May 31, 2017

Q&A with Xavier Gonzalez: What's in store for eMerge Americas and Miami tech?

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com Xavier Gonzalez

When eMerge Americas’ team was planning the inaugural homegrown technology conference in 2014, the executives scribbled a list of dream speakers on a white board. It contained names of top technology and business leaders, both from the U.S. and Latin America, people like Steve Wozniak, Uri Levine, Marcelo Claure and Gustavo Cisneros.

As eMerge Americas heads into its fourth year, those big names representing Apple, Waze, Sprint and the Cisneros Group and others, including Magic Leap’s Rony Abovitz and perennial crowd favorite Pitbull, are on the 2017 eMerge Americas agenda, which was released last week. “These are world-class speakers that are recognized across the globe for their leadership, vision and success. We’re very excited about our speaker lineup this year, not just because of these luminaries but also because of the 100 additional speakers our attendees will see over the two days of the event,” said CEO Xavier Gonzalez.

With a mission of promoting South Florida as a hub of the Americas for technology, eMerge Americas is a startup itself. Founded by tech pioneer Manny Medina, the annual conference launched in 2014, attracting about 6,000 attendees from 30 countries, and grew to 13,000 attendees last year. With Medina launching Cyxtera, a major data center and cybersecurity company, in Miami this year, Gonzalez and Melissa Medina, eMerge’s vice president, have taken on strategic leadership roles as well as the day to day operations. Gonzalez has been part of eMerge’s executive team since day 1, and became CEO in late 2015.

The Miami Herald talked with Gonzalez about the evolution of the conference and the technology ecosystem as well as plans for this year’s conference June 12-13 at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Here are excerpts of his remarks.

Q. In your view, what have been the most positive developments in the past year in terms of Miami ecosystem building?

A. The most positive developments have really been around the investments and company building we’ve seen in the market over the last six or seven months. With so many rounds of funding that have been significant — $10 million-plus — in addition to the acquisition of Chewy.com for $3 billion just recently, that tells me that all the work the entire community has been doing to develop and grow an entrepreneurial ecosystem, is starting to pay big dividends in a short amount of time. Add to that the creation of a global cybersecurity company, Cyxtera Technologies, right here in Miami, and there’s something very significant happening in terms of making headway on the global scene.

Q. And the biggest challenges?

A. There are the usual suspects in this category — funding and talent. But in my view we’re making good progress across all the areas that are challenging today. One thing that we as an ecosystem must have is patience. I always say we’re still very early on in the development of Miami as a tech hub. We’ve made huge strides, but there’s still much to do and we must have a level of patience to allow the various programs and initiatives to bear fruit. And we must also have the patience for our ecosystem to develop in its own way and build its own identity.

Q. In many ways, it seems to me," eMerge Americas is a startup that mirrors the development of the Miami ecosystem as a startup. Do you agree with that?

A. We are absolutely a startup that has evolved in lock step with the ecosystem. If you look back to when we hosted our first event, many of the major success stories that we talk about today were either at their infancy or hadn’t even been fully fleshed out yet. And we owe a great deal of the success of eMerge Americas to how much Miami has developed over the last five years and how much interest it has drawn across the globe. Our ecosystem is delivering on the promise that we promoted from the very beginning, which is a place where entrepreneurs and large technology companies focused on the Latin American market can connect with leaders from across the region, as well as those in the U.S. and European markets.

Q. Looking into your crystal ball, what will it take for the ecosystem to hit that critical inflection point?

A. Time. With the major successes we’re seeing like Modernizing Medicine, Chewy.com and Cyxtera — not to mention the massive potential impact of Magic Leap – we are poised to have a number of very large, global technology companies based in this ecosystem. That’s in addition to all the innovative companies that are growing here like Kairos and Nearpod. These companies and many others will continue to grow, innovate and attract talent from all over the world. That talent will develop new companies and bring even more interest from investors. Like I said before, I firmly believe we’re just at the beginning of the maturation of Miami’s technology sector.

