April 04, 2016

Rhys Williams to lead FAU Tech Runway

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

RhyswilliamsRhys L. Williams, the co-founder and former president of New World Angels, has joined Florida Atlantic University as its new associate vice president and managing director of FAU Tech Runway. Williams succeeds Kimberly Gramm, who has taken the position of managing director of the Innovation Hub at Texas Tech University.

“Rhys has been the leader of the growing entrepreneurial ecosystem throughout South Florida and the state for years,” said Dan Flynn, FAU vice president for research. “His deep understanding about what it takes to take a kernel of an idea and turn that into viable company will benefit not just Tech Runway, but the wider university community as well. We’re confident that he’ll take the reigns at Tech Runway and launch it into its next phase of growth.”

Williams has been active in efforts to commercialize biotechnologies from Florida’s research universities and institutes, having co-founded several biotechnology spinout ventures. Previously he was a venture capitalist with SI Ventures and held executive positions with Ixion Biotechnology, Smith Barney, American Express, and the U.S. Army Special Forces. “As a part of extending Tech Runway’s impressive track record, additional emphasis will focus upon supporting entrepreneurial efforts aligned with FAU’s strategic plan in the four areas of sensing and smart systems; neuroscience; healthy aging; and ocean science and engineering/environmental sciences,” said Williams.

Williams presently serves on the boards of Aplicor; the Florida Venture Forum; the University of Miami’s Coulter Center Technology Review Committee; the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium; The LeMieux Center at Palm Beach Atlantic University; University of Florida’s Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation; and the Harvard Club of the Palm Beaches.

Tech Runway is a public-private partnership formed to foster technology startup companies. Since its inception, FAU Tech Runway has supported 15 companies who have produced more than $3 million in total revenue. Florida Gov. Rick Scott recently approved the legislative budget request of $750,000 in funding for FAU Tech Runway in the 2016-17 state budget.

Read more: New World Angels names new president

March 29, 2016

Meet Nelly Farra, new leader of WIN Lab set to launch in Miami

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Wanted: South Florida women “with the fire to make it happen.”

Nelly farraThat’s Nelly Farra’s message. She’s the new director of the WIN Lab, a Miami accelerator for women entrepreneurs launching on Thursday. With the launch, the program plans to begin taking applications for its first cohort of 20 selected female founders that will start this fall.

The eight-month entrepreneurship program was the brainchild of Babson College, consistently ranked tops in the nation for entrepreneurship education, and its Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership. Its Miami expansion, funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, will be modeled after Babson’s successful program in Boston.

The WIN (Women Innovating Now) Lab is looking for outstanding early-stage founders — so-called WINners — from South Florida.

 “We are industry-agnostic and age-agnostic. We are looking for women who might have come out of wonderful corporate jobs and now are starting their own businesses as well as individuals earlier on in their careers who have that idea and are going for it,” Farra said.

Farra, born and raised in South Florida, most recently led business development for the Morrison, Brown, Argiz & Farra (MBAF) accounting firm, where she expanded the firm’s reach into the entrepreneurial ecosystem through its work with Endeavor. Before joining MBAF, Farra partnered on the launch of a green-gym concept in the Los Angeles area and also pioneered wellness professional talent management in South Florida. Farra is a graduate of the University of Miami and received her MBA from Babson College in 2010, where she was also co-chair of the Babson Entrepreneurship Forum.

“Our secret sauce is a developing community of women eager to build the next big idea,” said Farra, noting that just 15 percent of venture accelerator participants are women. That low level of diversity also pervades venture capital, the tech industry, CEO ranks and boards. To help build a stronger pipeline, Farra said: “We use near-peer role modeling so we have women who have been there and done that. We’ll have 20 female mentors matched up with the founders. We will also have entrepreneurs, executives and investors in residence.” Johanna Mikkola, co-founder of Wyncode Academy, will be an entrepreneur-in-residence, and others will be announced soon. The program will be free, and WINners will also get co-working space.

The program will meet one evening a week. It will begin with a two-day retreat for self exploration, idea investigation, inspiration and community building, Farra said. Then the WINners will get help in every step of launching and growing a business, including building a team, customer acquisition, capital raising and scaling.

The program is more spread out than a traditional three-month accelerator, so women may find it easier to work into their lives while their build their startups. They could also be students.

