Articles by Jenna Buehler

  • Article

    Rokk Miami: Creating a roadmap for Miami startups

    April 30, 2013 by Jenna Buehler

    Rokk Miami: Creating a roadmap for Miami startups

    Managing director of the Foundry GroupBrad Feld, speaks at Rokk Miami.

    More than 300 city leaders, investors and innovators came together at the Light Box in Wynwood yesterday for Rokk Miami, an event designed to help establish Miami as a leading startup community. The event was launched in partnership with Rokk3r Labs and Knight Foundation, along with  Brad Feld, an early stage investor and managing director at the Foundry Group.

    Feld, renowned author of the book “Startup Communities,” was present at the event to help drive the creation of a roadmap toward reimagining Miami as a hub for innovation and technology. He said he sees a lot of potential in Miami’s already-existing tech ecosystem.


    "Rokk Miami with Brad Feld: No shortage of ideas, next steps for building a startup community" in The Miami Herald

    The Value Web, a group that uses onsite artists to map out a “living context” or visual diagrams of collaborative dialogue, also helped facilitate the conversation. The non-linear, innovative brainstorming sessions were thus captured in an unique way, highlighting key themes and connections.

    “This is about building together what we cannot do alone,” said Jodi Engelberg, a Value Web ambassador. To facilitate discussions, Engelberg broke participants into eight groups and asked that all personal agendas be “checked at the door.”

    Supported by direction from Feld, group discussions challenged leaders to examine eight impact areas. Using these broader topics the group was asked to: prioritize issues and insights, designate a decision-maker responsible for driving solutions and create a timeline for resolution. Here is a taste of some of the subjects and ideas that were discussed:

    1. Early stage entrepreneurs

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    Second SIME MIA digital business conference explores what’s next on the global frontier

    December 4, 2014 by Jenna Buehler

    Second SIME MIA digital business conference explores what’s next on the global frontier

    Every industry became a platform for innovation and a topic of conversation at this week’s SIME MIA conference. Host Ola Ahlvarsson asked Knight Foundation President Alberto Ibargüen and Brigade founder Matt Mahan, to discuss how technology will improve society. “As we continue to live our lives more digitally, we have to ensure that everyone has equal access,” Ibargüen said. Photo by Carlos Valdi.

    The SIME MIA digital business conference, held Dec. 1-3 around the region, invited an eclectic mix of global influencers to explore the local tech ecosystem and share their experience, prior to the Art Basel celebrations this week. For the second year, Knight Foundation sponsored the conference to help connect South Florida’s innovators and entrepreneurs and share ideas from global thought leaders.

    On stage, serial investors and entrepreneurs celebrated South Florida for its nascent tech boom and discussed what needs to happen next to make the region a place where world-class, competitive ideas enter a state of rapid iteration.

  • Article

    Eight lessons for Miami’s entrepreneurs and investors

    April 9, 2015 by Jenna Buehler

    Marco Giberti, right, a Latin American angel investor and entrepreneur, with serial entrepreneur Ola Ahlvarsson. Photo by Jenna Buehler.

    The growth in Miami’s startup ecosystem over the last five years compelled Ola Ahlvarsson, a Sweden-based investor and serial entrepreneur, to immerse himself in the creative energy of South Florida, where he already had a second home.

    Wednesday night, he was the featured speaker at the Brainfood Mentor Talk Series hosted at The LAB Miami. The series is supported by Knight Foundation and Endeavor Miami, the first U.S. affiliate of a global nonprofit that helps foster high-impact entrepreneurship.

