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41 posts from August 2013

August 30, 2013

Miami Mini Maker Faire coming to South Florida

By Ric Herrero

Miamimade - Copy
The first annual Miami Mini Maker Faire is coming to the LAB Miami on  Nov. 16, and there will be a Call to Makers tonight.

Maker Faire is an all-ages gathering of tech enthusiasts, crafters, makers, engineers, tinkerers and artists who get together to show their creations and share what they have learned. It's a festival of do-it-yourself creativity, innovation and resourcefulness in celebration of the Maker Movement.

Anyone who embraces the DIY spirit and wants to share their accomplishments with an appreciative audience should complete our Call to Makers application at makerfairemiami.com by Sept. 30.

The original Maker Faire event was held in San Mateo, CA and in 2013 celebrated its eighth annual show with some 900 makers and 120,000 people in attendance. World Maker Faire New York, the other flagship event, has grown in three years to 500+ makers and 55,000 attendees. Detroit, Kansas City, Newcastle (UK),Rome, and Tokyo are the home of “featured” 2013 Maker Faires (200+ makers), and community-driven, independently organized Mini Maker Faires are now being produced around the United States and the world—including right here in Miami.

The Miami Mini Maker Faire, which will be from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., will be a smaller, community-focused event, and will feature both established and emerging local “makers” specializing in robots, drones, DIY science and technology, hardware hacking, 3D printing, art, urban farming and sustainability, alternative energy, bicycles, unique handmade crafts, music and local food, and educational workshops and installations.

Tickets are available now through makerfairemiami.eventbrite.com. To apply to perform, or present your project at the Miami Mini Maker Faire, please visit makerfairemiami.com, and get the latest updates on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. Makers and creators will be listed and featured on the Miami Mini Maker Faire website as of early October. For inquiries, please email us at miamimakers@gmail.com.

We will be hosting a Call to Makers during MakeShop Miami's Open Hack Night this Friday, August 30th from 7-11pm. at LAB Miami to answer questions, get feedback, and share updates on Miami's very first Mini Maker Faire.



August 29, 2013

Lots of interest in Startup Quest -- and paving the way to better paying jobs

Startup Quest Launch1

600 – that’s the number of people who filled a Signature Grand ballroom last week for an informational meeting about Startup Quest, a 10-week entrepreneurship program starting Sept. 12 that is being put on by Workforce One, Broward County’s job agency.

SqlogoStartup Quest was created for college-educated unemployed or under-employed people who want to learn about starting a technology company, says Michael O’Donnell, regional project manager of Startup Quest.  In sort of a reverse accelerator fashion, the ideas for the companies that will be created will not come from the class participants themselves — they will come from the mentors in the program, based on technology  in the technology transfer programs at FIU, UF, NASA and other schools and agencies.

The mentors – all who have deep experience in starting companies or in technology -- will choose the technology and the teams, O’Donnell says. From there the teams of 8 to 10 people, each led by a mentor acting as CEO, will develop a “commercialization action plan.” In addition, each week speakers will be brought in to explore a new topic of entrepreneurship or technology. At the end of the program, there will be a “Demo Day” style event to present the action plans.

This was a successful pilot program in Gainesville two years ago, participants went on to create 14 companies and 26 jobs. Since then, the program received a $12 million government grant to replicate it around the state. Startup Quests are running in eight areas around the state, and each area will produce three programs.

For the participants, “the beauty of this is you don’t have to have a background in technology but you want to transition into the innovation economy,” says O’Donnell. “The overriding goal is better paying jobs… They can create their own job or they will become marketable for technology companies. It’s a win-win for the participants and the universities.”

This week the Startup Quest organizers in our area have their work cut out for them: Choosing the 150 or so participants from the more than 400 that actually followed through and applied for the free program by last week’s deadline. Although Broward's Workforce One is putting it on, it is open to anybody who meets the qualifications in the state. Veterans will be given preference for the program, as stipulated in the funding. Those not chosen may be chosen for future Startup Quests. Workforce One is planning the next one for Spring.


Venture capital continues to grow as an economic driver in Latin America

By Boris Hirmas Said

Boris headshot2Growth in Latin America’s private equity and venture capital volume continued to drive entrepreneurial developments across the region in 2012. This phenomenon should expand in the coming years due to a number of factors shared across most Latin American nations. Primary among them are a fast-growing middle-class, more stable political and regulatory climates, and increasing interest and comfort levels about investing in the region by funders located outside it.   