In Boston the WIN Lab has attracted founders such as Emily Levy and Maria Del Mar Gomes of PICCPerfect, maker of functional and fashionable medical dressings for chronic illness patients treated with PICC lines. Francine Gervazio of Cargo 42 created a platform where customers can post their shipping needs and shippers can make an offer to carry their cargo. Bernette Dawson launched Made Organics, a line of handcrafted personal-care products.

“We will expect a lot from our founders — an eight-month commitment — but we provide a lot in return,” Farra said.

The program embodies entrepreneurial thought and action — part of Babson’s methodology — to balance action, experimentation and creativity to create economic and social value. “That is what we are all about,” Farra said. “The concept is to take iterative steps to prove your model. That’s how I embody it: Everything I do is to go out and get it done.”

The deadline for applications will be May 2. For more information about the WIN Lab, go to www.babson.edu/WINLab and learn more about the program at the launch event on Thursday. (See accompanying box).

WIN Lab Miami Launch

When: 6-8 p.m. Thursday

Where: The Light Box, 404 NW 26th St., Miami

Speakers: Mary Biggins of ClassPass and MealPass; Julia Ford-Carther of Bammies; Jessica Do of PalmPress; Isabella Acker of Culture; Johanna Mikkola of Wyncode Academy

Cost: Free, but registration is required on Eventbrite.

For more information about WIN Lab: www.babson.edu/WINLab

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

Read more: Babson's Women Innovating Now Lab to launch in Miami

Read more: Numbers don't lie: Silicon Valley still has a diversity problem


March 15, 2016

Meet the 5 graduating startups of Founder Institute Miami


By Melanie Haselmayr

Over the course of 3½ months, 30 ambitious startup founders followed a strict curriculum. Only a handful of them made it to graduation day.

The Founder Institute is renowned worldwide as one of the toughest yet rewarding incubator programs. The goal of the foundation is to support early stage startups in the most crucial phases of their companies’ phases: from conceptualization to launch. The program consists of weekly meetups, mentor presentations and detailed assignments based on a lineup of topics - all in all, an orchestrated ensemble of elements that guides young entrepreneurs in achieving their milestones toward their startup launch.

Program directors Juan Meza, Gustavo Fernandez and Enrique Sierra invited some of Miami’s most outstanding business leaders to share their knowledge and insights with the aspiring newcomers, and included Cody Littlewood of Codelitt, Kevin Levy of GrayRobinson PA, Leonel Azuela of Quaxar and Nestor Villalobos of Tudor Ice Company.

Just five companies survived the rapid pace of the program and concluded the Miami semester in a ceremony  Tuesday night:

LiVi - Live Stream by Request, led by Carlos Romero, is the only live stream mobile App that gives the control to its users.  LiVi is redesigning this technology by applying peer-to-peer and on-demand models while the competition is focused on mass broadcasting, making it difficult to monetize.  

VOICE YOUR VOICE, led by Camilo Silva and Jose Aliaga, aims to encourage the public to actively engage in politics and democracy by addressing issues that impact them through a mobile platform that aims to connect the community with its respective political leaders on the city, district, county, state and national level.

IMPACT COACH, led by Coach Guillermo Juliao, is an educational coaching platform to help the Hispanic community find their passions, purpose and strengths so they can start their own companies or find their dream jobs.

DRONELANCER, led by Matt Hall, is a marketplace to connect licensed drone owners with businesses looking for aerial photos and videos. the marketplace allows clients to interview, hire and work with drone owners through its easy, transparent platform. 

TRANSPARENT, led by Melanie Haselmayr, helps renters, realtors and landlords engage in simplified rental transactions. The company helps landlords and realtors filter potential applicants, and offers an escrow service to renters to safeguard their money until move-in.

The Founder Institute is a startup incubator out of Silicon Valley that hosts programs in 110+ around the world to help startup founders build sustainable companies. For more information about the Miami program, please visit http://www.fi.co.

The graduation ceremony took place Tuesday at TamboWorks, a co-working space in South Miami, located at 5790 Sunset Drive. "TamboWorks is proud to have hosted this first group of entrepreneurs who have met in our space on a weekly basis," said TamboWorks co-founder Adolfo Taylhardat.





