Orlando Tech
image Engineering Hope: Limbitless Solutions Uses Tech for Good

Limbitless Solutions, an Orlando-based startup, wants to provide displaced children of the Syrian War with bionic arms and books. Last week the startup launched Limbitless Books and Bionics, an Indiegogo campaign – their goal: $40,000. If the goal is reached, Limbitless will supply 75 bionic arms, and 75 educational books to Syrian children. Limbitless Solutions, based out of the University of Central Florida, creates affordable 3D printed bionic arms.

Help Syria, a Swiss nonprofit dedicated to helping victims of the Syrian War, is working with Limbitless on the effort, and is currently taking measurements of the children in need of limb replacements. Once Limbitless has the measurements they will begin building each arm. The finished bionic arms will be sent back to Help Syria abroad, and distributed by their team. The 3D printed arms will be personally delivered and fit to each child.

The $40,000 campaign will go specifically towards gathering resources and materials for building the arms, shipping, and purchasing educational books for the children. In the first five days Limbitless has raised $3,197 (8% funded). There are 41 days of fundraising remaining.

This campaign is sponsored by the Collective Project, Association Help Syria, Stratasys, UCF, Gyrobot, and Advancer Technologies.

The campaign offers a myriad of donation option with perks. For $30 supporters will receive a Limbitless t-shirt, and for $350 supporters will donate a bionic arm.

Along with the Indiegogo campaign Limbitless has launched a social media campaign. The startup is encouraging their supporters to write #3Dhope on their arms and post pictures to Twitter and Instagram.

image Venture Capitalists Discuss Investments and Trends in Florida

The Tech Executive Roundtable (TER)  hosted a panel discussion on technology, the state of venture capital in Florida, and the state of venture capital in general, last week. The private event took place inside downtown Orlando coworking space Canvs. TER brings executives and community members together to discuss prominent issues and business topics.

The panel was comprised of Frank Dalton of Fulcrum Equity Partners, Marc Lederman of NewSpring Capital, Russ Wilson of TriVest and moderated by Thomas Armstrong of Silicon Valley Bank. TriNet, BDO, Morris, Manning & Martin, LLP, and Silicon Valley Bank sponsored the event. The three panelists began the conversation by describing the nature of venture capital firms, and why not every firm is tailored to every company. Businesses looking for venture capital ought to carefully weigh their options and find the VC firm that fits their profile. According to Dalton, “there is a partner for you somewhere,” you just have to find them. “You can find a fund that meet your needs,” Wilson added, advising that companies must first determine what their needs are.

Courtesy of the National Venture Capital Association

Courtesy of the National Venture Capital Association

Another major talking point was the amount of venture capital. According to Lederman, and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), 61% of companies receiving venture capital fell into three states: California, 42%, Massachusetts, 9%, and New York, 10%. Furthermore, those three states received 75% of the total $49.3 billion dollars worth of venture capital in 2014.

Florida, ranking seventh on the NVCA list, receiving 1% of the total venture capital in 2014, and was home to only 2% of the companies invested in.

Why is this? The panel discussed several factors that could potentially be affecting Florida’s venture woes. Among the factors was spacing. Both Dalton and Lederman agreed that Florida’s size, and the distance between urban hotspots like Miami, Orlando, and Tampa, make it a very hard state to manage. As Dalton put it, “there are a lot of pockets of entrepreneurship, but not a lot of pockets of management.”

The panel also seemed to agree that the amount of readily available C-level management in Florida was holding it back. Replacing talent in Florida did not strike the members of the panel as problematic, however replacing upper level management did, as executives aren’t as readily available as they are up North or out West.

The panel pointed out that because the level of investment in Florida is so low, it often results in better deals for VC firms, simply because there is not as much money floating around.

The panel wrapped up with questions from the audience and some light networking.

image Tech Exec Tips: Ted Murphy, CEO of IZEA

Tech Exec Tips is a new Orlando Tech Association series in which we will interview some of Orlando’s leading technology executives about some of the tools and methods they use to get things done in their business

Today: Ted Murphy, CEO of IZEA. IZEA is an Orlando-based marketing agency that specializes in connecting brands with creators, bloggers, and social media professionals.

What do you find is the best tool to use for communicating, whether it be with a single staffer or an entire team?

We rely heavily on Hipchat for both text and video chat. We have team members scattered throughout the U.S. and Canada, with some of those people working from home. It is not uncommon for team members that work closely together to keep a video chat open all day long so they feel like they are connected.

Do you use any particular organizational tools?

We have a number of tools that we use and find that different departments have different needs. Some of them include Zendesk, Basecamp, Github and Wrike.

