Take a Tour of the Newest Google Campus [ PHOTOS ]

In downtown Madrid, just south of the Royal Palace, the newest Google Campus is celebrating just one month in operation., a Google space, is a space for entrepreneurs to work, connect, and learn. It’s an initiative of Google for Entrepreneurs, the company’s entrepreneurial support organization, that has already launched in London (2012), Tel Aviv (2012), and Seoul (2015). Separate from the local Google office, each Google Campus is open to the community and has a few different sections:
Cafe: Here, entrepreneurs can work for free from Monday to Friday, grab a coffee, and enjoy fast Internet (300 Mbps in the new Madrid location). Campus Madrid has seen over 4,500 people pass through this space in the first month.

Coworking space: Google invites a local organization to manage coworking desks inside each Campus. If you want a permanent place to work in Madrid, you can rent a desk from TechHub for €245 per month.

Event space: As part of its “support the community” mission, Google Campus offers free space for entrepreneurial events, such as networking events or hackathons. Anyone can apply to host an event.
Education: At a Google Campus, you can spruce up your startup knowledge by attending talks by seasoned entrepreneurs or getting mentored by local investors or Googlers. (In Madrid, 40% of Googlers from the local office volunteered to help with mentorship and education.) You can also apply for a Campus Exchange or Campus for Moms program, which are longer and more intensive. The first Campus Exchange in Madrid welcomed eight Spanish and Portuguese B2B startups to Campus for a week to network and work on their businesses.
Madrid has a growing startup community with room for growth, which is the perfect match for Campus. “Madrid has a big potential to become a new global hub for innovation and entrepreneurship,” says Virginia Wassmann, a communications manager at Google. “Nevertheless, there are still many challenges that Spanish entrepreneurs face.” You could say the same about Warsaw and Sao Paulo, where Google Campus is headed later this year.
Google Campus lets Google keep its ear to the ground, in touch with the newest and craziest ideas that entrepreneurs are working on. Presumably it’s the kind of support that Larry Page and Sergey Brin could have used 17 years ago when they were toiling away in a garage – although that didn’t hold them back much.
“Entrepreneurs have transformative ability to build products that solve our daily challenges, improve our communities, and strengthen our economies. This growth will ultimately help Google and the open web grow as well,” says Wassmann.

Australian Startups: an Under-Appreciated sector

A report commissioned by Google Australia titled ‘Crossroads 2015‘ says Australia’s startup sector could add nearly $109 billion to the Australian economy by 2033, and create nearly 540,000 new jobs in the process. Sadly, while developed economies globally continue to bolster startup sector funding, our government seems to be moving in the opposite direction.
Australian Startups Un-loved
The Australian government has not invested enough into the startup space when compared with other developed nations:
Singapore: has guaranteed more than A$14 billion over a 5-year horizon to innovative enterprises
China: has pledged A$8 billion fund for new technology-based ventures
New Zealand: is expanding its network of government supported startup incubators and enhancing funding programs for startups
South Korea: has implemented A$4 billion into a Creative Economy initiative
USA: has embarked on a decade-long initiative to fund medical technologies and Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based industries
Meanwhile here at home, the Innovation Investment Fund was abolished in last year’s budget, and the new Entrepreneurs Infrastructure Program is underfunded by 50% compared to its predecessor.
On a per-capita basis, venture capital in Australia is 1/10th that of Israel or the US.
Technology-based startups produce a 1:5 knock-on effect on job creation (1 successful startup job = 5 additional jobs in other sectors). So why are we giving our startups the cold shoulder?
The Perfect Storm
There is a perfect storm brewing that can help lift Australia out of the startup stagnation climate that we are in:
The perfect time: Look at the economies around the world and one trend is painfully apparent: we are in a time of ‘no to low growth’. Traditional sectors that have driven economies up until now (think mining & manufacturing) are struggling in this environment, meaning it’s time to pivot, adapt and change. If we want to grow with the rest of the world, we need “futuristic” startup businesses to ramp up – soon – as in right now, in order to start contributing to growth in 2-5 years down the line.
The perfect conditions: Investors, at home and overseas, are looking for new investment ideas in a ‘no to low growth’ environment. A vibrant Australian startup sector could attract a lot of those investment dollars now, before it’s too late. Government inaction will drive that funding to startups in other countries in the region.
To sail through this perfect storm successfully, we need government-sponsored action…and we need it ASAP!
Action Is Needed – Now
We rank low amongst developed nations in terms of startup formations in the country. According to Australian-born Silicon Valley entrepreneur, and author of “Blue Sky Mining”, Adrian Turner:
“Australia is likely to miss out on the urgently-needed creation of new multi-billion dollar industries essential to maintain prosperity and complement the mining boom through federal government failure to understand the basic ingredients for innovation”
The Crossroads 2015 report confirms Mr. Turner’s assessment, but indicates that all may not yet be lost. It recommends some immediate action that our government, in concert with other private partnerships, can take immediately to transform us into a knowledge-based economy, including:
1) Creating a national innovation agency: to give centralised focus and direction to all other innovation and entrepreneurship initiatives.
2) Fostering a national network of startup communities: by encouraging infrastructure and support systems that tech based (and other) start ups can use to grow and thrive.
3) Increasing funding for startups: through programs such as grants, subsidies, tax incentives and matching-funding initiatives, to draw other funding, through angel investors and private venture capital, to flow into the sector.
The report has 20+ recommendations which spell out the short, medium and long term actions needed in order to reduce our dependence on low-impact manufacturing sector by stimulating startups in high-growth sectors.
We need action NOW. The consequences of delayed action or inaction are too grave!
Image Credit: Flickr/Sacha Fernandez

