TechCrunch, a global technology media outlet, brought its popular Meetup and Pitch-off to Miami on February 23. From the glowing stage of the Paris Theater, 10 regional startups gave 60-second pitches in hopes of swaying a panel of VCs and TechCrunch editors.
Erik Mendelson, co-founder of RecordGram, a platform that encourages and publishes collaborations between music producers and artists, was named the winner. RecordGram claimed a table at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York, a renown conference for the debut of startups to investors, consumers, and the media.
Second place was granted to Emerge, a digital advisor for emergency medical insurance, which received two tickets to Disrupt in May. The prizes were awarded by judges that included Venture Hive’s Susan Amat, Tres Mares Group’s Faquiry Diaz, Hispanicize Media Group’s Manny Ruiz, and CIC’s Natalia Martinez-Kalinina.
The other pitching startups offered products and services that ranged from contextual text messaging to dream cataloging, tutor hiring, and hospitality management. These eight startups were Apollonix, ContextIsKey, DocuVital, Donkies Technology, DreamsCloud, Ezzy A, R3ports, Inc, and Salesmsg. All were selected through applications vetted by TechCrunch.
Thursday marked the first time that TechCrunch held a pitch-off in Florida. With the startup economy heating up in the Sunshine State, it comes with little surprise. Last year, Florida companies raised 29 percent more venture capital than in 2015, injecting $1.12 billion into the state. This was Florida’s highest VC funding results since 2001 during the boom of the DotCom days.
At the center of this buzz is Metro Miami-Fort Lauderdale. Its unicorn startup, Magic Leap, raised $793.5 million in the first quarter of 2016. The region also ranked second for new business creation out of the 40 largest metro areas studied by the Kauffman Foundation in its 2016 Index of Startup Activity. The region was second only to Austin, Texas, in new startup activity.