July 29, 2015

The Idea Center launches MarketHack, a new digital marketing program

Submitted by the Idea Center at Miami Dade College

The Idea Center at Miami Dade College (MDC), Miami’s hub of innovation and entrepreneurship, is launching a comprehensive professional training program in digital marketing called MarketHack.  Registration is open now at theideacenter.co/markethack

The program, which will include workshops and public events, will tap into top industry experts and use real-life group projects to teach participants how to influence customers in the digital era, create connections, sell products and ultimately grow their businesses.

MarketHack aims to fill the gap in the South Florida marketplace for highly skilled and broadly knowledgeable digital marketers, a key discipline for any enterprise.

“Miami is a creative city with top marketing and advertising agencies, but there has not been a place to learn about the latest digital marketing tools and techniques—until now,” said Leandro Finol, Executive Director of the Idea Center at MDC. “With MarketHack, we are creating a talent pipeline for the marketers of the 21st century.”

The first MarketHack course, a 16-week introductory course in digital marketing, runs from August 25 through December 15, 2015. The course will cover the techniques and tools used by digital marketers to generate and sustain conversations with their customers and, more importantly, conversions. It will feature guests from the top creative agencies to expose students to state-of-the-art techniques in this fast-moving industry. 

MarketHack courses will be taught by two top digital marketing professionals: Dan Grech, Vice President of Marketing at Offercraft, and Mike Schott, Director of online marketing at Open English.

“We have been hearing from employers across South Florida that they simply cannot find local talent in digital marketing.  We aimed to solve that,” said Grech.

The program will build relationships with local companies and creative agencies to create a pipeline for internships, apprenticeships and jobs. “República is committed to being a leader in South Florida's innovation ecosystem. As Miami emerges as the tech hub for the Americas, we are thrilled to partner with The Idea Center at MDC to launch MarketHack, a groundbreaking program that will cultivate some of the best and brightest digital marketing professionals in the country," stated Jorge A. Plasencia, República's co-founder, chairman and CEO.

Subsequent courses and workshops, with deep dives into specific topic areas, such as Search Engine Optimization (SEO) will roll out starting in 2016.  The course costs $1,499 for community members, with an early-bird price of $999 until August 21. Current degree-seeking Miami Dade College students pay $249.

For more information, please contact Leandro Finol at lfinol@mdc.edu.

WHAT:            MarketHack: Introduction to Digital Marketing

WHEN:            Tuesdays, August 25 thru December 15, 6p.m. - 9p.m.

WHERE:         MDC, Idea Center Building 8, Fifth floor, 315 NE 2nd Ave


July 07, 2015

A new competition for food & beverage startups, small businesses

WHAT:                 Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream Pitch Room Wild Card Competition in partnership with Entrepreneur Magazine. This virtual competition will allow food and beverage small business owners in Miami to submit a product sales pitch for a chance to win a $10,000 business grant and extended mentoring from Samuel Adams.

HOW:                   Miami entrepreneurs with a food or beverage product, including craft brewers, are invited to upload a two-minute or less video of their best sales pitch. A panel of experts from Samuel Adams and Entrepreneur will judge the videos based on criteria including pitch quality, creativity, product viability and passion.

The top 5 best video submissions from across the country will then post to the Entrepreneur site, and the general public will be invited to vote for their favorite. The small business owner who receives the most votes for his/her sales pitch will be named the Wild Card winner and receive a trip for two to participate in the Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream Pitch Room finals this December.

WHEN:                 Applications will be accepted from July 7th to July 30th.

Top 5-6 submissions will be posted on Entrepreneur.com for public voting from August 16 to Sept. 7th.

Winner will be invited to compete in the finals in NYC this December.

WHERE:               Entrepreneur.com via http://entm.ag/samadamspitch2015

WHY:                    The Wild Card Pitch Room Competition is part of Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream, a micro-lending and coaching program for food and beverage small businesses including craft brewers that provides a unique combination of the two things Sam Adams brewer and founder, Jim Koch, wished he had when starting Sam Adams: access to capital and expert business advice. As an important extension of the program’s coaching and mentoring activities, the Pitch Room Competition helps small business owner’s better position and communicate about their products.

- Submitted by Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream Pitch Room Wild Card Competition


Shyp will deliver your donations to Goodwill in July for free

About that stack of clothes you've been meaning to drop off at a charity...
Shyp, the on-demand shipping service that launched in Miami last year,  announced that for the month of July it will pick up your donations in Miami (as well as San Francisco, New York and LA) and deliver it for free to Goodwill.
Here's how to donate: Simply update your Shyp app to the latest version and add a shipment. When you go to input the destination, you’ll notice there’s a new featured recipient, Goodwill. Tap that, take a photo of your items and request a pickup. Within 20 minutes, a courier will arrive at your door, armed with bags to retrieve your items and get them to Goodwill. Shyp will then email you a tax donation receipt after pickup. Shyp says donations should be small household items and clothing that can be transported in a car -- its couriers do not have room for your couch!
Shyp tried this in April in San Francisco and reported that Shyp donated 21.5 tons of unneeded items. That's over 165,000 square feet of freed-up space and over $300,000 in tax write-offs. Can Miami do better than that? We will see! 
See earlier coverage of Shyp in Miami here and here.

June 25, 2015

Jack Dorsey joins SBA talk about payment technology

Dorsey and contreras-sweet

Payment technology may not be a topic that would draw a small-business crowd -- except when the speaker is Square CEO (and interim Twitter CEO) Jack Dorsey.

Dorsey, co-founder of one of the world's leading payment technology companies,  joined U.S. SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet in a free public event Thursday morning held at the  FIU College of Architecture + The Arts Miami Beach Urban Studios and sponsored by Rokk3r Labs. The objective: to get out the word about major changes in payment security coming Oct. 1 and how small businesses can prepare. 

"Sixty-eight percent of small business have been hacked, they have been victims of cyber security fraud," said Contreras-Sweet. "Effective Oct. 1, the credit card companies say you need the chip reader because they are changing the security. We want to get the word out."

Dorsey demonstrated the present technology and why hacks have been relatively easy and explained what is involved in making the switch.

The bottom line, he told small businesses: Now, if you run a fraudulent card, banks absorb the costs. Starting in October, if someone pays with a fraudulent chip card, and you’re not set up with the new authenticated payment devices (whether it is Square's or one of its competitors) after Oct. 1, "you will be on the hook for fraudulent transactions. The banks won't have your back."

"Technology doesn't have to be complicated, it doesn't have to be inaccessible, it should be something that just works" he continued. "Our industry hasn't moved fast enough in pushing this so we are working with the SBA to make sure first and foremost sellers know this is coming and there are a string of solutions to address this, Square is just one. ...  The important thing is bringing more security, more safety to transactions." 

Dorsey grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, and co-founded Square with Jim McKelvey, now a Miami resident and founder of the LaunchCode apprenticeship program. Dorsey also shared some stories about growing up with entrepreneurship -- his father started a pizza restaurant and his mother later ran a coffee store.

What he's learned: "Entrepreneurs are not necessarily born with these skills, they have a do whatever it takes attitude to learn what they need to get to the next step and then there is a new challenge. I never had dreams of being a CEO, I had dreams of getting the world communicating in a very free and empowering way."

As for founding Square in 2009 in San Francisco, Dorsey said he hated the cumbersome credit card system and said he saw how it could destroy families. You have to ask the questions, why is it this way and then go after the answers, he said. "Our purpose at Square is to make commerce easy."

The co-founder of two of the most well-known tech companies in the world also told the mostly small-business audience: “The choice to stay small is just as admirable as the choice to go global.”

Dorsey said he is particularly proud of a couple of stats about Square and the companies Square serves: Fifty-six 56 percent of the small businesses who use Square are owned and run by women, and 75 percent of Square’s employees report to three women in the executive ranks.

Contreras-Sweet, a former banker, shared some information about SBA programs and products,  including the new LINC on sba.gov that eliminates the need to fill out dozens of loan applications. When you enter answers to 20 questions online, banks will get back to you within 48 hours with what they can offer, she said.  

Near the end of the program, Contreras-Sweet and Dorsey brought up four local small businesses to briefly share their stories: Panther Coffee, LuLu's Ice Cream, Sugar Yummy Mama and Wynwood Warehouse Project.



Sorry, no talk about retaking the reins at Twitter or if/when Square may go public.

 Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg


June 20, 2015

Beyond selfies: Social Media Day South Florida returning June 28


Did you know Miami is No. 3 in the world for selfies? Alex de Carvalho shared this Magic City claim to fame and other facts, figures and advice about social media -- in which a third of the world is now participating in -- at a recent talk he gave to the Miami Herald Media Company earlier this week.

Want more about the present and future of social media and how better to use it in your business? You’ll  have to go to Social Media Day South Florida on Sunday, June 28, with a full afternoon of talks planned, ending with a sunset cocktail hour. The event takes place from noon to 9 p.m. at the Hyatt Pier 66 in Fort Lauderdale.

