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23 posts from May 2017

May 31, 2017

Q&A with Xavier Gonzalez: What's in store for eMerge Americas and Miami tech?

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com Xavier Gonzalez

When eMerge Americas’ team was planning the inaugural homegrown technology conference in 2014, the executives scribbled a list of dream speakers on a white board. It contained names of top technology and business leaders, both from the U.S. and Latin America, people like Steve Wozniak, Uri Levine, Marcelo Claure and Gustavo Cisneros.

As eMerge Americas heads into its fourth year, those big names representing Apple, Waze, Sprint and the Cisneros Group and others, including Magic Leap’s Rony Abovitz and perennial crowd favorite Pitbull, are on the 2017 eMerge Americas agenda, which was released last week. “These are world-class speakers that are recognized across the globe for their leadership, vision and success. We’re very excited about our speaker lineup this year, not just because of these luminaries but also because of the 100 additional speakers our attendees will see over the two days of the event,” said CEO Xavier Gonzalez.

With a mission of promoting South Florida as a hub of the Americas for technology, eMerge Americas is a startup itself. Founded by tech pioneer Manny Medina, the annual conference launched in 2014, attracting about 6,000 attendees from 30 countries, and grew to 13,000 attendees last year. With Medina launching Cyxtera, a major data center and cybersecurity company, in Miami this year, Gonzalez and Melissa Medina, eMerge’s vice president, have taken on strategic leadership roles as well as the day to day operations. Gonzalez has been part of eMerge’s executive team since day 1, and became CEO in late 2015.

The Miami Herald talked with Gonzalez about the evolution of the conference and the technology ecosystem as well as plans for this year’s conference June 12-13 at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Here are excerpts of his remarks.

Q. In your view, what have been the most positive developments in the past year in terms of Miami ecosystem building?

A. The most positive developments have really been around the investments and company building we’ve seen in the market over the last six or seven months. With so many rounds of funding that have been significant — $10 million-plus — in addition to the acquisition of Chewy.com for $3 billion just recently, that tells me that all the work the entire community has been doing to develop and grow an entrepreneurial ecosystem, is starting to pay big dividends in a short amount of time. Add to that the creation of a global cybersecurity company, Cyxtera Technologies, right here in Miami, and there’s something very significant happening in terms of making headway on the global scene.

Q. And the biggest challenges?

A. There are the usual suspects in this category — funding and talent. But in my view we’re making good progress across all the areas that are challenging today. One thing that we as an ecosystem must have is patience. I always say we’re still very early on in the development of Miami as a tech hub. We’ve made huge strides, but there’s still much to do and we must have a level of patience to allow the various programs and initiatives to bear fruit. And we must also have the patience for our ecosystem to develop in its own way and build its own identity.

Q. In many ways, it seems to me," eMerge Americas is a startup that mirrors the development of the Miami ecosystem as a startup. Do you agree with that?

A. We are absolutely a startup that has evolved in lock step with the ecosystem. If you look back to when we hosted our first event, many of the major success stories that we talk about today were either at their infancy or hadn’t even been fully fleshed out yet. And we owe a great deal of the success of eMerge Americas to how much Miami has developed over the last five years and how much interest it has drawn across the globe. Our ecosystem is delivering on the promise that we promoted from the very beginning, which is a place where entrepreneurs and large technology companies focused on the Latin American market can connect with leaders from across the region, as well as those in the U.S. and European markets.

Q. Looking into your crystal ball, what will it take for the ecosystem to hit that critical inflection point?

A. Time. With the major successes we’re seeing like Modernizing Medicine, Chewy.com and Cyxtera — not to mention the massive potential impact of Magic Leap – we are poised to have a number of very large, global technology companies based in this ecosystem. That’s in addition to all the innovative companies that are growing here like Kairos and Nearpod. These companies and many others will continue to grow, innovate and attract talent from all over the world. That talent will develop new companies and bring even more interest from investors. Like I said before, I firmly believe we’re just at the beginning of the maturation of Miami’s technology sector.

Q. When you think of the Miami ecosystem, what’s the first word that comes to mind?

A. Unique. There are very specific characteristics and circumstances that are leading Miami to grow as a technology hub that doesn’t mirror any other in the world. Some of that has to do with the benefits our community has traditionally enjoyed — access to global markets, connection to Latin America, a multicultural city, great place to live and work — and some of it has to do with the incredible developments and energy surrounding our community in the last five years. Miami has truly matured as a global city, and our technology ecosystem will have a very unique position on the global scene that plays off that maturation.

