April 13, 2015

Wyncode expands to Fort Lauderdale's General Provision

After graduating four cohorts and nearly 70 students from their Wynwood location at The LAB Miami, Wyncode founders Juha and Johanna Mikkola have decided it’s time to expand to General Provision co-working space in downtown Fort Lauderdale’s FATvillage.

The development boot camp welcomes programming newcomers. Over the nine-week period in a small class, students spend at least 300 hours learning and working collectively to create their own web apps. At the end of the course, Wyncoders pitch their apps to a panel of South Florida technology leaders and could walk away with a cash prize and/or a job. In the first four cohorts, Wyncode has a 92 percent placement rate.

The Fort Lauderdale campus’ lead instructor, Damon Davison, will be leading a free information session and demo lesson at Wyncode’s Open House on April 13. Wyncode’s first cohort in Fort Lauderdale on April 20. For more information, visit www.wyncode.co.

Davison studied  web development at the University of Cologne and worked as the Director of Technology at Southern Records in London and at other companies. Since moving to South Florida, he has quickly integrated into the tech community, organizing Rails Girls South Florida and the Broward Ruby Brigade.

March 29, 2015

Q&A: Technion's role in Israel's Startup Nation immense

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

TPeretz Laviehe Technion developed into a world-class research university out of necessity.

As President Peretz Lavie explains it, although the Israeli university’s roots date back to 1912 as an engineering school, it wasn’t until 1948 that Technion began its transformation into a leading research institution. Simply put, then-Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion believed the new state of Israel needed aeronautical expertise to power its Air force to defend the country; now aeronautics is one of the largest industrial complexes in Israel, he said.

 And that was just the beginning, Prof. Lavie said. “We have become a world class university, with 3 ½ Nobel laureates and a global presence, and we are the cornerstone of Startup Nation.”

The Technion – Israel Institute of Technology is a public research university in Haifa, Israel that offers  degrees in science and engineering, architecture, medicine, industrial management and education. With 18 academic departments and some 50 research centers, it is often grouped with  Stanford and MIT, universities that have played outsized roles in building their entrepreneurial ecosystems. Israel's movement, powered by Technion, is dubbed Startup Nation. The USB flash drive, drip irrigation, a Parkinson’s drug, the Iron Dome air defense system, the data compression algorithm used in pdfs, and instant messaging are some of the inventions developed at Technion or by alumni.

Prof. Lavie, who grew up in Israel but earned his PhD in physio-psychology (a precursor to neuroscience) at the University of Florida, joined Technion in 1975 to set up a sleep research lab. He worked his way up and became president in 2009. He’s also started two medical device companies and two medical service providers.

In 2011, a bid by a consortium of Cornell University and Technion won a competition to establish a new high-tier applied science and engineering institution in New York City. A state-of-the-art tech campus, the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech, is being built on Roosevelt Island, while the campus is currently housed in Google’s mammoth New York offices.

Technion is also establishing a technological institute in Guangdong Province, China. As part of the agreement, the Li Ka Shing Foundation will donate $130 million to Technion – the largest donation in the university’s history.

Lavie talked with the Miami Herald when he was in town earlier this month for an American Technion Society board meeting. Here are excerpts of the conversation.

Q. How did Technion become a powerhouse for high-tech?

A. In 1969, the Technion established a micro-electronics institute, when no one had heard of it. After the ‘67 war, we needed night vision devices and infrared sensors, there was no knowledge in Israel but Technion established the institute to produce the first semiconductors.  ... If you ask anyone where the high-tech sector in Israel started, everyone would say ’69 in the Technion. This is where they started to teach microelectronics, this is where semiconductors were produced, this is where it all started. …

The same year the faculty split into electrical engineering and computer science, these two are the backbone of the Israeli high tech sector.in 69 The Technion also decided to open a faculty of medicine. It was again prophetic -- the decision was made because in the future, medicine and technology would work hand in hand. This is why Israel now is an empire of medical devices.

Today, a 10 minutes’ drive from the Technion you will find Yahoo and Google and Intel and H-P and Philips and GE and now Apple, relying on Technion students and Technion graduates.

