New research on women entrepreneurs: Quality but not enough quantity

Early-stage venture capital firm First Round recently released findings from its deep dive into 10 years of investment data. Among the Silicon Valley firm’s findings among the 300 startups it has invested in over the decade: Its investments in companies with at least one female founder performed 63 percent better than its investments in all-male teams. And, if you look at First Round's top 10 investments of all time based on value created for investors, three of those teams have at least one female founder — far outpacing the percentage of female tech founders in general.

You can read about First Round's other findings, all very interesting, at 10years.firstround.com.

While women-founded companies perform better, there needs to be more of them. The Kauffman Foundation, an authority on all things entrepreneurship, also released some interesting research about women in entrepreneurship recently.

While the number of women entering the workforce has significantly increased over several decades, they are still half as likely as men to start a business, and the findings are fairly consistent across all age groups, according to Kauffman’s most recent Entrepreneurship Policy Digest.

Women are one-third as likely to access equity financing through angels or venture capital, and they begin their companies with about half the capital of men.

Kauffman Foundation found the lack of women entrepreneurs is not just a gender issue, it’s an economic issue. Research shows a lack of female mentors (in one survey, half reported challenges finding mentors), challenges to maintaining work-life balance and an implicit bias against women as entrepreneurs as major obstacles.

The Digest offered suggestions to entrepreneurial programs and organizations to help more women become successful. Among them:

* Develop and report entrepreneurial program metrics by gender to better understand what works best for women entrepreneurs.

* Increase the number of women represented in entrepreneurship programs to expand access to female mentors.

* Partner with women’s professional organizations to increase awareness of Small Business Innovation Research awards. Just 15 percent of SBIR awards went to women-owned businesses in 2012.

* Celebrate successful women entrepreneurs to counter the false narrative that only men are successful entrepreneurs.

Read more from the Policy Digest here.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

July 20, 2015

Q&A with Kim Gramm: FAU Tech Runway's journey has only just begun

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By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Like the entrepreneurs it supports, Florida Atlantic University’s entrepreneurship hub for students and the community is very much a startup, too.

Tech Runway launched just a year ago. Its second accelerator class is underway and a third will be joining in the fall. But for Kimberly Gramm (pictured above), Tech Runway’s co-founder and associate vice president, it has been a six-year journey, and she has big dreams for the entrepreneurship center.

Tech Runway’s physical space next to the Boca Raton campus and executive airport is impressive — and unfinished, but ready for possibility. The 27,500-square-foot warehouse, where hurricane glass windows were once made, is now an open canvas. Most of the large garage doors have been replaced with glass to let the natural light in and watch the planes taking off. There is plenty of open space for events, and 15 work areas have been glassed in to create areas where resident startups can brainstorm with their teams on whiteboards, practice pitching, meet clients or hold meetings with their board of mentors. A 5,000-square-foot section off to one side is the “Tech Garage,” which hosts high school and college students weekly for robotics. Gramm envisions a full-blown maker space to come there. Once a year, engineering students build an electric race car from scratch in the space (a garage door was left so it can get in and out). Open rafters present possibilities of a mezzanine for more creative meeting areas — the sky’s the limit.

“We are putting together renderings and talking to architects to build out the space so that it becomes the hub we envisioned it to be,” said Gramm, while giving a tour of the facility. “The idea is to be a home for Tech Runway companies as well as a place for FAU to prepare innovative minds to become an entrepreneurial pipeline to Tech Runway.

“Exposing the high school and university students to this space is really important to us. You get students applying their STEM learnings in robotics programs, creating prototypes, even building electric race cars that compete. Spaces like this allow the mentors, the investors, the entrepreneurs and the students to have these creative collisions.”

Gramm was hired about six years ago to develop an entrepreneurship program. She started as the director of the Adams Center for Entrepreneurship with a handful of programs including the FAU Business Plan Competition.

“That was really a proof of concept,” she said. “What we found is what the marketplace wanted to see was more support and resources to entrepreneurship being driven by the university. The idea was to create an internal ecosystem, a gateway to launch.”

