Miami Tech & Startup News

6 things to know in #MiamiTech; Funding for Pincho, FIU groundbreaking, BMTT's return, Xendoo’s expansion & more

6 things to know in #MiamiTech; Funding for Pincho, FIU groundbreaking, BMTT’s return, Xendoo’s expansion & more


Homegrown Pincho receives $20M private equity investment

Endeavor Miami company Pincho, a homegrown fast-casual chain, has received a $20 million  investment from private equity firm Mercato Partners’ $200 million Savory Restaurant Fund, the companies announced today.

Pincho, founded in 2010, is a fast-casual chain known for its Latin American kebabs and award-winning burgers, with the idea of bringing street food to a casual setting. Co-founders Otto Othman, the CEO, and Nedal Ahmed are Endeavor Entrepreneurs, selected by the global Endeavor network in 2016.

While discussions with Mercato have been underway for a while, it was Pincho’s strong tech-enabled performance amid the pandemic that strengthened the fund’s interest.

Othman will remain as CEO, the companies said.

“Since I first met the team at Savory more than two years ago, they have consistently demonstrated a unique ability to build brands like Pincho, unlocking additional enterprise value through their high level of execution and acceleration of scale,” Othman said in Fast Casual. “We’re thrilled to partner with Savory and its outstanding leadership team as we embark on what is sure to be an exciting ride. We have always believed that Pincho is a concept that can and should expand from coast-to-coast, and I can’t wait to make our vision a reality.”

Pincho has eight South Florida company-owned locations now (two others are franchises), and has plans to open up to seven new restaurants next year as it expands into Central Florida and Texas, according to a RestaurantBusiness report.


FIU breaks ground on computer science expansion

FIU broke ground this week on its new building for the College of Engineering and Computing, a 125,000 square-foot, six-story building that will house makerspace labs, active learning classrooms and research laboratories at Modesto A. Maidique Campus. “We are creating a key hub of talent and innovation, one that allows us to seize this important moment,” said FIU President Mark Rosenberg.

The ground-breaking ceremony was attended by Florida Lt. Governor Jeanette Nuñez, Raul Moas, Miami program director of the John S. and James L Knight Foundation, current and former South Florida legislators, FIU donors and other community members.

The $48.4 million LEED-certified GOLD facility will be built near Southwest 8th Street and Southwest 107th Avenue and is funded in large part to a state legislative appropriation of $39 million and additional philanthropic and research funding, including a $10 million gift from the Knight Foundation. (rendering at top of this post)

Here’s the impact, according to an FIU News report: The College of Engineering and Computing houses nearly 8,000 engineering and computing students, including more than 1,000 graduate students. FIU engineering programs have grown 39% over the last four years, with computer science seeing a 60% increase in the number of students enrolled since 2017. In 2020, CEC graduated nearly 2,000 engineers and computer scientists.

The college was ranked No. 1 in the U.S. in awarding bachelor’s degrees to Hispanic students and No. 6 in awarding bachelor’s degrees to African Americans by the American Society for Engineering Association in 2020. Read more from FIU News here.

READ PAST COVERAGE ON REFRESH: To grow Miami’s tech talent, Knight invests $15.3M in FIU, UM and Baptist


Black Men Talk Tech’s next conference is Oct. 21

Black Men Talk Tech, a collective and conference series that supports Black tech entrepreneurs, announced that its 3rd Annual Unicorn Ambition Conference will be Oct. 21. It will be a virtual event, with supporting in-person events in Miami before and after the conference programming.

Since its inception, the conference has provided exposure and resources to Black tech founders and highlighted Miami and South Florida as an emerging tech hub, especially for the Black community. “Miami has seen a recent boom in its tech scene. It’s great to see a larger audience seeing the potential of the city that we’ve known for quite some time,” says Evan Leaphart, co-founder of BMTT.

Speakers scheduled so far include Nasir Qadree, Founder & Managing Partner at Zeal Capital Partners; George Azih, Founder & CEO of LeaseQuery; Gregory Coleman, Co-Founder & CEO of Sworkit; and Lister Delgado, Managing Partner at IDEA Fund Partners; with more to be added.

Tickets for the virtual event Oct. 21 are free. Tickets for a multi-day experience that includes in-person events and on-demand access to the content after the conference are $49. Find out more here.

READ ABOUT LAST YEAR’S EVENT: Black founder pipeline problem? Not a chance, says SoaftBank’s Shu Nyatta


Xendoo on the move again – quite literally

Xendoo has outgrown its office – again. The Fort Lauderdale-based startup signed a three-year lease for 15,171 square feet at Cypress Park West I in Fort Lauderdale. That will grow its square footage by 50%.

Xendoo has developed a SaaS bookkeeping platform targeted at small businesses. The lion’s share of Xendoo’s clients are small businesses with fewer than 20 employees – businesses for whom the pandemic has had an outsized effect. Nevertheless, Xendoo still managed to grow 30% in 2020. From 2018 through 2019, the startup reported a two-year revenue growth of 777%.

Xendoo founder and CEO Lil Roberts told Refresh Miami this summer the company is hiring, and she planned to grow the team from 32 to 50 employees – now there will be room for them.

READ MORE ON REFRESH: Xendoo now helping small businesses in 46 states, 12 countries


Making Moves: New director for Talent Scout; UM exec joins Venture Miami

  • Talent Scout has a new director. Uhriel Bedoya will lead the strategic development of Talent Scout into a more dynamic and inclusive talent platform with a broader reach in South Florida’s tech ecosystem, Aire Ventures announced. Talent Scout Miami is a curated platform for VCs, founders, startups, and professionals aimed at bridging the talent access gap in Miami Tech. “We needed a strong leader who is not only passionate about inclusion, but has deep experience in the equity space. Uhriel is that leader.  His personal and professional journey underscore his capacity to serve Talent Scout well in building the infrastructure for the present and future of bridging tech talent opportunity gaps in South Florida,” said Leigh-Ann Buchanan, president of aīre ventures. Uhriel is a former banker, payments technology executive, and startup leader in companies like RBC, Visa, Mastercard, and Lime, she said.
  • In partnership with Venture Miami, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez’s initiative to help guide the Miami Tech movement, the University of Miami has appointed Kelly Montoya, a key member of the public affairs and communications team,  to represent the University and assist with moving these efforts forward. Montoya joins the Venture Miami team as senior advisor for strategic engagement, and she will work closely with university partners to strategically align university tech efforts under the public affairs, communications, and Office of the President umbrella.


Opportunity knocks

  • Black Girl Ventures’ Miami Pitch Competition  Sept 23-30 will include a live crowdfunding pitch competition. Winners will also receive up to $10K in cash prizes and memberships to Black Girl Ventures’ incubator. Black Girl Ventures creates access to capital and community for Black and brown women founders and is sponsored by the Knight Foundation. More info here.
  • We Robot, the annual conference by the University of Miami’s School of Law to create and encourage interdisciplinary conversations about robotics and AI law and policy, is going virtual this year and prices have been reduced. Registration for the 2-day main conference (Sept 24-25) is now only $49, and the workshop add-on (Sept 23) is $25. The discounted rate for students at all levels is $25 for all three days. Find out more here and here.

ICYMI: Download the latest edition of eMerge Insights, produced by eMerge Americas, for an overview of the 1H 2021 VC activity in South Florida, in which $1.26 billion flowed into the region’s startups. The report (authored by yours truly) also includes top deals and trends to watch, spotlights on startups and exits, a look back at the phenomenal first half that Latin America had – and much more. Read the report here and find an update on Q3 in Refresh here.


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