April 01, 2015

Smart City Startups to brings drones, hoverboards and talking homes to Miami -- ideas that transform cities

Sharing from Smart City Startups and Knight Foundation:

Smart City Startups, the two-day urban tech conference, highlighting the startups, people, and ideas that are transforming cities, will return to Miami for its second year, with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and The Miami Foundation.

The conference will consist of The Festival, which will be open to the public, on April 23 and  The Summit, a private event on April 24. The Festival will host 100 startups and more than 1,000 people, including organizations that aim to transform our cities in the next decade. The featured sponsor of the event, Direct Energy, one of North America’s largest providers of electricity and energy-related home services, will present the Miami debut of its “Innovation to Inspiration exhibit at the event.

The conference, produced by Shaun Abrahamson and Stonly Baptiste, the co-founders of Urban.Us, an investment fund focused on supporting startups that make cities better, will bring together the most influential global investors, entrepreneurs, thought leaders and policymakers from cities such as Berlin, London, New York, San Francisco and Tel Aviv. Event participants will be introduced to emerging tech being used to solve pressing urban issues in areas such as energy consumption, mobility, sustainable building, governance and public safety.

Attendees will have a chance to see, try and operate devices ranging from drones used to automate building construction to next generation personal mobility devices. Demos will take place during The Festival from 1 to 8 p.m. April 23 at the Wynwood Warehouse Project and the The Light Box at Goldman Warehouse. Festivalgoers will also have the first opportunity to experience the latest innovative smart home technologies, such as those featured in Direct Energy’s smart mobile exhibit.

“We’re excited to let people see and touch the future. Much of what these startups are building was recently science fiction,” said Abrahamson. “And we’re extremely excited to have keynote speakers like computer scientist, award-winning author and Microsoft vet Ramez Naam, who believes we can achieve economic growth through innovation to reduce our rates of pollution and consumption. Naam and many other speakers will contribute to important conversations like this that impact every single one of us, whether living in Miami, London or in-between.”

“Connecting the entrepreneurs and innovators who have the power to transform cities holds tremendous opportunities for Miami and beyond,” said Matt Haggman, Knight Foundation program director for Miami. “Smart City Startups showcases the best principles of entrepreneurship, fueling ideas that make our communities stronger and encourage more engagement.”

What attendees can expect:

  • * An all-terrain course to demo Future Motion’s OneWheel Electric Skateboard, Whill’s all-terrain wheelchair, electric vehicles and personal mobility devices;
  • * SkyCatch drones that are used to automate construction around the world; people program the machines and push a button to send them to work;
  • * Next-generation Nest carbon dioxide and smoke detectors, monitors that verbally alert users when a problem occurs, and a Nest learning thermostat that automatically adjust temperature settings based on customers’ actual energy usage patterns;
  • * Automated appliances with mobile app-enabled, real-time status information;
  • * Intelligent, automated water sprinklers that function based on location-specific soil and weather conditions;


“With solutions powered by mobile apps and other new technology, Direct Energy is putting the future of energy service directly into the hands of our customers. We expect this new, customer-empowered future to accelerate as service providers, policymakers, and others work together to foster greater innovation and competition,” said Badar Khan, Direct Energy president and CEO. “Creating these opportunities for open discourse and connections to startups dedicated to advancing technology is precisely why participation in Smart City Startups is so important to us.”

“We are really fortunate to have the support of great organizations such as Knight Foundation, The Miami Foundation and Direct Energy this year that believe in our cause and believe in the importance of having conversations about the future of cities and the impactful power startups can lend to consumers to make a difference,” said Baptiste.

To view a list of participants, be a sponsor, or purchase discounted Festival tickets for $99 (offer valid until April 1, 2015) visit SmartCityStartups.com.

Read Miami Herald cover story about Urban.Us here.

Scenes from last year's inaugural conference:



March 30, 2015

Start-Up City event looks at urban startups, creative energy in Miami

Startup city

Chef Tom Colicchio talks about restaurants as startups with Richard Florida at Start-Up City: Miami.

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Think about this: About 80 percent of all seats on roads today are empty at all times.

"If we could find a way to fill them we would have the most efficient transportation system in the world," said Veronica Juarez, director of government relations of San Francisco-based Lyft, a popular ride-sharing service that launched in Miami last year.

