Opulence International Realty launches Katana by LiveNinja video chat service

Opulence International Realty of Miami recently launched a real-time video chat service directly on its website. Powered by Katana by LiveNinja, prospective clients can  connect to a live agent with the click of a button. 

Opulence International Realty's in-house team of agents will be available to answer any questions that come through the virtual application, and prospective buyers and agents worldwide can easily connect to an agent. “We strive to be on the cutting edge of technology and provide a unique platform to our clients and agents by using marketing methods that include interactive videos, social media and mobile device technology,” said James Hoffman, President and Broker of Opulence International Realty.

Miami-based Katana by LiveNinja gives brands the opportunity to establish human-to-human connections with their online visitors. “Clients deserve face-to-face attention and friendly service when making luxury purchases and Opulence International Realty recognizes this,“ said Will Weinraub, CEO of LiveNinja.

 Posted Nov. 26, 2014

3 reasons to invest in Latin American mobile content

By Joe Kutchera

It is no surprise that media experts forecast that mobile will overtake web traffic, because, well, it already has in the developed world. To get an overview of that trend, take a look at Benedict Evans’ excellent presentation from the WSJD conference: Mobile is Eating the World. As a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, his research led him to discover that we will have two to three times more smartphones than PC’s globally by the year 2020 and that Facebook already earns more in advertising from visitors to its mobile platform that to its website.

The implications from this sea change in media consumption are, of course, enormous, but probably even more so for emerging markets like those in Latin America. That’s why I’m excited to attend and present at the 2014 M2Content & Apps LATAM Conference in Miami on December 2 and discuss “Monetizing Social Media” as well as share the story of how Flipboard launched its U.S. Latino content guide.

Here are three reasons to invest in Latin American mobile content:

One, Latin America will “leapfrog” the U.S. and other “developed” markets in adopting mobile technologies and content.

“Last year [in 2013] at this time, El Nuevo Día in Puerto Rico was getting 30 percent of its digital traffic from mobile devices, with the remaining 70 percent coming from the desktop. This year [in 2014] according to deputy general director Benjamín Morales Melendez, those numbers have reversed. They get 70 percent of their traffic from mobile devices. It switched in less than 12 months.”

Craig Silverman, an award-winning journalist and Adjunct Faculty at The Poynter Institute, recently shared this story in his article “3 lessons in mobile, social and viral from Latin American newspapers,” about attending and presenting at GDA’s (Grupo de Diarios América) annual conference for journalists. Read his full article here.

Two, LatAm is currently the world’s fastest growing mobile ad market.

LatAm is uniquely placed to ‘leapfrog’ the US and Europe in not only innovation but also in total advertising spending. In addition, smartphone population will surpass Internet population in 2017, with around 240 million users across the region. Yet, in 2012, the region only accounted for 0.6% of global mobile adspend. So, in the years ahead, advertisers will need to start thinking “mobile first” and create “made for mobile” content and advertising formats.

For more details, take a look at this presentation from Telefónica:

Mobile Advertising in LatAm; The Myths, The Facts and the Future from Telefónica's digital services.

 Three, LatAm leads the world in time spent on social media.

“5 of the top 10 most engaged markets with social content worldwide are located in Latin America,” according to digital market research firm comScore. In addition, its recent report shows that “consumers in Latin America spent 10 hours online per month on Social Networking sites, doubling the global average time spent.”

The Wall Street Journal concurs, reporting that Brazil is “The Social Media Capital of the Universe,” reporting that, “By the end of 2012, Brazil was also the biggest market outside the U.S. by number of unique visitors for YouTube, and one of YouTube’s top five markets by revenue.”

More recently, eMarketer reported that Latin American countries are among the fastest-growing Twitter markets worldwide, showing that “Emerging markets around the world are driving growth for Twitter, according to eMarketer’s forecast of worldwide usage of the microblogging service. And while the two fastest-growing markets worldwide this year—Indonesia and India—are in Asia-Pacific, the rest of the top five are in Latin America.”

Joe Kutchera is the head of Latin American and US Latino partnerships for Flipboard and helped launch both its US Latino and Latam content guides for the mobile application, which has over 100 million active users. Joe is the author of two books and writes for Fox News Latino, The Huffington Post and MediaPost. He will be speaking at 2014 M2Content & Apps LATAM Conference, Dec. 2-4, 2014 in Wynwood, at The Light Box at Goldman Warehouse.


2,000 expected for ITPalooza's workshops, hackathons, hiring fair and party Dec. 4


With more than 2,000 registrants, 60 speakers, 65 sponsors and 50 user groups from across South Florida, the 3rd Annual ITPalooza is set to deliver unbelievable value to the South Florida technology community on Dec. 4, its organizers say. The event will be at Nova Southeastern University’s main campus at 3301 College Ave, Davie, 33314.

