SCORE Miami-Dade a resource to help businesses succeed

Your business has hit a bump in the road.  You’re not exactly sure what the next step should be.  Or, maybe you would like to grow your business to the next level. If only you could have a team of highly successful current and former “C level” executives to help you.

Thanks to a recent initiative by SCORE Miami Dade called “Special Forces,” there are such executives who will provide guidance and advice to help your business move forward.  These specially selected SCORE Certified Counselors are experts in all facets of business including marketing, sales, operations, distribution, financing and staffing.

The first step for SCORE “Special Forces” is to obtain detailed information about your business.  This is done through a combination of an evaluation survey, personal interviews and visits with your management team.  Your “Special Forces” team then analyzes your business from top to bottom and presents you with practical, focused advice tailored to your specific situation and challenges.

“Our goal is to help businesses succeed,” says Phil Harris, Director of the Special Forces program. “We do this by providing business owners with highly qualified consultants who are focused on your business.”  Among the companies that have benefited from SCORE Special Forces are Advak Technologies, Sky Zone, Panther Coffee and Paradise Distributors.

“From financial to marketing, SCORE Special Forces was like having a seasoned partner in my business,” said Juan Brandt, General Manager of Sky Zone. “Their support was integral to developing our business”.

That sentiment was seconded by Tania Garza, President of Advak Technologies. “They worked with me to analyze the business, develop a plan to address our greatest challenges, and improve such areas as sales, financial reporting and operations”.

To find out more about how SCORE “Special Forces” can help your business succeed, email  Phil Harris at pharris@scoremiami.org and indicate when you are available to receive his phone call.

- Submitted by SCORE Miami-Dade   


Artist, entrepreneur Guy Harvey hosts community conversation at Miami Herald


 By Dan Chang

Enterprising artist, marine conservationist and man-behind-the-global-brand Guy Harvey visited the Miami Herald Community Room in Doral on Wednesday for a public conversation and a celebration of the expansion of the Herald’s weekly Business Monday magazine, which relaunched with a new design and expanded features on Aug. 18.

Harvey, who lives and paints in Grand Cayman but owned a home in Fort Lauderdale for 10 years, is at the helm of an ever-growing business as his namesake Davie-based company lures a wider audience with new images, products, partnerships, branded hotels and other ventures.

Harvey’s latest goal: “Get the brand across the country,’’ he told an audience of about 100 people gathered at the Herald. “We need to find other stores, other merchants ... maybe more manufacturers.’’

With thousands of products sold in more than 1,000 stores, Guy Harvey Inc. has been trying to expand into the Midwest and across to the West Coast, he said. Harvey also has been working to attract younger fans, partly through student representatives on 50 college campuses. In Wednesday’s audience were several young artists seeking career advice.

“Once you have young people as your customers and supporters,’’ he said, “then theoretically they will be there for the rest of their lives.’’

Read Hannah Sampson's cover story here.

Miami-based Movéo expanding into Colombia

Movéo. a global luxury ground transportation company based in Miami, announced it is expanding into Colombia, providing more than 300 executive vehicles.

Movéo Colombia will offer more than 80 armored vehicles in all major Colombian markets. Movéo drivers are bilingual or trilingual, screened and trained in security and etiquette, the company said. Movéo’s proprietary technology platform fully-automates ground transportation logistics.

“At the end of the day, ground transportation is about getting from point A to point B,” said Mario Medina, Movéo’s CEO. “What separates us from everyone else are the features we provide our riders — online booking, GPS tracking, SMS notifications, security and above all else, steady non-intrusive communication to ensure that last minute changes like flight delays or an additional stop are seamlessly integrated into travel itineraries.”

Founded in 2011, Movéo serves clients in 32 countries and 450 cities worldwide. The 27-employee company has regional offices in New York City, Atlanta, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington D.C., London and now Bogota.


The Fresh Diet sold to Florida-based Innovative Food Holdings

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The Fresh Diet's Chairman Zalmi Duchman, left,  with Chief Culinary Officer Yosef Schwartz.

The Fresh Diet, a homegrown national fresh-food delivery company, has been purchased by Innovative Food Holdings, a publicly traded specialty foods company based in Bonita Springs, Fla.

