South Florida Tech HubSouth Florida Tech Hub

By Nikki Cabus

Delta Air Lines and LATAM join forces for inaugural job shadowing project empowering youth for success

Read Time 5 Minutes

Delta Air Lines and LATAM Airlines Group united to extend thier inaugural Job Shadow Day at Miami International Airport.

Twenty-five students from the New World School of the Arts located in downtown Miami were given the opportunity to walk through a “day in the life” through a transformative experience including simulated real-world exercises where volunteers introduced them to career opportunities in aviation.

Through the Joint Venture between Delta and LATAM group, the global airlines seamlessly collaborate both in the skies and on the ground, inspiring the next generation of talented individuals who will shape the future. Delta and LATAM reinforce a shared vision for a brighter and more interconnected future, where the collective efforts of these influential airlines contribute to positive and lasting impacts on a global scale.

Since implementing their transformative partnership in 2022, the award-winning airlines have made travel between North and South America easier and more enjoyable than ever by expanding their route networks, optimizing their flight schedules and airport operations, and offering travelers improved access to 300 destinations on the two continents. This is why Delta and LATAM – like travelers, their loved ones, friends and destinations – complement each other and are “Meant to be Together,” as their new campaign suggests.

“Delta strives to make an impact by building intentional, purposeful partnerships in our communities that help address the hopes and needs of real people and spark meaningful change in the world,” said Luciano Macagno, Delta Managing Director for Latin American, the Caribbean and South Florida.

Educational endeavors such as the Job Shadopw Day play a crucial role in empowering young minds to visualize and pursue fulfilling career trajectories. This initiative not only granted the students invaluable firsthand experience but also provided them with the chance to glean insights from seasoned aviation professionals at Delta and LATAM. The event offered a distinctive behind-the-scenes glimpse into the intricate workings and operations of Miami International Airport, fostering a deepened understanding and connection to the dynamic world of the aviation industry.

Miami International Airport is America’s busiest airport for international freight and the second busiest for international passengers. MIA offers more flights to Latin America and the Caribbean than any other U.S. airport and is also the leading economic engine for Miami-Dade County and the state of Florida with an expansive workforce community of more than 37,000 employees. The airport generates business revenue of $31.9 billion and approximately 60 percent of all international visitors to Florida annually.

“At LATAM Airlines Group we thank our partner Delta for the invitation to participate in this Job Shadow experience,” said Gonzalo Ramírez, North America & Caribbean Airports Senior Manager LATAM Group.

“We are constantly looking to connect with the communities where we operate, so we are excited to connect with young people who will be the future professionals of the industry. At the same time, as the leading airline group in South America, we want them to know that the prospects for development in the sector are international, which adds to the attractiveness of pursuing a career in this field.”

Delta Air Lines and LATAM Airlines Group partnered with Junior Achievemt of Greater Miami on this initiaitive. Each day, JA MIami works to help young people discover what’s possible in their lives. The nonprofit does this by helping them connect what they learn in school with life outside the classroom. JA Miami strives to let students know it’s possible to invest in their future, to gain a better understanding of how the world works, and to pursue their dreams.

JA Miami is dedicated to giving young people in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan for their futures, and make smart academic and economic choices. JA programs are delivered by corporate and community volunteers and educators, and offer relevant, hands-on experiences that provide 40,000 students from kindergarten through high school knowledge and skills in financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship.

“We are thrilled to partner with Delta and LATAM to provide students with this unique JA Job Shadow experience,” said Mariana Furchi Sly, Executive Vice President, Junior Achievement of Greater Miami. “Many of these students have never been to the airport and aren’t aware that so many job opportunities exist. This program helps show them possibilities for their futures.”

In addition to supporting the JA Job Shadow program, Delta sponsored 80 high school students’ participation in the JA Stock Market Challenge in October 2023, and facilitated travel for a team of high school students from Coral Gables Senior High to attend a national competition last summer in Washington, D.C. As part of Delta’s work to fuel a diverse aviation talent pipeline and build an organization that is reflective of the communities where we live, work and serve, Delta prioritizes partnerships that enable young aviators and students to envision their own future in the industry.

“It was truly inspiring to witness the curiosity and enthusiasm of the students as they delved into the details of the aviation industry and explored the diverse array of roles within our organizations. From witnessing ground operations in action to gaining insights into the complexities of flying, the students embarked on a fascinating journey of discovery,” shared Ignacio Borbollo, Delta Head of Sales, Market Development & Community Partnerships – Regional Manager, South Florida

“As a proud member of the JA Young Professional board, I was thrilled to play a part in providing these young minds with a firsthand glimpse into the dynamic world of travel and aviation. It’s moments like these that ignite passion and spark ambition in the next generation of leaders.”

In addition to this project, Delta has connected with students around the world through its many partnerships and programs – such as Delta Business Class, Delta’s Propel Academy, Delta’s WING Flight, HBCU engagement, the Aviation Maintenance Airframe Certificate Program and more.

To learn more about Delta’s Student & Earl Careers Programs, visit www.delta.com/us/en/careers/students-and-early-careers

By Nikki Cabus

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

Read Time 4 Minutes

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

Endeavor Miami Announces Exciting New Latinx Cohort

Read Time 3 Minutes

Endeavor Miami has announced its latest EndeavorLAB Latinx cohort, showcasing the wealth of Latinx talent, its commitment to elevating underrepresented founders, and South Florida’s rise as a global innovation hub.

Tailored explicitly for underrepresented entrepreneurs in Florida, EndeavorLAB addresses a crucial gap in the startup ecosystem. EndeavorLAB focuses on Black, Latinx, and Women founders, whose businesses are often underfunded  and may face more struggles to access the resources they need for growth. EndeavorLAB fills this void, offering a sanctuary of community, knowledge, and support that reaffirms their potential and empowers them to persevere.

