6+ things to know in #MiamiTech: News from 4Geeks, BITE-CON, INIT, Knight Foundation, Recur, Base, S
By: Nancy Dahlberg | August, 2023
1. BITE-CON, 4Geeks partner on scholarships & more
4Geeks Academy, a leading Miami-based online coding bootcamp, and the BITE-CON Foundation, an organization committed to helping to grow a pipeline of 1 million BIPOC and women technologists in the next five years, recently teamed up to provide scholarships aimed at fostering inclusive access to tech education.
The partners share a vision of democratizing high-quality tech education. The BITE-CON Foundation engages, educates, and exposes the Black and Brown community to emerging technologies through strategic events, partnerships, and workforce development initiatives. 4Geeks Academy is renowned globally for its coding education, graduating over 4,000 students across its 8 campuses, and placing 84% in relevant tech positions.
BITE-CON and 4Geeks Academy are introducing three pivotal scholarship opportunities: the TechBoost Scholarship, HBCU Scholarship, and the Miami Tech Talent Coalition Scholarship. Each scholarship is designed to empower individuals to enroll in 4Geeks Academy’s Full Stack Development or Data Science and Machine Learning programs by providing significant financial support.
“The partnership has tremendous potential,” BITE-CON founder and Executive Director Temanté Leary told the Miami Herald. “We are working on several initiatives in addition to providing scholarship opportunities for those who want to break into tech by way of bootcamp.”
Those include putting on periodic educational workshops. The first one, in June in the debut of a Web3 TechTalk series, was titled “Leveraging Blockchain for Social Impact,” featuring Nandy Martin, Chairman of the Captain Haiti Foundation, who discussed technology’s influential role in uplifting Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood.
The partnership also plans to provide certificate programs starting, with an AI certification from Microsoft. This will include monthly classes to prepare people so that at the end of the month they’ll get their certification and the $99 cost of certification will be covered. It will also include mentoring and supporting students as they prepare for software engineering interviews.
For more details on these scholarships and opportunities, visit https://www.bite-con.org/.
2. Student-led INIT secures Knight funding
An opportunity to participate in Miami tech expands as INIT, a community group led by tech students and professionals, announces new chapter launches and catalytic funding. INIT increases accessibility and inclusion in tech for underserved individuals through experiential learning and industry-aligned career development opportunities.
Made up of a vibrant community of 4,000 tech students and alumni across Miami, INIT grew from the collective experiences of its founding members, graduates of FIU’s Knight Foundation School of Computing and Information Sciences. While pursuing their degrees, they recognized a gap between in-the-class learning and expectations from hiring companies, and filled these gaps with community programming that opened access to careers with companies like Microsoft, Google, and Royal Caribbean. After the initial success from its founding members, INIT is propelling more Miami students into careers in tech.
INIT’s launch is seeded by a $400,000 investment from the Knight Foundation to advance their mission across higher education institutions in Miami. “Knight Foundation’s investment allows us to broaden our reach and deepen our community impact. We look forward to fostering a more equitable and participatory tech ecosystem, powered by our community’s relentless spirit.,” said Julie Vallejos Pasco, Executive Director of INIT.
The funding will support the launch of student-led chapters at Florida International University, Florida Memorial University and Miami Dade College. Knight’s support will increase the group’s efforts to provide mentorship, technical workshops and industry networking opportunities to its community members.
“Miami is at the forefront of growing our nation’s tech economy. Through programs that are of, by and for our community, INIT ensures Miami Tech’s growth is accessible to those who seek to take part. The result is a more engaged, participatory and resilient Miami,” said Raul Moas, Knight’s Senior Director for Miami.
Read more on Refresh Miami: INIT, a tech nonprofit empowering underserved communities, launches in South Florida
3. Venture-funded NFT startup Recur shutting down
Miami-based Recur is shutting down less than two years after raising $50 million for its NFT platform, the South Florida Business Journal reported. “Unforseen challenges and shifts in the business landscape have made it increasingly difficult for us to continue providing the level of service and dedication that we have always strived to maintain,” the company founded in 2021 stated in a social media post.
Recur developed branded experiences for fans to buy, collect and resell digital assets recorded on the blockchain. The company said new users creation has stopped, all remaining site functionality will be suspended by Nov. 16, and users will be able to withdraw any balances beginning Aug. 31. NFTs minted on the website will transfer to the InterPlanetary File System, a decentralized storage and file-sharing system.