Compared to 2011, the Latin American Private Equity & Venture Capital Association (LAVCA) reported in its recently published 2013 Scorecard that 2012’s private equity and venture capital funding grew by 21 percent. In fact, the region’s $7.9 billion total investment in startups, early stage and expanding companies was the highest in five years.[1]

According to LAVCA, 2012’s private equity and venture investments in Latin America numbered 237, which was 47 percent higher than 2011. So, while the number of deals grew faster than the total amount of funding, that means the average amount of each deal was smaller.[2]

Brazil, the magnet. Brazil won the lion’s share of both deals and funds, accounting for 147 deals and $5.7 billion of 2012’s total. Chile was second with 10 percent in the number of deals closed, followed by Argentina with six percent of the deals.[3]

Brazil’s rapidly growing middle class is a magnet for new businesses and investment capital alike. Fifty-two percent of Brazil’s population of nearly 200 million is considered middle class, with a third of those people joining its ranks in just the past 10 years.[4]

Continue reading "Venture capital continues to grow as an economic driver in Latin America" »

August 28, 2013

Akerman opens outpost at LAB Miami

Akerman Senterfitt, Florida’s largest law firm, said Wednesday that it has set up an office in  The LAB Miami, a co-working space and education center in Wynwood, as part of its corporate commitment to supporting Miami's entrepreneurial ecosystem.

 Mary Carroll, chair of Akerman's Corporate Practice Group, said a small group of attorneys in the real estate, corporate and intellectual property practices will be rotating in and out of the office and interacting with startups. The firm will also be sponsoring events, such as a “Tech Swizzle” networker on Sept. 6, as well as hosting educational workshops on various law topics important to startups. "With the next wave of entrepreneurs and international investors converging at the LAB, Miami has many of the elements needed to succeed as a startup mecca,” Carroll said.


August 27, 2013

UF: Florida Innovation Hub created 250 jobs since October 2011

By UF News

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Innovation Hub at the University of Florida has contributed to the creation of 250 jobs in just its first 20 months, new figures show, and the three-story incubator already has more than two dozen tenants.

“The Hub is a powerful job creation engine for Florida. Not only do we help companies get their start, but we’ve attracted venture capitalists and attorneys from out of state who want access to our entrepreneurs,” said Hub Director Jane Muir. “Most importantly, though, the Hub is a place that is turning ideas into products that improve people’s lives.”

The job numbers cover a period from the Hub’s opening in October 2011 through the end of June. In addition, the newly released numbers show, Hub companies have attracted more than $10 million in private investment.

Data scientists, genetic analysts, social media managers, computer programmers, executives, accountants and attorneys work in start-ups trying to restore mobility to people with spinal injuries, save people’s vision through early detection of eye disease, use genetics to help farmers accelerate and improve their breeding of plants and animals, bring down the cost of smartphones and protect financial information from thieves.

Built with an $8.2 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and a $5 million contribution from UF, the 48,000-square-foot Innovation Hub opened in October 2011 as the first building in Innovation Square, a live/work/play research community just a few blocks from campus and downtown.

It is one of the only incubators in the nation to house a leading university technology-transfer office, service providers and other partner organizations, such as UF Tech Connect and the Florida Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research, which nurture high-tech companies.

“In operation for less than two years, the Florida Innovation Hub at the University of Florida has already achieved things that more than justify EDA’s decision to invest $8.2 million in the construction of the facility — such as receiving LEED Gold Certification, a hallmark for sustainable building; being the catalyst for development of Innovation Square; facilitating public-private partnerships focused on innovation and competitiveness; and, most significantly, creating 250 jobs in its first 20 months of operation,” said U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Matt Erskine. “EDA’s catalyzing co-investment in the Hub is supporting and strengthening the innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem to drive new business creation and job growth.”

For Stephanie Warrington’s company, TrueMotion Spine, the Hub is a first-class space to meet with potential investors — near an airport, an interstate and a major public research university. Aidan Augustin, co-founder of the mobile software startup Feathr, said he got connected to his law firm, accounting firm, first investor and two of his three advisory board members through the Hub.

In addition to the Hub’s current tenants, it has “graduated” startups that continue to grow. Companies that make unmanned aerial vehicles smarter, produce learning software, and develop Web-based simulations to train health care workers have all moved out of the Hub and into more spacious offices in downtown Gainesville.

Posted 8/27/2013 

Mike Tomas joins Rokk3r Labs advisory board

Mike Tomas will serve as a board advisor to Rokk3r Labs and its portfolio companies.

TomasTomas, who has worked on pioneering technologies over the past two decades, is CEO of BioHeart and president of the ASTRI Group, the current chairman of Florida International University's Global Entrepreneurship Center and an inductee into the Miami Dade College and WACE Halls of Fame for business. A longtime judge for the Miami Herald's Business Plan Challenge, Tomas was recently appointed by Governor Rick Scott to serve on Workforce Florida's state Board of Directors. “For any entrepreneur to succeed they need to be surrounded by the best people with the best experience and we feel we have that with Mike,” said German Montoya, managing partner with Rokk3r Labs.

