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43 posts from March 2013

March 31, 2013

Born to be entrepreneurial? Scientific evidence points to yes

By Jerry Haar

Jerry Haar photoCarlos (an accountant) and Miguel (a civil engineer) fled communist Cuba for Miami in 1961, each with less than $100 in their pockets. Carlos found work as a waiter in a prominent Calle Ocho restaurant. Ten years later he rose to the position of manager. Miguel secured employment in a dry cleaners in downtown Miami. Ten years later he had become the owner of eight dry cleaning establishments.

What explains the different economic outcomes for Carlos and Miguel? Nature (genetics), nurture (environment), or sheer luck?

While “nurture” may be politically correct and “luck” the conclusion of the superstitious and intellectually lazy, there is abundant scientific evidence that “genetics”— that is, heredity — is the strongest explanatory factor for those who choose to become entrepreneurs, engage in entrepreneurship and actually succeed at it.     

      The most authoritative research in the area, produced by Scott Shane of Case Western Reserve University, compared identical twins with same-sex fraternal twins who share only 50 percent of the former’s DNA. Results showed overwhelming that the tendency to be an entrepreneur is hereditary; identifying new business opportunities is heritable; and self-employment income is heritable, suggesting genetics is not just the tendency to engage in entrepreneurship but also the ability to perform it. Shane concludes that our genes might affect our tendency to be entrepreneurs by influencing the  types of personalities we develop. Those personality traits make up an entrepreneur that is usually referred to as tough and tenacious, opportunistic, resourceful, risk-embracing, persuasive, communicative, energetic and endowed with a winning attitude.

Nevertheless, in  The Dark Side of Entrepreneurship, Manfred Kets de Vries, world-renowned leadership professor at INSEAD and psychoanalyst, argues that the energy necessary for achieving a business dream may have origins in desires and needs that can be dysfunctional in a business setting. His extensive research reveals that many entrepreneurs are extremely controlling and suspicious of authority. Additionally, they obsess about detail, collaborate poorly and distrust the world around them. To be sure, many entrepreneurial behaviors are psychological defenses whereby the entrepreneur idealizes then vilifies to extremes, projects problems onto others and denies responsibility.

Continue reading "Born to be entrepreneurial? Scientific evidence points to yes" »

Passion for clean technology fuels local launch of Cleantech Open


South Florida is not exactly synonymous with clean-technology innovation, and the sector has been out of favor in the venture capital community.

So I was curious to find out why the Cleantech Open Southeast Region had chosen Miami as one of its hub cities to launch its 2013 U.S. business accelerator and competition at its event Thursday night at the UM Life Science & Technology Park. The launch marks the second year for the program in the region, but this year it is expanding beyond the Washington, DC-Baltimore area with launches in Atlanta, North Carolina’s Research Triangle and Miami. I met a number of passionate local entrepreneurs, consultants and nonprofits with interesting projects in the space among the 100 or so people attending the launch event.

JoshphotoJoshua Greene,  co-founder and regional director of Cleantech Open Southeast region (pictured here), said Miami’s connections with  the Caribbean and Latin America make it a natural regional hub city and added that Miami is growing an exciting ecosystem “we would like to be a part of.” And because clean-tech does come with its own set of challenges around development and  funding, Cleantech Open’s global network becomes all the more valuable, he said, citing the program’s access to more than 1,500 mentors, investors, corporate and government leaders and subject matter experts in all 50 states and 26 countries. More than 700 clean-tech companies have rasied $800 million through its programs since 2006. Its model, he said, is to work with local economic development partners so that job growth and investment stay in the region.

Sean O’Hanlon, metro director of Cleantech Open Southeast and CEO of the American Biofuels Council, said clean-tech is a mechanism for economic development and his goal is “to put Miami on the map as a clean-tech hub.” That would be welcomed by some of the entrepreneurs at the event, who said the community here so far is indeed quite small and much of their business and networking is focused elsewhere.

