November 24, 2015

GEW Shark Tank-style at Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy High School


Submitted by Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy High School

The  MAV Tank, a business plan competition featuring student business plans and celebrity judges, highlighted Global Entrepreneurship Week  at Archbishop Edward A McCarthy High School last week.

The third annual MAV TANK featured four entrepreneurial student teams who created companies for the annual competition.  FIND Me, an innovative way to find a wallet was presented by Tommy Rodriguez, Rhett O’Donnell and Andy Rodriguez; BEBECOEUR a crib sheet with an alarm to help prevent sudden infant death was presented by  Neilah Richadson, Vincente Giordano and Christina Martinez-Mercado; STOPIT, a magnetized multiuse door stopper, was presented by Daniel Imbriaco, Nick Henning, Adam deArmas and Andrew Infante; and EXERO, the ideal way to incentivize a fitness program, presented by Josh Samarista/Miramar and Osmar Coronel/Weston. 

The first-place winner of this year’s MAV Tank was STOPIT (pictured above) and  received $500.

“At its core, MAV Tank is a platform for our students to fully develop their ideas and then put them into practice,” commented Kim Zocco, a teacher of Business Education at Archbishop McCarthy. “Our faculty fosters a culture of innovation which empowers and inspires our students to enter college and the world as change-makers.”  John Anfuso and Ashley Murphy, members of the MAV Tank teaching team, implement the business plan element into all the economics classes, in addition to the business entrepreneurship classes.

MAVSThis year’s Celebrity Judges were Tim Robbie, former owner of the Dolphin Stadium and the Miami Dolphins, President of the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers Soccer Team; Bianca Moreiras, founder of Bianca Moreiras & Associates Consulting Firm, handles high level acquisitions and mergers, managed top level law firms for over 30 years; James Donnelly, founder of Castle Group, NOVA University’s Entrepreneur Hall of Fame recipient; Chris Cerda, Maverick Alumni, CEO & Founder of KANYU, FAU Business Student, Entrepreneur.

Led by Zocco, the entrepreneurial spirit thrives year round at Archbishop McCarthy.  Students have competed and placed in the top ten ranking at the Wharton School of Business Finance Competition for High Schools  and support the Café Cocano project by selling organic heirloom coffee beans and iced café lattes at the school directly benefiting and empowering Haitian Coffee Farmers to earn a fair wage. 


Big ideas come to life at Startup Weekend @ FIU


The winning team Headliner, shown with Startup Weekend @ FIU mentors and organizers.

By Amy Ellis

An idea to “disrupt” the music industry and make it easier for loyal fans to see hot new bands at local venues stole the show this weekend at Florida International University’s first Startup Weekend Miami event.

Headliner (pictured above) – an online platform designed to enable users to crowdfund for the bands of their choice to perform locally – took the $500 first prize during the event, along with high praise from organizers.

“Headliner worked hard on their idea throughout the entire weekend,’’ said Jeff Brown, FIU’s Entrepreneur in Residence at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and a key organizer of the event. “It wasn’t planned this way but they are an all-FIU team and we plan to support them on their journey to make this a reality.’’

Gregory Jean-Baptiste, a computer science major at FIU who came up with the idea for Headliner, said the concept empowers fans but also benefits artists and venues. 

“Everybody wins,’’ he said. “The venue gets the crowd. The artist gets the show and the fans get to see the bands they want to see.’’ 

More than 200 people – developers, designers, coders, investors and entrepreneurs – attended the three-day startup event, held at the university’s $3 million innovation hub, Tech Station.

Eighty-eight participants competed in 16 teams, pitching their business ideas to a panel of judges and investors on Sunday evening.

Second place went to an application called Tip N’ Go that allows users to tip for service without needing to carry cash. A social platform for soccer enthusiasts called XOGO took third place.

“The quality of teams that competed this weekend is the best I’ve ever seen out of any Startup Weekend event ever,’’ said Brown, who has participated in startup weekends for years. “On average, only 12 percent of teams go on to create a viable business. From this event, I believe nine of the teams will likely launch. That’s an impressive percentage possibly becoming viable companies.”