As a board advisor, Tomas will advise the company on investor relations, strategy, and mentor CEOs of Rokk3r Labs’ companies.    “I see over 300 business plans every year and the minute I heard Rokk3r’s story, I realized the power and potential this company has to change the way we think about startups,” said Tomas. “I believe Rokk3r’s portfolio will disrupt several industries and I think their team, strategy and model are trending in the right direction.”

Rokk3r Labs, based in Miami Beach, is a technology portfolio company that develops and launches companies, including  27 new companies in the past 16 months.

Posted 8/27/2013 

August 26, 2013

YellowPepper secures $15M in funding

YplogoA Latin American tech company is planting itself in South Florida — and has a fresh round of funding to grow on.

YellowPepper, which provides mobile-banking and payment solutions in the region and recently moved to Miami, announced it has received $15 million in venture funding.

The Series C fund-raising round, which brings the total venture funding to $30 million, was led by Latin Idea Ventures, and included IFC/World Bank and other investors. Serge Elkiner, YellowPepper’s CEO and co-founder, said the funding will be used to sharpen its new focus on the mobile payments industry and initially launch into four key markets: Colombia, Mexico, Ecuador and Peru. After that, YellowPepper may enter other markets — including possibily the United States. “When we decided to enter Mexico, we looked for an investor with deep roots in Mexico who would also see their investment as a regional play with potentially an extention to the U.S.,” Elkiner said in an interview last week.

“We are thrilled to be new investors in YellowPepper, a company that fits into Latin Idea's investment strategy perfectly,” said Alex Rossi, managing partner of Latin Idea Ventures who will be joining the board. “We were attracted by the large market opportunity to roll out mobile banking and mobile payments regionally on a first mover basis matched by a top-notch entrepreneurial management team.”

The company, which has offered mobile banking in eight countries, thinks mobile payments are a logical next step and the way forward is with an app that can be used everywhere — no cards needed.

Serge Elkiner Bio Pic“We’re trying to make mobile payments a reality in Latin America,” said Elkiner (pictured at left). “Our philosophy is that if you really want to go to mobile payments and replace the card use, you really need to replace it in every single place possible.”

Case in point: YellowPepper’s recent mobile-payment launch in Colombia, a country where there are more cellphones than people, according to the World Bank, but the “unbanked” population is estimated at 35 percent.

“It is the first time in the region and maybe anywhere in the world that there will be a nationwide solution for all the banks to join that is available on every point of sale in the country. Seventy percent of the ATMs in [Colombia] will be compatible by the end of the year, and most of the e-commerce sites will be compatible as well,” Elkiner said. “Our next step is Mexico and Ecuador — we’ll try to do the same thing. A lot of people are craving these kinds of apps.”

For the past four years, YellowPepper has grown 50 percent year over year, Elkiner said. The company currently caters to 6 million users monthly in Latin America and employs about 70 people globally, including five in South Florida. For Elkiner, who lives in South Florida, Miami — and its burgeoning technology community — seemed a logical choice for a base. “Miami is the capital of Latin America — I really believe it is true. We are in the financial business and cater to the different financial players... and all of those headquarters for Latin America are in Miami. It is the business center for the region.”

Posted 8/26/2013

Startup Spotlight: Entic, a cloud-based solution for energy savings



Headquarters: Pembroke Pines

Concept: Entic’s cloud-based software solution allows large commercial and industrial buildings to achieve peak performance in their HVAC systems and chiller plants through advanced analytics and optimization, delivering up to 40 percent energy savings.

Story: Two Broward County neighbors, an HVAC industry veteran and electrical engineer, Manuel Rosendo, and a seasoned software architect, Carlos Diaz, (pictured above) set out to find cost savings in heating, ventilation and cooling systems, otherwise known as HVAC, which represent about 42 percent of a building’s total energy usage. They developed a cloud-based platform and software that could communicate continuously with a building’s different components to identify problems and ultimately orchestrate them to achieve the desired results.

Launched: 2011

Management team: Manuel Rosendo, co-founder and CEO; Carlos Diaz, co-founder and COO; Joe Harber, president.

No. of employees: 12

Financing: Initially funded with $1.5 million from private investors, and planning to soon launch a capital drive to increase investment in sales and marketing and continued product development.

