Thursday’s Miami Herald Small Business Forum features Zumba’s CEO, 4 interactive panels


Miami Herald staff

Prepare your best pitch for the Miami Herald’s Small Business Forum on Thursday, Feb. 21, at the south campus of our sponsor, Florida International University. Tickets will be sold at the door.

In addition to how-to panels and inspirational stories from successful entrepreneurs, our annual small business forum will include interactive opportunities with experts to learn about financing options and polish your personal and business brands.

During our finance panel, audience volunteers will be invited to explain their financing needs to the group. During our box-lunch session, they will be invited to pitch their business or personal brand to our coaches.

Those who prefer just to listen will be treated to a keynote address by Alberto Perlman, co-founder of the global fitness craze Zumba (see bio below). Panels include success stories from the local entrepreneurs who founded Sedano’s, Jennifer’s Homemade and; finance tips from experts in small business loans, venture capital, angel investments and traditional bank loans; and insiders in the burgeoning South Florida tech start-up scene. Scroll down to see the panelists’ bios

Plus, it’s a real bargain. $25 includes the half-day seminar, continental breakfast and a box lunch. The forum takes place at Florida Intenational University’s South Campus at the College of Business Complex, Special Events Room, 11200 SW 8th St., Miami. Walk-ups are welcome are Thursday.

Register here.


8 a.m.

Registration and continental breakfast, provided by Bill Hansen Catering

8:30 a.m. Welcome

Host: David Suarez, president and CEO, Interactive Training Solutions, LLC

•  Jerry Haar, PhD, associate dean & director, FIU Eugenio Pino and Family Global

Entrepreneurship Center

•  Alice Horn, executive director, Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE South Florida)

•  Jane Wooldridge, Business editor, The Miami Herald

Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge Overview:

•  Nancy Dahlberg, Business Plan Challenge coordinator, The Miami Herald

8:45 a.m. Session I – Success Stories

Moderator: Jerry Haar, PhD, associate dean & director, FIU Eugenio Pino and Family Global

Entrepreneurship Center


•  Jennifer Behar, founder, Jennifer’s Homemade

•  Matt Kuttler, co-president of

•  Javier Herrán, chief marketing officer, Sedano’s Supermarkets

10 a.m. Session II – All about Tech

Moderator: Jane Wooldridge, Business editor, The Miami Herald


•  Susan Amat, founder, Launch Pad Tech

•  Nancy Borkowski, executive director, Health Management Programs, Chapman Graduate School of

Business, Florida International University

•  Chris Fleck, vice president of mobility solutions at Citrix and a director of the South Florida Tech Alliance

•  Charles Irizarry, co-founder and director of product architecture, Rokk3r Labs

11:15 a.m. Keynote

Speaker: Alberto Perlman, CEO and co-founder of Zumba® Fitness

Introduction: Jane Wooldridge, business editor, The Miami Herald

11:45 a.m. Session III – Show me the money: Financing your small business

An interactive session featuring audience volunteers who will be invited to make a short investment pitch before a panel, including experts in microlending, SBA loans, traditional bank loans, venture capital and angel investing. Audience volunteers should come prepared with a two-minute presentation that includes details about current backing, how much money they are seeking and a brief synosis of ow that money would be used.

Moderator: Melissa Krinzman, founder and managing director, Venture Architects


•  Marjorie Weber, chairman, SCORE of Miami-Dade

•  Cornell Crews, Jr., program director, Partners for Self Employment

•  Darius G. Nevin, co-founder, G3 Capital Partners, a mid-market and early-stage investment company

•  Boris Hirmas Said, chairman of the board, Tres Mares S.A. (Santiago, Chile) and entrepreneur in

residence at the Eugenio Pino and Family Global Entrepreneurship Center

1 p.m. Lunch session - Polish your Pitch, Brighten Your Personal Brand

An interactive session featuring audience volunteers who will be invited to make short pitches about their businesses and themselves. Audience volunteers should come prepared with a two-minute presentation.