I just completed a study on companies established in the last 20 years by Technion graduates.  Of the 2,000 companies, ... 169 were established outside Israel, mostly in the U.S., the rest, more than 1,800 were in Israel. The number of jobs was 100,000, the mergers and acquisitions [activity] was $28 billion, the total money raised was $6 billion. ... And if you ask them why they are doing it, they want to change the world; it’s not the money.

Q. Sounds like you don’t have a problem with brain drain.

A. Brain drain is not an issue and I’ll tell you why. Intel is largest tech employer with 8,000 or 9,000 jobs. Intel in Israel was started by a Technion [graduate who moved back from the U.S.]. Same with Applied Materials, same with Apple, and others.

When we established a branch in New York together with Cornell, everyone said ‘oh, you will cause brain drain of Israelis to New York.’ I said ‘no, what we will do is attract second generation Israelis in the U.S., including as faculty members.

I don’t think all immigrant groups have a deep sense of responsibility. A large number of Israelis feel a lot of responsibility for Israel. Israel is a startup experience on its own; there is a shared sense of responsibility.

Q. What has Technion’s role been in the tech boom of Israel?

A. MIT did a study on universities that turned their areas into ecosystems of innovation and entrepreneurship. … MIT and Stanford were No.1 and 2, and Technion was no. 6 -- it changed the ecosystem of its country. When they asked the experts to rerate only the ones in challenging environments, Technion was no. 1.

Great universities need to attract top students, to attract top faculty, and the third is a mission. A university must have a mission. The mission is part of the Technion DNA -- To serve the country, to serve mankind. During the Russian immigration wave of the ‘90s, a wave of a million people within a span of five years, Technion stood up to the challenge. We increased the number of students by almost 30 percent in one year. We have a pre-academic center for minorities, every year we have 700 of them, and students are accepted without affirmative action; 67 percent are making it [into Technion].

Arab Israelis 10 years ago were 7 percent of the Technion students. The dropout rate was 40 percent. We started bringing the top kids from all the villages into the program, appointed them a big brother or sister, and held regular discussion groups. Fast forward 10 years, 20 percent of our students are Arab and the dropout rate is 13 percent, about the same as the Israel population. 48 percent of those students are Arab women in all the faculties.’

Q. What about overall?

A. 37 percent women. But electrical engineering is still 15-20 percent. We are trying to move that. We started programs in the high schools, k-12, and to attract girls into science, math, physics.

Q. What other factors led to Startup Nation?

A. Two major characteristics I found are characteristics of Israelis. First, risk-taking behavior. ... The army service teaches you how to take risks. ... The second one is acceptance of failure. There are many countries where failure is not an option. In Israel, failure is part of the learning curve.

Then there is the emphasis on education, a Jewish tradition. But we don’t teach the materials, we are taught how to learn; it is a lifelong experience. I hear this  from our alumni, ‘we are taught how to learn … There is not a situation where we cannot cope.’

The fourth is the government during the ‘60s had the right policy when they started to support research, in companies.

Q. How is your global expansion progressing?

A. Mayor Bloomberg, I admire him for his vision. When I met with him, I said why Technion? He said I am envious of Silicon Valley and Route 128 [in Boston] and I want New York to be the capital of technology.

We are now temporarily at Google headquarters in Chelsea, I asked Eric Schmidt why, and he said we want to be close to you. You need the nucleus of academic excellence that will attract faculty, students and customers. This is a unique to have a degree in applied science and engineering. No excuses. Its tailor made for the industries of New York. We started with The Connective Media, including a major publication. Next year we have are going to open The Healthier Life. The third one is The Built Environment, to open in 2017.

We would like to be close to you. This is the key.

.... [In China,] hopefully we will get the greenlight and start in 2017; we have appointed a leader already. Cornell and China were our first expansions, and we won’t do anymore. With 14,000 students and 600 faculty, we can’t spread ourselves too thin. But I must say we became the most courted boy on the block. We have strategic agreements with the University of Michigan, Toronto, MIT, Cornell and several leading European universities. It’s exciting."

