August 28, 2015

Celebrity in the house: Daymond John shares his advice at Thrive Seminar

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By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Daymond John started his $6 billion clothing empire FUBU in his mother's basement with just $40. Thursday, the celebrity Shark Tank host and author came to Miami to share some of his secrets of success.

To the highly fashionable audience of 450 people who packed the Colony Theater on Lincoln Road for the first Thrive Seminar, presented by The Nelson Foundation, John shared advice on authentic branding, extremely important in the age of social media. “You are the brand before anything else, you have to be able to put yourself in two to five words,” said John, author of The Brand Within. “If you don’t know what you stand for, you leave it to us to interpret who you are.”

What characteristics separate successful entrepreneurs from the pack> “The successful ones don’t call failure failure; they know it is part of the process,” he said. “And the successful ones absolutely love what they do. They would do whatever they are doing for free if they could.”

The Shark’s advice for getting started: “Take affordable next steps. Don’t mortgage the farm just because you have this idea. ... you have to try to sell, then sell more and then sell more.”

Saying that he was challenged to find like-minded people and mentors when he was getting started with FUBU, he advised the audience to build a mastermind group of people around them with the same objectives to pull one another through the tough times. And, he said, be brutally honest with yourself on why you are starting a company. “If you are doing it for fame, for money, you are not going to make it.”

Visualize your goal and build a strategy to get there, and finally, do your homework, said John, who has spoken in Miami several times, including in conjunction with Miller Lite’s Tap the Future contest and at an Entrepreneurs’ Organization global conference. “You will never create something new in this world again. You may have a new angle or a new delivery system, but it won’t be new, so you have to find out what other people did that made mistakes and what other people did that were successful.”

Giving a shout-out to his mother in the audience, he even had some advice for parents: “Follow @sharkmommajohn, she’ll give you information on how to raise a Shark.”

John said he will be continuing to work with the entrepreneurs he invests in through Shark Tank for years to come; Aventura-based AquaVault is one of his most recent Shark Tank investments. As to what’s next, he said, he’ll be involved in educating people about dyslexia, a condition he has too. “Twenty percent of the world is dyslexic, four out of six the Sharks are dyslexic, ... 85 percent of professional chefs and 40 percent of entrepreneurs are dyslexic,” he said. Testing and early diagnosis is key because there are no drugs you can take. “As a kid, the only thing to do is to learn more and read more and do more work.”

Finally, he said he also wants to work to take illegal guns off the street. “I am going after as many corporations as I can and all the rappers to get involved; I’d like to see five anti-gun drives happening every single weekend in our cities.”

The 50-minute-talk and audience Q&A, which ended with a group selfie, was just one part of Thursday’s Thrive Seminar, which was designed to expose participants to successful and put on by The Nelson Foundation with support from community partners. The Nelson Foundation’s mission is to fuel the entrepreneurial spirit of under-represented communities through investment, mentoring and education.

Leading up to the Thrive Seminar, The Nelson Foundation selected three entrepreneurs to pitch their emerging business concepts in front of a panel of judges – Brett David, owner of Lamborghini Miami; Bernard Stewart, music entrepreneur and vice president of ESPN; Nabyl Charania, CEO of Rokk3r Labs; Will Stute, lawyer and private euqity investor; and Dawn Dickson, CEO of Flat Out Heels – and the audience.

After the pitches, the judges chose Smpfly, pitched by Lester Mapp and Teon Prudent, a concept that will use proprietary algorithyms to match the right social media influencers with branding campaigns. The judges independently decided to add to the pot: Rokk3r Labs, which helps build high-growth companies, will take Smpfly through its “Think Phase” to develop a solid plan to take to market and then Stute will allow Smpfly to pitch to his private equity firm for a serious investment. The other two finalists were Chris Filsaime of Rain Up, a product for automobiles that detects rainfall and automatically closes windows and sunroofs, and Michael Hall of Kurator, a platform to make art as accessible as music.

