June 23, 2015

Miami Caribbean Code event seeks to build bridges in Caribbean region, local tech

   This is a guest post by Miami Caribbean Code (MC2)

Technology is moving our world quickly, but not everyone is up to speed, or has equal access to the communities that are creating and innovating in tech where resources and mentorship are available. It is for this reason that Miami Caribbean Code (MC2) exists. MC2 is a new initiative aiming to build a bridge between the Miami-Caribbean and Caribbean region in an effort to become cross-regional partners in technology. The team at MC2 is moving their mission forward through event series, and will be holding its first Regional Tech Summit Thursday, June 25, 2015 at The Moore Building in the Miami Design District.

The tech summit will bring together technology leaders and innovators from all over to connect and converse on important topics surrounding education, economies, entrepreneurship, and more,  as it relates to the Miami-Caribbean and Caribbean communities in tech. MC2 co-founders Eveline Pierre and Serge Rodriguez along with Matt Haggman, Program Director of the Knight Foundation, will deliver our opening remarks. Keynote Speaker, Brian Fonseca, Florida International University Director of Operations in AppliedResearchCenter, will talk about how Miami and the Caribbean can become cross-regional partners, which is at the core of MC2’s goals. To further this discussion, Jason Ibarra, Chapter Director of Startup Grind Miami, will later talk about how tech and innovation can help connect Cuba to the rest of the Caribbean region.

Also, moderated by Dr. Irma Becerra, Provost of St. Thomas University, Class Wallet’s founder & CEO, Jamie Rosenberg, will engage in a discussion about the face of education as it relates to the Caribbean with Maia Sharpley, VP of Strategy & Innovation at Kaplan, Inc., and Perside Foster, Oracle Principal Consultant. The summit will also bring about others working within technology education, but also entrepreneurship, including Angelica Medina, Miami program manager of Girls Who Code. Medina will specifically engage in a conversation on women succeeding in the tech sphere with Sandra Florvella-Pierre, Founder of Haitian Businesses, and Tia Dubuisson, President of Belle Fleur Technologies. Later in the day, there will be more important conversations continuing around tech in the Miami-Caribbean and Caribbean communities, from leveling the playing field to leveraging technology for social impact throughout the Caribbean region.

In addition to The Regional Tech Summit, Miami Caribbean Code will host the Caribbean Tech & Innovation Awards and cocktail the evening of June 25th starting at 6:30 pm, also held at The Moore Building in the Miami Design District. The ceremony will recognize and reward those in the Caribbean who have positively impacted their communities through technology and raise funds for the HaitianHeritageMuseum in Miami, the first in the world outside of Haiti.    

For more information about the Regional Tech Summit, Caribbean Tech & Innovation Awards ceremony, and ticket purchases, visit miamicaribbeancode.com.


June 07, 2015

Miami joins global event focused on government innovation


By Ezequiel Williams

 This year Miami will join the Global GovJam, a global workshop focused on making government more innovative and user-friendly, for the first time. On June 10 - 11 Miami GovJam participants will join people in 37 other cities around the world in a global event aimed at teaching and practicing innovation techniques to government workers and people passionate about civic life.

The GovJam movement started in Canberra, Australia in 2012 with a group of 80 people. In the months that followed the same people were inspired to scope or launch over a dozen innovative public projects as a result of the event. In 2013 innovation consultants Markus Hormess and Adam Lawrence of WorkPlayExperience took the event global, bringing close to 30 cities on board. The Global GovJam is now a growing, volunteer-run event aimed at bringing together people around the world to learn innovative problem-solving skills and techniques aimed at making government services more responsive and user-friendly.

In the past two years the the GovJam has attracted several senior civil servants, city mayors, the head of the UK’s Cabinet Office Policy Lab, and the Australian Federal Minister (assisting) for industry, innovation and tertiary education. The Australian government has since used the event format for training and policy development. The 2013 Paris GovJam took place in the office of the Prime Minister of France.

The Miami GovJam offers local government workers and other professionals the opportunity to learn and practice design thinking techniques applicable to government in a hands-on, project-driven workshop. Participants, also known as GovJammers, will work in small teams around a common design theme for the purpose of conceiving, designing, and prototyping a new public service that is responsive and user-friendly. Jammers will publish short videos of their prototypes on the Global GovJam website under a Creative Commons license to widely share their projects.

