC received in January from the Lowe’s Foundation. The new Labor Department grant will go toward personnel, employer and student outreach, technology and resources to increase enrollment, persistence and completion in construction pathway programs. The grant will elevate PBSC’s capacity to provide many more students, particularly those from marginalized and underrepresented populations, with equitable access to real-world training that equips them to succeed in the construction sector, with the goal of creating an inclusive pipeline of qualified workers for the construction-related jobs waiting to be filled.

“This grant is important for us because it allows us to expand and be more responsive to our community,” said PBSC President Ava L. Parker, J.D. “We have the best students in the county, and because of this support, we’ll be able to build a dynamic pathway to a sustainable future for students who can prosper in a skilled trade.”

Julia Dattolo, president and CEO of CareerSource Palm Beach County, pointed to the fact that the number of construction projects in the county is enormous, not to mention the great need to maintain existing structures.

“Whenever anybody graduates from these programs, they automatically have a job before they graduate,” Dattolo said. “If you look at the top industries in Palm Beach County, you’ll see that construction and trades are in the top five.”

Palm Beach State offers various certificate and degree programs that lead to good-paying jobs in the local construction industry, filling the need for HVAC technicians, electricians, low voltage technicians and construction managers. With the funding from the Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grant and the Lowe’s Foundation, the College looks to grow its program offerings to include plumbing and carpentry, along with developing the new Construction Trades Center for Workforce Innovation on the Lake Worth campus, an interdisciplinary training space that will simulate construction job site conditionsproviding real-world experiences for students. The center will incorporate both residential and commercial construction sites—an innovative smart house and an office suite facility—and be equipped with all the tools and equipment needed to design, build and renovate.

Overall, this funding will support a total of 41 colleges, including 16 lead institutions and an additional 25 consortia members. These colleges will work in multiple sectors, including advanced manufacturing, healthcare, IT, and infrastructure-related sectors like construction, transportation, broadband expansion, and renewable energy.  Across the four rounds of grants to date, 170 colleges, including leads and consortia members, are addressing major workforce priorities for employers and workers in their 31 states and local communities.

Grantees announced this round will receive approximately $55 million in funding now. Following a feasibility study, a subset of grantees will be identified to participate in an evaluation study. Those grantees will share the remaining $10 million in funding, to be awarded this fall.

By Nikki Cabus

Pavilion Solar Emerges as a Semifinalist in the American-Made Solar Prize contest taking home $50k

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Pavilion Solar, a Miami-based innovator in solar technology, has been named a semifinalist in Round 7 of the American-Made Solar Prize.

Miami-based Pavilion Solar is a startup dedicated to increasing solar adoption with their flagship product, the EnPodTM, a premium solar canopy structure for homes which serves as a carport or outdoor living area. Made in the USA and engineered for hurricane zones, it features an iconic design and innovative construction for rapid installation. The EnPods are eligible for the federal solar tax credit and engineered to last decades while paying for themselves.

The American-Made Solar Prize is a multimillion-dollar prize competition designed to energize U.S. solar innovation through a series of contests that accelerate the entrepreneurial process from years to months.

Competitors leverage the American-Made Network, an innovation engine of more than 450 organizations, including world-class experts at DOE’s 17 national labs, clean tech accelerators, incubators, universities, facilities, and more. The Solar Prize is directed and administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office.

This competition was announced on January 24, 2018 and is backed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and overseen by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), supports cutting-edge advancements in solar energy. Entrepreneurial individuals and teams based in the United States can compete, progressing through a series of three connected contests—the Ready!, Set!, and Go!

On June 12, 2023, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) opened applications for the American-Made Solar Prize Round 7. For Round 7, DOE added a new Power Up Contest to support and advance new and diverse teams that have compelling applications but are not selected as Ready! Contest winners.  On January 11, 2024, 20 teams were selected to receive $50,000 each and advance to the next stage of the competition. Four teams were also selected to win the JEDI Contest and receive an additional $25,000. DOE awarded $10,000 prizes to 10 teams through the Power Up Contest.

Pavilion Solar was among 20 teams to progress, securing a $50,000 cash prize and the opportunity to compete in the subsequent phases of this multimillion-dollar challenge.

“Research from DOE shows that half of U.S. homes are ineligible for rooftop solar, many of which are located in hurricane zones,” said Aleksandr Bernhard, Founder of Pavilion Solar.

“Our EnPods will address this significant yet underserved market, expanding solar access. The funding from the American-Made Solar Prize is crucial in accelerating our launch into this market.”

In the next phase of the competition, teams will advance with the assistance of members of the American-Made Network to develop their innovations in a way that addresses real challenges in the solar market. Pavilion Solar will continue working to substantially advance their technology solution, which they will present to a panel of industry experts at a virtual event in spring 2024.

Visit the American-Made Solar Prize website for details on the competition.

By Nikki Cabus

Betr announces $15 million in strategic equity funding at $375 million valuation

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Betr Holdings, Inc. (“Betr”) announced it has closed $15 million in strategic equity financing from a premier group of investors at a $375 million valuation, bringing its total funding to date to $100 million.

Founded in 2022 by Joey Levy and Jake Paul, Betr is a leading sports gaming and sports media company focused on enhancing the consumption of sports through entertainment. Betr’s gaming products are differentiated through a unique product experience with a simplified user interface that is catered to the casual sports fan, enabling Betr to capture more of the underpenetrated online gaming addressable market.

The round was co-led by Harmony Partners and 10x Capital, with participation from the company’s three largest existing investors: Fuel Venture Capital, Aliya Capital Partners, and Roger Ehrenberg/Eberg Capital, alongside others. This round of financing comes off a highly successful 2023 for Betr, where the company reached a significant level of scale – both with respect to paying users and revenue – while doing so efficiently and profitably.

