Endeavor selects entrepreneurs at International Selection Panels five times each year and its Miami event will be the largest ever, said David Wachtel, Endeavor’s senior vice president of marketing and communications. “We’re bringing 28 candidate companies to Miami — 22 of them from Latin America — and the event will attract a number of major international business leaders from Miami, Silicon Valley and Latin America to serve as judges,” he said.
Also as part of Innovate MIA week, there will be interactive events for local and regional startups, too.
While hackathons are becoming fairly common events in South Florida these days, the HackDay Foundation’s HackDay event Dec. 8-9 will be raising the bar, with a bigger prize and more emphasis on continued mentorship and company creation.
At the conclusion of the 24-hour HackDay at LAB Miami, five finalists will be chosen. Over the next few days, they will receive coaching as they prepare for their final showdown — pitching to the crowd at the AVCC on Dec. 14. The winning team will receive $30,000 in cash, plus another $20,000 if it commits to working full-time to launch the business, and will also be mentored and given co-working space at the LAB Miami in Wynwood. In addition, through a partnership with Wayra, the winning team will be fast-tracked into the final round for a spot in a Wayra accelerator.
“I think we have put all the pieces together now — mentors, funding and a top-notch accelerator program,” said Demian Bellumio, HackDay Foundation’s founder, an investor, and COO of Senzari. “We want to encourage entrepreneurs to stay and build companies in Miami.”
Kicking off Innovate MIA will be Incubate Miami’s DemoDay Dec. 6, where the Miami accelerator’s seven startups will present their companies to an expected crowd of more than 150 at Grand Central in downtown Miami. Incubate’s fourth class of startups will be presenting to the investors their solutions in crowdfunding, healthcare and fitness, real estate and entertainment. One of its startups, Regalos y Amigos, even recently relocated its business from Argentina to Miami, said Incubate Miami’s co-founder Marc Billings.
The next day at Miami Dade Colllege it’s TekFight, a free, creative tournament-style entrepreneurship event seeking to link Miami’s emerging innovators with top-level decision-makers. Participants can “belt up” by helping others and earn sessions with successful investors and entrepreneurs such as Manny Medina, said Saif Ishoof, who co-founded TekFight with Jose Antonio Hernandez-Solaun. “Martial arts is a fitting setting to place our work, since it is a world that honors those who are committed to helping others achieve while fostering a competitive spirit,” Ishoof said.
Matt Haggman, Miami program director for the Knight Foundation, which is a sponsor of AVCC, HackDay and TekFight and is making a huge push to accelerate a startup ecosystem in South Florida, said he hopes Innovate MIA will become a yearly tradition.
“We’re super excited about this. Events like these bring people together to begin forging meaningful relationships and provide learning opportunities,’’ said Haggman, adding that providing places to convene is an important building block of the startup infrastructure. “All the elements [of an ecosystem] are here but many are scattered. It’s about providing the support where needed and the connections.”