Entic2ihtzQu_St_56Recent milestones reached: Recently signed with the Marlins to achieve peak performance of the state-of-art stadium’s HVAC system and central plant. Over the past year, Entic saved Broward Health Medical Center more than $311,000 (about 26 percent of its energy costs), Miami Children’s Hospital is achieving an estimated $125,000 in yearly savings, and Transwestern’s 255 Alhambra Plaza is saving about $55,000 per year in energy costs. Entic has more than 6 million square feet currently under contract. “Entic has become true partners with us in our endeavor to learn more about our equipment performance and our quest to save energy,” said Diana Dominguez, a Broward Health regional manager. “We are quickly notified by Entic about any changes in the way the equipment is running so that we can take corrective action.”

Biggest startup challenge: Changing the mindset around how to get the most efficiency out of large-scale HVAC and central plants, and getting people to understand that Entic works with mechanical and control contractors, building engineers, manufacturers and building owners to reach peak performance. “The next challenge for the company has been finding the right people to continue capturing the enormous market opportunity,” Diaz said.

Next steps: Forming a network of partners and authorized resellers to help building owners realize HVAC and central plant peak performance, and continuing to innovate for greater automation and artificial intelligence.

Investor’s view: Jose Segrera, a former CFO of Terremark, is a board advisor and investor in Entic and was attracted by the large market opportunity — estimated to grow to $4 billion by 2018 — and the team’s seasoned founders. Also working in Entic’s favor: “Great timing – owners of large facilities are under increasing pressure to save on rising energy costs. They are very receptive to adopt innovative technologies that are proven to translate into significant savings. This creates a very ripe market opportunity for Entic,” he said.

Segrera believes Entic has made great strides in articulating its value proposition and eliminating barriers to entry. To create the foundation for exponential growth, his advice is focus, focus, focus. “The differentiator of a great company selling into the enterprise sector is not always the coolest technology but very good technology coupled with clear and focused distribution of the product,” he said.

Website: enticusa.com


Nancy Dahlberg

To see past Startup Spotlights, click on the Startup Spotlight category on this blog.

Posted 8/26/2013 

August 25, 2013

#BattleHack #Miami 2013: And the winners are...


For PayPal's BattleHack Miami, the winners are:

Twilio Prize: YellowPepper

Sendgrid Prize: Redeemr

Nokia Prize: Voluntier$, an app with an innovation way to encourage volunteerism

Drumroll, please... 
For the main PayPal prizes:

3rd Place (below, left): MyPawPal, a crowd-funding app for pet shelters, by a team from Refresh Miami.

Judges said: Amazing implementation and app had a ton of value.  

2nd place (below, right): Redeemr, allowing you to call out a friend's bad action and ask him through social media to redeem himself -- by giving to charity, by a team from Nobox.  

Judges said: Who doesn't love a digital douche bag? Call out your friends and make them pay (for charity.) 

Win3 Win2

Win1And the winner is ... Representing Miami at the World Finals in Silicon Valley in Silicon Valley, where the team will compete with a new hack against nine other cities: YellowPepper, an app allowing small businesses to function like an ATMs for consumers, making it easy for consumers to get the money they need cheaply and safely, and helping small businesses by drawing more customers through their door and giving them a cut of the transaction fee.

Judges said: We see as a trend the cardless society, and this builds toward the idea that you don’t have to be bound by your card or your wallet. At the same time, this technology can help the community … empowering small businesses. The app uses amazing technology, and it focuses on a real problem in your city.

Judges were Ernie Hsiung, Alex de Carvalho, Danny Lafuente, Rey Bango, Scott Mott and Jonathan LeBlanc. 

See my Miami Herald story on Battle Hack here.

Posted 8/25/2013



Scenes from a hackathon: Getting ready for showtime

Photo (2)
"The Initiative Miami" gets some coaching from PayPal during rehearsal. 

I've seen this at every hackathon: Bleary-eyed techies mumble or stumble through their presentation. Who can blame them? They've been up all night, are worried about the demo working and pitching is probably not their strength. At BattleHack today, each team received a rehearsal with feedback from the PayPal team before the big finale later this afternoon.

Many teams had trouble getting it into two minutes. This is a hackathon so they do need to show what they have built, Yet, they don't need to show every feature. "Think about what you created that is different than what is already out there," said Taylor Nguyen, senior manager with PayPal Developer. "Show us the tech that's really cool."

But at the same time, don't get lost in the tech. Make sure what the app does and what community problem it solves comes through loud and clear, and this message can be conveyed both in an opening sentence and weaved into the demo. Don't leave the judges scratching their heads.

Each team got some suggestions to consider incorporating, and had a chance to work out some technical issues.The teams present to the judges in a few hours. Watch this blog for the winners and follow me on Twitter @ndahlberg.

See earlier post here.

Posted 8/25/2013