May 21, 2015

Exponential Organizations Workshop returning to Miami

ExO March 2015 group image

Miami-based Rokk3r Labs cobuilding platform announces the Exponential Organizations Workshop that will be hosted by award winning author, foounding executive director and current global ambassador of Singularity University, Salim Ismail.

The event will take place on Monday, June 1, 2015 from 9:30am-6:00pm at the Idea Center at Miami Dade College. The address is 315 Northeast 2nd Ave, Building 8, 5th Floor Miami, FL 33132.

Register for this exclusive event at

The rapid pace of technological change across all industries has been disrupting legacy organizations in recent years. Cisco’s CEO John Chambers believes that only 1 out of 3 major corporations will survive the next 25 years and as he said at last year’s CISCO Live conference, “We need to change.”

Since 2010, the business world has witnessed the emergence of a new type of company - the Exponential Organization - that has revolutionized how companies accelerate their growth and success by leveraging new organizational principles and exponential technologies.

The traits exponential organizations exhibit and how companies of all sizes can benefit from integrating these traits are the key elements of the Exponential Organizations Workshop, and the focal point of Ismail’s book, Exponential Organizations: Why New Organizations are Ten Times Better, Faster and Cheaper Than Yours (And What To Do About It), which won the 2014 Frost and Sullivan Growth, Innovation and Leadership (GIL) Book of the Year award.

Participants at this one-day crash course will walk away with a clear understanding that if their organizations do not adopt the Exponential Organizations principles and frameworks, they might be left behind in this age of disruptive technology.

In addition to learning from and interacting with Ismail, the Exponential Organizations Workshop is an opportunity to network and share ideas with local business leaders across all industries. In March of this year, the first Exponential Organizations Workshop in Miami had over 200 people and 130 companies in attendance.

“Entrepreneurs and dreamers all over the world have the ideas, ingenuity and talent to enable exponential innovation,” says Rokk3r Labs CEO Nabyl Charania. “Salim Ismail’s Exponential Organizations Workshop in partnership with Rokk3r Labs exists to help entrepreneurs and business leaders understand how to harness exponential technologies and innovative organizational techniques to create ventures that change the world.”

-Submitted by Rokk3r Labs

The all-day workshop is regularly priced $995 but priced at  $695 through May 26.

May 19, 2015

eMerge Americas names CEO, announces conference dates

eMerge Americas on Tuesday announced the dates for the next annual technology conference as well as a new leader.

The 2016 dates of the main conference will be April 18 and 19, and other events will be added around the conference as was done in the two past years, said Xavier Gonzalez, executive director of eMerge Americas. The dates were moved up to better accommodate university schedules, as well as to complement but not conflict with other global technology events, he said.

MichaelRodriguez (1)In a second announcement, Michael T. Rodriguez, the former vice president and general manager of WLTV and WAMI, Univision’s flagship stations in South Florida, has been named chief executive officer.

More than 10,000 attendees from more than 50 countries participated in eMerge Americas 2015 at the Miami Beach Convention Center May 4 and 5, which included NBCUniversal’s live broadcasts and online streaming as part of a three-year media partnership. The second annual conference attracted more than 500 participating companies, including 125 startups, and more than 200 expert speakers, including author Deepak Chopra, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro, technology executive Martine Rothblatt and Pitbull. eMerge Americas will be posting videos of the 2015 speakers on

Emerge Americas also included other events before the main conference, such as a hackathon, startup bootcamp and parties. In all, the conference generated more than 7,500 hotel room nights, Gonzalez said.

“eMerge Americas 2015 exceeded our most optimistic expectations in its second year and has once again set a high standard for years to come,” said Manuel D. Medina, founder and chairman of eMerge Americas, in a statement. “I have the utmost confidence in Mike’s ability to lead and propel eMerge into a new, exciting chapter of success. He is an accomplished leader with a proven track record for driving growth through sales, organizational and financial management.”

Rodriguez, a 20-year veteran of the media industry, has served in a variety of leadership roles at CBS, NBCUniversal and most recently, Univision Communications, where he was helped drive revenue, ratings and bottom line growth for WLTV and WAMI. Rodriguez said he sees similarities with that surge he saw in Spanish language TV, which blossomed in Miami, and what is going on now in technology.