These Women are Piloting the Future of the Drone Market

My friends, if you didn’t pick up on it by now you should know that I’m completely drone obsessed. I haven’t met many people who aren’t, actually. On an obvious level I love how fast they fly, the photos and videos they capture, and the fun applications for the future.
On a completely different level I’m fascinated by the emergence of drone technology. They’re one of the rare technologies that, regardless of intended use, still fall under the mandate of government regulations.
It’s difficult because a drone isn’t restricted to two dimensions like a car is. Rather, they can go pretty much anywhere: you don’t need me to tell you the potential issues this could cause if regulated improperly.
However, there are plenty of people out there who think the FAA is regulating drones in America improperly. If I asked you who these people were though, my guess is you’d have a hard time coming up with any names.
It’s ok, I wouldn’t have been able to point out who’s influencing a lot of the policy until recently. I came across a Fortune Magazine article written by Matt McCue, and he highlighted some of the very people I’m talking about.
Specifically, his findings show that some of the biggest movers and shakers in the drone industry are strong females in tech. It’s great because I think it shows efforts to get females more involved in tech have been paying off, but it’s doubly cool because these women are kicking major butt.
Here are four women that, as McCue says, are shaping the future of the drone industry:
Helen Greiner, CEO and founder of CyPhy Works:
You may know Greiner as the cofounder of iRobot, aka the company that invented the Roomba vacuum. However, she’s focused her attention on drones more recently. Back in April she and her team at CyPhy Works launched a Kickstarter campaign and successfully funded the LVL1 Drone, a product built for everyday people.
CyPhy Works has seen some incredible traction, and it’s in no small part due to Greiner’s impressive leadership skills. Not only does she have a strong background in autonomous robot tech, she’s also one of the most decorated females in tech to date. She’s also a strong advocate for getting more women involved in tech.
McCue’s article actually quotes Greiner, “The pipeline [of workers coming into the industry] isn’t equal, but, when we have an executive team meeting at our company, women outnumber men…We are encouraging young women to jump into these systems and make them how they want.”
Dyan Gibbens, CEO and founder of Trumbull Unmanned
Gibbens is an Air Force Academy graduate with a decade of technical experience leading acquisitions and aerospace program management in the US Department of Defense. Given her experience as a former pilot herself, it’s fitting that she would work to make drones more accessible to the general public.
What makes her critical to the equation is a skill set in unmanned systems, engineering management, and aviation logistics. She’s currently splitting time between Trumbull Unmanned and Unmanned Cowboys – both are companies that provide opportunities to capitalize on the efficiencies that unmanned systems can bring to the world.
Her work has brought drone technology to new heights with solar panels that integrate into drones and triples the flight time for the craft. Not to mention she’s helped develop and built ATLAS, a drone that’s safe for both indoor and outdoor usage.
Lisa Ellman, Law Partner at Hogan Lovells
While people like Greiner and Gibbens are innovating on the technological side, Ellman has spent her time working to help change regulations surrounding Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). The focus of her work at Hogan Lovells Government Regulatory practice group has been heavily focused on the state of domestic drones.
After all, there’s no denying that our current drone policies are strict, to say the least. Throughout her career Ellman has made it her goal to bridge the sizeable gap between these government policies and business innovation. Is there a market vertical more applicable than drone technology these days?
According to McCue’s article, Ellman helps businesses get special permissions from the FAA that lets them take flight with their drone tech. Further, he points out that opening up the skies to commercial drones in turn leads to pointed questions like if a drone should be allowed in an urban area.
He quotes Ellman, “The market has developed so quickly and the technology has taken off the point where the policy making has struggled to keep up. These are conversations that policymakers and innovators are having now, and they’re critical to moving the industry forward in a timely way.”
If you’re at all curious about the current state of FAA policy in your area make sure to check out Know Before You Fly.
Sally French, Social Media Editor at MarketWatch
As you’re probably aware, MarketWatch tracks the pulse of markets for engaged investors, racking up more than 16 million visitors per month. French sits as the Social Media Editor for the site and has built a strong passion everything drone oriented.
To that end she’s actually launched her own site called Drone Girl, which was created with the intent of exploring drones and how they can assist the world via the onboard imaging technology. According to French, drones have many positive uses in our society that potentially get blotted out by the stigma attached to them.
“Drones are a new tool of making images from the air. Aerial photography has been around for decades – with photos coming from photographers in helicopters, airplanes and even weather balloons,” reads the Drone Girl site. “This project simply does aerial photography through a quadcopter with a camera attached to it. It’s cheaper than commissioning a helicopter, and it can be used at a moment’s notice, essentially bringing what was a rare form of photography to the more mainstream.”
Image Credit: Wikipedia