How do you manage accountability at IZEA?

Each department has three high level goals set at the beginning of each quarter. We report on those goals in all company meetings that happen every 4 to 6 weeks. In addition, we have real time reporting on televisions located prominently throughout the office and available to outside team members as well.

Do you guys use any time management tools?

We don’t track individual hours, we are more of a goals-based organization. We provide a great deal of flexibility for the team, with the understanding that the goals must be reached.

Pick one: Phone call or text message?

Video.

Are there any other apps or programs that are integral to productivity at IZEA?

Salesforce provides the operational backend for our sales and customer relationship management. It is a key part of our day to day operations.

image Meet Mark NeJame: Entrepreneur at Law

The September edition of Startup Grind Orlando will take place this coming Tuesday, September 1. The event will last from 6-9 p.m. with the staple fireside chat at 7 p.m. Mark NeJame of NeJame Law is the featured guest.

You might recognize Mark Nejame from his billboards on I-4. Probably best known for his legal work as a criminal and personal injury attorney at Nejame Law, Mark is also secretly a serial entrepreneur.

Mark’s office, located on the 18th floor of Chase Plaza in Downtown in Orlando, is beautifully furnished with somewhat of a mediterranean decor i.e. Roman busks, lots of gold, etc. Mark himself, a snappy dresser with maybe a hundred bracelets and raven black hair, sat comfortably in his gray suit and shared his life story.

He wasn’t born an attorney, which may be surprising given his stellar legal reputation, but he was born an entrepreneur. Mark began working around age 10 to provide for his family (mother, two sisters, and grandmother) as his father, an alcoholic, was out of the picture. Whether it was his paper route in Audubon Park, where he set records for the Orlando Sentinel, or stenciling and painting numbers on houses, Mark was always working.

In his late teens/early twenties Mark bought his mother a cactus for Mother’s Day. He put the cactus in a little wine goblet, and decorated the soil with colorful stones. Everybody seemed to love the gift, and Mark had an idea – an idea which would later become his first major entrepreneurial endeavour. Mark would eventually begin driving to Apopka to buy cactuses that he would sell on consignment in an Orlando Winn-Dixie. Additionally, Mark began to resell Christmas cactuses across the country, as they were abundant in Apopka, and a commodity throughout the rest of the states.

Mark’s plant services would expand to include renting plants to local businesses, restaurants, and clubs. Mark was able to sell his company, Cactus Gardens, for $80,000, which he used to put himself through law school.

Now Mark is married with two daughters, and while it is evident he puts his family first, there are no signs that his entrepreneurial fire will be extinguished anytime soon. In the near future, Mark will be launching Nejame Reality, as well as continuing early stage ideas such as starting a faith-based social network, a reality television show, and butterfly themed tourist attraction. Mark and his wife Josie also founded Runway to Hope, a charity dedicated to aiding families and children impacted by pediatric cancer.

When it comes to entrepreneurship, Mark has one piece of advice: “Don’t hold on, don’t get emotional,” he said, “If it’s not working, get out.” While Mark is primarily labeled as an attorney, his story is rich with entrepreneurial feats.

Come hear Mark’s story for yourself on Tuesday night at Catalyst.

image DEVELOPING: Canvs Expanding to Winter Park

Canvs announced at their one year anniversary party that they will be expanding to a 7,500 square foot facility in Winter Park. Jonathan Taylor, a Canvs board member and the former CEO of Voxeo, made the announcement at the party and will be leading the effort.

We will keep you updated as this story develops.

Update: 8/27 – 5:00 p.m.

According to Jonathan Taylor the Winter Park location has been decided upon, but cannot be disclosed at this point. Taylor spoke highly of coworking spaces in general, calling them “another form of asset utilization.”

The Canvs expansion space in Winter Park will keep the same aesthetic and feel of the original Canvs space in Downtown Orlando.

DOUG GRANDUpdate 8/28 – 10:45 a.m.

The newly announced Canvs expansion space is rumored to be in the Douglas Grand building, at the intersection of Morse Blvd. and New York Ave in Winter Park. The Douglas Grand building is a block from the Winter Park train station, and 1.5 blocks from Park Ave.

image Tech Industry Spotlight: Healthcare Technology in Orlando

Tech Industry Spotlight is a new series in which we will highlight some of the region’s industry standouts.

Do you know of a startup that fits this profile? Shoot us a tip at hello@orlandotech.org

Today’s Industry Spotlight: Healthcare

Orlando’s reputation for healthcare is backed by two of the nation’s largest hospitals, the #2 Florida Hospital (ranked #1 overall in the state by US News), and the #7 Florida Regional Health center. Orlando is also home to Adventist Health Systems, one of the country’s largest healthcare providers, and the Lake Nona Medical City, a 650-acre health and sciences park that will allegedly have a $7.6 billion impact on the region. With a clearly thriving healthcare industry, Orlando is poised to drive industry innovation for years to come.