Al Nelson, chairman of The Nelson Foundation, said he asked John to kick off the inaugural Thrive Seminar because John gave him his first big opportunity. Nelson pitched on Shark Tank three years ago and John and Mark Cuban invested in his company, EzVip.com.

“From there I knew that anything was possible and I was able to scale and create other companies but it started with them believing in me,” Nelson said. “I always thought when I am in position to help someone else I would ... so we created The Nelson Foundation, and we want to grow with every entrepreneur.”

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.

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Lester Mapp, right, and Teon Prudent pitch Smpfly, which won $10,000 and other prizes at Thursday's Thrive Seminar. Photos by Nancy Dahlberg.

 

August 27, 2015

Help send Miami-based Tio Gazpacho to national contest finals

Samuel Adams and Entrepreneur announced that Tío Gazpacho is a finalist for the Brewing the American Dream Pitch Room Wild Card Competition hosted on Entrepreneur.com.  The virtual competition invited food and beverage small business owners from across the country to upload a two-minute video of their best sales pitch, which was then evaluated by a panel of experts from Samuel Adams and Entrepreneur.

Based in Miami, Tío Gazpacho makes three varieties of gazpacho that are USDA certified organic, non-GMO, gluten-free and vegan, and redefines the way Americans consume soup by offering it in a convenient drinkable format,

Tío Gazpacho’s video has been posted on Entrepreneur.com, as well as submissions from five other finalists, and the general public is now invited to vote for their favorite through September 7th. The small business owner who receives the most votes for his/her sales pitch will be named the Wild Card winner and receive a trip to participate in the Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream Pitch Room finals this December in New York City where they will compete for a $10,000 business grant and extended mentoring from Samuel Adams.

August 19, 2015

Thrive Seminar to bring Daymond John to Miami Beach next week

Daymond+13+Two+PABThe Thrive Seminar series is designed to expose participants to entrepreneurs who have gained international notoriety and success to learn the keys to launching a successful business. The first Thrive Seminar on August 27, 2015, will feature a Q&A LIVE session with Daymond John, celebrity entrepreneur, angel investor and host of ABC's “Shark Tank”. Mr. John will address attendees, speaking on his personal and life-changing journey as an entrepreneur as well as share practical advice and tips that contributed to his success in business.

“When I first got into business I made a lot of bad decisions. If I miss 10% to 20% of opportunities because they're a timely matter, then it is what it is, " said John in a recent article in Entrepreneur Magazine. “The Nelson Foundation is giving budding entrepreneurs access to valuable, real experiences from business moguls with proven formulas.”

The audience will also hear three live pitches from selected, budding entrepreneurs before a high profile panel of judges, to help one young leader take a step towards fulfilling their dream. The Nelson Foundation will present the winner with $10,000 to assist with startup costs. The distinguished panel of judges consists of Brett David, Owner of Lamborghini Miami, Bernard Stewart, GM and Vice President of ESPN, Nabyl Charania, CEO of Rokk3r Labs, Will Stute, Angel Investor and Dawn Dickson, CEO of Flat Out Heels. The Thrive Seminar is supported by its generous community partners including; The Knight Foundation, Aifos Agency, The Idea Center at MDCC, The Lab Miami, Digital Grass, EZ VIP, Chef Teach Creates, Miami.com, NBC 6, Pinnacle Agency, Bobby Blaire, and The Under 40 Group. Buy tickets here.

The Nelson Foundation’s mission is to ignite and fuel the entrepreneurial spirit of under-represented communities through investment, mentoring and education. For more information or contact Al Nelson, Founder & CEO at (786) 543-9917 and al@thenelson.foundation or visit http://www.thenelson.foundation.

- Submitted by the Nelson Foundation.

August 15, 2015

The winners of Wyncode Pitch Day VI? Our community

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Kito.co pitches, and later wins, at Wyncode Academy's Pitch Day 6, in front of a record crowd at The Lab Miami. Photos provided by Wyncode.