Q. When you think of the Miami ecosystem, what’s the first word that comes to mind?

A. Unique. There are very specific characteristics and circumstances that are leading Miami to grow as a technology hub that doesn’t mirror any other in the world. Some of that has to do with the benefits our community has traditionally enjoyed — access to global markets, connection to Latin America, a multicultural city, great place to live and work — and some of it has to do with the incredible developments and energy surrounding our community in the last five years. Miami has truly matured as a global city, and our technology ecosystem will have a very unique position on the global scene that plays off that maturation.

Q. Local universities have always had a big presence at eMerge, particularly last year. Will that continue and what might we expect to see from them this year?

A. We’re always excited to see what innovative technologies and leading-edge research the universities will display at eMerge Americas. This year we’re fortunate to have the continued support of the University of Miami, Florida International University, Miami Dade College, Nova Southeastern University and Florida Atlantic University. We also are excited to have the University of Florida, Columbia University, and Babson College participating, as well as the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey from Mexico.

Q. I know they are all your babies but I’m going to force you to be selective. What are five speakers, exhibits or eMerge events not to be missed?

A. I’m going to cheat a little on this one. From a content perspective, we’re receiving a tremendous amount of interest for the keynotes in general — Steve Wozniak, Uri Levine, Marcelo Claure, Gustavo and Adriana Cisneros, Manny Medina, Blanca Trevino, Mauricio Ramos, Claudio Muruzabal, and, of course, Suze Orman and Armando Christian Perez, a k a Pitbull. On the exhibit floor we’re very excited about what Cyxtera Technologies will be showcasing in what’s their coming out party, as well as what Miami-Dade County will be featuring with their technology partners. The Startups Showcase will have another tremendous set of companies showing off very innovative technologies, including a number of companies from throughout Latin America and a strong contingent from our ecosystem. Based on the attendees we have registered, there’s going to be a very strong group of C-level executives from across Latin America, the United States and Europe, so the networking will be at another level this year. Finally, the networking events we offer on Sunday night always result in a good time for our attendees while they meet leaders from around the world.

[READ MORE: Done Deal: Medina Capital, BC Parttners form Cyxtera Technologies in $2.8B transaction]

Q. Any lessons learned last year that resulted in changes in the conference itself that we will see?

A. One of the elements of eMerge Americas that’s critical to the continued success of the event and our impact on the ecosystem is the networking events. we organize around eMerge Americas." So this year we decided to expand the reach of the networking opportunities to all of our attendees through a happy hour inside the convention center on Monday, June 12. This allows the thousands of attendees to connect right inside the convention center after all the keynotes and panel discussions are completed.

Q. What trends did you see in the Startup Showcase applicants and the ones that you selected?

A. One thing we’ve seen every year with the Startup Showcase is that the companies applying to participate are more and more sophisticated. This year in particular we’re seeing more later-stage companies than ever before, as well as a strong representation of companies from Latin America. One other trend we’ve noticed is that there are always a good number of South Florida-based companies that apply, but their level of success and quality has continued to improve on a yearly basis.

[To see the list of startups selected for the 2017 Showcase, go here: emergeamericas.com/startups]

Q. I don’t think most people know about all the ways you’ve been engaging startups, either through the showcase or in other ways. Tell us about some of those.

A. There are a few things we do to help support and engage entrepreneurs in Miami and Latin America. Throughout the year we host different small startup competitions throughout our main target markets in Latin America and in Miami with partners. The goal is to identify top startups that will have the opportunity to participate in the eMerge Americas Startup Showcase. For all the companies that are selected for the Startup Showcase, we partner with Visa and Venture Hive to provide the entrepreneurs with a monthlong virtual boot camp program and a full day of sessions at Venture Hive’s building in downtown Miami. The thinking is that we are able to provide significant value to all the entrepreneurs selected to participate in the showcase regardless of whether they win the overall competition.

[READ MORE: Upcoming eMerge Americas Hackathon dangles cash prizes and a meet-and-greet with Steve Wozniak]

Q. When we are talking in 2024, eMerge’s 10-year anniversary, what will we be talking about? What do you hope eMerge will look like then?

