As parents of young boys, Crissi and Ed Boland found that super-hero toys on the market were associated with PG-13 rated movies and violent videogames but marketed for kids 5 and up. “There was a disconnect there,” Ed Boland said. “We thought there was an opportunity to provide meaningful, thoughtful, developmentally appropriate content for children 4 to 9.”
So they created the HeroBoys, an initial line of toys and comic books made for young boys about young boys. Last fall, the Bolands raised more than $58,000 on Kickstarter, with more than 200 backers, providing proof of concept and an initial production run. The couple had been working on the project on the side for a couple of years, but last summer Ed Boland left a career in venture capital and investment banking to launch the startup with his wife.
The Bolands’ Miami-based company is Whimzy Entertainment and they will participate in the fourth class of Venture Hive’s Miami Accelerator. “Having spent time on the investor side, I’ve seen first-hand how well prepared and ready to scale the companies that come out of Venture Hive are,” Ed Boland said. “Venture Hive is the gold standard for accelerators here.”
Each of the 10 selected companies will participate in an intense three-month acceleration program beginning Feb. 29 designed to take the companies to the next level, will get free office space in Venture Hive’s incubator for six months, and will get a $25,000 grant.
Unlike other years when the great majority of accelerator companies chosen were international, this year there are five Miami companies in the class, along with companies from San Francisco, Argentina and Ecuador. “I think the quality in Miami was greatly improved because there was another year of companies maturing. There were dozens of Miami applicants and many were ready to take on the training we do to take a team with a validated product to the next level,” said Susan Amat, founder of Venture Hive.
“Since the Miami DDA, Mayor Gimenez, and Miami WorldCenter made Venture Hive possible three years ago, we have had startups from more than 50 countries in our programs. Our Miami Accelerator is the heart and soul of Venture Hive and the support from the Knight Foundation will help ensure this is the best program we have offered yet,” Amat added.
In this year’s class there is a biotech company, an Internet of Things venture and a smart hardware products company. “A quarter of our applicants were logistics businesses and three were selected for the program,” Amat said. Along with Whimzy, the other companies selected for the accelerator are:
Asombro Extremo Digital (Buenos Aires, Argentina): Founded by professional illusionists and technology experts, this company aims to create stunning technological campaigns.
▪ Big Propeller (Miami): A company designed to help agencies and brands to better manage their social media content workflow, especially when collaborating with stakeholders and clients.
▪ Cetus Labs (Miami): A tech company that builds and sells software to simplify and streamline port terminal operations. Its first product is a Terminal Operating System.
▪ Datil (Guayaquil, Ecuador): A company that builds digital tools to make commerce simple and sustainable for micro, small and medium businesses. by using simple point of sale, accounting and e-billing applications together with legally complaint digital certificates.
▪ Einsof Biohealth (Miami): A biotech company focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of novel, proprietary therapies and OTC products. Its first product, Speedlyte, is an oral rehydration solution.
▪ OneClickShip (San Francisco): A web-based platform that empowers small businesses to take control of their global supply chain. By taking control of their supply chains, small businesses take control of their profits.
▪ SmartLoc (Miami): An asset-tracking company whose core product LugLoc will let you know the location of your device anytime and anywhere.
▪ Wayniloans (Buenos Aires): A peer-to-peer lending platform based on blockchain technology for the Latin American and U.S. Hispanic market. To bring access to credit for the unbanked and underbanked, Wayniloans makes financial solutions more efficient and transparent for borrowers and lenders.
▪ Webee (Córdoba, Argentina): A smart home system that goes beyond simple home automation and remote control to also provides an entertainment box, which learns from users and programs itself.
Venture Hive also houses an incubator, virtual accelerators and high school programs at its downtown Miami hub. Venture Hive also runs an accelerator for U.S. veterans in Fort Walton Beach and a new class will begin in March. Veterans can apply though Feb. 12 at Veterans.venturehive.com/apply
Nancy Dahlberg; 305-376-3595; @ndahlberg