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Juha MikkolaBy Juha Mikkola

As a truly global city, Miami needs an economy that is as strong and diverse as its people. This requires that its workforce is equipped with the skills of the 21st century to attract and retain companies that create the jobs and opportunities that help build a robust middle class. In 2015, this increasingly means knowing how to write code — the language behind the technologies that fuel our daily lives. At Wyncode we’re doing our part to build a workforce that is helping transform South Florida from a tourist destination to a leader in global innovation, commerce, and entrepreneurship.

Our nine-week coding bootcamp equips students from all walks of life (most of whom had little to no prior programming experience) with the computer programming needed to launch their careers as web developers with long-term growth potential or their own start up companies from scratch. Miami was just named the country’s second leading startup city and the 28 graduates of our most recent cohort embody the spirit of South Florida’s new economy behind this accolade.

At Thursday’s Pitch Day VI, the newest class of Wyncoders presented the web applications they built with their teammates—after learning Ruby on Rails, HTML, CSS and JavaScript over the last three months—to a panel of judges who selected a winner, as well as a standing room-only crowd of nearly 300 members of Miami’s tech community. The exciting web apps that were presented last night are paving the way for a more vibrant and innovative community. Among the apps presented were:

  • * Cluborate.co: A social network for activist groups and social causes
  • * TheBulk.co: A crowdsourcing tool for shoppers to purchase in bulk
  • * Wynning.co: An online life coach and project management tool
  • * Cookio.co: An Uber for personal chefs
  • * Libro-Club.co: A social network-based book club
  • * Parlayvous.co: Online raffles to help non-profits fundraise
  • * Tailorup.co: One of our WynTank submissions, our program to connect Wyncoders with local entrepreneurs, made by Wynwood jeans maker Caveat, is a personalized tailoring service right in your mobile phone.
  • * Kito.co: Kito helps landlords better manage their properties and tenants
  • * MDCPE.co: Another WynTank submission, MDCPE.co integrates with Miami-Dade County’s API to help users procure estimates for building permits
  • * Delight.co: An online dating app integrated with Yelp to help you plan your next date created by graduates of Wyncode’s part-time iOS program


At the end of the evening, the panel of judges, which included Jeff Fudge – VP of Technology at Sato Global Solutions; Cristina Solana – Sr. Web Developer and User Interface Engineer at Enspire Commerce; David McVicar – Independent Ruby on Rails Consultant at Living Social, Metro Star Systems, and Mobikaze; Josh Perez – Software Engineer at AirBnB; and Chris Alper – Director of PDIS Training and Employee Development at Ultimate Software, selected Kito.co, which was created by Sean Selleck, Ariel Peralta, and Angelica Rodriguez, as the best presentation of the night.

 A highly educated workforce is the backbone of a strong society and economy. This is precisely what we work toward everyday at Wyncode as we seek to achieve Miami’s true potential. This is why the true winners of Pitch Day VI weren’t just the students; it was our entire community.

Juha Mikkola is co-founder of Wyncode Academy.

Read an earlier post about Wyntank here. 

 

August 08, 2015

Endeavor taps South Florida entrepreneur Marcell Haywood for global network

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

MarcellHaywoodWith $300, Marcell Haywood started a maintenance company as a side business while in college. Today, Encompass Onsite, formerly called Dirt Pros, is a multifaceted service business with hundreds of employees that has been lauded for its fast growth and socially responsible actions. And this week, Endeavor Miami announced that Haywood was selected as an Endeavor Entrepreneur.

Haywood joins Endeavor Miami's growing portfolio of high-impact entrepreneurs -- now 16 entrepreneurs from 10 companies in industries such as technology, restaurants and food, and education. Endeavor is a nonprofit organization that supports and accelerates entrepreneurs around the globe, and Miami was Endeavor's first U.S. city to join the network. Endeavor Entrepreneurs receive targeted services including mentorship and access to capital, markets and talent, as they become part of the global network of the organization.

Encompass Onsite was selected late Friday by panelists with global expertise at the conclusion of Endeavor Global’s three-day International Selection Panel, which was held in San Francisco. Haywood joins a total of 35 high-impact entrepreneurs representing 24 companies from 16 countries selected at this panel.