“As a South Florida native, I am very proud of what we are doing with eMerge in helping to grow the South Florida economy and making this a hot bed of technology in the southeastern United States and in Latin America,” said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez has spent the past two months helping out with eMerge Americas 2015 and getting to know the organization and the community. “Frankly, I fell in love with the business. So when Manny and I began talking about this opportunity, of course I jumped at it, not only because I think it is a great thing for the community and what Manny is doing, but also because it is a great team here led by Xavier.”

He said the leadership team is already working to enhance various elements for the 2016 event. “I thought 2015 was a huge success but like anything else, next year our attendees are going to want more and bigger and better things,” he said. He wouldn’t release too many details but said WIT (Women, Innovation and Technology), a new summit track this year, would continue. “Never in our wildest dreams did we expect WIT to be as successful as it was. The buzz coming out of the conference concerning WIT has been phenomenal.”

“At the end of the day, ... the one measure that speaks to success in my book is the quality of the content and that just easily translates into eMerge -- the speakers, the sponsors, the experiences,” said Rodriguez.. “It’s very exciting to me to be able to keep a leg in the showbiz world but at the same time jump into this tech world.”

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.

Read eMerge Americas 2015 coverage with videos here and here.

May 14, 2015

Gov. Scott signs drone privacy bill

Floridians won’t be able to use drones to spy on their neighbors -- at least not legally.

Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill prohibiting the use of drones for surveillance anywhere there’s a “reasonable expectation of privacy,” such as flying over someone’s backyard.

 The restrictions would also apply to state and local governments. The law, which takes effect July 1, does not call for any criminal penalties. Instead it allows people to sue someone who photographs them with a drone. It includes several exceptions, including drone use by utility companies and property appraisers.

The law joins existing limitations on drones that ban law enforcement from using them to collect evidence without a warrant, but the issue will likely return in future legislative sessions as use of the technology grows. For example, Amazon is preparing to launch a drone service to deliver packages within a half hour of an order being placed online.

 - Miami Herald staff and wire services

See an earlier takeout on drones here.

May 11, 2015

University of Miami’s RoboCanes win RoboCup US Open 2015



The RoboCanes, the University of Miami’s team of autonomous soccer-playing robots developed by students and faculty in the College of Arts & Sciences Computer Science Department, won the 2015 RoboCup US Open – claiming victory for the first time since entering the competition in 2012.

Functioning as the American RoboCup playoffs, the US Open is one of three key events leading up to the annual World Championships. This year’s contest will take place in July in Hefei, China.

 After defeating 2012 world champions Austin Villa (from the University of Texas at Austin) 3-0 in Saturday’s semi-final match, the RoboCanes met the Bowdoin College Northern Bites in the final match. It was a close game, which showcased the impact of new rules in the robot soccer league.

Ubbo Visser, an associate professor of computer science in the College of Arts & Sciences and leader of the RoboCanes project (alongside a group of dedicated graduate students), said, “The public has seen very close games the whole weekend and we have seen significant improvements among the teams. One of the new rules this year consists of the robots listening to the human referee starting a game with a whistle. RoboCanes was the only team that could handle this situation. We gained from that by having extra 15 seconds at the start of the game.”

He added that the American teams will be tested in China, when they face perennially strong squads from Europe and Asia.

RoboCup aims to promote robotics and artificial intelligence research, by offering an integrated research platform that covers areas including vision, context recognition, strategy acquisition, motor control and more.

- submitted by the University of Miami


May 10, 2015

Cohealo hires Miami-based execs to lead marketing, finance

Cohealo, a technology company founded in South Florida that leverages the sharing economy for hospitals and health systems, announced that it has added two Miami-based senior managers who bring to Cohealo decades of experience successfully scaling high-growth businesses in their respective domains.

As the new Chief Marketing Officer, Joe Sawyer will be responsible for building Cohealo’s corporate marketing as well as a complete go-to-market for its innovative solutions. He joins Cohealo from CareCloud, where he led a marketing team that helped drive three years of average 100% revenue growth, landing the company on the Inc. 500 and Forbes list of America’s Most Promising Companies.

As Vice President of Finance, Ryan Lissauer will lead Cohealo’s financial strategy and operations while also helping build repeatable, scalable infrastructure across its key functions. Prior to joining Cohealo, Ryan was with H.I.G. Capital, a leading global private equity firm, where he acquired middle market companies and helped grow their enterprise value as a member of their Board of Directors.

