November 15, 2017

ITPalooza is back Dec. 7 and SFTA has big plans for it

Itpalooza

 

The South Florida Technology Alliance announced its 6th annual ITPalooza  will take place on Thursday December 7 at a new venue, The Greater Fort Lauderdale-Broward County Convention Center, located at 1950 Eisenhower Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale.

ITPalooza-Logo-White-500x500ITPalooza is an annual gathering of South Florida's technology professionals, CIOs and CTOs, user groups, educators and companies. This year’s event will feature over 120 exhibitors and more than 2,000 registrants, 50 speakers and tech meet-up and user groups from across South Florida are expected to attend the biggest and best ITPalooza ever.

“ITPalooza 2017 is a celebration of technologists in South Florida,” said Rick Sebaly, SFTA’s immediate past president and this year’s ITP event leader. 

This event Includes Educational Speaker Tracks, Keynotes, several panel discussions, Agile Group, Expo, charity toy drive, After Hours Tri-county vBeers Networking event and VIP After-Party. ITP will also feature a dedicated Management Track in conjunction with the CIO Council of South Florida focusing on the unique needs of CIOs and other top-level IT executives.  

IT User and Meet-up groups are invited at no charge provided they bring an unwrapped toy for Toys-For-Tots. They will be entitled to a display table and free admission for their members after 5:30.

ITP registrations start at 8 AM with the following schedule:

8:45 a.m. Opening Remarks by Tom Conophy, CIO, Autonation

9:00 – 7:00 P.M. Expo and Vendor Exhibits

9:00 a.m. Morning Keynote Address by Corey Williams

10:00 a.m. Panel: The Impact of Women in Tech

11:00 a.m. Panel: Entrepreneurship

12:00 p.m. CIO Council CIO and VIP luncheon featuring Kyle Leciejewski, VP, Dell EMC – Dell’s perspective on the industry

1 P.M. Afternoon Keynote

 Additional panel discussions from 2:00 to 4:00 P.M.

5:00 P.M. Awards Ceremony and Toys for Tots presentation

5:00 P.M. – 7:00 P.M. Tech Groups and Meet-Ups

5:30 P.M. – 8:30 P.M. Tri-county vBeers beers and networking

5:30 P.M. – 8:30 P.M. VIP Cocktail/Dinner Reception

Since its inception in 2012, ITPalooza has raised more than $193,000 in cash and toys   for various South Florida non-profits including Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ STEM Advisory Board, The Stockdale Foundation and US Marine’s Toys for Tots.   

Admission is $65 or they can bring two unwrapped toys - for the “Toys for Tots” charity and pay only $35.  VIP tickets are available for $250, providing participants access to all CIO and ITPalooza events with breakfast, lunch, dinner and entertainment included – plus entry into VIP Lounge.  Student admission to evening events only is $15, with the presentation of a valid student ID.

Admission to the after hour tech meet-ups and vBeers events are free – just bring a toy.

Online registration can be accessed at itpalooza.org/tickets.  VIP and Student tickets are also available for purchase. Information on sponsorship opportunities is also available on the site.

- Submitted by ITPalooza

 

November 10, 2017

Global Entrepreneurship Week kicks off Friday with Startup Weekend West Palm Beach; $50K up for grabs in VentureTech Showcase next week

 

Startup Weekend_preview

Palm Beach County has organized its entrepreneurial community for Global Entrepreneurship Week, an international event taking place from November 10 – 18.


GE WEEK PB_previewThe week’s activities commence on November 10, when Palm Beach Tech hosts Startup Weekend West Palm Beach, powered by TechStars and Google for Entrepreneurs. The 54-hour experiential and educational event is designed for aspiring entrepreneurs to learn how to create a company with the support of mentors. The companies will then pitch their ideas in front of a panel of top-notch investors and industry leaders.

“Events like these help foster the growth of our innovation economy,” said Joseph R. Russo, Executive Director of the Palm Beach Tech Association.