The Greatest Startups in Chicago History, and Their Proteges

When you think about the many different, successful tech ecosystems spread across the US there are a few givens that just can’t be dethroned. You’ve got New York, Silicon Valley, and Washington DC for sure, but I’d also say that you have to include Chicago as well.
If you think otherwise, I’d push you to dig in deeper to the city’s rich culture of startup companies. Not only do they have the quintessential Midwest mindset, they also show strong support for females in tech and offer an incredible amount of resources for entrepreneurs. This celebration of the Chicago ecosystem is brought to you by @properties, the leading Chicago real estate brokerage serving both the city of Chicago and North Shore through dynamic marketing and innovation. Follow the full content series here.
Not to mention, it’s where our own CEO Frank Gruber hails from, so we know it produces some top notch talent. Outside of that though, there’s a whole list of damn good reasons to startup in the Windy City.
Chief among any of these reasons, though, is the amount of local success they’ve produced and maintained since the days of the .com boom. To that end we’ve gone in and uncovered some of the greatest startups in Chicago’s history that have helped put the city on the map and are still kicking today:
Basecamp: While the company has their operation spread out across 26 different cities, they’ve maintained their HQ in Chicago since they got their start back in 1999 – 37signals at the time. Over the years they’ve remained committed to helping companies and teams focus on one common goal: finishing a project together. It’s actually something they focused on internally when Jason Fried decided to pivot 37signals’ main effort towards their best product, Basecamp: “We’ve become a bit scattered, a bit diluted. Nobody does their best work when they’re spread too thin. We certainly don’t. We do our best work when we’re all focused on one thing.”
Belly: They were founded on the principle of making loyalty rewards easily accessible to all customers and readily available at every business. The Belly team offers different programs that cater to each business’s personality, culture, brand, and objectives in order to foster more personal relationships with their customers. It’s that kind of attitude and attention to detail that landed them in Dell’s Founders Club 50 an elite society with access to exclusive efforts and resources provided by Dell.
Edmodo: Although they’re currently operated out of San Mateo, CA, Edmodo started up in Chicago when two school district employees set out to bridge the gap between how students live their lives and how they learn in school. They’re now the number one K-12 social learning network in the world. Back in 2010 they got a round of funding from Union Square Ventures, who summed up their expertise: “Edmodo is based on the premise that teachers need an easy way to share content with their students. Around this central concept, Edmodo has created a social and mobile experience that appears to be resonating well with teachers and students. The team at Edmodo, existing investor Learn Capital, and we are committed to supporting the learning community in schools across the country and the world.”
Groupon: Everybody is familiar with Groupon at this point. Further, everybody is more acutely aware of the troubles they encountered while on their startup journey. However, you don’t get to become one of the greatest of all time without your challenges. What separated Groupon from other companies was how they dealt with their shortcomings. In 2014 they made some big announcements about how they plan on owning the market as they recovered and moved forward into the future. They put their heads down to focus on charity, partnerships, merchant services, acquisition, and travel in an effort to shake things up: it definitely worked for them.
Grubhub: The nation’s leading online and mobile food ordering company has been long dedicated to connecting hungry diners with local takeout restaurants. In fact, their platforms allow diners to order from around 35,000 restaurants in over 900 US cities and London. They’ve maintained a strong commitment to always putting the needs and wants of their users first and foremost, going so far as to implement an ordering setup in their own office to ensure everything worked properly. We’ve had the pleasure of covering and following GrubHub since their early, early days in Chicago and we’ll follow them for, well, forever.
These next five startups might not be Chicago’s greatest yet, but they’re definitely well on their way to greatness.
Charlie: This tool compiles one page summaries on the people you’re about to meet with, before you see them. An hour before every meeting in your calendar, Charlie makes sure you walk in with the intel you need to make a killer impression: breaking news on their company, the passions and hobbies you both had no clue you shared, and stheir professional history.
MentorMob: Billed as a crowdsourced learning website, MentorMob consists of a community of enthusiasts who curate online courses from the web’s best content. Everything is organized into comprehensive courses that can teach you everything from entrepreneurship tips to snowboarding. Each course covers beginning, intermediate and expert skill levels, building a full, free online class for you from existing online content.
MobileX Labs: It’s their express goal to change the mobile landscape of how artists and companies currently interact with fans and followers. To that end they offer ways to make an iPhone app in five minutes or less. Specifically they have MXL Build, MXL Apps, and MXL Games – curriculums that are all designed to teach users how to build their best apps and games with little to no coding.
Silver Chalice: This next-generation digital sports media company owns and operates multiple digital networks as well as a standalone tech division. The founders built their platform on three capabilities: production, distribution, and monetization of sports content. They specialize in building custom, digital networks bringing top tier execution capabilities into the mix as well. In a major sports city like Chicago, there’s no denying why they made the list.
WeDeliver: They were recently acquired by Deliv, and they also won our 2013 Chicago Mixer not long before they applied, were accepted, and graduated from Techstars Chicago. The platform is simple, too: you order, you track, and you get a delivery. It doesn’t matter where you order form because the delivery specialists at WeDeliver work for you, the user, first and foremost.
Have a suggestion for a startup not on the list? We’d love to hear your opinion! Feel free to leave a comment below.

