September 07, 2015

Startup Spotlight: Moonlighter Makerspace


Company: Moonlighter Makerspace

Headquarters: 2041 NW First Place, Miami

Concept: Moonlighter is a membership-based makerspace for creative collaboration, personal manufacturing and engaging in the design process. Moonlighter features and supports local designers, artists and creators and aspires to engage the communities with fun and educational STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts and Mathematics) experiences that foster the growing maker movement.

Story: After co-founders Tom Pupo and Daisy Nodal graduated with a master’s in architecture, they realized that there wasn’t a place in Miami equipped with the same technologies they were used to using on a daily basis for design projects. After doing some research, they found that this need was unfulfilled for a range of different user groups, including artists, designers, engineers, entrepreneurs, professional firms and hobbyists.

They visited various makerspaces around the country and in Europe to see how these new organizations were fulfilling this need for their communities and realized it was becoming a global phenomenon. “We bootstrapped for a year, bought our first two 3-D printers and hosted a series of maker workshops around the city. Each one was booked over capacity, and we found that there was a huge demand for a place where one can come and create anything with the high-tech machines needed to do so,” Pupo said. The team also entered the 2014 Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge (they were finalists) and participated in the Miami Mini Maker Fair, MDC MOA+D Bazaar Bar, Miami Science Museum’s Innovation + Engineering Weekend, BritCode for Britweek Miami, Art Basel, eMerge Americas and other events that drew creative people and listened to feedback and needs of the community.

Moonlighter 2Then Pupo and Nodal sought out the guidance of SCORE Miami-Dade, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at FIU and the Hispanic Business Initiative Fund (HBIF). They took SCORE workshops on business planning and funding, and SCORE and SBDC counselors connected them with the Miami Bayside Foundation’s loan program. “We were able to obtain a loan to finally open our doors in Wynwood, to become a hub for the emerging creatives in our city and to empower a new generation of technology enabled creators,” Nodal said.

Launched: 2014

Management team: Daisy Nodal and Tom Pupo


Financing: $85,000 in personal savings and friends and family; $50,000 loan from Miami Bayside Foundation.   

Recent milestones: Celebrated grand opening Aug. 14 of Moonlighter Makerspace with the latest technologies for digital design and personal manufacturing; also chosen to join as the first littleBits Global Chapter in South Florida, joining a community of creative spaces worldwide. Received loan from Miami Bayside Foundation.

Biggest startup challenge: Raising capital. “Our space doesn’t have all the technology in our vision, and we don’t have as much space as we know the concept needs, but we produced our current space as a prototype to illustrate the possibilities. Hopefully, as [investors] inhabit the space and understand the relationship between each machine and component of our vision, they will understand the bigger picture,” Pupo said. 

Next step: To build a membership base while hosting workshops, classes and events led by experts in art, design and engineering.

“It is crucial to generate different sources of revenue and to keep on with educational sessions in schools and universities in order to grow the future community of makers in South Florida,” said Gustavo Grande of HBIF, which helped Moonlighter with a marketing plan, promotions and media strategy. “Moonlighter will definitely add value to the technological and innovative ecosystem that is growing in South Florida and at the same time is a wonderful place where anyone can have fun, meet great people while making a new collection of furniture, an exclusive piece of jewelry or a robotic prosthetic arm.”

Nancy Dahlberg


August 31, 2015

Miami Mini Maker Faire, now a 2-day festival, announces dates, new venue

Mini maker faire

Maker movement enthusiasts of all ages, save the dates: The Miami Mini Maker Faire returns for  a  two-day festival Feb. 20-21, 2016.

Expecting more than 5,000 attendees, the third Maker Faire will gather at the iconic campus of the National YoungArts Foundation  for a weekend full of inventions, performances and workshops by more than 150 local and regional innovators in science, technology, multi-disciplinary arts, education and design. The Faire is an opportunity for artists, engineers, tinkerers, entrepreneurs and educators to share their passions, connect with peers and inspire the next generation of makers.

