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41 posts from June 2013

June 30, 2013

Developers: Battle Hack Miami needs you!


By Nancy Dahlberg, [email protected]

Tel Aviv, Seattle, New York City, Berlin, you’ve been warned: Miami is ready to out-hack you.

Miami’s growing tech community was chosen as one of 10 “Battle Cities” in  PayPal’s upcoming $100,000 competition called  Battle Hack. The winner of the South Florida hackathon, scheduled for Aug. 24 and 25, will go on to compete in Silicon Valley against the winning teams from each of the 10 cities, which also include Moscow, Austin, London, Barcelona and Washington, D.C.

John Lunn, global director of PayPal developer relations, said the ultimate goal of the Battle Hack “is to find the world’s best hackers.” Miami was chosen for PayPal’s first global hackathon, he said, because PayPal looked for burgeoning tech communities with high concentrations of startups. Lunn also said Miami’s role as a Latin American gateway made the city particularly attractive.     

Hackathons, which are events where teams of participants typically try to build an application in a day or weekend, have become fairly common in South Florida, with large ones such as recent AT&T hackathons drawing hundreds to more specialized events for civic projects, art, law and medicine. But the organizers of Miami’s Battle Hack are trying to kick this hackathon up a few notches.

The winning team from  Battle Hack Miami in August will compete in a world championship for a $100,000 prize. There will also be tablets for second-place winners, Speros for third place and many giveaways for every hacker. Organizers hope to draw at least 200 participants from South Florida’s developer community.

Events like these can help to shine a light on the talent within South Florida’s tech community, said Diane Sanchez, CEO of the  Technology Foundation of the Americas, which is bringing the  eMerge Americas conference to South Florida next May. Getting Miami on the map as a Battle City was largely her work after visiting PayPal’s booth at Austin’s SXSW in March. Once she convinced PayPal executives Miami had plenty of high-caliber developers and the city was selected, she assembled a group of more than a dozen leaders from the tri-county development community, including Andrej Kostresevic, founder of New Frontier Nomads who has been involved in organizing many South Florida hackathons, Sanjay Deo, a cyber security expert, Carlos Garcia, CEO of Nobox, Brian Breslin and Peter Martinez, co-directors of Refresh Miami, and representatives from Miami Dade College, Florida International University, Nova Southeastern University, University of Miami and Florida Atlantic University.

“The Foundation is doing the right thing in presenting Miami as a tech hub,” said Deo, founder and president of 24By7Security. “We are producing fine graduates, there is great technology being produced, but there are not a lot of platforms to showcase Miami as a tech hub. We are now taking it to the next level to showcase what we have,” said Deo, who has also been involved in the Group of Groups, CIO Council and ITPalooza.

The local hackathon will begin Saturday morning, include exactly 24 hours for hacking, and end Sunday evening in presentations to the judges and the awarding of prizes. Participants will be using PayPal’s API and will be charged with developing technology “for the social good” that would help their region. “You have to come with an idea to make your city better,” said Lunn.

A panel of judges will evaluate the hacks on implementation, innovation and real world usability, according to PayPal rules.

To register, go to  BattleHack.org/miami.

At this hackathon, participants will not have to start cold. There will be mixers scheduled closer to the event so that teams can begin forming and ideas can be hatched. Watch BattleHack.org/miami for more information.

The winning team of the Miami battle will represent the region and be flown to San Jose, Calif., to compete for the grand prize. At that championship, the teams will have to come up with an original hack project for the competition, Lunn said.  

Follow me on Twitter @ndahlberg  

Battle Hack at a glance

What it is: a 10-city global hackathon competition to find the world's best developers.

Miami competition: Aug. 24-25; Venue: The LAB Miami; Free; Goal is to come up with an app, using PayPal’s API, for the social good of South Florida.

World Finals: November in Silicon Valley after all the city competitions are over.

Prizes: 1st place -- air and hotel for the World Finals in Silicon Valley and a chance at the $100K grand prize. For more on prizes: http://battlehack.org/#prizes



To register: BattleHack.org/miami

Find out more: View video from Berlin’s competition.


A group of leaders from the South Florida tech and startup community, including colleges and universities, have been helping to organize Battle Hack Miami, happening Aug. 24 and 25.