Meet the 8 South Florida companies incubated at Founder Institute


Submitted by Founder Institute

Ten entrepreneurs from eight companies pitched their new startup at General Provision last Friday in front of their families, friends, mentors, business leaders and colleagues.

These entrepreneurs are the first graduating cohort from the Fort Lauderdale-Boca Raton chapter of the Founder Institute, a global entrepreneur training and startup program that has helped launch over 1,600 companies through chapters across 85 cities and 40 countries

For the ten graduating entrepreneurs, Graduation Day was the culmination of a 3.5 month program where they “learn by doing” and launched their company with structured training, expert feedback, and support from experienced startup CEOs. Thirty-four candidates initially joined the program in November 2015 after going through the application and ‘entrepreneur DNA aptitude’ testing process.

Rodolfo Novarini, Michel Triana and Mark Volchek, three serial entrepreneurs and business leaders, led the Founder Institute’s efforts in Fort Lauderdale and were supported by a strong network of 34 CEOs and founders in the South Florida business community.

The eight emerging startups from the Fort Lauderdale-Boca Raton chapter are:

  • GameFace (com): an ecommerce subscription-based men’s personal care called ‘Nasty’ for athlete consumers.
  • ONENESS: a solution for cities and marinas to meet their sustainability goals for water clean-up with proprietary line of green boats.
  • SpeechMED (com): a voice and video information platform that gives people the ability to see and hear their medical information in their native language (see Startup Spotlight).
  • Teak Health: the “mint.com” of medical health records striving for patient empowerment and provider solutions.
  • Velatino (com): an internet video network exclusively curated for Hispanic audiences.
  • Vendor Hive (com): centralized platform that manages information and transactions between festival event producers and retail vendors.
  • VidTec (co): automated tool for digital marketers that converts products and other website content into videos.
  • Winspire: a software solution to help people improve their people and leadership skills by partnering with Leadership Coaches.

Robert Valli, one of the graduates and the CEO of VidTec Corporation, emphasized the access to the mentor network as a key benefit of his participation. “Thanks to the new Founder Institute chapter here in Fort Lauderdale, anyone in Southeast Florida with a good idea has a very real opportunity to build a tech company—backed by their own local network—by the time they graduate, even if they had neither to start. I know, because I did it," says Valli.

The Fort Lauderdale-Boca Raton Chapter will accept applications for the next session this summer. Interested applicants can visit fi.co for more information and to join the mailing list.

Fi crowd

February 29, 2016

The South Florida Accelerator launches in Fort Lauderdale

By Marcia Heroux Pounds / Sun Sentinel

A new type of business accelerator in South Florida will aim to develop innovative products with less risk for entrepreneurs and investors. The accelerator on Monday announced its new headquarters at General Provision, a co-working space in the FAT Village district in Fort Lauderdale. Eventually the accelerator will have multiple locations in South Florida, the co-founders said.

The South Florida Accelerator will be a so-called "off-ramp" model in which startups will produce software or other intellectual property to the specifications of venture partners, who will be first in line to acquire it. The method "is a faster time to market," said Thomas Buchar, co-founder and managing partner of the new venture, along with Christopher Malter. Buchar said The South Florida Accelerator will both "incubate" new technology or business ideas and accelerate them by forming a company and building a management team. The  accelerator will focus on investments in life science, big data and technologies that help companies manage their workforce and make financial services more efficient.

Read the full story here.

February 16, 2016

PowerMoves launches in Miami at start of Blacktech Week


By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Close your eyes and picture a typical "tech entrepreneur." If you always see a young white man -- perhaps a hoodie is involved -- you are not alone, and PowerMoves, Blacktech Week, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Case Foundation and many other organizations want to change that.

The statistics are alarming. As the second annual Blacktech Week got underway in Miami, and PowerMoves Miami launched its operations with a bootcamp and pitch contests, a new study recently surfaced that showed that  of the 10,000-plus venture deals sealed  from 2012 to 2014, just 24 of them were led by a black women founder. Of those few that have raised money, the average amount of funding was just  $36,000, even though black women comprise the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S., according to the report, Project Diane by Digital Undivided, which calls black women founders “the real unicorns of tech.”

