December 14, 2017

Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative brings entrepreneurs to Miami for learning and collaboration

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Entrepreneur Tania Rosas of Colombia at KROMA Art Space in Coconut Grove. Photo courtesy of Global Ties Miami.

 

By Maria de los Angeles

Twelve entrepreneurs from the Caribbean and Latin America arrived in Miami this fall for a month-long fellowship program hosted by Global Ties Miami. In its second year, the U.S. Department of State’s Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) paired 250 emerging social and business leaders with businesses in 24 U.S. cities. A preliminary Business Plan Pitch Competition gave each fellow a potential opportunity to compete in a final round in Washington, D.C.

Established in the late 1950s, Global Ties Miami facilitates citizen diplomacy through cultural, educational and professional exchange tours. For YLAI, this local nonprofit matched 12 young entrepreneurs from Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Haiti, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Suriname and Venezuela with businesses across Miami-Dade.

 The program was mutually beneficial for the “Entrepreneurs-in-Residence” and their host companies. Fellows applied their skills and shared their international perspectives, while their hosts provided YLAI fellows with mentoring and networking opportunities. The immersion program with local business leaders will help each Fellow’s startup venture back home.

KROMA Art Space in Coconut Grove hosted the pitch competition and was mentor to Colombian fellow Tania Rosas. The collective studio and gallery space was well suited for the organization Rosas founded, Fundación el Origen, which combines art and education to preserve the cultural legacy of Colombia’s indigenous cultures while breaking cycles of poverty.

Annette Green Alvarez, Executive Director of Global Ties Miami, says the integration of one of Miami’s artistic spaces with the YLAI program added creative energy to the event, which concluded with a tour of an exhibit Rosas curated at KROMA with local and international artists.

“We should care that Miami has all these little gems that aren’t often talked about,” she says. “The entrepreneurs are also creators and we celebrated their work in a space that supports an abundance of diversity. We make connections and these relationships developed. The space elevated what was taking place during the pitch competition.”

This year’s pitch competition winners include a tie for 3rd place with Karen Sandoval from Chile and Emiliano González from Paraguay, whose businesses focus on outdoor education in Patagonia and technology education, respectively. (González also won a VISA-sponsored hackathon with his host, Learn01, a tech and research lab located in Wynwood.) Second place went to Carolina “Nina” Guzmán of Costa Rica, whose company Hands-On! Lesco, offers training in sign language to break down discrimination barriers for the deaf.

Haitian fellow Miguelito Jerome, founder of 500Gourdes.com, won first place for the e-commerce website that works to mitigate a high unemployment rate by facilitating the sale of services and products offered by Haitians on the island to customers in the Haitian diaspora.

The website is similar in concept to Fiverr, an online services marketplace, where freelancers offer tasks and services for a starting fee of U.S. $5.  500 gourdes, a banknote in Haiti, currently exchanges for about U.S. $8.

Jerome’s host was Haitian-American Donard St. Jean, CEO and President of the Dade Institute of Technology, as well as Vice-Chairman of the Haitian-American Chamber of Commerce of Florida.

“He was a younger version of me,” says St. Jean, who has worked with the Haitian diaspora since he arrived in Florida 17 years ago. “I realized what they lacked,” he adds. “I needed to bring a higher level of technical training.” He founded the IT training and consulting institute in 2006.

St. Jean mentored Jerome on business culture in the U.S. and helped him sharpen his presentation skills, among other learning experiences that will help Jerome grow his business from Haiti.

The Miami partnership will grow. “I intend to work with him to see if we can launch this platform on a bigger scale,” St. Jean adds.

 Jerome says that YLAI made a deep impact on his personal and business life as a powerful and productive exchange program, and that Miami was the perfect location to influence his target market, the Haitian diaspora. Like the other Fellows, Jerome had a tight and full schedule of activities, which included networking events after hours.

“During my fellowship, I learned more about how to reach the Haitian diaspora, and what their needs are,” he notes. “I could observe the way St. Jean runs his business and what is required to conduct business in the U.S.”

Working with St. Jean and being in Miami helped Jerome clearly identify solutions for problems that his company seeks to solve, and to hone in on his vision. “I could think big and see the whole picture,” he adds.

Jerome has returned to Haiti and is updating and executing a new action plan, which includes making it easier for Haitian professionals and vendors to promote their products and services to the Haitian diaspora living in Miami, New York, Boston.

He hopes to expand globally to 20 countries by 2020, giving the world access to the services of professionals and vendors in the Caribbean and Latin America  “We’re creating opportunities,” he adds. “It’s a solution to stop the brain drain and economic issues in many communities.”

On November 20, about a month after Jerome returned to Haiti, the Trump administration announced that it would end Temporary Protection Status for over 59,000 Haitians who have lived and work in the U.S. since the devastating 2010 earthquake. Haitians with protection status -- about half of the estimated 110,000 Haitians living the U.S. without permanent permission -- have until 2019 to leave or face deportation. Their nearly 30,000 U.S.-born children are citizens who may remain in the country.

Jerome’s website may help maintain an economic and cultural bridge by helping skilled Haitians share their talents with other Haitians on and off the island, with a global customer reach.

“TPS will impact our country economically and socially,” Jerome says. “It’s going to be a huge repatriation.”

Independent journalist Maria de los Angeles writes for Global Ties Miami.

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YLAI pitch competition winners, left to right: Emiliano González (Paraguay), Karen Sandoval (Chile), Carolina “Nina” Guzmán (Costa Rica) and Miguelito Jerome (Haiti). Photo courtesy of Global Ties Miami.

 

December 12, 2017

#Miamitech leaders support Net Neutrality

 
Net-neutrality
An open letter to Congress:
 
Congressman Carlos Curbelo et al.
 
We are the founders & leaders of technology startups here in Miami. Collectively, we represent tens of millions of dollars in revenue and thousands of employees in Miami's burgeoning tech scene. We have a deep understanding of web technology as it is essential to our livelihood. We are writing to ask you to help stop the repeal of Title II classification of ISPs. It is unfortunate that we currently face a difficult question: Should we (the U.S.A.) repeal Title II's net neutrality protection or not?
 
