Want to know about Miami startups? A user's guide to this blog

Dear reader, Starting Gate has been providing and archiving South Florida startup and tech community news, views and resources since 2012. New to the Miami area? Thinking about relocating here? Just want to keep up with news, events and opportunities? We're there for you.

How to use Starting Gate: Besides scrolling the blog for the latest entries, you can access news and views by category. The "Funding" category will capture venture capital and angel funding news of individual startups as well as stories about funders. The startup categories chronicle news and my regular "Spotlights," and in Q&As you'll find interviews with CEOs and leaders in the entrepreneurship ecosystem. There are also categories for guest posts, views, accelerators/incubators, resources, events and more.

Have news? Have an idea for a guest post? Send it to me at ndahlbergbiz@gmail.com. (See my Facebook announcement here)

Thank you for your support through the years and please come back often. Follow me on Twitter @ndahlberg. - Sincerely, Nancy Dahlberg

February 08, 2018

WeWork opens in Coral Gables, its fifth Miami area location

WeWork Ponce de Leon_1

Just two and a half years after signaling it is bullish about the Miami market, WeWork is opening its fifth location.

WeWork, the global co-working company, has opened the doors to WeWork Ponce de Leon in Coral Gables, at 2222 Ponce de Leon, which occupies more than 31,000 square feet across six floors and accommodates a community of about 550 members.

Coral Gables Mayor Raúl Valdés was on hand for the ribbon cutting celebration: “It takes innovation and entrepreneurship to make Coral Gables a younger city and that is what WeWork does, providing space for people to collaborate and be creative together,” said the mayor.

Like its other Miami-area properties, WeWork Ponce de Leon (pictured above) offers a collection of workspaces, including private offices, dedicated hot desks, conference rooms and quiet phone booths, in a design that fits the vibe of the location. The Coral Gables location also includes a large outdoor patio. WeWork will host a Grand Opening Launch Party for WeWork Ponce de Leon tonight (Feb. 8) from 6-9 PM. For more details and to RSVP, visit we.co/ponceopeningparty.

WeWork opened the doors of WeWork Security Building in December. That location (pictured below) occupies more than 100,000 square feet on 15 floors of the historic downtown Security Building at 117 NE 1st Ave., and will accommodate more than 1,250 members, making it the largest South Florida location so far. Originally designed by New York architect Robert Greenfield, the 1926 Security Building still contains a majority of its original façade and details like brick columns, concrete ceilings and terrazzo flooring, as well as a vault. Curated by WeWork to fit the downtown location, WeWork Security Building also exhibits custom wall murals, neon signs and collages by local artists.

 The two new WeWorks join the company’s first two locations in Miami Beach and the Miami Brickell City Centre location that opened a year ago. Co-founded by Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey in New York City in 2010, WeWork services more than 200,000 members at locations around the world.

 In an interview in 2015 during the opening of WeWork’s original location off Lincoln Road, McKelvey said WeWork was bullish on the Miami market and planned to open five to seven locations, even though Miami was already served by a growing number of work spaces.

Wework security

January 23, 2018

Perry Ellis International, The LAB Miami and AGP team up for fashion pitch opportunity

Startups and suits don’t mix – or is that changing? New opportunities linking startups and Corporate America are beginning to grow in South Florida.

And if you are a fashion-tech, ecommerce or retail entrepreneur, this new pitching opportunity may be for you. Miami-based Perry Ellis International, a leading multi-billion dollar apparel designer, distributor and licensor, is teaming up with The LAB Miami’s venture builder, LAB Ventures, and angel network AGP Miami to launch Pitch to PERY (Perry Ellis International’s stock symbol), a search for the next great startup revolutionizing the fashion, e-commerce and retail industries.