Sonia Succar Ferré, principle of Sustain Ventures who is helping to organize the effort locally, said she saw first-hand the value of participating in the competition. She and a team made it to the semifinal stage when she was in Boston, and she immediately benefited from the connections and mentorship, she said. She also said the time is right for clean-tech entrepreneurs and potential mentors to get involved. “There is a network here but it just needs to tighten up a little bit. It's up to us as a founding group to get that together. Miami already has a strong incubator base, the opportunities are all here."

The accelerator, competition and national program are focused on eight innovation and technology categories: Energy Generation, Energy Distribution & Storage, Energy Efficiency, Chemicals & Advanced Materials, Information & Communication Technology, Green Building, Transportation and Agriculture-Water-Waste. Entrepreneurs will apply to the accelerator across these categories (fees apply), and be evaluated and selected to participate in the program that spans from spring -- and includes bootcamps and a regional competition -- through the late fall, culminating with a Global Investment Forum and national competition in Silicon Valley in November with $200,000 in prizes.

The application deadline is May 1. There is an April 10 “early bird” deadline to save some money on the application fee. To learn more about the Cleantech Open Southeast or apply, visit www.cleantechopen-southeast.org

March 30, 2013

Deadline April 5 for SBA video contest on exporting success

The deadline is fast approaching to enter a video contest sponsored by The U.S. Small Business Administration and Visa U.S.A.  that seeks to inform small businesses about the advantages of exporting and increase awareness of government assistance available to support small business exporters. The contest is looking for creative videos from small businesses that show how they became successful exporters. Videos must highlight the small business’ best accounting practices
that help ensure prompt payments from customers and at least one of the following: important lessons learned; factors that influenced the decision to become an exporter; advice for small businesses considering exporting; or a favorite exporting story. $30,000 is prizes will be awarded.

All videos must be submitted through Challenge.gov by 5pm EDT on April 5, 2013.

More information: http://exportvideo.challenge.gov/

March 29, 2013

The Pino Center offers Shark Tank workshop -- free for Business Plan Challenge participants

Are you ready to launch your business and take it to the next level?  The Pino Center Shark Tank is an opportunity to have your pitch reviewed by a local panel of entrepreneurs and mentors.

The Shark Tank -- the final event in the Florida International University Pino Global Entrepreneurship Center's spring workshop series -- will be an educational and networking opportunity for all, regardless of whether you are in the audience or on the main stage. One winning pitch will be awarded a complimentary pass to the 2013 AVCC: Healthcare Innovation and Venture Capital, to take place at the Hilton Miami Downtown Dec.11-12.

The registration fee for this workshop is $50 but this is a free event to all participants of the 2013 Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge, which is sponsored by the Pino Center. If you entered the Challenge this year, email  ndahlberg@miamiherald.com or contact the Pino Center for a discount code.

The Pino Center Shark Tank

Date, time, place: April 19, 2013, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at FIU's College of Business Complex, Special Events Center, CBC 232

More information and to register: entrepreneurship.fiu.edu or call (305) 348-7156.

March 28, 2013

UM Launch Pad entrepreneurs win regional pitch competition

UM IMG_1307

Chuck Woodard of Chill-N Nitrogen Ice Cream and Travis Montaque of Splyst.com, at their exhibit at the ACC March Madness Pitch-Off Competition in North Carolina. Photo provided by the Launch Pad.

For the second year in a row, a University of Miami Launch Pad venture has won top honors at the ACC March Madness Pitch-Off Competition in Raleigh, NC.

UM2 IMG_1329Pitched by Chuck Woodard, Chill-N Nitrogen Ice Cream, a dessert shop/lab that’s making natural flavored ice cream with liquid nitrogen and now open at  8271 SW 124 St. in Pinecrest, competed against a select roster of student ventures from among twelve ACC schools and their entrepreneurial venture programs, in a bracket-style pitch-off, patterned after the NCAA basketball tournament.

Chill-N co-founders Woodard and Danny Golik are now looking to expand into new locations, the company said.  

Aside from Woodard, the other competitor from UM was Travis Montaque of Splyst.com.  In Montaque's own words, "Splyst is a smart dashboard that allows users to collect their Internet experiences, learns their preferences, and returns to the user new information on the web that is relevant to them. In short, Splyst is a proactive social search engine."

"We are extremely proud of the performance of both of The Launch Pad entrepreneurs that competed and very pleased that Chill-N was recognized as the winner from among a very strong group of competitors sent by all the schools in the ACC," said Will Silverman, director of The Launch Pad, who just returned with the competitors on Thursday. 

Last year another Launch Pad entrepreneur and University of Miami MBA student, Mark Slaughter, won the competition with his medical logistics business Cohealo, which is now serving multiple hospital groups.

The Launch Pad is based at the University of Miami's Coral Gables campus. This nationally recognized student and alumni venture coaching program pairs coach-mentors from the business and entrepreneurial community with motivated students and alumni ventures, to help them develop and launch their businesses.


Startups get on the bus to bridge geographic divide

Photo (17)
Score one for organically grown tri-county collaboration.

For the first time, startup groups teamed up to offer a bus from Boca to Refresh Miami’s event at The LAB Miami in Wynwood on Wednesday night, with a stop in Hollywood. About 25-30 took the bus and the cost was covered by generous donations. The next bus experiment will be next week -- Monday -- this time from Miami to the Startup Delray's Hack the Library event and is also free (more details about the event and Startup Delray are below).

The bus project was executed by Co-Go, a local bus ridesharing platform founded by Rob Eisner, and coordinated by Andrej Kostresevic of New Frontier Nomads and Lean Startup Circle and Irene Revelas of Startup Delray, who handled the logistics and promotion for Broward and Palm Beach counties. Refresh Miami's "Hardware Hacking & Robotics" event was the first test event and Refresh Miami and Brian Breslin helped promote it, too.

Photo (19)“The story is a nice example of cross-community collaboration. The South Florida “Group of Groups” was having a discussion on how to bring the communities closer together, and one of the big complaints was traffic and commute times,” said Andrej. “While the conversation was going in the direction of how to improve public transportation,  I remembered Co-Go, and suggested we run an experiment to see if there would be interest if the main complaint - long drive in bad traffic -  was removed. The idea was that we would offer a ‘networking on wheels’ alternative to driving by yourself and effectively make the bus itself part of the event experience. The feedback I heard was great - someone said ‘the event started on the bus,’ and that ‘people were talking and switching seats all the time.’ ”

Photo (18)Andrej said the  immediate plan is to keep running experiments “manually” (using eventbrite and manual coordination) in both directions to gauge interest from attendees and sponsors, and see if this can be sustainable. After that, New Frontier Nomads is helping Co-Go build out the platform.

Now what should we call The Bus? 

Below is information about the next event offering the bus. Brian Breslin said he would also like to offer the bus for the next Refresh Miami event April 25. Photos here are from the March 27 Refresh Miami event at The LAB.

Hack the Library - Startup Delray April 1

Help Startup Delray transform 5000 square feet at The Library Delray Beach from stacks of books to coworking and makerspace on April 1.  Entrepreneurs, innovators, designers, makers, engineers, technologists, artists, writers, small businesses, and social enterprises welcome!  You bring your creative ideas, and we'll bring the pizza, water, soda, and wine. Find details here.

The program:

6:30-7:00  Registration

7:00-7:15  Introductions

7:15-8:15  Break into groups to hack the space, imagining coworking and makerspace

8:15-8:45 Groups present concepts for the space

8:45-9:00 Wrap-up

9:00   After Party at 3rd & 3rd (301 NE 3rd Avenue @ the corner of NE 3rd Street in Pineapple Grove)

What is Startup Delray?

