May 29, 2015

MDC hosting free Small Business Expo on Saturday; rsvp required

Miami Dade College’s School of Business will be hosting a Small Business Expo on Saturday, at the Wolfson Campus. Admission is free, but attendees must RSVP.

The Small Business Education Program’s Business Expo features a panel discussion at 11 a.m. on the challenges and opportunities associated with business ownership. Panelists include: Brian Brackeen, CEO, Kairos; Ray Casas, President, Wragg & Casas Public Relations; Monique Font Delacroix, CEO, The Empanada Lady; and facilitator Heradio Luces, CEO, Dualis Consulting Corp.

The event will also include presentations on building customer relationships, perfecting an elevator pitch and marketing about marketing, sales and customer service. A business-to-business expo will be open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., featuring 45 exhibitors from private industries, government and non-profit agencies.

The event takes plan from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at MDC Wolfson Campus, Chapman Conference Center, Room 3210, 300 N.E. Second Ave. Attendees must RSVP via email: or by calling 305-237-7103. For more information about the Small Business Education Program, visit:


May 28, 2015

U.S. startup activity up, fueled by Latinos, immigrants

Latinos and immigrants helped to fuel an uptick in new business creation nationally, reversing a downward cycle that began in 2010, according to the 2015 Kauffman Index: Startup Activity released on Thursday.

The Startup Activity Index has generally followed the business cycle – up in the 1990s expansionary period and plummeting as the Great Recession took hold. The entrepreneurial activity increase in the 2015 Index – which reversed the downward trend since 2010 - represents the largest year-over-year increase in the last two decades. However, the return remains tepid and well below historical trends. In the 2015 Index, 310 out of 100,000 adults, or 0.31 percent, started new businesses each month, on average. In the 2014 Index, the average was 0.28 percent of the U.S  adult population.

“This rebound in entrepreneurial activity lines up with the strength we’ve seen in other economic indicators, and should generate hope for further economic expansion,” said Dane Stangler, vice president of Research and Policy at the Kauffman Foundation, in the news release. “But it’s important to view this short-term uptick in context of the bigger picture – we are still in a long-term decline of activity, which affects job creation, innovation and economic growth.”

Some findings, according to the research:

* While all racial and ethnic groups experienced increases in the rate of new entrepreneurs between the 2014 Index and the 2015 Index, the Latino share of all new entrepreneurs rose from 10.0 percent in 1996 to 20.4 percent in 2013 to 22.1 percent in 2014.

* Kauffman said 28.5 percent of all new entrepreneurs are immigrants in the 2015 Index, compared to 13.3 percent in the 1997 Index and that immigrants are starting new businesses at nearly twice the rate of native-born Americans, creating an average of 520 businesses a month per 100,000 people last year.

* Most new entrepreneurs – 63.2 percent – were men. The 36.8 percent of females who became entrepreneurs in the 2015 Index is close to the two-decade low of 36.3 percent in the 2008 Kauffman Index. The rate of new entrepreneurs grew for all age groups except those aged 45 to 54, which experienced no change in the 2015 Index.

* Opportunity entrepreneurs, those who were not unemployed and not looking for a job before they started their new ventures, was 79.6 percent of the total number of new entrepreneurs. This number represented an increase over the 2014 Index, and was substantially higher than in the 2010 Index, when the number of opportunity entrepreneurs was at the lowest rate since the Kauffman Foundation began collecting this data in 1996. 

* Startup density, or the number of new employer businesses by total population, increased from 128.8, or 128.8 for every 100,000 people, to 130.6 in the Startup Activity calculations from 2014 to 2015. Though startup density is climbing, it remains well below typical historical rates.

State and metropolitan data will be released June 4. Find the report on national findings here:

FAU's Tech Runway selects 2nd accelerator class

 Florida Atlantic University’s Tech Runway has selected its second Venture Vintage class of startup companies to participate in the business accelerator program.   

