September 27, 2016

How to get a hot tech job? Miami Dade College offering big data degree

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By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Data scientist, data analyst, data architect, business intelligence analyst – the job titles vary but companies can’t seem to get enough of them in this hot tech sector.

What’s more, these data analysts that prepare and analyze large data sets are garnering average salaries exceeding $100,000, several recent national salary surveys show. Yet, companies say workers lack the skills for the abundant opportunities in both public and private sectors, including healthcare, finance, manufacturing, energy, education, logistics and construction.

To help fill that gap, Miami Dade College’s School of Engineering and Technology on the Wolfson campus plans to launch a new big data program in spring 2017, becoming the first educational institution in Florida to offer an undergraduate degree in data analytics. The program was recently approved by the State of Florida.

“Data science and analytics has been identified as a field where the shortfall in the workforce will be in the hundreds of thousands,” said Djuradj Babic, director of MDC’s School of Engineering and Technology, citing a McKinsey & Co. report that forecast nearly 200,000 vacancies nationwide in the field by 2018. “The effect of this gap in related fields such as information technology and cybersecurity will be threefold.” 

The program will begin with a College Credit Certificate in Business Intelligence, progress to an Associate in Science in Business Intelligence, and culminate in a Bachelor of Science in Data Analytics. “As we researched nationwide, we found that degrees were only being offered at the graduate or post-graduate level. Our undergraduate pathway is a model that can be replicated and applied nationwide,” Babic said. 

 Industry partners include NextEra Energy, Siemens Energy, the Business Higher Education Forum, Oracle, SAS, Accenture, Miami-Dade County, Miami Children’s Hospital and Miami-Dade County Public Schools, MDC said. For more information on the program, visit http://entec.mdc.edu/BS-DA.htm.

[Read more: Tech talent in South Florida: Making progress?

September 19, 2016

Following up on White House pledge, Wyncode releases its graduation, placement rates

  WyncodedayWyncode bootcamps end with pitch days. This one is Pitch Day IX at The LAB Miami. Photo by David Salazar.

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

While Miami's Wyncode Academy has been busy growing its bootcamp business, the coding education startup has also been at the forefront of a national effort to  build a strong -- and transparent -- foundation for its emerging industry.

Last year, in support of the White House and President Obama's TechHire initiative, Wyncode and nine other young coding schools formed a new trade organization called the New Economy Skills Training Association (NESTA). NESTA's purpose is  to establish best practices, standards and increase accountability for claims such as graduation and placement rates for students nationwide who typically plunk down $10,000 to $12,000 or more  to learn to code in under three months. One only has to look at the mess the for-profit college industry is now mired in to know the importance of building in  standards and transparency from the beginning.

Today, Wyncode will release its first independently verified job placement report for 2014 and 2015,  following its commitment made publicly in a letter to  President Obama in March 2015. Wyncode follows New York’s Flatiron School, San Francisco’s Hack Reactor and Austin’s MakerSquare  with its results. (Other bootcamps that have pledged are App Academy, Dev Bootcamp,  General Assembly, Galvanize, Turing School and Hackbright Academy.)

“Wyncode continues to lead the way for transparency in the coding bootcamp industry,” Wyncode co-founder Juha Mikkola said. "This is a major milestone for this type of education, not only in Florida but across the country. We are just the fourth school in the nation to release reviewed outcome results, something that is a major topic in for-profit education."

The findings, verified by accounting firm MBAF, show that  Wyncode's graduation rate is 97 percent and nearly all of its job-seeking graduates found jobs in time. Today, Wyncode is also releasing an interactive web app that allows interested parties, including potential students, to drill down using gender, ethnicity and educational background in order to visualize how students with particular  backgrounds have fared after the program, said Johanna Mikkola, the other half of the co-founding team.

Later today, find the app at http://wyncode.co/studentoutcomes/ and the job placement report at http://wyncode.co/jobs-report/.

Wyncode offers 10-week full-time coding bootcamps in Wynwood and Fort Lauderdale. The program attracts people without a programming background from a variety of careers, including chefs, lawyers, salespeople, accountants, concierges, marketing executives and entrepreneurs, and it focuses on tech skills like Ruby, JavaScript, HTML and CSS and the business skills that startups require to be successful.