"Marcell is an inspiring entrepreneur who has the potential to innovate in a traditional industry with a huge impact on job creation," said Annette Franqui, partner at Forrestal Capital and an Endeavor Miami mentor who reviewed Haywood during the local selection process.

Encompass Onsite, based in Fort Lauderdale and with additional offices in Miami and West Palm Beach, provides facilities maintenance and management services throughout Florida to businesses in the healthcare, education and hospitality sectors. Through environmentally friendly practices, the company offers service and products in five divisions: integrated facilities maintenance, housekeeping, engineering and maintenance/repair operations, specialty maintenance and corporate services. The company as Dirt Pros landed on the Inc. 500/5000 list of fastest-growing companies two years in a row. Haywood said the company has a couple hundred clients but would not disclose the number of employees or its revenues.

"We provide institutional real estate owners with scalable solutions to better manage their facilities," said Haywood, CEO. “Our BHAG, our Big Hairy Audacious Goal, is to create 1,000 better jobs for maintenance professionals throughout the state, ... jobs with upward mobility. We'll be there in the next 18 months, without a doubt."

Conceived while Haywood was a computer science student at Florida State University and launched in 2004, Dirt Pros outgrew its name. The company recently rebranded as Encompass Onsite, and the new website, encompassonsite.com, went live Friday. "The name was suggestive, and the business had evolved so much since I initially named it on a whim during college," said Haywood, who is 35. "Over the years we became more and more aware it just didn's fit. It is really all about aligning our brand with the world-class brand that we support across the state."

Innovating a traditional industry has been challenging, and Haywood said bringing energy management and green solutions to its customers as well as leveraging technology to bring transparency to the business have been innovations, as well the company's focus on developing career development programs with local universities.

He wants Endeavor's help to prepare the company to scale beyond Florida and eventually the U.S. "And I'd love at some juncture to switch hats and be able to mentor younger entrepreneurs and share my experience with scaling a company in a very challenging industry," said Haywood, who is on the boards of Entrepreneurs' Organization South Florida, with more than 160 members, and FAU Tech Runway, an entrepreneurship center and accelerator for FAU students and the community.

"I''m thrilled that Marcell was selected because he truly represents an Endeavor high-impact entrepreneur who is committed to building a scalable businesses while having an impact in the community through job creation," said Laura Maydon, managing director of Endeavor Miami.

Endeavor's International Selection Panel is the culmination of a rigorous selection process, where panels composed of six top global business leaders interview candidates about their businesses, high-impact leadership potential and timing. In order for an entrepreneur to be selected, he or she had to receive a unanimous vote. Endeavor looks for entrepreneurs who will in turn give back to the entrepreneurial community as mentors and investors.

Endeavor Miami launched its operations in September 2013 with the support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and an active local board of business leaders. Knight's $2 million grant to bring Endeavor to Miami, a drive spearheaded by Knight's Miami Program Director Matt Haggman, was one of the foundation's largest investments to date in the area of accelerating entrepreneurship.

Since 1997, Endeavor Global has selected, mentored and accelerated more than 1,000 high-impact entrepreneurs from over 700 companies across 23 countries; Endeavor Entrepreneurs have generated nearly 500,000 jobs and over $7.5 billion in revenues in 2014. For more information on Endeavor Miami or to nominate entrepreneurs, visit www.endeavormiami.org.

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.

Hear a podcast with Marcell Haywood on EntrepreneurRadio.org.

 

August 05, 2015

National Urban League hackathon: 'We're going to do this every year. We're going to make it bigger and better'

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By Michael Hall

Hosted by the National Urban League in partnership with Digital Grass, the two-day “TechConnect: Hack-A-Thon for Social Justice,” presented by Comcast NBCUniversal, was held on July 30-31, 2015 in Fort Lauderdale. On Day 1, team formation and concept introductions were made following motivational words from Stonly Baptiste of Urban.us and CodeFever's Felecia Hatcher.   Following a full day of coaching, brainstorming and designing, Day 2 ended with 7 young, energetic and tech-savvy teams taking the stage to the to share their tech solutions to improve civic innovation and quality of life for the core urban community.

