April 16, 2015

UM team wins Knight funding to create entrepreneurial hubs in underserved neighborhoods

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

The University of Miami School of Architecture will  bring entrepreneurial spaces -- including incubators for startups, marketplaces and training centers -- into two underserved Miami area neighborhoods. Its project was funded with $650,000 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The so-called Third Place Project will create hubs that provide resources to entrepreneurs, artists and other creatives, nonprofits and civic leaders, while helping transform the neighborhoods. “Third places,” as defined by sociologist Ray Oldenburg, are  informal public gathering places where people from all walks of life come together. 

The UM project is designed to fuel economic integration, said Charles Bohl, associate professor and director of the graduate program in Real Estate Development + Urbanism at the University of Miami School of Architecture and one of the project leaders.

"We have lots of very well to do and lots of poor people and they are clustered far from each other. Other cities have created these neighborhoods where the communities can cross paths; people are more connected and involved,"  said  Bohl, explaining he recently returned from Barcelona, which has 40 public markets that have become vibrant centers of activity.

Matt Haggman, Knight Foundation program director for Miami, said the project will also help ensure a constant diversity of ideas. “The Third Place Project will grow and foster the unique character and qualities of these neighborhoods, bringing the ideas of entrepreneurs, artists and others into the forefront.”

 The metropolitan Miami neighborhoods have not yet been selected, but it could be in areas such as, for example, Allapattah, Little Haiti/Little River or Opa-locka, said Bohl, adding that the School of Architecture has already been working in these long-struggling urban areas for years. The new spaces will build on the art, culture and entrepreneurial energy already present, and a key component is that they will provide training programs to entrepreneurs and nonprofits through the incubators, he added. The two projects will be created over the next two years.

Along with the School of Architecture, the project will also involve UM programs in business and social entrepreneurship, including the Center for Urban and Community Design, the Office of Civic and Community Engagement, and business startup and support programs at the School of Business Administration.

The next step is to identify and secure sites that have the best potential to serve as gathering places. It could be land  or a structure that could be adapted, with indoor and outdoor space. Architecture faculty and students will help adapt existing buildings, or create  “pop-up” structures to house entrepreneurs and vendors. Kiosks could be arranged to create year-round marketplaces  that showcase the mix of art, commerce, food and entertainment and attract new visitors -- while also offering full Internet connectivity and other resources for the businesses.

The Third Place Project is evaluating project sites and is slated to begin work during the 2015-2016 academic year. Over the past 2 1/2 years, Knight has made more than 100 investments in entrepreneurship in South Florida. 

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.

Read Knight blog post by Charles Bohl here.


April 08, 2015

Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream’s Speed Coaching event returns

Samuel Adams, in partnership with Accion, is returning to Miami to host its signature small business Speed Coaching event on Tuesday, April 14. Designed to provide business advice, the event is part of Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream, a micro-lending and coaching program for small business owners working in food and beverage including craft brewing.

During the Speed Coaching, entrepreneurs have the opportunity to participate in up to six 20-minute, one-on-one sessions. Coaches will include Samuel Adams professionals, and topics covered will range from sales, distribution and packaging to finance, e-commerce, and marketing.

Participants are encouraged to bring samples of product and packaging that they want feedback on, and should also come prepared with questions regarding specific challenges their businesses are facing. For example, a small business owner may want to ask a finance professional for advice on how to competitively price his/her product.

WHEN: Tuesday, April 14, 2015, 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. EDT

WHERE: Gold Coast Beverage Distributors, 10055 Northwest 12th Street, Doral, Florida 33172

HOW: Entrepreneurs interested in participating in the free Speed Coaching should register at http://speedcoachingmiami.eventbrite.com

March 06, 2015

MIAMade wins Miami Foundation grant to fund Liberty City makerspace

MIAMade, based at The LAB Miami, an innovation campus in Wynwood, received a $10,000 accelerator grant from The Miami Foundation to fund the development of Liberty To Make, a makerspace for  Liberty City.