This year’s Latinx cohort is a vibrant mosaic of ten startups led by a diverse group of twenty co-founders from across Latin America – Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Chile, and Brazil. This selection celebrates cultural diversity and spotlights the innovative spirit and scalable potential within the Latinx entrepreneurial community. From enterprise SaaS to fintech, consumer tech to CPG, and logistics, these startups represent a broad spectrum of industries poised for significant growth.

Within just a few years of founding, these ventures collectively achieved over $2.5M in revenue in 2023, with projections to surpass $10M in 2024. They are supported by an impressive $18M in external funding.

EndeavorLAB’s design reflects a deep understanding of the entrepreneurial journey, offering a structured yet flexible program that aligns with founders’ busy lives. Over two months, with a commitment of just four hours per week, participants engage in a curriculum focused on scaling up, tailored to integrate seamlessly into their schedules. This thoughtful approach ensures that learning and growth can occur without disrupting the ongoing momentum of their businesses.

“We are immensely proud to introduce these extraordinary startups to the world, ” said Claudia Duran, Managing Director of Endeavor Miami, as she expressed her enthusiasm for the cohort.

Their ambition and innovation embody the spirit of Endeavor Miami. This cohort underscores the vast potential within our community and the broader Latinx entrepreneurial ecosystem. We’re excited to facilitate their growth journey and look forward to the remarkable impact they will have.”

EndeavorLAB’s introduction of this year’s Latinx cohort, supported by JPMorgan Chase and in collaboration with DELL For Startups, is a milestone for Endeavor Miami and a beacon of hope and inspiration for underrepresented founders in South Florida. It highlights the organization’s role as a catalyst for meaningful change, fostering a more inclusive, diverse, and competitive entrepreneurial landscape. As these startups embark on their EndeavorLAB journey, their success stories will undoubtedly inspire future entrepreneurs, proving that the possibilities are limitless with the proper support and community.

Here is a complete list of the EndeavorLAB Cohort:

  • Casalú | A rum seltzer brand built to represent modern Latino Culture.
  • CodeGPT | Empowers businesses with a customizable, robust, and secure LLM as an Operating System (OS) for seamless business integration providing total control of the AI experience and the data back to the companies.
  • Highlights App | Helps fans stay connected to their favorite sports, teams, and athletes by leveraging their intuitive mobile interface and advanced AI to aggregate full highlights across all sports and leagues and personalize them to fans’ preferences.
  • iTruckr | Fueled by AI and smart algorithms, transforms independent trucking with automated operations, personalized scheduling, and real-time load booking, boosting financial control and profitability for owner-operators.
  • Kanto | A multi-platform interactive singing app. With Kanto Score, users experience the world’s most accurate scoring technology an a large library of songs and playlists.
  • Mavity | AI-powered tool that supercharges creative operations.
  • Neomoon | Revolutionizes financial access in LATAM, offering easy-to-use dollar accounts and empowering users with deep financial education, bridging the gap between technology and everyday finance.
  • Onyx Private | Empowering Small Business Owners to Thrive and Grow with a Unified Personal and Business App that Simplifies Financial Management.
  • Palla | A platform that enables people and companies to instantly send funds from the US to LatAm. Palla partners with Financial Institutions and Fintechs in LatAm to enable their customers to request and receive funds in seconds, instead of hours or days.
  • Securily | Company behind the World’s Easiest Pentest, it revolutionizes pen testing for small and medium-sized businesses by combining certified human expertise with cutting-edge AI, streamlining cybersecurity processes and ensuring compliance.

Endeavor’s Miami affiliate was established in 2013, with the support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, as the first U.S. affiliate of the global Endeavor organization. Miami’s Endeavor Entrepreneurs generated over $900M+ in revenues and employed over 6,000 individuals in 2023. With the addition of its newest companies, the affiliate currently supports 35 companies and 60 Endeavor Entrepreneurs.

By Nikki Cabus

ChenMed Names Steve Nelson CEO, Chris Chen Executive Board Chair

Read Time 3 Minutes

ChenMed announced a leadership change that will help guide the company’s ambitions to provide more seniors with better health outcomes.

Effective February 1, 2024, Chris Chen, ChenMed’s Chief Executive Officer, will transition to the role of Executive Chair of the Board and Steve Nelson, the company’s President, will elevate to serve as ChenMed’s CEO, leading management and operations.

Headquartered in Miami, ChenMed is a privately owned medical and technology company that delivers the high-touch and personalized primary care Medicare-eligible seniors need to enjoy better health. Named a Fortune “Change the World” company, twice-named a “Most Loved Workplace” by Newsweek, and a Certified Best Place to Work® by the Best Place to Work Institute, ChenMed brings concierge-style medicine and better health outcomes to the neediest populations.

ChenMed brands include Chen Senior Medical Center, Dedicated Senior Medical Center, JenCare Senior Medical Center, and IntuneHealth™. Thanks to its leading value-based, healthcare technology organization, Curity™, ChenMed also was recently named “Best Places to Work in IT” by Computerworld.

“My father’s vision for the company and our family’s commitment to bring our model of health care to those who need it most is now enabling hundreds of thousands of people to live healthier, more secure lives,” said Chris Chen.

“Steve Nelson’s expansive knowledge of health care, his skill in executing against a value-based care model, and his leadership values will position him as CEO to help us reach more people who can benefit from ChenMed’s brand of better health and well-being.”

Steve Nelson most recently served as the Co-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Duly Health and Care, one of the largest multispecialty independent provider groups in the U.S. with more than 1,000 primary care and specialty care physicians and more than 7,000 team members across 150 locations.