Mend

In rough shape? Use Mend to schedule a home visit from a doctor. Mend gives you the ability to locate and request medical services from the convenience of your phone. Users can select a doctor on the app, view ratings, and choose between a call or a home visit. Once the doctor is selected, patients can sit back, relax, and wait for their checkup.

Carespotter

Carespotter, a marketplace for caregivers, allows you to find quality care for yourself or loved ones. Users can post on the Carespotter site, and highlight the types of care they are looking for. Once a local caregiver is selected, family members can supervise care through the Carespotter online care manager.

AssistRx

AssistRx specializes in ePrescriptions and the development of software that streamlines the process of “distributing, and administering specialty medications.” AssistRx tries to maintain the flow of information between all prescription relevant parties in an attempt to improve patient adherence.

SMRxT

Never miss a dosage with SMRxT’s smart pill bottle and app. The bottle and app work in tandem to remind you what, when, and how much of your medication you should take. The SMRxT app records the times and amount of pills taken and can alert caregivers of signs of abuse  

PN Medical

PN Medical creates devices that treat pulmonary and respiratory conditions, such as COPD, Asthma, Stroke, and Congestive Heart Failure through muscle training. PN Medical offers treatment in the form of the Breather, an affordable pulmonary treatment device, available for $39.

Health Box

Health Box Studios is a business accelerator specific to healthcare startups. The accelerator’s primary goal is to help innovative healthcare startups reach their full potential. Healthbox Foundry, also under the Health Box umbrella, works with established healthcare companies to drive innovation internally. Orlando-based BookThatDoc, and CareSpotter, are both graduates of the HealthBox accelerator program.

FitBot

FitBot is an app and web platform that facilitates communication between fitness trainers/strength coaches and their clients. FitBot allows trainers to distribute workouts to clients, as well as track their performance. Clients and trainers can send and receive workouts from the FitBot app and/or web platform.

BookThatDoc

BookThatDoc takes the pain out of scheduling doctors appointment. The BookThatDoc search tool allows users to filter their searches for health professionals based on location, specialties, language, gender, reason for visit, and more.

LimbitLess Solutions

LimbitLess Solutions is revolutionizing the way that prosthetic limbs are made and distributed. Traditional prosthetics are high priced and need to be constantly replaced as a child grows. The Limbitless team has engineered an affordable 3D-printed bionic arm. The team of UCF grads is raising funds in an effort to provide LimbitLess’ prosthetic limbs to child-victims of the violence in Syria.

 

image Inside Factur: Where Maker’s Make

Enjoy a peek into Factur, one of Orlando’s most unique coworking spaces. Factur offers makers the tools and space they need to create. The space is home to woodworking, and metalworking, machinery, as well as 3D printers, laser cutters, a kiln, and more. Factur also offers classes for any aspiring makers. Like many of the other Orlando coworking spaces, Factur has a variety of membership options starting at $75 a month.

image FireSpring Fund Receives $100,000 in Funding from Orange County

“Start here, Stay here,” is the motto that seemed to be at the forefront of the FireSpring Fund’s presentation this morning, just before the Orange County commissioners and Mayor Teresa Jacobs unanimously voted in favor of the Fund’s request for $100,000. District 5 Commissioner Ted Edwards even voted in favor, despite voting against OrlandoIX’s in a similar tech-related request earlier this year.

The FireSpring Fund’s approved ask of $100,000 will go towards funding the first round of companies in the program beginning in 2016. The fund will attempt to improve Orlando’s overall economic condition by cultivating and retaining high growth technology companies.

During the county commission meeting, contributions were made by a wide range of community stakeholders including Eric Ushkowitz, Economic Development Administrator of Orange County, Dr. Thomas O’Neal of UCF, Carlos Carbonell, CEO of Echo Interaction and President of the Orlando Tech Association, Randy Burridge, of the Corridor, and Donna Mackenzie, the Executive Director of the FireSpring Fund.