MIAMade is a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering the growth of the maker movement in the Greater Miami area; it produces the annual and highly popular Miami Mini Maker Faire as well as the Wynwood Maker Camp and many other projects. The Miami Foundation Accelerator Grant will be used to kick-start the creation of a makerspace in Liberty City that will engage locals of all ages by fostering their entrepreneurial and creative talents while bringing the community together through STEAM (science, math, engineering, arts, and math) principles.

 “Thanks to The Miami Foundation, MIAMade is excited to take its first step in bringing the people of Liberty City, a space to come together and build together, in turn gaining economic and educational opportunities in a changing Miami.” said Willie Avendano, MIAMade programs manager and co-founder of the Wynwood Maker Camp.

The Miami Foundation's Accelerator Grants program makes $10,000 award related to each of the eight Our Miami Report issue areas. The foundation particularly looks at entities that already have traction, are making positive headway and could turn modest funding into expanded social impact.

MIAMade is accepting donations to fund future programming at The LAB Miami and Liberty To Make. For more information on MIAMade or how you can support its community efforts, please visit www.miamade.org or call Jennifer Mendez Alba at (786) 337-1119.

See a report and video on the last Miami Mini Maker Faire here.


March 04, 2015

LaunchCode signs up 102 companies, now accepting apprenticeship applicants


Liftoff for LaunchCode.

LaunchCode, a tech-employment nonprofit, aims to attack the tech-talent gap by matching candidates with short-term apprenticeships at partnering companies -- 102 South Florida companies and counting (see photo below). In an event at the Idea Center at Miami Dade College on Wednesday attended by several hundred people, LaunchCode founder Jim McKelvey said  the organization is now ready to take applications. Candidates can apply at launchcode.org/apply.

LaunchCode tests all candidates, and if they already have the skills, LaunchCode can place them tomorrow in positions that are the right fit for them, McKelvey said. No degree? No experience? No problem. If they don't have the skills, LaunchCode will suggest training options, such as  coding bootcamps IronHack and Wyncode or free  online classes. The Idea Center, Miami Dade College's entrepreneurship hub, launched its first LaunchCode training class Tuesday; a group of about 100 students are taking a free 19-weeklong introductory programming course taught by Harvard University. The online training is supplemented by in-person help from the Idea Center. After training, many of the students could be ready for apprenticeships.

The past couple of months has been all about onboarding companies, and now the real work begins -- making great matches and expanding the talent pipeline. "It's what we do," said McKelvey, who co-founded Square and now lives in South Florida. Typically, the apprentices are hired full-time after the one- to three-month apprenticeships because they have been matched appropriately, he said.

At the event, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez shared the stage with other speakers including McKelvey; Matt Haggman, Miami program director for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which provided major support to bring LaunchCode to Miami and establish The Idea Center; Leandro Finol, executive director of the Idea Center, a key partner for LaunchCode and where LaunchCode is based; and Jorge Plasencia, an early LaunchCode supporter and  CEO of República. Both The Idea Center and LaunchCode are Knight Foundation grantees. “Miami-Dade County has committed to hiring LaunchCode apprentices for our IT department and I encourage all South Florida companies to consider this innovative program,” the mayor said.

Lc3LaunchCode has already placed its first apprentice. 

Digital and advertising agency República hired Nate Beers, a recently trained web developer who formerly was a professional poker player.  Wanting to make a career change, Beers took a coding bootcamp in San Francisco and then applied to LaunchCode. Now he is helping to create websites for Republica clients. “Nate has been doing great work and we look forward to bringing on more LaunchCoders in the future,” said Plasencia.

Mckelvey 2

 See related story here.

UBS, partners roll out Greater Miami Business Opportunity Fund for small businesses

UBS, together with its small business lending partners, explained its new Greater Miami Business Opportunity Fund on Wednesday and met with small businesses interested in applying during a morning Elevating Entrepreneurs event in downtown Miami.

Funded with $5 million from UBS, the Greater Miami Business Opportunity Fund was announced in December. No loans have been made yet, but there are loans in the pipeline and the fund will be revolving, meaning more loans will be generated as loans are paid back, said Megan Mitchell, program manager of UBS’s Elevating Entrepreneurs. The loan process is administered by the national nonprofit VEDC, which has assisted more than 103,000 businesses, and Tampa-based Neighborhood Lending Partners.