Q. Local universities have always had a big presence at eMerge, particularly last year. Will that continue and what might we expect to see from them this year?

A. We’re always excited to see what innovative technologies and leading-edge research the universities will display at eMerge Americas. This year we’re fortunate to have the continued support of the University of Miami, Florida International University, Miami Dade College, Nova Southeastern University and Florida Atlantic University. We also are excited to have the University of Florida, Columbia University, and Babson College participating, as well as the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey from Mexico.

Q. I know they are all your babies but I’m going to force you to be selective. What are five speakers, exhibits or eMerge events not to be missed?

A. I’m going to cheat a little on this one. From a content perspective, we’re receiving a tremendous amount of interest for the keynotes in general — Steve Wozniak, Uri Levine, Marcelo Claure, Gustavo and Adriana Cisneros, Manny Medina, Blanca Trevino, Mauricio Ramos, Claudio Muruzabal, and, of course, Suze Orman and Armando Christian Perez, a k a Pitbull. On the exhibit floor we’re very excited about what Cyxtera Technologies will be showcasing in what’s their coming out party, as well as what Miami-Dade County will be featuring with their technology partners. The Startups Showcase will have another tremendous set of companies showing off very innovative technologies, including a number of companies from throughout Latin America and a strong contingent from our ecosystem. Based on the attendees we have registered, there’s going to be a very strong group of C-level executives from across Latin America, the United States and Europe, so the networking will be at another level this year. Finally, the networking events we offer on Sunday night always result in a good time for our attendees while they meet leaders from around the world.

[READ MORE: Done Deal: Medina Capital, BC Parttners form Cyxtera Technologies in $2.8B transaction]

Q. Any lessons learned last year that resulted in changes in the conference itself that we will see?

A. One of the elements of eMerge Americas that’s critical to the continued success of the event and our impact on the ecosystem is the networking events. we organize around eMerge Americas." So this year we decided to expand the reach of the networking opportunities to all of our attendees through a happy hour inside the convention center on Monday, June 12. This allows the thousands of attendees to connect right inside the convention center after all the keynotes and panel discussions are completed.

Q. What trends did you see in the Startup Showcase applicants and the ones that you selected?

A. One thing we’ve seen every year with the Startup Showcase is that the companies applying to participate are more and more sophisticated. This year in particular we’re seeing more later-stage companies than ever before, as well as a strong representation of companies from Latin America. One other trend we’ve noticed is that there are always a good number of South Florida-based companies that apply, but their level of success and quality has continued to improve on a yearly basis.

[To see the list of startups selected for the 2017 Showcase, go here: emergeamericas.com/startups]

Q. I don’t think most people know about all the ways you’ve been engaging startups, either through the showcase or in other ways. Tell us about some of those.

A. There are a few things we do to help support and engage entrepreneurs in Miami and Latin America. Throughout the year we host different small startup competitions throughout our main target markets in Latin America and in Miami with partners. The goal is to identify top startups that will have the opportunity to participate in the eMerge Americas Startup Showcase. For all the companies that are selected for the Startup Showcase, we partner with Visa and Venture Hive to provide the entrepreneurs with a monthlong virtual boot camp program and a full day of sessions at Venture Hive’s building in downtown Miami. The thinking is that we are able to provide significant value to all the entrepreneurs selected to participate in the showcase regardless of whether they win the overall competition.

[READ MORE: Upcoming eMerge Americas Hackathon dangles cash prizes and a meet-and-greet with Steve Wozniak]

Q. When we are talking in 2024, eMerge’s 10-year anniversary, what will we be talking about? What do you hope eMerge will look like then?

A. At the 10-year mark, eMerge Americas will serve as the anchor for a week-long series of events celebrating innovation in one of the globe’s top technology hubs and the strength of a robust technology sector in Latin America. eMerge will draw tens of thousands of attendees and be widely recognized as the world’s top event for innovators, government leaders and top technology executives looking to connect across Latin America, the United States and Europe. In 2024, we’ll also be talking about various Miami-based technology companies that are having great success, growing their employment opportunities, securing significant amounts of investment from private equity investors and venture capitalists with offices in Miami, and spawning a new set of technology companies that will grow in our community into 2034 and beyond.

