June 29, 2015

FIU College of Architecture + the Arts creating MakerBot Innovation Lab for students, community

Florida International University will create a MakerBot Innovation Lab, a 3,000-square-foot maker space for students and other innovators to be housed at its Miami Beach Urban Studios.

MakerbotThe MakerBot Innovation Lab, supported by a $185,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, will include 30 state-of-the-art 3D printers and four 3D scanners where public programs and educational opportunities will be offered. The lab will support workshops for elementary and middle school students, dual enrollment programs for high school students, for-credit classes for FIU students and startup programs for recent graduates. Community members can also use the space to develop new product ideas and conduct research.

FIU’s College of Architecture + the Arts will be the only arts/design college in the nation to house a MakerBot Innovation Lab, said John Stuart, AIA, associate dean for cultural and community engagement and the executive director of Miami Beach Urban Studios. He said the lab idea first came about because students were asking to get more involved in the maker movement. “This is an opportunity to explore and get this maker experience into the DNA of our students and our culture and our ecosystem, and I’m hoping students and community members will be inspired and will make things we can’t even imagine,” he said.

FIU Urban Studios will also work with FIU colleagues and students in hospitality, medicine and other disciplines in order to come up with innovation projects that fill a community need, for instance making a home safer and easier for the disabled, Stuart said. It will also collaborate with Miami Beach-based Rokk3r Labs, a company co-builder. to initiate workshops, seminars and other programming within the MakerBot Innovation Lab.

The Lab will be open by the fall, if not sooner, and can serve up to 60 students at one time with a 3D printer between each two workstations, Stuart said.

“Miami’s entrepreneurial ecosystem has seen enormous growth over the last few years – adding co-working spaces, mentor and funder networks, educational offerings and a host of events. But there are few established makerspaces where entrepreneurs can experiment and build. The MakerBot Innovaation Lab will help fill this gap,” said Matt Haggman, Knight Foundation’s Miami program director, in a news release.

June 24, 2015

Luminary Central aims to connect entrepreneurs, investors and resources

By the Luminary Central team

The South Florida entrepreneurial community is rapidly growing and gaining momentum with aspiring and emerging entrepreneurs, as well as those with great potential to become the next high growth success story for the region. Obtaining these levels of graduated success is not serendipitous. Recognizing this, Luminary Central - an online and offline platform connecting High Impact Entrepreneurs, Visionary Investors, and Optimal Resources, was launched by Romina Monasterio, Christine Johnson and Darryl Doonie as a means to facilitate the acceleration of entrepreneurs' business growth.

All of Luminary Central's efforts revolve around three primary activities: promoting, educating, and collaborating. Each activity's mission is to help foster and shape the entrepreneurial community into a sustainable, diverse, and resilient environment that is both collaborative and inclusive in nature.

In collaboration with the University of Miami, Luminary Central's first event, "Revenue Models and Pricing Strategies: The Path to Self Reliance" will take place on Saturday, June 27th. These topics are often overlooked by many entrepreneurs, though generating a cash flow is the only sustainable form of financing for most companies.

The Luminary Central team has crafted this event to target High Impact Entrepreneurs (HIEs) across all    industries. This is not meant to be a typical social gathering or lecture. Every detail is focused on ensuring providing you with actionable knowledge, fruitful relationships, and a roadmap to others' successes. The Forum goes beyond discussing growing your social capital - clicks, likes and follows - and "how to pitch".

Register to familiarize yourself with various revenue models and pricing strategies, learn from others' insights and experiences, and engage in valuable conversations with your peers.

The Forum features successful high growth entrepreneurs that have reached - and taken companies to - milestones of millions in revenue through duplicable business methodologies. A limited group of registered VIP attendees are able to partake in an intimate fireside chat style session with panelists during the day's networking period.

The panel includes: 

  • * Misha Kuryla-Gomer, Founder of Misha's Cupcakes, and generating over $4.4M in revenue
  • * Adam Boalt, Founder of LiveAnswer, since 2014 his company has signed over 1,000 clients including Uber and Nissan
  • * Jorge Cosio, former executive who has developed pricing strategies and revenue models for IBM, PepsiCo and Amex

 

To register for "Revenue Models and Pricing Strategies: The Path to Self Reliance" visit http://theuntapped.co/1LqzGbC . $59.99 (regular); $74.99 (VIP). Use code "SGATE15" to receive 15% off general admission.

Light refreshments and materials are included. #theUntapped

 

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 22, 2015

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 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.