Continuing Mabbly’s coverage of Miami start-ups, we would like to highlight six companies that are currently in beta-testing and are generating a lot of excitement and positive feedback.
Luminota is a multilingual news digest committed to removing the social and linguistic barriers keeping important stories out of reach. They analyze and translate news from leading sources to provide balanced summaries to readers in their native language. Since they are multilingual team from different corners of the world, their perspective is more global than you'll find in a traditional paper.
When I read the news in English and then in Russian, it was an eye opening experience as I realized that even though some of the top news were the same, close to 80% of the content was different.
The facts, tones, and opinions can vary greatly depending on the language in which a piece of news is written. The reasons behind such disparities are complex, but their objective is to help level the playing field. As of last month, they had over 50,000 unique readers per month. They are retooling their technology platform and are focusing on delivering content in Spanish and Portuguese content. "The concept has been validated and people really want to know what the rest of the world says about their country," says Jordan Weitz, Co-Founder & COO, who is also working on a separate platform, similar to Luminota, but with a focus on specific industries, catering to C level executives.
Dropbyke is a unique mobile app that allows you to rent and drop off a bike wherever you need it. “No commitment, no membership, no extra charges, only absolute urban freedom.”
According to the founder, Alexander Shvetsov, the idea was born while visiting San Francisco, CA, validated in Miami, FL, and launched in Vilnius, Lithuania in the Summer of 2015. Ideally, they would like to come back to US and are now looking to secure funding to help with expansion efforts.
Besides on improving the app and the user process version 2.0, dropbyke has also developed a prototype smart lock to work via Bluetooth. Finally, in order to scale quickly, they are adding to their own fleet of bikes by partnering up with local bike shops to use their unused supply. The company has other related projects in the works, too. For example, they are in the process of designing their own custom bike with one of the biggest bike manufacturers in the world to grow their brand and decrease the risks of having the bikes misappropriated.
3. Rooms2night LLC 1
Rooms2night is a mobile-only booking app specializing in small local independent hotels across South and Central America. Anemone Hartmanm, the founder of the company, realized that a lot of these smaller hotels don’t show up on traditional travel sites such as Expedia, the reason being they don’t have a reliable internet connection outside of their smartphones. “We offer a way for these hotels to do e-commerce from their Smartphones and are disrupting the OTA market in Latin America with this.”
The company’s initial outreach to these off-the-grid hotels and hostels is done through Facebook, travel bloggers, local sales people and MyAllocator to provide broad choices in accommodations.
They are currently in the beta testing phase, focusing on Costa Rica, which has been attracting a lot of western travelers and is in its high season. A large number of testers are from FIU and UM in Miami and they are getting a lot of great feedback. The number one request has been for a social component through user-to-user connectivity to make the bookings more personalized and allow the users to share tips and pictures.
When asked for any advice or challenges with beta testing, “We have tried to keep on running without external funding as long as possible, but that makes it harder to find people interested in testing the application, as we have no extra funds available for PR or discounts to encourage more testers to participate.”
The company’s team of five started a year ago in February 2015. The app is offered in English and Spanish on Android and iOS. Rooms2night had signed up hotels in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru and Guatemala and is is now ready to expand.
Blizuu is a B2B business network in South America that aims to optimize companies’ costs by expanding sales networks and cutting the acquisition costs. Blizuu provides all the information required to make the best decision while making corporate purchases.
“When I was working as account director of the biggest public banking in Chile, we developed a beautiful project for micro-entrepreneurs (the first club for micro-entrepreneurs). The objective of the project was helping them with three axes: emotionally, structural and financial. We built a community from scratch, knowing their needs and supporting them with training and resources to make their business a success. Back then, the community was a face-to-face community. Now Blizuu aims to help small and medium business to grow and be more competitive with the use of our technology platform,” says Carol Bruck, Co-Founder & CEO.
5. Lux Beauty Club 1
“My mood depends on how good my hair looks” is the informal motto at Lux Beauty Club. The company has sold hair extensions since 2011 as SOBE Organics and Press On Hair. The founders wanted to create a one-stop shop for extensions. Knowing that they need to be replaced every six to eight weeks, the first ever subscription-based hair extensions business was born.
They believe hair extensions should be affordable and accessible to everyone. If you go to a full service salon, you’re looking at paying $1200 to $3000 for the extensions and the service. You can now replicate this with LBC for less than $250. There are many options available, too. You can buy the extensions and attach them yourself, you can go to one of the partner salons and get them attached there, or you can have a stylist (through their exclusive partnership with PRIV) come directly to you. That is a true diva experience at a not-so-diva price.
“It is been very hard to raise funds for two female entrepreneurs, but we secured the funds we need from a private investor. Lux Beauty will be featured on a popular series, Real Housewives of New York City and make other appearances on TV. We know 2016 is going to be a big year for us, but 2017 will be the biggest,” says Victoria Flores, co-founder & CEO.
Shop online, then just go and pick it up! The company is currently working with the local grocery shops, saving the consumer time and money via exclusive discounts from the vendors. Restaurants and other business will be added-onto the platform on a weekly basis. The platform is integrated with the vendor's’ inventory so it provides real time data to the consumers. Consumer add what they need to their virtual carts, then just go and pick it up from the vendor. No time wasted looking through the isles and waiting in lines. Francisco Guijarro, the founder of this e-commerce site its mobile app started his computer programming degree at the tender age of 12 and graduated at the age of 14. He has a number of creative ideas in place in order to grow its user bases once the official launch takes place (currently slated for March 2016). “We have done a lot of research into similar types of services already in the market (PeaPod and the likes) and found out that while the customers loved the convenience they didn’t want to pay for the delivery. That is how GroGrab was born - to fill-in that gap.” Eventually the company is planning on adding delivery or centralized pick-up locations (where one can pick-up goods ordered from multiple places) as well.