Create great products, launch awesome companies. This is the Mantra of Rokk3r Labs, a Miami-based firm dedicated to investing in and building social, mobile and digital products.
Rokk3r Labs is the product of a merger between Decipher Labs, a high-end software development firm, and Rokk3r Mobile, a boutique consulting firm specializing in mobile and social technologies. It was launched by German Montoya, Nabyl Charania, Charles Irizarry, Brian Sanchez and Juan Montoya in early 2012. Since that time, Rokk3r Labs has focused on creating the right team and structure to execute its vision of launching truly disruptive companies.
What Rokk3r Labs does is to partner with businesses and entrepreneurs in turning ideas into living, breathing products and companies. With over US$3 million in technological and product investment, it creates concepts, builds prototypes and invests in ideas.
Today, Rokk3r Labs’ team is 30-professionals strong, and it partners with over 16 companies in three continents. It has launched and is in the early stage of launching products in various industries, including social recruitment (Crowdbounty), data visualization and analysis (S3nse), advertising (AdMobilize and Ad Avengers), and social messaging (Ditty Entertainment).
While its headquarters are based in Miami, it also boasts a presence in Colombia and is currently in the process of setting up its offices in Bogotá. There, it will replicate its Miami model and source businesses in Colombia and throughout Latin America.
We reached out to Juan Montoya, General Manager of Rokk3r Labs, who is involved in the life cycle of each and every product the company puts out. He told us more about Rokk3r Labs, a sort of digital-creation hybrid.
Emily Stewart: On your website, you say that you invest in “disruptive” companies – a word that’s thrown around a lot. How do you define disruptive?
Juan Montoya: You’re right, the word does get thrown around a lot. Our definition of a disruptive company is one that can potentially change how people and companies interact. Basically, we look for ideas that are imaginative and intelligent in the way they approach their purpose, and those that can latch on to our processes to create a wave in their industries. Identifying ideas that could be first movers in markets is also a factor in determining disruption.
ES: What is your ideal project/investment?
JM: Our ideal project is one that is led by a person or team of people who are subject matter experts in their industries and who have the insight required to develop products that can potentially transform their markets. These are typically individuals whose ideas have been validated previously, in the form of angel investments or other types of support. When we see a potentially disruptive idea, we work to fine tune it and develop it into a viable product.
ES: Your professional background is in more traditional sectors – government, corporations, etc. What has your experience been working now in the tech/startup sector? What skills have you had to develop, and is there anything you’ve had to “unlearn”?
JM: It has been an amazing experience. With regard to new skills, I feel that I was lucky enough to pick a path that allowed me to develop the right experience, or the “hard” skills to take on my current role at R3L. The true learning has been more in what I would call “soft” or life skills. It has improved my ability to think on my feet and make quick decisions with less than complete information. It has also forced me to become a more flexible person and manager. I would not say I’ve had to unlearn anything, but I certainly strive to question everything I think I know from previous experience and be open to learning from my incredible team and the many interesting people from every walk of life that come through our door every day.
ES: What does Rokk3rLabs have on deck for 2013?
JM: In a very Rokk3r Labs fashion, we have big ideas to execute at every level. This year, we will successfully launch all the companies and products in our current portfolio, and we will continue to sign and work on more throughout the year. We will finalize an aggressive plan for a corporate structure and financial strategy that will allow us to fund many more great ideas and serve our partner companies in multiple ways. We will even finish and release our own web-based mini reality show. And, of course, we will do all of this while continuing to play soccer, do yoga and have the time of our lives!
Featured image credit: Binsen JGM.