November 29, 2016

Argentina to Miami, a bridge worth building (Part 4)

  Rio - Villa

Oasis' hotel 2.0 concept features properties like this one in Rio.

 

By Natalia Martinez-Kalinina

Miami has a ways to go before we can truly claim the title of regional epicenter, but Argentina has long been recognized as one of the primary entrepreneurial - albeit not particularly stable - ecosystems in Latin America. Figuring out how to support Argentina’s wave of growth and appetite for engagement represents a unique opportunity to add value to the region and truly deliver on our vision as a gateway.

As a first step to test these waters, a group of us came together to co-author a full day of programming within StartupWeekBuenosAires - the largest event of its kind in Latin America-  specifically focused on how to engage with the U.S. ecosystem and market by way of Miami. Ahead of the full agenda being announced shortly, if you are interested in participating or learning more, please fill out this form.

ParkerLeading up to the event in December, we will be featuring interviews with a varied range of Argentine entrepreneurs and companies making their way to Miami. The first installments of this series have featured interviews with Balloon Group, Wolox, and La Comunidad. For the fourth feature, we spoke with Parker Stanberry (pictured here), Co-Founder and CEO of Oasis, a disruptive hospitality group that relocated its headquarters to Miami two years ago.

Tell us about Oasis. How was the company started? What has been the trajectory? How do you see its future growth and development?

I hatched the idea in 2007 based on my own experiences as an international traveller and then expat in Buenos Aires. I just felt there was a need for a better and more immersive traveller experience than hotels could provide.

In 2008 I partnered with two other Americans who knew Buenos Aires well, put together about $20K of start-up capital, and launched in early 2009. So it was a true startup in the early days. We had some success in BA and raised $100K, then opened Sao Paulo and Punta del Este, which proved the concept enough to raise $600K. Then in 2013 that we raised a Series A and were able to really hit the gas in terms of expansion.

Now we’re in 22 cities in 12 countries, and earlier this year did a Series B with AccorHotels. With additional capital and the institutional support of a partner like Accor, the goal is to really ramp up and reach 100 markets. Our goal is to build the first global brand around this “hotel 2.0” concept.

When did you/Oasis come to Miami and why?

We decided to move the HQ here in 2014, as a natural base from which to pursue a global strategy. It’s geographically ideal, lower cost than a NYC (which would have been our other option), and obviously very international. I myself moved up here last year.

What kinds of opportunities are you looking for here? What aspects or risks worry you?

I think more than a specific opportunity, it’s the factors that I mentioned above. It just checks some key boxes for us at this stage of the company’s trajectory.

The 2 worrying aspects to me are, first, access to later-stage capital. It seems that the seed and angel stage ecosystem is developing quite well, but there aren’t any funds doing B/C/D stage rounds. That’s less a worry for us now with Accor on board and good relationships with some NY-based funds.

The other is scarcity of talent. There are certainly some great people around, but nowhere near the density of young professional talent as you’d find in a major US or European city. Now the flipside of that is that there are also fewer opportunities, so when you do find the right person, there is less competition for them and more loyalty. But I think the depth of the talent pool is something that the folks involved in trying to build this ecosystem have to put some serious thought into.

From the perspective of a Latin American entrepreneur/founder, what advantages does Miami have?

Well, I’m kind of a pseudo-Latin American entrepreneur, since I’m from the US, but sure, for the purposes of this question, I can play up the LatAm angle. Advantages are a) proximity to the region, b) tremendous amount of back and forth of people between Miami and the region, c) ability to ease in culturally, d) fact that many LatAm HQs are here, so it’s actually easier to reach regional decision makers in Miami than in BA or Mexico City or Sao Paulo.

In light of this perspective, what can Miami do better to become a true value-adding “hub” for the region?  

The city needs to find a way to get some larger funds active here. And I think that organizations doing some more explicitly cross-border focused programs, talks, workshops would be great, such as the LAB did a few weeks back with an Argentina focus.

Organizations like Endeavor have talked at length about the “Argentine Model,” but Argentina is also a country that has lived through rocky political and economic cycles. What do you think Miami can learn from the Argentine case?

I’m not an expert on this so don’t have too strong of an opinion. But when looking at the Argentine model, I do feel that the original impetus for the movement has a good bit to do with luck - a few incredible entrepreneurs happened to build great companies in the late 90s, and that lead to the network effect that Endeavor points to. The great thing was that Endeavor was there in Argentina at that time, and really able to seize the moment and amplify the effect and influence of those 3 big success stories. So while maybe you can’t will those first success stories to happen, you, as a city or group of organizations in a city, can certainly be proactive in recognizing them and capitalizing on them.

