July 01, 2015

Shyp’s on-demand workforce now 100% employees

Bucking a trend in the sharing economy, Shyp, the app-enabled shipping service, said today it is re-classifying its couriers from 1099 contractors to W2 employees, making it the first on-demand company with a workforce made up entirely of employees. 

“This move is an investment in a longer-term relationship with our couriers, which we believe will ultimately create the best experience for our customers,” said CEO Kevin Gibbon in a blog post. “This is an operational decision based on our interest in owning the entire, end-to-end Shyp experience; it is not in response to recent lawsuits against other technology companies.”

Newly classified W2 couriers will now get workers’ compensation, and Shyp will pay for their vehicle expenses, in addition to unemployment, Social Security, and Medicare taxes. Depending upon the number of hours worked, Shyp provide additional benefits such as healthcare. Added Gibbon: "This is a huge step forward for Shyp."

Shyp launched in Miami just before Art Basel last year, its third city after San Francisco and New York. It's now also in Los Angeles and headed to Chicago, and it has continued to grow. In an interview earlier this year, Gibbon said the Miami market skews particularly high for international shipments, including art.  Shyp now has a team of about 25 in Miami, including couriers, drivers and warehouse technicians, said Johnny Brackett, who heads communications.

Read previous coverage of Shyp in Miami here.

Moving in: Kogi Mobile, app development

Kogi Mobile announced the company has moved its app development operations to Miami.

Founded by Nick Aldridge, who previously co-founded and exited Mobile Interactive Group, Kogi has developed nearly 200 apps and hundreds of mobile and responsive websites for its international client base, including Hitch Radio in LA, the company said. Kogi offers startups specific development services as well as project lifecycle management solutions, often working with clients from concept to series A financing and beyond. The company manages development in-house and sometimes invests in the startups; it says it has launched over 10 startups since 2014.

Kogi’s main commercial headquarters is now Miami, where its operations and creative team is based. Medellin, Colombia, is its back office where it was founded and does its development work. Kogi also has a offices in New York and Bogota, Aldridge said. Kogi currently is based at The LAB Miami.

“Kogi Mobile works on everything from MVPs to full working interfaces for iOS, Android, and Web, as well as full backend stacks,” says Aldridge, Kogi Mobile's CEO. “We have many customers across the U.S. ... who have $50-100k but this is not enough to get their initial product into the marketplace with the local agencies who simply cannot afford to offer their world-class solutions for this cost. Kogi is enabling U.S. companies to do this on these budgets and now with our presence in Miami we want to be able to offer our personalized, localized service to budding entrepreneurs in South Florida.”

 

Former Vevo CEO joins Magic Leap's executive team

More high-level talent is flying to Magic Leap.

Magic Leap said  today that it has named Rio Caraeff its chief content officer. Caraeff formerly was president and CEO of Vevo, a leading all-premium music video and entertainment platform with over 10 billion monthly video views globally. Prior to co-founding Vevo in 2009, Caraeff spent more than 20 years in technology, strategy and new business across all areas of entertainment for such companies as Universal Music Group, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Sony Digital Media Ventures, Sony Music Entertainment and Capitol Records Group.

“My head exploded when I first experienced what the Magic Leap team was working on,” said Caraeff. “It is certainly the most exciting development in media and technology that I’ve ever seen, which is why I had to do whatever it takes to join the talented team that Rony has assembled."

Caraeff will be responsible for the development, operations and business management of Magic Leap’s cloud-based ecosystem and media network.   The secretive and heavily funded Magic Leap says it is developing a new "mixed reality" computing platform that will enable people to interact with the world in ways never before possible. Magic Leap, with hundreds of employees and many of them working in its base at  DCOTA  in Dania Beach, also has offices in  Santa Cruz, Los Angeles, Mountain View, Seattle, Austin, the UK and New Zealand.

“I am excited to welcome Rio to the Magic Leap family. Rio grew up around musicians and computing, and he and I both share a love of creativity, art and technology,” said CEO Rony Abovitz, in a press release. “This mutual passion for building new mediums and experiences with artists and creatives is the heart and soul of Magic Leap.”

In April, Magic Leap brought Yannick Pellet aboard as  senior vice president of software engineering reporting to Abovitz. He had  served as a VP at Samsung Research America, where he built software platforms for a multitude of mobile phones and tablets. In December, Magic Leap announced that sci-fi author and futurist Neal Stephenson would be the company’s chief futurist, and Scott Henry, an executive at  Beats Music and Beats by Dr. Dre, would be its CFO.

More recent coverage of Magic Leap here and here.

 

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.

AT&T to launch 1-gigabit service in parts of Miami-Dade, Broward

Ultra-fast Internet access is now available in sections of Miami-Dade and Broward counties, AT&T announced on Monday.

U-verse with AT&T GigaPower – with speeds up to 1 gigabit per second – is available to residents and small businesses in parts of Fort Lauderdale, Hialeah, Hollywood, Miami and surrounding communities starting at $120 a month, and the territory will continue to expand, said Carlos Blanco-Sposito, AT&T Florida vice president and general manager.

Although this is the first metro region in Florida to receive the service, AT&T has rolled it out in other states and the service particularly appeals to consumers or businesses using the network for online gaming, videoconferencing or streaming. The service is symmetrical so upload speeds are the same as downloads. “It’s going to be the way of the future for consuming data,” Blanco-Sposito said.

How fast is 1-gigabit? Customers can download 25 songs in less than a second, their favorite TV show in about 3 seconds or an HD movie in less than 36 seconds.

“Homes today have a lot of devices and people need more speed to have a better user experience,” Blanco-Sposito said, adding that U-verse GigaPower also offers enhanced TV services. Family members can watch and record up to five HD programs at the same time – “no more fights,” he said.

Consumers in eligible areas can choose from a variety of plans beginning at $120 a month for speeds up to 1 gigabit per second service; starting at $150 a month for the service bundled with U-verse TV service; or $180 a month bundled with TV and voice. Installation and equipment are included.

AT&T also offers plans with speeds of 100 megabits per second for $30 less. That is fast enough to download 10 songs in less than five seconds or download an HD movie in six minutes, AT&T said.

AT&T GigaPower was first rolled out in Austin, Texas, in late 2013. That was well-received, and the company announced plans last year for a national rollout of its fiber network to 21 metropolitan areas. Its Florida rollout starts in South Florida and then will move to other areas of the state, said Blanco-Sposito.

Additionally, AT&T said that upon approval of its proposed acquisition of DIRECTV, the company will expand the AT&T GigaPower network to an additional 2 million customer locations.

The ultra-fast service has been on a roll. Comcast announced in April it would be bringing 2-gigabit per second service to most of its customers in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach this summer but has not announced prices yet; Comcast expects to start marketing it in Florida very soon, said spokeswoman Mindy Kramer. Atlantic Broadband began offering 1-gigabit service to its Indian Creek customers last summer, and is expanding throughout its Miami Beach service area. And while South Florida is not yet on Google Fiber’s expansion map, the company has been rolling out its 1-gigabit service in selected cities across the country, and announced earlier this year that four cities in the Southeast are in the plans.

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter.

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.

 

Smallbizpanel

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

 Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg

 

June 22, 2015

Tech community support builds for Miami Innovation District concept

MID_STREET VIEW (1)

Renderings of Miami Innovation District provided by Innovate Development Group 

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

While debate continues over a 10-acre development centered around a 633-foot LED tower, support is growing among some local entrepreneurs and tech investors for the Miami Innovation District proposed for the Park West section of downtown.

“I’m becoming pretty passionate about this project,” said Andres Moreno, executive chairman of Open English, a fast-growing online education company in Coconut Grove that has attracted $120 million in venture capital. “Miami is definitely coming together as an ecosystem but it is pretty spread out ... We haven’t found a hub.”

Moreno is among the South Florida entrepreneurs, angel investors and board members of Endeavor Miami who have met with Innovation District developer Michael Simkins to discuss the project. Moreno, who also recently founded Next University, is among the more bullish: He said he would move his companies there.

National players may share his enthusiasm, according to Simkins, who said he is in active discussions with large tech companies as potential anchor tenants. Already lined up, Simkins said, is Silicon Valley’s 500 Startups, a well-known global venture fund for early-stage tech companies.

According to Simkins, the “verbal understanding” with 500 Startups calls for the organization to open an accelerator for top Latin American startups in one of the existing buildings on his property, possibly as early as this fall, with the goal of moving to a new tower when complete. Dave McClure, founder of 500 Startups, brought the company’s PreMoney Conference to Miami in March and said then he was looking at opportunities to expand to Miami. 500 Startups did not return calls seeking comment for this story.

To be sure, Simkins and his Innovate Development Group have been promoting the benefits of clustering large tech companies, mid-sized companies, startups, incubators, co-working and public spaces, services and cafes in a common area wired with super high speed Internet access as a way to accelerate the growth of a tech ecosystem — an effort supported locally by the Knight Foundation and eMerge Americas, among others. Similar districts are found in Boston/Cambridge, New York, Seattle, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Las Vegas and one emerging now in downtown Detroit, as well as London, Barcelona, Berlin, Stockholm, Medellin and many other cities, according to a 34-page Brookings Institution report. Many are in walkable-bikeable urban downtown-midtown areas close to public transportation and contain housing.

“The one thing Miami is lacking as a great city is the high-paying jobs that will allow us to evolve and elevate us overall. We visited innovation districts. We chose an architecture firm that has designed other innovation projects” — including recently Uber’s new headquarters, said Simkins, in an interview in his Miami Beach office. He has not done a project of this scale before.

Simkins’s proposal has faced a mountain of negative sentiment about the 633-foot centerpiece tower that would contain an observation deck, restaurants, retail, event space – and advertising in lights visible from the freeways. An electronic billboard in the sky is one of the nicer ways critics have described it.

Simkins prefers “a $250 million icon in the sky” and said the tower could also be used for public service messaging – a dashboard for the city if you will. But he is also quick to point out that the media tower, called the Miami Innovation Tower, is just one part of the vision for the live-work-play district, which includes nine towers with 7.4 million square feet – more than half of that earmarked for office space.

But it’s the overall concept, not the media tower, that interests the early tech supporters.

What distinguishes successful innovation districts are big tech anchors. Juan Pablo Cappello, a lawyer and co-founder of the AGP angel network, said having a place – with literally the space – to house large companies is what excites him most about the Innovation District plan for Miami.

“If Miami can offer a place where enterprise tech companies like a Google, like a Facebook can have the space and resources to hire 100, 200, 500 people, that could be transformative,” Cappello said. “Companies like to cluster ... With a project like this you can get some momentum building.”

Patrick McKenna, managing partner of HighRidge Global and an investor and entrepreneur who moved here a year ago from Silicon Valley, saw the power of momentum first hand. About six years ago, he said, San Francisco risked losing Twitter and other tech companies that were outgrowing their spaces. Meetings between the tech community and government ensued. Thanks to tax breaks and the rezoning of blighted sections of the city, the offices of Twitter, Square, Salesforce and Zynga lie within walking distance of one another. A district can attract both critical mass and tech anchor tenants, both critical to Miami’s tech development, he said.

Colombia-born entrepreneur Juan Franco, who moved to Miami from Silicon Valley about a decade ago to launch social gaming publisher Mentez and since has started three more companies, met Simkins through YPO, the Young Presidents Network. He, too, is a supporter of the project.

“What is missing here is an environment of entrepreneurs. That is what I like most about this project. ... It will bring people together – young people with new ideas, people with experience, hopefully [venture capitalists] in the future. They are close together and that creates the interactions and the new ideas,” said Franco.

Franco even likes the controversial tower: “I believe he [Simkins] needs to create a statement, that’s why I like the tower. It could be an icon of the city very related to technology and around the tower we can start to create that excitement.”

Moreno said he spent some time recently talking about the importance of frequent collisions – entrepreneur-speak for interactions that happen in tech clusters that Franco spoke about – during a visit with CEO Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos and engineer of Las Vegas’ innovation district. For Hsieh, moving his company headquarters and more than 2,000 employees there wasn’t enough. Hsieh also funded and led a resurgence of a once-blighted downtown area that now includes multiple big companies, startups, services, weekly speaker series, regular conferences, cafes, bars and a dog park.

