Miami Open Coffee Club returns next week with new mentoring meetup format

NewlogoThe Miami Open Coffee Club (MOCC) - a collaboration between FIU’s Pino Global Entrepreneurship Center and MapYourStartup.co – has enhanced its meetup and mentoring format. Historically, the meetup has held “speed mentoring” events, where entrepreneurs can meet with a mentor for 30-minute sessions. In an effort to bring more high-level mentoring discussions to the entire community, the MOCC team is doing new “fire-side” chats with well-known local entrepreneurs and subject matter experts ready to provide immediate, unscripted advice – all in front of a live studio audience.

“The goal with this new format is to provide a real-life, unscripted example of what a very high-level meeting between an entrepreneur with challenges and a subject matter expert with the skills to solve them looks like.” says Norberto “Tito” Gil, the founder of MapYourStartup.co. While the format will be a fire-side style conversation, the interactive discussion can really serve as an example of what a meeting with a mentor, coach, prospective board member, and even prospective employee may look like.

The meetups will be held at the FIU Downtown on Brickell, located at 1101 Brickell Avenue, 10th Floor  and will start at 7:30am, with the fire-side chat taking place between 8:00-8:30am before opening it up to the audience for Q&A.

Additionally, the chats will be streamed online at no cost for the virtual community.

The first meetup with this new format will take place on October 30, 2014 and will feature Xavier Cossard from Plarity and Charles Irizarry from Rokk3r Labs. The duo will be discussing general go-to-market strategies and other pre-launch topics. The idea is to have a pre-launch discussion on our first meet-up, with more specific post-launch topics being covered going forward.

"Having an opportunity to partner with Tito once again and support this great event was an honor for Rokk3r Labs," said Nabyl Charania, co-founder and CEO of Rokk3r Labs. "It's important for our team to be a part of the Miami tech ecosystem and share our knowledge and experience with future leaders and entrepreneurs to help them succeed and possibly co-build amazing companies with us." 

The 2nd meetup with this new format will take place on November 20th and will feature Brian Brackeen from Kairos, who will be discussing Online Marketing with the Founder of Roar Media, Jacques Hart.

“We are very excited to launch the next iteration of this collaborative mentoring program, and know that FIU students as well as the entrepreneurial community at large will benefit.”  said Karyne Bury of FIU’s Pino Global Entrepreneurship Center. 

For more information and to RSVP, follow us on Facebook at Miami Open Coffee Club.

-Submitted by MOCC team.


Entrepreneurship Datebook

Tech eggBRAINFOOD @ THE LAB: A conversation with Manny Medina, founder of Terremark and eMerge Americas, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 21, The LAB Miami, 400 NW 26th St. More info: thelabmiami.com (click on events).

JURNID SESSIONS: Hear Ren LaForme from the Poynter Institute discuss what the future of media looks like for entrepreneurial journalists and startups, 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 22, The LAB Miami. More info: thelabmiami.com (click on events).

EMERGING TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS SHOWCASE: The all-day event on Thursday, Oct. 23,  at Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus will feature a VC bootcamp, startup pitches, product demos and panel discussions, including one on “foodpreneurs.” ETBS is produced by the nonprofit Enterprise Development Corp. More info: www.edc-tech.org.

SBA WEBINAR: "Process Improvement for Small Business" focuses on applying lean process improvement to add efficiencies to your business, 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 23. More info here.

TECH WEEKEND @ THE DOLPHINS: This free hackathon on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 25-25, at SunLife Stadium hopes to attract 500 participants, including young students, and will offer prizes. A teach-athon is planned, too, and many organizations are holding networking events in conjunction with the Tech Weekend. More info: thefintank.com.

M3 - MONEY, MARKETING AND MENTORSHIP: The M3 Women’s Technology Alliance to launch its first quarterly series to help women navigate the tech sphere, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 25, The LAB Miami. More info: thelabmiami.com (click on events)

GIRL DEVELOP IT: A newbie-friendly hackathon for women, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 25, at The LAB Miami. More info: thelabmiami.com (click on events).  


Missed the tech hub series on funding progress, challenges and voices of the community? See it under the tech hub series category on this blog. Keep up with startup news and community views on the Starting Gate blog on MiamiHerald.com/business.

