March 03, 2015

Still time to join Smart City Challenge Hackathon this weekend

Florida International University's  School of Computing and Information Sciences will host the Smart City Challenge Hackathon Miami March 6 - 8. There is still time to join; about 100 people are registered so far.

This event which is taking place around the world ( is open to the public. All South Florida students, professional developers, urban hackers, and domain experts are welcome to participate. The hackathon theme is improving the lives of people living in South Florida.

The application you and your team will develop at the event should solve a social, economic, environmental or health problem using existing data sets, crowdsourced data, and/or data collected by a device(s) connected to the Internet (perhaps one you create). There will be prizes awarded and refreshments.

For more information and to register for the free event visit:

BritWeek featuring two tech-related events

BritWeek Miami, the annual celebration of British innovation and creativity in South Florida, returns for a third year  from March 5th to March 14th  highlighting transatlantic commerce and culture within the art, sport, technology, fashion, music, entertainment, trade and financial sectors. To celebrate this creative synergy between the UK and Florida, BritWeek Miami, an alliance with UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), HM British Consulate-General Miami and a series of strategic media and industry partners, will hold a series of events throughout downtown Miami, Wynwood, Coral Gables and Miami Beach.

Two events of interest to the tech and entrepreneurship communities:

On Saturday, March 7th is BritWeek’s pioneering community outreach initiative Britcode.  Hosted by The LAB Miami, a center for excellence and innovation in the heart of Wynwood’s vibrant tech scene, Britcode looks to ignite kids futures with hands on interactive Coding and STEM zones. In collaboration with key partners Microsoft, the Patricia and Phillips Frost Museum of Science, Mia MADE, Miami Dade College, The Club Med Foundation, Girl Develop It, City Year and Teach for America, the children will have expert guidance to learn whilst having fun. BritWeek Miami aims to make a difference and follow in the footsteps of Great Britain as world leaders in Coding education, to combine Stem and Code in an interactive outreach platform. The Day will start with Britcode “Ignite” - a launch breakfast, hosted by Dave Prodger, the British Consul-General with the leaders of Miami’s tech and educational communities to help us take Britcode and our kids to the next level.

BritWeek and eMerge Americas returns on Wednesday, March 11th, for a look at British and Miami Media and Technology with the second annual signature event: BritWeek eMerge Americas Bridging the Gap - Media and Film A Marriage Made in Miami. The forum will come together for a fascinating panel discussion with top innovators, including Jennifer Brooks of Microsoft, Gillian Thomas of the Miami Science Museum, Patricia Arias of Miami Film and Media Market, andSonia Hendler of Arts & Business Council to name a few.  Panelists will be introduced by Manny Medina, and mediated byJose Luis Martinez, of Miami Media Film Market and the Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba. There will also a message from London Mayor, Boris Johnson, following his trip to the United States.

For further information on BritWeek Miami 2015, including an  event schedule, visit 

- information submitted by BritWeek.

March 01, 2015

Black Tech Week spotlights pioneers, rising stars


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Silicon Valley pioneer Roy Clay Sr. received a lifetime achievement award at Black Tech Week. Photo by Nancy Dahlberg/Miami Herald

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The inaugural Black Tech Week at Miami Dade College’s North Campus and other venues featured 10 events, dozens of speakers and plenty of conversation and connections.

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inaugural Black Tech Week at Miami Dade College’s North Campus and other venues featured 10 events, dozens of speakers and plenty of conversation and connections.
Read more here:
ck Tech Week at Miami Dade College’s North Campus and other venues featured 10 events, dozens of speakers and plenty of conversation and connections.
Read more here:
and plenty of conversation and connections.
Read more here:

The inaugural Black Tech Week at Miami Dade College’s North Campus and other venues featured 10 events, dozens of speakers and plenty of conversation and connections.

By Nancy Dahlberg /

Roy Clay Sr.’s mother told him “you will face racism the rest of your life, but don’t ever let that be a reason why you don’t succeed.” With a degree in mathematics, he landed his first tech industry job at IBM in 1956 — after five years of being told “we have no jobs for professional Negroes.”

