May 28, 2017

How to be selected for cohort 3 at StartUP FIU

Startupfiu

Pitch Day for StartUP FIU's Cohort 2

By Robert Hacker

StartUP FIU has just opened applications for the third cohort of its Empower Accelerator. The first two cohorts each received over 150 applications and we expect the same number by the June 11 deadline. The new cohort will begin the formal 14-week accelerator program in September and there is no cost or equity position given to participate. The program is open to both social and traditional entrepreneurs and their early stage companies.

The question we are most frequently asked is how can I improve the chances of being selected for the StartUP FIU accelerator.

 Coachability

We have interviewed over 90 applicants, worked with another 60 entrepreneurs that did not necessarily apply and advised the 39 teams comprising Cohorts I and II. The first thing all our staff are trained to look for is coachability--can the entrepreneur listen to critical feedback, thoughtfully consider it and make a reasoned adjustment. Every team in the program is assigned at least one mentor and these seasoned entrepreneurs are a critical success factor in incubators and accelerators worldwide. If the entrepreneur is not able to demonstrate they can take critical feedback from mentors and staff, their likelihood of commercial success and acceptance to the program is much lower.

 Problem Validation

Everyone who applies to Empower has a concept for a new business. Many applicants have a prototype or a beta, particularly the engineers. Surprisingly few have talked to potential customers about their problem, pain or need. After coachability, the next characteristic we look for is a demonstration of customer knowledge gained in the market. Of course, the best demonstration of customer knowledge may be revenue.

 Uniqueness

Competitive advantage, barriers to entry, what Warren Buffet calls moats--these are all descriptions of the same factors that can create value for customers and particularly shareholders. Perhaps the simplest way to demonstrate uniqueness is to describe the founder’s insight about the customer or problem that the company is addressing. Another effective technique is to describe the technology and simply describe how it is proprietary.

 Team

Entrepreneurship is the epitome of a team endeavor, hopefully beginning with co-founders and then building out the minimally necessary technical and management team. In our experience, companies with a team already established get more benefit out of the program and make more progress.

As we progress with the Empower Accelerator, we encounter an insatiable demand for all aspects of the entrepreneurship experience.  We are excited to be a part of Miami’s entrepreneurial support network and will continue to iterate to be able to offer different services for the multiple needs of the community and FIU.

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. His books on entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship are available on Amazon.

 

May 26, 2017

Collaboration, community support key in successful Startup Weekend Education: And the winners are ...

SWEDU

By Kiesha Moodie

And the winners are….

MoodieThis past weekend, a collaborative effort between TechStars, Teach For America, StartUP FIU, FIU Office of Engagement and FIU’s School of Computing and Engineering hosted the 2nd annual Startup Weekend Education edition. This year's theme will be "Creating solutions to improve equity in education." The 54-hour event brought together over 50 passionate educators, students, technologists, lawyers, advocates and entrepreneurs to design new solutions that attacked inequities in education. The weekend was made possible by the generous support of Knight Foundation and led by co-organizers Kiesha Moodie of Teach For America, Caryn Lavernia of FIU Office of Engagement and Wifredo Fernandez of StartUP FIU.

On Friday night, 39 different ideas were pitched, and a final nine were voted most popular and teams formed around them. Throughout Saturday and most of Sunday, these diverse teams, some led by middle schoolers like Nichole Ruiz from Dr. Rolando Espinosa K-8 Center and high schoolers Avery Rafilovich and Garret Goodman from Western High in Davie.

On Saturday, teams were coached up by local entrepreneurs, tech community leaders, and education specialists. A big thank you to Daniela Cadena and Giselle LaTorre from StartUP FIU, Juan Lopez Salaberry from MentorDay, Matt Mawhinney from LaunchCode, Willie Avendano from Zero1, Brian Brackeen of Kairos, Gianfranco Colombi of Goddard Robotics, Bailey Farrell of Ransom Everglades School and Leandria Vickers of FIU.