Entrepreneurship Datebook

Here is a sampling of entrepreneurship-oriented events planned for the nine days, a light week because of the holiday. More tech-focused events can be found on miamitech.org 

SOCIAL MEDIA DAY: Day of networking, learning and celebration at the Knight Concert Hall from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday, June 30, at the Arsht Performing Arts Center. Dozens of speakers planned and it’s free. More info:  miamisocialmedia.com/

OPEN HACK NIGHT: At 7 p.m. Monday nights, join Miami’s weekly Open Hack inside The LAB Miami co-working space in Wynwood — your chance to work on your projects and meet others. Various groups participate as well, including Code for Miami that works on civic projects.     

GETTING STARTED: Thinking of owning a business? This Broward SCORE workshop offers a free introduction to what you need to know at 10:15 a.m.-1 p.m., Saturday, July 6, at Westside Regional Library. More info:  browardscore.org (click on local workshops)

NETWORKING: The Miami chapter of NAWBO, the National Association of Women Business Owners, holds a “Not-Your-Usual Summer Networker” at 5:30-7:30 p.m. July 10 at Thea’s Cafe at the UM Life Science & Technology Park. $18 for members; $25 for nonmembers. RSVP at  [email protected]

FINANCING YOUR BUSINESS: SCORE Miami-Dade workshop, lead by chapter chair Marjorie Weber, is 6 to 8 p.m. on July 11 at Doral Chamber of Commerce Office. Fee applies. More info:  miamidade.score.org (click on local workshops)

OPEN COFFEE CLUB: The first Open Coffee Club, hosted by FIU Global Entrepreneurship Center and MapYourStartup.co at Pipeline Brickell, is 7:30 to 9 a.m. on July 11. Sign up at  meetup.com/Miami-Open-Coffee-Club/. Future Open Coffee Clubs are planned every three weeks at different locations.




Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/06/30/3478131/entrepreneurship-datebook-and.html#storylink=cpy

June 29, 2013

New startup television station targets Venezuelan expats

By Daniel Shoer Roth
With the migration waves of Venezuelans to South Florida, a group of entrepreneurs is betting that television is a good investment, aware of a captive audience of Venezuelan viewers who long for their beloved homeland.

In late summer, Telecaribe Miami will make its debut on local digital broadcast television. The station borrows its name from Telecaribe Venezuela, a regional TV network based in eastern Puerto La Cruz.

Three years ago, brothers Enrique and Bernardo Gómez sold their shares in Telecaribe Venezuela and moved their capital to create the new enterprise in Miami. Along with other Venezuelan investors, they have amassed $4 million to buy equipment, build studios in Doral, hire personnel and lease the broadcast signal on WDFL-LD Channel 12.2, a digital channel owned by Paramount Broadcasting Communications. It is broadcast from Cutler Bay to the southern strip of Palm Beach County.     

“We want to appeal to the nostalgia of Venezuelans in South Florida and keep their roots alive,” said Bernardo Gómez, the station’s executive vice president. “That’s the strategy: to appeal to the Venezuelan identity.”

Although the Venezuelan audience is one of the station’s priorities, the programming will be community-based for all Hispanics, with a special emphasis on family television. The station’s motto:  Telecaribe Miami somos todos (Telecaribe Miami are all of us).

The channel will have its own news department, which will mainly cover the news in Doral and Hialeah. This will give it a pronounced community prominence in northwest Miami-Dade County.

Several previous efforts by Venezuelan entrepreneurs to create TV stations in South Florida have failed, even after multimillion investments. In those cases, they had little knowledge of the television industry and the complex local market.

“We are aware that there is a risk,” Bernardo Gómez acknowledged.

Overall, the Spanish-language television industry is South Florida is becoming even more competitive with so many small channels that is hard to keep count because many open and close in a short period of time, and some, of course, prevail.

The owners of two local channels, the former GenTV and Telemiami, have hit the jackpot in recent months by signing affiliation agreements with MundoFox Broadcasting and CNN Latino, respectively.

“The constant influx of Latin Americans into the Miami market always generates the interest of people who think that they can serve their interest in a different manner and television is obviously not strange to that,” said Joaquin Blaya, a pioneer of Spanish-language television in the U.S. and chairman of Blaya Media, a Miami-based television production company.

