Articles by

Jenna Buehler

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    Above: Della Heiman, founder of The Wynwood Yard, interviews Manuel D. Medina, managing partner of Medina Capital and founder of eMerge Americas, on what Miami can expect from the third year of eMerge and the future of tech capital in Miami. Photo by Cristian Lazzari/Miami Dade College. The third year of eMerge Americas is expected to unite more than 10,000 diverse innovators and investors, and more than 500 startups and corporations from Miami and around the world for a hackathon, startup showcase and demo, panels and keynote speaker series. Manuel D. Medina, managing partner of Medina Capital and founder of eMerge Americas, which is funded in part by Knight Foundation, says the quality of the participants for the event has scaled beyond his wildest expectations. A high-tech serial entrepreneur, Medina says eMerge brings together new tech talent with experienced  founders within the global startup ecosystem to discuss major trends and opportunities. This year’s events will take place April 15-19, and will feature everyone from Monica Lewinsky to skateboarder and entrepreneur Tony Hawk to Ret. General Colin Powell. “This isn’t about being Silicon Valley,” Medina said. “This is being the tech hub of Latin America, showcasing the talent, and having important conversations related to the subject of tech and entrepreneurship.” The Idea Center at Miami Dade College featured Medina as a speaker in its “[email protected]” speaker series Monday night. Medina’s passion for filling the tech gap served as the lead topic for the Q&A, which was moderated by Della Heiman, a serial entrepreneur and founder of The Wynwood Yard in Miami. Manuel D. Medina, managing partner of Medina Capital and founder of eMerge Americas. Photo by Cristian Lazzari/Miami Dade College. Heiman: What are major trends in tech in Miami and Latin America today?
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    Above: Lilia Luciano, founder of CoInspire, and Jim McKelvey, co-founder of LaunchCode, an emerging nonprofit that has helped 300 South Florida residents  learn to code, discuss next steps in better connecting residents with jobs. Photo by Jenna Buehler. Jim McKelvey, co-founder of the $6 billion company Square, which debuted last month on the New York Stock Exchange, says that South Florida has proved to be an excellent location to expand LaunchCode, a nonprofit that equips residents with relevant coding skills and competitive job opportunities for free. Since March, LaunchCode has trained more than 300 local students and community members. In the next six weeks, McKelvey says he expects to report that all graduates of the first class have received competitive technical positions. McKelvey founded LaunchCode in St. Louis and expanded it to South Florida, its first expansion city, in 2014 with the support of Knight Foundation. The Idea Center at Miami Dade College featured McKelvey as the first speaker in its new “CodePro: What’s Next” monthly series, which kicked off Thursday night.  The Q&A moderated by Lilia Luciano, a journalist and local entrepreneur, served to explore what emerging tech entrepreneurs can expect in the future. Prior to diving into reports of LaunchCode’s success, Luciano first applauded McKelvey for hitting a new milestone and taking Square public. McKelvey said that South Florida’s openness to new ideas and its eagerness to fill the tech gap are two important elements that will help to launch similar “radical ideas”  throughout the region. Some of the questions explored included: Luciano: Can we get started with the Square IPO? I’m sure everyone in the room is curious how the process has been in the past 2 weeks. McKelvey: The best way I can describe it [is] that it’s like a roller coaster. You get there and the ride clicks down and there is a certain point where you’re committed to the ride. Prior to this, we certainly were not subject to scrutiny because we were not a public company. Now, unfortunately, that we are, I’m not allowed to speak about Square and the great things we did.
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    Aimee Rawlins (left), startup and innovation editor at CNNMoney, moderated a discussion with Anand Shah of BMW Impact Ventures, Kyle Doerksen of Future Motion, Tiffany Chu of Transitmix, Sabrina Sussman of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America), and Chris Thomas, founder and partner at Fontinalis, on how to best disrupt models of mobility with technology. Photo by Preston Tesvich. The 2015 Smart City Startups festival brought more than 100 leading global innovators with ideas to make cities better into conversation with South Florida residents, city leaders and investors last week. Founders of companies that use technology to lead change across the globe spoke at The Light Box at Goldman Warehouse and took part in a showcase at the Wynwood Warehouse Project in Miami April 23-24. This is the second year that startup solutions to urban problems were broadcast via live stream from Miami. The two-day event featured lightning talks by company founders, demos from 100 leading startups, and conversations about what it takes to disrupt and innovate in communities across the globe.
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    Photo: Andrés Duany, partner at Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co. in Miami, left, and Hank Dittmar, former chief executive of The Prince’s Foundation in London. Courtesy of Urban Land Institute.  Developers from around the world took part in discussions on small-scale projects to revitalize urban neighborhoods last week at the Hilton Miami Downtown. That was the focus of the Urban Land Institute Small-Scale Developers Forum April 16-17. Several speakers championed the idea of making the development process more accessible and inclusive, especially to young and immigrant leaders seeking to build enduring value in their communities. One central topic was “Lean Urbanism.” An introduction to the concept of what it means to incorporate the “lean” philosophy into a city was made by architectural planners and urban design strategists Hank Dittmar, principal at Hank Dittmar Associates and former chief executive of The Prince’s Foundation in London, and Andrés Duany, a partner at Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co. in Miami.
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    Marco Giberti, right, a Latin American angel investor and entrepreneur, with serial entrepreneur Ola Ahlvarsson. Photo by Jenna Buehler. The growth in Miami’s startup ecosystem over the last five years compelled Ola Ahlvarsson, a Sweden-based investor and serial entrepreneur, to immerse himself in the creative energy of South Florida, where he already had a second home. Wednesday night, he was the featured speaker at the Brainfood Mentor Talk Series hosted at The LAB Miami. The series is supported by Knight Foundation and Endeavor Miami, the first U.S. affiliate of a global nonprofit that helps foster high-impact entrepreneurship.