Design thinking is a method of creative problem solving that focuses on creating innovative solutions that are user-friendly, efficient, and responsive to people’s real needs. This approach has gained significant traction in the private, public, and education sectors in the last decade. The government in the United Kingdom routinely uses design thinking for problem-solving, and Australia's Taxation Office, their equivalent to the IRS, has successfully employed design thinking to maker their services more accessible and user-friendly for its constituents. Several U.S. Federal Government agencies have begun to incorporate design thinking in their work in the past five years, including the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, FEMA, and Veterans Affairs.

Far from being a novelty, organizations that are serious about employing design thinking at the core of their operations show substantial positive results. The Design Management Institute, with funding from Microsoft, is tracking the performance of U.S. companies that employ design thinking at the core of their business strategy. Results show that companies like Apple, Target, IBM, Coca-Cola and other design-centric companies have outperformed the S&P 500 by as much as 219% in the last 10 years.   

Employing design thinking practices in local government in Miami could yield tangible results in terms of cost reduction, increased customer satisfaction and revenues. The Miami GovJam will offer Miamians a chance to get connected with a global community, learn design thinking tools and methods, build their creative confidence, network with colleagues from other governments and agencies, and sharpen their ability to innovate and make a measurable difference in the public sector.  

The Miami GovJam volunteer hosts are Siggi Bachmann, Creative Director of the New World Symphony, Vassoula Vassiliou, branding consultant and President of the AIGA, and Ezequiel Williams, co-founder and Chief Insights Officer of Contexto, a service design and innovation consultancy.

The Miami GovJam starts at 8:00 AM on June 10th at the Wynwood Warehouse Project. To learn more about or register for the event, visit www.miamigovjam.com or follow it on Twitter @MiamiJams #GGovJam.

Ezequiel Williams is an entrepreneur, business designer, and co-founder of Contexto. You can connect with him on Twitter @ContextoTweets.


L.A. GovJammers testing prototypes with citizens on the street. Photo courtesy of Global GovJam


June 03, 2015

View from the inside: Startup Weekend Diversity Miami

DSC04751 copy (1)

The winning Breakin' Bread team are (left to right) Monica Delgado, Juan Murillo, Miguel Hidalgo, Francisco Tamayo, Adriana Castro, Daniela Hernandez. On the far right is Joshua Gaviria-Bradshaw, expansion lead for WeWork.

By Francisco Tamayo

"What did you do this weekend?" is a question I hear from friends, co-workers and family members every Monday. This week, my answer was different - "I started a company with complete strangers in 54 hours.”

The adventure started Friday night alongside 59 other wide-eyed participants at a sold out Startup Weekend Diversity Miami, a Google for Entrepreneurs global event series, which gives aspiring entrepreneurs a chance to launch their own business in a weekend. It was hosted at Venture Hive.

Many South Floridians feel their gender, age, ethnicity, background or technical ability is a hurdle to entering the startup world, and I can confirm that perception was changed at with over 15 countries represented, multiple ethnicities, 5 different languages spoken, ages ranging from 18 to 60, an even split amongst genders and all types of backgrounds and abilities present.

Startup Weekend's hashtag #SWMiami was trending on Twitter when the event began with 60 second pitches for startup ideas thanks to the amount of social media activity happening inside Venture Hive. Teams were formed and the process kicked off.

My team of six -- Monica Delgado, Juan Murillo, Miguel Hidalgo, Adriana Castro, Daniela Hernandez plus me -- was determined to launch our startup Breakin' Bread, a social platform that allows people to instantly join unique, communal dining experiences. By Friday night's end, we had delegated responsibilities and began the 54-hour journey.

BreakinBread_Mentor One on One with LiveAnswer CEO Adam Boalt (1)

LiveAnswer’s Founder and CEO Adam Boalt (above)  sat down with us Saturday and immediately noticed roadblocks he had previously experienced in his entrepreneurial career. He took the time to carefully guide us through the process to show where Breakin' Bread could be improved and what actions to take in order to band together and impress the Sunday night judges.