To launch Telecaribe Miami, the Gomezes hired as general manager the Cuban actor and producer Tony Cortés, who made a name for himself with his performance and productions on three local Spanish-language channels: America TeVe, Mega TV and Telemiami.

According to Cortez, Telecaribe will produce between 8 and 12 hours of original programming a day, including entertainment, games, comedies, children’s programs, interviews and debates.

“We don’t want to limit ourselves to known faces,” the manager said, explaining that the programs will use some new talent, including several Venezuelan hosts.

The rest of the content will come from abroad. Specifically, the Gomezes plan to buy canned programs from Radio Caracas Televisión (RCTV), the dean of Venezuelan TV, that have not yet aired in this market. The new company will also purchase independent productions from Colombia.

To reinforce their news programming, they are negotiating alliances with municipal coverage media such as  Doral News, the executives said.

Like many other Venezuelan entrepreneurs, the Gomezes left Venezuela because of the endemic personal insecurity and the constant deterioration of the national economy.

“Regional television in Venezuela has no more billing. It has set records for low advertising investments,” said Bernardo Gómez, a former Caracas-based telecommunications executive for multinational companies.

In 2011, the brothers decided to bring their families to Florida and resettle in Pembroke Pines and Doral. Instead of applying for visas as investors, they opted for an Intracompany Transferee visas through a construction company in Venezuela that is still owned by their family.

Once here, they concluded that there is a niche in the local TV market, primarily because of the dearth of content for Venezuelans on the small screen. Besides, they felt that in many instances the programming of existing stations was “inappropriate due to its high level of vulgarity,” in the words of Bernardo Gómez.

“We want to offer a wholly family-oriented programming,” he promised.

At first, transmission will be made over the air only. Once the programming grid is ready, the executives plan to offer the new channel to cable companies, including Comcast, which has the largest penetration in South Florida.   

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/06/29/v-fullstory/3475947/new-television-station-aims-at.html#storylink=cpy

June 28, 2013

ColoHouse Data Center expands

ColoHouse Data Center, a data hosting facility certified to withstand Category 5 hurricanes and floods, has completed its second phase of expansion, adding 6,000 square feet of premium raised floor data center space.

The 24,000-square-foot facilty at 36 NE 2nd Street in downtown Miami serves a growing community of IT-based clientele, including telecommunications, VOIP providers, software developers, startups and managed service providers and is another example of the expanding infrastructure and services serving an emerging technology hub for Miami and the Americas.

The center has seen 30 percent growth in new business from the Latin American market in the past year, with Argentina, Brazil and Colombia leading the surge, said Felipe Rodriguez, chief operating officer of ColoHouse.

“ColoHouse is committed to substantial investments aimed at further developing our data center and colocation services footprint,” said Paul Bint, its chief executive officer.

June 27, 2013

Florida ranks 4th for private equity funding

Florida ranked fourth nationwide in terms of private equity and growth capital investments in 2012, according to a report released Thursday by the Private Equity Growth Capital Council. Private equity firms invested $17.3 billion in 115 Florida-based companies last year, the data shows.

Nationwide, Texas received the most investment from private equity (measured in dollars invested), totaling $46.6 billion in 222 companies, followed by California, Colorado, Illinois and Florida. The Sunshine State ranked fifth when evaluated by private equity investment value.

Now in its third year, the “Private Equity: Top States and Districts” analysis found that private equity and growth capital invested $347 billion in more than 2,000 U.S.-based companies nationwide. You can view the data for each state by visiting the state map on Private Equity at Work.


June 25, 2013

For your calendar: Regular places to gather with entrepreneurs

A number of entrepreneurial gatherings have been popping up, similar to the Open Coffee Club concept that Brad Feld discusses in his book, Entrepreneurial Communities.  Some have speakers and some don’t but the concept is the same – to bring entrepreneurs of all stripes together for regular, simple and informal gatherings. Here are just a few coming up soon – the information was provided by the organizers. What are some other ones going on?