The final ideas were:

  • HustleSprouts: an educational program to fight food injustice by empowering students as food entrepreneurs while activating underutilized school gardens.
  • StandOutBio: A digital professional platform for high school and college students, designed by and for Generation Z.
  • IntelliDesk: Making it easy for students to give teachers feedback on their lessons while encouraging quiet students to ask questions privately.
  • FitMental: Tackling the bullying problem in schools through evidence-based curriculum, games and wearable devices that make schools safer.
  • BillTrax: a mobile-first bill tracker designed for teachers and first-time voters
  • iHav: an artistic contest platform to raise awareness for refugees
  • CashFlow: an online financial literacy gaming and simulation tool, with ability to open real accounts
  • myIEP: a tool to help teachers, counselors, and parents easily track and manage student Individual Education Plans
  • Votty: a college-advisor chat bot produced by the Viery Academy team (did not pitch)

On Sunday evening, an esteemed panel of judges had the fun but challenging task of evaluating the viability and promise of the newly formed startups. Diana Santangelo, Director of Education at United Way of Miami-Dade was astonished at how much progress had been made in the short weekend sprint, saying “I thought these teams had been working for weeks!” Provost and Executive Vice President of FIU Dr. Kenneth Furton added: “It was great to see FIU faculty, Ph.D., and undergraduate students ideating alongside diverse stakeholders from the education community.” Dr. Lupe Diaz, Executive Director of Career Technical Education, was “excited to continue conversations with runner-up HustleSprouts,” a team of educators based out of her own Turner Tech. Maxeme Tuchman, CEO of Caribu and veteran educator, said of the winner ‘myIEP’, “if I could write a check right now to see them take the idea further, I would.”

Thankfully, the road does not end here for the teams. Cambridge Innovation Center has offered the top three teams co-working space to continue working on their ideas.

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Winner ‘myIEP’ (pictured above) will be granted 3-months of membership as part of CIC’s Operation Launch Program.

SWEDUHustleSprouts.SecondPlace

2nd and 3rd Place HustleSprouts (pictured above) and StandOutBio (pictured below) will each be granted one month of membership.

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The five ‘myIEP’ team members will also be heading to South by Southwest Education next year, courtesy of the conference producers and Teach For America Miami-Dade.

Stay tuned for what is in store for our teams as they continue to launch equitable ventures that positively disrupt education.

Kiesha Moodie is an architect of strategic solutions, a community engagement specialist, and a committed advocate for equity. She was one of the co-organizers for Startup Weekend EDU Miami. Follow her on Twitter @kieshamoodie 

May 24, 2017

In the battle of incumbents and insurgents, collaboration and inclusion will set Miami innovators apart

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By Saif Y. Ishoof 

Saif"Social infrastructure enables Innovation & Disruption"---Ime Archibong, vice president, Partnerships, Facebook. This was the resounding message and charge from our opening keynote at Innovate Miami (pictured above).

Startup companies are known as the insurgents, competing against established incumbents that include corporations, government and institutions. A battle of institutions versus innovators becomes a zero-sum game. 

We know that the forces of Disruption don't have to be negative; collaboration and inclusion can bring benefits to our economy as a whole. We can make this happen in the 305.

That was the theme of the first ever “Innovate Miami: A Catalyst for Disruption Summit” hosted by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Disruption Workgroup.  The Disruption Workgroup was created as part of the vision of GMCC chair and president of FIU, Mark B. Rosenberg, to create collisions between established businesses and the innovators that call Miami home: across a wide range of sectors represented by our Technology, Resilience, Innovation/Entrepreneurship & Sharing Economy committees. 

Our convening provided a space for connections to evolve between innovators, legacy businesses, startups, students, and civic leaders, and allowed experts and upstarts to share their knowledge and insight.

The objective:  To prompt people to think about what market forces are driving disruption across a wide range of sectors and to harness the winds of disruption to drive impact in their respective sectors.

The main attraction of the event was Ime Archibong, the vice president for Partnerships at the king disruptor, Facebook. Archibong touched upon several points: using technology as a means to creating higher quality human interactions and not a mere end, in and of itself; how Facebook (now an incumbent) is working with local developers across the world to help develop their products; and some of Facebook’s newest endeavors including global connectivity, Oculus, artificial intelligence and Facebook at Work.