Events for the day include hackathons, hiring fair, numerous workshops on everything from a CIO track to technology trends and a holiday party. Admission is free with two unwrapped holiday gifts for needy kids. The hackathon begins at 8:30 a.m. and the breakout sessions begin at 1 p.m. The party takes the event well into the evening. 

Reflecting its commitment to the South Florida IT community, ITPalooza will once again be hosted by NSU’s Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences (GSCIS). Under the leadership of Dean Eric S. Ackerman, Ph.D., the GSCIS partnership with ITPalooza promises to offer attendees the very best of South Florida technology.

“In addition to the hiring fair, technical sessions and vendor exhibits, this year ITPalooza will feature a dedicated management track focused on the unique needs of CIOs and other top-level IT Executives,” said ITPalooza Founder and CEO of SherlockTech Staffing, Alex Funkhouser.

Above all, ITPalooza is dedicated to raising money for various South Florida non-profits including Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ STEM Advisory Board, The Stockdale Foundation and Marine’s Toy for Tots (pictured below receiting last year's check). Over the last two years, ITPalooza has raised in excess of $75,000 in donations and cash.

 Those interested in attending ITPalooza are encouraged to visit the event’s website where more information can be found regarding sponsorship and speaker sessions - itpalooza.org

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IT survey: Mobile, data, security expertise in high demand

 In a survey of 500 local IT professionals, results show an impact of disruptive trends in the industry, including the outsourcing of IT infrastructure, Software as a Service (SaaS) and the growing adaption of mobile computing.  The online survey was conducted by SherlockTech Staffing.

From the survey results:

* Forty percent of respondents said that their companies would be hiring new IT personnel in the next year.
* When companies were asked what the top three jobs they were recruiting, the following ranked highest:  Mobile & Web Applications Developers, Data Analysts and Technology Security Analysts.
* IT professionals were asked if they had plans to either change jobs or if they would consider a change.  Forty percent of respondents said they would consider new career opportunities while 16 percent were not open. 
* IT professionals were asked the top three areas important to keep tech skills marketable:  Learning new cloud-based systems to manage company Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), developing Software as a Service (SaaS) cloud-based apps, and securing corporate systems against hackers. 
Both SaaS and IaaS are impacting local IT employment.  “The trend in IT hiring demand is shifting from internal corporate positions to external IT service providers,” said Alex Funkhouser, ITPalooza founder and CEO of SherlockTech Staffing.  Service providers such as Ultimate Software in Weston, for example, provide more cost effective and robust systems than a company can create internally.

Overall, technology hiring continues to increase and ongoing technology education is more important than ever.  Find the ITPalooza education session schedule at http://itpalooza.com/schedule/.

Led by an organizing team of dedicated local IT Professionals, www.ITPalooza.org is an annual event -– this year it is on Dec. 1 -- that brings together the South Florida IT Community for a day of learning, sharing, networking and fun.

Posted Nov. 25, 2014


Startup Spotlight: Entopsis

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Headquarters: Hialeah Technology Center

Concept: Entopsis is developing an innovative molecular profiling platform that will allow people to diagnose themselves for diseases at home easily, cheaply and quickly using just a NuTec, a specialized glass slide the company developed, and an app on their smartphone. A liquid sample of blood, saliva or urine is placed on the glass slide, heated to cause changes in color and photographed with your smartphone or with a photo scanner. Then, the photo is uploaded through the corresponding app, which will deliver the diagnostic results through a cloud-based system in seconds.

Story: Entopsis founders Ian Cheong and Obdulio Piloto (pictured above) and met while obtaining their doctorates at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and have been friends for 12 years. Since both had scientific medical backgrounds, they knew that they wanted to work together to create a technology that would help people in a significant way. Many people in developing countries lack access to life-saving diagnostic tests, mostly due to their high cost, invasiveness and the countries’ lack of advanced medical infrastructure, so Cheong and Piloto set out to create a diagnostic platform to tackle that problem.

Ens00 Entopsis BIZ PPPThis is a testing technology that can be applied to almost any substance and across a range of industries such as food science, with food contamination and agriculture, with disease detection in livestock and for people to be tested for various diseases. Entopsis is the only company in Florida supported by the competitive Peter Thiel Foundation’s Breakout Labs.

Launched: January 2012

Management team: Obdulio Piloto, Ph.D., co-founder and CEO; Ian Cheong, Ph.D., co-founder; George Huang, Ph.D., CFA, chief financial officer; Tingjun Lei, Ph.D., lead scientist (pictured below).

