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23 posts from February 2017

February 28, 2017

Save the dates: Join Great Miami Makeathon March 31-April 2

MANO is announcing the Great Miami Makeathon, a three-day design and prototype challenge to propel Miami’s maker community, taking place on the weekend of March 31 through April 2, 2017.

Co-organized by The Idea Center at Miami Dade College and Moonlighter, and with the generous support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and StartUp FIU, the Great Miami Makeathon encourages participants to develop functional prototypes that address the real-world needs of three of Miami’s hottest new learning and recreational spaces: the Miami Science Barge, Wynwood Yard, and the American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora. Selected designs and prototypes are expected to center around technology, sustainability and education. Winners will receive a cash prize, the opportunity to work with partner venues to turn their prototypes into reality, and prominent placement at the upcoming Maker Faire Miami on April 8 and 9, 2017 at Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus.

The Great Miami Makeathon is open to the public and its organizers encourage anyone interested in participating in the design and prototype challenge to pull together a team of no less than two and no more than five people and register via Eventbrite (link here).  

Prior to the Great Miami Makeathon, organizers will host a series of free educational workshops on design thinking, 3D printing, laser cutting, woodworking, and electronics to equip challenge participants with skills and practices required for the design and prototype process.

“Great Miami Makeathon seeks to show how the creative power of our incredible maker community can be harnessed to help local businesses and nonprofits innovate. With this event, our partner venues, whom we affectionately refer to as “the Barge, the Yard and the Cuban,” will crowdsource solutions from local makers to enhance their spaces and create more engaging and innovative user experiences for their patrons while conserving resources,” said Ric Herrero, co-founder of MANO.

MANO is a Miami-based non-profit organization dedicated to fostering inclusive, problem-solving communities through educational programs and initiatives. For more information about Great Miami Makeathon, and to register for our launch event at The Idea Center at Miami Dade College on March 27, please visit miamimakeathon.com, and follow us on Twitter via @MiamiMakeathon.

Submitted by MANO

 

 

 

 

February 26, 2017

Ironhack bootcamp gave me foundation to go all-in on building Stardom Up charity

By Lu Martinez

About six years ago, the tech bug bit me hard.

I Lu matrinez was a graduate of the University of Miami Law School and a licensed attorney. I worked as Chief Privacy Officer for Jackson Health System, where I had grown from a manager role and later became Director of Policies, Training and Education. From the outside view, my traditional career was growing. However, I realized a need to ramp up my technical abilities to better form, test, and scale ideas for new programs and innovations that I wanted to develop.  While I contemplated how to best be an intrapreneur within a large corporate setting, my long-term goal was contribute to society and help others.

In my free time, I co-founded a small, self-funded charity called Stardom Up, Inc. To accelerate my tech knowledge and apply it to Stardom Up, I enrolled in Ironhack, a bootcamp in Miami, which offers full-time and part-time courses in web development, coding, and design.  I created the initial version of StardomUp.com as my final project during the Ironhack course in the summer of 2015.

Ironhack was the glue that brought my diverse skill sets and community impact aspirations together. Once I completed my Ironhack training, and after considering multiple factors and alternatives, I left my job in 2016 and devoted myself full-time to building Stardom Up.

Stardom Up creates educational programs to support student curiosity about technology and innovation. We're currently partnered with Miami-Dade County Public Schools, via Shenandoah Middle School in Miami, to enhance the STEAM (Science, Technology, Arts, Engineering, and Math) curriculum.  As the first and only program in the region to combine an online platform with in-person learning during school hours, Stardom Up expands students’ problem solving and critical thinking abilities and engages them into Miami’s growing tech community. We help prepare young talent for an unpredictable future.

Stardom Up is currently in the "scale up" phase at Shenandoah Middle School. It’s supported by Shenandoah’s administrators and teachers, as well as volunteers from Miami’s growing tech community.  Best of all, it generates results: along with helping them in their core subjects, the students in the program - especially girls - are fascinated by technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship, and have expressed their interest in pursuing careers in technology-related fields.