Produced by MIAMade in association with Maker Media, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, Miami Mini Maker Faire is a community-focused event at the cross-section of a thriving cultural arts scene and burgeoning science and technology sector. It features local “makers” and entrepreneurs specializing in everything from robotics, DIY science and technology, and traditional handcrafts, to emerging talent in the visual, literary, design and performance arts. For 2016, YoungArts has joined the Faire as a title sponsor.

“Since its launch in 2013, Miami Mini Maker Faire sought to explore and celebrate the natural relationship between STEM and the arts by highlighting local and regional talent in these fields. Partnering with YoungArts for the 2016 festival really takes that mission to the next level and sets a new standard for representation of the arts in Maker Faires throughout the world,"  said MIAMade founder Ric Herrero.

For ticketing information, or to apply to exhibit your project, please visit, and follow Miami Mini Maker Faire on Facebook and Twitter. The Call for Makers (exhibitors, performers, speakers and educators) is open through January 20, 2016. For inquiries, please email us at [email protected].



August 25, 2015

Green product businesses get help at EcoTech Visions

Ecotech- barbara jacques 2

BY NANCY DAHLBERG / [email protected]

Everything was humming along for Barbara Jacques (pictured above), who followed her passion and started Jacq’s Organics at her kitchen table. She was selling her all-natural skin, bath and body care products online, at farmers’ markets and charity events, and received favorable reviews and press. Then:

“Six months after I quit my day job and was all in, I got calls from huge companies and we couldn’t fulfill the orders.”

Pandwe Gibson, founder of the incubator EcoTech Visions, doesn’t want cash flow to be an insurmountable hurdle for Jacques or other entrepreneurs. That’s why a big focus of her new program is helping early-stage companies with raising capital and managing manfacturing processes.

Seeing local manufacturing as a job generator and believing local product entrepreneurs were underserved, Gibson opened EcoTech in west MiamiShores to serve green businesses. The current 20 member businesses include Aeolus, an electric motorcycle company; Earthware, a sustainable cutlery maker; Culito de Rana, creator of all-natural topical applications to soothe sunburns and prevent mosquito bites; Precision Barber Club, which makes skin-care products; and Fruit of Life Organics, builder of aquaponic systems.

EcoTech offers coworking space, workshops and mentorship and helps raise capital. Gibson is raising funds herself to add a manufacturing area so that incubator companies can make products onsite. She’s already been granted $450,000 from Miami-DadeCounty; much of that money she makes available to the member companies in the form of $25,000 loans. EcoTech also helped seven of its companies win $10,000 CRA grants to help fund their prototypes.

Gibson is helping three South Florida companies — Earthware, D Squared Engineering and Konie Cups — to pursue a joint school board contract. Developers do that all the time, so why not other companies? she thought. Earthware offers sustainable cutlery, Coney offers cups, and D Squared offers containers.

“Who wouldn’t want a sustainable fork if it costs the same as a plastic fork?” asked Gibson. But a big challenge for these companies is securing large enough contracts to get the manufacturing costs down.

EcoTech also helps entrepreneurs with their investor presentations and encourages them to join pitch competitions. Seven of them will be pitching at the upcoming Thrive Seminar with Daymond John on Thursday.

The incubator also is helping Jacq’s Organics with a business plan, pitch deck, human resources needs, and connections, Jacques said.

Jacq’s Organics curently works out of a 600-square-foot studio in DaniaBeach certified for light manufacturing. Raising capital investment and applying for grants has been a big challenge; investors and granting organizations don’t work on a startup schedule and “you jump through a lot of hoops just to be told no,” she said.

Jacques is now working with a couple of large companies to break up the big orders into more manageable shipments. In one case, she’s filling an order for 200,000 pieces in 60,000 increments, while continuing to service smaller orders from boutique businesses, a never-ending challenge for a small business, she said. “I’m looking at 600 bars of soap right now that I need to get out tonight.” But there are worse problems to have.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.


