October 08, 2015

Founder Institute to open two chapters in South Florida

The Founder Institute  announced this week that it is launching two chapters in South Florida: the Miami Founder Institute and the Fort Lauderdale- Boca Raton Founder Institute

Through the Founder Institute’s four-month entrepreneur training and startup launch program, entrepreneurs “learn by doing” and launch a company with training, expert feedback, and support from experienced startup CEOs, the Institute said in its press release. The program is part-time, so full-time professionals can test and build their ideas before making the leap from employee to entrepreneur and quitting their day jobs. If accepted into the program – which includes an aptitude test – participants will pay $1,000, plus a 3.5 percent equity share that is shared by mentors and participants in the program, according to www.fi.co.

Founder Institute is based in Silicon Valley with chapters in 100 cities and 45 countries. Since 2009, more than 1,650 companies  have used the Founder Institute to validate their idea, develop their plans, refine their product, build an advisory board and prepare for seed funding - including fast-rising startups like UdemyRealty MoguliCarsClubItembasegoplaceit and Appota

Applications to the first ever Miami and Fort Lauderdale-Boca Raton Founder Institute programs are open now: http://fi.co/apply/miami or http://fi.co/apply/fort_lauderdale.

“The region has all of the ingredients for a strong startup ecosystem - with a great mix of diversity, capital, universities, and large technology companies. Given the response we have seen, I have no doubt that the region can support both of these chapters, and provide expert training and mentorship to help produce top-notch companies," said Adeo Ressi, founder and CEO of the Founder Institute, in the press release.

The Founder Institute is hosting a series of free startup events open to the public:


Leading  Founder Institute Miami are Enrique Sierra, an executive-level leader and action-oriented consultant with broad experience in strategic modeling and implementation of ROI-driven businesses; Gustavo Fernandez, an alternative investments fund manager passionate about the innovative use of capital and technology to transform ideas into nimble, effective organizations; and Juan Meza, an innovation activist and mediator of entrepreneurship, profitability and social responsibility for Fortune 500 companies.

Fort Lauderdale’s chapter is led by Mark Volchek, a successful entrepreneur that built a project from 3 founders on a college campus into a public company listed on NYSE; Rodolfo Novarini, a seasoned entrepreneur and intrapreneur with over 15 years of experience creating and growing billion dollar businesses; and Michel Triana, the founder of several successful technology companies, including Ninut, Advise.me, and Cine en Casa. 

About 60 technology leaders have signed on to mentor; they can be viewed at http://fi.co/mentors/miami and http://fi.co/mentors/fort_lauderdale,.

The application deadline for both South Florida chapters is on Sunday, Nov. 22, but anyone who applies by the early application deadline of Nov. 1 is eligible for scholarships - including the Female Founder Fellowship offered to the best overall female applicant for each chapter.

October 07, 2015

Endeavor taps EveryMundo, Yandiki to join global network

EveryMundo is a marketing technology company serving the travel and hospitality industry. Yandiki leverages the cloud to connect enterprises with on-demand talent. The founders of these two young Miami companies were selected Wednesday as Endeavor Entrepreneurs at the global nonprofit’s 61st International Selection Panel in Morocco.

SethAntonAnton Diego (left) and Seth Cassel (right), co-founders of EveryMundo, and Silvina Moschini, CEO and co-founder of Yandiki, join Endeavor Miami’s growing portfolio of high-impact entrepreneurs, which now includes 11 companies in its portfolio. The three join a total of 22 high-impact entrepreneurs representing 18 companies from nine countries selected at the panel. Endeavor Entrepreneurs receive targeted services including mentorship and access to capital, markets and talent.

“Endeavor has been incredibly influential for us in the preparation for entry into the organization. Our advisors have shaped our strategy, personnel and growth tactics over the past year,” said Cassel, from Morocco. “We are excited for what's to come.”

EveryMundo works with numerous airlines worldwide to increase their direct customer acquisition and therefore own their customer relationships. The company offers software products and services to increase online and mobile traffic acquisition and transaction conversion, in any language and country worldwide, said Cassel, adding that the team is comprised natives of 11 countries speaking 10 languages.

SilvinaYandiki’s core product, WaaS, functions as a marketplace with filtering features (skills, rating, cost, and productivity) for talent, verified through a series of customizable online tests, video interviews, and user generated feedback and certifications. The product allows for workforce monitoring including project and task management, real-time business analytics and billing, and clients include Twitter, MasterCard, Criteo, Tinder and Google, said Moschini, an international expert on Internet marketing.