Our plan is to continue to collaborate with tech leaders and innovators in the community and engage at least 10,000 middle school students within the next five years. With approximately 80,000 middle schoolers in Miami-Dade County alone, there’s a lot of young talent we hope to nurture and inspire to become tomorrow’s technologists and innovators. It begins by showing them what’s possible, and by supporting their ambitions to become the community’s future stars.

Lu Martinez is the founder of Stardom Up.

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February 25, 2017

Last weekend to sign up for Business Plan Bootcamp on Tuesday

The Miami Herald invites entrepreneurs to attend its free Business Plan Bootcamp on Tuesday, offering a lively discussion and Q&A with a panel of investor experts sharing advice on launching a startup business, formulating a winning short business summary and raising capital.

The program will be led by Melissa Krinzman, the managing partner of Krillion Ventures, a $50 million Miami-based venture capital firm that actively invests in seed and early stage technology companies, and Raul Moas, managing director of AGP Miami, an 80-member local angel investor network.

Also, three previous winners of the Business Plan Challenge will offer insights on their experiences building startups:

Tina Vidal, founder of Pooch Perks, which provides subscription dog boxes and is developing a robust corporate business.

Chris Daniels, founder of Candidate.Guru, which developed software that uses data analytics to predict whether a job candidate will be a culture fit with the employer.

Olga Granda-Scott, co-founder of The High Boy, an online marketplace for antiques and art to help other mom-and-pop shop owners compete in the digital world.

In addition, Business Plan Challenge coordinator Nancy Dahlberg will answer questions about this year’s Business Plan Challenge.

Doors open at 6 p.m.; the program begisn promptly at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 28 at Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus Auditorium, Room 1261, Building 1. Walk-ins will be accommodated as space provides.

Limited free parking is available at the Miami Dade College garage at 500 NE Second Ave., with entrances on Northeast Fifth and Sixth streets.

Register at: http://businessplanbootcamp.bpt.me.

Blacktech Weekend draws hundreds to talk about tech and capital raising, make connections

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A standing-room-only crowd piles in to hear Michael Seibel of Y-Combinator, Sarah Kunst of Proday and Angela Benton of NewME (shown below) open Blacktech Weekend at Venture Café in CIC Miami Thursday. More photos at bottom of story. Photos by Nancy Dahlberg

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By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

It was billed as an opportunity to “break bread and make bread.” Blacktech Weekend was certainly that and a whole lot more.

Black startup founders, investors, techies and community builders flew in from Silicon Valley and all over the U.S. to meet and mingle with Miami’s entrepreneurship community for talks, panel discussions, meals, bus tours, community outreach activities and parties during the event Thursday through Saturday at various locations around the city. On the main stage at the Little Haiti Cultural Center and the evening before at CIC Miami, the talk was capital raising, getting the message out, social impact and building inclusive ecosystems.

I’ve been to a lot of conferences, and the speakers usually bolt after their talks. Not at Blacktech Weekend. Each talk on stage – heavy with personal stories and advice -- came with substantial Q&A time, and the conversations continued after, in the halls, over lunch, on the buses, at the bars. Many of the speakers stayed for the entire conference.

That’s by design, said Blacktech Weekend’s founders Felecia Hatcher and Derick Pearson, who also co-founded Code Fever, an organization for inclusive coding and entrepreneurial education. The speakers list was curated and the event put together so that attendees received many opportunities to meet – and be inspired by – some of the luminaries of the industry. These are the stories that don’t get told, they said. And along the way, attendees also get their burning questions answered and, most importantly, begin building a relationship with potential investors, mentors and strategic partners.

