International Women's Forum bringing 2-day workshop to Miami

The International Women’s Forum, the largest global membership organization for women in senior leadership positions, will host a two-day Executive Development Roundtable in Miami to provide leadership, training and professional development to women entrepreneurs, with $104,000 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The invite-only event will be held July 14-15.

A 2015 snapshot from the Department of Labor Bureau of Statistics shows women have surpassed men in post-secondary degree attainment as well as labor force participation at a rate of 57 percent, yet persistent barriers remain for women. A recent Small Business Administration and Kaufman Foundation study found that women-run firms were generating half of the total revenue of their male counterparts.

The two-day intensive training aims to help women innovators scale their work, strengthen their professional acumen, and accelerate their careers. The approach focuses on improving leadership skills, self-efficacy and goal setting through training sessions, one-on-one coaching and networking in a supportive environment. “Investing in women entrepreneurs means investing in the growth of Miami’s startup community and its wider success,” said Matt Haggman, Knight Foundation program director for Miami. “This program provides women innovators access to a global network of high-power leaders, as well as the chance to learn more and scale their ideas.”

For more information on the International Women’s Forum, visit www.iwforum.org.

 


 

May 29, 2015

Entry deadline nears for Chase Mission Main Street Grants program

Chase is accepting applications for its Mission Main Street Grants program through June 5.

The program will award $100,000 grants to 20 small businesses around the country. Last year, Titan Paddles of Dania Beach was one of the grantees selected from 25,000 applications.

The public also is invited to vote for their favorite business since all registered applicants need at least 250 to move on to the next phase. Voting is open until June 19.

More information on the program is available at www.missionmainstreetgrants.com.

May 28, 2015

FAU's Tech Runway selects 2nd accelerator class

 Florida Atlantic University’s Tech Runway has selected its second Venture Vintage class of startup companies to participate in the business accelerator program.   

The four companies will receive a $25,000 non-equity grant, participate in a 16-week intensive boot camp, and will be provided collaborative workspace for one year. The companies also participate in a formal program for mentoring entrepreneurs and their ventures. The second class of companies are:

·       Honorlock offers award-winning, cloud-based solutions to curb academic dishonesty while remaining non-invasive.

·       Tone-y-Bands brings to market unique arm toning wrist weights that can be worn throughout the day to provide a workout from regular activities and improve exercise results.  

·       Candidate.Guru delivers applications designed to vastly improve the hiring process for companies through the application of big data and machine learning technologies.

·       TightTalk Electronics has created the EarDrive audio recording, transcription and translation solution that works with any audio source.

Supported by FAU and the State of Florida, FAU Tech Runway launched in October 2014 with five companies Venture Vintage I (VVI) pilot group. The program is based on two proven models for startup ventures, MIT’s Venture Mentoring Service and Stanford’s NSF-funded Lean Launchpad curriculum. Offered in conjunction with existing resources, FAU Tech Runway provides ventures the complete ecosystem for successful launch.

Applications for a third round of Venture Vintage companies will be solicited and evaluated by FAU Tech Runway later this summer. Startups will be sought in all industries, with an emphasis on technology.  The application process includes a business plan, pitch deck, three letters of recommendation and bio for each founder. Criteria for evaluation include but is not limited to the market opportunity, distinctive competence/competitive advantage, financial understanding of the revenue model and the investment potential. For more information on FAU’s Tech Runway, visit techrunway.fau.edu.

Information provided by Tech Runway

May 26, 2015

The Florida Microfinance Act: How can it help my small business?

BY BOB WHITE

The Florida Microfinance Act (Florida Statutes Sections 288.993 to 288.9937) was enacted in 2014 to help provide access to certain financing options for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Small businesses and entrepreneurs have historically had significant problems raising capital, and the act was intended to address these problems.

Effective April 2, the state authorized designated loan administrators to begin accepting applications for participation in the program. The program has two components: a loan program where qualifying small businesses and entrepreneurs can get loans of up to $50,000, and a loan guarantee program (administered by Enterprise Florida) under which qualifying participants can obtain a loan guarantee in connection with loans from $50,000 to $250,000. The program is administered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

This program is available to small businesses or entrepreneurs in Florida that have no more than 25 employees and annual revenues of up to $1.5 million. Borrowers who seek loans must participate in business training and technical assistance provided by the Florida Small Business Development Network. Proceeds from a loan under the program must be used for startup costs, working capital and to purchase materials, supplies, furniture, fixtures and equipment. The repayment of loans must be personally guaranteed, and borrowers must provide information about job creation and other financial data to the loan administrator. A borrower can receive a maximum of $75,000 in loans each year and a maximum of two loans a year and five loans over a three-year period. The program is also designed to help small businesses and entrepreneurs get subsequent private financing.