Posted Oct. 19, 2014


EarlyShares offers Wednesday Webinar series for lowdown on 'equity crowdfunding'

Webinar seriesHow would you grade your knowledge of the private investment market?

In September 2013, new regulations took effect enabling accredited investors to use online platforms to access opportunities that were previously unavailable to them. Though more than a year has passed since then, a relatively small number of individual investors have become educated on their new investing options.

If you’re not one of those enlightened few, now’s your chance to join the ranks of informed investors. EarlyShares just announced a new ‘Wednesday Webinar’ series on Private Investing 101. Each 15-minute webcast will help listeners get acquainted with a certain aspect of the so-called “equity crowdfunding” industry that has arisen under the General Solicitation exemption of Title II of the JOBS Act.

Not sure what ‘General Solicitation’ even means? The first course covered that, along with other need-to-know basics. (Watch the on-demand webinar here.) Sign up now for the second session in the series, detailed below. It will be at 12:30 p.m. Oct. 22.  After a short informational presentation, there will be time for questions.

Private Investing 101: Determining Your Risk Tolerance
Use 15 minutes of your lunch break to get educated about the private investment market

In this upcoming Wednesday Webinar from EarlyShares, Co-Founder & CSO Heather Schwarz-Lopes will explain:

  • The level of risk associated with various private investments
  • How the risk profile for private assets compares with stocks, 
    bonds, mutual funds, and other alternatives
  • The relationship between ‘risk’ and ‘reward’ in private investing

Register Here

Future webinars will discuss a variety of topics, including:

  • Understanding Due Diligence
  • Equity vs. Convertible Debt
  • How to Earn Returns
  • Understanding Legal Docs
  • … and more

For more information, contact EarlyShares Content Manager Madelyn Young at myoung@earlyshares.com.

Submitted by Madelyn Young of EarlyShares.com




Report: VC investments down in U.S., Florida in Q3

MoneytreeFlorida reaped just a tiny sliver -- about a third of 1 percent -- of the U.S. venture capital pie in the third quarter, according to statistics released Friday. In Florida, just $36.7 million was invested in six deals. That's down considerably from $113.9 in 13 deals last quarter and the lowest since the first quarter of 2013. The state ranked 27th in nation for funding by dollar amount.

Florida companies receiving dollars in the third quarter were: Sancilio & Company ($20 million); LensAR ($7.85 million); Informed Medical Decisions ($5 million); OBMedical ($2.1 million); Neoreach ($1.5 million); Contactus.com ($300,000). Contactus, in IT services, and Sancilio, a biotech company, are based in South Florida.

Next quarter’s Florida numbers are likely to look off the charts with reports that Google Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz are involved in a $500 million round for Broward-based Magic Leap, the cinematic reality company founded by Rony Abovitz, cofounder of Mako Surgical. Magic Leap closed a $50 million Series A round in February.

So far in 2013, $232.3 million has gone into Florida deals.

Nationally, venture capitalists invested $9.9 billion in 1,023 deals in the third quarter of 2014, according to the MoneyTree Report from PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP  and the National Venture Capital Association, based on data provided by Thomson Reuters. Quarterly venture capital  investment declined 27 percent in terms of dollars and 9 percent in the number of deals, compared to the second quarter when $13.5 billion was invested in 1,129 deals.

The third quarter is the sixth consecutive quarter of more than 1,000 companies receiving venture capital investments in a single quarter. With more than $33 billion invested through the first three quarters, total venture investing in 2014 has eclipsed total venture investing in all of 2013, which totaled $30 billion.

 “The emergence of non-traditional investors, including hedge funds and mutual funds, is contributing to the increase in venture investing this year. Another factor that can’t be ignored is the changing nature of our economy, where startup companies are disrupting entrenched industries and, in some cases, creating new industries altogether,” said Bobby Franklin, president and CEO of NVCA, in a statement.

“Another factor driving the strong investment levels is the increasing prevalence of mega deals, deals exceeding $100 million, which we’ve seen over the past few quarters. We’ve already counted more than 30 mega deals in 2014 compared to only 16 in all of 2013,” said Mark McCaffrey, global software leader and technology partner at PwC.