Coaches: Melissa Krinzman of Venture Architects, Michelle Villalobos of Mivista Consulting and David Suarez of Interactive Training Solutions advise audience volunteers on how to best pitch themselves and their products.

Box lunch provided by Bill Hansen Catering

All speakers confirmed unless otherwise noted. Agenda is subject to change without notice .

Keynote speaker: Alberto Perlman

Alberto Perlman is the chief executive officer and co-founder of Zumba Fitness, the largest branded dance-fitness company in the world. The brand began as a single class in a Miami gym, and has grown to having more than 14 million weekly participants in 140,000 locations across 150 countries.

Under Perlman’s leadership, the company experienced growth of almost 800 percent from 2009 to 2012. He has forged partnerships between Zumba Fitness and brands including Kellogg’s, The American Heart Association, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the NBA and Club Med.

Last month, Perlman was included in Inc. magazine’s "Top 5 CEOs to Watch." In December, Zumba was honored as Inc.’s Company of the Year.

Perlman also serves on the board of the Soccer for Peace Foundation, which builds soccer fields for after-school programs in Latin America. Perlman earned his bachelor’s degree in business from Babson College, from which he graduated Summa Cum Laude.

The panelists

Susan Amat is the founder of Launch Pad Tech, a new technology accelerator in downtown Miami, and co-founder and executive director of The Launch Pad at Toppel, an entrepreneurial career center at the University of Miami. A serial entrepreneur, she started and ran a successful record label and developed a television show and the first CD-Rom magazine. She is a lecturer for UM’s School of Business Administration, chairs Startup Florida, part of the Startup America partnership, and chairs the STEM Board for Miami-Dade County Schools.

Jennifer Behar created Jennifer’s Homemade, a purveyor of gourmet biscotti, breadsticks and flatbread, in 2005. The products are sold in gourmet markets, restaurants and hotels nationwide. She began her career as an advertising executive at Lintas: Worldwide in New York City, where she managed products including the Johnson & Johnson hair care line. She has served on the board of Feeding South Florida and the South Florida board of Share our Strength, and has been featured in Food & Wine and Gourmet magazines, The New York Times, The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer on CNN and The Martha Stewart Show.

Dr. Nancy Borkowski has more than 15 years of experience in faculty positions at Florida International University and St. Thomas University. She has 20 years of experience in the healthcare industry, having held executive positions in physician practice management and managed care. She is also a certified public accountant and is board certified in health management as a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives. The first edition of Borkowski’s book Organizational Behavior in Health Care has been referred to as “one of the most significant advances in the field of health services administration.” She continues to serve as a consultant and member on many healthcare companies’ boards of directors.

Cornell Crews Jr., a retired U.S. Army veteran, has been program director for Partners For Self Employment, a U.S. Small Business Administration certified lender for Miami-Dade and Broward counties, for 12 years. He oversees the peer loan, direct loan and individual development account programs for the nonprofit organization that provides training, technical assistance and loans to startups and seasoned businesses.

Chris Fleck, a vice president of the Fort Lauderdale-based technology company Citrix Systems, is responsible for expanding Citrix mobility offerings and developing strategic alliances. Fleck is also part of the Citrix CTO Office, driving the company mobility strategy. Previously, Fleck was CEO and a founder of 14 South Networks (OmniCluster Technologies) and a pioneer in the application of Blade Technology for the IT industry. In addition, Fleck worked for 20 years at IBM in a variety of sales, business development and engineering roles.

Jerry Haar is director of the Pino Global Entrepreneurship Center and associate dean and professor in the College of Business, Florida International University. He is also a non-resident research fellow at the Vale Columbia Center on International Sustainable Development at Columbia University. Formerly associated with North-South Center, University of Miami, he has held visiting appointments at Wharton, Harvard, Oxford, Stanford and the American Enterprise Institute. He was also a research associate at Columbia University and a Fulbright Scholar at the Fundação Getúlio Vargas in Brazil.

Javier Herrán serves as chief marketing officer and director of information technology for Sedano’s Supermarkets. From a single store in 1962, the Sedano’s chain has grown to more than 34 supermarkets across South and Central Florida. As the son of Ezequiel Herrán, one of the founding members of the Hispanic retailer, Herrán has worked in different areas of the business from a very young age. He has more than 20 years of experience in the food retail industry.