Among many game-changing career highlights, Clay developed Hewlett-Packard’s first computer in the 1960s. In the ’70s he was instrumental in nurturing Tandem Computers, Compaq and Intel. Clay, who grew up in Ferguson, Missouri, then turned to mentorship, founding scholarship and education programs, and even serving on the city council of Palo Alto, California, a city that was 1 percent black at the time.

At Miami’s inaugural Black Tech Week at Miami Dade College’s North Campus on Friday, Clay was honored with a lifetime achievement award. In accepting the award, he told the audience of students and young technology entrepreneurs his mission continues and he will help however he can. Backstage, he said he wanted to stay involved in Miami’s efforts to promote a diverse ecosystem.

To close out Black History Month, Clay and some of today’s tech innovators kept Black Tech Week firmly focused on the future. Founded by Felecia Hatcher and Derick Pearson of Code Fever, a nonprofit that teaches coding and entrepreneurship to kids in low-income communities, the inaugural event — planned and executed in under a month — aimed to help create a stronger entrepreneurial ecosystem for people of color and was open to the public.

Throughout the week, African American entrepreneurs and technologists hosted “Hours of Code” in South Florida schools, sharing with K-12 students ways to be creators of technology, not just consumers. College students participated in mentor meetups and young entrepreneurs took to the stage to pitch their businesses before panels of judges, all investors or serial entrepreneurs, and two winners took home $1,000 cash prizes.

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Presenters at a Black Tech Week Pitch Competition at The LAB Miami on Tuesday wait for results. The winner was music startup GoldPlay (, pitched by Zeferiah Gonzalez and Adams Fontin, and they won a check for $1,000 and other prizes.  During a Monday night pitch contest at EcoTech Visions, Michael Caballero of  Earthware ( won $1,000 from the Awesome Foundation for his pitch for his sustainable cups cutlery and containers company. Photo by Nancy Dahlberg / Miami Herald. 

 Btw andre

Andre Kay of Sociallybuzz shows students his app at Black Tech Week’s Hour of Tech at Bethune Elementary School of the Arts in Hollywood. | Photo provided by Sociallybuzz

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Felecia Hatcher, co-founder of Code Feber, talks to students about careers in  technology and entrepreneurship during a Black Tech Week event. | Photo by Dante’ Fillyau Shades of Mahogany

But the highlight of the week was the summit on Thursday and Friday, where dozens of luminaries from around the world shared stories and advice on topics as diverse as the skills gap, opportunities in Africa, Cuba and Jamaica, design thinking, fund-raising, manufacturing, healthcare and education. It included innovators and top technologists at companies such as Google, SnapChat and Coca-Cola as well as a number of venture capitalists.

  Btw justin

Justin Washington, who grew up in Detroit, graduated from the University of Michigan in 2010, and has been an engineer at Apple and Twitter and is now at SnapChat, said he was often the only African American in his EE classes of 70 or 80. / Photo by Nancy Dahlberg

The summit was heavy on advice, which continued in the hallways and lunch tables.

“Entrepreneurship is a contact sport. You are going to have to engage the world. … It’s the soft skills that will inform your success — it’s the ability to connect with people almost at an emotional level. Think of your work in terms of how it improves people’s lives,” said John Lewis, global chief diversity officer of the Coca-Cola Co. “The world needs you. The world needs bright, multicultural, dynamic leaders to chart this new way.”

Also contributing to the two-day conversation: Chinedu Echeruo, who sold his company HopStop to Apple for $1 billion; Delane Parnell, at 22 one of the nation’s youngest venture capitalists; and Jon Gosier of Appfrica and MetaLayer. South Florida entrepreneurs and investors who spoke at the conference included Brian Brackeen of Kairos, Pandwe Gibson of EcoTech Visions, Stonly Baptiste of and Faquiry Diaz Cala of Tres Mares Group, among others.

