Want to know about Miami startups? A user's guide to this blog

Dear reader, Starting Gate has been providing and archiving South Florida startup and tech community news, views and resources since 2012. New to the Miami area? Thinking about relocating here? Just want to keep up with news, events and opportunities? We're there for you.

How to use Starting Gate: Besides scrolling the blog for the latest entries, you can access news and views by category. The "Funding" category will capture venture capital and angel funding news of individual startups as well as stories about funders. The startup categories chronicle news and my regular "Spotlights," and in Q&As you'll find interviews with CEOs and leaders in the entrepreneurship ecosystem. There are also categories for guest posts, views, accelerators/incubators, resources, events and more.

Thank you for your support through the years and please come back often. Follow me on Twitter @ndahlberg. - Sincerely, Nancy Dahlberg

October 10, 2017

Miami Dade College hosting MIA Animation Conference & Festival this weekend

  MIA Animation 2015_028

 

Miami Dade College  will again host the renowned MIA Animation Conference & Festival on Friday, Oct. 13 and Saturday, Oct. 14, at MDC’s Wolfson Campus in downtown Miami. The renowned event features world-renowned speakers, technology influencers from the nation’s top animation studios, universities, and the best talent in the industry. It has become one of the most exciting and cutting edge events in Miami, alongside a community of advanced technology-explorers, decision-makers, trend-setters, software developers, and creative industry professionals.

The industry conference focuses on Computer Animation, Gaming, Visual Effects and Motion Graphics, Virtual and Augmented Reality.  It draws some of the world’s top leaders in animation and education, and features exhibitions, workshops and master classes.  It has been designed to be a forum for active networking and practical information exchange with strong commitment and emphasis in education while developing and nourishing new talent. 

Featured speakers at this year’s MIA Animation Festival include Matt Shumway, animation supervisor at ILM and 2016 Oscar Nominee for “The Revenant”; Aliki Theophiloupolos, supervising producer at Dreamworks; Leah Hoyer, vice president of creative at Telltale Games; and Kat Thorson Good, director at the Walt Disney Company.

Some of this year’s highlights include the Arts & Technology Breakfast, which will explore the ways in which the arts and tech industries can work together to build a connected creative ecosystem.   Also, exploring the power that creativity can bring to everything it touches, specifically to amplify technology as a true connector and catalyst for innovation. This year’s breakfast topic will focus on virtual reality storytelling for areas like gaming, journalism, broadcasting and animation.

Another highlight is Game On, the third annual indie game competition, which is sponsored by MIA Animation and the Idea Center @ MDC.  The competition was created to encourage independent game development and fresh voices in the video game industry. The winner will receive a consulting meeting at the IDEA Center. The finalists will be showcased at the MIA Animation Festival where attendees will be able to play the prototype. 

The MIA Animation Festival will also hold a Pitching Contest for applicants to submit animation projects for a TV animated series.  The top submissions in both categories will be invited to pitch their idea in person to a panel of animation industry experts and professionals. The top pitch overall will be set up with interviews with major animation studio execs in Los Angeles.

Another highlight of the MIA Animation Festival is the Students and Young Directors competitions, which are currently taking submissions for animated films to be judged for conceptual, technical, and aesthetic innovation and excellence. 

The conference is free for MDC students and faculty; $65 for students and $195 for professionals.

For more information: visit miaanimation.com or contact (305) 521-3429

 - Submitted by Miami Dade College

September 01, 2017

Inaugural ITWomen Leadership Summit coming to FAU Tech Runway

 

 

ITWomen, in partnership with FAU Tech Runway, will host the inaugural ITWomen Leadership Summit on Friday, Sept. 15 from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at FAU Tech Runway, 901 NW 35th Street, Boca Raton.

The ITWomen Leadership Summit is designed to provide women across the fields of technology with a rich development opportunity and will include influential keynote speakers and multiple sessions with more than 18 local leaders across different industries. Keynote speakers include Heather Cabot, an angel investor and author of “Geek Girl Rising,” and Angela Sebaly, an entrepreneur and author of “The Courageous Leader.” Sessions will feature CXO leadership insights, developing a culture of innovation and a startup showcase on FAU Tech Runway female founders.

ITWomen is a not-for-profit organization founded in 2002 by senior-level women across technology industries. Through their partnerships with nonprofits, universities, corporate sponsors and professional organizations, they work to narrow the gender gap in technology and increase the potential for innovation and economic growth through gender equity. ITWomen is a multi-generational organization, which began in South Florida and has expanded with a presence in the greater Orlando and Tampa metro areas.

All net proceeds from the event will fund camps and STEM programs for under-served girls in the community.

To purchase tickets to attend the event, click here. For more information on the ITWomen Leadership Summit, visit https://leadersummit.itwomen.org.

- Submitted by ITWomen

August 28, 2017

Facebook teams up with Wyncode, TheVentureCity and WM.Digital to launch Dev Circles in Miami

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By Juha Mikkola

Last week, Facebook teamed up with Wyncode Academy, TheVentureCity and WM.Digital to launch the first Developer Circles in North America.