Here’s more about the event from de Carvalho’s press release:

Popularized by Mashable, Social Media Day is an international celebration of digital media that attracts thousands to events around the world. Social Media Day South Florida was one of the first of these global meet-ups to take a conference-style approach. Attendees will learn from expert speakers on digital media trends, discover career opportunities and network with the region’s brightest digital media minds. 

Noted as one of the top Social Media Day events, the South Florida gathering is celebrating its fifth year.  “There is a groundswell of digital media activity and expertise in South Florida. This is not just a celebration of social media in South Florida; it is a valuable opportunity for learning, networking and recruitment,” said de Carvalho, Knight Innovator in Residence at FIU School of Journalism and Mass Communication and President of Social Media Club South Florida.

This year’s keynote address will be provided by Adam Boalt, CEO of LiveAnswer. Based out of Pipeline Brickell, LiveAnswer is one of South Florida’s fastest growing startups and a shining example of the region’s prowess in digital innovation.  While Boalt will be discussing the future of the digital media landscape, his company LiveAnswer also sees Social Media Day South Florida as a valuable opportunity for talent recruitment. “As South Florida grows its identity as a home for experts in social and digital technology and trends, Social Media Day South Florida is a platform to share our individual expertise while building our collective knowledge base,” said Boalt.

 For instance, LiveAnswer has partnered with Enrique Iglesias’ Atlantico Rum to develop a VIP experience centered on talent recruitment. Those who apply to become LiveAnswer’s newest “Marketing Rockstar” will gain two access passes to the Atlantico Rum VIP Suite during Social Media Day.

Other topics include branding (personal and company), SEO trends, tweeting responsibly, building a blogging network and getting the most from the various platforms. Presentations and panel discussion topics can be viewed here: www.smdaysf.com/agenda.

Social Media Day South Florida is co-organized by local social media leaders and influencers Blanca Stella Mejia and Karl Nybergh. The event is being sponsored by LiveAnswer, Lift Digital Media and Ford en Español.

Those looking to join the online conversation can do so here:

Twitter: @SMDAYSFL

Instagram: @SMDAYSFL 

Facebook: SMDAYSFL

For more information on Social Media Day South Florida and tickets, which cost $33 in advance or $48 at the door, visit www.smdaysf.com.


June 19, 2015

Boca Raton tech startup Glip acquired by RingCentral

RingCentral, a leading provider of cloud communication services, has acquired Glip, a Boca Raton tech startup focused on modern business messaging built for teams, the companies announced Friday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Glip, founded in 2012, makes teams more efficient by embedding shared calendars, task and project management, video conferencing and file sharing directly in the conversation stream. It launched its product in early 2014, relaunched with a Glip 2 early this year and launched an iOS and Android app this spring.

This is not the first exit for the Glip team. Led by co-founders Peter Pezaris, Claudio Pinkus and David Hersh, Glip's management team has worked together for 20 years and started and successfully exited several other  startups, including Multiply, inventor of the first social news feed. The self-funded Glip, with 13 employees,  recently relaunched its product that for the first time enabled the seamless integration of team conversation with advanced task and project management, Pezaris said.

Glip was being actively used by more than 10,000 teams – including at IBM, CBS Interactive, The Economist and Harvard University -- helping them be more productive with team messaging closely integrated with task management, group calendars, notes, annotations and file sharing. The product also includes integrations with Asana, Box, Dropbox, Evernote, JIRA, GitHub, Google, Zendesk, and many others.

Glip’s capabilities will be integrated and made available to all RingCentral Office customers. RingCentral also plans to keep the current stand-alone Glip application, renamed as RingCentral Teams, available for web, Windows, Mac, iOS and Android for all current and future customers, said Vlad Shmunis, CEO of RingCentral, a publicly traded tech company based in Belmont, Calif.

Glip “Collaborating with employees, partners, and customers to solve business problems is becoming more complex, and email is no longer sufficient by itself,” said Peter Pezaris, CEO of Glip (pictured here). “We started Glip with the vision of empowering employees to work more efficiently by developing a world-class messaging solution with integrated productivity tools. We’re excited to join RingCentral to take our vision even further by combining with their state-of-the-art business communications platform.”

Pezaris and the R&D team will join RingCentral.


June 15, 2015

Startup Spotlight: HipPOPs seals Dubai deal



Company: HipPOPs

Headquarters: DaniaBeach

Concept: Mobile, premium, handcrafted gelato on a stick that is fully customizable with different dips and unique toppings.

