January 22, 2017

Startup Spotlight: WashMyWhip brings car wash to you and saves water, too

WWW00 Washmywhip News rk

WashMyWhip, a Miami-based startup, provides an on-demand, eco-friendly car-care service. Through the WashMyWhip app, you can drop a pin on your car’s location, select a service, and a WashPro will tend to your vehicle at a place and time of your choosing. 

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Company name: WashMyWhip 

Headquarters: The LAB Miami

Concept: WashMyWhip is an on-demand, eco-friendly car-care service. Through the WashMyWhip app, you can drop a pin on your car’s location and select a service, and a WashPro will tend to your vehicle at a time of your choosing. 

Story: Imagine telling your JPMorgan bosses you’re leaving a high-finance career to start a car-wash company. “They thought I was crazy,” Nathan Bekerman said. “But my years at JPMorgan taught me how to execute and run a business.” 

Bekerman and Tarek El Gammal (pictured above), who was also working at JPMorgan, as well as Ryan Serkes, “the computer guy,” believed there was something lacking in car-washing: consumer convenience. It also disturbed them that car-wash employees were typically being overworked and underpaid. Add to that the frightening figure that a traditional car wash can waste 50 to 100 gallons of water, and you have an industry in dire need of a makeover, they thought.

Their solution: WashMyWhip.

“We believe that everyone deserves to have quality car care right at their fingertips. Why would you take the time to drive to a car wash when you can launch an app and have a trained professional tend to your car whenever and wherever you want? The convenience and satisfaction of our customers is our utmost concern,” Bekerman, the CEO, said. “If they’re happy, we’re happy.”

WashMyWhip’s “WashPros” have the ability to manage a flexible schedule and earn both salary and commission-based pay. “We feel that these car-wash experts don’t deserve the working conditions of other car washes and can find a more pleasant working experience with WashMyWhip,” Bekerman said. A graduate of Bentley University, he worked at JPMorgan for 51/2 years before starting WashMyWhip.

Water conservation is key, Bekerman said. Instead of gallons and gallons of water, WashMyWhip uses a waterless car wash service that consists of lubricants that raise the dirt, clay that breaks it down, and wax that makes sure a car stays shiny and protected.

The service was launched last summer, and so far, the company has cleaned more than 5,000 cars without wasting 250,000 to 500,000 gallons of water. A reservation can be made sun-up to sundown daily via the free app (iOS or Android). An outside cleaning is $20, inside and out is $30, and full detailing is $120.

But where WashMyWhip sees real opportunity is with corporate clients that manage fleets of cars, and it has developed a web application that can manage their inventory for car care, which is tailored to them. WashMyWhip has already secured a partnership with Xchange Leasing, an Uber company, as its preferred car-cleaning provider, and has begun expanding into other major cities such as Atlanta, Philadelphia and New York. 

“Our goal is to eventually expand to other car services, such as battery and tire changes, wiper blade replacements and windshield replacements,” Bekerman said.

Where did the name “WashMyWhip” come from? In the early days of automobiles, a car’s steering wheel was called a whip, alluding to horse and buggy days, the team said. Who knew?

Launched: April 2016

Website: www.washmywhip.com/cities/miami 

Management team: CEO: Nathan Bekerman; COO: Tarek El Gammal; CTO: Ryan Serkes.

Number of employees: 40

Financing: More than $225,000 in funding to date

Recent milestones reached: Acquired Xchange Leasing (an Uber company) as a partner; expanded into Philadelphia and Atlanta with wmwFleets (the fleet servicing arm of WashMyWhip); was a finalist in the Global Mobile Challenge for the U.S. and Canada. 

Biggest startup challenge: Educating the consumer about its waterless car-cleaning service. 

Next step: Expand into other markets while continuing to partner with local businesses in South Florida to grow its foothold. 

Strategy for next step: WashMyWhip now offers a comprehensive solution for businesses that own/operate large fleets. The startup plans to continue partnering with car dealerships and car-rental agencies to grow wmwFleets to a national level and leverage that to expand the WashMyWhip app.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

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Would you wear business jammies? Fashion startup creates ultra comfy work clothes

WDG00 Washmywhip News rk

 

 

January 20, 2017

Why the Maker Movement can help bridge the social, economic and digital divides of our community

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Pablo Ricatti watches a 3D printer demonstration during the last Miami Mini Maker Faire, held at Young Arts Plaza. AL DIAZ adiaz@miamiherald.com

By RIC HERRERO and DALE DOUGHERTY

Herrero%20(2)Makers are a global community of talented innovators — designers, fabricators, artists, engineers, educators, entrepreneurs and civic leaders — driven by personal passions and a spirit of lifelong learning and creative hacking.