Q. What brought you to  Miami this month?

A. I was here for a board meeting of the American Technion Society. The backbone of our support has come from the American Technion society established in 1940. Without their support we would just be another college in the Middle East. We don’t get research and development funding form the Israeli government … I travel here and crisscross the country twice a year to meet our supporters. This is amazing, the dedication, the love for our institute -- now we have third and fourth generation families that support Technion.

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg. 

See related story on Miami startup delegation's knowledge exchange in Israel as part of AJC's Project Interchange.

March 18, 2015

SBA accepting applications this week for next Emerging Leaders program

Seventeen Miami-Dade small business owners and principals ready to grow their businesses will be chosen for the Small Business Administration’s free Emerging Leaders Program. Applications are now being accepted for the next class that will give selected small businesses a tailored three-year strategic growth plan to help bring their business to the next level.

Owners interested in the program should be the owner or principal in the small business that has annual revenues of at least $400,000, been in business for at least 3 years, and has at least one employee other than the owner. The participant must be dedicated to attend 13 evening training sessions and complete required homework.

The curriculum called the StreetWise Steps to Small Business Growth, is comprised of five modules: Business and Strategy Assessment; Financials; Marketing and Sales; Resources (People, Accessing Capital and Government Contracting); and Strategic Growth Plan Presentations.

The deadline to apply for the next class is March 20. Register here: www.interise.org/sbaemergingleaders.

March 16, 2015

Startup Spotlight: Wyncode

Wyncode2

Johanna and Juha Mikkola are the founders of Wyncode, which runs nine-week-long coding boot camps at its school at The LAB Miami. AL DIAZ MIAMI HERALD STAFF

 

Wyncode

Headquarters: The LAB Miami in Wynwood.

Concept: Wyncode is a nine-week development boot camp immersing ambitious individuals in a demanding and inspiring learning environment engineered to develop successful coders with business acumen. “We believe in promoting programming literacy using a disruptive education model and feel that a boot camp environment is the best way to learn practical and relevant coding skills quickly,” said Juha Mikkola, who co-founded Wyncode with his wife, Johanna (pictured above).

Story: WyncodeAcademy aims to address the need in Miami’s tech ecosystem for developer talent, which parallels what’s seen elsewhere in the country: recent estimates show that there will be a million more computer programming jobs in 2020 than candidates to fill them. The rapidly growing demand for developers provides an opportunity for a career accelerator for those determined to change their path and make an impact in the startup technology scene.

Wyncode got started after Juha Mikkola attended a development boot camp in Toronto, Canada, where he saw firsthand the power and effectiveness of the accelerated learning model. Improving upon that experience with better hiring partner relationships and a “Made for Miami” curriculum, Wyncode hit the ground running with a 14-person inaugural class in May 2014. Wyncode graduated its fourth cohort last week.

Wyncode has held four Pitch Days with each drawing an audience of about 250 people to see the app creations of Wyncode students. Last week’s Pitch Day drew 267 people and six of the students received full-time job offers even before the event.

Launched: Website went live in February 2014; first classes started in May.

Management team: Co-founders Juha and Johanna Mikkola.

Website: www.wyncode.co.

Number of employees: Five full-time employees, five part-time employees, in addition to the co-founders. Wyncode’s lead instructor, Edward Toro, is an MIT graduate, veteran of six startups, and a Miami tech scene pioneer.

Financing: Self-financed. Currently raising $500,000.

Recent milestones: Nearly 70 students have graduated from the program while Wyncode has maintained a 92 percent placement rate within three months of graduation; first Code School/Development Bootcamp in Florida to receive Florida Department of Education licensing; won Tech Cocktail’s Best Company Culture Award; invited to the White House to participate in its Accelerated Learning Program panels and meet the US CTO Megan Smith, and then invited back; Wyncode and nine other coding schools nationwide recently formed a new trade organization called the New Economy Skills Training Association (NESTA) to establish best practices, standards and increase accountability in the industry.

