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27 posts from January 2017

January 31, 2017

American Entrepreneurship Award, with $125K in prizes, opens for entries

The American Entrepreneurship Award (AEA), a program created and funded by the Libra Group, has begun accepting submissions for its second annual award.

The AEA focuses on identifying promising entrepreneurs in Miami-Dade County and the Bronx, New York, whose business plans exhibit sustainability, innovation and a positive impact on the local communities. Applications can be submitted at www.americanaward.com until April 27 and winners will be announced in June. Interested entrepreneurs can also take advantage of training events slated for March and April, including business ideation, entrepreneurship legal clinics, and funding and marketing boot camps, to help improve their applications.

Launched with an initial $500,000 commitment from Libra, the AEA provides six winners with a share of $125,000 in business startup funding, as well as mentorship and business support services. The award’s panel of judges comprises a group of seasoned entrepreneurs including Daymond John, the founder of FUBU, Presidential Ambassador of Global Entrepreneurship and Co-star of ABC’s Shark Tank.

The 2016 American Entrepreneurship Award winners from Miami-Dade County were:

*StatLab Mobile (www.statlabmobile.com): a complete mobile medical laboratory with the capabilities to test blood and urine samples on site at any location. Their goal is to provide quality blood testing for the insured and the uninsured at a fraction of the traditional cost.

*ValueDoc (www.doctors.valuedoc.com): a free online health and wellness marketplace where cash or self-pay patients find local, quality, pre-screened doctors offering basic services, like dental cleaning, cardiology consultations, MRI, urgent care visits, plastic surgery, physical therapy, acupuncture, skin consultation, etc., at discounted prices of up to 80% off retail.

*CourtBuddy (www.courtbuddy.com): an automated legal matchmaking system that pairs consumers and small businesses with solo attorneys for a-la-carte legal services based on an individual’s budget.

"Winning the 2016 AEA was a game changer for Court Buddy," said James Jones, Jr., Esq, CEO of Court Buddy. "Being able to tap into this network has helped our founding team become better business owners and has helped Court Buddy scale exponentially to provide affordable and needed legal services to the residents of Miami-Dade County and beyond."

To learn more about the American Entrepreneurship Award, visit www.americanaward.com.

January 27, 2017

Biscayne Neurotherapeutics raises $3 million for developing anti-epileptic drugs

Miami-based Biscayne Pharmaceuticals has raised financing for its new spin-out, Biscayne Neurotherapeutics, which was recently established to develop BIS-001, a novel anti-epileptic drug slated to enter a Phase 1b clinical trial later this year.

BIS-001 is a synthetic form of huperzine A, an extract with a long history of safe use in central nervous system indications in traditional Chinese medicine, the company said. BIS-001 demonstrated exceptional efficacy in animal models of severe epilepsy and appeared safe and well tolerated in a Phase 1a trial.

The $3 million Series B financing round was led by Quark Venture and Chinese investment firm GF Securities, along with Mesa Verde Venture Partners. Existing Biscayne Pharmaceuticals investors and new private investors also participated in the financing round. As part of the financing agreement, the Global Health Sciences Fund will appoint one director and one observer to the Biscayne Neurotherapeutics Board of Directors, and Mesa Verde Venture Partners will also name a director.

Biscayne Neurotherapeutics is a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing drugs for serious central nervous system disorders such as refractory epilepsy. Biscayne’s technology is licensed from Harvard University, Yale University and the University of South Florida. 

 Epilepsy affects about 3 million people in the U.S. and over 50 million people worldwide. 

January 25, 2017

Apply by Feb. 6 to compete at TechCrunch Pitch-Off Miami


Calling all South Florida startups!

You have till Feb. 6 to put your name in the running to pitch your company at TechCrunch’s Meetup+Pitch-Off Miami event on Feb. 21.

The TechCrunch editorial team will pick about 10 local startups to pitch their companies on stage for 60 seconds in front of a panel of Miami VCs, entrepreneurs and TechCrunch editors. Winners will get tickets or demo space to TechCrunch’s flagship Disrupt New York conference in May.

Enter to pitch here. 