Wyncode's report showed that 97 percent of its job-seeking graduates in 2014 and 2015 found work, though some took more than four months; 43 percent were placed in jobs within 30 days of graduation and 77 percent within 90 days. Of those that found work, 73 percent were fulltime jobs; the others were entrepreneurial, internships, apprentices,  part-time or  contract. The percentage of students placed in "technical" roles was 84 percent. The average age of Wyncode graduates is 30.

Here are a few other highlights of Wyncode's report for 2014 and 2015:

 * Straight out of Wyncode, more than 1 in 10 students make over $60,000 per year and 1 in 20 make more than $80,000. The average salary, based on available information from 111 respondents, was $46,200. The majority of graduates stayed in South Florida. 

 * Females graduating from Wyncode have a higher starting salary than males. Females started at an average of $2,000 more, despite the fact the technology industry is male dominated;

 * Wyncode graduates have created 12 startups and counting;

 * Post-Wyncode, students with a high school diploma perform at similar levels to those with advanced degrees and overall placement rates are similar among all ethnicities.

Wyncode Academy is licensed by the Florida Department of Education and has graduated over 300 Wyncoders. About 80 companies have hired Wyncoders and more than 30 companies hiring at least a second Wyncoder. Wyncode's campuses are in the Wynwood Arts District of Miami and Fort Lauderdale’s Flagler Arts and Technology Village, and it is the leading student reviewed in-person program on  Course Report, with over 100 reviews and a 4.7 out of 5 star rating. Current bootcamps cost $11,500.

Wyncode’s next 30-person cohorts, which always end with popular demo nights, begin in Miami on Oct. 3 and Jan. 9 and in Ft. Lauderdale on Oct. 10 and Jan. 17. Apply at wyncode.co.

“Learning to code is the new literacy,” Johanna Mikkola said. “We get a lot of questions if this is really possible after our 10 week course. This is why transparency of outcomes is extremely important to Wyncode, so that prospective students can see the real picture of Wyncode grads after graduation.”

Read more: Learn to code in 10 weeks? Try one day  

September 18, 2016

Why every incubator needs social entrepreneurs

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Photo by Daniela Cadena

By Robert Hacker

In January 2016, Emily Gresham and I began to design the program that became StartUP FIU, Florida International University’s (FIU) new incubator. Emily, who is Assistant Vice President for Research and Economic Development, holds the strong belief that hospitals and universities are the anchor institutions in cities. This philosophy lead to StartUP FIU’s focus on serving the entire community and not just the Brickell-Wynwood corridor. I believe there is much confusion between small business management and entrepreneurship and that Miami would be best served if StartUP FIU supported the entrepreneurship that grows large, scalable ventures. With community and scalable ventures in place as the founding principles, Emily and I quickly added other key principles:

Inclusion We welcome everyone to apply to StartUP FIU, from high schoolers and college students to faculty from any university in South Florida. We welcome retired people, FIU alumni and people with no formal education. We received 160 applications to Cohort 1 and the applications were split almost evenly between students, alumni and the community. As they say, “we bet on the jockeys and not on the horses”.

Free: To be truly inclusive a program cannot have financial barriers to entry. The signature, 13-week incubator program “Empower” is totally free--no application fees, no payments or charges during the program and no equity participation for the incubator. We also provide mentors, consultants, space and university resources at no charge.

Stage Agnostic: When we first started talking to prospective entrepreneurs, we realized that many people did not even know how to advance their ideas beyond their first doodles on a piece of paper. Therefore, we decided that we would accept people who just had ideas, people that had a minimal viable product (MVP) but no revenue and companies with revenue. Applicants did not even have to have a company formed.

General Incubator: We think of StartUP FIU as a startup. We are iterating to determine the best way to serve the South Florida community. Today we accept all types of ideas from food and fashion to edtech, high tech and medical diagnostics. We even have a chair company in Cohort 1. We may experiment with specially “themed cohorts” in the future as we continue to explore what types of entrepreneurship will best serve South Florida, but today we welcome applications from all industries.