Afterwards, Archibong sat down with a group of 30 students from Miami Edison Senior High School, to talk about the work Facebook is doing with preparing the younger generation for tech, and how they could use the platform for their benefit. Some students asked about opportunities to be involved with Facebook, and others asked how they could use the platform for some of the initiatives they had formed, including a nonprofit that one student has already launched.

Our lunch was keynoted by one of Miami’s greatest innovators, Felecia Hatcher, founder of Black Tech Week and Code Fever. Hatcher has made it her mission to include historically under-represented communities in the innovation ecosystem. Her talk was centered around the idea that Miami can set itself apart as a mecca for innovators if it finds a way to authentically bring together the incumbents and insurgents. This will allow innovation accelerators to thrive here. The hard part: finding ways to include our entire population in our efforts and making sure that all of Miami has the same opportunities to participate.  

Overall, the message that resonated throughout the entire day was that collaboration is essential for the rise of Miami as a global and forward thinking city.

In Hatcher’s own words: “If your dream doesn’t include anyone else, it isn’t big enough.”

Saif Y. Ishoof is Chair of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Disruption Workgroup and Vice President for Engagement for Florida International University.

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The inaugural Innovate Miami: A Catalyst for Disruption Summit was hosted by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Disruption Workgroup. Photos were provided by the chamber workgroup. 

In connection with the Summit, the Chamber announced its Technology Companies of the Year awards. Here are the winners:

Best Use of Technology: Tesser Health

Disruptive Technology  Sensus Healthcare

Innovative Technology: Cybraics

Female Leader in Technology: Max Tuchman

Technology Entrepreneur of the Year: Chris Stegner

 

May 23, 2017

FAU Tech Runway selects 5th accelerator class

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Florida Atlantic University’s Tech Runway has selected its fifth and largest Venture class of startup and early-stage companies to participate in its business accelerator program.

This year, four companies will receive a $25,000 non-equity grant, participate in a 16-week intensive boot camp, engage in a rigorous year-long mentoring program with a team of five accomplished business mentors, and will be provided a workspace for one year. The four companies are:

·    Videopura LLC is a video services company with patent-pending technologies to reduce the bandwidth necessary for video services.

·      Tap2Open LLC is a secure, convenient, and easy way for residents and guests to gain access to gated communities via smart devices. Tap2Open allows residents and invited guests enter a gated community or secured door at the push of a button on their smart phone or device.

·  Ridgeback Network Defense Inc. delivers enterprise network security by turning the tables on hackers, dynamically counter-engaging the adversary, causing them to absorb the expense of attack and eliminating them as a threat.

·      Hubspring Health is an innovative software company founded by physicians focused on solving several of the chronic problems plaguing our industry. Hubspring provides a cure for these chronic conditions and enables healthcare organizations to embrace the future with its innovative and powerfully flexible platform, The Hub.

In addition, 16 more companies were awarded based on various tracks including, community, student and faculty. This will give them many of the same benefits as the prior four companies, minus the $25,000 grant. Six companies are still in the process of being selected and confirmed, however, the 11 companies already identified are: Two Degrees Inc.; ScaleWize; Land of Zorth; WAHspace; Bacon Boxes; SlideMap; PAPER; STAX; Gaming Frog; MMP Biopharma Inc.; and PQSecure Technologies LLC.

“A record number of companies entered the 2017 FAU Tech Runway Launch Competition. They significantly raised the bar, in terms of their quality and breadth represented,” said Rhys L. Williams, associate vice president for research and the managing director for FAU Tech Runway. “Consequently, this year’s winning Venture Class will be expanded by 50 percent to 21 companies.  After they complete our year-long program, many of these companies will no doubt make a profound impact upon the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

Under the purview of the FAU Division of Research, Tech Runway is a public-private partnership formed to foster technology start-ups and early-stage companies. Since its inception in late 2014, 205 jobs and 76 internships have been created; 39 FAU students have been employed; 136 corporate partnerships have been created; more than $8 million in revenue has been earned; and more than $19 million investment capital has been raised.

