You may have seen the tweets about TekFight, or perhaps one of its creative videos. But it was an old-fashioned face-to-face conversation with the real Saif Ishoof (or Master Sai-Fu in the TekFight world) that really got me interested in learning more about this brand new and very different free event happening Dec. 7, and I followed up on email. Here is a Q&A from my conversation with Ishoof, er, Master Sai-Fu:
What is TekFight?
Sai-Fu: TekFight.com is a tournament being held on Dec. 7 at Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus. TekFight is not a mixed martial arts fight like the UFC! TekFight is a place where entrepreneurs, angel investors and technologists can trade ideas and resources, and build relationships in the same way that students exchange knowledge in a Karate studio. My co-founder Jo-Sensei (also known as Jose Antonio Hernandez-Solaun) and I believe that Miami can be a place where ideas can be transformed into careers through entrepreneurship.
Why did you create TekFight?
We believe entrepreneurship should be an open source process where people can gain exposure to those who can help them sharpen the skills they need to build great products, services, and companies. We want to bridge relationships between Miami’s emerging innovators and top-level decision-makers to speed opportunity creation.
Martial arts is a fitting setting to place our work, since it is a world that honors those who are committed to helping others achieve while fostering a competitive spirit.
TekFight is one part of an already rich ecosystem that has been growing because of the hard work of leaders like Startup Digest, RefreshMiami, Social Media Club Miami, HackDay Foundation, and countless other groups. TekFight has been made possible because of the transformational support of the Knight Foundation, Miami Dade College and Greenberg Traurig. The Miami Downtown Development Authority and Brickell Luxury Motors have also supported TekFight.
Who’s on your team?
TekFight unifies the role's that Sai-Fu and Jo-Sensei have played in our careers, be it corporate leadership, social entrepreneurship, mentoring, and startup angst. We each remain deeply committed to our life's work, in the roles that we play in the organizations we run on a day to day basis, but we needed to facilitate a convening of this kind in the city that we cherish. In creating TekFight we have had on our team two phenomenal under-25 entrepreneurs, Binsen Gonzalez and Jeff Goudie, who are driving the momentum of our work. Binsen is the genius behind our creative, web and digital campaign. Jeff is the operations and logistics czar who has helped keep our work moving forward in a powerful way. I am proud to say that I have known both of these folks for the last 6 years, and I feel they really embody the spirit of what TekFight is all about, a Miami grit to get things done with the resources and knowledge available and a champion's heart.
Our DoJo was also a product of phenomenal mentors like Madeline Pumariega, the president of MDC’s Wolfson Campus, who has a persistent vision for a downtown education hub, as well as the leadership and energy of Knight Foundation’s Matt Haggman, and finally a corporate chieftain like Greenberg Traurig's Co-Managing Partner, Jaret Davis.
What will the tournament look like?
We will have multiple rounds throughout the day with leading entrepreneurs, funders, innovators and tech professionals. As the name implies…yes we are set up like a technology Martial Arts Tournament. Everyone enters TekFight as a white belt. Participants can acquire a yellow belt or higher, if they truly commit to the TekFight tournament.
How do you ‘Belt Up?’
a) Tweet comments/questions to @TekFight
b) Volunteer to help out at the tournament
c) Spreading the word about TekFight
d) Make a commitment to help someone at the tournament, ie offering to help write code for a project…review a business plan…help market an idea…mentor a fellow student.'
Tyler McIntyre of Lucid Tecnologies created an app, App.tekfight.com, which will allow participants to start earning points toward their higher belt and it will help Dojo participants connect with others during training. The App is a true start of incorporating a gamification element to real world entrepreneurship.
Why acquire a Yellow Belt?
Yellow Belt status or higher will grant you access to special rounds including a yellow belt luncheon with angel investors, an Iron-Fist Session with tech/VC lawyers, and an exclusive session with Manny Medina.
What will participants and speakers walk away with?
It is out hope that the 300+ participants will acquire a deeper relationship with those key partners they need to bring their ideas to life. We also hope that those that are creators (ie developers) will be able to unlock critical funding relationships as well as potential clients from enterprise clients. In a similar vein, we seek that enterprise users and funders will see the richness of talent in our South Florida community.
The entire day promises to be filled with surprises. Two must see elements of the day, include the featured address from the Director of the US Department of Defense's Office of Small Business
Procurement, Andre Gudger. Director Gudger oversees a multi-billon dollar acquisition budget and his work is aimed at helping small enterprise unlock large federal contracting opportunities. It is interesting to note that a number of "Inc. 500" companies on the rise are those that have defense business. The other must see speaker is Miami technology luminary Manny Medina who will be sharing in an intimate session entitled "Tea with the Master" his unique perspective of Miami's continued promise as a technology hub. Beyond these two featured speakers, the real excitement will come from several of our rounds that allow an airing of the real frustrations and challenges that entrepreneurs and funders alike have about the innovation sector in South Florida.
Give me the basics on TekFight.
a) TekFight is being held at Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus on 12/7 9-5PM.
b) Register here for the event - http://tekfight2012.eventbrite.com/#
c) Follow us on Twitter @TekFight and download App.tekfight.com
d) Look at our video http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=US&hl=en&client=mv-google&v=k4pYs11a1bA&nomobile=1
TekFight is more than just a conference -- it is a movement. Bruce Lee said "I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but rather the man who has practiced 1 kick, 10,000 times." TekFight is part of Miami;s practice of that one kick...Are you a #TekFighter?
For more entrepreneurship news, follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg