6+ things to know in #MiamiTech: News from Blackstone Launchpad, Strive305, Black Ambition, Togal AI, Picsart, Social Mobile and more - Refresh Miami

6+ things to know in #MiamiTech: News from Blackstone Launchpad, Strive305, Black Ambition, Togal AI, Picsart, Social Mobile and more – Refresh Miami


MDC, FIU and FIU obtain grants to establish Blackstone LaunchPad programs on their campuses

Miami Dade College, Florida International University, and Florida Atlantic University have each received grants from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation to establish the Blackstone LaunchPad program on their campuses. A total of five Florida universities, including Florida State University and Florida A&M in Tallahassee, have received funding as part of the Blackstone Foundation’s three-year, $5 million commitment to expand access in the Sunshine State to higher education institutions that have a predominantly underrepresented population or serve disadvantaged communities.

Miami Dade College has already begun using Blackstone LaunchPad resources to create a new satellite space for The Idea Center at MDC West Campus in Doral, which will open next spring. Blackstone LaunchPad also gives students access to competitions, funding, and mentorship to take their ideas to the development stage.

“Miami’s growing entrepreneurial and technology ecosystem calls for a transformational investment in local talent that will fuel this growth,” Miami Dade College President Madeline Pumariega said of the $500,000 grant the college received from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. “Miami Dade College has a long history of promoting entrepreneurship in this community through The Idea Center and this partnership with Blackstone LaunchPad will allow us to further expand our entrepreneurial skills development across the College.”

FLorida International University also received a $500,000 grant. Blackstone LaunchPad at FIU, will be hosted at FIU Business’ Pino Global Entrepreneurship Center, and will collaborate with FIU Business’ Florida Small Business Development Center, FIU StartUp Entrepreneurship Incubator, and Business Innovation & Technology Clinic under FIU Law, the College of Engineering and Computer Science and College of Communication, Architecture + Arts.

Blackstone LaunchPad at FIU will boost business coaching for FIU student entrepreneurs and create a new FIU student pitch competition linked to LaunchPad’s national pitch competition. William Hardin, Dean of FIU Business, said, “This grant will allow us to further our commitment to providing our students with the tools they need to assess new business opportunities and start new businesses.


Miami-Dade County launches Strive305, a virtual incubator

This week, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced the launch of Strive305, a free virtual small business incubator that is a collaboration between the county and Florida International University’s StartUP FIU regional partners, Micro Business Catalyst, BizHack and Femcity.

Strive305 will help some 70,000 small and micro businesses with educational resources, starting with four courses on topics ranging from marketing to learning QuickBooks software. A marketing master will be released in January in English, Spanish and Creole. The incubator will provide access to venture capital resources, training and technical assistance, and finding affordable workspace, among other areas.

“I affirm that we are the most creative and innovative place on the planet,” she said of Miami-Dade at a launch event at the county’s main library. “We’re going to have a full library of on-demand entrepreneurial resources on any device.”

For more information, contractors can visit the site here


Winners of the Black Ambition of the 305 and 954

When Black Ambition Founder Pharrell Williams and CEO Felecia Hatcher announced the winners of the 2022 Black Ambition competition, several South Florida founders were in the process of receiving prizes.

“Over the two years of Black Ambition, this will mark us at $6 million that we have invested in Black, Latinx and HBCU [entrepreneurs]“, said Hatcher.

The winner of Black Ambition’s $1 million grand prize was Philadelphia startup Pound Cake Cosmetics, a Black and Latinx-owned cosmetics company that is revolutionizing the way color is done for darker skin tones. Yet she wasn’t the only winner, as Black Ambition awarded more than $2.5 million in additional prizes — and South Florida businesses were among the winners.

The winning prizes worth $15,000 to $100,000 were these South Florida businesses:

  • KAZMALEJE: Founded by LaToya Stippup and her two sisters, the company is on a mission to help customers have better wash days by designing innovative hair tools and accessories.
  • JACQ’S Skincare: Founded by Barbara Jacques, Jacq’s is a vegan and sustainable skincare line created for women of color by women of color.
  • Pressy: Founded by Erdina Francillonl Pressy is a booking platform for time-pressed people looking for help with small but special events.

