May 21, 2015

Miami Dade College's inaugural Startup Challenge: And the winners are ...

Start Up_6893-

Photos by Carlos Llano/Miami Dade College

Leando Finol, executive director of the Idea Center, and Matt Haggman, Miami program director of the Knight Foundation, flank the winners of Miami Dade College's Startup Challenge: Socrate Elie and  Felix Puello of Onetown Boards. Below, Puello and Elie pose at their display.


Four months of work came down to this: Six finalists pitched for prize money and bragging rights at  Miami Dade College’s inaugural Startup Challenge on Wednesday. Leandro Finol, executive director of the Idea Center, said the entrants came from all MDC campuses and many different areas of study.

The grand prize, $5,000, went to Onetown Boards, which presented a prototype for an interactive experience for skaters. Second place, wining $3,000, was Marketing Connections, a provider of affordable, high quality, digital marketing solutions for small businesses, and third place, also winning $3,000, was Hi Foods, a food cart offering a variety of healthy, alternative seafood options.

“We offer a waterproof longboard with dual cameras, one that points forward and one pointing toward the rider, with lights and LED lighting for safety, a speedometer and distance tracker that can be viewed in an LED screen,” said Felix Puello, who pitched Onetown Boards – his first business – in the contest and said his Idea Center mentor has been helping him every step of the way.

Puello, who has an art and design background, at first was hand-painting skateboards, but came up with the idea for a teched-up board that would both record the skater’s experiences and mitigate safety risks. The business student from MDC’s North Campus and his business partner, Socrate Elie, will use the $5,000 for product development and the patent process. “I’m meeting with engineers tomorrow,” said Puello, who is also planning a Kickstarter campaign.

In all, 80 teams participated in the Challenge. Finol said it is not just about winning but the education – each contestant now knows how to start a business. “We planted the seeds of a program that will become part of the DNA of Miami Dade College in years to come.”

  Start Up_6734- (1)

Global Impact Competition for sea-level rise: And the winners are...


Photo by Mario Cruz

Ana C. Benatuil and Carlos Tamayo are pictured with the Knight Foundation Miami program director Matt Haggman after winning the Global Impact Competition.

With the clock ticking, Silicon Valley’s Singularity University, a teaching organization and accelerator, launched a Global Impact Competition in Miami calling on innovators to find solutions for South Florida’s sea-level rise by using technology. According to research by the University of Miami’s Department of Atmospheric Sciences, sea-level rise has been accelerating. If the rate of sea rise over the last five years holds steady for the next 50 years -- and indications are it could rise faster -- high tide levels in Miami would go up over five feet, leading to high risks of flooding and saltwater intrusion. "The Miami metropolitan region has the greatest amount of exposed financial assets and 4th-largest population vulnerable to sea-level rise in the world," the research said.

Last week, eight finalists were invited to pitch their concepts to judges, and two of them received full tuition to Singularity University’s 10-week Graduate Studies Program in Mountain View, Calif., this summer where they will work in teams with participants from around the world to develop their concepts. The contest was supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Ana C. Benatuil, a graduate of FIU and now an architectural designer at Zyscovich Architects, believes sea level rise in South Florida needs to be addressed in an urban master plan. Her “Cut Fill City” proposes strategies at three different scales –regional, city and building scale – allowing for different municipalities and entities to implement these ideas according to their needs and capabilities. Benatuil, who began this project as part of her FIU studies and has continued it on her own the past two years, believes that technology plays an important role in creating strategies to deal with Sea Level Rise, from raising awareness to developing building systems that use water as a valued resource for energy generation, conservation and consumption.

“The implementation of Cut Fill City in South Florida could become a prototype to many other coastal cities around the world at risk of sea level rise, improving the lives of millions, if not billions of people,” she said.

 See her video here.

Carlos Tamayo, an engineer working on this PhD at FIU, envisions comprehensive assessment and modeling of dike-subsurface barrier systems for adaptation in coastal areas. Providing effective protection against inland and coastal flooding and eliminating or minimizing the effects of groundwater flow and piping are the main goals, he said. In addition to sea level rise and saltwater intrusion protection, his system is intended to provide effective protection against surge overflow and inland/coastal flooding by eliminating or minimizing the effects of groundwater flow through Miami’s limestone aquifer.

