June 20, 2017

4 South Florida startups advance to finals in WeWork Creator Awards

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WeWork today announced that four Miami entrepreneurs have been selected as finalists for The Creator Awards South Regional Final on June 27 at ACL Live in Austin, Texas. Chosen from a pool of more than 2,000 applicants from all across the South, these finalists, along with approximately 30 others, will present before a live audience and compete for financial awards, which range from $18,000 up to $360,000.

“We’re beside ourselves to be accepted by the WeWork Creator Awards to compete against what we know is a massive community of exceptional thinkers, inventors, entrepreneurs: creators,” says AlulA co-founder Thomas Byrd. “To be recognized for our vision to be fellow ‘creators’ by WeWork and the Creator Awards, an organization centered on creators is humbling to say the least.”

Byrd and his founders were inspired by the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. They wanted to find out how this was possible and prevent it from happening again in the future. The team has worked over the past two years to find a simple and affordable crowdsourcing method of retrieving aircraft data to make air travel safer and more efficient.

This will not only help track planes location but will also help with collect data for environmental research and help improve air travel over all -- shorter flights, cheaper flights and less burning of fossil fuels.

According to previous winners, these awards can be a game changer for companies and organizations looking to reach the next level.

Jill Bigelow, founder of a company making products for new mothers called Pelv-Ice, says her company’s prize money “allowed us to launch our sales team expansion sooner than anticipated.”

“It’s going to allow us to take advantage of a bunch of opportunities that we were going to have to skip before we won,” says Bigelow. “It will certainly help us scale faster.”

The AlulA team is at the stage where they are ready to begin product testing. “We have completed the prototype for the small box to allow our vision to become a reality,” explains Byrd. “ With the winnings we could put these small boxes on aircrafts and immediately impact flight safety and climate change research. This, we feel is the least we can do out of respect for those who lost loved ones on MH370, and the future of our planet.”

In addition to the pitch competition and awards show, the Creator Awards involves masterclasses with celebrity influencers, a career fair, pop-up market with local food vendors and live music. Creators from Austin, Houston, Dallas, Miami, Atlanta, San Antonio, Santa Fe, to name a few, will be competing. 

Subsequent events will take place in North America, Europe, and the Middle East. Winners from each event will come together for the global finals, to be held at Barclays Center in New York City on November 30.

Complete List of Miami Finalists

Launch: Businesses or nonprofits that have launched but are still learning ($72K - $180K)

AlanaAt Alana Athletica, we focus on combining four factors that we think are currently not intertwined into any women™s active-wear brand in the market – quality, price, women empowerment, and social responsibility. We design and manufacture premium quality yoga pants that enable empowerment for ALL women (regardless of size, race, background, age, etc.) at an affordable price, and we do so by employing and empowering women abuse survivors in Sri Lanka who are joining our all-women production facility - all while giving back to deserving local communities.

AlulA - Inspired by the tragic disappearance of Malaysia flight MH370, we have innovated a system to stream black box data in real time affordably from planes in flight. This allows safer air travel, as well as enabling the ability to predict and fix critical aircraft components before they fail. This makes air travel safer and more affordable!

Scale: Proven record of success and are ready for the next level (Awards: $180K - $360K)

Debris Free Ocean (nonprofit) - We provide in-classroom education about marine debris, host adventure cleanups, host zero-waste lifestyle awareness events, provide sustainability consulting services to businesses, and propel pro-ocean legislation. While providing all of these services, we ensure that our messaging is positive and uplifting so as to motivate individuals to take action towards cleaner oceans on a daily basis. We consider ourselves a warm and inviting environmental group, specifically positioned to captivate audiences who may ordinarily not appreciate aspects of the environmental movement.

Viera Academy - Viera Academy is a free college prep platform that helps students gain admission to college by maximizing their academic development and providing a personalized application strategy. We conduct a proprietary analysis of students' academic profile, personal interests, and financial need to recommend colleges and create an individualized month-by-month action plan.

- Submitted by WeWork

May 27, 2017

Calling all Miami area creators: WeWork holding regional contest awarding $1.5M+ in grants open to all

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The way we work is changing and WeWork believes that the way we recognize and reward work must change too. Miami entrepreneurs, SMBs, non-profits, artists or anyone with a great idea are eligible to compete for a grant from the $1.5 million-plus prize pool available at the Creator Awards South Regional Finals in Austin over June 27. But hurry, the application deadline is June 12.

