March 08, 2017

For HEICO's Victor Mendelson, Miami is a pro-business environment of optimists

Heico

 

By Alma Kadragic

 

As Co-President of HEICO – the world’s largest designer and maker of commercial aircraft replacement parts - Victor Mendelson likes to remind businesspeople here that Miami is “a town of small and smaller businesses” where entrepreneurs know how to “bounce back.” He cites his own company as an example of how creative reinvention can save a company and keep it growing.

 

In the closing address at Mapping Miami’s Financial Future, a signature event organized recently by the Miami Finance Forum, Mendelson described how HEICO changed direction repeatedly from its founding in 1957 as Heinicke Instruments, designing and selling lab equipment.

 

A merger in 1974 brought Heinicke into the aviation market, but the company also dabbled in other directions including a car wash system and medical diagnostics. The car wash turned out to destroy automotive paint. The medical technology was sold. By 1986 when the name was changed to HEICO Corporation, the company was in decline.

 

However, around that time the Mendelson family became involved when Victor’s father bought into HEICO. Eventually, he was able to take over the company and place his sons, Victor and Eric, in top management. Although no one had a background in aviation, that industry became the focus, and Victor himself invested $100,000 in HEICO in 1990, believing in its future success.

 

Along the way, HEICO got permission from the FAA to make generic parts for aircraft. That led to a lawsuit from United Technologies, which HEICO fought, believing in the family and being optimistic.  HEICO won the case, and today produces more than 10,000 aircraft parts.

 

With 4800 employees and 60 facilities in 20 states and 11 other countries, HEICO todayis a diversified aerospace, defense and electronics manufacturing and services company. It’s been named one of the “World’s Most Innovative Growth Companies” by Forbes.

 

Mendelson’s lessons for startups and entrepreneurs at any stage:

1.      Serve your customers – no room for failure

2.      Treat team members fairly

3.      Focus on cash, not accounting gimmicks

4.      Invest in the future – people and facilities

 

“We’re in the middle of the cycle,” says Mendelson about South Florida, meaning there’s every reason to remain optimistic and benefit from Miami’s diverse population, pro-business environment, and strong legacy of family business.

 

 Alma Kadragic is president of Alcat Communications International and president of the National Association of Women Business Owners Miami, nawbomiami.org.

Miami startup RealConnex raises $3.5 million in funding

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

RealConnex, a platform connecting the commercial real estate community to capital, investments and services, announced it has raised $3.5 million in strategic financing in a round led by Silver Portal Capital, a San Diego-based real estate investment and merchant banking firm.

RealConnex, founded in Miami in 2013 by real estate developer Roy Abrams, aims to help real estate developers connect with the right capital sources, service providers and one another. Abrams, the CEO and a 25-year veteran of the technology and real estate industries, said the new funding will be used for marketing, to expand the leadership team, and to add new features to the platform. In total, the company has raised $10.2 million.

The company, based in New York and Miami, has 65,000 active users and a database of 200,000 companies, individuals and funds. Abrams said RealConnex will likely have 6,000 registered capital sources, 9,000 investment opportunities, and more than $1 billion worth of transacted deals by the end of 2017.

Silver Portal Capital, a boutique firm focused exclusively on real estate, will adopt RealConnex's technology platform throughout its organization and channel partners to drive business growth.

"We see a significant competitive advantage in working with a technology partner like RealConnex," said Jean-Louis Guinchard, senior managing principal of Silver Portal Capital, in a news release. "They intimately understand professional real estate and technology, and they are poised to affect the market in a material way. Our investment will help the company scale into the largest real estate professional network."


March 07, 2017

SUP-X: Entrepreneurial success is about being a humble hustler, visionary and hiring smart, SDI CEO says

Castillo

 

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

When Carmen Castillo gathers her worldwide executive team together a couple of times a year, she invites them to her house and she cooks for them.