Prior to Duly, Steve spent 15 years at Unit­edHealth­ serving in leadership positions in both the Commercial and Government businesses. He served as the CEO of UnitedHealthcare, making the $190 billion division of UnitedHealth Group number one nationally in Medicare Advantage. He oversaw the commercial and government-subsidized health insurance businesses, including Medicare Advantage, which covered over five million seniors. He drove efforts that resulted in increased growth, employee engagement and customer satisfaction.

Christopher Chen added, “I am confident that the combination of strengths within the partnership between Steve and me can accelerate growth to provide unprecedented access to patients around the country who deserve quality, affordable and coordinated care.”

Additional leadership changes will include Mike Redmond, ChenMed’s Chief Financial Officer. He will remain at ChenMed and transition to the role of Special Advisor to the CEO and Board of Directors and Mike Bruff, the company’s Executive Vice President of Finance, will elevate to serve as Chief Financial Officer.

ChenMed presently operates more than 130 senior medical centers in 15 states throughout the country and remains dedicated to the founding principle that underserved seniors deserve access to exemplary primary care to keep them healthy and out of the hospital. These leadership changes will build upon the company’s success in serving individuals who have historically lacked access to coordinated health care, as it expands its presence to seniors in more areas of the country who can benefit from the preventive care model that ChenMed provides.

“Having spent more than thirty years in health care, my time within this company this past year has enabled me to witness what true value-based care looks like, and how it can improve peoples’ lives and transform healthcare in this nation,” said Steve Nelson. “ChenMed delivers this care peerlessly, and I am honored to have a partner like Chris Chen.”

To learn more about ChenMed, please visit www.chenmed.com

By Nikki Cabus

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

Read Time 4 Minutes

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

Read Time 3 Minutes

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

A Small Startup with Big Backing is Betting it can Fix Clinical Trials and has Issued a Challenge to Find Out

Read Time 4 Minutes

Modern Trials®, a startup aiming to transform clinical trial-patient matching, is collaborating with leading healthcare technology provider InterSystems® by issuing a challenge to assess Modern Trials’ EHR-based recruitment relative to current recruitment methods.

Co-founded in 2019 by Dr. Christopher Ochner, Modern Trials aims to match patients with clinical trials that could potentially save their life by connecting patients in need of advanced treatment options through democratizing access to clinical trials. They ingest the healthcare organization’s patient data and then make it searchable for their life science customers, clinical trial managers, in a private and secure manner.

Modern Trials is preparing a $2.4M NIH grant application that requires a healthcare organization partner with clinical trials to execute a Data Use Agreement to test grant aims.The challenge will be a head-to-head comparison to see which method results in more enrollees, more enrollees in traditionally underrepresented groups, more representative samples, and higher completion rates. Financial compensation will be provided to the partner healthcare organization.

“Grants like this are vital to provide the support necessary to determine, with real world data, the best method of democratizing access to advanced therapeutics. Until now, fewer than 15% of patients in need have had access to such opportunities,” Dr. Christopher Ochner told South Florida Tech Hub.

“Modern Trials extends its gratitude to South Florida’s Tech Hub’s ongoing support as we aim to bring these opportunities to all patients no matter who or where they are.”

The Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), announced October 2023 that it will take action to improve the nation’s ability to conduct clinical trials safely, quickly, and equitably and to improve clinical trial access for people in communities across the country as the first initiative within the recently launched ARPANET-H Health Innovation Network.

The goal of Advancing Clinical Trial Readiness (ACTR) is to enable 90% of all eligible Americans to take part in a clinical trial within a half hour of their home. To do so, ACTR will leverage the nationwide capabilities and reach of the ARPANET-H Customer Experience Hub by pursuing activities with a diverse array of stakeholders in order to advance, integrate, and extend clinical trial capabilities that overcome challenges in evaluating new technologies, therapies, and platforms.

“Clinical trials are essential to evaluating potentially life-saving breakthroughs and getting them to patients, including in times of rapid response, such as during national emergencies,” said ARPA-H Director Renee Wegrzyn, Ph.D.

“The Advancing Clinical Trial Readiness initiative activates the ARPANET-H health innovation network as we work with organizations from across the country to advance technologies and insights to create a robust national clinical trial infrastructure.”

Working together with patient volunteers, clinical trials help researchers understand what treatments work, gathering a variety of data to help identify better ways to improve patients’ health. Yet many challenges in conducting clinical trials are slowing the speed at which new treatments can get to patients, such as lack of interoperability across electronic health records, enrollment processes that can lead to non-representative study populations, complex study protocols, lack of access to people living in certain parts of the United States, and the myriad and inconsistent variables involved in running trials in real-world settings, or the cost in running trials in controlled settings.

ACTR will work with groups across the country, including innovators, industry, patients, academia, hospital centers, community health centers, and non-traditional partners, such as retail pharmacies or home health innovators, to build faster, less expensive trials with decentralized processes. The effort will also build trials that operate closer to, or at, points of care and are representative of our nation’s geography, age, gender, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic groups.

“Recent advances in technologies, including artificial intelligence, digital health technologies, and machine learning — along with open standards — enable new opportunities to increase the speed, improve access, and expand the diversity of clinical trials,” said ARPA-H Resilient Systems Mission Office Director Jennifer Roberts, Ph.D.

“Through this effort, we want to develop novel innovations to distribute common protocols across many more locations so that we can change the current paradigm and open the door to faster, cheaper, and more representative trials.”

Modern Trials offers a strong business justification for data use under the auspice of a National Institute of Health (NIH) grant project. Formal security review, Data Use Agreement (DUA), and Broad Agency Announcements (BAAs) will stipulate that data will be used only to complete project aims and destroyed upon completion (1.5-2y).