“FAU Tech Runway serves as a core entrepreneurship hub for Florida Atlantic University and as a key resource for the regional technology eco-system,” said Daniel C. Flynn, FAU’s vice president for research. “As the program matures, it will continue to launch thriving, innovative companies that are ready for their next stage of growth, contributing to the university and the state’s economic vitality.”

For more information on FAU Tech Runway, visit techrunway.fau.edu.

- Submitted by FAU Tech Runway

 

May 17, 2017

Have an idea to improve equity in education? Team up and take it from pitch to prototype at Startup Weekend EDU this weekend!

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Participants in last years StartUP Weekend Education event. This year's event is Friday-Sunday. Register at http://bit.ly/swedumiami  

 

By Wifredo Fernandez

Want to know what it’s like to launch a company in a weekend? Do you have ideas for new educational tools, school models or learning spaces? Are you passionate about creating change in the education sector? Then join us this weekend, May 19-21!

Teach For America, StartUP FIU, FIU Office of Engagement and FIU School of Computing & Information Sciences have teamed up to host Startup Weekend EDU, a 54-hour event that takes you from pitch to prototype. We are looking for educators, technologists, designers, students and parents to develop new ideas that will impact the education system. The event is made possible by the generous support of Knight Foundation.

This year's theme will be "Creating solutions to improve equity in education." SWEDU Miami is a unique opportunity to experiment with all the necessary stakeholders in the South Florida education landscape. Join us to explore how innovation can disrupt inequities in education.

Friday night, individuals pitch their ideas, which are voted on and teams are formed. Saturday, expert mentors will be on site to coach teams through their prototyping and business modeling. Sunday, teams will pitch their solutions to an all-star panel of entrepreneurs, investors and education leaders. Registration fee includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner during scheduled programming, free SWEDU swag, access to industry leaders and mentors, and a suite of free trials and discounts from our Google Network Partners.

The event is free for students and parents. To register, head to http://bit.ly/swedumiami. With the support of the Knight Foundation we can provide Assistance Grants via ticketing that is available on a first come - first serve basis. If additional financial assistance is needed to support registration cost, please email miamiedu@startupweekend.org.

Mentors and Coaches:

Brian Brackeen, Founder & CEO - Kairos

Matt Mawhinney, Company Relations Manager - Launchcode

Juan Lopez Salaberry, Founder, MentorDay

Giselle Latorre, Community Outreach, StartUP FIU

Daniela Cadena, Social Innovation Manager, StartUP FIU

Willie Avendano, Co-Founder - Zero1 & Wynwood Maker Camp

Judges:

Dr. Kenneth Furton, Provost of Florida International University

Dr. Lupe Diaz, Executive Director, Department of Career and Technical Education - Miami Dade County Public Schools

Diana Santangelo, Director of Education, United Way of Miami-Dade

Maxeme Tuchman, CEO of Caribu 

May 12, 2017

Deadline approaching to apply for free Smart & Sustainable Neighborhood Development Executive Training Program

Here is an opportunity for small businesses: The first Smart & Sustainable Neighborhood Development Executive Training Program taking place at FIU Urban Studios June 9-23. The cost is free for the 25 small business professionals selected. 
 
You can access the 5 minute application here: 
 
Once the course with exam is completed successfully, you will be accredited in the following top accreditations that give you a competitive edge for over $15B worth of local infrastructure, construction, urban planning, resiliency and land use projects locally: 
  • EcoDistricts AP 
  • LEED Green Associates (GA) 
  • LEED Neighborhood Development (ND) 
The program will be taught by LEED Fellows Jonathan Burgess and Rob Hink of Spinnaker Group and Eric Corey Freed of EcoDistricts.  
 
The deadline to apply is Monday, May 15th. 

