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44 posts from November 2012

November 30, 2012

Apply for a $1,000 grant for your "Awesome" idea for Miami

NatalieNatalia Martinez is home again.  She lived in Boston and New York City for the last eight years and returned to South Florida with a refreshed set of eyes to study and peer at Miami.  Martinez didn't want to wait to get connected to the city's civic side.  She brought with her the idea of Awesome Foundation,  gathered a group of friends and contacts, and developed a Miami Chapter  of the organization.  Awesome will be awarding $1,000 funding to ideas that make our local community a stronger, better, more innovative place. Martinez is the "Dean" of the chapter and spoke to WLRN Miami Herald Business Journalist Karen Burkett about the ideas applicants have been submitting.  Please listen here. Read an earlier post here.

November 29, 2012

Local business offering free small business makeover

Just in time for the holiday season, Nexxus Management is offering a free Nexxus Holiday Small Business Makeover.  Nexxus, a provider of marketing, sales and Internet services to small and medium-sized businesses, is giving away one business makeover to a small business, said Rebecca Thomas, chief marketing officer for Nexxus.

Email marketing@NexxusManagement.com and describe in 100 words or less why your business needs a makeover. Deadline: noon, Dec. 10. The company said the winner will get a consultation with the Nexxus Management team; a marketing analysis and next steps; and promotion on the Nexxus social media networks: Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.


November 28, 2012

Google launches Get Your Business Online program for Spanish speakers

Google has launched Get Your Business Online con Google, a program targeting Hispanic-owned businesses to get online. Google partnered with local Miami organizations to design the program, which will help drive economic growth by providing businesses the tools and resources to create a website in Spanish. The company also teamed up with Intuit to provide its popular Intuit Website offerings for free, including an easy-to-build website, a customized domain name and web hosting for one year.

The program is part of a statewide initiative aimed at helping the 58 percent of Hispanic-owened Florida small businesses that do not have an online presence.

Google will welcome hundreds of local Florida businesses to participate in a series of free workshops held in Spanish that will focus on educating Hispanic-owned small businesses on how easy and quick it is to get online. Google employees will work hand-in-hand with business owners to instruct them on how to create an easy-to-build, customizable website through Google. Workshops will be held in Spanish, with assistance available in English as needed.

WHEN: Monday, Dec. 3, 2012

Three sessions:

Session one: 9 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Session two: 12:30 p.m. - 3 p.m.

Session three: 4 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.


WHERE: Miami Dade College (MDC) Wolfson Campus

Chapman Conference Center

300 NE 2nd Avenue
Building 3, Second Floor

Miami, FL 33132

November 27, 2012

Are you a #TekFighter? New event at MDC Dec. 7

You may have seen the tweets about TekFight, or perhaps one of its creative videos. But it was an old-fashioned face-to-face conversation with the real Saif Ishoof (or Master Sai-Fu in the TekFight world) that really got me interested in learning more about this brand new and very different free event happening Dec. 7, and I followed up on email. Here is a Q&A from my conversation with Ishoof, er, Master Sai-Fu:

What is TekFight?

Guysatdojo796x649Sai-Fu:  TekFight.com is a tournament  being held on Dec. 7 at Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus. TekFight is not a mixed martial arts fight like the UFC! TekFight is a place where entrepreneurs, angel investors and technologists can trade ideas and resources, and build relationships in the same way that students exchange knowledge in a Karate studio. My co-founder Jo-Sensei (also known as Jose Antonio Hernandez-Solaun) and I believe that Miami can be a place where ideas can be transformed into careers through entrepreneurship.

Why did you create TekFight?

We believe entrepreneurship should be an open source process where people can gain exposure to those who can help them sharpen the skills they need to build great products, services, and companies. We want to bridge relationships between Miami’s emerging innovators and top-level decision-makers to speed opportunity creation.

Martial arts is a fitting setting to place our work, since it is a world that honors those who are committed to helping others achieve while fostering a competitive spirit.

TekFight is one part of an already rich ecosystem that has been growing because of the hard work of leaders like Startup Digest, RefreshMiami, Social Media Club Miami, HackDay Foundation, and countless other groups. TekFight has been made possible because of the transformational support of the Knight FoundationMiami Dade College and Greenberg Traurig. The Miami Downtown Development Authority and Brickell Luxury Motors have also supported TekFight.

Who’s on your team?

TekFight unifies the role's that Sai-Fu and Jo-Sensei have played in our careers, be it corporate leadership, social entrepreneurship, mentoring, and startup angst. We each remain deeply committed to our life's work, in the roles that we play in the organizations we run on a day to day basis, but we needed to facilitate a convening of this kind in the city that we cherish. In creating TekFight we have had on our team two phenomenal under-25 entrepreneurs, Binsen Gonzalez and Jeff Goudie, who are driving the momentum of our work. Binsen is the genius behind our creative, web and digital campaign. Jeff is the operations and logistics czar who has helped keep our work moving forward in a powerful way. I am proud to say that I have known both of these folks for the last 6 years, and I feel they really embody the spirit of what TekFight is all about, a Miami grit to get things done with the resources and knowledge available and a champion's heart.