Pitch to PERY is focused on finding novel solutions to some of retail’s biggest opportunities. Some of these could be driving brand awareness, increasing e-commerce sales, enhancing consumer in-store experience, and introducing new Internet of Things (IoT) products to PEI’s roster of brands, which include Perry Ellis®, An Original Penguin® by Munsingwear®, Laundry by Shelli Segal®, Cubavera®, Callaway® and Peony & Me®.  Building on the momentum of the company’s 50th anniversary, Pitch to PERY is part of a broader future-focused approach, which seeks to apply a digital mindset, technology and product innovation to PEI’s family of brands, the company said.

 "Our vision is to continue embracing our entrepreneurial spirit, foster our ability to adapt to change and integrate technology into our business strategy,” said Oscar Feldenkreis, CEO and President of Perry Ellis International, in a news release.

Through the competition, startups and entrepreneurs will receive private pitch-coaching from LAB Ventures, spend a day at PEI’s headquarters and ultimately, pitch their ideas in person to PEI executives during the Pitch to PERY Finals Night in March. The winning team will work with PEI and The LAB Miami to develop and implement a pilot program for their respective product or service, and have an opportunity to earn a long-term contract with PEI.

“When we started LAB Ventures our idea was always to try to build a bridge between corporations looking for external sources of innovation and startups looking for customers.  The one thing an early stage startup needs even more than investment capital is a marquee reference customer.” Said Thomas “Tigre” Wenrich, CEO of The LAB Miami and LAB Ventures.    “So when Perry Ellis International told us they wanted to meet local startups that might be able to provide technology relevant to their business, we jumped at the chance to help.”

Applicants are encouraged to attend The Future of Tech & Pitch to PERY Launch Night at The LAB Miami’s Wynwood offices on the evening of Wednesday, January 24 to meet executives from Perry Ellis International and learn specific details about the challenges they are looking to solve. The event will also feature a panel discussion with industry experts about where the worlds of fashion and retail are heading, and how startups can work with large corporations.

Applicants should preferably be companies with demonstrated proof-of-concepts, established client base and preliminary funding. To apply and learn more, visit: http://www.pitchtopery.com or visit the Pitch to PERY event page HERE.

It isn’t surprising to Wenrich that the Pitch to Pery Launch Night is already seeing a lot of signups on Eventbrite.

It’s part of a larger mission at The LAB to connect startups and corporations. Last year, LAB Ventures worked with Visa and Finnovista on the first annual Visa Everywhere startup search for the Latin America region, and coming up on Feb. 12, LAB Ventures will be present the finals of its TravelTech pitch competition at the Future of Travel Summit (www.FutureOfTravel.Miami).  That is another event that brings together not only startups and investors in TravelTech, but also corporate executives from the traditional travel companies, Wenrich said.

December 28, 2017

Q&A: Natalia Martinez-Kalinina weighs in on Miami’s entrepreneurial ecosystem

Natalia2 martinez biz cmg

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlbergbiz@gmail.com

Two years ago, Cambridge Innovation Center announced it would be expanding to Miami, taking most of the space in the University of Miami Life Science & Technology Park, which is now called Converge Miami. And at that time it made a bold prediction: that it would quickly become a hub for entrepreneurship in Miami.

Natalia Martinez-Kalinina, an organizational psychologist and strategist focused on merging innovation, entrepreneurship and community impact, led the expansion as general manager, and CIC Miami opened about a year ago, taking up nearly 80,000 square feet for offices, co-working and events. It plans to expand another 50,000 feet in future buildings planned for Converge.

CIC already houses more than 220 organizations, a vibrant mix of startups, small businesses and nonprofits in multiple sectors. Thursday evenings have quickly become a networking hub with CIC’s nonprofit partner Venture Cafe typically hosting a dozen or so community events that are free and open to the public.

As its first year comes to a close, CIC Miami and UM have launched Converge Labs, shared wet lab spaces available to university startups and researchers. The spaces will be available to the greater community as well after Jan. 1.

CIC also now has an arts program, a Latin American soft-landing program with Chile, Colombia and Argentina signed on as partners, and it is getting ready to launch a Corporate Innovation Program that is focused at connecting corporates with startups and vice versa.

“It is something that CIC in other cities is known for, and we are taking a different spin at it here in Miami,” Martinez-Kalinina said.