A. At the 10-year mark, eMerge Americas will serve as the anchor for a week-long series of events celebrating innovation in one of the globe’s top technology hubs and the strength of a robust technology sector in Latin America. eMerge will draw tens of thousands of attendees and be widely recognized as the world’s top event for innovators, government leaders and top technology executives looking to connect across Latin America, the United States and Europe. In 2024, we’ll also be talking about various Miami-based technology companies that are having great success, growing their employment opportunities, securing significant amounts of investment from private equity investors and venture capitalists with offices in Miami, and spawning a new set of technology companies that will grow in our community into 2034 and beyond.

Nancy Dahlberg: @ndahlberg

Xavier Gonzalez

Age: 36

Title: CEO, eMerge Americas

Previous positions: Vice president and director of corporate communications for Terremark Worldwide, 2007-12; director of marketing and communications for Beacon Council, 2003-07.

Community involvement: Board member for the Greater Miami Chamber, Miami-Dade Beacon Council and Camillus House; serves on Orange Bowl Committee; recent graduate of Leadership Florida.

Education: Bachelor’s in Journalism, Master’s in Mass Communications, University of Florida; Belen Jesuit Prep.

Books he recommends: “Shoe Dog;” “An Unfinished Life;” “Who Stole the American Dream?”

eMerge Americas

About the conference: eMerge Americas will be June 12-13 at Miami Beach Convention Center. More information and where to buy tickets: www.emergeamericas.com

READ MORE Q&As

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Loren Ridenger shares her secrets of success changing the face of beauty

 

May 24, 2017

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

Gmcc3

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.

Gmcc4

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 22, 2017

The LAB Miami to host corporate venture and growth hacking events

CVCLOGO


Join The LAB Miami for “Miami: Masters of Corporate Venture Capital (CVC)” hosted by Rubicon Venture Capital on Wednesday.

The event will feature a moderated panel discussion with leading companies who have received CVC funding plus time for networking, drinks and hors d'oeuvres. CVC is more important than ever with 1 out of 5 venture financings including at least 1 CVC.

The ticket  includes 1 copy of Romans' new book. Find it and review on: Amazon.com and on Kindle.

Purchase tickets at: goo.gl/WtcNTP

GrowthHackingSummitLOGO

On June 14th, join Miami's first Growth Hacking Summit.

Learn to growth hack your business from every angle. Participants from companies of any size, from start-ups to large corporations, will have the opportunity to learn actionable solutions they can implement to drive sustainable revenue growth for their business. Digital disruption has brought an entirely new toolkit of non-traditional Sales/Marketing tactics and “hacks”. Pioneers in this field will share their secrets, including specific and proven strategies that any commercial minded executive should know to be able to compete in today’s marketplace.Speakers include growth experts from Amazon.com, Discovery, ESPN, Growth.ly, and many more. 

At Miami Growth Hacking Summit you will learn actionable solutions that you can immediately apply when you get back to your office.

Purchase tickets at: goo.gl/wlTCGl

 

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!

Swedu miami picture

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 

March 20, 2017

MIT Enterprise Forum to present "Early Stage Capital for Entrepreneurs" event March 30

Most high growth start-ups are fueled by capital – product development, staffing, go-to market. There are many avenues for raising capital and an increasing number of unique investment models available for entrepreneurs to pursue.  Listen to a panel discussion featuring 4 professional investors in early stage businesses. Hear what models they use to invest in, support, and help grow the companies they work with. What financing models and structures are available to entrepreneurs? What criteria to does each investor look for in transaction? What are the best ways to engage with sources of outside capital?

Date of Event:

March 30, 2017 from 6pm to 9pm @ Venture Hive

Panelist Moderator

Andrew Heitner - Andrew Heitner is founder and director of Alcon Partners, a buy-side advisory firm that assists Private Equity firms and corporate M&A departments source and evaluate acquisition opportunities, with offices in Miami, Boston, and Vermont.

Panelists:

Germán Montoya is a Co-founder and Chief Strategy & Creative Officer at Rokk3r Labs, where he oversees global business development strategy and new venture creation.

Melissa Krinzman is the Managing Partner of Krillion Ventures, a $50 million early stage venture capital firm that actively invests in early stage technology companies solving problems in healthcare, financial services, and real estate.