The biggest deals were Vice Media ($500 million); Palantir ($165 million), Houzz ($165 million), Box ($158 million) and Lookout ($150 million). Next quarter, Magic Leap will likely join the top five list.

MoneyTree Report results are available online at www.pwcmoneytree.com and www.nvca.org.

Posted Oct. 17, 2014

UM student competing in GSEA competition hosted by EO-South Florida

A University of Miami student and other  entrepreneurs from colleges and universities throughout the nation’s East Coast will meet in Miami on October 23 to vie for a chance at $150,000 in combined prize money and services as part of the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards.

The event will be hosted by Entrepreneurs’ Organization – South Florida (EO-SOFLO), one of the world’s largest EO chapters with about 150 members from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. The competition will take place at the Dadeland Marriott.

This year’s competitors include:

·      * Khalid Al-Dhubaib, Case Western Reserve University, Triple Analytics

·       * Bako Ambianda, The University of Texas At Austin, El Nero Business Hub

·       * Tatiana Arslanouk, Florida Institute of Technology, Tarnish-Me-Not

·       * John Gattuso, Georgia Tech, FIXD Automotive Inc.

·       * Justin Grayman, University of Tennessee, Uptrader 

·       * Connor Masterson, University of Miami, Jobly

·       * Channing Moreland, Belmont University, whatshubbin.com

·       * Ben McIntyre, Belmont University, Internpreneur 

·       * Ian Worrall, University of South Carolina, Sembro Development 

The students will present their business plans to a panel of EO-SOFLO judges, with three contestants advancing to the national finals next month in Chicago, with a chance at the global finals in Washington, D.C. in April.

Contestants will receive mentoring from EO-SOFLO business owners who also will judge the competition.  These include EO-SOFLO president Barry Kates of Innovative Marketing and Innovative Events; Victor Arocho of Potential Sales Group; Jason Bowen of Consumer Information Bureau; Arnie Girnun of New Horizons Computer Learning Center; Marcell Haywood of Dirt Pros; Val Major of Targetwide; Robert Newman of National Planning Corporation; and F.W. Pearce of South Florida Weight Loss Inc.  “It’s an honor for South Florida to host this event, which will feature some amazing ideas from these young business minds,” said Mark Sanna, past president of EO-SOFLO. 

South Florida EO chapter members run companies that account for more than 25,000 jobs and $1 billion in annual revenues in the tri-county area. For more information on the event or EO-SOFLO, visit eonetwork.org.



Miami-based Funding Wonder, a 'peer-to-business' lending platform, launches

For small businesses seeking loans to grow, a new vehicle launches: Funding Wonder.

LogoWith financial transactions already migrating to the Internet via “crowd” sourcing mechanisms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo or investment platforms, this Miami-based startup with offices in New York and San Francisco, is part of a new breed of peer-to-business lending platforms where qualified business borrowers can connect with accredited investors interested in lending capital on mutually agreeable terms.

 “As we prepared to launch we were not sure how we would be received but in a very short time we have received far more high quality borrower applications then we anticipated, which shows us there is significant pent-up demand for such a marketplace. Based on a preliminary review of these applications we anticipate that $3 to $5 million in loans will move through our pipeline in the next quarter,” said Funding Wonder co-founder Alan McGlade in a news release.

The company said small and medium sized businesses need quick, easy access to a wider array of borrowing options for operating or expansion capital than from traditional sources such as local banks, and many accredited investors are seeking potentially higher yield investment opportunities with predictable repayment terms. Funding Wonder "works with strategic partners with knowledge of and access to specific industries with specific characteristics and specific financial needs," the company said in its news release.

Funding Wonder was co-founded by three serial entrepreneurs. They are: 

Michael Mildenberger, CEO, has more than 20 years of executive leadership and entrepreneurial success in the technology sector. Before founding Funding Wonder, Michael was founder and Managing Partner of the Americas division of Corporate Finance Partners, an international mergers and acquisition firm.

Alan McGlade, COO, previously served as managing director of Digital Entertainment Ventures, a venture fund focused on high growth, early stage companies and serves on the boards of Human Demand, a mobile advertising company, and Sonic Notify, a location-based communications platform. He was the CEO of MediaNet, a company that powered media delivery for AOL, Yahoo, HMV, Virgin, Samsung, Tesco, MTV, Microsoft and Google, among others.