If you don’t get picked to pitch, no worries, TechCrunch is also going to pull a wildcard drawing, where one lucky startup in the audience will randomly be selected to pitch on stage. You can buy tickets to the event here. This is the first time the event has come to Miami.


January 23, 2017

Q&A with Teresa Weintraub on developing the next generation of women leaders

Q&A Teresa Weintraub 02 EKM

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Teresa Valdes-Fauli Weintraub doesn’t shy away from a challenge, particularly when it’s helping to develop the next generation of female leaders.

Early last year, at about the same time the wealth management executive moved to Merrill Lynch as managing director after nearly two decades running Fiduciary Trust International of the South, Weintraub became global president of the International Women’s Forum.

The International Women’s Forum was founded in 1974 in New York to unite women of diverse accomplishments and build a network of influence, power and friendship that could change the face of leadership, Weintraub said. Since then the IWF has grown to 76 forums, including one in Miami, in 35 countries. Weintraub will be global president through September 2018, when the global conference will be held in Miami. She led the Florida IWF from 2007 to 2009.

Among many programs, the organization offers a one-year fellowship program where burgeoning leaders work with select high-potential leaders. Among fellows from Miami have been current Miami-Dade Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, Miami Foundation executive Charisse Grant, entrepreneurship champion Susan Amat and architect MariCarmen Martinez.

The organization is now working with the United Nations on a women’s leadership program. “It’s about where we can add value, where we can make a difference,” Weintraub said.

Another aspect of being global president is making sure the local forums remain strong. Membership is by invitation only. The forums bring together the premier women in their industries and community, Weintraub said. Current members include community activist Ruth Shack, historian Arva Parks and former University of Miami president Donna Shalala.

“I’ve observed, taught, and worked with the world’s best leaders for decades and, as an IWF member, have advocated for women in leadership,” said Rosabeth Moss Kanter, a Harvard Business School professor and a founder of IWF Massachusetts. “Teresa Weintraub is characterized by empathy, kindness, incredible strength, and the willingness to roll up her sleeves to do the work. In every situation, from parent at her kids’ school to the financial world, she has risen to leadership by being smart and being present. Women should never underestimate the power of plunging in and volunteering to lead.”

Weintraub, born in Havana, has been a leader in the community as well as the wealth management industry, participating in or leading various philanthropic endeavors in planned giving, education, healthcare and the arts.

“I take great pride in Miami and try to help wherever I can,” said Weintraub, who volunteered at migrant camps as a teenager. “However, it is important not to be too scattered or desultory in the causes you support. For this reason, I have stepped down from some organizations to focus on empowering the next generation of leaders.”

The Miami Herald talked with Weintraub about the International Women’s Forum, her own career changes and influences in her life as a leader in the industry and in philanthropic endeavors.

Why is involvement in the International Women’s Forum important to you and what is your role as global president?

Both locally and globally, IWF promotes opportunities for women and advances leadership for economies, societies and individuals. My involvement is important to me because it has introduced me to women leaders from around the world representing many different cultures, races and backgrounds. These women are changing their communities and countries. I have made friends around the world, and it has truly made me into an international citizen. As IWF global president, I am assisting the various forums with best practices to reach and develop the next generation of women leaders and help them make a difference in their communities.

You have led the local IWF as well. How is leadingon the global level different?

I was president of IWF Florida from 2007-2009. Our forum’s membership criteria is the same as that of other forums. We seek to invite top women leaders of diverse backgrounds and industries. I have been a member of IWF Florida since 1998 and participated in its growth and in the sponsorship of two global conferences. As global president, my role is to work with 76 forums in 35 countries. Our membership is comprised of 7,500 women leaders. Of course, there is a wonderful professional and administrative staff that does most of the heavy lifting. I, along with the IWF board, set the strategy for IWF’s growth to assure that we remain relevant in this ever-changing world. We do not advocate for causes, but through our two annual conferences we introduce women to global problems and solutions that they can implement in their communities, in their industries, in their professions and in their lives.

What are some ways the organization is developing the next generation of women leaders locally and globally?

