January 17, 2017

SUP-X: The StartUp Expo to host regional finals of national hardware startup competition

SUP-X: The StartUp Expo announced that it had formed a partnership with Pittsburgh based accelerator AlphaLab Gear and that it will host the Southeast Regional competition of AlphaLab Gear’s Hardware Cup, one of the country’s most prestigious startup competitions focused on hardware.   

“We can’t wait to see who they select as finalists to compete at SUP-X,” said Bob Fitts, founder and producer of SUP-X, which is held at the Broward Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, each winter.

Six teams will be chosen from online applications to give a four-minute pitch in front a panel of Hardware Cup judges at SUP-X.  Judges will have five minutes to ask questions and the teams are judged on commercial viability, team capability and demonstrated commitment.  Regional finalists receive $3,000, a free one-year SOLIDWORKS license, as well as other prizes and a chance to win a $50,000 investment from Startbot VC at the Hardware Cup National Finals in May.  

“The growth of IoT, the falling cost of sensors, and increased access to tools and resources through makerspaces like TechShop make it cheaper, faster, and easier than ever before to get a hardware startup off the ground,” said Ilana Diamond, managing director at AlphaLab Gear. "The goal of the Hardware Cup is to find and highlight the most promising hardware startups in the nation, and we can't wait to hit the road and see what talent is out there this year."

SUP-X and Fort Lauderdale join Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Boston, Washington DC, Chicago and Austin as regional Hardware Cup hosts.  

Startups interested in applying to the regional Hardware Cup competition at SUP-X may apply at http://www.alphalabgear.org/hardwarecup/

SUP-X: The StartUp Expo is March 6-7, 2017, at the Broward Convention Center.  SUP-X is a two-day, international startup and early-stage conference at the Greater Fort Lauderdale-Broward Convention Center.    The event features a special “Diversity in Entrepreneurship Forum” to address the needs of those typically under-addressed in the startup and venture capital communities.  SUP-X will also have about 18 speeches and panel discussions on topics of interest to investors and entrepreneurs alike, as well as  its own startup competition with $50,000 in cash divided among three winners.  Fifty startups from over three-dozen US cities will exhibit at SUP-X for free.  Tickets to SUP-X range from $59-$399. 

More information about SUP-X may be found at http://www.sup-x.org/ or by contacting info@sup-x.org.

There will be a free Miami kickoff event for SUP-X with a pitch contest on Jan. 26 at Building.co. More info and to register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sup-x-2017-miami-dade-kickoff-party-startup-competition-tickets-30614306214

- Submitted by SUP-X: The StartUp Expo

Read last year's Miami Herald coverage from SUP-X here.

 

 

January 14, 2017

Flourish Media Conference to host its inaugural investment-focused conference for women of color in South Florida

Flourish Media Conference, in partnership with Florida International University, announced its inaugural investment-focused Flourish Media Conference: Where Women Do Business will take place Feb. 3-4 at Florida International University inside the Graham Center Ballroom.

FMC is the only media conference with opportunities for business funding for female entrepreneurs of color, offering them the opportunity to learn about branding, visibility and funding  through interactive workshops and panel discussions.

“Our goal is to prepare conference attendees with the knowledge, resources, and more importantly, access to willing investors, to help close the hugely disproportional female funding gap and under-representation of women of color in high-growth startup industries," said Vivian Olodun of FMC. "This conference presents the perfect opportunity to do just that.”

The two-day Flourish Media Conference offers guest lectures and workshops in two tracks. During both tracks, guests will have the opportunity to engage with successful female business owners and attend workshops with industry professionals to help propel their business to the next level. Saturday’s VIP conference attendees will have the opportunity to live pitch to investors for substantial funding.

FMC’s guest speakers range from bloggers, social media influencers, entrepreneurs and those operating in the business finance sector. Guest speakers scheduled to attend this year’s conference include Tracy Timberlake, YouTube vlogger turned six-figure video marketing strategist, who will teach conference attendees video hacks that can transform their personal branding into guru-status; and Lila Nikole, business owner and swimwear designer whose work has been featured on major media outlets including BET and VH1, Mercedes Benz Swim Week, and worn by some of the hottest pop stars and socialites. Lila will share personal knowledge and key insight on the strategies behind building a successful brand.

Tickets to attend Flourish Media Conference are $247 for the All-Access Garden Pass and $434 for Full-Access Buddy Pass. Live stream tickets are $57. For more information or to purchase tickets: www.flourishmediaconference.com.

