Miami Tech & Startup News

6+ things to know in #MiamiTech: Weo, Vacation & GRUBBR raise funding, Zigazoo launches GenZ app, 1st NFT restaurant opening in Miami & more

6+ things to know in #MiamiTech: Weo, Vacation & GRUBBR raise funding, Zigazoo launches GenZ app, 1st NFT restaurant opening in Miami & more


Water-focused startup Weo raises funding, launches Series A

Weo, a Miami-based deep tech startup focused on a better way to water, received an undisclosed amount in funding led by European venture firm Korelya Capital. The company intends to use the funds, which venture data tracker Pitchbook reports as totaling $4.66 million, to accelerate the commercial phase of its agribusiness solutions.

In total, the company has raised $15 million, Weo reports, and Korelya will lead the in-progress Series A round the company the company has kicked off.

“As advocates of a sustainable tech ecosystem, we have been deeply inspired by the founder’s unique approach to water science and by Weo’s ESG roadmap including health impact, sustainable agriculture, healthy foods, and animal welfare. We look forward to supporting the Weo team in Europe and Asia in the coming years”, said Fleur Pellerin, Chairwoman and Co-founder of Korelya Capital, in a statement.

Led by Anthony Ginter, founder and CEO, Weo is focused on improving the health and wellness of humans, animals, and plants, by enhancing the natural properties of water with their eco-friendly, water calibration technology. Through its vision of Precision Water, Weo says it provides biologically calibrated water to address any specific need – from healthy aging and exercise performance, to crop production and livestock agriculture – for daily use and throughout the journey of life. 

Its B2C product (Weo Bottle) is sales-ready and will be used to both support the launch of the consumer market and accelerate the commercial phase of its agribusiness solutions.


Zigazoo launches TikTok-like app for Gen Z’s

Short-form video app startup Zigazoo, known for its TikTok-style video style for kids, is launching a separate app targeted at Gen Z users, TechCrunch reported.

The new app will take the flagship name and is meant for ages 13 and older, whereas the original kid-focused app is for Generation Alpha (3-12) and has been rebranded to “Zigazoo Kids.” Previous users in the younger age range will be automatically migrated to Zigazoo Kids. What’s now known as Zigazoo Kids launched in 2020 and has become the world’s largest social network for Generation Alpha.

The new Gen Z-focused app is a video thread-style platform that doesn’t allow users to comment on posts. Users will only be able to y respond to each other via short-form videos, which Zigazoo believes reduces negative comments and trolling.

“We’ve had an amazing time scaling our Generation Alpha-focused social platform which has not only attracted millions of users, but also a wonderful lineup of investors, celebrities, and brands who love what we have built,”  Zigazoo CEO and co-founder Zak Ringelstein said in a statement. “We decided to launch this new platform after seeing that so many Gen Z-ers, looking for a more positive and authentic social media environment, had already been organically migrating to Zigazoo. We wanted to create a social media oasis that was especially tailored for this audience. And the timing is perfect given the potential that TikTok may become off limits to U.S users very soon.”

Ringelstein told TechCrunch that Zigazoo also saw an opening for the Gen Z app because there is a large number of 12- to 14-year-olds and older teens already on Zigazoo Kids, making up about 31% of its users. Zigazoo is invite-only and launched Saturday. Read more in TechCrunch.


Miami-based consumer products startup Vacation raises $6M Series A

Miami consumer products startup Vacation, founded in 2021, raised a $6 million Series A capital raise, led by Silas Capital, with participation from True Beauty Ventures and BFG Partners . To date the company has raised $11.2 million.

The company has developed a sunscreen brand with a “Miami pool party vibe,” according to The Business of Fashion, which reported the news. This month, the brand expanded to 700 more Ulta Beauty locations, its largest national partner, bringing its total to over 1,200 stores. Vacation expects to hit $20 million in retail sales by the end of the year.


NFT sushi restaurant launching to Miami

 Charlie Rothkopf, a Miami-based entrepreneur and sushi enthusiast, and renowned chef Piyarat Potha Arreeratn, known as Chef Bee, are joining forces to launch the first of its kind NFT sushi restaurant in Miami, Florida. The restaurant, called Miami Sushi Club, will offer an exclusive dining experience that can only be accessed by NFT ownership, marking a new era in the restaurant industry, according to a news release.

