February 07, 2016

Miami FinTech Forum launches with pitch contest

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In another new program for accelerating entrepreneurship, Citi Community Development, Village Capital and Florida International University on Thursday night kicked off a Miami Fintech Forum. About 15 financial technology startups were selected to participate in a yearlong program in which they will get help through education, mentorship and access to capital from the Small Business Development Center at FIU as well as experts from Citi and Village Capital. The Forum on Thursday included a pitching event, in which the companies took part in a full day of coaching and mentoring at Building.co, and in the evening 11 of the companies pitched to the crowd and were questioned by an expert judging panel.

Through votes of the audience and fellow entrepreneurs in their cohort, two teams were awarded $10,000 grants: DocuVital, a service to organize, automate and store vital information for end-of-life planning, pitched by CEO Joel Brown (pictured above), and VestMunity, opening the real estate investing market to everyday people through crowdfunding, pitched by founder Yemani Mason (pictured below). The other companies selected to pitch were: FlyScan, Gradvisor, MedXoom, Mosaic Money, OneCloud, Qbit Solutions, RNKR.io, Settleitsoft and Tip N’ Go.

Natalie Abatemarco, managing director of Citi Community Development and Inclusive Finance, explained there would be more events and opportunities for these companies to raise capital because the partnership with Village Capital will open a lot of doors. The idea behind this venture is to reach out to the community with a strong anchor partner in FIU and level the playing field for entrepreneurs in underserved communities. Citi is also running programs in San Francisco and New York focusing on education technology and health-tech. 

“We want to help businesses to scale and help get communities the resources they need in order to survive, to thrive and really revitalize,” she said.

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February 05, 2016

Daymond John kicks off entrepreneurship contest, but first some Shark Tank advice


Photos by Jasen Delgado / www.jasendelgado.com

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com / @ndahlberg

The American Entrepreneurship Award, a new contest for early-stage Miami-Dade entrepreneurs, used some celebrity magic to draw a standing room only audience to its launch event: Daymond John.

Daymond(3)The Shark Tank star entertained and inspired the audience Thursday with his rags to riches story – he started making urban streetwear while working at Red Lobster. He opened FUBU in 1989 and had to close it three times over the next three years because he ran out of capital. But his passion, and FUBU’s many fans, powered him forward: Now it’s a $6 billion enterprise.

Today, of course, John, who is the author of the new book The Power of Broke, has invested in scores of companies through Shark Tank, rolling up his sleeves and working closely with the companies, including South Florida's Three Jerks Jerky and AquaVault. “The Sharks all feel we are a very small part of a very huge [entrepreneurial] movement,” said John, noting that Shark Tank is one of the top shows watched by kids 5-15 and one of the top shows parents watch with kids. “We’re a part of something that will help the next generation.”

John will be a celebrity judge for the AEA award, a new annual contest offered by Libra Group and Miami Dade College’s Idea Center. It’s is open for applications at www.americanaward.com until April 29. The winner receives up to $25,000, as well mentorship and support services. In addition, Miami Dade College students will also be eligible for a separate $2,500 MDC award.

At the American Entrepreneurship Award event, Daymond John shared this advice:

* Successful entrepreneurs take affordable next steps.

* Surround yourself with like-minded friends who won’t let you quit. Seek out mentors from among the successful business people you know.

* Responsibility must be taken, not given (advice from his mom).

* Success is all about tapping into a movement. It’s about the following you create with your own authentic voice. It’s not the money that will get you there (”Money just drives your problems in a limousine”). And it is all about the hustle.

* What separates the rock stars from the rest on Shark Tank? Proof of concept first and foremost, the companies already have proved customers want the product and they have some sales. Second, the founders have failed more times than they have succeeded; they are so excited about what they are doing, they would do it for free the rest of their life if they could. And third, the business must be scalable.




February 03, 2016

Pine Crest School 7th graders win Best in Nation, $20,000 grant in Verizon Innovative App Challenge

Best In Nation3

This winning team will also get help from MIT to develop their app that helps measure, manage concussions in football.