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Teams pitched ideas ranging from a mobile app for scheduling in-home hair and makeup appointments to online portals to connect would-be entrepreneurs or encourage civic engagement.

Other participants talked of wanting to make a difference by using new technology to help Alzheimer’s patients remember simple tasks or individuals who are hard of hearing experience the joy of music.

“The passion and commitment we witnessed this weekend was transformational,’’ said FIU VP for Engagement Saif Y. Ishoof, another key organizer. "Our students demonstrated that our faculty have well prepared them to compete in the globally competitive entrepreneurial ecosystem in Miami.”

“As every part of our institution races forward to make our “BeyondPossible 2020” goals a reality, we intend to continuously capture, harness and expand the culture of innovation in every part of our FIU."

TipNGo (1)

Tip 'N Go (above) won second place and XOGO won third at Startup Weekend @ FIU.


November 22, 2015

4 takeaways from 500 Startups’ Juan Lopez Salaberry at Startup Grind Miami



500 Startups partner Juan Lopez Salaberry recently was interviewed by Jason Ibarra  as part of the monthly  Startup Grind Miami event. The event was hosted at, one of Miami's newest co-working centers serving the Miami tech community. Salaberry has been in Miami the past couple of months to help run  500 Startups Miami Distro, a 10-week program on growth marketing for eight selected startups taking place at Here is a guest post from the Startup Grind event in November.

By Peter Kovach

From Argentina to Sweden, Mexico and now Miami, Juan Salaberry has seen it all, or a lot of whatever “it” is. Since his youth in Argentina, Juan has always been adventurous and willing to take risks.

He moved to Sweden to finish his university studies and to experience something new. That led him to a wild path that took him on a unexpected journey, allowing him to meet world leaders from around the globe.

Juan later moved to Mexico City and became a partner with 500 startups. He lead investments in over 80 early-stage companies in Latin America, Europe and the United States. For over two years he headed the accelerator for 500 Startups in Mexico City empowering entrepreneurs seeking opportunities in Spanish speaking markets.

Juan is now in charge of 500 startups expansion into the U.S. He is working with a group of startups in Miami. He is helping them identify and maximize on key indicators to help them grow.

Juan is extremely excited about the growth of the Miami tech scene especially in the last two years. More importantly, Juan sees a ton of potential in Miami’s future and he is glad to play a part.


* Mind the Gap - This is Juan’s philosophy. A gap is a disconnect between technology, information, society, economics etc... If we can identify the gap it means we notice something is missing, can be improved or does not exist yet. When we mind the gap we can create a bridge between the disconnect. To mind the gap means you are observant of things that can be changed or built to create a better and more efficient community.

* When Bringing on Partners ... -  When looking to bring people on your team, Juan suggests a trial period. Work on a project together before the person is a permanent member, learn how the other person works and how you work with them. If there is a good vibe, then bring the person on, if not you can separate ways before anything serious happens.

* To Make Miami Stronger, It’s Up to Us - Miami is a very young tech ecosystem. A lot of the major players are still building their reputation and businesses. In order for Miami to continue to grow as a Tech community, we need to collaborate with each other. Whether it is promoting a competitor's event or grabbing coffee with someone who wants to learn about the ecosystem, we need to go the extra mile in building relationships. It is easier to sustain growth with healthy relationships and strong environment. This goes back to Minding the Gap. Be open to allowing others to fill your gaps and do the same for others in the community in return.

* Seize the Day - If an opportunity presents itself, go after it no matter how unsuspecting or challenging it may seem. Juan recalls landing a big meeting after seeing a person of interest go and use the restroom. He didn't think he would have another chance to schedule the meeting , so he went into the bathroom, introduced himself and scheduled a meeting.

It's important to be mindful and aware, because you never know when a golden opportunity will appear.

