Other changes to expect: The LAB will be crowdfunding the garden project soon. It also plans to install a cafe in the entrance area and a video production studio.
Susan Amat believes that one of the keys to growing and sustaining a strong ecosystem is starting young — very young.
So beginning in January, Venture Hive will be opening a high school magnet school for technology entrepreneurship in a partnership with Miami-Dade County Schools. That’s a big development for the accelerator and incubator that opened its doors in January. But it turns out it’s always been part of Amat’s plan.
“We’ve developed a robust curriculum so high school students entering the program will have well-balanced exposure to tech entrepreneurship — everything from the developer mindset to the design mindset to business, communications, PR. We want to give them a strong view of what the rhythm of that world looks like,” said Amat, who founded Venture Hive.
This year’s pilot program, called Venture Hive Prep, will include 20 students in grades 11 and 12. The students will spend their mornings at their schools in regular classes, and then join Venture Hive in the afternoons for intense entrepreneurship and tech programming and will work alongside Venture Hive’s resident entrepreneurs. The application process will be announced soon.
Amat’s dream is to eventually offer a K-12 program.
“I am creating this for the 15-year-old me,” said Amat, a serial entrepreneur who dropped out of high school to start her first business before eventually returning and earning her doctorate. “I want to be able to give a ray of hope to kids who are full of passion — they may see something no one else sees. We are going to take them seriously. ... Entrepreneurship is not about showing someone you can do it, it’s about realizing your vision.”
In effect, the students will be part of the next accelerator class. “Whatever they are looking for, we will find a way to facilitate it. They may want to intern with an existing company — we have them. If they want to intern for a startup, that’s fine, too, but if they have a concept and they want to build it out, we’ll provide all the resources they’ll need to be able to do it. That’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these kids.”
And other big changes are in store as Venture Hive prepares to enter its second year. In its short life, Venture Hive companies have created 34.25 jobs at an average salary of $40,360, according to its report published in May. It has also been responsible for 13 business relocations and three new business formations, the report said. Venture Hive, a nonprofit, is supported by the Miami-Dade County mayor’s office and the Miami Downtown Development Authority, which together committed $1.5 million in funding.
The accelerator works with entrepreneurs finding solutions in industries that are strong in Miami-Dade — healthcare, tourism/hospitality and the creative industries (film, music, the arts, design). For the next class starting in January, trade/logistics will also be included. The 10 accelerator companies chosen will again receive $25,000 grants and free office space at the Hive for a year.
Venture Hive will be taking applications on venturehive.co through Nov. 1 for the accelerator. Like this year’s class, in which half the teams selected were from Latin America and moved here, Venture Hive is seeing large interest from international companies, even from as far away as Asia and Africa, said Amat. She said Venture Hive is not a typical accelerator: “The goal is not to come for three months and leave, the goal is to stay. We will have the majority of our first class here as mentors and colleagues — that’s key.”