We believe the answer is no. We should not repeal the Title II classification without a legitimate, well thought out replacement. As business owners, we understand the serious nature of regulation & its hampering effects on our ability to innovate. We believe these regulations are an exception to the rule. In 2015, the Title II classification of ISPs explicitly excluded more than 700 of the rules found in Title II regulation [1] for the exact reason of maintaining a "light touch" philosophy. Beyond the fact that it has indeed been a light touch approach, the most important thing to note is that there are guarantees that come with the current classification that are essential to maintaining a competitive environment for businesses like ours to thrive. Businesses like Clutch Prep which depends on open internet access to college students who use their platform to become the doctors of tomorrow [2]. Businesses like LiveNinja who depend on WebRTC communications to consumers across the entire country by customers like Apple, Samsung & HP [3]. Businesses like NomadsTV which provides OTT software to media companies [4].
 
Ajit Pai's original dissent [5] expressed valid concerns. However, the last two years have come to show that they are not currently an issue. Things like Universal Service Fund taxes are not being imposed (at least not to our knowledge), the classification has not stopped or prevented zero rating (T-Mobile is a great example of the current protections being in place without disrupting innovation [6]). Many small local ISPs are not overburdened due to this classification [7], broadband prices have stagnated or decreased in price [8]. Meanwhile, access to broadband is growing [9] [10] and speeds are increasing [11]. 
 
We believe the internet has grown and provided economic opportunity unfettered by existing regulations. However, bad behavior has arisen among ISP's covering the "last mile": providers have tried to charge companies for access to their own customers [12],  they have been caught blocking services that customers have paid for [13] [14], and found throttling traffic they deemed to be unimportant [15].
 
Because the draft order repeals net neutrality rules altogether, it allows ISPs to block or throttle lawful content, or give the highest-paying websites and apps a better ability to reach customers’ devices or to favor Internet traffic from the ISPs’ own subsidiaries and business partners, all without any legal repercussions. This could be devastating to our livelihoods and have many implications in the long term.
 
We believe Pai can and should continue to have a light touch and maintain the current Title II classification while he crafts a legitimate, better-designed replacement that guarantees no blocking of content, throttling or paid priority while providing an even less intrusive regulation than is currently in place. This is the United States of America; we can do better.
 
 
Thank You,
Auston Bunsen, Lead Instructor at Wyncode Academy
Johanna Mikkola, Co-founder of Wyncode Academy
Juha Mikkola, Co-founder of Wyncode Academy
Ivan Rapin-Smith, Managing Director at Watsco Ventures
Rob Dyson, CTO & Co-founder of Willing.com
Rebekah Monson, Co-founder of WhereBy.us
Lu Martinez, Founder of StardomUp
Mary Wolff, CEO & Co-Founder, Spacewolff
Brian Breslin, Co-founder of SimCase
Ulises Orozco, CPO of Saving for College
Maria Derchi, Executive Director of Refresh Miami
Erik Mendelson, CEO of RecordGram
Otto Othman, CMO & Co-founder of Pincho Factory
Miles Varghese, SVP of Sales for Octopi
Guille Carlos, CTO & Co-founder of Octopi
Luc Castera, Founder of Octopi
Andrej Kostresevic, CEO of Nomads
Will Weinraub, CEO & Co-founder of LiveNinja
Emilio Cueto, CTO & Co-founder of LiveNinja
Alfonso Ligares, CDO & Co-founder of LiveNinja
Brian Brackeen, Founder & CEO of Kairos
Herwig Konings, CEO of InvestReady
Alex Nucci, CEO of Gramercy
Richard Grundy, CEO of Flomio
Jose Rasco, Founder & CEO of dotHealth
Marcio Souza, CEO & Co-founder of Clutch Prep
Alain Fontaine, CTO & Co-founder of Clutch Prep
Juan Bermudez, CEO & Co-founder of Coach-HQ
Larry Ho, COO of Ziro
Javier Sarmiento, Founder and VP, Payments at Open English
 
 
4. Information on Nomads OTT product: http://nomads.co/product/whitelabelottvideo/
5. Ajit Pai's 85 page original dissent on Net Neutrality order: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-15-24A5.pdf
6. Get "free" streaming with a special plan from T-Mobile: https://www.t-mobile.com/offer/free-music-streaming.html
14. ISP Madison River blocking VOIP traffic FCC ruling: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-05-543A2.pdf
15. Comcast blocking / throttling legal peer-to-peer traffic: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comcast_Corp._v._FCC#Background
 
HAVE YOUR SAY: here is more info, including how to reach all yourblocal lawmakers. Sign a petition to save net neutrality here.

December 03, 2017

From 'grandkids on demand' to apps: How Miami startups are helping seniors and their caregivers

 

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlbergbiz@gmail.com

Who hasn’t worried about elderly family members and wished it was easier to keep up with them from afar?

Now there’s a slew of technology that offers better care for the seniors and peace of mind for the family caregivers. What’s more, some South Florida startups are at the forefront of this technology, fueled by advances in artificial intelligence, big data and voice technologies.

One Plantation company has a solution that tracks and analyzes a senior loved one’s activity and routines and will alert caregivers when something is out of the ordinary. Another Miami startup supplies “grandkids on demand” to help with transportation, chores and companionship. Still other local firms have rethought the daily phone call, supplied elder-friendly multilingual hospital discharge instructions, and matched up the elderly with others who have room in their homes. Yet another enhanced alerts for when your elder has “fallen and can’t get up.”

It’s a large and growing market; more than 50 million Americans are over the age of 65, and 10,000 more hit that mark every day. While that slice is now about 13 percent of America’s population, it will jump to 19 percent by 2030 — about 72 million people — according to a U.S. Census Bureau report. About $1.2 trillion is spent on healthcare for American seniors each year, according to government estimates.

Perhaps most importantly, this technology can keep seniors safe and independent, allowing them to live in their homes — their overwhelming preference, according to surveys. Some of the technology could also prevent life-changing injuries caused by falls. The big vision: empowering the elderly to live more safely on their own while easing the worries of their loved ones.