Lyft's service -- still illegal in Miami as it fights regulatory hurdles -- is aimed at making living in cities more efficient. That was one of the themes explored Monday at the day-long Start-Up City: Miami conference at the New World Center in Miami Beach. The third annual conference, produced by The Atlantic, CityLab and the Knight Foundation, brought together entrepreneurs, consultants and investors, both local and from other cities, to discuss ways of making Miami a more vibrant hub of innovation.

Speaking at Monday's conference, Juarez explained Lyft's new San Francisco service, Lyft Line, in which a driver picks up multiple riders on a particular route -- in effect, personalized mass transit. Costs are 30 percent to 40 percent lower than the cost of a typical solo Lyft ride, and as the routes become more popular, costs will go down more, she said.

Already most of the Lyft traffic in San Francisco is via Lyft Line -- a service the company wants to bring to Miami.

Bastian Lehmann, CEO of Postmates, also underscored the benefits to local communities of his service, which uses drivers with time in their schedules to deliver just about anything.

His and other sharing-economy companies generate revenues that stay in the cities they serve, providing money to hundreds of contract drivers. Tech enables the efficiency, allowing a customer to know who and where his driver is at all points in time, and allowing drivers to know their customers, too. Postmates launched in Miami last year.

"We are seeing very interesting use cases -- the moms with children who can make money driving around while their kids are in school, seniors and people with disabilities who say this has fundamentally changed their lives," Juarez said.

For Lyft, Miami's organic creative energy was a lure. That same spirit has sparked a wave of collaborative co-working and maker spaces reflecting the way people work in cities now, according to a panel of Jason Saltzman of AlleyNYC, Pandwe Gibson of Miami's EcoTech, Bill Jacobson of Workbar in Boston and Tamara Wendt of the LAB Miami in Wynwood.

It’s a work mode that has reached corporations, which are making their work areas more collaborative and allowing employees to be more intra-preneurial, the panel said. In the latest progression, corporations are seeking to mix more with entrepreneurs. A number of large companies are members of the LAB Miami, for instance. "Corporations know they need to innovate. We are exploring how we can help with that process,"€ Wendt said.

In Boston, Workbar is experimenting with a program in which startup teams from Workbar are setting up desks in corporate offices.

Such creative energy is also sparking a slew of restaurant "startups" outside the traditional culinary hubs.

"You are seeing young talent moving out of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco," said Tom Colicchio, celebrity chef and owner of Crafted Hospitality. "It's expensive to start a restaurant and it is expensive to live there. Now there are great restaurants everywhere."

While cost factors are behind some of the restaurant renaissance in cities like Miami, South Florida and other locales offer attractive downtime options, he said. "Restaurants are hard work. You want to be able to enjoy the little bit of time off you have."

Colicchio is soon opening a restaurant in Miami Beach, Beachcraft. Success of craft foods like the beans produced by specialty roaster Panther Coffee convinced him the time was right. Miami's tourist economy is a bonus. "I don't care if you are staying here three days on a vacation or you come three days a week, we have one goal … to make people happy."

His advice: If you do something that makes you happy, everything else will follow.

"Every [restaurant] opening is exciting. There is an electricity in the air. Find moments like that every single day in your business -- that will keep you going."

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.

March 27, 2015

MIA Music Summit celebrates digital innovation, social media success

MIA Music Summit 1

Indy music personality Raquel Sofia performs at the MIA Music Summit — a one-day conference bringing together startups and leaders in the creative industries on Thursday, March 26, 2015 at the Colony Theater on Miami Beach. PATRICK FARRELL MIAMI HERALD STAFF

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Nicky Jam credits his comeback to Instagram.

“Instagram changed my life,” said the popular Latin singer-songwriter, who explained his career had taken a dive. He now has 2.8 million Instagram fans. “You can call me an Instagram celebrity. … Even my dogs are famous, even though they are ugly, they are Chihuahuas — people love them.”

And while many artists say digital revenues don’t pay the bills, Nicky Jam disagrees. “On YouTube, I have people sponsoring them, I pay all my bills just with YouTube,” he said, speaking by Skype from Colombia. “The success I have been having is 70 percent because of the Net.”

Nicky Jam was one of the speakers at MIA Music Summit, the second annual tech-entrepreneurship conference for the fast-changing music industry that took place Thursday at the Colony Theater in Miami Beach. The summit gathered entrepreneurs, studio executives, investors and musicians to explore the intersection of technology and music, and it was planned to coincide with Miami Beach’s Centennial, the Winter Music Conference and Ultra.

