May 22, 2016

Entrepreneurship Datebook: Workshops, events in South Florida

Tech eggVisual Story-telling Institute: Learn how to step up your game with best practices and actionable tips on how to create a winning online video strategy for business impact, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday, The Screening Room, 2626 NW Second Ave., Miami. More info:

South Florida Technology Alliance: Theme of monthly program: “The Evolution and State of Coding,” 5:30-9 p.m. Thursday, Axis Space Coworking, 333 Las Olas Way. Tickets: (Click on events).

Founder Institute Showcase: Early-stage investors and South Florida entrepreneurs are invited to meet the most-recent graduates of the Founder Institute, 7-9:30 p.m. (Private investor VIP reception at 6 p.m.) May 31, Broward College, Reubin O’D Askew Tower, 220 South East Second Ave., Floor 7, Fort Lauderdale, RSVPL

Aging2.0's 2016 Global Startup Search: This competition is for aging-focused startups to showcase their company to an international audience; events are taking place worldwide. The Miami event will be 6:30 to 9 p.m. June 2 at, 120 SW 8th St., Miami. Tickets on Eventbrite. Apply to pitch startups at the event here:

Miami GovJam: This project-based, hands-on professional training teaches participants how to increase the efficacy of service delivery and customer satisfaction, while fostering innovation and teamwork within and outside of government. June 1-2, Miami Beach City Hall. More info:

National Day for Civic Hacking: This event will bring together urbanists, civic hackers, government staff, developers, designers and community organizers to collaboratively build new solutions using publicly released data, technology, and design processes to improve Miami communities and the governments that serve them, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. June 4, The Idea Center @ MDC, Wolfson Campus, Building 8, Fifth Floor. More info on Eventbrite.

Starting Gate

Find startup news and community views on Starting Gate blog on Have an event to list? Email ndahlberg@" and put Datebook in the subject line.

Nancy Dahlberg @ndahlberg

May 17, 2016

Startup Weekend Education @ FIU: And the winners are ...

By @MarioCruz

What an amazing honor to be a Judge with Startup Weekend Education (#swedumiami) at FIU this past Sunday, May 15. The judges heard pitches from 8 teams, some teams with members as young as elementary school students.

The pitches were phenomenal and the amount of work these teams put in such a short amount of time was impressive. The best pitches clearly communicated the value proposition of the idea, had a simple prototype or flow that showed how the product or service would work, and addressed the business potential and educational impact of the concept. The prize winners were as follows:

Here are the top three winners:

1st Place: Liber-P, an Online/Offline content delivery platform that allows inmates to gain access to bridge the skills of higher education and help them prepare for the 21st century workforce. As a prize, three team members from Liber-P will be traveling next year to South-by-Southwest EDU in Austin, with flights and hotel covered!


2nd Place: Blueprint Created a tool to help students set academic goals, understand their GPA and its determinants, and provide them with a suite of resources that will ultimately improve their life trajectory.


3rd Place: @BookCloud Making education more affordable by offering unlimited e-textbooks to students on a subscription model.


The judges also named Beyond the Grade with “Education Impact Award,” as an honorable mention. Beyond the Grade’s mission was to focus on growth, not grades, and created a parallel grading tool for schools and districts.


Congratulations, not only to our winning teams but to everyone who participated this past weekend. A big thank you to The Knight Foundation for making the weekend possible as well as the mentors, volunteers and other judges (pictured below) who contributed so much to make Startup Weekend Education such a huge success.


May 12, 2016

Startup Nation Conference to explore Israel-Miami ties at Miami Dade College on May 17

How did a country the size of New Jersey end up with the second-highest concentration of startups in the world? What can Miami learn from Israel's global success?

The Idea Center at Miami Dade College and Tel Aviv University will host the inaugural Startup Nation Conference on Tuesday at MDC’s Wolfson Campus in downtown Miami as a way to explore the hows and whys of Israel’s global success and to connect Miami’s tech and innovation community with that of Tel Aviv’s — the world’s most successful innovation ecosystem after Silicon Valley. in the last decade, Israel produced six Nobel Prize winners and 800 exits — companies that were acquired or went public.

