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.

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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.


August 05, 2015

National Urban League hackathon: 'We're going to do this every year. We're going to make it bigger and better'



By Michael Hall

Hosted by the National Urban League in partnership with Digital Grass, the two-day “TechConnect: Hack-A-Thon for Social Justice,” presented by Comcast NBCUniversal, was held on July 30-31, 2015 in Fort Lauderdale. On Day 1, team formation and concept introductions were made following motivational words from Stonly Baptiste of and CodeFever's Felecia Hatcher.   Following a full day of coaching, brainstorming and designing, Day 2 ended with 7 young, energetic and tech-savvy teams taking the stage to the to share their tech solutions to improve civic innovation and quality of life for the core urban community.

The winner of the $2,500 cash and $25,000 in prizes was MyVillage presented by members of the Jacksonville National Urban League Young Professionals (pictured here).


MyVillage is a platform that gives political snaphots about political incumbents and candidates.  The main objective of MyVillage is to provide "quality education" allowing voters to know exactly who they are voting for. The application provides voters with a centralized location for viewing Candidate’s agendas, platforms and fundraising totals. “We’re not going to just tell you to vote, we’re going to create a platform to educate you & let you know what you should be voting for,” said Ronnie King of My Village. The application has already been implemented in Jacksonville and plans for expansion in Gainesville are underway. 

Although this was the National Urban League's inaugural Hackathon, it will not be the last.  

“I am amazed at the power of technology...the ability some of you have to create it; to envision how it’ll change lives... We’re going to do this every year. We’re going to make it bigger and better.” says Marc Morial, President of the National Urban League.

Expressing his satisfaction with the event, David Cohen, Senior Executive Vice President of Comcast NBC Universal, said, "I think we’ve created a new tradition for our annual conference.”

 “History was made today. This was a major step for the National Urban League and positions them to be a voice and conduit to introduce people within the African American community to the power of technology and how it can be used to address social issues. It's time to focus on being not only consumers of tech, but producers," said LaToya Stirrup, President of Digital Grass Innovation & Technology.

Digital Grass worked directly with the Urban League to facilitate and organize the inaugural event. 

Michael Hall is the founder of Digital Grass, which is dedicated to establishing a diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem in South Florida.

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


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 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

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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

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

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.