Peter Kovach is a recent graduate from Loyola University of New Orleans. He moved to Miami to be a part of the rising tech scene and is currently an associate at

NEXT UP: Investor Mark Kingdon will be the featured speaker at Startup Grind Miami Dec. 8. More info:

November 19, 2015

Start small, be realistic as well as optimistic, founder says

Diener founder offers insights on entrepreneurial success during talk at University of Miami School of Business for Global Entrepreneurship Week.

 By Richard Westlund

To succeed as an entrepreneur, do your homework, limit your spending, start small, and be willing to give back. Bob Diener, founder of and, offered that advice to students, alumni and others during a talk at the University of Miami School of Business November 16. Diener spoke in the inaugural Fouad H. Scandar Memorial Speaker Series as part of the University’s Global Entrepreneurship Week activities.

“Most entrepreneurs don’t think things through,” said Diener. But you have to be realistic as well as optimistic. That means being careful and frugal, as well as moving quickly to take advantage of a market opportunity. You also have to treat your customers right in order to keep them coming back to your company.”

Diener’s talk on "Conservative Entrepreneurship: A Business Philosophy"

was supported by the School of Business Entrepreneurship Program, the Launch Pad, and RefreshMiami. Will Silverman, director of The Launch Pad, introduced Diener, who signed copies of his book, “Biblical Secrets to Business Success,” after his presentation.

Susy Alvarez-Diaz, director of entrepreneurship programs at the School of Business, thanked the Scandar family for making Diener’s appearance possible. “Fouad Scandar was a lifelong entrepreneur, who came from his native Egypt, studied nuclear medicine at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital program and managed a successful consulting and diagnostic business,” she said. “He believed that someone who was willing to boldly seek new solutions, dream big, and take advantage of available resources could become a great entrepreneur, and this series imparts that message.”

In his talk, Diener traced the evolution of the online travel industry, dating back 25 years to when the Internet was in its infancy. “We looked at the hotel industry and saw the average occupancy was only 60 percent,” he said. “That provided us with an opportunity to take those excess rooms and sell them to travelers at a discount.”

In 1995, Diener launched his first online travel site, which took off as the Internet’s popularity grew. Realizing that hotels were slow to pay commissions on the rooms his company sold, Diener created today’s “pay in advance” model, and changed his brand to in order to attract more consumers.  

Three years after a successful initial public offering (IPO) Diener sold the company, and recently launched a new brand,, offering a VIP program, flash sales and other features to give consumers lower room rate.

“Our industry is moving toward greater personalization,” Diener said in response to a student’s question about the future. “You will be able to get a simple, streamlined experience based on the destinations, types of rooms and deals you like, and you will be able to do it all on your watch or other mobile device.”

Drawing from his own experience, Diener gave attendees a number practical tips for entrepreneurial success. “I was trained as a lawyer, so I learned to think about what can go wrong,” he said. “Most business people focus on the upside, but you have to avoid taking on too much risk.”

He also emphasized the importance of researching the competition, gathering feedback from others, building a solid business model and offering an appealing value proposition to prospective customers. “You need to achieve a positive ROI (return on investment),” he said, “Always remember that you can’t conquer the world without figuring out how to make a profit.”


November 17, 2015

Tips for success at Startup Weekend Miami at FIU this weekend

By Adam Boalt and Tara Demren

AdamSouth Florida entrepreneur Adam Boalt is founder and CEO of tech company LiveAnswer. Tara Demren, an international business major at Florida International University, is LiveAnswer’s communications and strategy manager. Boalt, who hired Demren after her team took third place at a Startup Weekend event in May, will be the keynote speaker at Startup Weekend at FIU, scheduled for Nov. 20-22 at the university’s Tech Station on the Modesto Maidique Campus.  The event is designed to enable aspiring entrepreneurs to create, pitch and launch their startup ideas over one 54-hour weekend. To register visit StartupWeekend.Miami.

Why should someone attend Startup Weekend at FIU?

Adam: People think starting their own company is impossible or being an entrepreneur is something that they aren’t capable of. Helping them overcome that fear and take the plunge is the reason that I love going to Startup Weekends. I used to shuck oysters on the weekends at Monty’s. You can go from there to running a successful business in a relatively short period of time if you work really hard.

