Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

South Florida entrepreneur wins prize from Silicon Valley accelerator

Nov. 16, 2012, 11:21 a.m., Posted by Jenna Buehler

newmemia

Sabrina Scandar (c) is announced as the NewME Miami PopUp Accelerator winner. She co-founded Sew Love with her sister Silvia (l). The sisters were ideal candidates to join the 2013 NewME accelerator in Silicon Valley, said CEO of NewME, Angela Benton (r).

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South Florida’s Sabrina Scandar got a boost for her new tech startup this week by taking first place in the NewMe Miami pop-up accelerator demo competition.

Scandar partnered with her sister, Silvia, to develop Sew Love, a site that allows amateur designers to turn design concepts into real garments. As part of her prize worth $45,000, Scandar will participate in the 2013 NewME accelerator in Silicon Valley.

“The experience with NewME was really helpful in helping us think through our business and put together a great pitch,” Scandar said. “It was exciting to get exposure to startup companies and see this community really growing.”

Prior to NewME, Scandar was part of the LAB Miami workspace collaboration and had received 265 backers who collectively donated $20,955 on Kickstarter. Scandar said her and her co-founder and sisters’ goal is to develop a clothing line that is “designed by the people, for the people.”

Scandar, 25, has this advice to offer young, female entrepreneurs in South Florida:

“Just do it, go for it. Take risks and ask for help and criticism. There is never going to be the perfect time. The nice thing about being young is that it’s ok to pick up and go and change your plans.”

The event, funded by Knight Foundation, was facilitated by the NewME Accelerator, based in Silicon Valley. This week’s event was NewME’s first outside of the Bay Area and took place at LAB Miami.

In second place, Charleston Malkemus won for an app that aims to “save the world of homebuying.” Gozump provides potential home buyers with an offer engine that allows users to eliminate the need for a broker and name their own price. Carrie Ann Mantha received third place for Indira, a still in prototype bride-to-be website that allows users to buy and customize their dress with gemstone jewelry, gifts and accessories.

The Miami event offered professional coaching to 45 entrepreneurs, each at different stages in their development.

Though just one in five participants attending the accelerator had acquired venture capital prior to the NewME demo, coaches said Miami is on its way to becoming an entrepreneurial hot spot. NewME chose the Miami location for its popup because it’s a place that is ready to “disrupt the landscape in the tech scene,” said NewME Founder Angela Benton.

“What makes Miami different from Silicon Valley is that this community is open to change,” Benton said. “There is a lack of resistance that makes all the difference and with so many great ideas, it’s unfortunate we limited the number of winners.”

The NewME event was another illustration of the growing energy in the Miami startup community, said Matt Haggman, Knight Foundation’s Miami program director.

“You could feel it in the room, not only the desire to present cool ideas but the eagerness to connect with each other,” Haggman said. “This was a great step in our efforts to build community by making Miami more of a place where ideas are built.”

Some 45 companies participated in the NewME accelerator, each at different stages in their development. Frankie Coletto is founder of PassTheNotes, an education collaborative tool, and has been in the startup business since 2007.

“Yesterday was the first time that I felt like I’m home, this feels like what a tech community should be,” Coletto said. “Now that tech people are coming to Miami from Silicon Valley, we’re in the beginning of something big.”

Knight Foundation funded NewME in an effort to better connect South Florida’s community of innovators, entrepreneurs, investors and academics.  In Miami, Knight’s goal is to foster a startup culture and help cultivate a sense that Miami is a city where ideas are built.

By Jenna Buehler, executive assistant/communications at Knight Foundation

Related: "Connecting, educating and inspiring Miami's innovators" and "Entrepreneurs wanted: Tech accelerator brings Silicon Valley to Miami" KnightBlog