“Why wouldn’t I? They would do anything for me. I want to show them they don’t work for me, I work for them,” said Castillo, who founded and heads SDI International, the U.S.’s largest company owned by a Latina. SDI, a Fort Lauderdale-based company that provides global procurement outsourcing, generates more than $3 billion in revenues and has locations all over the world. She was one of the keynote speakers (pictured above) at SUP-X: The Startup Expo at the Broward County Convention Center on Monday. SUP-X founder Bob Fitts called her a rare combination of phenomenal success and humility.

Castillo, a native of Spain, always knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur, something she believes you have to be born with. She was a certified chef when she came to this country 26 years ago, and almost overnight she went from running a kitchen to running SDI in South Florida. Only problem: Her business opened the day Hurricane Andrew hit in 1992. She hustled the company back on its feet in 1993.

“The first thing I did was learn about getting certified as a Latina minority and that was my secret to success,” said Castillo, who is president and CEO. “That program opened the door for most of my clients I have right now – IBM, Microsoft, Motorola, Lenovo – we are the number 1 worldwide supplier for Lenovo.” She said she always attends the NMSDC (National Minority Supplier Development Council) conference, which has a South Florida chapter. “Diversity opens doors but you have to bring value,” she said.

Successful entrepreneurs need to have vision, sales skills and constantly learning, she said. Another tip: Always hire people smarter than you, she said.

When Castillo interviews for executives and managers, she asked two questions: How are you smarter than me and what you will do for SDI. Once hired, the person is expected to run their operation like their own business.

She wasn’t surprised that research shows if you have a gender or minority diverse team your profitability goes up. Women-owned and minority-owned businesses grow faster than the community at large, she said.

“The fact we are immigrants means we are very daring,” she said. “When you start with nothing, you have nothing to lose. ... Small minority companies do go the extra mile, as we did, and they bring new ideas, they bring technology, they bring creativity. That is how they survive.”

Also at the conference, Rachel Braun Scherl, serial entrepreneur and principal of SPARK Solutions for Growth, told of her experience raising money from the overwhelmingly male venture capital industry for her startup with a female sexuality product, and then of an even tougher experience trying to get her ads placed. But she was much more successful selling her story about her ad fight to Nightline, and that was the big break her company needed.

Other conference speakers also talked about challenges women and minorities face raising capital. Corporate funds that invest in minority-run startups total about $150 million while venture totals more than $90 billion. For Golden Seeds, investing in women-led startups is not a social mission, but an investment thesis, said Rob Delman, managing director of the fund.

Felecia Hatcher, co-founder of Blacktech Week, reminded the crowd that diversity brings new perspectives. Take the jitney system in Little Haiti that has been operating for decades – sounds a lot like UberPOOL. “That was a missed opportunity for investors,” she said.

Other topics of the annual SUP-X on Monday included the nuts and bolts of angel investing, building a successful hardware startup and next-gen entrepreneurs, including Rachel Zietz, the Boca Raton teen founder of Gladiator Lacrosse who appeared on Shark Tank. The conference continues Tuesday with talks on startup marketing, social impact investing, healthcare innovation and a hardware competition.

Several dozen startups from South Florida and farther afield exhibit their solutions, including Winspire from Fort Lauderdale; The THX Co. from Hollywood; Jinglz from West Palm Beach; and UX Gofer, Emerge, Bid.Aero, Apollonix and Cargo42 from Miami. A handful of finalists will be selected to present to judges Tuesday afternoon for the chance to win a $30,000 grand prize.

Appolenix

Thx

UPDATE:
 
And the startup competition winners were:
1st Place ($25,000) - Dev/Con Detect (Tampa)
2nd Place ($15,000) - Apollonix (Miami) pictured above and below
3rd Place ($10,000) - Edu(k)ate (Orlando)
 
Apollenix
 
The Hardware Cup regional winner was PlayDate out of New York

 
 

 
 

 

March 06, 2017

Startup Spotlight: Traditional trucking meets the ‘sharing economy’ with Miami tech startup Cargo42

 

Cargo

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Through a simple-to-use app, Cargo42 provides companies an option to ship locally for a lower rate with trucks that have empty space in them. At the same time, trucking companies enjoy an additional revenue stream and maximize the trucks’ productivity.

COMPANY NAME: Cargo42

Headquarters: CIC Miami, 1951 NW Seventh Ave.

Concept: Through a simple-to-use app, Cargo42 provides companies an option to ship locally for a lower rate with trucks that have empty space in them. At the same time, carriers (local trucking companies) enjoy an additional revenue stream and maximize the trucks’ productivity.

Story: The truck-sharing economy concept came from Francine Gervazio’s professional experience in the logistics and tech industries. She frequently saw trucks driving nearly or completely empty, and her company was paying the price for that empty space. Once Gervazio came to the United States in 2015, she confirmed this was not only a problem in her home country, Brazil, but a global issue.

She decided to spin the opportunity into an actual business during her Babson College MBA program in 2015. That’s where she met Murilo Amaral and Alfredo Keri, who were essential pieces to make this happen. After having performed a pilot test in Boston, the Cargo42 team moved the operations to Miami last summer because of the big opportunities as a result of inefficiencies in this important U.S. logistics hub. The decision was also based on a competitive analysis and strategic positioning for future expansion and market growth, the founders said.

“We knew already that Miami was a very big logistics hub, but we were really impressed when we saw the numbers and said, yea, that’s where we are going,” Gervazio said.

Before attending Babson for their MBA degrees, Cargo42’s co-founders had diverse experiences and backgrounds, including logistics, supply chain and operations as well as e-commerce and marketing and sales.

Gervazio managed new operations for Easy Taxi, a Rocket Internet company, in Southeast Asia and Latin America, after working in logistics in Brazil and Australia. Amaral founded a packaging company with 250-plus employees, which acquired 6 percent of the Brazilian market share. Keri worked in sales and marketing for multinational companies, including British American Tobacco in Latin America.

Last summer, the founders spent their summer going door to door in the South Florida territory to build their initial truck base. That was followed up with online marketing, cold calling and lots of networking at trade shows and industry events. Today, the company has 85 shipping companies and 380 carriers using the service. Its goal is to partner with a large company so it can expand much faster.

Gervazio participated in the WIN Lab, Babson’s accelerator program for female founders, in Boston, and the whole team is part of StartUP FIU’s Cohort 2 now in progress.

“With Cargo42, we are sure we can help carriers reduce their empty miles and get more customers, as they have limited resources to acquire new customers. We also support their cash flow problems, issuing payments three times faster than the industry. For shippers, we provide a lower price, increasing their tight margins. Also, our platform saves their time giving real-time quotes and online tracking even when using a small trucking company. Finally, we also play an important role to help to reduce the traffic and pollution in communities and cities, by making more effective use of the trucks,” Gervazio said.

“In the last four years, 20 percent of the small trucking businesses have closed their doors in Florida,” Amaral said “We are changing the rules and leveling the field to get them back in the game.”

Launched: July 2016.

Website: https://www.cargo42.com/

Management team: Co-founders Murilo Amaral, Francine Gervazio, Alfredo Keri (pictured above).

No. of employees: Eight team members, including interns.

Financing: Self-funded.

Recent milestones: 85 shipping companies and 380 carriers are now using the Cargo42 platform.

Biggest startup challenge: Customer acquisition. The trucking industry is very traditional, and it takes time for people to accept and embrace the changes to the process they have been doing for years, Keri said. “But once they give it a shot, they immediately see the benefits.”

Next steps: Closing important strategic partnerships that could lead to exponential growth and begin the company’s geographic expansion.

Adviser’s advice: Nabil Malouli, vice president of Customer Solutions and Innovation at DHL, said Cargo42 has developed a model that can be flexible at this stage. “I have recommended to use a multi-channel approach, such as partnerships with established companies that have complementary products and solutions, and to focus on the big deals. The sales and implementation cycles of small and big deals are very similar, and you have to focus on the big deals that will truly help you grow the business.” He also recommended that the team focus strongly on Cargo42’s first customers and have them become the indirect sales team. “First customers need to have an amazing experience so they can help you grow the business much faster,” he said.

Malouli believes Miami, already a global logistics hub, has the potential to become a global hub for logistics innovation. “This is a huge opportunity and we have to keep promoting entrepreneurship in the logistics industry in Miami, as Cargo42 is doing.”