One of the beauties of events like this, beyond the obvious benefits to the winners, is bringing together like-minded people. It was interesting to see the finalists talking with one another at the breaks, discussing how they could partner up on various projects or recommending connections or research they have read. Tina Cornely of Bridging Humanity, one of the eight finalists, had some advice for Benatuil: Get your presentation in front of the sea-level rise boards of the county and cities, she said. "They need to see this and if you need some help getting in the door  I will help you."



Exponential Organizations Workshop returning to Miami

ExO March 2015 group image

Miami-based Rokk3r Labs cobuilding platform announces the Exponential Organizations Workshop that will be hosted by award winning author, foounding executive director and current global ambassador of Singularity University, Salim Ismail.

The event will take place on Monday, June 1, 2015 from 9:30am-6:00pm at the Idea Center at Miami Dade College. The address is 315 Northeast 2nd Ave, Building 8, 5th Floor Miami, FL 33132.

Register for this exclusive event at

The rapid pace of technological change across all industries has been disrupting legacy organizations in recent years. Cisco’s CEO John Chambers believes that only 1 out of 3 major corporations will survive the next 25 years and as he said at last year’s CISCO Live conference, “We need to change.”

Since 2010, the business world has witnessed the emergence of a new type of company - the Exponential Organization - that has revolutionized how companies accelerate their growth and success by leveraging new organizational principles and exponential technologies.

The traits exponential organizations exhibit and how companies of all sizes can benefit from integrating these traits are the key elements of the Exponential Organizations Workshop, and the focal point of Ismail’s book, Exponential Organizations: Why New Organizations are Ten Times Better, Faster and Cheaper Than Yours (And What To Do About It), which won the 2014 Frost and Sullivan Growth, Innovation and Leadership (GIL) Book of the Year award.

Participants at this one-day crash course will walk away with a clear understanding that if their organizations do not adopt the Exponential Organizations principles and frameworks, they might be left behind in this age of disruptive technology.

In addition to learning from and interacting with Ismail, the Exponential Organizations Workshop is an opportunity to network and share ideas with local business leaders across all industries. In March of this year, the first Exponential Organizations Workshop in Miami had over 200 people and 130 companies in attendance.

“Entrepreneurs and dreamers all over the world have the ideas, ingenuity and talent to enable exponential innovation,” says Rokk3r Labs CEO Nabyl Charania. “Salim Ismail’s Exponential Organizations Workshop in partnership with Rokk3r Labs exists to help entrepreneurs and business leaders understand how to harness exponential technologies and innovative organizational techniques to create ventures that change the world.”

-Submitted by Rokk3r Labs

The all-day workshop is regularly priced $995 but priced at  $695 through May 26.

Investors building bridges with Godfather Day, other methods

Where are the investors? While that has been a common refrain in South Florida’s startup community, it is becoming a little easier to find them.

That’s because many are offering “office hours,” open coffees, dinners or other ways to give startups a chance to meet them and begin building a relationship -- before pitching for dollars.

On Wednesday, nine investors and mentors came together to host Miami's first Godfather Day, a daylong session put on by Fourth Estate and Hacks/Hackers Miami, for six entrepreneur teams in news and media innovation. The session was a two-way conversation that allowed company founders and the mentors the opportunity to ask "off the record" questions to help get these startups to the next level.

The Godfathers/Godmothers who participated were: Jeff Brown of Fourth Estate and Honey Tree Holdings; Jon Cole of New World Angels and Locke Lorde; Alex de Carvalho of Knight Innovator in Residence at FIU; Dan Grech of Hacks/Hackers Miami; Franc Nemanic, angel investor; Mike O’Donnell of Startup Biz; Sally Outlaw of Peerbackers; Sid Sawhney of Thesis Ventures; and Ben Wirz of the Knight Foundation’s Enterprise Fund.

Startups that participated were: Rise Miami News of Miami,  Jurnid of Miami, ModernCoalition, from Kansas City, WeKount of Palm Beach County; TechCetetera of Fort Lauderdale and New Tropic of Miami.

Each entrepreneur team received nearly one hour with the entire group at one time. For entrepreneurs, it was an opportunity to sit down with investors in an informal setting and have a conversation to help investors better understand the founder and the business, said Brown. It also gave founders “a safe space and a safe dry run” to ask candid questions of the investors and receive feedback, said Outlaw.

