November 12, 2015

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick: A 'champion's mindset' is what you need to succeed

5Travis and Melissa Media_2904

By Nancy Dahlberg /

What separates the great entrepreneurs from all the rest? In a rare South Florida appearance, Travis Kalanick, co-founder and CEO of Uber, offered his inspiring perspective to several hundred Miami Dade College students and tech community leaders on Thursday.

And it was a love fest with this crowd. “There is no better way to set up our students for success than to host one of the most innovative companies of the 21st century,” said Leandro Finol, executive director of The Idea Center, an entrepreneurship hub for MDC. “I want to apologize, Travis, for any type of pushback you got from our community. ... I don’t even remember what it is like not to have Uber – I Ubered here today, as a matter of fact. Uber has truly made Miami a more connected place,” said Melissa Medina, a vice president of eMerge Americas tech conference, who introduced Kalanick to the packed room at the Idea Center (pictured above with Kalanick.

Although it took longer than he would have liked to launch Uber in South Florida last year, Kalanick said that never-give-up attitude is what one needs to succeed. “We fell in love with the idea of Uber being here,” he said. It was about putting everything you’ve got into it, getting knocked down and getting back up – every time, he said.

That “champion’s mindset” is one of the traits of a great entrepreneur, he told the students, many of them entrepreneurs or aspiring entrepreneurs. Kalanick came up with the idea for Uber in his UCLA apartment and launched it as a side project for his friends and network, before seeing the global potential. He co-founded Uber in 2009, and guided the company from a niche market in San Francisco to its global presence in over 60 countries and 350 cities today. Uber, for those living under a rock, is a technology platform that lets riders push a button and get a ride and connects drivers with flexible work.

To take a company from five people to Uber’s current workforce of 5,000, great entrepreneurs also need purpose – for Uber it’s making transportation as reliable as running water. Their product or service must also have magic, that something that makes your customers awestruck, and it must be something that everybody can’t offer, he said. Great entrepreneurs have to be comfortable going against the grain. and they are a cross between analytical and creative, said Kalanick, who came up with the idea for Uber Ice Cream Day, which has since gone viral.

Great entrepreneurs also enjoy the ride, because then even the hardest problems are fun to solve: “It’s a long journey and you have to push to a point where it hurts.” Getting over the fear of failure is also critical, and he said he faced that after facing “100 no’s a day for four years straight” at his previous entrepreneurial venture.

The CEO credits much of Uber’s success launching in city after city all over the world to a former marketing intern’s “This is how you launch a city” playbook. “We’ve turned in into a machine of sorts, tuned to go faster and faster.”

He said he is excited about building cities of the future and that is why Uber is investing heavily in uberPOOL, the company’s ride-sharing service, which matches multiple passengers who are traveling along the same routes to different destinations, taking more cars off the overly congested roads and ultimately lowering carbon emissions. “The price comes down, the driver can make more money and then because of all the efficiencies the city gets better.” He said uberPOOL will be coming very soon to Miami-Dade County.

Uber has been on an international expansion tear, focusing most recently on the Asia Pacific region, and particularly China.

Its warchest for expansion is hefty: Uber is planning to raise close to $1 billion in new venture capital from investors, its eighth funding round, according to a New York Times report last month. Investors are looking at a valuation of $60 billion to $70 billion, which would would make Uber the world’s most valuable private startup by far, the report said. To date, the company has raised more than $8 billion from Benchmark, Google Ventures, Goldman Sachs and others.

Kalanick was in town because he is a speaker at Summit at Sea, an invitational three-day voyage departing Miami on Friday with about 2,500 entrepreneurs, nonprofit leaders and artists across all industries. He’s giving one of the opening day talks with Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman, on the voyage.

The Idea Center @MDC, funded by the Knight Foundation, is the college’s hub of innovation, and includes programs such as the CREATE accelerator, CodePro, The Startup Challenge, Operation Startup and the Innovation Lab, to name a few. It brings in speakers nearly every week to talk to students.

Nancy Dahlberg; 305-376-3595;

November 10, 2015

French IT company opens U.S.-LatAm office in Venture Hive

The Beacon Council announced that Net Reviews, a France-based IT company opened an office at Venture Hive in downtown Miami to service the U.S. and Latin American markets.

