Tech Cocktail’s Miami mixer showcases seven local startups

Communities / Article

Kloset Karma was presented at a Tech Cocktail event at The Stage in Miami’s Design District. Credit: Michael D. Bolden.

Two local startups will get the chance to pitch their businesses to other entrepreneurs and investors at Tech Cocktail Celebration, a national competition Oct. 9-10 in Las Vegas, after winning a showcase at The Stage in the Miami Design District Tuesday night.

Both of the businesses capitalize on needs in women’s fashion. Flat Out of Heels offers a wearable solution for women with stiletto-sore feet while Kloset Karma, a mobile app, puts unused clothing from the back of closets into circulation.

The two companies were selected from seven startups during a Tech Cocktail Miami mixer and showcase. Thanks to Knight Foundation support, this is the inaugural year in Miami for Tech Cocktail, a national media and events company that provides resources for startups, entrepreneurs and technology enthusiasts.

“We meet women when their feet hurt the most,” said Flat Out CEO and founder Dawn Dickson during a 60-second pitch. “Flat Outs are sold online and in vending machines in the Atlanta Airport and in the restroom in Club LIV.”

While Flat Out of Heels was voted the winner by people attending the showcase, Kloset Karma won an online pre-event Reader’s Choice Award.

The Kloset Karma service allows fashonistas to exchange outfits they no longer want for “Karma Points,” which they can redeem for outfits from other users nearby.

“Kloset Karma works because it’s taking an existing habit between girlfriends and expanding it to the community and national level,” co-founder Paula Celestino said.

Other startups pitching during the event focused on serving different types of communities. Prosimity—a location-based LinkedIn-like mobile app— promotes smarter business networking.  It connects professionals before, during, and after networking events by using LinkedIn account data to match user profiles among professionals who share similar interests and are close by. 

Company “growth hacker” Zach Simpson said the inception of Prosimity stemmed from a Tech Cocktail Miami event last year.

“One of our co-founders came looking for a marketing guy and walked away with a bunch of business cards and no results, and he said there’s got to be a better way to do this,” Simpson said.

Munchkin Fun focuses on a different type of community: parents. CEO and mother of three Valerie Schimel, who is also a Knight Foundation consultant, created a website where parents can find, register and pay for local kids classes and camps that have been approved by other parents. Schimel is expanding the model to cities around the United States. 

Munchkin Fun was one of two parenting-related startups presenting. Heather Lopez pitched Bloggin’ Mamas, a network that helps moms financially support themselves and their blog business initiatives by providing training services and brand advertising opportunities.

“We decided we were going to connect with brands and help get moms paid to provide content, promote, and work with brands to reach out to other moms,” Lopez said. “Eighty-five percent of moms are the primary household consumers. They’re spending the money. The best way to reach them is through other moms—through blogs.”

Entrepreneurs also pitched Wave Interactions, a real-time gaming platform, which aims to add big-scale multiplayer features to games, and Waleteros, which allows users to deposit checks, send money, and pay bills from a mobile app. Waleteros co-founder Etienne Gillard said the app provides a better alternative to a check-cashing store for those without bank accounts.

“It’s less expensive than a check-cashing store, it’s more convenient, and it’s safer,” Gillard said.

Tech Cocktail co-founder Frank Gruber expressed his gratitude and excitement for the turnout of Tuesday’s event, which attracted scores of people to network and hear about Miami’s emerging startups.  

“This is a growing community and it’s showing. People are coming out, and the quality of the pitches was pretty superb for our first kind of pitch event like this,” Gruber said. “We wouldn’t have been able to do it without Knight Foundation support. We’ve got a hub here, now. We’re really a part of this community.”

Carolina Wilson is an editorial intern at Knight Foundation.