Miami Tech & Startup News

6+ things to know in #MiamiTech: Brightline news - plus Ryan Cohen, tunnel vision, Code/Art, Moonlighter, Aerosens, Storybook & more

6+ things to know in #MiamiTech: Brightline news – plus Ryan Cohen, tunnel vision, Code/Art, Moonlighter, Aerosens, Storybook & more


Brightline, Uber partner up – plus the latest on train usage

All Aboard! Brightline and Uber have partnered to offer riders more mobility options in South Florida.

Through the partnership, customers can now add private or shared Uber rides when they book their train tickets through the Brightline app or website; there are no distance restrictions. The new in-app booking feature aims eliminate customer wait times, too. Rides are free for premium riders (up to 5 miles). This is the first time Uber has connected to a higher-speed intercity rail service in the U.S.

“By making Uber easily available to Brightline users, we can bridge first- and last-mile gaps and bring shared mobility options under one roof, making it more convenient and accessible for customers,” said Dmitriy Vanchugov, Uber’s head of partnerships for transit, in a statement.

The train company’s Brightline+ service launched in 2021 to provide service up to five miles to and from the station. This includes electric shuttles on fixed routes as well as ride share vehicles and golf carts. Nearly a third of riders use the service, Brightline said.

In other Brightline news, The Next Miami reports that Brightline executives recently told investors that it is seeing strong traffic at its two new stations in Aventura & Boca Raton. The Boca station opened December 21, with Aventura opening December 24.

In the final days of December, the two new stations accounted for 24% of Brightline ridership, with 17,682 rides, and Brightline has moved in two more trainsets to support demand, Brightline said.


Miami funds tech- and youth-focused nonprofits

The City of Miami, through Venture Miami is awarding $250,000 in grants to five local educational nonprofits that run tech or STEM programs for youths . The groups that received the $50K grants are Breakthrough Miami, DoGood41, NFTE, Dibia Dream and CodeArt, the Miami Herald reported.

“Venture Miami has identified several avenues to provide access to high-quality, high-paying jobs, upskilling and retraining, small business support and digital transformation with the focus on expanding diversity and inclusion within the tech industry,” Suarez told the Miami Herald.

Venture Miami, directed by Executive Director Erick Gavin, has also run or funded other initiatives, including raising about $4 million, including $500,000 from the city, to fund scholarships for Miami students accepted into science, technology, engineering or mathematics programs at Florida International University, Miami Dade College, Florida Memorial University and University of Miami.

A Code/Art workshop in session. READ MORE: Code/Art paints a more equitable tech future for Miami


Ryan Cohen in the news – again

Ryan Cohen, the billionaire activist investor who founded and exited Broward-based pet commerce company Chewy, has built a stake in Alibaba Group  worth hundreds of millions of dollars and is privately pushing the Chinese e-commerce giant to accelerate and further boost its share-repurchase program, according to sources cited in a Wall  Street Journal report this weekend. 

Cohen, known as the meme-stock king for helping ignite explosive rallies in GameStop Corp. and others, built the stake in the second half of last year, say the WSJ’s sources. Cohen has previously shown an affiliation for China – In June he tweeted “I have a crush on China” 00 and he recently published a children’s book about his father’s travels to China for business. Read more here.

Cohen has also conveyed his belief that Apple, in which he owns a more-than$800 million stake, could provide a road map for Alibaba, the WSJ’s sources said. Since 2012, the iPhone maker has repurchased hundreds of billions of dollars of its shares and the stock has soared. 


Fort Lauderdale’s tunnel plans put on pause

Plans by Boring Company owned by Elon Musk to build tunnels underneath Fort Lauderdale connecting its downtown to the beach and dubbed the “Las Olas Loop” are shelved, at least temporarily.

First announced in 2021, the plan was trumpeted as a way to alleviate traffic and a study was ordered. But now, in 2023, with a city commission featuring newly-elected members who aren’t fond of the idea, the plans are on pause, according to a Local 10 News report.

“I don’t want the city to get involved any further unless we know what the facts are, who we’re dealing with, what their commitment is to our city and what are the expectations and probability of their being able to complete a successful project,” said Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalism, who originally championed the idea.

