6+ things to know in #MiamiTech: News from Aplós, Next Tier Ventures, BrainStation, 4Geeks, Intuitive Robotics, Numatec, Alteon, Global Ventures & more


Miami-based Aplós, maker of non-alcoholic spirits, raises $5.5M

Aplós, a non-alcoholic spirits maker, has raised a $5.5 million Series A funding round. The Miami-based startup said it will use the funding round, led by McCarthy Capital, for distribution expansion in bars, restaurants and retail locations.

Aplós was born out of a desire to reimagine the cocktail occasion for a new era — to create non-alcoholic spirits that provide an experience, quality, and functional effect on par with the world’s most sophisticated traditional spirits,” David Fudge, co-founder and CEO of Aplós, said in a statement.

As an alcohol alternative, Aplós developed a mixologist-crafted, non-alcoholic spirits infused with sustainable, organically-grown broad-spectrum hemp. It was designed to be an alcohol alternative without the calories and hangover. Indeed, Fudge told TechCrunch that he launched the company in 2020, alongside Emily Onkey and Jessica Manley, because he’s always been a “reluctant drinker” and wanted to create a product that gave the same relaxation benefits and vibes of alcohol but without the next-day hangover.

Sales of low- and no-alcohol beverages are small compared to the  nearly $200 billion U.S. alcohol market, but the category benefits from consumers who value healthier lifestyles and are less likely to imbibe regularly, Food Dive reported. According to a 2022 Gallup survey, 60% of adult Americans drink alcohol, down from 65% in 2019.

“We want the sophistication, complexity, versatility and functionality of a high-end spirit. That’s something that we didn’t see in the market,” said Fudge, who has worked as a marketer and manager at global corporations as well as startups in Miami and New York.


Next Tier Ventures launches in Miami to back AI

Next Tier Ventures, based in Miami and Valencia, Spain, will focus its activity on artificial intelligence startups in Europe, the USA, and Latin America. The new firm says that by building a strategic bridge between the two cities, it can help startups born global to scale.

The firm is led by General Managers Patricia Pastor and Ruben Colomer, who were initiators of the first ecosystems created in Spain. “We have always liked to ride the upcoming wave, and we have already surfed quite a few, but this one will deeply impact our lifestyle, our economy; it will be a paradigm shift, and this commitment is to live it from its beginnings, which gives us an advantage,” says Pastor. In 2022, global private investment in artificial intelligence reached $136.5 billion.

“After 5 years of investing in Artificial Intelligence, and seeing the emerging generative AI startups, we realize that the impact will be as significant as the Internet in the ‘90s, and we want to be part of this new future,” adds Colomer.


BrainStation, 4Geeks Academy offer AI, machine learning training

Two tech training schools in Miami now have AI and machine learning in their curriculum – no prior experience with AI or coding is required.

BrainStation has launched a new course to help professionals develop their skills with artificial intelligence (AI) tools. The breakthrough course is designed to provide participants with a comprehensive understanding of the latest AI technologies and tools such as generative AI and ChatGPT, enabling them to apply this knowledge in a variety of industries and applications.

The live, instructor-led course will initially be offered online through a blend of lectures, interactive workshops, and hands-on projects. In the coming months, it will be offered in person at BrainStation global campuses including Miami, New York and London. Participants will learn how to use popular AI frameworks and explore advanced techniques such as deep learning and neural networks. “We are working to ensure the Miami workforce has the skills needed,” says Johanna Mikkola, VP and GM of Brainstation Miami (formerly Wyncode).

BrainStation’s AI course is open to professionals from all industries and backgrounds, and no prior experience in AI or programming is required. More info:: brainstation.io/course/online/artificial-intelligence.

Miami-based 4Geeks Academy, the coding bootcamp that has graduated 4,000 students over the years, announced the launch of its Data Science and Machine Learning bootcamp. The part-time online program takes 16 weeks to complete and requires no previous coding experience.

The first cohort will begin July 24 and will cover such topics as machine learning, data cleaning, statistical analysis and data visualization.

“The data science field is rapidly growing, and we are excited to help our students tap into this exciting,  lucrative market. Our program is taught by experienced data scientists and provides our students with real-world projects, giving them the skills and confidence to succeed in their careers,” said Marcelo Ricigliano, CEO of 4 Geeks Academy. More info about the Data Science and Machine Learning bootcamp here.  


AI care companion coming to Broward’s seniors

The Area Agency on Aging of Broward County (AAABC), the nonprofit planning and funding programs to meet the needs of over 476,486 Broward seniors, is partnering with Israeli tech company Intuition Robotics to add ElliQ, an AI care companion, to the agency’s Senior Technology Programs. This AI will be free for eligible seniors under this new program.

ElliQ has a digital display and a light-up “head” that moves and reacts to users’ conversations. Voice-activated, ElliQ is designed to help older adults live happier, healthier, more connected lives while maintaining independence. ElliQ aids seniors with health and wellness support, such as medication reminders, as well as entertainment and compnionship with trivia and cognitive games. They can also stay connected to family and friends through video calling, audio and text messaging and notification to primary contact(s) with consent if concerns arise. ElliQ learns and remembers customized interactions and uses humor and a friendly nature to build a meaningful connection with the user.