6 Unique Places to Work in Chicago

Chicago is certainly not short on coworking spaces, but sometimes you need a place to work that’s a bit different. A way to change up your routine, see things from a new perspective, and get a fresh infusion of energy.
This celebration of the Chicago ecosystem is brought to you by @properties, the leading Chicago real estate brokerage serving both the city of Chicago and North Shore through dynamic marketing and innovation. Read more here.
We asked Chicago entrepreneurs what their favorite (and not-so-traditional) places to work are, and they didn’t disappoint. Whether you’re looking for breathtaking views, elegant luxury, or a blood-pumping way to spend your break time, this list has got you covered.
1. The Art Institute of Chicago

Work in the cafe, or in the beautiful South Garden
Address: 111 South Michigan Avenue (closest CTA stop: Adams/Wabash)
Why work there: “Easily one of the most beautiful spaces in the city. You can check emails and work remotely sitting in a garden designed with fountains and artistically maintained trees that filter sunlight through, creating an oasis on a bustling part of Michigan Avenue. Closest thing to a secret garden that I’ve ever experienced in my life,” says Asif Khan, CEO of Caremerge.
2. Brooklyn Boulders

Work at The Beta, a workspace in the midst of a rock climbing facility
Address: 100 South Morgan Street (closest CTA stop: Morgan Lake/UIC-Halsted)
Why work there: “It’s weirdly awesome. The only drawback I can think of is that you might want to climb or do yoga all day, but I’ve been told that the space is mellow, bright, and conducive to work,” says Khan.
3. The Shedd Aquarium

Work at the aquarium’s lakefront terrace, with a beautiful view of Lake Michigan
Address: 1200 South Lake Shore Drive (closest CTA stop: Roosevelt)
Why work there: “Breathtaking,” says Jayna Cooke, CEO of EVENTup.
4. Millennium Park