According to Irene Revelas, Startup Delray is working in partnership with the economic development team of the City of Delray Beach, the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA); and The Library Delray Beach to create a place, programs, and events in the heart of the community.

"Our solution was to leverage our existing assets, and turn Delray into a Startup City, with The Library as the city's incubator.  We're planning to use 5000 SF of existing stack space and create a blend of coworking and makerspace.  We're excited about offering a 3D printing lab, self-publishing technology, and incorporating meetups, classes, and events in the space," she said.

"Our goal is to democratize innovation, by creating a space in the heart of the city, on our 'Main Street' - Atlantic Avenue," she continued. For 100 years, the Library has been a familiar and trusted community hub that serves people of all ages and backgrounds.  This project will play an important role in ensuring The Library's relevance into the next 100 years, Irene said.

March 27, 2013

Florida Venture Forum calls for early-stage, high-growth companies to present

On May 15, the Florida Venture Forum will host its Sixth Annual Early Stage Conference at the Reunion Resort in Orlando. The Florida Venture Forum is now calling for early-stage, high-growth private companies from the state of Florida to apply to be presenters at the conference.  To date, presenting companies from the Forum's Early Stage Conference have raised over $8 millions.

The principle purpose of the Annual Conference is to showcase about 10-12 companies before a national audience of venture capitalists, angel investors, private equity investors and investment bankers. These entrepreneurial companies should have talented management teams, proprietary technology, high growth potential and should be currently seeking early stage funding.

More information is avaiable here, including a link to the required Executive Summary format (Presenter Application). 


March 26, 2013

Technology Business Incubator in Boca completes latest expansion

Ten months ago, the Research Park at Florida Atlantic University and Enterprise Development Corporation of South Florida expanded the Technology Business Incubator (TBI) by 5,000 sq. ft. in response to a growing demand.  A second expansion (previously reported on Starting Gate) will be complete this month, adding an additional 10,000 sq. ft. to accommodate a  need for additional space for its current client companies and to house new companies that have been on a waiting list.

The TBI, a location and knowledge resource center for entrepreneurs emerging from Florida Atlantic University – students, recent graduates and faculty – as well as regional entrepreneurs is currently home to 23 early stage high-tech companies as well as the New World Angels and the Institute for Commercialization of Public Research. The most recent expansion brings the TBI to a total of 25,000 sq. ft. and will accommodate an additional 15 companies, with individual offices ranging from 120 to 1,000 sq. ft., said Andrew Duffell, president and CEO of The Research Park at Florida Atlantic University.

The expansion features a 4,000 sq. ft. co-working center operated by Caffeine Spaces. The new and larger space also features a Student Innovation and Invention Lab designed for use by FAU student-based teams working on industry projects. Also included is a dedicated office for the annual FAU Business Plan Competition winner and a kitchen and lounge area. For the emerging company requiring advanced broadband capabilities, the space is wired with Gigabit Ethernet cabling and optic fiber, and includes a server room with back-up battery power and a generator available to host resident company servers.

TBI space is rented on a first-come, first-served basis after a thorough review of the TBI online application. For more information, please contact Christine Burres,ccannon@edc-tech.org.


March 25, 2013

Three teams emerge winners of Impact Obesity hackathon

First Place Winners
Team "No Obese City" wins first place at the Impact Obesity Hackathon hosted by the Lift1428 and the Miami Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

By the Miami Clinical and Translational Science Institute

On March 23 and 24, the Miami Clinical and Translational Science Institute at the UM Miller School of Medicine in conjunction with Lift1428, a Miami-based innovation, design and strategy firm devoted to the healthcare industry, hosted Impact Obesity, a hackathon that sought to inspire innovative business ideas that incorporate technology to manage and reduce obesity in minority communities. “We want to inspire new ideas about how we can facilitate better health behavior and reduce the obesity problem facing Miami,” said event coordinator Norma Kenyon, Ph.D., Director of the Novel Clinical and Translational Methods program at the Miami Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

Impact Obesity HackathonOver two days, five teams that included web developers, programmers, graphic artists, medical and nutrition students gathered at the University of Miami Life Science and Technology Park to collaborate on solutions to fight obesity and compete for resources that would help them take their ideas to the next level. Right Space Innovation provided a comfortable and modern hacking space at the Miami Innovation Center where teams had access to UM researchers and healthcare experts and development support from Rokk3r Labs. Three winning teams were selected and awarded coworking space memeberships at the Miami Innovation Center.

First place went to Katherine Martin, Robert Hellestrae, Frank Haggar and Johanna Lopez for their concept, “No Obese City” – a multilingual portal that engages parents and children to live a healthy lifestyle. Parents, who enroll their children in school lunch programs, would be able to track and receive reports on their child’s nutritional intake and daily physical activity. The goal, team members said, is to help parents make better decisions. In addition to receiving a 12-month CoWork Space Membership, the team was invited to interview with the Miami Clinical and Translational Science Institute for possible funding opportunities.

Second place went to Christopher Scott, Jeffery Coleman and Alfonso Guerra for their idea called “EmfaSyze,” a gaming system where users compete for the healthiest lifestyle. This application, with a mobile interface, would allow users to track their food consumption and exercise and assign a point-system to those choices and activities. Users would compete with one another for the best scores. Team “EmfaSyze” received a 6-month CoWork Space Membership.

Third place went to team “Rumba Fit,” comprised of two UM medical students who developed their concept through their direct interactions with patients in the local community. Their application shows people how to dance through virtual instruction and uses a mapping function to locate dance spots near them. The students, Ananth Sastry and Hadi Kaakour, say dancing is an easy way to get high-risk patients to move in the comfort and safety of their homes. Team “Rumba Fit” received a 3-month CoWork Space Membership.


Good Reads: South Florida startup scene in the national, global media

As winter turns to spring, South Florida’s startup scene has seemed to capture the attention of the national and international media more than usual. Here are a few of the recent stories.

Rokk3r Labs celebrated its first anniversary last week, and it also was the subject of a splash in Entrepreneur, which called it a hybrid investor-accelerator.  In just a year, the article said the Miami Beach-based Rokk3r Labs has $1.5 million in sales, a Colombian subsidiary, a $20 million investment portfolio, 25 employees and expansion plans for Brazil, Africa and Europe. Read the Entrepreneur story here.  

Kimetric, an Argentine company that recently relocated to South Florida and is part of the Launch Pad Tech accelerator at Venture Hive, was featured in a Wall Street Journal story. Kimetric, which also recently presented at SuperConf, helps retailers increase their sales by tracking and analyzing in-store customer behavior with an innovative application of Microsoft Kinect technology.    Read
the WSJ story here.

The LAB Miami  was featured in a Forbes blog post titled The LAB Miami: Turning South Florida into the Next Startup Hub, which describes the 10,000 square foot Wynwood space as both a co-working  space and a community for connecting and learning with classes, workshops and on-site mentors and investors.

Miami was listed as one of six cities that would be great places to launch a business on The Street,   which interviews The Knight Foundation’s Matt Haggman about the area’s recent momentum.  Read
it here.
 South Florida and The LAB Miami also shined brightly in the Atlantic’s earlier coverage  when it presented Start-up City: Miami last month and its post-event video here.

This list is far from comprehensive and I’m sure I missed some. TechCrunch and The Next Web have also featured a number of Miami startups recently, and Andrej Kostresevic’s Startup Digest this morning reminded me of the recent  video interviews of Juan Diego Calle of .CO and Freddie Laker of Gui.de for Tech Cocktail’s SXSW video series.  But the point is the national media spotlight is providing more opportunities for outsiders looking in to read about and learn about the tech community.