Betr recently announced market access expansion plans for its Online Sportsbook product, having secured market access in PennsylvaniaOhio, Virginia, Indiana, Colorado, and Kentucky, as well as the upcoming launch of its Casino product (pending regulatory approval), with the company also securing iGaming market access in Pennsylvania. Betr has also officially received its temporary Indiana sports wagering license from the Indiana Gaming Commission in recent weeks.

Betr also recently announced that it has fortified its senior leadership team, hiring Dan Maas as Head of Media Revenue, Partnerships, and Strategy and hiring Andrew Winchell as Head of Government Affairs. Dan joins Betr from Wave Sports & Entertainment, where he worked his way up from VP of Partnerships to EVP of Commercial and oversaw the development and monetization of highly successful premium franchises, including New Heights with Travis and Jason Kelce and Podcast P with Paul George, in addition to leading the monetization of their successful original short form video focused social media content strategy, which are both highly synergistic to the core pillars of Betr Media.

Dan will lead monetization efforts for Betr Media, positioning Betr’s media arm to become a large bona fide revenue-generating business – in addition to the primary benefit Betr Media serves, which is to create unfair customer acquisition economics for Betr Gaming. Andrew joins Betr from FanDuel, where he served as their Directory of Regulatory Affairs. Andrew brings a breadth of experience working closely with state regulators and political leaders on key issues pertaining to sports gaming and will meaningfully strengthen Betr’s internal government and regulatory affairs capabilities as the company scales in size and launches in new jurisdictions.

“We are thrilled to announce our strategic equity financing, new members of our senior leadership team, and the approval of our temporary Indiana sports wagering license,” said Joey Levy, Founder and CEO of Betr.

Jake (Paul) and I co-founded Betr just over two years ago, so raising capital from leading growth stage investors at a $375 million valuation in the very early days of our business is a testament to the performance of the team and business to date, and the potential we have to build a category defining business with Betr. Finally, I want to thank the Indiana Gaming Commission for the honor and privilege of a sports wagering license in the Hoosier state. We are excited to launch our new V1 Sportsbook product in Indiana over the coming months, while bringing our best-in-class responsible gaming standards to the state.”

Harmony Partners is a leading growth investor funding breakout emerging companies led by Mark Lotke, who led the software group at FTV Capital, led the pre-IPO group at Internet Capital Group, and prior to that was at General Atlantic. 10X Capital is a prolific venture capital firm led by co-founders Hans Thomas and David Weisburd having invested in companies including 23andMe, Palantir, Robinhood, and Udemy. 10X Capital was a significant investor in DraftKings going back to July 2018.

“We believe that Betr has the product, management and market opportunity that we saw in DraftKings in its early days with a significantly larger TAM and room for growth today,” said David Weisburd, Co-Founder and Head of Venture Capital at 10x Capital.

To learn more about Betr, visit www.betr.app

By Nikki Cabus

Hatter Angel Network invests in innovative Miami media company Streann Media AGAIN

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Hatter Angel Network makes its first-ever follow-on investment with media company Streann Media. 

Hatter Angel Network is an investment group started by Stetson alumni and faculty, who provide the financial backing to leverage recommendations from the students. By vetting and pitching companies to the group, students gain real-world experience with investing in emerging companies, primarily ones based in Florida.

In November of 2023, the Hatter Angel Network announced the completion one of its largest investments, providing about $300k in funding for Miami-based multimedia company, Streann Media, recommended by Stetson University entrepreneurship students. Students in the Venture Capital & Angel Investing class researched Streann Media during the Spring 2023 semester and made their final recommendation after connecting with the company through the Florida Venture Forum in February 2023.

Then again just last month, the Hatter Angel Network announced they are investing again in Streann Media for a second time making this their first-ever follow-on investment. The second investment was approximately $100k totally $400,000 to date.

“We are delighted for the opportunity to reinvest in Streann. They are our largest investment to date and have tremendous potential for growth,” said Dan Glunt, co-founder, Hatter Angels.

He continued, “Their leadership team is stellar, their technology offering is pure magic, and the customer experience is unmatched.”

After announcing its groundbreaking technology, TV 3.0, showcasing a new horizon in entertainment services, Streann was recently chosen as a top 50 company in Florida, selected as an Honoree for the 13th Annual GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch, a statewide awards program that identifies companies expected to see significant growth over the next several years.

“The past year has been transformative for Streann Media,” said Streann CEO and Co-founder Gio Punzo.

“We’re not only expanding our capabilities and reach, but also laying the groundwork for the next era of content creation and delivery of digital content, which we call TV 3.0™. TV 3.0™ is our patent-pending disruptive technology for next-generation streaming services that brings together the power of AI, AR and Social Content platforms.”

Aziel AigbogunStreann also announced that Stetson Finance student Aziel Aigbogun will be an active participant on their Board of Directors, serving as an observer. “We’re incredibly grateful to welcome Hatter Angels as a new partner, setting the stage for increased growth and innovation in the future,” Punzo said.

The Hatter Angel Network was conceived in 2019 and now boasts over 25 members. By working with the Stetson alumni, who are accredited investors, students in the entrepreneurial class get hands-on experience with startups during the due diligence process, as well as potentially serving on the startup’s board of directors. In addition, the Hatter Angel Network pledges 50% of profits from successful exits back to Stetson’s School of Business Administration, specifically for further startup investments for the Venture Capital classes of the future.

“The latest investment in Streann Media by the Hatter Angel Network is a great example of how students at Stetson’s Business School get to integrate theory and practice,” said Yiorgos Bakamitsos, PhD, Dean of Stetson’s School of Business Administration.

“By participating in rigorous experiential learning programs, such as the Hatter Angel Network, our students develop valuable skills that prepare them for successful professional careers.”

To learn more about Streann Media, visit www.streann.com

 

 

By Nikki Cabus

Palm Beach County startup TurboDocx announces successful pre-seed funding round

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TurboDocx announced a significant milestone as the company closed its pre-seed funding round, raising $75,000.