By the time we presented Breakin' Bread Sunday night to a capacity crowd at Venture Hive, the judging panel of Nicolai Bezsonoff (COO and CO-Founder .CO INTERNET), Brian Brackeen (Kairos CEO), Johanna Mikkola (Wyncode Academy Co-Founder) and Roberto Interiano (STS Capital Partners) believed in us enough to vote our startup 1st place. As a matter of fact, I spoke with Roberto after winning and was fortunate enough to receive his priceless advice.

After a mentally and emotionally draining 54 hours, the bonding continued at Adam Boalt’s home where he hosted us with Miami Dolphins DJ Supersede, a red carpet, a photo booth, a bounce castle and drone lessons. I met a lot of contacts at the party ranging from venture capitalists and web designers to software engineers and attorneys specializing in startups.

Startup Weekend Diversity could have never been possible without UP Global facilitator Lee Ngo, the Community Leader for Startup Weekend Pittsburgh, and Miami Lead organizer Paula Celestino (COO, Crea7ive Interactive Advertising) along with Pia Celestino, Gaby Castelao, Ryan Amsel and Anas Benadel.

Without a doubt, the event changed me personally. Professionally, the Breakin' Bread team's main focus is to preserve the bonds we made and work hard together to properly develop our MVP for release later this summer.

We are looking forward to Breakin' Bread with you soon, Miami.

Francisco Tamayo is a team member of Breakin' Bread.


May 26, 2015

The Florida Microfinance Act: How can it help my small business?


The Florida Microfinance Act (Florida Statutes Sections 288.993 to 288.9937) was enacted in 2014 to help provide access to certain financing options for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Small businesses and entrepreneurs have historically had significant problems raising capital, and the act was intended to address these problems.

Effective April 2, the state authorized designated loan administrators to begin accepting applications for participation in the program. The program has two components: a loan program where qualifying small businesses and entrepreneurs can get loans of up to $50,000, and a loan guarantee program (administered by Enterprise Florida) under which qualifying participants can obtain a loan guarantee in connection with loans from $50,000 to $250,000. The program is administered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

This program is available to small businesses or entrepreneurs in Florida that have no more than 25 employees and annual revenues of up to $1.5 million. Borrowers who seek loans must participate in business training and technical assistance provided by the Florida Small Business Development Network. Proceeds from a loan under the program must be used for startup costs, working capital and to purchase materials, supplies, furniture, fixtures and equipment. The repayment of loans must be personally guaranteed, and borrowers must provide information about job creation and other financial data to the loan administrator. A borrower can receive a maximum of $75,000 in loans each year and a maximum of two loans a year and five loans over a three-year period. The program is also designed to help small businesses and entrepreneurs get subsequent private financing.

How can this help your small business? It may provide relatively quick access to capital for qualifying small businesses and entrepreneurs. This can be very valuable because it provides a much-needed potential source of capital at a critical stage in development. Additionally, these companies and entrepreneurs often have difficulty raising initial capital. Personal resources and friend and family funds are usually limited, and most of these companies and entrepreneurs will not yet have realistic access to traditional bank financing or equity financing through venture capital, private equity or angel investors. This program may provide the initial jump start that a small company or entrepreneur needs to get the business going and to progress to the next step.

This program may be especially helpful in industries where technology has substantially reduced the amount of capital required for a business. In many industries the use of cloud-based technology, for example, has significantly reduced the costs of starting and operating the business. Even though the amounts available in the program are relatively small, they should be sufficient to allow many businesses to successfully navigate their early stage financial challenges and move to the next level.

Find information about the program and the requirements for participation at http://www.floridajobs.org/microfinanceprograms.

Bob White is a shareholder with Gunster law firm.

May 21, 2015

Exponential Organizations Workshop returning to Miami

ExO March 2015 group image

Miami-based Rokk3r Labs cobuilding platform announces the Exponential Organizations Workshop that will be hosted by award winning author, foounding executive director and current global ambassador of Singularity University, Salim Ismail.

The event will take place on Monday, June 1, 2015 from 9:30am-6:00pm at the Idea Center at Miami Dade College. The address is 315 Northeast 2nd Ave, Building 8, 5th Floor Miami, FL 33132.

Register for this exclusive event at www.rokk3rlabs.com/exo.

The rapid pace of technological change across all industries has been disrupting legacy organizations in recent years. Cisco’s CEO John Chambers believes that only 1 out of 3 major corporations will survive the next 25 years and as he said at last year’s CISCO Live conference, “We need to change.”