Global Entrepreneurship Week participants are competing for the chance to win $50,000 in prize money at the 2017 Florida VentureTech Showcase, hosted by the Florida Venture Forum on November 16 at FAU Tech Runway®. The showcase is a capital acceleration competition and business networking event with presentations by some of Florida’s most promising startups.

“Collaborative efforts like Global Entrepreneurship Week have a direct impact on our community and the entrepreneurs we serve,” said Rhys L. Williams, Managing Director of FAU Tech Runway. “Through broad support from Palm Beach County, as well as local leaders we are shaping a community of promising entrepreneurs and connecting them with the resources and capital they need to succeed.”

Junior Achievement is also participating through their Launch Lessons program, bringing local entrepreneurs to educate more than 2,000 high school students in Palm Beach County.

“Junior Achievement is excited to engage a diverse group of entrepreneurs sharing their launch lessons with young people in our community,” said Claudia Kirk Barto, President and CEO of Junior Achievement of the Palm Beaches and Treasure Coast.

On November 15, The Palm Beach Tech Pitch Competition is featuring eight local startups competing for $12,500 in business services, in partnership with the Florida Angel Nexus and Florida Venture Forum.

Community & coworking spaces like Social House, Flamingo House, Palm Beach Tech Space and Elizabeth Ave Station are all hosting free events to engage with their communities. Urban Youth Impact is hosting a Pitch Night on November 14 and Creative Mornings Palm Beach is taking place November 17.

Global Entrepreneur Week centers around innovation, collaboration and education. To learn more, visit: www.EWeekPB.com

- Submitted by Palm Beach Tech

 

October 27, 2017

Innovation festival unbound lands in Miami Nov. 1-2

 

  Unbound

By Daniel Seal 

Daniel SealFive years ago, I saw there was a need for a forum that could connect brands and corporations with grassroots startups and the cutting-edge technology that they offer. With so much innovation and ingenuity on the start-up stage, I saw an opportunity to bridge that gap between growing and established brands and the new ideas that will inevitably shape how we live and how we do business. That is how unbound was born. For startups, festivals are the opportunity to meet individuals crucial to their future success: investors, clients and partners, and for organizations, unbound festivals are where they can build their own platforms, connect with key audience members, and deliver but also look beyond their strategic objectives.

Anchored by annual festivals in London and Singapore, we wanted to add a third festival to the roster, and Miami was the best destination for us. As the gateway to the Americas, Miami and its thriving entrepreneurial community – connecting the US and Latin America – is the perfect backdrop as it’s now on everyone’s radar, from venture capitalist firms, to funds and angel investors from across the globe.

Next week, Mana Wynwood will host the first unbound Miami festival. The two-day event kicks off on Wednesday, November 1, and will gather 100+ future-focused speakers from the worlds of fintech, adtech, AI, healthtech, eCommerce, robotics and more, as well as feature immersive brand experiences, pitch sessions and startup battles. We have assembled a prestigious lineup of speakers (from VICE Media, Twitter and Slack to Marriott, VISA and Johnson & Johnson), sessions, and partners that set this event apart from any other taking place in South Florida.

ProColombia will be using unbound Miami as a platform for its annual Colombia Bring IT On campaign, bringing together 120 Latin American startups to meet brand and corporate decision makers in Miami with experience in mobile applications, digital animation, video games, digital marketing and IT solutions.

In addition, unbound Miami will present the Female Founders Startup Challenge, which will see eight female founders battle for access to a place on the Babson College Women Innovating Now (WIN) Lab program. Claro Americas will also be hosting a startup battle to showcase the best innovations in the areas of Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and ecommerce, among others. The winner will have the chance to visit the company’s facilities in Guatemala.

We hope you can join us and participate in what is sure to be a memorable event. Please follow this link to register and use discount code sgate50.

 

When: November 1 & 2, 2017- 9:00am – 5:00pm

Where: Mana Wynwood, 2217 NW 5th Ave, Miami, FL 33127

Who: 3,000 attendees – made up of 35% corporate and brand executives, 35% founders and entrepreneurs, 15% digital and media agencies, 5% government and trade agencies, 5% investors, 5% journalists.