A team of South Florida students have earned Best in Nation honors, a $20,000 grant and wireless tablets in the Verizon Innovative App Challenge for their new technology concept that aids in the study and management of concussions and brain injury in football.

The seventh-graders from Fort Lauderdale’s Pine Crest School also have won the opportunity to work with top developers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to turn their Force Transmission Data Collector  idea into a working wireless app.


The technology would incorporate a sensor in each player’s helmet to record and send real-time data on collision force.  The information would be immediately available to coaches, trainers, parents and others.

The concept was one of eight Best In Nation winners selected from more than 1,200 submissions nationwide.

A team from Miami’s  Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High won a Best In State award and a $5,000 grant from Verizon for their LanguaSign  concept, which would help the hearing impaired translate sign language into speech.


 The competition, created by Verizon in partnership with the Technology Student Association, and presented in collaboration with MIT Media Lab, challenged student teams across the country to come up with ideas for mobile apps that could solve a problem in their schools or communities, with no coding skills required.

"Each year, students have raised the bar for the App Challenge and we are continuously impressed by their thoughtful solutions to such a broad range of societal issues," said Justina Nixon-Saintil, director of education and technology programs for the Verizon Foundation.

 In June, members of the Pine Crest team and the other Best In Nation winners will present their apps in person at the National TSA Conference in Nashville, courtesy of Verizon.

Best In Nation1

January 30, 2016

Daymond John to speak at American Entrepreneurship Award kick-off at MDC Feb. 4


Entrepreneur Daymond John of ABC’s Shark Tank will hold a fireside chat during the kick-off presentation of the American Entrepreneurship Award (AEA), a new annual award program that provides startup funding of up to $25,000 for entrepreneurs that is sponsored by the Libra Group and the Idea Center. The free event will be at Miami Dade College at 11:30 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 4.  

The AEA is a business plan competition that seeks to stimulate entrepreneurial spirit through practical support, expert mentorship by industry leaders and start-up funding for America’s most promising early-stage businesses.

John, an AEA celebrity judge, will share with participants about being an entrepreneur the “Shark Tank Way.”  An entrepreneur in every sense of the word, John has come a long way from starting FUBU with $40 to growing it into a six-billion-dollar brand. The founder of FUBU, Presidential Ambassador of Global Entrepreneurship, and co-star of ABC's Shark Tank is a celebrated pioneer in the fashion industry, best-selling author, branding guru and highly-sought-after motivational speaker.

At the launch event, attendees will also have the opportunity to meet past winners of the Hellenic Entrepreneurship Award, the sister program to the AEA that has been running in Greece for the past four years, and learn how winning accelerated their own entrepreneurial and business success.

Entries can be submitted via an online application, which  opened on The American Entrepreneurship Award website on January 28, 2016. Entries will be due April 29. Winners will be announced in June 2016.

To register for the event, please visit http://aealaunch.eventbrite.com

WHAT:            American Entrepreneurship Award with Daymond John

WHEN:            Thursday, Feb. 4, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. (Doors open at 11 a.m.)

                        (Daymond John to speak at 12:10 p.m.)

WHERE:         The Idea Center at Miami Dade College

315 NE 2nd Ave., Building 8, 5th Floor

Submitted by Miami Dade College.

Read past coverage of the American Entrepreneurship Award here.

January 26, 2016

Dawn Dickson a finalist for SBA’s InnovateHER Business Challenge

DawndicksonDawn Dickson, founder and CEO of Flat out of Heels, is one of 10 finalists of the 2016 InnovateHER: Innovating for Women Business Challenge, a nationwide business competition presented by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Dickson’s Miami Beach-based companies makes and sells rollable ballet flats that can easily fit in a purse -- a convenient way for women to relieve stiletto sore feet on the go.