Btw apple

 Entrepreneur and investor Chinedu Echeruo talked about founding and selling HopStop at Black Tech Week at Miami Dade College’s North Campus. After selling, he went to Africa for awhile and now he is back running a lab for creating companies. | Nancy Dahlberg Miami Herald

Btw brackeen

Brian Brackeen, CEO of Miami-based Kairos, a facial recognition company, talks with Delane Parnell, of IncWell Venture Partners who at age 22 is said to the youngest African American VC in the country. Parnell, formerly an entrepreneur in the automotive industry, said he is a founder-friendly VC. | Nancy Dahlberg Miami Herald

Btw pandwe

Pandwe Gibson of EcoTech Visions, a Miami incubator for companies with sustainable products, shows off a dress designed and made by young teens at DesignLab in North Miami. The dress lights up – technology is everywhere, she said, be creative. | Nancy Dahlberg Miami Herald

Read more here:

Although the event focused on celebrating tech innovators of color, it was prompted by the current state of diversity. Most of the marquee Silicon Valley companies — Facebook, Twitter, Google — have workforces with under 5 percent black technologists.

“Google’s mission is to be universally accessible and useful, but here’s the reality internally: what we have all heard, 2 percent black, 3 percent Hispanic. But here is another reality: $111 billion in economic activity changes hands on Google in 2013. Are you getting a piece of that pie?” asked Jewel Burks of Accelerate with Google.

Google has a couple of programs to help you do that, Burks said. Accelerate with Google Academy is a free 12-week bootcamp for helping business owners get people to your website. A new program for businesses that make something that Google could use, the Google Small Business Supplier Diversity Program, promises payment within 15 days among other benefits, she said.

As to the numbers in the workforce, she said, “There are great people working on that problem and it will be solved.”

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From left, John Lewis Jr. of Coco-Cola, Aurelia Crews of Rokk3r Labs, Jewel Burks of Accelerate with Google and PartPic, Mary Spio of Next Galaxy and Michael Hall of Digital Grass talk about tech diversity at Black Tech Week at Miami Dade College’s North Campus./ Photo by Nancy Dahlberg, Miami Herald

Read more here:

As part of a spirited panel discussion on diversity and inclusion lead by Miami’s Michael Hall of Digital Grass, Burks, who is also CEO of a startup, PartPic, said she’s been told if she were a white male she would have raised $10 million by now. Mary Spio, founder of Next Galaxy in Miami Beach who started her career as a rocket scientist at Boeing, said she was voted out of one of her earlier companies because an investor thought it needed to be led by a white male instead of her.

Still, all the panelists said the black community can also do more to support their own community, and it wasn’t lost on this panel that the event Thursday was sparsely attended (Friday’s summit drew a fuller house). “We have to support each other, we have to invest in our communities,” Spio said.

And mentorship is really key — we didn’t get here by ourselves and now we need to lift others, said Aurelia Crews, a director of Rokk3r Labs, which helps cobuild young companies.

Black Tech Week, with about 10 events, was organized by a steering committee of a half-dozen people representing organizations promoting entrepreneurship, STEM education and diversity. The inaugural event received $100,000 in Knight Foundation funding as well as other sponsorships.

Btw endingThe conference concluded Saturday with a youth hackathon, women’s brunch and series of workshops at the MDC Meek Entrepreneurial Education Center in Liberty City (Photo of the Black Tech Week finale at left by Theodore Karantsalis). Videos from the conference as well as behind-the-scenes conversations will be available on within a few weeks, Hatcher said.

“We are absolutely doing this again next year,” Hatcher said on Friday. “We’ve been asked to bring this to other cities already, but we are committed to always keeping this in Miami. Our overall goal with Black Tech Week will become similar to Global Entrepreneurship Week, where partners, organizations, educational institutions and individuals will host Black Tech Week events all over the globe under our four pillars — creativity, culture, technology and innovation — during the last week of Black History Month.”

Hatcher said she heard from many people about how accessible the speakers and venture capitalists have been to answer questions. “They also told me ‘I was comfortable and confident in my own skin all week.’ ”

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.

February 26, 2015

MIA Music Summit, HackDay out to help make Miami a hotbed for digital music startups


Shown above, last year's MIA Music HackDay in progress at The LAB Miami,  and below, when the winners, Erik Mendelson and Brandon West, were announced at the MIA Music Summit for their app to  make your own remix.


By Demian Bellumio

DemianOn March 26th, 2015, with the support of the Knight Foundation, the MIA Music Summit will once again bring together some of the world’s leading digital music experts to discuss the future of this fast-growing industry.  More importantly, we will continue to explore how Miami can become an ideal location for creating and growing digital music startups.  