Nancy Dahlberg: @ndahlberg

Xavier Gonzalez

Age: 36

Title: CEO, eMerge Americas

Previous positions: Vice president and director of corporate communications for Terremark Worldwide, 2007-12; director of marketing and communications for Beacon Council, 2003-07.

Community involvement: Board member for the Greater Miami Chamber, Miami-Dade Beacon Council and Camillus House; serves on Orange Bowl Committee; recent graduate of Leadership Florida.

Education: Bachelor’s in Journalism, Master’s in Mass Communications, University of Florida; Belen Jesuit Prep.

Books he recommends: “Shoe Dog;” “An Unfinished Life;” “Who Stole the American Dream?”

eMerge Americas

About the conference: eMerge Americas will be June 12-13 at Miami Beach Convention Center. More information and where to buy tickets: www.emergeamericas.com

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Blackstone invests in Broward tech startup Entic

Entic

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@MiamiHerald.com

When a satisfied customer becomes an investor, that’s a good day for any early-stage company — especially when that customer is a giant private equity firm.

Entic, a South Florida technology company that helps commercial building owners save energy, announced Wednesday that it has received a strategic investment from Blackstone.

Blackstone has used Entic’s technology to provide operational efficiency and energy savings at several buildings owned by the firm’s real estate funds, including Park Avenue Tower in midtown Manhattan and the Howard Hughes Center in Los Angeles. “We’ve closely followed Entic’s track record for some time as part of a search for a best-in-class energy analytics platform,” said Don Anderson, executive director for Blackstone.

Entic CEO Carlos Diaz said the investment will help accelerate six-year-old Entic’s growth plans. Blackstone will also provide the company support and expertise from Blackstone’s Real Estate and Innovations teams. Before the deal with Blackstone, Entic had attracted about $13 million in investments and provided services to about 65 properties, according to the Wall Street Journal. Terms of the investment were not disclosed.

“Blackstone’s investment and decision to deploy our technology are together a major recognition of our success in reducing energy waste and increasing operational performance in commercial buildings,” said Diaz, a seasoned software architect who co-founded the company with Manuel Rosendo, an HVAC industry veteran (pictured above).

Entic, headquartered in Pembroke Pines with more than 45 employees, uses real-time data analysis of major energy-consuming systems to provide prescriptions for improving building operations. Its longtime customers include Marlins Park and the Diplomat Resort & Spa.

 

May 28, 2017

How to be selected for cohort 3 at StartUP FIU

Startupfiu

Pitch Day for StartUP FIU's Cohort 2

By Robert Hacker

StartUP FIU has just opened applications for the third cohort of its Empower Accelerator. The first two cohorts each received over 150 applications and we expect the same number by the June 11 deadline. The new cohort will begin the formal 14-week accelerator program in September and there is no cost or equity position given to participate. The program is open to both social and traditional entrepreneurs and their early stage companies.

The question we are most frequently asked is how can I improve the chances of being selected for the StartUP FIU accelerator.

 Coachability

We have interviewed over 90 applicants, worked with another 60 entrepreneurs that did not necessarily apply and advised the 39 teams comprising Cohorts I and II. The first thing all our staff are trained to look for is coachability--can the entrepreneur listen to critical feedback, thoughtfully consider it and make a reasoned adjustment. Every team in the program is assigned at least one mentor and these seasoned entrepreneurs are a critical success factor in incubators and accelerators worldwide. If the entrepreneur is not able to demonstrate they can take critical feedback from mentors and staff, their likelihood of commercial success and acceptance to the program is much lower.

 Problem Validation

Everyone who applies to Empower has a concept for a new business. Many applicants have a prototype or a beta, particularly the engineers. Surprisingly few have talked to potential customers about their problem, pain or need. After coachability, the next characteristic we look for is a demonstration of customer knowledge gained in the market. Of course, the best demonstration of customer knowledge may be revenue.

 Uniqueness

Competitive advantage, barriers to entry, what Warren Buffet calls moats--these are all descriptions of the same factors that can create value for customers and particularly shareholders. Perhaps the simplest way to demonstrate uniqueness is to describe the founder’s insight about the customer or problem that the company is addressing. Another effective technique is to describe the technology and simply describe how it is proprietary.