Authenticity: When one spends a lot of time with students, one realizes that they are most engaged by hands on, experiential learning. StartUP FIU’s incubator is offered through a group of entrepreneurs that use the customer fieldwork approach in a modified Lean Startup methodology. We do not use the professorial approach so common in most academic incubators. Demo Day at StartUP FIU is a pitch day to angel, seed and “A” round VCs.

The last key decision Emily and I made was to combine traditional and social entrepreneurs in the same cohort. Several institutions have separate incubators for traditional and social entrepreneurs, but we found that perhaps only Y Combinator shares our view that all the entrepreneurs should be combined in one cohort. We opted for this approach in part because we believe that diversity breeds better collaboration.

Secondly, we believe that the social entrepreneurs will help the traditional entrepreneurs to remember their responsibility to not only make a profit but also to improve society.

Lastly, millennials have a high level of genuine social concern. As they reach the years where they become the major purchasers, they will force all entrepreneurs to become social entrepreneurs.

Perhaps the evidence for this view of social entrepreneurship comes from the people and companies that began Cohort 1 Sept. 6 (pictured above). We have a former Detroit schoolteacher trying to provide better information about higher education alternatives to students. We have a team originally from Venezuela working to use bee keeping as a micro-entrepreneurship concept to help poor women raise their standard of living. We have a team composed of about fifteen FIU computer science graduate and undergraduate students from all over the world creating a new pedagogy for early child learning using the agile development methodology. We also have a PhD researcher from Baskin Palmer working on a new approach to eye diagnostics and a team building prosthetics with 3-D printers. As is obvious, the line between social and traditional entrepreneurship is becoming very cloudy.

[Who's in Cohort 1? See the list here.]

StartUP FIU will begin accepting applications Sept. 19, 2016, for its second cohort beginning in January 2017. Applications and more information about StartUP FIU can be found at Startup.FIU.edu.

Robert Hacker is the Director of StartUP FIU and teaches social entrepreneurship at FIU, MIT and UM. He is the former CFO of One Laptop per Child and prior to that built a publicly traded billion-dollar company in seven years in Indonesia. He consults to companies in the U.S., the Caribbean and Central America on growth strategies and complex problems through GH Growth Advisors. His books on entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship are available on Amazon.

READ MORE: Multi-campus StartUP FIU gets ready for takeoff

READ MORE: Q&A with Robert Hacker on scaling social entrepreneurship, finding partners, thinking big

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 Above, Bob Hacker introduced the mentors to the StartUP FIU entrepreneurs. At top of post, the first cohort of StartUP FIU.

September 06, 2016

Want to learn about crowdfunding? Daylong workshop coming to Venture Hive

What are the opportunities and the challenges in the new crowdfunding frontier? How about some practical how-to's for implementing a campaign? Hear it from an expert who spearheaded the legislation. 

In partnership with the Knight Foundation and DLA Piper, Venture Hive will be hosting a free daylong Crowdfund Investing Workshop led by Sherwood Neiss on Tuesday, Sept. 13.

Sherood neissNeiss’ experience is vast: through spearheading the writing of Crowdfund Investing legislation in the 2012 JOBS Act ratified by President Barack Obama, to authoring preeminent “how to” guides for entrepreneurs and investors looking to raise money from the crowd and invest in crowdfunded opportunities, his expertise provides an unparalleled opportunity for participants to learn about this growing global opportunity. He is one of the most powerful champions and thought leaders for Crowdfund Investing (CFI) in the world and a highly sought-after consultant for Crowdfund Investing.

 Workshop participants will receive an 8-hour workshop full of expert-guided seminars, best practices, and “how-to’s” for practical implementation of crowdfunding principles for their enterprise or supporting others in launching their own campaign  or investing. Doors open at 8:30AM. Lunch is free for participants and is sponsored by LUGLOC- The Luggage Locator (www.lugloc.com). Venture Hive is located at 1010 NE 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33132.

Find out more about Venture Hive at www.venturehive.com. If you have any questions about this event, please email events@venturehive.com. CLE Credits are available.

Sign up here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/crowdfund-investing-workshop-with-sherwood-neiss-tickets-27094361966

August 22, 2016

Learn to code in 10 weeks? Try one day.

