September 19, 2016

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

  WyncodedayWyncode bootcamps end with pitch days. This one is Pitch Day IX at The LAB Miami. Photo by David Salazar.

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

While Miami's Wyncode Academy has been busy growing its bootcamp business, the coding education startup has also been at the forefront of a national effort to  build a strong -- and transparent -- foundation for its emerging industry.

Last year, in support of the White House and President Obama's TechHire initiative, Wyncode and nine other young coding schools formed a new trade organization called the New Economy Skills Training Association (NESTA). NESTA's purpose is  to establish best practices, standards and increase accountability for claims such as graduation and placement rates for students nationwide who typically plunk down $10,000 to $12,000 or more  to learn to code in under three months. One only has to look at the mess the for-profit college industry is now mired in to know the importance of building in  standards and transparency from the beginning.

Today, Wyncode will release its first independently verified job placement report for 2014 and 2015,  following its commitment made publicly in a letter to  President Obama in March 2015. Wyncode follows New York’s Flatiron School, San Francisco’s Hack Reactor and Austin’s MakerSquare  with its results. (Other bootcamps that have pledged are App Academy, Dev Bootcamp,  General Assembly, Galvanize, Turing School and Hackbright Academy.)

“Wyncode continues to lead the way for transparency in the coding bootcamp industry,” Wyncode co-founder Juha Mikkola said. "This is a major milestone for this type of education, not only in Florida but across the country. We are just the fourth school in the nation to release reviewed outcome results, something that is a major topic in for-profit education."

The findings, verified by accounting firm MBAF, show that  Wyncode's graduation rate is 97 percent and nearly all of its job-seeking graduates found jobs in time. Today, Wyncode is also releasing an interactive web app that allows interested parties, including potential students, to drill down using gender, ethnicity and educational background in order to visualize how students with particular  backgrounds have fared after the program, said Johanna Mikkola, the other half of the co-founding team.

Later today, find the app at http://wyncode.co/studentoutcomes/ and the job placement report at http://wyncode.co/jobs-report/.

Wyncode offers 10-week full-time coding bootcamps in Wynwood and Fort Lauderdale. The program attracts people without a programming background from a variety of careers, including chefs, lawyers, salespeople, accountants, concierges, marketing executives and entrepreneurs, and it focuses on tech skills like Ruby, JavaScript, HTML and CSS and the business skills that startups require to be successful.

Wyncode's report showed that 97 percent of its job-seeking graduates in 2014 and 2015 found work, though some took more than four months; 43 percent were placed in jobs within 30 days of graduation and 77 percent within 90 days. Of those that found work, 73 percent were fulltime jobs; the others were entrepreneurial, internships, apprentices,  part-time or  contract. The percentage of students placed in "technical" roles was 84 percent. The average age of Wyncode graduates is 30.

Here are a few other highlights of Wyncode's report for 2014 and 2015:

 * Straight out of Wyncode, more than 1 in 10 students make over $60,000 per year and 1 in 20 make more than $80,000. The average salary, based on available information from 111 respondents, was $46,200. The majority of graduates stayed in South Florida. 

 * Females graduating from Wyncode have a higher starting salary than males. Females started at an average of $2,000 more, despite the fact the technology industry is male dominated;

 * Wyncode graduates have created 12 startups and counting;

 * Post-Wyncode, students with a high school diploma perform at similar levels to those with advanced degrees and overall placement rates are similar among all ethnicities.

Wyncode Academy is licensed by the Florida Department of Education and has graduated over 300 Wyncoders. About 80 companies have hired Wyncoders and more than 30 companies hiring at least a second Wyncoder. Wyncode's campuses are in the Wynwood Arts District of Miami and Fort Lauderdale’s Flagler Arts and Technology Village, and it is the leading student reviewed in-person program on  Course Report, with over 100 reviews and a 4.7 out of 5 star rating. Current bootcamps cost $11,500.

Wyncode’s next 30-person cohorts, which always end with popular demo nights, begin in Miami on Oct. 3 and Jan. 9 and in Ft. Lauderdale on Oct. 10 and Jan. 17. Apply at wyncode.co.

“Learning to code is the new literacy,” Johanna Mikkola said. “We get a lot of questions if this is really possible after our 10 week course. This is why transparency of outcomes is extremely important to Wyncode, so that prospective students can see the real picture of Wyncode grads after graduation.”

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

September 18, 2016

Why every incubator needs social entrepreneurs

Startupfiucohort1

Photo by Daniela Cadena

By Robert Hacker

In January 2016, Emily Gresham and I began to design the program that became StartUP FIU, Florida International University’s (FIU) new incubator. Emily, who is Assistant Vice President for Research and Economic Development, holds the strong belief that hospitals and universities are the anchor institutions in cities. This philosophy lead to StartUP FIU’s focus on serving the entire community and not just the Brickell-Wynwood corridor. I believe there is much confusion between small business management and entrepreneurship and that Miami would be best served if StartUP FIU supported the entrepreneurship that grows large, scalable ventures. With community and scalable ventures in place as the founding principles, Emily and I quickly added other key principles:

Inclusion We welcome everyone to apply to StartUP FIU, from high schoolers and college students to faculty from any university in South Florida. We welcome retired people, FIU alumni and people with no formal education. We received 160 applications to Cohort 1 and the applications were split almost evenly between students, alumni and the community. As they say, “we bet on the jockeys and not on the horses”.

Free: To be truly inclusive a program cannot have financial barriers to entry. The signature, 13-week incubator program “Empower” is totally free--no application fees, no payments or charges during the program and no equity participation for the incubator. We also provide mentors, consultants, space and university resources at no charge.

Stage Agnostic: When we first started talking to prospective entrepreneurs, we realized that many people did not even know how to advance their ideas beyond their first doodles on a piece of paper. Therefore, we decided that we would accept people who just had ideas, people that had a minimal viable product (MVP) but no revenue and companies with revenue. Applicants did not even have to have a company formed.

General Incubator: We think of StartUP FIU as a startup. We are iterating to determine the best way to serve the South Florida community. Today we accept all types of ideas from food and fashion to edtech, high tech and medical diagnostics. We even have a chair company in Cohort 1. We may experiment with specially “themed cohorts” in the future as we continue to explore what types of entrepreneurship will best serve South Florida, but today we welcome applications from all industries.

Authenticity: When one spends a lot of time with students, one realizes that they are most engaged by hands on, experiential learning. StartUP FIU’s incubator is offered through a group of entrepreneurs that use the customer fieldwork approach in a modified Lean Startup methodology. We do not use the professorial approach so common in most academic incubators. Demo Day at StartUP FIU is a pitch day to angel, seed and “A” round VCs.

The last key decision Emily and I made was to combine traditional and social entrepreneurs in the same cohort. Several institutions have separate incubators for traditional and social entrepreneurs, but we found that perhaps only Y Combinator shares our view that all the entrepreneurs should be combined in one cohort. We opted for this approach in part because we believe that diversity breeds better collaboration.

Secondly, we believe that the social entrepreneurs will help the traditional entrepreneurs to remember their responsibility to not only make a profit but also to improve society.

Lastly, millennials have a high level of genuine social concern. As they reach the years where they become the major purchasers, they will force all entrepreneurs to become social entrepreneurs.

Perhaps the evidence for this view of social entrepreneurship comes from the people and companies that began Cohort 1 Sept. 6 (pictured above). We have a former Detroit schoolteacher trying to provide better information about higher education alternatives to students. We have a team originally from Venezuela working to use bee keeping as a micro-entrepreneurship concept to help poor women raise their standard of living. We have a team composed of about fifteen FIU computer science graduate and undergraduate students from all over the world creating a new pedagogy for early child learning using the agile development methodology. We also have a PhD researcher from Baskin Palmer working on a new approach to eye diagnostics and a team building prosthetics with 3-D printers. As is obvious, the line between social and traditional entrepreneurship is becoming very cloudy.

[Who's in Cohort 1? See the list here.]

StartUP FIU will begin accepting applications Sept. 19, 2016, for its second cohort beginning in January 2017. Applications and more information about StartUP FIU can be found at Startup.FIU.edu.

Robert Hacker is the Director of StartUP FIU and teaches social entrepreneurship at FIU, MIT and UM. He is the former CFO of One Laptop per Child and prior to that built a publicly traded billion-dollar company in seven years in Indonesia. He consults to companies in the U.S., the Caribbean and Central America on growth strategies and complex problems through GH Growth Advisors. His books on entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship are available on Amazon.

READ MORE: Multi-campus StartUP FIU gets ready for takeoff

READ MORE: Q&A with Robert Hacker on scaling social entrepreneurship, finding partners, thinking big

Hacker1

 Above, Bob Hacker introduced the mentors to the StartUP FIU entrepreneurs. At top of post, the first cohort of StartUP FIU.

Entrepreneurship Datebook: Events, workshops in South Florida

Tech eggFunding Facetime: Calling all innovators and startups looking for funding: Accelerated Growth Partners (AGP) is offering 20 minutes of facetime with their team of angel investors and business professionals between 3:30 and 5:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 19. Register here.

Inside the Investor's head: Enterprise Development Corporation and Miami DDA are launching an investor series connecting entrepreneurs with investors from Florida and beyond.  Learn more about the series and how to apply in an informational meeting, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 19, Mindwarehouse, 111 NE 1st Street, Miami. More info here.

Generation Startup screening: Join Refresh Miami for a screening of Generation Startup, including a Q&A with the director, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept, 20, O Cinema, Wynwood: More Info/tickets: http://www.o-cinema.org/event/generation-startup/

Financial Intelligence for Entrepreneurs: This event aims to help enable you to build a successful, long-lasting and profitable business by breaking down financial numbers in layman's terms, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22, StartHub, 66 West Flagler St., 9th floor, Miami. More info on Eventbrite.

Coming up

Hispanic Unity of Florida's Entrepreneur Summit: Successful entrepreneurs, business experts, educational institutions and marketing gurus will share their insights and best tips for success at this free summit, 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sept. 28, Nova Southeastern University,  Carl DeSantis Building, Fort Lauderdale. More information: www.Hufesummit.org

Refresh Miami Demo Day: South Florida startups  AlulA, Bid.Aero, Citizen, Coach HQ, DocuVital and Moulin.io were selected to pitch for prizes that will  propel their  business forward, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sept. 29, Miami Dade College, Chapman Conference Center (Building 3, 2nd Floor, Room 3210). More info here or refreshmiami.com.

LaunchCode's HappyHire: Are you an aspiring technologist looking to start your career in software development? A CTO on the hunt for rockstar coders? Come join us for LaunchCode's HappyHire. Employers including MasterCard, LifeWallet and others will be on hand, 6 p.m.-8 p.m, Sept. 29,  Venture Cafe Miami, 1951 NW 7th Ave., Miami. More info: happyhire.eventbrite.com

Have an event you would like considered for Entrepreneurship Datebook? Email it to ndahlberg@miamiherald.com. Want to see a more comprehensive listing? Check out the Community Events section of the revamped refreshmiami.com.

 

 

September 17, 2016

Hispanic Unity's free Entrepreneur Summit set for Sept. 28

TextEditor

Entrepreneurs, business experts, educators and marketing gurus will share their insights and tips for success at Hispanic Unity of Florida’s upcoming Entrepreneur Summit.

The free summit will include workshops, exhibitions, awards and networking time. It will be from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sept. 28 in Nova Southeastern University’s Carl DeSantis Building in Fort Lauderdale. Summit organizers expect 300 to 400 people based on past attendance at its annual summits.

For more information or to register: www.Hufesummit.org.

Nancy Dahlberg

 

Meet the entrepreneurs in StartUP FIU's Cohort 1

StartUP FIU launched its first cohort of its 13-week Empower incubator Sept. 6. The cohort, selected from 160 applications, includes 20 entrepreneurs from 19 businesses or concepts in a variety of industries. It also includes social entrepreneurs. The free incubator program accepted entrepreneurs from the idea stage to revenue-producing companies; it includes community members as well as FIU students and alumni. Read more about the program here: Multi-campus StartUP FIU gets ready for takeoff

Who's in Cohort 1 of StartUP FIU?  Find the list below: 

Addigy

Founder: Jason Dettbarn.

Addigy provides a cloud based IT Management platform for organizations to manage their growing portfolio Apple Mac computers.

Ascynd.co

Founder: Andru Fratarcangeli

eSport is a marketplace for players to seek competitions and funding.

BAHL Design Group LLC

Founder: Brandt H. Labastille

BAHL Design Group offers world's lightest deskchair in waterproof backpack with solar panel/battery pack

Bid.Aero

Founder: Anthony Leon

Bid.Aero is a sourcing & procurement platform for aircraft and engine part sales.

College Pop

Founder: Oneika Osborne

College Pop is the mobile student development and college preparation hub.

Delta Designs

Founder: Christopher Scull

Delta Designs is proposing a locally-sourced, rapid-prototyping business with the exclusive goal to produce prosthetic components using 3D printing.

Helene's Ice Cream

Founder: Helene's Ice Cream

Helene's handcrafts highly addictive frozen custard. Happiness in a jar.

iscreen2prevent

Founder: Delia DeBuc

'One Stop Mobile Eye Care' idea is to provide convenient comprehensive eye screening to rural and urban seniors as well as the general population

Jarly

Founder: Steve Aitken

Jarly is a subscription box service for artisan made fresh baked goods. We've launched. We have customers and revenue.

Master Honey

Founder: Andrea Saladrigas

Master Honey empowers low income women by giving them all the resources necessary to start their own beekeeping business.

MMM

Founder: Giovanna Gallardo

Discover, personalize and share transportation loops linking cultural destinations.

MPG (The Molecular Pearl Group)

Founder: Xavier González & Argelio Maldonado

Technology designed for automated creation of avant-garde food/beverage pearls

Neat Study

Founder: Ranjeet Deshmukh

Neat Study's app helps students ace their assignments while making learning fun.

NPC Publishing

Founder: Ivan Rodriguez

NPC Publishing creates a game universe where the players control their content

Pilot VR

Founder: Jose Maldonado

 Pilot VR is an all-in-one affordable VR system aimed at physical therapy.

SD Technologies

Founder: Sebastian Duque

SD Technologies is disrupting a niche market within the sports industry.

SoundBite LLC

Founder: Daniel Gonzalez

SoundBite brings the beauty of audio to the social media world.

VoterAid

Founder: Christopher Knowles

VoterAid connects voters and candidates with heuristics based on a set of questions designed to highlight the differences between candidates in a given election.

No Name Company

Founder: Rory Kennedy

Natural organic banana juice based beverage marketed towards individuals with active healthy lifestyles.

Startupfiucohort1

 Photo of StartUP FIU's Cohort 1 of Empower by Daniela Cadena

September 14, 2016

Startup Spotlight: Toy inventors believe ‘there’s a hero inside every boy’

BMSpotlightHeroboys0912+Fly+MSH

Whimzy Entertainment, a Miami startup, developed HeroBoys, bringing thoughtful, age-appropriate superhero fun to young boys in a line of comics and toys. But what about HeroGirls? They’re coming.

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Company name: Whimzy Entertainment (HeroBoys is first product line)

Headquarters: Venture Hive, Miami

Concept: HeroBoys is a line of comics and toys for young boys.

Story: Inspired by their sons, Charlie, 8, and Jamie, 6, and the lack of thoughtful superhero-related content available for young boys, Ed and Crissi Boland (pictured above) created the HeroBoys. The startup’s signature item is an 18-inch plush/plastic hero, and related comic books provide fun superhero stories for kids.

“Boys love superheroes. … But there is not much there for boys under 10 that is thoughtful, developmentally appropriate and not violent. Boys also love comic books, and it is a great tool to promote literacy because it combines words and pictures in such a dynamic way,” said Ed, a former venture capitalist with Scout Ventures.

They developed an early prototype and wrote a comic book for a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign last fall, raising $58,000 and exceeding their goal. But more importantly, it helped validate the concept.

Two prototypes later and the Bolands have a team of six diverse HeroBoys, each with his own name and personality developed through the comic book stories. “These are designed to encourage children to find their own strengths and become the best version of themselves they can be,” Ed said. “There’s a hero inside every boy.”

The Bolands have sold more than 500 HeroBoy toys, which retail for $65. They have published four comic books ($7.99 each), which come in the mail addressed to the child, just like back in the day. In the comic book stories, the HeroBoys have to learn to work together as a team and bring their abilities to bear when the situation calls for it, because they are living in a city that is being overrun by selfishness and narcissistic behavior.

“All the comics are meant to be teachable moments and encourage the values that we want to encourage in our own children, such as compassion, humility and diligence,” said Crissi, a sales expert who managed a business for 10 years. “It is good, wholesome superhero fun.”

This Saturday at 11 a.m. at Books & Books in Coral Gables, the Bolands will give a community reading at a HeroBoys’ launch party, and the first edition of the comic book in hardcover as well as the HeroBoy toys will be for sale. The products are also available on heroboys.com, Amazon.com and will be appearing on Zulily in the fall, the Bolands said. T-shirts, caps, masks and capes are also for sale, and apps and games are in the plans.

Crissi said that during a series of readings in local schools, the girls often asked, “Where are the HeroGirls?” In 2017, the company will introduce HeroGirls. The Bolands have already started to plant them in the comic books as background characters, and some will soon be joining the team. Every year, some character will graduate and new characters will be introduced.

“It will allow us to go to a lot of places where there hasn’t been a lot of representation of superheros — girls, ethnically diverse characters, superheroes with disabilities,” Ed said. “In the comics, we can travel through time and space and worlds and countries. We can run with our imaginations.”

Launched: October 2015

Management team: Ed and Crissi Boland, co-founders, and Tom Butkiewicz, a manufacturing specialist.

Website: www.heroboys.com

Financing: Self-funded initial R&D; $58,000 raised on Kickstarter; currently closing $150,000 angel round.

Recent milestones reached: Fully launched with initial product line; exhibited at the Atlanta Gift Show; participated in the 2016 Venture Hive Accelerator.

Biggest startup challenge: Creating an end-to-end supply chain for a new product, balancing quality content creation with quality product development, manufacturing and distribution.

Next step: Making HeroBoys a “must have” toy this holiday season. To do this, the startup will focus on evangelizing early adopters, developing supplemental media content such as YouTube videos, and focusing on partnerships, marketing and public relations.

Investor’s view: “I’m the mother of five and have two boys in the target market HeroBoys is designing for. It was an easy decision for me to get involved because I know that there is great demand for an alternative option to Marvel/DC comics action figures that tend to be too violent (PG-13/R ratings) and not educating our children at critical moments in their development,” said Melissa Medina Jiménez, executive vice president of eMerge Americas and HeroBoys’ first investor. “HeroBoys has great potential not only to have a positive impact on our children, but we also believe it has an incredible opportunity to become a market leader in the action figurine and comic book series space by providing significant product differentiation through various revenue streams.”

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

Read more Startup Spotlights

This startup wants to take you shopping – through virtual reality

Grocers, distributors catch the Banana Wave

Octopi making waves in shipping industry

Mediconecta brings telehealth to emerging markets.

Why Hope Solo is partnering with this startup

Modern OM, created mindfully

BMSpotlightHeroboys0912+Display+MSH

 

Pitch your startup for $10K investment at upcoming Geek Tank in West Palm Beach

MIT Enterprise Forum of South Florida, Startup Palm Beach and Miami Innovation Fund are partnering in the 4th Annual “Geek Tank”, an event geared at getting early stage startups recognition and capital. Anyone with a tech driven startup or innovative idea can apply via Gust, submitting through the online investment portal’s website by answering a few basic questions.

MIT has hosted this event 3 times in the past, featuring angel backed fintech startup Waleteros out of Miami in 2014, who received a $25,000 term sheet but declined the aggressive valuation. This year, four winners will be chosen from the Gust group and chosen to present to a panel of early stage investors including Chris Callahan, founder of Startup Palm Beach Capital, Jack Karabees, co-founder of the Miami Innovation Fund, and Andrew Heitner, principal at Alcon Partners. In addition, Howard Gitten, technology lawyer at full service, international firm Locke Lorde, is organizing and sponsoring the event with $5,000 credit in a legal retainer, enough to help incorporate and/or advise as needed, and Peter Haines, of Horizon Growth Advisors, is providing $5,000 in-kind consulting services to the winner.

The winner will be announced live at the night of the event, scheduled from 6:30pm-9pm at Keiser University, 2600 N. Military Trail in West Palm Beach. Tickets are $30 until September 15th and $35 after that.

MIT Enterprise Forum of South Florida is an entrepreneur support organization comprised of technology enthusiasts from Jupiter to Miami. They host 10 events per year including CEO Roundtable Breakfasts, high-tech Demos, panels, and holiday parties. The non-profit was formed in 2003 with a mission to provide educational programs and services that promote and strengthen innovation at the intersection of business and technology.

This will be the largest business plan competition and idea accelerator in Palm Beach County, which is becoming a hotbed for entrepreneurs. Both the private and public sector are collaborating to ensure we do not continue to suffer from brain drain or lack of infrastructure.

The recently formed coalition Palm Beach Technology Association is helping unite the voices and provide discounted rates to coworkers in Downtown West Palm Beach. The City of West Palm Beach is doing it’s part with the support of the Business Development Board and the Economic Council, who are headed on a Leadership Trip to Denver, Co. for Startup Week. The upcoming Global Entrepreneurship Week in November is in it’s 5th year fostering collaboration not only to showcase entrepreneurs but also to help catalyze new companies at Startup Weekend.

To Register for the Event, click here: http://bit.ly/GeekTank2016

To Apply as a Startup: http://bit.ly/GeekTank10KChallenge

Submitted by Startup Palm Beach

Palm Beach Tech awarded $150,000 in grants to open entrepreneur workspace

The Palm Beach Tech Association has been awarded $150,000 to open a collaborative workspace for emerging entrepreneurs and early stage startups at 313 Datura Street in Downtown West Palm Beach.

“This innovative project is a great example of how the City of West Palm Beach is not only open FOR business, but it is open TO business as well.  Our entrepreneur class is quickly becoming a cornerstone of our growing business economy," said Mayor Jeri Muoio.

The PalmBeach Tech Space is currently operating in its soft opening with options for part time, full time, and 24/7 access. There will also be dedicated desks, private offices and perks like discounts at local businesses and free in-house Subculture Coffee. They expect to be fully operational by October 3rd.

"This is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs," said Clay Williams, CEO of Achieve and Palm Beach Tech Board Member. "The workspace offers everything a start-up needs, and this collaborative environment will ultimately result in greater and more innovative ideas."

Led by a $100,000 matching grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the City of West Palm Beach CRA ($25,000) and several private companies including Achieve ($25,000) have also stepped up to support the non-profit initiative.

“Creating public spaces that connect the community and add to neighborhood life is essential to building more successful cities. The workspace will help to do just that by supporting local talent and encouraging more collaboration between idea makers of all kinds,” said Lilly Weinberg, Knight Foundation director for community foundations.

They’ve also partnered with Palm Beach Atlantic University, the Palm Beach Code School, and FAU Tech Runway to offer students free access to the facility and its programming.

The Palm Beach Tech Association will host its next Meetup on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 at Palm Beach Tech Space. For more information and to join, visit www.palmbeachtech.org/space/

- Submitted by Palm Beach Tech Association

September 13, 2016

Launch, grow, invest: Ways to make women count in the tech ecosystem

United Way Womens Luncheon

A sea of women entrepreneurs attends a United Way Women's Leadership luncheon. Photo by Sidonia Rose Swarm

By Alma Kadragic

First came the birth of the Miami technology ecosystem, strongly supported by the Knight Foundation and visible with the launch of e-Merge Americas in the first half of 2014. As e-Merge continued, incubators and accelerators grew together with co-working spaces like Pipeline and WeWork. And then someone realized that despite a few stars, the technology ecosystem seemed to benefit male entrepreneurs far more than women.

One answer was the launch in May of WIN Lab Miami, The Center for Women's Entrepreneurial Leadership, backed by Babson College. Starting this month 20 women - from new entrepreneurs to those with several startups behind them - will spend eight months at WIN Lab developing concepts, brands, and management to create scalable companies.

WIN Lab Director Nelly Farra moderated a panel of women entrepreneurs today, sponsored by United Way as part of its Women's Leadership Let's Do Lunch program. The panel included Mary Anderson, a tech industry senior marketing executive focusing on investing and advising early and mid-stage companies; and entrepreneurs Suzanne Batlle, founder and owner, Azucar Ice Cream Company; Marilu Rios Kernan, co-founder and president, Pepe Loves Books, working on her fifth startup; and Amanda Pizarro, co-owner, The Salty Donut. 