“We have long recognized the significance of technology in keeping older adults connected and engaged with their communities,” said Charlotte Mather-Taylor, CEO of AAABC. “This device does not replace interactions with human caretakers, but it can facilitate communication and focus on what matters to all of us: memories, family and friends, good health and humor.” Learn more here.


Numatec acquires Hex to fuel US expansion

Numatec, a global holding company now with 11 media and marketing technology ventures, has acquired HEX (also known as Hispanic Exchange). HEX, a certified Google publishing partner, delivers 100% operated publishing inventory, and leverages a large audience network to help brands reach the critical Hispanic demographic. HEX offers first-look bid requests and access to first-party data, among other features. The Miami-based Numatec has expanded exponentially in recent years, both through organic growth, as well as strategic acquisitions like HEX.

As part of the acquisition, NUMATEC garners exclusive sales rights to Unidad Editorial and its massive sports platform, Marca.com. Newly appointed HEX CEO Alexandre Jordão, who has held top management positions at Microsoft and LinkedIn, will scale the venture by hiring dedicated teams in top Latino markets, including Miami, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago and New York.


More tech and startup news to note

  • Alteon.io hires veteran Apple, Magic Leap leader: Alteon.io, a cloud-based platform that streamlines creative workflows for content creators of all backgrounds, has hired Brian Meaney as its new Head of Product, direct product development and user experience for the Alteon ecosystem, including digital asset management, direct NLE integrations, cloud-based transcoding and creative collaboration. Meaney previously spent 18 years at Apple, where he rose from product designer to lead designer and later senior manager of UX design for all video applications, including Final Cut Pro X, Motion, Compressor and iMovie. After leaving Apple, Meaney moved to South Florida to spend nearly four years with R company Magic Leap as a principal interaction designer and senior director of UX for all apps. In another development, Alteon.io announced it now supports augmented and virtual reality projects, allowing users to store, preview and collaborate on USDZ and other 3D formats remotely. “We believe in empowering creatives with the tools they need to push boundaries and unlock new possibilities,” said Matt Cimaglia, co-founder and CEO of Alteon. [Read about Alteon’s recent funding here.]
  • 4 startups make soft landings at Global Ventures: The Research Park at Florida Atlantic University’s soft-landing entrepreneur support initiative, Global Ventures at Florida Atlantic, welcomed four new companies into its incubator program that serves growing international and domestic startups with annual sales of at least $750,000 and at least six  employees in the healthtech and smart systems technologies spaces. They have all opened offices at Global Ventures, too. The companies are: Biobeat Medical of Israel, which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to provide actionable insights for patient care; Ecosign Technologies, a spin-off of Contech Brazil, that aims to provide innovative solutions for industrial sectors working towards a more sustainable future; Isolab USA, a German company providing products for applications and research activities in universities, institutions, laboratories and home use; and South Florida-based Triangulate Labs, which created Skinmap for the early detection of skin cancer.
  • 8base names tech industry veterans to board: 8base, creator of a leading full-stack low-code development platform that enables developers to rapidly build and deploy enterprise-grade applications, announced the appointment of two new board members. Carly Brantz is the former Chief Marketing Officer at Digital Ocean and Vice President of Revenue Marketing of SendGrid. Connie Kwan is the former head of product for marketplace at Atlassian and current CEO of Product Maestro. “We are confident that their insights and expertise will play a significant role in the next phase of 8base’s evolution,” said founder and CEO Albert Santalo.


Opportunity knocks

  • Want to build a career in tech but facing financial barriers? The Ironhack x eMerge Americas Community Impact Scholarship can help you break down those barriers and launch your dream career. Apply here.
  •  Venture Miami  and The Shrimp Society have partnered up to launch the Built in Miami Startup Program, a year-long initiative designed to support early-stage entrepreneurs in Miami. The Built in Miami Startup Program, free for participants, will feature three tracts for entrepreneurs at each stage of their startup journey: the Zero to One Sprint program, the Builders Summer Series, and the Miami Startup Accelerator. Applications for the Zero to One Startup Sprint are now open and can be accessed via builtmiami.com 
  • 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.
  • Techstars Miami Powered by J.P. Morgan focuses on accelerating founders’ efforts in finding product-market fit, fundraising, and recruiting. The accelerator is accepting applications for its in-person Miami accelerator program beginning Sept. 11 and ending with a Demo Day on Dec. 7. Apply here by June 7.
  • Miami Dade College is accepting applications for the next Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program beginning Sept. 12 at the Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus. The program is open to business owners with ventures that have been in operation for at least two years and earned $75,000 or more in revenue during the most recent fiscal year. Apply here by June 13.


Send news tips to Nancy Dahlberg at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @ndahlberg

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Nancy Dahlberg