At Tech Runway, companies get a real-life curriculum in customer acquisition, developing a minimal viable product and attracting first round capital. Tech Runway gives each company a $25,000 grant, a 16-week bootcamp and collaborative workspace for a year, she said.

Tech Runway also provides structure and connections. Companies develop a series of milestones with their mentors whom they meet with weekly, and they don’t pitch to investors until they are ready. Tech Runway helps them get their first sales. After about a year, Tech Runway companies will typically graduate, once their lead mentors agree they have met their milestones. But the space is continually being restocked because there will be two classes — Tech Runway calls them Venture Vintages — accepted each year going forward. It is also growing its programming for students and supporting faculty startups.

“The university is committed to making this a longstanding resource for our community,” she said.

We spoke with Gramm recently at the Tech Runway offices. Here are excerpts of that conversation:

Continue reading "Q&A with Kim Gramm: FAU Tech Runway's journey has only just begun" »

May 28, 2015

FAU's Tech Runway selects 2nd accelerator class

 Florida Atlantic University’s Tech Runway has selected its second Venture Vintage class of startup companies to participate in the 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 second class of companies are:

·       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.

Supported by FAU and the State of Florida, FAU Tech Runway launched in October 2014 with five companies Venture Vintage I (VVI) pilot group. The program is based on two proven models for startup ventures, MIT’s Venture Mentoring Service and Stanford’s NSF-funded Lean Launchpad curriculum. Offered in conjunction with existing resources, FAU Tech Runway provides ventures the complete ecosystem for successful launch.

Applications for a third round of Venture Vintage companies will be solicited and evaluated by FAU Tech Runway later this summer. 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. Criteria for evaluation include but is not limited to the market opportunity, distinctive competence/competitive advantage, financial understanding of the revenue model and the investment potential. For more information on FAU’s Tech Runway, visit techrunway.fau.edu.

Information provided by Tech Runway

May 20, 2015

Florida TaxWatch touts Central Florida technology research center in development

A Central Florida technology research center could help launch the state's high-tech manufacturing industry and ignite economic growth, says Florida TaxWatch, an independent fiscal watchdog group. The development of the Florida Advanced Manufacturing Research Center (FAMRC) through the International Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing Research (ICAMR) will help create, develop and support high-tech Florida companies producing smart sensor technologies for high-tech manufacturing goods. ICAMR is a public-private partnership comprised of economic development entities, higher education institutes and technology firms; FAMRC is a state of the art manufacturing hub and incubator opening in Orlando in 2017.

"Increasing investments in Florida's manufacturing sectors have resulted in billions of dollars added to the state economy through high-wage jobs and high-value exports," Dominic M. Calabro, President and CEO of Florida TaxWatch, the state's nonpartisan, nonprofit public policy research institute, said. "Strategic infrastructure investments like the Florida Advanced Research Manufacturing Center will further diversify Florida's economy, support job creation and enhance the value of our state's existing industries."

Smart sensor technology, which is incorporated into high-tech manufacturing products, is a more than $80 million industry expected to double in value by 2020. By locating the research center in Florida, the state expects to attract other manufacturing companies that rely on the sensors, resulting in new jobs and capital.

Florida's existing manufacturing sector already creates high-skill, high-wage jobs, but high-tech companies pay higher average salaries, which can be more than 228 percent greater than the average private sector Florida job. These positions are generally more stable and less susceptible to recessionary periods.

 

 
 
 
 
 

May 14, 2015

Amadeus, travel incubator team up to offer new resource for travel startups

Travel startups, take note of this announcement from Amadeus:

Amadeus, a leading technology partner for the global travel industry, announced today the launch of “Amadeus for Startups,” a new program designed to equip travel startups in the North American marketplace with technology, expertise and consultative support to navigate the complexities of the travel industry and achieve success. 

Said Alix Argüelles, Vice President Online Travel Group, Amadeus North America: “Through Amadeus for Startups, we are aligning the technology, investment and academic communities to offer new travel companies a simplified, affordable consulting partnership  that will help ensure they are equipped with the travel and technology solutions and guidance they need.”