Michael Caballero, CEO of Earthware, left, and Pandwe A. Gibson, CEO/executive director at EcoTech Visions are photographed at the incubator helping 25 green product companies in the Miami-Dade area. Earthware makes sustainable cutlery. Carl Juste MIAMI HERALD STAFF


A sampling of resources for South Florida's product entrepreneurs

  Moonlighter 2

BY NANCY DAHLBERG [email protected]

Get out of the garage — and into a maker space, incubator or entrepreneurship program. For consumer product startups, there’s no reason the journey needs to be solitary.

A growing number entrepreneurial resources are available to help consumer product companies in South Florida. Here are just a few:

Inspiration and collaboration: Maker spaces are popping up all over South Florida. For a membership fee, maker spaces provide the space, tools for designing, prototyping and fabricating your next innovation in a community of like-minded people who can help get the creative juices flowing. They often also provide workshops and events.

For example, Moonlighter Makerspace (pictured above) opened this month at 2041 NW 2nd Place in Miami. Members get access to tools that include a Makerbot 3D-printing lab, laser cutter, CNC Mill, a LittleBits Circuit Lab, handheld 3D-printing pens and industrial sewing machines. It’s one of a handful scattered around the tri-county area.

Co-working spaces also bring the like-minded creators together, and some, such as The LAB Miami, provide maker gatherings and workshops. Some like MADE at the Citidel also include maker spaces. A new co-warehousing space in Miami’s Little River area for product entrepreneurs and artists is in the works by Pipeline Workspaces that will include co-working spaces and conference areas, storage space for products, shared shipping and logistics support and a coffee shop.

Developing the business: Locally, incubators and accelerators provide mentoring services and important connections for product entrepreneurs, and engineering shops will provide services to develop your prototype. In addition, agencies such as SCORE ( and and the Florida Small Business Development Centers, including a relatively new center at Florida International University (SBDC.FIU.EDU), as well as university programs provide mentoring and workshops on various aspects of building a business. A fashion startup incubator, a project spearheaded by the Beacon Council and Macy’s, is expected to open in the next year.

Tech Runway , the Boca Raton entrepreneurship center and accelerator open to the community, as well as FAU students, is getting ready to welcome its third class of startups. The accelerator offers a 12-week program, where the companies are matched with teams of mentors and given workspace and $25,000 in grant funding. Tech Runway is industry-agnostic, so product companies mix with tech companies. When its space is complete, it also will include a maker space, said its director, Kimberly Gramm. In Miami, EcoTech Visions is a specialized incubator for green product manufacturers (see sidebar).

Businesses at least two years old with at least four employees and $150,000 or more in annual revenue can apply to Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses at Miami Dade College. The free program provides 12 weeks of intense classroom instruction through a curriculum developed by Babson College, mentorship, networking and ongoing support even after program is over, said executive director John Hall. Applications are now open for the program’s seventh cohort; more than 120 entrepreneurs have graduated so far from the program that launched locally about 18 months ago. The Small Business Administration offers a free seven-month program for qualifying businesses called Emerging Leaders.

In addition, a number of businesses provide engineering services catering to startups and investors. Blue Ring Technologies is one example of a one-stop-shop for all kinds of services under one roof. Founder Jay Prendes developed the Davie company when he had trouble finding services to manufacture his own product several years ago. Today, its clients include independent inventors to large companies, and it can help with design, prototyping and small-batch manufacturing.

Protecting the business: The Institute for Commercialization of Public Research recently launched the Florida Patent Pro Bono Program in partnership with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The program links qualified inventors and small businesses with volunteer patent agents and attorneys who provide pro bono legal assistance on specific aspects of the patent process.

The Institute will match low-income inventors with patent lawyers. “It’s an issue of fairness and economic development. When you unlock that innovation, that is how you make a difference,” said Jennifer McDowell, USPTO pro bono coordinator in an interview earlier this year. “And once these matches get made and the patent applications get filed, we want the inventions to turn into money-making machines.”

If accepted into the Florida Patent Pro Bono, applicants may expect exposure to intellectual property experts, support in certain aspects of the patent application process and partnership opportunities to enhance business development. The legal services would be free; the inventors would still need to pay the patent filing fees but could qualify for steep discounts.