-submitted by FMC

 

January 09, 2017

Join CIC Miami and The New Tropic for MiamiLand Jan. 21

CIC Presents MiamiLand, Saturday, January 21, 2017, 6pm-9pm.
 
Join  CIC Miami for its launch party at MiamiLand.
 
MiamiLand, The New Tropic’s annual get down and ode to the 305, is officially back. Last year Miamiland explored the history and culture behind Miami’s diverse and colorful neighborhoods. This year we’re celebrating the launch of CIC Miami and the future of innovation.
 
Since opening its door this fall, CIC Miami at 1951 NW 7th Ave. has been serving as an innovator space and connecting Miami’s entrepreneurial local leaders to catalyze new startup and investment activity right at home.
 
Join us for an interactive shindig, where you’ll get to explore our home at the Converge Miami building for live performances, local food trucks, complimentary cocktails and some surprises we’ve got under our belt.
 
 
- Submitted by CIC Miami

January 06, 2017

The LAB Miami to kick off 2017 with 3 events, including new Product Council and GrowthHacking series

Brainfood
 A Brainfood with Martin Varsavky in 2016 attracts a big crowd at The LAB Miami.  

The LAB Miami is kicking off 2017 with three events ‑ Brainfood and two new event series, Product Council and GrowthHacking ‑ with the aim to bridge the gap between the corporate and startup communities, spark meaningful conversations around new relevant content, and bring the Miami ecosystem together. 

Jan 18: Brainfood with Mary Biggins Link 

Brainfood with Endeavor @ The LAB is a monthly, hands-on discussion with successful entrepreneurs, investors, and CEOs from around the world. 

Jan 24: Product Council Link  

Product Council provides startups and existing companies a fresh new outlet for critical feedback, ideation, and improvement of their products. Join product makers, (designers, developers, etc.) and founders to learn valuable lessons and insights from experienced product owners as they dive deep into the challenge, success and failure of product design. This month we will hear from DermaSensor and CareCloud

Jan 31: GrowthHacking with Grant Lingel, Head of Growth in Latin America for Neil Patel Link 

Many businesses struggle with brand awareness and getting their products/services seen by potential customers. Because content marketing takes a lot of time and persistence, many people seek shortcuts in order to get the word out. That's where growth hacking comes in handy. There are many simple yet extremely effective growth hacks that can be implemented that will help get the word out about your business and not break the bank doing so. This talk will discuss some of the best ones.

With $1.1 million in new funding from the Knight Foundation and under a new CEO, Thomas “Tigre” Wenrich, The LAB announced in October it was planning to launch LAB.ID, which will use educational, community programming to encourage greater collaboration between startups and established businesses. These programs are part of that new effort. At the same time, The LAB announced it would will launch a venture builder called LAB.Ventures, which will work with entrepreneurs, engineers and designers to test and build promising business ideas. The program aims to incubate several technology startups by 2019, the majority of which will be run by women and minorities.

READ MORE: Knight invests in LAB's next chapter; new CEO named

 

 

December 23, 2016

SFTA's 5th annual ITPalooza attracts 1,700 tech leaders and IT professionals

Itpalooza1

 

The South Florida Technology Alliance (SFTA) hosted its 5th annual ITPalooza (ITP) earlier this month at a new venue, the Signature Grand.

“What a great event,” said Connie Cabrera, ITPalooza planning committee chair and SFTA board member.  “People not only enjoyed the educational and networking opportunities, but also the fun and cool factors of the 3D and VR activities and seeing Tesla’s incredible electric cars up close.”

This year’s event filled all of the Signature Grand’s main and overflow parking lots to capacity with 1,700 registered attendees, 43 speakers, 112 sponsors and 30 tech groups.

“Perhaps this year’s most impressive attraction was the Charity Toy Wall, comprised of more than 1,200 toys valued at more than $36,000,” said ITPalooza committee and SFTA board member Steve Earle, who compiled the final stats for the event.

Since its inception, ITPalooza has raised more than $160,000 in cash and toys for various South Florida non-profits including Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ STEM Advisory Board, The Stockdale Foundation and U.S. Marine’s Toys for Tots.

“We’re already beginning the planning process for next year’s ITP,” said Cabrera.  “We want to promote the growth, success and awareness of the South Florida technology community across all industries. The impact of innovations in IT leaves no sector untouched; it is not restricted to tech companies any longer. We want to have South Florida’s HealthCare, Education, Energy, Travel and Retail sectors represented at our event, just to name a few.”