No. of employees: six

Website: www.entopsis.com

Financing: “We have invested $500,000 in the business to date, including self-funding, gifts and funding from Breakout Labs and other investors for the research and development phase,” Piloto said.

Recent milestones: Entopsis has significantly improved the capabilities of its novel machine-learning system, a process that took about five months. This breakthrough in technology now allows for a quicker and more accurate diagnosis, improving the overall product. In addition, their team has also made numerous improvements to the molecular binding surfaces on the NuTec, thus allowing for the capture and visualization of even more diverse biomarkers. Entopsis also just recently expanded manufacturing and laboratory space at the Hialeah Technology Center, allowing the company to run more tests on a variety of sample types without risk of cross contamination.

Biggest startup challenge: Funding and access to patient samples. “In order to test our platform across multiple industries, we need to partner with different beta testers in each field, such as the food industry, diagnostics, and bio defense, in order to identify problems and how NuTec can potentially solve them,” Piloto said. The company can develop a new diagnostic test in less than a week: “The challenge we are encountering, is gaining access to patient samples so that we can fully demonstrate the advantages of our technology.”

Next step: Finalizing the NuTec platform and developing tests for commercial use. “Right now, we have many different prototypes, so we want to take the best aspects of all prototypes and turn them into one platform to commercialize for public use, while making the testing as automated as possible,” Piloto said. “Once complete, we will offer the platform to beta-testers and further optimize before offering the platform to the consumer market. We are always looking for partners interested in co-developing tests with our team.”

Investor/mentor's view: “Breakout Labs looks for novel cutting-edge science with broad application. Entopsis is based on an entirely new way to analyze biomolecules that, if successful, could become the new paradigm for rapid molecular identification in contexts ranging from food safety to medicine,” said Lindy Fishburne, executive director of Breakout Labs, adding that Entopsis has faced and overcome a number of development challenges.

“Because we fund many platform technologies, we see that our companies very often face a theoretical embarrassment of riches in choosing the right first application. The advice we give them is to go out and talk early and often with the potential customer to understand the pain points that the technology can solve and where the practical challenges would be in its integration into existing workflows or pipelines,” Fishburne said.


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 Photos by Pedro Portal / El Nuevo Herald

Posted Nov. 24, 2014


Digital marketing firm Nobox flexes ‘social muscle,’ goes all-in on Latin America



By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com / Photos by Charles Trainor Jr.

NOBOX1100FOUNDERS CTJ (2)In the rapidly changing world of social media marketing, simply collecting “likes” on a company Facebook page is so yesterday.

Today social marketing is about combining social science, technology and media in creative ways to create messaging on multiple platforms that resonates with consumers so deeply they are moved to share.

Nobox, a Miami-based technology company and digital marketing agency, calls it “social muscle,” a strategy the company embraced about three years when Nobox pivoted its entire focus to human-to-human marketing through social media.

“It was a big move because back then social marketing was in its infancy, but we knew the future of marketing was in social,” said Jayson Fittipaldi, president and chief creative officer of Nobox, who co-founded the company with Carlos García. “Social is the center is of everything we do.”

Nobox was founded nearly 14 years ago in Puerto Rico and moved to Miami in 2004. Since its transformation into a social-media-focused marketing company by early 2012, Nobox has grown to 37 employees, has operations in Sao Paulo, San Francisco and New York as well as its Miami Midtown base and has grown its annual revenue fivefold to about $10 million. With a focus on consumer technology, travel and Latin America, Nobox has attracted marquee clients such as Sony PlayStation, Netflix, Samsung and Marriott.

“The way we have been able to fivefold revenue is we have focused on what we know best,” said Carlos García, Nobox’s CEO. “We consider ourselves to be marketing hackers. Our client base is looking to execute their marketing in Latin America. “

Continue reading "Digital marketing firm Nobox flexes ‘social muscle,’ goes all-in on Latin America" »

Sime MIA promises thought-provoking talks, entertainment, surprises

Sime MIA returns in a week with one big promise: This won’t be your typical tech conference.

Adriana López Vermut, the sister of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López, will talk about how technology can be used for democratic purposes. “She is going to tell the story about how her brother organized hundreds of thousands of people on the streets through social media ... and how he is communicating today through social media from a jail cell,” said Demian Bellumio, one of the organizers of the conference’s second year.