But let’s get down to a few highlights:

“This is not a game where everyone wins. … You need to know that’s the world you are going into. I tell founders all the time, 99.9 percent chance of failure,” Michael Seibel, CEO of Silicon Valley’s Y-Combinator, one of the world’s preeminent startup accelerators, and co-founder of Justin.TV/Twitch and Socialcam, told the standing-room-only opening night crowd at Venture Café at CIC. He said in the last two years YC has funded more than 100 black and Hispanic founders.

More truths he shared: “I’ve seen every idea. Ideas are irrelevant. You are judged on execution and the number 1 way to prove that you can execute is by executing.”

Entrepreneurs succeed in fund-raising by developing leverage – by getting people to fear them as opposed to love them, he said. How to do that: Build and launch something without money. Have the right team, and there better be engineers on it, he said. And in the beginning, it’s ok if just a small group of people love your product.

“Good founders can give me a picture of the future that I can believe,” Seibel said. “And the second that I believe your version of the future, you have leverage. … I’m a little bit afraid if I don’t get behind this.”

Startups are your opportunity to change the world, but make sure you are working on a problem you really care about, he advised.

Sara Kunst, founder of Proday, and Angela Benton, founder of NewME, the first accelerator for entrepreneurs of color, got even more real: “You have to go above and beyond, and that’s the reality we are in,” said Benton, now a Miami resident who is looking to expand programming here.

The stats are sobering: Under-represented minorities in tech number in the low- to mid- single-digit percentages, and it’s about the same for senior leadership, according to statistics released last year at SXSW. Only 1 percent of VCs are black and about 1 percent of VC money goes to black founders.

Women of color who have been funded are an especially rare breed. Kunst said there are just 13 black women founders in the nation have raised a million dollars or more in venture capital.

For seed funding, if you don’t know a lot of rich people, Kunst recommends applying to accelerators, even those in obscure places such as the Midwest, because they generally provide funding. F6s.com has a good list of accelerators, she said.

Richard Kerby is vice president of Venrock, an early stage VC fund that invests in tech and healthcare companies, writing checks from $500K to $10 million. He said he listens to the founder’s vision, and then thinks, if that team can execute the vision, how will the world be impacted? If he likes the answer to that, he dives deeper into more traditional venture measures around team and product.

“As for team, I look less at your education background and look more to understand your raw intellect. I look less on your experience and more at your great market knowledge of your category. In product, I look at the value you provide to your end customer,” he said during the conference on Friday at the Little Haiti Cultural Center. For consumer products, engagement and retention is super important, he said.

Chris Christmas, founder of KeepLivin, reminded the audience that’s it’s not all about the exit.

“Everything is not about raising money and selling … Stay in your communities and grow jobs … Let’s be about economic development in our communities.”

KeepLivin  is a digital health company that aims to increase health equity in communities where health disparities exist. “Our job is to bring digital technology to the community and we are starting in barbershops, salons and churches,” he said. “We go to the streets; we meet the customers where they are at.”

For example, KeepLivin takes telemedicine to churches and to families with members in the Caribbean, so they can be seen by a board-certified physician.

KeepLivin was part of the first cohort of Startupbootcamp Digital Health in Miami, and Christmas said he found Miami to be a perfect ecosystem to grow keeplivin.org.

“Innovation is a social process, and it is one that it is fueled by conversation, collaboration, storytelling and it thrives when everybody’s included,” said Leigh-Ann Buchanan, executive director of Venture Café Miami, who led a panel discussion about inclusive ecosystems.

Leslie Miley, a returning Blacktech Week speaker who has held engineering leadership roles at Slack, Twitter, Apple and Google, said the onus is on the black community to get the positive stories out on social media platforms. “It’s about changing the narrative that is being told. .. [On social media] we should be talking about our accomplishments, talking about what we do.” Taking a page from the alt-right’s success getting its message out, he said, “Just publish information, just publish it. Link to our positive stories and have them go viral.”

Indeed, Hatcher said the reason for starting Blacktech activities was because, “We want to make sure everyone gets a seat at the table, or can build their own … table.”