The Palm Beach County-based TurboDocx was founded in 2022 and is at the forefront of the digital transformation in document and slide deck creation. By leveraging modular, centralized content and cutting-edge AI technologies, TurboDocx aims to simplify and improve the document creation process for professionals and businesses worldwide.

With a strong focus on user-driven innovation, TurboDocx is dedicated to delivering solutions that empower users with efficiency, creativity, and control over their digital content. TurboDocx let’s you create documents and slide decks in a matter of minutes savings companies valueable time and money.

Thanks to the generous backing of friends, family, and early supporters, the company has successfully raised $75,000 achieving more than a financial milestone, but a strong endorsement of the vision TurboDocx is pursuing and the innovative strides it is making in the field of document automation.

“We are immensely grateful for the support that extends far beyond financial contributions,” expressed Nicolas Fry, CEO of TurboDocx. “This backing is a clear vote of confidence in our mission to transform document and slide deck creation with modular content accelerated by artificial intelligence. It empowers us to move forward with our vision, driving innovation that matters to our users.”

“At TurboDocx, we understand the importance of structure in document creation. Our initial phase focuses on deconstructing your existing documents into modular building blocks,” states Fry. “This lays the foundational ‘knowledge’ necessary for the next steps in our smart document evolution.”

TurboDocx remains steadfast in its focus, channeling this support to further develop its collaboration flows, AI capabilities, and ensuring that the solutions set benchmarks for efficiency, re-usability, and innovation. The company is dedicated to advancing its technology in ways that directly respond to the evolving needs of professionals and businesses alike.

The recent funding will accelerate the company’s efforts to enhance its collaboration toolsets, AI capabilities, refine user experience, and expand its offerings to meet and exceed market expectations. The funding will support focused partner and client need research to understand and address the evolving needs of users, enhanced solutions that set new benchmarks for efficiency, re-usability, and innovation, and go-to-market (GTM) consisting of partner and channel growth with support from TuboDocx investment team and advisors.

TurboDocx’s approach to development is deeply rooted in a commitment to meaningful innovation. “Our partners and clients are the compass that guides our product roadmap. Their feedback and needs inspire our innovation, helping us prioritize features and capabilities that deliver real value,” Fry noted.

To learn more about TurboDocx, please visit www.turbodocx.com

By Nikki Cabus

Citi Ventures Backs Capstack Technologies, the First Integrated Bank-to-Bank Loan Marketplace

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Miami-based Capstack Technologies has secured a $6 million strategic investment from Citi Ventures, marking a significant milestone in its mission to revolutionize banking technology.

Capstack Technologies is building the first integrated bank-to-bank loan marketplace, enabling cooperation across banks and financial services institutions to increase profitability and mitigate risk through asset diversification. The company, founded by Pipe co-founder Michal Cieplinski, is dedicated to building a sophisticated infrastructure to redefine banking operations, enhance risk management, and deliver cutting-edge solutions for small and medium-sized banks. Capstack Technologies is backed by world-class investors, including Citi Ventures, Fin Capital, Alloy Labs, Cambrian Ventures, Cowboy Ventures, Future Perfect Ventures, Gaingels, Selah Ventures, Uncorrelated Ventures and Valor Equity Partners.

Amidst a challenging investment climate, this $6 million in funding is a testament to Capstack Technologies’ innovation following their successful $6 million fundraising last summer. This investment coincides with establishing a high-profile advisory board and adding experienced executives from community and regional banks, propelling Capstack Technologies into a new era of growth and market leadership.

“Citi Ventures is committed to investing in companies that have the potential to drive our industry forward,” said Jeff Flynn, Director, Citi Ventures. “Capstack Technologies’ innovative approach could fundamentally change the way smaller banks manage risk and grow their businesses, and ultimately could create opportunities for Citi to engage differently with this sizable segment of the financial services ecosystem.”

Capstack Technologies is leading the way with its “first bank-to-bank marketplace,” promoting transparency, collaboration, and efficiency among small and medium-sized banks. This initiative aligns with the U.S. financial sector’s imperative to reduce concentration risk, as highlighted by such risks in Silicon Valley Bank and other failed banks. Notably, the U.S. was home to 4,123 community and regional banks in 2023, comprising nearly 97% of all banks and collectively overseeing assets valued at $3.4 trillion.

“Securing this strategic investment from Citi Ventures, forming a distinguished advisory board, and welcoming experienced executives from community and regional banks collectively mark a pivotal moment for Capstack Technologies,” stated Michal Cieplinski, CEO of Capstack Technologies. “These milestones validate our vision and accelerate our mission to revolutionize banking technology for the community.”

Formation of the Advisory Board

Capstack Technologies has formed an advisory board comprising industry veterans Trey Maust, Chairman of Lewis & Clark Bancorp, Patrick Kennedy, Executive Chairman of TransPecos Banks and Dub Sutherland of Kennedy Sutherland LLP. These advisors bring a wealth of experience in banking, law, and financial technologies, guiding Capstack Technologies’ strategic direction in the banking sector.

“As a member of the advisory board for Capstack Technologies, I am deeply impressed by the caliber of talent and expertise we have assembled to guide this groundbreaking technology,” expressed Kennedy. “Having the right people involved is crucial in steering such innovative solutions. The experiences and insights our team brings are essential in shaping a technology that has the potential to redefine the banking sector.”

New Executives

Capstack Technologies is also bolstering its leadership team with David McArdle as Head of Banking Relationships and Randy Riffle as Head of Customer & Platform Operations. McArdle, with his extensive experience in banking and fintech, will focus on streamlining processes for C-suite executives in community banks. With his extensive credit and lending background, Riffle will lead the charge in transforming operational efficiencies and focusing on positive customer experiences.

“To contribute to an organization at the forefront of such a transformative movement within the banking sector is inspiring,” said Riffle. “The advent of this technology epitomizes the requirement of all bank sizes to create efficiencies in the participation and whole loan marketplace model.”