The fund provides loans of $50,000 to $500,000 to existing qualifying businesses, growing companies of 1 to 200 employees and revenues up to $10 million. The business must operate in a low and moderate income community or 75 percent of its jobs must be for low to moderate income residents. The market interest rate in the program currently is 8.25 percent. For more information on the loan program, go to www.vedc.org or email apollan-sanchez@gmbof.org.

At the event, small businesses also heard about alternative financing programs, such as Accion for loans up to $50,000 and Liquid Capital for accounts receivables financing services. Frank Velasco of the U.S. Small Business Administration South Florida District was also on hand to talk about the services of the SBA and Florida Small Business Development Centers, which are full-service shops offering free help with incorporation, licensing, leasing and business planning, he said. The newest center opened recently at Florida International University. Small businesses not ready for VEDC financing were encouraged to look into Accion. “It’s not just about getting the money into your hands, its about the advice they offer – it’s an incredible resource,” Velasco said.

More Elevating Entrepreneurs educational events are in the plans, Mitchell said. UBS also offers these funding programs in Los Angeles, Chicago, the New York area and Nevada.

February 24, 2015

Rokk3r Labs, journalist Lilia Luciano launch Coinspire, a video series with groundbreaking entrepreneurs


Rokk3r Labs and journalist Lilia Luciano officially announce the launch of Coinspire, a thought-leadership video series uncovering insights of groundbreaking entrepreneurs. Coinspire challenges the concepts of failure, self, risk, business, reality, success, and achievement through intimate interviews with some of today’s more innovative minds.

For the premiere of Coinspire, Lilia Luciano has conducted in-depth interviews with leaders from the entrepreneurial community:

 * Alexandra W. Wilson @AWilkisWilson - Founder, Gilt

* Benzion Aboud @benzionaboud - Founder, Saveology

* Chris Dannen @chrisdannen - Editor, Fast Company

* Gary Mahieu - Serial Tech Entrepreneur

* Jeremy Office - Principal, Maclendon

* John Stuart @jstuartFIUMBUS - Director, CARTA FIU

* Juan Carlos Ortiz @juancarlosortiz - CEO, DDB Latina 

* Juan Pablo Cappello @cappelloJp - Founder of private advising group

* Laura Maydon @limaydon - CEO, Endeavor Miami

* Rodolfo Saccoman @RodolfoSaccoman - Founder, AdMobilize

The interviews are presented both in full, demonstrating the continuity of thought and questioning involved, and segmented by topics, empowering viewers to explore their interests. Rokk3r Labs Chief Strategy and Creative Officer German Montoya says, “We are in an era where it is common to see the upstart entrepreneur disrupting the unsuspecting traditional business. We hope that with Coinspire, we can collectively catalyze this global movement to accelerate even faster.”

Visit www.coinspire.org for free access to the entire video series.

Lilia Luciano, an accomplished journalist, documentary film director, will serve as host and creative director of Coinspire in partnership with Rokk3r Labs. She is currently directing a feature documentary for HBO and has worked as a national correspondent for NBC News. Rokk3r Labs launches companies through its comprehensive cobuilding approach, with its specialized team of engineers, creatives and strategists.

Posted Feb. 24, 2015 

February 19, 2015

$1 million innovation prize program coming to Frost Museum of Science


Rendering of Innovation Center planned for the Patricia and Phillip Museum of Science.  

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Imagine being able to watch and perhaps even contribute to the process of innovation in real time for a year. The Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science and the science nonprofit CappSci plan to launch a worldwide contest and bring the winners to the museum to build their concepts for all to experience.

Through a $1 million gift from Ted and Pascale van Kipnis Caplow, CappSci and the museum Thursday plan to announce a five-year series of annual prize contests and inventors-in-residence programs to develop solutions in the health and environmental sectors. The announcements are planned as part of the museum’s Innovation & Engineering Weekend, which extends through Sunday, at its current Coconut Grove location.

