Business Monday

From around the world, Venture Hive brings startups to Miami

Venture Hive, an entrepreneurial education company, houses and accelerator, incubator, a program for high school students and the Microsoft Innovation Center.
Venture Hive, an entrepreneurial education company, houses and accelerator, incubator, a program for high school students and the Microsoft Innovation Center. Venture Hive

From Barcelona to Sarajevo, from Buenos Aires to Bangalore, the startups recently accepted into Venture Hive’s next accelerator class once again represent a United Nations of innovation.

As part of the accelerator at Venture Hive, an entrepreneurial education company in downtown Miami, the companies will get $25,000 no-equity grants, an intensive 13-week accelerator program that starts in late January, mentoring and free workspace for six months. Venture Hive, founded by Susan Amat, draws companies from around the world that are innovating in industries Miami-Dade is strong at: travel/hospitality, healthcare, creative industries, fintech and trade/logistics. The program will finish in late April with “The Swarm,” where the companies will present their startups to a room full of investors and community supporters.

Ten companies, five of them from Latin America, were chosen from among 400 applications from more than 40 countries. “We had to make some very tough decisions because there were so many outstanding companies applying,” said Nelson Fonseca, partner at Medina Capital who helped judge the applicants. “The most exciting thing for me is to see the strong interest from innovative entrepreneurs from all over the world in coming to Miami. This bodes well for the continued development of the Miami ecosystem.”

Venture Hive, which also has an incubator, is home to 31 startups from 21 countries and also offers both onsite and virtual programs for high school students in partnership with Miami-Dade County Public Schools. To expand services for its startups, it recently partnered with DLA Piper law firm and Disruption Corporation. In its first 18 months, Venture Hive has created 62 jobs, according to an economic impact study on Miami-Dade County conducted by the Miami DDA. Venture Hive is supported by Miami-Dade County, the DDA and Miami WorldCenter.

The 10 new accelerator companies selected for Venture Hive’s third class are:

Cinemad, from Buenos Aires: Interactive videos for converting viewers into customers.

Clicky, from Cordoba, Argentina: An online booking platform for sports facilities.

FanJam, from Chattanooga, Tennessee: Fantasy basketball contests for cash.

Helpjuice, from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: An auto-updating knowledge base platform allowing companies to scale support and deliver instant answers to customers.

Paganza, from Montevideo, Uruguay: A bill-paying app for the Latin American market.

PRX Control Solutions, from Caracas: Solutions for the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, reducing the expense of pharmaceutical treatments in health plans.

Quotanda, from Barcelona, Spain: A student financing marketplace democratizing access to education.

Referrizer, from Deerfield Beach: A total solution to generate new customers and keep existing ones loyal.

Rock N Roll Games, from Buenos Aires: The gaming company for making brands rock.

TommyJams, from Bangalore, India: Innovative technologies to revolutionize live music entertainment.

ON THE RUNWAY

Tech Runway, Florida Atlantic University’s new entrepreneurship program, is getting ready to launch its second accelerator class. Tech Runway will choose five South Florida startups; the application period is Jan 1-31 on techrunway.fau.edu.

The program is housed in a 27,000-square-foot collaborative workspace in Boca Raton designed for housing, educating, mentoring and funding startup companies from inception through venture funding. Selected startups, who do not have to have FAU ties, receive office space for a year, a 16-week accelerator boot camp, a team of mentors and a seed grant of $25,000. Tech Runway, supported by a $1 million state grant and $3 million from FAU, is led by CEO Kimberly Gramm, director of the Adams Center for Entrepreneurship at FAU.

“We have tremendous assets in our region — successful entrepreneurs who are sharing their significant wisdom with startups and giving back to the community and students,” Gramm said when Tech Runway was launched. “We are integrating the entrepreneurial world with the university world … to help create not only successful startups but a knowledge-based workforce.”

MIAMI MIC BUZZING

The Miami Microsoft Innovation Center, the first one in the United States and one of more than 120 around the world, has been open seven months at the Venture Hive and has already held more than 50 events and workshops; Microsoft executives and specialists also hold regular “office hours” for mentoring. Last week, The MIC hosted teams from four countries — Chile, Pakistan, Nepal and Armenia — taking part in training for a global Pre-Accelerator Venture Hive and the Miami MIC are launching. Venture Hive founder Susan Amat is considering opening a Pre-Accelerator for Miami as well.

An example of how the MIC has been used: Miami entrepreneur Antonio Otalvaro, founder and CEO of Raw Shorts, a member of Venture Hive incubator and part of its accelerator's first class, attended workshops at the Miami MIC on the Azure platform, which has helped him scale his explainer-video production business for commercial customers.

To learn more and attend upcoming events at the Miami Microsoft Innovation Center, which is free and open to the public, go to microsoftinnovationcenters.com/miami.

CRAZY IS A COMPLIMENT

“If you aren't being called crazy, you aren't thinking big enough,” Linda Rottenberg, co-founder and CEO of Endeavor, told gatherings of entrepreneurs at the WeXchange conference and a book signing at The LAB Miami this month. She was in town for Endeavor's International Selection Panel being held in Miami and her best-selling book, Crazy is as Compliment, is out. She shared her own “kitchen table moment” when she and co-founder Peter Kellner hatched the idea for Endeavor, a global nonprofit that finds, mentors and accelerates high-impact entrepreneurs, and how everyone including her parents thought they was crazy.

Indeed, the biggest barriers entrepreneurs face are themselves and getting past the fear is key, she said. Sometimes the people closest to you aren’t much help. In fact, in a survey by Babson College the No. 1 regret entrepreneurs expressed was telling friends and family too early — “friends don't let friends start businesses.” She said that is why it is really important that an ecosystem has entrepreneurial role models in the community, a key mission of Endeavor, a global nonprofit that selects, mentors and accelerates high-impact entrepreneurs.

Find like-minded communities at entrepreneurship centers like The LAB Miami and online, she said. Crowdfunding can be a great way to find supporters, as they can become your storytellers and carry your message forward, she said.

Telling stories of other famous entrepreneurs, including several females such as Este Lauder, she left WeXchange, a conference focused on women entrepreneurship in Latin America, with this message: There’s no one-size-fits-all entrepreneurial type. “You don't need a hoodie to be an entrepreneur.”

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter. Find more startup news on Starting Gate blog on MiamiHerald.com/business.

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