 

Daniel Seal is the Founder & CEO of unbound.

October 24, 2017

The SilverLogic of Boca Raton wins Money20/20 Hackathon and Visa Developer Challenge in Las Vegas

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The SilverLogic, a Boca Raton based custom software development company, ran the table at the Money20/20 Hackathon in Las Vegas this weekend, taking home both the 1st place prize for the Visa Developer Challenge and 1st place in the overall Hackathon.

The winnings: $40K in cash plus prizes.

The Money20/20 hackathon, in which more than 120 teams competed, is an annual hackathon connected to the Money20/20 conference in Las Vegas sponsored by some of the world's most recognizable FinTech companies. These companies represent teams with innovative and fun challenges that are aimed at stimulating hacking and creative-problem solving skills. The team from The SilverLogic chose to take on the challenge presented by Visa.

Visa challenged teams to re-imagine the cardholder experience in a smart city of tomorrow that is totally cashless. Developers were tasked with coming up with a solution that answered the question: “How will the customer experience in payments evolve in this setting?”

Teams were tasked with building a solution that could help card issuers and/or merchants provide seamless payment experiences through connected devices, mobile applications or other emerging cutting-edge technologies (e.g., VR or AI). They were asked to use Visa APIs along with third-party APIs, to create that solution.

The team from The SilverLogic decided to tackle the issue of scarcity in urban parking, developing a peer-to-peer parking application called “OmniPark” that would connect people who needed parking spaces with residents who have spots available. This solution would allow individuals to monetize an under-utilized resource while providing a real benefit to individuals who are struggling to find parking on our ever-congested roadways.

OmniPark implemented a two-part navigation feature allowing users first to be directed to the general vicinity of the parking spot and then to have an Augmented Reality (AR) driven map guide users directly to the exact spot they have reserved. Users are then presented with an AR version of a parking meter where they can select a time period to remain parked in that location and initiate payment to the spot owner using Visa Direct. The application also allows merchants to “sponsor” parking locations nearby for their customers using the Visa Offers Platform.

“Tackling the Visa challenge of re-imagining the smart city of tomorrow that is cashless, OmniPark was able to quickly integrate Visa APIs via the Visa Developer Platform into their urban parking solution to enable secure, seamless payments opportunities for merchants and consumers alike. Visa applauds OmniPark who has a similar vision of ushering in a new era of digital commerce and driving towards a more cashless tomorrow,” said Paul Walsh, SVP of Platform Strategy & Innovation at Visa

David Hartmann, CEO of The SilverLogic and leader of the OmniPark team, said: “I am so proud of our team here at Money20/20 for representing the best of what The SilverLogic has to offer. Our motto is ‘We Make Ideas Happen’ and nowhere is it more apparent how committed we are to that motto than in settings like this where our teams are challenged to strengthen their relationships while exercising and developing creative problem-solving skills.”



October 10, 2017

Miami Dade College hosting MIA Animation Conference & Festival this weekend

  MIA Animation 2015_028

 

Miami Dade College  will again host the renowned MIA Animation Conference & Festival on Friday, Oct. 13 and Saturday, Oct. 14, at MDC’s Wolfson Campus in downtown Miami. The renowned event features world-renowned speakers, technology influencers from the nation’s top animation studios, universities, and the best talent in the industry. It has become one of the most exciting and cutting edge events in Miami, alongside a community of advanced technology-explorers, decision-makers, trend-setters, software developers, and creative industry professionals.

The industry conference focuses on Computer Animation, Gaming, Visual Effects and Motion Graphics, Virtual and Augmented Reality.  It draws some of the world’s top leaders in animation and education, and features exhibitions, workshops and master classes.  It has been designed to be a forum for active networking and practical information exchange with strong commitment and emphasis in education while developing and nourishing new talent. 