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Photos by Andrew Sierra of Digital Taste Makers

 

By Jocelyn Caster

This past Saturday morning, nearly one hundred young professionals flocked to the Wynwood Art District’s Miami Light Project for a truly unique experience. Unlike the crowd in Wynwood later that night, these men and women did not come for a chic gallery opening or a trendy bar night. No, these people gave up their Saturday to start on the path of learning how to code at Wyncode’s Wyntroduction to Code.

Wyncode Academy’s Lead Instructor, Ed Toro, helped attendees write their very first lines of code using the language Ruby. Less than eight hours later, these development newbies had completed an entire coding project - one that Wyncode’s own students work on during their first week at the web immersive bootcamp.

This wasn’t the first time Wyncode hosted a one day bootcamp. In the first iteration of the day-long introductory workshop, Wyncode welcomed ten students participating in the Ancient City Ruby Conference in St. Augustine to spend the day with Wyncode’s Head of Product Development Sean Sellek. Based on overwhelming positive feedback, Wyncode brought the workshop to Miami. The workshop was quickly waitlisted, despite the size of the Light Box, where there is much more room for increased participation compared to Wyncode’s traditional sample classes.

Wyncode Miami’s flagship classroom is just next door at The LAB Miami, which allowed interested students the chance to pop their heads in and see where they could be spending ten exciting but demanding weeks, should they apply and get accepted into the bootcamp. Wyncode also has a campus in Ft. Lauderdale’s trendy FATvillage district at co-working space General Provision.

The majority of participants showed up motivated and interested in learning how to code. But, many also came with an ulterior motive - a chance to figure out if the $11,500 investment in the full-time, immersive coding bootcamp is really worth it compared to other learning options, such as self-teaching, part-time courses, or online course routes.

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Auston Bunsen, Miami Tech leader and Wyncode Fort Lauderdale’s lead instructor, said:, “A full-time program really pushes you to learn how to code and challenges you more than you ever could by yourself...You’re firing on all-cylinders, with a massive amount of content coming at you.” While he understands that this intense environment is not for everyone, Auston said “you really need to be [mentally] prepared for it, [if you are] it’s definitely the highest return on investment.”

With the heavy burden of expectation placed on bootcampers from the get-go, many Wyntroduction attendees spent the day not only wiring their first lines of code, but also evaluating if they are up for the challenge of completely immersed in the world of coding and South Florida's up-and-coming startup ecosystem for 10 weeks. In order to be accepted into the web immersive bootcamp, a potential student must prove he or she is prepared for the rigors of the course through a series of interviews and challenges.

Attendees of last Saturday’s Wyntroduction event were additionally able to experience the networking potential from enrolling in Wyncode first-hand. Wyncode welcomed alumni Sara Hincapie of Careerscore, Matthew Kellough of Sandals and Christina Nguyen of SapientNitro to share their Wyncode experience as well as the challenges and rewards of learning to code. Auston Bunsen used emojis to present his version of Miami Tech history in 5 minutes. Hiring partners JC Carrillo of Kipu Systems, Ivan Rapin-Smith of Watsco Ventures and Emilio Cueto of LiveNinja talked about their need for talent and why they hire from Wyncode, as each have hired multiple developers out of the program. The day wrapped up with a happy hour at nearby Gramps bar, where the attendees mingled with the Wyncode team, alumni as well as with local players in the Miami tech scene. Everyone was documenting the day with Wyncode’s custom Snapchat filter.

If Saturday was any indication, interest in the Miami Tech scene is at an all-time high. Wyncode was able to show how they can help totally inexperienced coders gain the skills and confidence necessary to tackle the process of learning to code and can supply you with a local community of similarly-minded individuals in the process.

Given how much was accomplished in one day, we look forward to what this group of ambitious individuals will do should they join Wyncode’s 350 graduates and 80 hiring partners in the future.

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To learn more about Wyncode or sign up for the next Wyntroduction event, please visit www.wyncode.co

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Photos by Andrew Sierra of Digital Taste Maker

August 18, 2016

LaunchCode partners with City of Miami to place tech apprentices

LaunchCode, a nonprofit founded by Square co-founder Jim McKelvey, announced this week that it will partner with the City of Miami to place technology apprentices across a number of departments.