 Team

Entrepreneurship is the epitome of a team endeavor, hopefully beginning with co-founders and then building out the minimally necessary technical and management team. In our experience, companies with a team already established get more benefit out of the program and make more progress.

As we progress with the Empower Accelerator, we encounter an insatiable demand for all aspects of the entrepreneurship experience.  We are excited to be a part of Miami’s entrepreneurial support network and will continue to iterate to be able to offer different services for the multiple needs of the community and FIU.

Robert Hacker is the Director of StartUP FIU and teaches social entrepreneurship at FIU, MIT and UM. He is the former CFO of One Laptop per Child and prior to that built a publicly traded billion-dollar company in seven years in Indonesia. His books on entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship are available on Amazon.

 

May 27, 2017

Calling all Miami area creators: WeWork holding regional contest awarding $1.5M+ in grants open to all

Wework%20lincoln%20road

The way we work is changing and WeWork believes that the way we recognize and reward work must change too. Miami entrepreneurs, SMBs, non-profits, artists or anyone with a great idea are eligible to compete for a grant from the $1.5 million-plus prize pool available at the Creator Awards South Regional Finals in Austin over June 27. But hurry, the application deadline is June 12.

What's exciting about the opportunity is that it's open to everyone (WeWork members, non-members, all industries, all stages, even folks who may just have a good idea) and that beyond the financial awards there will be a full day of public programming in Austin. This is the first year of what will become an annual program. 

Grants from $18,000 to $360,000 will be awarded in three categories: Incubate (ideas or projects); Launch (startups and nonprofits that have launched but still learning); and Scale (a record of success, ready for next level).  

Winners have ranged from a nonprofit teaching tech skills to low income individuals, to a new coalition of journalists who improve care for Alzheimers patients by writing their life stories, to a new trading platform for sustainable agriculture. (See photo from Washington DC regional event below)

"WeWork wants to honor all types of creators from entrepreneurs to artists to nonprofits. There are incredible things happening and big ideas being born in Miami every day,” said Adam Wacenski, WeWork’s General Manager for the South. “The Creator Awards is a new opportunity to share their ideas, connect with other creators and hopefully win a grant that can make a real difference in their work and in their life."

Here are the details:

WHAT: Entries are now open for the Creator Awards, a new global initiative from WeWork that will award $20 million-plus to entrepreneurs who are thinking in new ways, building fresh projects and achieving real change across all industries.

Miami applicants are eligible to compete for $1.5 million-plus at the Austin Regional Finals on June 26 and 27 and have the opportunity to advance to the Creator Awards Global Finals in New York in November where additional prizes will be awarded.

WHO: WeWork, a global platform for creators with 140+ locations including Miami, Miami Beach, Dallas, Austin, Atlanta and coming soon to Houston, Nashville and Kansas City

WHERE: Residents of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia

WHEN: Application Deadline: June 12

Creator Awards South Regional Finals: June 27

In addition to financial awards, the South Regional Finals brings together everything it takes to make a life, not just a living. The public event will include a pop-up market with local sellers, a series of master classes and workshops, a job fair as well as live pitches and an awards ceremony and celebration.

HOW: To apply or to nominate others: https://creatorawards.wework.com/

Wework Creator Awards DC-366_Credit WeWork

Photo taken at a WeWork Creator Awards regional finals event in Washington DC. Photo provided by WeWork. 

 

May 26, 2017

Collaboration, community support key in successful Startup Weekend Education: And the winners are ...

SWEDU

By Kiesha Moodie

And the winners are….

MoodieThis past weekend, a collaborative effort between TechStars, Teach For America, StartUP FIU, FIU Office of Engagement and FIU’s School of Computing and Engineering hosted the 2nd annual Startup Weekend Education edition. This year's theme will be "Creating solutions to improve equity in education." The 54-hour event brought together over 50 passionate educators, students, technologists, lawyers, advocates and entrepreneurs to design new solutions that attacked inequities in education. The weekend was made possible by the generous support of Knight Foundation and led by co-organizers Kiesha Moodie of Teach For America, Caryn Lavernia of FIU Office of Engagement and Wifredo Fernandez of StartUP FIU.

On Friday night, 39 different ideas were pitched, and a final nine were voted most popular and teams formed around them. Throughout Saturday and most of Sunday, these diverse teams, some led by middle schoolers like Nichole Ruiz from Dr. Rolando Espinosa K-8 Center and high schoolers Avery Rafilovich and Garret Goodman from Western High in Davie.