The statistics are only a little better for all minority entrepreneurs. PowerMoves, an entrepreneurship organization for entrepreneurs of color that just launched in Miami through Knight Foundation support, offers these numbers: While African-American and Hispanic students earn nearly 20 percent of computer science degrees, they make up only 9 percent of the technology industry and less than 1 percent of technology company founders. To help close this gap, PowerMoves is connecting entrepreneurs of color to mentors, capital, support and investment opportunities. The national initiative launched in New Orleans in 2014 has helped roughly 100 companies from across the country secure more than $27 million in capital commitments, the organization said.

This week, in partnership with Blacktech Week, PowerMoves held three-day  bootcamp (which followed six weeks of virtual programming) for about 15 entrepreneurs -- among them from South Florida were Daddy Knows Too, FlyScan, Jurnid, Kurator, Radifit and Renal Trkrr. It will culminate in a demo day open to the public Wednesday morning at the Fontainebleau. After holding a Disrupters Showcase on Monday night with Kairos and VOO Media representing the 305, on Tuesday PowerMoves  held two pitch competitions with $50K in prize money for eight selected entrepreneurs around the country, including two teams from South Florida: Court Buddy, a Miami-based matching service for a la carte legal services,  and Kweak, a video messaging platform company based in Miami and Berlin. Taking home $25K each  were Better Weekdays, a mobile job-matching platform, and Virgil, a mobile-first career navigation platform. Other teams pitching from around the country were Kudzoo, Unshrinkit,  CyberReef Solutions and Zoobean. 

"I was blown away by the ideas and the execution of the ideas so far. The ideas presented not only solved big social problems but would have great multiplier effects," said Carla Harris, a judge in the pitch contest and vice chairman of wealth management for Morgan Stanley, presenting sponsor of the event. "It is my thought that this will become the place for sophisticated investors who are looking for next generation technology and are specifically looking for entrepreneurs of color -- they will have to come to PowerMoves to find them."

She said that Earl Robinson, founder of PowerMoves, first asked her to be a judge for PowerMoves New Orleans in the first panel it ever had in 2014. "I was so impressed by the caliber of the entrepreneurs that I knew he was onto something that I wanted to get my firm involved in, because after all we are in the business of connecting capital with people and bringing leaders to the public and private capital markets. ... We helped support [PowerMoves] to go national."

The Case Foundation has also been a partner of PowerMoves for about a year and a half. Started by AOL founder Steve Case and his wife Jean, the foundation has been leading entrepreneurship initiatives  for decades. "But we really got to this point where the American Dream seemed to be fading, there was a full series of entrepreneurs that were being left on the sideline," said Sheila Herrling, senior vice present of social innovation for the foundation. "How could we exploit this potential to drive the economy, to drive jobs, to drive ideas, and source them from all places and all people?"

 In addition to PowerMoves, the Case Foundation is involved in JumpStart's Diversity Fund and Forward Cities and is looking for other partners.   To VCs who say 'I'd love to invest I am just not finding the deals,' PowerMoves is  creating this pipeline of entrepreneurs for them, Herrling said. The big goal: When you think of an entrepreneur, "that face that comes to you has just as much of a chance of being a women or an entrepreneur of color as the white guy in the hoodie," she said. 

That Project Diane report found that just 11 black female founders raised more than $1 million. "Four of them are PowerMoves alumni," said Herrling. "There is a secret sauce in that. Something is working. I'm optimistic we're going to level the playing field."

The second annual Blacktech Week, open to all,  also kicked off with a DiscoTech on Monday and youth event and opening reception on Tuesday. It moves into high gear Wednesday evening with the start of its 2 1/2 day summit at FIU's Biscayne Bay campus, featuring entrepreneurs and investors from around the world. On Saturday, Project Diane's author, Kathryn Finney, will keynote at the Blacktech Week Women's Innovation Brunch. Read more here from Blacktech Week co-founder Felecia Hatcher about why it's in Miami. 


See a complete schedule of events at BlackTechWeek.com

See more information about PowerMoves at powermovesnola.org.

See past coverage of Black Tech Week 2015 here.


 Judges watch pitches at PowerMoves Series A pitch Tuesday. At top, Disrupters Showcase at the Fountainebleau on Monday.

February 08, 2016

10 startups selected for 4th Venture Hive Miami Accelerator class



By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com Heroboy

As parents of young boys, Crissi and Ed Boland found that super-hero toys on the market were associated with PG-13 rated movies and violent videogames but marketed for kids 5 and up. “There was a disconnect there,” Ed Boland said. “We thought there was an opportunity to provide meaningful, thoughtful, developmentally appropriate content for children 4 to 9.”