That being said, you’re right - at a macro level it’s not like Argentina has been a model, and there haven’t been any majorly impactful start-ups, on a global scale I mean, since Globant. Meanwhile Sweden, a country 1/5th the size of Argentina, has created 4-5 [need to check that] unicorns in the past 8 or so years. So obviously the macro context is important, and is certainly an advantage that Miami has over Buenos Aires.   

Do you see potential for collaboration and bridge-building between the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Buenos Aires and the one in Miami? Why or why not?

Sure, there is no reason not to. There is a lot of commonality of language, a natural affinity between the two, and certain industries that are quite important in both cities (tech, real estate, hospitality come to mind). But again, that being said, the macro context in Argentina is so challenging, which begs the question of whether there are other US cities that have thrived in the recent years (Austin for example) that would make sense to study and forge connections to.

Natalia Martinez-Kalinina is the General Manager of CIC Miami and the Founder of Awesome Foundation MIAMI. If you are an Argentine company looking to expand to Miami or a Miami-based entrepreneur/investor looking to connect with the Argentine ecosystem, please reach out to Natalia at martinez@cic.us

[This is part 3 of a series. Read part 1 here - Honey vs. Vinegar: How are we luring and keeping the companies we want in Miami?, part 2 here and part 3 here]

 

November 28, 2016

Industrial design experts bringing vision to life: Miami College of Design in Wynwood

CollegeofDesign

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood, already a hub for artists, technologists and other creatives, will soon be the home of the new Miami College of Design.

It's the vision of Walter Bender and Franco Lodato, experts in industrial design. The co-founders broke ground last month on the-state-of-the-art educational facility, which will be Florida’s first accredited college focused solely on industrial design, they said. The state-licensed associate and bachelor of science curricula will focus on a mentorship model and nature-inspired design methodologies. Selected students will be able to attend on generous scholarships provided by Bender and Lodato’s IAM (Industrial Arts and Method) Foundation via donors and corporations. Lodato and Bender are aiming to open the college next fall.

“Ideas are cheap but knowing how to take an idea and make it into a product is rare,” said Bender, a longtime senior research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who also co-founded the nonprofit One Laptop Per Child. “Miami has become a hotbed of ideas. It’s young, it’s vibrant, what we want to do is add to that.”

The new college (rendering above) will be officially announced Wednesday by Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, along with Bender and Lodato, to kick off the Masters of Tomorrow Summit, a conference bringing together design thinkers from around the world. The conference line-up, curated in partnership with the IAM Foundation, includes talks on virtual reality in film, using big data in climate change research, wearable fashion, smart luggage, incorporating “mindfulness” in design and other topics and ends with a free concert behind The LAB Miami.

The Miami College of Design will seek to advance the integration of design, science and engineering by taking students through a design process, exploring new approaches and solutions. The aim is human-centered and nature-inspired design that enhances the human experience, and “our approach will be unconventional,” said Lodato, who previously headed design at Motorola and was a director at VSN Mobil Technologies in South Florida, among other roles, and has been collaborating with Bender on various projects for two decades..

FrancoLodatoLodato pioneered “bionics,” the theory and practice of nature-inspired design. He has served as Master Innovator of wearable technologies for Google-Motorola and he led design for Herman Miller and Pininfarina. He holds 71 patents including one for the precursor of Gillette’s Mach3, and he has also consulted for Dupont, Coca-Cola, Ferrari-Maserati, Boeing and others.

Walter benderBender, president of the IAM Foundation, is also founder of the nonprofit Sugar Labs, a collaborative learning platform, and co-founder of One Laptop Per Child, which innovated distribution of laptops in third-world countries. He headed the MIT Media Lab and founded the MIT News in the Future Consortium, which helped launch the era of digital news.

About 18 months ago Lodato and Bender embarked on this college, acquiring the property and securing a license. The  building, designed by Pompano Beach architect Fred Nagler, is under construction at 26 NE 25th St. They took off the front and rear of the two-story warehouse and expanded it, and are adding a third floor and rooftop garden as a social space, Lodato said. While the school is being constructed, the IAM Foundation will be doing workshops and seminars at The LAB Miami and other venues.

The curricula will be based on Bender and Lodato’s apprenticeship-driven education model that has close ties to industry. It will be project-based, and each student will work on a few projects hand in hand with professionals from the field who become their mentors.

“One of our goals in our model is that the students will be on 90 percent scholarships funded by industry. We already have raised funding for the first cohort of students. We really want students to focus on learning 100 percent, not on how they will pay for it. The work they do will be valuable for the industry,” Lodato said.

Miami is a natural location for the new school, they said.

“There is clearly an energy here but there is not a lot of history in the space in Miami. That means there is not a lot of rigid thinking – there is a lot more openness to ideas and new approaches,” said Bender. “It is a great opportunity for a vibrant, young community and at the same time the world has really opened up to this idea of entrepreneurship, of making, of doing. It’s the time. It’s the right time to be doing this.”