Through its mobile app, website or 800 number, Miami startup Papa provides assistance and socialization to seniors through young and enthusiastic team members called Papa Pals. It’s like grandkids on demand, said CEO Andrew Parker.

Olga DeMartino, 92, visits with Papa founder Andrew Parker and Papa employee, Valeria Sosa, 26, Nov. 14, 2017, in her Coral Springs home. Parker runs a startup called Papa. It provides “grandkids on demand” — basically college students hired to help elderly customers by taking them to hair appointments or to get groceries, or to do a little cleanup or cooking, or just to be a companion.

Parker came up with his startup idea from a personal need. Andrew Parker’s grandfather had been diagnosed with early onset of dementia that progressed into Alzheimer’s. As a family, the Parkers had a lot of difficulty managing his daily needs and supporting his primary family caregiver, Andrew’s grandmother.

Papa started as a simple concept, said Parker, who previously worked at telemedicine provider MDLIVE, which was founded by his father. “Our grandfather and grandmother need support; others must as well. There is a huge senior population that continues to grow on a daily basis. There are also a lot of amazing college students who want to become future nurses, doctors and other leaders. Let’s connect these inter-generational groups and I bet something amazing happens.”

So Parker gathered a small team and started Papa, to support his own grandfather, whom he called “Papa,” and other seniors. The service, which is insured, now has about 150 Papa Pals on board. Most are college students earning extra money.

Recently, Papa Pal Valeria Sosa, a 26-year-old Broward College student, took Olga DeMartino, 92, to her weekly hair appointment. After Sosa walked with her to the car and buckled her in, they chatted and joked about each other’s families.

Regina DeMartino, Olga’s daughter-in-law, said before they found Papa on social media, family members took turns taking time off work to take her to her appointments.

“She loves them – she finds them all really interesting and loves being with younger people,” Regina said of the Papa Pals. They walk her out of her appointment and always have an umbrella so her hair won’t get wet, she said. “If she needs help around the house, they do that too.”

On Valentine’s Day last year, a Papa Pal brought Olga a rose. “How sweet is that?” said Regina.

Like Papa, Room2Care also leverages the so-called sharing economy but in a different way. The Miami startup is creating a network of vetted private caregiver homes, which provide less expensive and more personalized care than assisted living, said Richard Ashenoff, who founded the company with Dr. Todd Florin.

Room2Care, a Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge winner in 2015, is licensed and doing business in five states – Florida, West Virginia, Texas, Arizona and California – and has over 5,000 users and growing daily, Ashenoff said.

While Room2Care and Papa use tech to connect seniors with humans for companionship, assistance and caregiving, technology steps in to help in all the other times, too.

Take CarePredict, an elder-care platform powered by artificial intelligence. CarePredict makes bracelets that help track an elderly resident’s every activity. Currently it is available only to large group senior-living facilities and home care agencies, but the company hopes to offer the device directly to consumers in the future.

In an office space above a Boston Market in Plantation, more than a dozen engineers and data scientists are quietly toiling away on computers in an office adorned with large portraits of senior citizens. In the next room, another worker is carefully assembling the devices.

Founder and CEO Satish Movva keeps a portrait of his own parents near his office as a reminder of his mission. His parents, who are now 90 and 80, live just 10 miles away. Still, despite frequent calls and visits, he couldn’t trust the answers he was getting from them about their health.

“No matter how many times I would call them during the week, when I showed up on Saturday I’d find new things I didn’t know about. It was frustrating,” said Movva. “I wanted a wearable device that would answer all the questions I have about them every day.”

Changes in activity and behavior patterns show up well before the underlying issues manifest into medical conditions, said Movva, who has been an innovator in healthcare technology for 23 years, including as founding CIO for Sheridan Healthcare. He wanted a system to observe his parents continuously but privately, so he could be alerted to changes early enough to intervene. After finding the existing technologies inadequate, he set out to develop CarePredict in 2013.

CarePredict’s application offers a summary page and more details when each category is clicked.

The idea is to monitor daily activities like eating, drinking, walking, bathing, cooking, sleeping, said Movva. “We couple that with contextual cues to surface insights like self-neglect, for example, due to depression.” The data can also help predict falls or suggest malnutrition, dehydration or infections before the senior or another person reports them.

Angel, an artificial intelligence- and voice-powered Virtual Nurse Assistant, can play a similar role. She reaches out via low tech but clinically intelligent phone conversations, said Wolf Shlagman, founder and CEO of Care Angel.

“You look at the aging market and 90 percent or so choose to age at home ... managing themselves the best they can,” he said. “Angel is meant to be an assistant that will help family caregivers by being able to simply call mom just as a nurse would, asking a series of questions.”

Angel asks a series of personalized questions such as “how did you sleep last night?,” “did you take your medication today?” and “what was your glucose reading today?” If it detects cause for concern, Care Angel alerts caregivers via app, text message or phone. “Our mission is to help millions of people take better care of their families for a fraction of the cost of anything else out there,” said Shlagman.

A basic version Care Angel is currently available for free for AARP members and through other partners such as health insurers. A feature-filled premium version will be available next year for about $9.95 a month.

In a recently finalized study with a Humana Medicare Advantage population, Care Angel received high marks from recipients and also had a substantial effect on clinical and financial outcomes. Results showed engagement of about 83 percent, a reduction of 63 percent in hospital readmissions and $496,000 in savings, said Shlagman, who previously founded and sold Consult-a-Doctor, a telemedicine company.

MobileHelp, founded in 2006 and headquartered in Boca Raton, took the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” personal emergency response system idea pioneered by Life Alert and turbo-charged it. Help can be summoned at the touch of a button worn around the neck or on the wrist; unlike the first-generation systems designed for use only in the home, MobileHelp‘s products can be used on the go since they don't require a landline phone connection. The device also detects falls so help can be summoned without a button being pressed. Its app also provides verbal medication notifications and a tracker that monitors activity levels for reports that go to caregivers.