Read more Startup Spotlights

Want the yachting life - even for a day? Miami startup will hook you up

Want a fast, safe way to sell your gadgets? These entrepreneurs created one

Miami startup offers car washes on demand that save water too

Sociallybuzz refocuses to help other small businesses grow

Never miss storytime: App bridges the miles to connect families for reading, learning

Why Shark Tank bet on these Jerks who make filet mignon jerky

 

March 03, 2017

To boost the tech ecosystem, turn traders into thinkers

Albert Santalo, Tom Hudson

By Alma Kadragic

When a serial entrepreneur talks, it’s a good idea to listen if you’d like to have not only more tech entrepreneurs in Miami but also more who grow their companies into multi million dollar enterprises with the help of venture capital.

The problem in Miami, says Albert Santalo, is that it’s a city founded on trading with a trader mentality as opposed to hotbeds of technology development like Boston and Silicon Valley where the thinker mentality prevails.

Thinkers don’t care if a business fails. In fact, having been associated with a failed venture can be a badge of honor. What counts is being honest: better to fail than to cheat.

That’s the opposite of the trader mentality where staying in business is what counts, and sometimes that can involve some ethical fuzziness.

Santalo says, “It’s not hard to become a thinking economy. All it really takes is a lot of hard work, some good decisions, and some luck.”

Required elements include investment capital and overall support for entrepreneurs. “There’s no excuse for an entrepreneur not getting what he needs,” insists Santalo. He points out “much documentation exists” and mentions the site http://exponentialorgs.com as a good source.

The secret of huge successes like Airbnb or Uber, according to Santalo, is that they were “small and scrappy” at the beginning and ready to grow or scale hugely. He was speaking during an interview with WLRNs Tom Hudson (pictured above) at Mapping Miami’s Financial Future, a signature event organized last week by the Miami Finance Forum.

Albert Santalo has started several tech companies that attracted substantial venture capital investments including Avisena, managing revenue cycles for doctors, and CareCloud, a cloud-based platform for healthcare. His current company Thrillient helps businesses utilize state-of-the-art payment and front-office technologies.

Santalo is a computer scientist and internet entrepreneur who has raised more than $100 million for companies he founded from angel and venture investors. When he says converting Miami into a thinking economy is feasible, we should be listening.

Alma Kadragic is president of Alcat Communications International and president of the National Association of Women Business Owners Miami, nawbomiami.org.

 

February 28, 2017

Save the dates: Join Great Miami Makeathon March 31-April 2

MANO is announcing the Great Miami Makeathon, a three-day design and prototype challenge to propel Miami’s maker community, taking place on the weekend of March 31 through April 2, 2017.

Co-organized by The Idea Center at Miami Dade College and Moonlighter, and with the generous support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and StartUp FIU, the Great Miami Makeathon encourages participants to develop functional prototypes that address the real-world needs of three of Miami’s hottest new learning and recreational spaces: the Miami Science Barge, Wynwood Yard, and the American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora. Selected designs and prototypes are expected to center around technology, sustainability and education. Winners will receive a cash prize, the opportunity to work with partner venues to turn their prototypes into reality, and prominent placement at the upcoming Maker Faire Miami on April 8 and 9, 2017 at Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus.

The Great Miami Makeathon is open to the public and its organizers encourage anyone interested in participating in the design and prototype challenge to pull together a team of no less than two and no more than five people and register via Eventbrite (link here).  

Prior to the Great Miami Makeathon, organizers will host a series of free educational workshops on design thinking, 3D printing, laser cutting, woodworking, and electronics to equip challenge participants with skills and practices required for the design and prototype process.

“Great Miami Makeathon seeks to show how the creative power of our incredible maker community can be harnessed to help local businesses and nonprofits innovate. With this event, our partner venues, whom we affectionately refer to as “the Barge, the Yard and the Cuban,” will crowdsource solutions from local makers to enhance their spaces and create more engaging and innovative user experiences for their patrons while conserving resources,” said Ric Herrero, co-founder of MANO.