“This moment is pivotal for Capstack Technologies, as we’ve successfully secured strategic funding from Citi Ventures, assembled a formidable advisory board, and significantly enhanced our leadership team,” concludes Cieplinski. “These steps are a clear testament to our unwavering commitment to innovation and underscore our growing significance in the current investment climate. We are not just making strides but setting new standards in the banking technology sector.”

To learn more about Capstack Technologies, visit www.capstack.ai

By Nikki Cabus

Carewell Secures $24.7 Million in Series B Funding and hires former Chewy executives

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Carewell announced a $24.7 million Series B capital raise to further accelerate its mission of streamlining access to home health products.

Carewell is the No. 1 ecommerce destination for caregiving products. Carewell customers can shop across a wide variety of categories, including incontinence, nutrition, mobility, mom & baby and more. With a team of highly trained customer care experts, over 300+ educational articles, detailed video content, FAQs and descriptive product pages, Carewell takes the guesswork out of caregiving, setting it apart from other online retailers and drug stores.

This latest round of funding was led by the principals of MBF Healthcare, with participation from existing investors Sageview Capital and Headline among others. In addition, the company has made several senior level hires amidst plans to relocate their headquarters to Miami.

“Family caregiving is becoming an increasingly more common experience in the U.S. with spouses, children, parents, and even grandchildren having to take on a caregiving role overnight without warning,” said Bianca Padilla, CEO and Founder of Carewell.

“Understandably, these individuals can experience significant mental, physical, and emotional stress as they balance their role as caregivers with other responsibilities to work and family, and our mission at Carewell is to help educate, support and advocate for these selfless heroes.”

Co-founder and CEO Bianca helped her mom care for her grandmother they had no clue which products they needed, much less where to find them or how to use them. Online marketplaces were confusing, local shops had limited selection and no discretion, and both experiences lacked empathy. Bianca was shocked there was no What to Expect guide like there is for new parents, so she and her husband and co-founder Jonathan dedicated their lives to creating a solution for family caregivers just like you.

Founded in 2017, Carewell is a source of support for independent caregivers seeking helpful and knowledgeable customer service, educational resources, and affordable, trusted products, including incontinence supplies and nutritional supplements. The funds from the Series B round will fuel Carewell’s growth strategy, bolster the company’s e-commerce technology, and enhance overall customer experience, focusing on improved service and an expanded suite of products.

“As healthcare investors for over 40 years, we have strived to create greater value for our investors when focusing on companies that provide a point of difference to their customers and patients,” said, Mike B. Fernandez, Chairman of MBF Healthcare Plans.

“Carewell’s commitment to providing an exceptional 24/7 customer experience and tailored high-end products at competitive prices sets them apart from competitors and we are proud to support a family-run company dedicated to shaping the future of healthcare and caregiving.”

MBF Healthcare Partners II, L.P. is a leading middle-market healthcare private equity fund based in Coral Gables, Florida. Our strategy is to partner with exceptional management teams while leveraging MBF’s operating experience, domain segment knowledge, and tenured relationships to rapidly accelerate value creation. The partners of MBF have substantial operating experience in healthcare and have held senior management positions in both private and publicly traded healthcare companies. MBF principals have managed and helped build some of the nation’s most innovative and successful healthcare companies. The firm is headquartered in Coral Gables, Florida.

Additional investors in this round of funding include Primetime Partners, Nextview, Florida Opportunity Fund, and Anchor.

Alongside the capital raise, Carewell has also announced the hiring of several senior executives from Chewy.com as part of relocating its headquarters to the Miami area.

  • Samantha Rassner joins as Chief Technology Officer from BEX Realty and previously led software development at Chewy.com, where she was responsible for expanding the brand’s e-commerce technology and pool of tech talent.
  • Jason Klinghoffer joins as Chief Marketing Officer from Chewy, where he led the company’s growth marketing strategy and co-led three capital raises.
  • Mike Pacifico joins as Chief Financial Officer from Chewy. Prior to this he was CFO at Arteza, a DTC arts and crafts brand.
  • Kelli Durkin joins as Vice President of Customer Service, bringing a wealth of expertise in customer experience from previous roles at The Farmer’s Dog and Chewy.

“Mike, Jason, Sam, and Kelli all bring significant ecommerce industry experience and a strong track record of working together from their time at Chewy.com. Their addition reaffirms our commitment to providing affordable healthcare solutions for caregivers, and we are thrilled to welcome them into the Carewell family,” said Ms. Padilla.

By Nikki Cabus

AEXLAB’s VAIL VR Launches on Meta Quest Store after successful $5 million raise

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AEXLAB announced the launch of its highly anticipated VAIL VR game on Meta Quest.

The Miami-based startup, AEXLAB, is a virtual reality studio committed to creating meaningful technologies for gaming, simulation, social experiences, and more. VAIL VR is a first-person multiplayer shooter designed to revolutionize the VR gaming landscape with its dynamic gameplay and immersive social interactions, delivering unparalleled combat.

Set against a backdrop of a future Earth divided between the Colonists and the REYAB Corporation, this conflict sets the stage for strategic teamplay and dynamic, immersive battles. While the lore enriches the game’s universe, the heart of VAIL lies in its player-driven competition of tactical gunplay and combat, where strategy, skill, and teamwork pave the way to victory. VAIL VR focuses on tactical gunplay and combat, promoting team-based action requiring teamwork to achieve victory.

Co-founded in 2015 by brothers Jonathan and Albert Ovadia as a passion project, AEXLAB is a virtual reality studio on a mission to create meaningful technologies for gaming, simulation and social experiences. The team shifted their focus from VR experiences in music to gaming in 2017. AEXLAB is leading the market with the development of cutting-edge software utilizing virtual reality technology to provide gamers with high-quality and immersive interactions.