“The objective of CIC Miami is not to build a building or a set of buildings, but to build a community, create a true place of convergence, and add tangible value and momentum behind our city’s progress. As such, our walls should feel permeable for anyone, not just our clients. Although a chunk of our programming is internal, most of it is either fully or partially open to the public, so we hope that any participant in the innovation, entrepreneurship, or research sectors in Miami can benefit,” she said.

The Herald spoke with Martinez-Kalinina recently about CIC and the Miami entrepreneurial ecosystem, and followed up with questions via email. Here are excerpts of the conversation.

You have said you hoped CIC Miami would become an engine of innovation and a hub of collaboration in Miami. How do you think CIC is doing?

We have a long road ahead, but are very proud of the first year that both CIC and Venture Café have had in Miami. Both organizations have designed an inclusive, comprehensive vision that is largely informed by our trajectory in other cities over the last 18-plus years, but also very specific to the moment of growth stage that Miami is in.

The feedback we have gotten from our partners, visitors, and other stakeholders has reinforced that our mission is coming to life, and our high net promoter score (88) has been an indicator that our clients feel they can thrive and grow with us.

Year one was marked by experimentation, in which your team tried many new programs. What exceeded your expectations that will most surely be continued?

The focus of our first year was all about piloting, bootstrapping, and adjusting from feedback. Fortunately, several initiatives have truly exceeded our expectations.

One was the launch of our Latin American collaborations and closed agreements with both public and private entities in Argentina, Chile, and Colombia. Since then, we've advised entrepreneurial missions, connected startups to investment opportunities, helped to soft-land entrepreneurs, and provided other resources to our partners.

Since opening, we have launched a long list of CIC-led internal and external programming, including our ongoing “Future of” series on Fintech, travel/hospitality, health, education, law, corporate social responsibility (CSR), et al. The communities that are forming around each of these topics and the high level of engagement they have brought have signaled to us that this was truly needed and is adding real value.

Along the same lines, seeking to connect South Florida’s entrepreneurs with investors, we have done several recurring events and workshops (such as AntiPortfolio) focused on activating/educating more local investors, as well as provided ongoing investor office hours.

After hearing a lot of talk about how the arts and business sectors need to come together and learn from each other, we launched The Creator’s Lounge to provide artists, makers and performers the resources they need to bring their talents to market, collaborate within diverse industries, and build the supportive community they need.

And what was most surprising or challenging?

In other cities where CIC is located, we have seen remarkable engagement from corporations. They not only house portions of their innovation, small business, or R&D groups within CIC for proximity to the entrepreneurial scene, but move significantly beyond that by designing programming that places them front and center in these conversations.

In Miami, we heard about a much-talked about disconnect between how our enterprise sector engages with innovation, and we can attest that working at this interaction has been slower than we expected.

For this reason, we have launched a Corporate Innovation program, based on a history of fruitful experiences at other CIC locations and aimed at plugging in our local enterprises into the startup ecosystem.

What’s ahead for 2018?

If 2017 was our year of experimentation, 2018 will hopefully be the year of us growing and deepening across all of our objectives. The Converge Labshared wet laboratory pilot has been so successful within its first three months that we are doubling it in size. Our investor initiatives will continue to grow, connecting local startups and entrepreneurs with more and more national and international investors via our virtual office hours and visiting programming.

Most notably, our established partnerships will begin to bear fruit. Our Latin American collaborations are due to ramp up in the volume of startups we see, joint events we execute, and the creation of our digital resource library for Latin American startups (to be housed within our Why.Miami project). And 2018 will be the first year that Babson College’s expanded graduate curriculum is operational in Miami.

More broadly, how do you see the South Florida entrepreneurial ecosystem developing?

First and foremost, I believe our next chapter will be defined by how well we learn to collaborate; this goes for our universities, institutions, public-private touchpoints, corporations, entrepreneurs.

Secondly, I see us challenging ourselves and each other to think bigger with our ideas and push outside of Miami and Florida more aggressively with funding and scaling strategies. We need to define what success looks like outside of our own backyard earlier and better.