IWF has various leadership development programs for rising women leaders:

The Leadership Foundation, IWF’s charitable and educational entity, was established in1990 to empower high-potential women leaders through executive training, mentoring and networking opportunities. Through its flagship initiative, the Fellows Program, the Leadership Foundation provides women from around the world with the resources, education and network they need to succeed at the highest levels. Since 1994, the Fellows Program has supported more than 450 women leaders in 47 nations. Each year, the Leadership Foundation aspires to select a geographically, culturally, ethnically and professionally diverse group of women. Each candidate possesses the ambition to push to the highest levels of their career and the desire to lift as they rise with regards to legacy and mentoring.

IWF is proud to partner with Ernst & Young (EY), the international accounting firm, on the EY Women Athletes Business Network mentoring program. This program launched in 2015 and is designed to harness the untapped leadership potential of elite women athletes. It provides support for current and former elite female athletes who are transitioning from sport to a professional career in business, government or other spheres of leadership. Each mentee is paired with an IWF member for a yearlong mentoring experience, which includes a two-day leadership roundtable and participation in the IWF World Leadership Conference. The 2016 class included nine athletes who competed in the Rio Olympics.

Since 2014, IWF has had special consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council. We are formulating ways to use our extensive global network of women leaders to assist in meeting the goals of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and an IWF delegation is attending the upcoming Commission on the Status of Women meeting taking place at UN Headquarters in March.


Teresa Valdes-Fauli Weintraub, global president of the International Women’s Forum

You’ve made several big career changes over the years, from tax attorney to university fundraising to wealth management. How did that help shape the leader you are now?

I have had a varied career, but each job’s skills have been important to the next position. I learned and changed along the way to become a better listener and to know how to move people along toward a goal. We learn from our experiences and hopefully take those techniques to our next cause. I am fortunate to be able to use all these skills to help our clients at Merrill Lynch.

What advice do you have for ambitious young people getting started in their careers?

Be aware, be patient, be involved, be a team player. I always look for a “can do” attitude. It is also very important to be a good listener and learn from those around you.

About the same time as taking the helm of the global IWF, you changed positions after 18 years at Fiduciary Trust. How do you morph and adapt when you’re not 40 anymore?

And you forgot to add studying for taking licensing exams at the same time. Change is energizing, and the move to Merrill Lynch has been rewarding for our team and our clients. I have always been very organized and disciplined. Because IWF is global, our board members are in different time zones. I was able to hold IWF meetings at 7 a.m. or at 8 p.m. Suffice it to say, I survived on little sleep the first few months of 2016.

What are some of the most common mistakes you see women making in investing?

Women control a majority of the world’s assets and wealth. According to Harvard Business Review, women dictate spending in most categories of consumer goods and drive the world economy. Many women are the savvy investors in their families, but a common mistake is not having confidence in their own judgment. Others need to become knowledgeable about investing and about their finances. I strongly believe that women should ask questions to learn what they own, how they own it and where it is located in case they have a life-changing event.

What do you think are some of the keys to your own business success?

I am relentless in the pursuit of value for my clients. I am resilient, fast-moving and can adapt to changes and new situations.

How has your family influenced you and your career in leadership?

My family is my anchor. My husband, Lee, and three children, Robert, Margarita and Sarah, are very proud of what I have accomplished. My brothers have also been a great sounding board.

You are co-chair of Leave a Legacy and involved in other community pursuits, including as a mentor for WIN Lab, a women’s business accelerator. Please tell me about your community involvement and why that is important to you.

I have been volunteering since I was a young girl. As a teenager, I volunteered on the weekends in migrant labor camps. We each have a duty to make our communities stronger. I take great pride in Miami and try to help wherever I can. However, it is important not to be too scattered or desultory in the causes you support. For this reason, I have stepped down from some organizations to focus on empowering the next generation of leaders.

What’s the best advice you ever received and from whom?

My father, Raul Valdes-Fauli, stressed that I should always work hard and prepare carefully.

Nancy Dahlberg: 305-576-3595, @ndahlberg


Age: 63

Present position: Managing director and financial adviser for Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, since 2016. Partner in the Weintraub Adessi Group comprised of five experienced individuals advising families and institutions on their financial needs.