For the investors and mentors in the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation boardroom, where the event was held, it was not only a chance to build potential deal flow down the road but also an opportunity to give back to the startup community and an efficient way to spoonfeed entrepreneurs access to experts. “Ninety percent of the time they think they need money but what they really need is advice,” Wirz said. Grech and de Carvalho added that it was an opportunity to spark and support media innovation, which has been building in the past year.

Brown has also run UpPitch sessions, informal dinners that matched a couple of entrepreneurs with an investor interested in their industries. He said the Godfather Days like the one on Wednesday will continue, at least quarterly.

May 20, 2015

Florida TaxWatch touts Central Florida technology research center in development

A Central Florida technology research center could help launch the state's high-tech manufacturing industry and ignite economic growth, says Florida TaxWatch, an independent fiscal watchdog group. The development of the Florida Advanced Manufacturing Research Center (FAMRC) through the International Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing Research (ICAMR) will help create, develop and support high-tech Florida companies producing smart sensor technologies for high-tech manufacturing goods. ICAMR is a public-private partnership comprised of economic development entities, higher education institutes and technology firms; FAMRC is a state of the art manufacturing hub and incubator opening in Orlando in 2017.

"Increasing investments in Florida's manufacturing sectors have resulted in billions of dollars added to the state economy through high-wage jobs and high-value exports," Dominic M. Calabro, President and CEO of Florida TaxWatch, the state's nonpartisan, nonprofit public policy research institute, said. "Strategic infrastructure investments like the Florida Advanced Research Manufacturing Center will further diversify Florida's economy, support job creation and enhance the value of our state's existing industries."

Smart sensor technology, which is incorporated into high-tech manufacturing products, is a more than $80 million industry expected to double in value by 2020. By locating the research center in Florida, the state expects to attract other manufacturing companies that rely on the sensors, resulting in new jobs and capital.

Florida's existing manufacturing sector already creates high-skill, high-wage jobs, but high-tech companies pay higher average salaries, which can be more than 228 percent greater than the average private sector Florida job. These positions are generally more stable and less susceptible to recessionary periods.



May 19, 2015

eMerge Americas names CEO, announces conference dates

eMerge Americas on Tuesday announced the dates for the next annual technology conference as well as a new leader.

The 2016 dates of the main conference will be April 18 and 19, and other events will be added around the conference as was done in the two past years, said Xavier Gonzalez, executive director of eMerge Americas. The dates were moved up to better accommodate university schedules, as well as to complement but not conflict with other global technology events, he said.

MichaelRodriguez (1)In a second announcement, Michael T. Rodriguez, the former vice president and general manager of WLTV and WAMI, Univision’s flagship stations in South Florida, has been named chief executive officer.

More than 10,000 attendees from more than 50 countries participated in eMerge Americas 2015 at the Miami Beach Convention Center May 4 and 5, which included NBCUniversal’s live broadcasts and online streaming as part of a three-year media partnership. The second annual conference attracted more than 500 participating companies, including 125 startups, and more than 200 expert speakers, including author Deepak Chopra, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro, technology executive Martine Rothblatt and Pitbull. eMerge Americas will be posting videos of the 2015 speakers on

Emerge Americas also included other events before the main conference, such as a hackathon, startup bootcamp and parties. In all, the conference generated more than 7,500 hotel room nights, Gonzalez said.

“eMerge Americas 2015 exceeded our most optimistic expectations in its second year and has once again set a high standard for years to come,” said Manuel D. Medina, founder and chairman of eMerge Americas, in a statement. “I have the utmost confidence in Mike’s ability to lead and propel eMerge into a new, exciting chapter of success. He is an accomplished leader with a proven track record for driving growth through sales, organizational and financial management.”

Rodriguez, a 20-year veteran of the media industry, has served in a variety of leadership roles at CBS, NBCUniversal and most recently, Univision Communications, where he was helped drive revenue, ratings and bottom line growth for WLTV and WAMI. Rodriguez said he sees similarities with that surge he saw in Spanish language TV, which blossomed in Miami, and what is going on now in technology.