  • Article

    Igniting Miami’s startup culture

    October 4, 2012 by Jenna Buehler

    Igniting Miami’s startup culture

    Photo (cc) Creative Commons License 2012 by Aerostylaz on

    wise man once said that you need two things to create a successful technology hub: rich people and nerds. South Florida has both and, according to recent articles published by the Miami Herald and the Miami Today, the two groups are starting to connect and catalyze the local startup scene. Cementing those connections, and drawing on wider community assets, is essential to creating the robust entrepreneurial ecosystem where tech startups can thrive. Knight Foundation is nurturing Miami’s start-up culture by investing in the spaces and events where innovators, entrepreneurs, investors and academics can collide and connect with the broader community. The goal of the initiative is to make Miami a place where ideas are built. “We need more co-working space, places for meetings and learning opportunities, because we are very scattered in Miami,” Knight Miami Program Director Matt Haggman told Miami Today, adding that more opportunities for convening with other entrepreneurs, such as hackathons, panels, talks, demo days and meet-ups would create a greater sense of community. Support of start-up culture marks a broadening of Knight’s strategic focus beyond its successful Arts program, which concentrates on making art accessible to the public to strengthen their attachment to the community. The National YoungArts Foundation recently announced it will move its headquarters to Miami, further suggesting that the rich culture in the city is making it easier to attract and keep talent. A thriving start-up culture will give people more possibilities to shape their community’s future. Reports have emphasised the opportunity for Miami to tap into community assets like its improving university system, urbanized core, its mobile and international demographic, and significant concentration of wealth. 

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    Philly on the rise: Young people offer solutions to big city challenges

    September 4, 2012 by Jenna Buehler

    Philly on the rise: Young people offer solutions to big city challenges


    Photo Credit: Flickr user bittermelon.

    Philadelphia, the fifth largest city in the nation, is still bustling with the entrepreneurial spirit of the nation’s Founding Fathers. A statue of William Penn stands atop City Hall; he overlooks some of the scrappiest pioneers of the 21st century, men and women who feel personally responsible for finding the answers to complex community issues.

    Philadelphia At A Glance

    Founded: 1682 City Population: 1,536,471 Median Household Income: $36,251

    Diversity Demographics

    Caucasian/White: 41.0% African-American: 43.4% Hispanic: 12.3%

    Age Demographics 

    under 19: 26.3%                               20-34: 25.7%                                    35-43: 25.3%                                  55+: 22.6%

    Knight active grants portfolio: 112 projects totaling $31.7M

    The city faces many of the same challenges as other urban centers: poverty, crime and a struggling public education system. But unlike most cities today, Philadelphia’s population is on the rise, according to a recent Pew Research Center study that clearly portrays a city in transition. More than 50,000 Millennials ages 25 to 35 have come to Philly to stay in the last decade; the number of residents with college degrees has likewise increased. Donna Frisby-Greenwood, Knight Foundation Philadelphia program director, says Knight and the city recognize that young people are the city’s strongest asset. They are powering the emergence of a creative economy in Philadelphia, and central to Knight Foundation’s strategy of building a more informed, engaged community that can shape its own future. “We must now collectively focus on keeping these young artists, entrepreneurs and social change agents,” says Frisby-Greenwood, who runs a portfolio of $31.7 million in active grants. “We do that by deepening their engagement and ultimately their attachment to our city. We have the opportunity to help continue Philadelphia’s rise.” A recent Soul of the Community survey conducted by Knight Foundation and Gallup shows that aesthetics, openness and other social and cultural offerings are key factors for resident retention. Frisby-Greenwood says Philadelphia already has more than 130 higher education opportunities in the metropolitan region and, in the last decade, the number of non-native graduates who stay in Philly after graduation has increased from 23% to nearly 50%. Helping to increase retention is 2007 Knight grantee Campus Philly, a website that, in its own words, serves as a master list of must-sees and dos, “where students meet their Philadelphia.” Campus Philly president Deborah Diamond is a Philadelphia native who says attracting students through engagement is the project’s strong-suit. Ideally, a student’s introduction to the city begins with a Philadelphia guide booklet on his or her dorm room pillow and ends with a handshake between a talented graduate and a local, hiring business person.

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    Local journalism site helps hold the powerful accountable

    September 7, 2012 by Jenna Buehler

    Local journalism site helps hold the powerful accountable


    Karen Gadbois, co-founder of The Lens, is the 2012 recipient of the Society of Professional Journalists’ annual Ethics in Journalism Award.

    The Lens has twice received funding through the Knight Community Information Challenge.

