5+ things to know in #MiamiTech: #MiamiHackWeek, 2 new funds, Valet funded, SmartHop leaps, FAU Tech Runway expands, and winners

Happy #MiamiHackWeek! More than 400 engineers turned out for the opening ceremony of #MiamiHackWeek Sunday, Monday night’s Mana Tech / OpenStore event and party at Le Rouge was packed and the Hack Houses are up and running. Hats off to the organizers of this effort — Dave Fontenot, Lucy Guo and Ja’dan Johnson — and their goal to  attract hundreds engineering strength to the city for the long term. But for this week, it’s all about celebrating the hackers, with fireside chats, events, parties and of course a Barry’s class with Keith Rabois. To cap off the week there will be a science fair style expo and the judged competition, with  $25K in prizes and a sandbar party up for grabs. Learn more at miamihackweek.com and follow @miamihackweek on Twitter. Refresh has also tried to keep you updated HERE

We’ll drop in with some #MiamiHackWeek updates later in the week, but for now, here’s a roundup of other #MiamiTech happenings.


Not just 1, but 2 new venture funds announced

Glades Capital announced the launch of its first fund, aimed at investing $50,000 to $250,000 in seed-stage tech startups in the South Florida ecosystem,. The firm was founded by Jim Ryan, a Florida-based entrepreneur and startup veteran who has provided capital investments and strategic guidance for regional companies over the last decade.

Ryan is the founder of OutPLEX, an international company with more than 2,000 employees specializing in digital transformation at enterprise scale. He has been an investor with Miami Angels and Florida Funders, as well as an advisor to regional university startup accelerators at at Florida Atlantic University, Florida International University, Nova Southeastern University, and Broward College.

 “Our methods are designed to empower startups in the rapidly growing South Florida economy, and we intend to leverage our network and expertise to positively impact the region’s startup ecosystem,” Ryan said.

The amount of the fund was not disclosed but SEC filings show they have raised more than $9 million so far. Entrepreneurs interested in applying for funding should inquire online at glades.capital/apply.

Meanwhile, True Beauty Ventures, a beauty and wellness firm, closed its debut fund at $42 million. The fund, to be based in Miami and New York, is supported by an LP base of beauty founders and executives, financial institutions, and family offices.

Led by Rich Gersten and Cristina Nuñez, True Beauty makes $1 million to $5 million investments in beauty, wellness and personal care brands seeking a partnership anchored in strategic and operational sector expertise. The firm will invest from Seed to Series C, and has made six investments to date.

Gersten has specialized in beauty and personal care and was a former partner at private equity firms Tengram Capital, L Catterton, and North Castle Partners. Nuñez has a combination of consumer private equity investing experience at Tengram Capital and L Catterton as well as beauty operating experience as an executive at Clark’s Botanicals and Laura Geller Beauty. More info: https://www.truebeautyventures.com/


Valet raises $500K pre-seed led by Pareto

Valet, a  Miami online concierge service that brings iconic restaurant experiences to its users, raised $500k in pre-seed funding. The round was led by Pareto Holdings.

Led by founder and CEO Greg Rothman, Valet provides delivery services with an initial focus on group ordering from world-renowned restaurants and chefs. Its service aggregates an exclusive group of partners, such as renowned restaurants, specialty food retailers and other service providers, and combines it with tech-driven automated logistics. The startup is seeing momentum in the private air travel catering space and corporate lunch settings. The company also has teams in New York and throughout Florida.

“Valet is bringing catering and personal services to industries with high demand and dismal current options. The time is right for a disruptive company to completely redefine and own this space. Valet’s deep domain expertise, leading technology and strong go-to-market plan will enable them to revolutionize the concierge market,” said Jon Oringer, Managing Partner at Miami-based Pareto Holdings and Executive Chairman of Shutterstock.

Pareto Holdings, based in Miami, has seeded more than 100 startups in the last year and there are more to come. Pareto recently announced on Twitter 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. 


SmartHop leaps with nationwide partnership

 Fresh off its $12 million funding round, Miami-based SmartHop, the startup that enables businesses to truck smarter not harder, and DAT Freight & Analytics, operator of North America’s largest truckload freight marketplace, announced a partnership that 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’s AI-powered business-in-a-box solution provides a competitive cost structure that has boosted drivers’ take-home pay and booked more than 1,200 loads each month for its users.


FAU Tech Runway expands

FAU Tech Runway will add a second accelerator, thanks to a partnership between the university and the city of Boynton Beach.

Founded in 2014 to provide mentoring, networking, investor access and other programs designed to assist startup companies, Tech Runway

has helped launch 117 companies that have generated $278 million in revenue and created 642 jobs, according to the Palm Beach Post. Its success stories include Fort Lauderdale-based ShipMonk, which provides companies with inventory management tools. The business, which generated $140 million in revenue in 2020 and employs more than 1,000,  was started by FAU student Jan Bednar in 2014 out of his dorm room.

 The new Tech Runway location will open in Boynton Beach’s Town Square, a mixed-use development, this fall. Read more here.


And the pitch contest winners were …

Phlex, a fitness platform and tracker for swimmers, and Lean Orb, creator of sustainable  to replace single-use plastics,  were the winners of Endeavor Pitch Competition powered by  Dell. Phlex, the first-place winner, received a prize of $6,000 in in Dell products, and 2nd placer Lean Orb received $4,000 in products. Phlex will go on to compete in Dell’s final pitch competition on Sept. 15th competing for the opportunity to win $15,000, $10,000 or $5,000 in cash prizes.

The Magic City Cup held a pitch competition for South Florida sports-tech startupsd. The winner was Kemtai, an adaptive home exercise platform. Kemtai won a $15,000 strategy session with Miami-based agency Wheelhouse.

Miss any of the last week’s news headlines? Refresh Miami had reports on Cyxtera going public, Okendo’s and Prescient AI’s fund raises, spotlight on Boca’s 4Ocean, Jupiter’s Fish Rules, and Miamian Kayra Yasa, plus expansion news from Silofit and Finconecta. Find it all on Refreshmiami.com/news.

Got news? Email me at [email protected] or DM me on Twitter @ndahlberg

Nancy Dahlberg