Giovanni Soleti, CFO, has  20+ years of experience in corporate finance and SMBs. Prior to Funding Wonder, Giovanni joined Corporate Finance Partners as managing partner of the Americas division, where he was instrumental in closing many international M&A transactions. Prior to this, Giovanni was the general manager of SIEI America Inc., a Charlotte, NC-based SMB in the automotive industry.

Posted Oct. 16, 2014 

Miami Dade College's new Idea Center announces Knight funding, Babson partnership

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@MiamiHerald.com

To infuse principles of entrepreneurship throughout the largest and most diverse undergraduate student body in the country, Miami Dade College is opening the doors of its new innovation hub with the help of significant funding and a prestigious partnership.

The multifaceted Idea Center, officially opening Oct. 28, will include an accelerator, co-working space, an idea lab, mentorship, training programs, a contest and events. On Thursday morning, MDC President Eduardo J. Padrón, together with Matt Haggman, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Miami program director, and Idea Center Executive Director Leandro Finol, announced that the center will receive $2.18 million in Knight funding.

Padron (2)Some of the Knight funding will go to establishing a partnership with Babson College, which has had the top-ranked entrepreneurship program in the country since 1995, according to U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings. The Idea Center will also use the Knight support to enhance its training programs for faculty and staff and develop entrepreneur-focused events as well as for fund operations for the accelerator, co-working space and mentorship programs.

"Miami Dade College has a lot of important initiatives, but the one that I am most enthusiastic about is our entrepreneurship effort," said Padrón, in a phone interview last week (pictured at right). "I think it will be the most important component of the college in the years to come."

For the Knight Foundation, funding the Idea Center represents a key pillar in its strategy to build and accelerate an entrepreneurship hub in Miami, said Haggman. While the Knight Foundation has made more than 90 investments in entrepreneurship in the past two years, this grant, which is over three years, is Knight’s largest to date.

HaggmanThrough the Idea Center, MDC’s 165,000 students “will have the opportunity, the space and resources to learn, as well as the tools they need to connect, get inspired and build ideas of their choosing,” said Haggman (pictured at left).

Finol released new details about the Idea Center, which will be headquartered on the fifth floor in Building 8 at the Wolfson Campus in downtown Miami. But the center will be a resource for all eight MDC campuses.

"We believe innovation is everywhere. We are also industry agnostic ... we want students to think about innovation in traditional industries with a different angle,” said Finol, who has 15 years’ experience in startups and multinational companies. “And we are going to be hands-on. Everything we do is going to be experiential.”

There will be programs for every stage of the entrepreneurial journey, and through the three-year partnership Babson will do a comprehensive needs assessment and will be involved in advising on all the programs, said Finol, who met with Babson’s president, Kerry Healy, during a visit to the Idea Center earlier this month. Babson also provided the curriculum for the one-year-old Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program at MDC, which helps established revenue-generating businesses scale and has already graduated 52 South Florida companies.

Leandro Finol (1)One of the Idea Center’s programs, Phase 2 Ventures, will be modeled after the 10,000 Small Businesses program and will be designed to help students grow and innovate their families’ small businesses, which make up more than 90 percent of the Miami-Dade economy. Once significant growth and revenue targets are met, the businesses could be ready for the 10,000 Small Businesses program, Finol said (pictured at right).

And for students just getting started – maybe they have an idea and don’t know where to start – there will be an Idea Factory, where students can attend a workshop and then pitch an idea to a panel of experts who evaluate the idea and assess the likelihood of success.

Students further along can apply to the Idea Center’s CREATE Accelerator, which will be headed by Wifredo Fernandez, who co-founded the co-working center The LAB Miami in Wynwood. CREATE, which stands for Center for Research and Transformative Entrepreneurs, will help aspiring student entrepreneurs build companies and products. Methodologies used will include Stanford’s Lean LaunchPad, which involves testing products and talking to customers to either validate or refine assumptions. CREATE will open in January, Finol said.