Boris Hirmas Said, currently entrepreneur-in-residence at Florida International University’s Pino Global Entrepreneurship Center, is the chairman of Tres Mares, S.A. (Chile), an innovation-driven holding company that invests and retains interests alongside venture capital / private equity funds and multilateral organizations throughout Latin America and the United States. Hirmas is also chairman of YellowPepper México, a mobile banking company. He is also developing the Knowledge@Wharton High School edition with the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and is involved in a host of philanthropic pursuits.

Charles Irizarry is a co-founder of Rokk3r Labs and is responsible for product architecture and delivery excellence within the Lab and oversees the team to meet this goal. He works with clients/partners on a regular basis to architect technology solutions and develop user experiences that are intuitive and beautiful to use and work with. He was co-founder and partner at 5DPI Media, a Web development startup based out of Miami, and played an instrumental role in the acquisition of 5DPI Media by Decipher Labs and the subsequent formation of Rokk3r Labs.

Melissa Krinzman is founder and managing director of Venture Architects, a leading business planning firm that positions private companies and nonprofit organizations for success in the capital-raising process. She also recently created the Venture Architects Investor Network, a curated online network to match accredited investors and entrepreneurs. Previously, Krinzman was president of Tyber USA, the U.S. subsidiary of a European fabric manufacturer and fashion company, and held management posts at three national nonprofits. She is on boards for The Miami Foundation, Ransom Everglades School and Locust Projects.

Matt Kuttler is co-president/co-founder of, an eTailer of supplies for small businesses with 200,000 items in categories including restaurant supplies, office supplies, electronics and tools. From 2008-2011 ReStockIt⊗.com nearly doubled its revenue to $25.6 million and has been recognized as Business of the Year by South Florida Business Journal (2008 and 2010) and the third fastest growing Internet retailer in the U.S. (by Internet Retailer Magazine). In October 2012, ReStockIt was acquired by Acme Paper & Supply Company, a leading distributor of restaurant, janitorial and foodservice supplies and equipment.

Darius G. Nevin is co-founder of G3 Capital Partners, a mid-market and early-stage investment company, and expert advisor to private equity firms regarding the security industry. He is also the former CFO of two publicly-listed security monitoring companies: Protection One, the third-largest in the U.S. during his tenure; and Guardian International. He also worked at First Chicago Venture Capital and served on boards of several early-stage tech companies. G3 recently provided growth capital to two South Florida companies.

David Suarez is the founder and lead facilitator for Interactive Training Solutions, a corporate training, team building and executive coaching firm, utilizing improvisation, experiential and applied learning for B2B and B2C applications. Suarez is also a board member for the FIU School of Business Alumni Circle, the Greater Miami Society of Human Resources Management and the Social Media Club of South Florida and volunteers with Leadership Miami, Youth Leadership Miami and NFTE.

Michelle Villalobos teaches, trains and speaks about personal branding, and founded the semiannual Women’s Success Summit, which has become South Florida’s largest business conference for women. She is also co-founder of Make Them Beg, a personal branding company, and heads Mivista Consulting. She developed 13 programs that have been delivered to more than 100,000 people. The Miami Herald named her one of Miami’s “Top 20 under 40” in 2011, and she regularly speaks about how people — and especially women — can get ahead in business on Telemundo.

Marjorie Weber is chair of SCORE Miami Dade, overseeing 80+counselors who provide mentoring and present workshops to the chapter's clients. She also is a workshop presenter and provides mentoring to clients seeking capital to grow their companies. The chapter, on of the nation's largest, counsels more than 2,900 businesses. She is also president of Florida Fidelity Group, assisting investors and real estate developers with their funding needs. She was a founding member of The Haitian American Emergency Relief Committee and served on the Home Loan Bank Board, Atlanta, Task Force.

Compiled by Maria LaMagna and Nancy Dahlberg of the Miami Herald staff.

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