Since 2010, the business world has witnessed the emergence of a new type of company - the Exponential Organization - that has revolutionized how companies accelerate their growth and success by leveraging new organizational principles and exponential technologies.

The traits exponential organizations exhibit and how companies of all sizes can benefit from integrating these traits are the key elements of the Exponential Organizations Workshop, and the focal point of Ismail’s book, Exponential Organizations: Why New Organizations are Ten Times Better, Faster and Cheaper Than Yours (And What To Do About It), which won the 2014 Frost and Sullivan Growth, Innovation and Leadership (GIL) Book of the Year award.

Participants at this one-day crash course will walk away with a clear understanding that if their organizations do not adopt the Exponential Organizations principles and frameworks, they might be left behind in this age of disruptive technology.

In addition to learning from and interacting with Ismail, the Exponential Organizations Workshop is an opportunity to network and share ideas with local business leaders across all industries. In March of this year, the first Exponential Organizations Workshop in Miami had over 200 people and 130 companies in attendance.

“Entrepreneurs and dreamers all over the world have the ideas, ingenuity and talent to enable exponential innovation,” says Rokk3r Labs CEO Nabyl Charania. “Salim Ismail’s Exponential Organizations Workshop in partnership with Rokk3r Labs exists to help entrepreneurs and business leaders understand how to harness exponential technologies and innovative organizational techniques to create ventures that change the world.”

-Submitted by Rokk3r Labs

The all-day workshop is regularly priced $995 but priced at  $695 through May 26.

May 16, 2015

An Open Letter to Mayor Carlos Gimenez: A World-Class Community Must Have Open Data Governance

Earlier this week,  59 members of Miami's tech community came together to sign and send an open letter calling on Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez to introduce a robust open data policy for the county. This is the first time that so many of Miami's tech and civic leaders have come together to make a political statement, said Ric Herrero, founder of MIAMade. "This is a matter of great importance if Miami is ever to be taken seriously as a tech hub. New York City, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco and many other 'knowledge economy' cities have embraced open data. Miami-Dade should not be left behind," he said.

Below is the letter, which was crafted by leaders of  Code for Miami, a brigade of volunteers dedicated to improving civic technology throughout Miami-Dade County. Learn more about the future of Open Data in Miami, and see examples of local open data policies and projects in other cities at miamiopendata.org.

May 12, 2015

Dear Mayor Gimenez,

For years your administration has recognized that Miami’s tech community needs support if it is to thrive in the world-wide economy. Last February, you stood on stage before members of the tech community to launch Miami-Dade’s Open Data Portal. By doing so, you helped position the County as a worldwide leader in data-driven governance. Now, the undersigned members of Miami’s tech community ask that you continue your commitment to responsive governance and innovation by adopting an Open Data Policy that governs the maintenance of the County’s Open Data Portal and ensures the reliability of its data.

Since its launch, the County’s Open Data Portal has been an unequivocal success. It has fostered transparency and accountability within the County and has helped local developers to create innovative solutions to a variety of civic challenges. Making county data routinely and freely available to the public means it is also available internally across County agencies, empowering Miami-Dade County employees to more effectively monitor and improve services. Local volunteers have created tools using the County’s Open Data Portal to help Miamians predict flooding patterns, track public transportation services, and streamline the County’s permitting process. New applications are being built every day with public data and with each line of code our community grows stronger. Indeed, the county’s Open Data Portal is a promising start. But with your help, and the implementation of a robust Open Data Policy, Miami can solidify itself as a worldwide destination for technology.

An Open Data Policy would formalize the rules governing the County’s Open Data Portal and would provide needed guidelines on data accessibility and data security. A reliable Open Data Policy would foster innovation by preserving data integrity and ensuring that the County’s Open Data Portal is up-to-date and accurate. It would also provide assurances about the quality of the County’s data to entrepreneurs wishing to start local tech businesses and developers seeking to utilize public data to create high-tech applications that improve civic life. A great example of how an Open Data Policy can trigger entrepreneurism and civic improvement occurred recently in Los Angeles when the municipality entered into an open data partnership with mobile app Waze to help its residents avoid the city’s notorious rush hour traffic.