    Gadbois won the award following a complex policy story that held the New Orleans Police Department accountable to its own policy that requires police records of homicide victims at crime scene new conferences.

    Her story, though initially unpopular, highlighted inconsistencies in that policy that were likely neglected in an effort to protect the reputation of a local police department volunteer. Its commitment to the public’s right to know has brought The Lens multiple awards this year including the National Edward R. Murrow Award for reporting on one homeowner’s ultimately unsuccessful six-year struggle to get back into her Katrina-damaged house. The nonprofit site also collected multiple Excellence in Journalism Awards.  

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    South Florida entrepreneur wins prize from Silicon Valley accelerator

    November 16, 2012 by Jenna Buehler

    South Florida entrepreneur wins prize from Silicon Valley accelerator


    Sabrina Scandar (c) is announced as the NewME Miami PopUp Accelerator winner. She co-founded Sew Love with her sister Silvia (l). The sisters were ideal candidates to join the 2013 NewME accelerator in Silicon Valley, said CEO of NewME, Angela Benton (r).


    "Startups rock at NewME PopUp. And the winners are..." in The Miami Herald

    South Florida’s Sabrina Scandar got a boost for her new tech startup this week by taking first place in the NewMe Miami pop-up accelerator demo competition.

    Scandar partnered with her sister, Silvia, to develop Sew Love, a site that allows amateur designers to turn design concepts into real garments. As part of her prize worth $45,000, Scandar will participate in the 2013 NewME accelerator in Silicon Valley. “The experience with NewME was really helpful in helping us think through our business and put together a great pitch,” Scandar said. “It was exciting to get exposure to startup companies and see this community really growing.” Prior to NewME, Scandar was part of the LAB Miami workspace collaboration and had received 265 backers who collectively donated $20,955 on Kickstarter. Scandar said her and her co-founder and sisters’ goal is to develop a clothing line that is “designed by the people, for the people.”

    Scandar, 25, has this advice to offer young, female entrepreneurs in South Florida: “Just do it, go for it. Take risks and ask for help and criticism. There is never going to be the perfect time. The nice thing about being young is that it’s ok to pick up and go and change your plans.” The event, funded by Knight Foundation, was facilitated by the NewME Accelerator, based in Silicon Valley. This week’s event was NewME’s first outside of the Bay Area and took place at LAB Miami. In second place, Charleston Malkemus won for an app that aims to “save the world of homebuying.” Gozump provides potential home buyers with an offer engine that allows users to eliminate the need for a broker and name their own price. Carrie Ann Mantha received third place for Indira, a still in prototype bride-to-be website that allows users to buy and customize their dress with gemstone jewelry, gifts and accessories.  

  • Article

    Journalism junkies: Spend this summer with Google

    December 17, 2012 by Jenna Buehler

    Journalism junkies: Spend this summer with Google


    Photo credit: Flickr user piperaudrey

    Students can apply now for Google’s first-ever fellowship program, which offers eight digitally-driven students a chance to jumpstart their career by training with one of the nation’s top journalism organizations.

    The 2013 Google Fellowship will begin with a week in Miami at Knight Foundation, and end with a week at Google headquarters in Silicon Valley. Undergraduate and graduate students will receive a $7,500 stipend and an opportunity to connect and work on projects with journalists at the forefront of digital innovation. The fellowship program will focus on data-driven journalism, online free expression and rethinking journalism’s business model. Each student project will take place at one of the following host organizations: the Center for Investigative Reporting, Committee to Protect Journalists, Investigative Reporters & Editors, Nieman Journalism Lab, Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism and Knight Foundation.

    Fellows will be expected to contribute to their host organization’s work in a variety of ways, like researching and writing stories, contributing to open source data programs and more.

  • Article

    Bridging entrepreneurship and education in South Florida

    February 5, 2013 by Jenna Buehler

    Bridging entrepreneurship and education in South Florida


    Photo credit: Flickr user dananthony11.