One of South Florida’s Largest Tech Conferences, ITP showcases Educational Speaker Tracks, a Hiring Fair, Hackathon, Agile Group, CIO Track, IT Expo, charity toy drive and After-Party. This year featured a dedicated Management Track in conjunction with the iCoast CIO Council with focus on the unique needs of CIOs and other top-level IT executives.

Itpallooza2

   

- Submitted by ITPalooza

December 21, 2016

2nd in Inside the Investor's Head series on Jan. 24 will feature Tamiami Angels

Enterprise Development Corporation is hosting the second in a series of "Inside the Investor's Head" investor/startup events meant to provide entrepreneurs valuable funding insights.  The series combines one-on-one investor/startup introductions with an evening event for a broader audience of entrepreneurs.    The objective of these “capital Introductions” is to both help startups acquaint themselves with active Florida and non-Florida early stage investors and help investors identify South Florida’s best emerging investor-ready companies. 

The event on Tuesday, Jan. 24, will feature Tamiami Angel Funds and their president, Tim Cartwright.  Cartwright will meet in the afternoon with four selected companies from a growing company database of over 40 companies.   Each company will receive feedback on their presentation, an initial interest level and specific advice in applying for formal consideration by the Tamiami Angels. 

At the initial event, Recordgram was selected for a one-on-one by featured investor New World Angels.  According to the co-founder Erik Mendelson “Great news, since our initial meeting with New World Angels, we’ve had two other meetings and are now in their due diligence process. …Will keep you posted, but this would not be happening if it wasn’t for the EDC.”

In the public evening event, held at Mindwarehouse in downtown Miami from 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.,  Cartwright will share with the audience general funding guidance for entrepreneurs as well as specific insights into TAFI’s selection and funding process.  Register for the evening event at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/inside-the-investors-head-with-tamiami-angel-funds-tim-cartwright-tickets-30298266932

Future events in this series will be ongoing throughout 2017, with the February investor announced soon, so please check www.enterbusiness.org for updates.

For entrepreneurs wishing to be considered for the one-on-one, please submit an executive summary and investor slide deck to team@edc-tech.org by 1/2/17.

- Submitted by EDC / Miami DDA Investor Series

December 02, 2016

StartUP FIU helps Miami software startup Addigy scale

Addigy

Jason Dettbarn with part of his Addigy team.

By Jason Dettbarn

Addigy,  a local Miami software company that helps corporations manage their Apple Mac fleet, is preparing to expand its global reach with the help of Florida International University’s StartUP FIU.  Addigy is a quintessential Miami startup with deep roots within FIU.  As founder and CEO, I hold a Masters in Computer Science from Florida International University and cut my teeth in the industry managing worldwide sales operations at Kaseya, a major Miami tech company.  Three years ago, I left Kaseya in order to devote my full energy on creating and building the first full-stack IT management platform for managing Apple Mac computers.

Addigy is a self-funded company based on the sweat labor of extremely talented local Miami talent.  The engineering team consists fully of FIU computer science graduates who have immigrated from Cuba over the past 10 years.  Addigy was recently honored as one of the Top Ten late-stage Miami startups selected for eMerge Americas two years running and is one of the fastest growing companies in StartUP FIU's program.  Building upon Addigy’s 100-plus customers globally that use Addigy to manage their company's world-wide Mac networks, the company’s growth is expected to increase significantly in 2017. Addigy continues to expand at a record pace helping customers not only secure and manage the ever vulnerable Macs in their enterprise, but also helping them attract the top millennial talent, some of whom have never used a PC.

StartUP FIU is an intensive 14-week accelerator program that rapidly guides entrepreneurs through the paces needed to develop their new business ideas into successful growth companies. The accelerator program is open to FIU students, faculty and early-stage startup entrepreneurs in South Florida. All types of companies are welcome including traditional companies, high-tech ventures and social enterprises.

StartUP FIU has been integral to helping Addigy prepare for the next stage in funding and scaling our growth. StartUP FIU has provided us with an abundance of resources at FIU and very deep networks of talent throughout Miami.  Our mentor Mario Cruz (director of Watsco Ventures), for example, has been integral in guiding us through critical areas of the Addigy business.  There is nothing else like StartUP FIU in South Florida, period.

Keep an eye on Addigy as it breaks new ground in Miami and globally in the coming years, as well as the many other great companies being groomed for success in the StartUP FIU Accelerator program in Miami.

Jason Dettbarn is founder and CEO of Addigy, a Miami-based tech startup.