Tigre wenrich recently joined The LAB Miami as CEO and is launching LAB. Ventures, a “venture builder” that aims to create game-changing new businesses in partnership with the region’s best entrepreneurial talent and leading corporations.

Jeff Toewe joined AthenianVenture Partners, an established venture capital firm that specializes in early stage Information Technology, Digital Health and Healthcare investing, in 2015 and serves on the firm’s investment team, focusing on Information Technology investments. 

Tickets and All information found here: http://www.mitforumfl.org/event/earlystage

 

- submitted by MIT Enterprise Forum

March 13, 2017

Startups: Apply now for eMerge Americas Startup Showcase, offering $175K in prizes

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By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

eMerge Americas, Miami’s homegrown technology conference now heading into its fourth year, is accepting applications for the June event’s Startup Showcase, which brings together entrepreneurs from around the world to compete in front of expert judges and thousands of attendees.

The eMerge Americas team traveled throughout Latin America meeting with accelerator partners and investment groups, and as part of that eMerge also hosted several startup competitions in the region. eMerge Americas CEO Xavier Gonzalez expects a number of those startups to be participating in the showcase.

“We think there will be a stronger than ever Latin American flair amongst the entrepreneurs. But at the same time, as evidenced by all the funding rounds coming out and startups bubbling up within South Florida, we think the showing and the quality from South Florida will also be stronger,” Gonzalez said. “We think it will be a good showcase of the continued evolution of the ecosystem here in South Florida and in Latin America.”

The Startup Showcase, presenting opportunities for startups to connect with investors and business leaders, is accepting applications at emergeamericas.com/startups through March 31. This year’s showcase, sponsored by Visa, will include participation from 125 startups in three tracks: Early stage, later stage and university.

All startups chosen for the showcase will be able to exhibit free of charge in the Startup Showcase area at eMerge Americas and participate in a free startup bootcamp before the conference. During the conference, they will pitch their ideas to judges for the chance to win up to $175,000 in cash and in-kind prizes, and finalists will present on stage.

The tech conference will return June 12-13 to Miami Beach Convention Center with a packed agenda of speakers and an active expo floor. WIT (Women, Innovation and Technology) Summit, launched in year two and bringing together women leaders from varying fields, and eGov, a gathering of public and private sector leaders, will also return as part of eMerge Americas. “We’ve spent the past few months working diligently to strike new partnerships and secure unique speakers to ensure eMerge 2017 surpasses all expectations,” Gonzalez said.

Last year’s conference, featuring Tony Hawk, Colin Powell, Ray Kurzweil, Monica Lewinsky and others, attracted about 13,000 attendees.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

 

 

March 07, 2017

SUP-X: Entrepreneurial success is about being a humble hustler, visionary and hiring smart, SDI CEO says

Castillo

 

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

When Carmen Castillo gathers her worldwide executive team together a couple of times a year, she invites them to her house and she cooks for them.

“Why wouldn’t I? They would do anything for me. I want to show them they don’t work for me, I work for them,” said Castillo, who founded and heads SDI International, the U.S.’s largest company owned by a Latina. SDI, a Fort Lauderdale-based company that provides global procurement outsourcing, generates more than $3 billion in revenues and has locations all over the world. She was one of the keynote speakers (pictured above) at SUP-X: The Startup Expo at the Broward County Convention Center on Monday. SUP-X founder Bob Fitts called her a rare combination of phenomenal success and humility.

Castillo, a native of Spain, always knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur, something she believes you have to be born with. She was a certified chef when she came to this country 26 years ago, and almost overnight she went from running a kitchen to running SDI in South Florida. Only problem: Her business opened the day Hurricane Andrew hit in 1992. She hustled the company back on its feet in 1993.

“The first thing I did was learn about getting certified as a Latina minority and that was my secret to success,” said Castillo, who is president and CEO. “That program opened the door for most of my clients I have right now – IBM, Microsoft, Motorola, Lenovo – we are the number 1 worldwide supplier for Lenovo.” She said she always attends the NMSDC (National Minority Supplier Development Council) conference, which has a South Florida chapter. “Diversity opens doors but you have to bring value,” she said.