What's exciting about the opportunity is that it's open to everyone (WeWork members, non-members, all industries, all stages, even folks who may just have a good idea) and that beyond the financial awards there will be a full day of public programming in Austin. This is the first year of what will become an annual program. 

Grants from $18,000 to $360,000 will be awarded in three categories: Incubate (ideas or projects); Launch (startups and nonprofits that have launched but still learning); and Scale (a record of success, ready for next level).  

Winners have ranged from a nonprofit teaching tech skills to low income individuals, to a new coalition of journalists who improve care for Alzheimers patients by writing their life stories, to a new trading platform for sustainable agriculture. (See photo from Washington DC regional event below)

"WeWork wants to honor all types of creators from entrepreneurs to artists to nonprofits. There are incredible things happening and big ideas being born in Miami every day,” said Adam Wacenski, WeWork’s General Manager for the South. “The Creator Awards is a new opportunity to share their ideas, connect with other creators and hopefully win a grant that can make a real difference in their work and in their life."

Here are the details:

WHAT: Entries are now open for the Creator Awards, a new global initiative from WeWork that will award $20 million-plus to entrepreneurs who are thinking in new ways, building fresh projects and achieving real change across all industries.

Miami applicants are eligible to compete for $1.5 million-plus at the Austin Regional Finals on June 26 and 27 and have the opportunity to advance to the Creator Awards Global Finals in New York in November where additional prizes will be awarded.

WHO: WeWork, a global platform for creators with 140+ locations including Miami, Miami Beach, Dallas, Austin, Atlanta and coming soon to Houston, Nashville and Kansas City

WHERE: Residents of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia

WHEN: Application Deadline: June 12

Creator Awards South Regional Finals: June 27

In addition to financial awards, the South Regional Finals brings together everything it takes to make a life, not just a living. The public event will include a pop-up market with local sellers, a series of master classes and workshops, a job fair as well as live pitches and an awards ceremony and celebration.

HOW: To apply or to nominate others: https://creatorawards.wework.com/

Wework Creator Awards DC-366_Credit WeWork

Photo taken at a WeWork Creator Awards regional finals event in Washington DC. Photo provided by WeWork. 

 

January 06, 2017

The LAB Miami to kick off 2017 with 3 events, including new Product Council and GrowthHacking series

Brainfood
 A Brainfood with Martin Varsavky in 2016 attracts a big crowd at The LAB Miami.  

The LAB Miami is kicking off 2017 with three events ‑ Brainfood and two new event series, Product Council and GrowthHacking ‑ with the aim to bridge the gap between the corporate and startup communities, spark meaningful conversations around new relevant content, and bring the Miami ecosystem together. 

Jan 18: Brainfood with Mary Biggins Link 

Brainfood with Endeavor @ The LAB is a monthly, hands-on discussion with successful entrepreneurs, investors, and CEOs from around the world. 

Jan 24: Product Council Link  

Product Council provides startups and existing companies a fresh new outlet for critical feedback, ideation, and improvement of their products. Join product makers, (designers, developers, etc.) and founders to learn valuable lessons and insights from experienced product owners as they dive deep into the challenge, success and failure of product design. This month we will hear from DermaSensor and CareCloud

Jan 31: GrowthHacking with Grant Lingel, Head of Growth in Latin America for Neil Patel Link 

Many businesses struggle with brand awareness and getting their products/services seen by potential customers. Because content marketing takes a lot of time and persistence, many people seek shortcuts in order to get the word out. That's where growth hacking comes in handy. There are many simple yet extremely effective growth hacks that can be implemented that will help get the word out about your business and not break the bank doing so. This talk will discuss some of the best ones.

With $1.1 million in new funding from the Knight Foundation and under a new CEO, Thomas “Tigre” Wenrich, The LAB announced in October it was planning to launch LAB.ID, which will use educational, community programming to encourage greater collaboration between startups and established businesses. These programs are part of that new effort. At the same time, The LAB announced it would will launch a venture builder called LAB.Ventures, which will work with entrepreneurs, engineers and designers to test and build promising business ideas. The program aims to incubate several technology startups by 2019, the majority of which will be run by women and minorities.

READ MORE: Knight invests in LAB's next chapter; new CEO named

 

 

November 07, 2016

Büro Group chooses South Miami for 5th co-working location

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Somi center

Büro Group, a South Florida co-working company, is expanding again.

Büro Group has leased 13,000 square feet of office space in the recently completed SOMI Center building in the heart of South Miami, making it the fifth Büro location in South Florida, following openings in Midtown, Sunset Harbour, MiMo and most recently Coconut Grove.