"I experienced Endeavor while I was part of the leadership team at Patagon.com (the internet bank that was later sold to Banco Santander Central Hispano for $785 million and was one of Endeavor's first companies) and I cannot be happier that now I am joining their network," said Moschini. "I am super confident that they will bring me on step closer to make my dream of changing the world of work a mainstream reality."

Matt Haggman, Miami program director for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and an Endeavor Miami board member, said: “The expanding group of Miami Endeavor entrepreneurs aligns with the consistent growth we’ve seen in the city’s innovation and startup ecosystem over the last few years. These new additions also highlight both the creativity and variety of ideas that are fueling Miami’s evolution.”

Endeavor’s International Selection Panel is a three-day process, where panels composed of six top global business leaders interview candidates about their businesses, high-impact leadership potential, and timing. To be selected, an entrepreneur must receive a unanimous vote.

Endeavor Miami launched its operations in September 2013 with the support of Knight Foundation and an active local board of business leaders. For more information on Endeavor Miami or to nominate entrepreneurs, visit www.endeavormiami.org.


October 05, 2015

Miami startups Biscayne Pharmaceuticals, Insero Health merge

Two young Miami-based biopharmaceutical companies, Biscayne Pharmaceuticals and Insero Health, already shared a lead investor and executive chairman, as well as office space on Biscayne Boulevard. On Monday they announced that they merged, giving the combined company two areas of focus.

Biscayne Pharmaceuticals is a clinical-stage company developing therapies for drug-resistant cancers, and its technology is licensed from the University of Miami. Insero Health is focused on treatments for epilepsy, pain and other central nervous system disorders. Dr. Stephen Collins, formerly CEO of Insero Health, has become CEO of Biscayne Pharmaceuticals. Samuel Reich, a Miami Beach healthcare investor who co-founded both Biscayne and Insero Health and most recently was CEO of Biscayne, will retain the position of executive chairman of the combined companies. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed. The combined company, which will be called Biscayne Pharmaceuticals, has about five employees plus contractors.

Insero was co-founded by Harvard neurology professor and epilepsy expert Dr. Steven Schachter, and Biscayne’s cancer program is based on the work of Nobel laureate Dr. Andrew Schally, an endocrine researcher and prolific drug developer, said Reich. “Biscayne now is in the enviable position of having two novel platforms with excellent proprietary protection championed by world class scientists and targeting refractory conditions with major unmet needs,” he added.

October 04, 2015

Entrepreneurship Datebook: Events, workshops in South Florida Oct. 5-11

Tech eggDESIGN THINKING: Design Thinking Miami presents “Master Class: Understanding Your Message,” 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday, BUILDING.co, 120 SW Eighth St. More info here.

STARTHUB MIAMI OPENING: New co-working space and entrepreneurial incubator opens doors, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday, 66 W. Flagler St., 9th "Ninth Floor, Miami. RSVP: https://starthubmiami.eventbrite.com.

MIT ENTERPRISE FORUM: Theme: “The Evolution of the CEO: Do You Have What It Takes?” 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday, The LAB Miami, 400 NW 26th St. $35. Tickets and info here.

HISPANIC UNITY ENTREPRENEUR SUMMIT: A free day-long learning and networking event, 12:45 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nova Southeastern University, Carl DeSantis Building, 33301 College Ave., Davie. To register:  www.hufesummit.org or hispanicunity.org or call 954-964-8884, ext. 216.


Find startup news and resources on the Starting Gate blog on miamiherald.com/business.

October 02, 2015

Young NFTE entrepreneurs pitch for $11,000 in prizes and support - and the winners were ....


Photo by Jasen Delgado/JasenDelgado.com

About 100 supporters gathered last night at the Miami Dade College Idea Center for Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship’s (NFTE) LaunchED Challenge to cheer on four accomplished young entrepreneurs.  The “shark tank” styled event allowed the four students to pitch their businesses to a panel of entrepreneurs and executives for a chance to win a portion of $11,000 in seed capital to invest in their business.

These students were selected from 21 participants in Startup Summer, an intense eight-week teen business incubator organized by NFTE at the Idea Center for advanced high school entrepreneurs under support from the Citi Foundation.  Over the summer, each student received a laptop, $1,000 in seed capital, a $1,000 stipend and intense one-on-one mentoring and support to launch the business.