You will find them from Silicon Valley start-up founders and Burning Man artisans to Havana’s cuentapropistas and Barcelona’s urban hackers. They see objects and systems not as finished things, but as collections of components that can be remixed, repurposed and reimagined to shape worlds around them.

Some are entrepreneurs like Rodolfo Saccoman. He develops innovative products in Miami Beach such as the MATRIX Creator, an Internet-of-Things development board that enables software developers to build hardware applications regardless of their skill level. Others are educators like Willie Avendano and Nelson Milian of the 01 education lab in Wynwood. They foster a sense of agency and creative confidence in young students through hands-on STEAM-based learning.

DaleOthers are using tools for social good. For instance, architects Tony Garcia and Sherryl Muriente’s wonderful Biscayne Green public space project has shown us the power of urban prototyping and open collaboration to promote public transit and strengthen communal bonds in Downtown Miami.

The act of making is rooted in play, collaboration and curiosity. It develops a mindset that enables us to see ourselves as more than just consumers, but as creators with a bias toward action. Makers love to tinker with hardware and technology, but mostly see these as a means to an end. They combine domain expertise and traditional craftsmanship with modern tools such as digital fabrication, micro-controllers and data analytics to innovate solutions for themselves and their communities.

The maker mindset helps people better bridge the social, economic and digital divides in an era of technological acceleration and dislocation. When so many of today’s jobs are expected to disappear in coming years because of advances in artificial intelligence and automation, few skills become as important as collaboration, resourcefulness, communication and creative problem-solving. The maker movement helps nurture those skills, letting us look closely at the things around us, explore their complexity and identify opportunities to add value.

For makers to prosper in a community, they require physical spaces with access to tools and expertise that foster local productivity. In Miami, the Moonlighter makerspace makes fabrication tools available to people of all ages. The Discovery Lab at FIU’s School of Computing and Information Sciences has introduced vertically integrated programs to foster cross-disciplinary collaboration. And Miami Dade College hosts the Design for Miami and Make1 programs through its Idea Center, which teach students how to apply design thinking and prototyping practices to solve problems, along with Maker Faire Miami, the region’s largest showcase of maker talent and one of almost 200 such Maker Faires around the globe.

But that’s not all cities need to be productive. They also require community organizers who can leverage resources among the city’s schools and universities, libraries, museums and large and small businesses, in order to build a well-connected ecosystem of creative and learning environments where makers can thrive. They require business associations that recognize the need for vocational programs that prepare the local labor force for the current and future job market. They require city officials who embrace open data and work with civic hacking groups like Code for Miami to improve municipal services and address challenges such as affordable housing, homelessness and adapting to climate change. Finally, they need planning and zoning boards that minimize red tape and create more favorable conditions for urban production and entrepreneurship to flourish.

We want to grow the Maker Movement to include everyone, helping them become innovators in their own lives and communities. We also seek to expand the opportunities that makers have to innovate, defining shared missions that makers can join. We’re happy to see Miami off to such a promising start and are eager to help all who want to see it go further.

Today (Jan. 20) at 4 pm: Join Make: Magazine founder Dale Dougherty and the international network of Maker Faire producers at Miami Dade College - Wolfson Campus to explore how the maker mindset is revitalizing our cities. Co-hosted by MANO, Miami Dade College and Maker Faire with the support of Knight Foundation, this event is open to the public and tickets are available via Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/making-the-maker-city-opening-plenary-for-the-2017-maker-faire-global-summit-registration-30470654548

Ric Herrero is the co-founder and president of MANO Americas; reach him at ric@manaamericas.org. Dale Dougherty is the founder of Maker Faire and author of “Free to Make”; reach him @dalepd. This column was first published on the Miami Herald op-ed page Friday. 

Read past coverage of Miami Mini Maker Faire here.

 

 

January 17, 2017

Small Business Spotlight: USP Motorsports owner's road to riches was slow and steady, unlike his Orange Lamborghini

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By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Turbocharging and test driving some of the fastest cars on the road: Just another day at the office?

For Chris Green (pictured above), founder of USP Motorsports, it is. The 35-year-old Coral Springs small-business owner, who started the company when he was 18, will be featured this week on CNBC’s second season of “Blue Collar Millionaires: Dirty Stinkin’ Rich,” a show that celebrates America’s self-made successes.