SpeechMED is designed to demystify medical instructions. It was started by Susan Perry after her mother-in-law died of a medical mishap because she could not understand post-surgery instructions given by the hospital. The application operates in 16 languages, offering patients and their caregivers the instructions in the spoken word as well as in text in the language they understand. There’s an accompanying caregiver app, too. The SpeechMED system is being piloted at Baptist Health System.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

From Facebook to Miami, she’s investing in dreams, maybe even the next ‘iguanacorn’

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By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlbergbiz@gmail.com

When Laura González-Estéfani moved from Silicon Valley to Miami in 2015, the former Facebook executive said she was taken aback by the welcoming tech and entrepreneurship community.

“There must be something in the water in Miami that makes everyone so welcoming and so enthusiastic about the unknown. I found that willingness to take a risk,” she said in an interview this summer.

At eMerge Americas in June, González-Estéfani and business partner Clara Bullrich announced plans to start a venture-building company, called TheVentureCity, headquartered in Miami and Madrid, with an office in Silicon Valley, that would bring together a team from hyper-growth companies such as Facebook, Google and eBay. The venture builder would focus on accelerating high-potential tech startups with international growth aspirations. And that was just the beginning of a whirlwind six months for González-Estéfani and Bullrich.

Since then TheVentureCity team has begun offering free workshops and events for the community. The company has also partnered with Miami Dade College on an associate’s degree in entrepreneurship, and González-Estéfani and her team have assembled a group of instructors, including herself, who are CEOs or top executives of South Florida companies to teach the classes. The MDC program started this fall.

 “Those amazing young kids, their brains are so open,” said González-Estéfani, born in Spain and a mother of three. “What is your dream? That’s how I started my class. That was the first interview question I got at Facebook. When you can dream, things happen.”

And in September, TheVentureCity announced it has launched a $100 million venture capital fund, and kicked it off with 14 investments so far, including four investments in South Florida companies Boatsetter, RecargaPay, Above & Beyond and The FastMind.

Although her fund invests all over the world, González-Estéfani is a believer in Miami’s potential for tech. She even coined her own Miami term for so-called unicorns — companies valued at $1 billion or more. She calls them “Iguanacorns,” and Miami already has several.

To find the next iguanacorns, TheVentureCity is taking applications for its 36-month or 18-month accelerator-like program called The Garden Fellowships. Startups that can be in any place in the world must demonstrate at least a six-month track record and solid numbers on growth and engagement metrics. Using a data-driven approach, TheVentureCity builds on that foundation.

The Miami Herald interviewed González-Estéfani in her office in October about her time at Facebook and her new venture in Miami that includes a fund. These are excerpts of that conversation.

Q.  Why did you start TheVentureCity?

A. I worked for Facebook almost nine years, I’m 41, which is almost one-fourth of my life dedicated to that amazing company. I worked in Europe, Silicon Valley, Miami and Latin America. In 2000, I founded my own startup and we failed miserably. But I am surprised that after 20 years the problems in these emerging tech hubs are still the same.

A Silicon Valley startup founded by a Stanford guy is valued three times more than one founded by a Venezuelan guy based in Miami or a woman based in Spain. This is my passion — I want to fix that. I want to work with companies that are making a huge impact, not because of where the founders are.

A Silicon Valley startup founded by a Stanford guy is valued three times more than one founded by a Venezuelan guy based in Miami or a woman based in Spain. This is my passion — I want to fix that.

I believe the next billion-dollar companies won’t be coming from Silicon Valley only. There are so many huge problems to solve around the world. If you look at fin-tech, insure-tech, health-tech, feminine-tech, if you look at AR [augmented reality], those founders are so talented, so driven, but they don’t have the right people supporting them.

What moves our team is giving founders in those emerging tech hubs support to change the world in the best way they can. We have been busy executing.

Q. What do you look for in an investment?

A. We don’t invest in companies without at least a six-month track record with engagement and growth metrics. We need to understand the founders first, have chemistry with them, and then look at the product or their engineering, the core of what they are building.

If everything goes well, then we will look at the financial model and legal structure. Why? We are looking at the bones, what are the things we need to track to understand if the company is going somewhere. We are not looking at revenues from the very beginning, which is something that happens in Miami all the time [because] investors want to see early revenues. If I have a small company, I want everyone focused on growing the company. The Googles, Facebooks, eBays of the world, they didn’t start monetizing until the year three or five.

That’s the thinking. Even our term sheets are different. A lot of funds require a board seat. I don’t want that. I want the entrepreneur to feel at home and that they can call our team at any time. I don’t want to wait until the board meeting to hear what the problem is. It doesn’t make sense.

The transparency, the directness and information flow we request is very different, it is more like we are part of the same team. At the end of the day, the best deals are coming our way and our founders feel we can help them.

We need to bring more people here who want to support founders along the way. Not roadblocks; it’s already so difficult to be an entrepreneur.

Q. Tell me about The Garden Fellowships. How is it different from a startup accelerator?

A. Our program is not a fixed program; it is tailor-made for each of the startups. Our experience is giving to the talent.

We don’t require equity in advance; we invest as we go over 18 or 36 months. We have to keep earning it. If they want to leave at any point, they are free to leave at any point. We don’t want anyone to feel trapped. We are so sure of how much we can deliver, I am comfortably fine to demonstrate every day that we have earned it.

We are going to work with 25 companies. They can work wherever they want. Pushing the boundaries, that is what disruption is all about.

Every company should have a chief happiness officer. When I asked the kids at Miami Dade College what kind of company they want to work with, none of them said a corporation. They are mission-driven.

Q. What are some lessons you learned at Facebook and earlier?

A. Don’t pay attention to the noise, don’t pay attention to the drama, you can make it happen.

Figure out where you want to go and then deconstruct and move backward.

My first startup [a beach tourism portal in 2000] was a disaster. We didn’t plan in advance, of course 2000 the bubble burst, it was bad timing and we didn’t know what we were doing. I’m an angel investor who is on boards and my husband is building a company, and I’ve learned you have to think five years out and build backwards.