Matt Haggman, Miami program director of the Knight Foundation, said he has talked with Simkins about the project in concept but has not seen the plans.

“I don’t know the details of the proposal, but our focus at Knight Foundation is to expand Miami’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, helping it become more diverse and broad-based. Any project that advances those goals would be good for the community,” Haggman said. In the past three years, Knight Foundation has invested more than $10 million in Miami entrepreneurship programs.

Simkins plans to continue meeting with tech community leaders and wants to share plans and hear feedback at a future event by Refresh Miami, South Florida’s largest tech meet-up organization. He is also taking part in a panel discussion hosted by the Commercial Industrial Association about “Miami’s tech footprint” on Thursday. Moreno, a member of the Miami board of the global entrepreneurship nonprofit Endeavor, said a tech community advisory board is being formed for the Miami Innovation District project.

“The developer has spent a lot of time and money on what it will look like, but what will happen inside that venue is still to be defined. As a community, we still have an opportunity to shape this to be a really core part of the ecosystem. I think that is hugely exciting,” said Moreno.

Simkins, born and raised in Miami Beach, has become increasingly involved in the tech community and helped fund donations to various organizations and conferences, including Black Tech Week, Start-Up City: Miami, 500 Startups PreMoney Conference, Smart City Startups and eMerge Americas. About a year ago, he joined the AGP network, a group of angel investors, and has invested in six local startups.

He said his involvement and “brainstorming meetings” have helped shape features of the project, such as adding more community space. The plans by New York-based SHoP Architects, which also designed Uber’s new San Francisco headquarters, include a “cloud layer” – elevated public space with gardens and gathering places connecting all the towers. Also in the plans: parking lots near the I-95 exit so cars would be off the roads quickly to create a walk-bike culture, and 250- to 350-square-foot micro-unit apartments that would appeal to millenials. Nearly a third of the project – 2.4 million square feet – is earmarked for residential.

Though Simkins has already acquired the land needed, many political, legal and regulatory hurdles remain, particularly when it comes to the controversial media tower. Still, Simkins hopes to break ground next year. If that happens, he hopes to open the first buildings within three years and complete build out within seven. The developer said he is focusing first on securing a large anchor tenant. He then will move to middle-sized companies, startups, funding and support organizations in addition to 500 Startups, coworking spaces and university involvement. He’s also looking at ways to activate part of the property before construction, such as locating 500 Startups there.

Yet, the Miami Innovation District is just one piece of a much larger picture of Miami as a technology hub of the Americas, Simkins says.

“It is a component that is needed, along with a lot of the other things that are already taking shape,” he said. “But this provides the infrastructure ... We need the enterprise companies that will bring the employees. That will keep the talent here.”

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.

MID_GATEWAY PLAZA

PANEL DISCUSSION

Miami Innovation District developer Michael Simkins is set to appear on a Thursday lunch panel titled “What is Miami’s Tech Footprint?” hosted by the Commercial Industrial Association of South Florida at Venture Hive in downtown Miami. Other panelists are Venture Hive founder Susan Amat, Pipeline founder Todd Oretsky and Peter Crovo, senior vice president of Prologis. Information: www.ciasf.com.

June 15, 2015

Attn. software engineers: New TEALS program at MAST Academy needs you

 Wifredo Fernandez has been working with a school board member, principal and dedicated parent to help bring a program called TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools) to MAST Academy. Part of the project includes recruiting four software engineers from the community to help teach over the course of the year and is hoping for some leads.

Here is his post with more information:

 

Calling all software engineers of South Florida!

Have you ever wanted to teach high school computer science and help shape the next generation of programmers and teachers?

MAST Academy has been accepted into the TEALS program, a Microsoft-backed organization that is on a mission to bring computer science to every high school.

What is TEALS?

TEALS (Technology Education And Literacy in Schools) is a grassroots program that recruits, trains, mentors, and places high tech professionals from across the country who are passionate about computer science education into high school classes as volunteer teachers in a team teaching model where the school district is unable to meet their students’ computer science (CS) needs on its own.

TEALS works with committed partner schools and classroom teachers to eventually hand off the CS courses to the classroom teachers. The school will then be able to maintain and grow a sustainable CS program on their own.