 LaunchCode opened its South Florida office in 2015 and has partnered with more than 100 local companies to place more than 80 technologists in jobs and apprenticeships in tech. In addition to placing qualified candidates into jobs, the nonprofit also hosts computer programming classes and bootcamps with Miami Dade College. LaunchCode is supported by national and local organizations, including the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

 “This partnership between LaunchCode and the City of Miami creates a new pathway for emerging technologists from diverse backgrounds to help solve our community’s most pressing problems. It’s an important step as we commit to strengthen collaboration between City government and Miami’s growing tech scene,” said Mike Sarasti, Chief Innovation Officer at the City of Miami.

Learn more at www.launchcode.org.

August 10, 2016

50 participate in Ironhack's inaugural We/Code: Women's Weekend

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Photographer: Mary Beth Koeth (http://www.mbkoeth.com/)

By Greyceli Marin

Ironhack2Ironhack coding school, an intensive web development and UX/UI design bootcamp, hosted its first multi-day coding workshop for women only, We/Code: Women’s Weekend. It was dedicated to teaching the fundamentals of front-end web development, guiding the attendees through building their own personal web pages from scratch.

To participate, women had to submit written applications answering the question, How will knowing the fundamentals of web development improve your professional profile? After reviewing over 130 applicants, 50 were carefully selected to attend free of charge. The lectures were helmed by Ironhack’s Head of Product, who also built the curriculum for the school’s new Front-End Web Development bootcamp.

On Saturday morning, 50 enthusiastic women made their way to Ironhack Miami’s campus inside Building.co, a collaborative workspace in Brickell where they were greeted by complimentary breakfast. Day 1 began with an introduction to HTML and CSS, their syntax and how the languages worked together on a website. Everyone was asked to download a text editor they would use to build their sites, and then went straight to coding.

The instructor coded along with the class, with his laptop connected to the big projector in front of the room. As the group built, seven assistants, ladies who were either Ironhack alumni or current students in the front-end course, were available throughout the weekend to help out.

Most of the women participating had never touched a line of code before and most of them came from non-technical backgrounds. There were entrepreneurs, project managers, designers, marketers, educators and even a 14-year-old about to enter her freshman year of high school. They all successfully built customized resume web pages using HTML and CSS.

Day 2 concluded with finishing touches on the web pages and three workshops led by industry leaders. The workshops were 30 minute presentations on how having basic coding knowledge helped them succeed in their non-technical roles, with a Q&A session at the end. Speakers included Linda Koritkoski, director of marketing at STRAAT, where her HTML and CSS competency comes in handy when prototyping, building SEO and communicating with her developer team; Alexandra Floresmeyer, lead designer at Liveanswer who works closely with web developers and says that understanding web languages helps her create more feasible designs; and Marsha Belinson, managing director at JBCConnect (and a participant in the event) who gave best practices on recruiting, interviewing and working with developers.

The weekend was a direct successor of its namesake, We/Code, Europe’s largest intro-to-coding event launched by Ironhack’s Spain Campuses in collaboration with Google for Entrepreneurs’ Campus Madrid. For more information about Ironhack and future events, visit https://www.ironhack.com/en.

June 10, 2016

FIU faculty leads program for Cuban entrepreneurs

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By Cynthia Corzo / FIU

A group of 15 small business owners from Cuba this week became the first cohort of InCubando@FIU, FIU’s first-ever customized program designed to sharpen the managerial skills and business savvy of young entrepreneurs from the island.

During the six-week program, College of Business faculty will deliver courses in Spanish covering small business management, accounting and finance, access to capital, sales and marketing, corporate social responsibility, and business plan writing. Participants will also receive intensive English courses offered by the FIU English Language Institute.

“The goal is to promote grassroots entrepreneurship and empower a new generation of business owners in Cuba,” said Carlos Parra, marketing and Information Systems and Business Analytics professor at FIU. He will discuss proactive stakeholder engagement and strategic alliances in the InCubando@FIU curriculum.

Marta Deus, owner of an accounting and financial consulting venture in La Habana, welcomed the exchange of business practices and networking that InCubando@FIU offers.

“The business landscape in Cuba has many unique features that business-owners here might find interesting,” said Deus. “I want to benefit from the hands-on experience and new opportunities we’ll receive so I can apply them to my business and watch it grow.”

