We’ve got a run of company news bites in today’s 5 things to know, plus a couple of hot opportunities for college students.

1 Moving on up: Nearpod enters higher ed

You’ll continue to find this South Florida startup at the head of the ed-tech class.

This week, Nearpod launched Nearpod for Higher Education. After already creating the nation’s most comprehensive Student Engagement Platform used by some 7 million K-12 students, the Dania Beach-based education technology company is broadening access to all universities. This follows a successful pilot with top universities and seeing proven benefits in the schools of Health Sciences, Business, Law and Education, the company said.

“This extension into higher education is a natural fit for us and we’re excited to help colleges and universities bring more engagement to learning – especially with the changing demographics of post-secondary learners,” said Felipe Sommer, co-founder and Chief Operating Officer at Nearpod. “Plus, with pedagogy baked into our platform, subject matter experts can more easily transform into great instructors regardless of their instructional background.”  

A recent study gives weight to Nearpod’s latest expansion. According to the 2018 National Survey of Student Engagement, 88% of first-year college students and 89% of seniors believed technology considerably contributed to their understanding of course materials and ideas. What’s more, 92% of first-year college students and 93% of seniors shared the belief that technology contributed significantly to their learning, studying or completion of their coursework on their own. Yet only 52% of first-year college students and seniors believed their institution emphasized that professors teach with new, cutting-edge technologies. 

Nearpod for Higher Education gives instructors one streamlined place for content, interactive exercises and formative assessments while allowing instructors to provide immediate feedback on student outcomes. The platform also brings educators the ability to engage every learner and turns devices into opportunities for active participation rather than distractions, the company said. The platform is free to students.

Nearpod, named EdTech Digest’s Company of the Year in 2018, recently acquired Flocabulary, a learning platform that helps students thrive by bringing K-12 curriculum to life through hip-hop.

READ MORE ON REFRESH: Catching up with Nearpod and a Q&A with CEO Guido Kovalskys

2 Blockchain logistics startup makes leadership change

Founded in 2018 and headquartered in Sunrise,  dexFreight is developing a decentralized, blockchain-based logistics platform that allows shippers, carriers and other supply chain stakeholders to transact and collaborate more efficiently, transparently and securely. This week the startup announced new leadership.

Jim Handoush will serve as its President and CEO. In his new role, Handoush will focus on strengthening and expanding the use of dexFreight’s technology. Previously, he served as the Executive Vice President of Transportation and Logistics Solutions at Optym, a global software development leader that provides optimization solutions to transportation companies; and held multiple executive roles in Landstar System, Inc, a worldwide, asset-light provider of integrated transportation management solutions.

“dexFreight is shrinking the gap between shippers, carriers and brokers by continually developing its blockchain solution and tools that reduce costs, improve productivity and increase revenue and profitability,” Handoush said, in a news release. “I look forward to bringing dexFreight’s vision to supply chain stakeholders and to having a positive impact on transportation and logistics operations in markets around the globe.”

With the appointment of Handoush, dexFreight CEO and co-founder Rajat Rajbhandari will assume the role of Chief Information Officer and focus on market research and fostering relationships with governmental and academic institutions.  “As our technology continues to mature, the timing is perfect for someone like Jim Handoush to step in and take the helm. His keen interest in innovation and deep experience will drive our growth in the coming years,” Rajbhandari said.

dexFreight has 25 employees and its platform is in beta, the company said.

3 Secberus expands to Silicon Valley

Secberus, a Miami-based cloud security startup, announced it has expanded its operations to Sunnyvale, Calif., to work with Fortune 500 companies looking to adopt cloud security posture management technology.

In August, Plug and Play Tech Center in Silicon Valley selected Secberus to be part of Batch 4 of its Cybersecurity Accelerator Program, giving the company direct access to Plug and Play’s corporate innovation partners.

Founded in 2017 and headed by CEO and co-founder Fausto Lendeborg, Secberus provides a real-time cloud security posture management (CSPM) & compliance reporting platform that enables DevSecOps engineers to audit and enforce their security configuration across multiple public cloud platforms.

Secberus was also recently one of six startups featured by Refresh Miami at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco.