Thirdly, I see us learning to better optimize our resources into real strategic advantages. This includes truly taking advantage of the demographic/migration patterns in South Florida and better delivering on our position sandwiched in the hemisphere. It also includes elevating the innovation narrative and focusing resources around disrupting and advancing the industry verticals that are already our strengths (logistics, health, hospitality, real estate, et al.)

From CIC sitting in the middle of the health district, have you and your team seen a need to expand programing or services for this industry?

Yes, of course. In fact, one of the pillars of our strategic plan is to be a place of convergence between the life sciences/health sector and the rest of the innovation corridor in our city, both physically and figuratively. It is the reason why have wet laboratory facilities for chemical and biological research in addition to our office and coworking spaces. It is also the reason we piloted the shared Converge Lab with The University of Miami, which has expanded to include referrals from other universities and will be open to non-university affiliated research startups starting January 2018.

Lastly, since more than 60 percent of the companies housed at CIC are life sciences or health related, we have designed ongoing programming focused on their needs — from health investor in-person and virtual office hours and working groups and sessions with pharmaceutical, hospital, and institutional representatives to our ongoing “future of health” public-facing events in collaboration with Health 2.0.

In your view, what one or two ingredients are still needed in the entrepreneurial ecosystem?

We need a much larger and more engaged/capacitated class of local pre-seed and seed investors willing to fund South Florida based companies and be active in their development. We also need more local/state government support. Strengthening innovation and entrepreneurship should be a priority for our local public sector, and that entails the deployment of funds to incentivize talent creation, new initiatives, and direct investment.

Local government should co-lead how we connect and collaborate with innovation hubs across the region in substantive ways. Several city and regional governments around the world are setting a high and thoughtful bar for these priorities, and Miami needs to follow suit.

How best can universities play a role?

Universities play several truly invaluable roles. First, they educate the entrepreneurs, professionals, thinkers and creatives of the next generation. The impact they can have by not just inspiring, but training 21st-century and entrepreneurial skills is not just important, it is imperative for the workforce of the future.

Secondly, universities should be leaders in the commercialization of research, thus helping nudge existing markets, as well as create new ones. This is part of why we are excited to have The University of Miami as such a closer partner in the broader mission of the Converge Innovation District, and are looking forward to moving this larger vision forward in 2018.

Thirdly, it has been CIC’s experience that successful innovation clusters such as Cambridge and increasingly The Cortex Innovation District in St. Louis, are heavily anchored in not just one university, but multiple institutions that choose to align, incentivize innovation, drive capacitation, and — sorry to sound like a broken record — collaborate.

Lack of diversity has been huge topic in tech nationally. From where CIC sits, quite literally, how could CIC play a role to make Miami a role model for inclusive collaboration?

CIC takes a variety of approaches to this topic, and they are different in each city, but guided by a commitment in social engagement. In Cambridge, we run the largest private high school internship program in which nearly all participants are of color. In St. Louis, we are working directly with Forward Through Ferguson to bring innovation-focused gatherings, activities and opportunities to Ferguson.

At CIC Miami, we have taken a couple of approaches to this topic thus far, from supporting/housing several initiatives that accelerate and train low-income entrepreneurs or focus on resources for minority-led businesses and creating educational programming focused on female founders, to co-designing roundtable discussions focused on the role of immigration and partnering and designing a cohort program that supports veterans in entrepreneurship (launching Q1 2018).

One of our primary avenues for engaging in each city is Venture Café, our partner community development organization, which spun out of CIC. In Boston, Venture Café has launched targeted initiatives such as Roxbury Innovation Center in addition to inclusive, large scale projects such as District Hall. In Miami, Venture Café has already become a leading convenor of gatherings, conversations, entrepreneurial support specifically focused on diversity, among a long list of other community-facing and difficult topics.