 “In recent months, Cohealo has gained significant traction among health systems looking for an innovative but proven approach to managing their clinical assets more efficiently and profitably,” said Mark Slaughter, CEO and co-founder, who moved his company to Boston early last year. “We are thrilled to welcome Joe and Ryan. We will apply their talents in rapidly expanding our reach in the market while taking the positive results we deliver for clients to the next level.”

Cohealo utilizes a cloud-based software platform to bring the benefits of the sharing economy to managing and optimizing the utilization of medical equipment across hospitals and care facilities in health systems, a $100 billion market.

Founded about five years ago when Slaughter was an MBA student at the University of Miami, Cohealo closed a $9 million Series A financing round that included Romulus Capital and Miami-based Krillion Ventures last fall. Slaughter said at that time he planned to establish an office in South Florida, and these moves bring it closer to the goal. Sawyer and Lissauer will remain based in South Florida.

May 05, 2015

Chris Bosh now an investor in a Miami startup


Photo of startup judges, including Chris Bosh, by Charles Trainor Jr.

What does Miami Heat star Chris Bosh think about Miami's tech community?

"It's very cool," said  Bosh, who was a judge in eMerge Americas'  late-stage startup competition. "I can't say I knew how many startups were here but I have a good sense of it now. There are not only so many here but they are thriving."

In remarks before the competition, Bosh said he was not yet an investor in any Miami tech companies -- but he is now. For the first time, all the judges agreed to invest their own money in the winners. Bosh will now have a stake in VSN Mobile, a Fort Lauderdale company that has developed a technology that provides 360-degree images. Think go-pro but all the way around you, with applications not only for outdoor sports but for security, video conferences or use with drones.

Bosh is no stranger to tech; he is passionate about coding education for kids, and he has been involved in "Coding is so important," he said. "These are the jobs of the future... We need people to fill the jobs and we shouldn't need to outsource talent, especially with so many bright young minds to be the talent of the future."

And as an investor, what tech does Bosh fancy? Wearable technologies, particularly in clothing. Think about all the data the technology embedded in a shirt can provide after a workout, for instance. "You can get information on what your body is really doing. Athletes are always trying to perform at 100 percent."

Nancy Dahlberg 

April 22, 2015

CBRE study: South Florida lags other markets for tech-talent growth

50 Miami, FL

Tech-talent clustering is a growing driver of demand for office space in both large and small markets across the United States, according to a research report released Tuesday by CBRE, a global commercial real estate and investment firm. But of the 50 top office markets it studied, Miami ranked at the bottom for tech-talent growth -- No. 50. Fort Lauderdale ranked 48th.

Among other Florida cities, Tampa ranked 36th and Orlando 47th. At the top of the list: Silicon Valley, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, San Francisco Peninsula, New York; Seattle, Boston, Baltimore, Austin and Atlanta. Smaller markets in the top 25 included Edison, NJ, Columbus, OH, and Salt Lake City, UT.

“Tech talent growth rates are the best indicator of labor pool momentum and it’s easily quantifiable to identify the markets where demand for tech workers has surged,” said Colin Yasukochi, director research and analysis for CBRE, in a news release. “Tech talent growth, primarily within the high-tech industry, has recently been the top driver of office leasing activity in the U.S.”

Orlando ranks as one of the most affordable of the markets in the U.S., based on rent and wage costs, according to the report.  Fort Lauderdale and Miami made it to the list as a result of the sizeable increase in their millennial workforce, which is considered a robust contributor to the growth of tech-talent pools. Since 2000, the population in Miami’s urban core has doubled, according to a recent Miami DDA study.

 Though tech talent  comprises only 3.4 percent of the total U.S. workforce (4.4 million workers), the high-tech industry accounted for more major U.S. office leasing activity than any sector in both 2013 (13.6 percent) and 2014 (19.0 percent), according to the CBRE report.

CBRE is tracking tech companies that are moving into Miami and hopes to have data to present to media and clients attending eMerge Americas, said Quinn Eddins, director of Research and Analysis, CBRE Florida.

“Why do we care? A strong tech sector is good for Miami in many ways of course, but also because there’s a strong correlation between tech clusters and high-performing office markets. Nationally, the tech talent labor force is growing at a rapid pace,” said Eddins. “More tech or tech-related jobs mean more demand for office space. More demand for office space means decreasing vacancy and rising rents, and that’s what makes a strong office market, and an attractive environment for investors.”