As a city, we have a rich music history that includes musical legends like The Beatles, Bee Gees and Bob Marley, and which today is home to top record labels, music executives, artists, festivals, media companies and even some globally recognized digital music startups, such as Choose Digital, Batanga Media, F# and Senzari, the startup I lead from this city.

The event will gather approximately 400 attendees at the classic Colony Theater on the same day that Miami Beach turns 100 years old, which is no coincidence.  Music will be front-and-center at the Miami Beach Centennial celebration, where maestro Rudy Perez will be coordinating performances from over two dozen musical artists, including global stars  Andrea Bocelli, Gloria Estefan and Flo Rida, as well as hot local acts, such as Raquel Sofia and Afrobeta.  In addition, that same week, Miami is host to the Winter Music Conference and the Ultra Music Festival, so there will be no better time to celebrate Miami’s music scene.

As in 2014, we have an amazing line up of musical guests and industry experts that are coming to Miami from all corners of the world to share their insights and experiences.  On the artistic side, we are very excited that we will have as panelist and musical guest Ryan Leslie, who recently spoke and performed DLD in Munich, as well as Sony Music’s rising local artist Raquel Sofia, and Guti Talavera, as the resident DJ for the event.

From a corporate standpoint, we will have global industry leaders 8tracks, Havas Sports & Entertainment, Atom Factory and Qualcomm, among many others, who will be joined by disruptive startups like Jukely, Splice and  We will cover topics such as branding and music, investing in music startups, artist and music marketing in the digital age, Big Data techniques for music, and many other relevant themes of great importance to anyone dealing with musical content, including artists, songwriters, record executives, entrepreneurs, advertisers, ad agencies, artist managers, broadcasters and investors.  For example, to provide attendees with in-depth analysis of the major market trends, we will feature two amazing keynotes by Liv Buli (Next Big Sound) and Robby Towns (EDMTCC), who will present 2014: State of the Industry and The EDM Guide: Technology, Culture, Curation, respectively.

But going back to the our key objective of making Miami a hotbed for digital music startup creation, I’m thrilled to announce today the second edition of the MIA Music HackDay, which will take place the weekend before the MIA Music Summit, on Saturday March 21st and 22nd.  Over the course of the weekend, we will be hosting 50 hackers who will be competing for a chance two win a cash prize and two VIP tickets to attend the 16th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards and Official After Party in Las Vegas on November 19th!

The event will take place in Miami's newest co-working space,, and run for 12 consecutive hours each day.   Five teams will be chosen on Sunday evening by a panel of expert judges (based primarily on the technical merits of the hack), to then go on to pitch on the main stage of the MIA Music Summit on Thursday 26th for the grand prize.

This could be the best chance for local developers and entrepreneurs to build the music startup that they have been dreaming about.  And to make it even more exciting, this year’s MIA Music HackDay will be powered by Rokk3r Labs! Therefore, the five finalists won’t have to prepare for the main show by themselves, as they will have expert guidance on how to turn their hacks into disruptive, exponential startups.

During the course of the week, the Rokk3r Labs team will meet with the five teams and introduce them to their proprietary "cobuilding" process, which has been utilized over and over to successfully launch their portfolio companies.  So, fame and fortune will surely follow for the lucky hackers!

“Like other industries, music is seeing a significant disruption via exponential technologies. Rokk3r Labs is excited to provide local entrepreneurs with a unique opportunity to go through our strategic process to inspire, empower and cobuild their ideas to disrupt every aspect of the music industry in a very high-profile way.” explains Nabyl Charania, CEO of Rokk3r Labs.  “It is also a great showcase for Rokk3r Labs’ proven methodology that can be leveraged by the stakeholders of the local music industry, from labels to artists, to launch their disruptive projects in partnership with us.”

Lastly, all team members that finish and pitch their hacks will get a free pass to the MIA Music Summit ($199 value).  And since it’s a "music" HackDay after all, there will be plenty of music throughout the weekend, including cool entertainment both evenings of the event.

