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54 posts from April 2014

April 30, 2014

White Star's Christian Hernandez joins YellowPepper board

YellowPepper, a mobile banking and payment company focused on Latin America, announced this week that Christian Hernandez, co-founder and managing partner at White Star Capital, has been elected to join the Advisory Board, effective immediately.

Hernandez has over 16 years of operating experience in technology companies, developing and scaling products and businesses internationally. Prior to co-founding White Star Capital, Heranndez worked at Facebook and led the international expansion of the company's Business Development, Platform and Gaming Partnerships groups. He previously held leadership roles in the US and Europe at Google and Microsoft and started his career in technology at MicroStrategy, a startup he joined prior to its 1999 IPO. “His solid business acumen and deep understanding of the financial sector will be key to our ongoing efforts of revolutionizing the mobile payment sector,” said Serge Elkiner, CEO at YellowPepper.

YellowPepper is focused on transforming commerce in Latin America with Yepex, a mobile payment platform that provides financial institutions, corporations and merchants a means to revolutionize the purchasing experience. The Miami based company also offers customized solutions to top financial groups and corporations in the region that currently enable over 5 million monthly active users to execute over 30 million transactions.

NFTE finalists get ready to pitch at eMerge Americas Techweek

  Finalists

The excitement builds for the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship's Young Entrepreneurs as they head to eMerge Americas Techweek. NFTE’s nine budding  high school entrepreneurs will  pitch complex concepts, including marketing analysis, economics of one unit, and business goals to a panel of distinguished entrepreneurs, community and business leaders.  The top two young entrepreneurs selected by judges  will win cash prizes and compete for top honors in NFTE’s National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge  Oct. 9, 2014 at the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley.

The NFTE Ignite Entrepreneurship Youth Biz Challenge is 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, May 5 as part of eMerge Americas Techweek at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

How to Attend: eMerge has offered NFTE supporters a special 15% discount off the $55 Expo Pass. Use registration code EMERGENFTE and click here to reserve.

Keynote Speaker: Alberto Carvalho, Superintendent of M-DCPS

Judges:   Leonel Azuela, Founder of Quaxar; Sheldon Anderson, Executive Vice President of Northern Trust; Gregory Ferrero, Managing Director of Goldman Sachs; Carolina Rendeiro, CEO of Right Space Management; Seth Schachner, Managing Director of Strat Americas; Eric Ackerman, Dean & Associate Professor of Nova Southeastern University Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences; Jeff Wilson, President Geo Central Division of MasterCard Latin American and Caribbean

And the NFTE finalists (pictured above) are ...

Lepsy’s App – Karen Bonilla, John A. Ferguson Senior High School

Power Lock – Sarel Lopez, Jorge Troitino, Mark Hurtado, Coral Gables Senior High School

Magic No Streak Cloths – Alyssa Herman & Maggie Bodner, Coral Springs Senior High School

Makoulian Smith – Jacob Makoulian & Kaleb Smith, Piper Community High School

Leading A.C.T.S. – Gary Smith, Miami Edison Senior High School

Posted: April 30, 2014

April 29, 2014

Miami's growing tech community on display as eMerge Americas Techweek gets set to open

Park

Maria Perez, left, Umut Tekin, center, and Scott Rosen are in the management team of ParkJockey, which provides an app that helps drivers book parking spots. CARL JUSTE / MIAMI HERALD STAFF
Shiver
From left, John Osvald, John Schappert and Jason Andersen co-founded Shiver Entertainment, a video gaming company. They have been on a hiring spree and now have about 30 employees and will double that soon. CW GRIFFIN / MIAMI HERALD STAFF
This week’s eMerge Americas Techweek is designed to promote the region’s tech community and convince companies that Miami is the place to grow their businesses. Some are already getting the message.
By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@MiamiHerald.com

In the past 20 years, John Schappert has become a video game-making star in Orlando, Silicon Valley, Seattle and Vancouver. Along the way, he founded and sold Tiburon Entertainment to publicly traded Electronic Arts, created the popular Madden NFL football game series, worked for Microsoft’s XBox division and helped run FarmVille maker Zynga. Recently he returned to Miami, where he and a team of 30 are creating games for his new company, Shiver Entertainment.

Says the self-taught programmer, “We hope that our decision serves as a signal to other tech companies that Miami is a great place to do business.”