Featured speakers at this year’s MIA Animation Festival include Matt Shumway, animation supervisor at ILM and 2016 Oscar Nominee for “The Revenant”; Aliki Theophiloupolos, supervising producer at Dreamworks; Leah Hoyer, vice president of creative at Telltale Games; and Kat Thorson Good, director at the Walt Disney Company.

Some of this year’s highlights include the Arts & Technology Breakfast, which will explore the ways in which the arts and tech industries can work together to build a connected creative ecosystem.   Also, exploring the power that creativity can bring to everything it touches, specifically to amplify technology as a true connector and catalyst for innovation. This year’s breakfast topic will focus on virtual reality storytelling for areas like gaming, journalism, broadcasting and animation.

Another highlight is Game On, the third annual indie game competition, which is sponsored by MIA Animation and the Idea Center @ MDC.  The competition was created to encourage independent game development and fresh voices in the video game industry. The winner will receive a consulting meeting at the IDEA Center. The finalists will be showcased at the MIA Animation Festival where attendees will be able to play the prototype. 

The MIA Animation Festival will also hold a Pitching Contest for applicants to submit animation projects for a TV animated series.  The top submissions in both categories will be invited to pitch their idea in person to a panel of animation industry experts and professionals. The top pitch overall will be set up with interviews with major animation studio execs in Los Angeles.

Another highlight of the MIA Animation Festival is the Students and Young Directors competitions, which are currently taking submissions for animated films to be judged for conceptual, technical, and aesthetic innovation and excellence. 

The conference is free for MDC students and faculty; $65 for students and $195 for professionals.

For more information: visit miaanimation.com or contact (305) 521-3429

 - Submitted by Miami Dade College

September 01, 2017

Inaugural ITWomen Leadership Summit coming to FAU Tech Runway

 

 

ITWomen, in partnership with FAU Tech Runway, will host the inaugural ITWomen Leadership Summit on Friday, Sept. 15 from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at FAU Tech Runway, 901 NW 35th Street, Boca Raton.

The ITWomen Leadership Summit is designed to provide women across the fields of technology with a rich development opportunity and will include influential keynote speakers and multiple sessions with more than 18 local leaders across different industries. Keynote speakers include Heather Cabot, an angel investor and author of “Geek Girl Rising,” and Angela Sebaly, an entrepreneur and author of “The Courageous Leader.” Sessions will feature CXO leadership insights, developing a culture of innovation and a startup showcase on FAU Tech Runway female founders.

ITWomen is a not-for-profit organization founded in 2002 by senior-level women across technology industries. Through their partnerships with nonprofits, universities, corporate sponsors and professional organizations, they work to narrow the gender gap in technology and increase the potential for innovation and economic growth through gender equity. ITWomen is a multi-generational organization, which began in South Florida and has expanded with a presence in the greater Orlando and Tampa metro areas.

All net proceeds from the event will fund camps and STEM programs for under-served girls in the community.

To purchase tickets to attend the event, click here. For more information on the ITWomen Leadership Summit, visit https://leadersummit.itwomen.org.

- Submitted by ITWomen

August 03, 2017

Want to pitch at the Florida Venture Capital Conference? Here’s how to apply

The Florida Venture Forum is calling for growth stage companies to apply to present at the 2018 Florida Venture Capital Conference, being held at the Marriott Harbor Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale on January 30-31, 2018.

The conference, now in its 27th year, is one of the largest gatherings of venture capitalists and investors in the Southeast, and features panel discussions, speakers, and presentations by some of Florida’s fastest growing private companies.

In addition to the opportunity to present before an audience of active equity investors, presenting companies meeting designated criteria will compete for the Accelerating Innovation (AI) Award, offered by Space Florida. The AI Award offers a cash prize totaling $100,000 to eligible Florida companies, and companies seeking to relocate or establish presence in Florida.

Presenter applications will be reviewed and companies chosen by a selection committee made up of active venture capitalists and investors. Presenter and AI Award eligibility criteria, and full conference details, may be found on the Forum’s website (www.flventure.org).

THE FINAL APPLICATION DEADLINE IS DECEMBER 20, 2017. Early submissions are welcomed and encouraged.

