August 31, 2015

Save the date: The free TigerDirect Tech Bash returns Nov. 6


Scenes from Tiger Direct Tech Bash 2014


Save the date:  The TigerDirect Tech Bash returns on Nov. 6 for an evening of innovation, emerging technology and interactive entertainment. Now in its fourth year, TigerDirect Tech Bash will take place at Miami Marlins Stadium from 6:30-10:30pm with free admission for all.

All Tech Bash attendees can not only see and experience products from some of the world’s leading tech brands, including Samsung, Intel, Lenovo, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Western Digital, Logitech, and Alienware among others, but also purchase their favorite products anywhere in the ballpark. The Tech Bash app offers attendees one-night-only deals and lets buyers choose to have products shipped to their home for free, or pick them up at the TigerDirect pop up store located on the field.  

More than 18,000 people attended in 2014 and organizers are expecting more than 25,000 attendees this year.   “If you consider yourself an early adopter, gamer, love technology, or just want to know what to buy the technophile in your life, TigerDirect Tech Bash is the must-attend event of the year,” said Steven Leeds, Director of Marketing at TigerDirect.

While the Tech Bash is free, for $20 attendees can gain early access from 5:30-6:30 pm and see the latest technology with limited attendees and receive an official TigerDirect t-shirt, bag and $20 discount to the TigerDirect store. The first 100 early access attendees will also have the opportunity to meet Kevin O’Leary, aka “Mr. Wonderful” of ABC’s Shark Tank.

To learn more about Tech Bash or to register, visit or follow on Twitter @TigerTechBash and

See more scenes from last year's Tech Bash.

August 28, 2015

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



By Nancy Dahlberg /

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.

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


August 24, 2015

Sime MIA announces conference dates, expanded focus

Sime MIA, the conference that has explored technology trends by bringing in speakers from Singularity University, Hollywood and the Oslo Freedom Forum, is returning to Miami Beach for a third year with an expanded format focusing on big data and fintech.

MIA Collective, an organization that produces digital business and technology events in Miami, announced Sime MIA will be Dec. 1 and 2, leading up to Art Basel, and that it now has an equity partnership with Miami-based Rokk3r Labs, a Miami Beach cobuilding company. Sime MIA 2015, which is a joint-venture between MIA Collective and Stockholm-based Sime, will seek to develop more events in 2016, in addition to the already established Sime MIA and MIA Music Summit.

SimeThe main event will be Dec. 1 at the New World Center in Miami Beach and will be called Sime MIA | Converge. At Converge, Ola Ahlvarsson (pictured), founder and host of Sime, Northern Europe’s largest conference about the Internet and digital opportunities, will take the audience of 700 people through a journey into the latest tech and media trends shaping the future. On the second day, there will be custom designed half-day “summits” that will dig deep into the themes of fintech and big data. As in the previous two years, Sime MIA 2015 is supported by the Knight Foundation.

“It’s a very unique event. I remember people crying when Yeonmi Park of North Korea [who defected as a teen] spoke. It was a very eye-opening and inspiring but we felt we needed to add a tangible business angle. Now with the very business-focused summits on the second day, we can even go a little more crazy on day one with speakers and themes that are surprising,” said Demian Bellumio, co-founder of MIA Collective. That would be a high bar: In addition to Park, brought by the Freedom Forum, previous years’ speakers and themes have included futurist Salim Ismael of Singularity; the screenwriter of Crash and Million Dollar Baby; a Jordanian comic book writer and gamer using the power of his mediums to fight extremism; and live “biohacking” on stage. Bellumio said 2015 speakers will be announced in coming months.

Each of the half-day summits – fintech and big data – will have a co-host, a company globally recognized in the field that will work with the MIA Collective on the agenda, which will include keynotes, workshops and plenty of networking time. The summits will take place at The LAB Miami in Wynwood. More themes may be added on a third day, Bellumio said.

Rokk3r Labs will apply its cobuilding methodology to help MIA Collective strengthen its marketing and sales capabilities in order to scale its strategy and operations to support more events.

“We felt that this was the right fit with people who had the right vision and wanted to raise the caliber of events that are happening in Miami with focus and flair,” said Nabyl Charania, CEO of Rokk3r Labs. “Given the growing success of the last two years, we thought bringing our team into the mix would provide the team and resources to formalize the operations and help grow the Collective and Sime to be bigger and better.”

Bellumio said the MIA Collective plans to bring back and elevate the MIA Music Summit during the week of the Winter Music Conference and create or bring in additional events in 2016.

Tickets for Sime MIA | Converge are $499 and each individual summit is $299, but early-bird pricing is $299 and $149, respectively, at

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

August 19, 2015

Thrive Seminar to bring Daymond John to Miami Beach next week

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

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

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

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

- Submitted by the Nelson Foundation.