We appreciate the county’s existing civic technology outreach efforts. The Community Information and Outreach (CIAO) department has led efforts to leverage county data and analytics to improve services and has assisted citizens engaging with county government technology and data. This department has worked hand-in-hand with the civic tech community to develop more accessible, user-friendly solutions to civic challenges through technology. CIAO’s commitment to collaboration demonstrates that they should play a key role in the implementation of an Open Data Policy. We therefore recommend that your office empower CIAO to work directly with county agencies to open their data sets in ways that are responsive to community needs, and to measure CIAO’s success by its ability to demonstrate to agencies how they can procure and deliver services more effectively through the smart leveraging of open data.

We all share a commitment to building a strong civic ecosystem and ensuring that government technology benefits all residents. As members of this community, we will continue developing projects and hosting hackathons, trainings, and meetups to promote government transparency, technological innovation, and civic problem-solving. We’ll collaborate, compete, and share expertise to help Miami-Dade address our most pressing civic challenges. And we’ll train a new generation of Miamians to be civically engaged and to put their considerable skills to work for our community. We invite you, our commissioners and our county staff to join us again this year at Miami’s third annual National Day of Civic Hacking on June 6 at the LAB Miami to work on next steps together and to see this commitment in action.

Throughout your term as mayor, you have been an advocate for Miami-Dade County’s burgeoning tech scene. You have worked for economic opportunity, for transparency, for efficiency, and for accountability. We support these goals and believe that a robust Open Data Policy and your continued commitment to vital technology collaboration between community and government will accelerate our county’s progress toward them.

 Thank you,


Rebekah Monson
  Co-founder, Code for Miami

Ernie Hsiung
  Co-Founder, Code for Miami

Cristina Solana,
  Co-captain, Code for Miami

Tamara Wendt,
  The LAB Miami

Brian Breslin,
  Refresh Miami

Stonly Baptiste,

Felecia Hatcher,
  Code Fever

Wifredo Fernandez,

CREATE Miami at Miami   Dade College

Mariana Rego,


Johanna Mikkola


Wyncode Academy

Matt Mawhinney,


Natalia Martinez,
  Awesome Foundation

Justin Wales,

Emerge Miami

Christopher Sopher,

CEO, Whereby.Us

Matthew Toro

Co-founder, Maptime   Miami

Bruce Pinchbeck,
  Co-founder, Whereby.Us

Kubs Lalchandani

New Leaders Council   Miami,

Lalchandani Simon PL

Alice Horn

Network for Teaching   Entrepreneurship

Bobby Hannat

New Leaders Council   Miami

Binsen J Gonzalez,

Our City Thoughts,   Inc.

Andre Rodriguez

Influence   Communications

Kyler Berry,

Organizer, Front-End   Developers of Miami

Armando Ibarra,

Miami Young   Republicans

Lili Bach,

Miami-Dade Young Dems

Jose L Pimienta,

Front-End Developers   of Miami

Brett Hudson,

Defense Connect Group

Ashley Arostegui,

WMN Miami/Younger   Women’s Task Force

Ana Colls,

WMN Miami/Younger   Women’s Task Force

Nabyl Charania

Co-founder & CEO,   Rokk3r Labs

Juan Cuba,

New Leaders Council   Miami

Carlos E Caceres

Developer, Tow Truck   Alert

Adrian Esquivel,


Greg Bloom,

Open Referral   Initiative

Vitaliy Gnezdilov,


Jonathon Ende

CEO, SeamlessDocs

Chachi Camejo

CTO, SeamlessDocs

David Peraza

Co-Founder, Aecosoft   Corp.

Project Lead,   OpenPermit Initiative

Maykel Martin

Co-Founder, Aecosoft   Corp.

Project Lead,   OpenPermit Initiative

Tyler Gordon

Co-Founder, COO, Agent   Inbox

Alaa Mukahhal

Innovative Operations,   Wyncode Academy

Jose C Fernandez

Developer, JoseWorks,

Teaching Assistant,   Wyncode Academy

Walter Latimer

Wyncode Academy,

Codecademy Labs

Marta Viciedo

Founding Partner,   Urban Impact Lab

Chair, TrAC

Ric Herrero

Founder, MIAMade

Dan Grech

Co-Founder,   Hacks/Hackers Miami

Vice Chair, Dean’s   Advisory Board at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at FIU