    Business leaders gathered at the South Florida Economic Summit this week to talk about ways to bridge the education and business sectors. One of the key topics: ideas for boosting South Florida’s start up community, a key focus for Knight Foundation. Several panelists proposed steps to help business leaders become an integral part of the growing start up scene. Susan Amat executive director at the University of Miami Launch Pad, said that a successful South Florida economy is dependent on collaboration efforts between local businesses and new startups. “What our economy needs now is a business community that volunteers their time,” said Amat, who helped to create Launch Tech, an accelerator for Miami tech startups. “We want people to say ‘no business community is going to do what Miami did for me’.” Knight Foundation’s Miami Program Director, Matt Haggman, moderated the panel and asked participants what needs to happen in education and entrepreneurship to prepare for South Florida’s economic future. A consensus among all panelists was the critical need for collaboration: “It takes two to tango,” said President of Miami-Dade College Eduardo Padrón. “We need to be assertive and proactive.” Padrón cited recent research projects that seek to create solutions in education by first evaluating business needs. He said Miami-Dade College has created more opportunities for training students for the jobs employers need. “We created an entirely new program in bioeconomics that prepared people for those jobs,” said Padrón, and cited other recent collaborations with Florida Power & Light to prepare students to fulfill needs in the engineering field. “We cannot get people evaluated fast enough. They have jobs waiting for them at a high wage and this gives them the opportunity to stay in Miami.”   Alberto Carvalho, superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, said that another critical factor in South Florida’s future is digital access. He said it was “shameful” to have to report that the fourth largest school district in the country provides only 30 percent of its schools with Internet access. “Without access to digital content, students we will never be able to personalize educational journeys in Miami-Dade,” Carvalho said,  “With as many types of people we have, that’s how many learning modalities we have in Miami-Dade schools. The only way to reach out to each individual learning path is through technology.” He reported success in raising matching funds for the $77 million needed to bring high speed Internet to South Florida public schools; however, he said that it will take more than money to address the opportunity gaps in the area. “If I had the power to demand one single investment,” Carvalho said, “I wouldn’t want your money. I’d want to provide a mentor for one of the students in Miami-Dade. If he likes sports management, let’s find him a mentor in the field - medicine, law, criminal justice. If these kids have mentors, they’ll stay on the page with learning and graduate.”  

  • Article

    Philly Tech Week: celebrating momentum in technology and innovation

    April 19, 2013 by Jenna Buehler

    Philly Tech Week: celebrating momentum in technology and innovation

    The founders of Technically Philly, Christopher Wink (left) and Brian Kirk (center) along with tech reporter Juliana Reyes (right) gear up for the third annual Philly Tech Week

    This year Azavea will launch the first-ever NASA International Space Apps hackathon during the kickoff weekend of Philly’s 2013 Tech Week, which celebrates the city’s innovation and technology community.  

    Taking place April 20-27, "Philly Tech Week Presented by AT&T" is organized by Technically Philly,  a popular site that seeks to build a better Philadelphia through technology. Now in its third year, the event has become increasingly popular, bringing together people who work in entrepreneurship, digital access, coding, the creative arts and more.

    Knight recently talked with one of the site co-founders, Chris Wink, about the growing success of Philly Tech Week, the city’s blossoming tech and mobile scene, and lessons that you can take to your city.

    Why is it important that NASA chose Philly Tech as the place to launch its hackathon? 

    C.W.: Philly Tech Week has been a way to grow the awareness that Philadelphia's technology and innovation community is vibrant and growing, so getting an organization like NASA to bring staff, resources and attention to that is an unmistakable success.

    How does Philly Tech build on the city’s current tech landscape?

    C.W.: I think three things are happening in the Philadelphia tech scene that make it work. First, there are collaborative physical spaces being developed where conversations can take place. Technically Philly is a news site, but we are physically located in a technology incubator. We’re here because when I go get coffee, I run into an investor or a technologist who I connect with and the conversation continues.

    Second, we are broadening awareness of a common set of facts. We’re identifying who our leaders are and what success looks like. We’re talking about the challenges that we face collectively. Only when a community knows the facts can we come together and create a mechanism to both advance resources and fill the gaps.

    Third, we are making time to self-reflect. When you’re in this tech space, it’s important to have people there that are challenging each other and celebrating together. We celebrate what has worked every April during Philly Tech Week.