Show me the money: Venture capital and angel-funding dollars typically go to high-growth technology startups, and consumer product startups often have to think outside that box. Consumer products often play well on Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms.

Companies making coffee makers, boating accessories, toys, educational products, food and fashions have all appeared in recent crowdfunding campaigns. Several South Florida consumer product makers have excelled recently on Kickstarter and Indigogo, including BeatBuddy, a musician’s foot pedal machine for drum sounds, and Kabaccha Shoes, a men’s line with colorful soles.

Currently, 136 Miami-area products and projects are vying for funders on Kickstarter. Still, crowdfunding campaigns require time and strategic planning and aren’t for everyone. Kickstarter’s success rate is just 37 percent.

Other avenues open to consumer-product entrepreneurs: friends and family investments, loans, government grants and loan programs including Miami Bayside Foundation, and pitch contests, such as the upcoming Thrive Seminar with Daymond John on Thursday.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.


June 29, 2015

FIU College of Architecture + the Arts creating MakerBot Innovation Lab for students, community

Florida International University will create a MakerBot Innovation Lab, a 3,000-square-foot maker space for students and other innovators to be housed at its Miami Beach Urban Studios.

MakerbotThe MakerBot Innovation Lab, supported by a $185,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, will include 30 state-of-the-art 3D printers and four 3D scanners where public programs and educational opportunities will be offered. The lab will support workshops for elementary and middle school students, dual enrollment programs for high school students, for-credit classes for FIU students and startup programs for recent graduates. Community members can also use the space to develop new product ideas and conduct research.

FIU’s College of Architecture + the Arts will be the only arts/design college in the nation to house a MakerBot Innovation Lab, said John Stuart, AIA, associate dean for cultural and community engagement and the executive director of Miami Beach Urban Studios. He said the lab idea first came about because students were asking to get more involved in the maker movement. “This is an opportunity to explore and get this maker experience into the DNA of our students and our culture and our ecosystem, and I’m hoping students and community members will be inspired and will make things we can’t even imagine,” he said.

FIU Urban Studios will also work with FIU colleagues and students in hospitality, medicine and other disciplines in order to come up with innovation projects that fill a community need, for instance making a home safer and easier for the disabled, Stuart said. It will also collaborate with Miami Beach-based Rokk3r Labs, a company co-builder. to initiate workshops, seminars and other programming within the MakerBot Innovation Lab.

The Lab will be open by the fall, if not sooner, and can serve up to 60 students at one time with a 3D printer between each two workstations, Stuart said.

“Miami’s entrepreneurial ecosystem has seen enormous growth over the last few years – adding co-working spaces, mentor and funder networks, educational offerings and a host of events. But there are few established makerspaces where entrepreneurs can experiment and build. The MakerBot Innovaation Lab will help fill this gap,” said Matt Haggman, Knight Foundation’s Miami program director, in a news release.

June 06, 2015

Fla. CFO Atwater, other government leaders join #HackforChange

 Florida CFO Jeff Atwater talks with developers and designers at the LAB Miami.

Florida CFO Jeff Atwater spent his Saturday morning with a Miami coworking space full of young hackers. “I'm normally in a coat and tie -- this is dress down day for me -– but I see I have something to learn,” he joked.

The occasion was #HackforChange, part of the National Day of Civic Hacking in which technologists, designers, entrepreneurs and  nonprofit and government leaders come together to hack technological solutions to community problems by using using open government data. South Florida’s event at The LAB Miami in Wynwood, put on by Code for Miami, attracted about 100 participants. Also onhand were Mike Sarasti, program manager with Miami-Dade County, and Miami City Manager Daniel Alfonso.  Miami-Dade County also recently partnered with Code for America, and a trio of fellows is working on civic projects for a year.

Hackers with two all-volunteer groups, Code for Miami and Code for Fort Lauderdale, meet about one evening a week to work on civic projects, such as an inexpensive bus traffic application that was developed recently. For this full day event, teams were working on challenges such as climate change, transportation and disaster relief -– all hot-button issues in Miami. They will likely continue working on their projects in the weekly gatherings.