Like its other locations, Büro SOMI will offer stylish communal spaces and a variety of flexible workspace options for individuals and teams. Members of Büro SOMI will also benefit from monthly networking events, workshops, and exclusive discounts at popular Miami restaurants and shops.

“The building itself is iconic, and we love the local vibe and amenities of the neighborhood. There’s a lot of action in South Miami these days,” said Büro founder and CEO Michael Feinstein.

Leonard Boord, managing partner of SOMI Center, said Büro will fill a need in the neighborhood for office space, particularly flexible space that appeals to startups and creatives. Büro SOMI is scheduled to open in the spring of 2017.

Büro Group is part of a competitive wave of co-working spaces sweeping into South Florida, and it is one of the local pioneers that is building a network of centers that attract entrepreneurs, freelance workers, creatives, small businesses and local outposts for larger corporations. Its locations serve about 800 members from 350 companies, including Airbnb, Gilt Group, Glamsquad and Lyft, Feinstein said. The company was recently awarded “Best Coworking Space” by Miami New Times.

 

October 25, 2016

Knight invests $1.1 million into The LAB Miami expansion; new CEO named

Lab Miami

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

The LAB Miami, one of South Florida’s co-working pioneers, on Tuesday announced expansion plans that include the launch of two entrepreneurship programs and a new CEO. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is investing $1.1 million to support The LAB’s evolution.

With the new funding, The LAB Miami will launch a venture builder called LAB.Ventures, which will work with entrepreneurs, engineers and designers to test and build promising business ideas. The program aims to incubate several technology startups by 2019, the majority of which will be run by women and minorities. The LAB Miami announced it will also launch LAB.ID, which will use educational, community programming to encourage greater collaboration between startups and established businesses.

“The LAB is evolving to match the growing needs of our community. For more than three years, it has played an integral part in connecting innovators and forging new collaborations,” said Matt Haggman, Miami program director for Knight Foundation, on Tuesday. “[The LAB] will now also work to close gaps that still exist in our startup ecosystem by helping entrepreneurs foster relationships with business players and find the funding they need to scale and grow.”

TIGRE_WenrIchThomas “Tigre” Wenrich will be the new CEO. Wenrich is an active angel investor and startup mentor who helped Open English, a online English language education company, raise over $120 million in venture capital funding while serving as its founding CFO/COO. Prior to Open English, he was a partner at The Boston Consulting Group, a leading strategy consultancy to the world’s largest companies, where he worked for 16 years. Over the years he has been a mentor for Venture Hive’s startups and he is an investor and on the board of Miami startup LiveNinja.

The LAB Miami, co-founded by Wifredo Fernandez and Daniel Lafuente, opened its 10,000-square-foot center at 400 NW 26th St. in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood in late 2012, with $650,000 in initial funding from the Knight Foundation and a group of local investors. It offered co-working space and community programming at a time when there were few resources for entrepreneurs in Miami and co-working was coming alive in other cities. Over the years, the LAB has attracted a diverse membership of entrepreneurs, techies, nonprofits and artists, hosted hundreds of events, including its monthly Brainfood speaker series, and is the home of Wyncode, a coding school (a Wyncode Pitch Night is pictured above). The LAB currently has about 150 members, Wenrich said.

But since 2012, a wave of co-working spaces have swept in, including the global WeWork chain that has in the last year opened two 40,000-square-foot centers in Miami Beach, a 62,000-square-foot center at Brickell City Centre and has a 100,000-square-foot downtown Miami facility on the way and plans for more. The LAB has also gone through a number of management changes since Fernandez, then CEO, and Lafuente, then CFO, stepped down from the top management jobs in 2014. Wenrich replaces Ricardo Mesquita who came aboard as CEO in August 2015 and left the position about a month ago to return to Europe.

Wenrich said co-working will continue at The LAB but “we don’t view that as something we want to grow – we think that market is well served. We asked, what can we do next and how can we leverage what has been built there?”

LAB.Venture will not be an accelerator, which works intensely with startups for a set period of time to get them to market or the next level. Instead, the LAB.Ventures team, which includes Marco Giberti and Juan Pablo Cappello, will focus on solving problems for local industries and “will bring together educational resources and our own experiences building businesses to help build other successful businesses in Miami,” said Wenrich.” “We’re looking for big problems to be solved and bring them together with capital and great entrepreneurs guided by us and turn them into big companies.”