It is free to register and capacity is limited, so make sure you register to secure your participation today at

For those interested in attending the MIA Music Summit, the first 50 users to use the code HERALDVIP, will get $50 off the current early-bird price of $149, so act fast! 

 Demian Bellumio is COO of Senzari and a founder and organizer of the MIA Music Summit. 

Read reports on last year's MIA Music Summit here and here.



February 20, 2015

Startups seeking investors to attend Boca Raton expo

By Marcia Heroux Pounds / Sun Sentinel
South Florida entrepreneurs, investors and industry experts will gather for the Gold Coast Venture Capital Expo from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Feb. 24 at the Embassy Suites in Boca Raton.
More than 30 start-up companies seeking venture capital or angel investments will have booths at the expo with representatives available to talk about their products or services. Six hundred to 1,000 attendees are expected, Gold Coast Venture Capital Association said.
"We have 32 startups; we had 25 last year," said Bob Fitts, president of the association. "Everything's bigger. We've expanded the length of the event and have two panels."

Fitts said the expo's goal is to help startups and investors in the Eastern United States.

The event also will be educational for entrepreneurs, he said, with panelists from some of the latest incubator and accelerator companies and programs in South Florida.

"I've seen a great amount of progress during the past three (expos)," said Fitts, who became the association's president in 2013. "I see a lot more cooperation in the ecosystem."

The event costs $25 for association members, $30 for attendees from partner organizations, and $35 for members of the public. For more information, go to

 Posted Feb. 20, 2015

It's a 2-hackathon weekend; UHack, I Hacked Miami

Headed to the Miami area this weekend: Two hackathons, where teams of programmers and entrepreneurs work together to come up with apps or other technology solutions over the weekend.

A hackathon for the civic good, I <Hacked> Miami CodeAcross 2015, will take place from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Miami Ad School, 571 NW 28th St. in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood. To sign up:

Launched by Code for America, CodeAcross is a national event set to inspire residents to become actively involved in their community. Coinciding with International Open Data Day, Miami-Dade County will be opening its Open311 data to developers for the first time, providing new opportunities to create citizen-focused applications in a creative, collaborative environment. Developers, writers and designers can help with various projects already listed on the website, including Miami Answers, a platform for finding answers to citizens’ most frequently asked questions.

Code for America’s Miami fellowship program will officially launch at the event. “This is one more sign of Miami-Dade County’s emergence as a hub for technology and innovation,” said Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez. “As part of our continued efforts at implementing open data policies, the Code for America Fellows will work with us to provide greater transparency in government, using technology to make us more efficient and bring us closer to our residents.”

On Saturday and Sunday, college and high school students across South Florida are invited to compete in UHack at the University of Miami Student Activities Center in Coral Gables. To register:

For the third year, UM is hosting this 24-hour technology competition and expecting about 150 participants. Participants will be tasked to create apps along the theme of “Hack for a Better U”, a broad topic that allows hackers freedom of expression when creating their app. Attendees can utilize any platform, framework, language, or hardware device. UHack is part of Major League Hacking, which helps put on over 100 student hackathons across North America and the Europe annually. More than $3,000 in prizes are up for grabs.

Nancy Dahlberg and Maggie Diaz-Vera

Posted Feb. 20, 2015

February 17, 2015

Apply now to pitch your startup at AARP's Startup Demo Day in Miami Beach

Get in front of both investors and consumers at the AARP Health Innovation@50+ LivePitch, Thursday, May 14, 2015 at the Miami Beach Convention Center, which will feature exciting startup companies in the “50 and over” health technology and innovation sector.

Eligible companies will be focused on consumer-oriented health technologies for the “50 and over” market, have launched their product or service within the last 18 months (as of May 14) and have not raised more than $5 million in funding.

The powerful AARP LivePitch format provides startups the opportunity to pitch to both leading venture capital and angel investors and thousands of AARP consumers - at the same time. LivePitch takes place at 2015 AARP Life@50+ National Event & Expo.

The judges will provide their feedback to the companies while they are on stage. And the consumers in the audience will vote. At the end of the day winners from 10 finalists will be announced: the Judges Overall Winner and the Consumers Favorite. In addition, five additional Florida based startup companies that target the “50 and over” health technology innovation sector will be showcased at the event.