You’re invited to FIU Pitch Day on Dec. 6

Pitch Day is an important milestone for the inaugural Empower Accelerator Program cohort. By this day, StartUP FIU teams will have successfully completed the 14-week Empower Accelerator program. They would have participated in nearly 30 presentations and workshops, taken part in critical mentoring and business advice, and presented their required weekly deliverables in preparation for this one day. It will be 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Dec. 6 at the Graham Center Ballrooms on the Modesto Maidique campus.

To RSVP, click here.

Read more about the StartUP FIU teams here. 

 

December 01, 2016

Startupbootcamp's Demo Day shines spotlight on startups and healthcare ecosystem

SbcMediconecta

 Mediconecta, a telehealth company serving Latin America, makes a Demo Day pitch at Startupbootcamp Miami.

By Startupbootcamp Miami

Miami is home to a robust health industry and is considered one of the largest health districts in all of the United States. From Miami, Startupbootcamp and Mana Wynwood are partnering to create a unique space that capitalizes on Miami’s competitive advantage - from demographic diversity, geographic endowment bridging populations between the Americas together, and Miami’s art scene - to create a distinct and defendable ecosystem for innovation.

“Startupbootcamp has brought new talent and energy to Miami’s expanding innovation ecosystem. Building on this momentum, Demo Day is a chance for this first class of entrepreneurs to put their potential on display and show how they can contribute to the growth and success of our city,” said Matt Haggman, Knight Foundation program director for Miami.

“Miami is a perfect market for entrepreneurs working at the intersection of healthcare and technology with its highly successful clinical facilities, booming tech scene, and emerging startup ecosystem,” said Jaret L. Davis, co-managing shareholder of Greenberg Traurig Miami, who is leading the team of attorneys working with Startupbootcamp and serves as Vice Chairman of Miami Children’s Hospital. “Our firm is thrilled to play a key role in Startupbootcamp and serve as the connector with many of the key players in the market. In light of the work we were already doing with Miami Children’s Health Systems in this field, it made sense to introduce the two, and we are beyond pleased to see how this relationship has blossomed. We look forward to being a catalyst for future growth and remain confident that the success of Startupbootcamp Miami will encourage more accelerators to make their home here.”

Startupbootcamp Demo Day on Thursday  combined  innovations in healthcare technology with Miami’s Art Basel. On Demo Day, Startupbootcamp’s portfolio of digital health companies shared the insights they’ve garnered working in Miami over the past several months to a room of investors, healthcare customers and providers, press, and other esteemed guests.

“Startupbootcamp has really brought to life the technology startup scene in Miami,” said Dr. Narendra Kini CEO at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, an early supporter in Startupbootcamp. “By focusing on health it is really building out the ecosystem for innovation. We hope to see the next major healthcare players originate in Miami.”

In addition, the Startupbootcamp Demo Day was also paired with Miami’s Art Week, harnessing the influx of general cultural activity into an instrument for broader good. Recognizing that the worlds of Art, Health and Technology traditionally exist independently of one another, Startupbootcamp, in partnership with Mana Common, are forging an unprecedented platform for innovation.

Art is continuously playing a significant role in this development by using creativity to address healthcare and patient livelihood, and to broaden access to wellness resources. Artful thinking is increasingly becoming a meaningful and serious strategy towards better healing, as demonstrated through the partnership of Startupbootcamp and Mana Common.

The goal is to look at Miami’s competitive advantages in terms of industry – Health, Technology, and Art – to create a defensible value chain.

Here are  highlights of some of the major accomplishments that our companies have achieved over the last three months.

Aces Health:

Aces Health’s a 5 global finalists for the Mayo "Think Big" entrepreneurship challenge, has signed a LOI and is looking to close it’s pre-seed funding round led by Miami Children's Health System.

BabyScripts:

Partnered with Aurora Healthcare to build the first technology enabled Medicaid care plan that makes necessary pregnancy care available to any patient from the comfort of their own home. The product went live last week.

Additionally, Dr. Narendra Kini and the Miami Children's Health System have served as a pivotal strategic mentor and partner in the South Florida market. They are currently working together on a comprehensive Go-To-Market as well as new exciting product developments.

CareAngel:

CareAngel as awarded 1st Place in the AARP Foundation’s $50K Innovation Challenge for its partnership with the Philadelphia Local Association of Areas on Aging to support enhanced remote care for low income and underserved populations. As part of the SBC program, CareAngel is now piloting with the University of Miami Health System around med adherence for it’s mammogram patients.