We are looking for 4 brave software engineers from the community to volunteer (with a modest stipend) their skills and brain to this effort for the first year. The commitment is 2 first period morning classes per week at MAST in Key Biscayne.

If you are interested, please fill out this brief form. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me directly at wfernand@mdc.edu

 

June 07, 2015

Talking tech with Singularity's Salim Ismail

Salim

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

If you think technology is moving fast now, strap in.

In a daylong event, Salim Ismail, global ambassador and the founding executive director of Silicon Valley’s famed Singularity University, presented scores of mind-blowing examples of technology moving at exponential speeds to the workshop participants, who included entrepreneurs, investors, consultants and corporate executives.

The sometime scary, often inspiring information-packed workshop was held last week at Miami Dade College’s Idea Center and supported by Rokk3r Labs and the Knight Foundation.

Reading DNA is one of the fastest-moving technologies, Ismail said. What cost $2.7 billion to sequence the first human genome 13 years ago now costs about $1,000. In 2020, it will cost pennies. Think of the possibilities and implications, he said. “The Chinese just announced they are now changing and reprogramming embryos inside the mother. ... All the bio-ethics folks are freaking out right now.”

Energy? The price of solar is dropping like a stone, and at this pace, solar energy will be abundant and free in 23 years, Ismail said. Again the possibilities: The poorest countries in the world are also the sunniest.

Another near-necessity of life that will be abundant and free? By the end of the decade we will have free Internet globally, he predicts. We are heading to the age of infinite computing and infinite storage — all for free.

Or take the driverless car. The sensors on that car cost $300,000 a car six years ago, $75,000 two years later and $1,000 today. Google’s car has already driven a million miles without an accident — what human can say that?

And while many experts think it will take 15 to 20 years for the driverless car to be readily available, Singularity believes it will take three to five. “Someday soon we will look back and say, ‘Why did we ever let humans drive?’ ”

Bottom line, said Ismail: “In the history of the world, we have never seen so many technologies moving so fast. It is the best time in the history of the world to be an entrepreneur ... and the biggest marketplace in the history of humanity is being created in this five-year period.”

So how do startups become fast-moving, fast-growing exponential organizations? And if you own a big company, can you become an exponential organization?

The short answer is yes, but for the hows, well, Ismail has written the book on that one — Exponential Organizations: Why New Organizations Are Ten Times Better, Faster, Cheaper Than Yours (and What to Do About It).

Ismail outlines 10 qualities that exponential organizations possess, and he says a company doesn’t need all 10 — four will suffice. Some of them are encouraging experimentation, or the Lean Startup method, leveraging the community and crowd, such as testing product ideas on Kickstarter like Sony does, employing algorithms and using big data (and that doesn’t mean employing a data scientist; use Kaggle’s platform with 300,000 of them), valuing autonomy (more on that below) and leveraging social technologies, such as what a Chinese phone maker does by allowing users to vote on the features.

Nabyl Charania is a believer. “Soon the power of 7 billion connected people will reshape the world as we know it,” said Charania, who is CEO of Rokk3r Labs, a co-building organization based in Miami Beach. Not only is his company practicing the ExO principles, but every company Rokk3r brings in to co-build will strive to be an ExO company, he said.

Ismail, who has given this workshop twice this year in South Florida, also talked about companies that are turning corporate structures upside-down, such as Valve, with no CEO, no hierarchy and no meetings, to Zappos, which is moving to that model. Haier, the Chinese refrigerator maker with 80,000 workers, overhauled the structure into 2,000 autonomous teams, and since then has tripled market cap — twice, Ismail said.

Although most people in the room said they didn’t believe big companies could change radically, a way to begin is to let innovation happen at the edges of the organization. Create cells of your best change-agents, and give them autonomy — there’s that word again — to innovate. Also, tap into the power of your analytics and partner with disruptive startups in your industry, he advised.

Last week, Ismail appeared on CNBC’s Squawk Box for a segment on the Fortune 500 ranked by their Exponential Quotient. In case you are wondering, the top 10 would be: Google (by a significant margin), Amazon, Apple, IBM, Verizon, Disney, General Electric, Microsoft, Cisco and Oracle. There you have it.