Green grew up modestly in the South Miami area, the son of a single mom. He sold candy to make money before turning to selling $60 car speaker boxes he built himself out of the family’s garage while in high school.

“I wasn’t exactly the best student in school, put it that way,” Green said.

They moved to Broward when Green was 15, and by the time he graduated from Coconut Creek Senior High School, he had saved up $5,000 in a bubble gum jar to rent 1,200 square foot space and had incorporated USP Motorsports. The venture combined his interest in car audio with his love of fast cars, because he also taught himself how to modify a car’s computer to make more horsepower, a service he began doing for his customers, while also providing custom parts. That was his start to his road to riches. But Green says it was passion, not the pursuit of dollars, that fueled his drive to succeed.

Far from being an overnight success, Green described his entrepreneurial journey as slow and steady. In the next few years, Green began adding high-level repair services for these fast cars. “I had no schooling for this stuff — it was literally 20 hour days just doing and doing and doing,” said "Green said. Even now when he hires specialists for his shop, he is not impressed with degrees and certifications: “You have to put your time into it.”

USP Motorsports was chugging along, and Green began to make a name for himself drag racing cars around the country —even winning races with a turbocharged Volkswagen Jetta, which is still on display at his Coral Springs location. In 2008, he began putting his business on the Internet and started to see opportunities beyond being a retail grease monkey in his shop.

Today, USP Motorsports, with 20 employees, is a repair shop, bricks-and-mortar retail location for custom parts and accessories and an e-commerce business for selling car parts worldwide. The company hit its first million in annual revenues in 2008.

“By 2012, it was a $3 million company, and last year, we did $7 million, and I hope to be in the $9 million range this year,” said Green, who owns an orange Lamborghini Superleggera with the license plate “NO DEGREE.”

Green is the second South Florida business owner to be featured on “Blue Collar Millionaires” this season. Antonio Ofer Sustiel, aka The Flooring King of Fort Lauderdale, was featured Jan. 4.

Each half-hour episode explores three success stories. Green’s episode is scheduled to air on CNBC at 10 p.m. Wednesday.

South Floridians are becoming regulars on business and reality TV shows. A dozen or so entrepreneurs have appeared on ABC’s “Shark Tank” over the years, and some have been on CNBC’s “The Profit.”

On Tuesday night at 10 p.m., Luke Freeman, founder of Wizard Creations, a Fort Lauderdale marketing and promotions company that makes custom T-shirts, hats and other branded products for clients including South Florida’s professional sports teams, Carnival Cruise Lines, University of Miami, Florida International University, ADT, Boca Regional Hospital and others, will appear on an episode of CNBC’s “Billion Dollar Buyer.” “We’re an underdog fight story,” Freeman told the Sun Sentinel about the $5 million company. On the show, Freeman will try to strike a large deal with restaurant operator Landry’s. He’s sworn to secrecy about whether Wizard Creations wins the contract.

 

SUP-X: The StartUp Expo to host regional finals of national hardware startup competition

SUP-X: The StartUp Expo announced that it had formed a partnership with Pittsburgh based accelerator AlphaLab Gear and that it will host the Southeast Regional competition of AlphaLab Gear’s Hardware Cup, one of the country’s most prestigious startup competitions focused on hardware.   

“We can’t wait to see who they select as finalists to compete at SUP-X,” said Bob Fitts, founder and producer of SUP-X, which is held at the Broward Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, each winter.

Six teams will be chosen from online applications to give a four-minute pitch in front a panel of Hardware Cup judges at SUP-X.  Judges will have five minutes to ask questions and the teams are judged on commercial viability, team capability and demonstrated commitment.  Regional finalists receive $3,000, a free one-year SOLIDWORKS license, as well as other prizes and a chance to win a $50,000 investment from Startbot VC at the Hardware Cup National Finals in May.  

“The growth of IoT, the falling cost of sensors, and increased access to tools and resources through makerspaces like TechShop make it cheaper, faster, and easier than ever before to get a hardware startup off the ground,” said Ilana Diamond, managing director at AlphaLab Gear. "The goal of the Hardware Cup is to find and highlight the most promising hardware startups in the nation, and we can't wait to hit the road and see what talent is out there this year."

SUP-X and Fort Lauderdale join Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Boston, Washington DC, Chicago and Austin as regional Hardware Cup hosts.  