Net Reviews created, a web solution that enables online retailers to collect and display genuine customer reviews.

 "Our objectives are to develop both the U.S. and LATAM markets," CEO Olivier Mouillet said. "We needed to employ people that know and speak both American [English] and Spanish languages. Miami is the best place to reach these markets and find this kind of valuable employee."

Net Reviews has more than 200 customers in South America and has already opened in Chile, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil and Peru, he said.

 The company invested $250,000 and is adding 22 direct jobs within three years, the Beacon Council said. The Beacon Council, Miami-Dade's economic development organization, assisted the tech company with site selection, research and marketing analysis, labor/training, business contacts and referrals. The IT sector has been the fastest growing sector of the seven targeted industries of the Beacon Council's One Community One Goal initiative.

With an accelerator, incubator and other programs, Venture Hive is an entrepreneurial hub in downtown Miami that is home to more than 30 companies from more than a dozen different countries. "The Venture Hive family is very diverse and to give a home and family to European entrepreneurs is a win-win for Miami-Dade County and for all of our resident startups," said Susan Amat, founder and CEO of Venture Hive.


November 02, 2015

With Knight funding, Startupbootcamp to open digital health accelerator in Miami next year


By Nancy Dahlberg /

Startupbootcamp, Europe’s largest business accelerator operating in eight countries, will launch its first U.S. program in Miami, with $2 million in support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The organizations will announce Monday that the Miami program will focus on supporting and scaling startups in digital health, building on both the city’s reputation as a center for healthcare and life sciences and its position as a launchpad into Latin America.

Startupbootcamp operates 10 accelerators across Europe and one in Singapore — each focused on an industry suited to the location — and has been actively looking to expand into the United States, said Alex Farcet, who founded Startupbootcamp in Copenhagen in 2010. Since then, Startupbootcamp has supported 290 startups, of which over 70 percent have received an average of $660,000 in funding and together have created 1,160 jobs.

After three trips to Miami in the past three or four months, Farcet was sold on South Florida. “It just feels like the right time. We think we are in the sweet spot of being early but not completely pioneers. Miami itself and the health focus, access and visibility with Latin America, the support of the Knight Foundation — a lot of things came together that felt right,” Farcet said. “Miami is ready, and we are ready for Miami.”

Farcet said Startupbootcamp will put its proven accelerator and mentorship model to work helping to find, support, fund and grow 30 digital health startups over three years. Startupbootcamp Miami will invite entrepreneurs from across the globe to apply; 10 companies per year will be selected to participate in the three-month program. Applications will be due Feb. 1 and the first program will begin next spring; entrepreneurs can find more information and apply at

Each chosen startup will receive a three-month accelerator program, six months of free co-working office space, a seed investment of $20,000 with possible additional investments up to $100,000, and in-kind services from partners such as Google, PayPal and Amazon Web Services. More than 100 participating mentors will come from companies, venture firms and universities across the U.S., including Microsoft, CVS Health, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Healthways, Lyra Health, Bessemer Venture Partners, Google Ventures, MIT and Harvard.

The Miami area has a few accelerators, including the Knight-supported Venture Hive downtown, but it’s not enough to support the ecosystem, said Matt Haggman, the Miami program director of the Knight Foundation who is spearheading efforts to develop a tech and startup ecosystem. “We think Startupbootcamp is complementary to what is here because it is focused on a vertical,” Haggman said. “We have this huge healthcare system in Miami, and you are seeing some connection but not enough. This is a way to connect the dots.”

The Startupbootcamp funding is one of the top three Knight grants supporting Miami entrepreneurship. Knight has committed about $18 million to 165 organizations and projects in the past three years, including Endeavor, the Idea Center at Miami Dade College, LaunchCode and eMerge Americas.

Christian%20SealeChristian Seale will run the Miami program as managing director. Previously, he helped build Startupbootcamp’s Smart Transport & Energy accelerator in Berlin. He is also a founding member of Equitable Origin, a certification program for responsible energy production. Seale, who has an MBA from Harvard Business School, has also worked for venture capital firm Maveron, Goldman Sachs, Teach for America and has spent a year in Barranquilla, Colombia, as a Fulbright Scholar.

Seale and Farcet said the decision to focus on digital health emerged after a number of discussions with leaders in the entrepreneurship community. Startupbootcamp will look for companies at the intersection of technology, in areas such as remote-patient monitoring, population health management, personalized medicine, telemedicine, payer administration and analytics, big-data and fraud detection.

Seale hopes some of the Miami program’s startups will serve up solutions for the growing yet underserved U.S. Latino population: “Latinos soon will comprise 30 percent of the U.S. population yet fewer than 4 percent of healthcare providers speak Spanish and many do not know how to approach the cultural and economic diversity within the Latino population. More broadly, we seek to support the eradication of healthcare disparities in the U.S.”

The accelerator location hasn’t yet been selected, but it will likely be a 4,000- to 6,000-square-foot space in Wynwood or downtown Miami with room to grow, said Seale, who has been visiting the area for tech events for a couple years and is relocating to South Florida now. Miami-based Carevoyance, which provides a platform for healthcare companies to access and analyze data, and its co-founder Abhinav Gautam will be part of Startupbootcamp’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence program.

Startupbootcamp Miami will host an internship program, and it will produce educational events and pitch days open to the public as well as make training available online. One event is already planned: Startupbootcamp and the Idea Center at Miami Dade College will co-host an MIT Hacking Medicine hackathon Feb. 20-21, Seale said.

The accelerator will partner with the Frost Museum of Science to test products and services from Startupbootcamp ventures, and is working with the Idea Center at Miami Dade College and U Innovation at the University of Miami to support more local innovation. “We want to help transform Miami into a place where if you want to start a healthcare company Miami is flat out on the top of your list,” Seale said.

In addition to the Knight Foundation, Startupbootcamp is backed by Univision, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital and Microsoft’s BizSpark Program as well as Dr. Maurice R. Ferré, chairman of Insightec and co-founder of MAKO Surgical, Michael Simkins, president and CEO of Innovate Development Group, which is leading the Miami Innovation District project, Miro Ventures and Rokk3r Labs.

Farcet said that historically, the mix of teams in other Startupbootcamp accelerators has been about 80 percent international and 20 percent local, and one of the measures of success for the new program will be how many of the entrepreneurs stay and grow their companies in Miami after the program is over.

“This is a test of both Startupbootcamp and Miami’s broader startup ecosystem,” said Farcet. “There are good programs in Miami already and a lot of initiatives. We expect to inject new talent and new blood by importing people and showing that Miami is a really strong alternative to Boston and California.”

Nancy Dahlberg; 305-376-3595; @ndahlberg

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October 16, 2015

FAU Tech Runway selects 3rd class of entrepreneurs, graduates 1st class

TechRunway with KG


Florida Atlantic University’s Tech Runway has selected its third Venture Vintage class of startup companies to participate in its business accelerator program.  

The four companies will receive a $25,000 non-equity grant, participate in a 16-week intensive boot camp, and will be provided collaborative workspace for one year. The companies also participate in a formal program for mentoring entrepreneurs and their ventures. The third class of companies are:

  • Child Rescue Coalition is a platform and forensic tool to automate a manual process for law enforcement to help eradicate child sexual exploitation globally protecting children from predators.
  • Power Calc Pac is a cloud based platform patented software company which automatically designs the power distribution system in a building saving users up to 40 percent in design time and labor costs.
  • TiloTag developed an app that will allow you to discover memories that surround you or allow you to leave a legacy memory for friends and family to discover in the future using technology.
  • SoFla is a distinguishing lifestyle brand celebrating South Florida.

Supported by FAU and the state of Florida, FAU Tech Runway launched in October 2014 with five companies Venture Vintage I (VVI) pilot group and added Venture Vintage II (VV2). The program is based on two proven models for startup ventures, MIT’s Venture Mentoring Service and Stanford’s NSF-funded Lean Launchpad curriculum.