South Florida entrepreneur Zalmi Duchman founded The Fresh Diet in 2006. The then 25-year-old wanted  to bring healthy, portion-controlled diet meals to people's doorsteps daily. To finance it, he put $500 on his Visa card.

Today, the company with about 350 employees is one of the largest U.S. food producers in the fresh cooked, daily delivered category, delivering healthy, gourmet meal plans daily to consumers in  12 states and 44 metropolitan areas across the country. In 2013, the company generated $26.9 million in revenue, and its three-year growth surge landed it on the Inc. 5000 list announced Wednesday.

The Fresh Diet will be operated as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Innovative Food Holdings, which provides specialty foods, healthcare foods and gluten free foods to the professional food service market. The company was purchased via 10 million shares of the Innovation Food’s common stock plus the assumption of debt.  In addition, Innovative Food raised $1.4 million of equity capital that be targeted toward growth for The Fresh Diet, Innovative Food said. “We believe that the expansion of Innovative Food Holdings’ platform to include the capabilities of The Fresh Diet’s platform is an extraordinary opportunity for the company,” said Sam Klepfish, CEO of Innovative Food Holdings.

In addition to providing its parent company with fresh prepared foods, The Fresh Diet can expand into additional specialty food market categories such as non-diet daily specialty meals, meal kits, allergen specific meals and other specialty food opportunities, said Duchman. “I'm very excited about this. We believe Innovative Food Holdings and The Fresh Diet can use their synergies to expand both companies,” said Duchman, chairman of The Fresh Diet.

Duchman and The Fresh Diet's team will continue to operate out of its North Miami headquarters, Duchman said. He said as an entrepreneur, he is also looking forward to getting involved in two other branches of Innovative Food, its food-focused incubator called Foodhatch.co and Forthegourmet.com, a retailer of specialty items for the home gourmet.

Bloomberg offering grants to help cities innovate


American cities looking to be more innovative in how they address local issues can now get a helping hand from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's charitable foundation.

Bloomberg Philanthropies on Wednesday is announcing that it's putting $45 million into Innovation Delivery grants. The grants are to help cities create teams that use data and other tools to come up with ideas for how to tackle problems.

"We're asking cities to do so much more," said James Anderson, who leads the government innovation programs at the foundation. "We need cities to come up with bigger, better ideas more often, and we don't want to leave innovation to chance."

The team approach that the foundation is championing "is one way mayors can increase the likelihood of generating more powerful ideas more often and reducing the risk of failure," he said.

The foundation initially rolled out the Innovation Delivery model in five cities — Atlanta; Chicago; Louisville, Kentucky; Memphis, Tennessee; and New Orleans — which used the process to come up with ideas on a range of issues, from economic redevelopment to reducing violent deaths.

In this second round, eligible cities must have populations above 100,000 and be led by mayors who have at least two years left in office. The grant amounts can range up to $1 million per year for a three-year period. Anderson said the third year funding is contingent on cities beginning to include the innovation teams in their own budgets.

The application deadline is Oct. 6 and grantees are expected to be named by the end of the year. The foundation expects to select 10 to 15 cities.

While mayor of New York City, Bloomberg was a steadfast supporter of the idea that cities could be pathbreakers in coming up with new and more effective ways for government to function.


122 Miami-area companies make Inc.'s list of fastest-growing companies

Inc. magazine unveiled its annual list of the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in America on Wednesday, and 122 companies from the Miami metropolitan area made the cut.

Showroom Logic, a 90-employee company in Miami founded in 2009, came in at No. 26 with 8,449 percent growth in the past three years and $13.4 million in 2013 revenue.  Showroom Logic offers software tools and customized advertising programs for the auto industry, including its AdLogic platform built from the ground up specifically for car dealers.

IQ Formulations, a Sunrise maker of nutritional supplements for sports and fitness enthusiasts, was No. 50 with 5,486 percent three-year growth and $8.3 million 2013 revenue. The company was founded in 2010 and has 35 employees, according to Inc.

Other Miami companies that ranked particularly high: Acordis International of Miramar (No. 71), LogoUp.com of Pompano Beach (no. 80),  MobileHelp of Boca Raton (111), SmackTom.com of Miami (125); CareCloud of Miami (127) and 3A/Worldwide of Miami (175). Ten other companies ranked in the top 500.