On Saturday, teams were coached up by local entrepreneurs, tech community leaders, and education specialists. A big thank you to Daniela Cadena and Giselle LaTorre from StartUP FIU, Juan Lopez Salaberry from MentorDay, Matt Mawhinney from LaunchCode, Willie Avendano from Zero1, Brian Brackeen of Kairos, Gianfranco Colombi of Goddard Robotics, Bailey Farrell of Ransom Everglades School and Leandria Vickers of FIU.

The final ideas were:

  • HustleSprouts: an educational program to fight food injustice by empowering students as food entrepreneurs while activating underutilized school gardens.
  • StandOutBio: A digital professional platform for high school and college students, designed by and for Generation Z.
  • IntelliDesk: Making it easy for students to give teachers feedback on their lessons while encouraging quiet students to ask questions privately.
  • FitMental: Tackling the bullying problem in schools through evidence-based curriculum, games and wearable devices that make schools safer.
  • BillTrax: a mobile-first bill tracker designed for teachers and first-time voters
  • iHav: an artistic contest platform to raise awareness for refugees
  • CashFlow: an online financial literacy gaming and simulation tool, with ability to open real accounts
  • myIEP: a tool to help teachers, counselors, and parents easily track and manage student Individual Education Plans
  • Votty: a college-advisor chat bot produced by the Viery Academy team (did not pitch)

On Sunday evening, an esteemed panel of judges had the fun but challenging task of evaluating the viability and promise of the newly formed startups. Diana Santangelo, Director of Education at United Way of Miami-Dade was astonished at how much progress had been made in the short weekend sprint, saying “I thought these teams had been working for weeks!” Provost and Executive Vice President of FIU Dr. Kenneth Furton added: “It was great to see FIU faculty, Ph.D., and undergraduate students ideating alongside diverse stakeholders from the education community.” Dr. Lupe Diaz, Executive Director of Career Technical Education, was “excited to continue conversations with runner-up HustleSprouts,” a team of educators based out of her own Turner Tech. Maxeme Tuchman, CEO of Caribu and veteran educator, said of the winner ‘myIEP’, “if I could write a check right now to see them take the idea further, I would.”

Thankfully, the road does not end here for the teams. Cambridge Innovation Center has offered the top three teams co-working space to continue working on their ideas.

SWEDUmyIEP.FirstPlace

Winner ‘myIEP’ (pictured above) will be granted 3-months of membership as part of CIC’s Operation Launch Program.

SWEDUHustleSprouts.SecondPlace

2nd and 3rd Place HustleSprouts (pictured above) and StandOutBio (pictured below) will each be granted one month of membership.

SWEDUStandOutBioThirdPlace

The five ‘myIEP’ team members will also be heading to South by Southwest Education next year, courtesy of the conference producers and Teach For America Miami-Dade.

Stay tuned for what is in store for our teams as they continue to launch equitable ventures that positively disrupt education.

Kiesha Moodie is an architect of strategic solutions, a community engagement specialist, and a committed advocate for equity. She was one of the co-organizers for Startup Weekend EDU Miami. Follow her on Twitter @kieshamoodie 

May 24, 2017

In the battle of incumbents and insurgents, collaboration and inclusion will set Miami innovators apart

Gmcc3

By Saif Y. Ishoof 

Saif"Social infrastructure enables Innovation & Disruption"---Ime Archibong, vice president, Partnerships, Facebook. This was the resounding message and charge from our opening keynote at Innovate Miami (pictured above).

Startup companies are known as the insurgents, competing against established incumbents that include corporations, government and institutions. A battle of institutions versus innovators becomes a zero-sum game. 

We know that the forces of Disruption don't have to be negative; collaboration and inclusion can bring benefits to our economy as a whole. We can make this happen in the 305.

That was the theme of the first ever “Innovate Miami: A Catalyst for Disruption Summit” hosted by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Disruption Workgroup.  The Disruption Workgroup was created as part of the vision of GMCC chair and president of FIU, Mark B. Rosenberg, to create collisions between established businesses and the innovators that call Miami home: across a wide range of sectors represented by our Technology, Resilience, Innovation/Entrepreneurship & Sharing Economy committees. 