Since October 2014, the VVI companies have reported a total funding investment of more than $1.2 million (private, self and FAU funding), 20 new jobs created and combined projected revenues of more than $3 million for Q4 2015. The five inaugural FAU Tech Runway companies recently graduated:

  • BedaBox is a company that simplifies shopping and shipping outside the country.
  • Design Comfort Shoes has a patent-pending comfort system for high-heeled shoes. 
  • Interact TEAM provides training, education and consulting services to the long-term care industry.
  • Stand4 is a social impact app that empowers users to take a stand for their favorite causes and is a website that connects individuals, charities and corporations to enhance the charity donation process.
  • Modulux Lighting provides more light with less power through its LED lighting fixtures. 

Venture Vintage II added to the portfolio in May 2015 and are currently preparing pitches for funding:

  • Honorlock offers award-winning, cloud-based solutions to curb academic dishonesty while remaining non-invasive.
  • Tone-y-Bands brings to market unique arm toning wrist weights that can be worn throughout the day to provide a workout from regular activities and improve exercise results. 
  • Candidate.Guru delivers applications designed to vastly improve the hiring process for companies through the application of big data and machine learning technologies.
  • TightTalk Electronics has created the EarDrive audio recording, transcription and translation solution that works with any audio source.

Applications for a fourth round of Venture Vintage companies will be solicited and evaluated by FAU Tech Runway in January 2016. Startups will be sought in all industries, with an emphasis on technology.  The application process includes a business plan, pitch deck, three letters of recommendation and bio for each founder.  For more information on FAU’s Tech Runway, visit

See a Miami Herald Q&A with Tech Runway's Kim Gramm here.

October 12, 2015

Cambridge Innovation Center makes big bet on Miami tech

By Nancy Dahlberg /

A vision of Miami as a technology hub is coming into focus.

The Cambridge Innovation Center is the latest high-profile startup-centric organization to bet big on Miami’s future. The company chose Miami as its second U.S. expansion location, and its center will eventually house more than 500 tech startup companies.

LSTPThe new center, modeled on its successful spaces in the Boston-Cambridge area that house and support startups, will be in the University of Miami Life Science & Technology Park in Overtown. Organizers aim to open in the fall of 2016; some of the space may open in the spring. Initially it will take up 70,000 square feet in offices, co-working and event space for entrepreneurs, but plans call for an expansion of at least another 50,000 square feet. The CIC team hopes that it will help anchor an innovation district that will serve all of Latin America.

“Miami is the Hong Kong of Latin America. I lived and worked in Hong Kong and it is a place that emerged as the focus point for an entire continent’s business. We think that Miami has that potential. It’s an amazing opportunity,” CIC founder and CEO Tim Rowe said in a phone interview. “We are trying to build the infrastructure in the cities that have the potential to make an impact on the world.”

That’s just what community leaders, including Knight Foundation Miami program director Matt Haggman and eMerge Americas founder Manny Medina, like to hear.

The well-known startup center joins a number of outside players that have begun to place bets on Miami, including the giant WeWork co-working chain, which recently opened a 40,000-square-foot space in Miami Beach and leased the entire 96,575-square-foot Security Building in downtown Miami with plans to open early next year. Silicon Valley’s 500 Startups brought one of its accelerator programs to Miami this fall, and last week Founder Institute announced it is launching startup programs in both Miami-Dade and Broward, joining existing accelerator programs such as Venture Hive. Talks to bring other organizations to the region are ongoing.

All are betting on the future. Miami is still in the early stages of becoming a true center of tech innovation. But numbers of startups are growing rapidly, along with the support system: the Knight Foundation has made 164 investments committing about $16 million in the last three years, funding programs ranging from the weekly “Waffle Wednesdays” to Miami Dade College’s extensive Idea Center. The second annual eMerge Americas conference doubled attendance of its inaugural year, attracting more than 10,000 people as well as international media attention fostered through by its partnership with NBCUniversal.

CIC’s Rowe and Stas Gayshan, managing director, visited Miami periodically for the past two years to study the area. It was an inaugural eMerge event, a hackathon held at the UM Life Science Park that attracted more than 150 techies to develop apps for social good, that helped Gayshan understand Miami’s potential.

“I remember being in that room and thinking this is an interesting slice of Miami that’s here on a weekend, not outside, but getting together thinking about what’s a better way to make the world a better, more interesting place,” said Gayshan, who served as a hackathon judge. For CIC, “That was a defining moment. Miami got it,” Rowe said.