Biggest startup challenge: Finding out that accelerated learning programs required Florida Department of Education licensing, after students joining the first cohort had already quit their jobs to attend Wyncode. “We’re fortunate that the state saw the great impact we are having and worked with us as we fulfilled the requirements, but it made for a lot of sleepless nights,” Juha Mikkola said. “Even through the difficult times all of our students stuck by us!”

Next steps: Expanding programming at flagship location in Wynwood. “We introduced our first part-time course in February, which is for iOS App Development. Next we plan to expand to our second location in Fort Lauderdale in April, pending state approval, and add more part-time courses,” Johanna Mikkola said.

Strategy for next step: “Our strategy is laser-focused on maintaining our quality no matter what we do. We will continue working closely with our hiring partners to make sure that we are teaching relevant tech skills that allow our graduates to jump straight into the workplace and contribute from day one, or build a minimum viable product and start their own tech company,” Juha Mikkola said.

Nancy Dahlberg @ndahlberg

2 wyncode021315 ADD

The Wyncode team, left to right, Walter Latimer, Damon Davison, Bryce Kerley, Frank Ortiz, Juha Mikkola, Diego Lugo, Edward Toro and Johanna Mikkola, above. Below, Alexander Moraleza and other students participate in a class at Wyncode at The LAB Miami. AL DIAZ MIAMI HERALD STAFF

  1wyncode021315ADD

March 13, 2015

Packed house for Wyncode’s Pitch Day IV

Wyncode

By Juha Mikkola

Wyncode’s Pitch Day IV attracted over 250 people to The LAB Miami, including many of Wyncode’s hiring partners, leaders in the Miami Tech scene and angel investors.

Wyncode’s fourth cohort was made up of 19 hand picked students that spent nine weeks in a full-time immersive bootcamp environment. The students’ passionate effort culminated in Pitch Day, where they presented their full stack applications which they created in the final two weeks at Wyncode. The students' learning of coding skills was complemented by a strong focus on business acumen, including communication and presentation skills as well as an understanding of lean startup and agile methodologies.

Even before the students’ official graduation at Pitch Day IV, 33% of the Wyncoders had already received job offers, a new milestone for Wyncode, which has a 92% placement rate amongst its graduates.

The student projects were built from scratch and included apps designed to solve real-life problems in various different industries. These projects include - My Style Blox, Scan-Cierge, Med+, Music Scholar, 40K, I See a Meter Maid, in memoriam, and Ruby Quest. The students presented to a team of judges from Miami’s tech community - Benoit Wirz, DIR/Venture Investments of Knight Foundation, Greg Miller, Dir. Engineering Talent of Ultimate Software, Rebekah Monson, Founder of WhereBy.Us and Mark Nix, Chief Executive Officer of Cloud Logistics. Fermin Carranza, Mario Gatchair and Travis Gordon of Team Ruby Quest won the Pitch Day challenge and received $1,000 cash. They are pictured below with Pitch Day Tres winners Ray Braaf and Todd Metheney, who are working as Junior Web Developers for MDLIVE and Kipu Systems, respectively. 

Winners1

Wyncode’s next cohorts start on April 6th and June 4th in Miami and April 20th in Ft.Lauderdale. Find out more at http://www.wyncode.co

 

Artist as an Entrepreneur Institute returns; registration is now open

Art entrepreneurs – here’s a course for you. I covered this workshop series several years ago and have kept up with some of the past participants, all artists who learned the basics on running their own businesses in the workshops. They all said it was well worth their time and they have continued to collaborate together. This is open to artists in all three counties.Space is limited so register soon.

Here is the information directly from the Institute.

 Broward Cultural Division, The Community Partnership for Arts and Culture (CPAC) and ArtServe announce the return of their Artist as an Entrepreneur Institute (AEI). The program, to be presented on four Saturdays in June, will be held at ArtServe,1350 E. Sunrise Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale. Artists of all disciplines are encouraged to attend, including but not limited to sculptors, illustrators, metalworkers, writers, dancers, jewelers, musicians, performance artists, media/filmmakers, photographers, designers and all interdisciplinary artists. Artists residing in any county are invited and welcome to attend.