  48 Fort Lauderdale, FL

April 21, 2015

Comcast to offer 2-gigabit Internet to homes in South Florida

By Nancy Dahlberg /

Fast, faster, fastest.

In the race for speed, Comcast soon will offer the fastest residential Internet speed in the country to its 1.3 million residential customers in South Florida.

Comcast’s Gigabit Pro will offer 2-gigabit-per-second (Gbps) service — twice as fast as its competitors — to its customers in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties as well as those in the Jacksonville area beginning next month.

How fast is 2-gigabit service? Internet service at that speed would allow customers to download a high-definition movie in 12 seconds. “You can download your favorite band’s entire album in less than a second or an episode of Parks and Recreation in 2 seconds,” said Comcast Florida spokeswoman Mindy Kramer.

Comcast has not announced pricing or installation costs for its new service.

Gigabit Pro is a symmetrical service, meaning the speeds are the same for uploads and downloads. It will be available in areas with access to fiber, which is throughout its tri-county coverage area. Comcast also plans to offer a 2-megabit fiber service through its XFINITY Communities program servicing some local multi-dwelling units such as apartment complexes.

Unlike some competitors offering gigabit speeds, “this will be one of the most comprehensive rollouts of multigig service,” said Thomas Zemaitis, vice president of sales and marketing for Comcast Florida. “We didn’t want to pick specific neighborhoods or cities or towns. ... It is throughout our marketplace.”

South Florida is the third Comcast market to announce Gigabit Pro, following Atlanta’s launch earlier this month and California last week. The company has built out more than 145,000 route miles of fiber across its service area, including Florida, to serve residential communities with a fiber-to-the-home service.

Zemaitis said the initial target for this service would be early adopters. They may be streaming videos, movies and TV across multiple devices, or they may be hard-core gamers or customers who need to transfer large files, for instance.

“More than half of our customers have speeds that are 50 megabits or faster. They are looking for more speed and this competitive move is a reaction to that,” Zemaitis said, noting that 25 megabits is typical.

The company will announce pricing next month, Zemaitis said. There also will be installation costs because Comcast has to run fiber from the node to the home and install professional grade equipment outside the house as well as a professional-grade router inside, he said.

In South Florida, 1-gigabit service is either already being offered or in the plans for several carriers.

Atlantic Broadband, the nation's 13th largest cable operator, began offering 1-gigabit service to its Indian Creek customers last summer, and is expanding throughout its Miami Beach service area. AT&T announced in August that it will expand its 1-gigabit AT&T GigaPower network to Miami, but the company has not released specific locations of availability, pricing or a timeline for the project that involves a nationwide rollout. 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.

Teresa Mastrangelo, analyst with the market research firm Broadbandtrends, told the San Jose Mercury News that Comcast is trying to get a jump on AT&T, Google Fiber and smaller players rolling out 1-gigabit service, but that Comcast's pricing will play a key role in whether it will appeal to customers. “I don’t know if anyone will know the difference between 1 and 2 gigabits,” she said. “It’s going to be fast, period.”

Comcast has been delivering multigig (up to 10 Gbps) Ethernet service to businesses in Florida since 2011 and serves more than 1.5 million businesses nationwide. With the introduction of Gigabit Pro, the company has now increased speeds for its subscribers 14 times in the past 13 years, Comcast said.

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.


April 17, 2015

Open English, already all over LatAm, launches online school in U.S. market


Andres Moreno, founder and executive chairman of Open English, an online English-language school that has taught 300,000 students across Latin America, discusses the upcoming U.S. launch, which will start in Miami. He was at a launch event at Open English's Coconut Grove headquarters Thursday night. Photo courtesy of Pinta.

By Nancy Dahlberg /

About 300,000 students across the Americas have taken classes from Open English, an online English-language school based in Miami. In the last eight years, the venture-backed company has conquered Latin America, and now it is officially entering a market very close to home: The U.S. Hispanic market.

This week, Open English announced  its official expansion to the United States, bringing its affordable teacher-led instructional model to the nation's fastest-growing population. The launch, which will start in Miami immediately and then roll out to other cities, will be fueled by a national advertising and marketing campaign.