Saturday brought about 40 conference goers into the streets via a bus tour of black history and innovation in Miami and others mentored youth entrepreneurs at the Overtown Youth Center. Blacktech Weekend, supported by the Knight Foundation and a number of other sponsors, was a warm-up to the main event, the third annual Blacktech Week, this year being held Sept. 25-30. If you missed the weekend event, much of the content was taped and some has been put up on social media (Refresh Miami posted Seibel’s talk on its Facebook page) and, as in the past, other talks will be released by Blacktech Week over next couple of weeks. You can catch up on the conversation at #BTWKND17.

READ MORE:

Blacktech Week receives $1.2 million in Knight funding to expand entrepreneurship programs

WLRN Q&A with Felecia Hatcher

Numbers don't lie: Silicon Valley still has a diversity problem

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Blacktech Weekend day 2 speakers at Little Haiti Cultural Center include Richard Kirby of Venrock, with Derick Pearson, above. Below, Chris Christmas of KeepLivin and panels on social media and inclusion below. Photos by Nancy Dahlberg

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February 24, 2017

Former JetSmarter exec arrested on grand theft charges

By Marcia Heroux Pounds

Former JetSmarter president and vice chairman Edward Gennady Barsky has been arrested in Fort Lauderdale and faces extradition to California where he is wanted on grand theft charges, according to Broward County Circuit Court records.

Barsky, 38, of Sunny Isles, president and vice chairman of the privately held aviation service company, resigned from JetSmarter after he was arrested Feb.16 at the Broward Financial Center, site of the company’s headquarters. 

According to a Broward Sheriff’s Office booking report, Barsky is wanted on five counts of grand theft by embezzlement. He was being sought by authorities in Contra Costa, California.

"Gennady Barsky has resigned from JetSmarter for personal reasons. The charges he faces are wholly unrelated to JetSmarter, and pre-date the founding of JetSmarter.
We will continue to revolutionize the private aviation business as the world fastest growing private jet company," Ronn Torossian, a spokesperson for JetSmarter, said in a statement.

Read the full story in the Sun Sentinel here.

 

Fintech company Nymbus raises $16 million

Nymbus, a Miami-based financial technology company, announced that investors are pouring in more capital to fuel their growth.

Nymbus, a provider of cloud-based core technology for financial institutions founded in 2015, announced it has secured a $16 million funding round led by Home Credit Group, a consumer finance provider based in the Netherlands and active in 11 countries. This round comes just six months after raising $12 million to continue its expansion plans. Nymbus also made three acquisitions last summer.

“Tens of thousands of banks and credit unions are not capitalizing on strategic growth opportunities due to outdated legacy core technology. This round of funding will allow us to strengthen our focused efforts around helping customers implement more efficient operations, more modern digital experiences and, ultimately, achieve greater growth,” said Scott Killoh, executive chairman of Nymbus.


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/technology/article134832134.html#storylink=cpy

 

February 21, 2017

#Miamitech on immigration: 'Now is not the time to shut the door."

Everymundo

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Everymundo, a fast-growing Miami tech company, was and continues to be built by immigrant talent.

That’s even reflected in its company name. Recently the Everymundo team proclaimed its message from the windows of their downtown Miami office – “We are immigrants. Everymundo.”

Today, Everymundo, which develops and licenses marketing automation software and solutions to airlines and joined the Endeavor network of high-impact Miami companies in 2015, has 54 full-time employees in Miami and 30 of them were born outside the United States. A quarter of them are working for Everymundo on professional visas, said CEO Anton Diego.

Diego was born in Moscow and raised in Havana and Spain before moving to the U.S. in high school. “My story is just another story of the fabric of Miami.” For Diego, a biography of Andy Grove, the founder of Intel who was a Hungarian immigrant who survived Nazi Germany and communism in Hungary, proudly sits on his desk. “Without immigration, Silicon Valley wouldn’t exist ... He never made excuses, he just wanted to grow a business and employ people.”