For Rowe, a meeting at The LAB Miami, one of the original Miami entrepreneurial co-working centers, also helped crystallize the vision. “I walked in and thought ... this is exactly what I was hoping to see there, the energy, the sense of collaboration that we are growing something together, it’s all there.”

But beyond warm and fuzzy feelings, the life science park and surrounding area needed to meet CIC’s criteria. That included available space for the innovation district’s expansion well beyond CIC to create a district serving all of Latin America. The location needed to be central with links to universities, particularly those involved in the life sciences — that’s provided by the University of Miami’s programs in the life science park and the health district that surrounds it. The CIC would need to be close to an airport — check — and near future modes of public transport, such as the proposed All Aboard station and TriRail hub. The numbers worked, too: Miami has well under 200,000 square feet of existing startup spaces (such as The LAB Miami, WeWork and Venture Hive) while the Boston area has about 700,000.

Haggman, who has led the Knight Foundation’s efforts to support and propel Miami’s entrepreneurship ecosystem, visited CIC’s spaces in Boston and Cambridge over the summer and was impressed with the thriving environments for entrepreneurs. “But what I especially liked is seeing how they are such collaborative, community-focused leaders aiming to help build the broader startup ecosystem, too. Their leadership in not only creating a world-class co-working space, but also in continuing to grow and shape Miami’s young but rapidly evolving startup community, will be invaluable,” he said.

The nine-acre University of Miami Life Science & Technology Park, adjacent to the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, is owned and operated by Wexford Science + Technology, a BioMed Realty company, and sits on UM-owned land. Wexford was an early adopter of the thesis that Miami could someday be a technology hub, opening the life science park in 2011. With CIC’s long-term lease, the park’s first phase is now 98 percent leased with more than 50 companies, said Bill Hunter, Wexford’s director of leasing.

“We see Miami as a true melting pot of innovation that is at the intersection of technology and the life sciences,” Hunter said. “It’s a big win for Wexford, the UM Life Science & Technology Park, and especially for Miami overall.”

CIC Miami plans to open officially in early fall 2016, with preliminary space becoming available and events commencing in spring/summer of 2016. CIC Miami will launch in Building 1 of the life science park, creating public space on the ground floor, co-working on the third floor and premium flexible office on the sixth floor. CIC will also be launching its nonprofit arm, the Venture Cafe Foundation, to run events and initiatives, collaborate with existing innovation organizations and run a public innovation space. In its other CIC centers, events and programs have typically included youth entrepreneurship programs, education fellowships, pitch events, regular Thursday meetups and a visiting investor program.

Natalia Martinez-Kalinina will be the general manager of CIC Miami. Martinez-Kalinina, a Harvard and Columbia graduate who attended high school in South Florida, returned in 2012 to serve as product strategist for Ultimate Software. Known as a community builder, she founded the Miami chapter of the Awesome Foundation and most recently has been chief innovation and technology officer of Roots of Hope, a nonprofit.

Natalia“I envision CIC becoming an engine and accelerator of innovation and technology in this city, a hub of collaboration, binding together a lot of entities that are siloed or dispersed. I imagine us as playing a role in deepening the ecosystem, including in the Overtown area, and creating a more well-versed investor community,” said Martinez-Kalinina, who is familiar with CIC from her time in Harvard and working in Boston after graduation. “One of the things that excites me most about CIC in Miami is the philosophy that CIC has about community impact and economic impact. They’ve proven their case in Boston, Cambridge and St. Louis.”

St. Louis was CIC’s first expansion outside the Boston area, opening one year ago in 120,000 square feet of space. “We just informed our landlord we need more space,” Rowe said. CIC also recently opened in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

CIC was founded in 1999 in Kendall Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as a place for Rowe and his MIT buddies to work on their startups, but the concept evolved. Rowe calls his model “an innovation concentrator.” CIC spaces are more than shared office space and not an incubator, though they may have incubators inside. Some founding teams move in and stay, growing to dozens or even more than a hundred employees. Today, CIC houses more than 1,000 companies in 500,000 square feet of office and co-working space across its locations. The densest concentration is in Cambridge, with about 750 startups, Rowe said.