- submitted by Florida Venture Forum

June 13, 2017

Tech talk at eMerge: Startup life, cybersecurity and a Magic Leap to the future

 

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Call it Tech Tuesday at eMerge Americas.

While Day One of the homegrown technology conference at Miami Beach Convention Center was a mix of tech and politics, tech and startups took the spotlight on the conference’s second and final day.

Quite literally. Startups pitched on center stage throughout the day, competing for $175,000 in prizes — and investor attention, while hundreds of people milled around their tables. They also took in talks by some of the industry’s top entrepreneurs on topics including artificial intelligence, big data and cybersecurity.

The secretive Magic Leap has yet to reveal its highly anticipated product. But founder Rony Abovitz, whose Plantation-based company has brought in $1.4 billion in venture capital, described Magic Leap as an effort to experience the world more naturally. “We’re trying to build a computer that acts like people, so you don’t have to look at your phone all the time,” he said, in an on-stage discussion with Matt Haggman, Miami program director of the Knight Foundation, and Jean-Pierre Bardet, dean of the University of Miami’s College of Engineering.

READ MORE: Rony Abovitz on Magic Leap: We are trying to make science fiction real

While Magic Leap used to call its technology “mixed reality” — something like augmented reality, but different — Abovitz said he now prefers describing it as “spatial computing powered by a digital lightfield.” Translation: It will allow computing to become part of you.

Magic Leap is believed to be creating a wearable device such as glasses. But for the people who came to the talk wanting to know when they can get their hands on it, Magic Leap remained, well, vague, saying only that its first product launch is “not far away” and “if we were at NASA … you would see a rocket sitting on the launch pad.” Pricing, he said, was aimed at “affordability in the mass premium category. ... It’s not a Kindle kind of pricing but it’s not unattainable.”

READ MORE: Tech and politics do miss, if it’s eMerge Americas

Uri Levine, co-founder of the popular Waze, described the traffic app as “a social network for driving.” Everything on the app was created by the driver, he told the audience. “We the drivers help other drivers avoid the traffic jams we are in. This is the magic of Waze.”

For the many entrepreneurs on hand, he said launching a startup is like falling in love. “Fall in love with the problem you are solving, not your solution,” he advised. Focus is key too; if an entrepreneur loses focus of the central problem he is solving, he won’t be building the right thing. Timing helps: Waze started on a PDA — remember those? — but the smartphone enabled scale.

READ MORE: Hatching a tech future: South Florida startups are gaining strength

Startups he is involved in now include Moovit, an app similar to Waze but for public transit; Engine, technology that runs ongoing diagnostics on a car and gets repair quotes; and Solomoto, an all-in-one platform for small businesses .

What was his best startup? “The next one.” His advice for Miami entrepreneurs: Solve the high cost of U.S. healthcare.

The recent Wannacry hack put the ever-hot topic of cybersecurity on high boil. On Tuesday, eMerge founder Manny Medina unveiled details about his latest venture, Cyxtera Technologies. The “giant startup,” as he called it, combines 57 data centers and four cybersecurity-and-data analytics companies that already serve 3,500 customers with 1,100 employees.

“We believe the next revolution is the era of cybersecurity. We believe security has to be adaptive and intelligent ... but also made for the cloud,” Medina said. “This is a giant opportunity and we are in the forefront and it will be based in Miami.”

READ MORE: Done deal: Medina Capital, BC Partners form Cyxtera Technologies in $2.8 billion transaction

The conference’s final keynote came from a celebrity investor better known for baseball than business. Miami’s Alex Rodriguez — better known as A-Rod — started his business holdings with a Miami duplex 18 years ago; today his 400-employee company, Arod Corp., manages 15,000 housing units in 12 states. And real estate is just one arm of his business; he also owns fitness centers and auto dealerships and holds investments in a number of ventures, including eMerge Americas.

Most recently, he has dived into the media world, a business Rodriguez called “fun and exciting but tough.” He said he’s proud to be the first Latino Shark on “Shark Tank,” he said.