Ed Toro

Head Instructor,   Wyncode Academy

Co-Organizer, Miami   Ruby Brigade

Susan Jacobson
  Assistant Professor, Florida International University School of Journalism   & Mass Communication

Mikhaile Solomon

Opa-locka Community   Development Corporation


New Leaders Council   Miami

Mario Cruz

CTO & Founder,   Choose Digital

Nelson Milian

Co-Founder Wynwood   Maker Camp, Mindjoule

Will Weinraub
  CEO & Co-Founder, LiveNinja

Rebecca White
  Vice President, AIGA Miami

Shaun Abrahamson


Nizar Khalife

Lead Instructor,   Ironhack

Vassoula Vasiliou

President AIGA Miami

Juha Mikkola


Wyncode Academy

David James Knight

Internet, IP and   Technology Attorney


A copy of this letter will follow by mail.

May 08, 2015

Startup Weekend returning to Miami May 29-31; sign up now

By Paula Celestino
 Join us for Startup Weekend Diversity Miami taking place May 29, 30 and 31 at Venture Hive. 
Startup Weekend is a non-profit, community-building event that brings together entrepreneurs of different backgrounds, including software developers, marketers, designers, and startup enthusiasts. They gather to to pitch ideas, form teams and start companies in just 54 hours. The participants that attend have 60 seconds to make a pitch, the pitches are whittled down to the top ideas, and then teams form around the ideas to come out with several developed companies or projects. Finally, the weekend culminates with demonstrations in front of an audience of judges and potential investors.
Startup Weekend has held 1000+ events in 150+ countries around the world, and we are looking forward to making a big dent in Miami. With the help of local supporters, we are planning to leverage our global reach to impact our local community.
We have already secured some amazing sponsors and notorious startup community leaders as judges and mentors for Startup Weekend Diversity Miami such as Brian Brackeen, Kairos CEO; Nico Berardi, Managing Director AGP Miami; Adam Boalt, LiveAnswer CEO; Felecia Hatcher, Author, Chief Popsicle of Feverish Miami, Co-Founder of Code Fever Miami & Black Tech Week; and Linda Koritkoski, Director of Marketing for .CO, POP.co and Building.co among others.

This particular Startup Weekend is all about Diversity and breaking tech barriers for everyone in the community.  So many people feel their gender, age, ethnicity, background or technical ability is a barrier to get into the startup world and at Startup Weekend Diversity Miami and we want to change that. 

Startup Weekend is calling for Developers, Designers, and Business/Non-technical participants to come together share ideas, form teams, build products, and launch startups in a weekend! There will be prizes for the winners!

Register now for Startup Weekend Miami Diversity as space is limited. Here is the event link: http://www.up.co/communities/usa/miami/startup-weekend/5362

Want to learn more about it? Here is a cool video about SW: What Is Startup Weekend; this is a fun video that explains how SW works: https://vimeo.com/125780002; and I blogged  about my journey into Startup Weekend Diversity Miami here: https://medium.com/@StartupWeekendDiversityMiami/startup-weekend-diversity-miami-754530e5d35b

For those who are unfamiliar with the Startup Weekend organization, it is a global non-profit  that supports the development and expansion of entrepreneurship through events worldwide that educate aspiring entrepreneurs by immersing them in the process of moving an idea to market. Startup Weekend has built a network of more than 100,000 alumni, thousands of volunteer Organizers and more than 100 trained facilitators spanning more than 400 cities in more than 100 countries.  Google for Entrepreneurs, Amazon Web Services, .CO, and Coca-Cola. For more information visit www.startupweekend.org.
Come join us May 29-31! Buy tickets here.
Paula Celestino is one of the organizers of Startup Weekend Diversity Miami.

April 30, 2015

All eyes on Miami as the next global tech frontier

By Javier Avino

Javier AvinoAll eyes will be on Miami as more than 10,000 entrepreneurs descend on our city to take part in the global tech conference, eMerge Americas, beginning this weekend.  Now in its second year, it is a stark reminder of Miami’s continued maturation as a global city – one that is no longer simply a place where the affluent come to play – but rather a true urban metropolis where real money is being put to work in the form of new business ventures, new development and new ideas.

Rather than look to compete with more established cities like New York and San Francisco, Miami is leveraging its proximity to Latin America, relatively low barrier to entry, influx of young millennials and thriving urban core to set itself apart for startups looking to break into global markets.  

