The conference brought many satellite events as well. The Colombian government, for instance, brought eight of its start-ups to present at a private pitch event on Friday. “If you want to spark innovation, you have to make your entrepreneurs national stars,” said Catalina Ortis Lalinda, who is helping to lead the effort for the government. She said the government also began just two months ago giving about $180,000 to qualifying entrepreneurial teams with operations in Colombia. They have received 350 applications and have already funded 16 ventures, she said.
As usual, Miami worked its natural magic as well, and some entrepreneurs said they were considering relocating their companies or U.S. offices here. Among them was Martin Varsavsky, a well-known European serial entrepreneur and investor and CEO of FON, the largest Wi-Fi network in the world that has not yet entered the U.S. market.
Varsavsky, who left Argentina at 17 and spent time in Madrid, London, New York and now Miami, said he is exploring opening the U.S. office for FON in South Florida and running global functions out of it. “The question is: Can I get the world class team that I need? I think it may be possible.”
Gary Urteaga of Cinepapaya in Peru, a startup for online and mobile sales of movie tickets in emerging markets that presented at AVCC and Wayra, said he’s found leads on clients while at the conference. “We want to move to Miami and work on all these opportunities from here.”
At other events this week:
• Five finalists from HackDay, a one-day hackathon that finished Sunday, also took the ballroom stage at the venture conference, ultimately competing for up to a $50,000 cash prize provided by the Knight Foundation and Tres Mares Group. The winning team was asked to continue on to develop the hackathon project into a startup business and would get mentoring and co-working space to do just that.
Three teen-ager from Brazil won the grand prize for their app AskMeOut. Will they stay the summer in Miami and build their company here? “One of us is a minor so we have to consult with our parents,” quipped one of them.
• Wayra Global, Telefonica Digital’s accelerator, has already invested in more than 170 startups since it launched its first of 12 academies in 11 countries 18 months ago. It showcased 17 of its startups in its first international DemoDay at the LAB Miami co-working center in Wynwood on Wednesday. The event, which attracted more than 200 investors and supporters, will be back, pledged Gonzalo Martín-Villa, CEO of Wayra Global.
The pitch event had a rock star feel at times, with loud musical intros as each entrepreneur ran up on stage and grabbed the mike. But the five-minute presentations were serious and thoughtful.
Among the presenters: Machina of Mexico and its wearable technology; Clear Karma of Germany that empowers consumers to make safer food choices; Bragbet of Ireland with a social gambling solution; and Cognicor of Spain, which provides a complaint resolution service.
At the event, Martín-Villa also announced that for the first time startups from anywhere in the world could apply for any of the Wayra accelerators. Within 20 minutes of the announcement, 30 projects were submitted.
• Earlier in the week, Endeavor, a global nonprofit that promotes high-impact entrepreneurship in emerging markets, held its three-day International Selection Panel in Miami for the first time. A group of judges selected Endeavor’s next class of high-impact entrepreneurs from a group of 28 companies.
Each startup team was interviewed by several groups of judges; ultimately, 40 entrepreneurs from 21 teams were selected for extensive mentorship and other support from the nonprofit’s network of 3,500 mentors.
“In Endeavor’s 15-year history, this was our largest International Selection Panel to date,” said Endeavor co-founder and CEO Linda Rottenberg. They join the more than 700 high-impact Endeavor has selected over the years.
Endeavor Entrepreneurs have had a significant track record of creating thousands of jobs and building sustainable growth models in their home countries, she said.
Among those selected this week: salaUno of Mexico, a provider of cataract surgery clinics for low-income citizens; Lomar of Saudi Arabia, which re-imagined the thobe, the robe-like traditional Arab men’s garment, with a fashion forward spin; and Widetech of Colombia, which helps companies manage their logistics operations.
Read more on The Starting Gate blog about AVCC and other Innovate MIA events. Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg