South Florida Tech HubSouth Florida Tech Hub

By Riley Kaminer

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

Read Time 4 Minutes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Nikki Cabus

April’s Think Tank Thursday in Miami was a bit different this April

Read Time 2 Minutes

The Lab Miami has been hosting their Think Tank Thursday events on the third Thursday each month for the Miami tech, startup ad investment community. The monthly event attracts upwards of 150 people each month.

During April’s “SoFloTech Month,” the well-known Think Tank Thursday took a bit of a turn. . . a positive turn. . .  north. 

In the wake of the #MiamiTech movement, #SoFloTechMonth emerged in an effort to highlight events across the entire South Florida region from Miami to Broward to Palm Beach and Martin County. Tech Hub CEO, Nikki Cabus, opened up a discussion that included topics such as tech talent, resources for startups and small businesses, and affordable housing.

There were many Miamians, along with new folks from California, New York, Latin America, and even Hungary, to name just a few. This though, is quite the norm for South Florida.

One recent implant to South Florida from Silicon Valley stated that he is loving the excitement around the tech community, but already sees some of the same issues the Valley has beginning here such as a less diverse crowd being brought in and costs of housing rising drastically. The influx of both financial and human capital was also brought up and the dilemma to which is more important or should be focused on as a priority. Do we focus on talent or funding? Both are often equally important, but one is more of a long game – talent.

The panel included, Mihai Fonoage, VP of Engineering at Modernizing Medicine, Chair of Tech Hub’s Tech Talent Committee and Executive Board Member, Kelly Boyle, Tech Hub Board Member, Chair of Events Committee, and Willy Orozco, South Florida Regional Manager at Microsoft Philanthropies TEALS Program, President CSTA Miami, and Tech Hub Foundation Board Member. They all agreed that human capital can often be more important and make all the difference in the long-run.

“I started Think Tank Thursdays as a way to bring siloed communities together for one night once a month in order for leaders and attendees comingle with groups in hopes to bring awareness to all the great resources South Florida has to offer,” said Roxette Miranda, The Lab Miami’s Managing Director. “All these organizations have one goal and that is to help grow the Tech ecosystem in South Florida.”

The common agreement of the night was collaboration and regionalism in South Florida. We have to come together to make this recent growth of South Florida’s tech ecosystem sustainable. We can support each other, learn from each other, and work together.

After the panel discussion and Q&A, we heard from local startups during the pitch night, followed by a happy hour and fun headshots for all to enjoy!

See some of the photos here. 📸

By Nikki Cabus

New Bootcamp for South FL Founders!

Read Time 3 Minutes

The LAB is Bringing A New Startup Bootcamp to South Florida Founders!

Beginning March 30, The LAB Miami and Navigate, their in-house accelerator program, will be
launching an 8 week bootcamp series titled, The Startup Go To Market Strategy: A Framework
for Early-Stage Startups to Launch and Scale.

A proper go to market strategy is critical for startup success. It helps teams think through many
of the elements involved in positioning and selling the product or service. When done properly it provides a framework for success and answers questions like:

  • Who should we target first?
  • How much should we be spending on ads?
  • And, what channels (PPC, SEO, Social, etc) should we use to drive sales?


Located in the heart of the vibrant Wynwood Arts District, the LAB is Miami’s original coworking community. In 2012, the founding members of the LAB Miami teamed up with the Knight Foundation and a group of angel investors to convert a 10,000 square foot warehouse into a shared office space and event venue. Since then, a growing number of Miami’s brightest and most forward-thinking entrepreneurial minds have converged to share their ideas, learn from one another, and build amazing companies and projects.


“Partnering with Navigate has been a huge win for our members and community of
entrepreneurs. For years we’ve received inquiries and demand for the services which the
Navigate team offers, namely help with startup launch and access to resources. This new
service offering really brings everything full circle and will help countless entrepreneurs realize
their full potential.” said Rachael Bickford, Managing Director of The LAB Miami.


Navigate is a new kind of accelerator that helps early stage startups launch, grow, or get funding ready through hands-on business planning and advisory. Their advisors are entrepreneurs with a track record of success and passion for helping others grow. Led by 3x founder, growth marketer, and author Pedro Sostre.


Over the course of 2 months, we’ll review the framework that Navigate Founder, Pedro Sostre, used to drive over $100M in revenue for early stage startups. “Unfortunately, most small business owners and first time founders don’t take the time to create a proper go to market strategy. Instead of working from a well-thought out plan, they make decisions “from the gut” and inevitably end up floating through their business journey without a clear plan for success.


I’m very excited that we are able to launch this with The LAB Miami and give attendees a tactical action plan to improve sales, launch new products, re-launch their brand, or move
existing businesses into new markets.”


To register for this free bootcamp, visit



Former Bay Area startup experts convene at LAB Miami for Seedfunders pitch competition
April’s Think Tank Thursday in Miami was a bit different this April
New Bootcamp for South FL Founders!