TaraTara: For me, the success of going to Startup Weekend is not necessarily walking out with a company built but it’s more that you create this new sense of awareness that there’s more to life than just being idle and going with what you’re familiar with. You get out of your comfort zone, you pitch your idea to strangers and you begin to understand that there’s a lot more you can do in life.

What’s the best advice you can give participants?

Adam: You have to embrace failure in order to be successful. You can’t be afraid of the one thing that prevents so many people from becoming an entrepreneur. Once you can accept that, it becomes a lot easier. If you can remember where you came from and remain humble, you know you can always go back and you’re not afraid to move forward.  

Tara: You have to portray confidence, that you are sure of what you’re doing and you really believe in your idea. You can be unsure inside but you have to project confidence to your team and to your mentors. And bring a yoga mat. Take breaks. You’re going to be sitting for an absurd amount of time.

What are some pitfalls to avoid?

Adam: Don’t try to take over the world in one weekend. Be hyper-focused on the goal, which is to build your team, build out your concept and refine your pitch for the judges. Don’t get hung up on details that don’t matter. The teams that are successful are structured, organized and they’re not biting off more than they can chew. You’re not going to go from zero to Uber in one weekend.

Tara: Look for the “MVP” – the minimal viable product. You want something that is valid but it could be the small, most minimal part of your startup. It doesn’t have to be a full-fledged company. It could be a small, bite-sized idea that you are able to prove is viable.  

Is there anything participants can do to prepare?

Adam: Yes, get your friends to go with you. And don’t overthink it. Be open-minded. It’s a wonderful learning opportunity, a way to experience entrepreneurship without taking a big risk.

Tara: Be flexible. You shouldn’t prepare too much with your own personal idea because that might not be the one you move forward with and that can be demoralizing. That’s not the attitude you want to have, that it has to be your idea.

Why is FIU a good place for startups and entrepreneurs?

Tara: The biggest thing is they are willing to support students like me who want to get involved with the startup community. I’d like to see a ripple effect, where more professors begin advocating for events like Startup Weekend to give students the confidence they need to get out of their comfort zone.

Adam: Miami is riding this wave of startup activity and it’s because we have pulled our resources together to work as a community. That’s true of FIU and other universities as well. Fear prevents students from taking risks. Anything universities can do to allow students to experiment with entrepreneurship without taking a huge risk is a good thing.

What’s the biggest takeaway you want to leave participants with about Startup Weekend at FIU?

Adam: I do what I do because I love it. The money is a byproduct. You can’t do this just to make money. You’ve got to love what you do, that’s the most important thing.

Tara: Go big or go home!

 To register visit StartupWeekend.Miami.



October 21, 2015

Guest post: Why tech startups should incorporate in Florida

By Lior Leser

LeserEvery journey, even an entrepreneurial one, starts with a first step. Every new product, innovative service or groundbreaking technology starts with the formation of a company. Forming a company, forces us to move beyond the theoretical, the idea. It enables us to create a concrete vehicle in which to form, crystalize and enable our dreams. More so, forming a company, provides the us with many important legal benefits; chief among these are (1) limited liability (2) tax benefits and (3) deduction of expenses. But where should you form the company?

Most entrepreneurs know that they need to form an entity. What few understand is in what state should they form their next tech startup? Many are advised to incorporate in Delaware. Others are intrigued by having a California or New York company. Most are surprised to find out that Florida is one of the best and most popular states in which to incorporate tech startups.

Technologies startups are unlike startups in most other industries. The tech industry is unique in allowing successive failures and missteps to grow into tremendous successes. In many industries failure can be hard to overcome. Failure brands the individual and makes him less likely to attract talent and funds in the future. Not so in technology. One of the keys to success in technology is the ability to innovate, execute and most importantly pivot.