InCubando’s participants are all under the age of 40, have a self-employed (cuentapropista) license issued by the Cuban government and have been operating a business on the island for at least one year.

Yorgis Morejon explained he’s anxious to learn about business management and the U.S. consumer market to help expand his Matanzas-based fly-fishing business. His dream: “to become the Bass Pro Shops Cubano.”

As part of the program, participants will also meet with local entrepreneurs who will serve as mentors and make field visits to high-profile businesses including Western Union and a Carnival Cruise Lines ship at the Port of Miami.

“Cubans have an amazing intuition for business and they seem to be eager to learn about different approaches to business decision-making,” said Parra.

InCubando@FIU is a partnership between StartUp Cuba, part of the Roots of Hope organization, and FIU’s Cuban Research Institute, College of Business, and English Language Institute.

June 06, 2016

Multi-campus StartUP FIU gets ready for takeoff

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Emily Gresham and Robert Hacker, shown at Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, are spearheading the StartUP FIU program. It will include three hubs, with programs for food businesses, tech and social entrepreneurship, and will be open to the community as well as to students. Alexia Fodere For The Miami Herald

Below: One of the events held for students as part of StartUP FIU. Photo by Daniela Ferrato.

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By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Cheng photoIn the culinary kitchens of Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Michael Cheng smelled opportunity. The commercial facilities were only being used about half time; as the director of the food-and-beverage program, Cheng thought FIU should offer the excess capacity to companies for a fee.

But after a discussion with Emily Gresham, who is spearheading a university-wide StartUP FIU program, and its student leader Valeria Siegrist, Cheng’s mindset changed. “They opened my eyes... They told me ‘there is an entire community of food entrepreneurs out there who would die to have this space but they can’t afford it.’ and I said ‘Well, let’s open that up to them.’ That’s how Food FIU got started.”

Beginning this fall, the Food FIU program will help entrepreneurs from low- and moderate-income communities in three stages of development – those at the idea stage, entrepreneurs selling in farmers’ markets but are ready to move to the next level, and later stage companies that want to scale. Cheng (pictured at right), who is also an associate processor, said StartUP FIU will start working with firms from North Miami, where the Biscayne Bay Campus is located, with a potential Homestead outpost at a later time. The program is free, and the entrepreneurs do not have to be affiliated with FIU in any way.

The Food innovation hub, supported in part by a $500,000 grant from Citi Foundation, will be one leg of a larger effort called StartUP FIU launching this fall. The interdisciplinary multi-campus resource for students, faculty, staff, alumni and entrepreneurs in the community will include physical spaces, programs and events for entrepreneurs and entrepreneur-wannabes to meet, collaborate, be mentored and take training. An accelerator will work with teams on commercializing concepts.

“Our economy increasingly offers opportunities to people who are able to make good jobs rather than take good jobs. We see this transformation as emblematic of what we have to do at FIU,” said FIU President Mark Rosenberg. “FIU is a huge cluster of talent ... What we are trying to do is provide platforms for that talent to come together around the capabilities that we have. ... We want to provide a safe haven for that talent to come together, with some supervision, to develop products, ideas and opportunities.”

Initially, StartUP FIU, will take root in three locations: the Modesto Maidique campus in Sweetwater, the Hospitality School at the Biscayne Bay campus, and a facility near Tamiami airport serving the growing cadre of technology and medical businesses there. The program has been appropriated $1.25 million from the state in addition to the Citi Foundation funding. It is run by Gresham, FIU’s assistant vice president for Research – Innovation and Economic Development, and Robert Hacker, StartUP FIU’s director.

The program joins existing FIU entrepreneurship resources including the Small Business Development Center, a new Tech Station, the Miami Fintech Forum and the Pino Global Entrepreneurship Center, most located on the Maidique campus on Tamiami Trail. FIU is also a designated “changemaker campus” for Ashoka, the global network for social entrepreneurship.

Despite those existing resources, students had no one-stop-shop for connecting with resources, concluded StartUP FIU’s team after conducting more than 100 interviews with students, faculty and community leaders. Often, students didn’t know where to go, nor were they connecting with the larger community.

“Our students are our energy, our talent, and the diversity of our students, faculty, alumni and the community improves collaboration,” said Gresham. “We’ve decided to have a more inclusive StartUP FIU, which means everyone’s welcome.”