In October 2022, AEXLAB held a major tournament for their new competitive VR game VAIL VR. The event ran for six weeks, with over 200 teams battling it out online to secure their spot in the LAN Finals held in Miami. Superblue Miami, an illustrious digital art gallery, partnered with the event to allow attendees to enjoy a full day of activities, with all the live matches showcased alongside several world-renowned artists’ work. With the official esports league launch in 2023, AEXLAB wanted to bring together the top creators, players, and brands in the VR community under one roof to foster a new era of gaming events. It is planned to be a continued annual event hosted across different cities worldwide to showcase the exciting world of competitive VR.

The event saw esports leaders and respected VR brands come together to share an event of competitive VR gaming with both a tournament and convention-style atmosphere. Activations from brands such as Smash Drums, Redpill, bHaptics, and many more were in attendance, allowing people to interact with esteemed VR brands. Entertainment was also provided thanks to the DJ and Youtuber, Thrillseeker, who played a set during the halftime show.

Initially introduced in November 2022 on SteamVR as an Early Access title and later on Meta Quest 2, 3, and Pro via the Meta App Lab, VAIL VR has undergone seven years of meticulous development and community-driven iterations. Now, stepping out of its early access phase, VAIL VR will be available for $29.99 USD, marking a significant milestone in the VR gaming industry.

“The journey of bringing VAIL VR to life has been nothing short of exhilarating. We are thrilled to finally unveil the culmination of years of hard work and dedication to the VR community, said Jonathan Ovadia, CEO of AEXLAB, a Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree. “With VAIL VR, we aim to deliver an immersive gaming experience that pushes the boundaries of virtual reality.”

VAIL VR 1.0 introduces Quick Play matchmaking, enabling players to seamlessly join games and enjoy the thrill of competition without delay. The new progression system, ranging from levels 0 to 50, rewards players with not just weapons, sights, and emblems but also exclusive weapon and character skins, adding layers of customization and strategy. Additionally, VAIL now integrates leaderboards and comprehensive stats tracking, challenging players to ascend daily, weekly, and all-time rankings, showcasing their prowess and progress in the VAIL universe.

“Launching on the Meta Quest App is an important milestone for the groundbreaking team at AEXLAB. There’s nothing like VAIL VR out there on the market,” says Jeff Ransdell, Founder and Managing Director at Fuel Venture Capital.

The founders decided to go all-in and full-time on development, and in 2021 they launched an equity crowdfunding campaign. More than 1,500 people, many of them gamers, invested $2.5 million.

Following the crowdfunding success, Fuel Venture Capital led the $5 million Series A round which closed in the summer of 2023. The funds allowed the AEXLAB founders to to scale up their development team as they prepared to launch VAIL VR. The round also included real estate developer Craig Robins, as well as crypto investors Loomdart of eGirl Capital, Subversive Capital, and Valor Equity Partners.

You can start playing now here.

By Nikki Cabus

CommerceTech platform smartBeemo receives $6 million in funding to support Latino online businesses

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smartBeemo received $6 million in funding to continue their mission of supporting the growth of Latin eCommerce businesses. 

Founded in 2014, smartBeemo is a CommerceTech platform dedicated to assisting Latin individuals in launching and growing their own ECommerce stores. Through education, community engagement, access to solutions, and direct access to China, the company has served over 100,000 paying users to date. They are striving to play a significant role in e-commerce in Latin America.

Targeting entrepreneurs, professionals in business with digital presence, and marketing students, smartBeemo offers education solutions through online courses and diplomas, virtual and face-to-face events, digital and printed books and business consultancies. 

On February 12th, SmartBeemo announced their pre-Series A funding round that closed Dec 2023. The company was able to raise $6 million with Redwood Ventures leading the round. The round included nine different investors including existing Redwood Ventures, Simma Capital, and New Ventures, but also new investors Aluna Partners, EaglePoint Capital, Angel Hub, Impact Ventures, Promotora Social México, and RGMA Holdings de Multifamily EPC.

The Latin American-born company began in Colombia, South America and now has a Miami presence having gone through the Endeavor ScaleUP program. ScaleUp is an initiative by Endeavor, a global organization that supports high-impact entrepreneurs in 40+ countries. Endeavor ScaleUp is a cohort-based initiative that equips high-growth founders in Florida with the network and resources to gain clarity on their path to scale.

Endeavor ScaleUP participant, Michel Edery, Co-founder & CEO of smartBeemo, wanted to leverage the Spanish language for the good and bringing a ray of hope for the Latin Americans. In a world where English is in a class of its own, there are people who are still having a hard time understanding the language, and in turn, it acts as the major barrier in their learning process. Michel recognized this problem and developed smartBeemo only for such people, breaking the language barriers that affect their learning.

In an Endeavor Miami podcast episode, Michael shared his experience growing his company, the insights he’s gained by being part of an entrepreneurial community, and the happiness that comes from doing what he loves. He spoke of how he belives that humans are always building stating that “We as human beings always need to work on something and build something. There are people who build gardens [his neighbor] and there’s people who build companies. I build companies.” You can listen in to the full conversation here.

Michael had previously shared how business is booming in Latin America and that the pandemic forced people to look to the internet allowing them the knowledge of how easy it can be to connect and even launch their own ecommerce businesses. He stated, “Over here, there is a bridge between e-commerce and digital marketing major due to the language barriers as all the great content out there is in English. But now I think people are starting to learn and understand more about social media, e-commerce and I can now see thousands of people launching their businesses.”

According to statista.com, Latin America harbors more than 300 million digital buyers, a figure forecast to grow by more than 20 percent by 2027.

Although e-commerce adoption in this part of the world is still lower than in other regions, online retail sales in Latin America were estimated at nearly 168 billion U.S. dollars in 2022 and set to account for almost 20 percent of total retail by 2026. On a regional level, Brazil and Mexico are vying for the lead, each accounting for close to 30 percent of the Latin American e-commerce market. However, other economies such as Argentina, Colombia, and Peru have been drawing increasing attention due to their swift growth.