See the full list of Miami area companies here.

For only the second time in the 33-year history of the Inc. 5000, the No. 1 company was a repeat winner. Children’s tablet maker Fuhu, based in El Segundo, Calif.,  reported a jaw-dropping 158,956.9 percent sales surge over the past three years.


GCVCA holding 'Meet the Angels' event with 18 organizations

MoneyEver wish the South Florida angel groups were all in one place? Here's your chance.

As part of its mission to serve as a resource to the entrepreneurial community, the nonprofit Gold Coast Venture Capital Association will be hosting "Meet the Angels" on Wednesday, August 27th from 5-8 pm at the Embassy Suites in Boca Raton. The event is designed to provide South Florida entrepreneurs an opportunity to meet all major area angel groups and many investors and investment funds all in one setting. "This will be a fantastic opportunity for area entrepreneurs to learn who these organizations are, who to contact, what their investment parameters are, and what their process is," said GCVCA President Bob Fitts.   For investors and angel organizations, the event will provide exposure to the broader South Florida entrepreneurial community and to other investors.

Panelists will include representatives from 18 angel groups and funds from Tampa, Orlando, Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami.  Confirming attendance are Accelerated Growth Partners, Angel Forum of Florida,  EarlyShares, Florida Venture Forum, Miami Innovation Fund, Palm Beach Angels, New World Angels, Thesis Ventures, Caerus Ventures, Belle Capital, CrunchFire Ventures, SJO Worldwide, Dawson James Securities, Spearhead Capital, Florida Funders, Florida Angel Nexus, StartUp Palm Beach Capital and Tamiami Angel Funds.  The GCVCA is expecting over 250 attendees.

Tickets are $25 for GCVCA members and $35 for non-members, including food, and can be purchased at www.GCVCA.org. Sponsorship opportunities remain and interested parties should contact Bob Fitts at bfitts@tridentgloballlc.com



Miami entrepreneurs expand ‘Freebee’ service to downtown



A free transportation service that has been running in Miami Beach for two years is now operating in Brickell and Downtown Miami.

Freebees are electric, open-air vehicles resembling oversized golf carts. They give free rides to people along designated routes in popular high traffic areas. They’re outfitted with mini HD TV’s and audio systems. Riders often are offered discounts and “freebees,” sponsored by the advertising company that pays to outfit the vehicle and promote their brand. And Freebees light up, so they’re easy to see and flag down, even at night.

Unsatisfied with their “real” jobs after graduating from University of Miami, business majors and campus roommates Jason Spiegel, 27, and Kris Kimball, 28, put their heads together and came up with Freebee.

Once they signed on advertisers, the costs of outsourcing “wrap” ads on the vehicles, outfitting them completely to represent the brand of the client, reached such a high overhead that they incorporated graphic designer, Amir Youssef, 37, as their business partner to do it in-house.

The trio established Beefree Media, a creative campaign agency that specializes in servicing media buying and printing, ranging from fliers to billboards and everything in between, including car wraps. Their headquarters is based in a warehouse in Wynwood, which is where they also print the vehicle wraps for Freebees.

Continue reading "Miami entrepreneurs expand ‘Freebee’ service to downtown" »

Banking on innovation: Fintech LATAM 2014 coming to Wynwood

FinTech - Logo 2Fintech LATAM 2014kicks off in Wynwood on September 24, 2014, as an extension of and in collaboration with CELAES 2014, the FELABAN Conference on Bank Security organized by FIBA (Florida International Bankers Association) also in Miami. Fintech LATAM 2014 is a one-day conference exploring the industry-toppling, government-shifting and sector-disrupting power of technology poised to transform Latin America’s financial landscape.

“Miami has a unique opportunity to profit from a technology revolution that plays directly to its strength as Latin America’s financial capital,” said Ray Ruga, co-founder of CVOX Events LLC, the company behind the Fintech LATAM 2014 Conference, in partnership with FIBA and Nobox. “By creating a conference that introduces bankers – both local and Latin American – to ideas in a fresh, fast and dynamic fashion, we intend to help promote financial innovation and position Miami as the fintech hub of the Americas.”

