New research on women entrepreneurs: Quality but not enough quantity

Early-stage venture capital firm First Round recently released findings from its deep dive into 10 years of investment data. Among the Silicon Valley firm’s findings among the 300 startups it has invested in over the decade: Its investments in companies with at least one female founder performed 63 percent better than its investments in all-male teams. And, if you look at First Round's top 10 investments of all time based on value created for investors, three of those teams have at least one female founder — far outpacing the percentage of female tech founders in general.

You can read about First Round's other findings, all very interesting, at

While women-founded companies perform better, there needs to be more of them. The Kauffman Foundation, an authority on all things entrepreneurship, also released some interesting research about women in entrepreneurship recently.

While the number of women entering the workforce has significantly increased over several decades, they are still half as likely as men to start a business, and the findings are fairly consistent across all age groups, according to Kauffman’s most recent Entrepreneurship Policy Digest.

Women are one-third as likely to access equity financing through angels or venture capital, and they begin their companies with about half the capital of men.

Kauffman Foundation found the lack of women entrepreneurs is not just a gender issue, it’s an economic issue. Research shows a lack of female mentors (in one survey, half reported challenges finding mentors), challenges to maintaining work-life balance and an implicit bias against women as entrepreneurs as major obstacles.

The Digest offered suggestions to entrepreneurial programs and organizations to help more women become successful. Among them:

* Develop and report entrepreneurial program metrics by gender to better understand what works best for women entrepreneurs.

* Increase the number of women represented in entrepreneurship programs to expand access to female mentors.

* Partner with women’s professional organizations to increase awareness of Small Business Innovation Research awards. Just 15 percent of SBIR awards went to women-owned businesses in 2012.

* Celebrate successful women entrepreneurs to counter the false narrative that only men are successful entrepreneurs.

Read more from the Policy Digest here.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

July 23, 2015

Idea Center, LaunchCode expand CS50x training to MDC's North and Homestead campuses

To serve more communities, the Idea Center at Miami Dade College, in partnership with LaunchCode, a nonprofit focused on technology education and job placement, will expand its CS50x Miami program to additional locations in Homestead and Northern Miami-Dade County, as well as the Wolfson campus. CS50 is an introduction to computer science offered online through edX and HarvardX, and the Idea Center complements the course with in-person mentors.

Registration is now open for the 20-week class, which provides students with a foundational understanding of computer science principles and includes six weeks highlighting web and mobile application training. Classes, which are open to the community, begin Aug. 31. The $299 course fee covers all materials and expenses.

LaunchCode and The Idea Center will offer free information sessions at the CS50x Miami locations:

Friday, July 31, 6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. at The Idea Center @MDC

Monday, August 10, 6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. at MDC  Homestead Campus

Tuesday, August 11, 6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. at MDC North Campus

“We’re making better jobs accessible through world-class education,” saysLeandro Finol, executive director of The Idea Center at MDC. “Now, with three locations and extended supplemental tracks, CS50x Miami is poised to offer even more expertise and support to students pursuing technology careers.”

For more information and to register, please visit


July 19, 2015

More Magic Leap news: Report says company is opening Israeli offices

 Magic Leap is adding offices in Israel, according to Globes, an Israeli business publication. Magic Leap has offices on Abba Hillel St. in Ramat Gan, according to Israel's Registrar of Companies. It is apparently planning to recruit local developers in order to accelerate development of its technology although the extent of its planned research and development efforts in Israel is not yet clear, the Globes report said. Read more here.

An R&D presence in Israel, known as Startup Nation and considered by many to be No. 2 behind Silicon Valley for tech prowess, would not be surprising for the secretive company said to be developing a new generation of augmented reality technology. Magic Leap, which  raised more than half a billion from Google and other investors late last year, already has offices Silicon Valley, as well as its headquarters in Dania Beach (and moving to Plantation),  Santa Cruz, Los Angeles, Seattle, Austin, the United Kingdom and New Zealand.

July 15, 2015

Magic Leap to move into Motorola facility in Plantation


In another signal of its growing South Florida presence, the secretive technology company Magic Leap is consolidating the majority of its Florida workforce into a former Motorola facility in Plantation.

The company, led by Mako Surgical co-founder Rony Abovitz (pictured above), will be occupying the facility at 8000 W. Sunrise Blvd., said Andy Fouché, head of public relations and government affairs for Magic Leap. Magic Leap would not disclose timing of its move.

According to Broward County property records, the facility once owned by Motorola is 339,813 square feet in size and last sold for $38 million in 2013 to a private investment group. The Plantation site has five sections and reportedly now houses Motorola Solutions, Motorola Mobility and other tenants.

The 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, believed to have hundreds of employees and many of them now working in its base at DCOTA in Dania Beach, also has offices in Santa Cruz, Los Angeles and Mountain View, all in California, Seattle, Austin, Texas, the United Kingdom and New Zealand.

In early June at MIT Technology Review’s EmTech Digital conference in San Francisco, Abovitz said Magic Leap will build a 300,000-square-foot pilot manufacturing facility in Florida for its “photonic lightfield chip.” Fouché would not confirm if this was the same facility but it is about the same size. He would also not say how many employees would be working at the Plantation facility.

In February before Abovitz gave a speech at his alma mater, the University of Miami, the CEO told the Miami Herald that Magic Leap was approaching “a few hundred” employees spread between Dania and Mountain View, Calif., as well as New Zealand and London. Abovitz said then he would like to base 80 percent of the company in South Florida.

More than 100 jobs were listed on its website this week, including optical, systems, software and vision systems engineers, machine learning positions, designers, art directors and cinematic producers, most of them for South Florida, but some were in Mountain View and Austin, Texas.

One of the first articles that have begun to explain the technology was published earlier this year in the MIT Technology Review. Said the writer, Rachel Metz, who tried an early prototype of the technology: “It’s safe to say Magic Leap has a tiny projector that shines light onto a transparent lens, which deflects the light onto the retina. That pattern of light blends in so well with the light you’re receiving from the real world that to your visual cortex, artificial objects are nearly indistinguishable from actual objects.”

The company raised more than half a billion dollars in a funding round led by Google last fall.

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg


July 09, 2015

#Twitter opens #office in #Miami

Twitter is the latest Silicon Valley tech powerhouse to announce it is opening an office in Miami.

Twitter’s office, at 1395 Brickell Ave., opens with six employees but is expected to grow, said a spokswoman Thursday after the company announced the news on #DáleTwitterMiami. The local team will support large and mid-market sales, media partnerships, marketing Communications and brand strategy.

The Miami office will be lead by Guilherme Ribenboim, vice president of Twitter Latin America, with the help of Marco Botero, head of sales for Twitter Miami and Matt Drinkwater, head of agency relations. Ribenboim leads Twitter’s sales operation in Latin America as well as relations with sales partners that serve the needs of agencies and businesses in the region. Twitter, operating in Latin America since 2012, now has more than 100 employees distributed in offices in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and now Miami.

Twitter, with $1.4 billion in revenue in 2014, joins Facebook, Google, Uber, Lyft, Square, Instacart, Postmates, Shyp and other Silicon Valley tech companies with offices in the Miami area.

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 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