To learn more about smartBeemo, visit www.smartbeemo.com

By Nikki Cabus

Broward-based Digibee Appoints MuleSoft and Domino Alum as VP of Product

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Digibee, the first serverless integration platform empowering seamless connection and business agility, announced that Pablo Luna will join the company as its Vice President of Product.
Founded in 2017, Digibee is a born in the cloud, serverless integration platform that empowers developers to integrate applications at scale. Digibee extends the value of IT resources by allowing existing teams to rapidly build integrations and automations in a visual environment, eliminating bottlenecks and modernizing your approach to delivering powerful products and services.
Pablo Luna, MuleSoft’s former Senior Director of Product Management, will lead product strategy to create an enterprise-class serverless iPaaS product and a world-class product organization.

“Having Pablo Luna join Digibee as VP of Product is a transformative move for us. With over two decades of experience, including key roles at MuleSoft, Pablo’s strategic vision aligns seamlessly with ours for Digibee‘s future,” said Peter Kreslins, chief technology officer (CTO) at Digibee. “His leadership will drive our product strategy to new heights, accelerating momentum. His expertise will elevate our product management organization and deliver unparalleled value to our customers. We are thrilled to have him on board to further Digibee‘s product innovation.”

Along with his deep industry experience in the integration, iPaaS, API management and business process management (BPM) domains, Luna will bring his understanding of customer needs and successful product delivery to further build upon Digibee’s innovative momentum. He will also work to accelerate transformation in the industry to a more efficient and scalable solution that connects applications, data and people.

Digibee has an industry-leading innovative iPaaS platform, and I’m thrilled to further accelerate its growth and momentum,” said Pablo Luna, VP of product at Digibee.

“The integration market has changed dramatically in the last 5 years, with customer needs evolving rapidly in new market conditions. Digibee has built an incredibly robust and flexible iPaaS that leverages new technologies and integration approaches to address these evolving challenges. I’m excited to work with the talented Digibee team to accelerate the evolution of the platform, so customers can truly revolutionize the value they get from integration.”
Before joining Digibee, Luna was the vice president of product management at enterprise data science management platform Domino Data Lab. He was also responsible for core products and was a key contributor to exceeding company financial goals in his previous role at MuleSoft. Luna will report to Digibee’s CTO, Peter Kreslins.
This appointment builds upon a banner year in 2023 for Digibee with key achievements including AI enhancements to the Digibee Integration Platform, new customer deployments and a $60 million series B investment to fuel the company’s growth.
The Growth Equity business within Goldman Sachs Asset Management (Goldman Sachs) was the lead investor in the Series B round which was announced in June 2023. It includes Leadwind, a growth fund at K Fund, a leading venture capital firm in Southern Europe, Vivo Ventures, the corporate venture capital (CVC) arm of Brazilian telco Vivo, Kinea and G2D, two of Latin America’s largest private equity investment firms. Digibee is the preferred iPaaS solution for more than 250 customers including Assai, B3, Banco Itaú Unibanco, Barkley, Bauducco, Johnson Brothers and Payless. The Series B round follows a $25 million Series A round led by Softbank Latin America Fund (later renamed to Upload Ventures) and announced in February 2022 and a $6 million seed investment in February 2019.
Learn more about Digibee at www.digibee.com 

By Nikki Cabus

Governor Ron DeSantis Announces Award of $4 Million to Indian River State College to Create Advanced Technology Workforce

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Governor Ron Desantis visited Indian River State College on February 7th to announce a $4 million award to further advanced technology programs. 

A leader in education and innovation, Indian River State College transforms lives by offering high-quality, affordable and accessible education to the residents of Florida’s Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee, and St. Lucie counties through traditional and online delivery. IRSC is a recipient of the 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America’s community colleges. The College serves nearly 22,000 students annually and offers more than 100 programs leading to Bachelor’s degrees, Associate degrees, technical certificates and applied technology diplomas.

Nearly 200 people were in attendance at the brand new IRSC’s Eastman Advanced Workforce Training Complex located on the Massey Campus in Ft. Pierce when the Governor announced the $4 million award. The funds will be used to create advanced technology workforce development programs and build an innovative Center of Ballistics and Emerging Technology.

The funding is through the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund (JGGF) which makes strategic investments in programs that build stronger communities and support workforce training across the state. The JGGF is an economic development program designed to promote public infrastructure and workforce training across the state. Proposals are reviewed by FloridaCommerce and chosen by the Governor to meet the demand for workforce or infrastructure needs in the community they are awarded to. The Fund allocated $40 million and awarded 20 projects in fiscal year 2021-2022 and 18 in fiscal year 2022-2023.

“We see an opportunity to use the job growth grant to really make an impact not just with workforce, but also for the economy here on the Treasure Coast of Florida,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.

“So I am today pleased to be able to award a $4 million grant through the job growth grant fund to Indian River State College to create a new center for ballistics and emerging technology.”

The Center for Ballistics and Emerging Technology will serve as the nexus where industry partners, law enforcement agents, workforce training professionals, and Indian River State College students and faculty collaborate. The project plans to create more than 300 new advanced manufacturing-trained graduates over the next ten years.

The project underscores Indian River State College’s vision to provide development and testing to support business and innovation. This project will allow the College to expand its training in advanced manufacturing, particularly in precision fabrication and mechatronics. The project complements the programs and facilities of the Eastman Advanced Manufacturing Building and the Treasure Coast Public Safety Training Complex.

The 60,000-square-foot Eastman Advanced Workforce Training Complex is Florida’s newest, most technologically advanced workforce training facility. The official ribbon cutting was held last Fall on November 1, 2023 with over 400 in attendance from elected officials to professionals in the local community.

Expansive laboratories dedicated to Mechatronics, Robotics and Smart Automation, Welding, Automotive Technology, Refrigeration, HVAC, and more are carefully designed and outfitted to support students as they earn certifications and degrees in programs that help satisfy the region’s growing need for a highly skilled talent pipeline. Students train in immersive educational environments with a network of experienced instructors, utilizing best-in-class technology as they build the critical skills required for rewarding careers in high-demand occupations.