Each conference session will reflect the four steps in every startup’s life cycle: ideation, launch, growth and exit. In addition, the conference will feature more than 20 speakers, including Maurice Ferré, former CEO and chairman of Mako Surgical Corp., which sold for $1.65 billion in 2013, and Jonathan Medved, founder and CEO of OurCrowd, invested more than $16 million in 18 portfolio companies in just under six months.

The Startup Nation Conference was born out of a recent Knight Foundation collaboration with Project Interchange, an educational institute of the American Jewish Committee. A delegation of 12 Miami entrepreneurs and tech community leaders, including The Idea Center’s Executive Director Leandro Finol, traveled to Israel in March 2015 to learn from the country’s dynamic tech and innovation sector. After that, MDC and Tel Aviv University forged a knowledge-sharing partnership.

“During my visit to Israel, I had the opportunity to interact with some of the world’s best problem solvers. Miami will benefit from discovering their methods of coming up with creative solutions and succeeding at resolving the most unsolvable issues in our community,” Finol said.

Startup Nation will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Idea Center, MDC’s entrepreneurship hub in Building 8 on the Wolfson Campus. Tickets are $99. For more information, visit 

Read more: Israel’s tech and startup success – what can Miami learn?

Read more: A Q&A with the president of Israel’s Technion University 

May 11, 2016

Still time to join Startup Weekend EDU, coming to FIU this weekend


By Kiesha Moodie

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 13-15!

Teach For America has teamed up with The Knight Foundation, Florida International University and 4.0 Schools 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.

With support from NBCUniversal Open Possibilities, we are presenting the challenge of “21st Century Readiness.” The weekend will be filled with collaboration and lots of food (all meals included), fun, swag and prizes!

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.

The event, to be held at FIU's Tech Station on the Modesto Maidique campus, is free for students and parents. For others to register with a 50% discount, use the code “future305” at

Brian Brackeen, Founder & CEO - Kairos
Johanna Mikkola, Co-Founder - Wyncode
Matt Mawhinney, Community Manager - Launchcode
Juha Mikkola, Co-Founder - Wyncode
Christina Freire, Senior Instructional Designer - FIU Online

Robert Gordon, Advisor - Investor Solutions
Willie Avendano, Co-Founder - Zero1 & Wynwood Maker Camp

Jade Palomino, Manager - Endeavor Miami
Mario Cruz, Director - Watsco Ventures
Leslie Miller Saointz, Board Chair – Teach For America
Sasha Lopez, Executive Director - Miami Dade County Public Schools Human Capital
Archie Cubarrubia, Vice Provost for Institutional Effectiveness – Miami Dade College
Alia Mahmoud, Sales & Business Development Exectuive, Kairos

Kiesha Moodie is the Managing Director of Alumni and Community Impact at Teach For America Miami-Dade.


May 02, 2016

Hacks/Hackers seeks technologists, journalists and media innovators for launchpad event with Google



By Dan Grech and Christine Johnson

On Friday, May 13th, and Saturday, May 14th, Hacks/Hackers Miami is hosting one of the largest journalism technology gatherings ever held in South Florida. It’s called Hacks/Hackers Connect, and it aims to catalyze and inspire media innovation through talks and workshops from some of the nation’s top media innovators.

Miami is one of seven cities worldwide hosting this Google News Lab-partnered launchpad event to agitate for more media entrepreneurship. More than 150 of Florida’s foremost innovators in journalism, engineering, design and business will attend.

Topics include: virtual reality, streaming video, data journalism, lean startup culture, gaming for storytelling, reaching bilingual audiences, and many more unique offerings. “Brain date” sessions will be offered for participants to have one-on-one time with speakers (pre-registration required). And prominent angel investors will offer roundtable coaching sessions for founders of leading Florida journalism startups organized by the Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corporation.