April 11, 2017

Young Miami entrepreneur Andres Cardona honored by Gov. Scott

Andres

On Tuesday, during a meeting of the Florida Cabinet, Gov. Rick Scott recognized Andres Cardona, 23, with the Young Entrepreneur Award. Cardona is the founder and CEO of Elite Basketball Academy, a youth basketball program founded in 2011 and is based in Miami.

Gov. Scott said, “I’m proud to present Andres with the Young Entrepreneur Award today. It’s great to see Florida entrepreneurs follow their dreams of starting a business and make a difference in their community. It takes dedication and hard work to start a business, and I look forward to seeing Elite Basketball Academy’s success in Florida.”

Cardona, a finance student at FIU,  launched his business at age 14. It all began when Cardona joined the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) program after his mother lost her job, and decided he was going to help the family financially. A basketball player, he recognized the lack of affordable options for learning the sport in South Miami and started the camp.  Since then the camp has grown steadily, and he has won a number of honors, including being honored as  Global Entrepreneur of the Year for NFTE,  representing NFTE at the E&Y World Entrepreneur of the Year Award event and winning the regional competition of the Entrepreneurs' Organization Global Student Entrepreneurship Award.

“It’s an honor to be recognized with the Governor’s Young Entrepreneur Award," Cardona said. "Elite Basketball Academy is focused on providing youth with everlasting principles in the Miami area. We work hard to develop outstanding citizens. I’m grateful for the success we have seen, and I can't wait to see what the future holds.”

To learn more about Elite Basketball Academy, visit eliteballacademy.com. To learn more about the Governor’s Young Entrepreneur Award, visit HireFloridaGrads.com.

Incubator program for food entrepreneurs launches at FIU

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

AnnaEtienneStartUP FIU, a university-wide entrepreneurship initiative at Florida International University, this month has opened its second program: StartUP FIU FOOD.

Funded with a $500,000 grant from Citi Foundation, StartUP FIU FOOD assists small community food entrepreneurs to grow their businesses, leveraging the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management’s large commercial kitchen and providing workshops for skills development, food science training and mentorship. StartUP FIU FOOD also helps food entrepreneurs to incorporate, generate financial statements and apply for micro-finance loans and traditional commercial bank loans.

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

“There is an unmet need in Miami for not only affordable commercial kitchen space, but also for startup incubator services, business advising and entrepreneurial networking. Sometimes we have to create opportunity.” said Emily Gresham, an FIU assistant vice president and co-founder of StartUP FIU.

Anna Etienne (pictured here)  will lead day-to-day activities as director of StartUP FIU FOOD. The inaugural cohort includes these local food entrepreneurs:

Joe’s Sweets: Specialty fresh baked pastries and bread

Greathouse Gourmet Inc: Gourmet condiments and sauces that blend Caribbean flavors.

Lemon City Tea: High-quality, ethically-sourced teas inspired by Miami.

Helene's Ice Cream, LLC: Artisanal frozen desserts: ice cream, frozen custard, sorbet, and custom ice cream cakes.

Frice Cream: Handcrafted ice cream and pastries using locally sourced and natural ingredients.

Timeline Brewery: Beer with flavors influenced by culture and history.

Sweet Jalane's Inc: “Made from scratch” desserts, flavored cakes and cupcakes, mini bundt cakes, pies, pastries, fruit cobblers and cookies.

Etienne plans to accept new applicants to the program throughout the year. More information: http://startup.fiu.edu/food.

StartUP FIU launched an accelerator program last fall on the Modesto Maidique campus and has a technology-focused program planned for a Kendall location in the plans for launch within the next year.

READ MORE: How millennials tastes shape a new generation of food startups

March 30, 2017

NewME accelerator program now in Miami gets Knight funding  

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

AngelabentonThe NewME technology accelerator has already relocated its headquarters from Silicon Valley to Miami, and $191,000 in new funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation will help it expand programming.

NewME was founded in San Francisco in 2011, and was the first accelerator focused on helping entrepreneurs of color. It offered traditional 12-week full-time accelerator programs; Brian Brackeen of Kairos went through the program. Two years ago, while still in San Francisco, the accelerator began offering one-week bootcamps instead, because as NewME founder Anglela Benton (pictured here) said, “many minority entrepreneurs just aren’t able take 12 weeks out of life.”