Successful entrepreneurs need to have vision, sales skills and constantly learning, she said. Another tip: Always hire people smarter than you, she said.

When Castillo interviews for executives and managers, she asked two questions: How are you smarter than me and what you will do for SDI. Once hired, the person is expected to run their operation like their own business.

She wasn’t surprised that research shows if you have a gender or minority diverse team your profitability goes up. Women-owned and minority-owned businesses grow faster than the community at large, she said.

“The fact we are immigrants means we are very daring,” she said. “When you start with nothing, you have nothing to lose. ... Small minority companies do go the extra mile, as we did, and they bring new ideas, they bring technology, they bring creativity. That is how they survive.”

Also at the conference, Rachel Braun Scherl, serial entrepreneur and principal of SPARK Solutions for Growth, told of her experience raising money from the overwhelmingly male venture capital industry for her startup with a female sexuality product, and then of an even tougher experience trying to get her ads placed. But she was much more successful selling her story about her ad fight to Nightline, and that was the big break her company needed.

Other conference speakers also talked about challenges women and minorities face raising capital. Corporate funds that invest in minority-run startups total about $150 million while venture totals more than $90 billion. For Golden Seeds, investing in women-led startups is not a social mission, but an investment thesis, said Rob Delman, managing director of the fund.

Felecia Hatcher, co-founder of Blacktech Week, reminded the crowd that diversity brings new perspectives. Take the jitney system in Little Haiti that has been operating for decades – sounds a lot like UberPOOL. “That was a missed opportunity for investors,” she said.

Other topics of the annual SUP-X on Monday included the nuts and bolts of angel investing, building a successful hardware startup and next-gen entrepreneurs, including Rachel Zietz, the Boca Raton teen founder of Gladiator Lacrosse who appeared on Shark Tank. The conference continues Tuesday with talks on startup marketing, social impact investing, healthcare innovation and a hardware competition.

Several dozen startups from South Florida and farther afield exhibit their solutions, including Winspire from Fort Lauderdale; The THX Co. from Hollywood; Jinglz from West Palm Beach; and UX Gofer, Emerge, Bid.Aero, Apollonix and Cargo42 from Miami. A handful of finalists will be selected to present to judges Tuesday afternoon for the chance to win a $30,000 grand prize.

Appolenix

Thx

UPDATE:
 
And the startup competition winners were:
1st Place ($25,000) - Dev/Con Detect (Tampa)
2nd Place ($15,000) - Apollonix (Miami) pictured above and below
3rd Place ($10,000) - Edu(k)ate (Orlando)
 
Apollenix
 
The Hardware Cup regional winner was PlayDate out of New York

 
 

 
 

 

March 03, 2017

To boost the tech ecosystem, turn traders into thinkers

Albert Santalo, Tom Hudson

By Alma Kadragic

When a serial entrepreneur talks, it’s a good idea to listen if you’d like to have not only more tech entrepreneurs in Miami but also more who grow their companies into multi million dollar enterprises with the help of venture capital.

The problem in Miami, says Albert Santalo, is that it’s a city founded on trading with a trader mentality as opposed to hotbeds of technology development like Boston and Silicon Valley where the thinker mentality prevails.

Thinkers don’t care if a business fails. In fact, having been associated with a failed venture can be a badge of honor. What counts is being honest: better to fail than to cheat.

That’s the opposite of the trader mentality where staying in business is what counts, and sometimes that can involve some ethical fuzziness.

Santalo says, “It’s not hard to become a thinking economy. All it really takes is a lot of hard work, some good decisions, and some luck.”

Required elements include investment capital and overall support for entrepreneurs. “There’s no excuse for an entrepreneur not getting what he needs,” insists Santalo. He points out “much documentation exists” and mentions the site http://exponentialorgs.com as a good source.

The secret of huge successes like Airbnb or Uber, according to Santalo, is that they were “small and scrappy” at the beginning and ready to grow or scale hugely. He was speaking during an interview with WLRNs Tom Hudson (pictured above) at Mapping Miami’s Financial Future, a signature event organized last week by the Miami Finance Forum.