4 Student entrepreneurship contest sweetens the prize pot

Eloise Gonzalez of EO SOFLO and Commercial Interior Contractors with last year’s local GSEA winner, Hannah King of Woven Futures, at MDC Idea Center.

We bet that Hannah King of Woven Futures was happy she entered last year’s local Global Student Entrepreneur Awards for university student entrepreneurs. This year, the winnings are more robust – with the local round winner getting $5,000 cash and heading to the nationals, which will be held at the Startup Grind Global Conference in Silicon Valley. The national winner will compete for a global prize worth $100,000 in Cape Town, South Africa next April.

But hurry. To compete, entries must be received by Oct. 31.

The South Florida chapter of Entrepreneurs’ Organization, one of the country’s largest chapters, is calling for local entries in the first round of the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards, a competition that will ultimately involve college students from more 50 countries

 “GSEA is a wonderful opportunity for a young entrepreneur to help his or her business blossom,” said Eloise Gonzalez of Commercial Interior Contractors and EO chairperson for the GSEA competition. “Each year so many fresh, new business ideas are presented at GSEA, and we’re very proud to help these start-ups find success.”   

After an initial review of entries, local finalists will be chosen to pitch their business plans at the Miami Dade College Idea Center to the panel of judges and top South Florida business owners, including Gonzalez; EO SOFLO president and Premier Protection Insurance founder Jerry Katz; incoming EO SOFLO president and Sudsies founder Jason Loeb; Dave Kustin and Wendy Lieber of ContentBacon; Mark Sanna of Breakthrough Coaching; Aryan Rashed of Jet Set Pilates and Patxi Pastor of Mission Resolve Foundation.

To be eligible for GSEA, entrants must be: an undergraduate student currently enrolled at a recognized university or college; the owner/controlling shareholder of the business and principally responsible for its operation.  The company must be structured ‘for-profit’ and have generated $500 or received $1,000 in investments by the time of application, and have been in business for at least six consecutive months. 

Additional eligibility requirements, entry forms and other details can be found at www.gsea.org.

5 FIU offers new program for entrepreneurs, with scholarships for students

Florida International University’s new Developing High-Potential Ventures with Skills – Not Venture Capital program is specially designed for South Florida entrepreneurs, technologists and students in South Florida who wants to create and control wealth by starting and scaling a growth venture. Scholarships are available for college students.

Participants in the 10-month program will learn about the finance-smart skills, secrets and strategies of “unicorn entrepreneurs,” those who have taken their ventures from startups to firms worth at least $1 billion, as well as mini-unicorn entrepreneurs who have built their companies from startups to firms worth more than $100 million.

The program’s seminars will help participants develop the right organizational and leadership skills, maximize sales with capital-efficiency, launch a venture, and grow their business without venture capital. The program, offered online and at FIU’s MMC campus, will be led by Dileep Rao, an FIU Business clinical professor of entrepreneurship who previously was a venture financier for 23 years.

“What I learned is that 94 percent of America’s unicorn firms didn’t need venture capital to take off. They developed the right growth opportunity, designed the right finance-smart strategy, learned the skills needed to grow with control, and took off without venture capital. These strategies and skills can help all entrepreneurs,” Rao said.

The program begins Oct. 22, 2019 with a free “Introduction to Unicorn Entrepreneurship.” That is followed by an all-day workshop and eight three-hour evening skill-training seminars held monthly through June 2020. Rao teaches the program along other South Florida experts who have launched, advised, financed or built unicorns or mini-unicorn companies, FIU said.

The workshop and full seminar series is priced at $250 for the general public and $125 for FIU alumni and South Florida college students. Pricing for the workshop only is $150 for the general public and $75 for alumni and South Florida college students.

50 full-fee scholarships are available to current South Florida university students. Find out more here.

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Nancy Dahlberg

I am a writer, editor and a leader with extensive media experience and a passion for journalism and serving the community. Most of my career has been spent with the Miami Herald in business news, and my expertise is writing about entrepreneurs. I'm also good at research and project planning. I enjoy running community-focused projects and utilizing social media. Contact me at ndahlbergbiz@gmail.com
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