Prizes to be offered in 2015: one for the best invention to restore coral reefs, and another to help people detect and reduce their exposure to carcinogens, the museum said.

Building on CappSci’s experience with global competitions, the CappSci Inventors program will solicit submissions of prototype inventions with local relevance and global significance from around the world beginning Thursday. Two winners will be awarded 12- to 18-month residencies at the $300 million science museum under construction in downtown Miami’s Museum Park. Entry forms and more details on the prizes are available at www.cappsci.org.

In 2013, CappSci established the $1 million Caplow Children’s Prize, the world’s largest prize dedicated to saving the lives of children under the age of 5. But CappSci Inventors is the first contest CappSci has run with a residence program. The $1 million gift will support the program for five years.

CaplowMy goal is to find solutions to big problems, but I am also very excited about bringing the practice of science inside the four walls of the science museum,” said Ted Caplow, CEO of CappSci, an applied science company, and an engineer, social entrepreneur and philanthropist who lives in Miami.

Out-of-the-box thinking in both prize categories is needed now, Caplow said. “In the course of my lifetime, and I am 45, I have seen a complete change in the state of Caribbean corals. If you extrapolate that over another 30 or 40 years, scientists are saying that on this side of the world the reefs could be gone.”

While disappearing coral is a massive environmental problem, the healthcare prize tackles cancer. The challenge is to develop an innovative, affordable and portable technology to empower people to detect and/or avoid carcinogens, he said.

The winners of CappSci Inventors will get a $100,000 budget to support their research and be provided lab space at the museum, Caplow said. During their residencies, inventors build out and test their technologies while seeking feedback from the public. Museum visitors can watch the inventors work, read interactive daily project logs, and discuss details of the project with an intern who will serve as a knowledge liaison between the inventor and the public, Caplow said.

The inventors will give periodic talks at the museum, and CappSci and the museum will also provide mentorship. The CappSci Inventors program will end with a demo day, when the innovators can present their work to investors who may help fund commercialization, said Caplow, who is on the museum’s board.

“There’s an emerging science and technology scene here in South Florida and the museum has a vital role to play in making it visible,” said Gillian Thomas, president and CEO of Frost Science. “What I love about this is that anyone around the world can apply but you will see the whole process develop here. Whatever great inventions come out of it will be relevant here but could also work around the world.”

In addition to this gift, the Caplows have previously donated $1 million to the new museum’s five-floor Innovation Center, which will provide classes, maker’s activities, public demonstrations and workshops celebrating innovation and entrepreneurship while also exhibiting the latest global developments. Separately, Caplow’s team and the museum also want to develop a Science Barge, a floating, urban sustainable farm and environmental education center similar to one he founded in New York, but also with marine-related exhibits and programming.

The announcement on Thursday will be followed by a panel discussion on the importance of competitions, featuring local leaders in science, medicine and business. The panel will be moderated by Florida Board of Education member and nonprofit leader Rebecca Fishman Lipsey, and include marine biologist Dr. Andrew Baker from University of Miami, medical entrepreneur Dr. Maurice Ferré, and oncologist Dr. Nicholas C. Lambrou. For more information on Innovation & Engineering Weekend, visit www.miamisci.org/iefrost.

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.

Posted Feb. 19, 2015


February 06, 2015

SBA's free Emerging Leaders program for small businesses accepting applications

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s South Florida District is seeking 17 Miami-Dade small business owners for its SBA Emerging Leaders program that will give them a three-year, tailored strategic growth plan for their businesses. 

For a second year, Miami-Dade County was selected to be part of SBA’s Emerging Leaders initiative, a federal training initiative that focuses on business executives poised for growth in historically challenged communities, said SBA South Florida District Director Francisco "Pancho" Marrero.  “This initiative will provide executives from 17 Miami-Dade businesses with the organizational framework, resource network, and motivation required to build sustainable businesses and promote the economic development within the county,” he said.

While the executive-level course is free for businesses accepted into the program, executives must commit to about 100 hours of classroom and out-of-classroom work.  The first class meets April 14 and will meet on alternating Tuesday evenings through October.