Our DoJo was also a product of phenomenal mentors like Madeline Pumariega, the president of MDC’s Wolfson Campus, who has a persistent vision for a downtown education hub, as well as the leadership and energy of Knight Foundation’s Matt Haggman, and finally a corporate chieftain like Greenberg Traurig's Co-Managing Partner, Jaret Davis.

What will the tournament look like?

We will have multiple rounds throughout the day with leading entrepreneurs, funders, innovators and tech professionals. As the name implies…yes we are set up like a technology Martial Arts Tournament. Everyone enters TekFight as a white belt. Participants can acquire a yellow belt or higher, if they truly commit to the TekFight tournament.

How do you ‘Belt Up?’

a) Tweet comments/questions to @TekFight
b) Volunteer to help out at the tournament
c) Spreading the word about TekFight
d) Make a commitment to help someone at the tournament, ie offering to help write code for a project…review a business plan…help market an idea…mentor a fellow student.'

Tyler McIntyre of Lucid Tecnologies created an app,  App.tekfight.com, which will allow participants to start earning points toward their higher belt and it will help Dojo participants connect with others during training. The App is a true start of incorporating a gamification element to real world entrepreneurship.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/12/05/3128566/miami-event-to-turn-entrepreneurs.html#storylink=cpy

Why acquire a Yellow Belt?

Yellow Belt status or higher will grant you access to special rounds including a yellow belt luncheon with angel investors, an Iron-Fist Session with tech/VC lawyers, and an exclusive session with Manny Medina. 

What will participants and speakers walk away with?

It is out hope that the 300+ participants will acquire a deeper relationship with those key partners they need to bring their ideas to life. We also hope that those that are creators (ie developers) will be able to unlock critical funding relationships as well as potential clients from enterprise clients. In a similar vein, we seek that enterprise users and funders will see the richness of talent in our South Florida community.

The entire day promises to be filled with surprises. Two must see elements of the day, include the featured address from the Director of the US Department of Defense's Office of Small Business
Procurement, Andre Gudger. Director Gudger oversees a multi-billon dollar acquisition budget and his work is aimed at helping small enterprise unlock large federal contracting opportunities. It is interesting to note that a number of "Inc. 500" companies on the rise are those that have defense business. The other must see speaker is Miami technology luminary Manny Medina who will be sharing in an intimate session entitled "Tea with the Master" his unique perspective of Miami's continued promise as a technology hub. Beyond these two featured speakers, the real excitement will come from several of our rounds that allow an airing of the real frustrations and challenges that entrepreneurs and funders alike have about the innovation sector in South Florida.

Give me the basics on TekFight.

a) TekFight is being held at Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus on 12/7 9-5PM.
b) Register here for the event - http://tekfight2012.eventbrite.com/#
c) Follow us on Twitter @TekFight and download App.tekfight.com
d) Look at our video http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=US&hl=en&client=mv-google&v=k4pYs11a1bA&nomobile=1

TekFight is more than just a conference -- it is a movement. Bruce Lee said "I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but rather the man who has practiced 1 kick, 10,000 times." TekFight is part of Miami;s practice of that one kick...Are you a #TekFighter?

For more entrepreneurship news, follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg

Mobile computing conference geared to the Americas

Here is another mobile-related event that just came across my email. MEFAmericas brings together delegates from across the U.S. and Latin American mobile ecosystem to take part in debates, discussion and listen and learn from  speakers, including representatives from The Financial Times, Red Bull, Mozilla, Red Herring and others, about the issues that are affecting mobile technology and business today. The conference is Dec. 4-5.

Speakers: http://www.mefamericas.com/speakers

Agenda: http://www.mefamericas.com/conference/agenda-2012

Cost for 2-day conference: $599 for members; $799 for nonmembers; promo code on website for discount.

There are workshops, including Battle of the Start-Ups, where North and Latin American mobile  companies pitch for the MEF Americas Innovation Award 2012.

MEF is a global community for mobile content and commerce, with headquarters in London and operational chapters and offices in Asia, EMEA, Latin America, Middle East and North America. More info: www.mefmobile.org


Why shopping local is good for the soul -- and economy

By Mark A. Trowbridge

MarkTuxIt was an honor for our Chamber to partner with 55 local businesses in Coral Gables to celebrate Small Business Saturday this past weekend.  And revel, we did!