Story: Anthony Fellows has owned, managed and operated food service businesses for more than two decades, including experience with frozen desserts dating back to 1990. “After many years of developing stores/kiosks in large regional shopping centers, I grew tired of having to sign long, expensive leases and conform to standardized hours of operation. After noticing so many self-serve frozen yogurt concepts open, I knew I wanted to create something fresh and unique" said Fellows.

He said his aunt took a trip to Italy and told him that gelato was being sold on a stick. “Simultaneously, I was watching the mobile food industry around the country and believed if I could deliver a portable product in a mobile format, that would be fresh and fun, I could be on to something,” said Fellows.

The result: “HipPOPs is a healthier frozen dessert option that I feel good about serving to my kids and our community. We’re sourcing and hiring locally whenever possible. Our business model is interesting because we have taken all of the financial and operational inefficiencies out of the traditional frozen dessert model. I call it the Frozen Dessert Business Re-Imagined.”

Today there are two portable POPup gelato bars and one POPtruck operating in South Florida, with the next truck slated to launch in the United Arab Emirates in the third quarter of 2015.

Why the UAE? “Our truck fabricator was working with The Food Truck Company on a large project in Dubai,” said Fellows. “They are building multiple savory truck concepts and asked her to also build an ice cream truck concept for them. She introduced us to them and they really loved what we were doing in Miami and felt our brand would translate really well in Dubai. It felt right and we believe we have a great partner.”

Launched: June 2012

Management team: Anthony Fellows, CEO, and Niva Botknecht, co-founder, who handles social media and catering operations.

No. of employees: 7

Website: www.HipPOPs.com

Financing: $350,000 in friends and family investment.

Recent milestones: HipPOPS recently sold the master franchise development rights for the UAE to The Food Truck Company from Dubai. The company is currently developing a 5,000 square foot micro creamery in Dubai and will launch the first of 10 to 20 trucks in the third quarter of 2015; HipPOPs’ 2014 sales were up 27 percent.

Biggest startup challenge: Securing capital while also recruiting well-qualified franchisees who are passionate about building the brand.

Next step: Aggressively marketing to develop the domestic market with franchises. There are no domestic franchisees signed yet as the Dubai deal took up much of 2014, but the company is currently speaking to potential franchise candidates in Orlando, Palm Beach, and South Carolina. We are currently searching and have been speaking with potential strategic partners to assist us in our growth,” Fellows said.

Nancy Dahlberg


June 04, 2015

Miami-Fort Lauderdale metro area no. 2 in startup activity, Kauffman index shows


Photo by Patrick Farrell/Miami Herald

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Does it seem like everyone in South Florida is starting a business these days?

This may be one reason why: The Miami-Fort Lauderdale metropolitan area again landed near the top of the Kauffman Foundation’s index of startup activity, ranking No. 2 of the 40 largest metro areas studied, a report on state and metropolitan data released on Thursday showed.

Last year, the Miami area was No. 3, and in 2013’s index, based on 2012 data, the area was No. 1.

In the new 2015 Kauffman Index: Startup Activity, Austin, Texas, ranked No 1. Rounding out the top 10 were, in order: the metro areas of San Jose, California; Los Angeles; Denver, Colorado; San Francisco; New York; Houston; San Diego, California; and San Antonio, Texas. In overall startup activity, all areas that ranked in the top 10 with the most startup activity in the 2014 Index remained in the top 10 in the 2015 index. Kauffman’s data is industry-agnostic, so the businesses created range from high-growth startups to new mom-and-pop companies in all industries. The Kauffman Foundation, based in Kansas City, develops and funds global research and programs in entrepreneurship.

“In the past few years we have seen an explosion of entrepreneurship programs [accelerators, incubators, Startup Weekends, events, etc.] ... and while we don’t fully understand the impact yet, this is a good sign that we are seeing a rebound in new-business activity,” said Arnobio Morelix, research analyst at the Kauffman Foundation and one of the study’s authors. “In Austin and Miami, we are seeing a high level of [startup] density ... and there also seems to be a high level of connectivity in both places, and that has impressed me a lot. There are a lot of programs there, and the startups are pretty closely connected ... with vibrant organizational support.”

Nationally, new-business activity bounced up in 32 of the 50 U.S. states last year, and 18 of the nation’s top 40 metropolitan areas also saw increases in new venture activity, according to the index. The report on states and metro areas followed the May 28 report on national startup activity, which showed an uptick in business creation, the largest year-over-year increase in two decades. The national index reversed a downward trend that began in 2010, but researchers said the return remains tepid and well below historical trends.

“More of those entrepreneurs are now starting businesses out of opportunity rather than out of necessity ... and at the national level that has returned to pre-recession levels,” said E.J. Reedy, director in Research and Policy at the Kauffman Foundation.

