Miami Tech & Startup News

8 things to know in #MiamiTech: A roundup of opportunities and news developments

8 things to know in #MiamiTech: A roundup of opportunities and news developments

 Summer slowdown? Not a chance. Here’s a sampling of new opportunities cooking up for startups as well as some tech news.


The Startup Showdown dangles $120K investment prize

The Startup Showdown Pitch Competition by Panaramic Ventures is coming to Miami Sept 30. The Showdown, a venture of Paul Judge and Tami McQueen, will award the winner will receive a $120K investment from Panaramic, a venture firm focused on the Southeastern US.  The event, from 7 pm-11 pm, will be hybrid, with an expected attendance of at least 500 and live-streamed to a global audience.

Applications are open to any tech enabled startup but the deadline to apply is Sept. 6.

McQueen said each application is reviewed by a member of its investment team, and 25 semifinalists will be selected to attend a virtual Mentor Day. “We then bring together the top five tech startups to pitch investors on stage for a chance to win $120,000 investment prize from Panoramic Ventures.” 

Apply to Pitch:

RSVP to attend (virtual and in-person) here.


Two new programs prepare MDC students for tech careers

JPMorgan Chase announced a $500,000 grant to help launch the Multi-Organization Supports for Access, Inclusion and Completion (MOSAIC) program at Miami Dade College  designed to help Black students complete college and connect with careers and jobs in high-demand technology fields.

The program will include partnerships with community organizations to meet identified needs and deploy resources; mentorship; a virtual resources hub; and tuition support for both degree and certificate programs.

“Our work with MDC is driven by our desire and commitment to serve the city of Miami and to make the growing tech industry here as diverse and inclusive as the city itself,” said Maria Escorcia, vice president of corporate responsibility for Florida at JPMorgan Chase. “We believe the best way to do this is by working with local partners that provide educational and career opportunities for underserved communities and individuals. Miami is at the forefront of an industry boom – our goal through this grant is to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to gain the skills they need to benefit.”

In another MDC program, the college has partnered with the AI4ALL to introduce and prepare students for careers in the burgeoning Artificial Intelligence industry.

AI4ALL College Pathways is an initiative designed to spark interest and increase persistence in AI-related careers for undergraduate students who represent new voices in AI. The program offerings are co-hosted with universities to connect participants with an approachable introduction to AI, internships, career-readiness resources, and a supportive on-campus peer community.

Antonio Delgado, Dean of MDC’s School of Engineering and Technology (EnTec), said that as part of the collaboration, EnTec will expand the offering of AI-related courses, promote community building by connecting students to an inclusive group of peers and mentors, and offer AI-related career development activities at the AI Center currently under development at North campus. EnTec recently received a 1 million grant from NSF to fund the courses.


FIU, City of Miami and JPMorgan create program for female founders of color

Florida International University has partnered with the City of Miami and JPMorgan Chase to create the Venture Miami Opportunity Program to support female founders of color. The university received a $150,000 grant from JPMorgan Chase.

Structured as a cohort model, the new program within FIU’s Office of Engagement will provide intensive management and leadership training to 20 female women founders of color — in  talent, technology, social network, and access to capital.

Alongside the launch of the Venture Miami Opportunity Program, FIU Engagement and the City of Miami will co-host the MiamiTech Conference – a hybrid (in-person and virtual) conference that will give Venture Miami Opportunity Program cohort members the opportunity to showcase projects sprouting from the new program and provide cohort members with professional development and networking opportunities with globally recognized speakers and organizations.

“Our vision to create a Miami tech hub continues to gain light because of partnerships like these, as we develop the future of Venture Miami,” said Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.

To learn more about the Venture Miami Opportunity Program, please click here to fill out this brief form.


Opportunity knocks: New Venture Miami program and more

The City of Miami’s Venture Miami team unveiled a new service for startups.

Venture Miami Start-Up Mornings is designed as a small group Q&A for Miami-based tech founders to ask tech investors questions that will help them continue to grow and thrive. Each group will be curated to ensure that there is no competitive overlap. The conversations are facilitated by Miami Mayor Suarez’s Venture Capitalist in Residence, Melissa Krinzman, and include Ana Paula Gonzalez, Director for Softbank’s Miami Initiative.

Venture Miami reviews all applications and selected founders will be invited for a conversation and breakfast at Miami City Hall. Apply here.

Here are some more opportunities in Miami Tech:

  • Early stage startups can apply to present at the 2021 Early Stage Capital Conference 7-8 in Tampa. If you’re an entrepreneur looking to secure capital and get your product to market, apply now to pitch before an audience of venture capital investors and for your chance to win $100K in prize money. Apply here:
  • Pareto Holdings, a funder and venture builder founded by Shutterstock founder Jon Oringer and investor Edward Lando and based in Miami, 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.
  • More than 150 tech jobs are posted on Refresh Miami, including opportunities at Twitter,, Eight Sleep, OpenStore and more. Find them here.


Look who’s in the 2021 INC 5000

Miami fintech startup TaxFyle, healthy food delivery company DeliverLean, cannabis marketing platform Springbig, and logistics tech company ShipMonk – these homegrown tech-enabled companies were all part of the 2021 Inc 5000 List of Fastest Growing Companies released this week and there were many more.

SpringBig, based in Boca Raton, was the highest performer in South Florida, growing 5,485% and ranking No. 69, and No. 3 in Florida. Read more about the company in Refresh’s recent spotlight here. Boca has another top showing in Honorlock, the edtech company, which came in at No. 103 with  3,858% of growth and No 6 in Florida. The startup recently raised $25 million in venture capital.

Arteza, the art supplies marketplace based in North Miami, came in at No. 244. ShipMonk, the shipping logistics player based in Fort Lauderdale, ranked at 316. ShipMonk recently expanded its South Florida footprint with another 113,000-square-foot warehouse in addition to its headaurters facility.

Other South Florida startups on the Inc 5000 include Zerobounce at No. 487; TaxFyle at 531, DeliverLean at 601 and Bloomsybox at 704.

See the complete list here.

In total 369 of the Inc 5000 are based in Florida. South Florida is well represented with 142 located in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties, 72 of them repeat honorees.  In South Florida, the median yearly average growth of these companies was 199%, total revenue was $6.9 billion, and they cumulatively added 10,857 new jobs over the last year.


Post acquisition, Nearpod cranks out new products

The homegrown edtech startup Nearpod, based in Fort Lauderdale, was acquired this year by Renaissance Learning but operates as an independent brand. For the start of the school year, Nearpod is launching new products including Drag & Drop, a formative assessment activity. It is also releasing an enriched slide editor, another feature allowing toggle between live participation and student-paced mode, and another feature that grants students the ability to create their own Nearpod lessons to maximize learning impact.

Nearpod is also adding over 500 new and updated lessons to its growing library content, and is also adding new Nearpod Original videos, 500 activities in Spanish and Portuguese, and an expanded offering for EL students.

During the shift from in-person to remote learning, Nearpod experienced a fivefold increase in the number of teachers using its platform compared to 2019. What’s more, 99% of surveyed teachers who used Nearpod during the pandemic plan to continue using the platform when they return to the physical classroom.


Transportation-logistics companies large and small are on the move

“While this partnership initially focuses on fleet maintenance, we see many opportunities to collaborate on autonomous trucking operations in order to successfully deploy these trucks at scale,” says Karen Jones, chief marketing officer and head of new product development for Ryder. “Autonomous Class 8 technology is quickly taking hold, and Ryder is poised to become a leader – not only in servicing trucks but also in managing the unique logistics of autonomous operations.”

  • SmartHop, the venture-funded Miami logistics-tech startup, is working with  DAT Freight & Analytics, operator of the largest truckload freight marketplace in North America. The partnership enables SmartHop’s small carriers and independent owner-operators to access millions more loads while allowing DAT to more effectively support and retain smaller carriers in its ecosystem.

“There’s fierce competition for truckload capacity today and our integration with DAT opens up millions of new loads and roads for independent drivers and small carriers,” said Guillermo Garcia, CEO and co-founder of SmartHop. “Smaller carriers can access the best-paying loads with more peace of mind in a volatile spot market.”  

DAT will integrate its API and data into SmartHop’s platform, giving SmartHop customers the ability to streamline the load-matching process and compete with larger carriers for spot truckload freight. More than 880,000 loads are posted to the DAT network each business day, and more than 1.5 million trucks and 100,000 carriers are on the DAT platform.

SmartHop is also a portfolio company of RyderVentures. SmartHop raised $12 million in venture capital this year.


Chief launching in Miami to support female business leaders

Chief, a venture-backed networking and mentorship membership community for female business leaders, recently announced its launch plans for in Miami, its six US city launch.

Chief launched in 2019 in New York Ciety and has thousands of members across 5 cities and it’s the only organization specifically designed for women at VP+ levels, according to the company. The private membership network raised $40 million in funding and has flagship physical locations in New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago, plus virtual communities in San Francisco and Boston. Several startup CEOs now in Miami are founding members, having joined in NYC.

In response to the pandemic, Chief has moved the community to a virtual setting, so Miami membership includes virtual versions of all the services that members can access, including Core Groups (group executive coaching) and Salon Series events (lectures from speakers like Martha Stewart, Gloria Steinem, Mindy Kaling, Amal Clooney, Gayle King, Whoopi Goldberg, etc.). Applications are now open for Miami, with the official opening slated for the fall.

Got news? Email me at and follow me on Twitter @ndahlberg to keep up with #MiamiTech news.


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