Schappert and others in South Florida’s burgeoning tech community will have plenty of opportunity later this week, when thousands of industry executives, entrepreneurs and investors descend on South Florida for the inaugural eMerge Americas Techweek.

Kicking off Friday with a summit of local and Latin American mayors and a hackathon, the conference’s main event opens Monday for two days of panels, presentations, contests and — this being Miami, parties — designed to promote South Florida as an emerging technology hub.

In addition to mega players such as IBM and Accenture, about 100 early-stage companies — nearly half of them from Latin America — will exhibit at the show.

The idea is an Art Basel-like tech conference that will showcase South Florida and draw startups to the region, accelerating the area’s ingrained entrepreneurial spirit and its sprouting tech scene.

The bait: diversity, quality-of-life, culture, geographic position and a cost of living significantly lower than in traditional high-tech cities.

“Startups are really at the heart of the ecosystem — companies starting here, hiring employees here, customers buying from these companies,” said local technology entrepreneur Manny Medina, who founded the Technology Foundation of the Americas to help establish a tech hub. “Once you have a company establish itself here, the multiplier effect is immense.”

The event is the brainchild of the one-time real estate mogul who presciently turned his company, Terremark, to technology in 2000. The company’s NAP of the Americas data access point in downtown Miami is the funnel for nearly all data transmissions among Latin America, the Caribbean and the rest of the world.

In 2011, Medina sold Terremark to Verizon for $2 billion. The proceeds have gone primarily to Medina Capital, his tech investment firm. But seed money, and much of Medina’s time and persuasive energy, has gone to rallying business, government and educational institutions around the not-for-profit event.

The impetus is simply hometown pride. “The ecosystem starts with innovation, and innovation is being driven by tens of thousands of people around the world,” Medina said. “The more of them that we can drive here, the more it will accelerate our ecosystem.”

Schappert’s company is evidence that the strategy is starting to bear fruit. Shiver Games has moved developers, designers and artists and their families here from all over the country. And he is not the only entrepreneur who is betting big on South Florida. In recent months, other early-stage companies have decided to relocate to the tri-county area.

ParkJockey, a travel and hospitality company that recently launched its parking app in Miami and London, chose the Magic City as its base. Posto7, which is developing a recommendation app far different from Yelp, recently relocated from New York City. Others have come from Latin America, including mobile payments company YellowPepper and social media publishing startup Everypost. Still others are setting up small U.S. offices and testing the waters a bit before moving.

Nearly the entire 2014 class of downtown Miami’s Venture Hive accelerator is international, and most of the tech startups already are applying for visas to stay, said Ivan Rapin-Smith, program director for the structured education and mentorship program. European companies also have been checking this area out, including Spain’s Sapos Y Princesas, which created a social platform for parents.

Kurtin
“Twenty years ago, this was not a place you wanted to work or start a company,” said Nora Kurtin, founder of Sapos Y Princesas. She recently relocated to Miami and plans to launch a sister company for the U.S. Hispanic and Latin American market this summer.

What changed? She sees Miami quickly evolving into a city conducive to startups. “It is a great moment to be here,” said Kurtin (pictured here). “You have talent, you are right next door to Latin America, and it’s easy access for Europe.”

To be sure, the formation of a local tech hub is very much a work in progress, fostered in large part by the Knight Foundation.

During the past 18 months, the foundation’s Miami office, led by Matt Haggman, has funded about 50 projects and organizations, from co-working spaces such as Wynwood’s The LAB Miami to community events including The Atlantic’s Start-Up City: Miami.

In its biggest move to date, the foundation invested $2 million in a partnership with global nonprofit Endeavor, convincing the highly prestigious program to open its first U.S. base in Miami last year.Endeavor already has identified five high-impact entrepreneurs for mentorship designed to catapult companies to an international scale and accelerate the ecosystem.

ParkJockey is one of the recent startups to place its bet on Miami’s future. The startup, which gives consumers a free app and platform to easily compare prices, book and pay for their parking spots in advance, launched quietly in Miami Beach during Art Basel and officially launched earlier this year. The service, which currently offers spaces in downtown Miami, Brickell, Wynwood and South Beach, already has booked more than 1,000 customers, said Umut Tekin, CEO of ParkJockey.

As of now, ParkJockey has partnerships with more than 80 locations, including surface parking lots, parking garages and valets.

With $2 million in investor funding, ParkJockey plans to expand into Midtown and Coconut Grove and is adding services such as monthly parking. The company has 18 employees and, says Tekin, is growing quickly.