The winner of the $2,500 cash and $25,000 in prizes was MyVillage presented by members of the Jacksonville National Urban League Young Professionals (pictured here).

Hackwinners
 

MyVillage is a platform that gives political snaphots about political incumbents and candidates.  The main objective of MyVillage is to provide "quality education" allowing voters to know exactly who they are voting for. The application provides voters with a centralized location for viewing Candidate’s agendas, platforms and fundraising totals. “We’re not going to just tell you to vote, we’re going to create a platform to educate you & let you know what you should be voting for,” said Ronnie King of My Village. The application has already been implemented in Jacksonville and plans for expansion in Gainesville are underway. 

Although this was the National Urban League's inaugural Hackathon, it will not be the last.  

“I am amazed at the power of technology...the ability some of you have to create it; to envision how it’ll change lives... We’re going to do this every year. We’re going to make it bigger and better.” says Marc Morial, President of the National Urban League.

Expressing his satisfaction with the event, David Cohen, Senior Executive Vice President of Comcast NBC Universal, said, "I think we’ve created a new tradition for our annual conference.”

 “History was made today. This was a major step for the National Urban League and positions them to be a voice and conduit to introduce people within the African American community to the power of technology and how it can be used to address social issues. It's time to focus on being not only consumers of tech, but producers," said LaToya Stirrup, President of Digital Grass Innovation & Technology.

Digital Grass worked directly with the Urban League to facilitate and organize the inaugural event. 

Michael Hall is the founder of Digital Grass, which is dedicated to establishing a diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem in South Florida.

July 21, 2015

National Urban League 'hacking' a path to social justice in Fort Lauderdale

Some of the nation’s brightest minds in tech will be working around the clock at the National Urban League 2015 Conference, designing original applications to alleviate the most pressing social issues of our day.

“More and more, the fight for social justice is being waged online,” said Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League. “The new face of civil rights is young, educated and tech-savvy. And these 21st-Century civil rights defenders are developing the 21st-Century tools they need.”

Hosted by the National Urban League in partnership with Digital Grass, the two-day “TechConnect: Hack-A-Thon for Social Justice,” presented by Comcast NBCUniversal, will take place from 5 pm Thursday, July 30, to 6:30 pm Friday, July 31.

 "Digital Grass is honored to help with civic hacking in our community" Digital Grass Founder and CEO Michael Hall said.  "It's important to not just develop social apps but software and applications that can help with civic innovation and improve the quality of life for our core urban community. This event is the right step in that direction."

TechConnect provides a space for innovators to design original social justice applications, specifically those in tune with this year's Conference theme, “Save Our Cities: Education, Jobs, and Justice.” At least one of the top resulting application/software will be implemented by the Urban League to enhance civic engagement, voting, education equity, housing, health, justice and job creation in urban communities

Developers, designers, civic leaders and creative thinkers are all invited to be among the first to create solutions to Save Our Cities and compete for $2,500 in cash and $25,000 in prizes.

WHAT: “TechConnect: Hack-A-Thon for Social Justice,” to develop innovative and impactful tech solutions to address some of the nation's biggest problems in the areas of public safety, voting, education, jobs, housing or health. 

WHERE: Greater Fort Lauderdale / Broward County Convention Center, 1950 Eisenhower Blvd. • Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33316

WHEN: Intro and Information will take place July 30; the Hackathon will take place July 31.

COST: Free Entry Fee for Competitors

TO REGISTER:  nultechconnect.digigrass.com

Press release supplied by Digital Grass

 

 

July 14, 2015

Upcoming Emerging Technologies & Business Showcase to award $150K; apply by Sept. 30

Space Florida, Enterprise Development Corporation of South Florida and Florida Venture Forum will co-host the 2015 Emerging Technologies & Business Showcase on Nov. 4 at the Hyatt Regency in Coral Gables.