Entrepreneurs are continuously challenged to develop new and innovative products and services with full knowledge than many, if not most, will fail to gain market traction. What professional investors backing these startups are looking for in entrepreneurs is the ability to execute, learn and where necessary change. The ability to realize as quickly as possible where failure lies can often be the key to future success.

In a few states, Florida included, the legal environment supports this unique take on corporate evolution and growth. In these states, forming a corporate entity is (1) inexpensive (2) quick (preferably online)(3) and can easily be accomplished by the entrepreneurs themselves.

The reality is that across the 50 states, Florida stands among only a handful of states that enable tech entrepreneurs to quickly, easily and inexpensively form companies. Today, California claims it takes about a week to form a company. In my experience, it can take as long as a couple of months. In comparison, in Florida you form a company immediately and receive a confirmation by email the next business day.

In Delaware and California, all company formations are submitted in writing. Legal documents together with a cover letter must be typed, submitted by mail and use explicit formatting styles delineated by the state. In comparison, in Florida company formation can be done online using a simple fill in the blank format. No complicated legal forms need to be drafted.

In Florida, entity formation fees are straightforward. Forming a corporation costs $70 and forming a limited liability company (LLC) costs $125. In California, in comparison, forming a corporation costs $100. When forming an LLC in California, you pay $70 at the time of formation but are also likely to face a minimum tax of $800 a year. In NY corporate formation costs $125 and an LLC costs $200 for formation and an extra $50 for a required newspaper publication. In Florida the process is just simpler, faster and cheaper.

It is important to accept the possibility that the company you form today is not likely to be the one where all your dreams are realized. Spending weeks on forming the company, expending resources on drafting legal documents is likely to result in wasted efforts. You can imagine that if you had to do this multiple times, the legal process is even worse.

Everyday I speak with tech entrepreneurs struggling to get their next big idea off the ground. When they ask about where to form their next venture, I always recommend Florida. We are lucky to live in a state that long ago invested in the tools needed to enable quick and inexpensive corporate formations. The unintended consequence of this was that Florida has quickly become one of the best places to form new tech startups. Add to that the state’s favorable tax code and one of the strongest corporate shield laws protecting your personal assets, and it is easy to see why entrepreneurs across the US flock to Florida to form their new companies.

So head out to Start a new company and execute on your great idea. If you need to pivot or close down an entity as a stepping stone to the next idea, feel assured that forming the next company will be just as easy, quick and inexpensive. And when the day comes when ideas, execution and opportunity converge and a venture capital firm is ready for a multimillion dollar round, rest assured that, if needed, you can move your company to another jurisdiction, like Delaware.

Lior Leser is an attorney trained at Stanford Law School and licensed in Florida and California. He works predominately with technology startups. If you have any questions about this or any other tech startup topic, feel free to reach out at


September 14, 2015

Tech Inclusion Conference: Miami is the Model


By David Capelli

David capelliAmidst a crowd of 600 technology, entrepreneurship and government leaders from around the country, the inaugural Tech Inclusion Conference was held at Galvanize in San Francisco, California on September 11- 12.

Miami's own Felicia Hatcher, founder of Black Tech Week & Code Fever, and Michael Hall, founder of Digital Grass, served as two leading panelists on the national stage with diversity executives varying from Yelp’s Rachel Williams to Dr. Marvin Carr, Policy Advisor to the Chief Technology Officer of the United States of America.

Melinda Briana Epler, CEO/Founder of Change Catalysts and Wayne Sutton, founder/partner at Buildup, organized the conference held over the two-day period. They wanted to disrupt the conversation in San Francisco on what inclusion, not diversity, means in tech ecosystems. Sutton’s Buildup VC is regarded as one of the top venture firms for inclusion in the country. With a failing diversity model in San Francisco, all eyes are on Miami.

Since Carla Mays came to Miami to serve on a panel with Digigrass, TECH Miami, Knight Foundation & EcoTech Visions at the Lab Miami in July, the conversation on Miami has catapulted in San Francisco. While at the conference with Carla, Mike and Felicia, I was shocked at the stark difference in narratives between San Francisco and Miami. Here are some takeaways:

1) Miami is the model for inclusion and diversity, not Portland. The community needs to fund more Latino and Black entrepreneurs to represent our ecosystem better on the national stage. What Portland does have is a fund for minority startups at the local governmental level. This is needed in Miami.