AEI is a course of study designed to assist individual artists by cultivating and advancing their business skills, and helping them to strengthen their operating infrastructure and expand their business. To date, more than 500 South Florida artists have graduated from the Institute, and many with exceptional success stories that follow. AEI will be offered as 20 full-day classes, 9AM - 6PM, on June 6th, 13th & 20th and a Business Plan Clinic and Workshop on June 27th, 9AM - 2PM. 

Registrants will receive an AEI course book; an indispensable resource for artists. Developed by CPAC, the course book features exercises and readings to prepare for each session, and is tailored to the specific needs of artist entrepreneurs.

Designed to help artists operate in the marketplace more successfully, the AEI course curriculum covers all aspects of developing an artistic business. It helps identify and develop a personal brand, develop strategies for communicating with target markets, raise capital and identify a variety of tools for protecting one's work legally. The curriculum offers critical support, enabling artists to contribute to strengthening the vitality of the larger urban arts and culture sector. Sessions include a mix of lectures, panels, group discussions and practical exercises. 

The Business Plan Clinic's topics, Working Effectively with Lenders and Developing a Brand, will guide participants through preparation of a simple business plan, an essential tool for any artist. In addition, participants will learn how to work effectively with lenders to obtain financial support.

Participation costs is $100 and includes light refreshments and free parking. For members of ArtServe, registration is $75. RSVP Online. For more information contact Adriane Clarke, at 954-357-7530.

View the Artist as an Entrepreneur webpage for more information about the course and its history, and read news coverage from past years. 

March 10, 2015

Wyncode joins national effort to establish standards, best practices among coding schools

 In support of the White House and President Obama's TechHire initiative, Wyncode and nine other coding schools announced the formation of a new trade organization called the New Economy Skills Training Association (NESTA). Joining Wyncode in the endeavor are: App Academy, Dev Bootcamp, Flatiron School, General Assembly, Galvanize, Hackbright Academy, Hack Reactor, MakerSquare and Turing School.

NESTA's mission is to establish best practices, standards, and increase accountability for outcome-based NESTA organizations.  Their first initiative is to develop and agree on a standardized outcomes reporting methodology.

As part of their commitment, NESTA wrote a letter to President Obama outlining its commitment to publish outcomes on an annual basis and have them verified by third-party CPAs.

 

March 07, 2015

For South Florida firms, finding top tech talent still a challenge

Ebuilder

e-Builder President and CEO Ron Antevy, left, and recently hired employee Lisa Ruggieri, right, play foosball in the game room of the company office in Plantation. NICK SWYTER MIAMI HERALD STAFF

With the economy growing again, local demand for senior developers and other technology experts is heating up. Some employees say salaries need to rise to keep them in South Florida.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/#storylink=cpy

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Ron Antevy knows a little something about the war for tech talent in South Florida. He’s on the front lines.

Antevy is the CEO of e-Builder, a provider of program management software for the construction industry that has been growing 30 to 40 percent a year in revenues, he said. He has hired seven people in the tech industry since January and plans to hire at least 40 more employees before year’s end.

“I feel like I am always behind,” he said. “Those really awesome software developers are the toughest to find.”

The market for tech talent is white hot nationally and locally, thanks to a recovering economy and growing entrepreneurial activity. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. unemployment rate among software developers and engineers in the United States was just 2.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014, compared with an overall rate of 5.7 percent.

  Funkhouser“It’s starting to feel like 1999 again,” said Alex Funkhouser, CEO of Miami Beach-based SherlockTalent, a staffing company that specializes in the tech industry. He says he has been seeing multiple-offer situations for the somewhat small pool of senior-level developers and systems engineers. Companies have to act faster than they are accustomed to, he said, and often have to go outside “their comfort zone” on salaries and benefits. Signing bonuses are back, too.

The competition is only going to become more acute: The Department of Labor forecasts that the United States will have 1 million more tech jobs than candidates to fill them by 2020 if trends continue.