The four companies will receive a $25,000 non-equity grant, participate in a 16-week intensive boot camp, and will be provided collaborative workspace for one year. The companies also participate in a formal program for mentoring entrepreneurs and their ventures. The second class of companies are:

·       Honorlock offers award-winning, cloud-based solutions to curb academic dishonesty while remaining non-invasive.

·       Tone-y-Bands brings to market unique arm toning wrist weights that can be worn throughout the day to provide a workout from regular activities and improve exercise results.  

·       Candidate.Guru delivers applications designed to vastly improve the hiring process for companies through the application of big data and machine learning technologies.

·       TightTalk Electronics has created the EarDrive audio recording, transcription and translation solution that works with any audio source.

Supported by FAU and the State of Florida, FAU Tech Runway launched in October 2014 with five companies Venture Vintage I (VVI) pilot group. The program is based on two proven models for startup ventures, MIT’s Venture Mentoring Service and Stanford’s NSF-funded Lean Launchpad curriculum. Offered in conjunction with existing resources, FAU Tech Runway provides ventures the complete ecosystem for successful launch.

Applications for a third round of Venture Vintage companies will be solicited and evaluated by FAU Tech Runway later this summer. Startups will be sought in all industries, with an emphasis on technology.  The application process includes a business plan, pitch deck, three letters of recommendation and bio for each founder. Criteria for evaluation include but is not limited to the market opportunity, distinctive competence/competitive advantage, financial understanding of the revenue model and the investment potential. For more information on FAU’s Tech Runway, visit

Information provided by Tech Runway

Japanese company Sato plans global tech hub in Fort Lauderdale

Great story from our partners at the Sun Sentinel:

By Doreen Hemlock / Sun Sentinel

After scouring sites across the U.S., a huge Japanese company is setting up the global headquarters for its new software division in Fort Lauderdale — a decision that could boost the region's stature in tech circles. Sato Holdings of Tokyo will invest $5 million this year and aims to employ 200 people in three years at its new Sato Global Solutions.

The division will develop and market software for hospitals, retailers and others to track items ranging from hip implants to mobile devices. Its systems also will enable the booming "Internet of Things," the concept of linking of almost any device — from phones to appliances to machines — to one another and the Internet, executives said Wednesday. "This has the potential to be the biggest foreign investment in tech in Broward County," said Bob Swindell, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance economic development group. "It's huge."

Sato employs more than 4,000 people worldwide, including about 300 in Pinebrook., N.J.; the Chicago area; Charlotte; and Daytona Beach. The company considered Chicago, Dallas, New York and the Silicon Valley before choosing Fort Lauderdale to host its first global headquarters outside Japan, said Kazuo "Kaz" Matsuyama, president and chief executive. South Florida won out because the area was less expensive than the Silicon Valley and some other rivals. State and local governments also were business-friendly and offered incentives. Additionally, South Florida ranks as "one of the fastest-growing IT hubs in the United States," Matsuyama said.

Read Doreen's extensive story here.

May 26, 2015

Fishackathon returns to Venture Hive to find sustainable solutions for fishing industry

Fishackathon Miami

Venture Hive has partnered once again with the State Department to host the 2nd Annual Fishackathon, the world’s largest hackathon supporting our oceans.

The Fishackathon brings together technologists and coders over a weekend to create tools to address challenges in sustainable fishing around the world. There are 15 cities participating including London, Kuala Lumpur, Vancouver, New York City, Boston and Santiago.Chile.

Miami's Fishackathon 2015 kicks off on June 5th until June 7th and welcomes hackers, coders and enthusiasts to create solutions that can impact the health of our oceans.

More prizes will be confirmed soon but include a trip to the second annual Our Ocean's conference in Chile this fall and a trip and a chance to present at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. 

Click here to learn more and register.


The Florida Microfinance Act: How can it help my small business?


