#MiamiTech Everything: Seen and heard in April

By Refresh Miami

Who needs sleep? The Refresh Miami Team has been out and about. Here are a few highlights:

Endeavor showcases power of their entrepreneur network

It was a demo day, but with a twist. Instead of the typical rotation of one-sided presentations where you can ask a question if you’re lucky, Endeavor gave their founders a better opportunity to impress the crowd. 

The entrepreneur support organization created a ‘speed dating’ style event April 15 where the 10 startups from their Endeavor Lab Latinx Founders Cohort each had seven minutes to pitch to 20 entrepreneurs, investors, and ecosystem enablers, split up into groups of two. The idea: to give founders a better opportunity to connect with the companies, while giving the pitchees more chances to add meaningful value in the moment.

Sponsored by JP Morgan Chase & Co. and Dell for Startups, the program included a wide variety of participants including logistics platform iTruckr, fintech Onyx, and cybersecurity tool Securily.

It takes a network like Endeavor to help founders through all stages because entrepreneurship is hard, a reality that doesn’t always get showcased, said Claudia Duran, Managing Director of Endeavor Miami and North America. In a packed Endeavor Miami event the following evening, two Endeavor Entrepreneurs – Steven Galanis of Cameo and Rodrigo Bernardinelli of Digibee [shown above] – gave some real talk about the tough times and finding the resilience to get through it.

Galanis uses a Japanese framework that says you should be working on the thing that’s at the intersection of what you love to do, what you are good at, what the world needs and what you can get paid for. “It gives you an Iron Man heart, that perpetual motion machine to help you power through the good times and bad.”

During Covid, with actors and athletes not working, Cameo was the fastest growing consumer marketplace in the world. But Cameo hired too quickly – to 400 at its height – and in all the wrong ways. As the company began to struggle in the post-Covid world, the company culture was crumbling when he needed it most, Galanis said, and he had to make the hard decisions on headcount. Now the business is profitable and growing, and business is back up to 80-85% of what it was in the peak, but with 1/10th of the employees.

Bernardinelli shed light on the importance of the pivot – it saved his company. Born in Brazil, Digibee didn’t start out selling enterprise software for large enterprises, but started in organic foods in Brazil and then a fully automated ecommerce platform for small businesses “and we failed miserably.” Then, he said, “we started listening to our mentors … and decided to focus on one thing that we did well that was connected to our experience … and Digibee started to flourish.” Digibee tackled the US market, but with the advice and support of his family, his mentors such as Endeavor – and his board. “As tough as they are, they are making me become a better CEO, and I am committed to be the CEO that my company needs.” – Riley Kaminer and Nancy Dahlberg

Miami Tech Week Demo Day brings out the best

Miami Tech Week events brought plenty of opportunities to pitch, but there’s nothing quite like being in the spotlight in a Demo Day. Eight seed stage companies – JobPixel, Wondera, Rella, Hextronics, Kontigo, STXT, OpenHome and Manifest – took the Betr boxing ring-turned-stage on April 11 in the third annual Miami Tech Week Demo Day put on by Flex, Miami Hack Week and 305 Ventures.

It was the chance to get in front of prominent investors Delian Asparouhov (Founders Fund), Howard Lerman (Roam/Yext), Maggie Vo (Fuel Venture Capital), Marell Evans (Exceptional/SoftBank) and Zaid Rayman, (305 Ventures and Flex), who were the judges – and the crowd of over a hundred people. Multiple companies received investment interest from the judges, a spokeswoman said.

Photo by Aaron Sirak

READ MORE IN REFRESH: Miami Hack Week 2024: Parties, meetups, and the innovative tech that won over the judges

 The future of AI, every Tuesday

Artificial intelligence engineers, entrepreneurs, and enthusiasts descended upon The HUB at Office Logic for GPTuesday. Organizers have run this weekly event and online community since June as a way to coalesce #MiamiTech around AI. Sometimes there’s a presentation, sometimes there’s a Q&A with an expert, sometimes there’s an open mic-style conversation. (When we went, Oracle Senior Software Engineer Michael Friedberg shared his insights into autonomous software systems such as AI agents and AI swarms, presenting an open-source agentic AI software engineer platform called Devika.) One thing’s constant though: ample networking opportunities for those interested in the past, present, and future of AI. – Riley Kaminer

Madrid makes its case for us to make the Spanish capital our European home away from home

We’ve talked about the extensive connections between Miami and Madrid’s tech scenes before – a relationship that seems to continue to grow. Latest case in point: the Madrid Investment Forum. The Invest in Madrid team flew in to share the highlights on why it makes sense for local companies to expand into the 450 million person European market through Madrid.

A notable advantage for the #MiamiTech scene is Madrid’s 30,000+ square foot gaming campus, Madrid in Game. An effort sponsored by the Madrid City Hall, the campus aims to connect gaming startups with top talent.

Talent was a major theme in the Wednesday morning event, with Madrid having one of the highest concentrations of university graduates in Europe. The roughly 300,000 professionals in Madrid’s high-tech sector are eager to work at salaries significantly lower than equivalent in the US, providing a potential solution to Miami’s talent shortage. To sweeten the deal, Spain and Madrid have a smattering of tax and R&D incentives to further increase the lure of the Iberian peninsula. – Riley Kaminer

Miami Tech Month can be family friendly too

Apart from 250 enthusiastic exhibitors at Maker Faire Miami this weekend, including local favorites such as the Battlebot arena, Florida International University, Miami Dade College, Kids Robot Academy, and Code/Art, participants also got to see live build-a-thons in action by Infento, an international startup that provides build-your-own electric vehicle kits.

Infento’s exhibition, organized by Max Ringelheim, had four local schools participating in a weekend-long build-a-thon, where nearly 60 students, teachers, and parents (selected beforehand) built and designed a Formula 1 electric racecar using Infento’s product line. The participating schools included iTech Edison (who also had their own booth displaying their tech projects), Rockway Middle School (the only school that had never used Infento’s kit before), Ruben Dario Middle School, and Hialeah Gardens High School. This year, Hialeah Gardens High School came in first place, iTech came in second place, and Ruben Dario Middle School came in third place. Five judges across the industry and Miami Tech community judged the winners.

Participants also heard from renowned artist Jen Schachter, who dove into a conversation about her passion for large-scale art projects, and highlighted her journey that led her into the creative industry. Participants also saw Jen Foxbot (Fox) perform a live-coding demo, showing off a project featuring artificial intelligence that allowed users to have conversations in Spanish.

In total, Maker Faire Miami saw more than 3,000 attendees throughout the weekend. In the Battlebot arena, 38 teams battled to the death, with robots weighing between 1-5 pounds. Over 10 schools were actively participating in robotics, STEAM, and hands-on activities, with all attendees connecting and networking across the Watsco Center. – Krysten Brenlla

Enjoy the rest of Miami Tech Everything!

This report may be updated.


Nancy Dahlberg