Keep Livin:

KL has closed several revenue generating deals in the past 90 days with substantial partners such as Univision and Florida Blue. Keep Livin will be Florida Blue’s community engagement partner, entail enrolling those in Broward County during the current enrollment period.

Mediconecta (pictured above):

Mediconecta has signed an agreement with Miami Children's Health System to support their outreach for children and their families in Miami, throughout the nation and in Latin America.

Additionally, Mediconecta is contracting with University of Miami Health System to deliver a one of a kind model that will extend their providers' reach into new care settings throughout their markets.

QoC Health:

QoC Health as signed 6 new project contracts (including Canada's largest hospital network, Canada's largest home health organization, 2 internationally recognized universities, and 1 global health organization). The projects cover a variety of content areas, including mental health, population health data collection, and chronic disease management.

Overl.ai:

With the help SBC, Overl.ai has pivoted their resources and technologies to a single product around patient intake.  Since then, the company has experienced more meetings and follow throughs with the investors, new strategic partnerships,  and more customer opportunities.

TruClinic:

TruClinic has added 5 new customers since the beginning of our journey with Startup Bootcamp. The Company also won an RFP with a Florida Children's Hospital. TruClinic has been recognized by the Journal of Health as one of the most innovative digital health companies in the world as an honoree of the 2016 Global Digital Health 100 List.

VoiceITT:

In South Florida, VoiceITT will collaborate with specialty clinicians, disabilities advocates, and therapists, including testing and research toward clinical validation of its signature product, which will be commercially available in 2017. It is in discussions with the University of Miami UHealth System, which will be the site of its first hospital pilot implementation as well as its first enterprise sale.

SBC

A panel of community experts in healthcare discuss the ecosystem at Startupbootcamp's Demo Day.

November 18, 2016

Employers: Salaries are going up. Tech professionals: Not fast enough.

ITPalooza

ITPalooza, coming up Dec. 8, is a place for employers and tech professionals to network as well as learn. Photo by Nancy Dahlberg

 

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

About half of employers said IT salaries are going up in South Florida but nearly half of professionals believed they would have to pursue new career opportunities in Silicon Valley and cities including Boston, New York and Austin to gain higher earnings, according to a local survey released Friday.

The annual online survey, conducted as part of the upcoming ITPalooza tech event on Dec. 8, isn’t scientific but provides an interesting gauge of local tech sentiment from both employers and employees; 125 South Florida tech professionals and 37 employers responded to the survey.

Of the tech professionals responding this year, 75 percent were full-time employees. Half said they would “very likely” consider new career opportunities, while 34 percent said, “maybe.” About 32 percent felt that job opportunities in the area were increasing, but 18 percent said they were decreasing, with the remaining 50 percent indicating the market was “flat.”

“The job market for software developers and system engineers is becoming increasingly internationalized,” said Alex Funkhouser, ITPalooza co-founder and CEO of SherlockTalent, a Miami IT and marketing staffing firm. “Many local IT professionals are earning above-market rates by working remotely for out-of-state companies.”

Employers’ outlooks were more sunny. Seventy-four percent of the responding employers said they will be hiring IT positions in 2017, mainly software developers or systems and network engineers. Mobile application developers, security engineers, project managers, IT managers, business analysts and sales and marketing were also on their hiring lists. Five companies said they would be looking for a CIO or CTO in 2017.

Funkhouser said he has found that starting salaries in South Florida have recently typically ranged from: $80,000 to $195,000 for software developers; $65,000 to $120,000 for mobile application developers; $62,000 to $110,000 for systems or network engineers; $77,000 to $140,000 for security engineers; and $140,000 to $300,000 for CIO or CTO.

In the survey, 52 percent of employers said IT salaries are going up (less than 10 percent a year), while the remaining respondents said they stayed unchanged. The majority (74 percent) said local universities were producing quality IT candidates, but just 8 percent of employers who responded to the survey said they were offering apprentice programs.

However, 52 percent of employers said they were considering outsourcing some of their operations, and when employers were asked if South Florida had an “ample pool” of IT candidates, 59 percent said “no” while 41 percent felt the supply was “adequate.”

Employers and potential tech talent can find one another at the 5th annual ITPalooza, which will be Dec. 8 at Signature Grand in Davie and is hosted by the South Florida Technology Alliance. ITPalooza, which attracted about 1,500 people last year, is an annual gathering of South Florida's technology professionals, CIOs and CTOs, user groups, educators and companies with an expo, keynote speeches, panel discussions, workshops, a hiring fair and an evening party. Tickets ($60 for general admission; $15 for students; free if you will bring two unwrapped toys for charity) can be registered for at itpalooza.com or on Eventbrite.