An executive committee of SBA officials reviewed more than 180 semi-finalist nominations and selected 10 finalists whose products and services best met the competition criteria and presented the greatest potential for success. The semi-finalists were chosen at more than 200 local competitions across the country hosted by universities, accelerators, clusters, scale-up communities, SBA’s resource partners and other local community organizations and involving more than 1,000 entrepreneurs.

These 10 finalists are invited to the National InnovateHER: Innovating for Women Business Challenge during Women’s History Month in Washington, D.C., where they will pitch their businesses to a panel of expert judges for an opportunity to win $70,000 in cash and prizes from Microsoft.

For more details on the competition and the other finalists, visit www.sba.gov/innovateHER.


January 19, 2016

SUP-X announces startup competition semifinalists; 15 are from South Florida

Sup-X-Logo_FinalSUP-X: The StartUp Expo announced the 50 semifinalists for its startup competition. Chosen from hundreds of online applications and recommendations from accelerators, angel groups and venture funds throughout North America, the 50 startups have earned a booth on the SUP-X exhibit hall floor and the right to compete for $50,000 in prizes at SUP-X: The Startup Expo, on February 16-17 in Fort Lauderdale. The event will close with a fast pitch competition of five finalists.

The semifinalists from South Florida are: BlackDove, RawShorts, FlyInStyle, GenSmart, Room2Care, and GasNinjas, all from Miami-Dade County; JINGLZ, Doc-Quick, Aventusoft, Everyware, EnergyBionics and Tone-y-Bands from Palm Beach County; and BDEX, GoGig and PortNexus from Broward.

“We had a great group of applicants this year, from Vancouver to Nova Scotia, Texas to New York and all the way down to Florida. These startups span hardware, software, apps, B2B, B2C: a really diverse group of talented companies and entrepreneurs,” said Bob Fitts, founder and producer of SUP-X and president of the Boca Raton-based Gold Coast Venture Capital Association.

SUP-X: The Startup Expo is Feb. 16-17 at the Greater Fort. Lauderdale-Broward County Convention Center. SUP-X will feature a women’s forum, workshops for entrepreneurs, and more than a dozen panels on topics that are relevant both to investors and entrepreneurs. Gary Bredow, host of the PBS TV series “Startup” will emcee the event and Jim Jensen of Ultimate Software and serial entrepreneur Rachel Braun Scherl will give keynote addresses. Tickets to SUP-X range from $59 to $399. For additional information and to register, visit http://www.sup-x.org.

January 18, 2016

Vote to help 2 So. Fla. high school finalists win more $, support in Verizon Innovative App Challenge

Creating apps to tackle big social challenges such as communicating with the hearing impaired and studying the risks of concussions, student teams from Miami’s Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High and Fort Lauderdale’s Pine Crest (PK – 12) School have earned Best in State honors, $5,000 grants and wireless tablets in the Verizon Innovative App Challenge.

The teams can earn an additional $15,000 -- and support from MIT Media Lab developers to turn their concepts into working wireless apps -- by winning the Best In Nation award or through online Fan Favorite voting.

Voting is open now and ends January 31, 2016 at http://appchallenge.tsaweb.org/vote.

Krop students developed an app concept called LanguaSign, (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-llIJcvHxY) which helps the hearing impaired translate sign language into speech.



Pine Crest students created Force Transmission Data Collector (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YReTCxLdMc) to help in the study of concussions and related brain injuries in football.


MS5 App Challenge

The winning concepts were selected from more than 1,200 submissions nationwide.

 Approximately 1 million high school freshmen each year declare interest in a STEM-related field, but of these students, over 57% will lose interest in STEM by the time they graduate.  Because of this, the Verizon Foundation, in partnership with the Technology Student Association, created the Verizon Innovative App Challenge to spark greater student interest in STEM as early as middle school and to make students aware of tech-related career opportunities.

Voting is open through 01/31/16. Fan Favorite and national winners will be announced 02/02/16.