Students can also enter the $5K Startup Challenge, a college-wide contest that will have a call for entries later this fall and offer a $5,000 award. In addition, co-working spaces will be established to encourage collaboration among its students. The Idea Center will also be involved in rethinking, revamping and expanding the entrepreneurship curriculum on all its campuses.

Community events will include a Pioneers@MDCspeakers’ series with “titans of business and social innovation who will inspire the students,” Finol said. The first one kicked off last month with Juan Diego Calle, co-founder of .CO Internet in Miami.

"One of the things students have told me is that they have great ideas but they do not have the resources to seek professional help in areas they don’t have expertise, and for them this will make all the difference in the world,” said Padrón. “This is a very practical approach for entrepreneurship and I think this will be a win-win for all."

For more than two years, Padrón has been personally involved in seeing through the Idea Center project, a collaboration between the Miami Dade College School of Business and School of Engineering and Technology.

The Idea Center is a component of a much bigger strategy to infuse entrepreneurship into curricula throughout the entire college, Padrón said. “Combined with some things we are doing in emerging technologies that will provide students with real training for the knowledge economy that is so much needed in Miami, I think this will help position the college to really help the community.”

A small group that included Padrón and Haggman visited the entrepreneurship centers of Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology in May of last year in an effort to study best practices and build ideas. Padrón also visited Cornell.

Jose Estabil, MIT’s director of entrepreneurship and innovation, is on the Idea Center’s advisory board (see below), which also includes 21 leaders from South Florida’s business community such as Ricky Arriola, CEO of Inktel Holdings, Nabyl Charania, managing director of Rokk3r Labs, Alberto Daire, president of Liberty Power, Jeb Bush Jr., managing director of Jeb Bush & Associates, and Manny Medina, chairman of Medina Capital. The Idea Center will also draw on MDC’s extensive alumni network for mentors.

For Knight, the Idea Center offers a way to further build out a network of entrepreneurship support, and it has already funded programs such as coding and entrepreneurship programs for middle and high school students, The LAB Miami for co-working and events, various programs that help startups build teams and find funding and Endeavor, a global network that selects and accelerates high-impact entrepreneurs. Together with the new MDC funding, the foundation has committed more than $10 million to entrepreneurship efforts throughout the community.

What particularly caught Knight’s interest, Haggman said, is Miami Dade College’s broad reach and ability to serve the county’s most under-served communities. About 67 percent of MDC's students are considered low income; more than half of its students are the first in their families to attend college.

“We are trying to create a bridge into Miami’s growing startup community, and by doing that we also create bridges among all the eight campuses. from Homestead to North Dade, to Liberty City to Kendall,” said Haggman. “Miami Dade College has this fantastic footprint that connects to the community in a way that no other organization does. Our aim will be to try to cross-pollinate and create connections between all the pieces of the network. We are really excited about it, there is a lot of possibility.”

Padrón agrees.

"Our students are some of the brightest and some of the most creative students you can find anywhere," said Padrón. "They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and many of these students are innovative by nature. We feel giving this population the opportunity to participate is something that will change the face of Miami."

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.

Board of Advisors (1)
  Posted Oct. 16, 2014


The Countdown Institute introduces new Code in Space program

By  Alex de Carvalho and Richard Schuchts

Countdown LogoAs children, we each dreamed of becoming an astronaut. Who didn't? Space exploration and thoughts of "what is out there" helped spur our imagination and dreams. As kids, imagine how fun it would have been to interact with live satellites in space!

The Countdown Institute, a Miami-based startup, provides today’s kids an exclusive opportunity to do just that. Countdown launches its Code in Space program on Oct. 25 at The LAB Miami. Students take two in-class sessions on successive weekends and then continue the lessons online to learn coding and computer science by interacting with a live satellite orbiting the Earth. Register online at https://countdowninstitute.eventbrite.com

Code in Space is the first course of its kind and uses Arduino sensors and the Ardusat satellite platform. Organizations like NASA have programs to teach coding via space exploration, but now the same advantages are available for the first time in a classroom setting.

Coding teaches critical thinking to solve problems and overcome challenges. As we think about possible solutions, we exercise curiosity and creativity in how to best tackle the problem. The helps develop lateral thinking to deal with unexpected situations.