2) Venture Capital isn't the only answer to building inclusive ecosystems. "It's government dollars," says Mays, who lives in San Francisco with $800 million federal dollars of renewable community development block grants. "These dollars can go to local municipalities to support entrepreneurs." Currently, only 1% of venture capital goes to people of color and 3% to women. We all discussed how Miami is changing that statistic.

3) Miami is far ahead of the rest of the country in diversity and inclusion. The resources at the Idea Center CREATE accelerator are only available at the top business schools on the west coast at Stanford and Haas Business School at UC-Berkeley. The Idea Center democratizes top business training at the local level for students of lower-income households. Some local San Franciscans at the conference said they don't see the need for inclusion because they don't see Latino or Black founders. I said, "Then you haven't been to Miami." Miami has the ingredients that San Francisco is trying to get. Miami is building startups and funding diversity programs, with Knight Foundation leading the funding with groups like Digital Grass and Lab Miami working with us.

4) Infrastructure and capital is lacking in Miami. "If Knight Foundation ran out of money, who would fund our ecosystem?" asked Felicia Hatcher on her panel. "Inclusion is about capital infrastructure," continued Mays.

Miami needs to support local groups building inclusion on the national stage to leverage more funds, partnerships and exposure for our under-represented ecosystem to other communities like San Francisco who lack diversity and inclusion. The Tech Inclusion conference may have ended, but Miami is just beginning.

David Capelli is founder of TECH Miami, building inclusive local living economies in Miami. 


August 15, 2015

The winners of Wyncode Pitch Day VI? Our community

Wyncodemiami_pitchday6_august2015_311b (1) pitches, and later wins, at Wyncode Academy's Pitch Day 6, in front of a record crowd at The Lab Miami. Photos provided by Wyncode.

Wyncodemiami_pitchday6_august2015_344b (1)


Juha MikkolaBy Juha Mikkola

As a truly global city, Miami needs an economy that is as strong and diverse as its people. This requires that its workforce is equipped with the skills of the 21st century to attract and retain companies that create the jobs and opportunities that help build a robust middle class. In 2015, this increasingly means knowing how to write code — the language behind the technologies that fuel our daily lives. At Wyncode we’re doing our part to build a workforce that is helping transform South Florida from a tourist destination to a leader in global innovation, commerce, and entrepreneurship.

Our nine-week coding bootcamp equips students from all walks of life (most of whom had little to no prior programming experience) with the computer programming needed to launch their careers as web developers with long-term growth potential or their own start up companies from scratch. Miami was just named the country’s second leading startup city and the 28 graduates of our most recent cohort embody the spirit of South Florida’s new economy behind this accolade.

At Thursday’s Pitch Day VI, the newest class of Wyncoders presented the web applications they built with their teammates—after learning Ruby on Rails, HTML, CSS and JavaScript over the last three months—to a panel of judges who selected a winner, as well as a standing room-only crowd of nearly 300 members of Miami’s tech community. The exciting web apps that were presented last night are paving the way for a more vibrant and innovative community. Among the apps presented were:

  • * A social network for activist groups and social causes
  • * A crowdsourcing tool for shoppers to purchase in bulk
  • * An online life coach and project management tool
  • * An Uber for personal chefs
  • * A social network-based book club
  • * Online raffles to help non-profits fundraise
  • * One of our WynTank submissions, our program to connect Wyncoders with local entrepreneurs, made by Wynwood jeans maker Caveat, is a personalized tailoring service right in your mobile phone.
  • * Kito helps landlords better manage their properties and tenants
  • * Another WynTank submission, integrates with Miami-Dade County’s API to help users procure estimates for building permits
  • * An online dating app integrated with Yelp to help you plan your next date created by graduates of Wyncode’s part-time iOS program

At the end of the evening, the panel of judges, which included Jeff Fudge – VP of Technology at Sato Global Solutions; Cristina Solana – Sr. Web Developer and User Interface Engineer at Enspire Commerce; David McVicar – Independent Ruby on Rails Consultant at Living Social, Metro Star Systems, and Mobikaze; Josh Perez – Software Engineer at AirBnB; and Chris Alper – Director of PDIS Training and Employee Development at Ultimate Software, selected, which was created by Sean Selleck, Ariel Peralta, and Angelica Rodriguez, as the best presentation of the night.