From Bitcoin, to decentralized payment systems, to building a culture of innovation, the conference brings together fintech innovators, entrepreneurs and thought leaders from startups to global leaders, sharing their ideas and vision of the technology trends changing the way business and consumer access financial services throughout the Americas.

“Miami offers proximity to a huge base of financial institutions and positions the city to capitalize and reinforce its position as the financial capital for Latin America while leveraging its burgeoning technology ecosystem. This makes us a natural contender to be a world-leading capital, bringing new jobs and capital to Miami and helping to secure the long-term competitiveness us as the capital of Latin American finance, technology and innovation” said David Schwartz, CEO of FIBA.

A core mission of the conference is to inform and educate bankers and regulators on the innovative ideas, products and solutions driving change not only in the US, but throughout the world and how importing these to Latin America can help the region's financial system be more competitive, efficient and inclusive.

Since 2008, global investment in financial services technology ventures has tripled to nearly $3 billion. The dramatic changes underway in financial services driven by new digital technology, regulations, consumer behavior and the need to reduce costs, mean this trend is set to continue, with global investment on track to grow to up to $8 billion by 2018.

The conference will be at the Light Box in Wynwood. For more information, visit: www.fintechlatam.com.

- Submitted by CVOX



Startup Spotlight: YOGiiZA


Photo by Walter Michot/Miami Herald



Headquarters: Miami Beach

Concept: YOGiiZA is an organic, athletic, yoga-inspired clothing brand. Its mission is to give people a choice of clothing that reflects yoga values.

Story: YOGiiZA, Organic Clothing for Organic People, was started by husband-wife team Mark and Dawn Oliver. “Being a yoga instructor, I noticed the trend in yoga apparel was on the rise, but none of this clothing was being made with ecological awareness,” Mark Oliver said. “Other brands claiming to represent yoga are selling clothing that is in direct contrast to what the yoga teachers wearing the clothes are preaching.” Oliver noted that the polyester fabrics typically used in athletic clothing aren’t natural, and don’t breathe — so the avid yoga practitioners and teachers created their own. “As Gandhi said, ‘You must be the change you wish to see in the world,’ ” Mark Oliver said.

YOGiiZA’s collection is made with organic cotton sourced from Peru, Nicaragua and other parts of South and Central America. YOGiiZA is sold primarily online at www.yogiiza.com, Amazon and other sites as well as at selected luxury hotels, spas and yoga studios across the country.

Launched: 2013.

Management team: Mark, who has an entrepreneurial background and studied and taught yoga for two decades, and Dawn, who has 10 years of sales and marketing experience in the luxury travel industry.

Number of employees: Six.

Website: www.yogiiza.com.

Financing: YOGiiZA was started with private funds of $250,000 and an undisclosed angel investment. The founders are raising another round of investment.

Recent milestones: Approved as a vendor for a major distributor for Universal Companies, serving more than 25,000 luxury hotel spas around the country. Clothing featured on the cover of Golf Digest worn by Paulina Gretzky, as well as in Vogue, Shape and other publications. Attracted more than 22,000 Facebook fans. Secured angel investment.

Biggest startup challenge: “One of our biggest challenges has been continuing to surround ourselves with the right people that have the enthusiasm, dedication and spirit necessary to help support our mission and ride the wave of a startup,” Mark Oliver said.

Next steps: Expanding to Brazil by 2015 and opening in eight major U.S. cities. Working on a community-based website and mobile platform. “We are also focused on expanding our men’s products, as this segment has proven to be very lucrative,” Mark Oliver said.

Advisor’s view: Ian Bonde, a partner of Endure Ventures, an early-stage investment firm focused on healthcare and wellness companies in the United States and Brazil, said he was attracted to YOGiiZA’s potential within its niche market and its go-to-market strategy through differentiated e-commerce and wholesale channels.

“Lack of focus, in my opinion, is one of the key reasons behind entrepreneurial failures. Over the last year, YOGiiZA has focused on building a solid foundation for growth — establishing an efficient supply chain, building up their team and management systems, as well as closing some key sales accounts,” Bonde said. “Of course we plan on expanding our business nationally and internationally, but we are also cautious about not biting off more than we can chew. In terms of wholesale distribution, we are targeting two to three additional regional markets in the U.S. this coming year, and will continue expanding our e-commerce footprint.”