Without the visas, Diego would not be able to recruit the top talent Everymundo needs. Miami has a growing tech community and talent base but can not yet supply the levels of senior level talent these growing companies need, a sentiment echoed by Alexander Sjögren, chief technology officer at YellowPepper, a Miami-based company pioneering mobile banking and payments in Latin America. Sjögren, a Swede who lived and worked in Latin America, moved to Miami in 2012 on an H-1-B visa to work with YellowPepper. He said about 90 percent of YellowPepper’s Miami workforce is foreign-born.

Statistics bear this out. Two out of every three engineering degrees in the U.S. are granted to foreigners. Nearly half of Fortune 500 companies established in the early 2000s were established by the foreign-born.

Johanna Mikkola, the Finnish-Canadian co-founder of Wyncode, a coding education company that is also part of Endeavor, said her company would not be as successful placing their 400 graduates in junior developer jobs at tech firms without senior level talent on staff, often immigrants, that enable companies to hire, train and nurture younger local talent. recently, Wyncode announced it will be partnering with a Swedish company to grow its impact in Miami. They were part of a panel opening up a one-day Urbanism Summit that explored issues from climate change to sustainability to urban food deficits at Palm Court in the Design District on Tuesday.

“Now is not the time to shut the door,” said Ted Hutchinson, Florida organizing director for FWD.us, who moderated the event. FWD.us, which has an office in Wynwood, is a bi-partisan national advocacy organization that was started in 2013 by Silicon Valley tech titans. “FWD is committed to finding solutions to fix immigration and part of that is raising awareness of immigration and immigrants’ contributions to tech and the entire economy of Florida.”

About 54 percent of Miami area businesses are founded by immigrants, Hutchinson said, and about one in four in Florida. But behind the numbers are people.

“We’re truly about the American Dream,” said Diego. “We want to make a difference in this city. We need to be able to recruit outside the United states and look South. Some of our top developers come to the U.S., they bring their families ... and they teach junior developers their skills. The reality is that Miami today lacks AI and big data experts, these are the fields we play in. We need to find ways to them to Miami, to bring their families to Miami. They improve our world.”

And it’s for the long term, Diego said. “We want to build a company our kids will want to work in.”

READ MORE

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Wyncode coding school raises $1 million to fund growth and next phase

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Panelists from the Miami tech community talk about their need for attracting top tech talent via immigration at the Urbanism Summit in Miami on Tuesday. At top, Everymundo displayed the message "We are immigrants" in its downown office windows recently.

 

February 20, 2017

Startup Spotlight: Want the yachting life, even for a day? Miami startup will hook you up

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From left to right, YachtLife cofounders Patrick Curley and Nick Cardoza pose for the picture at River Yacht Club in Miami. Roberto Koltun rkoltun@miamiherald.com

 

Company: YachtLife Technologies

Headquarters: Miami, one of the world’s only year-round yachting destinations.

Concept: YachtLife aggregates local inventories of fully crewed luxury yachts and displays them on one platform. The YachtLife app has photos, specs and pricing for all yachts, so users can browse available inventory, and even book on the fly, without needing to speak to a broker or owner. A concierge assists when needed to plan itineraries and attend to the needs of the user to ensure a luxury, fluid and memorable experience, and at prices less than what a broker would typically charge. YachtLife gives yacht owners a direct way to list their own yachts for day or multi-day charters to offset their costs.

Story: Nicholas Cardoza, co-founder and designer of YachtLife, is vice president of the luxury yacht company VanDutch and has been involved in yachting his entire life. In 2008, Cardoza got his start working in the yachting industry as a personal chef and deckhand on mega- and super-yachts, and later obtained his captain’s license and began delivering yachts during the off-season. In 2012, Cardoza joined VanDutch and has since helped build the company’s presence as a major luxury brand.

