eMerge Americas Techweek

At Miami tech conference, Pitbull, winners, jobs, dogs and drones


Pitbull, the businessman

Closing the eMerge Americas Techweek conference at the Miami Beach Convention Center was a mainstage chat between eMerge founder Manny Medina and Armando Christian Pérez. Best known as a rapper, Pitbull is also a serious businessman and 305 booster who thanks one of his teachers, Hope Martinez, for turning him on to a professional rap career. These days his portfolio includes branded vodka, cologne and fashion accessories. He’s also entering the tech space.

The key ingredient to his success: Hard work. “I’m in a business where 90 percent of [success] is hard work and 10 percent is talent,” he said. “I”m not the best rapper but I’m the hardest working one.’’

That industrious work ethic, a sharp strategy and Miami’s fast-growing, international sensibility are all part of his formula. “See how fast the city is growing? This is going to be silicon paradise. . . We can interrupt and then tell them, excuse me, we’re here to disrupt. We’ve done it in music and we can do it with tech.’’

His advice to the tech crowd: “It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.’’

And the winners are...

Among the many activities at the conference are competitions among startup companies for cash prizes. A total of 200 companies entered the two contests: one for early-stage companies, which have yet to raise $500,000; and a second for later-stage companies, which have already seen a higher level of investment.

In the early-stage division, Miami’s Hair Construction Inc., which showcases celebrity haircuts to consumers and provides instructions for stylists, took the trophy and $50,000 in cash and prizes, beating out 14 other finalists. In the later-stage division, winner Modernizing Medicine, a Boca Raton-based electronic records company, donated its $100,000 prize to the entrepreneurship community. Miami Innovation Fund also offered an investment term sheet worth $50,000 to WeRX, a web-based service that helps consumers identify prescription prices at various stores.

High tech vs. low

Some exhibits featured solutions that combine traditional methods with technological ones. At the Taiwan pavilion, Relax FIR Master showcased a device (a lamp) that projects traditional chi energy via a processor to heal, re-energize and tighten . . a natural alternative, of sorts, to Botox.

At the Florida International University pavilion, the drone and the dog provided evidence of an FIU-developed avocado-disease detection system. The drone first spots patches of disease from the air; Buddy the golden retriever and other trained dogs then sniff out the trees affected.

Also at the FIU booth were exhibits on the FIU wind tunnel used recently by a Milan firm to determine standards for balcony gardens and an underwater station where scientists monitoring experiments on the seabed off Islamorada conversed by live feed with expo-goers. The exhibit is designed to showcase FIU’s technology efforts to help students find jobs, attract tech transfer investments and raise awareness of technology for hire, and include the Aquarius underwater lab and the wind wall, explained FIU spokeswoman Maydel Santana-Bravo.

Show me the money

The good news: If you are a developer or designer, there are jobs for you. The bad news: There aren't enough of you.

That’s what the employers and staffing firms were saying at eMerge Americas Techweek’s hiring fair Tuesday. About 50 companies, from big firms like Microsoft, Ryder and Accenture to small companies like Collaborative Boating, participated in the free fair, but another 100 other companies had to be turned away because of space constraints, said Alex Funkhauser, CEO of tech staffing firm SherlockTech. User-experience designers are a particularly hot commodity, he said.

Nancy Dahlberg, Jane Wooldridge

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