To further enhance the value delivered to emerging online players, Amadeus has also partnered with the incubator Travel Startups Incubator. Travel Startups Incubator is a virtual, global, travel technology incubator and platform which funds seed-stage and early-stage travel startups and entrepreneurs and offers a private network to connect with advisors, mentors, partners and investors. Amadeus will provide the incubator with access to Amadeus’ tenured team of travel experts and best-in-class technology solutions, as well as opportunities to participate in industry training workshops, startup bootcamps and educational seminars co-hosted by the two organizations.

Through the new alliance, Travel Startups Incubator will work closely with Amadeus’ leading online travel experts who will provide customized support, account management and technical and operational sales support to further optimize the startups’ solutions. 

For more information about joining the Amadeus for Startups program, please visit www.amadeus.com/amadeusforstartups.

May 04, 2015

Miami's Watsco to launch accelerator for startups

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com 

One of Miami’s biggest public companies is launching a new  program to help technology startups.

Watsco, the world’s largest distributor of air conditioning and heating products that generates about $4 billion in annual revenue,  will start an accelerator. The 12-week program is built for early-stage companies focused on the B2B or home comfort industries.

Ivan rapin-smith“When people think of innovation in the heating and air conditioning industry they usually think slick, new thermostats or the connected home. Our scope is much broader,” said Ivan Rapin-Smith, director at Watsco Ventures. “We’re interested in any technology that can add value to a distribution business like Watsco, whether it’s internet-of-things applications, supply chain management, sales and marketing or anything that may help consumers or businesses become more comfortable, more economical or more environmental-friendly.”

Accelerator participants will reach receive initial funding of $25,000, mentoring, HVAC and distribution industry expertise, concept validation, investor connections and office space in Watsco’s Coconut Grove headquarters. Watsco Ventures will retain a small equity interest with an optional follow-up investment at the conclusion of the program, said Rapin-Smith, who was program director for Venture Hive’s accelerator and incubator for about two years and co-founded the Belgium-based accelerator Idealy. Rapin-Smith also founded two tech companies.

“An accelerator powered by a Fortune 1000 company brings strategic resources that a traditional accelerator cannot – financial capacity to invest; an opportunity to have Watsco as a first customer; scalability to hundreds of distribution locations, and potentially tens-of-thousands of end-users in the form of contractors and end-consumers,” said Rapin-Smith, who has a particular interest and expertise in B2B startups. “We invest in talented teams that bring innovation that can be scaled not just within Watsco but also within other enterprises.”

Accelerators hosted by corporations are becoming common in other cities. For instance, Fort Lauderdale-based tech company Citrix runs accelerators in several cities, but not in South Florida. Indeed, corporations and startups don’t often mix enough in South Florida – considered an important ingredient in a healthy startup ecosystem – although that is beginning to change. Kaplan announced earlier this year it will be launching an ed-tech accelerator in Fort Lauderdale, for instance. Goldman Sachs brought its 10,000 Small Businesses program here last year, in partnership with Miami Dade College; Microsoft opened its first Microsoft Innovation Center at Venture Hive in downtown Miami, and Citi is hosting ongoing Citi Fintech Meetups and hosted part of its global Citi Mobile Challenge from South Florida.

Watsco’s accelerator program is part of its Watsco Ventures division. Watsco Ventures invests in technology through three primary channels: a new fund that is beginning to make strategic investments in startups, an innovation lab for its intrapreneurs, and this new accelerator program.

The accelerator application period is May 18 to July 26. The accelerator program runs Sept. 1 through Nov. 20. Up to 10 startups will be selected for the program. For more information, go to watscoventures.com.

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.

 

April 26, 2015

#Localis: Digital event on building a greener Miami & launch of 18 EcoTech ventures

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From EcoTech Visions:

 #Localis is a day-long social-media based conference and has both virtual and live components all happening on April 30. The goal of the #Localis Digital Conference is to create awareness for the 18 EcoTech Ventures launching on April 30 and to stimulate discussions on technology, entrepreneurship, sustainability and civic engagement.  In addition to the launch of 18 EcoTech Ventures on April 30, these events are bringing together “#Localis Leaders,” politicians, popular culture trendsetters, investors, "eco-preneurs," and millennials to have important discussions around topics that affect our businesses, communities, and planet.