Our convening provided a space for connections to evolve between innovators, legacy businesses, startups, students, and civic leaders, and allowed experts and upstarts to share their knowledge and insight.

The objective:  To prompt people to think about what market forces are driving disruption across a wide range of sectors and to harness the winds of disruption to drive impact in their respective sectors.

The main attraction of the event was Ime Archibong, the vice president for Partnerships at the king disruptor, Facebook. Archibong touched upon several points: using technology as a means to creating higher quality human interactions and not a mere end, in and of itself; how Facebook (now an incumbent) is working with local developers across the world to help develop their products; and some of Facebook’s newest endeavors including global connectivity, Oculus, artificial intelligence and Facebook at Work.

Afterwards, Archibong sat down with a group of 30 students from Miami Edison Senior High School, to talk about the work Facebook is doing with preparing the younger generation for tech, and how they could use the platform for their benefit. Some students asked about opportunities to be involved with Facebook, and others asked how they could use the platform for some of the initiatives they had formed, including a nonprofit that one student has already launched.

Our lunch was keynoted by one of Miami’s greatest innovators, Felecia Hatcher, founder of Black Tech Week and Code Fever. Hatcher has made it her mission to include historically under-represented communities in the innovation ecosystem. Her talk was centered around the idea that Miami can set itself apart as a mecca for innovators if it finds a way to authentically bring together the incumbents and insurgents. This will allow innovation accelerators to thrive here. The hard part: finding ways to include our entire population in our efforts and making sure that all of Miami has the same opportunities to participate.  

Overall, the message that resonated throughout the entire day was that collaboration is essential for the rise of Miami as a global and forward thinking city.

In Hatcher’s own words: “If your dream doesn’t include anyone else, it isn’t big enough.”

Saif Y. Ishoof is Chair of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Disruption Workgroup and Vice President for Engagement for Florida International University.

Gmcc4

The inaugural Innovate Miami: A Catalyst for Disruption Summit was hosted by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Disruption Workgroup. Photos were provided by the chamber workgroup. 

In connection with the Summit, the Chamber announced its Technology Companies of the Year awards. Here are the winners:

Best Use of Technology: Tesser Health

Disruptive Technology  Sensus Healthcare

Innovative Technology: Cybraics

Female Leader in Technology: Max Tuchman

Technology Entrepreneur of the Year: Chris Stegner

 

May 23, 2017

FAU Tech Runway selects 5th accelerator class

Fau

Florida Atlantic University’s Tech Runway has selected its fifth and largest Venture class of startup and early-stage companies to participate in its business accelerator program.

This year, four companies will receive a $25,000 non-equity grant, participate in a 16-week intensive boot camp, engage in a rigorous year-long mentoring program with a team of five accomplished business mentors, and will be provided a workspace for one year. The four companies are:

·    Videopura LLC is a video services company with patent-pending technologies to reduce the bandwidth necessary for video services.

·      Tap2Open LLC is a secure, convenient, and easy way for residents and guests to gain access to gated communities via smart devices. Tap2Open allows residents and invited guests enter a gated community or secured door at the push of a button on their smart phone or device.

·  Ridgeback Network Defense Inc. delivers enterprise network security by turning the tables on hackers, dynamically counter-engaging the adversary, causing them to absorb the expense of attack and eliminating them as a threat.

·      Hubspring Health is an innovative software company founded by physicians focused on solving several of the chronic problems plaguing our industry. Hubspring provides a cure for these chronic conditions and enables healthcare organizations to embrace the future with its innovative and powerfully flexible platform, The Hub.

In addition, 16 more companies were awarded based on various tracks including, community, student and faculty. This will give them many of the same benefits as the prior four companies, minus the $25,000 grant. Six companies are still in the process of being selected and confirmed, however, the 11 companies already identified are: Two Degrees Inc.; ScaleWize; Land of Zorth; WAHspace; Bacon Boxes; SlideMap; PAPER; STAX; Gaming Frog; MMP Biopharma Inc.; and PQSecure Technologies LLC.

