10+ things to know in #MiamiTech: Is a $5 mobile plan too good to be true? Plus news from Carvana, Renco USA, Inc 5000, Endeavor Miami, ThriveDX, National Cycling League, Revere Payments & more   


Helium Mobile launches $5 talk, text and data service in Miami

Nova Labs, a blockchain startup, launched its Helium Mobile service in Miami this week, offering unlimited talk, text and data for $5 per month contract-free. The inaugural mobile service is offered on the Helium Network, which uses approved customer hotspots. Nova Labs hopes to lure customers to its network by offering cryptocurrency tokens and other rewards.

Does $5 sound too good to be true? The company responded to Refresh Miami this way: “We figured out how to combine our partner’s [T-Mobile] nationwide 5G network with the open-source Helium Network, which is owned and operated by individuals. We call this Dynamic Coverage. We are confident that with the help of our community and starting in Miami that we can build this at scale and expand people-built coverage, allowing us to pass the cost savings on to our subscribers today.”

San Franciso-based Nova Labs, founded in 2013, is building what it calls a “decentralized wireless network” starting in Miami, and has raised $250 million in venture funding, according to Pitchbook data. “Miami is the ideal launching point for Helium Mobile because of the existing vibrant Helium Network and as the home of immense crypto development,” said Boris Renski, Nova Labs Wireless general manager, in a statement.

The service will be available in additional metro markets later this year. “We’ve not yet shared where we will head next, but we can say it will be determined by our community. For Miami, we asked our community to help us select our launch city by voting on X, formerly known as Twitter. Our community voted for Miami.”

A spokesperson said Nova Labs has a few employees living in Miami already and hopes to grow its presence in the region.


Carvana opens 2nd Car Vending Machine in South Florida

Despite the company’s  financial troubles, Carvana debuted its newest Car Vending Machine in Hollywood. The steel and glass structure stands eight stories tall with a 27-vehicle capacity offering Miami-area car shoppers a second location. Customers shop online, and then choose to pick up their vehicle at the vending machine or have the vehicle delivered.

“We first launched in the Miami area more than six years ago and the response from customers has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Jacari Green, Carvana Market Operations Manager. “Since then, we’ve expanded all across the Sunshine State with four of our iconic Car Vending Machines. We’re excited to be opening our fifth, most technologically advanced, tower in the state, and look forward to bringing even more memorable car-buying experiences to Florida residents.”

The debut of the newest Car Vending Machine marks the second of its kind in the Miami area, and the 38th in the U.S. Carvana’s new Car Vending Machine is located at 3950 N. 28th Terrace in Hollywood. Location hours are Monday through Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. The other one is in Doral at 2150 NW 117th Place, which opened in 2020.


Patrick Murphy leading another construction startup that raises $18M

Renco USA, which has introduced an innovative new building material for the development industry, raised $18 million in convertible notes, a deal that values the company at $318 million. With the funding, it will construct a manufacturing plant in Jupiter.

Renco USA was co-founded by Tom Murphy Jr., the CEO of Miami-based Coastal Construction, and its expansion is being led by his son, Patrick E. Murphy, a former Congressman. Murphy also runs another Coastal Construction startup spinoff, Togal.ai, which raised $5 million this spring. Coastal Construction is one of the largest general contractors in South Florida.

Investors in Renco USA now include Gil Dezer of Dezer Development, the builder of Porsche Design Tower in Sunny Isles Beach, and Eddy Chabli of Avant Garde Partners. Read more in the South Florida Business Journal.

Read more recent construction tech news in Refresh.


What 4 South Florida companies made the 2023 Inc 5000? One of them was Novo

This week, 205 South Florida companies made the prestigious Inc. 5000 2023 list of fastest-growing private companies in America, as ranked by three-year revenue growth from 2019 through 2022. To qualify for the list of 5,000, the private companies had to have generated at least $100,000 in 2019 revenue and a minimum of $2 million in 2022.

Together the 205 South Florida-based companies posted a 240% median revenue growth, with $12.7 billion total revenue and 37,679 jobs added during the 2019-2022 period, Inc said.

Here are the four South Florida companies that made the top 50 – and their eye-popping growth rates:

• No. 30: B2 Capital Solution Provider, a financial services company based in Miami. 2019-2022 revenue growth: 10,446%.

• No. 38: Novo, a financial services startup based in Miami. 3-year revenue growth: 9,906%.

• No. 41: Dr. Contact Lens, a health products company based in Plantation. 3-year revenue growth: 9,229%.

• No. 44: MyFBAPrep, a logistics & transportation company based in Sunrise. 3-year revenue growth: 8,773%.

To see where the other 201 South Florida companies ranked, visit the Inc. 5000 website here.


Endeavor Miami partners with DeepWork Capital to support EndeavorLAB startups

Endeavor Miami recently partnered with DeepWork Capital in a move to funnel more capital to participants in EndeavorLAB, a cohort-based program for early-stage startup founders.

The Orlando venture capital firm committed to conducting due diligence with selected EndeavorLAB entrepreneurs and attend and support demo days for those cohorts. DeepWork also pledged to make presentations on topics relevant to Endeavor companies and leverage its network to provide support for those ventures.

