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

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

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, and 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:

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:; and I blogged  about my journey into Startup Weekend Diversity Miami here:

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
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

Naheem Charania is a partner at Rokk3r Labs




March 28, 2015

Student view from SXSW: Miami’s Moment Is Now

By David Capelli

Photo 3For decades, March in Miami has been known as the best vacation hotspot on earth. This March tells a different story for many Miamians during Spring Break. On a warm 87-degree night, American Airlines’ newly announced nonstop flight to Austin, Texas departed into the sunset with entrepreneurship hopefuls and heroes.

SXSW Interactive, a four-day series during the first portion of the world famous music and film gathering, welcomed guests from around the world in technology, entrepreneurship, and creative industries. Miami made a splash, to say the least. Here are five takeaways from the SXSW gathering from a student entrepreneur in Miami’s tech scene:

 Miami’s time to become a global entrepreneurship hub is now.

If there was a moment where I realized when Miami needed to take an even more aggressive plunge in building a start-up hub, it was the General Assembly and Kauffman Foundation event at SXSW. Political, institutional, and student leaders in the entrepreneurship community need to come together and make Miami the city it is destined to be. People are waiting for Miami’s boom in entrepreneurship. They see Miami as a true opportunity to be the next best entrepreneurial ecosystem. Now is Miami’s moment.

Miami needs to own its identity: we are a global community unlike anywhere else in the United States.

I noticed how Austin lacked a strong international business community and relationship-based culture, yet embraced their “Weird” techie brand. It’s working. Miami needs to brand itself as the most diverse and vibrant entrepreneurship hub in the world. This helps other strong local industries in real estate, tourism, and trade. We have an entrepreneurial bug. One can feel it walking anywhere downtown or driving past cargo stations in Doral. We aren’t like any place else, and that’s fine.

Students need to get more involved in the entrepreneurial community.

I met a group of Michigan State students who came together and crowd-funded a bus/hotel package and came to SXSW for free. I connected with Texas-Tech students who were sponsored by their school. Local universities need to expose students and provide more financial opportunities for students to engage in the entrepreneurial community. Most importantly students need to empower each other – entrepreneurship is a team sport; building a culture starts with us, regardless of our school affiliation.

People want to move to Miami but don’t know where to begin.

If I received a dollar for every time I heard “I love Miami and would move there, but I don’t know where to begin,” I could be making six-figures. Simply put, Miami is overwhelmingly awesome and needs a welcoming, streamlined pipeline for people to come and stay in Miami.  

Like Austin, Miami is still a new city with a world of opportunity.

Transportation is a major issue that needs to be taken more seriously by all community members. Politicians can’t do it alone. Austin has a sprawl issue: it is the fastest growing city in the United States. Miami has a different issue: the city exists but is changing rapidly. A deeper understanding of why Miami traffic is so terrible is proximity of resources. Currently, there is not one walk-able urban district with safe, tech-friendly public transit, affordable housing, and centralized start-up resources for the emerging entrepreneurial community. Until this happens, young talent will continue to leave, and traffic will continue to plague the city. Projects like All-Aboard Florida are sparking the trend for building better transit in Miami. The transportation panel at SXSW left a solid reminder for I want to emphasize: Sustainable, privatized innovation and technology in transportation improves lives of all citizens, regardless of political views.

SXSW was an invaluable experience. Meeting Matt Haggman and seeing so many people enthusiastic about Miami made me as a student excited to graduate and continue to lead the student entrepreneurial movement in Miami. Miami will forever be a top vacation destination in the world, but as the months go by, a new story is being told on Magic City’s horizon.  

 David Capelli is founder of TECH Miami student non-profit and a former Operations Intern at Miami- Dade Aviation/MIA.


March 10, 2015

Help gather information to improve Miami parking

By Stonly Baptiste

Stonly_HeadshotParking can be a challenge in most metropolitan cities and while the gripes of Miami parking may seem unique and insurmountable, they are neither. One startup from New York wants to explore two questions, “How bad is it?” and, “Can we help?”

My last parking experience in NYC caused me to avoid having to park when I travel. After finding the “perfect” spot, I returned to find a $200 parking ticket. I’ve since sworn off driving in NYC or any city I visit when I can avoid it.

Parking challenges are not unique to any one city and Miami is no stranger to its own parking issues, as revealed in the Yelp reviews of The City of Miami Beach Parking Department.