The Oslo Freedom Forum is bringing two speakers, Yeonmi Park, a North Korean defector, and Suleiman Bakhit, an anti-extremist comic-book publisher from Jordan. There will also be a talk by Bobby Moresco, screenwriter of Crash and Million Dollar Baby who almost went bankrupt. Royce Gracie, a legendary martial artist, will speak about his Jiu-Jitsu philosophy inside and outside the dojo. “We have more this year that goes beyond tech, although there is a tech story line that ties everything together,” said Bellumio, who is also COO of Senzari, a big data company focused on music.

Sime MIA returns Dec. 1-3, but the main day, called the Summit, is Dec. 2, and organizers are expecting 600 people at the New World Symphony Center. Sime conferences started in Stockholm by Ola Ahlvarsson, a part-time Miami Beach resident, and are held all over the world. Like last year’s event, Ahlvarsson will emcee Sime MIA, which is a partnership of Sime and MIA Collective and supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and other sponsors.

Other speakers confirmed for the Summit include Nico Sell, who among other things organizes DEF CON, the largest hacker gathering in the world, and preaches escaping the Internet and never using social media again. Matt Mahan of Brigade will talk about how to change society through technology. Writer Carl Honore will discuss the “slow movement” he created. The 60 speakers will also include executives from Eventbrite, Flickr, Gigaom and other tech companies.

As Sime is known for, expect a production. Beyond short talks, there will be artistic and musical performances – and some surprises. “We are going to take Miami back 100 years,” Bellumio said. “We are going to make an analogy between the Miami of 100 years ago, a city just being born, to today having a second renaissance through technology,” Bellumio said.

Day 1, or “The Gathering,” will be a half-day grouping of more intimate talks about community building and tech trends. It also will include a showcase of local startups - Videoo, Admobilize, LiveNinja, EveryPost and Accredify - and will be at The LAB Miami and Lightbox in Wynwood. “A lot of the conversation will be about Miami,” Bellumio said, including talks on VC trends in Miami, its connection to Latin America, “urban tech,” co-building and more with speakers including Bradley Harrison of Scout Ventures, Melissa Krinzman of Krillion Ventures and Gonzalo Costa or NXTP Labs.

Day 3 will be a focus on Miami’s Latin America connection, with a Wayra Latam Showcase offering the chance to meet entrepreneurs who are driving the culture of growth and innovation in Latin America. Some of companies that are part of Wayra, an accelerator and innovation platform started by Telefónica Group, will pitch to an audience of U.S. and regional investors and the corporate community. Sime MIA is also partnering with Citi on its free Citi Fintech Meetup at 6:30 p.m. at The LAB Miami.

More information and tickets are available at simemia.co.

Sime MIA will also host a half-day invitation-only program to facilitate discussions about investing in venture-backed startups for the community of high net-worth individuals and family offices. Sime MIA is hosting the workshop for The Latin American Private Equity & Venture Capital Association (LAVCA), in partnership with Knight Foundation and Omidyar Network, and it’s part of the community’s education efforts aimed at helping to boost venture investing in South Florida.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.


Entrepreneurship Datebook

Tech eggCODE FOR MIAMI: Join a group for civic hackers, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, Nov. 24, The LAB Miami, 400 NW 26th St., Wynwood. More info: thelabmiami.com (click on events)

SBA WEBINARS: Here is the lineup for Tuesday, Nov. 25 – click on the link for more information or to sign up for the free webinars hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration: 9 a.m.: Federal Contracting Certification: Woman Owned Small Business (WOSB); 10 a.m. Entrepreneurs' "How To" Webinar Series: Delivering a Winning VC Pitch; 1 p.m.: Time Management for Small Business Owners; 2 p.m.: Take Your Business Global. 

WYNCODE OPEN HOUSE: Free learn-to=code workshop and info session on coding bootcamps, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 25, The LAB Miami, free. More info: thelabmiami.com

SIME MIA: A gathering of global thought leaders from technology, media and the arts, including Jimmy Maymann, CEO of Huffington Post, Bobby Moresco, Oscar-winning screenwriter for Crash and Million Dollar Baby; and Karin Nilsdotter, CEO of Spaceport Sweden, Dec. 1-3, New World Symphony Center and The LAB Miami. Tickets: Simemia.co.

ITPALOOZA: With more than 2,000 registrants, 60 speakers, 65 sponsors and 50 user groups from across South Florida, this third annual all-day event for tech professionals will feature a hiring fair, hackathon, workshops, exhibits and holiday party, Dec. 4, Nova Southeastern, 3301 College Ave, Davie. ITPalooza also raises money for various South Florida nonprofits including Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ STEM Advisory Board, The Stockdale Foundation and Marine’s Toy for Tots. Tickets are free with toy donations: itpalooza.com.