At last night’s event, the young entrepreneurs were judged on the viability of their business and progress achieved over the summer. The winner, Khareem Oliver (pictured above), is a 17-year old student from Coral Gables Senior High School. He was awarded $5,000 for his business Find or Found, an innovative approach to helping pet owners locate their lost pets through a special technology-enabled tag, linked to an app and a website.  Said Albert Santalo, founder of CareCloud who was one of the judges: “Khareem’s business stood apart because of its scalability and innovative approach. The market for pet products is enormous.”

The other finalists included Gabriel Martinez, who won $3,000 for his school supply vending machine business GAMV; Janeiya Henderson who won $1,500 with Pebbles Tutoring; and Justin Rivas who also won $1,500 for his basketball tournament company Top Level Athletics.

In addition to Santalo, judges included Natalia Martinez, founder of the Awesome Foundation in Miami; Luke Palacio, managing director for Southeast US - Citi Private Bank; and Wifredo Fernandez, director of CREATE Miami at Miami Dade College.

NFTE's mission is to provide entrepreneurship education programs to young people from low income communities.
See a short video recap the Launched event by NFTE alumus Valerie Chapman.

October 01, 2015

Miami Make Week unveils event schedule

Miami Make Week logo

Save the dates: Events are planned from Wynwood to Sweetwater to North Dade

Ric Herrero and the MIAMade team have announced an impressive lineup for its inaugural Miami Make Week Nov. 6th through 15th. MIAMade is also the producer of the Miami Mini Maker Faire and Wynwood Maker Camp.. Sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Miami Make Week is a celebration of creative co-working and makerspaces throughout the Greater Miami area.

 “Miami Make Week provides an opportunity to showcase how much creative making is really taking place in Miami,” said Herrero, MIAMade co-founder. “In the past few years, we have seen the maker space landscape nearly triple in size. This is a genuine opportunity for our homegrown innovators to connect with the larger maker community and the general public.”

For more information about Miami Make Week, and to purchase tickets to the launch event on Nov. 6 at The LAB Miami, visit miamimakeweek.com.

The events span Wynwood to Little River to Sweetwater to North Dade. See the schedule of events below from MIAMade and save the dates:

FRIDAY, November 6th: A launch party at The LAB Miami will kick-off the 10-day series of events. Registration for all design and prototype challenge teams will open at this event. (6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at The LAB Miami, 400 NW 26th Street)

SATURDAY, November 7thDesign Thinking Miami will host a design strategy workshop open to all challenge teams and the public, at The LAB Miami. Registration for all challenge teams will close at the end of this event. (2 p.m to 4 p.m. at The LAB Miami, 400 NW 26th Street)

SUNDAY, November 8thMoonlighter Makerspace will host Upcycled Illuminations. From 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., makers will learn how to convert 2D vector drawings for laser cutting, develop a simple circuit to create an energy efficient LED light with switch and assemble the final product (11 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Moonlighter Makerspace, 2041 NW 1 Place). DesignLab Miami will host Light'in Up Your Day, a workshop on using textiles to create special light technologies. (10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at DesignLab Miami, 2248 NE 123rd Street)

MONDAY, November 9th: Miami's only green incubator, EcoTech Visions challenges makers to rethink and reuse everyday products with two congruent prototype projects. From Tires to Tech encourages makers to roll out new ideas for old, worn tires scattered throughout the city, while Digitization Project, similarly asks participants to improve the usefulness of a non-digital, everyday product in need of a tech upgrade. (4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at EcoTech Visions, 667 NW 90th Street)

TUESDAY, November 10th: Little River’s Miami Industrial Arts will host an introduction to the basics of mold-making. Including demonstrations for slip-casting ceramics and rubber molds for plastics, Molding Your Vision invites competition participants to learn and use the space’s facilities to make small run molds of their prototype and test market their creations. (7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Miami Industrial Arts, 300 NW 73rd Street)

WEDNESDAY, November 11th: South Florida’s largest 3D printer, 1-Click 3D Print gives participants a chance to optimize their designs and discuss best practices. Experts will cover the basics of the core 3D printing technologies and explain how to get products to market fast and efficiently. A printing class will be held from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. the same evening. (6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at 1-Click 3D Print, 203 NW 36 Street)

THURSDAY, November 12th: At the FIU Tech Station an all-day, self-paced open house allows participants to stop by and learn how to code, build a simple Arduino project and how to solder by building a simple circuit you can take home. Each workshop lasts about an hour. (11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at FIU Tech Shop, 11200 SW 8th Street). Meanwhile, on the other side of town, the North Dade Regional Library and YOUmedia Miami will host a digital logo design workshop with a professional graphic designer on hand to guide the workshop answer questions and assist in the creative process. The library will also be open from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. for a general open house. (workshop from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at North Dade Regional Library, 2455 NW 183 Street)