November 10, 2016

Latin American and Caribbean entrepreneurs complete Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative in Miami

Globalties

The 14 YLAI fellows with Mark Sanna and Lillian Roberts of EO (Entrepreneurs' Organization) South Florida.

 

By Maria de los Angeles

On Friday, November 4, young entrepreneurs from Latin America and the Caribbean pitched their business plans to a panel of local judges at Florida International University’s Brickell campus. The pitch session was the final event in the month-long Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI), a fellowship program initiated by President Obama and funded by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The program matched 250 emerging social and business leaders from Latin America and the Caribbean with local mentors in 21 city hubs across the U.S.; 14 of them did their residency in Miami with the help of Global Ties Miami, a non-profit that has been facilitating citizen diplomacy through cultural, educational and professional exchange tours since the 1950s.

YLAI set out to establish networks between young leaders and business mentors across the hemisphere. While in Miami, the fellows worked with their mentors for take-aways they could apply to their existing startup ventures back home.

The mentors and hosts were as diverse as Miami’s international business community. Fellows ranged from a cacao farmer in Belize to an Augmented Reality app developer from Trinidad and Tobago, to an environmentally conscious shoe manufacturer from Peru and a bespoke seamstress from Costa Rica, among others.

Some of the hosts were themselves Miami startups that have moved beyond the alpha phase: a biscuit manufacturer from Guyana worked with Lemon City Tea; the owner of a brand management company in Paraguay received mentorship from The New Tropic; and an e-commerce businessman from Nicaragua learned about tech business models from Tesser Health.

All of the fellows have founded businesses that are poised for next-level growth. They came to the U.S. to learn best practices from their mentors and to explore ways of developing their homegrown ideas within an international network.

“We were thrilled to host this group of inspiring young entrepreneurs in Miami,” said Emilie Baird, Director of Programs for Global Ties Miami. “The YLAI program contributed to deeper community connections and collaborations, both internationally and locally.

Nomad Tribe Shop and Lemon City Tea, who were both hosts and have since partnered, or the partnership that has developed between David Medina, founder of Qubo (Queer Bogotá, a non-profit that works to build self-esteem in the LGBT community through sports) and his host organization, the World Out Games, a major olympics-like event that will be coming to Miami in 2017.”

During the pitch session on November 4, each fellow had four minutes to present their business models to a panel of judges for the opportunity to compete in a national competition in Washington, D.C. with other fellows chosen from the 21 host cities. The final winner is set to win a cash prize to use for business development at home.

The judges included Carlos A. Huerta, President and Founder of PLC International, Emma Wing, Business Advisor ITMS Group, a company she co-founded with her husband, Robert Wing, and Christopher McKenney, media entrepreneur and CEO of Mango Media.

The third place winner, Guillermo Jimenez worked with mentor Humberto Lee of Tesser Health and is the founder of Eleganza Boutique, an e-commerce platform in Nicaragua. E-commerce giants E Bay and Amazon don’t sell products in the country of six million where most people are wary of online shopping -- only 20% are active, according to Jimenez. The entrepreneur seeks to build trust and to “become the Amazon for Central America.” He currently sells imported merchandise via the Facebook marketplace but the business will grow with a proprietary website.

Second place went to Bahamian entrepreneur Ashleigh Rolle, who saw room for improvement in travel options to connect the 700 islands that make up the nation. “It’s Uber for boat travel,” she said as she explained Skipper, an online platform that connects local commuters and travelers to boat captains operating in the Bahamas. Rolle’s mentor was Nicholas Scherb of 26 North Yachts, a brokerage based in Fort Lauderdale.

Kadeem Pet-Grave of Jamaica won first place for Educatours JA, a company that plans and executes gamified tours and team building activities for schools. “Learning shouldn’t be boring,” said Pet-Grave as he explained how schools can request customized mobile technology gamification for field trips featuring fun activities such as treasure hunts with score keeping and prizes. Pet-Grave’s mentors were Charles Kropke and Alison Klapper-León of Coral Gables-based tour company Dragonfly Expeditions.

The current YLAI program will continue into Spring of 2017, when some of the mentors will travel to their fellows’ countries for continued professional learning exchanges.

Maria de los Angeles is an independent journalist who writes for Global Ties Miami.

Globalties2

Nicaragua fellow Guillermo Jimenez working with host mentor Humberto Alexander Lee of Tesser Health.