Some of the contributors for the 2-day event are:

  • Jennifer Brandel, Co-Founder and CEO, Hearken;
  • Ruth Spencer, Managing Editor, Guardian News & Media;
  • Edward “Ed” Rodriguez, Vice President of Americas Marketing, Citrix;
  • Bharat Krish, Corporate VP IT (CIO), HBO Latin America;
  • Nathaniel Lash and Eli Murray, Pulitzer Prize-winning Data Reporters,
    Tampa Bay Times;
  • Alex de Carvalho, Founder, Visual Storytelling Institute;
  • Hillary Frey, Co-Chief Creative Officer, Matter Studios;
  • Olman Hernandez, Video Producer, Fusion;
  • David Schutz, Design Director, South Florida Sun Sentinel;
  • Christopher Sopher, CEO, The New Tropic;
  • Jeff Brown, Founder, Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corporation; and,
  • Anna Sterling, Video Producer, Fusion.


Connect events are made possible through a partnership between Hacks/Hackers, a global network of more than 40,000 journalists & technologists,  and Google News Lab. The Hacks/Hackers Miami chapter is bringing Connect to Miami as an extension of their dedication to build the South Florida media innovation landscape. Hacks/Hackers Miami launched in 2013 and now has more than 1,150 members and has hosted over 150 events. The chapter is led by Dan Grech, Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations, OfferCraft; Rebekah Monson, Co-Founder, The New Tropic; and, Rachel Schallom, Interactive Designer, Fusion.

Connect is an intimate event. Space is limited, and RSVPs are required for attendance by Monday, May 9th. Learn more about the programming and save your seat at The cost to attend is your creative energy and knowledge!

For questions, contact Christine Johnson, Local Producer, at

Dan Grech is Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations for OfferCraft and Christine Johnson is Local Producer for Hacks/Hackers Connect, Miami.

May 01, 2016

Entrepreneurship Datebook: Events, workshops, deadlines for week of May 2-May 8


TecheggCode For Miami: Join developers, designers and community leaders in creating open-source projects for the community’s good, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, The LAB Miami, 400 NW 26th St. Info:

Going Global: The FIU Pino Global Entrepreneurship Center presents the Global Business Workshop for Small Business, 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Tuesday, FIU Brickell Campus, South Tower, Room 1010, 1101 Brickell Ave., Miami. RSVP:

Create Miami Launch: Learn about’s Create Miami campaign, which will help 20 entrepreneurs receive funding for their ventures, including matching funds from the Knight Foundation, 6 p.m. Tuesday, The LAB Miami, 400 NW 26th St. Info:

Refresh Miami: Topic is “Future of Mobile in Latin America” featuring speakers from Twitter and Google, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday,, 120 SW Eighth St., Miami. Info:


WIN Lab Miami: Applications for the Miami WIN Lab, Miami’s first all female accelerator, close on Monday, May 2. Find out how to accelerate your business, while engaging with a community of female founders over the course of eight months. Apply:

American Entrepreneurship Award: The deadline to enter this contest with a $25,000 prize was extended until Tuesday, May 3. Enter at


Keep up with startup news and views on Starting Gate on Have news? email

Nancy Dahlberg @ndahlberg


April 30, 2016

Zumba: What the global fitness brand can teach Miami tech


Zumba filer

By Nancy Dahlberg /

It doesn’t get more Miami than the story of Zumba.

Perlman mug (1)Alberto Perlman, who appeared at The LAB Miami for the monthly  "Brainfood" series, is co-founder and CEO of Zumba Fitness, the largest branded fitness program in the world. He shared war stories and lessons learned.

Zumba dance fitness classes attract more than 15 million weekly participants in 200,000 locations in more than 180 countries. The brand also includes music, clothing, DVDs, video games, a charity platform and most recently its first food product.

Perlman oversees day-to-day operations, manages brand and product development, and negotiates partnerships with fitness clubs and organizations around the world. The Hallandale Beach-based company has about 220 employees and a development team of about 30. He co-founded the company with two other Albertos from Colombia, Alberto Aghion and Alberto “Beto” Pérez.

But Zumba used none of the traditional methods to grow. It hasn’t acquired any companies. Except for accepting one private equity investment, it hasn’t raised financing. Instead it was at the right place at the right time with the right idea, amid a confluence of healthy living trends, a resurgence of interest in all things Latin, and a fresh business model that relied on harnessing the passion of Zumba instructors to build the business. Today, they lead more than half a million classes every week. What’s the secret to building a worldwide movement? “You start with heart,” Perlman said at the discussion led by entrepreneur Marco Giberti on Thursday night.