Five years in tech is a long time. I didn’t have that five-year vision when I was 20 years old. I needed to have an action plan with steps on how to get there. Now we are trying to embed that into everyone.

If you are a natural leader, people will follow you.

Have a suite of values that every member of the team speaks to. You need to do what you preach. Invest in the culture of the company, transparency, diversity, being fair to the founders, thinking of the founders first. Our list of mentors is pretty amazing and you need to connect them with the community. If you say you are going to do this, you have to do this. That’s something I learned at Facebook.

Every company should have a chief happiness officer. (At TheVentureCity that’s Miami campus director Elisa Rodríguez-Vila). When I asked the kids at Miami Dade College what kind of company they want to work with, none of them said a corporation. They are mission-driven. Millennials and those coming after are expecting to work with a purpose, not just for the money. Every company needs to invest in happiness officers guaranteeing that there will be an amazing culture.

I never hire people who want to work just because of the money. I’ve never done that. But we do pay people right. That is something Miami needs to understand — if you really want to attract the best talent, you should pay them in a fair way. You can’t expect them to work for $50,000, excuse me?

Q. How else can Miami’s entrepreneurial ecosystem be improved?

A. The showstoppers are there is a lot of money and a lot of awesome tech. Explore different ways to make an impact. We have to create those role models, the Jacqui’s [Baumgarten, CEO of Boatsetter] of the world, the guys from The FastMind, the founder of CareCloud, these are role models for the community. They need to mingle more and be more proactive. On the other side, to the founders, you can’t wait for things to happen for you. You need to put skin in the game. I’ve had founders who’ve wanted investment and they aren’t even working on their venture full time. I’m putting everything I have into this and I expect the same from you.

We need investors that really understand tech. We need traditional venture capitalists to understand that in tech it doesn’t work the same way, you can’t expect returns in a year. We need the talent to stay here because they are getting the right salary. You can’t be strangled by regulation, hello government.

We still have a long way with the government. I am not talking about handouts, I am talking about making it easier for them to thrive. Tech drives tons of high wage jobs.

Everyone contributes to what happens here.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.


Laura González-Estéfani

Position: Co-founder of TheVentureCity, a venture builder headquartered in Miami and Madrid.

Experience: González-Estéfani spent nearly nine years with Facebook in various roles supporting overall growth strategies, including as director of international business development and mobile partnerships for Latin America, spearheading the Internet.org and connectivity initiatives from Silicon Valley and later Miami. Before Facebook, she held management roles at eBay, Siemens and Ogilvy Group and co-founded Esplaya.com, the first international beach tourism digital platform.

Education: Universidad Europea de Madrid and Vlerick Business School in Belgium.

Personal: 41 years old, born in Spain, “citizen of the world.” Married, mother of three, lives in Miami.

Community involvement: Mentor for Endeavor Miami and Stanford Latina Entrepreneurship Program; coach for Babson College.

November 29, 2017

As Argentina's entrepreneurial community grows, it looks to Miami as nexus point

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By Natalia Martinez-Kalinina 

Natalia martinez (1)Argentina’s entrepreneurial, tech, and research sectors are on a remarkable upswing, and Buenos Aires is looking toward Miami as the first community to bridge the gap between the US and LatAm startup ecosystems and serve as a gateway for tangible collaboration. How Miami steps up to play the role of a connector, anchor, support system, and co-creator will arguably be a powerful test of our ability to evolve into a true regional point of convergence around innovation.

“Buenos Aires is strategically positioning itself to become a major global entrepreneurial hub. Human capital is one of Argentina’s most valuable resources, and with various government programs launching, it is only a matter of time before the city is recognized as the innovation epicenter it has become,” says Lisa Besserman, the founder of Startup Buenos Aires who now works with the city on startup initiatives.

“Working closely with US cities like Miami will help bridge the gap between our nations, allowing us to create a more globalized startup ecosystem. Miami has always been regarded as the gateway to the Americas, so working with the city to create targeted soft landing programs and investment strategies creates opportunities for many global entrepreneurs,” says Besserman. Taking a more abstract view, she adds, “While some people are discussing building walls, Miami and Buenos Aires are working together toward building bridges.”

Argentina is already becoming South America’s new hotspot for venture capital, with the growth of inflow starting to outpace neighbors that have gotten much more attention over the last decade, mainly Chile and Brazil. George Soros has invested in an Argentine startup for the first time in 15 years, the country is regaining credibility by leaps and bounds and is expected to be upgraded to an ‘Emerging Market’ next year, and Wharton professor Stephen Sammut (a private equity and emerging markets expert) urges that, “Savvy people who are looking for a foothold in Latin America may see [investment in Argentina] as a golden opportunity.”

Startups in Argentina still face significant regulatory and quotidian challenges, including inflation, legal red tape, restrictive labor practices, and the overall recovery from more than a decade of disenfranchisement from the global economy. Luckily, current Argentine startups can gain inspiration from the country’s famous startups of the late 90s and early 2000s – Argentina has the most unicorn companies in LatAm. They can also rely on their capacitated human capital and tout the amount of agrotech, pharmaceutical, biomedical, and health tech research happening in several hubs. More relevantly, they can rely on changes from the federal and city governments, which have been focused on passing laws that support entrepreneurship, promote impact investment, incentivize startup acceleration, and even tackle the sacred cow of labor reform.

One such program, IncuBAte, is a government sponsored seed fund that offers startups from anywhere in the world as much as $30,000 in equity-free funding, free office space in Buenos Aires for a year, and access to mentorship, government resources, and investments. This year, 100 startups will be selected across ten verticals, applications close on December 28, and incubation begins in March 2018.

Given that the program is open internationally but will be conducted in Spanish, Miami is perceived as being in the best position to act both as a loudspeaker for startups in the Latin American region as well as the nexus point for promotion for US-based startups interested in expanding to the LatAm market. The Buenos Aires government is hoping to see more regional and U.S startups coming through, so there’s hope to see some Miami companies in the mix.
 