But the state challenge put forth by Atwater on Saturday was the first time state data has been used in a hacking challenge. Six years of state vendor payment data was made available to civic hackers to come up with solutions on how to best use the data to result in improved services. "Imagine if we could turn loose on the state of Florida an understanding of how this all works?," Atwater said in opening remarks to the event participants. "You are going to give us a chance to open a new window to get better at what we do, to service Floridians better, to make us better."

Atwater explained that $50  billion of the $80 billion state budget goes to vendors to provide services  and it would be useful to have a better way to read and understand the vendor payment data in order to help a variety of constituencies, including the press, determine whether the public’s money is being used optimally.

 “The data will help present the questions that need to be asked,” Atwater explained to a group of hackers who were brainstorming solutions. "There will be no place to hide."

The hackers will work on the their challenges all day and then present them to the group in the early evening. Organizations in  Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville as well as around the nation are also working on challenges. Unlike other hackathons, there are no prizes, no winners. "We are about collaboratiion, not competition," said Code for Miami co-captain Cristina Solana.

“You are putting your skills into action to help your neighbors and that means a lot,” Code for Miami co-captain Rebekah Monson told the crowd to kick off #HackforChange. “You want Miami to change, you want Florida to change, … and you are the people make it happen.”

After the event, Solana said there were two concepts developing using the state vendor data that would help visualize department spending. Other concepts included an application for mapping chemicals in water, another for helping you find a safe place during a natural disaster via text or online, and several ideas aimed at improving mass-transit usage or efficiency.
  • Codeformiami

 Another group at The LAB Miami brainstorms disaster relief applications. Photos by Nancy Dahlberg

March 06, 2015

MIAMade wins Miami Foundation grant to fund Liberty City makerspace

MIAMade, based at The LAB Miami, an innovation campus in Wynwood, received a $10,000 accelerator grant from The Miami Foundation to fund the development of Liberty To Make, a makerspace for  Liberty City.

MIAMade is a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering the growth of the maker movement in the Greater Miami area; it produces the annual and highly popular Miami Mini Maker Faire as well as the Wynwood Maker Camp and many other projects. The Miami Foundation Accelerator Grant will be used to kick-start the creation of a makerspace in Liberty City that will engage locals of all ages by fostering their entrepreneurial and creative talents while bringing the community together through STEAM (science, math, engineering, arts, and math) principles.

 “Thanks to The Miami Foundation, MIAMade is excited to take its first step in bringing the people of Liberty City, a space to come together and build together, in turn gaining economic and educational opportunities in a changing Miami.” said Willie Avendano, MIAMade programs manager and co-founder of the Wynwood Maker Camp.

The Miami Foundation's Accelerator Grants program makes $10,000 award related to each of the eight Our Miami Report issue areas. The foundation particularly looks at entities that already have traction, are making positive headway and could turn modest funding into expanded social impact.

MIAMade is accepting donations to fund future programming at The LAB Miami and Liberty To Make. For more information on MIAMade or how you can support its community efforts, please visit or call Jennifer Mendez Alba at (786) 337-1119.

See a report and video on the last Miami Mini Maker Faire here.


January 15, 2015

Miami Bitcoin Hackathon: And the winners were...

Doug Carrillo, Andrew Barnard, Peter Nova and the other organizers behind the  first Miami Bitcoin Hackathon said they didn't know quite what kind of turnout to expect  last weekend at The LAB Miami. But the turnout --  100 programmers and another 70  observers -- showed there is a lot of pent-up curiosity for the emerging digital currency.

"It's a great enabler that anyone can build on," Carrillo said of the bitcoin technology. "We haven't seen the mainstream use cases for the bitcoin yet, we're seeing the early adapters, but it's still early.... We need to stop thinking of it as a get-rich quick scheme. In Latin America particularly, it offers a great opportunity ... an alternative."  

