6+ things to know in #MiamiTech: A heaping helping of startup news from Yuga Labs, Grover, EVQLV, CAST AI, Marco, Togal AI, FloSpine and more


Yuga Labs commits $1M to support arts and education in Miami  

Yuga Labs, the pioneering web3 company behind Bored Ape Yacht Club, announced it has committed $1 million to support arts and education initiatives in Miami. The funding will expand and strengthen programs working to close the opportunity gap for thousands of Miamians. The new program launched last week with the previously announced donation of $300,000 to the Venture Miami Scholarship Fund.

By supporting Miami-based initiatives, Yuga is connecting to its roots and giving back to the city where Bored Ape Yacht Club was born. Yuga co-founders Wylie Aronow and Greg Solano are proud Miami natives, as is Yuga Labs CEO Nicole Muniz. Additional organizations operating in Miami that have a focus on education, the arts, and diversity are actively being explored as part of this commitment to their hometown.

“We’ve been planning this for some time and are excited to finally announce Yuga’s investment in the future of our hometown. Miami has become a hub of a dynamic industry where Yuga Labs is at the forefront of innovation,” said Greg Solano, co-founder of Yuga Labs. “We have deep roots in Miami,” Wylie Aronow, co-founder of Yuga Labs, added. “As we continue to build our business here, we’re glad we can also help to build a strong, passionate community where there are no barriers to access, and creativity knows no limits.”

Yuga Labs is among a cadre of startups forming a crypto capital in Miami. In March, Yuga Labs raised $450 million, the year’s largest venture round in South Florida so far.


Florida Venture Forum: And the winners of the big checks were ….

Two South Florida companies took home the big checks this month from Florida Venture Forum’s annual conference for early-stage and collegiate startups.

EVQLV, a Miami-based startup focused on revolutionizing therapeutic antibody development through machine learning, was the big winner at the Florida Venture Forum’s Early Stage Capital Conference. ECQLV took home $40,000 and Space Florida’s Accelerating Innovation Award. 

EVQLV’s AI is designed to quickly and intelligently design therapeutic antibodies with a lower risk of failure. The company recently entered a partnership with Twist Bioscience Corporation, which offers high-quality synthetic DNA using its silicon platform to discover novel antibody-based therapies.

The company took home the largest prize among 19 presenting companies selected from a pool of more than 150 applicants by a committee of active Florida venture capital investors.

The Florida Venture Forum, Florida’s largest statewide support organization for investors and entrepreneurs, and Space Florida awarded a total of $100,000 to winners and finalists. Nineteen companies, most of them from Florida and eight from South Florida,  were selected from a pool of more than 150 applicants to pitch to a venture capitalist judging panel and an audience of investors.

First runner-up Novineer Inc., a Daytona Beach-based software company, was awarded $30,000. The company plans to bring a 3D printing design and simulation software to market that will streamline the process of designing, modeling and fabricating parts.

The second runner up was Revterra Corp., founded in Houston, and received $20,000. The company is developing a grid-stabilizing kinetic battery for charging electric vehicles.

Pet HealthCare Innovations, from Florida Atlantic University, was the co-winner of the 13th annual 2022 Statewide Collegiate Startup Competition, which was also part of the Early Stage Conference. The startup designs, manufactures and sells products that improve your pets’ quality of life. One of its first products is the Potty Pal.

For winning the student competition, along with Over The Shoulder, a runner’s app from Florida Southern, the startups each received $5,000.

“The ingenuity of this year’s is a testament to the innovative and entrepreneurial culture we have fostered here in Florida,” Space Florida President and CEO Frank DiBello said in a statement.


A dozen South Florida startup founders participate in Venture Atlanta

Last week, South Florida was well represented at Venture Atlanta, one of the premier conferences in the Southeast. A dozen startup founders made the trek, courtesy of Delta Airlines. Three startup founders also pitched on the big stage:

  • Yuri Frayman, founder/CEO of CAST AI
  • Jacob Shoihet, founder/CEO of  Marco
  • Patrick E. Murphy, founder/CEO of  Togal.AI

Other startup founders participating included: Hitomi Mizugaki and Angel Ramirez of Cuemby; Nima Schei of Hummingbirds AI; Ania Clara Rodriguez of JourneyTrack; Michael Zwerner of Seekr; Micah Petersen and Jared McCluskey of  The Mirror; and Joe Russo of Emergency Ventures.  

“Being in one place with hundreds of founders and investors is powerful. Casual chats would lead to business conversations, introductions to potential deals,” said Russo, who collaborated with Melissa Medina and Natalia Martinez Kalinina on the idea to send the startups. Delta picked up the tab.


Grover releases premium product in US

Grover, a global leader for renting consumer electronics on demand, launched its Grover Business Premium in the U.S. following success in Europe. Grover Business Premium allows companies of all sizes to rent top-selling gadgets — including laptops, tablets, cameras, smartphones and more — that fit their business needs on a flexible subscription basis, enabling them to operate more sustainably and cost-efficiently as they scale. This new premium offering debuts Grover’s first proprietary software offering in the form of an integrated asset management dashboard that allows users to rent their tech and manage their subscriptions all in one place. 

Grover currently serves more than 10,000 companies across Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Spain. Grover Business Premium customers span the healthcare, software, commerce, marketing, education, real estate, and food and beverage industries, among others. At launch, Grover Business Premium will offer businesses in the U.S. and Europe more than 5,000 products. “We deem technology to be a human right, not just a luxury, and we also understand the pressures that come with growing a business,” said Samantha Selldorff, Vice President, B2B at Grover.

In January, Grover announced it had selected Miami as its US headquarters.


Medtech startup FloSpine is crowdfunding

It’s rather unusual for medical technology company to crowd fund, but that is exactly Boca Raton-based FloSpine is doing. FloSpine is developing spinal fusion implants that the company says can improve outcomes and shorten recovery times for patients with spine conditions.

In preparation for a new spinal impant product launch, the medical device startup launched an investment offering on StartEngine, an equity crowdfunding platform that is backed by Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary. Find the crowd funding campaign here: startengine.com/flospine.

FloSpine, led by founder and CEO Peter Harris,  has three product lines cleared by the FDA and a new product under FSA review. Since its first product launch in 2015, over 20,000 FloSpine products have been implanted in patients around the USA. The bootstrapped startup has generated $1.65 million in revenues 2021. FloSpine participated in the Research Park at FAU’s Global Ventures second-stage entrepreneurial support program.


Opportunity knocks

  • Seaworthy Collective, a Miami-based BlueTech community and venture studio, is opening applications for its flagship Venture Studio program, with cohort 3 launching in March 2023. The venture studio hosts 12-week cohorts that consist of two types of program participants: aspiring founders co-creating new startups and current founders growing existing startups. As the first BlueTech venture studio in the United States, Seaworthy says it works to not only co-create individual solutions, but also build systems of solutions. Current and aspiring founders worldwide are encouraged to apply on the Seaworthy website.
  • Founders have the chance to win $400,000 in investments at eMerge Americas’ Global Startup Showcase in Miami Beach. 100 startups – a mix of university, early-state and later-stage ventures — will be selected to showcase their company at the two-day event April 20-21. Learn more and apply here by Dec. 20
  • FAU Tech Runway is now accepting applications for its Venture Class 11 of its flagship accelerator program. Accepted ventures will receive more than $100,000 worth of entrepreneurial resources and services to build and scale their startups. Find out more and apply here by Nov. 20.


Got news? Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg and email her at [email protected]

Nancy Dahlberg