Perlman said Zumba has been testing live streaming and virtual reality, and looks forward to testing augmented reality, but he told the tech audience that the live experience will always be the center of all Zumba does.

“The live experience is never going to be replaced. Face-to-face is never going away. Everything we do is to drive people to the classes.”

Not that there weren’t low points. One of them was in the downturn of 2008, when the team was running low on money and bracing for the worst. But 2008 was also an inflection point for the company because they realized that despite the recession, people were flocking to the classes to de-stress and have fun. The instructor ranks swelled also, as a means of employment in tough times. “We were there and the people found us.”

Since then, apparel has become a very big business for Zumba, which like all its products are co-created with the instructor network. Last year Zumba sold 4 million units, 90 percent of which are sold through the website, he said.

Zumba possibly would consider developing another fitness brand if it was the right fit (he said he didn’t see CrossFit coming), but it’s not a priority, Perlman said. “The Zumba brand keeps us very busy,” he said, and there is still innovation to do. For instance, in the last few years its charity platform, Zumbathon, has taken off, raising about $5.7 million. Its Zumba Stories website is packed with personal, life-changing stories. And the company this year introduced its first food product, Zumba Shake Shake Shake, a super healthy plant-based protein drink.

He said finding talent has been difficult in Miami, but he also believes that if he had started Zumba in New York or Los Angeles, it may not have gotten off the ground. Being under the radar and not having intense local competition has its advantages when you are building a company.

Perlman’s advice to entrepreneurs: “Focus on your product and customers — don’t spend all your time raising money. Customer-centric companies win.”

And perhaps he should have also added: “Listen to your mother.” She had a very instrumental part in the Zumba story, encouraging him to meet with her dance-fitness instructor, “Beto,” the accidental entrepreneur who invented the Zumba dance concept and became his co-founder. "Maybe you can start a gym together," she said then.

Nancy Dahlberg; 305-376-3595; @ndahlberg



April 26, 2016

EcoTech to host second #LOCALIS Digital Conference on Thursday

Submitted by EcoTech Visions

 EcoTech Visions will host the second annual #LOCALIS Digital Conference on Thursday, April 28 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST.

#LOCALIS is a fun digital conference that focuses on the meaning and impact of living locally and supporting local green businesses. The goal of the event is to build awareness and engagement around eco-sustainability topics through noted virtual presenters and institutions who are creatively impacting the ways people interact with the environment and eco-business development. The conference takes place on various social media channels including: Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

“We’re very excited for this year’s #LOCALIS Digital Conference and expect national and global participation,” says Justin Knight, director of marketing and programming at EcoTech Foundations. “Participants will engage in meaningful conversations around what ‘local is’ and ways people can encourage and further develop sustainability in their local communities.”

This year’s schedule includes a scavenger hunt with clues revealed online, plus an in-person lunch event hosted at EcoTech Visions.

Topics on this year’s agenda include:

8am-9am: Solar Power

9am-10am: Renewable Energy Technology

10am-11am: How the not-for-profit sector is advancing local change

11am-noon: Blue Collar to Green Collar

Noon-2pm: Scavenger Hunt

2pm-3pm: Benefits of Supporting Small Businesses/ How to Buy Locally

3pm-4pm: Solving for Sea Level Rise

4pm-5pm: How to make an impact with Water Conservation

5pm-6pm: A Healthier You: What is the impact of eco-sustainability on health

7pm-8pm: Tips for "Glean" Living (Green-Clean Living)

The majority of the conversation occurs on the Twitter platform using hashtag: #LOCALIS. Real-time conversations around “what #LOCALIS means to you.”