“When you create an intense cluster ... it creates a beacon effect, as this large collection of companies becomes a destination,” Rowe said. “If you are making it more visible to the rest of the world, then more people will pay attention. That’s important because what you need is investors to come and start hunting there.”

When CIC opened in Cambridge, there was only one small venture fund in the area; now there are 15 funds with $7 billion under management, said Rowe, who is also a venture capitalist. “Miami is awash in cash, but how much is flowing into startups in Miami, creating jobs in Miami? Not much. There is an opportunity to link those resources together.”

High-profile companies started at CIC include marketing automation startup Hubspot, which employs more than 1,100 people and raised $125 million through its initial public offering in October 2014. Greatpoint Energy, a company revolutionizing the global energy industry, was founded at CIC; in 2012 it announced a $1.25 billion deal to build 34 nuclear reactors in China. Android co-founder Rich Miner built his portion of Google Android and established Google’s New England headquarters at CIC; Google now employs 800 people in the neighborhood.

CIC in Cambridge also has been a leader in supporting entrepreneurs in the life sciences and biotech areas. Positioned in the UM life science park, the Miami center has the potential to better connect the startup community with the the healthcare and life science industries.

“This will be a game changer,” said Norma Kenyon, chief innovation officer at the Miller School of Medicine who often works with startups at the life science park and UM’s medical school. “The high-collision environment created among innovators, investors and others will have a positive impact on the ability of the University of Miami and others to bring their ideas and inventions to market.”

Nancy Dahlberg: 305-376-3595, @ndahlberg

Read more here:

October 08, 2015

Founder Institute to open two chapters in South Florida

The Founder Institute  announced this week that it is launching two chapters in South Florida: the Miami Founder Institute and the Fort Lauderdale- Boca Raton Founder Institute

Through the Founder Institute’s four-month entrepreneur training and startup launch program, entrepreneurs “learn by doing” and launch a company with training, expert feedback, and support from experienced startup CEOs, the Institute said in its press release. The program is part-time, so full-time professionals can test and build their ideas before making the leap from employee to entrepreneur and quitting their day jobs. If accepted into the program – which includes an aptitude test – participants will pay $1,000, plus a 3.5 percent equity share that is shared by mentors and participants in the program, according to

Founder Institute is based in Silicon Valley with chapters in 100 cities and 45 countries. Since 2009, more than 1,650 companies  have used the Founder Institute to validate their idea, develop their plans, refine their product, build an advisory board and prepare for seed funding - including fast-rising startups like UdemyRealty MoguliCarsClubItembasegoplaceit and Appota

Applications to the first ever Miami and Fort Lauderdale-Boca Raton Founder Institute programs are open now: or

“The region has all of the ingredients for a strong startup ecosystem - with a great mix of diversity, capital, universities, and large technology companies. Given the response we have seen, I have no doubt that the region can support both of these chapters, and provide expert training and mentorship to help produce top-notch companies," said Adeo Ressi, founder and CEO of the Founder Institute, in the press release.

The Founder Institute is hosting a series of free startup events open to the public:


Leading  Founder Institute Miami are Enrique Sierra, an executive-level leader and action-oriented consultant with broad experience in strategic modeling and implementation of ROI-driven businesses; Gustavo Fernandez, an alternative investments fund manager passionate about the innovative use of capital and technology to transform ideas into nimble, effective organizations; and Juan Meza, an innovation activist and mediator of entrepreneurship, profitability and social responsibility for Fortune 500 companies.

Fort Lauderdale’s chapter is led by Mark Volchek, a successful entrepreneur that built a project from 3 founders on a college campus into a public company listed on NYSE; Rodolfo Novarini, a seasoned entrepreneur and intrapreneur with over 15 years of experience creating and growing billion dollar businesses; and Michel Triana, the founder of several successful technology companies, including Ninut,, and Cine en Casa. 

About 60 technology leaders have signed on to mentor; they can be viewed at and,.

The application deadline for both South Florida chapters is on Sunday, Nov. 22, but anyone who applies by the early application deadline of Nov. 1 is eligible for scholarships - including the Female Founder Fellowship offered to the best overall female applicant for each chapter.