The LAB.ID will build on progress The LAB has already connecting corporations with startups. Over the years, a number of large companies have had offices at the LAB and have hosted events and workshops. This programming will be increased, and corporate partners will help LAB.Venture startups do pilot testing, Wenrich said.

“We’ll find an opportunity, invest a small amount of capital to build an initial minimum viable product and take it to our corporate partners and try to do a proof of concept. When we find something that we think has legs, we’ll invest in hiring a team to scale it up and take it to market,” said Weinrich. “Eventually we will look for outside capital for these businesses at a later stage.”

Wenrich said The LAB is in the process of raising several million dollars from private investors. Over the past three years Knight has made more than 200 investments in entrepreneurship in South Florida.

 

September 14, 2016

Palm Beach Tech awarded $150,000 in grants to open entrepreneur workspace

The Palm Beach Tech Association has been awarded $150,000 to open a collaborative workspace for emerging entrepreneurs and early stage startups at 313 Datura Street in Downtown West Palm Beach.

“This innovative project is a great example of how the City of West Palm Beach is not only open FOR business, but it is open TO business as well.  Our entrepreneur class is quickly becoming a cornerstone of our growing business economy," said Mayor Jeri Muoio.

The PalmBeach Tech Space is currently operating in its soft opening with options for part time, full time, and 24/7 access. There will also be dedicated desks, private offices and perks like discounts at local businesses and free in-house Subculture Coffee. They expect to be fully operational by October 3rd.

"This is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs," said Clay Williams, CEO of Achieve and Palm Beach Tech Board Member. "The workspace offers everything a start-up needs, and this collaborative environment will ultimately result in greater and more innovative ideas."

Led by a $100,000 matching grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the City of West Palm Beach CRA ($25,000) and several private companies including Achieve ($25,000) have also stepped up to support the non-profit initiative.

“Creating public spaces that connect the community and add to neighborhood life is essential to building more successful cities. The workspace will help to do just that by supporting local talent and encouraging more collaboration between idea makers of all kinds,” said Lilly Weinberg, Knight Foundation director for community foundations.

They’ve also partnered with Palm Beach Atlantic University, the Palm Beach Code School, and FAU Tech Runway to offer students free access to the facility and its programming.

The Palm Beach Tech Association will host its next Meetup on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 at Palm Beach Tech Space. For more information and to join, visit www.palmbeachtech.org/space/

- Submitted by Palm Beach Tech Association

September 12, 2016

WeWork Lincoln Road launches entrepreneur support program with partners

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By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com
 
Co-working center WeWork Lincoln Road launched a new initiative offering Miami area entrepreneurs a chance to receive support to achieve their missions, while at the same time giving back to their local community.
 
The new program, called Mission Possible, offers  Miami area companies of all sizes, stages and industries a chance to be selected for 3 to 12 sponsored months of membership at WeWork's Lincoln Road workspace free of charge, along with other services to help them grow their companies. This is a significant value as memberships at the Lincoln Road location begin at $220 a month.
 
"It is a specific way to support Miami locals who want to impact change but also may not have the resources to join the WeWork community otherwise," said Anna Prisse, WeWork's Miami community manager for Miami. 
 
In addition to the collaborative work space, the selected companies will receive:
 
 * Programming from partners such as Refresh Miami, South Florida's largest entrepreneur and tech meetup group, Mentor Day, a new initiative offering entrepreneurs mentorship sessions with experts in their needs; and AGP Miami, an active South Florida angel investor network;

 * A chance to participate in community Demo Day pitch competition and other events;

 * Mentorship and professional advice from members and industry experts;

 * Access to a global community of over 65,000 members through WeWork's mobile app for members;

 * Reduced rates on healthcare, payment processing, accounting/legal advice, and more offered by WeWork's global partners.

What's the catch? Give back.

"We ask that Mission Possible Members donate five hours per person to a nonprofit of their choice for each month that they are part of the program," Prisse said.

More info on the program and where to apply: we.co/missionpossiblemiami 

There is not a deadline for applications, as participants will be chosen on a rolling basis but applications are open so  "the sooner the better,"  Prisse said. There is not a specific number of participants WeWork is looking for. 

"We want the program to be inclusive, not exclusive. We are going to be selecting the members based on how much we can accomplish together during the time of the program," said Prisse. WeWork and the community partners have an outline of what they would like to accomplish but they will will evaluate the needs of each applicant  and tailor the program appropriately, she said.