The Showcase is a capital acceleration competition and business-networking event featuring presentations by some of Florida’s most promising early and mid-stage companies, a keynote address by retired NASA astronaut Capt. Winston Scott, and an investor panel discussion.

Presenting companies compete for cash awards totaling $150,000:

**$100,000 for a Growth Stage Company (To be considered, companies cannot have raised more than $3 million in equity capital from professional investors.)

**$50,000 for a Start-up Company (To be considered, companies cannot have raised more than $500,000 in equity capital from professional investors.)

Presenter applicants will be chosen by a selection committee and selection criteria are available on the Florida Venture Forum website. Selection preference will be given to companies in space transportation and advanced aerospace platforms, satellite systems and science payloads, ground and operations support systems, agriculture, climate/environmental monitoring, civil protection and emergency management, International Space Station and human life science (including medical research), communications, cyber security & robotics, adventure tourism, clean /alternative energy applications, advanced materials and new products, knowledge-based services, information technology and health technology.

Additional event Details and Applications are available on the Florida Venture Forum website.THE FINAL APPLICATION DEADLINE IS SEPT. 30.

- submitted by Florida Venture Forum

 

July 07, 2015

A new competition for food & beverage startups, small businesses

WHAT:                 Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream Pitch Room Wild Card Competition in partnership with Entrepreneur Magazine. This virtual competition will allow food and beverage small business owners in Miami to submit a product sales pitch for a chance to win a $10,000 business grant and extended mentoring from Samuel Adams.

HOW:                   Miami entrepreneurs with a food or beverage product, including craft brewers, are invited to upload a two-minute or less video of their best sales pitch. A panel of experts from Samuel Adams and Entrepreneur will judge the videos based on criteria including pitch quality, creativity, product viability and passion.

The top 5 best video submissions from across the country will then post to the Entrepreneur site, and the general public will be invited to vote for their favorite. The small business owner who receives the most votes for his/her sales pitch will be named the Wild Card winner and receive a trip for two to participate in the Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream Pitch Room finals this December.

WHEN:                 Applications will be accepted from July 7th to July 30th.

Top 5-6 submissions will be posted on Entrepreneur.com for public voting from August 16 to Sept. 7th.

Winner will be invited to compete in the finals in NYC this December.

WHERE:               Entrepreneur.com via http://entm.ag/samadamspitch2015

WHY:                    The Wild Card Pitch Room Competition is part of Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream, a micro-lending and coaching program for food and beverage small businesses including craft brewers that provides a unique combination of the two things Sam Adams brewer and founder, Jim Koch, wished he had when starting Sam Adams: access to capital and expert business advice. As an important extension of the program’s coaching and mentoring activities, the Pitch Room Competition helps small business owner’s better position and communicate about their products.

- Submitted by Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream Pitch Room Wild Card Competition

 

July 04, 2015

Game On! Submit ideas now for MIA Animation game competition with $1,000 prize

Students, professionals and members of the community are encouraged to submit ideas to win $1,000 in Game On, the first ever indie game competition, which is sponsored by MIA Animation and the Idea Center at the Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus.  The submission deadline is July 10.

The competition was created to encourage independent game development and fresh voices in the video game industry. In addition to a $1,000 cash award, the winner will receive a consulting meeting with an experienced incubator program. 

Applicants should submit a video of no more than three minutes that describes the game idea, showcases the art style and demonstrates any development or prototype work that has currently been completed.

The finalists will be showcased October 16, at the MIA Animation Conference & Festival where attendees will be able to play the prototype. The submissions will be judged on overall appeal, artistic style, creative vision, interview performance and feedback from attendees.

The MIA Animation Conference & Festival is an industry conference focused on computer animation, gaming, visual effects and motion graphics, film, web design and visual arts.  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.

The event 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. MDC will soon make major announcements regarding the future of gaming and animation at the college.

For more information, contact Mauricio Ferrazza at 305-237-7852 or mferrazz@mdc.edu.