Startups interested in applying to the regional Hardware Cup competition at SUP-X may apply at http://www.alphalabgear.org/hardwarecup/

SUP-X: The StartUp Expo is March 6-7, 2017, at the Broward Convention Center.  SUP-X is a two-day, international startup and early-stage conference at the Greater Fort Lauderdale-Broward Convention Center.    The event features a special “Diversity in Entrepreneurship Forum” to address the needs of those typically under-addressed in the startup and venture capital communities.  SUP-X will also have about 18 speeches and panel discussions on topics of interest to investors and entrepreneurs alike, as well as  its own startup competition with $50,000 in cash divided among three winners.  Fifty startups from over three-dozen US cities will exhibit at SUP-X for free.  Tickets to SUP-X range from $59-$399. 

More information about SUP-X may be found at http://www.sup-x.org/ or by contacting info@sup-x.org.

There will be a free Miami kickoff event for SUP-X with a pitch contest on Jan. 26 at Building.co. More info and to register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sup-x-2017-miami-dade-kickoff-party-startup-competition-tickets-30614306214

- Submitted by SUP-X: The StartUp Expo

Read last year's Miami Herald coverage from SUP-X here.

 

 

Check out the 12 Miami finalists of the 2017 Knight Cities Challenge

A neighborhood market for Overtown, a civic innovation competition for college students and a network of mobile popup containers ready for activations are among the Miami finalists in the the third annual Knight Cities Challenge.

Chosen from a pool of more than 4.500 applicants, 144 concepts nationwide have made it to the finalist round, including 12 from Miami, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced Tuesday. The Knight Cities Challenge is a national call for ideas to make the 26 communities where Knight invests more vibrant places to live and work.

Winners, who will receive a share of up to $5 million, will be announced in the spring.

The finalists from Miami are:

95 Park by Omni Community Redevelopment Agency (submitted by Jason Walker): Giving the Omni community a place to gather by converting three blighted, vacant city blocks into a large urban park with businesses, a skate park, art installations and restaurants.

Dan Paul Park Recreation Center (submitted by Mauricio Velazquez): Transforming Dan Paul Park into an active recreation hub by installing soccer fields, bike paths and a playground.

Green Space Pop-ups by Audubon Florida (submitted by Eric Draper): Creating incentives for developers to lend private vacant land for green spaces in urban Miami-Dade.

Instant City: A micro-urban infrastructure (submitted by James Brazil): Creating a network of mobile pop-up containers to activate underused public spaces and carparks around the city.

Ludlam Days by Green Mobility Network (submitted by Mari Chael): Building momentum for the Miami Loop, a proposed 70-mile greenway, through a series of events and demonstrations.

Magic City Innovation Challenge by Venture Cafe Miami (submitted by Leigh-Ann Buchanan): Nurturing Miami’s native talent and emerging innovation ecosystem through a competition that challenges college students to solve real-world civic and business problems.

Miami Great Streets Program by Street Plans Collaborative (submitted by Anthony Garcia): Establishing a program within Miami-Dade County in partnership with local transportation nonprofit Green Mobility Network that advances low-cost, quick-build transportation and open space projects.

The MIA Market (submitted by Mauricio Velazquez): Reinvigorating Overtown while creating opportunities for residents and chefs by repurposing a vacant warehouse into a neighborhood market.

OurSchoolYards (submitted by Wifredo Fernandez): Bridging the divide between communities and their public schools by transforming underused school yards into public parks.

Rep(resentative) MIA by Engage Miami (submitted by Rob Biskupic-Knight): Breaking down barriers to civic participation by putting clear, actionable information about local elected officials directly into citizens’ hands.

WiFi Parks @ Overtown by Venture Cafe Miami (submitted by Leigh-Ann Buchanan): Bringing public Wi-Fi to parks in Overtown to improve digital access and encourage people to connect in the outdoors.

Civic Incite: Citizens Setting the Agenda (submitted by Civic Incite): Inspiring civic engagement with an online platform that tracks public meetings and legislation across cities to promote in-person engagement with local governments. Finalist in the “Multiple Cities” category.

In addition, there were two finalists from Palm Beach County: 12 for 12: Pop-up to Rent, with a plan to activate 12 empty storefront spaces as an economic catalyst for West Palm Beach, and The Tie Beam, which creates a public space parallel to the railroad tracks in downtown West Palm Beach that encourages pedestrian activity and integrates public art, transportation and urban design.

“The finalists use creativity and inventiveness to tackle community challenges and realize new opportunities, proposing ideas that are unique to their city, but also hold lessons and inspiration for civic innovators across the country,” said George Abbott, Knight Foundation director for community and national initiatives.