Miami provides a convenient base for ParkJockey’s global aspirations. The company recently launched in London and hopes to enter the New York market in the summer, said Igal Aciman, who recently was hired as head of global sales and marketing. After that, the team is looking at Amsterdam, Paris and Istanbul.

That same international access, along with a culinary culture and relative affordability, made Miami Posto7’s top choice, luring the company from New York City. Miami’s position as gateway to Latin America also was an attraction for the company, named after a lifeguard station in Rio de Janiero that serves as a meeting place.

PostoPosto7 is creating a free app by the same name that will serve as a meeting place for friends and family to share their favorite bars, restaurants and hotels with each other, producing relevant and reliable recommendations. In the past two months, the company has signed partnerships with booking.com, Uber and Oasis Collections. It has raised about $900,000 in investor funding.

“We plan on building a successful business with Miami as our headquarters,” said Patrick Curley, who founded the company with George Yates (pictured here). “Miami is a large, metropolitan city built around hospitality — all elements Posto7 needs in order to be successful.”

SergeWhile Posto7’s co-founders moved south, Serge Elkiner of Yellow Pepper, a fast-growing provider of mobile-banking and payment solutions in Latin America, moved north. The company, originally based in Ecuador, is moving its headquarters into converted warehouse space in Wynwood by early summer, he said.

Yellow Pepper announced last year it received $15 million in additional venture funding, bringing its total funding to $30 million. The company, which now offers mobile banking services in eight countries, is developing an app for mobile payments that can be used everywhere, without a card. In coming months, it plans to launch pilot payment projects in Mexico and Colombia.

The company has about 54 employees around the Americas. It plans to quickly grow its Miami team to about 15 people in technology, marketing and operations, said Elkiner (pictured here).

Everypost
For Fernando Cuscuela (pictured at left), CEO and co-founder of Everypost, a social media publishing app, acceptance into the Venture Hive accelerator was enough to persuade him to move his family from Buenos Aires to Key Biscayne. He recently secured a three-year investor visa and is seeking to hire five people in Miami, primarily in marketing and business development. Although his technical team of six remains in Argentina, Cucuela has raised seed funding and plans to build his company here.

Despite the enthusiasm, Miami tech companies face obstacles not as commonly found in more established communities such as Silicon Valley and Boston. Access to capital is limited in South Florida, especially for startups and early-stage companies. And some companies report that talent is harder to find here than they’d like.

“These things take time,” said Peter Kellner, co-founder of Endeavor and founder of Richmond Global. “Capital follows the entrepreneur. It’s really about the entrepreneur. … The fact is, we don’t have a base of high-impact entrepreneurs yet, and that is what we all are building. What Manny is doing with eMerge is really bringing everybody in, and that can truly be catalytic.”

Juan Diego Calle, founder and former CEO of .CO Internet, sold his company for $108 million this month. He said Miami has plenty of talent — it’s just “temporarily displaced.” He’s referring to tech entrepreneurs and developers who grew up here and moved away but could be persuaded to return.

That was the case with Schappert, who says he is happy to be back in the area where he grew up. An alumni of Miami Sunset Senior High and Miami Dade College, Schappert has been drawn back by family ties, the water and the weather.

He and Shiver co-founders Jason Andersen, his partner in Tiburon, and John Osvald, formerly of Zynga, are holed up in a temporary space in South Miami as the team creates its first game, still under wraps. They have recruited professionals from Texas, Chicago, Iowa, Ohio, California, Minnesota, Louisiana and Boston and found another locally through an ad in the Miami Herald. Shiver is still actively hiring and is working with local universities for its internship program.

“When you get people here, they like it,” Schappert said. “And when their families settle in, it’s a huge boon to the economy. Our 30 people are buying homes, buying cars, they are renting nice places on Brickell.”

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

EMERGE AMERICAS TECHWEEK

What: The centerpiece of eMerge Americas Techweek is a series of summits on May 5-6 that will feature technology and innovation experts on the themes of healthcare, finance, smart cities, education and entertainment. Other events include a Startup Village and Launch Competition, with $150,000 in prizes; an Americas-wide hackathon with $30,000 in prizes; the eMerge Game Connection; a Smart Cities Expo; a mobile summit; a hiring fair and the STEM Tech Olympiad for K-12 students.

When, where and how much: May 2-6 at Miami Beach Convention Center and other venues. There are various pricing levels, ranging from an “Expo” pass for $55 to a VIP ticket for $1,350, according to the website. Some special pricing is in effect through April 29.