 A highly educated workforce is the backbone of a strong society and economy. This is precisely what we work toward everyday at Wyncode as we seek to achieve Miami’s true potential. This is why the true winners of Pitch Day VI weren’t just the students; it was our entire community.

Juha Mikkola is co-founder of Wyncode Academy.

Read an earlier post about Wyntank here. 


August 14, 2015

Kevin O'Leary's “EQ” TEST: Are you an employee or an entrepreneur?


By Kevin O’Leary

I learned at an early age that I was built to be an employer, not an employee. But that doesn’t mean I’m better than the people I employ. I’m different, but not better.

I’m telling you this for a reason. You must discover which role suits you best: employee or employer. Being a successful employee requires continually honing a talent for diplomacy and collaboration. In turn, you’re rewarded with security and a steady salary, with fewer of the headaches that entrepreneurs suffer from.

Running a business on the other hand, is an all-consuming, all-encompassing venture, which totally invigorates some, and totally exhausts others.

To determine your “EQ” (your Entrepreneurial Quotient), and to learn whether you’ve got what it takes to be a leader in business or industry, answer the following questions with one of these four options: always, true, quite true, rarely true, or hell no.

1. I need to know exactly what I’m going to make next year, and the year after that, and the year after that.
2. When I’m working on something, it has my full and complete attention, and I hate having that thought process interrupted by anything or anyone else.
3. When adrenaline’s coursing through my veins because I’ve just made an aggressive offer on a competing company and I have yet to hear what the answer is, I feel incredibly uncomfortable.
4. There is nothing more gratifying than knowing that someone else takes care of automatically depositing my biweekly paycheck into my account.
5. I like the people I work with, and I hope none of them ever leave or move on.
6. I like that my work duties re very clearly spelled out.
7. If it’s not in my job description, I don’t do it—not because I’m lazy, but because it’s somebody else’s job and I wouldn’t want to offend them.
8. Sleep is incredibly important to me.
9. Work/life balance is so important. True success means a healthy amount of “me time”.
10. I find living a life of extremes to be very stressful. The idea of being on a plane for twenty hours, or having people constantly need to speak to me, or being sought after for speaking engagements, or dealing with the ebb and flow of millions and millions of dollars—mine and other people’s, seems nightmarish.

If you answered always true or quite true to a majority of these questions, chances are the roller-coaster ride of entrepreneurship is not for you. There’s nothing wrong with that. Believe me, the economy—indeed the world—would be much better off if people ill suited to running businesses would step aside and let those who are equipped take the reins.

If you answered rarely true or hell no to the majority of these questions, get ready for the ride of your life. Deciding to become an entrepreneur is a lot like deciding to become an actor or writer. You’re going to be constantly dissuaded by people who don’t want to see you get hurt. They’ll tell you the odds of succeeding are slim. They’ll say that it’s a hard life, full of anxiety and uncertainty. They’ll remind you that you’ll be spending nights and weekends either at the office or thinking that you should be there. And they’ll be right. But if you still believe that there is no greater goal than working for yourself, creating jobs and opportunities for others, and being a player in your local, national, or global economy, then, like me, you probably have entrepreneurialism encoded in your DNA.

To be an entrepreneur, you must find a business you can fall in love with. It has to be something you want to live, breathe, and eat. It has to force you to make compromises you wouldn’t otherwise make. You know you’ve found it when, despite the fact that you eat on the run, rarely sleep, travel constantly, never see your family, and never relax, for some reason you’ve also never been happier.