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Facebook’s Dev Circles empower a diverse range of technical talent to improve their skills and access the information they need.

The sold-out event at Wynbase brought together over 100 developers of varying levels to learn about React. React is a JavaScript library created by Jordan Walke, a software engineer at Facebook. Wyncode teaches React as part of its 10 week immersive course and in its new part-time Front End Web Development course.

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The speakers included:

Chris Stegner of MadDev, who was selected Technology Entrepreneur of the Year by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and has hired a Wyncoder Developer, spoke about why his firm uses Reac

Adrian Martin of CareCloud, who have hired 13 Wyncode Developers, presented React JS basics

* Wyncode’s own Ed Toro live coded how to add React into an existing software stack using Rails as an example

 Missed the event? Watch the Facebook Live feed here and make sure to join Developer Circles from Facebook to sign up for the next event.

Do you or someone you know want to learn to code? Join Wyncode’s next full-time cohort starting September 11th or part-time cohort starting October 16th.

Thank you to our partners who made this event possible:  Facebook  Wyncode Academy  TheVentureCity  Digital

 Juha Mikkola is co-founder of Wyncode.

August 24, 2017

Friday is deadline to apply to pitch at Refresh Miami Demo Day

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Join  Refresh Miami's annual pitch competition featuring South Florida’s top startups. Refresh's largest event of the year invites entrepreneurs to give their best 5-minute pitch in front of an audience of their peers and a panel of judges. Winners walk away with a host of amazing prizes to help propel their business forward.

Date: Tuesday, September 19
Time: 6:30pm to 8:30pm
Location: Miami Dade Wolfson Campus, Chapman Conference Center (Room 3210)

300 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami, FL 33132

Tickets: FREE

Register here!

Interested in pitching? Apply here by end of day Friday, Aug. 25.

August 17, 2017

Apply now to present at VentureTech Showcase of South Florida with $25,000 cash award

Join the Florida Venture Forum/Venture Education Foundation in partnership with Space Florida for the 2017 VentureTech Showcase. The VentureTech Showcase of South Florida will be hosted in Boca Raton on Nov. 16 from 1:30 P.M. – 5:30 P.M. 

The showcase is a capital acceleration competition and business-networking event featuring presentations by some of Florida’s most promising early stage companies.  Presenters will compete for the Space Florida Accelerating Innovation Award, which amounts to a $25,000 cash award to the winning company. 

Presenters will be chosen by a selection committee comprised exclusively of active equity investors, who will be evaluating early stage companies from throughout the state of Florida. Selection preference will be given to early stage companies with business focuses in information technology and health technology, knowledge-based services, space transportation and advanced aerospace platforms, satellite systems and science payloads, ground and operations support systems, agriculture, climate/environmental monitoring, civil protection and emergency management, International Space Station and human life science (including medical research), communications, cyber security & robotics, adventure tourism, clean /alternative energy applications, advanced materials and new products. See Company Criteria on the Florida Venture Forum’s website for additional details. 

The Final Presenter’s Application Deadline Is Oct. 16. Here is the registration link  as well as the presenter’s application link for the South Florida event.

- Submitted by Florida Venture Forum

 

August 15, 2017

The Bakehouse Art Complex announces ART+HACK+DATA Sept. 8-10

The Bakehouse Art Complex kicks off the fall art season with ART+HACK+DATA Friday, September 8th through Sunday, September 10th, 2017.  A signature Social Artistry event featuring local and international new media creators and tech-enthusiasts, ART+HACK+DATA provides a forum that brings together a wide-range of artists and internet specialists discuss significant issues in the digital environment, and to create artworks.

Morning presentations and panel discussions at the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), will explore topics such as Internet principles, infrastructure, big data, surveillance, and virtual reality, and their intersection with creative expression.  Afternoon workshops will be held at the Bakehouse Art Complex (BAC), where participants will be provided with raw material from anonymous data on Internet usage for use in artistic collaborations. The data was collected by Guerrilla Hotspot, a project implemented in Miami this summer.

The event concludes on Sunday September 10th with an exciting evening of live performances and music featuring a guest DJ, video mappings, video projections of real-time data streaming, and the opening reception for the interactive exhibition, “Media Under Dystopia. The show will include artworks produced during the workshops, and will be open to the public through Monday, October 2 2017 at BAC’s Audrey Love Gallery.

Panel participants include artist Vuk Ćosić and Professor Vladan Joler. Mr. Ćosić is a pioneer of Internet art who has led advanced discussions on digital media art. He is the co-founder of Nettime, Syndicate, 7-11, and the Ljubliana Digital Media Lab.

Professor Joler is the Share Foundation Director and Chair of the New Media Department at the University of Novi Sad, Serbia.  Professor Jolar also leads SHARE Lab, a research group dedicated to the investigation and exploration of the interplay between technology and society.