Regionwide, students have more resources than just a few years ago. The Idea Center at MDC opened 18 months ago with an accelerator for MDC students, startup contests, events and a coding school. The University of Miami has been expanding its commercialization efforts, particularly in the healthcare area, working closely with dozens of startups. Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton opened Tech Runway, an accelerator that also offers funding and mentorship for student and community teams. Broward College opened its incubator last month.

These join a region-wide effort, fueled by the Knight Foundation, to accelerate entrepreneurship by expanding resources for mentorship, talent-building and funding. Entrepreneurial co-working spaces, incubators and accelerators have been proliferating, but most are in Miami’s urban core.

That’s the void in the ecosystem StartUP FIU hopes to help fill by focusing on Miami-Dade’s lower income communities and far west suburbs. “There’s a lot of activity, but we are still looking for depth, right?,” said Gresham. “We think we have something to offer in terms of depth building.”

Social entrepreneurship will be a key facet of the program, said Hacker. He expects ongoing themes to include sustainable cities, sea level rise, food supply, medical technology and education technology. An international businessman, Hacker has been teaching entrepreneurship and socially concsious business for more than a decade at FIU’s Honors College and Engineering School and MIT’s Sloan School.

“Miami enjoys the distinction of being the only city in the world that has two Ashoka Changemaker campuses – FIU and MDC. I think that both universities are fomenting all kinds of social entrepreneurs looking for support. We are interested and committed to putting incubators in communities that have not been served by incubators, and I think that will also naturally produce social entrepreneurs,” said Hacker.

As a startup itself, StartUP FIU has been developing over the past year, gaining grassroots support. StartUP FIU student directors Siegrist and Alessia Tacchella took Hacker’s course on Entrepreneurship and Design Thinking. That got the entrepreneurial juices flowing. But instead of working on their own startups, they jumped on the opportunity to help develop StartUP FIU. Tacchella, a finance/economics major who recently graduated, took the lead.

They gathered a diverse group of students with marketing, finance and technical expertise and began meeting weekly to plan the launch and test concepts, she said. About 80 to 100 students have been turning out for events. “When you tell them you want to help them to make their idea become a company, they are thrilled about it. They can’t believe all the resources we are bringing in on campus,” said Siegrist, a communications student.

Wifredo Fernandez, who co-founded The LAB Miami and was one of the founders of MDC’s’ Idea Center, offered insights on best practices and valuable connections, said Gresham. He now works with Gresham in the Innovation and Economic Development department and is StartUP FIU’s associate director.

Applications are being accepted at startup.fiu.edu for the accelerator’s first class. The free 13-week program will begin Sept. 6, will include weekly programs, mentorship and regular milestones for teams to meet, and end with a traditional demo day in which teams pitch to investors. The new StartUP FIU hub at the Maidique campus, a-10,000-square-foot space in the Marc building, should be ready by January; the program will operate in temporary space until then. Programs at the Biscayne Bay campus and near the Tamiami Airport will also get underway in the fall. The services are free.

“It’s an idea whose time has come,” said Rosenberg. “We’re pumped, we’re ready to go.”

Nancy Dahlberg; 305-376-3595; @ndahlberg

 

 

 

 

May 24, 2016

Broward College launches accelerator in downtown Fort Lauderdale

Broward College announced the launch of its business accelerator, to be located at the downtown Fort Lauderdale campus on Las Olas Boulevard.

“This marks an exciting time for startup companies in Broward County,” said J. David Armstrong, Jr., president of Broward College. “Our business community partners have shared with us the need for support beyond the initial planning and business plan phase. We listened, and our accelerator will provide wraparound services to budding entrepreneurs as they refine their businesses to seek funding.”

The announcement comes on the heels of the success of the Innovation Hub at Broward College. In less than a year, Innovation Hub, directed by Enrique Triay with support from Professor Steven Gross, has generated significant activity. At the present time, there are 20 companies that reside -- or have weekly contact with -- the Innovation Hub, and many are capitalizing on the expertise provided by Triay and Professor Gross; business people who serve as consultants; and numerous students who actively are involved as interns in these companies. Two companies currently at Innovation Hub will be a part of Broward College’s new accelerator program.