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My year with Knight

By Brian Brackeen

IMG_brackeen.JPG_2_1_2G7B874BI don't know if you have read enough year end reviews lately, I know I have.

But my heart is moved to write just one more. Even if it's a week late. :)

For those who have not heard, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation or just "Knight Foundation" as we know it, is a non-profit based here in Miami creating more engaged and informed communities. 

In Miami, they have taken this charge of creating a vibrant tech ecosystem and are playing a huge role in helping us live up to our creed as the "capital of Latin America" and the nexus of Europe, Central and Latin America, and North America. 

These goals are lofty, but it's how they execute them, on the ground, in the community, that's inspiring. So many people and startups have been touched by Knight that it's incalculable. 

My hometown paper the Philadelphia Inquirer recently lamented about the lack of a champion like Knight. (Knight does operate in Philadelphia, but with a different focus) 

So rather than talk about all that they are doing in Miami,  I'd like to share how Knight has impacted my company Kairos, and myself. 

We work out of a space called the LAB Miami.  It inspires, supports and  helps its member companies grow. It's co-working, open to all, and it's led by Danny and Wifredo who are about as good people as you will find anywhere. The Knight foundation funded the space, with others, and continues to sit on its board. 

Earlier in the year, I was a mentor for the NewMe Accelerator pop-up in Miami.  I met many great companies and entrepreneurs that are doing amazing things in our community, from art shows to health-tech startups. That event was sponsored by Knight last year. 

We were inspired by cutting edge technology at Miami's First Mini Maker Faire, sponsored by Knight. 

My employees and I worked, ate, walked, and enjoyed a better Wynwood because of Knight's support of the Wynwood Business Improvement District.  

We got fired up and ready to go after the RokkMiami event at the LightBox. Both the venue and the event are sponsored by Knight. We are all focused on building a great startup ecosystem and Brad Feld came to help us do so. 

A few of us made it down to Venture Hive where they are accelerating / incubating the next generation of  Miami and Latin American startups. They have some GREAT startups in the program, I think it's going to be home run! Some of the programs at Venture Hive are Knight funded. 

Myself and my entire team attended SIME Miami. My head of design said recently (weeks later):

"SIME set a fire in my gut, and it's been burning ever since. We are bigger than technology. We are about people, meaning and emotion. This is what will set us apart, and it's UNHEARD of in the biometric space."

We were inspired by that event. All of us said that it was the best event we had been to, and it was sponsored at the highest level by the Knight Foundation.

I actually could go on and on. There are more than 20 more events that I had listed, but I don't want the impact to be lost in the sheer volume of events that Knight has supported. 

So, at a time of year that we tend look back, I'm incredibly thankful for Knight's leadership and support of the Miami ecosystem and I'm uber excited to see what they have in store for us in 2014. 

Ad Astra, (to the stars) 

Brian Brackeen

Brian Brackeen is the founder and CEO of Kairos, a enterprise focused facial recognition company based in Miami. Kairos was selected by the Wall Street Journal as one of the top 20 startups in the USA. He blogs heretweets here  and you can email him directly via Brian at kairos.io

Read an earlier Starting Gate guest post by Brian Brackeen titled "Miami Nice is our special sauce."

 

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