“As a South Florida native, I am very proud of what we are doing with eMerge in helping to grow the South Florida economy and making this a hot bed of technology in the southeastern United States and in Latin America,” said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez has spent the past two months helping out with eMerge Americas 2015 and getting to know the organization and the community. “Frankly, I fell in love with the business. So when Manny and I began talking about this opportunity, of course I jumped at it, not only because I think it is a great thing for the community and what Manny is doing, but also because it is a great team here led by Xavier.”

He said the leadership team is already working to enhance various elements for the 2016 event. “I thought 2015 was a huge success but like anything else, next year our attendees are going to want more and bigger and better things,” he said. He wouldn’t release too many details but said WIT (Women, Innovation and Technology), a new summit track this year, would continue. “Never in our wildest dreams did we expect WIT to be as successful as it was. The buzz coming out of the conference concerning WIT has been phenomenal.”

“At the end of the day, ... the one measure that speaks to success in my book is the quality of the content and that just easily translates into eMerge -- the speakers, the sponsors, the experiences,” said Rodriguez.. “It’s very exciting to me to be able to keep a leg in the showbiz world but at the same time jump into this tech world.”

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.

Read eMerge Americas 2015 coverage with videos here and here.

Grocery delivery service Instacart launching in Miami

By Nancy Dahlberg /

Grocery delivery: Has its time finally come?

Instacart SCREENSHOTInstacart, the fast-growing grocery delivery service, has expanded to Miami, its 16th city. Beginning Tuesday, customers in Instacart's initial delivery area can order from Whole Foods Market, Costco, Winn-Dixie, BJ’s Wholesale Club and Petco and have everything delivered by Instacart in as little as one hour. Instacart customers do not need a Costco or BJ’s membership to shop from those stores. As of now, Publix is not included in the service.

“We had thousands of requests for service in the Miami area, and strong interest from retail partners such as Whole Foods Market and Winn-Dixie, so the time was right,” said Apoorva Mehta, founder and CEO of Instacart and a former supply chain engineer at Amazon.

Launched in San Francisco in 2012, Instacart connects customers with personal shoppers, or independent contractors who shop for and deliver grocery orders, providing their own transportation. This eliminates the need for expensive infrastructure such as inventory, warehouses, trucks and full-time drivers, Instacart said.

Costly infrastructure was one of the downfalls of grocery shopping and delivery services that have tried and failed, including the national player Webvan in the 1990s, Publix and Farm Stores. Instacart and other on-demand services rely on technology to make the logistics and customer experience as efficient as possible.

Indeed, Instacart has shifted its emphasis in the past year; instead of depending on delivery fees and product markups for its revenue, the company now partners with existing retailers. For the consumer, this means most of the prices are the same as in the stores (and when they are not, the information is disclosed).

Instacart, named “America’s Most Promising Company” by Forbes magazine in January, has grown exponentially — from serving a single city in 2012 to 15 metros, including New York, Chicago and Austin, Texas. In 2014, it brought in $100 million in revenue, according to Forbes. Nationally, it is becoming a marquee name in on-demand delivery, an exploding category of startups that includes companies such as Uber, Lyft, Postmates, Airbnb, Caviar and Shyp, all of which have launched in the Miami market.

Instacart ss 2.jpgInstacart has raised $275 million from venture capitalists, including a $220 million round in January, to support rapid expansion plans that included Miami. It ranks as the fourth most-funded startup in the category, according to a recent report on the on-demand economy by CB Insights.

Instacart’s initial delivery area in Miami covers Miami Beach, downtown Miami, Brickell, The Roads, Coconut Grove, West Flagler, Little Havana, West Miami, Coral Way, Coral Gables, Key Biscayne, Miami airport area, Virginia Gardens, Grapeland Heights, Allapattah, Civic Center, Little Havana, Wynwood, Midtown/Edgewater, Buena Vista, Liberty City, Brownsville and Little Haiti.

North Miami, South Miami, Aventura and the western suburbs are not in the initial area but could be added as demand increases. “Once we build up our user base in our initial zone, ... what we usually see is requests from other areas spike, and we open other zones in the very near future,” said Maxx Freedman, who directs Instacart’s city launches. A Fort Lauderdale launch is not in the immediate plans but “is definitely on the road map,” he said.

“Once you sign up, you can see what stores serve your ZIP code. ... You browse through the different stores and you can order from multiple stores at the same time and add items to your cart,” said Freedman. Customers can browse by categories — for instance, produce — or search directly for a particular item, such as avocados. “When you are ready to check out, you choose the delivery option. It’s all up to the customer.”