Miami's diverse culture and close proximity to Latin American has always been a major draw for Latin American entrepreneurs.  With a market that is still virtually untapped, Miami is positioned to be the hub of Latin America.   Creating the ecosystem for Miami as a major tech hub requires not only the entrepreneurs, but also a place for them to connect and foster relationships.  For those entrepreneurs to stay and grow their businesses we need to have accelerators and incubators in place.  And we also need links to a vigorous network of available capital funds. 

In the last 18 months, Miami has established and cemented many of the key components critical to creating a healthy tech ecosystem.  These include the formation of collaborative workspaces such as Pipeline; entrepreneurship incubators such as Endeavor Miami and Venture Hive; and venture capital firms such as Richmond Global, XP Securities and Scout Ventures that have relocated and expanded into Miami to tap into our growing technology sector.

These venture capital firms and hedge funds see Miami for its potential as much as for its existing opportunities.  While Miami's tech scene continues to warm up, it benefits from being far less competitive than Silicon Valley and other major tech hubs.  This lower barrier of entry is a major draw for those firms looking to expand to the next major market.  In addition, Miami has many high-net-worth individuals who want to invest and diversify their investments.  Up until now, many of these individuals have not had the opportunity to invest locally in these funds but with new ideas have come new opportunities. In fact, according to VentureSource, venture capital investment in Miami companies jumped more than 260% from 2010 to 2013.

With the right ecosystem in place, the sky is really the limit for what Miami as a promising tech hub.  We have only seen a small glimpse of what is in store and can expect the next few years to be marked by sustained progression as the public and private sectors continue placing high priority on expanding and diversifying Miami’s economy in this regard.  While Miami will likely always be known for its surf, sand and sun, it will also grow in relevance as a global hub for technology, innovation and investment.

Javier Avino is a partner at Miami-based Bilzin Sumberg.


April 04, 2015

A student’s view: 4 takeaways from Salim Ismail’s Exponential Technology course

Salim4By Gregory Johnson

Ever wondered how companies like Uber, Snapchat and Airbnb became billion dollar companies in just a few years? While taking Salim Ismail’s all-day course at The Idea Center I learned about how technology was impacting our society.

Exponential Organizations are companies using lean startup methodology along with exponential technologies like 3D printing, solar, sensors, drones and Neurotech to disrupt industries. The term ‘exponential’ is used to emphasis the idea of how fast these companies grow and reach billion dollar valuations.

During this course we went a deeper learning about how new companies, big corporations and even countries were using exponential technology. Here are four things I took away. 

1. Software is eating the world

Everything is becoming information enabled and according to Salim “Life is actually information enabled”.  You can call a driver with the push of a button using Uber or order groceries using Amazon Prime. Companies are becoming information-enabled and this is creating the uprising of on-demand services we are seeing with the likes of Uber, Airbnb and Instacart.

Software is doing the same thing for the world.  This technology goes beyond just startup companies. Big Corporations and even Countries are using technology. In Singapore, for example, 7% of the agriculture is now being vertically farmed.  If that does not meet your taste, Hershey is also developing a 3D printer that prints chocolate.

2. “My 3rd Year Old won’t need a drivers license” – Salim Ismail

Autonomous cars use technology so you can ride in the car without a driver. Big corporations like Google have already started driving its autonomous vehicle in California and it will soon be in Florida as well. A future without needing a license is very possible as apps like Uber, Lyft and Car2go are already things college students like myself use to get around.

3. How Exponential Technology will affect kids

“So how do we teach our kids about this technology?” one event attendee asked. Salim’s reply was “They are already being exposed to it”. A point that I believed is very accurate. Kids today are learning how to use smartphones at the age of 2 with no help from their parents. 

In the same way young children are being exposed to these technologies online or through educational program. Programs in Miami like Wynwood Maker Camp and Code Fever are teaching kids how to code and use sensors like Arduino as early as middle school.

4. Exponential Technology is impacting all aspect of our lives

Every area of our lives is being affected by technology including health care. Technology is turning every part of health care into a digital environment.

What that means is you can track your health, manage your prescriptions and even speak with a doctor before stepping into a doctor’s office.