Other career highlights: President and CEO of Fiduciary Trust International of the South, 1998-2016. Vice president of Northern Trust Bank of Florida, 1996-98. Before that, she was executive director of development at the University of Miami and a tax attorney for Exxon Corp. Member of the Florida Bar since 1981.

Education: Boston College Law School, J.D., 1979; Newton College of the Sacred Heart (now Boston College), bachelor’s, 1975.

International Women’s Forum involvement: Global president, 2016-present; board member, 2010 to present. IWF’s Florida Forum: board member, 2002-11; president, 2007-09.

Other recent philanthropy highlights: Dade County Leave a Legacy co-chair, 1998-present; CANARAS, 1995-present. Miami Jewish Health Systems Board Member 2014-16; United Way of Dade County Board of Trustees Member 1985-89, 1998-present; Boston College Council for Women member, 2005-present; numerous Planned Giving Advisory Boards, 1996 to present.

Personal: Born in Havana; married with three children.

January 22, 2017

Startup Spotlight: WashMyWhip brings car wash to you and saves water, too

WWW00 Washmywhip News rk

WashMyWhip, a Miami-based startup, provides an on-demand, eco-friendly car-care service. Through the WashMyWhip app, you can drop a pin on your car’s location, select a service, and a WashPro will tend to your vehicle at a place and time of your choosing. 

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Company name: WashMyWhip 

Headquarters: The LAB Miami

Concept: WashMyWhip is an on-demand, eco-friendly car-care service. Through the WashMyWhip app, you can drop a pin on your car’s location and select a service, and a WashPro will tend to your vehicle at a time of your choosing. 

Story: Imagine telling your JPMorgan bosses you’re leaving a high-finance career to start a car-wash company. “They thought I was crazy,” Nathan Bekerman said. “But my years at JPMorgan taught me how to execute and run a business.” 

Bekerman and Tarek El Gammal (pictured above), who was also working at JPMorgan, as well as Ryan Serkes, “the computer guy,” believed there was something lacking in car-washing: consumer convenience. It also disturbed them that car-wash employees were typically being overworked and underpaid. Add to that the frightening figure that a traditional car wash can waste 50 to 100 gallons of water, and you have an industry in dire need of a makeover, they thought.

Their solution: WashMyWhip.

“We believe that everyone deserves to have quality car care right at their fingertips. Why would you take the time to drive to a car wash when you can launch an app and have a trained professional tend to your car whenever and wherever you want? The convenience and satisfaction of our customers is our utmost concern,” Bekerman, the CEO, said. “If they’re happy, we’re happy.”

WashMyWhip’s “WashPros” have the ability to manage a flexible schedule and earn both salary and commission-based pay. “We feel that these car-wash experts don’t deserve the working conditions of other car washes and can find a more pleasant working experience with WashMyWhip,” Bekerman said. A graduate of Bentley University, he worked at JPMorgan for 51/2 years before starting WashMyWhip.

Water conservation is key, Bekerman said. Instead of gallons and gallons of water, WashMyWhip uses a waterless car wash service that consists of lubricants that raise the dirt, clay that breaks it down, and wax that makes sure a car stays shiny and protected.

The service was launched last summer, and so far, the company has cleaned more than 5,000 cars without wasting 250,000 to 500,000 gallons of water. A reservation can be made sun-up to sundown daily via the free app (iOS or Android). An outside cleaning is $20, inside and out is $30, and full detailing is $120.

But where WashMyWhip sees real opportunity is with corporate clients that manage fleets of cars, and it has developed a web application that can manage their inventory for car care, which is tailored to them. WashMyWhip has already secured a partnership with Xchange Leasing, an Uber company, as its preferred car-cleaning provider, and has begun expanding into other major cities such as Atlanta, Philadelphia and New York. 

“Our goal is to eventually expand to other car services, such as battery and tire changes, wiper blade replacements and windshield replacements,” Bekerman said.

Where did the name “WashMyWhip” come from? In the early days of automobiles, a car’s steering wheel was called a whip, alluding to horse and buggy days, the team said. Who knew?

Launched: April 2016

Website: www.washmywhip.com/cities/miami 

Management team: CEO: Nathan Bekerman; COO: Tarek El Gammal; CTO: Ryan Serkes.