Agenda and tickets: http://www.emergeamericas.org.

 

More than 700 expected for WordCamp Miami; see who's speaking


Wcmia_2014_logo_1WordCamp Miami is back again this year May 9-11 with more than 700 attendees expected. The event at the University of Miami Student Activity Center is sold out, but stay tuned for the live stream link that will allow you access to some of the sessions.

Some WordCamp/ BuddyCamp speakers include:

* Karla Campos, CEO of Social Media Sass, Florida Social Con and Real Women Social. Social Media Sass a company specializing in digital marketing training and education.

* Jared Easley, an entrepreneur, trainer, speaker and host of the Starve the Doubts podcast. Easley has interviewed successful entrepreneurs such as Seth Godin, Simon Sinek, Guy Kawasaki, Michael E. Gerber, David Allen, Gary Vaynerchuck and Chris Brogan,

* Jackie Jimenez, The Innovative Consultant, who focusing on the big picture with integrated marketing. She specializes in branding websites online with social media, SEO and email marketing. Jimenez co-organizes the South Florida WordPress group and WordCamp Miami 2013, often speaking and training clients in WordPress Webinars.

* David Laietta, a WordPress theme and plugin developer, as well as community organizer. He leads the WordPress Orlando Meetup, as well as WordCamp Orlando.

* Rebekah Monson, a journalist, designer, communications manager at the University of Miami School of Communication and cofounder of whereby.us. She also cofounded Hacks/Hackers Miami, a group that brings together journalists and technologists, and Code for Miami, Florida’s first Code for America civic hacking brigade.

* Rosie Taylor, Taylor regularly presents live workshops and webinars on marketing and web topics especially as an Authorized Local Expert for Constant Contact. Known for creativity mixed with business acumen, Taylor is a public relations and online marketing strategist. As a Certified Duct Tape Marketing consultant, she offers proven strategies for small business success.

* Steven Alig, president and founder of South Florida Web Studio. He has been professionally involved in the internet industry since 1997, working directly with both large national corporate accounts and small local business.

* Blanca Stella Mejia, blogger for six years and  founder of an award winning bilingual blog MiCaminar.com (My Walk), where she shares doses of inspiration, leadership and motivation. She blogs about Social Media at BlancaStella.com and is the founder of a Web Development agency VizRED.

The full WordCamp Miami speaker lineup and info: http://2014.miami.wordcamp.org/speakers/

CodeNow coming to Miami to offer tech training to high school students

CodeNow, a national nonprofit that provides underrepresented high school students free training in computer programming, is expanding to Miami with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The nonprofit is accepting applications now through May 30 for its first program for South Florida high school students who are interested in technology; training sessions will be held June 14, 15 and 28.

Launched in 2011, the program offers students in-person training supported by outside learning and technology study at the beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. Training sessions are hosted at local tech companies and led by top computer programmers. CodeNow targets underrepresented groups in tech, including women, minorities and those from low-income neighborhoods. Applications are accepted at multiple times throughout the year, providing up to 60 students with over 25 hours of computer programming experience.

As one of several new programs starting this year to provide computer and entrepreneurship training to students before they get to college,  CodeNow provides another opportunity to help attract more students into technology and build on their talents.  “The program provides important skills to young people who can add to Miami’s growing pool of diverse entrepreneurs and are vital to shaping our city’s future,” said Matt Haggman, the Knight Foundation's Miami program director. The foundation provided $100,000 in support to CodeNow, one of its 50 investments in entreprenuership in South Florida over the past 18 months.

In addition to Miami, CodeNow, a Y-Combinator nonprofit graduate led by founder and CEO Ryan Seashore, has programs in California, New York and Washington, D.C., and has worked with hundreds of students  more than 19,000 hours of free training in computer programming. More than 90 percent of CodeNow students receive a free or reduced lunch, and 45 percent of alumni are young women. After completing the program, 35 percent of graduating seniors have gone on to study computer science in college, CodeNow said in a press release.

For more information or to apply:  www.codenow.org/apply.

See previous report on coding education for youth. 

April 28, 2014

IT’SUGAR quickly expanding nationwide

By Ina Paiva Cordle

SugarEscape to the kaleidoscopic world of IT’SUGAR, and all your nostalgic dreams of colorful candy will come flooding back.