Maybe it was the backlash from Black Friday or the continuing encroachment of big box retailers deeper into the Thanksgiving holiday that helped our businesses thrive. Maybe it was a well-orchestrated campaign by our local Chamber that marshalled energy and collective resources into one weekend of pre-holiday sales. Or maybe, it was the outstanding effort of our amazing partner and Small Business Saturday architects, American Express, who hit it out of the park with smart advertising and a hometown-centered national movement.

No matter the reasons behind the success, the results of Small Business Saturday were palpable and the coffers full.

With nearly 65% of new jobs being created and 44% of payroll taxes paid by independently owned businesses, it is easy to understand the positive energy that a program like Small Business Saturday might create. Mere weeks after a presidential campaign focused on main street, the Big MO-mentum generated by Small Business Saturday was huge, timely and a reminder to all who love to shop that shopping small is good for your heart and soul!

Our Chamber organized a day of events that became a Best Practice for other Chambers of Commerce across the US.  For the second year, AMEX singled out the Coral Gables Chamber for a grant to help promote Small Business Saturday, including door mats, buttons and window clings for participating businesses.  All of these items lacked one curious thing…any mention of AMEX – at all! This selfless act reminds all of us in the business of doing business that sometimes it is about making the right decision versus drawing attention to yourself.  Throw in some AMEX gift cards and $25 statement credits for those who pre-registered your card and you have millions of dollars in investment to help promote our small businesses the right way.  Message heard!

Our Chamber’s goal is to continue to grow this program each year in the Gables and in Miami-Dade…not only via the number of businesses who participate and increased sales, but by changing the conversation. Instead of watching people run over one another as the doors open to Toys R Us or Best Buy, why don't we coalesce around the amazing work our small business owners do and the important role they play in growing our economy? We have to recognize that it is not always about what is less expensive or more convenient -- substance is a good thing, too. 

Small businesses need us to shop local to help them grow.  Can you imagine a place like Books & Books without 30 years of customer loyalty and enduring support?  There would be no iconic store, no author events and no world-renowned Miami Book Fair.  What if Rene Ruiz never opened his couture store and brought his gorgeous designs to the Gables and South Florida?  How would we survive if there was no place like Tarpon Bend or Pao Town to gather with friends for good food and cold drinks or The Giving Tree to find that perfect gift or even Avant Garde Salon to make us look and feel gorgeous?  

I cannot imagine a world -– or even Coral Gables -– without these great small businesses. They are part of our culture and the men and women who own these shops are our neighbors, our friends, our fellow Miamians, our heroes.  They do the heavy lifting every single day so that our load is lighter and brighter.

Small Business Saturday is the one day a year we are reminded of this fact and that, my friends, is our good fortune.  So, in the holiday spirit, please shop small, spend locally and remember how important small businesses are to our community.

Mark A. Trowbridge is president and CEO of the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce.

November 26, 2012

News: Flomio blows past its $80K Kickstarter goal

FlomioFlomio surpassed its $80K Kickstarter campaign goal -- with hours to spare -- to bring NFC technology to the Apple world. Powered by many donations big and small from the Miami startup community and others around the world, Flomio will now put the $96,145 raised into producing its product, the FloJack.

FloJack is a pocket-sized NFC (Near Field Communication) reader and writer that brings the power of NFC to the iPad, iPod Touch and the iPhone. Trggered by touch, NFC is a wireless technology that connects your phone to the devices around it in order to trigger new experiences. Until FloJack, it hasn't been available for iPhone, Flomio says. Read more about Flomio's campaign and busy year here. Congratulations to the team!

Richardy Grundy Flomio, a Miami-based startup and a graduate of TechStars Cloud and Incubate Miami, is a panelist at the Refresh Miami event on "Fundraising for your Startup" on Thursday night (Nov. 29). 




18 South Florida startups presenting at ETBS on Friday

Etbs15presentingcosThe 15th annual  Emerging Technology Business Showcase is the Enterprise Development Corporation of South Florida's  premier pitch event for emerging science and technology startups. Members of the entrepreneurial, tech and angel community convene on Friiday, Nov. 30 to hear the presentations and meet the teams of 18  promising young South Florida companies, hear from a panel of VCs and angels and participate in networking opportunities throughout the day. To learn more about the event, go here.

At right are the startups that will be presenting on Friday. Ea:h company will give a 12-minute pitch and field questions for 3 minutes.

Congratulations to the presenting companies.