Number of employees: 40

Financing: More than $225,000 in funding to date

Recent milestones reached: Acquired Xchange Leasing (an Uber company) as a partner; expanded into Philadelphia and Atlanta with wmwFleets (the fleet servicing arm of WashMyWhip); was a finalist in the Global Mobile Challenge for the U.S. and Canada. 

Biggest startup challenge: Educating the consumer about its waterless car-cleaning service. 

Next step: Expand into other markets while continuing to partner with local businesses in South Florida to grow its foothold. 

Strategy for next step: WashMyWhip now offers a comprehensive solution for businesses that own/operate large fleets. The startup plans to continue partnering with car dealerships and car-rental agencies to grow wmwFleets to a national level and leverage that to expand the WashMyWhip app.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

Read more Startup Spotlights

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Why Shark Tank bet on these Jerks who make filet mignon jerky

How a trip to the Congo inspired a skincare startup

One juicy story: Caribe Exotic offers tastes of the tropics

Would you wear business jammies? Fashion startup creates ultra comfy work clothes

WDG00 Washmywhip News rk



January 20, 2017

Why the Maker Movement can help bridge the social, economic and digital divides of our community

Pablo Ricatti watches a 3D printer demonstration during the last Miami Mini Maker Faire, held at Young Arts Plaza. AL DIAZ adiaz@miamiherald.com


Herrero%20(2)Makers are a global community of talented innovators — designers, fabricators, artists, engineers, educators, entrepreneurs and civic leaders — driven by personal passions and a spirit of lifelong learning and creative hacking.

You will find them from Silicon Valley start-up founders and Burning Man artisans to Havana’s cuentapropistas and Barcelona’s urban hackers. They see objects and systems not as finished things, but as collections of components that can be remixed, repurposed and reimagined to shape worlds around them.

Some are entrepreneurs like Rodolfo Saccoman. He develops innovative products in Miami Beach such as the MATRIX Creator, an Internet-of-Things development board that enables software developers to build hardware applications regardless of their skill level. Others are educators like Willie Avendano and Nelson Milian of the 01 education lab in Wynwood. They foster a sense of agency and creative confidence in young students through hands-on STEAM-based learning.

DaleOthers are using tools for social good. For instance, architects Tony Garcia and Sherryl Muriente’s wonderful Biscayne Green public space project has shown us the power of urban prototyping and open collaboration to promote public transit and strengthen communal bonds in Downtown Miami.

The act of making is rooted in play, collaboration and curiosity. It develops a mindset that enables us to see ourselves as more than just consumers, but as creators with a bias toward action. Makers love to tinker with hardware and technology, but mostly see these as a means to an end. They combine domain expertise and traditional craftsmanship with modern tools such as digital fabrication, micro-controllers and data analytics to innovate solutions for themselves and their communities.

The maker mindset helps people better bridge the social, economic and digital divides in an era of technological acceleration and dislocation. When so many of today’s jobs are expected to disappear in coming years because of advances in artificial intelligence and automation, few skills become as important as collaboration, resourcefulness, communication and creative problem-solving. The maker movement helps nurture those skills, letting us look closely at the things around us, explore their complexity and identify opportunities to add value.

For makers to prosper in a community, they require physical spaces with access to tools and expertise that foster local productivity. In Miami, the Moonlighter makerspace makes fabrication tools available to people of all ages. The Discovery Lab at FIU’s School of Computing and Information Sciences has introduced vertically integrated programs to foster cross-disciplinary collaboration. And Miami Dade College hosts the Design for Miami and Make1 programs through its Idea Center, which teach students how to apply design thinking and prototyping practices to solve problems, along with Maker Faire Miami, the region’s largest showcase of maker talent and one of almost 200 such Maker Faires around the globe.

But that’s not all cities need to be productive. They also require community organizers who can leverage resources among the city’s schools and universities, libraries, museums and large and small businesses, in order to build a well-connected ecosystem of creative and learning environments where makers can thrive. They require business associations that recognize the need for vocational programs that prepare the local labor force for the current and future job market. They require city officials who embrace open data and work with civic hacking groups like Code for Miami to improve municipal services and address challenges such as affordable housing, homelessness and adapting to climate change. Finally, they need planning and zoning boards that minimize red tape and create more favorable conditions for urban production and entrepreneurship to flourish.