“The manufacturing industry in America is growing rapidly, and Florida, in particular, is home to an expanding manufacturing ecosystem,” said Indian River State College President Dr. Timothy Moore. “With the opening of our Eastman Advanced Workforce Training Complex, Indian River State College is poised to deliver a talent pipeline that meets the workforce needs of today and tomorrow, bolstering our region’s economy and attractiveness to employers, expanding career opportunities for our citizens, and helping realize Governor Ron DeSantis’s goal to be the number one state in the nation for workforce education by 2030.”

“This grant will help take technology off the shelf, put it to use, and help those who protect us,” said Indian River State College President Dr. Timothy Moore. “The Governor’s support has been instrumental. I cannot think of a more important way to demonstrate the value of education, the value of technology, and the value of leadership.”

The site is also home to and informed by the Advanced Manufacturing Hub, a collaborative effort to address the looming shortage of local workforce in precision machining, industrial automation systems, integrated smart factory operations, supply chain automation and logistics. The Hub offers a broad range of programs introducing critical knowledge and hands-on skills in areas enabling the growth and automation of Industry 4.0.—the next phase in the digitization of the manufacturing sector.

The manufacturing industry in America is growing at a rapid rate. Florida is home to an expanding manufacturing ecosystem. Over 24,000 manufacturers support 426,000 manufacturing jobs with average salaries of $74,575. According to the Florida Commerce 2023 Florida Manufacturing Report, “Florida’s manufacturing employment reached 422,800 in September 2023, passing both Georgia and New York to become the 10th largest state in the country for manufacturing employment. Manufacturing employment has grown by 23.3% since 2014, again significantly higher than other leading manufacturing states.”

As manufacturing jobs continue to be reshored to the United States from global markets, Florida is poised to become one of the top five manufacturing states by 2030. In 2019, Governor DeSantis set a clear goal that Florida would be #1 in workforce education by 2030. IRSC President, Dr. Moore, intends to make that happen!

Learn more at www.irsc.edu.

 

By Nikki Cabus

StatusPRO announces $20M Series A Round Led by GV to Continue Revolutioning Sports Through XR

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StatusPRO, Inc. announced $20 million in new funding, one of the largest Series A of any VR gaming company to date, led by GV (Google Ventures).

The Miami-based StatusPRO is a sports technology and gaming company that uses real-time player data to create authentic extended reality experiences using technologies such as augmented, mixed, and virtual reality. The company provides a suite of training and gaming products that revolutionize the way coaches, players, and fans experience their favorite sport. StatusPRO is minority-owned and led, where almost half of its employees in the United States are former athletes.

StatusPRO’s ties to the NFL and the NFLPA began in its club locker rooms when co-founders and former elite football players Troy Jones and Andrew (Hawk) Hawkins had a vision to develop Pre Game Prep, a tool that would bring the brand’s proprietary technology to NFL teams with the goal of improving the athlete training experience, which is now being utilized by NFL teams. The company’s investors include notables such as Naomi Osaka, LeBron James, Maverick Carter, Paul Wachter, Drake, Lamar Jackson, along with investment groups Greycroft, TitletownTech, Verizon Ventures, Haslam Sports Group, 49ers Enterprises KB Partners, and SC Holdings.

StatusPRO is joining Google Ventures‘ investment portfolio of successful tech, healthcare, and consumer companies, asserting its spot as a standout and growing VR company in the space. GV provides venture capital funding to bold new companies. Across the fields of life science, enterprise technology, consumer products and services, and frontier technology, GV’s portfolio companies aim to improve lives and transform industries. GV’s team of world-class engineers, designers, physicians, scientists, marketers, and investors work together to provide startups with exceptional support. Launched as Google Ventures in 2009, GV is the venture capital arm of Alphabet, Inc. GV helps startups interface with Google, providing unique access to the world’s best technology and talent. GV has over $8 billion under management.

“No matter if its virtual reality or spatial computing, our vision at StatusPRO is to define first-person sports and deliver experiences that truly embody the emotion, competition and sense of community that comes with being a professional athlete,” said Troy Jones, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of StatusPRO. “The investment from GV, Dream, and all other syndicates in the round, further validates the opportunity to leverage emerging technology to innovate the way fans interact with their favorite sports and define a new form of engagement that brings current and future fans closer to the game.”

After two years of laying a foundation in the sports gaming industry and establishing a new genre, first-person sports, StatusPRO will use the additional capital to broaden development into new sports titles while continuing to enhance its modes and features and further improve its cutting-edge technology. The round includes additional funding from India’s renowned sports-tech giant Dream Sports, Minnesota Vikings Owners Mark & Zygi Wilf’s Wise Ventures, JDS Sports, and Alumni Ventures, with participation from existing investors including LeBron James, Drake, Maverick Carter, Main Street Advisors, Haslam Sports Group and more.

In 2022, the Black-founded StatusPRO launched the first-ever NFL and NFLPA-licensed virtual reality (VR) simulation gaming franchise, NFL PRO ERA, and made its mark on the sports gaming category by allowing players to experience what it feels like to be on the field playing as QB of their favorite NFL team. This immersive, first-person simulation brings fans closer to the gridiron by giving them a professional football player’s perspective through VR technology. Last October, the franchise, which highlighted NFL MVP and All Pro QB Lamar Jackson as its cover athlete, saw an evolution that introduced new features such as head-to-head multiplayer gameplay so players could interact, connect, and compete against one another in the virtual world.

NFL PRO ERA is one of the most successful sports franchises in VR history. Since launch, StatusPRO has garnered over 1,000,000 users and players have spent an average of 41 minutes in game, estimated to be 2x longer compared to VR industry averages. As one of the top VR studios, StatusPRO has not only produced the fastest selling sports title in VR history but is a top title on the Meta Quest platform (top 10 in sales). NFL PRO ERA is among the most successful Black-founded gaming franchises ever.

