Miami Tech & Startup News

5 things to know in #MiamiTech: Brightline’s back – soon! Plus news from Novo, Friendspire, Miami Dade College, Pareto Holdings, Boca Code

5 things to know in #MiamiTech: Brightline’s back – soon! Plus news from Novo, Friendspire, Miami Dade College, Pareto Holdings, Boca Code


Brightline announces restart date, plus last-mile mobility service

Here’s some news #MiamiTech can celebrate: Brightline today announced its plans to resume its express train service in South Florida in the first half of November and will be adding a last-mile mobility service to get people to and from the stations.

In an update to the media, Brightline President Patrick Goddard detailed the company’s reopening schedule.  service between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach is set to start in the first half of November. Brightline said it will announce a firm date in the weeks ahead. Fares and schedules will be roughly the same,

Brightline’s new mobility as a service platform, through a  partnership with software company Iomob, is intended to provide guests with full door-to-door travel service, via private cars, shared shuttle services, golf cars and other micro-mobility options. The fleet will be owned and operated by Brightline.

“We are thrilled to be gearing up to welcome guests back aboard Brightline,” said Goddard, in a statement.  “Over the last few months, we’ve made upgrades to our guest experience and made significant strides in construction. Our goal remains the same, to take cars off the road while offering the most convenient way to travel in South Florida and a guest-first experience.”

Goddard also said Brightline is  recruiting for nearly 200 jobs, offering starting wages at $18 per hour. Of course, as Covid closed down Brightline’s service 17 months ago, the company made large layoffs.  

 Work didn’t  stop on construction of the new stations, though. Here’s the update: The Aventura station is currently under construction, while the Boca Raton station is expected to break ground in the coming months. Both are expected to be completed in the second half of next year, Goddard  told the Sun-Sentinel. A station at PortMiami is still in the planning stages.  

Construction to Orlando has surpassed the halfway point and is on target to be complete by the end of 2022. Discussions remain underway with local stakeholders regarding expansion to Disney and Tampa.  

This will be welcome news for many growing startups in #MiamiTech — for instance,  Papa has planted its  headquarters near access to the Brightline — as well as tech companies like Uber, which announced today it will be moving into much larger offices near the station.  Red 6, a defense tech startup, that recently located its company from California to Miami, is excited about the Brightline because its tech team will be based not far from the Brightline station in Orlando. 


Novo expands leadership team amid growth surge

Novo, the digital small business banking platform, has added two to its leadership ranks as it continues scaling to meet demand. In the first half of 2021, Novo surpassed $2 billion in lifetime transactions, doubling the digital banking platform’s lifetime transaction volume in Q2 2021 alone. Novo opened its new headquarters in Miami in March and announced $40.7M in Series A funding in June.

Dani Lima will be executive vice president of revenue and strategy, Most recently, she was SVP of Strategy for Citigroup Latin America, and previously worked in M&A for HSBC and Evercore, Consumer Banking at Chase, Trade Credit Finance at Zurich, and at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Peter Martinez will be Lead Software Engineer: Over the last decade, Martinez has built several financial technology compliance SaaS tools, which have serviced tens of thousands of customers. Most recently he was Director of Learning Platforms for the University of Miami. He is a co-founder of Refresh Miami and has also been an integral part of the South Florida startup community.


Friendspire raises $580K seed round

Friendspire, a Miami social tech startup that uses AI to deliver personalized recommendations for movies, books, podcasts and more, has raised $580K from existing investors and other angels, Founder Markus Straarup said. In the past nine months, Friendspire has grown from 16,000 users to 120,000. In the same time period, the number of reviews on its site has grown from 100,000 to 1.5 million.

 “It is cool that so many existing investors could see our vision and reinvested, and at the same time awesome to welcome such an amazing group of investors into the Friendspire family,” Straarup said. “Now it’s time to put our heads down and continue to grow our amazing recommendation community.”


Miami Dade College awarded NSF grant for AI courses

Miami Dade College was awarded a grant for nearly $1 million from the National Science Foundation  to fund the development of Artificial Intelligence courses with an interdisciplinary approach and ultimately offer a College Credit Certificate in AI, one of the fastest growing industries right now.

As part of the grant, MDC will provide industry-based professional training for faculty to develop and pilot AI courses, and integrate AI curriculum into existing courses. Additionally, MDC’s School of Engineering and Technology (EnTec) will provide support mechanisms that engage and encourage underrepresented minorities students to study AI. The project will also have support from AI experts from companies including IBM, AWS, and Microsoft.

EnTec is offering the course AI Thinking, starting Sept. 15 at MDC North Campus, where the new AI Center is under construction.  Apply for the course here.


Opportunity knocks
  • Pareto Holdings, based in Miami, has seeded more than 100 startups in the last year and there are more to come. Pareto recently announced  its    Pre-Seed Program, in which it aims to be the first check in for startups in South Florida and around the world. The Pre-Seed Program aims to get  back to founders within 48 hours.  Apply here.
  • Back in March, Boca Raton-based global tech company, MediaOps, partnered with Boca Code, a local coding school, to sponsor the first-ever “Engineer the Change Scholarship” in the amount of $10,000. The scholarship is back for for the Fall cohort. Apply here.

Got #MiamiTech news? Email me at and follow me on Twitter @ndahlberg.

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