We want to grow the Maker Movement to include everyone, helping them become innovators in their own lives and communities. We also seek to expand the opportunities that makers have to innovate, defining shared missions that makers can join. We’re happy to see Miami off to such a promising start and are eager to help all who want to see it go further.

Today (Jan. 20) at 4 pm: Join Make: Magazine founder Dale Dougherty and the international network of Maker Faire producers at Miami Dade College - Wolfson Campus to explore how the maker mindset is revitalizing our cities. Co-hosted by MANO, Miami Dade College and Maker Faire with the support of Knight Foundation, this event is open to the public and tickets are available via Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/making-the-maker-city-opening-plenary-for-the-2017-maker-faire-global-summit-registration-30470654548

Ric Herrero is the co-founder and president of MANO Americas; reach him at ric@manaamericas.org. Dale Dougherty is the founder of Maker Faire and author of “Free to Make”; reach him @dalepd. This column was first published on the Miami Herald op-ed page Friday. 

Read past coverage of Miami Mini Maker Faire here.



January 19, 2017

Miami short-term rentals startup YouRent partners with large apartment operator



By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com 

YouRent, a national short-term vacation rental provider based in Miami, on Wednesday announced that it has formed a strategic partnership with Greystar, the largest operator of apartments in the United States. The alliance will initially add 140 units to YouRent’s offerings.

YouRent.com, founded in 2012, differs from Airbnb and other short-term rental companies in that YouRent’s platform focuses on accumulating and managing its own inventory of units, primarily in Class A, multifamily properties, through long-term and master lease agreements. This allows the company to provide a product that is standardized in quality and design, similar to that of a hotel, the company said.

In the partnership with Greystar, YouRent has also been designated an approved Greystar vendor, enabling the company to be pre-approved as a tenant in Greystar buildings on a global level as YouRent continues to grow its rental inventory.

Greystar manages more than 400,000 multifamily units in more than 160 markets internationally. YouRent’s inventory currently consists of 274 luxury units in Class A, multifamily properties in Miami, Nashville and Austin.


January 17, 2017

Small Business Spotlight: USP Motorsports owner's road to riches was slow and steady, unlike his Orange Lamborghini


By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Turbocharging and test driving some of the fastest cars on the road: Just another day at the office?

For Chris Green (pictured above), founder of USP Motorsports, it is. The 35-year-old Coral Springs small-business owner, who started the company when he was 18, will be featured this week on CNBC’s second season of “Blue Collar Millionaires: Dirty Stinkin’ Rich,” a show that celebrates America’s self-made successes.

Green grew up modestly in the South Miami area, the son of a single mom. He sold candy to make money before turning to selling $60 car speaker boxes he built himself out of the family’s garage while in high school.

“I wasn’t exactly the best student in school, put it that way,” Green said.

They moved to Broward when Green was 15, and by the time he graduated from Coconut Creek Senior High School, he had saved up $5,000 in a bubble gum jar to rent 1,200 square foot space and had incorporated USP Motorsports. The venture combined his interest in car audio with his love of fast cars, because he also taught himself how to modify a car’s computer to make more horsepower, a service he began doing for his customers, while also providing custom parts. That was his start to his road to riches. But Green says it was passion, not the pursuit of dollars, that fueled his drive to succeed.

Far from being an overnight success, Green described his entrepreneurial journey as slow and steady. In the next few years, Green began adding high-level repair services for these fast cars. “I had no schooling for this stuff — it was literally 20 hour days just doing and doing and doing,” said "Green said. Even now when he hires specialists for his shop, he is not impressed with degrees and certifications: “You have to put your time into it.”

USP Motorsports was chugging along, and Green began to make a name for himself drag racing cars around the country —even winning races with a turbocharged Volkswagen Jetta, which is still on display at his Coral Springs location. In 2008, he began putting his business on the Internet and started to see opportunities beyond being a retail grease monkey in his shop.

Today, USP Motorsports, with 20 employees, is a repair shop, bricks-and-mortar retail location for custom parts and accessories and an e-commerce business for selling car parts worldwide. The company hit its first million in annual revenues in 2008.