FRIDAY, November 13th: Stamp Stomp: A Re-Newable Way to Make Your Mark takes place at MADE at the Citadel. Challengers will be guided on a step-by-step process on how to carve and shape custom stamp designs out of repurposed common household items. (6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at MADE at the Citadel, 8325 NE 2nd Avenue)

SATURDAY, November 14th: Miami Beach’s PRINTshop @ ArtCenter / South Florida hosts Music Maker, a printmaking workshop using vintage vinyl with Loren Abbate and accompanied by DJ Lazaro Amaral. (3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at ArtCenter / South Florida, 924 Lincoln Road)

SUNDAY, November 15st: Miami Make Week comes to a conclusion with the event’s highly anticipated pitch competition and closing ceremony at Venture Hive. Each registered team will pitch their prototypes to a panel of local product experts. (Time TBD, at Venture Hive, 1010 NE 2nd Ave.)


Knight Cities Challenge opens for entries; last year's winner, Miami Science Barge, is moving full-steam ahead

  Science barge


Have an innovative idea to improve Miami as a place to live and work? The Knight Cities Challenge opens Thursday.

Now in its second year, the national challenge is an initiative of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to attract and fund ideas that will help Miami or one of the 25 other communities where Knight invests, including Palm Beach County. Ideas should focus on one or all of these three areas: attracting and keeping talent; expanding economic opportunity; and creating a culture of civic engagement. Winners will receive a share of $5 million to help build their concept; funding will be granted at all levels from small to large amounts. Applications will be accepted through Oct. 27 at knightcities.org.

Among last year’s winners was the Miami Science Barge. The concept for a floating, urban marine innovation lab and education center for science and sustainable living was proposed by CappSci, a science nonprofit; it won nearly $300,000 in Knight funding. Work on the barge (shown in rendering above), which will be powered by renewable energy, is moving full-steam ahead.

The team at CappSci closed on the purchase of the barge on Monday, moved it to the Miami River and began build-out Wednesday, said Nathalie Manzano-Smith, director of Innovation at CappSci, who proposed and is leading the project. The full-time barge staff, which also has been bolstered by help from students, businesses and community volunteers, received approval to locate the barge at Miami’s Museum Park and hopes to be launching it in early 2016, she said. One of the goals is to become a focal point for Miami’s climate issues.

“We have received tremendous community support and look forward to bringing sustainable programming to Miami’s burgeoning downtown core,” Manzano-Smith said.

For this year’s Knight Cities Challenge, Knight Foundation’s Miami Program Director Matt Haggman will host an information session Oct. 14 at the Idea Center at Miami Dade College, 315 NE Second Ave., Miami, Building 8, fifth floor.

Community members and entrepreneurs, as well as experts in urban planning, design, academia and government, will help Knight review entries. Knight will announce finalists and winners in early 2016. In March, Knight announced 32 winners of the first Knight Cities Challenge, including a pop-up pool project in Philadelphia.

“Through the challenge we want to find new voices and new ideas that capture the three key ingredients of city success — talent, opportunity and engagement. We see these as essential to the challenge and to building stronger futures for all of our cities,” said Carol Coletta, Knight Foundation vice president for community and national initiatives.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

Refresh Miami Demo Night: And the winner is ...


Apparently, many models and others in the talent industry, such as photographers, makeup artists and wardrobe stylists,  want to manage their own careers, and the winner of Refresh Miami's Demo Night  gives them the tools to do just that.

"There was no solution for talent or clients to be able to do business seamlessly in one safe place, so we built that," says Mario Aguayo, who co-founded My Style Blox with  Sandy Kacura, a professional model.  With peer reviews, an availability system, a booking platform -- and a way for e talent to be paid within 48 hours, not months -- My Style Blox provides a marketplace for talent and their clients to discover, book and manage their projects.

What clearly impressed the judges: My Style Blox picked up 950 users and several thousand in revenue in its first couple months of beta testing, which started in July. Agents? "They don't like us much," Aguayo says.

Although it was the co-founders' first pitch of My Style Blox, they won first place and the people's choice vote at  the 2015 Demo Night for Refresh Miami, South Florida's largest and oldest tech and entrepreneurship meetup group. Aguayo said the company plans to have version 1 ready in early November, when the Funkshion fashion shows start. Agauyo, who has been a talent manager and also worked in retailing,  learned to code at Miami bootcamp Wyncode earlier this year (a graduate of Cohort 4) before launching My Style Blox's beta -- proving once again entrepreneurs come from everywhere.

