5+ things to know in #MiamiTech: New HQ and hiring ahead for SmartHop; Startup Studio grant winners; Florida Funders closes $60M Fund 2; and more


New headquarters for SmartHop in Wynwood; startup plans to add 100 jobs

In 2021, the Miami-based tech-for-trucking startup SmartHop had its best year on record, closing with a 3.5x increase in available load access over January 2021, representing 14 million miles driven by over 300 truckers who tapped into 16,000+ loads on its platform. 

To accommodate its growing team, SmartHop is opening a new 5,000 square foot headquarters in Miami’s Wynwood district. Last week, the startup held a ribbon-cutting, attended by Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and other officials.

SmartHop is growing and currently has more than 170+ employees around the world, with plans to add 100 more employees across all offices by the end of the year, the company said.

A year ago, SmartHop raised a $12 million Series A by Union Square Ventures and Ryder Ventures to grow its full-service dispatching platform, and it dispatched an insurance offering for truckers in December.


Grant winners announced for eMerge Americas / City National Bank Startup Studio

StoryBook, an app that helps parents put their kids to sleep with bedtime stories and gentle massage, was the winner of the  eMerge Americas / City National Bank Startup Studio pitch competition. Coming in second was GenoBank.io, which leverages BioNFTs to ensure the security and control of the donor’s DNA data and protects ethical researchers. Third place went to YTeach, an easy-to-use platform that allows K-12 schools and districts to build, deliver, and monitor peer tutoring programs, founded by 13-year-old Matias Aviñó and his mon.

The Startup Studio launched in December and since then, two dozen minority-led businesses have been taking part in a series of workshops to hone their skills and perfect their pitches. That field was narrowed to eight who pitched to a panel of judges on Friday in a virtual event.

For winning the event, StoryBook received a $25K grant; GenoBank.io received $15K and YTeach received $10K; all three have been fast-tracked into the Startup Showcase at eMerge Americas, where startups at the collegiate, early stage and late stage will compete for more than $400,000 in investment from Florida Funders, Panaramic, and eMerge Americas.

Other finalists in the competition were Abstract Art Machine,  BRIDGE Network, Lien Library, MeanFi, and Timbr Technologies.

PSA: There’s still time to apply to participate in the Startup Showcase but hurry – the deadline is Monday, Feb 28. Find out more in the “Opportunity Kocks” section of this post.


Florida Funders closes Fund 2 at $60M

Florida Funders, a Tampa-based venture capital firm and angel investors network, closed its Fund 2 at $60 million, Axios reported.

Around half of Florida Funders’ portfolio is in Florida-based companies. Incestments include XGen, a Clearwater-based e-commerce product curation startup; Miami-based HealthSnap, which provides an analytics and remote patient monitoring platform to help manage chronic disease virtually; SimpleBet, a global betting sports technology company with Miami ties; eMerge Americas, in a partnership forged this year;  NOCAP Sports, a Philadelphia-based startup tackling the name, image, likeness ruling allowing college athletes a chance to cash in on their name, which is planning to relocate to Miami; SaaS cloud management startup  itopia of Miami; and Miami-based TempMee, a dental staffing startup.


Miami-Dade mayor adds to Tech Innovation team

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava Miami announcing a new Tech Innovation team in partnership with local colleges and universities, to transform the tech boom into real opportunities for Miami-Dade’s students, entrepreneurs, and the local economy overall.

“We are not only opening the door to tech and the new economy, we are also stepping in with our own initiatives to connect new industries to local talent and our residents to a world of opportunities, jobs and knowledge,” said Levine Cava. “Miami-Dade is a cradle of innovation and entrepreneurship; we are ready to offer much more than a beautiful background for the tech industry, and, instead, become active players in it.” 

Under the leadership of the Mayor’s Tech Innovation Advisor, Francesca de Quesada Covey, Miami-Dade County is launching initiatives to support the growth of Miami-Dade’s climate-tech sector; increase access to household internet for students and families in hard-to-reach low-income communities; and create a talent pipeline for students and professionals of all ages and backgrounds to find tech jobs 

The new members are:

  • Brian Breslin, director of University of Miami’s Launch Pad incubator and founder of Refresh Miami. 
  • Dr. Jacek Kolasiński, the founding director of the Ratcliffe Incubator of Art + Design at Florida International University.
  • Alejandro Gonzalez, executive director of The Idea Center at Miami Dade College.


NY tech consultancy Bevel opens Web3 practice in Miami

Bevel, a New York-based strategic advisory consultancy, is expanding to Miami and launching its first Web3 practice, to be led by Nicole Cueto, Esq., Director at Bevel. A former advisor to Francis Suarez and a Miami native, Cueto has spent time at the corporate level and in the startup community, bringing over a decade of cross-discipline experience to Bevel. “We’ve always entered markets at the very beginning. Consumer finance before it was hot, and crypto before anyone knew what Bitcoin was,” said Morgan Borer, Partner at Bevel. “We’re excited to grow our team in Miami where the top innovators are building the future tech ecosystem.”


Opportunity Knocks

  • The deadline is Monday, Feb. 28, for early- and late-stage startups to apply to have a chance to win over $400,000 in investment at the eMerge Americas Startup Showcase. The competition, presented by Algorand and in partnership with Florida Funders and Panoramic Ventures, will culminate in a pitch competition taking place April 18-19 at the eMerge Americas conference. Apply here
  • March 1 is the deadline to enter  the Miami Herald’s Startup Pitch Competition. Endeavor Miami is managing the competition for the Herald. In 2021. Find more information and submit your entry here.
  • Apply now for Venture Miami’s Start-Up Mornings, It’s a conversation between founders and funders on how to raise capital and grow your startup. Ask questions, connect with other entrepreneurs, meet local VCs and engage in an educational morning Cafecito. Find out more and sign up here.

ICYMI: A FEW NEWS HIGHLIGHTS (find more on RefreshMIami.com/news)

Have #MiamiTech news? Email Nancy Dahlberg at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @ndahlberg. Sign up for Refresh Miami’s free newsletter on Refreshmiami.com

Nancy Dahlberg