“By 2012, it was a $3 million company, and last year, we did $7 million, and I hope to be in the $9 million range this year,” said Green, who owns an orange Lamborghini Superleggera with the license plate “NO DEGREE.”

Green is the second South Florida business owner to be featured on “Blue Collar Millionaires” this season. Antonio Ofer Sustiel, aka The Flooring King of Fort Lauderdale, was featured Jan. 4.

Each half-hour episode explores three success stories. Green’s episode is scheduled to air on CNBC at 10 p.m. Wednesday.

South Floridians are becoming regulars on business and reality TV shows. A dozen or so entrepreneurs have appeared on ABC’s “Shark Tank” over the years, and some have been on CNBC’s “The Profit.”

On Tuesday night at 10 p.m., Luke Freeman, founder of Wizard Creations, a Fort Lauderdale marketing and promotions company that makes custom T-shirts, hats and other branded products for clients including South Florida’s professional sports teams, Carnival Cruise Lines, University of Miami, Florida International University, ADT, Boca Regional Hospital and others, will appear on an episode of CNBC’s “Billion Dollar Buyer.” “We’re an underdog fight story,” Freeman told the Sun Sentinel about the $5 million company. On the show, Freeman will try to strike a large deal with restaurant operator Landry’s. He’s sworn to secrecy about whether Wizard Creations wins the contract.


SUP-X: The StartUp Expo to host regional finals of national hardware startup competition

SUP-X: The StartUp Expo announced that it had formed a partnership with Pittsburgh based accelerator AlphaLab Gear and that it will host the Southeast Regional competition of AlphaLab Gear’s Hardware Cup, one of the country’s most prestigious startup competitions focused on hardware.   

“We can’t wait to see who they select as finalists to compete at SUP-X,” said Bob Fitts, founder and producer of SUP-X, which is held at the Broward Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, each winter.

Six teams will be chosen from online applications to give a four-minute pitch in front a panel of Hardware Cup judges at SUP-X.  Judges will have five minutes to ask questions and the teams are judged on commercial viability, team capability and demonstrated commitment.  Regional finalists receive $3,000, a free one-year SOLIDWORKS license, as well as other prizes and a chance to win a $50,000 investment from Startbot VC at the Hardware Cup National Finals in May.  

“The growth of IoT, the falling cost of sensors, and increased access to tools and resources through makerspaces like TechShop make it cheaper, faster, and easier than ever before to get a hardware startup off the ground,” said Ilana Diamond, managing director at AlphaLab Gear. "The goal of the Hardware Cup is to find and highlight the most promising hardware startups in the nation, and we can't wait to hit the road and see what talent is out there this year."

SUP-X and Fort Lauderdale join Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Boston, Washington DC, Chicago and Austin as regional Hardware Cup hosts.  

Startups interested in applying to the regional Hardware Cup competition at SUP-X may apply at http://www.alphalabgear.org/hardwarecup/

SUP-X: The StartUp Expo is March 6-7, 2017, at the Broward Convention Center.  SUP-X is a two-day, international startup and early-stage conference at the Greater Fort Lauderdale-Broward Convention Center.    The event features a special “Diversity in Entrepreneurship Forum” to address the needs of those typically under-addressed in the startup and venture capital communities.  SUP-X will also have about 18 speeches and panel discussions on topics of interest to investors and entrepreneurs alike, as well as  its own startup competition with $50,000 in cash divided among three winners.  Fifty startups from over three-dozen US cities will exhibit at SUP-X for free.  Tickets to SUP-X range from $59-$399. 

More information about SUP-X may be found at http://www.sup-x.org/ or by contacting info@sup-x.org.

There will be a free Miami kickoff event for SUP-X with a pitch contest on Jan. 26 at Building.co. More info and to register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sup-x-2017-miami-dade-kickoff-party-startup-competition-tickets-30614306214

- Submitted by SUP-X: The StartUp Expo

Read last year's Miami Herald coverage from SUP-X here.