Andy Freire, Minister of Modernization for Buenos Aires, looks ahead at these increasing connections. “Diversity inclusion is a competitive advantage, one that has been recognized and catalyzed strongly in Miami," he says, "Connecting the entrepreneurial ecosystems between Buenos Aires and Miami will help more people reach the tools they need to scale their startups, through programs like IncuBAte and shared soft landing initiatives. We believe this will be key to empower families and drive economic growth between both of our cities.” 
 
Overall collaboration with Argentina is also being worked on from the Miami side. As a first step to test these waters, a group came together in late 2016 to co-author a full day of Miami-focused programming within StartupWeekBuenosAires - the largest event of its kind in Latin America - specifically focused on how to engage with the U.S. ecosystem and market by way of our city. CIC Miami has expanded on and concretized these efforts by signing agreements with several public and private partners in Argentina to help softland startups, advise commercial missions, and promote investment opportunities.

Just recently, the City Government of Buenos Aires brought an entrepreneurial mission to Miami, in addition to a more traditional enterprise delegation; it was the first pilot of what could come with more local on-the-ground support and was a successful first step toward more exchanges. Conferences and gatherings with a proven track record - such as Red Innova - will also be landing in Miami from Argentina next year with workshops and events aimed at connecting stakeholders across entrepreneurship and innovation.

In addition, a few interested and more seasoned entrepreneurs have come together with the support of the Argentine Consulate in Miami to create a better toolkit for entrepreneurs and small companies looking to come to Miami from their native country. The Entrepreneurship Committee has officially launched, is looking for local collaborators as well as startups in need of support, and can be reached at EmprendedoresArgMia@gmail.com

Natalia Martinez-Kalinina is the General Manager of CIC Miami and the Founder of Awesome Foundation MIAMI, and co-Founder of Aminta Ventures. She can be reached at Martinez@cic.us

 

'The Future' is Dec. 14 - Miami startups to unite for massive holiday party at a secret location

 On December 14, something massive is happening in Miami. It doesn’t involve the beach, models, bottles or any of the glitz, glamour or beauty that Miami has become known for.

In a secret location somewhere in Little Haiti, the city’s coders, creatives, founders and investors will gather. The celebration will bring together the entire Miami startup ecosystem for one night, and one huge party.  Attendance is expected to exceed 1,000 attendees, nearly triple last year’s 1st annual event at Wynwood Yard.

here is much to celebrate from the year past and for the even brighter future that lies ahead for the Magic City.  The party is aptly named, The Future. It’s produced by Miami made., a grassroots organization uniting Miami’s top founders as one tribe committed to a collaborative startup community that thrives together with founders backing founders.

“Many startups here in Miami don’t have the time, money or resources to host a holiday party for their company for all employees, investors and favorite service provides. Now they can all celebrate together as one community,”  said Miami made founder Barry Stamos.

Joining Miami made. in creating an ecosystem wide holiday party in partnership with nearly every organization involved in Miami’s startup scene. This includes Refresh Miami, The LAB Miami, Endeavor Miami, Building.co, CIC, Ironside, WeWork, Creative Glue, 1heart, Prism, AGP, New World Angels, The Venture City, Rokker, Unbound, Bridges Unite, Reset and others…. The event is generously sponsored by Knight Foundation, JP MorganChase, Wyncode Academy, Innergy Meditation, A.N Other and Springtech Partners

“Miami has a lot to celebrate and even more to look forward to. As an organization dedicated to helping the founders of Miami thrive, we felt compelled to help create a collective celebration. We are proud to be Miami made!” added Brandon Evans, co-founder of Miami made.

Much of what will occur at The Future celebration is being kept secret. The location, performers, and other surprises are being withheld. Just like the actual future, you can’t predict it, you can’t fully know it. Most of those in Miami best at predicting the future will be in attendance, but they too will have to wait to realize how glorious The Future will be.

Here’s what we can tell you:

Date: Thursday, Dec. 14 @ 8:00pm - late

Location: Secret Location in Little Haiti (to be revealed at 11:11am on Dec. 14)

Tickets and info: bit.ly/thefutureparty - Early bird prices currently available. Tickets start at $15 and go up to $750 for a VIP table for 10 for those companies that want to bring their team in style.

 

Sponsorships: Limited sponsorships still available. E-mail weare@miamimade.org for details

List of Sponsors: Knight Foundation, JPMorganChase, Wyncode Academy, Innergy Meditation, A.N Other, Springtech Partners

List of Community Partners: Refresh Miami, 1heart, Endeavor, WeWork, LAB Miami, CIC, Building.co, The New Tropic, Ironside, Prism, AGP, New World Angels, The Venture City, Rokker, Unbound Miami, Bridges United, Reset MIA

Find event details here: bit.ly/thefutureparty.com

-submitted by miami Made

November 27, 2017

CarePredict tracks seniors’ health for caregivers in a natural way

CAREPREDICT (2)

Startup Spotlight: CarePredict of Plantation, founded by health-technology veteran Satish Movva, provides an AI-driven platform for elder care that uses deep learning to surface insights based on the activities of daily living of seniors.

Company: CarePredict

Headquarters: Plantation; also has an office in Silicon Valley.

Concept: Elder care powered by artificial intelligence.

Story: Health-technology veteran Satish Movva founded CarePredict to help him take care of his now 90- and 80-year-old parents. They live 10 miles away from where he lives in western Broward County, and because of their advancing age, he could not rely on one to keep an eye on the other.

He noticed that changes in activity and behavior patterns showed up well before the underlying issues manifested into medical conditions and sought a system to observe his parents continuously and let him know of these changes early enough to intervene.

Finding the existing technologies inadequate and outdated, Movva set about creating a first-in-the-industry system to observe the daily activity and behavior patterns of each parent individually and with privacy, and alert him to anomalies. Movva has worked in technology for 30 years, 23 of them in healthcare, including being the founding CIO for Sheridan Healthcare and creating its first mobile EMR device on the Palm Pilot. He also created the first web-based home-care platform at Interim Healthcare.