“As a local government, we try to provide support for entrepreneurs and startups through funding of programs that will provide the necessary resources to help start, grow and sustain businesses,” said Ushkowitz in an email. “I feel the FireSpring Fund is a link in the economic development chain that is currently missing in our community.  Seed funding is vital to the technology community and it is lacking right now.  I’m proud of the leadership role that Mayor Jacobs and our Board of County Commissioners have taken by approving $100,000 to go towards the FireSpring Fund and I hope it is a big step towards them reaching their goal of raising $1 million to get the fund started.”
According to Mackenzie, the FireSpring Fund will be looking for software, internet, and manufactured product tech companies for selective participation in the future program. The program will offer three tranches of funding distributed based on milestone achievements such as completing the Starter Studio Stage II Accelerator Program.

image Best Places to Work in Orlando – Part 2

Are you a daily bootstrapper, roaming from setting to setting, in search of a space that will suit your work needs? From coffee shops, to coworking spaces, to high-rises, here are a few places for tech professionals to be productive in Orlando. 

Check out Part 1 if you missed it.

Part 2 – Coworking Spaces!

Maybe you don’t like change, or finding a new place to work each and every day. Maybe you just like being around familiar faces. Coworking spaces provide small businesses, startups, and bootstrappers with affordable workspaces, complete with all the infrastructure you might need, from WiFi to conference rooms. With flexible membership options available, whether your need your own office space or just a place to camp out a couple times per week.

Catalyst 1 S. Orange Ave, 5th Floor

Catalyst is painted warm orange and white aesthetic, and full of hardworking startups. Located in the heart of Downtown Orlando, and complete with a Vespr Coffee bar, Catalyst is a comfortable bright place to work.

 

Canvs101 S. Garland Ave, Suite 108

Located in the downtown Orlando Exchange building, Canvs is the city’s largest coworking space. Brimming with entrepreneurial talent and expanding, Canvs is a good place to get your coworking feet wet. Canvs is celebrating its one year anniversary this month.

Factur520 Virginia Dr. 

If you are a maker, than Factur is the coworking space for you. Factur serves as both a workshop and a classroom for experienced makers, and those who wish to learn. Factur is located in the Lake Ivanhoe neighborhood, not far from downtown.

CoLab37 N. Orange Ave

Located on the ninth floor of historic Angebilt building, CoLab was created to provide its members with a better work environment. With comfortable seating, and a homey atmosphere, CoLab is another premiere coworking space.

image Tech Exec Tips: CEO Dan O’Leary of n-Space

Tech Exec Tips is a new Orlando Tech Association series in which we will interview some of Orlando’s leading technology executives about some of the tools and methods they use to get things done in their business

Today: Dan O’Leary, CEO of N-Space. n-Space is an Orlando-based independent video game developer.

In your experience at n-Space, what do you find to be the best method of communication?

It depends entirely on the specific circumstances whether an email, instant message, video conference, telephone call or face to face conversation is the best tool for the job. All play important roles for general communication in our company, alongside specialty tools like JIRA and Confluence. We try to minimize dependence on email, which can be ambiguous, overwhelming and lacks personal context, and large meetings, which are very inefficient and often leave too much unresolved. Game development is an extremely collaborative effort and few methods can beat a simple face to face conversation for internal discussions.

Are there any productivity apps that you guys use on a regular basis?

Like most we use email (exchange server) and Microsoft’s Office suite. I’m not sure you would classify those productivity apps, but it is where the bulk of our “paperwork” is produced. High level budgeting and scheduling is done in Project and our sprints are managed in JIRA. All project documentation is kept in Confluence which facilitates collaborative editing, versioning, linking, etc. It is our “one source of truth.” The development team uses a mix of Unity, 3D Studio Max, Photoshop, Illustrator and other industry standard production tools.

I personally quite like Evernote for keeping everything organized and shared across all my devices. I use to spend a lot of time checking out all the cool new note taking, scheduling, and planning apps but found that the quest for the perfect tool was often just distracting me from the most effective productivity tool of all – hard work.

What platform, if any, do you prefer for managing social media?

At n-Space we focus our social media efforts primarily on Facebook, Twitter and Twitch, along with the Sword Coast Legends forum. So far we haven’t felt a pressing need to adopt a management platform as our activity is still workable without it. This is something we are keeping an eye on, however, and I’ve spent some time checking out Nuvi. As the number of channels we manage grows, and with it the total audience, something like that will likely become essential.

Are there any unique aspects of the n-Space workplace that you believe boost morale/efficiency?

The average tenure of our staff is over 7 years. About 10% of our 50+ employees have given 20 years to n-Space. In that time we have faced monumental challenges together, including a failed acquisition, the death of a co-founder and complete transformation of the industry, all while earning the repeat business of publishers that expect far too much for the time and money they allocate. As a result, n-Space is a very cohesive, close knit organization of world class professionals that have sacrificed much to do what they love. That togetherness is at the core of our morale and that experience at the heart of our efficiency.

What do you think is the most important tool you use on an everyday basis?

Email. It’s not glamorous but my world revolves around it. Nothing else comes close.