Refugee Business Accelerator Startupboat Launches in Florida

The last Steve Jobs was Syrian. Is the next one Venezuelan?

That’s the question Startupboat wants to answer with its new branch in Florida. The Greece-based company provides vitalservices to newly arrived refugees from its base in Samos. It then connects them with resources to help them launch disruptive businesses.

Startupboat recently began operations in the United States to serve Mexican, Venezuelan, and Nicaraguan refugees coming to America. It hopes to bring its unique model of aid to a vast pool of untapped potential in the world’s most dynamic and robust economy.

Startupboat: Origins 

Startupboat has come a long way from its roots. The company was founded in 2015 by German-Greek businessman and humanitarian activist Paula Schwarz. Startupboat began as a private supplier of services to newly arrived refugees. European governments often struggled, or sometimes even refused, to help refugees at the time, leaving private actors to fill the void.

The company took a unique approach to help refugees acclimate to their new host countries. While it provided aid that was immediately needed, the company also sought out current or aspiring entrepreneurs among the new arrivals.

Many entrepreneurs would have struggled to build disruptive, innovative businesses in their home countries. Through Startupboat, founders could seek out funding and talent. Perhaps even more importantly, they could make business relationships and gain leadership experience.

Big Backers: What Startupboat Brings to the Table

Florida has a well-developed ecosystem to help refugees settle and start a new life in the United States. So what does Startupboat bring to add value to this network of providers?

The Opal Group, Cisco Systems, and Adi Divni are major corporate partners that back Startupboat. Thanks to these significant corporate connections, Startupboat can connectthe refugee entrepreneurs working with the company to the resources they need to realize their visions.

Startupboat also has practical experience aiding refugees escaping some of the direst conditions imaginable. It can direct refugees to the resources they need through its extensive community.

Startupboat’s Successes

Startupboat has helped launch many refugee-founded businesses to get off the ground and become successful enterprises. These success stories provide a model for the approach the company hopes to take in its new home of Florida.

Startupboat’s success stories include the following:

• First Contact, a platform that helps refugees adapt to their new homes, logged over 4 million users in 2019. 

• Marha Car, an “Uber for Refugees,” is a car-based delivery service on Lesbos that provides critical supplies to refugees. 

• The Migration Hub Network is an English translation service and a network of workspaces in Europe and Africa.

With a history of successful business launches, Startupboathopes to use this expertise in the United States to expand its operations. The company sees extensive opportunities to assist refugees on this side of the Atlantic. It hopes to use the unique skillset it gained while facing the century’s most significant refugee crisis to help others searching for a better life in the US.

Startupboat’s Goals in Florida

Startupboat hopes to connect with newly arrived refugees from Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Mexico. Refugees from these countries might be fleeing endemic violence, as in the case of Mexico, or state-level repression, in the case of those from Venezuela and Nicaragua. 

Through its network of corporate partners and drawing on its expertise in launching startups, Startupboat hopes to connect entrepreneurs with the resources they need to start successful businesses. As Florida has a growing reputation as a startup hub and is a primary destination point for many Latin American refugees, it made sense as a new home for the company.

Want to learn more about Startupboat? Contact them today to see how you can help!

Mason Cooper
Mason Cooper
Mason Cooper hails from the vibrant city of Los Angeles, California, and serves as an integral part of LA Featured Magazine's dedicated staff. As a committed team member, Mason's contribution has had a significant impact on the magazine's growth and popularity over the years.


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