“Every business I have has a huge digital component. As an entrepreneur, you always have to be looking around the corner. What’s next, what is the competition? Whoever figures out digital will be the winner.”

But not everything should be digitized, he said — including the sport that brought him wealth. Using the example of a player’s worth for instance, he said, “you need character, you need grit and you need toughness. And that cannot be appraised in a computer.”

Throughout the day, startup finalists in various categories took to the stages to pitch their products to investor judges.

The top prize of the conference went to later-stage company Voyhoy, a travel site that lets consumers compare and buy tickets combining transportation on bus, plane, train and ferries throughout Latin America. Since launching in late 2015, Voyhoy has acquired more than 6 million users, and relocated to Miami to grow the business. Its prize: $100,000.

Chirrp, a multichannel platform for customer engagement, won the competition for early-stage companies, a prize worth $50,000. TSOLife, an online tool to help users record and share their stories for future generations, won the university category, worth $25,000.

At the high school level, eMerge partner Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship awarded its first-place prize of $2,500 to fashion business AmberAsh, created by Ashley Bellinger.

Xavier Gonzalez, eMerge CEO, said the conference will return April 23-24, 2018.

Nancy Dahlberg: @ndahlberg

The ‘rollercoaster’ of startup life, Waze, cybersecurity and Elon Musk

Waze2 (1)

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Chances are you will use Waze today.

“Everything on the app was created by the driver,” said Uri Levine, co-founder of Wave, to a full house at eMerge Americas on Tuesday. “It’s a social network for driving. We the drivers help other drivers avoid the traffic jams we are in. This is the magic of Waze.”

Levine kicked off Day 2 of eMerge Americas, the homegrown technology conference at the Miami Beach Convention Center. His keynote talk about the Waze journey and the startups he is building now was full of advice for the rollercoaster ride that is startup life.

Waze1 (1)

The entrepreneur he admires most? “Elon Musk is the most amazing person on the planet.”

Launching a startup is like falling in love, he said, but “fall in love with the problem you are solving, not your solution.” Focus is key too; if you lose focus of the central problem you are solving, you won’t be building the right thing. Timing helps: Waze started on a PDA – remember those – but the smartphone enabled scale.

Waze 3

On startups that fail, he often hears “the team was not right.” But digging deeper, he finds that the team was not right from the first month and the CEO did not make the tough decisions.

Still, startup life is learning from failures, large and small, and second-time entrepreneurs are five times more likely to succeed than first-timers, he said. And “if startups are a rollercoaster, fund-raising is a rollercoaster in the dark – you never know what’s coming.”

He also said while he admires Snapchat and its brethren and the businesses they have built, if he had been presented with the opportunity early on, he would have missed it. “There was no problem. There is enough for me to do to solve problems.”

Startups he is involved in now include Moovit, like Waze but for public transit and it is growing faster than Waze did, he said; Engine, technology that runs ongoing diagnostics on your car and gets the quotes for you, and Solomoto, an all-in-one platform for small businesses that is expanding in the U.S. from Miami.

Waze 4

Among his startups that failed was a group-buying platform. “The underlying assumption that people know what they want [to buy] was wrong.”

What was his best startup? “The next one.” His advice for what Miami entrepreneurs should try to solve? Why does healthcare cost five times as much in the U.S.? Solve that, Levine told the crowd.

Talk about big problems that need to solved and cybersecurity has to be near the top. Wannacry was a wakeup call, and cybersecurity was a hot theme of morning and afternoon talks and Manny Medina’s keynote address on Tuesday. He introduced Cyxtera Technologies, his latest venture. Cyxtera, “a giant startup,” combines 57 data centers and four cybersecurity and data analytics companies out of the gate. Medina said it already serves 3,500 customers and has 1,100 employees, including about 500 cybersecurity and data experts.

“We believe the next revolution is the era of cybersecurity. We believe security has to be adaptive and intelligent ... but also made for the cloud,” said Medina. “This is a giant opportunity and we are in the forefront and it will be based in Miami.”