During the virtual and onsite #Localis events, there are over 40 “#Localis Leaders” who will be sharing tips, best practices and research on eco-preneurship and sustainable practices to build better, greener business models. All of the digital discussions can be followed and joined using the hashtags, #Localis and #EcoTechVisions1. The #Localis Digital Conference is free for participants, see the schedule of topics here.

A cadre of eco-preneurs, investors, political leaders and venture capitalists spanning the globe will lead the digital discussions and sessions, including the following:

  • * Brian Brackeen – Founder of facial recognition software, Kairos, with $5 million secured in funding and recognized as one of the Wall Street Journal’s top startup of 2013
  • * Dr. Pandwe Gibson – Founder, EcoTech Visions, a Miami-based incubator supporting green businesses
  • * Patty Soffer- founder of the Soffer collective.
  • * Shevrin Jones- Florida State Representative
  • * Oscar Braynon- Florida State Senator
  • * Myrna Sonora and Ismael Cifuentes  of the Hispanic Business Initiative Fund
  • * David "Chi Chi" Truong - Chair of the Miami Branch of the USGBC South Florida Chapter
  • * Marlin Hill- Business attorney partner at Hamilton and Miller

Additional details about #Localis and EcoTech Visions, including the schedule of events, confirmed speakers and participants, and registration information can be found at mialocalis.com.

EcoTech Visions (ecotechvisions.org) is rapidly developing as the steward of Miami’s green scene that creates and offers innovative programs and services that simultaneously impact systemic poverty and climate change. By facilitating the development of light industrial and manufacturing companies founded on green business principles.

In collaboration with Commissioner Monestime and his green corridors plan, EcoTech Visions is a growing collective of EcoPrenuers from across South Florida and the country.  They have joined forces to locate in the center of Miami.  The accelerator is located at 667 NW 90th street in Liberty City, Miami Dade County, and is hatching green manufacturing businesses with a mission of creating jobs that make both business and environmental sense.  This accelerator is the first of its kind in Florida.  It is comprised of meeting space, coworking space and offices like the others; however, it also has a Kitchen Lab for the development of topical products-- currently utilized by two companies’ RAW and Precisions Barber Club Products ; A Plastic Molding lab for Earthware  biodegradable cutlery cups and containers; A hydroponics lab and garden; and a mechanics lab currently occupied by Aeolus.

In addition to the #Localis  Digital Conference, the general public is invited to join in a live scavenger hunt, vegetarian organic lunch, networking event, and movie screening happening onsite at EcoTech Visions on Thursday, April 30. Here is more info for the onsite events:

Lunch Event: Physical and Digital Scavenger Hunt and Luncheon

Where: EcoTech Visions: 667 NW 90th Street, Miami, FL 33150

When: Thursday, 4/30, 12pm - 2:30pm

(bus departs for Scavenger Hunt at 12pm sharp, luncheon hosted at EcoTech Visions after Scavenger Hunt)

Evening Event: Networking and Film Screening of “Regeneration City”

Where: EcoTech Visions: 667 NW 90th Street, Miami, FL 33150

When: Thursday, 4/30, 6pm - 8:30pm

On Thursday April 30, take an active role in the discussions and solutions for building greener businesses, healthier communities and ending systemic poverty in Miami and our world! Register to be a part of #Localis!

April 23, 2015

Startups rock the house at Venture Hive's The Swarm

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Video marketing startup Cinemad offers a B2B solution to turn viewers into customers, and plans to first conquer the Latin American market, and then the U.S. Quotanda, now based here, is launching programs in Mexico now and its two-year goal is to be the largest student loan source in Latin Americas. Clicky is a reservation platform for sports facilities, already with 2,300 venues, including 10 in Miami. "It's like Open Table but for sports," said co-founder Ezequiel Bucai.