Demian Bellumio, chief operating officer of music-technology companySenzari and the organizer of the summit, said Miami can become an ideal location for creating and growing digital music startups. “As a city, we have a rich music history … and today it is home to top record labels, music executives, artists, festivals, media companies and even some globally recognized digital music startups,” he said.

At the summit, there were conversations about mining Big Data and music recommendation services such as Pandora (you are much more likely to get out of your comfort zone and experiment with your music in the evening, a Pandora data expert said) and attracting investment. Speakers also included leaders from Fon, 8tracksHavas Sports & EntertainmentAtom Factory, Splice and Jukely, among many others.

A half-dozen startup founders demonstrated their emerging technologies, including Pablo Osinaga of Bandhub, a collaboration music platform for recreational musicians around the world. Dubset is solving the complexities behind proper rights-holder identification, licensing and distribution. South Florida media entrepreneur Derrick Ashong, master of ceremonies for the summit, gave a sneak peek of his new startup Amp.It, which is running a global Take Back the Mic: The World Cup of HipHop competition, with winner to be revealed at eMerge Americas in May. Muzik, based in Miami Beach and a maker of smart headphones and, soon, as seen at this year’s CES, smart drum sticks, also presented.


MIA Music Summit 2 c epf

Bandhub co-founder Pablo Osinaga demonstrates his product at the MIA Music Summit — a one-day conference bringing together startups and leaders in the creative industries on Thursday, March 26, 2015 at the Colony Theater on Miami Beach. PATRICK FARRELL MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Partnerships between brands and artists are trending in popularity, and companies are starting to partner with emerging artists and growing with them rather than just the superstars, panelists said. These social media partnerships are significant new revenue streams, but you need to make the content so relevant it doesn’t feel like advertising, they said.

As Ultra gets underway, one of EDM DJ David Guetta’s managers, Jean Charles-Carre, shared some secrets of Guetta’s success: “We never sleep.”

Guetta, who will be performing at Ultra’s closing Sunday night, has sold more than 9 million albums. Guetta’s preferred social platform, said Charles-Carre: “He used to do Twitter, but now it’s Instagram. Facebook, not much.”

MIA Music Summit d 3Instagram is in fact the fastest growing platform for artists, said Liv Buli of Next Big Sound. But don’t count Facebook out: millennials still are the strongest demographic group following artists on Facebook — nearly half of the total music followers, she said.

Local indie artist Raquel Sofia is one of the first artists Sony signed for its new digital label. Instead of doing the traditional route, cutting an album, doing tours, etc., all the music is available digitally.

“People ask me, ‘Why doesn’t Sony give you a real record deal?’ It is a record deal but a new approach,” said Sofia, who has 6 million streams on Spotify. “We’re measuring in streams, we are measuring in views, we are measuring in all these social media platforms. That is the new way of making it.”

Sofia, without releasing an album, has already written and performed with some of the most popular and influential artists in the Latin market, including Shakira and Juanes.

“There are a lot more tools, it’s easier, it’s more accessible,” she said. “You can have a home studio and put the music out yourself. It’s cool that everyone can be a musician, everyone be an artist.”

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.


March 26, 2015

HUD Secretary Julian Castro to keynote at eMerge Americas

Julián_Castro's_Official_HUD_PortraitJulian Castro, the U.S. secretary of Housing and Urban Development, will be a keynote speaker at eMerge Americas, the South Florida technology conference taking place May 1-5. Castro will deliver his address during the main conference May 4 at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

Castro, who joined President Barack Obama’s Cabinet last summer, gained national attention in 2012 when he was the first Hispanic to deliver the keynote address at a Democratic National Convention. The 40-year-old former mayor of San Antonio — who was in his third term when he got the Cabinet post — has been mentioned as a potential running mate for Democrat Hillary Clinton, who has not yet announced her presidential candidacy.

Castro’s “vision and success in positioning San Antonio as a leader in the new energy economy and now as the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development makes him an ideal speaker for our eMerge Americas attendees,” said Manuel D. Medina, managing partner of Medina Capital and founder of eMerge Americas.

Now in its second year, eMerge Americas’ goal is to attract 10,000 attendees. Other keynote speakers include author Deepak Chopra; Jim McKelvey, co-founder of Square and LaunchCode; and entertainer Armando Christian Perez, also known as Pitbull.