Patrick Curley, co-founder of YachtLife, quit his job in finance in New York to start a mobile tech startup in the hospitality space and moved to Miami three years ago. When visiting, his friends would occasionally inquire about chartering a yacht, and since he had no idea how to go about chartering yachts, he would refer them to Cardoza and VanDutch would help his friends. After a number of times doing this, both Curley and Cardoza realized how the yacht charter industry was still light-years behind other industries — few websites actually list pricing, so customers need to search multiple websites and call brokers for quotes. After receiving quotes from multiple websites, customers then needed to go back to the site with the best quote and finalize all booking details over the phone.

“YachtLife has assembled a top-notch portfolio of some of the nicest yachts for charter in Miami and beyond. Since we removed the middleman and negotiated the best terms, users can now book fully crewed luxury yachts for the day, in most cases without even speaking to a broker — simply choose your yacht, pickup time, and tell us what day you’d like to go out. YachtLife usually confirms your charter within an hour,” Curley said. “The YachtLife concierge also helps with any questions before, during or after your charter.”

Today, YachtLife operates in South Florida, the Bahamas, the Hamptons, Chicago, New England, Spain, the South of France, Italy, Greece and Turkey. Prices for half-day to multi-day private yacht charters vary widely, but start at about $1,600 in Miami.

YachtLife currently lists about 250 yachts on its platform, from a 40-foot VanDutch to a 154-foot Feadship with a crew of 12 — “It’s a 6-bedroom floating mansion on the water with all the water toys you can imagine,” Curley said.

Launched: May 2015

Website and social: www.yachtlife.club; @yachtlifeapp; www.facebook.com/yachtlife.club

Management team: Patrick Curley, Nick Cardoza, Anko Mast

No. of employees: 12

Financing: VanDutch Yachts, a leading luxury yacht manufacturer, purchased a stake in YachtLife in 2016. YachtLife is raising a $1 million seed round. The gener8tor accelerator fund and a handful of angel investors have already committed half of the round.

Recent milestones reached: On Saturday, YachtLife announced it has launched a membership club, and has already attracted a Miami Heat player and other YachtLife users. Members receive discounts on yacht charters and benefits from partners, such as hotels, yacht clubs and restaurants. YachtLife recently signed a deal to act as exclusive yacht provider for the two-weekend long Fyre Festival, a music and cultural festival in April/May 2017 in a private cay in the Exumas, Bahamas; the festival is expecting 20,000 and YachtLife is the exclusive yacht provider for the festival, including yacht accommodations and tender service for VIPs. It offered a Valentine’s partnership promotion with the Standard Hotel. YachtLife recently completed the gener8tor accelerator program, which has been instrumental in helping YachtLife from a strategic and tactical perspective. The startup acquired space at the River Yacht Club on the Miami River in partnership with the VanDutch Lounge to open its own YachtLife Lounge, where users and members can enjoy yacht club amenities and benefits.

Biggest startup challenge and why: Scaling inventory and opening up new regions. Each region has cultural and legal differences, and you need to really have good on-the-round relationships with luxury yacht owners/brokers/management companies in order to negotiate favorable deals, the co-founders said.

Next steps: Campaigns to grow inventory in existing areas YachtLife services as well as partnerships with strategic hospitality and luxury brands. After fund-raising, YachtLife will hire a sales rep with group-sales experience in order to target corporations to host events on yachts.

Mentor/Investor’s view: “We are big fans of marketplace companies, in particular those with high margins and that leverage the broader trend in the sharing economy. Yachts are a perfect example of an underutilized asset, and YachtLife allows yacht owners and renters to better utilize those assets for mutual benefit. In addition, YachtLife’s exclusive partnership with VanDutch is truly unique in the industry and allows their marketplace to be seeded with the most popular yachts available,” said Troy Vosseller, co-founder of gener8tor.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

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SSS00 Spotlight News rk

YachtLife co-founders Patrick Curley, left, and Nicholas Cardoza pose for the picture at River Yacht Club in Miami.Roberto Koltun rkoltun@miamiherald.com



 

Aminta Ventures launches to support women investors, plans workshop

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By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com 

The numbers say it all. 