Keep up with startup news and community views on the Starting Gate blog on MiamiHerald.com/business. Email your startup news and event notices to ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Nancy Dahlberg @ndahlberg

Posted: Nov. 23, 2014


EcoTech Visions, an incubator for green startups, opens its doors in Miami

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 EcoTech Visions, a green business incubator and accelerator, opened its doors to the public, with an open house on Thursday attended by more than 100 business people, government officials, community leaders and entrepreneurs.

At 70 percent capacity, Ecotech already houses seven companies in the incubator: Crafting Electronic Motorcycles, EarthWare, Geeks Global Lab, Precision Barber Club, SHE3T, Raw Health and Beauty, Urban Greenworks and Aquaponics Lab. EcoTech, located at 667 NW 90th St. in Miami, features four labs, five private offices, eight co-working desks, a mezzanine, a green classroom and conference room. The laboratory co-working spaces feature an injection molding lab, a product development lab, a green lab for aquaponics and a mechanics lab.

EcoTech, a project two-plus years in the making, was founded by Pandwe Gibson, pictured below. For more information: ecotechvisions.com.

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Posted Nov. 21, 2014


Give Miami Day's goal: $5 million to make the community better


The Miami Foundation staff cheers after reaching a milestone last year.

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for this important message: Give to your favorite nonprofit today.

By Carli Teproff / cteproff@maimiherald.com

Nearly 16 years ago, Keri Brooke Heiken lost her life in a horrific car accident as she and four friends headed back to the University of Florida after spending a weekend in South Florida.

Since her death in 1998, her family has worked to keep Keri’s memory alive by giving $2,500 scholarships to high school seniors who have helped the community and want to make a difference in the world.

This year, the Keri Brooke Heiken Foundation, which in the past has held dinner and raffle fundraisers, is reaching out for donations in a new way.

It has joined The Miami Foundation’s Give Miami Day — a 24-hour period in which donations can be made online to more than 500 charities. The blitz begins 12:01 a.m. Thursday and runs for 24 hours.

“It’s an opportunity to reach a lot more people,” said Keri’s mother, Lori Heiken. “We have been working hard to spread the word.”

Give Miami Day, now in its third year, has gained popularity with each campaign, with more and more charities coming on board. This year, Give Miami will include 115 new charities — among them Goodwill Industries, the South Beach Chamber Ensemble, the South Florida SPCA Horse Rescue and Honor Flight South Florida.

Miami Foundation CEO Javier Alberto Soto said the momentum has been incredible. This year the foundation, a philanthropy incubator that helps charities with their fundraising, has even planned a block party from 6 to 9 p.m. in the West Plaza of the Miami Marlins’ stadium in Little Havana to give people a chance to mingle.

“I think we have created an event people look forward to each year to make our community better,” Soto said. “It’s about civic pride.”

And the pride has been contagious.

Returning charities including Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired Inc., Miami Herald Charities — which benefits the Wish Book project — and Shake-A-Leg Miami have been blasting the message through Facebook and through other social media platforms.

The Arsht Center, which is raising money for its Arts Education programs, has planned Dance Party on the Plaza to spotlight Give Miami Day and has encouraged the staff effort to raise money. Others including Heiken will hold an open house to thank supporters.

The way it works is simple: People can visit givemiamiday.org, look at the profiles of each charity and make a donation. Donations between $25 and $10,000 will qualify for a bonus for the recipient, distributed based on how much is raised and how much is collected in the bonus pool. The Miami Foundation, Knight Foundation and other sponsors have contributed as an “incentive” for giving, Soto said.

There are also about 20 prizes throughout the giving period to boost donations. The gifts include the $1,500 Early Bird Gets the Worm prize for the organization that receives the most individual gifts from midnight to 1:30 a.m., the $500 Good Morning, Sunshine prize for the organization that receives the gift made closest to the official sunrise at 6:43 a.m., and the $500 Giancarlo Stanton Home Run prize for the organization that receives the gift made closest to 1:54 p.m. celebrating the Miami Marlins all-time career home run leader.

Last year, Give Miami Day received more than 10,000 individual gifts and raised $3.2 million to support 407 local nonprofit organizations. The Greater Miami Jewish Federation topped the leader board with $207,362.

Soto said the goal is to continue to have an “impact on South Florida.”

“There are a lot of charities doing a lot of great things and we want to recognize that.”

To Donate

What: The Miami Foundation’s Give Miami Day

When: Thursday through Friday

How: Visit givemiamiday.org and either click on the charity of your choice or search through the database. Donations between $25 and $10,000 qualify for a percentage of the bonus pool.

Social media: @MiamiFoundation on Twitter and Instagram and #givemiamiday.

For more information: givemiamiday.org.