August 05, 2015

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



By Michael Hall

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 21, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COST: Free Entry Fee for Competitors


Press release supplied by Digital Grass



July 17, 2015

Seeing possibility: Entrepreneurs share advice, tools at women's forum


Trish Costello, founder of Portfolio and co-founder of the Kauffman Fellows Program, discussed ways to fund your company at the International Women’s Forum event in Miami, above.

Dawn Dickson, below, CEO of Flat Out of Heels, attended the International Women’s Forum event and asked a question. Photos by Two Parrot Productions. 



By Nancy Dahlberg /

Women-run firms are generating half the revenue of their male counterparts’ firms, and about 30 percent of corporations have no women in senior management.

In the venture capital world, less than 5 percent of VCs are women. Only about 3 percent of venture capital goes to companies with female CEOs, and 85 percent of funded companies have no women on founding teams.

Statistics like these are why organizations such as the International Women’s Forum exist. Supported by the Knight Foundation, the IWF hosted a two-day Executive Development Roundtable in downtown Miami this week to provide leadership training and professional development to women entrepreneurs.

The two-day forum brought in female entrepreneurs who have grown billion-dollar brands and launched venture funds to share advice and secrets of success with about 70 participants, most of whom are running their own businesses in South Florida.

Yet, despite the statistics, the mood in the conference was upbeat and inspiring. The speakers shared war stories, advice, resources, connections — and hope that things are changing. For starters, women now make up more than half of the workforce, and they have also moved higher than men in academic-degree attainment.

On the funding front, trends are moving in women’s favor. For example, angel funding and crowdfunding are exploding (the number of female angels has tripled in three years, for example), and these are platforms that align with the way women operate best, the panelists said. More women are being trained to be VCs in programs such as the Kauffman Fellows program.

“We have power that no women in history have had — that is pretty exciting,” said Trish Costello, investor and founder of Portfolia. “We have to learn from each other.”

Some words of advice from the panelists in Tuesday’s sessions, which included IWF Fellows Costello; Kim Sanchez Rael, founder of Arrah Ventures; Denise Brosseau, co-founder of Springboard; Kay Koplovitz, former chairman of USA Network; Gayle Tauber, co-founder of Kashi; Susan Amat, founder of Miami’s Venture Hive; and Kah Walla, founder of Strategies!:

Assemble an A-team. Investors look at market, technology, business model and team, but every VC will tell you it is really all about the team. Also assemble an advisory board. Everyone needs smart advisors and a really good lawyer, they said, and as you grow, hire slowly, fire fast.

Prioritize. What is the area that is providing the most value for the customer? That is what you focus on scaling.

Get comfortable with the numbers. Read Finance for Non-Financial Managers. Understand your sources of cash on a monthly and quarterly basis. Realize that a highly profitable business is the engine that keeps it going.

Assemble a mastermind group. Meet regularly, at least monthly, with this group of like-minded entrepreneurs in noncompeting companies to share what you’ve learned and bring business problems to the table in a safe space. Strive to combine both experienced and less experienced entrepreneurs and look for different areas of expertise.

The customer is king. You don’t have a business until you have a repeat customer.

Reframe the word “failure”: It’s not a bad thing; it’s a learning experience. You are failing forward.

Form strategic partnerships to get your business going. But keep the terms short so there is no long-term impact.

“You have to love the roller coaster of being an entrepreneur,” said Koplovitz. “I wake up every day and see possibility.”

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.



From left, above, Canadian journalist Ann Medina interviews Kay Koplovitz, former chairman and CEO of USA Networks, and Gayle Tauber, who among other endeavors co-founded Kashi Company.

A table of entrepreneurs discusses issues with one of the International Women’s Forum Fellows during a mentoring session. Photos by Two Parrot Productions.



July 14, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- submitted by Florida Venture Forum


July 11, 2015

Civic innovation, inclusion should form foundation of ecosystem



Photos by Dante' D. Fillyau


By Nancy Dahlberg /

 Is South Florida’s entrepreneurial community an ecosystem or a springboard?

It’s an important question, says Carla Mays, an expert in civic innovation, which is focused on models for nurturing and supporting diverse and inclusive ecosystems. She visited Miami this week from Silicon Valley and participated in a community event on the topic.

A springboard is a place that may be starting to grow an ecosystem but entrepreneurs have to go to Silicon Valley or another ecosystem to get the all the resources they need to grow, she explains. “If you aren’t careful to build an ecosystem where there are connections to capital and resources … you are not creating something here, you are creating something that helps the Valley. That’s the brain drain.”