Continue reading "For South Florida firms, finding top tech talent still a challenge " »

March 06, 2015

MIAMade wins Miami Foundation grant to fund Liberty City makerspace

MIAMade, based at The LAB Miami, an innovation campus in Wynwood, received a $10,000 accelerator grant from The Miami Foundation to fund the development of Liberty To Make, a makerspace for  Liberty City.

MIAMade is a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering the growth of the maker movement in the Greater Miami area; it produces the annual and highly popular Miami Mini Maker Faire as well as the Wynwood Maker Camp and many other projects. The Miami Foundation Accelerator Grant will be used to kick-start the creation of a makerspace in Liberty City that will engage locals of all ages by fostering their entrepreneurial and creative talents while bringing the community together through STEAM (science, math, engineering, arts, and math) principles.

 “Thanks to The Miami Foundation, MIAMade is excited to take its first step in bringing the people of Liberty City, a space to come together and build together, in turn gaining economic and educational opportunities in a changing Miami.” said Willie Avendano, MIAMade programs manager and co-founder of the Wynwood Maker Camp.

The Miami Foundation's Accelerator Grants program makes $10,000 award related to each of the eight Our Miami Report issue areas. The foundation particularly looks at entities that already have traction, are making positive headway and could turn modest funding into expanded social impact.

MIAMade is accepting donations to fund future programming at The LAB Miami and Liberty To Make. For more information on MIAMade or how you can support its community efforts, please visit www.miamade.org or call Jennifer Mendez Alba at (786) 337-1119.

See a report and video on the last Miami Mini Maker Faire here.

 

March 04, 2015

LaunchCode signs up 102 companies, now accepting apprenticeship applicants

Lc4

Liftoff for LaunchCode.

LaunchCode, a tech-employment nonprofit, aims to attack the tech-talent gap by matching candidates with short-term apprenticeships at partnering companies -- 102 South Florida companies and counting (see photo below). In an event at the Idea Center at Miami Dade College on Wednesday attended by several hundred people, LaunchCode founder Jim McKelvey said  the organization is now ready to take applications. Candidates can apply at launchcode.org/apply.

LaunchCode tests all candidates, and if they already have the skills, LaunchCode can place them tomorrow in positions that are the right fit for them, McKelvey said. No degree? No experience? No problem. If they don't have the skills, LaunchCode will suggest training options, such as  coding bootcamps IronHack and Wyncode or free  online classes. The Idea Center, Miami Dade College's entrepreneurship hub, launched its first LaunchCode training class Tuesday; a group of about 100 students are taking a free 19-weeklong introductory programming course taught by Harvard University. The online training is supplemented by in-person help from the Idea Center. After training, many of the students could be ready for apprenticeships.

The past couple of months has been all about onboarding companies, and now the real work begins -- making great matches and expanding the talent pipeline. "It's what we do," said McKelvey, who co-founded Square and now lives in South Florida. Typically, the apprentices are hired full-time after the one- to three-month apprenticeships because they have been matched appropriately, he said.

At the event, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez shared the stage with other speakers including McKelvey; Matt Haggman, Miami program director for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which provided major support to bring LaunchCode to Miami and establish The Idea Center; Leandro Finol, executive director of the Idea Center, a key partner for LaunchCode and where LaunchCode is based; and Jorge Plasencia, an early LaunchCode supporter and  CEO of República. Both The Idea Center and LaunchCode are Knight Foundation grantees. “Miami-Dade County has committed to hiring LaunchCode apprentices for our IT department and I encourage all South Florida companies to consider this innovative program,” the mayor said.

Lc3LaunchCode has already placed its first apprentice. 

Digital and advertising agency República hired Nate Beers, a recently trained web developer who formerly was a professional poker player.  Wanting to make a career change, Beers took a coding bootcamp in San Francisco and then applied to LaunchCode. Now he is helping to create websites for Republica clients. “Nate has been doing great work and we look forward to bringing on more LaunchCoders in the future,” said Plasencia.

Mckelvey 2

 See related story here.