Free Lunch Friday

Come hear local Bookigee founder & CEO Kristen McLean give us the download on her recent visit to (Zappos CEO) Tony Hseih's ambitious Downtown Project, whose mission is to redevelop fourteen square blocks of Las Vegas' blighted Freemont district into a lively live/work neighborhood in just 5 years. Kristen spent four days on the ground meeting with key leaders of the DPLV team, speaking with entrepreneurs in the project's 3 distinct co-working spaces, and talking directly with Tony about his creative & business goals for the project. The project is being driven by a $350M direct investment in the arts, education, small business, technology companies, and focal real estate redevelopment, with a remarkable emphasis on the idea of "return on community" and direct ownership of the project by the community members themselves. What are the creative lessons we can apply here in Miami as we continue to build our own unique startup ecosystem? The inaugural Free Lunch Friday begins at noon Friday June 28 at The LAB Miami, 400 NW 26th Street in Wynwood, and are planned for the last Friday of the month.

More info and to register: http://www.thefreelunchfriday.com/flf-miami/

Miami Open Coffee Club

FIU's Pino Global Entrepreneurship Center and MapYourStartup.co host the Miami Open Coffee Club. In need of interaction with local startups, investors and business leaders? Join us for morning coffee, mentoring and networking at our free Coffee Break Sessions* hosted every 3 weeks from 7:30a.m. to 9:00a.m. The first Coffee Break will be hosted on Thursday, July 11th, at Pipeline Brickell (located at 1101 Brickell Avenue, South Tower, 8th Floor, Miami, FL 33131). Miami Open Coffee Club coffee breaks are free to attend. Parking fees at each respective venue may apply. The following mentors will be in attendance at the first coffee club and will be offering 1-to-1 sessions: Marco Scanu: Business Coach at 345 Group, Ricardo Weisz, angel investor and founder at Northvest, and Xavier Gonzalez, executive director of eMerge Americas.

To register or find out more: http://www.meetup.com/Miami-Open-Coffee-Club/

Future Open Coffee Clubs will move around the area and include different mentors. The second one will be Aug. 1 at RightSpace2Meet in Coral Gables and Aug. 22 at The LAB Miami in  Wynwood.

Happy Hour at MEC261

MEC261, a new entrepreneurship space in downtown Miami, offers monthly happy hours every third Friday night from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. This next one is this Friday, June 27. From MEC: Pleasse join us for our monthly Happy Hour at MEC 261 and a Ping Pong Tournament courtesy of our new space.  Did we mention the free beer??  Plus you have been dying to check out the new space! Where? At MEC's brand new home, 261 NE 1st ST --  5 stories and 36k sqft of this building will be used to create an entrepreneurial mecca downtown Miami.

More info and to register:  http://mechappyhour3.eventbrite.com/

Friday Nights! at Caffeine Spaces

Stop in from 5 pm till 9 pm every Friday starting June 28th to meet and network with local entrepreneurs doing what you do. Caffeine Spaces is in the Technology Business Incubator, 3701 FAU Blvd, Suite #210, Boca Raton, FL 33431.

To find out more and register: http://entrepreneurgathering.eventbrite.com/Tech

Tech Swizzle

Save the date: Sept. 6 is planned as the first of a new monthly evening social combining tech, other creatives and music on the first Friday of the month at the LAB Miami, produced by Kristen McLean, Pabla Ayala and Camila Souza. 


June 24, 2013

A look at the Endeavor network through Colombia's program

By Jim Wyss

Endeavor21gKAt6.St.56BOGOTA -- Seventeen years ago, Andrés Angulo, a recently graduated doctor, rented an apartment, bought a whiteboard, and began training nurses and medical technicians. His first class was anatomy and he had just two students.

Today, Campoalto, the educational institute he started with two colleagues, has eight campuses across Colombia’s capital, more than 8,000 active students and can boast more than 20,000 alumni. It has become the nation’s largest vocational health training school and has evolved beyond healthcare education to provide classes on auto mechanics, cooking and clothing manufacturing, among others. And soon, it will be operating in Miami.

Campoalto’s rapid rise won it membership to an exclusive but growing club in Colombia: Endeavor. Endeavor is a global non-profit that selects, supports and mentors high-impact entrepreneurs. Launched in 1998, Endeavor now works in 15 countries across Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. And it, too, will soon begin operating in Miami — its first incursion into the United States.

The fact that Campoalto and Endeavor are sweeping into Miami at the same time was coincidence, but it has been opening doors in the South Florida business community, Angulo said (pictured above).