Mission Possible was inspired by a WeWork program in  Brooklyn called "Take Your Business to New Heights" but will be unique to Miami, particularly because of the entrepreneurial partners involved, Prisse said.

"WeWork has been a valuable partner of Refresh Miami since they entered the South Florida market in 2015," said Brian Breslin, founder of Refresh Miami. “We're very excited to extend our partnership to now include the Mission Possible program. As an organization, providing our community with the tools and resources needed to build innovative businesses is our upmost priority." 

Part of a wave of co-working spaces rolling into South Florida, WeWork Lincoln Road opened last summer and is currently at 85 percent capacity, a WeWork spokesman said. The New York-based company recently opened its WeWork South of Fifth location. At least two more South Florida locations are on the runway: WeWork has recently leased four floors in Brickell City Centre and the entire Security Building in downtown Miami.

Founded by Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey in New York City in 2010, WeWork is a privately held company with over 1400 employees. Worldwide, Wework has  65,000 members at more than 100 locations in 12 countries. "The mission of this program is aligned with our own mission where people work to make a life, not just a living," Prisse said.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

 

August 30, 2016

WeWork to open in Brickell City Centre

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By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

WeWork, the fast-growing global co-working company, will be leasing four of the 12 floors at Two Brickell City Centre, one of the new massive urban development’s two office towers, Brickell City Centre’s developer Swire Properties confirmed Tuesday.

In total, WeWork @ Brickell will encompass 62,000 square feet in the tower, set to be complete by the end of the year. Details on the WeWork location and its timeline were not released. Like in its other locations, WeWork will offer its members access to private offices, dedicated desks, shared work spaces, conference rooms, kitchens, event spaces and other amenities.

“WeWork is the ideal partner for Brickell City Centre. Both share a long-term, global vision to redefine the blueprint of urban living and create a cultural shift toward a more accessible, shared and connected community,” said Gonazlo Cortabarria, senior vice president at Swire, in an email.

WeWork has been expanding rapidly in the Miami area and it’s part of a wave of new spaces for entrepreneurs opening in South Florida. The company entered the Miami market last summer with WeWork Lincoln Road. It opened its South of Fifth location, at 429 Lenox Ave., in July. The 54,000 square foot space can accommodate very large teams -- is even has an office for up to 66 -- and it includes a rooftop area for co-working and events.

WeWork recently leased the historic Security Building in downtown Miami, but the 100,000-square-foot space has not yet open. “We have no further details to share at this time,” said WeWork spokeswoman Hillary Klein. WeWork co-founder Miguel McKelvey has said five to seven locations are planned in South Florida over the next couple of years.

“We are a global business but we are also a local business. Our vision for Miami is bold and the upcoming space at Two Brickell City Centre, along with our current locations at Lincoln Road and South of Fifth, reflects our commitment to companies of all sizes who want a new way to work,” said Adam Wacenske, WeWork general manager for the Southern Region, in an email.

WeWork, founded in 2010, has raised $1.4 billion in financing and is currently valued at $16 billion. The has 65,000 members spread across more than 100 buildings in 30 cities around the world. WeWork recently began launching WeLive “co-living” spaces, with locations in New York and the Washington, D.C., area.

Brickell City Centre, a 5.4-million-square-foot mixed-use development with luxury condos, open-air retail, entertainment, office towers and a hotel, has been opening in stages.

August 17, 2016

Pipeline Workspaces opens Fort Lauderdale co-working location

Pipeline

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

 Pipeline Workspaces is on the move again.

Thea national shared workspace company that started in Miami opened its fifth U.S. location this month in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

Pipeline occupies a floor at One Financial Plaza at 100 SE Third Ave., marking its entry into the Broward market and expanding Pipeline’s presence in South Florida. The 28-story office tower is one block off of Las Olas Boulevard and home to the popular dining spot Tower Club.

Pipeline Lauderdale is the company’s fourth location in South Florida; it previously opened in the Miami's Brickell neighborhood, Coral Gables and Doral. Part of a wave of co-working spaces opening around the Miami area, all the spaces offer sleek open co-working space, tech-enhanced conference rooms, phone booths, dedicated desks and private offices designed to foster productivity and collaboration.  Each space has a different theme or feel fitting with the neighborhood; Pipeline Lauderdale has a nautical theme, and it was designed by architecture firm Gensler and built by high-end interior specialists Amicon Construction. 