PRX Control Solutions, which develops solutions for reducing the expense of pharmaceutical treatments, moved the company to Miami and is focusing on the Latin America market initially. How about games for sports brands? "Thousands of teams, thousands of stars, the sky is the limit," said German Tarico of Argentina, who found his first investor here and says he plans to stay in South Florida.

These are some of the companies that presented at The Swarm, Venture Hive's version of the Demo Day.

And true to the name, Wednesday night's event was buzzing with activity. The 10 startups (pictured above) in the accelerator hailed from seven countries, including India and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The 10, plus one company from Venture Hive's incubator, Snapscore, presented their companies to a roomful of investors, mentors and community supporters.

"One of the things we worked on very hard over the last year is not only supporting ideas and MVP-state businesses but finding companies all over the world who already have solid businesses, who have investment, who  have traction and helping them be better," Susan Amat, founder of Venture Hive, told the crowd. "Tonight you are going to see 10 of those companies from seven countries, and one homegrown business."

The Swarm was the conclusion of an intensive  12-week accelerator program, the third annual class held  at the downtown Miami accelerator and supported by Miami-Dade County and Miami DDA.

Roberto Interiano, who has been involved with Venture Hive since the first year, said that this year was not only about helping the startups scale but also scaling Venture Hive. In addition to its programs in Miami, Venture Hive just announced it will open an accelerator for veterans in North Florida and it currently runs four virtual pre-accelerators with the Microsoft Innovation Center in Chile, Pakistan, Armenia and Nepal. Workshops and speaker sessions the third accelerator class took part in were taped and sent to the  pre-accelerators almost immediately as well as additional content and lessons. And each lesson was followed by a live Skyped Q&A session, Interiano said. Following the Swarm, Amat was headed to Chile and Armenia to take part in their demo days. "It's exciting to see the model being used all over the world -- and the results," said Interiano.

At the Swarm Wednesday night, each  team gave a six-minute pitch. The companies presenting were:

Cinemad: Interactive videos for converting viewers into customers. Website: cinemad.tv. Founders: Mariano Lo Cane, CEO; Gabriel Dominguez, COO. Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Clicky: An online booking platform for sports facilities. Website: clickyreserva.com. Founders: Ezequiel Bucai, CEO; Gonzalo Conde, CMO; Alejandro Silvestro, CTO. Cordoba, Argentina.

Fanjam: Fantasy basketball contests for cash. Website: fanjam.com. Founders: Toni Gemayel, CEO; TJ Weigel, COO; Travis Staton, CTO. Chattanooga, TN.

Helpjuice: An auto-updating knowledge base platform allowing companies to scale supporting & deliver instant answers to customers. Website: helpjuice.com. Founders: Emil Hajric, CEO; Eldin Hajric, VP. Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Paganza: A bill-paying app for the LATAM market. Website: paganza.com. Founders: Marcelo Lanfranconi, CEO; Leo Vernazza, CTO. Monteviedo, Uruguay.  

PRX Control Solutions: Solutions for the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, reducing the expense of pharmaceutical treatments in health plans. Website: prxcontrolsolutions.com. Founders: Alfredo Vaamonde, CEO; Miguel Ambrosio, CTO. Caracas, Venezuela.

Quotanda: A student financing platform democratizing access to education. Website: quotanda.com. Founders: Grant Taylor, CEO; Lino Pujol-Soliano, COO. Barcelona, Spain.

Referrizer: A total solution to generate new customers and keep existing ones loyal. Website: referrizer.com. Founders: Andre Cvijovic, CEO; Manuel Tuveri, VP. Deerfield Beach.

Rock N Roll Games: A gaming company for making sports brands rock. Website: rockandrollgamestudio.com. Founders: German Tarico, CEO; Ezequiel D'Amico, CMO. Buenos Aires, Argentina.             

Snapscore:  Measures individuals’ qualifications and provides meaningful insights to accelerate their careers. Website: snapscore.me. Founders: Newton Porter, CEO; Taylor Auerbach, COO. Miami.

TommyJams: Innovative technologies to revolutionize  music entertainment. Founders: Parth Saxena, CEO; Dhruv Saxena, CTO. Bangalore, India.

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Accelerator companies TommyJams, above, and Quotanda, below, present at The Swarm at Venture Hive.

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April 21, 2015

Venture Hive to open accelerator for veteran-owned tech businesses

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By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Venture Hive, the Miami-based entrepreneurship education company, is partnering with the city of Fort Walton Beach to launch a national accelerator for veteran-owned businesses.

Through this public-private partnership, Fort Walton Beach will enable Venture Hive to provide selected veteran-owned tech businesses with access to business coaching, customized training and a relevant network to scale their ventures, driving the economic growth of the region. Fort Walton Beach has allocated $500,000 to the initiative and will provide renovated space to house the Venture Hive Fort Walton Beach Accelerator.

“Our area is home to Eglin Air Force Base, Hurlburt Field, and the 7th Special Forces Group, among other specialized military-related organizations, so we have long been a center of innovation and cutting edge ideas tied to our military. With the launch of Venture Hive we will expand that innovation to cutting edge veteran owned businesses as well,” said Mike Anderson, mayor of Fort Walton Beach, in announcing the accelerator Tuesday.  

Venture Hive aims to help vetrepreneurs build large scale and global market companies that can take advantage of the innovative research already being conducted in the Fort Walton Beach area, said Susan Amat, founder of Venture Hive.

Benefits of the program include a $25,000 non-equity grant, a world-class curriculum of practical workshops and training sessions, access to a collaborative working space in Fort Walton Beach for a year, mentoring from a vetted network of local, national and international entrepreneurs and experts, exposure to qualified investors and a Demo Day celebration on Veteran's Day. The first 12-week accelerator class, which will be free for the selected companies, will run from Aug. 17 – Nov. 11 in downtown Fort Walton Beach. Applications will be accepted from April 21 – June 1.

Venture Hive Fort Walton Beach will also offer a pre-accelerator program to help military veteran entrepreneurs begin to build businesses that are still in the idea phase of development. The first 12-week pre-accelerator class will run from July 18 – Oct. 12; applications will be accepted from April 21 – June 1.

 “We take great care in building individuals to reach their potential so they can execute on their visions – no matter how impossible it may seem,” said Amat. “We are thrilled to support Fort Walton Beach’s economic development goals by doubling down on the incredible existing talent and resources of a city that offers both a wonderful lifestyle and great opportunity.”

The program is open to any business founded by a U.S. military veteran developing innovative web, mobile or technology product solutions to address a clear market need. To apply and learn more, visit http://veterans.venturehive.com.

Venture Hive’s existing programs in Miami have shown a $7.3 million economic impact in less than two years of operation, with support from Miami-Dade County and the Miami Downtown Development Authority. In addition to an accelerator and incubator in Miami, Venture Hive runs an entrepreneurship program for high school students as well as summer camps for younger students. Venture Hive also runs virtual pre-accelerators with the Microsoft Innovation Center for Chile, Nepal, Armenia and Pakistan, among other programs.

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg

 

January 23, 2015

Chile creating a nationwide lab for ecosystem development

By Susan Amat

SusanamatAcross the globe, both city and national initiatives are regularly announced, each focused on developing their own entrepreneurial ecosystems to provide funding and support to their entrepreneurs. The “Startup (Insert City or Country name here)” programs tend to have many things in common, including shocking budgets, but often fail to address the long-term cultural shift that must occur for the newly enlightened entrepreneurs to want to stay in the region. The excitement surrounding the announcement is rarely followed up with the metrics and ROI of the project. Many of those programs are designed after visits to Startup Chile, which has been successful in creating a mindset shift among Chileans and developing thousands of entrepreneurial ambassadors all over the world who will recount their six-months in Chile, having fallen in love with her people and the country itself. The agency that oversees Chile’s economic development, growth, and promotes investment and competitiveness, Corporacion De Fomento De La Produccion (CORFO), could have easily sat back and continued to be the reference point for scores of policy leaders in creating their own programs, but leaders rarely rest.