“People [in Miami] are calling me because I’m an Endeavor company,” he said. “Endeavor has become my calling card.”

Endeavor Colombia was launched in 2006, after the organization got its start in Argentina and Chile in 1998, expanded to Brazil and Uruguay in 2000, and then pushed into Mexico in 2001. The first Colombian company to join the organization was Grupo Industrial Ideagro, a manufacturer of farm-machinery.

Now, 20 Colombian companies are Endeavor members, and they run the gamut of industries. There’s Bodytech, a gym that’s as ubiquitous in Colombia and Peru as Gold’s Gym is in the United States; Mario Hernandez, a family-run leather-goods business, which is seeking to expand internationally; Refinancia, which helps low income families refinance their bad debt; and Ecoflora, the maker of bio-pesticides and eco-friendly house cleaning products.

Endeavor11pIsNL.St.56“Our focus is on scaling-up companies,” said Adriana Suárez (pictured), the executive director of Endeavor Colombia. “We are looking for leaders who can become role models, are willing to give back to the organization and other entrepreneurs, and who have a sustainable business.”

Endeavor companies also have to have a proven business model and sales of between $1 million and $25 million. The requirements make finding eligible companies hard to come by. Of every 100 businesses that Endeavor Colombia interviews, only four make the cut, Suárez said.

Even so, Colombia’s Endeavor companies generate about $277 million a year, represent about 0.13 percent of national GDP, and employ 5,800 workers.

Continue reading "A look at the Endeavor network through Colombia's program" »

June 23, 2013

Entrepreneurship Datebook

TecheggHere is a small sampling of entrepreneurship-related events in the next week. For more listings, see miamitech.org.

'SHARK TANK’: Micro Venture Capital Club monthly meeting with pitches to potential investors Monday, June 24, 8 pm, at Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce Board Room. More Info: meetup.com/microvc/events/124079942/


SCORE BASICS: This free introductory session by SCORE Miami-Dade on how the organization can help your business is at 6:30-8 p.m. Tuesday, June 25,  in a new location: Palmetto Bay Village Center, 18001 Old Cutler Road. More info: miamidade.score.org (under local workshops tab)


HEALTH 2.0: Inaugural meeting of a new organization will be from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday, June 26, at the UM Life Science & Technology Park. Speaker: Barbara Deppman of itMD and others. $5. Info: health20miami.eventbrite.com

GROWTH HACKING: Refresh Miami’s free event on this modern form of marketing is 6:30 p.m to 9:30 p.m. Thursday, June 27,  on Miami Dade College’s Wolfson campus, Building 1 Auditorium. There is also a hands-on growth hacking workshop Friday with the speaker, Aaron Ginn of Silicon Valley's StumbleUpon, for $99. More info: refreshmiami.com

SOCIAL MEDIA DAY: Day of networking, learning and celebration at the Knight Concert Hall from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday, June 30, at the Arsht Performing Arts Center. More info: miamisocialmedia.com/


June 22, 2013

A hub for healthcare innovation taking shape at UM Life Science & Technology Park

Robert Chavez, executive director of ProjectLift Miami, works with accelerator companies in the Miami Innovation Center at the UM Life Science & Technology Park. Photos by Alex M Sanchez of the Miami Herald staff. 


By Karen Burkett, [email protected]

Many U.S. cities are competing to bring biotech companies and jobs to their communities, places like Phoenix, Buffalo, Gainesville and of course, Miami. They all want to develop an industry cluster, and while cities like San Diego and Boston have already successfully grown theirs, Miami’s efforts are still somewhat nascent.

Less than a year ago though, the Miami Innovation Center opened its doors for business at the  University of Miami Life Science & Technology Park. The Miami Innovation Center caters to startups and small businesses with a mix of offices, labs and co-working spaces.

UM’s Life Science & Technology Park sits on about 10 acres near Jackson Memorial Hospital and UM’s medical school, between Northwest 17th and 20th streets and between Seventh Avenue and Interstate 95 in Miami. The signage for the Life Sciences building is prominent, visible to most highway drivers, but it doesn’t tell the full story of just who owns what. This is a project very much born out of partnerships. The university owns the land, but Wexford Science & Technology developed the building. So far, the developer says 75 percent of the office space has been leased, and tenants are mostly from the biotech sector. One of the most recent companies to locate in the park is DaVita, which focuses on kidney disease and dialysis treatments.     