September 24, 2015

EcoTech Visions, Code Fever offer free coding training to low-income, high-potential residents

  Small LogoEcoTech Visions, an incubator promoting green manufacturing, and Code Fever, a nonprofit that runs tech entrepreneurship programs in  low-income communities, are partnering to train low opportunity, high potential Miami-Dade residents at its first Coding Bootcamp.

The first round of training classes will be held Mon-Wed evenings from Sept. 28 through Nov. 15.  This schedule will allow those currently employed to attend while still working full time.

This Coding Bootcamp will train participants with the skills taught in Harvard’s CS50 course, plus Javascript development.  This opportunity is being offered at no cost to the trainees in order to bring life-changing coding employment opportunities to those that need them most. 

EcoTech Visions and Code Fever have partnered with Wyncode and LaunchCode to give graduates the skills and opportunity to attend those programs and gain employment. 

To find out more information about this training class, call 305-224-9461.  To apply, visit

Submitted by EcoTech Visions

September 17, 2015

Knight Foundation funds Venture Hive accelerator expansion

Venture Hive

To provide Miami’s entrepreneurship community with more mentorship, funding and networking opportunities, the Miami-Dade Entrepreneurial Development Organization, a not-for-profit group that promotes entrepreneurship initiatives in Miami, will help expand the Venture Hive accelerator program through a $210,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Venture Hive is an entrepreneurial hub in downtown Miami that is home to 31 companies from 18 countries, and its accelerator program helps entrepreneurs grow their technology businesses in Miami. The program offers selected participants a $25,000 grant, a 13-week intensive mentor-driven accelerator program, and six months of free office space at Venture Hive. In addition, participants are given access to a wide network of leading business professionals, as well as mentorship and funding opportunities.. The next Venture Hive Accelerator Program will begin in January 2016; applications will open in October.

Since its launch in 2013, Venture Hive’s accelerator program has helped establish 10 businesses and more than 50 local jobs. It has supported more than 2,600 hours of coaching and generated an investment leverage of more than 20:1 private-to-public dollar investment, said its founder, Susan Amat, a serial entrepreneur whose goal was to attract and retain top international startups to build on South Florida’s existing strengths, including finance, travel and hospitality, trade and logistics, creative industries and healthcare. Amat was also co-founder of The Launch Pad at the University of Miami.

Venture Hive also houses an incubator and high school entrepreneurship program as well as the Microsoft Innovation Center and pre-accelerator programs for institutions around the world. To learn more about an upcoming Angel Investor Summit in February at Venture Hive and its accelerator program visit:

 “Venture Hive has taken a leading role in shaping Miami’s global brand as a startup hub,” said Roberto Interiano, MEDO’s executive director and a board member. “While our programs and platform support entrepreneurs all over the world, Miami is our home where we test and validate our content and offerings,” added Amat.

This year, Venture Hive also opened an accelerator for veteran-run tech startups; it’s in Fort Walton Beach.   

August 31, 2015

The Wynwood Yard to open a culinary incubator in Miami


By Evan S. Benn /

The Wynwood Yard, a new community gathering space opening soon at 70 NW 29th St. in Miami, will be home to a culinary incubator that’s a little like Shark Tank meets The Great Food Truck Race with some Art Basel mixed in.

The Yard will host four pop-up food kiosks, along with a bar, in a green space with garden beds, shaded seating areas and communal tables. A focal point with be a prototypical container home from design start-up Wyn-Box, and local art and design elements will be present throughout.

The first two food tenants to sign on: Myumi, an omakase-style sushi truck (pictured above) that was previously parked a few blocks away in another Wynwood lot, and Della Test Kitchen, which will offer plant-based bowls, juices and sweets.

Della%20HeimanDella Heiman (pictured here), CEO and founder of The Wynwood Yard and Della Test Kitchen, said the space is aiming for a November grand opening.

Heiman has brought on chef Jeffrey Brana as her director of culinary operations. The former chef of Norman’s and Restaurant Brana in Coral Gables, Brana will oversee research and design and day-to-day operations of the Della food truck.

