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South Florida got its first high-profile startup exit this week

This week, South Florida got its first high-profile exit of a startup. Six-year-old Chewy.com, an online pet goods retailer, reportedly sold for more than $3 billion. Many are taking it as a sign that “exits” — AKA successful sales or going public – are possible in the South Florida ecosystem.

The founders, while not from the region, built their business in Broward, and also opened a processing center in Ocala. As Miami VC-In-Residence Marlon Nichols tells us, it will help give South Florida a higher profile among America’s venture capitalists.

CIC Miami launches Operation: Launch 2.0

After successfully recruiting companies through Operation: Launch to have entrepreneurs sign up for a three-month term at its coworking space, CIC Miami is now launching Operation: Launch 2.0.

This time, they’ll be accepting applications for three-month co-working membership grants for companies within three disciplines that have proven to contribute significantly to South Florida’s rising startup ecosystem: financial technology, educational technology, and healthcare technology.

“Our mission for this project is to create micro-communities within these sectors by connecting promising companies with each other and providing the resources and environment that they need to grow,” CIC said in its announcement.

Interested entrepreneurs can apply here.

NewCo Festival coming to Miami

Thanks to support from the Knight Foundation, NewCo announced it will be hosting one of its signature festivals here next February. Its festivals are described as a “mashup of an open studio tour and a business conference, with the vibe of a music festival.”

The Miami festival “promotes awareness of emerging local employment and business opportunities, and connects Miami’s growing entrepreneurial class with established businesses and budding startups,” NewCo co-founder John Battelle said in a statement.

The festival is being curated by M+D.

eMerge Americas announces another keynote speaker

The cofounder of Waze, Uri Levine, will be featured alongside Apple founder Steve Wozniak as a keynote speaker at this year’s eMerge Americas in June. Tickets are still available here.

Miami’s VC-In-Residence says Chewy.com acquisition puts South Florida on the map

In his second week in Miami, Marlon Nichols’ arrival coincided over one of the biggest exits in South Florida startup history, the multi-billion acquisition of pet supplies site Chewy.com

“This one is relevant because the thesis of the [VC-In-Residence] is that billion-dollar companies can be created in South Florida as long as there is capital and a working ecosystem,” he told Startup.Miami in an email.

In an earlier interview with Startup.Miami, Nichols admitted that South Florida’s startup community wasn’t “on [his] radar” until he began talking about taking the VCIR position.

As for the overarching goal of the VCIR program, Nichols said he hopes to build relationships that last well beyond his month-long tenure.

“The bigger, more important goal is establishing a working and lasting relationship with the ecosystem here,” he says. “If that happens, then instead of one investment, you’ll get, over time, maybe 5 to 10 investments. It’s to learn and add value to ecosystem.”

You can see the events the VCIR has scheduled on Startup.Miami’s events page.

Vote for the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge Finalists

The field has been narrowed to 10: five in the Community track…

…  And five among companies run by FIU students and alumni.

  • DoUCare: connecting freelance caregivers to those seeking elderly home-care services
  • Ketamine Health Centers: outpatient centers for mentally ill
  • MunchSquad: managing restaurants’ surplus food
  • Nuvola: hotel guest management
  • SettleiTsoft: debt servicing platform
  • Use Your Words: communication platform for Autistic children

The winners will receive increased coverage from the Herald, as well as free passes to eMerge Americas June 12-13. The top finisher will also be eligible for the American Entrepreneurship Award, competing for a share of $125,000 in prizes and support.

Vote here.

Real estate startup raises $1.1 million

Gridics, the Miami-based firm that compiles real estate data and digitizes zoning plans, has raised $1.1 million. Investors included leading Miami real estate developer Avra Jain. The company, which has raised over $2 million of development capital to date, is focused on further strengthening its product and driving adoption of its Zonar.City municipal zoning management application.

By Rob Wile
Rob Wile, the curator for Startup.Miami, is a writer and entrepreneur living in Mid-Beach. He’s a former staff writer for Fusion and Business Insider. His work has also appeared in Slate, Newsweek, Money Magazine and The New Tropic. He writes a twice-weekly newsletter on tech, business, and the economy in South Florida called The Heatwave.