Also winning Thursday night at Refresh: Yodel, formerly named Tracks, which makes messaging more like face-to-face, capturing reactions, took 2nd place; that company has also been making tracks with investors;  and Tesser Health, a platform that lets employees compare prescription drug pricing and is marketed to big employers, took 3rd.

SoftLayer, an IBM company, provided the generous prize pool, giving the winner a premium Catalyst membership worth $10,000 per month in hosting credits as well as business and technical mentorship. The runners up received $1,000 per month in SoftLayer credits. All of the several hundred people attending Demo Night got free admission (and pizza) from HelloDotMiami. The judges were: Brian Brackeen, Kairos; Ivan Rapin-Smith, Watsco Ventures; Adam Boalt, Live Answer; and Julian Balderas, SoftLayer. 

Everyone gave five-minute pitches with two minutes of judge questioning. The other finalists were: Birdie Fantasy Golf, Flow KPI, Record Gram, Room2Care and Woolton (see more pictures on my tweet stream, @ndahlberg).

"I was a judge at the Refresh Miami demo day for the third year in a row and I feel the quality of startups that are pitching is getting better and better every year," said Rapin-Smith. "The ideas and teams seem to be getting more mature, more sophisticated."


September 30, 2015

Q&A on SBDC at FIU's first 20 months: 900 entrepreneurs served, and counting ...

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Since early 2014, the Florida Small Business Development Center at Florida International University has helped more than 900 South Florida entrepreneurs. The SBDC’s services are free and available to the community.

Jacqueline_Bueno Sousa_TORSO SHOTJacqueline Bueno Sousa, the program’s founding regional director, said SBDC at FIU looked at the landscape and needs in Miami-Dade County’s entrepreneurial community so that the services it offered would be value added. It settled on focusing on scalable existing businesses as well as startups, and particularly ones with global ambitions. In fact, one program it is starting later this year will focus on helping young companies go global from day one as well as helping existing companies reach new markets. “We have a focus on helping our companies grow globally because we think that is a game changer in terms of the local economy,” Sousa said.

SBDC specializes in offering entrepreneurs one-on-one counseling, and in many cases entrepreneurs get access to a team of SBDC consultants who specialize in different areas, such as finance, distribution, government contracting or marketing, Sousa said. The office, with 14 consultants, also has held a number of training programs and workshops in partnership with FIU’s Pino Global Entrepreneurship Center and IronHack coding school.

SBDC at FIU (sbdc.fiu.edu) is part of a statewide network that includes offices in Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe counties and is funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration, the state of Florida and other public and private partners. SBDC at FIU is also supported by FIU’s College of Business, where the office is based, and private funding.

The Miami Herald talked with Sousa about the SBDC at FIU’s first 20 months and what’s ahead.

Q. What is your one-liner for SBDC?

A. SBDC at FIU helps businesses grow and succeed.

Q. What services do you offer a small business?

A. We have a team of highly experienced business consultants who work one-on-one with small- and medium-size businesses to help them succeed. We have experts in finance, marketing, international business development, contracting, HR — all the major areas in which businesses experience growth challenges.

Continue reading "Q&A on SBDC at FIU's first 20 months: 900 entrepreneurs served, and counting ... " »

September 29, 2015

Free Hispanic Unity summit Oct. 8 in Davie; Susan Amat, Victor Mendelson to be honored

The 2015 Entrepreneur Summit, a day-long learning and networking event by Hispanic Unity of Florida, will showcase the diverse businesses that contribute to South Florida's economy.

The event will be held 12:45 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 8 at Nova Southeastern University, in the Carl DeSantis Building, 33301 College Ave. in Davie.

Emerging entrepreneurs and established business owners will have access to experts and educational resources at the event.

Honorees at the event include Susan Amat, founder of The Launch Pad and Venture Hive in Miami; Victor Mendelson, co-president of Heico Aerospace Corp. in Hollywood; Manny Ruiz, chairman and founder of news service Hispanicize Wire and of Hispanicize; Gus Vidauerreta, author and co-founder of Top Secret Nutrition in Miramar; and Ricardo Villadiego, founder and chief executive of Easy Solutions in Doral. For more information about the event's speakers, see hufesummit.org.

Admission is free. To register, go to www.hufesummit.org  or call 954-964-8884, Ext. 216.

Sun Sentinel