Wednesday was that time of the month again when local tech and social media pros gathered to share ideas, discuss trends and network at Refresh Miami. What makes these meetings "refreshing" is that they're never stuffy or formal, even though they're educational and informative. Sometimes improvisation is the name of the game, and this past Wednesday was no exception. The Doubletree Hotel in Coconut Grove pulled a fast one on Refresh Miami founder Brian Breslin when they neglected to tell him in advance that the scheduled meeting space was no longer available because of a change in management. He got wind of the news half an hour before the 7:30 p.m. meeting. Yikes. Breslin had to hustle.
Step in to rescue the situation: AnnaMaria Windisch-Hunt, who showed some Coconut Grove love for the geeks, happily opening her spacious fine art gallery, Windisch-Hunt (2911 Grand Avenue, next to the bookstore at Mayfair). By 8:15 p.m., Breslin had set up a projector and the presenters were good to go. Thanks to Twitter, word spread about the new venue and about 100 people stood or sat on the floor to get their geek on.
First up, a Startup 101 crash course by a two-person team from Gunster, Yoakley & Stewart in West Palm Beach: Gaida Gomez Zirkelbach, attorney, and Nicholas Robbins, a shareholder in the corporate and technologies practice groups at the law firm.
The team covered the legal and fiscal aspects of creating and maintaining a startup. It doesn't matter if you're a creative genius, you have to sit down and do the dirty business work - choose a legal structure, find your venture capitalists, protect your material, have end user agreements and much more. In short, get your shit together.
Protecting intellectual property such as proprietary code inspired some heated questions, since many companies outsource abroad. The answer: if it means that much to you, work with someone you could easily go after here in the U.S. if they were to steal your precious stuff. "How much are you willing to invest to protect your code?" asked Robbins. "Hire people in Georgia, U.S. not Georgia, the Ukraine."
The team also covered working with venture capitalists and angels, which is particularly important here in Florida. In other states, such as Massachusetts, there are more investments in tech in one month than in the state of Florida in one year. But there are advantages to being in Florida - if you have a unique product it could have a higher valuation.
Ivan Mladenovic, local geek and Renaissance man who is working on starting a second tech business, loved the presentation. "I've been wanting to hear something like this for a long time," he said. "It was one of the best Refresh Miami meetings yet."
Next up was local startup Worsterer.com, which you can already enjoy online. Douglas Suarez, Jose Gonzalez, Joel Cloralt and Maria Jose Rodriguez were sitting around one day bemoaning their respective lives in a big self-pity fest, trying to trump each other's sad stories, when they came up with the idea.
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Inspired in part by I Can Haz Cheeseburger and Fuck My Life (FML), Worsterer lets you "feel better about yourself" after you read about other people's pathetic or embarrassing screw-ups. Forget going to the shrink for therapy. You can wallow in your own misery all day long, publishing anonymously or with a username. But after reading enough "And you thought that was bad ..." posts, you'll hopefully step away from the computer looking at the brighter side of life.
Worsterer launched on July 24 and features a version in español as well as a Facebook game. The founders are tapping into an excellent market - conversational media generates over a billion page views a month combined in older, more established sites.
Learn more about future meetings and events at Refresh Miami.
Refresh Miami is currently looking for a new meeting venue. Know anybody who can help? Contact @brianbreslin.