The 2013 Presidential election resulted in a shifting of power. The new administration, under President Michelle Bachelet, reflected on the results of their much lauded programs and has been diligently crafting new initiatives to build their talent, expand entrepreneurship support beyond the main cities to create multiple poles, reduce rural migration, diversify the economy, and enable the establishment of equity-based funds with generous matching parameters. This marks another meaningful experiment in Chile and the early results are promising.

The key pivot is the creation of full support across the spectrum that may last throughout the lifetime of the business rather than a six-month stint. Chilean entrepreneurs, and those who will make substantial long-term investments in Chile, will also benefit from the tens of millions CORFO is deploying to ensure there is early stage capital for both tech and non-tech businesses. The investment, coupled with the support, may act to democratize the promise of economic freedom that entrepreneurship can offer.

Chile is ripe for this innovation. During our visit to Chile last week, we met with dozens of entrepreneurs, visited several incubators and co-working spaces, and did multiple trainings for mentors and entrepreneurs. The talent is evident and plentiful – great developers who are committed to starting and growing their businesses in Chile. CORFO has made equally healthy commitments to create an incubator network, though each location is still validating their impact and success metrics. The next phase has the potential to create thousands of high-wage jobs and position Chile as a leader in Latin America, and be the reason for other policy makers to send a second delegation to learn from them. The biggest challenges lie in ensuring entrepreneurs stay in the regions where they began and not feel the need to relocate to Santiago. Currently, although prestigious universities can be found in every region of the country, the hub of activity remains in Santiago. Creating high-quality programming and services so businesses can stay in Arica or Valdivia will go a long way toward inspiring the next generation to do the same. We visited Temuco to see Incubatec, one of the top Chilean incubators with success that exceeds most incubators in and out of LATAM. Their entrepreneurs are exporting beautifully packaged high-end water from the Andes to Asia, growing and exporting tulips all over the hemisphere, and even offering technical solutions to Fortune 100 clients. The leadership at Incubatec is passionate about helping the entrepreneurs scale and be Chilean success stories, and their energy is contagious. Bottling that would be a billion dollar business.

I am very excited to watch Chile’s progression and the next data points on these new initiatives. With the new vision, CORFO itself is offering the role modeling behavior that both entrepreneurs and policy makers should follow – at least on Twitter.

Dr. Susan Amat is the founder and CEO of Venture Hive, a company dedicated to economic development through entrepreneurship education. You can follow her on Twitter at @SusanAmat

January 15, 2015

Innovation Hub at Broward College opens

A new resource: Broward College’s new Innovation Hub.

The 5,400 square-foot facility, which is open to the public, is designed to be a mixed-use business incubator, focused on housing a dynamic community of startups, mentors, advisors and investors, and serving as a one-stop resource for business owners and innovators pursuing their entrepreneurial ambitions. It will offer access to mentors – through Broward College’s collaborative partnerships with Broward SCORE, the Small Business Development Center and the Enterprise Development Corporation – as well as angel investors, including New World Angels. There will be seminars and workshops on various business topics focused on specific skills helpful to startup companies that will also be open to the public.

At an open house on its Cypress Creek location on Thursday, Broward College celebrated its partnership with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, which is  seeking innovative solutions in sports business. Brazilian soccer legend Ronaldo, who is a part-owner of the Strikers, joined Broward College officials, along with Director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Jesse Panuccio and other local business leaders for a tour of the business incubator and discussion on possible opportunities.

The Innovation Hub offers several private individual offices, a shared co-working space, two small conference or mentoring rooms, as well as a fully equipped audio and video training or seminar room, which converts into two large board rooms with separate A/V capabilities. It also features 100Mps fiber broadband access hardwired Wi-Fi throughout the facility. The business incubator will provide opportunities for close collaborations with Broward College faculty, staff and students. Professors will work with their students and incubated companies on market research, branding, operations, financial planning and other business needs.

A portion of the Innovation Hub will be dedicated to sports-related startups as part of a collaboration with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. These startups will receive mentorship from Strikers staff and have the opportunity to pilot their ideas on the Strikers’ stadium, fans and athletes.

For more information on the Broward College Innovation Hub, visit http://www.broward.edu/innovationhub or contact Angela Nicoletti at 954-201-7939 or anicolet@broward.edu.