“A record number of companies entered the 2017 FAU Tech Runway Launch Competition. They significantly raised the bar, in terms of their quality and breadth represented,” said Rhys L. Williams, associate vice president for research and the managing director for FAU Tech Runway. “Consequently, this year’s winning Venture Class will be expanded by 50 percent to 21 companies.  After they complete our year-long program, many of these companies will no doubt make a profound impact upon the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

Under the purview of the FAU Division of Research, Tech Runway is a public-private partnership formed to foster technology start-ups and early-stage companies. Since its inception in late 2014, 205 jobs and 76 internships have been created; 39 FAU students have been employed; 136 corporate partnerships have been created; more than $8 million in revenue has been earned; and more than $19 million investment capital has been raised.

“FAU Tech Runway serves as a core entrepreneurship hub for Florida Atlantic University and as a key resource for the regional technology eco-system,” said Daniel C. Flynn, FAU’s vice president for research. “As the program matures, it will continue to launch thriving, innovative companies that are ready for their next stage of growth, contributing to the university and the state’s economic vitality.”

For more information on FAU Tech Runway, visit techrunway.fau.edu.

- Submitted by FAU Tech Runway

 

May 22, 2017

NFTE high school entrepreneurs headed to national competition

Ashley

The student winner of the 2017 NFTE South Florida Entrepreneurship Challenge owned the stage during her presentation in front of hundreds of people. She executed her pitch so perfectly, she didn't even need the cute cameo role her little sister provided (though it didn't hurt.)

That was Coral Gables Senior High School student Ashley Bellinger (pictured above), who won first place in the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship South Florida Regional Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge last week.  Hialeah Gardens Senior High School students Manny Mollinedo and Danny Martinez placed second. They will represent the South Florida Region at the NFTE 2017 National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge in October in New York City where they will present and defend their business plans to compete for prizes totaling $20,000. 

Ashley  won $1,500 for her plan for Amber Ash, her t-shirt fashion company that celebrates diversity and individualism; her little sister modeled one of Ashley's designs during the presentation.  Manny and Danny  created Fresh Fit and won $1,000.  These students presented their plan for a company which creates and distributes liners for fitness shaker bottles. Jacqueesha Jones from Miami Northwestern Senior High School who presented her plan for The Brownie Factory, an organization that sells brownies to raise college scholarship funds for low-income students, was the third place finalist, receiving a prize of $500. 

 “NFTE activates the entrepreneurial mindset and builds startup skills in youth both to ensure their long-term success and a more vibrant economy and society,” says Shawn Osborne, NFTE President and CEO.  “Youth today are not prepared for the jobs of today or to create and fill the jobs of tomorrow.  Many of the high-growth jobs of today barely existed a decade ago and the jobs of the future likely do not exist today.  The entrepreneurial mindset is therefore key to success for any young person who wants to be ready for a fast-changing future.”            

The teens demonstrated their command of the entrepreneurial mindset, the way entrepreneurs recognize opportunities and overcome challenges.  Young people presented and defended their business plans before a prestigious panel of judges and an audience of key business and school leaders. All the finalists received mentoring before they competed, and the student winners will receive more mentoring before competing in New York this fall.

The judges for the South Florida regional competition were: Chris Caines, Miami Program Associate, Knight Foundation; Ralph Campbell, Managing Partner, 4D Associates; Ana Karina Felix, Senior Vice President, CCAR LATAM, Citi; Erik Pupo, Managing Director, Accenture; Dr. Stephanie Scott, Director of Research & Evaluation, United Way of Broward County, and Stephanie Sylvestre, Chief Programs Officer/Chief Information Officer, The Children’s Trust.

NFTE Regional Youth Entrepreneurship Challenges will take place in cities across the country supported by Microsoft and the Citi Foundation as part of its Pathways to Progress global expansion to prepare urban youth for today’s competitive job market.  Additional support for the South Florida Challenge was provided by Mastercard, along with Bank of America, Celebrity Cruises, EY, Royal Caribbean, and Santander. The South Florida regional competition was held on May 18 at Briza on the Bay in Miami.

Also part of the May 18 event was a fast-pitch contest involving about 10 students. Each gave a one-minute pitch and the audience voted.   And the winner of the fast-pitch was ... middle-school student Jonathan Jeancharles for his pitch for Extra Learning XL. Jonathan was a fan favorite for sure. Before the student fast-pitch competition started, the students networked with the audience and wore nametags that said "Ask me to pitch." Jonathan was an aggressive networker -- he didn't wait to be asked to tell us about his business idea.