Gummy bears of all sizes and flavors. Rock candy in assorted pastel hues. Swirling lollipops as big as your face. Long candy necklaces. Dots.

It’s a candy lover’s heaven, filled with guilty pleasures of all kinds.

“IT’SUGAR is not just a candy store,” said President and Chief Executive Jeff Rubin. “We’ve really positioned ourselves as a gift store that lives at the intersection of attitude and fun.”

Founded in 2006, the chain of candy stores, headquartered in Deerfield Beach, has quickly expanded to become one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing specialty retailers of candy.

IT’SUGAR has 64 stores nationwide, including 13 in Florida, with stores in Dadeland Mall, Sunset Place, Miami International Mall, Aventura Mall, Sawgrass Mills, Sunrise and Pembroke Pines. A store in Coconut Creek is scheduled to open in November, and Rubin is scouting sites in Miami Beach or near downtown Miami. By the end of the year, he expects to have 80 shops in all.

Continue reading "IT’SUGAR quickly expanding nationwide" »

Citi Latin America hosting virtual hackathon with $60K in cash prizes

Citi Latin America is hosting its first Citi Mobile Challenge Latam 2014, a virtual developer competition designed to accelerate mobile banking innovation by bringing together developers and designers to create cutting-edge applications for Citi’s Mobile Banking Mobile platform. But hurry to register, the deadline is May 8. Register here: http://www.mobilechallengelatam.com 

The Citi Mobile Challenge is open to anyone – individuals, teams and companies. Participants can submit entries in one of two categories: innovative mobile solutions or B2B mobile solutions. Participants will receive Citi Mobile Banking API toolkits and branding guidelines on which to develop their applications and solutions. Finalists will be selected by a panel of entrepreneurial and tech leaders as well as Citi executives, judging submissions on a criteria based on the quality of the code, how easily it can be integrated with the Citi mobile banking platform and the application’s power and potential to impact the lives and businesses of users in Latin America.

“Mobile banking has transformed how people and businesses live and operate throughout many parts of the world and now it's Latin America’s turn,” said Jorge Ruiz, Business Development and Digital Banking Head for Citi Latin America, in the news release.  “At Citi, we are tapping the power of global crowdsourcing to help infuse our organization with innovative ideas and approaches.” 

Selected finalists will be invited to compete in one of two demo day events, May 30-31 in Buenos Aires and June 6-7 in Bogota. Winners will share $60,000 in cash awards and have the opportunity to engage Citi in commercial relationship to launch their applications. 

Startup Spotlight: Kleo

KleoName: Kleo

Headquarters: Miami

Concept: Social entrepreneurial startup Kleo developed ClassWallet.com, a tool designed to make it easier for teachers to raise, manage, track and spend money for the classroom. Teachers are provided an e-wallet to collect funds for field trips and special projects as well as purchase supplies within ClassWallet.com’s ecommerce marketplace.

Story: Kleo CEO and founder Jamie Rosenberg (pictured at right) is a lawyer-turned-education-technologist. His passion for education blossomed when mentoring a student with learning and physical disabilities. Rosenberg formerly founded AdoptAClassroom.org, the country’s leading education technology philanthropy platform, when he recognized that collecting community funds the old-fashioned way — through brown envelopes and bake sales — was not effective and cost teachers time and money of their own.

ClassWallet.com brings economies-of-scale, greater efficiency, more cost savings and increased transparency in order to make a bigger impact on student learning.

Launched: Summer 2012

Management team: Jamie Rosenberg, CEO and founder; Michael Karavolos, chief product officer.

No. of employees: Six

Financing: Raised $635,000 from friends and family, closed June 2013. Currently seeking $1.5<TH>million.

Website: www.ClassWallet.com

Recent milestones reached: Launched its KLEOplatform for Reading is Fundamental, one of the country’s oldest and largest literacy nonprofit organizations. Kleo streamlines how Reading is Fundamental distributes millions of dollars to programs around the United States so that underserved children can receive free books. Launched the KLEOplatform for the Jacksonville Public Education Fund, a foundation serving the teachers of Duval County, the 21st largest school district in the United States. Gave a sneak preview of ClassWallet.com at the EdSurge Tech for Schools Summit two weeks ago. on April 15. Teachers can register now at www.ClassWallet.com and enter for a chance to win $1,000 every year to spend on supplies throughout their career.