Other substantial new investments came from a diverse group of athletes, entertainers, firms, and industry leaders including Myles GarrettDavid GrutmanBobby WagnerJeff StibelPeter Delgrosso, Cameron Jordan, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Crystal HayslettDevale Ellis, TitletownTech, Black Angel Group, Life Line Family Heritage Fund, Sun Technology Investors, Andre Gaines of Cinemation Studios, and the Fuller Brothers of 6408 Ventures, among others.

“StatusPRO is building the next generation of sports and gaming entertainment through cutting-edge virtual reality. The company’s unique technology-driven approach and meaningful partnerships have resulted in strong early growth and product traction,” said M.G Siegler, Venture Partner at GV. “Troy Jones and Andrew Hawkins have built an impressive team and track record of execution in a short time, and we’re thrilled to support StatusPRO as they move the VR gaming industry forward.”

VR gaming continues to grow in popularity. The global VR gaming market is projected to grow from $7.92 billion in 2021 to $53.44 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 31.4% in forecast period 2021-2028 period. With this projected growth, StatusPRO prepares for ongoing customer acquisition and retention while continuing to solidify the company as the innovative leader redefining the sports gaming world and eyeing global expansion in the sports VR market with a focus on future sports IP.

“As a former professional athlete, working with a dedicated team of people who have all participated in sports and worked for years across the sports business industry at a high level, we understand what it takes to compete and win,” said Andrew Hawkins, co-founder and President of StatusPRO. “We believe that VR is the innovative answer to help allow fans globally to see and experience what it’s like to be a Pro. This is just the beginning for StatusPRO and paves the way for us to enter additional sectors of sports VR, opening doors for us to explore other professional sports avenues and teams.”

StatusPRO’s NFL PRO ERA is available on the Meta Quest, Official PlayStation™, Pico, and Steam Store.

For more information on StatusPRO, please visit https://www.status.pro

By Nikki Cabus

Delray Beach-based Cyrno Therapeutics secures funding for smell loss treatment

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Cyrano Therapeutics, Inc. announced that it has secured a $9.0 million Series B financing to advance the development of CYR-064 as a potential first-ever treatment for post-viral smell loss.

Hyposmia, including post-viral hyposmia, is an increasingly prevalent and serious chronic sensory condition for which there is no approved drug therapy and limited treatment options. Hyposmia causes significant impairment in quality of life for many sufferers. Moreover, in older individuals, hyposmia is associated with an increased risk of cognitive impairment and mortality. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, an estimated 8 million individuals in the US and Europe suffered from long-term post-viral hyposmia. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in dramatically increased prevalence, with an estimated 40 million individuals in the US and Europe currently suffering from long-term post-viral hyposmia.

Delray Beach-based Cyrano Therapeutics is a private, venture-backed clinical stage regenerative medicine company. Since their foundation, the company has been working diligently to develop therapies for people struggling with the loss of smell (hyposmia) and taste.

Co-lead investors participating in the financing include the Florida Opportunity Fund managed by DeepWork Capital and existing investors Lumira Ventures and Remiges Ventures.

DeepWork Capital invests professionally managed committed venture capital in growth-oriented, early-stage companies in the technology and life science sectors. They partner with visionary entrepreneurs building disruptive companies and work closely with other investment groups taking a hands-on approach with its portfolio companies

Cyrano intends to use the proceeds from its Series B financing to advance FLAVOR, its Phase 2, double-blind, randomized clinical trial of CYR-064, an intranasal theophylline spray therapy to treat patients who have lost their sense of smell following recovery from a viral infection. The FLAVOR Phase 2 trial will be conducted at up to 15 sites in the US and the Series B financing is to fund the trial through data readout.

According to Cyrano’s website, “The Cyrano team has developed a unique, proprietary intranasal product to restore function in patients with a chronic loss of taste and smell. This is a condition affecting at least 14 million people in the US and a similar number in Europe, having a significant impact on safety, quality of life and well-being. Currently no marketed therapy exists and aside from the Cyrano product, none are in the pipeline. Cyrano has established the IP estate with the assistance of Wilson Sonsini. Key patents have been issued.”

“This Series B financing enables us to advance what we believe to be a first-of-its-kind treatment for patients suffering from long-term smell loss due to a viral infection,” said Rick Geoffrion, President and CEO of Cyrano Therapeutics, Inc. “Smell loss correlates to functional loss of taste, which can both diminish quality of life and present significant health and safety risks, thus underscoring the urgency in advancing this important therapeutic. We also plan to conduct exploratory research for patients with Parkinson’s disease, 95 percent of whom often experience loss of smell and flavor as the first symptom of the disease.”

Jackson Streeter, MD, Venture Partner at DeepWork Capital, stated: “Cyrano Therapeutics represents an important investment for DeepWork and the Florida Opportunity Fund as we seek to identify and cultivate emerging biotechnology companies in Florida that combine executive and scientific expertise with therapeutic opportunities that offer the potential to address significant, unmet medical needs. We look forward to supporting the entire Cyrano team as the company advances CYR-064 through the FLAVOR Phase 2 trial.”

The number of patients experiencing long-term smell and flavor loss has increased 10-fold in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic to more than 40 million patients in the US and Europe. Thirty percent of those suffering from smell loss will experience a hazardous event such as food poisoning or the inability to detect hazardous fumes. There is currently no FDA-approved drug therapy to treat smell loss from any cause.

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Carewell Secures $24.7 Million in Series B Funding and hires former Chewy executives
AEXLAB’s VAIL VR Launches on Meta Quest Store after successful $5 million raise
CommerceTech platform smartBeemo receives $6 million in funding to support Latino online businesses
Broward-based Digibee Appoints MuleSoft and Domino Alum as VP of Product
Governor Ron DeSantis Announces Award of $4 Million to Indian River State College to Create Advanced Technology Workforce
StatusPRO announces $20M Series A Round Led by GV to Continue Revolutioning Sports Through XR
Delray Beach-based Cyrno Therapeutics secures funding for smell loss treatment