Some of the partnership requirements are:

  • Healthcare system with at least 1M patient records in their electronic health record system
  • 1,000 active clinical trials
  • Systems located anywhere throughout the United States

With millions actively seeking answers, Modern Trials is on a mission to connect patients with the life-changing potential of clinical trials. Modern Trials is betting it can fix clinical trials!

Click here for more information on the Modern Trials Challenge and NIH Proposal Partnership Details.

By Nikki Cabus

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

Read Time 5 Minutes

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

Two New Vibrant Miami Co-working Spaces Open in Downtown and Wynwood

Read Time 3 Minutes

Mindspace, a global boutique flexible workspace provider, is excited to announce its official launch in Miami.

Mindspace was founded in 2014 and doubled its locations in the United States in the past year alone. The expansion into the thriving South Florida market with two locations, in Downtown Miami and at The Gateway in Wynwood, marks a significant milestone for the company as it continues to grow its presence in the United States. The brand new workspaces are located at 100 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33132 and 2916 N. Miami Avenue, Miami, FL 33127.

Situated inside the beautiful 100 Biscayne building, in the heart of Miami’s rapidly growing Central Business District, Mindspace Downtown Miami offers unobstructed views of Biscayne Bay and the Downtown Miami skyline. This prime location has great connections to local transportation networks, including the Metromover light rail and major highways.

Spanning 31,000 square feet over three floors filled with timeless design and playful art, Mindspace Downtown Miami offers more than 400 workstations, with options of smaller and larger suites, individual hot desks and customizable enterprise solutions.

Located at the intersection of the iconic Wynwood and Midtown Miami neighborhoods, Mindspace Wynwood comprises private offices, large suites with one-on-one privacy booths, boutique meeting rooms and member lounge areas designed according to the highest standard.

In addition, Mindspace Wynwood offers shared access to the outdoor and penthouse rooftop terraces. Every site is staffed by a local team of community managers dedicated to addressing the unique needs of every single member and facilitating connections between different companies. The Wynwood location will soon have access to an on-site gym, restaurant, and bar.

Mindspace is a global provider of high-end flexible workspace, designed to serve the growing needs of the world’s leading small to medium-sized businesses and enterprises, and operates in more than 45 locations comprising 20 cities and 7 countries across Europe and the US. With a proven track record of fitting Fortune 500 companies with fully serviced, all-inclusive, and bespoke working environments, Mindspace provides a vast selection of tailorable space via large dedicated workspaces, team suites, and private offices.

With a focus on design and hospitality, Mindspace  caters a premium environment for individuals and companies to thrive in. Its latest Miami locations, which are situated in the heart of the city, offer state-of-the-art amenities and a vibrant community to enhance productivity and collaboration.

“Mindspace is thrilled to infuse Miami’s dynamic energy into our unique workspaces, establishing a vibrant presence in the heart of this thriving business hub,” said Dan Zakai, CEO and Co Founder of Mindspace.

“Expanding to two distinct locations within the same city underscores the immense potential we see in Miami. Our mission is to craft an unparalleled workplace experience, empowering businesses to flourish and individuals to unlock their full potential.”

As the demand for flexible workspaces continues to rise, Mindspace is committed to meeting the needs of professionals and seeking a dynamic and innovative workplace. Miami’s entrepreneurial spirit and diverse business landscape make it an ideal location for Mindspace’s expansion. The company aims to provide a supportive and inspiring work environment for startups, freelancers, and established businesses, fostering creativity and networking opportunities.

Mindspace is committed to offering its members the most effective, adaptable solutions for their business needs. This flexible approach avoids excess waste and overcapacity and provides a low-risk, low-commitment opportunity for future growth. With its arrival in Miami, Mindspace adds another major city to its expanding portfolio of global locations. The company already operates in more than 20 major world cities across Europe and the US.

Sign up now and get 1 month free!

By Nikki Cabus

Greenberg Traurig adds former partner in Ballard Spahr LLP’s Consumer Financial Services Practice

Read Time 4 Minutes

Global law firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP continues to expand its Financial Regulatory & Compliance Practice with the addition of Lisa M. Lanham as a shareholder.

Lanham was formerly a partner in Ballard Spahr LLP’s Consumer Financial Services Practice and co-led the firm’s Fintech and Payment Solutions Team. She brings more than a decade of experience handling state licensing and regulatory compliance matters, helping clients in the consumer finance space obtain the necessary approvals to bring various new fintech products to market.

“Lisa brings extensive experience handling complex consumer finance matters for companies of all sizes and managing their state and regulatory compliance requirements from start to finish,” said Marina Olman-Pal, co-chair of Greenberg Traurig’s Financial Regulatory & Compliance Practice.

“As we continue to grow the practice and serve as a preeminent shop for financial regulatory and compliance matters, Lisa’s skillset and working relationships with key regulators will complement the practice and serve as a vital asset to our team. I look forward to working closely with Lisa to provide our clients with a broad scope of services to meet their business needs.”

Lanham’s diverse range of clients includes residential and commercial mortgage brokers, lenders, servicers, loan fulfilment providers, student, consumer, and solar loan lenders and servicers, marketplace lenders, and entities offering retail installment contracts for consumer goods. Moreover, she advises investors engaged in secondary market activities. Lanham also extends her support to emerging fintech firms, helping them comply with necessary state licensing requirements and develop products that meet regulatory demands.

Greenberg Traurig recently expanded its Financial Regulatory & Compliance Practice with the addition of former fintech state regulator Shane Foster in Phoenix. This follows on the heels of last year’s new hires of financial regulatory-focused attorneys Hilary R. Sledge-Sarnor in Los Angeles and Tim Dolan and Sierra M. Taylor in London.