The Florida Microfinance Act (Florida Statutes Sections 288.993 to 288.9937) was enacted in 2014 to help provide access to certain financing options for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Small businesses and entrepreneurs have historically had significant problems raising capital, and the act was intended to address these problems.

Effective April 2, the state authorized designated loan administrators to begin accepting applications for participation in the program. The program has two components: a loan program where qualifying small businesses and entrepreneurs can get loans of up to $50,000, and a loan guarantee program (administered by Enterprise Florida) under which qualifying participants can obtain a loan guarantee in connection with loans from $50,000 to $250,000. The program is administered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

This program is available to small businesses or entrepreneurs in Florida that have no more than 25 employees and annual revenues of up to $1.5 million. Borrowers who seek loans must participate in business training and technical assistance provided by the Florida Small Business Development Network. Proceeds from a loan under the program must be used for startup costs, working capital and to purchase materials, supplies, furniture, fixtures and equipment. The repayment of loans must be personally guaranteed, and borrowers must provide information about job creation and other financial data to the loan administrator. A borrower can receive a maximum of $75,000 in loans each year and a maximum of two loans a year and five loans over a three-year period. The program is also designed to help small businesses and entrepreneurs get subsequent private financing.

How can this help your small business? It may provide relatively quick access to capital for qualifying small businesses and entrepreneurs. This can be very valuable because it provides a much-needed potential source of capital at a critical stage in development. Additionally, these companies and entrepreneurs often have difficulty raising initial capital. Personal resources and friend and family funds are usually limited, and most of these companies and entrepreneurs will not yet have realistic access to traditional bank financing or equity financing through venture capital, private equity or angel investors. This program may provide the initial jump start that a small company or entrepreneur needs to get the business going and to progress to the next step.

This program may be especially helpful in industries where technology has substantially reduced the amount of capital required for a business. In many industries the use of cloud-based technology, for example, has significantly reduced the costs of starting and operating the business. Even though the amounts available in the program are relatively small, they should be sufficient to allow many businesses to successfully navigate their early stage financial challenges and move to the next level.

Find information about the program and the requirements for participation at

Bob White is a shareholder with Gunster law firm.

StartupBus Florida invites Miami techies to Highway Hackathon



StartupBus produces the most intense startup competition in the world, where top talent compete as 'buspreneurs' to build the next generation of technology companies over the course of a 3-day roadtrip. 

This is StartupBus' 5th year embarking on their fast-paced highway hackathon, where 5 buses from different regions of the continent compete for startup glory.

Basically, you have 3 days and 700 miles to build something epic.  


StartupBus Florida leaves from Tampa on June 4th, and ends in Nashville, TN on June 8th.


We've coined the following terms for participants who are looking to push themselves to 70mph:

Hackers (Developers)
Hipsters (Designers)
Hustlers (Entrepreneurs, Biz Dev, Marketing)

Whether you're a hacker, developer or hustler, StartupBus is for anyone who's looking to network with top tech talent in North America, while building an awesome product along the way. 

Much like the Startup Weekend model, you enter the bus not knowing most of your fellow buspreneurs. Ideas are then pitched/selected, ice is broken, and before you know it, you're building something epic, and making lifelong friends along the way.


After 3 days of continuous building, StartupBus ends at Nashville's 36 | 86 Conference, where teams will pitch/demo their product to a panel of notable tech founders and VCs. (There is no bus ride back to Florida, however) 

Additional links and resources:

StartupBus Website:

May 24, 2015

Entrepreneurship Datebook: Events, workshops in South Florida

Tech eggBRAINFOOD: This month’s speaker is Peter Kellner, founder of Richmond Global, an investment fund company, and co-founder of Endeavor Global, a nonprofit that mentors and accelerates high-impact entrepreneurs, 6:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, May 26, The LAB Miami. 400 NW 26th St., Miami. Fee applies. More info: (click on Events).

THE SHARING ECONOMY: Bora Hamamcioglu, CEO of Carhopper, discusses the opportunities and challenges with collaborative consumption, 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 27, The LAB Miami.