In addition, eMerge will include eGov Government Innovation Summit, a two-day private event for dignitaries from around the Americas and Europe, and a Startup Showcase involving about 100 early-stage companies, which includes a one-day bootcamp and a pitch contest with a prize pool of $150,000. There will also be country pavilions and a Women, Innovation & Technology summit, as well as a fashion show, a STEM tech showcase, a hackathon and networking.

Last week, NBCUniversal announced a group of programs that will be filmed at eMerge Americas.

Medina said eMerge also needs to be fun, so a number of parties and other surprises are planned. Music-tech entrepreneur Derrick Ashong, also known as DNA, said that his startup Amp will be announcing the winner of its Take Back the Mic: the World Cup of HipHop, a contest to find the next hip-hop star, at eMerge Americas.

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.

Start-Up City to feature social entrepreneurship contest with Miami Soup

When Start-Up City: Miami returns for a third year on Monday with a full day of speakers, panel discussions and networking, attendees will also get a taste of social entrepreneurship.

For the first time, Start-Up City: Miami is partnering with Miami Soup, a grassroots model for funding small to medium-sized projects designed to enhance the quality of community life. Throughout the conference, Start-Up City will feature three local social innovation projects; they will all present or show videos about their work and how their mission helps to “start-up” Miami; attendees of Start-Up will vote and select one project to be awarded a SOUP microgrant of $2,000.

Presenting will be:

Urban Paradise Guild, which aims to provide family gardens to 300 low-income families living in apartments in Opa-Locka, Hialeah and North Miami;


Upper Room Art Gallery, a non-profit global collection of artists and designers whose artwork specializes in organic and recycled materials and are focused on issues of global poverty, social justice and the environment; and

Rising Tide Car Wash, a scalable conveyorized car wash dedicated to the empowerment of individuals with Autism.

Start-Up Miami speakers include Chef and Crafted Hospitality owner Tom Colicchio, who will talk about how opening a new restaurant compares to launching a startup, Slack’s Bill Macaitis on its plan for the billion-dollar brand, Veronica Juarez on Lyft'sgoals in Miami and beyond, MIT Leadership Center’s Hal Gregersen on how to become a better leader and increase creativity, Vikram Dendi of Microsoft Research, who will discuss Skype Translator, and Square and LaunchCode cofounder Jim McKelvey's insights on partnering up to start up.

The event, presented by The Atlantic, CityLab and Knight Foundation, which will be at the New World Center in Miami Beach and tickets are $99. For the full list of speakers or to buy tickets: www.theatlantic.com/live/events/start-up-city-miami/2015/.

March 21, 2015

Entrepreneurship Datebook

Tech eggSCORE THAT GRANT: A workshop about acquiring grants for your business, presented by SCORE Miami-Date, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday, March 24, Innovation Center at UMLPTP, 1951 NW 7th Ave., Miami. Fee applies. More info: Miamidade.score.org (click on local workshops).

MIA MUSIC SUMMIT: A gathering of leading digital music experts, startups and investors from around the globe to discuss the latest trends at the intersection of music and technology, Thursday, March. 26, Colony Theater, Miami Beach. More info and tickets: mms.co

CITI FINTECH/REFRESH MIAMI MEETUP: Citi's second Miami fintech meetup will be 6:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday, March 26, at Miami's Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, where a panel of experts will discuss how financial technology can drive financial inclusion. More info: refreshmiami.com (click on events)

BARCAMP MIAMI: Dubbed an “unconference,” this ad-hoc gathering was born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, demos and interaction from attendees. Everyone is expected to participate in some way –: by giving a talk, asking questions or organizing a session. Saturday, March 28, at Miami Ad School in Wynwood. Free. More info: www.barcampmiami.org

CODE4GOOD HACKATHON: Quantum Foundation is teaming up with Modernizing Medicine and FAU’s new entrepreneurship program, Tech Runway, to stimulate health-related innovation. Saturday and Sunday, March 28-29, at Tech Runway. More info: www.code4goodPBC.org.

START-UP CITYMIAMI: Atlantic magazine’s one day event returns March 30 with speakers such as Jim McKelvey, co-founder of Square and LaunchCode, Vikram Dendi of Skype Translator and those at the helm of Slack, Lyft, Postmates, Courssera and more. More information here.