Greenberg Traurig’s Financial Regulatory and Compliance Group has wide-ranging experience assisting national, regional and local clients in a variety of matters affecting the financial services industry. The national team of skilled attorneys works with clients as they face regulatory, litigation, legislative, supervision, examination, licensing, compliance and governance matters. Greenberg Traurig’s regulatory attorneys regularly advise banks, broker-dealers, investment advisors, mortgage lenders and servicers, payday lenders, consumer finance companies, registered and private investment funds, debt collectors and other financial institutions in complying with state and federal regulatory requirements and interfacing with governmental agencies.

“As regulations on both a national and state level continue to rapidly evolve, our team is at the forefront of the latest developments, providing clients with up-to-date legal counsel and assisting them in a variety of matters affecting the financial services industry,” said Jaret L. Davis, senior vice president of Greenberg Traurig.

Greenberg Traurig recently expanded its Financial Regulatory & Compliance Practice with the addition of former fintech state regulator Shane Foster in Phoenix. This follows on the heels of last year’s new hires of financial regulatory-focused attorneys Hilary R. Sledge-Sarnor in Los Angeles and Tim Dolan and Sierra M. Taylor in London.

“We have seen an increasing demand for these legal services, and by adding Lisa to our already strong team, we will be able to further enhance our ability to meet clients’ regulatory needs,” continued Davis.

Lisa Lanham was recognized in 2023 by The Financial Times as one of North America’s Innovative Lawyers for her involvement in the creation of an innovative technology platform for clients to manage their licensing portfolios. This technology application handles licenses and regulatory obligations for consumer financial services clients, with dashboards and checklists to help clients navigate licensing requirements and filing deadlines for each state. The application is run by a team of lawyers who respond to any legal queries from clients.

“I am thrilled to join Greenberg Traurig’s well-established financial regulatory and compliance team,” Lanham said. “With a strong presence in the financial services market, its global platform, and commitment to entrepreneurship, Greenberg Traurig was the ideal place to grow my practice and expand the services that I can provide clients. I also look forward to working with Marina to expand the capabilities of the technology application to serve a broader group of clients.”

Lanham will represent clients globally, working from the firm’s New York and Miami offices. She is admitted to practice in New York and Pennsylvania, and not admitted to practice in Florida. Lanham earned her J.D., cum laude, from the University of Miami and her A.A.S., B.A. from New York University.

Greenberg Traurig’s Corporate Practice comprises more than 600 lawyers in the United States, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America who regularly advise public and privately held companies, entrepreneurs and investment funds on global mergers and acquisitions, corporate restructurings, private equity and venture capital, underwritten and syndicated offerings, commercial finance and syndicated lending, cross-border transactions, and general corporate matters. The group’s industry experience includes transactions in a wide range of fields, from the pharmaceutical, medical devices, and life sciences fields, to representations involving clients in the aviation, banking, consumer products, energy, food and beverage, health care, manufacturing, media, technology, and telecommunications sectors.

By Nikki Cabus

Break Through Tech at FIU places 25 interns at American Express

Read Time 3 Minutes

Barbarella Castillo graduated from a private university shortly after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. She had plans to pursue medical school but, like the rest of the world, she put those on hold. After re-evaluating her options, she decided to pursue her interest in computing and enrolled in the Knight Foundation School of Computing and Information Sciences at FIU’s College of Engineering and Computing. 

“It was an excellent decision,” says Castillo, who in 2023 graduated from FIU with a second bachelor’s degree and a full-time job waiting for her at American Express. She landed the position with the help of a unique three-week internship facilitated by Break Through Tech Miami.

American Express Vice President of Technology Donna Peters, who hosted some of the interns, says partnering with programs like Break Through Tech, which is designed to increase female employment in technology, helps support American Express’s goal of embracing diversity to fuel creativity and innovation.

“We firmly believe that innovation thrives on diverse skillsets, backgrounds, and experiences,” says Peters. “What is most satisfying for me is witnessing the “aha” moments when the pieces of the puzzle come together, and student learnings come to life.”

“Sprinternships,” as they are called, are micro-internships designed to bridge the gap between academia and industry. Unlike traditional internships, they don’t require students to ace a technical interview as a prerequisite. This removes one of the most common stumbling blocks for students attempting to enter the workforce, says Director of Break Through Tech Miami Nimmi Arunachalam.

“Hiring managers can get a better sense for a student’s long-term potential by seeing them perform in a natural environment rather than in a hypothetical, problem-solving scenario in front of a whiteboard, like what is typically presented in a traditional tech interview,” Arunachalam said. “Evaluating students in an organic setting, where they work on a team and solve a challenging project, could be a better way of predicting future performance and fit.”

Twenty-five students participating in the inaugural cohort received either a job offer or an internship offer from American Express.

Posted with permission from Break Through Tech Miami

By Nikki Cabus

Guest Blog: Digital Transformation South Florida Style at TECHpalooza

Read Time 3 Minutes

I was privileged to be invited to participate on a panel for the CIO Breakfast as part of the recent TECHpalooza event here in South Florida (Ft. Lauderdale to be exact). The panel was entitled, “The Future of the AI Revolution.”

I must admit I had modest hopes for the discussion taking place at the ungodly hour of 7am, but I was pleasantly surprised – not only with the sophistication and maturity of the state of digital transformation at the companies represented on the panel, but equally so by the companies represented in the audience.

Having lived in South Florida for almost 22 years now, I have come to accept that this isn’t Silicon Valley, Boston, Austin or any of the other hot tech markets. However, due to Covid, digital nomads and the hard work of local organizations like Tech Hub South Florida, that isn’t the case anymore.