MANO is a Miami-based non-profit organization dedicated to fostering inclusive, problem-solving communities through educational programs and initiatives. For more information about Great Miami Makeathon, and to register for our launch event at The Idea Center at Miami Dade College on March 27, please visit miamimakeathon.com, and follow us on Twitter via @MiamiMakeathon.

Submitted by MANO

 

 

 

 

February 26, 2017

Ironhack bootcamp gave me foundation to go all-in on building Stardom Up charity

By Lu Martinez

About six years ago, the tech bug bit me hard.

I Lu matrinez was a graduate of the University of Miami Law School and a licensed attorney. I worked as Chief Privacy Officer for Jackson Health System, where I had grown from a manager role and later became Director of Policies, Training and Education. From the outside view, my traditional career was growing. However, I realized a need to ramp up my technical abilities to better form, test, and scale ideas for new programs and innovations that I wanted to develop.  While I contemplated how to best be an intrapreneur within a large corporate setting, my long-term goal was contribute to society and help others.

In my free time, I co-founded a small, self-funded charity called Stardom Up, Inc. To accelerate my tech knowledge and apply it to Stardom Up, I enrolled in Ironhack, a bootcamp in Miami, which offers full-time and part-time courses in web development, coding, and design.  I created the initial version of StardomUp.com as my final project during the Ironhack course in the summer of 2015.

Ironhack was the glue that brought my diverse skill sets and community impact aspirations together. Once I completed my Ironhack training, and after considering multiple factors and alternatives, I left my job in 2016 and devoted myself full-time to building Stardom Up.

Stardom Up creates educational programs to support student curiosity about technology and innovation. We're currently partnered with Miami-Dade County Public Schools, via Shenandoah Middle School in Miami, to enhance the STEAM (Science, Technology, Arts, Engineering, and Math) curriculum.  As the first and only program in the region to combine an online platform with in-person learning during school hours, Stardom Up expands students’ problem solving and critical thinking abilities and engages them into Miami’s growing tech community. We help prepare young talent for an unpredictable future.

Stardom Up is currently in the "scale up" phase at Shenandoah Middle School. It’s supported by Shenandoah’s administrators and teachers, as well as volunteers from Miami’s growing tech community.  Best of all, it generates results: along with helping them in their core subjects, the students in the program - especially girls - are fascinated by technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship, and have expressed their interest in pursuing careers in technology-related fields.

Our plan is to continue to collaborate with tech leaders and innovators in the community and engage at least 10,000 middle school students within the next five years. With approximately 80,000 middle schoolers in Miami-Dade County alone, there’s a lot of young talent we hope to nurture and inspire to become tomorrow’s technologists and innovators. It begins by showing them what’s possible, and by supporting their ambitions to become the community’s future stars.

Lu Martinez is the founder of Stardom Up.

Bootcampironhack

February 25, 2017

Last weekend to sign up for Business Plan Bootcamp on Tuesday

The Miami Herald invites entrepreneurs to attend its free Business Plan Bootcamp on Tuesday, offering a lively discussion and Q&A with a panel of investor experts sharing advice on launching a startup business, formulating a winning short business summary and raising capital.

The program will be led by Melissa Krinzman, the managing partner of Krillion Ventures, a $50 million Miami-based venture capital firm that actively invests in seed and early stage technology companies, and Raul Moas, managing director of AGP Miami, an 80-member local angel investor network.

Also, three previous winners of the Business Plan Challenge will offer insights on their experiences building startups:

Tina Vidal, founder of Pooch Perks, which provides subscription dog boxes and is developing a robust corporate business.

Chris Daniels, founder of Candidate.Guru, which developed software that uses data analytics to predict whether a job candidate will be a culture fit with the employer.

Olga Granda-Scott, co-founder of The High Boy, an online marketplace for antiques and art to help other mom-and-pop shop owners compete in the digital world.

In addition, Business Plan Challenge coordinator Nancy Dahlberg will answer questions about this year’s Business Plan Challenge.

