8+ things to know in #MiamiTech: Big role for Matt Haggman plus news about On.Energy, VC, Betr, Chewy, TokenizeThis, FreshCodes, Magic Leap & more.   


New national leadership role for Matt Haggman

Matt Haggman

Matt Haggman, a longtime leader in the Miami tech community who most recently led Opportunity Miami for the Miami-Dade Beacon Council, has taken on a national role. He’s now Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer for Right to Start, a national nonprofit organization championing entrepreneurship as a civic priority. In the role, he will spearhead the organization’s initiatives to increase its growth throughout the nation and its long-term financial strength and sustainability.

Haggman is best known for his impact during his years as the Miami director at Knight Foundation, where he created and built the foundation’s program that played a key role in propelling Miami’s rapidly growing tech and startup community. During his tenure at Knight, he helped to kickstart or propel Endeavor Miami, which was the first Endeavor affiliate in the United States and continues as a board member; The Idea Center at Miami Dade College; eMerge Americas; LAB Miami; the Center for Black Innovation; Miami Angels; Venture for America in Miami; and many more programs and initiatives.

Most recently, for the past two years he has been an executive vice president of the Beacon Council, where he co-created and led Opportunity Miami, a community-wide initiative focused on imagining the Miami of 2040 and helping the community build it.

Haggman said he is excited to take on this new role to influence the growth of entrepreneurship throughout the nation. “I am an ardent believer in entrepreneurship as a way to transform communities from the ground up. I look forward to having a national impact in this way, while remaining based in Miami and active in the exciting entrepreneurial ecosystem that Miami offers,” he said in a statement.


On.Energy rasies $25M working capital facilty

On.Energy, a Miami-based energy storage system solutions provider, announced this week it has received a a $25 million working capital facility from Lombard Odier Investment Managers. The capital facility follows a $20 million Series B round last summer and $40 million in financing, announced in December, to build out a battery energy storage facility in Texas scheduled to come online in late 2024.

Founded in 2016,  On.Energy develops battery storage systems that make it possible for businesses to store renewable energy, such as wind or solar power, and then release it when the energy is required. The company offers proprietary AI-powered energy management software and in-house analytics for grid-scale projects, enabling its customers – airports, utilities, retail distribution centers and others – to manage energy consumption and reduce their bills, making decarbonization possible and profitable, the company says. In addition to its Miami HQ, OnEnergy has offices in Texas, California, Mexico, Peru, and Chile.

“Across the country, electrical grids are more vulnerable now than ever – particularly as unprecedented growth of low-cost intermittent renewables continues to drive grid decarbonization. Our solutions enable industrial customers and power grids to operate more efficiently while supporting the transition to net zero,” said CEO Alan Cooper, in a statement.

The company plans to use the $25 million to accelerate project development efforts and to expand its U.S. asset base across California and Texas. The financing was designed to support costs typically subject to less-efficient financing in the market today, including site control, engineering and interconnection, and project M&A.

“At Lombard Odier, we believe private assets present a compelling pathway for investing in pure-play climate solution providers, including those who play a pivotal role in the electrification of our economy. We see aligned opportunities to support and accelerate these business models by leveraging our sustainability capabilities,” said Thomas Hohne-Sparborth, Head of Sustainability Research at LOIM.

READ MORE: On.Energy’s battery systems enable businesses to avoid peak energy prices


Report: By VC growth, Miami ranks 16th in world

When measured by growth, South Florida is among the world’s Top 20 venture capital ecosystems, a report by PitchBook finds.

Pitchbook’s new Global VC Ecosystem Dashboard compares the overall development and growth rates in cities across the world. Those with high development scores, such as No. 1 San Francisco, followed by New York, Beijing, Shanghai, LA and Boston, have a strong venture track record. But the report also measured cities with high growth scores –  such as Miami at No. 16 – which are typically emerging tech hubs with fundraising momentum.

With a growth score of 60.5, Miami followed cities including Detroit, Raleigh and Houston. Dubai was No. 1 in the growth ranking. The Miami area attracted $17.9 billion in deal value — much more than the 15 metro areas ahead of it — across 1,975 deals (more than all but one metro area ahead of it) between Q3 of 2017 and Q2 of 2023, the report said. Interestingly, that’s more dollars and deals than many on Pitchbook’s developed ecosystem ranking as well. As for exits, the Miami area saw 116 businesses exiting, together valued at $10.6 billion. Find the report here.

Last year, Startup Genome also ranked Miami as one of the top ecosystems in the world.

READ MORE: Slow start for Q1 South Florida VC but deal count showed strength. Here are the top deals.


Betr Media acquires award-winning NFL podcast ‘Caps Off’

Continuing its expansion of Betr Media, Miami-based Betr Holdings announced the acquisition of the viral award-winning podcast, “Caps Off” into the company’s sports media brand, Betr Media, and the addition of Caps Off co-hosts Adam Tabatchnick and Jack Parodi into the Betr Media family following their highly-successful tenure at The Game Day.

 To date, the duo has grown Caps Off to over 250,000 followers on social media and garnered over 100,000 views per video on TikTok, totaling over 109 million views on social media in 2023. Parodi and Tabatchnik will now leverage Betr Media’s specialized expertise to bolster Caps Off’s next phase of growth, while naturally integrating Betr into the show.