Nancy Dahlberg: @ndahlberg

Read more: Speakers, free concert, tour and art event for MOT Summit announced

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Speakers, free concert, tour and art event announced for Masters of Tomorrow Summit

MOTsig

Bring together the maker of the brain activity measuring product Muse, the head of virtual reality for Radiant Images, the designer of the Ford GT, an expert putting big data to work in climate change solutions, and other entrepreneurs and academics in  technology and design, and what do you get? A glimpse into the future of technology and design.

MIA Collective, a Miami-based producer of events for professionals in the technology and creative industries, announced  the final set of speakers and musical acts for the inaugural Masters of Tomorrow Summit  on Nov. 29 and 30, during Miami's Art Week. Another announcement: The concert on Wednesday evening will be free and will include the unveiling of a new mural.

Masters of Design is a one-day conference Nov. 30 that will bring to Miami some of the best “design thinkers” from around the world. The conference line-up was curated in partnership with the Industrial Arts and Method (IAM) Foundation and the final agenda is available on the official website. Confirmed speakers for Masters of Design, which will be held at The LAB Miami and the LightBox Theater in Wynwood, include:

Andrew Schwartz, Head of Mixed Reality of Radiant Images, Los Angeles

Ariel Garten, Co-founder of InteraXon (makers of Muse), Toronto

Bedy Yang, Managing Partner at 500 Startups, San Francisco

Camilo Pardo, Ford GT Designer, Detroit

Diego Saez-Gil, CEO of Bluesmart, San Francisco

Dror Benshetrit, Founder of Studio Dror, New York

Eduardo Constantini, Founder of Kabinett, New York City

Evan Kodra, CEO of risQ, Boston

Felecia Hatcher, Co-Founder of Code Fever and Black Tech Week

Franco Lodato, Co-Founder of IAM Foundation, Miami

Joanna Berzowska, Associate Professor of Design and Computation Arts Department at Concordia University, Montreal

Lilia Luciano, Journalist and Documentary Producer, Sacramento

Matt Haggman, Miami Program Director, Knight Foundation

Michael Burtov, Founder of GeoOrbital, Boston

Natalia Martinez-Kalinina, General Manager of CIC Miami, Miami

Natasha Tsakos, Conceptual Director and President of NTiD, Miami

Ola Alhvarsson, Founder of Result and Sime, Stockholm

Rebekah Monson, Co-founder of WhereBy.Us, Miami

Stonly Baptiste, Co-Founder of Urban.US, San Francisco

Tomás Regalado, City of Miami Mayor, Miami

Walter Bender, Co-Founder of IAM Foundation, Miami

Masters of Sound will be a concert behind The LAB Miami that will begin about 6 p.m. and run throughout the evening after the all-day conference.  Masters of Sound will be free and open the public (get free ticket here), thanks to the support of Aunken Labs and Nativo, with music curated by III Points, Miami’s leading Music, Art, and Technology Festival.  Artists performing include critically acclaimed Helado Negro and DJ Jacques Renault.

At the concert, Goldman Global Arts and #fordistas will unveil the latest mural by ELLE, a female graffiti and street artist based in Brooklyn and LA, celebrating the role of women in science and technology.

Two new VIP events have been added. The Master Tour of Downtown Miami, hosted by the Downtown Development Authority, will take VIP guests through a tour of the district’s most important institutions; followed by Master Class @ BUILDING.co, which will feature live digital painting by artist Hugh MacLeod.  The art works created by MacLeod during Master Class, together with art donated by artists Camilo Pardo, Claudio Roncoli, Greg Gayle, Jaime Dussan and Juan Muñoz, will be sold to raise funds for the MOT Scholarship. Masters of Tomorrow has partnered with Wyncode to award one or more of its students with a scholarship to its coding program.

“The MOT Scholarship brings full circle the pay-it-forward vision of Masters of Tomorrow. We not only have the opportunity to inspire tomorrow’s leaders through our amazing speakers, but we can actually make a difference in someone’s life today via the scholarship,” said Demian Bellumio, co-founder of MIA Collective. “And what could be more magical than turning a piece of art produced by a visual arts master into an opportunity for an aspiring entrepreneur to learn the art of coding and become a future master of technology?”

This is the first MOT Summit but MIA Collective also produced Sime MIA and MIA Music Festival in years' past. Expect the same intimate conference experience, where speakers don't just fly in for their talk and leave but are available to continue conversations over lunch, in the halls or over drinks. 

Masters of Tomorrow is supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, as well as IAM Foundation, #fordistas, Building.co and Miami DDA.  To learn more, visit MOTSummit.com or follow the summit at www.facebook.com/motsummit, www.instagram.com/motsummit and www.twitter/motsummit.

 

November 27, 2016

Startup Spotlight: The Wynwood Coloring Book

Wynwoodcoloringbook

The Wynwood Coloring Book is a coloring book for adults inspired by the world famous street art of Wynwood. A second edition is planned, as well as a broader book featuring street artists from throughout the U.S.

Company name: The Wynwood Coloring Book, by AimfulMedia

Headquarters: MADE at the Citadel, 8325 NE Second Ave., Miami

Concept: The Wynwood Coloring Book is a coloring book for adults inspired by the world famous street art of Wynwood.

Story: As an entrepreneur, Diego Orlandini (pictured above) has always been passionate about ideas that are socially responsible and community-oriented and that deepen the human experience. He admires TOMS Shoes and similar companies that bring tangible positive social impact to their business models.

“Last year, when I was stressed trying to build AimfulMedia and writing a novel, my girlfriend at the time introduced me to a coloring book for adults. We imagined how cool it could be to color the murals of the city, and I saw that as the opportunity to put all my passions into one single project,” Orlandini said. Orlandini, a yoga enthusiast who traveled to India this summer, also discovered firsthand what research has shown to be true: Coloring can be a “mindful” way of relaxing and focusing.

Orlandini partnered with a number of Wynwood artists, and with the help of that community, the first edition of the $25 coloring book published in April. The 64-page book, made with high-quality environmentally friendly wood-free paper, features the work of 43 street artists, including Alex Senna, Mijares and Patch Whisky and includes a directory with information about each artist and work of art.

“The Wynwood Coloring Book is a lot of things. It’s a tool for mindfulness, to help people take a break from the hustle and remember a simpler time. It’s a souvenir for visitors who want to bring home a part of this place. And it’s a time capsule, capturing Wynwood at a pivotal moment in its young life, preserving today’s art long after it is painted over to make way for a new mural,” The New Tropic wrote earlier this year about the book.

The first printing of the Wynwood Coloring Book sold out in June and a second printing is nearly sold out. There will be one more printing before the next edition of Wynwood Coloring Book comes out featuring a new set of street artists. About 5,000 copies have been sold so far.

Orlandini also has plans to expand beyond Wynwood: “We are now embarking on the next bigger, larger project: A coloring book featuring over 100 artists around the country and a buy-one, give-one initiative that will come with it. For every book sold, we will place a textbook in the hands of schoolchildren in the developing world.”

Orlandini said he is working on a prototype for the national book now and will put out a call to artists in January.

Founded: 2015 (first book in 2016)

Management team: Diego Orlandini

Website: wynwoodcoloringbook.com

Financing: $5,000 via a successfully funded Kickstarter campaign. Hoping to raise $50,000 for a national project.

Recent milestones reached: The Wynwood Coloring Book is now available at Miami International Airport, Books & Books, several museum gift shops including PAMM, and top retailers in Wynwood, including The Wynwood Walls Shop, Glotman, Frangipani and Wynwood Letterpress. Faber-Castell approached the company and together they launched a Wynwood Coloring Book colored pencil set to accompany the book. The startup organized a coloring party at the Miami Book Fair that entertained hundreds of attendees, adults and children alike.

Biggest startup challenge: “Not having a mentor to guide me through the process was the biggest challenge,” Orlandini said. “I’m still looking for one!”

Next step: A coloring book with 100-plus artists and their street art from around the country and a buy one, give one program (for every book sold, the company will give a textbook to schoolchildren in the developing world). “Doing something like this has been a dream of mine since my college years,” he said.

Strategy for next step: With the rapid experience, important connections and growing audience as a result of The Wynwood Coloring Book, the company will implement the same lean process used to create this book, but at a much larger scale.

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.

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November 26, 2016

Cubans wake to global Castro news via free internet from Miami-based nonprofit Apretaste

ApretastelocoWithin hours of the death of Fidel Castro, Miami-based nonprofit Apretaste distributed within Cuba links to international news media about the world’s reaction.

Cubans awoke to learn the news through their phones, via Pizarra, a social network built specifically for the Cuban people that overcomes the connectivity issues on the island, said Apretaste founder Salvi Pascual.

Apretaste runs a platform out of Miami where any Cuban with a cell phone and email service can have access to any information on the internet. Shortcuts to international news sites such as cnnespanol and EFE were made available through Pizarra and Cubans immediately reacted by posting their feelings from within the island.

Posts came  with mixed feelings.  Some Cubans on the island posted hopeful messages such as "Esto es trascendental,se abre una nueva etapa quizas podremos empezar al fin a ver la luz" [translation: This is transcendental, a new era opens, maybe finally we will see the light] posted Apretaste user @yulie14. While others were honoring Castro's memory with words such as "Hoy Cuba esta de luto, el mundo tendra que inclinar su cabeza para ver el paso a la inmortalidad de Fidel." [translation: Today Cuba is in mourning, and the world will have to bow its head to view as Fidel steps into immortality] posted by Apretaste user @ynapn.

Salvi-pascual-HD“Giving a voice to the Cuban people and sharing it with the world is important to us at Apretaste, especially at a time like today when the world’s eyes are on Cuba,” said Pascual, a software developer and professor in Miami.  To learn more about what the Cuban people have to say about Fidel Castro and life in Cuba, and for a live feed of posts by Cubans via Pizarra, follow the @HeyCuba twitter page at https://twitter.com/HeyCuba.

Apretaste connects more than 40,000 people in Cuba to the web, via email, through technology designed and implemented in Miami by a community of open source software developers. Features include access to international news sites, Wikipedia, weather forecasts, Google maps and 30 more sites, all by email.

 

November 25, 2016

Argentina to Miami, a bridge worth building (Part 3)  

 By Natalia Martinez-Kalinina

  LacomunidadIMG_1546Miami has a ways to go before we can truly claim th e title of regional epicenter, but Argentina has long been recognized as one of the primary entrepreneurial - albeit not particularly stable - ecosystems in Latin America. Figuring out how to support Argentina’s wave of growth and appetite for engagement represents a unique opportunity to add value to the region and truly deliver on our vision as a gateway.

 As a first step to test these waters, a group of us came together to co-author a full day of programming within StartupWeekBuenosAires - the largest event of its kind in Latin America-  specifically focused on how to engage with the U.S. ecosystem and market by way of Miami. Ahead of the full agenda being announced shortly, if you are interested in participating or learning more, please fill out this form.

 Leading up to the event in December, we will be featuring interviews with a varied range of Argentine entrepreneurs and companies making their way to Miami. The first installments of this series have featured interviews with Balloon Group and Wolox. For the third feature, we spoke with Joaquin Molla, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of the community - a multiple award winning and globally recognized creative agency, designated as the 2016 multicultural agency of the year by AdAge.

 Tell us about the community/la comunidad. What’s the genesis story? What has been the trajectory?

We wanted to create a company where people can create and produce great work for great brands. The community was born around the idea of collaboration—how people from different cultures can influence each other and do amazing things when they work together. We deeply believe in the power of culturally-driven ideas.

What’s next? How do you see the company’s future growth and development?

At the community we think about growth differently. Most agencies approach the question of growth in the traditional way—the growth of their business; but we think growth is the product of something bigger: following a vision. Our vision remains the same: we believe in the power of culturally-driven ideas and technology. It’s all about our cultural sensibility, and we believe this is a global concept. So where that vision takes us, we will follow…

When did the community/la comunidad come to Miami? Why?

There were a few reasons. One of the most important ones was the idea of being able to do amazing things when you work and being able to have an amazing life when you get out of the office. We thought Miami could help us achieve a better balance between work and life. Some cities tend to give better work options, but with a harder side of life. We opened in Miami in 2001 with the idea of having a company with very high standards on both sides of life. We love the ocean! And it’s very rare to have both the opportunity to work in advertising and the ocean so close. It’s a luxury we celebrate every day. Also it is a very strategic place to be. You can be in New York and Chicago in three hours, in Buenos Aires overnight. You can cover all the Americas fast, and also be in London in six hours. It is in the middle of everywhere.

What kinds of opportunities were you looking for here? What aspects or risks worried you? How have those played out over your years here?

 Again, the idea of a better work-life balance. At the beginning, we were worried about the standards on creativity. Buenos Aires is a very intense city where you are surrounded by culture, and it pushes you beyond your limits all the time… in a very interesting way. So our concern was that Miami could have the opposite influence on the company and on us, but that didn’t happen.

Besides, Miami has changed a lot in the last 16 years in a fascinating direction. I feel like we are also part of that change, and I always felt the city received us and supported us a lot during all those years because we made that bet at that time—and we took it very seriously. Now I feel like Miami is the right place at the right time. I feel honored to be here surrounded by so many talented people who want to find a balance but also want to keep pushing the limits of what’s possible. I feel very lucky to be here.

From the perspective of a Latin American entrepreneur/founder but a long-time Miami transplant, how do see Miami today? What works, what surprises you, what frustrates you?

 I am very happy with the evolution Miami is going through. I like that it is becoming a more interesting place on the culture side. But the sense of “belonging” is something Miami has to work on. Somehow, it is hard to have strong roots in the city – everyone is moving around, and it feels like you are somehow another tourist in town. Whatever Miami can do to make people feel like a “local” and celebrate that you chose this city to raise your family and build your company would be great. More and more interesting people are choosing Miami to live, but how do we give them the sense of belonging and that extra “local” feeling that makes them stay?