The hackers were challenged with coming up with solutions --  in just 28 hours -- that could help propel acceptance of the bitcoin. After short pitches either live or via video on Saturday morning, about 20 teams formed. Some of the hacks produced last weekend included bitcoin marketplaces, music-related platforms, solutions for smart contracts, gaming, even one for making sure your bitcoin lives on according to your wishes after you die.

The top three winners received $10,000, $3,500 and $1,000, respectively, in bitcoin of course, as well as other sponsor prizes. Read more about the hackathon here:

And the winners were ...

 (winners list provided by Peter Nova)

First place fisheye
First Place
Team "Party People"
Project: OPIDoki

By Chris DeRose & Arian Amador

OPIDoki is an "oracle programming interface" that can be used to broadcast the results of something (such as who won a football game) and feed it into the Bitcoin blockchain for use in resolving bets and contracts.
Second place flat
Second Place
Team "Frostwire"
Project: Seller.Trade
By Angel Leon & Alden
Seller.Trade is a consumer friendly, decentralized shopping marketplace.
Third place flat
Third Place
Team "AudioBits"
Project: BitJuke
By Xavier Banegas, Alina Lebron, Nelson Milian, Willie Avendano & Derek Miller
"BitJuke" is a bitcoin-enabled jukebox through which people can find songs, purchase them through their preferred Bitcoin wallet and donate to a charity which the business can selects nightly.
Congratulations to all the winners!
Hackathon enthusiasts meet this weekend for the North American Bitcoin Conference on Miami Beach. More information here:
Posted Jan. 15, 2014

November 08, 2014

Miami Mini Maker Faire brings tech, crafts, family fun to Wynwood



Arts for Learning teaching artist Aurora Molina, upper left, guides youngsters through a shoe innovation challenge at the Miami Mini Maker Faire in Wynwood on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014. The young shoe crafters, from left, are Sunrise siblings Tyler, 5, and Jared Nortman, 7, and from right, Miami siblings Chelsea, 14, Phoenix, 6, and Aiden Thomas, 10. Photo by MARSHA HALPER/MIAMI HERALD STAFF.  SEE MORE PHOTOS IN A PHOTO GALLERY HERE.

Read more here:

By Nancy Dahlberg / [email protected]

Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood may be best known for its art and hip culture, but Saturday it was all about robots, drones, 3D printers and family fun.

There were all kinds of high-tech and low-tech handmade projects on display at the daylong 2nd annual Miami Mini Maker Faire in Wynwood on Saturday. Not even a 45-minute power outage could dampen the spirit of the event, which attracted about 3,700 — more than double last year’s attendance and nearly half of them kids. About 110 exhibitors participated in the giant block party.

“The Miami Mini Maker Faire is a celebration of our local creatives,” said Ric Herrero, who co-founded the nonprofit MIAMade to foster a local “maker movement.” Fittingly, the Miami Mini Maker Faire itself is a homemade and volunteer endeavor, run by Herrero and MIAMade, The LAB Miami and its co-founder Danny Lafuente and a number of partnering organizations and maker groups. “The fact that we had so many more makers and so many more attendees, it shows the maker movement is alive and growing in South Florida,” said Herrero.

For a second year in a row, The LAB Miami, a coworking center, was the nucleus of the fair, which this year also included the LightBox next door and the Wynwood Warehouse Project across the street. The LAB became one big maker space on Saturday, with interactive exhibits from the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, Florida international University, Starbot, Miami-Dade Public Libraries, DesignLab and many other organizations, maker spaces, student groups and small companies. Robots literally took over the LightBox and, for the first time, the fair included a street party with crafters, food trucks and live music.

Photo (26)Inside the LAB, in the Frost science museum’s exhibit with Arts for Learning, a group of middle school students were making shoes. With their designs in hand, they were building prototypes with cardboard. Some of the students, including Dexter Pomilban and Mayisha Perez (pictured here) of Mater Academy of International Studies, were also taking their designs out into the crowds at the fair, doing market research.

The next step will be building 3D models with software and then turning that into 3D-printed shoes, which were all designs that melded artistry with strong engineering. It’s all part of the Shoe In(novation) Design Dash, which involves 24 teams of middle school students from public and private Miami-Dade schools. The winners will take part in The Art of Fashion Show at the Adrienne Arsht Center during Art Basel.