No word yet on plans for the Magic City or North Miami Beach


Moonlighter expands and more startup news to note

Moonlighter FabLab, a membership-based S.T.E.A.M. learning center and fabrication lab that has served the South Florida Maker community for eight years, is opening a new 8,000 square foot creative space in Miami Beach for designers, engineers, artists, inventors, and technologists with space for co-working, plus access to laser cutter/engravers, 3D printers, CNC, ceramic additive manufacturing, vacuum former, pressure former, electronics lab, power tools, sewing machines and more. Interested in membership or a workspace? Visit the website here.

Moonlighter FabLab also announces that its Grand Opening in Miami Beach with a ribbon cutting ceremony and reception will be Feb. 2, 2023 from 4pm-8pm. The Moonlighter team will be joined by Mayor Dan Gelber, Miami Beach Commissioners, donors and members to inaugurate the new space. The event is open to the  community and Moonlighter will offer tours. RSVP for the Opening Event: hRSVP for the Grand Opening event here.

Part of Moonlighter’s new Miami Beach creative space

Plus more startup news:

  • Storybook App has been selected to participate in Apple Entrepreneur Camp, a one-on-one technology lab for high-potential founders and developers with fast growing app-driven businesses. “We will receive one-on-one code-level guidance from Apple experts and engineers to take Storybook to the next level, as well as mentorship, inspiration, and insights from top Apple leaders. Once the lab concludes, we’ll become part of a growing community of other exceptional alumni who can help us build our business and be a part of a global network that encourages the pipeline and longevity of underrepresented founders and developers in technology,” said Storybook CEO and co-founder Francisco Cornejo.
  • AEROSENS, the Miami-based xxx,  will be joining with 10 other startups from around the world for Cohort 4 of  Aerospace Xelerated, a program led by Boeing and other partners in the aerospace industry, reports AEROSENS CEO and co-founder Maria Esther Martinez. Find out more about the Cohort 4 here.


Opportunity knocks

  • BrainStation is providing 50 full scholarships for its software engineering and UX/UI design bootcamps through its new Impact Miami program. In addition to the classes, the bootcamps include career and placement support into high-paying tech industry roles. “The overarching goal is to create this inclusive pathway toward building a more diverse Miami tech,” Brainstation VP Johanna Mikkola says. Apply here for Impact Miami’s February cohorts
  • Seaworthy Collective, a Miami-based BlueTech community and venture studio, is launching a Founder Mentorship Program offering a year-round opportunity to become part of our startup pipeline. In this program, Seaworthy works with current founders on a regular basis to drive tangible results and growth. Apply here by Jan. 27.
  • On Feb. 7, Venture Miami is hosting a pitch competition in partnership with eMerge Americas and Silicon Valley Bank to celebrate Black History Month by giving eight startups the opportunity to showcase their businesses to a panel of judges, receive feedback, and win cash prizes. The live event, free and open to the public, will be at 5:30 pm Feb. 7 at Monty’s Coconut Grove, with $40K in prizes awarded.  The top two winners will also get fast-tracked into the 2023 eMerge Americas Startup Showcase for the opportunity to win $420,000 in investment into their company. Join the competition using this link: Register as a guest here.
  • Atlanta-based Founders and Funders of Color will be hosting an event at MDC’s The Idea Center Jan. 30-Feb. 1. With a mission to provide capital and support for Black and Latina/o entrepreneurs, their agenda focuses on startups looking to raise their first round or having just done so and looking for revenue impact strategies. To register,go here.
  • The 1909 Accelerator Program is taking applications for its 6 month program, which is designed to help early stage founders develop their businesses further along and simultaneously help build meaningful lifestyles. Because profitability is not the only form of success. Apply by March 17.
  • Endeavor Miami’s EndeavorLAB, a cohort-based initiative to support underrepresented founders in Florida in building a foundation for scale, has announced it is accepting applications for  a new seven-week cohort for startups led by Latinx founders that will be powered by VensureHR. Scholarships covering the costs are provided to participants. Learn more and apply here by Feb. 5.
  • Endeavor Miami’s ScaleUp Program is a cohort-based initiative that helps equip high-growth founders in Florida with the network and resources to gain clarity on their path to scale. Up to 10 companies following its global selection criteria for high-impact entrepreneurs. Apply by Jan. 29.
  • At IDEA Showcase @ ITEXPO, pitch your unique value proposition – then the audience and judging panel each determine who is the most disruptive. Apply by Jan. 27. 


Have news? Email Nancy Dahlberg at and follow her on Twitter @ndahlberg

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