Women make up only about 25 percent of angel investors in general, and women received just 29 percent of angel capital sought in 2015.

It gets worse as the checks get bigger. In the venture capital world, less than 5 percent of VCs are women. Only about 3 percent of venture capital goes to companies with female CEOs, and 85 percent of funded companies have no women on the founding teams.

Aminta Ventures, a new South Florida organization aimed at educating and supporting aspiring women investors, wants to attack that gap – at least locally. The big goal: a new wave of female angel investors that will ultimately help to shape a stronger, more diverse ecosystem.

“Given the powerful role that women play in leading a myriad of business, philanthropic, and community efforts in our city, it is a natural extension to think of them playing a strong role in the progress of our entrepreneurship and innovation sector,” said Natalia Martinez-Kalinina, one of the co-founders of Aminta, in a news release. “Currently, we don’t necessarily see much parity reflected in the makeup of our local investor network so our intention is to capacitate and shepherd more women to throw their hat in the ring and join the existing momentum.”

In addition to Martinez-Kalinina, the Aminta Ventures team includes Deborah Johnson, Mary Anderson, Carolina Canida, Rosario Chozas, Julia Ford-Carther,  Nelly M. Farra and Alia Mahmoud. For their first educational event, Aminta has teamed up with Startup Angels to bring an angel investing workshop to the Cambridge Innovation Center in Miami  May 23-24. Speakers include Bethann Kassman, Go Beyond Investing; Joy Randels, New Market Partners; Pandwe Gibson, EcoTech Visions; Melissa Krinzman, Killion Ventures; and Jaclyn Baumgarten, Boatsetter.   More details are here.

The Startup Angels Workshop will provide education, strategies and tools for startup investing to investors at all levels, whether someone is writing their first $1,000 check to a crowdfunding platform or a $1 million check to a VC fund. “Miami is poised to expand its pool of investors by breaking down barriers for more women to participate,” said Leslie Jump, founder and CEO of Startup Angels.

After the workshop, the Aminta team plans to expand efforts to develop a support network for mentorship and guidance for angel investors and female-founded startups. This is not a fund, but rather a resource to help them navigate and plug into the existing ecosystem, Martinez-Kalinina said. They plan to partner with existing angel groups and investor networks in the city and the state in ongoing programming efforts, including a second workshop this year.

To learn more and buy tickets for the upcoming Startup Angels workshop, visit the event registration page at StartupAngels.com

Launch Florida initiative lifts off with 54 entrepreneurship and tech organizations

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Launch Florida, a statewide innovation coalition representing 54 organizations, announced its launch this week with a mission to foster collaboration between entrepreneurs, policymakers, business leaders, venture capitalists, philanthropists and other stakeholders in order to share knowledge and ultimately grow Florida’s innovation economy.

Launch Florida represents organizations from coding schools to universities, technology associations to startup accelerators. From South Florida members include: The LAB Miami, Building.co, SFTA, Refresh Miami, eMerge Americas, SUP-X, Ironhack, Wyncode, LaunchCode, FAU Tech Runway, Startup FIU, Research Park at FAU, Palm Beach Tech, Palm Beach Code School and the Florida institute for the Commercialization of Public Research.

“We will be the go-to resource for elected officials to help guide policy efforts supporting an innovation economy, “ said Joe Russo, executive director of the Palm Beach Tech Association and Launch Florida co-chair. 

By at least one measure, Florida has a lot of work to do if it wants to join the ranks of innovation powerhouse states. The Sunshine State ranked 34th out of 50 in The Bloomberg U.S. Innovation Index.

The organization will gather during the Launch Florida Summit May 18-19 in Orlando, coinciding with the Florida Venture Forum’s Early Stage Capital Conference. Learn more at LaunchFlorida.org