Options include one-hour delivery for $5.99; two-hour delivery for $3.99 or a scheduled delivery (you pick the day and hour) for $3.99. Instacart will launch the service with 60 “personal shoppers” in Miami and will ramp up as needed, an Instacart spokeswoman said.

Whole Foods Market was one of the first national grocery chains to partner with Instacart. The grocer reports significant incremental sales gains in cities Instacart serves. “Instacart has already proven itself as a strong partner for Whole Foods Market in 15 other cities, and we’re very excited to now offer our Miami customers this great shopping and delivery experience,” said Juan Nuñez, president, Florida Region for Whole Foods Market.

New customers can open an account at or by downloading the app; their first order of $10 or more is delivered free. Instacart also offers Instacart Express, an annual $99 membership that eliminates delivery fees for all orders of $35 or more. Customers can sign up for a free two-week trial at In the Miami area, all who place their order on Tuesday will receive a month of free deliveries through Instacart Express.

To celebrate the Miami launch on Tuesday, Instacart will offer an only-in-Miami perk: Deliveries also will be made via a Boatsetter chartered delivery vessel that can deliver on the dock or on deck within the company’s delivery zone.

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.

May 18, 2015

Harvard teaming up with LaunchCode, Idea Center to offer free CS50x Miami course

Harvard University is teaming up with job-placement nonprofit LaunchCode, The Idea Center at Miami Dade College and Career Source South Florida to offer its computer programming course to the public free of charge. Based on the popular Harvard University/edX CS50 class, CS50x Miami is a 16-week course that requires no prior coding experience. Online lessons will be supplemented by live instructors.

Anyone interested can register by May 29 for the course at LaunchCode and The Idea Center will host an open house and informational session for CS50x Miami on May 22 at 5:30PM in the Chapman Conference Center at Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus.

“The opportunity to have free access to a high-level coding class is revolutionary,” saids Jim McKelvey, co-founder of both LaunchCode and Square. “South Floridians can get the hands-on education, mentorship, and experience they need --for free.” Students who complete the course are eligible to apply for an apprenticeship through LaunchCode’s job placement program.

The Idea Center’s goal is to put 1,000 students through the program over the next year, said Leandro Finol, executive director of the Miami Dade College entrepreneurship hub.

May 16, 2015

An Open Letter to Mayor Carlos Gimenez: A World-Class Community Must Have Open Data Governance

Earlier this week,  59 members of Miami's tech community came together to sign and send an open letter calling on Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez to introduce a robust open data policy for the county. This is the first time that so many of Miami's tech and civic leaders have come together to make a political statement, said Ric Herrero, founder of MIAMade. "This is a matter of great importance if Miami is ever to be taken seriously as a tech hub. New York City, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco and many other 'knowledge economy' cities have embraced open data. Miami-Dade should not be left behind," he said.

Below is the letter, which was crafted by leaders of  Code for Miami, a brigade of volunteers dedicated to improving civic technology throughout Miami-Dade County. Learn more about the future of Open Data in Miami, and see examples of local open data policies and projects in other cities at

May 12, 2015

Dear Mayor Gimenez,

For years your administration has recognized that Miami’s tech community needs support if it is to thrive in the world-wide economy. Last February, you stood on stage before members of the tech community to launch Miami-Dade’s Open Data Portal. By doing so, you helped position the County as a worldwide leader in data-driven governance. Now, the undersigned members of Miami’s tech community ask that you continue your commitment to responsive governance and innovation by adopting an Open Data Policy that governs the maintenance of the County’s Open Data Portal and ensures the reliability of its data.

Since its launch, the County’s Open Data Portal has been an unequivocal success. It has fostered transparency and accountability within the County and has helped local developers to create innovative solutions to a variety of civic challenges. Making county data routinely and freely available to the public means it is also available internally across County agencies, empowering Miami-Dade County employees to more effectively monitor and improve services. Local volunteers have created tools using the County’s Open Data Portal to help Miamians predict flooding patterns, track public transportation services, and streamline the County’s permitting process. New applications are being built every day with public data and with each line of code our community grows stronger. Indeed, the county’s Open Data Portal is a promising start. But with your help, and the implementation of a robust Open Data Policy, Miami can solidify itself as a worldwide destination for technology.