Prize news: $100 Startup winners

The $100 Startup Competition, sponsored by Books & Books, the Coral Gables Chamber, FIU and LAB Miami, took place Saturday at Books & Books. Contestants were judged on their ideas for a business that could be launched for $100. And the winners were:

1st Place, $300 and Coral Gables Chamber Business Membership: Ilya Fonarov, Hospital Patient Advocate Referral Service
2nd Place, $150: Edwin Rosario, P.E. After Hours - Structured PhysEd After School
3rd Place, $100: Tom Ordonez, Miami Code School for Kids
Honorable Mention: Susan Krupnick-Gregorie, e-Portfolios for Performing Arts Students

Congratulations to all 


Read more here: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/the-starting-gate/2012/11/vote-now-2-south-florida-businesses-are-finalists-for-small-business-challenge.html#storylink=cpy

November 25, 2012

AppDojo, other local programs, classes prepare students for "app economy"

RAYMONDSt_56Raymond Gonzalez, a Florida International University senior, is developing an iPhone application called Pet Finder that will allow users to browse the dogs and cats at the local animal shelter or request an animal for adoption. He is also part of a team creating mobile apps that track bank failures, issue alerts about earthquakes and organize homework assignments.

It’s a well-calculated effort to learn as much as he can about mobile technology as quickly as possible. “My goal is to make all these apps free and open source while using the knowledge gained to build my startup company after graduation,” said Gonzalez, who is majoring in information technology.

Whether he starts his own company or works for someone else, Gonzalez is preparing to be a player in a high-paying, sizzling new industry, one that might provide the United States with a big opportunity to increase its exports in coming years.

While the overall economy still lags, the “app economy” has created nearly 500,000 jobs in the United States since 2007, when there were none. Some universities have begun retooling their curricula to meet the growing demand, including FIU, which was recently ranked No. 2 in the nation for the number of computer science bachelor’s degrees bestowed.

Steven Luis, director of technology and business relations at the School of Computing and Information Sciences at FIU, teaches an iOS development course, where Gonzalez and other students have been developing apps that solve “real world challenges” for organizations such as the Humane Society of Greater Miami and 4KIDSofsfl.org, Luis said. He also mentors an FIU senior class project, which is developing an events app for the Miami Beach Visitor & Convention Authority’s Open API

Also, on Thursday nights, about 20 mobile developers, designers and other app enthusiasts meet at AppDojo, a collaborative innovation group at Florida International University. Students from all disciplines — as well as members of the public — are welcome to participate in the free program.

Founded by Luis and alumnus Carlos Ordonez in August, AppDojo is an open space where students and others team up to build their innovations and meet with mentors. It’s inspiredm by hacker spaces — “here they have the resources they don’t have in their apartments,” said Luis, who also brings in speakers.

At AppDojo, Gonzalez, who already has about 10 years of experience in web development and works for a Tampa-based company, paired up with Michael Olivero, an adjunct professor at FIU and a senior software architect at Inktel Direct. Olivero had already published one app but wanted to expand his learning by creating small functional apps that explore different features of the iOS platform. Olivero
created a spreadsheet with 19 functions, and he and Gonzalez are going about developing as many apps as they can in the 19 areas.

In the way that FIU’s AppDojo crosses disciplines, Florida Atlantic University offers a collaborative course called Android App Design and Project Management, which will be offered again this spring. Last spring the class, made up of business, engineering, graphic design and anthropology majors, developed seven apps related to health and safety. For one pair of students in the class — Mathew Hudson and Andrew Stadtlander — their class project became a core focus of their app-development company, Stadson Technology in Boca Raton. With nine people on the team so far, Stadson is already creating jobs.

Stadson’s app called HelpN, which will be marketed to universities, helps students in distress alert first responders with both the student’s location and health information and other data the responder might need. FAU plans to beta test the app on its campus soon and Stadson is also marketing it to FIU, the University of Miami and the University of Central Florida on its road to going national.

“We’re moving, we’re moving fast. We’re really trying to make a difference,” said Hudson, Stadson Technology’s CEO. “This is a huge leap for schools and we will continue to improve the product to better help the universities.”

Read my full story on the “app economy” here.

Find out more about local organizations and events:

AppDojo: An idea-stage hacker space, where developers, designers and entrepreneurs can find team members and get mentorship. It’s at FIU but free and open to all. App-building enthusiasts can request to join AppDojo’s Facebook group at http://www.facebook.com/groups/AppDojo/  and general meetings are posted here: http://www.facebook.com/AppDojo.MIA 

Hackathons: Several are coming up, including HackDay with a $50K prize Dec. 8-9 (HackDay.co) and the AT&T Mobile App Hackathon Dec. 14-16 (http://mobileappmia2.eventbrite.com)

Code Retreat Miami: Dec. 8. A software development workshop improves your coding skills in web or mobile. http://coderetreatmiami.eventbrite.com 

App Awards: Feb. 22. The App Awards celebrates web and mobile apps where the judge is you. http://appawards2012.eventbrite.com

More events: miamitech.org and miamitechevents.com

(Photo by  Miami Herald photographer Tim Chapman shows FIU student Raymond Gonzalez and Steven Luis, a director in FIU's School of Computing and Information Sciences, working virtually with Michael Olivero, an FIU adjunct professor who is working with Raymond on several apps and is shown on the computer screen.)