Last Friday was demo day at Miami’s startup accelerator Venture Hive. This was the opportunity for the companies in the program to present to potential investors and other influential people in the South Florida business community. For me, Friday represented the culmination of three months of my first role as a mentor on a startup accelerator program. While watching the presentations and trying to revisit all the wonderful memories and experiences of the last few months, I couldn’t avoid but feeling very proud of having had the opportunity to contribute to such an important program to help build the startup community in South Florida.
12 weeks I was introduced to Dr. Susan Amat by my great friend David Walsh was crazy enough to propose me as a mentor for the Venture Hive program. I was very hesitant for the obvious reasons: I didn’t know if I have a lot to contribute in terms of experience to the new companies and I my time was very constrained running KidoZen and Tellago. However, after talking to Susan for a few minutes I was completely dazzled by her passion and big dreams to transform a city known mostly as a touristic spot into a startup hub for the South East of the US and Latin America. To this day, I would never forget David’s description of Susan “Jesus, you really need to meet this person” he said “because she is the only person I know who has more energy than you” J and he was completely right. After meeting Susan and her team, I didn’t know exactly how but I knew I wanted to help.
The rest is history, for 12 weeks I had the privilege of mentoring NightPro: a company that is disrupting the nightlife event management scene and which platform is being used by some of the most prestigious clubs in the world. The founders: Juan and Francisco are the core of a super talented team that never seems to stop working and have managed to capture a segment of the market which has escape to the powerhouses in the space like EventBrite or TicketFly. Week after week I worked with that team trying to help in the few areas I knew I could contribute such as technology readiness, raising capital, strategic alliances, etc. Even when I was traveling all over the world, we managed to have online meetings at 3am to make sure I stay on the loop on NightPro’s current activities.
During my time at Venture Hive, I witnessed the evolution of the different teams from small technical solutions or ideas to companies with an structured vision, execution plan and, in some cases, sophisticated technology solutions.
Living in a highly competitive environment, it’s gratifying to see how the different startups managed to compete and yet collaborate intensively in order to make everyone better. That’s the secret of Venture Hive: everyone pulling together to achieve a bigger dream. Obviously, a lot of the startups in the program are going to fail but as long as some of them succeed (and they will) Susan’s dream will continue on and Miami will be able to open its doors to those entrepreneurs from the South East of the US and Latin-America that are dreaming to change the world.