The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) is an international nonprofit that activates the entrepreneurial mindset in young people and builds their knowledge about business startup. Students acquire the entrepreneurial mindset (e.g., innovation, self-reliance, comfort with risk), alongside business, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), and presentation skills—equipping them to drive their best futures in the 21st Century. NFTE focuses its work on under-resourced communities, with programs in 22 locations in 9 countries. In South Florida, thousands of students across 38 schools are enrolled in the NFTE program. This was the final event of the school year, although some of the students will be participating in NFTE summer programs.

Congratulations to the South Florida teen winners!

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First place winner Amber Ash.

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Second Place winners Fresh Fit.

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Third Place winner: The Brownie Factory.

 

The LAB Miami to host corporate venture and growth hacking events

CVCLOGO


Join The LAB Miami for “Miami: Masters of Corporate Venture Capital (CVC)” hosted by Rubicon Venture Capital on Wednesday.

The event will feature a moderated panel discussion with leading companies who have received CVC funding plus time for networking, drinks and hors d'oeuvres. CVC is more important than ever with 1 out of 5 venture financings including at least 1 CVC.

The ticket  includes 1 copy of Romans' new book. Find it and review on: Amazon.com and on Kindle.

Purchase tickets at: goo.gl/WtcNTP

GrowthHackingSummitLOGO

On June 14th, join Miami's first Growth Hacking Summit.

Learn to growth hack your business from every angle. Participants from companies of any size, from start-ups to large corporations, will have the opportunity to learn actionable solutions they can implement to drive sustainable revenue growth for their business. Digital disruption has brought an entirely new toolkit of non-traditional Sales/Marketing tactics and “hacks”. Pioneers in this field will share their secrets, including specific and proven strategies that any commercial minded executive should know to be able to compete in today’s marketplace.Speakers include growth experts from Amazon.com, Discovery, ESPN, Growth.ly, and many more. 

At Miami Growth Hacking Summit you will learn actionable solutions that you can immediately apply when you get back to your office.

Purchase tickets at: goo.gl/wlTCGl

 

Florida Early Stage Capital Conference: And the winners are ...

SiteZeus  Tampa - First Place $75 000

The Florida Venture Forum and Space Florida announced the three top winners of the 10th Annual 2017 Florida Early Stage Capital Conference and Space Florida’s Accelerating Innovation prize, held at the Omni ChampionsGate in Orlando on May 19.  A total of 22 Florida-based companies from across the state and a variety of industry sectors were selected to present before an audience of investors, deal professionals and entrepreneurs. Ten startups from South Florida participated.

A panel of judges reviewed each selected company’s presentation and supporting materials. The top three cash prize winners were:

First Place $75,000 - SiteZeus, Tampa (www.sitezeus.com), pictured above, the new evolution in location intelligence, driven by exceptionally engineered big data systems and unparalleled data visualization technology.

Second Place $50,000 -  Auxadyne, Keystone Heights (www.auxadyne.com) has an exclusive licensing agreement with FSU for the design, manufacture and distribution of the first commercially available auxetic foam in a variety of medical device and protective equipment applications.

Third Place $25,000 - Admiral, Gainesville (www.getadmiral.com) offers an advanced adblock analytics and automatic revenue recovery. They provide a multi-faceted platform that enables publishers to size and solve the unique adblock problem presented by their unique userbase.

The 22 presenting companies were selected from a statewide pool of more than 130 applicants by a committee of active Florida venture capitalists and other investors. Space Florida provided the Accelerating Innovation prize money totaling $150,000.

“The Forum’s Early Stage Capital Conference set a few important records in 2017: our largest-ever number of applicants, record overall attendance and the largest investor attendance in the event’s 10-year history,” said Kevin Burgoyne, President and CEO of the Florida Venture Forum. “We take these milestones as very positive indicators of an increasingly robust and well-rounded early stage ecosystem. We congratulate our winning companies, and thank Space Florida for their strong support.”

In conjunction with the 2017 Early Stage Capital Conference, The Florida Venture Forum  also announced the three winners of the 7th Annual 2017 Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition, also held on May 19. A total of 13 universities from a cross section of Florida brought their top students to compete for best in the state. The top three winners were:

 Winner: Sensatek Propulsion Technologies, Reamonn Soto - Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Fort Lauderdale

First Runner Up: Logentix LLC, Randy Lopez - Florida Polytechnic University, Lakeland

Second Runner Up: Spared, Ryan Lockwood - University of Tampa