Last year, three Miami projects were winners: The Underline project, a linear park under the Metrorail, “Biscayne Green,” a pop-up park spearheaded by the Miami Downtown Development Authority underway now, and a civic technology user testing group. In total, they received $495,000 in funding.

Nationwide, applicants proposed a wide range of ideas, from technology to better connects local government with the public and increase voter engagement, to creating public spaces – parks, trails, pools, and even treehouses – that connect people from diverse backgrounds and contribute to economic growth. Many of the projects also address racial divides, blighted neighborhoods, and social and economic inequities.

Now in its third year, the challenge is part of a three-year, $15 million commitment that Knight Foundation launched in the fall of 2014. Since then, the Knight Cities Challenge has named 69 winning ideas. See the full list of 2017 finalists at knightcities.org.

January 16, 2017

Why we chose Miami as the US headquarters for Solomoto

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CEO Pasha Romanovski, CEO of Solomoto, presents at the Startup Nation conference at the Idea Center last summer.

By Pasha Romanovski

Following my visit in May to Miami for the Startup Nation Conference at Miami Dade College's Idea Center, it became clear that the city would be the future home of Solomoto in the US. And next month we are finally making this decision a reality.

Solomoto is a global company that helps small business owner  grow online, simplifying the confusing world of digital marketing. We recently crossed the 100 000 mark of small business owners using the platform, and these entrepreneurs from Latin America, Europe and now the US are enjoying our simple dashboard to grow their business digitally in only 30 minutes a day.

 What makes Miami a good fit for us? After scouting different locations, we liked these two ingredients:

Talent – Miami has one of the most diverse populations in the US, an important fact that aligned with our team culture in both Israel and Europe. As a global company, we have found talent of every nationality to support our global growth.

Open ecosystem – Miami is an open city. In a relatively short period of time, we have met key stakeholders of the city’s growing innovation ecosystem. We get a sense of ambition and commitment to build a real tech hub, so we decided to be pioneers, not followers, and be part of this emerging hub.

What is Solomoto?

Solomoto is a digital marketing solution for small businesses. We understand that online visibility is an area many business are looking to grow, but they don’t understand its complexities or don’t have the time to dedicate to it.

Our solution is to provide an affordable alternative to agencies, a DIY platform where any small business owner can create an online presence that will help attract more consumers. With ready-made content, cross platform publishing tools for advertising and social media, a small business owner can grow his online visibility with just 30 minutes of digital marketing.  All of from one simple dashboard!

Pasha Romanovski is co-founder and CEO of Solomoto, based in Tel Aviv.

READ MORE: How to think big: Israeli entrepreneurs show how it's done

 

January 15, 2017

VR tech startup Avenue Planet launches its first 'v-commerce' location: Lincoln Road

 

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Avenue Planet, which brings the world’s best shopping streets to your virtual world, launched with a splash last week, unveiling its Lincoln Road shopping experience to the real Lincoln Road. The tech startup is developing a content hub for immersive VR experiences, including the first e-commerce platform using virtual reality. Its Miami office is at Pipeline Brickell.

Above, Miami-Dade’s Beacon Council and Miami Beach officials participated in its client’s VIP launch at the Lincoln Road Books & Books on Friday morning. Avenue Planet’s two founders, Sanjay Daswani and Bruno Carvalho,  along with Miami Beach City Commissioners John Elizabeth Aleman and Michael Grieco, Miami Beach Chamber President Jerry Libbin, Miami-Dade Beacon Council Chair Jaret Davis and Interim President Sheldon Anderson test their first virtual reality shopping avenue, Lincoln Road, their first virtual commerce "v-commerce" location.  The company has announced that 5th Avenue in New York City will be next.

Avenue Planet also held a community launch party at Drinkhouse Fire & Ice Bar in Miami Beach Thursday night, where attendees got to experience Avenue Planet on  multiple VR devices or via a huge projection screen. Below, Kabir Frutos, North and South America director of Avenue Planet, helps an attendee experience the technology.

Read More: This startup wants to take you shopping – through virtual reality

 

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January 14, 2017

Flourish Media Conference to host its inaugural investment-focused conference for women of color in South Florida

Flourish Media Conference, in partnership with Florida International University, announced its inaugural investment-focused Flourish Media Conference: Where Women Do Business will take place Feb. 3-4 at Florida International University inside the Graham Center Ballroom.

FMC is the only media conference with opportunities for business funding for female entrepreneurs of color, offering them the opportunity to learn about branding, visibility and funding  through interactive workshops and panel discussions.