Shyp, the on-demand shipping service, has been making tracks in Miami, including the introduction of a service that expedites the return of unwanted items. Find this, plus reports on Modernizing Medicine’s latest round, NBCUniversal’s coverage plans for eMerge Americas and  more South Florida startup news and community views on Starting Gate on MiamiHerald.com/business.

500 Startups' PreMoney Miami: Emerging opportunities, unicorns, bubbles and more


McClure interviews Fabrice Grinda at 500 Startups' PreMoney Miami event on Friday. 

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

The secret to building a healthy ecosystem, according to Dave McClure: Write checks.

Of course there is a little more to it, he said, but it’s really key, particularly at the seed stage level -- $100K to $2 million check sizes, the founding partner of venture fund and accelerator 500 Startups told attendees on Friday at the Epic, where 500 Startups held its first PreMoney conference outside Silicon Valley.

“The opportunities here are huge. Right now you are sitting on your money and putting it all in real estate," McClure said. "Some of the best entrepreneurs are right under your noses. They won’t stick around if you don’t write checks. … It’s really that simple.”

Money2Several hundred accredited investors and others attended the all-day PreMoney Miami conference, sponsored by the Knight Foundation and others, to network and hear a variety of speakers from Silicon Valley and other regions –- including Christine Herron of Intel Capital,  Ash Fontana of AngelList and Thomas Korte of AngelPad. But some of it also focused on Miami. You can see slideshares of many of the presentations here: http://www.slideshare.net/500startups/. Videos will be posted on PreMoneyMiami.co soon, McClure said.

Christian Hernandez Gallardo, founder and managing partner of White Star Capital, talked about ecosystem building around the world and even blogged about it. The secret, he says, is starting with “a healthy supply and access to technical talent. If ‘software is eating the world’ you need founders and team members who can build said software,” he said. To become an ecosystem, that base of talent needs the right building blocks, including culture and role models, accelerators and incubators, seed funding and advisors, and growth stage capital. “And the final (and one could argue most critical piece) of healthy ecosystems is a vibrant and active path to exits.”

Building that ecosystem will take time, he said, but in the meantime Miami is already attracting new talent.

David Koretz of Plum said when he told VCs he was moving from the Valley to Miami, he got comments like “you are halving your odds of success by moving there” and “you are moving from the major leagues to a farm team” -- “It wasn’t a positive reception,” he said.

Beyond the  tax advantages, he chose Miami for quality of life and lower burn rates. “In Miami, capital goes twice as far if not three times as far.” But also, he said, the culture wants you to win.

“I moved here in January, got introduced to almost everyone in the first few weeks, these are things that don’t happen in the Valley,” he said.

Not that everything is perfect. His view: "There are a lot of people playing VC. It’s not that hard to get $100K in Miami, in my opinion, but expansion capital doesn’t exist here. A lot of businesses are going to die in that gulch.”

Angel investor Mark Kingdon, whose third investment was Twitter, moved here last April from New York. The former CEO of Second Life and other companies invests in ecommerce and social media  and has already made two South Florida investments: Sktchy and Everypost.

He rattles off the advantages: Weather, yes, we have to say that. It’s a gateway market. The immigrant energy here is invigorating. There is startup capital here. Rent and office space is half. You can get incredible developer talent for less.  Developer salaries are just about half of major markets -- It’s hard to recruit loyal employees in the Valley.

“And I love the deal flow I have seen here; it’s much more than I expected,” said Kingdon, who said four of his last five investments were not from the Valley or New York.

He agreed with Koretz about the welcoming community. "I think that is important because we need to recruit more entrepreneurs to the market, it is a numbers game.” 

As to challenges: “I think the winning companies are underfunded, there may be too many checks written -- a lot of companies are getting a little bit of money, and it is not being consolidated around the winners.”

Patrick McKenna of High Ridge spent 12 years in the Valley and built three companies before focusing on investing full-time and moving here last July.

He said he was looking for a world class city with a highly connected airport in the eastern time zone with interesting people and a progressive culture. Miami ticked all the boxes. “What surprised me is there is so much more,” said McKenna, who already invested in his first Miami company Home61. “And I wasn’t particularly focused in Latin America, but I have found great opportunities.”

Opportunities in LatAm and other areas of the world was also a focus of the conference.

“The reason we are bullish about emerging markets is because we think it is an easier bet. There are really not that many people paying attention to it,” said McClure, whose 500 Startups really has invested in about 1,000 startups, not only in the Valley but in Latin America (100-plus), India, China, Taiwan, Middle East and the UK.

