5 things to know in #MiamiTech: The lowdown on VC in women-led startups, plus news about Ford, Chewy, Velocia and more

1 Florida numbers confirm what we all know about venture

 A new report puts extensive research behind what we all expected: Florida-based startups founded by women received just 12% of early stage venture capital funding over the past decade, and only 15% of venture capital firms in Florida have a woman on their team. That’s disheartening.
This week, Embarc Collective, a Tampa-based innovation hub, published the 2020 Glaring Gap report to benchmark the state of tech entrepreneurship for women in Florida. “I’m hopeful that seeing this information will be a driver of positive change and reinforce the need to invest in women founders and encourage more women to get involved with startup investing in Florida,” said CEO Lakshmi Shenoy.
The report looked at data of more than 2,400 Florida startups funded from 2010 through 2019. Here were some of the findings:

  • Women receive less than male-founded startups. 17% of startups with at least one woman founder received funding, but that was only 11 percent of total early stage venture dollars.
  • Of the 271 investment firms based in Florida and listed on Crunchbase with at least one investment, only 40 firms, or 15 percent, had at least one woman on the team and just 23 of those companies, 8%, had a woman in a leadership role. That trails even the pathetic national statistics.
  • Of 276 angel investors, 7% (18 people) identified as female.
  • When women invest, they tend to invest equally between male- and female-founded companies. But male investors are five times more likely to invest in male-founded companies than female-founded companies.
  • In 2019, 19% percent of the Florida startups that received early-stage funding were women-led companies. In 2010, none of them were.
  • Funding is only the second-biggest challenge women entrepreneurs face. Marketing/ storytelling was listed as the largest challenge by 57% of women founders.

See the 2020 Report here and take the Glaring Gap Pledge to do better.

2 Ford to expand self-driving car testing hub in Miami

Miami has been a testing site for Ford’s autonomous vehicles development since 2018. Ford now plans to establish a command center for its self-driving business and daily operations in a 140,000-square-foot, mixed-use space west of the Miami International Airport.
Ford will use the command center for customer relations, business development, research, public engagement, testing, and safety evaluations, according to a Miami Herald report last week. It hopes to have the site fully operational in 2021. The automaker’s goal is to have its self-driving business up and running in the area by 2022.
“Miami is the foundation and cornerstone of the self-driving services we are building,” Alex Buznego, Ford’s Miami market manager, told the Miami Herald. “Miami has been our home for over two years. During this time, input and feedback from the Miami-Dade community has been informing many of our decisions. For over two years now, we have been on the ground collaborating with Miami-Dade County, conducting business pilots, and listening to the public through user experience research.”
Ford partnered with its subsidiary, Argo AI, to develop its Autonomous Vehicle Services program, which is currently also testing self-driving vehicles in Detroit, Washington D.C., Pittsburgh, Palo Alto and Austin, but Miami was its first market chosen globally for the testing.
Miami’s program, which employs about 60,  is testing vehicles for use in a variety of commercial situations, and it started with pizza delivery in Miami’s Wynwood. If the cars do well on Miami’s mean streets, they can do well anywhere.

3 Use Miami’s public transit and earn rewards on Velocia app

Launched in 2019 in Miami-Dade County, Velocia is a free smartphone app that incentivizes public transit use and encourages users to explore new carbon- and traffic-friendly ways of moving from point A to B. Velocia focuses its rewards on people participating in the shared-mobility economy — car-sharing, bike-sharing and e-scooter-sharing all contribute to the Velocia rewards and redemption platform.
Now, Miami-Dade County Department of Transportation and Public Works is partnering with the startup Velocia to roll out a rewards program aimed at ensuring safe, trusted ridership on Metrobus and Metrorail.  Riders on all routes get rewards for answering a daily survey promoting protective face coverings and social distancing measures that DTPW has in place on all Miami-Dade rail and buses. A second rewards campaign encourages riders on the busiest Metrobus routes to travel outside peak demand hours (6-8AM and 3:30-5:30PM) to ensure sufficient seats for essential workers so that they are not left behind by limited capacity buses.
Rewards earned from the Miami-Dade Transit campaigns on the Velocia app can be redeemed for Lyft and Uber Eats coupons, Citi Bike rentals, Getaround cars and Poseidon Ferry tickets when the new cross-Bay water transit initiates service later this month. Velocia rewards, known as VELOs, accumulate quickly for loyal customers of Miami-Dade Transit and is one way that MDC DTPW and Velocia thank Miami-Dade’s essential workers and ensure their safe ridership on public transit.
“We know from our initial launch with MDC DTPW that VELOs encourage positive commuting behaviors; pre-pandemic we saw a 15% month-over-month increase in public transit use by MDC EASY Card holders,” says David Winterstein, CEO of Velocia. “Our new program with the County tackles the pandemic challenges of transit demand management and safe ridership and takes a new approach to rewarding rider loyalty to public transit and the shared-mobility ecosystem.”
READ MORE ON REFRESH: Mobility app rewards you for leaving your car at home

4 Woof, Woof: Chewy expands into pet telehealth

Two paws up for this news: Chewy has a new offering  — virtual veterinarian appointments.
The Dania Beach-based e-commerce giant announced its new offering, “Connect with a Vet,” last week. With it, pet owners can ask advice and get referrels to  local vets or emergency clinics, though it won’t be diagnosing medical conditions or prescribing medication, the South Florida Business Journal reported. It began piloting the program in May.
Chewy is approaching profitability, thanks to explosive e-commerce sales due to the Covid-19 crisis.

5 Miami-based Cisneros Interactive is acquired

Entravision Communications, a California-based media and marketing technology company, has acquired a majority stake in Miami-based Cisneros Interactive, a digital advertising company serving over 2,000 brands and agencies each month across the U.S. and Latin America. The investment positions the combined platforms to be one of the largest premier digital advertising companies serving the U.S. Hispanic and Latin American markets, the companies said. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Founded in 2010, Cisneros Interactive maintains sales partnerships with some of the world’s leading digital technology companies, including Facebook, Spotify and LinkedIn. In addition, the company offers proprietary technology solutions as well as broad audience reach with its JustMob and Audio.Ad divisions, focusing on mobile video and digital audio respectively across 17 different countries. “This investment aligns with our mission, given the breadth of Cisneros Interactive’s services, the quality of its global partnerships and the sophistication of its sales operations. I am confident our partnership with Cisneros Interactive is just the beginning of a long and productive relationship,” said Adriana Cisneros, CEO of Cisneros.
All Cisneros Interactive employees will remain with the company in MIami, with Victor Kong continuing as CEO.
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Nancy Dahlberg