There is a vibrant tech scene stretching from Miami, past Ft. Lauderdale and all the way up to Northern Palm Beach County – and even beyond.

Besides myself, on the panel was Michael Fowler, who is a VP and business unit CIO at Florida Power and Light (FPL), Sam Jaddi, SVP and CIO at ADT, Caroline Roche, VP and Senior Partner IBM’s Transformation Services, and Chad Simpson, the CIO for City Furniture. The panel was moderated by Colby Brannan and Lee Buchness, senior partners at Culture Partners.

Also not able to join us, and missed, were John Machado, the CTO of UKG and Tamecka Mckay, CIO of the City of Ft. Lauderdale. The audience had an equally impressive roster of well-known brands, as well as a good mix of consultants, smaller companies and startups.  All attendees were pre-approved and had to be a CIO or of the equivalent level to attend.

Though the discussion centered primarily around how the attendees were using AI or planned on using AI in their organizations, I was struck by the state-of-the-art technology that was being used almost universally across the board. These companies were almost all hybrid cloud users, shifting more and more of their infrastructure to the cloud.

To a person, they all were deep into DevOps and Cloud Native. Because several of them were in highly regulated industries, security and compliance processes were also very sophisticated. The level of digitization of these businesses was remarkable. ADT, for instance, is looking at how the smart home of the future will function and how they can be the hub of that. FPL is extremely forward thinking in communication with their customers via an app and being able to monitor their grid using every technology within their reach. Even City Furniture is digital first, with supply, shopping and delivery services all highly automated and digital.

We tend to think of our local companies, as just that – local. But hearing how they have transformed in the last few years and what their plans are to harness AI and other technologies to become the providers of tomorrow was extremely uplifting. The panel ran for near 90 minutes, as the standing room only audience would not let us off the stage.

Many members of the audience shared their own transformation stories with us. One interesting fact shared was that near 75% of the audience was already using gen AI in their business. Near 100% were well ahead on their digital transformation journeys. Another surprise for me was that their budgets for these initiatives were full speed ahead. I deal so much with tech tool vendors and venture backed companies that I have become used to hearing about budget cuts and delays on projects; but these participants whose companies are not generally thought of as “tech companies” were full speed ahead on their transformations.

We should remember that in the tech world. There is a big economy out there of companies doing exciting things around transformation. More than that, they are really jazzed about what else is coming down the pike and what that can mean as they seek to transform the very fabric of our day-to-day lives – not just in South Florida, but in the entire US and the world beyond that.

Shout out to the South Florida Tech Hub folks for putting on an amazing event.

 

Posted with permission from TechStrong Group and Digital CXO. Visit their website here.

By Nikki Cabus

Boca Raton-based New World Angels invests $700k in Miami’s Fuego dance shoes

Read Time 3 Minutes

New World Angels (NWA), Florida’s premier structured angel investment group, announced that it completed an approximately $700,000 investment into Fuego, Inc., as part of a $2.5 million capital raise. The additional funding provides capital for Fuego to continue its successful new product development efforts and global expansion.

New World Angels (NWA) is a group of 100+ accredited, private investors, operators and entrepreneurs dedicated to providing equity capital and guidance to early-stage entrepreneurial companies, especially those with a strong presence in Florida. Members of NWA have extensive experience in founding, building, and managing companies in a wide variety of industries. NWA members are involved in the entrepreneurial communities from Miami to Melbourne on Florida’s east coast and from Naples to Orlando on Florida’s west coast. NWA has invested over $30 million in innovative start-ups. In addition to providing funding, NWA members make their expertise and resource networks available to portfolio companies to facilitate a company’s growth.

Fuego is a global, tech-enabled dance-inspired athleisure and lifestyle brand providing patented sneakers worn by dancers in 120 countries around the world. Its sole technology is engineered for dancing and spinning on any surface as well. It serves a large and growing market of people of all ages enjoying dancing across all formats, including Hip-Hop, Ballroom, Salsa, Dance fitness, Swing, Ballet, Jazz, and more.

Designed in collaboration with Jade Chynoweth, world-renowned dancer, actress and social media sensation, the Jade X Fuego show is eco-friendly sneaker features a raw Jade stone and a knit fabric texture made from recycled plastic water bottles. It’s the shoe that went viral and really put Fuego on the map.

The investment reflects NWA’s interest in supporting new business opportunities for exciting new consumer products, a driving force in economies throughout the world. Ken Wilkes, lead of the Consumer Products team at NWA, commented that “The investment in Fuego is a great example of our investment thesis. We focus on consumer product start-ups in-revenue experiencing strong growth and high customer satisfaction, with a focus on wellness, sports, and leisure.

He continued “Consumer products and services are quickly evolving with changes in tastes and preferences, providing abundant opportunities for new products and businesses. Speed to market is accelerating, adoption of new technologies is disrupting established Go-To-Market approaches and providing great efficiencies, and innovation is rampant. Focused product offerings and identifiable customer segments are good, getting personal is important, and providing for interconnectivity is value-added. Fuego is a great example.”

Ron Tarro, President of NWA, commented “We are excited to add Fuego to our portfolio, especially as it marks another NWA investment in this area of focus for our organization. We will continue to look for investment opportunities that allow NWA to leverage its deep well of member experience and talent to assess investments and guide our portfolio founders toward growth.”

Fuego CEO Kevin Weschler noted, “It was a pleasure to work with the NWA team, especially as they brought an understanding of our business and insights on meeting the challenges and opportunities of growth, including global expansion. We are delighted that Ken Wilkes will join our board as an observer and share his experience as we continue to grow our company domestically and abroad for the benefit of all of our stakeholders.”

Click here to learn more about Fuego.