So they created the HeroBoys, an initial line of toys and comic books made for young boys about young boys. Last fall, the Bolands raised more than $58,000 on Kickstarter, with more than 200 backers, providing proof of concept and an initial production run. The couple had been working on the project on the side for a couple of years, but last summer Ed Boland left a career in venture capital and investment banking to launch the startup with his wife.

The Bolands’ Miami-based company is Whimzy Entertainment and they will participate in the fourth class of Venture Hive’s Miami Accelerator. “Having spent time on the investor side, I’ve seen first-hand how well prepared and ready to scale the companies that come out of Venture Hive are,” Ed Boland said. “Venture Hive is the gold standard for accelerators here.”

Each of the 10 selected companies will participate in an intense three-month acceleration program beginning Feb. 29 designed to take the companies to the next level, will get free office space in Venture Hive’s incubator for six months, and will get a $25,000 grant. Each class ends with a Demo Day, called The Swarm (pictured above).

Unlike other years when the great majority of accelerator companies chosen were international, this year there are five Miami companies in the class, along with companies from San Francisco, Argentina and Ecuador. “I think the quality in Miami was greatly improved because there was another year of companies maturing. There were dozens of Miami applicants and many were ready to take on the training we do to take a team with a validated product to the next level,” said Susan Amat, founder of Venture Hive.

“Since the Miami DDA, Mayor Gimenez, and Miami WorldCenter made Venture Hive possible three years ago, we have had startups from more than 50 countries in our programs. Our Miami Accelerator is the heart and soul of Venture Hive and the support from the Knight Foundation will help ensure this is the best program we have offered yet,” Amat added.

I n this year’s class there is a biotech company, an Internet of Things venture and a smart hardware products company. “A quarter of our applicants were logistics businesses and three were selected for the program,” Amat said (pictured below). Along with Whimzy, the other companies selected for the accelerator are:

AmatAsombro Extremo Digital (Buenos Aires, Argentina): Founded by professional illusionists and technology experts, this company aims to create stunning technological campaigns.

Big Propeller (Miami): A company designed to help agencies and brands to better manage their social media content workflow, especially when collaborating with stakeholders and clients.

Cetus Labs (Miami): A tech company that builds and sells software to simplify and streamline port terminal operations. Its first product is a Terminal Operating System.

Datil (Guayaquil, Ecuador): A company that builds digital tools to make commerce simple and sustainable for micro, small and medium businesses. by using simple point of sale, accounting and e-billing applications together with legally complaint digital certificates.

Einsof Biohealth (Miami): A biotech company focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of novel, proprietary therapies and OTC products. Its first product, Speedlyte, is an oral rehydration solution.

OneClickShip (San Francisco): A web-based platform that empowers small businesses to take control of their global supply chain. By taking control of their supply chains, small businesses take control of their profits.

SmartLoc (Miami): An asset-tracking company whose core product LugLoc will let you know the location of your device anytime and anywhere. It utilizes both GSM-GPRS and Bluetooth BTE technology to provide you with the location of your device."

Wayniloans (Buenos Aires): A peer-to-peer lending platform based on blockchain technology for the Latin American and U.S. Hispanic market. To bring access to credit for the unbanked and underbanked, Wayniloans makes financial solutions more efficient and transparent for borrowers and lenders.

Webee(Córdoba, Argentina): A smart home system that goes beyond simple home automation and remote control to also provides an entertainment box, which learns from users and programs itself.

Venture Hive also houses an incubator, virtual accelerators and high school programs at its downtown Miami hub. Venture Hive also runs an accelerator for U.S. veterans in Fort Walton Beach and a new class will begin in March. Veterans can apply though Feb. 12 at Veterans.venturehive.com/apply

Nancy Dahlberg; 305-376-3595; @ndahlberg

January 22, 2016

AT&T Aspire opens applications for ed-tech accelerator

For-profit and non-profit organizations focused on social impact can apply; relocation not required.

AT&T is looking for local companies working on a product or service that uses technology to support students’ educational and career success.

