The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
LearnerNation, an online learning startup based in Miami, won the chance to pitch its business model next year to a large group of investors during a “pop-up pitch” session held Monday night at The Lightbox at Goldman Warehouse in Wynwood.
The event, presented by The Atlantic and The Atlantic Cities in partnership with Knight Foundation, was a prelude to Start-Up City: Miami, which is slated for Feb. 6 at New World Center in Miami Beach. Last year’s event drew more than 1,000 entrepreneurs, investors and technologists to discuss innovation and the growth of tech ecosystems in cities such as Miami.
Monday’s event drew members of the South Florida tech community “to listen to entrepreneurs pitch great ideas, to understand the ideas they are working on, both for investors to learn about it but also for the broader community to understand it,” said Matt Haggman, Knight’s program director in Miami.
The event was just one element of two weeks of activities centered on innovation and entrepreneurship, including last week’s global digital business conference, SIME MIA. Haggman said the event was an opportunity for entrepreneurs to connect with each other and investors and to receive useful feedback. It’s also part of a broader strategy from Knight Foundation to help build the startup tech community in Miami, he said.
“The pace of things in Miami have really picked up,” said Andres Moreno, founder and CEO of Open English. Miami has “established itself as a credible place to run a business from.”
Eight startups pitched to three judges, including Moreno; Robb Hilson, small business executive for Bank of America; and Steve Repetti, co-founder of CrunchFire Ventures. Atlantic Cities founder Richard Florida moderated the event.
“Every entrepreneur we see is potentially a serial entrepreneur and we like that,” Repetti said. “So if not this deal maybe the next, but guess what: Maybe I know somebody that can help that, and that’s that cool karma thing that’s going to come back around to us—and not just us but the entire ecosystem.”
Michael D. Bolden, editorial director at Knight Foundation