That more than 100 women attended the lunch at United Way's headquarters in Miami suggests that women are beginning to become visible in the technology ecosystem. Not everyone will start a company and not all of the attendees were business owners. However, they listened and applauded as the entrepreneurs shared experiences, some difficult, all of them instructive. 

As president of the Miami chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), I came to luncheon to see if I could find new members. Too many women in business go it alone and prefer to follow the hidden path in the woods rather than the broad avenue in the sun. I believe in exposure with all the risks that can entail. Certainly the panelists had taken and were continuing to take risks. I hope their example will inspire at least some of those 100 women to launch a business; grow their business; or invest in someone else's business - all good ways to make women count in the technology ecosystem.

Alma Kadragic is president of Alcat Communications International and president of the Miami chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO). Follow here on Twitter @almakad.

 

September 12, 2016

WeWork Lincoln Road launches entrepreneur support program with partners

Wework lincoln road
 
By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com
 
Co-working center WeWork Lincoln Road launched a new initiative offering Miami area entrepreneurs a chance to receive support to achieve their missions, while at the same time giving back to their local community.
 
The new program, called Mission Possible, offers  Miami area companies of all sizes, stages and industries a chance to be selected for 3 to 12 sponsored months of membership at WeWork's Lincoln Road workspace free of charge, along with other services to help them grow their companies. This is a significant value as memberships at the Lincoln Road location begin at $220 a month.
 
"It is a specific way to support Miami locals who want to impact change but also may not have the resources to join the WeWork community otherwise," said Anna Prisse, WeWork's Miami community manager for Miami. 
 
In addition to the collaborative work space, the selected companies will receive:
 
 * Programming from partners such as Refresh Miami, South Florida's largest entrepreneur and tech meetup group, Mentor Day, a new initiative offering entrepreneurs mentorship sessions with experts in their needs; and AGP Miami, an active South Florida angel investor network;

 * A chance to participate in community Demo Day pitch competition and other events;

 * Mentorship and professional advice from members and industry experts;

 * Access to a global community of over 65,000 members through WeWork's mobile app for members;

 * Reduced rates on healthcare, payment processing, accounting/legal advice, and more offered by WeWork's global partners.

What's the catch? Give back.

"We ask that Mission Possible Members donate five hours per person to a nonprofit of their choice for each month that they are part of the program," Prisse said.

More info on the program and where to apply: we.co/missionpossiblemiami 

There is not a deadline for applications, as participants will be chosen on a rolling basis but applications are open so  "the sooner the better,"  Prisse said. There is not a specific number of participants WeWork is looking for. 

"We want the program to be inclusive, not exclusive. We are going to be selecting the members based on how much we can accomplish together during the time of the program," said Prisse. WeWork and the community partners have an outline of what they would like to accomplish but they will will evaluate the needs of each applicant  and tailor the program appropriately, she said.

Mission Possible was inspired by a WeWork program in  Brooklyn called "Take Your Business to New Heights" but will be unique to Miami, particularly because of the entrepreneurial partners involved, Prisse said.

"WeWork has been a valuable partner of Refresh Miami since they entered the South Florida market in 2015," said Brian Breslin, founder of Refresh Miami. “We're very excited to extend our partnership to now include the Mission Possible program. As an organization, providing our community with the tools and resources needed to build innovative businesses is our upmost priority." 

Part of a wave of co-working spaces rolling into South Florida, WeWork Lincoln Road opened last summer and is currently at 85 percent capacity, a WeWork spokesman said. The New York-based company recently opened its WeWork South of Fifth location. At least two more South Florida locations are on the runway: WeWork has recently leased four floors in Brickell City Centre and the entire Security Building in downtown Miami.

Founded by Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey in New York City in 2010, WeWork is a privately held company with over 1400 employees. Worldwide, Wework has  65,000 members at more than 100 locations in 12 countries. "The mission of this program is aligned with our own mission where people work to make a life, not just a living," Prisse said.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.