The explosive amount of change happening as a result of technology seems to be endless. It also brings about questions on privacy. One area Salim warns about is how our 4th Amendment is disappearing because of technology. With exponential change we may need to reassess the way we govern ourselves. Whatever the case this will not stop the exponential change happening all across the world.

Gregory Johnson is an entrepreneur and a student at Miami Dade College.


View: Exponential Organizations thrive in today's world of accelerated innovation


By Naheem Charania

If you follow Miami’s intriguing tech ecosystem, then March 19, 2015 will not soon be forgotten. On that day, Salim Ismail, Founding Executive Director of Singularity University, partnered with Rokk3r Labs, The Knight Foundation and The Idea Center at Miami Dade College to present a workshop on Exponential Organizations. The audience of almost 200 people was a mix of industry professionals across startups, mid-market companies and enterprises. The goal of the workshop was to provide attendees with a vision and framework to help their companies survive a world where accelerating technologies are driving an unbelievable rate of innovation.

This rapid rise of innovation was a key focus of the workshop, and a pivotal point of the book Salim co-wrote called, Exponential Organizations: Why New Organizations are Ten Times Better, Faster and Cheaper Than Yours (And What To Do About It). That the world is changing around us due to technology is a familiar concept. But what is often overlooked, is the sheer magnitude of change, the reasons, and how this change is impacting every industry. Salim was able to set the stage for the audience by identifying and contextualizing key facts about the progress of humanity and its effect on business. First, that performance and accessibility of key information technologies are skyrocketing, while their costs are plummeting. And second, these technologies are being connected and used together (think artificial intelligence and algorithms to analyze data) to uncover and achieve never-before-seen results.

What really moved the audience was Salim’s identification of an exponential organization, a type of organization that thrives in this world of accelerated innovation. Its impact is at least ten times that compared to its peers because it leverages accelerating technologies and uses new organizational techniques. It is driven by a ‘massive transformative purpose’, a higher aspirational calling, and contains common traits across a selection of ten specific attributes based on research of the top one hundred fastest growing startups worldwide in the last half-dozen years. Salim asked the audience to consider the hotel industry, something general and familiar, to see impact from the application of exponential organization principles. Hyatt Hotels Corporation (a traditional and ‘linear’ organization) with its limited number of properties was contrasted with AirBnB (an organization that embodies the exponential organization principles), which has accumulated 500,000+ listings in 33,000+ cities, owns no physical assets and is worth over $10 billion! This also helped to demonstrate the concept of traditional or ‘linear’ organizations built on the concept of scarcity, while exponential organizations such as AirBnB that evolved to instead manage the abundance.

Salim3Nabyl Charania, CEO of Rokk3r Labs, accentuated the workshop with an overview about how Rokk3r Labs partners with entrepreneurs and enterprises to build exponential organizations. Particularly, Nabyl spoke of various ways in which Rokk3r Labs is utilizing the principles of exponential organizations specifically geared towards enterprises, to help those large organizations manage and overcome their intrinsically risk-averse DNA that stops them from innovating. This was of specific interest to the audience who were able to comprehend the connections between exponential organization attributes even at the enterprise level, and not just for startup and mid-market size organizations. (Pictured are Ismail with Rokk3r's Nabyl Charania and German Montoya.)

To say that we are living in ‘the most exciting time in human history’ is not an overstatement. The rate of disruptive innovation as a result of exponential technologies impacts every single aspect of our lives and businesses, the world over. Every day we wake up to remarkable triumphs such as companies reaching billion dollar market caps in fractional time periods, the ten, hundred,Insert Image and thousand-fold decreases in prices of industrial robots, 3D printers, and DNA sequencing, and persistent breakthroughs in autonomous vehicles, deep-learning algorithms, and neuro-feedback.  Through Salim’s workshop on the Exponential Organization, Miami was able to have its first, collaborative look at the tools and frameworks that will help organizations survive a world where innovation and access is increasing at a pace that is hard to believe. The workshop ended with the exciting news of another workshop on Exponential Organizations led by Salim, who South Florida is lucky to now have as a resident. The workshop will be held in collaboration with Rokk3r Labs within the next few months. A specific date will be announced shortly.

For more information about Exponential Organizations, visit www.exponentialorgs.com.

Naheem Charania is a partner at Rokk3r Labs