Mays runs Mays Civic Innovation and has launched programs, think tanks and innovation labs in civic and social innovation, entrepreneurship and funding. Joining her on the panel last week were South Floridians Matt Haggman, Miami program director of the Knight Foundation; Pandwe Gibson, founder of EcoTech Visions; Armando Ibarra, a public affairs and corporate development executive; and Michael Hall, founder of Digital Grass, a South Florida organization aimed at promoting a diverse ecosystem.

In the packed event room at the LAB Miami on Wednesday night, Haggman said he sees a young ecosystem, not a springboard. We have places to network, to get mentorship, to secure funding and to find talent, said Haggman, who has spearheaded Knight’s focus on entrepreneurship the past three years.

Yet, there is much work still to do, he said, and much of the conversation at the event was focused on building an ecosystem for all of South Florida, well beyond Miami’s urban core. That includes examining how we do civic innovation in a way that the whole community benefits.

Some broad themes tackled:

Economic development needs rethinking. “It’s not about big business attraction, it’s about nurturing entrepreneurship,” said Mays. And that means making sure the playing field is level when it comes to acquiring skills to participate in the innovation economy. “We have to bridge the knowledge divide as well as the capital divide. That includes providing hacker spaces in underserved neighborhoods.”

Build on South Florida’s unique assets: Gibson said before opening EcoTech Visions, an incubator for green manufacturing companies, her team inventoried the area it would service in order to build the right toolset for entrepreneurs. That also means aligning programs and goals with geography, industries and areas of expertise South Florida is already strong at, Ibarra said. Bigger picture: Creating a startup ecosystem built on civic innovation is also about solving the problems of our economy, such as lack of affordable housing and urban mobility as well as education, he added.

Think beyond the VC world: Whether it’s funding for individual companies or the organizations that support them, the reality in civic innovation, Mays said, is that funding, particularly the first money, is most likely to come from public sources such as government and economic development partnerships, foundations like Knight and corporations. This money can also fund things like office space, hacker space and computers loaded with cloud tools — “this is what we mean about a level playing field,” Mays said

The co-operative model can work in civic innovation: While it hasn’t taken off in Miami yet, co-ops have been quite successful in California and work very well in communities with people of color where you are taking care of serious gaps, Mays said. Lending circles, food enterprises and legal services as a few examples where co-ops can work well.

Procurement processes need a rethink: Processes and regulations need to be integrated with the innovation economy, said Ibarra, and that means updating our laws and our institutions to make them more relevant.

Educating our youth means reaching deep into the communities: “Our best entrepreneurs are our troubled youth. They are very entrepreneurial. We need to reach them in their own communities and provide them with guidance … and beef up entrepreneurship education in schools,” Mays said. “The new model is not us telling them, it is them telling us and we getting the resources in place.”

The next day Mays visited the Idea Center at Miami Dade College and heard some of the companies in the incubator CREATE pitch. She was impressed with the companies and with the Idea Center’s programs for lean startups and design thinking. She also visited with the Beacon Council, Rokk3r Labs and EcoTech Visions.

PanelphotoDavid Capelli of TECH Miami, who met Mays at a conference in California earlier this year and helped organize this event with Digital Grass, said events like this will continue. Audience members were also encouraged to continue the conversation on “It takes all of us to get out of the silos and start tackling the problems and being honest and transparent because innovation is the system of human networks,” said Capelli.

Entrepreneurship is in Miami’s DNA and diversity is our greatest asset, said Haggman. By continuing to have this conversation we can avoid the mistakes of the Valley, he said, referring to the horrible diversity numbers we’ve been hearing about at Valley tech companies.

Said Mays: “You can be the model for doing it right.”

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg



July 06, 2015

Miller Lite Tap the Future pitch event with Daymond John returns to Miami Beach Tuesday


The Miller Lite Tap the Future business plan competition is back for its third year, returning to Miami Beach and other U.S. cities for its Live Pitch Event tour.

Next week, five semifinalists from the Southeast will pitch in front of a live audience for a chance to win $20,000 and a chance to compete for a $200,000 grand prize. The entrepreneurs will be judged and receive feedback from Daymond John from ABC’s Shark Tank and others.

The event on Tuesday July 7 evening at The Fillmore Miami Beach is open to consumers 21 and older who RSVP at Three randomly selected entrepreneurs in the audience will get the chance to deliver a one-minute business pitch and receive judges’ feedback. The best impromptu pitch will $500.

“Having done my fair share of business pitching and evaluating the pitches of others, I’ve gathered a lot of expertise in this area that I always like passing along to the emerging entrepreneurs in this competition,” said Daymond John, investor, author and business mogul. “The Miller Lite Tap the Future program is a great learning experience for the contestants where they practice the art of pitching to an investor, networking and putting together a solid business plan. It’s also a great launching pad for the winning businesses, as the grants are given free and clear. Miller Lite takes no equity from the companies, which is a big deal for entrepreneurs.”