Check out the 12 Miami finalists of the 2017 Knight Cities Challenge

A neighborhood market for Overtown, a civic innovation competition for college students and a network of mobile popup containers ready for activations are among the Miami finalists in the the third annual Knight Cities Challenge.

Chosen from a pool of more than 4.500 applicants, 144 concepts nationwide have made it to the finalist round, including 12 from Miami, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced Tuesday. The Knight Cities Challenge is a national call for ideas to make the 26 communities where Knight invests more vibrant places to live and work.

Winners, who will receive a share of up to $5 million, will be announced in the spring.

The finalists from Miami are:

95 Park by Omni Community Redevelopment Agency (submitted by Jason Walker): Giving the Omni community a place to gather by converting three blighted, vacant city blocks into a large urban park with businesses, a skate park, art installations and restaurants.

Dan Paul Park Recreation Center (submitted by Mauricio Velazquez): Transforming Dan Paul Park into an active recreation hub by installing soccer fields, bike paths and a playground.

Green Space Pop-ups by Audubon Florida (submitted by Eric Draper): Creating incentives for developers to lend private vacant land for green spaces in urban Miami-Dade.

Instant City: A micro-urban infrastructure (submitted by James Brazil): Creating a network of mobile pop-up containers to activate underused public spaces and carparks around the city.

Ludlam Days by Green Mobility Network (submitted by Mari Chael): Building momentum for the Miami Loop, a proposed 70-mile greenway, through a series of events and demonstrations.

Magic City Innovation Challenge by Venture Cafe Miami (submitted by Leigh-Ann Buchanan): Nurturing Miami’s native talent and emerging innovation ecosystem through a competition that challenges college students to solve real-world civic and business problems.

Miami Great Streets Program by Street Plans Collaborative (submitted by Anthony Garcia): Establishing a program within Miami-Dade County in partnership with local transportation nonprofit Green Mobility Network that advances low-cost, quick-build transportation and open space projects.

The MIA Market (submitted by Mauricio Velazquez): Reinvigorating Overtown while creating opportunities for residents and chefs by repurposing a vacant warehouse into a neighborhood market.

OurSchoolYards (submitted by Wifredo Fernandez): Bridging the divide between communities and their public schools by transforming underused school yards into public parks.

Rep(resentative) MIA by Engage Miami (submitted by Rob Biskupic-Knight): Breaking down barriers to civic participation by putting clear, actionable information about local elected officials directly into citizens’ hands.

WiFi Parks @ Overtown by Venture Cafe Miami (submitted by Leigh-Ann Buchanan): Bringing public Wi-Fi to parks in Overtown to improve digital access and encourage people to connect in the outdoors.

Civic Incite: Citizens Setting the Agenda (submitted by Civic Incite): Inspiring civic engagement with an online platform that tracks public meetings and legislation across cities to promote in-person engagement with local governments. Finalist in the “Multiple Cities” category.

In addition, there were two finalists from Palm Beach County: 12 for 12: Pop-up to Rent, with a plan to activate 12 empty storefront spaces as an economic catalyst for West Palm Beach, and The Tie Beam, which creates a public space parallel to the railroad tracks in downtown West Palm Beach that encourages pedestrian activity and integrates public art, transportation and urban design.

“The finalists use creativity and inventiveness to tackle community challenges and realize new opportunities, proposing ideas that are unique to their city, but also hold lessons and inspiration for civic innovators across the country,” said George Abbott, Knight Foundation director for community and national initiatives.

Last year, three Miami projects were winners: The Underline project, a linear park under the Metrorail, “Biscayne Green,” a pop-up park spearheaded by the Miami Downtown Development Authority underway now, and a civic technology user testing group. In total, they received $495,000 in funding.

Nationwide, applicants proposed a wide range of ideas, from technology to better connects local government with the public and increase voter engagement, to creating public spaces – parks, trails, pools, and even treehouses – that connect people from diverse backgrounds and contribute to economic growth. Many of the projects also address racial divides, blighted neighborhoods, and social and economic inequities.

Now in its third year, the challenge is part of a three-year, $15 million commitment that Knight Foundation launched in the fall of 2014. Since then, the Knight Cities Challenge has named 69 winning ideas. See the full list of 2017 finalists at knightcities.org.