Caps Off joins Betr Media’s roster of shows, which already includes BS w/ Jake Paul and Nickals and Dimes with Bo Nickal. Caps Off launch with Betr Media on April 22. Betr Media, a division of sports betting startup Betr founded by Joey Levy and Jake Paul, the fastest growing sports betting media brand in the United States that has grown to over 6.7 million followers, 3 billion impressions, and 162 million engagements across its social channels since publicly launching in August 2022.

READ MORE: With investors betting on the ‘long game,’ Betr raises $15M at $375M valuation


Chewy launches vet care clinics; first one in Broward

Born in South Florida in 2011, Chewy upended the pet food business by providing online ordering, fast delivery, and personal touches like birthday cards with paintings of the pets. In 2020, the publicly traded company launched a telehealth service for pets and an online pharmacy. Now among the nation’s largest pet supply retailers, Chewy is out to disrupt another traditional pet-related business: veterinarian clinics, reports the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Chewy opened its first brick-and-mortar vet clinic, called Chewy Vet Care, this month in Plantation. Created by the company’s Chewy Health division, the clinic is the first of six scheduled to open this year in the United States. The others will be in Coral Springs, Denver and Atlanta. Read more in the Sun Sentinel.

TokenizeThis 2024 event announces keynotes

Banks, asset managers, blockchains, and tokenization providers are convening on May 9-11 to discuss Real-World-Asset tokenization in an event hosted by Miami startup Security Token Market at the James L. Knight Center in downtown Miami.

The conference, TokenizeThis, will feature a fireside keynote with Former SEC Commissioner Troy Paredes and Former SEC Enforcement Chief (current FIU Law Prof.) Marc Powers as it brings together leading subject matter experts to cover the intersection of tokenization and finance, including the latest regulatory trends and how the landscape for digital assets is evolving.

Another talk will include Carlos Domingo, CEO of Securitize, and Herwig Konings, CEO of Security Token Market, to discuss the advance of institutional adoption for tokenization and what the future of the industry holds and what’s in store for the company’s ambitious plans. Another talk will include how RealT has tokenized hundreds of properties and sold over $100M in tokenized real estate. More information here.


LatAm-based FreshCodes expands to US with Miami hub

FreshCodes is a leading provider of end-to-end IT solutions in Latin America, specializing in software development, cybersecurity and digital transformation. Under the leadership of co-CEOs Luiz Pavao and Fernando Gabas, the company recently announced it is launching operations in the US, with Miami as its hub.

As a part of 5G Global Group, FreshCodes says it has access to the brightest tech talent in Latin America — and the capability to streamline the immigration process for senior tech professionals — “offeMagic Leapring our clients access to a pool of Latin American talent barely tapped by the US market until now,” said Country Manager Diego Galvao.  The Miami team will start small, growing to about five people in coming months.


Magic Leap, SimBioSys join forces to advance cancer care

SimBioSys, a company specializing in spatial biophysics with artificial intelligence  and computational modeling to redefine precision medicine for cancer, announced a strategic collaboration with Magic Leap to explore fusing cutting-edge technologies with the potential of revolutionizing cancer surgery.

SimBioSys and Magic Leap joined forces to integrate SimBioSys’ AI-powered product, TumorSight Viz, with Magic Leap’s augmented reality tech, aiming to revolutionze surgical precision and patient outcomes in cancer care. The first demonstration of the potential of this collaboration was recently on display at the American Society of Breast Surgeons 2024 conference in Orlando.

This collaboration combines SimBioSys’ expertise in medical imaging AI evaluation with Magic Leap’s state-of-the-art augmented reality technology. Together, this collaboration endeavors to empower surgeons with innovative tools that optimize surgical precision, minimize invasiveness, and ultimately improve patient quality of life, the companies said.


Opportunity knocks

  • Deadline today: Miami-Dade Innovation Authority launched its third Public Innovation Challenge: MDIA seeks proposals from local and global early-to-growth stage startup companies with innovative approaches to enhancing cargo visibility at PortMiami, with a focus on public data-based solutions.  Together with PortMiami and Miami-Dade County, MDIA will select at least three startups and provide $100,000 in funding to each company to support pilot testing at the Port so that they can be scaled to others globally. The deadline to submit seaport-related proposals for the third challenge is April 26, 2024. To submit, visit mdia.miami/port.
  • Applications are open for the”Prototype to Product” phase of the Built in Miami Program.  You will learn how to move from user-validated prototypes to creating minimum viable products on your way to taking your idea to the next level. Apply here by May 15.
  • EndeavorLAB Black Founders Cohort: A cohort based program to support underrepresented founders in Florida in building a foundation for scale. Endeavor selects 10 companies following its global selection for high-impact entrepreneurs. Applicants submit an application online. Finalists are interviewed by Endeavor Staff. Apply here by May 3.
  • Apply to pitch at the Florida Venture Forum’s Early Stage Venture Conference June 4-5 in Orlando and compete for $300K in prize money and capital investment as well as investors’ attention. Apply by May 10 here.
  • The Spring 2024 Growth Cohort for the Florida Atlantic Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program runs from May 2 – June 6th and is for veteran-owned startups that are generating any amount of revenue. The program provides training, mentorship and is fully funded by Veterans Florida and facilitated by the FAU Adams Center for Entrepreneurship. This is also open to the veteran’s spouses.  Apply here by May 2.


Have news to report? Email Nancy Dahlberg at [email protected] and follow her on X @ndahlberg. Subscribe to Refresh Miami’s free weekly newsletter here.  

Nancy Dahlberg