This will be the second program offered. Moises Montanez, owner of Miami’s Alta Home Remodeling, was among the 13 graduates from the inaugural Emerging Leaders Class. He is in the process of remodeling his general contracting business with the knowledge he gained from the class.

For the next class, SBA is again partnering with the Small Business Development Center at Florida International University. Classes will be at FIU Downtown on Brickell Center at 1101 Brickell Ave. in Miami. The curriculum called the StreetWise Steps to Small Business Growth includes instruction on financials, marketing and sales, resources (human resources, accessing capital and government contracting); and strategic growth planning.

Business leaders interested in the program should be the owner or principal in the small business that has annual revenues of at least $400,000; been in business for at least 3 years; and have at least one employee other than himself.

The application deadline is March 20.  The SBA South Florida district will make the final selection from the qualified applicants, said Marrero. 

Register at http://www.interise.org/sbaemergingleaders. 

More information about the program:


Posted Feb. 6, 2015


January 22, 2015

Miami Dade College accepting applications for 10,000 Small Businesses program

Miami Dade College  is  accepting applications for Cohort 5 of the 10,000 Small Businesses program scheduled to begin June 4, at the Wolfson Campus. The deadline for applications is Feb. 21.

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses (10KSB) is a classroom-based practical business education program that gives entrepreneurs valuable skills for growing their businesses, the opportunity to access financial capital and powerful networking opportunities, among other benefits, at no cost to participants.

The curriculum includes one-on-one advice, clinics, and workshops administered by subject matter experts. Goldman Sachs professionals also serve as panelists and judges for the so-called scholar rehearsals, the “Rocket Pitches.” Participants will also learn to identify and evaluate opportunities, understand financial statements, hire, retain and lead employees, negotiate successfully and create a comprehensive growth plan, among other lessons.

Applicants should meet the following criteria:

  • * Owner or co-owner of a business
  • * Business in operation for at least two years
  • * Business revenues of at least $150,000 in the most recent fiscal year
  • * Minimum of four employees, including the owner

To learn more, please register for the upcoming 10KSB Informational Webinars on Wednesday, Feb. 11 at 1:30 p.m. here:  https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2069446174015959554

 To apply to  Cohort 5 of MDC’s 10KSB program, visit http://www.mdc.edu/10ksb  or call 305-237-7812

- Information submitted by Miami Dade College

January 15, 2015

Innovation Hub at Broward College opens

A new resource: Broward College’s new Innovation Hub.

The 5,400 square-foot facility, which is open to the public, is designed to be a mixed-use business incubator, focused on housing a dynamic community of startups, mentors, advisors and investors, and serving as a one-stop resource for business owners and innovators pursuing their entrepreneurial ambitions. It will offer access to mentors – through Broward College’s collaborative partnerships with Broward SCORE, the Small Business Development Center and the Enterprise Development Corporation – as well as angel investors, including New World Angels. There will be seminars and workshops on various business topics focused on specific skills helpful to startup companies that will also be open to the public.

At an open house on its Cypress Creek location on Thursday, Broward College celebrated its partnership with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, which is  seeking innovative solutions in sports business. Brazilian soccer legend Ronaldo, who is a part-owner of the Strikers, joined Broward College officials, along with Director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Jesse Panuccio and other local business leaders for a tour of the business incubator and discussion on possible opportunities.

The Innovation Hub offers several private individual offices, a shared co-working space, two small conference or mentoring rooms, as well as a fully equipped audio and video training or seminar room, which converts into two large board rooms with separate A/V capabilities. It also features 100Mps fiber broadband access hardwired Wi-Fi throughout the facility. The business incubator will provide opportunities for close collaborations with Broward College faculty, staff and students. Professors will work with their students and incubated companies on market research, branding, operations, financial planning and other business needs.

A portion of the Innovation Hub will be dedicated to sports-related startups as part of a collaboration with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. These startups will receive mentorship from Strikers staff and have the opportunity to pilot their ideas on the Strikers’ stadium, fans and athletes.

For more information on the Broward College Innovation Hub, visit http://www.broward.edu/innovationhub or contact Angela Nicoletti at 954-201-7939 or anicolet@broward.edu.