“Dear Miami Beach Parking:

I'm officially dropping you to 1 star.  Why?  Because you thoroughly suck, that's why! This past Friday night I was heading to an event at the Bass Museum.  I never made it.  Why?  Because after arriving at about 9:15 and driving around for more than 30 minutes trying to find parking anywhere within a 5 block radius, I finally gave up and left Miami Beach as I was extremely frustrated, and the event I was there to attend was nearly over at that point…”

- Paul V.

The parking problems don’t stop once you cross the bridge from Miami Beach. These struggles have also been long-time challenge across Miami Dade College’s eight campuses. Historically there were too many students and not enough parking. Even extensively planned venue’s like the Marlins Stadium still struggle to build enough parking to meet the demand of its visitors.

At the same time, development projects like the District 36, a 19-story building in Midtown Miami, struggle with minimum parking requirements, which increase costs even for owners or renters who prefer to go car free. The 197-unit project is currently on hold as it works with Miami’s Urban Development Review Board (UDRB) to appease the board's concerns over its parking capacity and design challenges.

Parking is just one of many of the challenges that Miami faces as it continues to grow. At the Smart City Startups event in April, we’re bringing together some of the best startups in the world focused on Urban tech. We’ll be asking founders to pitch us on how they can help us solve our city’s growing pains.

As part of the pitch process, one of the companies, Valet Anywhere*, wants to learn more about what makes parking painful in Miami. Here is your chance to help the company bring a better parking experience to Miami by filling out this really brief survey. We want to hear your biggest complaints, gripes and bad parking experiences to learn how we can work to solve Miami’s parking problems.

Stonly Baptiste is a serial entrepreneur and cofounder of Urban.Us, an investment fund focused on investing in startups that make cities better. He also produces Smart City Startups, an annual event that hosts 100 startups and over 1,000 people and organizations transforming our cities in the next decade taking place April 23, 2015 in Miami. 

* disclosure: Urban.Us is a producer of Smart City Startups and an investor in Valet Anywhere.   

February 26, 2015

I Hacked Miami was the spark, but civic open-data projects need your input

By Maggie Diaz-Vera / @codeformiami

Code for Miami is setting the tone for civic hacking and community engagement in South Florida. With help from The Knight Foundation, Code for Miami and Miami Ad School hosted I <Hacked> Miami last Saturday, a Code Across 2015 hackathon coinciding with events from around the world hosted by Code for America brigades. Miami brigade members used human-centered design to create applications that would allow residents to gain easy access to public data.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez launched Miami-Dade County’s open data portal to kick-off the event. The Mayor commented on the future of technology in Miami-Dade, “we cannot attract innovators without being innovative ourselves.” The portal provides free, up-to-date access to public data on civic services, geographic information, building permits, and employee salaries. The portal will continue to be updated with additional data over time.


The goal of the hackathon, and Code for Miami, is to engage residents in creating applications for the community. "What is cool is that citizens feel like they have a stake in building the government they want," shared brigade co-captain Rebekah Monson. Hackathon participants joined to create tools that will help residents make informed decisions about the community they live in and apply it to their own personal and business goals.

The hackathon focused on 3 major projects:

Miami Answers is a platform to answer frequently asked community questions in regards to public services. The questions and answers were written by volunteers in a casual and friendly voice so that it could easily be followed and understood by everyone.

                     Awesomest Mentor: Elizabeth

                     Awesomest Team: Miami Answers

Public services were also the focus for Open 211, a technical project to format sample data provided by Switchboard Miami so that it can be easily pulled by developers for future applications.

                     The “Dale” Award: Bryce

                     Awesomest N00b: Walter

                     Awesomest Project: Open 211

Open311 utilizes the newly open Miami-Dade data portal to display county information so that it can be easily interpreted and analyzed. Through visualization and data mapping, citizens and government officials will be able to efficiently identify trends and gain insights on how and where resources are being allocated.

The data was used to create visualizations such as: Map of Reported Dog Bites by Volume; Flood Zones Map; Evacuation Centers by distance and animal acceptance

Residents like you are needed to user-test these apps and give feedback to complete the projects. Join Code for Miami at 7PM on Monday nights at LAB Miami in Wynwood to share ideas and develop these applications further.


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.