By Nikki Cabus

Things To Do: Top 10 events during Miami Art Week that showcase tech in South Florida

Read Time 5 Minutes

As Miami Art Week takes over the city, South Florida’s technology enthusiasts search for the best happenings in town that combine both technology and the arts and culture worlds.

According to the official Miami Art Week website, “Each year during Miami Art Week, Miami and Miami Beach are the center of the art world and host over 20 art fairs, over 1,200 galleries and thousands of artists and art lovers.” The mission of the organization is to promote and support artists, galleries and arts organizations providing access and the chance to be discovered. With the tech and art worlds colliding, new opportunities arise for both communities looking to collaborate and learn from each other.

We searched through tons of events for you all happening December 3rd – 10th and chose the top 10 just for you.

1. December 4 @ 7:30 PM: Miami MoCAAD Soul Basel Kickoff – “This Life: Black Life in the Time of Now” (FREE)

The Miami Museum of Contemporary Art of the African Diaspora will celebrate the documentary and digital exhibition “This Life: Black Life in the Time of Now.”  Through augmented and virtual reality experiences,  live performances, film Screening and a virtual museum showcase, the exhibition will will showcase black life in today’s world. The event will also feature a panel titled “Creative Conversation: Exploring the Vision.” The free event can be attended virtually or in person. More info here

2. December 5 @ 1:00 PM: Art + Tech Summit – Bringing Together Creators, Collectors and Industry Leaders

The Art+Tech Summit is a one-day event that explores the role and impact of emerging technologies in the art, entertainment, and consumer sectors. A meet and greet will take place at noon just prior to the event. The Art + Tech Summit will then feature speakers, conversation and a VIP mixer. The event will be held in the Arts & Entertainment District, but you must apply to attend. Details on the exact location will be revealed upon approval. More info here.

3. December 5 @ 4:00 PM: The Future is Immersive : A Fusion of Art, Tech, and Visionaries featuring “Meet the Drapers” 

Proudly presented by industry leaders, this exclusive gathering promises an immersive blend of technology, innovation, art, and unparalleled networking opportunities. VIP passes allow you the opportunity to rub shoulders with industry influencers and visionaries in the realms of technology, art, and finance. The event holds a special connection to “The Drapers,” adding an extra layer of excitement to an already extraordinary evening. Don’t miss out on this unique convergence of technology and creativity. More info here.

4. December 5 @ 7:00 PM: Miami Tech + Startups Party 

Join the special edition of Miami Tech + Startups as they invite special guest speaker Maja Vujinovic, Managing Director & Investor in FinTech & Digital Assets @ OGroup, to join the conversation. Maja focused on investments and scale of technology tools such as AI and blockchain and bridging a gap between legacy systems and web 3 tools. OGroup is also partnered with number of family offices helping them navigate emerging tech, acquisitions and implementation of generative AI and smart contracts. Tech, Drinks, and Startups in Brickell. The event’s goal is to be a catalyst, a way for you to meet fun and interesting people in Miami’s Tech Scene. More info here.

5. December 6 – 10: Code/Art’s The Student Digital Art Exhibit 

Held at the Context Art Miami, the Student Digital Art Exhibit is a culmination of months of hard work and dedication by Code/Art students who competed in the CodeYourSelf™ competition (through various years). The pieces on display showcase their innovative use of computer programming to express their artistic visions, and we believe you will be captivated by the depth and creativity of their work. Exhibiting hours are from Wednesday-Saturday, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. More info here.

6. December 6 @ 6:00 PM: Miami Tech Together with Microsoft (FREE)

Held at the Miami College Idea Center, this Microsoft Art Basel event for nonprofits will explore how technology, art, and philanthropy can work together to empower your organization. Take part in a showcase of Microsoft’s tools and resources designed to empower nonprofits, an innovative networking experience with Tech Together Networking Station, the “Yeah Art Installation,” featuring thought-provoking works like “It Was All a Dream” & “Dream City”,” and a compelling panel discussion on “The Future of Digital Philanthropy,” where tech meets art and altruism. More info here.

7. December 7 & 8: Digital Art Collectors Preview by BlackDove (FREE)

This 2-day digital art event will be held in the Miami Art District. Meet the top artists, collectors, and curators during Art Week Miami at this dedicated digital art event. The events kicks off with an Artist Breakfast and closes out with a “Digital Canvas Technologies Deep Dive” where industry experts will dissect state-of-the-art software, pioneering hardware, and emerging trends. From speakers, panels, and talks around generative art, digital art, and even art in commercial and healthcare spaces, this event has something for everyone. More info here.

 8. December 7 @ 5:00 PM: Canvas and Capital: Interactive Investor Dinner

Hosted by BLCK VC and in partnership with Silicon Valley Bank, this extraordinary evening of immersive experiences and meaningful connections will be held as an exclusive salon-style dinner. Amidst the artistic ambiance of Miami Art Basel, prepare to indulge your senses in an interactive art installation and groove to the beats of a talented DJ during dinner. Spaces are limited, and applying to this event does not guarantee your spot. More info here.

9. December 8 @ 4:00 PM: TFAPOPUP MIAMI 2023: Art x Innovation Day

Get ready to immerse yourself in a day of creativity, inspiration, and artistry that you won’t find anywhere else. TFAPOPUP Miami 2023 transcends traditional art exhibitions. It’s a vibrant celebration of artistic expression and a platform for emerging talents. At its core lies the TFA Young Curators Program, empowering emerging artists from around the world with the art of business and creative placemaking. Featuring gallery hours from 4pm-12 am and panel discussion on “The Ethics & Social Implications of AI-Generated Art” at 5:30 pm, this evet promises to be transformative and inclusive. More info here.