CarepredictBM STARTUP SPOTLIGHT CARE P_2CarePredict is an AI-driven platform for elder care that uses deep learning to provide insights based on the daily activities of seniors. It starts with a wearable — a bracelet — that collects data that is sent to an app.

“We collect our data through lightweight sensors for contextual cues and a wearable,” Movva said. “We detect activities a senior is performing such as eating, drinking, bathing, cooking, sleeping, functional activity, and we couple that with contextual cues to surface insights like self-neglect, for example, due to depression, unusual toileting patterns, for example, due to UTIs, malnutrition and dehydration, all without any self-reporting by the senior or need for any other human observer.”

That includes fall prediction, too: “This whole industry has been fixated on fall detection ... but the issue is when someone falls it is too late. Falls are the single biggest inflexion point in aging, ... if you can prevent those falls you are better off. We are probably the pioneers in figuring out fall prediction rather than fall detection.”

CarePredict has been commercially available to senior group living facilities and home care agencies since March. Four senior living chains are already using the platform. CarePredict, now a team of 17 engineers and data scientists, has hired a sales team to ramp up business development in 2018. The company plans to address the direct-to-consumer market in the future.

“This company has the DNA to be enormously successful — the right team, the right market and the right solution. It’s not going to happen overnight, but they have all the right things going for them,” said Peter Livingston, a CarePredict investor and board member.

Launched: Company formed in May 2013

Website: www.carepredict.com

Management team: Satish Movva, founder and CEO; Greg Zobel, chief growth officer.

No. of employees: 17

Financing: $5.2 million in prior rounds that included South Florida-based Las Olas Venture Capital.

Recent milestones reached: Started commercializing product in 2017; four commercial assisted living and memory care enterprises signed up in the U.S. and Canada in 2017; three U.S. patents granted in 2017; one of two U.S. companies selected by Google for their “Google for Entrepreneurs” mentorship in deep learning and AI in Waterloo/Toronto campus; opened office in Palo Alto, CA in 2017.

Biggest startup challenge: Building the team and funding the mission.

Next step: Scaling the company. CarePredict is raising funds to expand company operations for installations and training and bringing on experienced industry sales leaders to increase outbound sales.

“CarePredict is solving a big problem, in a rapidly growing market, in a novel way,” said Dean Hatton, a founding partner with Las Olas Venture Capital and a CarePredict investor/board member. “The company has built a robust pipeline of interested prospects. Interestingly, this has been accomplished without sales or marketing efforts, principally through word-of-mouth in the assisted living facility ecosystem. Recently, Satish has added sales resources and will soon launch an outbound sales effort. The demand will be immense. Meeting that demand will be the greatest challenge ahead.”

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

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November 21, 2017

Startupbootcamp Digital Health Miami announces 13 startups for second cohort

 

SD Press Release Image

Startupbootcamp Digital Health Miami, an innovation program and fund, announces the 13 companies that will be joining their second cohort.

The cohort was selected after an intensive two-day evaluation and selection process on November 17-18. The 13 selected startups were chosen from over 300 applicants that applied during the recruitment months.

Teams pitched their businesses to over 100 healthcare executives, investors and mentors industry experts from Startupbootcamp’s corporate partners such as Nicklaus Children’s Hospital and Accenture as well as representatives from Marsh, Towers Watson, Philips, UnitedHealthCare, Zaffre Investments, Mayo Clinic, CVS Health, Optum, Carolinas Healthcare, Catholic Health Services, Thorek, Health Choice Network, University of Miami and Baptist Health. These representatives also mentored the participating companies and explored collaboration opportunities.


The 13 selected startups are:


B.well: is a consumer centered health management platform designed to deliver what consumers want and monetize to what payors, employers and providers need.
 
BrainFX: BrainFX 360 assessment is a web and tablet based assessment of Neurofunction that measures complex cognitive skills using real world context.
 
Cybexys: proprietary platform CARAT uses a natural language processing to detect details that humans might miss when they are processing unstructured information from a clinician's narrative and trying to properly code the severity level of each patient disease state.

Empower Capital: is a financial engineered HSA plus program that ensures liquidity to all employees with high deductible plans.

Epharmix: creates and validates disease-specific "digital interventions" to help care teams manage and support medically underserved patient populations across twenty of the most expensive and difficult medical indications.

FRND: is a platform used to connect MDs, payors, and providers to a network of mobile practitioners for housecalls.

HealthTensor: clinically-validated algorithms automatically diagnose and create documentation from patient data, saving physicians time, improving patient care, and improving note accuracy for coding and billing.

NarrativeDx: collects patient feedback and satisfaction data from internal sources, discharge surveys, HCAHPS surveys, social media channels, and physician review websites.

NeuraMetrix: has developed a technology, based on typing cadence, to detect and monitor the progression of brain diseases, disorders and injuries by measuring human cognitive and motor function at the sub-clinical level based on significant capabilities in quantitative methods and proprietary software.

Quick’rCare: is the only platform focused on assisting patients find the shortest  wait time at  an ER or Urgent care, and hold their place in line.

SaveMyScope: has created a mobile phone adapter and application on the App Store that removes the need for physicians to use bulky, expensive video towers.

Twiage: allows EMTs and paramedics to collect and send high-quality prehospital data instantly via a smartphone.

Wellth: is focused on improving adherence and decreasing readmissions by helping patients change their behaviors so they get better faster.

“We are proud to see this set of companies build on our first cohort with greater diversity of founders, product category, stage, geography and revenue. Miami is poised to become recognized as a global hub for healthcare innovation," said founder and General Partner Christian Seale.

"Startupbootcamp continues to help fill important gaps in our innovation ecosystem by attracting new talent to Miami and providing a platform for startups to scale and grow. This second cohort of entrepreneurs will bring fresh ideas and energy to our city, adding to the momentum of our expanding startup community," said Chris Caines, interim program director for Miami at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, a Startupbootcamp supporter, which helped bring the accelerator program to the United States in 2015.