An Open Data Policy would formalize the rules governing the County’s Open Data Portal and would provide needed guidelines on data accessibility and data security. A reliable Open Data Policy would foster innovation by preserving data integrity and ensuring that the County’s Open Data Portal is up-to-date and accurate. It would also provide assurances about the quality of the County’s data to entrepreneurs wishing to start local tech businesses and developers seeking to utilize public data to create high-tech applications that improve civic life. A great example of how an Open Data Policy can trigger entrepreneurism and civic improvement occurred recently in Los Angeles when the municipality entered into an open data partnership with mobile app Waze to help its residents avoid the city’s notorious rush hour traffic.

We appreciate the county’s existing civic technology outreach efforts. The Community Information and Outreach (CIAO) department has led efforts to leverage county data and analytics to improve services and has assisted citizens engaging with county government technology and data. This department has worked hand-in-hand with the civic tech community to develop more accessible, user-friendly solutions to civic challenges through technology. CIAO’s commitment to collaboration demonstrates that they should play a key role in the implementation of an Open Data Policy. We therefore recommend that your office empower CIAO to work directly with county agencies to open their data sets in ways that are responsive to community needs, and to measure CIAO’s success by its ability to demonstrate to agencies how they can procure and deliver services more effectively through the smart leveraging of open data.

We all share a commitment to building a strong civic ecosystem and ensuring that government technology benefits all residents. As members of this community, we will continue developing projects and hosting hackathons, trainings, and meetups to promote government transparency, technological innovation, and civic problem-solving. We’ll collaborate, compete, and share expertise to help Miami-Dade address our most pressing civic challenges. And we’ll train a new generation of Miamians to be civically engaged and to put their considerable skills to work for our community. We invite you, our commissioners and our county staff to join us again this year at Miami’s third annual National Day of Civic Hacking on June 6 at the LAB Miami to work on next steps together and to see this commitment in action.

Throughout your term as mayor, you have been an advocate for Miami-Dade County’s burgeoning tech scene. You have worked for economic opportunity, for transparency, for efficiency, and for accountability. We support these goals and believe that a robust Open Data Policy and your continued commitment to vital technology collaboration between community and government will accelerate our county’s progress toward them.

 Thank you,


Rebekah Monson
  Co-founder, Code for Miami

Ernie Hsiung
  Co-Founder, Code for Miami

Cristina Solana,
  Co-captain, Code for Miami

Tamara Wendt,
  The LAB Miami

Brian Breslin,
  Refresh Miami

Stonly Baptiste,

Felecia Hatcher,
  Code Fever

Wifredo Fernandez,

CREATE Miami at Miami   Dade College

Mariana Rego,


Johanna Mikkola


Wyncode Academy

Matt Mawhinney,


Natalia Martinez,
  Awesome Foundation

Justin Wales,

Emerge Miami

Christopher Sopher,

CEO, Whereby.Us

Matthew Toro

Co-founder, Maptime   Miami

Bruce Pinchbeck,
  Co-founder, Whereby.Us

Kubs Lalchandani

New Leaders Council   Miami,

Lalchandani Simon PL

Alice Horn

Network for Teaching   Entrepreneurship

Bobby Hannat

New Leaders Council   Miami

Binsen J Gonzalez,

Our City Thoughts,   Inc.

Andre Rodriguez

Influence   Communications

Kyler Berry,

Organizer, Front-End   Developers of Miami

Armando Ibarra,

Miami Young   Republicans

Lili Bach,

Miami-Dade Young Dems

Jose L Pimienta,

Front-End Developers   of Miami

Brett Hudson,

Defense Connect Group

Ashley Arostegui,

WMN Miami/Younger   Women’s Task Force

Ana Colls,

WMN Miami/Younger   Women’s Task Force

Nabyl Charania

Co-founder & CEO,   Rokk3r Labs

Juan Cuba,

New Leaders Council   Miami

Carlos E Caceres

Developer, Tow Truck   Alert

Adrian Esquivel,


Greg Bloom,

Open Referral   Initiative

Vitaliy Gnezdilov,


Jonathon Ende

CEO, SeamlessDocs

Chachi Camejo

CTO, SeamlessDocs

David Peraza

Co-Founder, Aecosoft   Corp.