Tech executive and investor Robert Goldberg also spoke at the workshop. Among many business successes, Goldberg took Zynga from 30 people to 3,000 people and did 40 acquisitions in 10 quarters, an M&A success rate that has never been seen in the corporate world, said Ismail.

“We’re now in an age of hyper-hyper growth,” said Goldberg. To get your company off the linear growth curve and into hyper-growth, it starts with establishing where you want to be in a future of exponential growth, and then setting goals in smaller steps, perhaps three-year increments, to get there. What will you also need?

“The 5 percent rule, the other 95 percent just doesn’t matter,” said Goldberg. “Question what you do every day. ... It’s ruthless prioritization. Deciding what you don’t do is more important than what you do do.”

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.

June 03, 2015

View from the inside: Startup Weekend Diversity Miami

DSC04751 copy (1)

The winning Breakin' Bread team are (left to right) Monica Delgado, Juan Murillo, Miguel Hidalgo, Francisco Tamayo, Adriana Castro, Daniela Hernandez. On the far right is Joshua Gaviria-Bradshaw, expansion lead for WeWork.
 

By Francisco Tamayo

"What did you do this weekend?" is a question I hear from friends, co-workers and family members every Monday. This week, my answer was different - "I started a company with complete strangers in 54 hours.”

The adventure started Friday night alongside 59 other wide-eyed participants at a sold out Startup Weekend Diversity Miami, a Google for Entrepreneurs global event series, which gives aspiring entrepreneurs a chance to launch their own business in a weekend. It was hosted at Venture Hive.

Many South Floridians feel their gender, age, ethnicity, background or technical ability is a hurdle to entering the startup world, and I can confirm that perception was changed at with over 15 countries represented, multiple ethnicities, 5 different languages spoken, ages ranging from 18 to 60, an even split amongst genders and all types of backgrounds and abilities present.

Startup Weekend's hashtag #SWMiami was trending on Twitter when the event began with 60 second pitches for startup ideas thanks to the amount of social media activity happening inside Venture Hive. Teams were formed and the process kicked off.

My team of six -- Monica Delgado, Juan Murillo, Miguel Hidalgo, Adriana Castro, Daniela Hernandez plus me -- was determined to launch our startup Breakin' Bread, a social platform that allows people to instantly join unique, communal dining experiences. By Friday night's end, we had delegated responsibilities and began the 54-hour journey.

BreakinBread_Mentor One on One with LiveAnswer CEO Adam Boalt (1)

LiveAnswer’s Founder and CEO Adam Boalt (above)  sat down with us Saturday and immediately noticed roadblocks he had previously experienced in his entrepreneurial career. He took the time to carefully guide us through the process to show where Breakin' Bread could be improved and what actions to take in order to band together and impress the Sunday night judges.

By the time we presented Breakin' Bread Sunday night to a capacity crowd at Venture Hive, the judging panel of Nicolai Bezsonoff (COO and CO-Founder .CO INTERNET), Brian Brackeen (Kairos CEO), Johanna Mikkola (Wyncode Academy Co-Founder) and Roberto Interiano (STS Capital Partners) believed in us enough to vote our startup 1st place. As a matter of fact, I spoke with Roberto after winning and was fortunate enough to receive his priceless advice.

After a mentally and emotionally draining 54 hours, the bonding continued at Adam Boalt’s home where he hosted us with Miami Dolphins DJ Supersede, a red carpet, a photo booth, a bounce castle and drone lessons. I met a lot of contacts at the party ranging from venture capitalists and web designers to software engineers and attorneys specializing in startups.

Startup Weekend Diversity could have never been possible without UP Global facilitator Lee Ngo, the Community Leader for Startup Weekend Pittsburgh, and Miami Lead organizer Paula Celestino (COO, Crea7ive Interactive Advertising) along with Pia Celestino, Gaby Castelao, Ryan Amsel and Anas Benadel.

Without a doubt, the event changed me personally. Professionally, the Breakin' Bread team's main focus is to preserve the bonds we made and work hard together to properly develop our MVP for release later this summer.

We are looking forward to Breakin' Bread with you soon, Miami.

Francisco Tamayo is a team member of Breakin' Bread.