10. December 10 @ 2:00 PM: Vibration Revelation – Guided VR Art Meditation Experience

Embark on an immersive guided VR meditation art experience and awaken your imagination. Flow through mystical realms inspired by nature’s wisdom, offering an illuminated inner journey of revelations, as you reconnect with the boundless magic of existence. Alissa Christine, a pioneer in virtual reality art, and author of “i love miami 365,” photo documentary of gratitude, merges wellness with new media. Alissa creates immersive meditative story-telling experiences inside her illuminated 3D VR paintings, complimenting her Healing Arts practices for over 15 years. With a two-decade art career, her work has graced global galleries, including VR/AR Cryptoart Metaverses, local exhibitions during Art Basel Miami, and she’s contributed to magazines like Ocean Drive’s Art Basel Mag. More info here.

 

Is there an amazing Art + Tech Week event that you think we missed? Submit your event here.

By Nikki Cabus

Las Olas Venture Capital announced their latest investment in Miami startup Letterhead

Read Time 4 Minutes

Las Olas Venture Capital, or “LOVC,” has announced their latest investment in a South Florida startup – Letterhead.

LOVC is an early-stage venture fund investing in B2B software companies based in the Eastern US. Founded in 2016 by former entrepreneurs and headquartered in Florida, LOVC is now investing out of its $50M Fund II and typically leads $37M rounds with $1.52.5M checks in businesses with early commercial signals of product-market fit (typically $200K+ ARR). Their low-frequency and high-conviction investment approach (3-5 companies per year) allows us to be deeply collaborative and hands-on with the founders we partner with.

Miami-based Letterhead is a software platform for automating the creation and management of email newsletters, streamlining newsletter creation, distribution, and monetization for publishers and marketing teams to help produce meaningful content at scale. The company aims to revolutionize newsletter content automation. The company was founded in 2020 by Rebekah Monson, Bruce Pinchbeck, and Christopher Sopher.

“Rebekah and Chris have brought a unique content-centric perspective to the world of email communication, building a compelling solution for organizations of all sizes to leverage the power of personalization to communicate on the most enduring first-party channels there is,” said Sim Blaustein, Partner at BDMI.

Leveraging AI, Letterhead empowers users to manage multiple newsletters with the workflow of one, improving efficiency and scalability while retaining the ability to create quality, personalized, and bespoke products. Letterhead’s software works with a customer’s existing content management system and email service provider, enabling any company to use its tools with minimal switching costs.

“Our vision is to help every company engage their audiences with meaningful media content,” said Christopher Sopher, co-founder and CEO of Letterhead. “As changes to cookies and privacy rules make owning your audience more critical than ever, we think it should be way easier for teams to create quality content products for every segment of their community. Our first step is making it possible for any business to create great newsletters in a fraction of the time.”

Letterhead is trusted by the publishers of over 1,800 newsletters, indicating a strong market fit and demand for more intelligent audience engagement software. Customers include leading brands like Techstars and Salon.

The $5.3 million seed funding round, led by LOVC, is joined by Reign Ventures with participation from BDMI, Florida Opportunity Fund, and McClatchy. Letterhead will use the fresh infusion of capital to continue developing the platform, expand the team, and accelerate growth as it continues to innovate how newsletters are produced and managed. 

The Letterhead investment serves at LOVC’s 26th portfolio company and the 5th one for the 2023 year. 25 of the companies are currently active and the 26th being an exit. 20% of the active portfolio companies are in the state of Florida. LOVC currently has one additional deal expected to close soon and a second pending. 2023 was a big year for the firm and they expect to grow even more into 2024!

The Letterhead team is looking to make some critical hires across product, engineering and sales. Interested parties, can check out LOVC’s Portfolio Jobs & Careers Page and apply to the positions that match your qualifications at any of their portfolio companies.

“While there are many traditional email marketing products, none are focused on content-driven engagement like Letterhead is,” said Nate Vasel, partner at LOVC. “We were impressed with the team’s vision for an owned audience future powered by AI and automation and their consistent execution to grow the business.”

Born out of pure necessity, Letterhead is actually a spinoff of a product created for the co-founders other business, WhereBy.Us which launched the local Miami media site, The New Tropic. Once it began focusing on email newsletter formats, the business took off. People would ask about the tools used and ask the team if they could use them. After enough no answers, they decided to find a way to say yes and turn it into a business.

Media companies, nonprofits, higher education institutions, professional associations all began using the Letterhead tool increasing profits through AI, data analytics, integrations and the ability for clients to implement paywalled subsections, newsletters advertisements, easy-to-use templates and more.

To learn more about Letterhead, please visit https://letterhead.ai/

1 2 3 5
Delta Air Lines and LATAM join forces for inaugural job shadowing project empowering youth for success
Carewell Secures $24.7 Million in Series B Funding and hires former Chewy executives
Endeavor Miami Announces Exciting New Latinx Cohort
ChenMed Names Steve Nelson CEO, Chris Chen Executive Board Chair
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
A Small Startup with Big Backing is Betting it can Fix Clinical Trials and has Issued a Challenge to Find Out
StatusPRO announces $20M Series A Round Led by GV to Continue Revolutioning Sports Through XR
Two New Vibrant Miami Co-working Spaces Open in Downtown and Wynwood
Greenberg Traurig adds former partner in Ballard Spahr LLP’s Consumer Financial Services Practice
Break Through Tech at FIU places 25 interns at American Express
Guest Blog: Digital Transformation South Florida Style at TECHpalooza
Boca Raton-based New World Angels invests $700k in Miami’s Fuego dance shoes
Things To Do: Top 10 events during Miami Art Week that showcase tech in South Florida
Las Olas Venture Capital announced their latest investment in Miami startup Letterhead