Apply now to pitch! Applications are open until Friday, February 20, 2015.

Posted Feb. 17, 2015

February 12, 2015

Mark your calendars: Start-Up City: Miami returns March 30

The Atlantic presents Start-Up City: Miami, an annual gathering of ideas and inventors shaping the local and global startup scene. The full-day program, in partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, returns to  the New World Center on Monday, March 30.

Building on the energy of the previous two years, the event will feature the people and companies at the heart of Miami’s startup revolution who also serve as models for the growing brand of entrepreneurship and innovation in cities around the world.

“We are thrilled to be coming back to Miami. This will be a high energy day that captures the sense of possibility in this city and beyond. It will be a great place for making connections within the start-up community and for learning about what is building all around us,” said Margaret Low Smith, President of AtlanticLIVE.

“Since launching Start-Up City: Miami two years ago, the city’s start-up scene has grown immensely,” said Matt Haggman, Miami program director for Knight Foundation. “We’re excited to bring the key players together again with national leaders to cement Miami’s reputation as a place where ideas are built.”

In its two years, Start-Up City: Miami has featured dozens of speakers whose work is transforming education, music, design, food, and technology. Previous attendees include Sam Altman of Y Combinator; Tony Hsieh of Zappos; Laura Maydon of Endeavor Miami; Ilan Zechoryof Rap Genius; Michael Jones of Google Earth; Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine; and Joanna Schwartzof EarlyShares.

Editors from The Atlantic and will lead the conversations. Among them: urban studies expert Richard Florida, editor at large of CityLab; Steve Clemons, Washington editor of The Atlantic; Derek Thompson, staff writer for The Atlantic; and Mary Louise Kelley, contributing editor to AtlanticLIVE.

More details about the event are at; a list of speakers and full agenda will be released in the coming weeks.Registration is open, and the admission cost is $99.

Submitted by The Atlantic

Posted Feb. 12, 2015

UHack is back Feb 21-22 – and calling college and high school students to participate

For the third straight year the University of Miami will be hosting UHack, a 24-hour technology competition that brings together some of the brightest, most tech-savvy students in South Florida. Participants will be asked to use their technical acumen to “hack for a better U” which will focus on building projects for the benefit of improving one’s lifestyle. This hackathon is completely open-ended, attendees can utilize any platform, framework, language, or hardware device they desire.

WHAT:              The University of Miami will be hosting a 24-hour long hackathon testing some of the brightest minds on campus and across the region to kick off the school’s Engineering Week. Over 150 students from colleges and high schools in South Florida and Nationwide will compete in UHack. Participants will be tasked to create apps along the theme of “Hack for a Better U”, a broad topic that allows hackers freedom of expression when creating their app.

UHack is proud to be part of Major League Hacking (MLH) powered by Dell and Intel. MLH helps put on over 100 student hackathons across North America and the Europe every year giving students unique chances to create, innovate and network with leading edge technology and mentors.

WHO:               The U’s most talented student designers, programmers and entrepreneurs will spend their weekend teaming up fellow Hurricanes as well as other like-minded students from across the region to work on new applications that could improve everyday life. At the end of the weekend, teams will demo what they have created and attempt to win prizes and earn valuable points to help their schools rise to the top of the Major League Hacking season standings. UHack is made possible by local sponsors The Lab Miami, Senata, Google, Kairos and many more! 

WHEN:             Saturday, February 21

                                11:30am – Opening & Welcome Ceremony

                                12:00pm - Hacking Begins! 


                                Sunday, February 22

                                12:00pm - Hacking Ends!

                                1:00pm - Demos, teams will present their projects

                                3:00pm – Winners Announced, Prizes Rewarded, Closing Remarks


WHERE:           University of Miami

Student Activities Center: 3rd Floor - Center Ballroom

                                1330 Miller Drive, Coral Gables

Cost: Free 



1st Place:

$2,500 credit for use of Karios API Facial Recognition software

2 - 1 month admissions into the Lab Miami Workspace ($600 Value)

MLH Medal


2nd Place:

Freescale Semiconductor: FRDM Freescale Freedom Platform (Not available to market; $500 value)

1 - 1 month admission into the Lab Miami Workspace ($300 Value)

MLH Medal


3rd Place:

Google "Swag Bag": Dufflebag, Blanket, USB Charger, Socks (Not available to market, $100 value)

1 - 1 month admission into the Lab Miami Workspace ($300 Value)

MLH Medal


Specific Prizes:

Zensah Challenge: $500 Cash Prize

HackerRank Challenges: Free Company Swag

Super Smash Bros Melee Tournaments: Bragging rights for a year.