The company announced it has opened the application process for its AT&T Aspire Accelerator program. The program works with organizations that use technology to help students succeed, strengthen schools and communities, or prepare learners for employment.

Potential areas of focus include mobile applications that drive education outcomes; platforms for teachers, students and/or parents; learning and curriculum management tools; assessment and outcome tracking platforms; and increased access for existing best practices.

Solutions for students at-risk of dropping out of school will receive special consideration.

Aspire Accelerator is part of AT&T’s $350 million commitment to empower students to reach their full potential.

The customized 6-month program includes:

* Aspire Investment – $100,000 AT&T investment and an additional $25,000 for each venture to cover costs of the program. For non-profit companies, the investment will be a general contribution. They receive this in exchange for participating in the Aspire Accelerator and meeting certain requirements, including submitting impact measurements.

* Mentorship – Access to AT&T and external mentors from education and technology.

* National Platform – Inclusion in the broader AT&T Aspire initiative, which is committed to driving innovation in education.

* Flexible Location – Organizations can participate from where they are, without relocating.

Both non-profits and for-profit companies of any size are eligible to apply at aspireaccelerator.fluidreview.com.

Applications will be accepted through February 5. The Aspire Accelerator program will begin in May.

-submitted by AT&T

January 15, 2016

The Idea Center’s MarketHack to launch digital marketing class Feb. 2

An Information Session about Miami Dade College’s digital marketing training program for working professional will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 19

Submitted by Dan Grech, MarketHack Program Manager

 The Idea Center at Miami Dade College (MDC), Miami’s hub of innovation and entrepreneurship, is launching the second edition of its successful MarketHack digital marketing training program. The 16-week course offers a dynamic combination of lectures from top professionals, hands-on skills workshops, and real-life group projects that teach participants how to influence customers, create connections, and grow their businesses.

Aimed at filling a talent gap for highly skilled digital marketers in South Florida, the program will continue its successful partnership with República, a leading, independent cross-cultural advertising, communications and digital agency based in Miami. It will also build on relationships with other local companies and creative agencies that will help shape its curriculum and create a pipeline for internships, apprenticeships and jobs.

“Staying on top of digital trends is not easy, it seems like there’s a new social networking platform popping up every day, but understanding the nuances of 21st century communication is indispensable in nearly every industry,” said Jorge Azze, social media community manager at República and participant in the inaugural class. “MarketHack's stable of digital marketing pros makes staying up to speed feasible and actually really fun. The course provides a professional, yet laid back environment with people from all industries, ages and walks of life, that sparks new friendships, perspectives and opportunities.”

MarketHack is taught by two of South Florida’s top digital marketing professionals: program lead Dan Grech, Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations at OfferCraft, and co-teacher Mike Schott, Director of Online Marketing at Open English.

An Information Session with both instructors will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 19, at The Idea Center at Miami Dade College, 315 NE 2nd Ave Building 8, 5th Floor, Miami, FL 33132. RSVP here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/markethack-mixer-info-session-tickets-20509268775

Guest speakers in the fall course included NBCUniversal’s Cesar Conde, Uber’s Kasra Moshkani, República’s Jorge A. Plasencia, Natcom Global’s Bob Rodriguez and many other leading digital executives and marketers. MarketHack’s January course will build on this successful platform.

“The core of the MarketHack experience is working in teams on high-stakes group projects with real clients,” said Leandro Finol, executive director of the Idea Center at Miami Dade College. “We want to give participants a taste of life in a marketing department or at a top digital marketing agency.”

The upcoming 16-week course, MarketHack Introduction to Digital Marketing,” will begin Feb 2.'Classes take place on Tuesdays from 6:30 pm to 9 pm at the MDC Idea Center, Building 8, Fifth Floor, 315 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami, FL.

Registration is now open at http://www.theideacenter.co/markethack. The course costs $1,999, with an early-registration price of $1,499. This is a non-credit class, and participants receive a Certificate from the Idea Center upon completion.

MarketHack is one of the 21st century skills-training programs for students and working professionals offered by the Idea Center at Miami Dade College. The program also offers coding education through its CodePro program.

For more information on MarketHack and to enroll in the class, please visit http://www.theideacenter.co/markethack


January 07, 2016

Babson College to launch Women Innovating Now Lab in Miami this year, with Knight support

WIN Lab_2015-2016 Cohort (4)

Babson College's WIN Lab, an accelerator program for women entrepreneurs, will be coming to Miami this year. This is the current WIN Lab cohort in Boston. 