 “The opening of our Fort Lauderdale workspace is a natural next step in our growth strategy given the established and growing high-tech, legal and international business community in Downtown Fort Lauderdale,” said Todd Oretsky, who co-founded the company with Philippe Houdard, in a news release.  “Our goal is to create a business and social network that makes it possible for individuals in different stages of the business cycle to have access to each other’s talents and resources to build meaningful connections that will help them prosper.”

Pipeline also runs a Pipeline location in Philadelphia.

 

March 08, 2016

Construction underway at CIC Miami; Venture Cafe selects executive director

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Dynamic duo: Natalia Martinez Kalinina, left, leads CIC Miami; Leigh-Ann Buchanan leads Venture Cafe.

 

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@maimiherald.com

Construction and renovation are well underway at the new Cambridge Innovation Center in Miami, and the large new space for entrepreneurs aims to open fully this fall at the University of Miami Life Science & Technology Park. Meanwhile, the co-working center's nonprofit arm, called the Venture Café, is moving ahead with building out a full roster of community events at CIC Miami.

Leigh­-Ann Buchanan has been named executive director of Venture Café Miami. Although directing separate entities, she and Natalia Martinez-Kalinina, general manager of CIC Miami, are working in partnership to create a hub for innovation at the Overtown location.

Venture Café Miami will offer weekly networking and educational events as well as support programs for entrepreneurs, investors, students and innovation and educational organizations. “The success of CIC as a physical platform relies on our ability to converge the kinds of stakeholders, programming, and collisions that will turn Miami into a mature ecosystem. Venture Café Miami is a core piece of that puzzle,” said Martinez-Kalinina, who also founded the  Miami chapter of the Awesome Foundation and most recently was chief innovation and technology officer of Roots of Hope, a nonprofit.

With a thriving event scene already in Miami, Buchanan said a big focus of Venture Café will not be to reinvent the wheel but rather to amplify the impact of existing institutions, open the door for new players and increase collaborations. “Connecting innovators to make things happen ­ -- that is what is at the heart of Venture Café,” she said.

For instance, Venture Café will have weekly Thursday events called “The Gathering,” which will run from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. at CIC Miami. It will include concurrent programming in various breakout rooms, often put on by South Florida organizations, as well be a place for networking and meeting new people, Buchanan said. That’s a cornerstone of all the Venture Cafes, which launched in Boston at District Hall, and now is also in St. Louis, Missouri and Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Gatherings at other locations have typically drawn 400-plus people, Buchanan said.

Typical programming might be an investor sharing knowledge with startups in one room, while an educational organization holds a session on coding in another while a new entrepreneurial organization introduces its services in still another. Buchanan has attended a Gathering in St. Louis and said one interesting detail is that nametags display the number of times the person has been to a gathering. That helps break the ice, particularly for newcomers. What the Gathering is not about – pitching your own business. In fact, that practice is intentionally banned so that real human connections are made, Buchanan said.

In recent years, Buchanan founded the International Human Factor Youth Leadership Program, designed to expose youth from underserved communities to social entrepreneurship and international cultural exchange and is a founding member of Get Linked Miami, which helps diverse youth acquire STEM­ based skills. In addition to other leadership affiliations, she is currently a member of the Executive Committee of Friends of the New World Symphony, and appointed Chair for the American Bar Association’s Coalition on Racial and Ethnic Justice.

 “Miami is already a beacon for entrepreneurs globally, but we still have room for significant growth. I am eager to advance our mission to facilitate greater connectivity within Miami's burgeoning innovation community, to catalyze new startup and investment activity, and to meaningfully engage diverse and underrepresented groups who historically have not been included in the innovation movement,” said Buchanan.

CIC Miami, which will have spaces and offices for entrepreneurs to work and collaborate, has already opened in a limited way as design and buildout gets underway; a full opening is planned for the fall, adding an additional 80,000 square feet. During a recent tour of the space, Martinez-Kalinina explained that the sixth floor will be an event space and hub for Venture Café, as well as offices.  There will also be redesigned public space, event and co-working space on the first floor and offices on the third, including the state-of-the-art wet labs that are already part of the facility. There are hopes to expand into the second building in the life science park when it is completed. Venture Café will begin its full slate of programming at CIC Miami in the fall but plans to have some events around town this summer.  

 “This is about thinking hyper­local but also hyper­global,” said Stas Gayshan, managing director at CIC. “Miami is a young, dynamic, and evolving city at the crossroads of the Americas. Our goal, and Venture Café’s mission, is to empower the local community of innovators, and weave it together with the global innovation ecosystem.”

Read more: CIC makes big bet on Miami