Project Lead,   OpenPermit Initiative

Maykel Martin

Co-Founder, Aecosoft   Corp.

Project Lead,   OpenPermit Initiative

Tyler Gordon

Co-Founder, COO, Agent   Inbox

Alaa Mukahhal

Innovative Operations,   Wyncode Academy

Jose C Fernandez

Developer, JoseWorks,

Teaching Assistant,   Wyncode Academy

Walter Latimer

Wyncode Academy,

Codecademy Labs

Marta Viciedo

Founding Partner,   Urban Impact Lab

Chair, TrAC

Ric Herrero

Founder, MIAMade

Dan Grech

Co-Founder,   Hacks/Hackers Miami

Vice Chair, Dean’s   Advisory Board at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at FIU

Ed Toro

Head Instructor,   Wyncode Academy

Co-Organizer, Miami   Ruby Brigade

Susan Jacobson
  Assistant Professor, Florida International University School of Journalism   & Mass Communication

Mikhaile Solomon

Opa-locka Community   Development Corporation


New Leaders Council   Miami

Mario Cruz

CTO & Founder,   Choose Digital

Nelson Milian

Co-Founder Wynwood   Maker Camp, Mindjoule

Will Weinraub
  CEO & Co-Founder, LiveNinja

Rebecca White
  Vice President, AIGA Miami

Shaun Abrahamson


Nizar Khalife

Lead Instructor,   Ironhack

Vassoula Vasiliou

President AIGA Miami

Juha Mikkola


Wyncode Academy

David James Knight

Internet, IP and   Technology Attorney


A copy of this letter will follow by mail.

"Imagine Miami” Conference Explored the Role of Technology in Accelerating Social Change

Catalyst Miami and Digital Grass Innovation & Technology (DGIT) convened 100 residents, service providers, and technologists to discuss and plan how technology can be utilized to drive social change in Miami 

On Friday, May 15, Catalyst Miami and Digital Grass Innovation & Technology (DGIT) hosted Imagine Miami: Tech & Community Edition at the Miami Dade College Idea Center in Miami. In an effort to bridge the gap between Miami’s vibrant tech scene and the greater community, this free Imagine Miami conference featured five panels of thought leaders sharing their insight and ideas on how to address concerns in our communities through civic engagement, innovation and technology.
Speakers included Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert, III, T. Willard Fair of the Urban League, Maxeme Tuchman of Teach for America, and representatives from Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, Launch Code, Collaborative Development Corporation, New Tropic, Awesome Foundation and more.

Oshun Marcella, moderator of the Health & Wellness for the TechSoul Panel, said, “For me today the experience was phenomenal. I had no idea what to expect at all. The information I got prior to my session was valuable—so valuable!—and allowing me to speak to the panelists and actually have some interaction for action… it felt like not just another whiteboard meeting. Also, the diversity of the audience here and the participation of the audience… made me think that they really want to see change.”

At the end of the day, participants shared their tech-centered solutions, which focused on history & tourism, health, conflict resolution, civic action and work ethic. Digital Grass and Catalyst Miami will work with the teams to ensure that the ideas are realized through collaboration with other local startups and community organizations. Selected community solutions will also compete for Awesome Foundation Micro-grants.

LaToya Stirrup, co-founder of Digital Grass and moderator of the History & Tourism: The Story of Miami panel, said, "This experience proved that through collaboration and inclusion, people from all backgrounds, ages and neighborhoods can work together to solve problems. Now the real work begins as we partner with Catalyst Miami and other organizations to turn these great ideas into viable solutions."

Participant Amir Youssef said the Imagine Miami event was “inspiring, informative, [and] it’s good to see a group of people get together to solve problems rather than just talking about it.”
Imagine Miami is a community effort to connect people, organizations, and businesses improve quality of life in Miami-Dade County. Through the Imagine Miami conferences, we connect people to ideas and tools for action, and build hope with true stories of people who are making a difference.
Catalyst Miami is a nonprofit organization aiming to build a just and equitable Miami where all residents are meaningfully engaged. Our programs and services empower families and strengthen our communities. Follow us @CatalystMiami.

Digital Grass Innovation & Technology (DGIT) seeks to transform, develop and promote diversity and inclusion by increasing the presence of diverse groups in entrepreneurial ventures, innovation and technology. Follow us @digigrass