Miami Tech & Startup News

How South Florida entrepreneurs are navigating the COVID-19 'new normal'

How South Florida entrepreneurs are navigating the COVID-19 'new normal'


We are a week or two into our COVID-19 self-isolation (I know, it feels like longer). This is the first of a regular roundup of news about startups and organizations in the South Florida tech community navigating the coronavirus pandemic in different ways. Please send items for consideration to [email protected] and please stay safe and healthy out there.

GIVING BACK: DeliverLean and Alonzo Mourning team up to feed Overtown’s kids 

DeliverLean, one of the nation’s largest healthy meal delivery companies, launched a partnership with Alonzo Mourning and the Overtown Youth Center to provide free meals to kids and families in need. “We are committed to donating up to 1,500 meals weekly as part of this partnership to give back to the community for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said founder and CEO Scott Harris on LinkedIn.

Overtown Youth Center, a youth development organization that provides year-round program services to youth, and DeliverLean Cares, the charitable division of DeliverLean, have partnered to help the South Florida community during the novel Coronavirus pandemic. Harris, an Endeavor Entrepreneur, and Overtown Youth Center funder and NBA Hall-of-Famer Alonzo Mourning have entered into this long term partnership to dedicate resources to several new initiatives.

Beginning Wednesday, March 25, through the duration of the pandemic crisis, DeliverLean and Overtown Youth Center will offer free breakfast and lunch at Gibson Park located at 401 NW 12th Street, Miami, FL 33136 starting at 9AM and ending at 1 PM. Meals will be offered on a first come, first served basis every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

“I have never been more worried about the basic needs and fate of children and families as I am today,” said Mourning, in a statement. “In communities where our programs are located, the average income is less than $35,000 per family and over 70% of children are raised by single parents. We are extremely grateful to thought leaders like DeliverLean and Scott Harris who have committed to providing thousands of meals to the Overtown Youth Center and Honey Shine during this global crisis.”

Additionally, DeliverLean is working with Overtown Youth Center to identify individuals who have lost jobs as a result of the pandemic, and offer them positions at DeliverLean’s Hollywood facility. “Alonzo Mourning and our teams are investing in our community during this difficult time, ensuring our children, families and elderly are taken care of and come out of this crisis stronger,” Harris said. 

DeliverLean, based in Hollywood,  has also been tapped by Miami-Dade County to deliver free meals to senior citizens because senior activity centers were closed. Harris told the South Florida Business Journal he would be hiring for 150 full- and part-time positions to meet demand.

Alonzo Mourning and Scott Harris give our free meals on first day.

INNOVATING: Chilean company in Miami develops field sample collection kit for COVID-19

Chilean company GenoSUR, which has an office in CIC Miami as part of CIC’s soft-landing program, has developed a portable medical device/field sample collection kit for COVID-19, helping infected patients to avoid the emergency room. The device inactivates pathogens found in the sample, such as viruses, bacteria or fungus, and allows the sample to be transported without cold storage. By doing so, it solves critical problems that most countries face when diagnosing COVID-19.

Matías Gutiérrez

GenoSUR has been working in medical device R&D since 2017, with a special focus on genetic material and pathogens sampling. CEO and founder Matías Gutiérrez, a biochemist and PhD in Biotechnology from Universidad de Chile, said that GenoSUR started with remote molecular diagnostic devices in 2017 when they developed a genetic analysis kit for a US company. Seeing the quick advance of COVID-19, they decided to join forces with Grupo Cellus and Gene X-press and create a solution for the crisis.

 “We just connected the dots, the technology was done. We are living a global emergency and Chilean innovation can help face this pandemic,” the CEO said.

The device is manufactured in Chile. The company has sold 1 million of the kits to the Chilean Ministry of Health, and has received international interest. GenoSUR hired nearly 70 people to meet demand.

GenSUR is part of the first generation of the Go Global innovation program, a ProChile and CORFO initiative that looks to guide entrepreneurs and ease their arrival in innovation hubs such as the United States. Today they are based in Miami, where they own a laboratory and are part the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) Miami.

Health-tech is one of the areas that ProChile is focused on supporting, while facilitating the entry of Chilean companies into the North American market. Given the situation, the fact that a Chilean company is responding so fast and efficiently to a global contingency, sets an important example and generates confidence in the industry ” adds Germán Rocca, Commercial Director of ProChile in Miami.

“This is a compelling example of the role Miami can play as a regional hub of innovation and exchange. It brings us great pride that GenoSUR is a company that landed in Miami through our soft-landing partnerships and exchange programs at CIC Miami, and we take this as a testament of not just the great entrepreneurial and research work happening across Latin America, but of how imperative it is to create tangible and bidirectional bridges with this work,” said Natalia Martinez-Kalinina, CIC Miami General Manager & Latin America Lead.

BANDING TOGETHER: 1909 incubator finds novel ways to support one another during crisis.

 The West Palm Beach-based 2 community incubator 1909 has been creatively developing initiatives to help its members navigate these uncertain virtual gathering. Since implementing precautionary measures to keep members safe, the group, mostly entrepreneurs and small business owners, took time to share ideas around how to support each other and mitigate challenges they’ve been facing in their new remote environment. 

In the spirit of bolstering confidence and fostering connection, 1909 members created a Quarantine Journal using an app by bundlelQ, a startup founded by entrepreneur and 1909 member Nicholas Mohnacky. This journal has served as a safe place of solace where members share thoughts, expressions, doubts, positivity, and pain. Members have been providing small business services at no cost, offering skillshare classes, and extending their time to help with content creation, design, and technical support. 

Beyond all of the business doing, thoughtfulness is the conduit that binds them together, Mohnacky said. For example,1909’s musician friends have been left without an audience due to venue closures, but not without a new way forward. While leveraging technology to create unique experiences, the creation of an online artist series is the new center stage. You can tune into a set, such as the one created by artist Kevin Olivera, and offer a donation using Venmo. 

“1909 is all about bringing people together, so it pains us to be physically distanced from everyone for the time being. Thankfully, many of our members are staying connected and supporting one another through our virtual calls and digital tools,” said 1909 Executive Director Shana Ostrovitz. 1909 has more than 200 members.




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