GOOGLE I/O EVENT: YellowPepper is hosting the livestream of the Google I/O event from 12:30 to about 8 p.m. (schedule may be revised by Google) Thursday and Friday, May 28-29, 380 NW 24th St., Miami.Sign up here.

STARTUP WEEKEND: A 54-hour event where developers, designers and business development folks come together to pitch an idea and launch a business, Friday through Sunday, May 29-31, Venture Hive, 1010 NE Second Ave., Miami. For more information and tickets:


Dozens of Miami technology leaders signed an open letter to Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez calling for an open data policy. Instacart launched its grocery delivery service in Miami. Harvard is teaming up with the Idea Center and Launch Code to offer CS50x Miami course Registration ends May 29). Read these stories and more startup news and community views on the Starting Gate blog on

Nancy Dahlberg @ndahlberg

Read more here:


May 22, 2015

International Women's Forum bringing 2-day workshop to Miami

The International Women’s Forum, the largest global membership organization for women in senior leadership positions, will host a two-day Executive Development Roundtable in Miami to provide leadership, training and professional development to women entrepreneurs, with $104,000 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The invite-only event will be held July 14-15, 2014.

A 2015 snapshot from the Department of Labor Bureau of Statistics shows women have surpassed men in post-secondary degree attainment as well as labor force participation at a rate of 57 percent, yet persistent barriers remain for women. A recent Small Business Administration and Kaufman Foundation study found that women-run firms were generating half of the total revenue of their male counterparts.

The two-day intensive training aims to help women innovators scale their work, strengthen their professional acumen, and accelerate their careers. The approach focuses on improving leadership skills, self-efficacy and goal setting through training sessions, one-on-one coaching and networking in a supportive environment. “Investing in women entrepreneurs means investing in the growth of Miami’s startup community and its wider success,” said Matt Haggman, Knight Foundation program director for Miami. “This program provides women innovators access to a global network of high-power leaders, as well as the chance to learn more and scale their ideas.”

For more information on the International Women’s Forum, visit



May 21, 2015

Miami Dade College's inaugural Startup Challenge: And the winners are ...

Start Up_6893-

Photos by Carlos Llano/Miami Dade College

Leando Finol, executive director of the Idea Center, and Matt Haggman, Miami program director of the Knight Foundation, flank the winners of Miami Dade College's Startup Challenge: Socrate Elie and  Felix Puello of Onetown Boards. Below, Puello and Elie pose at their display.


Four months of work came down to this: Six finalists pitched for prize money and bragging rights at  Miami Dade College’s inaugural Startup Challenge on Wednesday. Leandro Finol, executive director of the Idea Center, said the entrants came from all MDC campuses and many different areas of study.

The grand prize, $5,000, went to Onetown Boards, which presented a prototype for an interactive experience for skaters. Second place, wining $3,000, was Marketing Connections, a provider of affordable, high quality, digital marketing solutions for small businesses, and third place, also winning $3,000, was Hi Foods, a food cart offering a variety of healthy, alternative seafood options.

“We offer a waterproof longboard with dual cameras, one that points forward and one pointing toward the rider, with lights and LED lighting for safety, a speedometer and distance tracker that can be viewed in an LED screen,” said Felix Puello, who pitched Onetown Boards – his first business – in the contest and said his Idea Center mentor has been helping him every step of the way.

Puello, who has an art and design background, at first was hand-painting skateboards, but came up with the idea for a teched-up board that would both record the skater’s experiences and mitigate safety risks. The business student from MDC’s North Campus and his business partner, Socrate Elie, will use the $5,000 for product development and the patent process. “I’m meeting with engineers tomorrow,” said Puello, who is also planning a Kickstarter campaign.

In all, 80 teams participated in the Challenge. Finol said it is not just about winning but the education – each contestant now knows how to start a business. “We planted the seeds of a program that will become part of the DNA of Miami Dade College in years to come.”

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