In light of this perspective, what can Miami do better to become a truly value-adding “hub” for the region? (in your industry and in general)

I think any effort on culture is very well received. We were always perceived as a shallow city, but now the amount of thinkers living here is amazing. What do we do with all of them to bring that truth to the surface?

How has it worked to have your company straddling Miami and Buenos Aires? Any lessons or advice for companies exploring similar moves?

We have a lot to learn on both sides. We should mix process and intuition more. Both extremes are bad. In the U.S., things become too process driven, and sometimes you lose a bit of the magic; and the opposite is also true in Argentina, so that mix has helped our company ha lot.

Organizations like Endeavor have talked at length about the “Argentine Model,” but Argentina is also a country that has lived through rocky political and economic cycles. Is there something Miami can learn from the Argentine case study?

Well, you can always learn from anything. I think the biggest thing would be the ability to adapt fast to anything. You become tougher, and you can adapt easily to change. I think that is key these days. That is the only thing we can be sure about: Everything is changing all the time. So being raised in a country like Argentina prepares you for anything. You also learn how to react quicker, because you know timing is key. These days with technology, that speed drives everything we do. The “speed of culture” is dictating a faster way to communicate all the time.

Do you see potential for collaboration and bridge-building between the entrepreneurial ecosystem and the creative economies in Buenos Aires and Miami? Why or why not?

I think Miami should build a bridge between all the big cities of Latin America, not only Buenos Aires. We should be able to see the best artists' work, the best plays, movies, books and more. There should be a connection between Miami and the best of each of those cities that is more direct, fluent and consistent. This happens sometimes: you see something amazing from one of these cities. For me, however, this should be a serious long-term program curated by interesting people to make sure we have a pulse in each of those cultures to see not only the best but also what’s coming, what’s under the radar. In Miami we are at the center of it all. We can connect the south and the north, and we can do amazing things with that amazing mix.

[This is part 3 of a series. Read part 1 here - Honey vs. Vinegar: How are we luring and keeping the companies we want in Miami? and part 2 here]

Natalia Martinez-Kalinina is the General Manager of CIC Miami and the Founder of Awesome Foundation MIAMI. If you are an Argentine company looking to expand to Miami or a Miami-based entrepreneur/investor looking to connect with the Argentine ecosystem, please reach out to Natalia at martinez@cic.us

November 21, 2016

Startup Spotlight: After 'Shark Tank, Three Jerks Jerky manages hyper-growth, expands product line

1Three Jerks Jerky 01 EKM

Three Jerks Jerky created a line of filet mignon beef jerky that is all natural and scored a Daymond John investment on Shark Tank. Now the startup has expanded, even offering burgers.

Company Name: Three Jerks Jerky

Offices: Miami, Los Angeles, New Jersey

Concept: Why should something as incredible as filet mignon be relegated to special occasions and celebrations? Friends Jordan Barrocas and Daniel Fogelson didn’t think so, so they formed Three Jerks Jerky and created a beef jerky that is and all natural and that fans say is melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

Story: After being disappointed with all of the jerky available — it was either too tough to eat or loaded with so many chemicals it was scary — Barrocas and Fogelson decided to make their own. “We didn’t want to make regular old jerky and felt that we needed something special. Filet mignon it was,” said Barrocas, who earned an MBA from the University of Miami and worked in the footwear industry before taking the entrepreneurial plunge.

After going door to door to stores with their samples they caught their first big break. “We aired on ABC’s ‘Shark Tank’ in October 2015 and partnered with Daymond John. The exposure from the show produced an overnight growth spurt and we expanded 600 percent in two months,” said Barrocas said.

[Read more: Miami entrepreneur will feed beef jerky to the sharks]

That short growth spurt brought more than a million dollars in sales but also significant challenges: They couldn’t supply the demand and maintain their production standards. “Our production partners were at max capacity and we weren’t coming close to filling our orders on time,” Barrocas said. To keep the wheels from falling off and alleviate growing pains, Daymond John introduced Three Jerks to Rastelli Foods Group, and they partnered up. “Rastelli quickly organized a supply chain for our filet mignon, improving price and reliability. They took control of managing our production schedules and sources new manufacturers for us,” Barrocas said. “Daniel and myself could get back to focusing on our brand and selling our jerky — essentially back to the Jerks we once were.”

Three Jerks Jerky is expecting to close the year up another 500 percent over last year, due to growth in the retail business, including expanding into Publix, Hy-Vee and Meijer grocery chains. Three Jerks offers five core filet mignon jerky flavors: Original (the best seller by far); Memphis BBQ; Chipotle Adobo; Maple Bourbon Churro; and Hamburger (yep, it tastes like a burger). A two-ounce pack (two servings) is $8.99 on threejerksjerky.com.