Last year, NewME offered its more accessible boot camps in Miami and they were well received, Benton said, proving a Silicon Valley address wasn’t necessary to help entrepreneurs of color. She said Miami was a natural choice for NewME’s base given its diverse makeup.

“The old [accelerator] model works for a particular type of entrepreneur. Our model is more about the entrepreneur and what they want to accomplish,” she said, adding that many NewME startups bootstrap their businesses. “The times are changing.”

Over the years, NewME has accelerated hundreds of entrepreneurs through its online platform, residential boot camps and equity portfolio, helping its companies raise over $25 million in funding. By expanding its programming, NewME aims to improve the success of black-led startups through mentorship, coaching and weekly and monthly events.

As it already has been doing, the accelerator will host quarterly one-week residential boot camps in Miami, with the next one beginning June 5. Benton said cohorts are small and personal – about eight people – and four slots will be reserved for Miami-area entrepreneurs. At the boot camps, industry experts will work with the entrepreneurs to help accelerate their businesses. With the funding, NewME also will hire a Miami-based program manager.

“NewME will provide important opportunities for black entrepreneurs to grow and thrive in Miami,” said Matt Haggman, Miami program director for Knight Foundation, in a news release. “NewMe’s move to Miami highlights our city’s strength as a place for inclusive growth, entrepreneurship and innovation.”

In the past four years, Knight has made more than 200 investments totalling more than $25 million in entrepreneurship in South Florida.

 

February 26, 2017

Ironhack bootcamp gave me foundation to go all-in on building Stardom Up charity

By Lu Martinez

About six years ago, the tech bug bit me hard.

I Lu matrinez was a graduate of the University of Miami Law School and a licensed attorney. I worked as Chief Privacy Officer for Jackson Health System, where I had grown from a manager role and later became Director of Policies, Training and Education. From the outside view, my traditional career was growing. However, I realized a need to ramp up my technical abilities to better form, test, and scale ideas for new programs and innovations that I wanted to develop.  While I contemplated how to best be an intrapreneur within a large corporate setting, my long-term goal was contribute to society and help others.

In my free time, I co-founded a small, self-funded charity called Stardom Up, Inc. To accelerate my tech knowledge and apply it to Stardom Up, I enrolled in Ironhack, a bootcamp in Miami, which offers full-time and part-time courses in web development, coding, and design.  I created the initial version of StardomUp.com as my final project during the Ironhack course in the summer of 2015.

Ironhack was the glue that brought my diverse skill sets and community impact aspirations together. Once I completed my Ironhack training, and after considering multiple factors and alternatives, I left my job in 2016 and devoted myself full-time to building Stardom Up.

Stardom Up creates educational programs to support student curiosity about technology and innovation. We're currently partnered with Miami-Dade County Public Schools, via Shenandoah Middle School in Miami, to enhance the STEAM (Science, Technology, Arts, Engineering, and Math) curriculum.  As the first and only program in the region to combine an online platform with in-person learning during school hours, Stardom Up expands students’ problem solving and critical thinking abilities and engages them into Miami’s growing tech community. We help prepare young talent for an unpredictable future.

Stardom Up is currently in the "scale up" phase at Shenandoah Middle School. It’s supported by Shenandoah’s administrators and teachers, as well as volunteers from Miami’s growing tech community.  Best of all, it generates results: along with helping them in their core subjects, the students in the program - especially girls - are fascinated by technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship, and have expressed their interest in pursuing careers in technology-related fields.

Our plan is to continue to collaborate with tech leaders and innovators in the community and engage at least 10,000 middle school students within the next five years. With approximately 80,000 middle schoolers in Miami-Dade County alone, there’s a lot of young talent we hope to nurture and inspire to become tomorrow’s technologists and innovators. It begins by showing them what’s possible, and by supporting their ambitions to become the community’s future stars.

Lu Martinez is the founder of Stardom Up.

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