4. Base raises $500K pre-seed to build matching platform
Base, a Miami startup that aims to connect people through meaningful social experiences, has raised $500,000 in pre-seed funding to build a platform that uses matching technology to bring members together, Miami Inno reported. The pre-seed funding came from Treble Ventures, Vast Ventures, Dhuna Ventures and individual angel investors.
Base, founded by Kaben Clauson. Ricardo Vázquez and Natalia Martinez-Kalinina, currently has waitlists open for Miami, New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., London and more. Read more about Base here and here.
5. Starlims of Hollywood makes acquisition
Starlims, a Hollywood -based provider of enterprise informatics solutions, acquired Labstep, a London -based company providing an R&D Electronic Laboratory Notebook (ELN) platform. The amount of the deal was not disclosed.
With the acquisition, Starlims will accelerate ideation and planning through documentation functionality, automation capabilities, and connectivity to instruments and systems. By combining STARLIMS’ comprehensive Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) technology with Labstep’s SaaS ELN platform, users can remove complexity from the lab and surface the data potential in a progressive, connected system.
Led by CEO Trey Cook, Starlims provides enterprise informatics solutions to over 1,100 customers across the globe. Found in over 2,000 laboratories, the company serves Pharmaceuticals and Biotech, medical device, contract development manufacturing organizations (CDMOs), food & beverage, chemical & agrochemical, oil & gas, consumer goods, public health, and clinical diagnostics organizations.
6. Grubbrr to roll out gas station kiosks
Grubbrr, a Boca Raton-based tech company, has partnered with Austin-based Dover Fueling Solutions to produce new gas station kiosks that will enable customers to purchase other items besides fuel. Both companies will roll out new kiosks for fuel pumps nationwide.
Called the DFS Anthem UX platform, the devices will have 27-inch screens where customers can order food and shop for products while pumping their gas, creating increased revenue for stations. Founded in 2018, Grubbrr produces point-of-sale and online ordering products for stores, restaurants, stadiums, airports, and casinos.
“To maximize profitability, merchants need to reduce friction in the checkout process and engage consumers in new and innovative ways,” said Sam Zietz, CEO of GRUBBRR. “Our software is designed to streamline the ordering process and provide a seamless customer experience, creating a one-stop-shop solution that empowers retailers to grow revenue through improved consumer retention and increased basket size.”
PLUS - Opportunity knocks
Lab22c opened nominations for the 2nd annual Moonshot Awards, a program that recognizes top innovators, builders and institutions in the South Florida innovation economy. This year there are seven award categories. “We are looking to recognize top innovators/builders/institutions who are moving our ecosystem forward. Nominate someone you think who is deserving of the recognition,” said Lab22c founder Saif Ishoof. Learn more and submit your nominations here.
ShellHacks, Florida’s largest student hackathon, is returning for its seventh year and will be held in person at Florida International University in Miami from September 15-17. It is being hosted by INIT, Students from around the state and beyond, as well as recent grads and those attending bootcamps, are invited to participate, learn new skills and potentially win prizes. It is open to all skill levels and majors. To secure your spot, visit http://shellhacks.net and submit your application.
The Venture Miami Scholarship Fund provides tuition support to provide gap funding for at-need City of Miami residents who have been accepted into STEM or defined-demand occupation programs at participating colleges and universities, including Florida International University, Florida Memorial University, Miami Dade College, and the University of Miami. How to apply: Students who meet the program requirements and are interested in applying to the Venture Miami scholarship are encourage to complete this survey to begin the application process.
EndeavorLAB, an 8-week cohort-based initiative that equips founders with curriculum, mentorship and resources to grow their business, is accepting applications for its Black Founders Cohort Powered by Dell For Startups that begins in October. To be eligible, Black founders must be based in Florida, have achieved product-market fit, and are generating $50K to $500K in annual revenue. The program costs are covered by the sponsors. Apply here by Sept. 10.
The Alan B. Levan/NSU Broward Center of Innovation is accepting applications for the 100 Startup Project. Applicants who are accepted will receive a yearlong membership to the Levan Center of Innovation. Apply here.