“The Kauffman Index: Startup Activity,” based largely on data, is the first of three reports to be released this year under the umbrella of the new Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurship, which will later include metrics such as venture capital funding, scale-up activity and startup-survival rates and also break out “main street” small businesses and growth ventures, Morelix said. Indeed, South Florida and Florida as a whole, while incredibly entrepreneurial in new-business generation, have been found in many studies to be overwhelmingly dominated by slow-growing micro-businesses — those with fewer than five employees.

This new combined index, which likely will be released during Global Entrepreneurship Week in November, will offer more data on the makeup and progress of South Florida’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, which the Knight Foundation, eMerge Americas, Endeavor Miami, Venture Hive and many other organizations have been working to help build in recent years.

A closer look at the 2015 Kauffman Index: Startup Activity that was released Thursday, which was expanded this year to include two more measures of startup activity and 25 additional metropolitan areas, was comprised of three indicators:

▪  The rate of new entrepreneurs starting businesses, one of the components of the Kauffman Index, varied widely across metropolitan areas, from 0.55 percent to 0.13 percent. Austin, Texas, came out on top, at 0.55 percent rate of new entrepreneurs, or 550 new entrepreneurs per 100,000 people on average per month, followed by Miami at 0.52 percent, or 520 new entrepreneurs per month, and San Jose, California, at 0.41 percent. Up until this year, the index included just this one measure, which includes self-employment. Miami has ranked in the top five since 2007 when the index began releasing metro rankings.

▪  Opportunity share, which measures the percentage of new entrepreneurs not coming out of unemployment and is a proxy that can help identify companies that are driven by market opportunity, revealed a divergent range of results among metros. San Jose in Silicon Valley ranked highest, with an opportunity share of 91.2 percent — meaning less than 9 percent likely were starting businesses out of necessity rather than because of the opportunity, Morelix said. On the low end of the spectrum was Nashville, with a 60 percent opportunity share. Miami, with a 73.9 percent opportunity share, fell closer to the bottom and below the national average of 79.6, yet higher than Florida’s other large metro areas.

▪  Startup density, considered a key indicator of vibrant entrepreneurial communities, tracks new businesses rather than entrepreneurs. Metros’ density range among the top 40 metros stretched from the lower end — 93.9 startups per 100,000 people in the Cincinnati, Ohio, metro area — to the high end: 247.6 startups per 100,000 people in metropolitan Miami. Startups businesses here are defined as firms less than a year old employing at least one person besides the owner. Note that this data was from 2012, the most recent Census data available, Kauffman said.

As for state trends, Florida ranked ninth overall, likely pulled down by the Orlando area’s No. 33 ranking, falling 12 places from last year, and TampaBay’s No. 20 ranking, falling five places. The five states that ranked at the top of the 2015 Index were Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, Colorado and Vermont.

“State and local leaders need to understand how many startups they have in their regions and who’s starting them so they can make decisions on how to build on what they currently have,” said Dane Stangler, vice president of research and policy at the Kauffman Foundation.

While the national report pointed out that immigrants and Latinos drove much of the growth and it would make sense that immigrant-rich Miami would follow that trend, those numbers are not available on a metro level. However, Kauffman is partnering with the U.S. Census Bureau on a new reporting initiative, and indexes beginning in 2016 should be able to break demographic data out on an annual basis, Reedy said.

The full report and interactive data is available at www.kauffmanindex.org.

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg

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.

MDC hosting free Small Business Expo on Saturday; rsvp required

Miami Dade College’s School of Business will be hosting a Small Business Expo on Saturday, at the Wolfson Campus. Admission is free, but attendees must RSVP.

The Small Business Education Program’s Business Expo features a panel discussion at 11 a.m. on the challenges and opportunities associated with business ownership. Panelists include: Brian Brackeen, CEO, Kairos; Ray Casas, President, Wragg & Casas Public Relations; Monique Font Delacroix, CEO, The Empanada Lady; and facilitator Heradio Luces, CEO, Dualis Consulting Corp.

The event will also include presentations on building customer relationships, perfecting an elevator pitch and marketing about marketing, sales and customer service. A business-to-business expo will be open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., featuring 45 exhibitors from private industries, government and non-profit agencies.

The event takes plan from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at MDC Wolfson Campus, Chapman Conference Center, Room 3210, 300 N.E. Second Ave. Attendees must RSVP via email: smallbusinessprogram@mdc.edu or by calling 305-237-7103. For more information about the Small Business Education Program, visit: www.mdc.edu/smallbusiness