How can this help your small business? It may provide relatively quick access to capital for qualifying small businesses and entrepreneurs. This can be very valuable because it provides a much-needed potential source of capital at a critical stage in development. Additionally, these companies and entrepreneurs often have difficulty raising initial capital. Personal resources and friend and family funds are usually limited, and most of these companies and entrepreneurs will not yet have realistic access to traditional bank financing or equity financing through venture capital, private equity or angel investors. This program may provide the initial jump start that a small company or entrepreneur needs to get the business going and to progress to the next step.

This program may be especially helpful in industries where technology has substantially reduced the amount of capital required for a business. In many industries the use of cloud-based technology, for example, has significantly reduced the costs of starting and operating the business. Even though the amounts available in the program are relatively small, they should be sufficient to allow many businesses to successfully navigate their early stage financial challenges and move to the next level.

Find information about the program and the requirements for participation at http://www.floridajobs.org/microfinanceprograms.

Bob White is a shareholder with Gunster law firm.

May 21, 2015

Investors building bridges with Godfather Day, other methods

Where are the investors? While that has been a common refrain in South Florida’s startup community, it is becoming a little easier to find them.

That’s because many are offering “office hours,” open coffees, dinners or other ways to give startups a chance to meet them and begin building a relationship -- before pitching for dollars.

On Wednesday, nine investors and mentors came together to host Miami's first Godfather Day, a daylong session put on by Fourth Estate and Hacks/Hackers Miami, for six entrepreneur teams in news and media innovation. The session was a two-way conversation that allowed company founders and the mentors the opportunity to ask "off the record" questions to help get these startups to the next level.

The Godfathers/Godmothers who participated were: Jeff Brown of Fourth Estate and Honey Tree Holdings; Jon Cole of New World Angels and Locke Lorde; Alex de Carvalho of Knight Innovator in Residence at FIU; Dan Grech of Hacks/Hackers Miami; Franc Nemanic, angel investor; Mike O’Donnell of Startup Biz; Sally Outlaw of Peerbackers; Sid Sawhney of Thesis Ventures; and Ben Wirz of the Knight Foundation’s Enterprise Fund.

Startups that participated were: Rise Miami News of Miami,  Jurnid of Miami, ModernCoalition, from Kansas City, WeKount of Palm Beach County; TechCetetera of Fort Lauderdale and New Tropic of Miami.

Each entrepreneur team received nearly one hour with the entire group at one time. For entrepreneurs, it was an opportunity to sit down with investors in an informal setting and have a conversation to help investors better understand the founder and the business, said Brown. It also gave founders “a safe space and a safe dry run” to ask candid questions of the investors and receive feedback, said Outlaw.

For the investors and mentors in the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation boardroom, where the event was held, it was not only a chance to build potential deal flow down the road but also an opportunity to give back to the startup community and an efficient way to spoonfeed entrepreneurs access to experts. “Ninety percent of the time they think they need money but what they really need is advice,” Wirz said. Grech and de Carvalho added that it was an opportunity to spark and support media innovation, which has been building in the past year.

Brown has also run UpPitch sessions, informal dinners that matched a couple of entrepreneurs with an investor interested in their industries. He said the Godfather Days like the one on Wednesday will continue, at least quarterly.

May 18, 2015

Harvard teaming up with LaunchCode, Idea Center to offer free CS50x Miami course

Harvard University is teaming up with job-placement nonprofit LaunchCode, The Idea Center at Miami Dade College and Career Source South Florida to offer its computer programming course to the public free of charge. Based on the popular Harvard University/edX CS50 class, CS50x Miami is a 16-week course that requires no prior coding experience. Online lessons will be supplemented by live instructors.

Anyone interested can register by May 29 for the course at www.launchcode.org/cs50xmiami. LaunchCode and The Idea Center will host an open house and informational session for CS50x Miami on May 22 at 5:30PM in the Chapman Conference Center at Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus.

“The opportunity to have free access to a high-level coding class is revolutionary,” saids Jim McKelvey, co-founder of both LaunchCode and Square. “South Floridians can get the hands-on education, mentorship, and experience they need --for free.” Students who complete the course are eligible to apply for an apprenticeship through LaunchCode’s job placement program.

The Idea Center’s goal is to put 1,000 students through the program over the next year, said Leandro Finol, executive director of the Miami Dade College entrepreneurship hub.