By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

The typical startup accelerator is technology-focused and the company founders it helps are overwhelmingly male. A Babson College program wants to change that.

Babson’s Women Innovating Now Lab, known as the WIN Lab, is designed to help women entrepreneurs launch successful businesses. The accelerator-like program offers training sessions and connects women entrepreneurs to a wide range of experts for guidance. It also provides access to strategic networks and co-working space so participants can build and expand their ventures.

The WIN Lab will receive $800,000 in support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as part of a three-year grant to launch WIN Lab in Miami. The first cohort will begin this fall.

Babson, well known for its acclaimed business and entrepreneurship programs, is no stranger to South Florida. The WIN Lab in Miami is part of the college’s growing presence in the region, which includes one of the university’s most active alumni networks with 1,300 Miami-based alums, an advisory role at The Idea Center at Miami Dade College and its connection to Miami Dade College as the academic architect of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. This will be the first WIN Lab outside of Boston, and the organization is planning to expand to other cities.

The Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership at Babson launched the WIN Lab in Boston in October 2013. It has been designated as one of the top two “specialty” programs for Excellence in Entrepreneurship Education by the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship; earned BostInno’s designation as one of Boston’s “50 on Fire” innovators and visionaries; and was honored by the prestigious Rosoff Awards for diversity.

Susan Duffy, executive director at the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership, said she and her co-founder, Heatherjean MacNeil, both entrepreneurs, believed  it was time to disrupt the accelerator model. They saw  gender imbalance even in Babson's own entrepreneurship programs.

"Accelerators around the country have less than 13 percent women, and Babson was courageous enough to say we can do more," said Duffy in a phone interview. "It is really important to begin to tap into the entrepreneurial potential of both men and women. When it comes to venture acceleration, one size doesn't fit all."

Duffy said that Miami ranks in the top five metro areas for its high rate of women-owned businesses but also ranks in the bottom five metro areas when it comes to women entrepreneurs' economic clout, a measure that combines the number of women-owned businesses, their revenues and employment numbers. "Women-owned businesses in Miami are not scaling up. Some would look at that as a problem, we look at that as an opportunity."

In addition to being for females, Duffy said the WIN Lab will be different from other accelerators in that it will be sector agnostic rather than focused solely on tech and it will be an eight-month program instead of  compressed into three months. WIN Lab will be focused on building competent confident CEOs with programing full of female role models as well as coaches and experts of both genders, she said.

Since launching WIN Lab in Boston, Babson has seen dramatically increased female participation in its rocket pitch contests, its Beta competitions and its summer venture programs. “We have the numbers to prove that what we are doing is having an impact,” said Duffy. “It changes the understanding of what is possible.”

Babson presidentBabson President Kerry Healey and Matt Haggman, the Knight Foundation's Miami program director, announced the launch of WIN LAB in Miami Thursday at a Babson College event hosted at MBAF in downtown Miami. "This is a first-of-its-kind program designed by women entrepreneurs to support women entrepreneurs," said Healey at the event. "We're honored to be a part of the [Knight] Foundation's mission here ... to make Miami a place where ideas are built."

Never has there been a time when entrepreneurs can solve such big important problems as now, said Haggman. In creating an ecosystem, he said, "this really has be about all of Miami. WIN Lab is the next step in this ... We can't wait to see the impact this will create."

Babson anticipates kicking off its Miami launch with a community event in March and then recruiting 20 WIN Lab Miami participants for the first cohort. Entrepreneurs will mostly be in the beta stage with their companies, but some strong candidates in the ideation stage may be accepted. The WIN Lab, which will be free for participants, is expected to officially launch in the fall. In the coming weeks, Babson will hire a director to head the program in Miami, secure a location for the WIN Lab and establish a regional advisory board comprised of local investors, women entrepreneurs, experts and coaches.

Over the past 3 1/2 years, Knight has committed about $20 million to more than 165 projects in entrepreneurship in South Florida and has been increasing its investments in programs such as Babson’s that aim to accelerate diversity. For more information about WIN Lab, visit babson.edu/WINLab.

Nancy Dahlberg; 305-376-3595; @ndahlberg