Need Advice On Growing Your Business? TigerDirect Business Says, "Ask A Shark", visit

Kevin O’Leary is on ABC’s Shark Tank and is TigerDirect’s spokesperson.


August 12, 2015

5 key considerations for South Florida startups seeking funding

By Ed Boland

EdSince we opened our Miami office in the fall of 2014, thus becoming the first institutional venture capital firm in the MagicCity, we’ve met with countless South Florida startups and are incredibly encouraged by the activity we see in the ecosystem. There are plenty of driven entrepreneurs as well as helpful organizations such as eMerge Americas, Knight Foundation, Rokk3r Labs, Wyncode and Carve Communications, all of which provide much needed support to the growing landscape. Needless to say, we are thrilled to be a part of this budding ecosystem, and intend to help entrepreneurs reach their potential.

That being said, after talking with many entrepreneurs over the past 10 months, there are some key aspects to raising capital that founders should be mindful of as they set out on the fundraising trail. Keep in mind the following are not ranked in any particular order of importance:

1. Team and Culture: Many founders believe their product is the most important asset, but at Scout, we look first and foremost at the team and the culture of the company in question. We examine the background of the team, and discuss how these contribute to what the entrepreneur and team are specifically working on. We also explore how the team is structured. At Scout, we make sure every team member has a clear job and is well suited to handle it. We also look to see if a founding team has both a technical and non-technical co-founder, as we have found that this often contributes to a successful team dynamic.

 2. Roadmap and Timeline: As investors, we like to know what you’ve built and accomplished since the inception of your business. But at Scout, we are just as interested in what you’re planning on doing next. As an entrepreneur, you should be able to confidently and succinctly discuss items such as: the benchmarks and KPIs that your business needs to hit, your product roadmap, who your key hires will be and when you plan on hiring them. If your company is sales-driven, be able to discuss who your target customer is and the typical sales cycle associated with your business. Understanding the future path to success is even more important than the path you took to get a meeting with an investor. Entrepreneurs should be thinking about revenue milestones, key hires, sales pipeline and the key performance indicators that are going to drive your business to the next level.

3. Product: As an entrepreneur, there are many distractions that you can get caught up in, including fundraising. While it is easy to get lost in the noise, successful entrepreneurs will be able multitask fundraising and building the product and sales pipeline. Of course, fundraising will take a good chunk of your time, but effective leaders delegate efficiently. Thus, we like to see teams who continue to improve their product during the fundraising process. We see that as a positive signal that teams will be able to successfully iterate on their product over the long run, even with the inevitable distractions that a startup will encounter over its life.  

4. Revenue: At Scout we are revenue focused because we aim to build sustainable companies that have a clear path to monetization. Although there are many VC firms that tend to invest in companies that focus on user growth before monetization, we do not subscribe to that mindset. As a result, we ask our entrepreneurs to have realistic revenue models as well as plans to achieve those revenue targets. These plans will not just please your investors, but they will set you up for long-term success, making your life much easier down the road.

5. Reporting: Although reporting can feel like an onerous task, it is a crucial aspect of your business. We’ve found a natural correlation between efficient reporting practices and successful startups. A company report should be sent to investors on a monthly basis and should include metrics such as monthly revenue, cash on hand, monthly burn, and other relevant KPIs. Founders should give these metrics context by describing how the business has evolved over the past month, and by giving any relevant news updates. Finally, founders should outline where they expect the company to be in the next month, and ask investors for any assistance reaching these goals

Hopefully, these tips are helpful to all the entrepreneurs based in Miami.  We’re very excited to be here, and we believe South Florida is on the verge of becoming a household name in the tech-ecosystem. Over the past year, we have seen local entrepreneurs make meaningful strides, and we believe the space will generate strong returns not only for us, but for any investors who are starting to build a thoughtful, strategic allocation to venture capital.

Ed Boland is a principal at Scout Ventures. Follow him on Twitter at @edbolandmia.