READ MORE: Done deal: Medina Capital, BC Partners form Cyxtera Technologies in $2.8 billion transaction

eMerge Americas continues Tuesday with a startup competition with $175,000 in prizes, the WIT (Women, Innovation & Technology) Summit, and keynotes by Magic Leap’s Rony Abovitz and a closing talk with baseball legend and businessman Alex Rodriguez.

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.

June 12, 2017

The Woz and Marcelo Claure talk tech – and a little soccer – to open eMerge Americas

 

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By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

A little rain and traffic tangles from convention center construction didn’t keep hundreds of conference goers to file into eMerge Americas, the homegrown technology conference that opened Monday and continues through Tuesday.

Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, shared tales of Apple’s beginnings and the revolution he and Steve Jobs seemed to see coming. The world was very different then; computers were limited to mainframes, and the cost of memory to hold a single song was $1 million. “We needed to find a way to make computing affordable for the people – that was my role and the result was Apple 1 and Apple2,” he told the packed room.

The biggest innovation of the Apple 2 was turning arcade games from hardware to software, so that a 9-year-old could make things move on a screen for the first time. Some of those kids who got their hands on Apple 2’s are now CEOs of companies today, he said. “Young people being inspired to be entrepreneurs is the most important thing in the world, in my mind.”

The folksy, often funny “Woz,” as he is commonly known, also offered his views of the present and future of innovation, admitting that he didn’t see ride-sharing coming. “When Uber came along, I thought it wouldn’t suceed – we already had taxis.”

As to whether tech will eventually eliminate too many jobs, he scoffed, “I don’t think we will ever be the secondary species to machines. ... it will replace jobs ... but as one job category disappears, another comes along.”

Apple, Google (for its artificial intelligence) and Tesla are currently among the world’s most disruptive companies, he said.

For Woz, privacy is a key concern; he canceled a talk in Turkey because he would have to check in his laptop on the plane. “Anything you’ve got the government can peek into it. I don’t like that and I think it is unconstitutional.”

Marcelo Claure, a hometown entrepreneurial hero who built Miami-based telecom Brightstar, reminded entrepreneurs and business people in the audience that a customer-first strategy is key, for any stage company (and he talked a little soccer). After Sprint shareholder SoftBank purchased Brightstar in 2014, Claure was tapped to take over CEO of the then-troubled Sprint. At the time, Sprint’s 60,000 employees had “a legacy culture of being not used to winning.” His first move: turn the behemoth back into a startup, he said.

And part of the startup culture is talking to customers. On an early listening tour, Claure asked a woman what she thought of Sprint. “Does it still exist?” she said. That comment helped drive him to find the actor who starred in Verizon’s “Can You Hear Me Now?” ads. The result: an award-winning campaign that featured that actor switching to Sprint. “That was an iconic moment for Sprint.”

Regarding a potential merger of Sprint and T-Mobile, Claure said that possibility is still in discussions. But now that Sprint’s turnaround is well underway, many more partnership options exist, including with a cable company.

At Sprint and elsewhere in the industry, the focus is now on widespread rollout of 5G service, an investment requiring $275 billion industrywide.

When he isn’t involved in running Sprint, Claure said he will be engaged in helping choose tech companies that will be funded by [Sprint parent] SoftBank’s recently announced $100 billion fund. “Our job is to find tech companies that will change the world.”

Switching to soccer, he said of his effort with superstar David Beckham to bring major league soccer to Miami: “We are this close. My only ask is for the politicians in Miami to work together on this last piece,” he said, referred to required zoning approvals for a stadium in Overtown. “We’re 90 percent there. If everything works out we will have soccer by 2020, which is our goal.

But, he said, the soccer group knows Miami doesn’t show up for losing teams. “So we are determined to bring in a top soccer team.”

eMerge Americas continues Monday afternoon and Tuesday with exhibits, talks, startup competitions and networking. As to the unusual logistics caused by the convention center renovation, eMerge Americas founder Manny Medina quipped, “if you had seen this place 48 hours ago we were sweating bullets.”