Work in this nearly 25-acre park, featuring green gardens and lots of public art
Address: 201 East Randolph Street (close to many CTA stops)
Why work there: “Being outside with changing scenery seems to get my creative juices flowing and the free wifi keeps me connected when I want to be. When the weather is nice, I like to find a shady bench and catch up on reading,” says Jason Siffring, owner of Surprise Highway.
5. Soho House

Work by the pool on the roof of this swanky members’ club
Address: 113-125 North Green Street (closest CTA stop: Morgan Lake)
Why work there: “There is a ton of sun, a great breeze, a fun crowd, but plenty of people working on their laptops accomplishing a ton. This space is the perfect blend of hard work and a great experience. Food and drink are amazing perks, too,” says Chris Rentner, founder and CEO of Akouba Credit.
6. JW Marriott

Work in the lobby, even if you don’t spend the night there
Address: 151 West Adams Street (closest CTA stop: Quincy/Wells)
Why work there: “Unlike Starbucks, there are plenty of outlets, perfect wifi, and no loud music overhead. It’s just a quiet, comfortable, and civilized place to get work done (even if the coffee is six bucks with a tip),” says Josh Inglis, owner of Propllr PR.
Is there a unique place in Chicago that you like to cowork from that was left off our list? If so, please share it with us in the comments section below.
Image credits: Art Institute of Chicago, Brooklyn Boulders, Meetup (Shedd Aquarium), Headsillroll / Wikimedia Foundation (Millennium Park), SOHO House, JW Marriott.

Social Media Day South Florida Looks to Launch Miami to #1 Startup City

Following the success of Social Media Day South Florida, which is recognized by Mashable as “one of the country’s largest Social Media Day meetups”, Adam Boalt, whose company LiveAnswer was a sponsor of the event, offered this recap:
“In the summer of 2010, I packed my bags and moved from Washington, DC back home to where I grew up in South Florida to become a part of a startup and tech community I heard was making a comeback in the region. For decades the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale metroplex strove to become a tech hub, but would take one step forward with two back, and I had the perfect opportunity to finally get the message across and make something happen.

As soon as I landed, I headed from the airport straight to the inaugural Social Media Day South Florida and met founder and organizer Alex de Carvalho, who has since become a great friend and centerpiece of Miami’s digital media and technology landscape.”

About the Author: Adam Boalt is the quintessential entrepreneur skilled at using today’s technology to create businesses focused on customer acquisition and retention. He is currently the CEO of LiveAnswer, the on-demand call center. This article was submitted and written by Adam Boalt.
Fast forward 5 years, my company LiveAnswer, the on-demand call center, is slightly over a year old and services everything from entrepreneurs and small businesses to enterprises such as Keller Williams Realty and Game Show Network (GSN) Games. Since Alex has tracked my professional progress and passion for digital media beginning at the first Social Media Day South Florida, he recognized my drive to help the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale region evolve from being known strictly for fast cars and South Beach to a real community driven tech ecosystem.
Last week, Alex afforded me the privilege of being the keynote speaker for the 5th Annual Social Media Day South Florida (SMDSFL). In the company of hundreds of digital media professionals, social media enthusiasts, and business owners gathered at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 in Ft. Lauderdale, we would use the opportunity to celebrate digital media that attracts thousands to Mashable Social Media Day events around the world. Mashable recognized the South Florida event as “one of the country’s largest Social Media Day meetups” as it was one of the first of these global events to take a conference-style approach.
We cannot argue with the impact of social media on modern communication in homes and workplaces across the globe and I knew this was an opportunity to really highlight South Florida and motivate participants. Once Alex asked me to give the keynote, I reached out to a childhood friend who shares the same passion for startups and digital media, Atlantico Rum co-founder Aleco Azqueta, as well as his business partner Enrique Iglesias, to see if they were interested in helping to support the event.
Miami will be the primary location to launch a tech startup
Enrique responded almost immediately not only to pledge support for SMDSFL through Atlantico, but to help us make Miami-Ft. Lauderdale the primary location to launch a tech startup – a perfect situation to trend. This is unique – a brand indigenous to our region, but with celebrity and international influence – that shares a social media enthusiasm to help grow South Florida’s digital community.
As a speaker, participant, and digital media business owner never satisfied with resting on my social media laurels in this ever-evolving platform, I was impressed by the shared passion and advanced thought leadership present throughout the day.
Using social media to promote brands and entertainment
For example, Andrew Beckwith aka Miami Dolphins DJ Supersede (President, Supersede Group) spoke about disruptive emerging technologies DJs and artists will soon use to elevate social interaction to a whole new level through music. Then, Karla Campos (CEO, Social Media Sass / Florida Social Con) blew me away with her forward-thinking in harnessing the power of video to reach social media fame with target customers. It’s not about pleasing everyone, but understanding social media user’s rapidly deteriorating attention spans will help to focus content on those who will not only personally identify with your brand, but also help to promote it even further.
In addition, utilizing a hometown talent/celebrity partnership with Iglesias and Azqueta’s Atlantico Rum, SMDSFL succeeded driving engagement (locally and nationally), brand awareness and social elements measured by:

423 avid social media professional and amateur users in attendance traveling to the event from as far as West Palm Beach, Stuart, South Miami, and Naples, Florida.
The event trending in the region a short 20 minutes after launch.
Broward County Commissioner Dale V.C. Holness issuing an official proclamation in the name of SMDSFL.
25 compelling speakers, including Beckwith and Campos, who influenced the future social media drive throughout the South Florida region.
Eyeing the #1 spot
The Miami-Ft. Lauderdale metroplex was recognized as #2 in the U.S. in startup activity by the Kaufman Foundation in 2015. With this in mind, during my keynote speech, I challenged participants to band together as one social media voice and utilize the power of our already trending SMDSFL hashtag and Atlantico’s digital reach to recruit all South Florida social media, tech and entrepreneurial players to elevate the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale metropolitan region to the #1 position for startup activity in 2016.
We noticed mid-event on Sunday the power and speed of our region’s social media even outside of the Hyatt Regency Pier 66, especially the influence of Atlantico Rum with participants. I know that it is difficult to make a change on your own, but with a captive audience you can group together to speak in unison and make a change through social media.
Trending on Twitter
This was proven a success in the combined #SMDaySFL and #AtlanticoRum hashtags included in over 1500 tweets, retweets and mentions with over 6.2 million impressions during the event itself (over 16 million up to this day total). The same combined hashtags on Instagram reached 4.5 million profiles with over 13,000 identifiable engagements.
As the event’s founder and organizer, as well as Knight Innovator in Residence at FIU School of Journalism and Mass Communication and President of Social Media Club South Florida, Alex credited various factors for the influence and success of SMDSFL. By the end of the event, he seemed very impressed with what SMDSFL participants were able to not only learn, but accomplish in promoting their region, in a single afternoon. This can also be attributed to the event’s first time being held in Broward County, combined with thought leaders, local and long-term sponsors who attracted new faces and really give SMDSFL a great community feeling.
Thought leaders and companies who nurture a startup ecosystem
I believe I can speak for the SMDSFL community in saying the most important actionable item coming out of this event will be utilizing the thought leadership guidance provided by our speakers, partnerships with Atlantico Rum and local tech and startup leaders like Alex and Pipeline Brickell’s Philippe Houdard to push this community action model to the next level. SMDSFL helped craft a goal in the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale region to bring our ranking for startup activity from #2 to #1 in 2016, of course on the platform of digital and social media.
While SMDSFL was a great event, it was also the launching point for a huge change in the region and proof that when we all get involved, the city has the potential to lead. Part of the beauty of this event is that when a diverse group of motivated participants and influencers come together for a common goal, outsiders will listen. Sunday proved it is possible as we trended in 1st place in Miami for two hours and again trended high (5th Place) with the Atlantico Rum After-Party atop the Hyatt Regency Pier 66.
This is evident in my success and is the same model used where I work at Pipeline Brickell, Philippe Houdard’s workspace in Miami. Philippe’s vision to house quality minds, collaboration of companies and a high level of disruption in this workspace hold so much value that I consider it unmatched throughout the country and a model for how we can move South Florida to the top.
With a commitment of a similar model of collaboration, partnerships with Atlantico Rum, Philippe and Alex on future events and awareness projects, we know that the lasting impression South Florida will make is something special.

