Young South Florida entrepreneurs were honored at or invited to the White House this week: Felipe Gomez del Campo V, a student entrepreneur at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland who went to high school at Cypress Bay High School in Weston; Vicente Fernandez, co-founder of Miami-based Sportsmanias, and Felice Gorodo, CEO of Clearpath.
Also representing the 305 at the White House's #StartTheSpark event, Gorodo said: Melissa Medina of eMerge Americas and Tony Jimenez of Richmond Global. Both took part in an investor segment.
Felipe Gomez del Campo (pictured above) began his work for a science fair project at Cypress Bay. The founder of FGC Plasma Solutions is one of five entrepreneurs President Barack Obama recognized at a White House event yesterday to highlight the importance of investing in women and young entrepreneurs. Gomez del Campo’s application was selected from among the many business startups that had been assisted by a U.S. government initiative. The other four were from Virginia, Colombia, Nigeria and Lebanon.
Since his science fair days, Gomez del Campo turned his idea into a company with two patents (the latest just filed last Friday) and has conducted research with NASA.
Gomez del Campo, a junior who is majoring in mechanical and aerospace engineering, founded FGC Plasma Solutions in 2013 to bring to market a device that shoots a precise amount of plasma into jet engine fuel. That plasma injection blows the fuel apart into its component molecules, allowing the engine to burn it more efficiently. The product can improve the safety and efficiency of jet engines, as well as lead to a 10 percent decrease in fuel consumption. His work could result in significant savings and reduce harmful gas emissions for both jet engines on airliners and industrial gas turbines used to generate power.
A native of Mexico City, Gomez del Campo moved to the Miami area at the age of 6. Now, after becoming a U.S. citizen just last year, he hopes to set up an “entrepreneurship ecosystem” in Mexico, similar to the one he’s had at Case Western Reserve.
Also on Monday, Vicente Fernandez from Sportsmanias (pictured below at the event with Mark Cuban) was an invited guest for the Emerging Global Entrepreneurs Event. About 70 entrepreneurs were invited as part of the White House's emphasis on young and female entrepreneurs creating innovative business solutions to tackle the world's toughest challenges. Fernandez was being recognized for carrying on his family's entrepreneurial spirit with his grandfather creating a family bus company that has thrived for 40 years since fleeing Cuba and moving to the U.S., and Fernandez enduring all his success since launching Sportsmanias.
Sportsmanias, launched in 2012 by Fernandez and his mother, Aymara Del Aguila, is a comprehensive and personalized media site for die-hard sports fans that has formed partnerships with sports journalism sites, including the Miami Herald, and has attracted several million in Series A funding. Fernandez, who started Sportsmanias when he was a student at University of Chicago, was the only sports or media entrepreneur invited.
Felice Gorordo, the son of Cuban immigrants, is CEO of Clearpath, a venture-backed tech company that revolutionizes the confusing, costly, paper-based immigration filing process by making it easier, more affordable and secure for individual immigrants to file their own immigration applications.
Along with Tony Jimenez, Gorordo co-founded Roots of Hope, a national non-profit focused on youth empowerment in Cuba. He previously was appointed by President Obama as one of 15 2011-2012 White House fellows.
President Obama spoke at the #StartTheSpark event, as well as guest speakers such as Sharks Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran and Daymond John.
These entrepreneurs were only the latest to be invited to the White House. Other South Florida entrepreneurs who have been honored there or have been invited there include Champions for Change Susan Amat of Venture Hive, Felecia Hatcher of Code Fever and Rob Davis of Code for Fort Lauderdale, as well as Juha and Johanna Mikkola of Wyncode, Jim McKelvey of LaunchCode and NFTE student Karen Bonila of John A. Ferguson Senior High and FIU, who was invited to participate in the White House Science Fair this year.
As global entrepreneurs gathered for the event at the White House, the White House said President Obama announced several steps to increase support for emerging entrepreneurs here in the United States and around the world. First, the president made investing in women and youth entrepreneurs the top priority for his Administration’s global entrepreneurship programs. Second, ahead of his travel to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi this July, the president issued a call to action, challenging companies, organizations, and individuals to increase their investments in global emerging entrepreneurs. Third, the president announced nine new Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship, enlisting even more of America’s top talent to expand the frontiers of inspiration, opportunity, and development around the world. Finally, he recognized the creation of the Spark Global Entrepreneurship coalition, made up of leading entrepreneurship organizations who will support his call to action and better connect, coordinate, and communicate entrepreneurship efforts across the globe.