By Nancy Dahlberg
1 The HERImpact Miami winners are …
Five female social entrepreneurs from South Florida competed in the ‘Shark Tank’-style virtual event this week for $50,000 in cash prizes and in-kind support. After the judges voted, Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of the company, and 1863 Ventures announced the winners of HI-HERImpact Miami Pitch Competition:
- First Place: Anastasia Mikhalochkina, Lean Orb - Awarded $25,000 (Growth stage)
- Second Place: Adrienne C. McWilliams, Bridge - Awarded $20,000 (Growth stage)
- Third Place: Ania Rodriguez , Key Lime Interactive - Awarded $5,000 (Early stage)
Lean Orb, the winner, provides plant-based food service packaging and catering supplies. “We have eliminated 8.5 million pieces of disposable plastic in the Miami area,” said Mikhalochkina, during her pitch to judges.
The startup’s goal is to be a leader in the sustainable movement. “We specialize in educating corporate clients on ways to minimize the impacts of disposables. We want to accelerate the global transition to sustainable packaging,” Mikhalochkina said.
“Ford Fund congratulates Anastasia Mikhalochkina, CEO, and founder of Lean Orb,” said Yisel Cabrera, Community Relations Manager for Ford Motor Company Fund. “As our country looks to recover from the devastating impacts of COVID-19, it’s essential we continue to support women-owned businesses, especially those that are helping to solve problems in their communities.
Second place went to Bridge. Through video, Bridge allows people to connect to a city and see what’s happening around them, whether it is experiences, businesses or products. Third place went to Key Lime Interactive, which specializes in customer and user experience research, interactive design and all things usability.
The five finalists who pitched were chosen based on the following criteria: the social enterprise must exist to solve a real community problem, have a business model that will ultimately be sustainable, and focus on a product or service people will pay for. Judges included Ford Motor Company Fund’s Yisel Cabrera, angel investor Kimberly N. Marshall, and Miami Dade College Idea Center Executive Director Romi Bhatia.
This is the second virtual pitch competition held by HERImpact in Miami this year. You can read the first one here.
Founded by Ford Motor Company Fund and 1863 Ventures, the HI-HERImpact initiative seeks to provide women entrepreneurs with resources like educational opportunities, technical assistance, mentoring, coaching, and financial resources. Since 2018, Ford Fund has awarded more than $300,000 in total funding to help women-led social enterprises scale and grow in Detroit, Washington, D.C. and Miami. The program has now completed its second year in Miami and is scheduled to go to Kansas City next. However, the HERImpact team said that it will continue to stay involved in the Miami ecosystem and with the small businesses.
2 Find out more about this social distancing tool, a Beacon Council project
This summer, we told you about a trio of initiatives by the Miami-Dade Beacon Council’s Technology Committee in response to the COVID-19 crisis, including MiamiTech.Works, a one-stop-shop for connecting people with reskilling opportunities in tech. Today we have more about another one of the initiatives, the Social Distancing Detector (SDD) tool.
Led by Miami-based Strata.ai, the SDD is a new data-driven business tool that leverages machine learning and computer vision techniques to identify adherence of social distancing guidelines. This tool is an open-source, free to the public technology that focuses on helping physical locations better manage their spaces for safety and health.
“With small businesses employing nearly half of all Florida’s workforce, we wanted to provide a no-cost solution harnessing the latest in artificial intelligence to enable the safe, scalable, and successful reopening of our economy,” said Charles Irizarry, CEO and co-founder of Strata.ai.
The technology is able to analyze video in real-time, identify when bystanders are in the subject area and measure the distance between individuals to ensure proper social distancing – all without recording facial recognition or other personal information, respecting individual privacy.
Film Florida, a statewide entertainment production trade association, has said it would promote the SDD for use in the film and television industry, where the tool can be used on sets to ensure cast and crew maintain distancing.
To access the tool, FAQs and more, go here.
The third of the trio of Beacon Council Technology Committee projects is a regional collaboration by Florida International University, Miami Dade College and the University of Miami for a workshop to develop Post Disaster Smart Response and Resilience in Critical Infrastructure, Security, and Data. Stay tuned.
3 Boats Group acquires 3 boating marketplaces
Miami-based Boats Group, a global online marketplace for boats and yachts, acquired Botentekoop.nl, Boten.nl and Botenbank.nl, the leading boating marketplaces in the Netherlands, from Arimpex Media Solutions. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
"The Netherlands represents an enormously important market in the global leisure marine industry, and the acquisition of Arimpex's leading online marketplaces was an attractive growth opportunity for us to widen our reach to more water enthusiasts in the region and accelerate our plan for growth in Europe," Boats Group CEO Sam Fulton said in the South Florida Business Journal. Read more in SFBJ here.
4 MDC gets large grant for tech-training scholarships
Miami Dade College was awarded a $2.3 million grant from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund that will provide additional scholarships for MDC students enrolled in CTE (Career and Technical Education) programs, including in tech. In many cases, students can complete the programs for free. MDC offers more than 150 of these courses, inclusing in digital marketing, cloud computing, animation and game art, cybersecurity, visual and augmented reality, logistics, and manufacturing technology, to name a few.
5 Opportunity knocks
- Space Florida and the Israel Innovation Authority have issued a new joint call for project proposals valued at $2 million in R&D funding. The funding should support R&D and commercialization of aerospace and related technology projects that benefit both Israel and the State of Florida. The projects previously funded encompass promising research such as for the next generation 3D printed circuit systems, unmanned aerial systems, innovative radiation shielding technology, next-generation capacitors to power spacecraft, and identifying specific changes in human muscle and immune cells to model disease in reduced gravity environments. Applications are due Feb. 22. More information can be found at www.spaceflorida.gov/
- With the theme Coding for Good, Palm Beach Tech is hosting its Hackathon event from Oct. 23 to 25. Participants in this virtual 24 hour event will form teams, vet ideas, create a project and present their work to an expert panel of judges. Winners will receive up to $5,000 in cash awards and in-kind prizes. To learn more about this event and to register, click here.
- The deadline fast approaching to compete in the $2 million Rise of the Rest pitch competition, and it is open to Black founders. Apply by Oct. 23 at tour.revolution.com.
- Applications are now open Endeavor Miami's Growth Bootcamp, powered by Facebook. It is a two-week bootcamp program for minority founders, particularly immigrants and BIPOC. Apply here.
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