From where we sit, Miami has a unique opportunity: as an adolescent and rapidly evolving entrepreneurial hub, we can take to heart some of the lessons learned across more seasoned hubs like San Francisco and New York and leapfrog over those hurdles. That said, we can only do so if we are intentional about the access, opportunities, and resources we deploy.

Tell us one thing about you that your colleagues may not know?

I believe very strongly in the value of adult learning, and one of the ways I do this is to pick up a new hobby every year. Over the last years, these have included horseback riding, archery, and tango; stay tuned for next year’s hobby du jour!

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

NATALIA MARTINEZ KALININA

Age: 31

Current: General manager, Cambridge Innovation Center Miami, leading the CIC’s expansion to Miami. She is also the founder of Awesome Foundation MIAMI and Aminta Ventures, and is on the Governor’s Commission on Community Service, a body that oversees the administration of $32 million in federal, state, and local funding to deliver high-impact educational and volunteer programs in the state of Florida.

Previous experience: Chief innovation and technology officer for Roots of Hope, a nonprofit focused on Cuba, as well as one of six product strategists for Ultimate Software.

Education: Bachelor’s in psychology and government, Harvard; master’s in organizational psychology, Columbia.

September 02, 2017

When children build for real clients: A summer filled with collaboration, creativity and community

  Moonlighter-Urban Hacking

By Tom Pupo and Daisy Nodal

Each Summer, we host our Summer S.T.E.A.M. maker camps that engage kids in hands-on projects exploring Design Thinking, Electronics, Sustainable Design, and more. But this Summer, to make the impact even greater, we partnered with various organizations and local small businesses to provide real-world challenges that the kids would design and build solutions for. It was uncharted territory for many involved, but it ended up being an incredibly rewarding experience! These two projects put the power of community transformation in the hands of children— of course, with the help of a committed team of local makers!

 Urban Hacking Camp

We partnered with Learn 01, Mano Americas and Codella to create the ultimate maker camp experience: a real-world sustainability project, built in our community, incorporating both physical and digital skills, and inclusive to all kids using fund-raised scholarships.

There were 5 project categories that the kids could chose to join. The groups were tasked to collaborate, design, develop, and build their own visions for improving the Smartbites Community Garden + Cafe. They learned how to use power tools, design software, and digital fabrication technologies to build corn hole games, outdoor tables that grow spices and herbs, art pieces made of recycled plastics, sensors that monitor moisture levels in the soil, two vertical farming systems, and more!

It was a transformative experience, for both the kids, the staff, and the team of MDCPS high school Summer interns who were also learning and assisting during the whole process. They learned by doing, by manipulating materials, looking things up online for reference, and testing their ideas with prototypes. These are the skills they need to be successful in the 21st century. You can see their incredible work by visiting SmartBites.


The Mobile Reading Pod

Our Design Thinking camps usually use imaginary characters as clients. But this year, thanks to The New Tropic, the camp had a real client — The Miami Book Fair! Their task was to design an installation that would travel to different neighborhoods, provide a nice place to sit and read, dispense free books, and promote literature. The kids dreamed up all sorts of fantastical technologies like giant drones that deliver books, autonomous library vehicles, etc. but the panel of judges chose one winner —  The Mobile Reading Pod by 9-year old Allen Hasbun.

With the help of his family and our staff, Allen spent the next month at Moonlighter refining his design and building his creation in full scale!  He learned how to use the various software and fabrication equipment in the space and actively took part in every step of the process, never shying away from the work involved to realize his vision.

It debuted at The Wynwood Yard and will travel to the Miami Book Fair in November. Allen also intends to open source his design. When given the tools, skills, and resources to build, you’ll be surprised what kids are capable of building — and of the impact they can have on their community. By empowering future generations, we can build an innovative maker city!

*For the full article and photo essay, visit www.moonlighter.camp

Tom Pupo and Daisy Nodal are co-founders of Moonlighter Makerspace in Wynwood.  

Moonlighter-Reading Pod

June 20, 2017

4 South Florida startups advance to finals in WeWork Creator Awards

BM cover tech hub 4 d epf

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

Wework%20lincoln%20road

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

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