The young shoe makers may be one of the more unusual participants, but there were all kinds of projects on display. The FIU School of Computing and Information Science’s Discovery Lab was showing off a table full of drones it built, including ones designed for border security surveillance.

“A lot of great companies were started in the garage,” said Victor Vincent, who was exhibiting a “Makey Makey” piano you play through carrots. “The maker movement is about exploring that innovation, that creativity. And Miami is a great town to find creative people.”

Photo (27)Daniela Rodriguez, 15, (pictured here) of Archbishop McCarthy High School in Broward County, was exhibiting her “brain-powered computer” that can be controlled by movements such as a blink of the eye rather than touch. She said she started the project, which combines her passions for robotics, anatomy and engineering, when she was 12 because she wanted to help people with disabilities, like her mother, to be more independent, including with their technology needs.

The more than a dozen 3D-printing exhibits were very popular with the crowds young and old, including one that would print, well, you. Kids as young as 5 could take part in a coding classes, and older youngsters could learn about civic hacking, using government data to create ways to improve cities, and even space-based technologies through Countdown Institute.

Artists and crafters were out in force, too. Jorge Roldan was showing his robot-like art figures made from recycled materials – parts of clarinets, pool balls, horse shoes, mail boxes, sewing machines and chair legs all went into creating the designs. His son Christopher, 15, collaborates on the projects. “It comes from the heart, and children see things we as adults don’t,” said Roldan.

The street party, new this year, added another dimension to the fair, with people pedaling away on the blender bikes, shopping at the booths, or trying their hand at soldering. Another crowd favorite: a drone that hovered overhead all day shooting video and pictures.

“You could feel the energy, the excitement,” said Tamara Wendt, managing director of The LAB Miami. “One man told me he wishes he could be a kid again.”

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.


 Ernie Hsiung of Code For Miami and Code For America gives a workshop on civic hacking at the Mimai Mini Maker Faire. Photo by Marsha Halper of the Miami Herald.


November 05, 2014

2nd Miami Mini Maker Faire promises more robots, 'block party feel'

Miamimakerfaire1117 Telebot MSH (1)

Photos of last year's Miami Mini Maker Faire by Marsha Halper/Miami Herald

The Miami Mini Maker Faire, a celebration of all things hand-made, returns to Wynwood on Saturday.

For the fair’s second year, organizers say they are expecting at least 2,500 visitors and more than 90 exhibitors at this all-day family-friendly event that will be held at The LAB Miami and LightBox as well as on the street in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood. Expect more of everything, including robots.

“We are expecting many more robots than last year — so many that we are turning the LightBox's main space into a Robotics Pavilion,” said Ric Herrero, co-founder of the local nonprofit MIAMade and organizer of the fair. There will also be two areas for young makers instead of one and two spaces featuring workshops on everything from coding and soldering to design thinking.

The Miami Mini Maker Faire is an all-ages gathering of tech enthusiasts, artisans, inventors, tinkerers, entrepreneurs and educators who get together to show what they make and share what they have learned. The faire features both established and emerging local “makers” specializing in robotics, hardware hacking, 3D printing, art and crafts, urban farming and sustainability and much more.

It all takes place Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. This year, along with the two indoor venues, organizers are closing off NW 26th Street between 3rd and 5th Avenues for a full-on arts and crafts street festival "and a block party feel," said Herrero.

“Miami has a long tradition of DIY ingenuity and tinkering, but it’s often a challenge for local makers to connect with peers and consumers, and build theirs ideas here. Miami Mini Maker Faire is an opportunity for artisans, engineers, tinkerers, entrepreneurs and educators to get together and share their passions and ideas with the community at large. It is a place to inspire the next generation of makers,” said Herrero.

MIAMade is producing the Faire in association with Maker Media, the Knight Foundation and the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science. To buy tickets, visit

Read another Miami Heald story on the Maker Movement here.


Miamimakerfaire1117 Sktchy MSH