CountdownimageWe live in an increasingly connected world and soon, connected devices around us will be collecting and displaying all kinds of information. Soon enough, our world will be filled with sensors everywhere. If you can control sensors in space today, you will be able to control the sensors around you tomorrow.

But learning coding is not something we are all comfortable learning using current teaching methods.  Thus, Code in Space introduces coding in the context of space and a real satellite.  We learn best when solving problems in a way that feels like play.

More than critical thinking, practicality, and fun, learning to code provides marketable skills. In today's world, corporate jobs are no longer for life and people must increasingly control their own destiny. In his book "Outliers," Malcolm Gladwell demonstrated that people achieve mastery in any field after 10,000 hours of practice. The sooner we encourage our children to code, the better we will prepare them for their future. 

At the first of two in-person classes, students will break into teams and use space exploration to understand about satellites, Ardusat program, Arduino platform, computer science basics, and sensors on the satellite.  We then write some simple code to conduct Earth-based measurements on a wide variety of sensors found on the satellite. 

When we meet for the second in-person class, we will work on a specific experiment for the satellite.  We will discuss our goals and alternatives and select a collective project that we will watch be implemented and unfold over the coming days or weeks.

The course includes extensive online content as well.  Prior to the first class, students will have access to videos and other online learning materials.  Between the two in person classes, students use online materials to further explore each of these sensor based experiments and a variety of additional materials. 

After the classes, students and faculty communicate and collaborate via the online environment to resolve issues and debug the code.  This is space after all.  Space exploration is very focused, process-oriented, and logical.  But it always involves problem solving, adapting to harsh conditions, and the realities of working on something far above our heads in space.  The end result is a successful test of a sensor on the Ardusat satellite.

After our successful mission, the Mission Debrief stage will feature faculty evaluating the progress of students, answering questions, and sharing thoughts among the group.  After all, we are going on a mission together, it is certain there will be a lot to learn and share.

Many thanks to our partners at LAB Miami and Ardusat.  We are proud to have on our faculty some of Miami's best makers, coders, and entrepreneurs.  We are proud to be a part of this community. 

Coding really is rocket fuel for a kid's mind ... and imagination.  Don’t you wish you were a kid living in today?  Well, your kids and grandchildren are.  If you’d like share this experience with them, sign them up to participate in this unique experiential learning opportunity. 

Sure, they will be the ones to keep the T-shirt, handbook, and certificate.  But you just may find that you are the one who can’t stop talking about it with your friends. 

The exclusive launch weekends for Code in Space are October 25 and November 1 (students attend BOTH Saturdays).  For more information: www.countdowninstitute.com or info@countdowninstitute.com.  To register, https://countdowninstitute.eventbrite.com

 Alex de Carvalho, Richard Schuchts and Jessica Burns co-founded The Countdown Institute with Ajit Jaokar,  a data science expert and professor at Oxford University who was inspired to start The Countdown Institute by his 11-year-old son, Aditya.



Venture Hive accepting applications for 2015 accelerator class – deadline Nov. 24


By Susan Amat

Venture Hive is pleased to announce that applications are opening for our Winter 2015 Accelerator class! We are seeking startups with working tech solutions in tackling challenges in the following industries: Creative (art, music, film, design, fashion, etc.), Finance, Healthcare, Hospitality/Travel, and Trade/Logistics. The deadline for applications will be Monday, November 24th, 2014.

Copy of DSC_0020The 10 selected companies will receive a $25,000 non-equity grant, participate in our 13-week intensive mentor-driven accelerator program, and six months of free office space at Venture Hive in downtown Miami. This program is made possible by the generous support of Miami-Dade County, the Miami Downtown Development Authority, and Miami WorldCenter. Venture Hive has partnered with firms such as DLA Piper to ensure the best possible support for our startups.

Since January, 2013, Venture Hive has operated a founder-friendly environment, bringing together tech entrepreneurs from more than 18 countries together under one roof. We work with visionary teams, lead by founders who want to build world-class businesses, not just cool products. Past accelerator participants include Everypost, The Fan Machine, Raw Shorts, Kimetric, and GetMyRx.