January 12, 2016

16 concepts from South Florida advance to Knight Cities Challenge finals

An app that allows Miami residents to discuss and vote on actions taken by local government, a culinary incubator in Opa-Locka, a reimagined "Domino Park" and a kayak-sharing program were among 12 concepts chosen as finalists from Miami in the second annual Knight Cities Challenge. Four finalists were also selected from Palm Beach County.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation on Tuesday announced 158 finalists on Tuesday as part of its national call for ideas to make the 26 communities where Knight invests more vibrant places to live and work. More than 4.500 applicants from across the country entered.

"The finalists reflect what the Knight Cities Challenge is about: uncovering new civic innovators and motivating people to realize ideas big and small that can contribute to the success of their cities," said Carol Coletta, Knight Foundation vice president for community and national initiatives, in announcing the finalists.

Winners, who will receive a share of $5 million to fund their projects, will be announced in the spring. The Miami Science Barge, a floating education center for learning about sustainability and marine life now under construction and aiming to open this year, was one of the 32 winners in the inaugural challenge.

The finalists from Miami, which include one with a concept for multiple cities, are:

Thrive Kitchen by Opa-locka Community Development Corp. (submitted by Aileen Alon): Creating a shared commercial kitchen and business incubator to stimulate Miami's food entrepreneurs in South Florida's underserved communities.

First Taste: Little River by First Taste (submitted by Amy Rosenberg): Enabling food entrepreneurs at a regular food flea market in Little River to showcase their products to the public and grow their businesses.

Orange Blossom Parkway Bicycle and Pedestrian Trail for Proposed Hialeah MarketDistrict by city of Hialeah (submitted by Annette Quintana): Creating an urban linear park connecting Hialeah Market Station and Hialeah Drive to provide residents with a space to walk, bike, play and connect.

Community Asset Platform by Center for Applied Transect Studies (submitted by Hank Dittmar): Creating an online platform that will map neighborhood assets and underused public areas (vacant lots, empty storefronts) and engage residents in redevelopment efforts.

DomiNest by IoCI (submitted by Malik Benjamin): Transforming Miami's iconic “Domino Park” to bring people from diverse backgrounds and ages together for a game of dominos.

Living with Water: Miami Beach Blueways Connector by city of Miami Beach (submitted by Judy Hoanshelt): Creating a kayak-sharing program that will build on Miami's transportation network and introduce people to the city's waterways and unique aquatic ecosystems.

The Underline: Brickell Backyard Outdoor Gym/Sports Field by Friends of The Underline (submitted by Meg Daly): Creating a sports field and gym as part of The Underline, a proposed 10-mile linear park underneath the Miami-Dade Metrorail, to provide quality of life incentives to talented young adults.

BlockWork Miami (submitted by Nassar Farid Mufdi Ruiz): Providing an annual incentive for residents to transform their neighborhoods; residents would nominate a block for revitalization and would restore it if it's chosen to receive funding.

Open Source Democracy by Engage Miami (submitted by Gabriel Pendas): Creating an app that provides information on issues that the Miami-Dade County Commission and other municipalities are voting on, and allows residents to discuss and cast their own vote on how they feel.

Miami Civic User Testing Group by Code for Miami (submitted by Rebekah Monson): Ensuring that people building local government technology use real-world feedback throughout the development process by creating a user testing group that will identify user experience issues more quickly, while making websites and apps more accessible.

Biscayne Green: Pop-Up Park by Miami Downtown Development Authority (submitted by Fabian de la Espriella): Creating a pop-up park and urban forest along Biscayne Boulevard to drive momentum for Biscayne Green, a proposal to redesign Biscayne Boulevard to include a pedestrian promenade.

This Is Home (finalist in category for Multiple Cities) by Global Ties Miami (submitted by Annette G. Alvarez): Welcoming refugee and immigrant families and connecting them with their neighbors and neighborhoods through shared community dinners and cultural experiences.

In Palm Beach County, the finalists are:

Friends of the Quadrille Linear Park (submitted by Aaron Wormus): Taking advantage of the construction around the All Aboard Florida rail service to create a friends' group to work towards a new linear park for downtown West Palm Beach.