Additionally, Black Ambition, in partnership with Billionaire Boys Club, recently hosted a contest showcasing Miami-area digital apparel companies. And the winners were:

  • Thermaband, founded by mother-daughter duo Debbie Dickinson and Markea Dickinson-Frasier, received the grand prize of $10,000. it is a smart wearable accessory that provides cooling or warming temperatures for menopausal women.
  • Brandon Chance, CEO of Loan My Sole, received a $7,000 prize. Loan My Sole is a rental community for sneakerheads built on the blockchain.
  • Mya Wright, CEO of Myne Mane, received a $3,000 prize. It is wearable and streetwear with wearable technology for local urban youth cultures.


Proptech Togol.AI wins the international pitch competition

After winning Miami’s eMerge Americas Startup competition judged by Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary, the Togal.AI team decided to go global.

This week they traveled from Miami to Dubai to participate in the Big 5, the world’s largest construction event bringing together more than 38,000 companies from 60 countries. After several rounds of pitching, the judges announced that Togal.AI won first place in the Start-Up City Pitch competition, which featured startups focused on building the future.

“We’re proud to show that Miami-born technology can stand out among some of the world’s best construction innovations,” said Patrick Murphy, Founder and CEO of Togal.AI.

Togal.AI uses machine learning to automatically estimate construction plans and take-offs, compressing weeks of work into seconds. As the first winner, Togal will receive a $25,000 curated marketing package, have the chance to partner with ALEC Engineering & Contracting for a pilot project to expand the reach of Togal.AI, be part of the Startup Fellowship City and to be considered for the CESC Affiliate Program. , a global incentive to help startups scale their business.


Picsart Announces Spotify Integration

Picsart, a leading digital creative platform, has announced an integration with e-commerce platform Shopify. Now available in the Shopify App Store, the Picsart AI Photo Editor app includes tools to easily edit and manage assets, underscoring the company’s commitment to providing everyday creators, including retailers and small businesses, accessible and professional tools.

“The Picsart app for Shopify is a dramatic expansion into a huge new category for us,” said Hovhannes Avoyan, Founder and CEO of Picsart. “Shopify has millions of merchants and Picsart’s tools will make it easy for them to view and market their products, improving their storefronts and monetization journeys.”

This announcement builds on Picsart’s existing integrations with Discord and Google Drive. It also comes shortly after the company announced new generative AI tools, including an AI image generator that already produces more than a million images a day, Picsart said.


Social Mobile selected for Air Force contract

Social Mobile, a mobility solutions provider specializing in Android Enterprise deployments, announced that it has been selected by the US Air Force to design and build a 5G mobile solution to meet the specific needs of the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC ). Under the AFWERX Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Phase II contract, Social Mobile will provide a wearable, chest-mountable device that runs Android Enterprise and is built to military-grade specifications.

Social Mobile, led by Founder and CEO Robert Morcos,

was founded in 2011 and is based in Miami. Under the contract, Social Mobile’s solution will be considered by other branches of the US military, including the Army, Navy and Marine Corps.


opportunity knocks

  • The Florida Venture Forum, Florida’s largest investor and entrepreneur support organization, is calling on growth-stage companies to apply to pitch at the 2023 Florida Venture Capital Conference, taking place at JW Marriott on Brickell Avenue in Miami on February 8-9, 2023. The conference, now in its 32nd year, attracts more than 500 attendees, including more than 200 active venture capitalists. Apply to present here. The application deadline is January 6.
  • sailing collective, a Miami-based BlueTech community and venture capital studio, is opening applications for its flagship Venture Studio program, with Cohort 3 launching in March 2023. The venture capital studio hosts 12-week cohorts that consist of two types of program participants: aspiring founders co-creating new startups and current founders developing existing startups. As the first BlueTech venture capital studio in the United States, Seaworthy says it works not only to co-create individual solutions, but also to build systems of solutions. Current and future founders from around the world are encouraged to apply on the Seaworthy website.


Got startup or tech news to share? Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg and contact her by email at ndahlbergbiz@gmail.com

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