    Can you give examples of how mobile is impacting the city's tech scene?

  • Article

    Three tips on learning from failure

    June 4, 2013 by Jenna Buehler

    Three tips on learning from failure


    Photo credit: Flickr user Hessa.

    Grantmakers across the country raised a glass to failure at the 2013 Grantmakers for Effective Organizations conference yesterday. The opening reception, or “Fail Fest,” invited big league grantmakers to help advance philanthropy by sharing hard lessons learned in the field.

    President of GEO, Kathleen P. Enright, kicked off the evening by championing lessons learned earlier in her career as a board member for the Fieldstone Alliance. Enright, author of “Funding Effectiveness,”  said she experienced warning signs as soon as she took on her role. Soon afterwards Fieldstone’s appointed CEO announced that she was leaving and, shortly thereafter, the foundation discovered that it had accidently dried up all its reserve funds. Enright and other board members were left to tackle a difficult situation.

    “I realize now that I was going through the seven stages of grief,” Enright said. “Once we were able to acknowledge that it had happened, well, then we could do something about it.”

    Building on Enright’s example, the ‘Fail Fest’ panelists offered these tips to help leaders in grantmaking cope with failure:

    1. Confront it

    Associate director for talent management and leadership development of the Annie E. Casey FoundationRafael López, said that he inherited failure the day that he was put in charge of a foundation legacy grant. The grantee was notorious, he said, for taking advantage of program silos and falling short of program requirements.

    “The issue here is that everyone was talking about it internally and to each other,” Lopez said. “So everyone across the street knew, but no one was telling the grantee.” Lopez said that the grantee was also a former staff member who played important program roles even after leaving the foundation. He stressed that, whatever the circumstances,  it’s important to be upfront and make the grantee aware that everyone’s credibility is on the line. “Whatever the grantee relationship, there are consequences to allowing an issue to continue,” Lopez said. “I had to tell them and at first they were upset, but they had to find out.”

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    Biographer Walter Isaacson on lessons from great entrepreneurs

    June 8, 2013 by Jenna Buehler

    Biographer Walter Isaacson on lessons from great entrepreneurs


    Above: Walter Isaacson. 

    As one of the most preeminent biographers of our time, Walter Isaacson has shared the stories of the world’s greatest innovators: Steve JobsAlbert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin. Yesterday, as part of a Knight Foundation organized luncheon, Isaacson, President and CEO of the Aspen Institute, spoke to Miami city leaders about how lessons from the greatest entrepreneurs of the past may help advance the city’s role as a leader in creativity and entrepreneurship.

    Isaacson said that while Silicon Valley has had the advantage of great engineering in innovation for the last 20 to 30 years, cities like Boston, New Orleans and Miami are now gaining greater national attention as hubs for innovation.

    “While Silicon Valley is a great place for engineering, it is not the place where all the creativity happens,” he said. “Cities like Miami have such a competitive advantage because of their understanding of entrepreneurship but also of art and beauty and design and how to connect that to everything that we do.”

    Leaders in innovation, according to Isaacson, have similar traits and values that cities like Miami can adapt into their idea culture. He said that great innovators of the past recognize that there is a connection between beauty, ease and simplicity. All of them also know that diversity-- different people and communities-- are a source of creativity and strength. And it is ultimately being able to find common ground that allows us to thrive and prosper.

    “The common thing of all of these [biographies] was a sense that the real rules don’t apply,” Isaacson said. “Some cultures are better at inculcating that.”

    Beauty, design and simplicity

  • Article

    Knight-Mozilla fellows strive for global impact in journalism

    July 17, 2013 by Jenna Buehler

    Knight-Mozilla fellows strive for global impact in journalism


    The eight 2013 Knight-Mozilla Fellows aim to build a diverse ecosystem around open web development that connects traditional journalists and technologists. Photo credit: Knight-Mozilla Fellows


    Apply to become a 2014 Knight-Mozilla Fellow by Aug. 17.