May 14, 2015

Amadeus, travel incubator team up to offer new resource for travel startups

Travel startups, take note of this announcement from Amadeus:

Amadeus, a leading technology partner for the global travel industry, announced today the launch of “Amadeus for Startups,” a new program designed to equip travel startups in the North American marketplace with technology, expertise and consultative support to navigate the complexities of the travel industry and achieve success. 

Said Alix Argüelles, Vice President Online Travel Group, Amadeus North America: “Through Amadeus for Startups, we are aligning the technology, investment and academic communities to offer new travel companies a simplified, affordable consulting partnership  that will help ensure they are equipped with the travel and technology solutions and guidance they need.”

To further enhance the value delivered to emerging online players, Amadeus has also partnered with the incubator Travel Startups Incubator. Travel Startups Incubator is a virtual, global, travel technology incubator and platform which funds seed-stage and early-stage travel startups and entrepreneurs and offers a private network to connect with advisors, mentors, partners and investors. Amadeus will provide the incubator with access to Amadeus’ tenured team of travel experts and best-in-class technology solutions, as well as opportunities to participate in industry training workshops, startup bootcamps and educational seminars co-hosted by the two organizations.

Through the new alliance, Travel Startups Incubator will work closely with Amadeus’ leading online travel experts who will provide customized support, account management and technical and operational sales support to further optimize the startups’ solutions. 

For more information about joining the Amadeus for Startups program, please visit www.amadeus.com/amadeusforstartups.

May 05, 2015

LaunchCode and Idea Center to bring Harvard's popular online computer science course to Miami

Announced at eMerge Americas: Non-profit LaunchCode and The Idea Center at Miami Dade College have partnered to offer the introductory computer science course CS50xMiami to the Miami community following the Harvard and edX class’ success as a pilot program.

In his keynote speech at the eMerge Americas conference on Tuesday, LaunchCode co-founder Jim McKelvey announced that the class will kick off with an event on May 22 at 5:30 PM in the Chapman Conference Center at Miami Dade College’s Wolfson campus. The event is free and open to the public.

CS50xMiami is a live version of CS50x, Harvard’s introductory computer science class offered through edX, a massive open online course (MOOC) platform. The class prepares students for careers in technology through LaunchCode apprenticeships. The 16-week course requires no prior programming experience and gives students a solid foundation with which to pursue a career in computer programming.

Career Source South Florida and other generous sponsors are working to provide scholarships for CS50xMiami students--in order to participate, students should register as soon as possible and complete the assessment portion of the application.

Students can register at www.launchcode.org/cs50xmiami. The application deadline is May 29th.

LaunchCode first offered a live CS50x class in St. Louis in the spring of 2014. Both LaunchCode and The Idea Center at MDC are supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

LaunchCode partners with over 300 companies nationally, 100 in South Florida, to place job seekers from non-traditional educational backgrounds in paid apprenticeships in technology jobs. LaunchCode currently has offices in St. Louis and South Florida and places apprentices in 10 different states with a goal of operating in all 50 states by the end of 2015.

 

May 04, 2015

eMerge Americas announcement: Patent pro-bono program for qualified inventors

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

At eMerge Americas on Monday, The Institute for Commercialization of Public Research will announce  the launch of the Florida Patent Pro Bono Program in partnership with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The program links qualified inventors and small businesses with volunteer patent agents and attorneys who provide pro bono legal assistance on specific aspects of the patent process, and with Florida's launch it is now active in nearly all 50 states. In 2011, the U.S. Congress passed the America Invents Act, which called for the USPTO to establish the regional patent programs.

"We're so happy to be launching in Florida," said Jennifer McDowell, USPTO pro-bono coordinator, adding that the Sunshine State has a large number of patent filings and under-resourced inventors.

The Institute will match up low-income inventors with patent lawyers, in order to level the playing field. "It's an issue of fairness and economic development. When you unlock that innovation, that is how you make a difference," said McDowell in an interview on Friday. "And once these matches get made and the patent applications get filed, we want the inventions to turn into money making machines."

If accepted into the  Florida Patent Pro Bono Program, applicants may expect exposure to intellectual property experts, support in certain aspects of the patent application process, and partnership opportunities to enhance business development. The legal services would be free; the inventors would still need to pay the patent filing fees but could qualify for steep discounts.

“The Institute is pleased to be administering this important program for Florida inventors, which promotes entrepreneurship, job growth and innovation-based economic development,” said Jamie Grooms, CEO of the Institute. “The Florida Patent Pro Bono Program will accelerate the commercialization of important new products and enable Florida companies to compete more effectively in the global economy.”