Albert Santalo has started several tech companies that attracted substantial venture capital investments including Avisena, managing revenue cycles for doctors, and CareCloud, a cloud-based platform for healthcare. His current company Thrillient helps businesses utilize state-of-the-art payment and front-office technologies.

Santalo is a computer scientist and internet entrepreneur who has raised more than $100 million for companies he founded from angel and venture investors. When he says converting Miami into a thinking economy is feasible, we should be listening.

Alma Kadragic is president of Alcat Communications International and president of the National Association of Women Business Owners Miami, nawbomiami.org.

 

February 28, 2017

Save the dates: Join Great Miami Makeathon March 31-April 2

MANO is announcing the Great Miami Makeathon, a three-day design and prototype challenge to propel Miami’s maker community, taking place on the weekend of March 31 through April 2, 2017.

Co-organized by The Idea Center at Miami Dade College and Moonlighter, and with the generous support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and StartUp FIU, the Great Miami Makeathon encourages participants to develop functional prototypes that address the real-world needs of three of Miami’s hottest new learning and recreational spaces: the Miami Science Barge, Wynwood Yard, and the American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora. Selected designs and prototypes are expected to center around technology, sustainability and education. Winners will receive a cash prize, the opportunity to work with partner venues to turn their prototypes into reality, and prominent placement at the upcoming Maker Faire Miami on April 8 and 9, 2017 at Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus.

The Great Miami Makeathon is open to the public and its organizers encourage anyone interested in participating in the design and prototype challenge to pull together a team of no less than two and no more than five people and register via Eventbrite (link here).  

Prior to the Great Miami Makeathon, organizers will host a series of free educational workshops on design thinking, 3D printing, laser cutting, woodworking, and electronics to equip challenge participants with skills and practices required for the design and prototype process.

“Great Miami Makeathon seeks to show how the creative power of our incredible maker community can be harnessed to help local businesses and nonprofits innovate. With this event, our partner venues, whom we affectionately refer to as “the Barge, the Yard and the Cuban,” will crowdsource solutions from local makers to enhance their spaces and create more engaging and innovative user experiences for their patrons while conserving resources,” said Ric Herrero, co-founder of MANO.

MANO is a Miami-based non-profit organization dedicated to fostering inclusive, problem-solving communities through educational programs and initiatives. For more information about Great Miami Makeathon, and to register for our launch event at The Idea Center at Miami Dade College on March 27, please visit miamimakeathon.com, and follow us on Twitter via @MiamiMakeathon.

Submitted by MANO

 

 

 

 

February 25, 2017

Last weekend to sign up for Business Plan Bootcamp on Tuesday

The Miami Herald invites entrepreneurs to attend its free Business Plan Bootcamp on Tuesday, offering a lively discussion and Q&A with a panel of investor experts sharing advice on launching a startup business, formulating a winning short business summary and raising capital.

The program will be led by Melissa Krinzman, the managing partner of Krillion Ventures, a $50 million Miami-based venture capital firm that actively invests in seed and early stage technology companies, and Raul Moas, managing director of AGP Miami, an 80-member local angel investor network.

Also, three previous winners of the Business Plan Challenge will offer insights on their experiences building startups:

Tina Vidal, founder of Pooch Perks, which provides subscription dog boxes and is developing a robust corporate business.

Chris Daniels, founder of Candidate.Guru, which developed software that uses data analytics to predict whether a job candidate will be a culture fit with the employer.

Olga Granda-Scott, co-founder of The High Boy, an online marketplace for antiques and art to help other mom-and-pop shop owners compete in the digital world.

In addition, Business Plan Challenge coordinator Nancy Dahlberg will answer questions about this year’s Business Plan Challenge.

Doors open at 6 p.m.; the program begisn promptly at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 28 at Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus Auditorium, Room 1261, Building 1. Walk-ins will be accommodated as space provides.

Limited free parking is available at the Miami Dade College garage at 500 NE Second Ave., with entrances on Northeast Fifth and Sixth streets.

Register at: http://businessplanbootcamp.bpt.me.