MorenoThanks to word of mouth from family and friends, “we have had this organic growth already happening here so it was very easy for us to say this is the next big market for Open English. We also realized that the core need to learn English and be successful as a result – and English is a tool for success – is very similar if you live in Colombia, Brazil, Argentina or if you live in a city like Miami or LA,” said Andres Moreno, founder and executive chairman of Open English. “This is a moment we have been waiting for for a long time.”

He said the numbers were also convincing: According to Brookings Institution, nearly one in 10 working-age  U.S. adults — 19.2 million persons aged 16 to 64 — is considered to have limited English proficiency, and most of this group speaks Spanish. And according to the Pew Hispanic Center, 68 percent of Hispanic immigrant adults say they do not speak English at all or don’t speak English very well.

Open English’s approach to learning English includes unlimited live classes with native English speakers and over 2,000 hours of multi-media content. It is now offered in 20 countries, and the company has raised $120 million in venture capital financing to fuel its growth.

Open English commercials in Latin America have been known for their wit and go viral over social media. The commercials will be taking a new approach in the U.S., however. The commercials will be more focused on explaining the product and how it can propel the student's career success, Moreno said. Expect to see billboard and bus bench advertising too, as well as online and radio advertising. New U.S. students will get a free month on Open English as part of the promotion.

“We are starting in Miami, where the brand is already well received. As we learn more about the U.S. Hispanic as a whole, then we will launch into a national expansion,” said Moreno.

Moreno said launching in the U.S. market is also personally satisfying because the country has been so welcoming.

Originally from Venezuela, Moreno started Open English there in 2006 with his co-founders but it soon became clear that he needed to raise money in the U.S. He moved to Silicon Valley with $700 in his pocket, slept on a friend’s couch for months and went door to door seeking meetings with venture capitalists and angels.

After raising initial funding, he moved the company to Miami and has been able to raise about $100 million of the $120 million  while the company has been based in Miami, a fund-raising success story in a region that has historically been venture-challenged. The global company now employs about 1,500 people, including contractors, and about 60 work out of its Coconut Grove headquarters and Fort Lauderdale satellite office.

Moreno, active in the local entrepreneurship community,  is also on the founding board of Endeavor Miami, the first U.S. office of the global nonprofit that mentors and supports high-impact entrepreneurs.

 Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg

April 15, 2015

Hungry? Caviar restaurant delivery service launches in Miami

Caviar Miami Web Screen


What's for dinner? Caviar, the restaurant delivery service now owned by Square, is hoping to find a hearty appetite in Miami.

Launching Wednesday, Caviar will allow Miamians to  easily place orders from local, independent restaurants via Caviar’s website or free mobile app for Android and iOS. Once customers place their orders they can track the status of their orders and follow along with their couriers via GPS. For consumers, the cost is $4.99, regardless of order size; the 18 percent tip is already included.

Participating restaurants include: Blue Collar, Doraku Sushi, Ms. Cheezious, Proof Pizza & Pasta, Momi Gyoza, Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop & Cafe , LOBA, Made in Italy Gourmet, Miami Smokers, Miam Café & Boutique, Hannya, Bryan in the Kitchen, Viva Mexico y Algo Mas, NOA Catering, Kone Sushi  and PM Steak and Seafood. More will be added soon, the company said.

Caviar Miami iOS-ScreenshotDaniel Serfer, owner and chef at Blue Collar in Miami's MiMo District, said he has always wanted to offer delivery but didn’t think there was a service that would deliver the restaurant's food with the proper attention. “With Caviar’s streamlined app and friendly couriers, we can just focus on doing what we do best and continue to cook guest favorites, from our spicy oxtail, to our shrimp and grits.”

Founded in 2012, Caviar now brings delivery to diners in 18 markets across the country, including San Francisco, New York, Boston, Chicago. Philadelphia and Portland. In the last six months alone, Caviar has tripled order volume and reduced delivery times by more than 20 percent — despite the rapid increase in orders, the company said. Caviar, purchased by Square last summer for a reported $90 million in stock, is part of Square’s  suite of tools and services for small businesses.

Caviar is part of a wave of fast-growing food-related urban tech delivery apps that took root in San Francisco or New York and are now spreading around the nation and attracting VC dollars, In Miami, other options are available, including Grubhub and as of last year, Postmates. In northern Broward and southern Palm Beach, locally based startup Foodoozle has started a service.