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    Anais Perez, 17, a student at Doral Performing Arts & Entertainment Academy and a 2015 YoungArts Winner in Visual Arts (above), joins the newest class of YoungArts finalists this week. Photo provided by YoungArts. This post has been updated.  YoungArts Miami will celebrate its newest class of 100 South Florida artists by hosting a series of public performances and exhibitions March 13-15. The program will showcase students and alumni in multidisciplinary performances, readings, film screenings and visual arts exhibitions on the YoungArts campus in Miami and at The Colony Theatre on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach.  For three decades, student artists of all backgrounds across the country have gained access to institutions, such as  The Juilliard School, and exclusive opportunities, such as the U.S. Presidential Scholar of the Arts award, as a result being accepted as National YoungArts Week finalists.
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    Brian Breslin, founder of the networking and workshop series Refresh Miami, and Brian Brackeen, founder of Kairos, a facial recognition software company that was nominated as one of the Wall Street Journal’s 2013 startups of the year, discuss the ups and downs of launching a startup. Photo by Preston Tesvich. Two years ago, Brian Breslin, founder of the networking and workshop series Refresh Miami, met Brian Brackeen, a Miami-based entrepreneur who frequented the city’s many networking events in search of investment opportunities for his facial recognition software, Kairos.  Today, Brackeen’s startup success has distinguished him as a regular on Miami’s entrepreneur’s speakers circuit. Kairos has received $2 million from investors in Florida and California. At Thursday night’s Refresh Miami event at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, Brackeen offered the not-so-glamorous truths behind the sometimes romanticized view of startups.
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    At the Learn.Do.Share. workshop hosted by FilmGate Interactive this weekend, team “Raise The Earth” presented their ideas to make South Florida more of a place where people are motivated to take sustainable actions. The ideas presented by (left to right) Amy Molina, Tristan Calay, Teiheim Edwards, Sarah Engel, Meyling Yi, Brian Martinez, and Steven Espinoza will be incubated for the next 12 months by FilmGate. Photo by Jenna Buehler. Just how Miami Beach will survive amidst projected sea level rise is one of the thorniest issues affecting the island city. Last week, 30 teens from across South Florida brainstormed solutions as part of Learn Do Share, a multimedia workshop series that was part of the transmedia conference FilmGate Interactive. Run by Columbia University, Learn Do Share. is a design workshop that helps prototype interactive solutions for global challenges. “The work that we do is about creatively solving problems that communities face by finding ways to involve youth as part of that process,” said co-founder Lance Weiler. “It takes a lot of people to attack complex, wicked problems and at Learn Do Share. we are empowering youth to collaborate on ideas and implement prototypes for change.”
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    Above: At Wednesday’s Miami Finance Forum event, Manuel Medina, founder of Medina Capital, said Miami is “at the forefront of becoming the tech hub of the Americas.” Photo by Jenna Buehler More than 300 executives, investors, and entrepreneurs attended “Mapping Miami’s Financial Future” hosted by the Miami Finance Forum at the downtown Conrad hotel Wednesday. Champions of the city’s tech scene said that, in securing Miami’s role as the tech hub of the Americas, it’s important to celebrate success and prepare to scale. Manuel Medina, founder of Medina Capital, opened the forum with a keynote speech on the future of Miami’s economy.  Introduced as a  “titan of tech” by KPMG partner Jean-Pierre Trouillot, Medina, a pioneer investor in Miami who fueled the city’s tech ecosystem throughout the dot-com boom and during the Great Recession, reminded attendees of the many historic opportunities in innovation that have revolutionized society and disrupted capital investments around the globe.
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    Jim McKelvey, co-founder of Square, right, announced the first LaunchCode Miami class will take place March 3. Wifredo Fernandez, director of CREATE Miami, left, and Leandro Finol, executive director of the Idea Center, asked McKelvey about the challenges and opportunities he has discovered in South Florida. Photo by Preston Tesvich. One solution to Miami’s tech talent shortage is in reach. That was the message from Jim McKelvey, founder of LaunchCode, during an appearance Wednesday night at the Idea Center in downtown Miami. During a talk, “Land Your Dream Job,” he asked 200 attendees to tell their friends and their friend’s friends that it’s time to get “a six-figure job” as a computer programmer, that it’s free, and anyone can sign up today. McKelvey, the co-founder of the $6 billion company Square, was the featured guest for the Idea Center’s “Pioneers @ MDC” lecture series hosted at Miami Dade College. The free, monthly lectures inspire local entrepreneurs with stories from leaders in innovation. Knight Foundation supports both the Idea Center and LaunchCode to attract and keep talented workers in South Florida, while building the entrepreneurial community and expanding economic opportunity.
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    Above: Winners of the third Wyncode pitch showcase say they’re excited to be alumni of the nine-week code bootcamp founded by Juha Mikkola (left) and Johanna Mikkola (right). Raymond Braaf and Todd Metheny pitched Interque, a technical Q&A crowdsourcing platform, to a crowd of 200. Photo by Jenna Buehler. Miami’s first coding bootcamp has become so successful that its founders plan to expand to Fort Lauderdale. That news emerged Thursday from Wyncode Pitch Day Tres hosted at The LAB Miami in Wynwood. The pitch day introduced 21 new coders to the local tech community, the third class to complete the program. Since the launch of the nine-week code curriculum in May, the school has connected 96 percent of its graduates -- who had no previous coding experience -- with jobs in the region’s growing tech scene. Co-founders Juha and Johanna Mikkola said that because of the success of their 51 graduates and the receptiveness of local hiring partners they plan to expand Wyncode Academy to Fort Lauderdale in 2015.