More information on the program is available at www.florida-institute.com and www uspto.gov. the Institute is also looking for more patent attorneys who want to volunteer. The announcement is scheduled to  be made about 1:15 p.m. on the expo stage of eMerge Americas.

The Institute  is a non-profit organization that works  with  technology licensing and commercialization offices of Florida’s state universities and private research institutions to leverage a $2 billion-plus research base and form investable companies that create jobs.  Thirty-eight companies have been funded since the program’s inception.

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.

Miami's Watsco to launch accelerator for startups

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com 

One of Miami’s biggest public companies is launching a new  program to help technology startups.

Watsco, the world’s largest distributor of air conditioning and heating products that generates about $4 billion in annual revenue,  will start an accelerator. The 12-week program is built for early-stage companies focused on the B2B or home comfort industries.

Ivan rapin-smith“When people think of innovation in the heating and air conditioning industry they usually think slick, new thermostats or the connected home. Our scope is much broader,” said Ivan Rapin-Smith, director at Watsco Ventures. “We’re interested in any technology that can add value to a distribution business like Watsco, whether it’s internet-of-things applications, supply chain management, sales and marketing or anything that may help consumers or businesses become more comfortable, more economical or more environmental-friendly.”

Accelerator participants will reach receive initial funding of $25,000, mentoring, HVAC and distribution industry expertise, concept validation, investor connections and office space in Watsco’s Coconut Grove headquarters. Watsco Ventures will retain a small equity interest with an optional follow-up investment at the conclusion of the program, said Rapin-Smith, who was program director for Venture Hive’s accelerator and incubator for about two years and co-founded the Belgium-based accelerator Idealy. Rapin-Smith also founded two tech companies.

“An accelerator powered by a Fortune 1000 company brings strategic resources that a traditional accelerator cannot – financial capacity to invest; an opportunity to have Watsco as a first customer; scalability to hundreds of distribution locations, and potentially tens-of-thousands of end-users in the form of contractors and end-consumers,” said Rapin-Smith, who has a particular interest and expertise in B2B startups. “We invest in talented teams that bring innovation that can be scaled not just within Watsco but also within other enterprises.”

Accelerators hosted by corporations are becoming common in other cities. For instance, Fort Lauderdale-based tech company Citrix runs accelerators in several cities, but not in South Florida. Indeed, corporations and startups don’t often mix enough in South Florida – considered an important ingredient in a healthy startup ecosystem – although that is beginning to change. Kaplan announced earlier this year it will be launching an ed-tech accelerator in Fort Lauderdale, for instance. Goldman Sachs brought its 10,000 Small Businesses program here last year, in partnership with Miami Dade College; Microsoft opened its first Microsoft Innovation Center at Venture Hive in downtown Miami, and Citi is hosting ongoing Citi Fintech Meetups and hosted part of its global Citi Mobile Challenge from South Florida.

Watsco’s accelerator program is part of its Watsco Ventures division. Watsco Ventures invests in technology through three primary channels: a new fund that is beginning to make strategic investments in startups, an innovation lab for its intrapreneurs, and this new accelerator program.

The accelerator application period is May 18 to July 26. The accelerator program runs Sept. 1 through Nov. 20. Up to 10 startups will be selected for the program. For more information, go to watscoventures.com.

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.

 

April 21, 2015

Enstitute apprenticeship program launching in Miami this week

Enstitute, a national non-profit apprenticeship program, will launch its Miami Hub this week.

In conjunction with the launch, Enstitute is bringing in a dozen investors and entrepreneurs from around the country to explore the Miami startup ecosystem and meet with local founders and investors.

Visiting venture capitalists mainly from New York, San Francisco and Washington will spend 36 hours “founder dating” with about 30 Miami startups, touring local co-working spaces and communities such as Wynwood, Buro Midtown and The Idea Center, and have meetings with the Miami DDA, Knight Foundation, Venture Hive and other key Miami organizations, said Kane Sarhan, co-founder of Enstitute.

Investors include Nic Poulous of Bowery Capital, Scott Laughlin of LAO Ventures, Greg Rosen of BoxGroup, Patrick Murphy of Universal Music Group, Julia Taxin of GroTech, Megan Hannum of Comcast Ventures, Will Peng of Red Swan Ventures and others.

Enstitute is also hosting a launch event to introduce its program at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Venture Hive. More info: http://enstitutemiami.splashthat.com.

To equip millennials with relevant skills for 21st century careers, Enstitute provides participants with one-year, paid, full-time apprenticeships at high-growth startups, small businesses and corporations. Through Knight Foundation funding, Miami became the organization’s third hub; the others are in New York and Washington.