Art Avenida by Lake Worth Community Redevelopment Agency (submitted by Joan Olliva): Improving public space in Lake Worth by transforming four downtown intersections with art, light, plantings and structures that celebrate diverse cultures.

A People First Design Criteria for Streets in the City of West Palm Beach by city of West Palm Beach (submitted by Chris Roog): Improving streets and public rights of way by developing design standards that prioritize people over cars.

The Sunset Rises Again! by the City of West Palm Beach (submitted by Jon Ward): Creating a new cultural hub in the Northwest Historic District on the site of a former jazz club and surrounding land.

Find the full list of finalists here.

January 06, 2016

CES news: AdMobilize wins innovation award for MATRIX


AdMobilize announced Wednesday that its Internet of Things creation, MATRIX, would receive recognition as a CES 2016 Innovation Awards Honoree in the Tech for a Better World product category. The product promises a standard OS for the Internet of Things and app marketplace where people around the world can build and download applications that connect the physical and online worlds. For the smart home vertical, MATRIX utilizes existing software API tools from prominent smart home device makers, for example Nest and August, to serve as the most intuitive hub for connected devices.

Products entered in the prestigious Innovation Awards are evaluated on their engineering, aesthetic and design qualities, intended use/function and user value, how the design and innovation of the product directly compares to other products in the marketplace and unique/novel features present.

The industry-defining MATRIX device hosts over a dozen sensors that interact with physical spaces, including a camera, thermometer, microphone, barometer, gyroscope, and many more. Integrations with Z-Wave, Zigbee, and IR are possible. Additionally, MATRIX comes with a wide range of wireless communication methods such as Bluetooth, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, along with CDMA and GSM 3G cellular protocols. Thus, connecting semi-smart devices such as networked cameras and Bluetooth security sensors to MATRIX is simple.

"As developers of cutting edge-technology, we believe in the creative power of developers to change the world. Today, there isn't a unified Internet of Things platform powered by a single device that allows the industry to reach its full potential; that's why we created MATRIX," said Rodolfo Saccoman, CEO of Miami Beach-based AdMobilize, in its press release.

Currently, Internet of Things applications and devices take months, if not years to develop. The MATRIX platform leverages Google V8 Javascript's engine via Node.js and gives developers the opportunity to build IoT apps in minutes. The MATRIX OS combines access to powerful libraries, including computer vision, machine learning, and data processing, with an easy to use API and a robust SDK (including a CLI tool). For a quick overview of the MATRIX developer platform visit matrix.one.

After successfully completing a MATRIX Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign on Dec.  10, the company dove full-speed into the development of the MATRIX. If you are at CES, a first look at MATRIX technology will be available at CES Booth #82732- Tech West, Sands/Venetian Level 1 Hall G.

- Information submitted by AdMobilize

January 05, 2016

Three South Florida entrepreneurial leaders make Forbes 30 Under 30 list

Three South Florida entrepreneurs and specialists made Forbes’ fifth annual “30 Under 30” list, which featured 600 young innovators and leaders who are transforming business, technology, finance, media, culture and more from around the nation. The list includes 20 categories with each of the honorees, all under 30 years old, vetted by a panel of expert judges in their respective fields.

Jared Finegold, 28, who manages mobile product development for Royal Caribbean International in Miami, made the 30 Under 30 list in the marketing/advertising category. Vicente Fernandez, 24, co-founder of the Miami startup Sportsmanias, a news platform for sports fans and fantasy players, was listed in the sports category, and Sergey Petrossov, 27, of Boca Raton who is founder and CEO of Jetsmarter, a mobile marketplace for private air transportation, was listed in the tech consumer category. In all, there were five other winners from Florida – four social entrepreneurs from Tembo Education in Tampa and one company founder from Orlando.

Other winners nationally include model Ashley Graham, actor John Boyega, athlete Stephen Curry, musician Shawn Mendes, and entrepreneurs Josh Bruno, Timothy Hwang and Jewel Burks. The full list of winners is online at www.forbes.com/30under30.