“Exits and available capital have been challenges, but we want to be first in,” said McClure. "We are starting to see very big companies coming out of unusual places like Nigeria, like Pakistan, like Thailand. We are seeing respected investors like Sequoia making $100 million investments or more in emerging markets," said McClure, whose 500 Startups is  raising its third fund. "This is new."

Globally and in the U.S., angel investor Fabrice Grinda, co-founder and CEO of OLX, has a track record of picking winners. He’s made 182 investments, 22 of them this year. They include both seed stage and late stage deals and he’s had 56 exits so far, 30 of them in the money. He invests in categories that he understands, particularly marketplaces. Dropbox, Airbnb and Alibaba are just a few. “Do I like the market, the team, deal terms, do I like the business? Based on those four criteria within an hour, I know.”

And of course there was some bubble talk.

Scott Kupor, partner and COO of Andreessen Horowitz, and Mark Suster, partner of Upfront Ventures, who spoke via Skype and Meerkat, both made cases with a series of charts. Suster made the points that there are 50 times more Internet users today than in 1995,  Internet speeds are 180 times faster and smartphone and social media adoption rates continue to soar, enabling companies that work to grow faster than anytime in human history. All of this has essentially created a new VC landscape, Suster said.

Kupor believes the market is still at healthy levels. For example, the 49 IPOs in 2014 that raised eyebrows? That has been the median the last 35 years. And companies are staying private longer; the companies going public are at $100 million in revenues, rather than $10 million like during the dotcom bubble.

That is one of the biggest sea changes in the last 24 months, he said -- companies are staying private longer so they are far more mature when they do go public. Another: mutual funds, hedge funds, private equity are coming into the venture market. He is also seeing more money coming into the enterprise side and into “full-stack startups” that control the entire customer experience, such as Airbnb and Lyft.

For now, Kupor doesn’t see a bubble.  “If we get a correction, I believe it will be a global market correction, not a tech event…. Tech is still, from an overall perspective, well valued.”

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg


Ben Wirz of the Knight Foundation interviews Kingdon, McKenna and Koretz.


March 18, 2015

Start-Up City: Miami returning March 30, speakers announced

The Atlantic, CityLab and the Knight Foundation are bringing back the third annual Start-Up City: Miami, a full day of speakers, panel discussions and networking, on March 30 at the New World Center in Miami Beach.

Speakers include The Walt Disney Company’s David Min, who will discuss The Disney Accelerator, Chef and Crafted Hospitality owner Tom Colicchio, who will talk about how opening a new restaurant compares to launching a startup, Slack’s Bill Macaitis on its plan for the billion-dollar brand, Veronica Juarez on Lyft'sgoals in Miami and beyond, MIT Sloan Leadership Center’s Hal Gregersen on how to become a better leader and increase creativity, Vikram Dendi of Microsoft Research, who will discuss Skype Translator, and Square and LaunchCode cofounder Jim McKelvey's insights.

The event is $99. For the full list of speakers or to buy tickets: www.theatlantic.com/live/events/start-up-city-miami/2015/.


March 16, 2015

Entrepreneurship Datebook

ADVICE STRAIGHT UP: Zalmi Duchman, founder of The Fresh Diet, will speak on “The Essential Ingredients: What Every Business Needs for Success!” during the speaker series by the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship, 8-10:30 a.m. Tuesday, March 17, at the Urban League of Broward County. Get tickets here.

THE IDEA FACTORY - VALIDATE AND INNOVATE: A workshop designed to equip you the tools needed to develop innovative ideas and critical thinking, 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., Wedneday, March 18, The Idea Center at Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus, Building 8. Register here.

GLOBAL IMPACT COMPETITION INFO SESSION: SingularityUniversity is hosting Global Impact Competition Miami to find innovative ideas to address sea level rise. A free info session, along with a talk by Singularity University’s Salim Ismail, will be 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday at The LAB Miami in Wynwood. Register here.

PREMONEY MIAMI: 500 Startups brings its popular conference for accredited investors to downtown Miami on Friday. Speakers include Dave McClure of 500 Startups; Scott Kupor of Andreessen Horowitz; Mark Suster of  Upfront Ventures (by Skype) and Christine Herron of Intel Capital.   More info here.