Image Credit: Social Media Day South Florida

San Diego Hosts Largest, Most Robust Startup Week to Date

It never ceases to amaze me just how fast time really does fly when you’re having fun. I’m sitting here enjoying the San Diego sunshine, reminiscing about the amazing San Diego Startup Week (SDSW) that ended only about a week ago – I feel like it was just yesterday that the city was getting prepped and ready for it all.
To say the least, it was a smashing success. In fact, this year’s event was heralded as one of the largest and most robust SDSW events to date.
A big part of that success was due to the strong cohort of sponsors and partners that helped make the event epic: The Port of San Diego, Holonis, Zeeto Media, Ashford University, The Irvine Company, Ideator, and The City of San Diego. Because of them SDSW was able to provide attendees with a vast array of casual and social events spread all across Downtown San Diego.
“The Port of San Diego graciously provided us with the entire Broadway Pier and Pavilion for the Startup Week Opening Ceremony and SD Festival,” says Tim Ryan, Startup Week founder and Intelliyachts CEO. “It allowed us to host the thousands of individuals from across the country that we expect to come see the San Diego startup ecosystem first hand during the week.”
As expected, some of the biggest influencers in the local San Diego ecosystem showed up, and at the center of it all was none other than EvoNexus. I can’t say enough awesome things about the work they do for San Diego: their staff volunteered their time to coordinate speakers, develop topics, and open their downtown office as a venue for a lot of the events.
“EvoNexus has become the hub for the San Diego startup community. It’s crucial for us to be involved because SDSW itself represents a lot of what we aim to be: a positive, inspiring resource that helps Southern California startups,” says Michele (Yoshioka) Maley, Director of Programs & Operations at EvoNexus. “Being at the epicenter of all the action in San Diego, it’s no surprise we were heavily involved in SDSW.”
Perhaps one of the coolest parts of the entire week was when David Brown and Marc Nager addressed an eager crowd about their recent news. Techstars officially acquired UP Global and all of their programs, like Startup Week, and San Diego was the first city to host an event after the news. They addressed the acquisition directly, answering the overwhelming concern that startup ecosystems would be negatively impacted because of the change in UP Global’s nonprofit status:
“In our industry, we have never charged entrepreneurs for anything. We are investors. We will keep running events such as this [SDSW] that galvanize entrepreneurs to come together,” says Brown.
With that issue put to bed, the two transitioned the conversation to a more personal level, offering their advice and mentorship for the audience. In essence they were Startup Week’s mission incarnate in that moment.
After all, the whole goal of this event was to celebrate the entrepreneurial community in San Diego while also bringing everyone together in an inspiring way. That’s exactly what Brown, Nager, UP Global, Techstars, EvoNexus, and the whole city were able to accomplish together. At the risk of sounding like a broken record player, it was incredibly inspiring.
To sum it up: if you’re not paying attention to San Diego, this year’s SDSW should be a message that speaks to the error of your ways – we’re absolutely killing it these days. I love this city.
Image Credit: Fabrice Gould’s Twitter page

The Entrepreneur’s Survival Guide for Doing Business in the Big Apple

Your company can and should be based anywhere, but if you really want to grow, you need to consider opening a satellite office in New York City. The Big Apple can be a bit intimidating — believe me, I’m from the Midwest and am pretty familiar with the transition — but once you realize that all you need to do is think a little larger and work a little faster, you’ll be happy to see your business flourish.
According to Thomson Reuters, having a New York presence is essential to connecting with large enterprises. And if you take a look at New York’s growing startup culture, you’ll realize just how welcoming it is to smaller businesses. Take WeWork, a New York-based company that provides shared office space for entrepreneurs, freelancers, startups, and small businesses. It recently raised $355 million before growing to be worth billions. Or you can look to any of the 11 new companies taking advantage of the state’s new START-UP NY program.
Bottom line: New York has long been considered a city of opportunity, and if your company is going to reach its full potential, you’re going to have to take a bite out of the Big Apple.
Breaking Into the Big Apple
In principle, doing business in New York is like doing it anywhere else — except that it happens a lot faster and on a bigger scale. If you’re already an aggressive entrepreneur, this won’t come as much of a surprise. In fact, you’ll probably relish the challenge.
New York is full of overpromising and underdelivering. As Midwesterners, we naturally do the opposite — we set reasonable expectations and meet or surpass them — which many New York businesses appreciate as a valuable trait. Once we’d gotten beyond the cultural issue, it was just a matter of getting up to speed on New York business trends.
Doing Big City Business the Midwestern Way
While doing business in New York isn’t much different from anywhere else, there are a few tips that will help you to achieve success in the Big Apple:
1. Provide a great customer experience.
Gaining loyal customers in a larger, more fast-paced city can be difficult. Traditional marketing is useful, but nothing beats providing a high-quality customer experience. Get to know your customers personally, and find out why they came to you. Then, provide them with the best possible solutions.
2. Maintain contact as much as possible.
In the hubbub of the big city, it can be easy for your company to fade into the background. Avoid this by continually adding value and staying in front of the customer.
Provide a constant stream of useful and entertaining web content, such as blog posts, videos, podcasts, and whatever else it takes to stay top of mind. Good communication goes a long way in New York.
3. Be authentic.
I have some clients in Brooklyn who simply appreciate how we do business. It’s not a secret — it’s simple honesty. We try to provide authenticity, business intelligence, and a good ROI. We inform our clients about what’s going on in a timely manner, and in doing so, we’ve earned their trust.
4. Overcome cultural barriers.
Let’s face it. Almost everyone in New York assumes Midwesterners think slow, talk slow, and move slow. So you have to prove that you can keep up with everything from holding a conversation to participating in the marketplace.
New York provides the opportunity to exponentially grow your business because — let’s face it — the city is one of the most impressive in terms of innovation and finance. While you may think breaking into it is an insurmountable task, it’s actually pretty simple. In the end, it’s all about thinking fast and thinking big.