Doors open at 6 p.m.; the program begisn promptly at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 28 at Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus Auditorium, Room 1261, Building 1. Walk-ins will be accommodated as space provides.

Limited free parking is available at the Miami Dade College garage at 500 NE Second Ave., with entrances on Northeast Fifth and Sixth streets.

Register at: http://businessplanbootcamp.bpt.me.

Blacktech Weekend draws hundreds to talk about tech and capital raising, make connections

BTcrowd

A standing-room-only crowd piles in to hear Michael Seibel of Y-Combinator, Sarah Kunst of Proday and Angela Benton of NewME (shown below) open Blacktech Weekend at Venture Café in CIC Miami Thursday. More photos at bottom of story. Photos by Nancy Dahlberg

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By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

It was billed as an opportunity to “break bread and make bread.” Blacktech Weekend was certainly that and a whole lot more.

Black startup founders, investors, techies and community builders flew in from Silicon Valley and all over the U.S. to meet and mingle with Miami’s entrepreneurship community for talks, panel discussions, meals, bus tours, community outreach activities and parties during the event Thursday through Saturday at various locations around the city. On the main stage at the Little Haiti Cultural Center and the evening before at CIC Miami, the talk was capital raising, getting the message out, social impact and building inclusive ecosystems.

I’ve been to a lot of conferences, and the speakers usually bolt after their talks. Not at Blacktech Weekend. Each talk on stage – heavy with personal stories and advice -- came with substantial Q&A time, and the conversations continued after, in the halls, over lunch, on the buses, at the bars. Many of the speakers stayed for the entire conference.

That’s by design, said Blacktech Weekend’s founders Felecia Hatcher and Derick Pearson, who also co-founded Code Fever, an organization for inclusive coding and entrepreneurial education. The speakers list was curated and the event put together so that attendees received many opportunities to meet – and be inspired by – some of the luminaries of the industry. These are the stories that don’t get told, they said. And along the way, attendees also get their burning questions answered and, most importantly, begin building a relationship with potential investors, mentors and strategic partners.

But let’s get down to a few highlights:

“This is not a game where everyone wins. … You need to know that’s the world you are going into. I tell founders all the time, 99.9 percent chance of failure,” Michael Seibel, CEO of Silicon Valley’s Y-Combinator, one of the world’s preeminent startup accelerators, and co-founder of Justin.TV/Twitch and Socialcam, told the standing-room-only opening night crowd at Venture Café at CIC. He said in the last two years YC has funded more than 100 black and Hispanic founders.

More truths he shared: “I’ve seen every idea. Ideas are irrelevant. You are judged on execution and the number 1 way to prove that you can execute is by executing.”

Entrepreneurs succeed in fund-raising by developing leverage – by getting people to fear them as opposed to love them, he said. How to do that: Build and launch something without money. Have the right team, and there better be engineers on it, he said. And in the beginning, it’s ok if just a small group of people love your product.

“Good founders can give me a picture of the future that I can believe,” Seibel said. “And the second that I believe your version of the future, you have leverage. … I’m a little bit afraid if I don’t get behind this.”

Startups are your opportunity to change the world, but make sure you are working on a problem you really care about, he advised.

Sara Kunst, founder of Proday, and Angela Benton, founder of NewME, the first accelerator for entrepreneurs of color, got even more real: “You have to go above and beyond, and that’s the reality we are in,” said Benton, now a Miami resident who is looking to expand programming here.

The stats are sobering: Under-represented minorities in tech number in the low- to mid- single-digit percentages, and it’s about the same for senior leadership, according to statistics released last year at SXSW. Only 1 percent of VCs are black and about 1 percent of VC money goes to black founders.

Women of color who have been funded are an especially rare breed. Kunst said there are just 13 black women founders in the nation have raised a million dollars or more in venture capital.

For seed funding, if you don’t know a lot of rich people, Kunst recommends applying to accelerators, even those in obscure places such as the Midwest, because they generally provide funding. F6s.com has a good list of accelerators, she said.