Dr. Joshua Hare, the director of the UM Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute, and his company Vestion, is also one of the tenants. Vestion is focused on developing regenerative therapies for conditions like heart attacks.

Richard Schuchts, co-founder of the Miami Innovation Center, describes Hare as one of the research park’s superstars. “I think one day we’re going to tell children there was a time people died from heart disease and we didn’t have stem cells and children won’t believe it,” says Schuchts.

Not only is Schuchts, who has a background in commercial real estate, sold on the wonders of science and research, but he’s bullish about the physical assets of the Life Science & Technology Park building and its location. The facility offers equipment specifically designed for research scientists: an autoclave, an industrial ice machine, an emergency shower and eye wash, and ventilated fume hoods.

The land was strategically chosen in the area now referred to as Miami’s Health District, not simply because of its proximity to UM and Jackson but also for sheer numbers. Between those two systems, Ryder Trauma Center and the VA Hospital, Miami’s Health District is the second-largest in the country, serving more patients than any other metro area besides Houston.

Every company in the Life Science Park does not have to be a health or biotech company, as there is also a push to diversify the mix of tenants to create a dynamic collaborative overlap. K Hage, a Brazilian-owned fashion technology company that leased office space last year, is one example of a non-science business whose employees walk the halls. The Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce, which serves local minority entrepreneurs and businesses, also has offices in the building.

The park, which also hosts technology, entrepreneurship and healthcare-related events, is also home to more than just seasoned entrepreneurs. Six weeks ago, five startups entered the facility’s inaugural seed accelerator program, called  ProjectLift Miami, which is located within the Miami Innovation Center. ProjectLift initially intended to accept 15 startups but realizes now how much more attention the smaller number of companies get.

“Leadership wants to shepherd all of them now,” says Robert Chavez, executive director of ProjectLift Miami. “If there were 15 in this early stage, mentors would have probably focused on one or two companies.”

The crew of entrepreneurs went through rigorous testing and an extensive application process to make sure their ideas were solid and their personalities were flexible. Companies selected get a package of funding, mentoring, services and work space in exchange for 7 percent equity.

Chavez says he has learned a lot working with this first class, but he wanted to be sure he evaluated the businesses on the potential for job growth and industry impact. Venture capital raised comes much further down on his list of priorities. “This is the healthcare sector. If they’re saving lives and creating jobs, dollars will come,” says Chavez.

The five companies have about 90 days to get instruction and mentoring, business resources, technology services, warm introductions and access to the health district.

CrystalCrystal Ice, CEO of  Alert.MD (pictured here), was living off savings and faith until ProjectLift came along. She and partner Dr. Dale Taylor, the company’s chief medical officer, didn’t necessarily consider themselves “businesspeople” when they got started.

Ice and Taylor developed their Alert.MD emergency identification system because of professional experiences.

As a resident, Dr. Taylor remembered having to care for patients without any information about their medical history. He thought what if there was a button you could just push.

“If an elderly person were to come in the ER and we just have a license to go by we have no one to contact to let them know they’re even in the hospital. Much less find out past medical history, medication allergies,” says Taylor.

Alert.MD is an app for your cellphone.    

 The co-working space at the Miami Innovation Center at the UM Life Science & Technology Park. Photo by Alex M Sanchez of the Miami Herald.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/06/22/v-fullstory/3465795/a-hub-for-healthcare-innovation.html#storylink=cpy

Students get hands-on help with programming skills at Code Fever

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Dozens of high school students took part in the free Code Fever event on Saturday at The LAB Miami in Wynwood and received an introduction to coding skills. Above, LaShaevia Burns, 17, and Norman Redman, 18, get help from Alfonso Guerra. Below, Casey Delauriu also tries his hand at some programming. Felicia Hatcher, CEO of feverish Pops, organized the all-day event, which also included a panel discussion for the parents about opportunities in technology and how to motivate kids to want to become not just consumers but creators of technology. Read more about the inspiration behind the event here. Photos by Alex M. Sanchez of the Miami Herald staff.

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