MIA MUSIC HACKDAY: About 50 hackers will compete for cash and VIP tickets to the 16th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards and Official After Party in Las Vegas. The hackathon for music-related ideas  is March 21-22 at Building, 120 SW 8th St., Miami. Registration is free for the hackathon but limited: mms.co.

MIA MUSIC SUMMIT: A gathering of leading digital music experts, startups and investors from around the globe to discuss the latest trends at the intersection of music and technology, March 26, Colony Theater, Miami Beach. Tickets: mms.co

CITI FINTECH/REFRESH MIAMI MEETUP: Citi's second Miami  fintech meetup will be 6:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday, March 26,  at Miami's Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science,  where a panel of experts will discuss how financial technology can drive financial inclusion. Register here.

BARCAMP MIAMI: Dubbed an “unconference,” this ad-hoc gathering was born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, demos and interaction from attendees. Everyone is expected to participate in some way: by giving a talk, asking questions, or organizing a session. Saturday, March 28, at Miami Ad School in Wynwood. Free. Register here:  www.barcampmiami.org

CODE4GOOD HACKATHON: Quantum Foundation is teaming up with Modernizing Medicine and Florida Atlantic University’s new entrepreneurship program and accelerator, Tech Runway, to stimulate health-related innovation with a hackathon and tech weekend March 28 – 29 at Tech Runway: To learn more or to register: www.code4goodPBC.org

START-UP CITY MIAMI: Atlantic Magazine’s one day event returns March 30 with speakers such as Jim McKelvey, co-founder of Square and LaunchCode, Vikram Dendi of Skype Translator and those at the helm of Slack, Lyft, Postmates, Courssera and more. More information here.


March 14, 2015

Q&A with Manny Ruiz, the man behind Hispanicize

Manny Ruiz founded Hispanicize in 2010, and has grown it into the largest gathering for U.S. Hispanics of its kind. The weeklong conference opens Monday in downtown Miami.

HispanicizeBy Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

As Hispanicize opens Monday for its sixth annual weeklong event packed with workshops, speakers, awards and concerts all featuring U.S. Latinos, a lot of people may not know the unusual entrepreneurial journey of the man behind it all.

Hispanicize is the largest U.S. Hispanic social media and entertainment event of its kind, specializing in marketing, media, film and music, said its founder, Manny Ruiz. “What people really love about Hispanicize is that we are the one event that is laser-focused on the aspirations, opportunities and challenges of the U.S. Hispanic.”

Ruiz’s father was an early Cuban exile and his mother is a second-generation Cuban American: “I was born and raised in Little Havana and Hialeah, as blue collar as you can get. … My family didn’t have much in Cuba and they didn’t have anything in Miami either, [but] their work ethic has stayed with me … and kept me grounded.”

Today, Ruiz, 45, is the chairman and founder of the Hispanicize brand of platforms that include the annual Hispanicize event, the Latina Mom Bloggers network, Being Latino, Hispanicize Wire and the Hispanic PR Blog.

Before building his current grouping of media properties, Ruiz founded, led and sold Hispanic PR Wire for $5.5 million in 2008. In thinking about what his next project would be, he was inspired by South by Southwest, the big annual music, film and entrepreneurship event in Austin, Texas. The first Hispanicize was in 2010.

But here are some things you may not know about Ruiz. He almost flunked his senior year at Miami Southwest Senior High — twice.

“The shocking part of my second senior year was that despite a horrible academic record — I was 10 spots away from graduating last of my second senior year class — my high school principal believed in my investigative journalism work on the school newspaper so much she nominated me to be our high school’s [Miami Herald] Silver Knight representative for journalism,” Ruiz said.

Ruiz said he was moved to pursue journalism — he was affectionately known as “Geraldo“ in high school — after his middle school experience attending a corrupt and drug-ridden private school, Miami Aerospace Academy. It was ultimately the power of the press that got the place shut down, he said.

He then stoked that journalistic passion at Miami Southwest and later at Miami Dade College, which will install him next month in the MDC Alumni Hall of Fame, and at the Miami Herald before transitioning into marketing, online media and entrepreneurship.

The Miami Herald talked with Ruiz about his unusual entrepreneurial journey and plans for the 2015 Hispanicize, which opens Monday at the InterContinental Miami with an expected record attendance of more than 2,000. Here are excerpts of the conversation:

Continue reading "Q&A with Manny Ruiz, the man behind Hispanicize" »