The Yard is accepting proposals from other potential food operators: apply at Entrepreneurs with fitness, art, design or other creative ideas also are encouraged to apply.

“This is the kind of space where you can engage in activities all day,” Heiman said in a statement. “You can arrive in the morning for a sunrise yoga class ... maybe take an urban gardening class. In the evening, gather your friends and savor food and wine on a picnic blanket under the stars while enjoying live music or a speaker series.”

Every few months, the participating food start-ups will have a chance to pitch their concepts to investors, real estate developers and business owners, Heiman said.

“We’re building a collaborative ecosystem where entrepreneurs can rapidly test, iterate and incubate ideas on a daily basis,” she said. “Start-ups will continuously hone their product based on real-time customer feedback, resulting in surprising new experiences for guests each time they visit The Wynwood Yard.”

Jake Smith, a Brooklyn transplant who helped bring Myumi to Miami, said the Yard is “exactly the kind of cool, collaborative environment food start-ups like us are looking for in Miami.”

Read more here:

August 25, 2015

Green product businesses get help at EcoTech Visions

Ecotech- barbara jacques 2


Everything was humming along for Barbara Jacques (pictured above), who followed her passion and started Jacq’s Organics at her kitchen table. She was selling her all-natural skin, bath and body care products online, at farmers’ markets and charity events, and received favorable reviews and press. Then:

“Six months after I quit my day job and was all in, I got calls from huge companies and we couldn’t fulfill the orders.”

Pandwe Gibson, founder of the incubator EcoTech Visions, doesn’t want cash flow to be an insurmountable hurdle for Jacques or other entrepreneurs. That’s why a big focus of her new program is helping early-stage companies with raising capital and managing manfacturing processes.

Seeing local manufacturing as a job generator and believing local product entrepreneurs were underserved, Gibson opened EcoTech in west MiamiShores to serve green businesses. The current 20 member businesses include Aeolus, an electric motorcycle company; Earthware, a sustainable cutlery maker; Culito de Rana, creator of all-natural topical applications to soothe sunburns and prevent mosquito bites; Precision Barber Club, which makes skin-care products; and Fruit of Life Organics, builder of aquaponic systems.

EcoTech offers coworking space, workshops and mentorship and helps raise capital. Gibson is raising funds herself to add a manufacturing area so that incubator companies can make products onsite. She’s already been granted $450,000 from Miami-DadeCounty; much of that money she makes available to the member companies in the form of $25,000 loans. EcoTech also helped seven of its companies win $10,000 CRA grants to help fund their prototypes.

Gibson is helping three South Florida companies — Earthware, D Squared Engineering and Konie Cups — to pursue a joint school board contract. Developers do that all the time, so why not other companies? she thought. Earthware offers sustainable cutlery, Coney offers cups, and D Squared offers containers.

“Who wouldn’t want a sustainable fork if it costs the same as a plastic fork?” asked Gibson. But a big challenge for these companies is securing large enough contracts to get the manufacturing costs down.

EcoTech also helps entrepreneurs with their investor presentations and encourages them to join pitch competitions. Seven of them will be pitching at the upcoming Thrive Seminar with Daymond John on Thursday.

The incubator also is helping Jacq’s Organics with a business plan, pitch deck, human resources needs, and connections, Jacques said.

Jacq’s Organics curently works out of a 600-square-foot studio in DaniaBeach certified for light manufacturing. Raising capital investment and applying for grants has been a big challenge; investors and granting organizations don’t work on a startup schedule and “you jump through a lot of hoops just to be told no,” she said.

Jacques is now working with a couple of large companies to break up the big orders into more manageable shipments. In one case, she’s filling an order for 200,000 pieces in 60,000 increments, while continuing to service smaller orders from boutique businesses, a never-ending challenge for a small business, she said. “I’m looking at 600 bars of soap right now that I need to get out tonight.” But there are worse problems to have.

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Michael Caballero, CEO of Earthware, left, and Pandwe A. Gibson, CEO/executive director at EcoTech Visions are photographed at the incubator helping 25 green product companies in the Miami-Dade area. Earthware makes sustainable cutlery. Carl Juste MIAMI HERALD STAFF