- Submitted by the University of Miami

Posted Feb. 12, 2015


February 11, 2015

Business Plan Bootcamp speakers announced; sign up today

Real advice, no fluff: That’s what experts at the upcoming Miami Herald Business Plan Bootcamp promise to deliver.

Krinzman__2__3_1_SJ1TVKKK_L54772747The free event on Feb. 18, held during the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge entry season, will help entrepreneurs getting started in their businesses as well as those who are further along. “Whether you’re applying to the Business Plan Challenge, raising investment capital or thinking about raising capital, the Bootcamp is not to be missed,” says Melissa Krinzman, who will lead a panel discussion with advice on what elements make a winning short business plan, as well as do’s and don’ts when pitching investors.

Krinzman, who has been a judge for the Business Plan Challenge for 10 years, is co-founder and managing partner of Krillion Ventures, a $50 million venture capital fund that invests in emerging technology companies at the seed and venture stages. She is also the founder of Venture Architects, a business planning firm that positions early and growth-stage companies for success in the capital-raising process. Since 1998, Venture Architects has worked with more than 900 companies that have raised more than $1 billion in investment capital.

Leandro Finol

Her panel of experts will include:

Leandro Finol, a serial entrepreneur, investor and professor. His first business in the United States was DIREC4U, a company that was formed with very little capital, grew to $76 million in revenue in six years and was sold in 2007. He has recently joined MiamiDadeCollege as the executive director of the IdeaCenter, where he will work to bring innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship to the institution and community. Finol will also be a judge in the Business Plan Challenge High School Track.

  Steven McKean
Steven A. McKean, who specializes in starting and scaling technology companies. Most recently, he was CEO of Acceller, a company he founded and grew to 300 employees before merging with Bridgevine in 2014; he is vice chairman of the combined company. He also co-founded Animusoft and advises early stage companies in team-building, culture, financing and marketing. McKean is a veteran Business Plan Challenge judge in the Community Track.

Adam SmithAdam T. Smith, a partner at Medina Capital. Smith has more than 17 years of experience as a legal executive with expertise in managing global legal affairs, corporate securities, technology contracting and mergers and acquisitions. He is responsible for sourcing potential investment opportunities and providing Medina Capital’s portfolio companies with strategic advice with business development, mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance, intellectual property protection, contracting and all legal issues.

 *BenWirz Benoit Wirz, director of venture investments at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Wirz manages the Knight Enterprise Fund, a venture fund investing in early stage startups that improve access to quality, useful information. He also helps advise the nonprofits in Knight’s portfolio around issues of sustainability and growth. Prior to Knight, he was a partner with US Global, where he invested in and developed energy, manufacturing and technology companies.

The bootcamp will be 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Feb. 18 (check in at 6:15) in the ChapmanConferenceCenter at MiamiDadeCollege’s downtown Miami Wolfson campus (300 NE 2nd Ave., Building 3, Room 3210). The program will start promptly. There is free parking in the MDC lot at 500 NE 2nd Ave. (entrances are on NE 5th and 6th Streets).

There is no cost but space is limited so registration and required. Register here: If you have a question, please email and put bootcamp in the subject line.

Be sure to come with your questions: There will be plenty of time for Q&A.

Follow Nancy Dahlberg @ndahlberg on Twitter.


You have five weeks left to enter the 17th annual Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge, our annual contest to showcase South Florida’s entrepreneurial might.

If you have a business idea or your startup is under 2 years old, submit your entry in the form of a three-page business plan. There are three ways to win: a community track for all South Floridians, an FIU Track for students and alumni of that university and a High School Track.

See the contest rules and tips for preparing your entry, find judges’ bios, questions and answers and more information on Deadline: March 16. Good luck!