“Our goal is to prepare conference attendees with the knowledge, resources, and more importantly, access to willing investors, to help close the hugely disproportional female funding gap and under-representation of women of color in high-growth startup industries," said Vivian Olodun of FMC. "This conference presents the perfect opportunity to do just that.”

The two-day Flourish Media Conference offers guest lectures and workshops in two tracks. During both tracks, guests will have the opportunity to engage with successful female business owners and attend workshops with industry professionals to help propel their business to the next level. Saturday’s VIP conference attendees will have the opportunity to live pitch to investors for substantial funding.

FMC’s guest speakers range from bloggers, social media influencers, entrepreneurs and those operating in the business finance sector. Guest speakers scheduled to attend this year’s conference include Tracy Timberlake, YouTube vlogger turned six-figure video marketing strategist, who will teach conference attendees video hacks that can transform their personal branding into guru-status; and Lila Nikole, business owner and swimwear designer whose work has been featured on major media outlets including BET and VH1, Mercedes Benz Swim Week, and worn by some of the hottest pop stars and socialites. Lila will share personal knowledge and key insight on the strategies behind building a successful brand.

Tickets to attend Flourish Media Conference are $247 for the All-Access Garden Pass and $434 for Full-Access Buddy Pass. Live stream tickets are $57. For more information or to purchase tickets: www.flourishmediaconference.com.

-submitted by FMC

 

January 13, 2017

More fund-raising news: Aeropost, Kitchen22 close financing deals

It’s venture capital week in South Florida.

In addition to previously reported rounds raised by cross-border e-commerce startup iguama of Miami, human resources software startup Candidate.Guru of Boca Raton, Miami tech startup Tesser Health and ed-tech startup ClassWallet of Miami (scroll down to read about them), two more companies received funding, according to CB Insights’ daily report.

Aeropost International Services, a Miami-based company in the mail and package forwarding business, closed a $4 million financing round from North Bridge Venture Partners. Its Miami hub in conjunction with partners throughout Latin America and the Caribbean allows the company to provide end-to-end service for the members of its network to receive their packages, internet purchases, mail and logistics services, CB Insights’ report said.

Food business Kitchen22, founded by foodies and also of Miami, raised $800,000 from undisclosed investors. Kitchen22 wants to revitalize the consumer's experience by creating premium and innovative food products, while staying true to pure and simple ingredients.

READ MORE: U.S. venture capital dipped in 2017 but took a Magic Leap in Florida

Who's been funded? Find an archive of South Florida venture capital-related stories under the Funding category of Starting Gate.

January 12, 2017

Bitcoin and blockchain tech to be talk of conference next week

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The emerging digital currency Bitcoin has had its ups and downs, but organizers of The North American Bitcoin Conference expect hundreds of attendees next week as industry experts and entrepreneurs reflect on trends in the industry. One hot trend is the mounting interest in the Bitcoin’s infrastructure technologies called blockchain, which many in the tech industry believe could disrupt any number of industries.

The conference returns Jan. 17-18 at the James L. Knight Center in downtown Miami. Now in its fourth year, it is the longest-running and most-attended financial conference for the Bitcoin, blockchain and currency industries, organizers say. Topics explored will also include investing, regulation, startups and the Internet of Things.

Offering their insights at the conference will be more than 20 speakers, including John McAfee, founder of McAfee; Jeffrey Tucker, Foundation for Economic Education and Liberty.me (pictured above speaking last year at the conference); Roger Ver, CEO, Bitcoin.com; Charlie Shrem, CEO, Intellisys; Jeff Garzik, CEO, Bloq; Reggie Middleton, CEO, Veritaseum; Valery Vavilov, CEO, BitFury; Bruce Fenton, executive director, Bitcoin Foundation; and Andrew Filipowski, chairman, Tally Capital.

“The North American Bitcoin Conference is curated to explore next-level, actionable innovation and technologies that you can start utilizing now,” said conference director Moe Levin. “We meticulously scout the best of the best, choosing fantastic speakers to teach you about the strategies they’ve developed and the technologies they’ve mastered.” Levin particularly recommends talks by Ver on volunteerism, McAfee on privacy and Tucker on liberty.

General Admission tickets for the two-day event are on sale at http://btcmiami.com/tickets/. More information on the conference: http://btcmiami.com.  

Leading up to the conference will be the free 3rd annual Miami Bitcoin Hackathon, with 20 bitcoin worth of prizes for the first 6 places, taking place at The LAB Miami this weekend. More information is here: http://www.thelabmiami.com/event/miami-bitcoin-hackathon.