    The 2013 Knight-Mozilla fellows are data-savvy experts embedded in eight of the world’s most influential newsrooms. Their mission: find solutions that will benefit an industry in desperate need of change. How to better measure their impact is a challenge they all share.

    “In just a couple of years, OpenNews has become one of the core bridges between the world of open source web makers and the newsroom,” said John Bracken, director of journalism and media innovation at Knight Foundation, which has partnered with the nonprofit Mozilla on the effort.

    Now in its third year, the fellowship program represents a $2.5 million investment by Knight in attracting coders and technologists to accelerate media innovation in newsrooms. Fellows with all 2013 partner organizations -- the BBCthe New York Timesthe Guardian, the Boston GlobeLa NacionSpiegel OnlineProPublicathe BBC and Zeit Online -- receive a $60,000 stipend. Their technical solutions serve as scalable models that can be adapted and replicated by news organizations across the world.

    Throughout the 10-month program, camaraderie between the fellows--online and offline--runs deep. Their research is part of a shared online repository, which serves to standardize social data metrics.  When they aren’t online, fellows organize newsroom presentationsattend conferences and help to organize hackathons. Simultaneously, each fellow continues to develop their own technical capacity to better understand and meet the needs of everyday citizens.

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    Miami natives build a tech ecosystem that fosters creativity, loyalty

    December 12, 2014 by Jenna Buehler

    Miami natives build a tech ecosystem that fosters creativity, loyalty

    Entrepreneur and Startup Grind host Jason Ibarra asked Will Weinraub, founder of Live Ninja, about his experience launching a startup in Miami. Both Ibarra and Weinraub are Miami natives. Photo by Preston Tesvich.

    Miami natives are strengthening the city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem by fostering loyalty and creativity in the emerging tech community.

    More than 40 South Florida entrepreneurs traveled to Venture Hive in downtown Miami Tuesday night to participate in Startup Grind and hear about successful efforts from local startups.

    Startup Grind is a collection of hyper-local conversations that aim to inspire, educate, and connect entrepreneurs across the globe. Startup Grind Miami, which debuted in March, hosts conversations in entrepreneurship each month powered by Google for Entrepreneurs and supported by Knight Foundation.

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    Tech leader Manny Medina previews what’s next for eMerge Americas and Miami’s startup ecosystem

    March 2, 2016 by Jenna Buehler

    Tech leader Manny Medina previews what’s next for eMerge Americas and Miami’s startup ecosystem

    Above: Della Heiman, founder of The Wynwood Yard, interviews Manuel D. Medina, managing partner of Medina Capital and founder of eMerge Americas, on what Miami can expect from the third year of eMerge and the future of tech capital in Miami. Photo by Cristian Lazzari/Miami Dade College.

    The third year of eMerge Americas is expected to unite more than 10,000 diverse innovators and investors, and more than 500 startups and corporations from Miami and around the world for a hackathon, startup showcase and demo, panels and keynote speaker series.

    Manuel D. Medina, managing partner of Medina Capital and founder of eMerge Americas, which is funded in part by Knight Foundation, says the quality of the participants for the event has scaled beyond his wildest expectations. A high-tech serial entrepreneur, Medina says eMerge brings together new tech talent with experienced  founders within the global startup ecosystem to discuss major trends and opportunities. This year’s events will take place April 15-19, and will feature everyone from Monica Lewinsky to skateboarder and entrepreneur Tony Hawk to Ret. General Colin Powell.

    “This isn’t about being Silicon Valley,” Medina said. “This is being the tech hub of Latin America, showcasing the talent, and having important conversations related to the subject of tech and entrepreneurship.”

    The Idea Center at Miami Dade College featured Medina as a speaker in its “[email protected]” speaker series Monday night. Medina’s passion for filling the tech gap served as the lead topic for the Q&A, which was moderated by Della Heiman, a serial entrepreneur and founder of The Wynwood Yard in Miami.

    Manuel D. Medina, managing partner of Medina Capital and founder of eMerge Americas. Photo by Cristian Lazzari/Miami Dade College.

    Heiman: What are major trends in tech in Miami and Latin America today?