7+ things to know in #MiamiTech: The lowdown on Startup Showdown, Michael Sayman’s book talk, Thermaband’s backer; & much more


And the Startup Showdown winner is … a two-fer!

It was a kickoff to Startup Pitch Season to be remembered: More than 500 people packed into Le Rouge for the Startup Showdown, Panoramic Venture Capital’s high-energy competition and #MiamiTech party, Miami-style. But the Panoramic team did something they have never done before at  any of their Startup Showdown events: Startup Showdown had promised there would be one winner of a $120K investment prize but the judges couldn’t couldn’t do it.

So instead, the judges —  Paul Judge, Ana Paula Gonzalez, Brian Brackeen, Chris Adamo and Mark Buffington —  chose two winners Thursday night. Each startup will receive a $120K investment from Panoramic.

If you are a frequent reader of Refresh – and we hope you are! – you already know about one of the night’s winners: Defy Trends, the crypto education/information platform founded by four women – Imge Su Cetin, Elena Garidis, Daniela Henao Moreno, and Masha Prusso. Defy Trends aims to provide a holistic solution for understanding how the crypto market works, by developing products, a community, and educational content about crypto. ICYMI: You can read our Refresh spotlight about Defy Trends here.

The other big winner is the homegrown South Florida startup Virtual Badge, co-founded by Georges Duplessy (pictured at top of post)  and John Simion and a graduate of EndeavorLab. Virtual Badge, a single source for managing people and risk, is an enterprise solution initially focused on the construction industry that aims to make sure workers are fully trained to be safe and compliant before they show up to the worksite. Virtual Badget (Note to the founders: we’re coming after you for a profile).

The other finalists were Doctor Allways, Gemini Sports, Kazmaleje and Medblue, all Miami area startups.


Michael Sayman’s book launch talk is Sunday

Michael Sayman, a Kendall native who taught himself how to build apps as a kid and became Facebook’s youngest employee at age 17, is now a 25-year-old senior product manager at Roblox and living in South Florida once again. Some OGs may remember when he pitched his wildly popular smartphone game 4Snaps at a MiamTech event as a teen before Zuck lured him to the Valley.  

He is the author of a new memoir, App Kid, and will be sharing his story and discussing the future of #MiamiTech Sunday afternoon at 2 pm with Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniela Levine Cava. The Books & Books event is virtual and you are invited: RSVP here.



Barry’s makes Miami HQ relocation official

Barry’s, the popular fitness chain with a large #MiamiTech following, is relocating its HQ to Miami from Los Angeles, the Commercial Observer reported this week. The company, formerly known as Barry’s Bootcamp, is seeking about 10,000 square feet in Wynwood, having already toured office buildings 545 Wyn and Gateway at Wynwood. 


Thermaband is now backed by Google

Thermaband’s mother-daughter duo Debbie and Markea Dickinson are on a mission to create a tech innovation to help solve the most human of issues: keeping cool during menopause. The Weston-based startup was selected for the second cohort of the Google for Startups US Black Founders Fund. The selected startups receive up to $100,000 in non-dilutive funding, as well technical support from tools and teams across Google, and up to $120,000 in donated ads from Google.org and up to $100,000 in Google Cloud credits.

 “We’ve seen that the fund has a catalytic effect for founders when raising capital after they receive these awards. In less than a year, our first group of founders [from 76 startups] went on to collectively raise more than $50 million in funding. In addition, about 80% of the founders used the awards to create jobs and reported the fund has helped grow their revenues,” said Jewel Burks, head of Google for Startups US. That’s a good thing, because Thermaband is raising a seed round.

ICYMI: Reed our Refresh Spotlight on Thermaband here.


Aerosens selected as MassChallenge finalist

Miami-based Aerosens, which creates IoT solutions for the aviation industry, was selected as a finalist for this year’s MassChallenge 2021. Founder and CEO Maria Esther Martinez reports that Aerosens is among the 15 finalists in her cohort for MassChallenge, a prestigious global accelerator. All together 45 startups have qualified to compete in final judging for $1M in non-equity prizes. Meet all of the #MC21 top startup finalists here. Winners will be announced Oct. 28.


Winner of MiamiCoin hackathon has a solution for use of proceeds

Miami Voice, a demo app created by Drew Falkman, is a MiamiCoin app that allows users to propose ideas and vote on how Miami should spend their funds raised through MIA mining – now at $8.8 million and counting. More specifically, Miami Voice users can review and vote on existing proposals on how Miami’s municipal government should spend their MiamiCoin protocol contributions or create and share their own proposals. Falkman won the hackathon (and $20K in Bitcoin). Check it out here at miamivoice.org.


Opportunity Knocks

  • Endeavor Miami is now accepting applications for the fourth cohort of its accelerated growth program, EndeavorLAB. The two-month program will focus on female-entrepreneurship and equipping female founders with the right tools and skills to scale their ventures, thus fostering local economic growth.   But hurry, the deadline to apply is Oct. 5. For more information and to apply, go here.  
  • The Latinx Travel Club, a digital media company highlighting the beauty, power & diversity of Latinx people, are hosting on October 15 – 17 its inaugural Summit  at the Lab Miami. The Summit will aim to provide LatinX entrepreneurs with a curated guest list from entertainment and industry leading panels on tech, travel, media, and startup investing.
  • Eligible businesses in Miami and Broward Counties can apply for a $10,000 grant at www.ComcastRISE.com. A total of 100 grants will be awarded in November 2021. The Investment Fund is an extension of Comcast RISE, the multi-year, multi-faceted initiative launched in October 2020 to support startups and small businesses owned by people of color and provide the resources and tools they need today and in the future. The deadline is Oct. 14. Apply here.
  • Calling all university startups: You can enter your startup in the AWS US University Startup Competition for the opportunity to win an equity-free cash prize to help fund your venture. The deadline is Nov. 1. Apply here.

ICYMI on Refresh last week:

Nancy Dahlberg