“The BAC artist community and Board of Directors are honored to host internationally-recognized new media artists and creative technology thought leaders,” Bibi Baloyra, Executive Director at BAC, said.  “We are also thrilled to celebrate one of our own, local artist Rodolfo Peraza.”

 “The workshops are an important addition to BAC’s broad range of program offerings to continue the development of local artistic talent,” Baloyra added.

 Attendance is limited to the workshops, allowing for an immersive, hands-on experience.  Interested participants can register for the panel discussions and workshops at  https://arthackdata.net

 “This is only the first edition of the project,” Rodolfo Peraza, Director and Founder of the project said. “As Internet issues are a global phenomenon, we envision Art+Hack+Data happening every year in different parts of the world. Our goal is to help solidify the local scene for creators, to connect with each other, and together establish values and standards that help prevent oppression, censorship, and surveillance of future generations.”

 Peraza, a new media art pioneer from Cuba, is now based in Miami, Florida. His multimedia work has been widely shown and collected internationally. He is currently part of the exhibition, Spots, Dots, Pips, Tiles: An Exhibition About Dominoes at PAMM, and SIGGRAPH 2017 in Los Angeles.

 Art+Hack+Data is a collaboration between the MUD Foundation and the Bakehouse Art Complex. Generous support is provided by The Knight Foundation, the Pérez Art Museum Miami, and Print Big. Additional partners are The Share Foundation, eyesontherise.org, and VirtualEYES.

 -Submitted by The Bakehouse Art Complex

August 08, 2017

World's largest nonprofit devoted to drones launches chapter in Miami

AUVSI Miami Email Signature LogoAUVSI, devoted exclusively to advancing the unmanned and robotics community, will hold local kickoff event Aug. 14 for Miami chapter.

Highlighting the proliferation of South Florida’s flourishing tech scene, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) is launching a new Miami Satellite Chapter focused on showcasing drones, robotics, and other unmanned systems throughout South Florida.

“Miami is quickly emerging as the innovation epicenter for Florida, Latin America, and the Caribbean,” said Brian Wynne, president and CEO of AUVSI.  “We are excited to join the South Florida community as drones, unmanned vehicles, and other autonomous systems spearhead the next great technology revolution.”

The Miami Satellite Chapter, a subsidiary of AUVSI’s Florida Peninsula Chapter, will focus on building awareness and dialogue among South Florida’s defense, civil, commercial, academic, and government sectors.

“Our expansion into South Florida will allow AUVSI to establish direct communication with key stakeholders at the local level,” said Brent Klavon, president of AUVSI’s Florida Peninsula Chapter and a member of AUVSI’s board of directors. “We expect to replicate this model in other parts of Florida in the very near future.”

Christopher Todd Director AUVSI Miami Chapter -South FloridaAUVSI has tapped local unmanned systems entrepreneur Christopher Todd to spearhead the launch of the new Miami Satellite Chapter.  Todd, who will serve as the interim chapter director, will look to capitalize upon the momentum already building throughout South Florida’s emerging technology corridor spanning throughout Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties.

“We are on the cusp of witnessing a total evolution in air-, land-, and sea-based autonomous systems,” according to Todd. “South Florida is uniquely positioned to play a key role in this transformation for a major portion of the Western Hemisphere.  This is a journey we are extremely excited about.”

The AUVSI Miami Satellite Chapter kickoff event is scheduled for Monday, Aug.14 starting at 6:00 p.m. at the 94th Aero Squadron restaurant, located next to Miami International Airport.  All persons interested in unmanned systems and technology are welcome to attend.  For more information and to RSVP, visit kickoff.auvsimiami.org

- Submitted by AUVSI

 

August 03, 2017

Want to pitch at the Florida Venture Capital Conference? Here’s how to apply

The Florida Venture Forum is calling for growth stage companies to apply to present at the 2018 Florida Venture Capital Conference, being held at the Marriott Harbor Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale on January 30-31, 2018.

The conference, now in its 27th year, is one of the largest gatherings of venture capitalists and investors in the Southeast, and features panel discussions, speakers, and presentations by some of Florida’s fastest growing private companies.

In addition to the opportunity to present before an audience of active equity investors, presenting companies meeting designated criteria will compete for the Accelerating Innovation (AI) Award, offered by Space Florida. The AI Award offers a cash prize totaling $100,000 to eligible Florida companies, and companies seeking to relocate or establish presence in Florida.

Presenter applications will be reviewed and companies chosen by a selection committee made up of active venture capitalists and investors. Presenter and AI Award eligibility criteria, and full conference details, may be found on the Forum’s website (www.flventure.org).

THE FINAL APPLICATION DEADLINE IS DECEMBER 20, 2017. Early submissions are welcomed and encouraged.

- submitted by Florida Venture Forum

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

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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.

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

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

Best Use of Technology: Tesser Health

Disruptive Technology  Sensus Healthcare

Innovative Technology: Cybraics

Female Leader in Technology: Max Tuchman

Technology Entrepreneur of the Year: Chris Stegner