A partial listing of presenters for this year's event includes:

  • Andrew West, National Black Information Technology Leadership Organization
  • James Jiler, Urban Greenworks
  • Jen Boynton, Triple Pundit
  • Kamalah Fletcher, American Red Cross
  • Dr. Pandwe Gibson, PhD, EcoTech Visions
  • Valencia Gunder, Make the Homeless Smile
  • Victoria Fear, The Miami Foundation
  • …and more

“LOCALIS represents a unique opportunity for my business to promote the local manufacturing of environmentally friendly and sustainable products," says Michael Caballero, chief executive officer of Earthware Inc. "The benefits of my business model - economically, environmentally and to one's health - are an important message that everyone needs to hear.”

Interested participants can get in on the conversation between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 28 by using hashtag #LOCALIS.

To view the full schedule and list of digital presenters, visit:, and for more information about EcoTech Visions, please visit:

EcoTech Visions is a green technology business incubator and accelerator that is turning blue collar jobs to green collar.


April 24, 2016

Entrepreneurship Datebook: Events, workshops in South Florida April 25-May 1

Tech eggMarketHack: The digital marketing training program presents Tricks of the Twitter Trade, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Monday, Idea Center at Miami Dade College, Wolfson campus, fifth floor. More info on Eventbrite.

From Idea to Prototype: In this Gold Coast Venture Capital Association event, learn from two leaders in the prototyping industry and an entrepreneur who turned his idea into a prototype and then a funded startup, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., Wednesday, Mindwarehouse, 111 NE 1st Street, 7th Floor. More info here.

Waffles After Work with LiveNinja: Join the Miami tech and startup community for this monthly evening version of #WaffleWednesday, 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, LiveNinja HQ, 120 NW 25th Street, Suite 301, Miami. More info on Eventbrite

Brainfood with Zumba: The Brainfood speaker series presents “The Zumba Case” with CEO Alberto Perlman, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, The LAB Miami, 400 NW 26th St., Wynwood. More info here.

MIT Enterprise Forum: Topic is “The Future of On-Demand Manufacturing: Printing 3D Products” with a panel of entrepreneurs and 3D printing experts, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday, Florida International University, 11200 SW 8th St. (Park in Garage 6). More info and ticket information here.

If you have an event you would like considered for Entrepreneurship Datebook, email it to and put Datebook in the subject line.


Miami-Dade startups can apply for the American Entrepreneurship Award contest sponsored by the Libra Group. The contest comes with a $25,000 prize, and the entry deadline is Friday. Find out more at


Find startup news and community views on the Starting Gate blog on Miami

April 17, 2016

Entrepreneurship Datebook: Events, workshops in South Florida April 18-24

eMerge Americas: Miami’s homegrown technology conference will feature speakers, an expo, contests, a hiring fair, parties and more. On Tuesday, finalists in the Startup Showcase will pitch for $175,000 in investment. Conference is Monday and Tuesday, Miami Beach Convention Center. Tickets are sold out. More info:

Jumpstart your Business with American Entrepreneurship Award: The American Entrepreneurship Award (AEA) is an annual business plan competition offering $25,000 in startup funding, as well as mentorship and free business support; entry deadline is April 29. Join a free session by Daymond John’s company Shark Branding, 5 p.m. Wednesday, The Idea Center at Miami Dade College, Wolfson campus, Building 8, Fifth floor.

Startupbootcamp Launch: Startupbootcamp Miami, an accelerator for digital health companies, celebrates its launch and will include a discussion on its plan to make Miami a hub for healthcare innovation, 6:30-9:30 p.m. Wednesday,, 120 SW Eighth St., 3rd Floor, Miami. Register on Eventbrite.

The Lowdown on Intellectual Property: FIU Miami Beach Urban Studios hosts “Make Money Trough Innovation! Intellectual Property and Patents,” a discussion led by Peter Hernandez, director of the office of technology management and commercialization for FIU, 6 p.m. Thursday, 420 Lincoln Rd., Suite 440, Miami Beach.


Have you wondered what it is like to be a women in technology? Could the tech community be more welcoming to women? Several guest posts on the Starting Gate blog last week addressed this. Also, Juan Pablo Cappello weighs in on “Silicon Beach” — can we bury that in the sand, he asks? Find these posts and more startup news and community views on Starting Gate blog at on

Nancy Dahlberg @ndahlberg