Endeavor Miami reports its entrepreneurs have gone on to collectively employ more than 5,000 people and generate $800 million in annual revenue. Read more in Miami Inno.


ThriveDX launches Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Program

Partnering with nonprofits,  ThriveDX, the Coral Gables-based provider of cybersecurity and digital skills training, has launched a Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Program that it says will create job opportunities for diverse cyber talent at no-training cost. This  program aims to address the growing cybersecurity talent shortage while simultaneously enhancing workplace diversity across the sector.

Participants from a range of backgrounds who possess the required aptitude are put through an intensive cybersecurity bootcamp which will be paid for by leveraging non-profit funds. At the end of training, participants will have the opportunity to gain certifications and enter a one-year apprenticeship with one of ThriveDX’s partner organizations. Apprentices are paid a fair but lower wage than other employees, giving companies the benefit of obtaining talent at a reduced rate during their apprenticeship.

The ThriveDX Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Program includes over 400 hours of hands-on training, adhering to globally recognized cybersecurity education frameworks such as the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and 300+ real-world simulations on a skills-based learning platform. Learn more here.


National Cycling League announces new backing

This week, the Miami-based National Cycling League has confirmed the addition of new investors. These include Kevin Durant and Rich Kleiman’s Boardroom Sports Holdings, former NFL wide receiver Desmond Howard, and CEO of DraftKings Jason Robins, the company said.

Howard said, “As a former professional athlete and as an amateur cyclist who is committed to accessible health and wellness, I’m pleased to now be a co-owner in the league. The NCL is providing many who haven’t historically had opportunities to own sports properties the chance to do so.” The National Cycling League is a majority-women and minority-owned professional sports league. Read more about NCL’s Miami launch in Refresh.


South Florida No. 2 for coworking access

South Florida has the widest distribution of coworking spaces of any large metro area in the country, according to a new study.

The study from Coworking Café said 26.1% of South Florida’s 295 zip codes have coworking locations within it, the highest proportion of any metro area with a population of more than 1 million people. The study said 77 zip codes in the Miami metro area had at least one coworking space available for residents. Coming in at second in the large metro category was the Greater Raleigh area in North Carolina, the report stated.

Still, another Coworking Cafe study stated that the number of coworking locations in Miami-Dade County dropped slightly from last year. Read more in the South Florida Business Journal.


Revere Payments relocates HQ to Palm Beach Gardens, to create 100 jobs

Revere Payments, in collaboration with the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County, announced it is relocating its corporate headquarters from Las Vegas to Palm Beach Gardens. This move will result in the creation of 100 new job opportunities within the next three years. Revere Payments is planning to settle into a state-of-the-art 3,800 sq. ft. build-to-suit facility, scheduled for completion in November 2023. This relocation represents a significant multi-million-dollar capital investment for Palm Beach County.

Revere Payments, which calls itself a “Christian fintech,” offers payment technology solutions for businesses in a variety of industries, including e-commerce, retail, restaurant, firearms, religious, political, CBD, and non-profit. It specializes in secure payment processing, handling credit, debit, and bank-to-bank transactions, and operates under the umbrella of Metrics Global, a global payment technology company.


Opportunity knocks

  • Lab22c opened nominations for the 2nd annual Moonshot Awards, a program that recognizes top innovators, builders and institutions in the South Florida innovation economy. This year there are seven award categories. “We are looking to recognize top innovators/builders/institutions who are moving our ecosystem forward. Nominate someone you think who is deserving of the recognition,” said Lab22c founder Saif Ishoof. Learn more and submit your nominations here
  •  ShellHacks, Florida’s largest  student hackathon,  is returning for its seventh year and will be held in person at Florida International University in Miami from September 15-17. It is being hosted by INIT, Students from around the state and beyond, as well as recent grads and those attending bootcamps, are invited to participate, learn new skills and potentially win prizes. It is open to all skill levels and majors. To secure your spot, visit http://shellhacks.net and submit your application.
  • The Venture Miami Scholarship Fund provides tuition support to provide gap funding for at-need City of Miami residents who have been accepted into STEM or defined-demand occupation programs at participating colleges and universities, including Florida International University, Florida Memorial University, Miami Dade College, and the University of Miami. How to apply: Students who meet the program requirements and are interested in applying to the Venture Miami scholarship are encourage to complete this survey to begin the application process.
  • EndeavorLAB, an 8-week cohort-based initiative that equips founders with curriculum, mentorship and resources to grow their business, is accepting applications for its Black Founders Cohort Powered by Dell For Startups that begins in October. To be eligible, Black founders must be based in Florida, have achieved product-market fit, and are generating $50K to $500K in annual revenue. The program costs are covered by the sponsors.  Apply here by Sept. 10.
  • The Alan B. Levan/NSU Broward Center of Innovation is accepting applications for the 100 Startup Project. Applicants who are accepted will receive a yearlong membership to the Levan Center of Innovation. Apply here


Here’s the news we posted since our last news roundup. (Note to me: don’t wait 2 weeks to post the next roundup!)

Nancy Dahlberg