Image Credit: Flickr/Zoli Juhasz

#DadsDayOff: This is Why People Love Zappos

Even though Father’s Day is over, my Facebook feed is still filled with pictures of people celebrating their dads. Much like Mother’s Day, I think it’s important to remember that this isn’t just another time of year to buy our beloved parents crappy Hallmark cards.
Rather, these are days out of the year where we celebrate the sacrifice and dedication that our parents have poured into us as their children. Surely, we would be nothing without our parents.
There was one father in particular, Chad Boudon, who received something special from the top name in customer service, Zappos. He’s a proud father of four, three of whom are triplets, and all of them under the age of five – talk about a full time job for him and his wife.
He works incredibly hard to support his family, and he has potentially the coolest wife on the planet. She recognized that because of his responsibilities Chad doesn’t always have time to relax after doing the typical ‘dad’ chores around the house like mowing the lawn.
So, when Zappos reached out to her and Chad’s parents they were ecstatic to bring him something he rarely gets in his day to day: a full day off. They worked together to pull off a massive surprise, dropping a team of helpers on his lawn to take care of all the chores on his list while he went out to one of the biggest golf events of the year.
The Boudon family was also given lots of goodies from Zappos, including items already they had in their shopping cart. According to Zappos, as a customer service focused company this was a fun way to reward a loyal and deserving customer.
So, even though it’s the day after Father’s Day, let’s not forget those who have helped make our lives awesome. Here’s the heartwarming video Zappos released for #DadsDayOff:

Image Credit: Dad’s Day Off video

Dallas Mobilizes to Innovate for the Disabled Community

On July 26, 1990, the United States Government officially saw the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) take effect. It was established specifically to help build clear and comprehensive measures against the discrimination of someone on the basis of disability.
We’re fast approaching the twenty five year anniversary of this measure going into effect, and that’s something to be celebrated. To be clear – it’s not just me who thinks that, but entire communities of entrepreneurs as well.
Dallas is one such place, and given the makeup of their incredibly supportive ecosystem it’s not surprising in the least. So, because they want to do something special, members of the Dallas disability community and area tech developers have been invited to Tech Wildcatters.
The invite was to join the crew of Dallas’ primetime B2B accelerator on June 17 to help design new technologies specifically built to enhance the lives of those with disabilities. Developers and participants will work to identify the unique challenges faced by members of the disabled community and then proceed to test and create tech that addresses those challenges directly.
It’s an ambitious goal but this is what I love about Dallas: local nonprofit LaunchAbility and AT&T have pledged their partnership to Tech Wildcatters for the event. As Diana Ross and The Supremes once sang, “ain’t no mountain high enough” – truly, when it comes to Dallas companies assisting one another, there isn’t.
In total Dallas is one of six cities participating in the nationwide effort. The national ConnectAbility challenge will be accepting submissions from these events after today and offering $100,000 in prizes to winning teams on July 26, the official twenty-fifth anniversary of the ADA.
Isn’t it just awesome when entrepreneurs mix social good into what they do? Maybe it’s just me, but I really enjoy it, and I have a lot of respect for what Tech Wildcatters is doing. Big shout out to the other cities participating as well.
Image Credit: Flickr / Josep Ma. Rosell’s page