Richard Kerby is vice president of Venrock, an early stage VC fund that invests in tech and healthcare companies, writing checks from $500K to $10 million. He said he listens to the founder’s vision, and then thinks, if that team can execute the vision, how will the world be impacted? If he likes the answer to that, he dives deeper into more traditional venture measures around team and product.

“As for team, I look less at your education background and look more to understand your raw intellect. I look less on your experience and more at your great market knowledge of your category. In product, I look at the value you provide to your end customer,” he said during the conference on Friday at the Little Haiti Cultural Center. For consumer products, engagement and retention is super important, he said.

Chris Christmas, founder of KeepLivin, reminded the audience that’s it’s not all about the exit.

“Everything is not about raising money and selling … Stay in your communities and grow jobs … Let’s be about economic development in our communities.”

KeepLivin  is a digital health company that aims to increase health equity in communities where health disparities exist. “Our job is to bring digital technology to the community and we are starting in barbershops, salons and churches,” he said. “We go to the streets; we meet the customers where they are at.”

For example, KeepLivin takes telemedicine to churches and to families with members in the Caribbean, so they can be seen by a board-certified physician.

KeepLivin was part of the first cohort of Startupbootcamp Digital Health in Miami, and Christmas said he found Miami to be a perfect ecosystem to grow keeplivin.org.

“Innovation is a social process, and it is one that it is fueled by conversation, collaboration, storytelling and it thrives when everybody’s included,” said Leigh-Ann Buchanan, executive director of Venture Café Miami, who led a panel discussion about inclusive ecosystems.

Leslie Miley, a returning Blacktech Week speaker who has held engineering leadership roles at Slack, Twitter, Apple and Google, said the onus is on the black community to get the positive stories out on social media platforms. “It’s about changing the narrative that is being told. .. [On social media] we should be talking about our accomplishments, talking about what we do.” Taking a page from the alt-right’s success getting its message out, he said, “Just publish information, just publish it. Link to our positive stories and have them go viral.”

Indeed, Hatcher said the reason for starting Blacktech activities was because, “We want to make sure everyone gets a seat at the table, or can build their own … table.”

Saturday brought about 40 conference goers into the streets via a bus tour of black history and innovation in Miami and others mentored youth entrepreneurs at the Overtown Youth Center. Blacktech Weekend, supported by the Knight Foundation and a number of other sponsors, was a warm-up to the main event, the third annual Blacktech Week, this year being held Sept. 25-30. If you missed the weekend event, much of the content was taped and some has been put up on social media (Refresh Miami posted Seibel’s talk on its Facebook page) and, as in the past, other talks will be released by Blacktech Week over next couple of weeks. You can catch up on the conversation at #BTWKND17.

READ MORE:

Blacktech Week receives $1.2 million in Knight funding to expand entrepreneurship programs

WLRN Q&A with Felecia Hatcher

Numbers don't lie: Silicon Valley still has a diversity problem

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Blacktech Weekend day 2 speakers at Little Haiti Cultural Center include Richard Kirby of Venrock, with Derick Pearson, above. Below, Chris Christmas of KeepLivin and panels on social media and inclusion below. Photos by Nancy Dahlberg

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February 24, 2017

Former JetSmarter exec arrested on grand theft charges

By Marcia Heroux Pounds

Former JetSmarter president and vice chairman Edward Gennady Barsky has been arrested in Fort Lauderdale and faces extradition to California where he is wanted on grand theft charges, according to Broward County Circuit Court records.

Barsky, 38, of Sunny Isles, president and vice chairman of the privately held aviation service company, resigned from JetSmarter after he was arrested Feb.16 at the Broward Financial Center, site of the company’s headquarters. 

According to a Broward Sheriff’s Office booking report, Barsky is wanted on five counts of grand theft by embezzlement. He was being sought by authorities in Contra Costa, California.

"Gennady Barsky has resigned from JetSmarter for personal reasons. The charges he faces are wholly unrelated to JetSmarter, and pre-date the founding of JetSmarter.
We will continue to revolutionize the private aviation business as the world fastest growing private jet company," Ronn Torossian, a spokesperson for JetSmarter, said in a statement.

Read the full story in the Sun Sentinel here.