Next year, a new flavor will join the lineup. “It’s a teriyaki flavor that we developed in partnership with the company Soy Vay. They make the most amazing teriyaki sauce and I have been purchasing it for as long as I can remember. We figured the best teriyaki sauce and the best jerky were a match made in heaven,” said Barrocas, who enjoys cooking.

Beyond Jerky: The partnership with Rastelli has also helped the company introduce two burger varieties this past August: 100 percent Filet Mignon and the first-ever-to-market Pork Belly Blend (60 percent beef filet, 40 percent pork), Barrocas said. “Just like our jerky, the burgers are made from only the most premium cuts and contain no preservatives or artificial ingredients.”

Launched: October 2013

Website: www.threejerksjerky.com

Management team: Jordan Barrocas (based in Miami), Daniel Fogelson (Los Angeles), Ray Rastelli III (New Jersey)

No. of employees: Five

Financing: Primarily self-funded. Launched on Kickstarter and raised $40,000. Appeared on “Shark Tank” in 2015 and secured a deal with Daymond John, resulting in an investment of $100,000.

Recent milestones: Appeared on Shark Tank in October 2015. Secured an investment deal with Daymond John and grew the business 650 percent in 2015. Have since joint ventured with Daymond John and Rastelli Foods Group to create a partnership with strengthened supply chain and operations. Consequently, have lowered unit costs and are on pace to grow an additional 250 percent in 2016. Three Jerks has broken through in major grocery retail in the fourth quarter with Publix, Michigan-based Meijer and Iowa-based Hy-Vee.

Biggest startup challenge: Maintaining quality, consistency and on-time delivery through hyper-growth.

Next step: Deepen retail presence with continued supply chain growth and operational efficiencies with Rastelli partnership.

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg

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Wyncode outgrows The LAB, will open its own campus Jan.8

Wyncodefounders

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Wyncode Academy, a homegrown coding bootcamp that teaches computer programming in 10 weeks, is outgrowing The LAB Miami, where it has been based, and is moving into its own stand-alone code school campus on Jan. 8. But staying true to its name and roots, the company is staying in Wynwood.

"We have loved being at The LAB and it is always going to be a special place for us. That said, we are ready to double down on Miami and move into our own dedicated campus," said Juha Mikkola, who founded the code school with his wife, Johanna (both pictured above) in Miami in 2014.

Along with the expansion, Wyncode also announced it will also be launching its first part-time course for those who want to learn how to code without leaving their jobs and offering more corporate training.

Wyncode’s new custom-designed campus, called Wynbase, is located at 549 NW 28th St. and at 3,100 square feet is more than four times larger than its dedicated space at The LAB. Wynbase, when it opens Jan. 8, will include two full-size classrooms, a smaller classroom for corporate training programs and an open concept co-working area for Wyncode students and staff, Mikkola said.

Wyncode’s intensive, immersive full-time web development course will now start every five weeks and provide prospective Wyncoders with more flexibility in terms of start dates. More importantly, this new format provides students with the opportunity to repeat the first 5-week section if they need extra time to work on their fundamentals, said Juha Mikkola. There are benefits of culture too: The more experienced students can inspire and help the newer class, he said.

Wyncode’s part-time web development course will meet three evenings a week for 12 weeks and offer career-oriented students the option to keep their day jobs while learning to build web applications at night. More information on the new program, which will start in February, is available here. Both the full-time and part-time classes will be capped at 30 students.  

Wyncode will also follow on its first successful corporate workshop with Visa and build more corporate training programs for Miami companies looking to adopt Agile methodologies and innovate their processes through automation and other technologies. 

"This is a move to centralize and strengthen the overall experience and quality at Wyncode," said Juha Mikkola. Wyncode will be consolidating its bootcamps at Wynbase but will continue to do Wyntroductions (one-day bootcamps) and other events in Fort Lauderdale, where it has held cohorts.

Wyncode Academy, now with 13 full-time and 18 part-time employees, was the first bricks and mortar coding school to be licensed by the Florida Department of Education. About 350 people have completed the programs with a 97 percent job placement rate. Over 100 companies have hired Wyncoders, who come from a variety of careers such as  chefs, lawyers, salespeople, accountants, concierges, marketing executives and entrepreneurs.  Applications for the programs are accepted on a rolling basis and interested candidates should apply at wyncode.co.

“We’re incredibly excited to launch Wynbase and provide the best possible learning environment for our students,”  said Johanna Mikkola. She and Juha were chosen as Endeavor Entrepreneurs in 2015. "We believe the future for Miami tech is bright and we can’t wait to welcome the entire tech community to Wynbase in 2017.”

Read more: Following up on White House pledge, Wyncode releases its graduation, placement rates

Read more: Learn to code in 10 weeks? Try one day.

Wyncodeclass

A Wyncode class, above, and a Pitch Night, which ends each bootcamp, below.

Wyncodepitch

November 18, 2016

Employers: Salaries are going up. Tech professionals: Not fast enough.

ITPalooza

ITPalooza, coming up Dec. 8, is a place for employers and tech professionals to network as well as learn. Photo by Nancy Dahlberg

 

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

About half of employers said IT salaries are going up in South Florida but nearly half of professionals believed they would have to pursue new career opportunities in Silicon Valley and cities including Boston, New York and Austin to gain higher earnings, according to a local survey released Friday.

The annual online survey, conducted as part of the upcoming ITPalooza tech event on Dec. 8, isn’t scientific but provides an interesting gauge of local tech sentiment from both employers and employees; 125 South Florida tech professionals and 37 employers responded to the survey.

Of the tech professionals responding this year, 75 percent were full-time employees. Half said they would “very likely” consider new career opportunities, while 34 percent said, “maybe.” About 32 percent felt that job opportunities in the area were increasing, but 18 percent said they were decreasing, with the remaining 50 percent indicating the market was “flat.”

“The job market for software developers and system engineers is becoming increasingly internationalized,” said Alex Funkhouser, ITPalooza co-founder and CEO of SherlockTalent, a Miami IT and marketing staffing firm. “Many local IT professionals are earning above-market rates by working remotely for out-of-state companies.”

Employers’ outlooks were more sunny. Seventy-four percent of the responding employers said they will be hiring IT positions in 2017, mainly software developers or systems and network engineers. Mobile application developers, security engineers, project managers, IT managers, business analysts and sales and marketing were also on their hiring lists. Five companies said they would be looking for a CIO or CTO in 2017.

Funkhouser said he has found that starting salaries in South Florida have recently typically ranged from: $80,000 to $195,000 for software developers; $65,000 to $120,000 for mobile application developers; $62,000 to $110,000 for systems or network engineers; $77,000 to $140,000 for security engineers; and $140,000 to $300,000 for CIO or CTO.

In the survey, 52 percent of employers said IT salaries are going up (less than 10 percent a year), while the remaining respondents said they stayed unchanged. The majority (74 percent) said local universities were producing quality IT candidates, but just 8 percent of employers who responded to the survey said they were offering apprentice programs.

However, 52 percent of employers said they were considering outsourcing some of their operations, and when employers were asked if South Florida had an “ample pool” of IT candidates, 59 percent said “no” while 41 percent felt the supply was “adequate.”

Employers and potential tech talent can find one another at the 5th annual ITPalooza, which will be Dec. 8 at Signature Grand in Davie and is hosted by the South Florida Technology Alliance. ITPalooza, which attracted about 1,500 people last year, is an annual gathering of South Florida's technology professionals, CIOs and CTOs, user groups, educators and companies with an expo, keynote speeches, panel discussions, workshops, a hiring fair and an evening party. Tickets ($60 for general admission; $15 for students; free if you will bring two unwrapped toys for charity) can be registered for at itpalooza.com or on Eventbrite.

FAU Tech Runway graduates third class of startups

Florida Atlantic University’s Tech Runway recently celebrated the graduation of Venture Class III, the third class of companies to complete the yearlong FAU Tech Runway program.

The founders of the four companies in “Venture Class III” were honored at the ceremony: Thomas Gregory of Sofla Sunwear, a lifestyle brand of clothing established to represent the unique culture of South Florida; Ray Briant of TiloTag, a patented smartphone app that allows you to discover the memories that surround you; June Adams and James Khalil of PowerCalc, the first SaaS-based software that completely automates the electrical engineering calculations for the building, construction, and facility management industries that is compliant with the National Electrical Code (NEC); and Carly Asher Yoost of The Child Rescue Coalition, a nonprofit organization that builds sophisticated technology to track child predators across the globe.

“We are incredibly proud of what this third FAU Tech Runway® Venture Class has accomplished,” said Rhys L. Williams, associate vice president for research and the managing director for FAU Tech Runway. “Several of these companies were little more than concepts when they began our program. Now they have products, customers, sales, patents, employees, and have become real businesses. For these four companies that have launched from FAU Tech Runway, the sky’s the limit.”

Tech Runway is a public-private partnership formed to foster technology startups and early-stage companies; selected companies receive a $25,000 non-equity grant, participate in a 16-week intensive boot camp, engage in a yearlong mentoring program with a team of five business mentors, and are provided workspace for one year.

Since its launch in fall 2014, FAU Tech Runway has provided financial support, strategic development, entrepreneurial education, free workspace, investor introductions, and expert mentoring for 29 startup companies. As a result of the program, 239 jobs have been created, 57 FAU students have been employed, more than $6 million in revenue has been earned, and more than $18 million investment capital has been raised.

For more information on FAU Tech Runway, visit techrunway.fau.edu.