The concept of NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, has exploded in recent years, with digital art, music, and collectibles being sold for millions of dollars. NFTs are unique digital assets that are verified on the blockchain, meaning that they cannot be duplicated or counterfeited. Rothkopf saw an opportunity to apply this technology to the restaurant industry, creating a new type of dining experience that would appeal to both food lovers and art collectors.

“Miami Sushi Club will be a membership-based restaurant, with each NFT representing a membership that grants access to the restaurant. The NFTs will be sold as limited edition digital art pieces, with two tiers of NFTs for reservations at the restaurant. The price of the NFTs is yet to be announced, but they are expected to be in high demand among collectors and foodies alike,” Rothkopf said. 

The restaurant will be located in a secret location in Miami, accessible only to those who own the NFTs, and will offer an immersive dining experience that blends art and food.


GRUBBRR attracts investment from celebrity chef

GRUBBRR, an industry-leading global provider of self-ordering technologies, announced a new partnership and investment with celebrity chef, restaurateur, and TV host Robert Irvine. Irvine  is best known for saving failing restaurants on his hit show, Restaurant: Impossible. Terms of the investment were not released.

Together, they will tackle challenges plaguing the restaurant industry, including labor shortages and rising food costs, and help restaurant owners navigate the future of the industry, the South Florida Tech Hub reported.

The new partnership will combine GRUBBRR’s cutting-edge self-ordering technology and Robert Irvine’s expertise in the restaurant space to create an unparalleled solution for restaurants. The self-ordering solutions will provide customers with an efficient and convenient ordering experience, while improving general restaurant operations. Read more in South Florida Tech Hub.


Home renovation proptech expands services to Florida

 Freemodel, a tech-enabled pre-sale home renovation company, announced the debut of its services in Florida, starting with Miami, Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, Tampa and Orlando. In addition, it has announced the appointment of Miami-based real estate sales leader Raymond Lord as the Director of Partnerships for the region. With this expansion, Freemodel now offers its services to realtors and their clients in three states: Florida, California and Texas.

Freemodel company fronts the costs of home improvements, then handles the design, construction management and staging. The homeowner pays Freemodel out of escrow only after the home sells. This allows homeowners to capitalize on their investment and reap the maximum profit from the sale of their home, while also protecting them from predatory flippers and iBuyers. Since launching in California three years ago, Freemodel reports it has helped its agent partners earn their clients over $33M in additional profit.


Opportunity knocks

  • Black Ambition has opened applications for the third annual Black Ambition Prize competition. The grand prize winner will receive $1 million, and at least 15 additional teams will receive prize awards of $15,000 to $250,000. Founded by Pharrell Williams and run by Miami’s Felecia Hatcher, Black Ambition has awarded funding and resources to 65 prize winners — totaling $6 million. Learn more and apply here.The deadline is May 8. 
  • Entrepreneur Ready received a $2 million grant from JPMorgan Chase to deploy its How to Start Something Acceleration program in Miami-Dade County and New York City from March to August 2023. The program will fund 300 entrepreneurs in each city who want to start a new business or pivot their business, with a focus on helping small businesses founded by minorities and women residents of Miami-Dade. the immersive learning accelerator and online platform offer a a step-by-step learning framework, personalized feedback from entrepreneur coaches, and access to weekly live workshops, online office hours, and a community forum. Find more information and apply here.
  • Applications are now open for the 12th cohort of FAU Tech Runway’s Venture Program. The Venture Program is a year-long program for startups that offers resources from FAU’s Innovation and Business Development pipeline, entrepreneurial instruction, structured team-based mentoring, networking, marketing and capital-raising assistance, co-working space, events, intern support, and other vital programs. To apply, go here. Applications close April 14.


Did you miss our Refresh Miami event with Karl Alomar, managing partner of M13 and previous COO of DigitalOcean? Watch it here! And stay tuned for our next Signature Speaker Event in June.


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