Accelerator companies must commit to their executive team being full time in Miami from January 26th to April 24th, 2015. Companies applying may be pre-launch but cannot have raised more than $500K.

For full application guidelines or to apply, please visit: http://miami.venturehive.co/

Susan Amat is the founder and CEO of Venture Hive.


Above, Matias Koretzky of RealBridge, part of the  2014 accelerator class, pitches. At top, photos of Venture Hive's Living Room and programming.

Posted Oct. 13, 2014


Mission of FAU's new Tech Runway: Launch startups, grow jobs

Tech Runway is prepared for takeoff.

Florida Atlantic University’s new South Florida entrepreneurship program includes a 27,000-square-foot collaborative workspace designed for housing, educating, mentoring and funding startup companies from inception through venture funding. Tech Runway will be formally announced later this week.

Selected startups, who do not have to have FAU ties, will receive office space for a year, a 16-week accelerator boot camp based on Stanford University’s Lean Launch curriculum, a team of mentors and a seed grant of $25,000. Tech Runway is led by CEO Kimberly Gramm, director of the Adams Center for Entrepreneurship at FAU (pictured here).

“We have tremendous assets in our region — successful entrepreneurs who are sharing their significant wisdom with startups and giving back to the community and students,” Gramm said. “We are integrating the entrerpeneurial world with the university world … to help create not only successful startups but a knowledge-based workforce.”

The building adjacent to the university in Boca Raton contains work spaces for the companies, as well as space for support functions, events and offices for FAU Tech Runway partners. The converted warehouse, perhaps fittingly, overlooks the executive airport, with views of planes taking off. “We hope executives flying in and out will take a golf cart over to check out our startups,” Gramm said.

Tech Runway has a team of 30 screened mentors so far, and Gramm hopes to grow that number to 100. Mentors were trained in the MIT team mentoring approach, she said. FAU faculty will also offer instruction and expertise; for instance, this semester an MBA class is helping the startups with operations and strategy. 

The project is being funded with a $1 million grant from the state and $3 million from FAU, but Gramm said she will be making a case for more funds. “This is our proof of concept, just like a startup has to do. The first year we are going to do our best to prove the model and we are building it as a scalable model for satellite offices.”

IMG_3238Jan Bednar (pictured here) and his company, BedaBox, are part of the first class at Tech Runway. When Jan Bednar moved here six years ago from the Czech Republic, he was bombarded with emails from friends asking him to buy and ship them things because from the Czech Republic it was hard to find retailers that would ship or the costs would be prohibitive. He started BedaBox about two years ago to bridge the foreign buyer with the U.S. retailer. As of late, Bednar and BedaBox have been on a roll. In April, he won the school’s Business Plan Competition, with $38,000 in prizes, then he won the competition at Florida Venture Forum’s Early Stage Conference and he graduated from FAU in May.

Now BedaBox is part of the inaugural Tech Runway program. “It’s really cool to be in an environment where everyone is trying to help you,” said Bednar, 23, who has already been impressed with the mentorship and the goal-setting process at Tech Runway.

Five companies in total were recently selected for the first group and start immediately. Five more companies will be added in the spring semester and more companies will be admitted each semester after that. The hope is that Tech Runway will soon be helping 40 startups a year, Gramm said.

The companies will spend up to one year in the program. Admission is open to all, not just FAU students. While companies will likely be technology-driven, they do not have to be. “We look for the best best opportunities with the right people leading them,” Gramm said.

In addition to Bedabox, the other startups in Tech Runway are:

Interact TEAM – This company has licensed FAU technology to provide training for hospitals and nursing homes on navigating the Medicare processes for patient transfers.

Stand4 – a website that connects individuals, charities and corporations to enhance the charity donation process so everyone benefits.

Modulux Lighting – an LED commercial lighting company started by two lighting industry experts to exploit new patent-pending capabilities that save energy and improve effectiveness.

Design Comfort Shoes– a retail shoe company led by an experienced designer who combines patented technology for comfort with high fashion design.

There will be a community event to unveil Tech Runway from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Oct. 24 at the FAU Tech Runway facility, 901 NW 35th St., Boca Raton. Find information on Tech Runway later this week at www.tech-runway.com.

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.

Posted Oct. 12, 2014