The program kicks off on January 15, 2018 when the startups will relocate to Miami. The program offers participating companies partnerships with leading hospital systems, insurers and pharma to accelerate and scale their businesses, extensive mentoring from over 150+ healthcare entrepreneurs, investors, and executives in addition to six months of free office space and seed funding.

- Submitted by Startupbootcamp Digital Health 

 

November 16, 2017

Miami is fertile ground for world-class product design

By Gessica Tortolano

GessicaWith 20 yrs of experience building and leading User Experience (UX) teams from Boston to Silicon Valley on projects for Google, Facebook, Gap, Samsung and other exciting brands, I am bringing my expertise back to South Florida as head instructor of UX/UI Immersive, an intensive 8-week program at Miami’s Wyncode Academy.

UX is about solving real problems and addressing pain points, not just making something cool as a product or a feature. It is about storytelling, screen composition and clear paths to completion, while removing friction, not just rearranging elements on a screen. As a problem solving framework, UX puts the user at the heart of the process. It results in a better experience thereby producing better products.

With IOT, voice user interfaces, the blend of digital and physical experiences, and new devices entering the market daily, it is critical to realize a connected, holistic experience.

Miami is a beloved vacation destination, but I truly believe it is so much more. A creative and diverse culture like Miami’s is fertile ground for world-class design. This program will help nurture a new generation of product designers who will lead the charge in quality design in our ecosystem.

As a former resident of Miami, I worked with aspiring designers through community initiatives at University of Miami, IT Women, Honey Shine Inc., and Urgent Inc. I was overwhelmed and humbled by their interest in UX, it was palpable.

Since the beginning of my career I’ve worked with many of the world’s biggest brands, including Burger King, Instagram, IBM, the NBA, Chrysler, Coca-Cola, GM, Norwegian Cruise Lines and Carnival Cruise Lines.

It is after all these years, and diverse experiences that I am compelled to share and teach my expertise. I recall telling Johanna Mikkola, co-founder of Wyncode, it was time for me to foster a new generation of designers. Together with Wyncode that is what we will do.

It was clear, I had to partner with a school that was just as committed to quality in their programs as I was about design. I had to ensure the future UX designer would marry their skills with a methodology.

In the valley, large brands are anxious to blur the lines between physical and digital. They are running experiments and adopting Design Thinking, a human-centered methodology that reveals truths about how confident we are in a feature or product.

Product designers grasp the importance of being flexible, nimble, and are experts in team inertia and momentum. Most will hone their skills, but with a solid foundation, they can own end-to-end product development.

The Googles and Facebooks are looking for agility and iteration. Value over deliverables became my world and I am thrilled to help build an ecosystem rich with designers who practice true product development.

Curious to learn more? Join us at our UX/UI Design Workshop: Bridging The Physical & Digital World event December 7, 2018 7:00 - 9:00 PM. Classes start Jan. 22, 2018 Program details at wyncode.co or email weare@wyncode.co

Gessica Tortolano will be head instructor of  of UX/UI Immersive, an intensive 8-week program at Miami’s Wyncode Academy.

November 15, 2017

ITPalooza is back Dec. 7 and SFTA has big plans for it

Itpalooza

 

The South Florida Technology Alliance announced its 6th annual ITPalooza  will take place on Thursday December 7 at a new venue, The Greater Fort Lauderdale-Broward County Convention Center, located at 1950 Eisenhower Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale.

ITPalooza-Logo-White-500x500ITPalooza is an annual gathering of South Florida's technology professionals, CIOs and CTOs, user groups, educators and companies. This year’s event will feature over 120 exhibitors and more than 2,000 registrants, 50 speakers and tech meet-up and user groups from across South Florida are expected to attend the biggest and best ITPalooza ever.

“ITPalooza 2017 is a celebration of technologists in South Florida,” said Rick Sebaly, SFTA’s immediate past president and this year’s ITP event leader. 

This event Includes Educational Speaker Tracks, Keynotes, several panel discussions, Agile Group, Expo, charity toy drive, After Hours Tri-county vBeers Networking event and VIP After-Party. ITP will also feature a dedicated Management Track in conjunction with the CIO Council of South Florida focusing on the unique needs of CIOs and other top-level IT executives.  

IT User and Meet-up groups are invited at no charge provided they bring an unwrapped toy for Toys-For-Tots. They will be entitled to a display table and free admission for their members after 5:30.

ITP registrations start at 8 AM with the following schedule:

8:45 a.m. Opening Remarks by Tom Conophy, CIO, Autonation

9:00 – 7:00 P.M. Expo and Vendor Exhibits

9:00 a.m. Morning Keynote Address by Corey Williams

10:00 a.m. Panel: The Impact of Women in Tech

11:00 a.m. Panel: Entrepreneurship

12:00 p.m. CIO Council CIO and VIP luncheon featuring Kyle Leciejewski, VP, Dell EMC – Dell’s perspective on the industry

1 P.M. Afternoon Keynote

 Additional panel discussions from 2:00 to 4:00 P.M.

5:00 P.M. Awards Ceremony and Toys for Tots presentation

5:00 P.M. – 7:00 P.M. Tech Groups and Meet-Ups

5:30 P.M. – 8:30 P.M. Tri-county vBeers beers and networking

5:30 P.M. – 8:30 P.M. VIP Cocktail/Dinner Reception

Since its inception in 2012, ITPalooza has raised more than $193,000 in cash and toys   for various South Florida non-profits including Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ STEM Advisory Board, The Stockdale Foundation and US Marine’s Toys for Tots.   

Admission is $65 or they can bring two unwrapped toys - for the “Toys for Tots” charity and pay only $35.  VIP tickets are available for $250, providing participants access to all CIO and ITPalooza events with breakfast, lunch, dinner and entertainment included – plus entry into VIP Lounge.  Student admission to evening events only is $15, with the presentation of a valid student ID.

Admission to the after hour tech meet-ups and vBeers events are free – just bring a toy.

Online registration can be accessed at itpalooza.org/tickets.  VIP and Student tickets are also available for purchase. Information on sponsorship opportunities is also available on the site.

- Submitted by ITPalooza