Next steps: Kleo is launching its 2.0 version of the ClassWallet.com platform this summer and numerous partnerships are nearing close that will expose ClassWallet.com to millions of teachers and parents. Kleo will be integrating its technology into numerous partner platforms that manage communications and payments among parents, teachers and schools. The strategy is to complete the integrations and to execute ClassWallet.com’s sales and distribution strategy to the networks that its partner platforms serve.

Biggest startup challenge: Balancing expectations of investors while continuing to build out the technology platform.

Advisor’s view: Hans Hickler, an advisor and investor in Kleo, said he was drawn to Kleo because Rosenberg was creating an entire platform, not just a product, in a space where it hasn’t been done before and the need is huge: “Any minute you can give a teacher that is not worried about money, it’s another minute they spend teaching our kids. A product like Jamie’s can really change the ability of teachers to do their work. ... As philanthropic money is being put into [education], we are creating a vehicle to allow that to happen cost efficiently, effectively and transparently. It seems like a no-brainer but it is actually quite complex.”

Hickler, a former executive at DHL with a passion for education, has been helping Rosenberg with launches, including partnerships: “We spend a lot of time talking through what partnerships will be most beneficial to us to scale the business. ... You have to say no to some really good stuff because you can’t do everything. You have to focus.”

NANCY DAHLBERG

To read more Startup Spotlights, click on the Startup Spotlight category of this blog. 

Posted April 28, 2014

 

 

 

April 27, 2014

Q&A with Brian Breslin: Building a tech community

ZoHzb.Em.56Brian Breslin started Refresh Miami, the largest tech entrepreneur organization in South Florida, with just five people meeting at a Starbucks in 2006. Today, Refresh’s membership has sported a hockey stick growth curve that any startup would envy. The group has grown to 8,500 members and routinely attracts 300 to 500 people to every monthly event, giving countless entrepreneurs a platform to connect with others and learn about the community.

Breslin and Peter Martinez, co-directors of Refresh Miami, received Knight Foundation funding last year to help continue high-quality programming, such as the ability to fly in a speaker from Silicon Valley, and add features like a job board and revamped events calendar.

The group has steadily grown and produced about 100 monthly events. Recent events have included themes like lean management, Bitcoin basics, founder matchmaking and fashion tech. Indeed, one of the recent challenges has been to find venues big enough to host Refresh Miami.

Breslin, 31, may be best known in the tech and entrepreneurship community for his leadership of Refresh Miami — and for being a Miami evangelist and one of a few go-to people for help navigating the growing community. Breslin has been one of the pioneers of the community’s latest efforts to build a tech hub; indeed, he was honored as a Miami Herald 20 Under 40 in 2010. We talked to Breslin about his entrepreneurial roots, his businesses and his views on the community’s development.

Q. What was the first business you ever started?

A. When I was 9 years old I started selling candy at school that my parents would buy for me from Costco. This business funded my early comic book habit.

Q. How and when did you know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

A. I think I knew in high school that I was always going to be an entrepreneur. I ran a network of blogs with writers around the world and sold advertising on them. At that point is when I knew that I probably couldn’t work a conventional job.

Continue reading "Q&A with Brian Breslin: Building a tech community" »

View: Leadership is key ingredient to startup success

By Jerry Haar

HaarI’ve seen it time and time again. A startup or early stage company with a truly innovative technology or service and ample funding begins to take off, ascends rapidly, then levels off, declines and crashes. According to Harvard Business school senior lecturer Shikhar Ghosh, more than 95 percent of venture-backed startups fail. It doesn’t have to be. Among the startup companies I am intimately familiar with, including two award-winning South Florida healthcare firms, the principal reason a number are struggling, declining and destined to fail is poor leadership. The reality is that entrepreneurs make poor leaders, for the most part.

Leadership is more about behavior than it is about specific skills or knowledge, asserts Martin Zwilling, CEO and founder of Startup Professionals Inc. This is especially true for startups and later-stage firms in the technology sector where the founder/leader is in almost all cases a “left-brained” person (more logical, analytical and objective) than a person who is “right-brained” (more intuitive, thoughtful and subjective).

As a consultant, researcher, and investor, I have observed four traits of poor leadership that can derail even the most promising new ventures.

1. A disinterest in managing. The passion to create is the key driver for entrepreneurs. Transforming an idea into a product or service that resonates with consumers is indescribably satisfying. The creative process — think Howard Roark in Fountainhead — must reign supreme. Creators generally have little interest in leading and managing, believing erroneously that “a product will sell itself.”

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