The City Gives Back: How Miami Dade College & TheVentureCity bring real-life entrepreneurship to the classroom

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You know that feeling you used to get before your first day of school? A healthy mix of nerves, excitement and anxiety over what the semester might bring? That is what I am feeling right now and I have been done with “school” for over 10 years!

On Monday, a lucky group of Miami Dade College students will embark on an educational experience most of us wish we could have had during our college years. These students are those signed up for a unique version of the A.S. in Business Entrepreneurship held at the Wolfson Campus, specifically at The Idea Center.

TheVentureCity and Miami Dade College began cooking up ideas for this program back in late 2016 sharing a very simple yet impactful mission: to teach entrepreneurship and innovation in a hands-on way through the real-life experiences of leaders in the community.

So, we at TheVentureCity began the search for those leaders and boy were we pleasantly surprised with the results! I personally had conversations with some of Miami’s most successful entrepreneurs, business leaders, and rising star entrepreneurs and it only took a few minutes of explaining what we were trying to do before I got a resounding “YES! Count me in!” without hesitation. These CEOs, CMOs, heads of organizations, and founders of start-ups were all motivated by the potential impact they could have on someone’s life and career choices so they jumped at the opportunity to share their life lessons. Being a data driven company, I like to jokingly brag to our CEO that our success rate is nearly 100% in recruiting guest instructors. #nerdalert

Endeavor’s 2014 City Hubs for Entrepreneurship report said one of Miami’s entrepreneurial ecosystem challenges was a lack of availability of mentors for new entrepreneurs. Thankfully, I found just the opposite when looking for willing participants so perhaps Miami’s business leaders heard the message!

What is unique about this program is that for 12 weeks, 35 business leaders & entrepreneurs from top companies in the area will teach 3 hour sessions on topics curated by TheVentureCity and Miami Dade College. The curation of these topics was not in vain. We took our combined experience in the business, start-ups and academia to hand pick these guest instructors based on their expertise on course subject matter. We challenged guest instructors to turn their 3 hours into interactive, hands-on learning experiences. Personally, this is what I felt was missing for me during my college years and something only internships were able to provide.

Programs with this format are not uncommon at higher education institutions like Harvard or Stanford, so we aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel. We believe access to excellent education and opportunity should be universal, no matter what your background might be.

What is our hope for the future of the students of this program? We see this in three ways: 1) that they gain the knowledge, courage, and network to start their own venture or 2) that they meet their future co-founders in their cohort and use their skills to propel someone else’s venture or 3) that they join an existing company that is looking to innovate their products and services from within, and could use a fresh perspective.

Teaching entrepreneurial skills doesn’t mean everyone needs to start their own company. It’s about teaching a different way of thinking, a more agile way of problem solving, and a belief that anything is possible if you have the right people in the room. We believe investing in future entrepreneurs and innovators can only enrich the current Miami tech scene we are all watching unfold.

I am excited for what is to come this semester and I think I can speak for my fellow guest instructors in saying what an honour and privilege it is to be able to stand before these students and share a piece of our life. And, who knows….our future boss could be sitting in the front row so we better make a good impression!

List of all participating Guest Instructors

Ramiro Almeida- Program Chair & Entrepreneur

Jaclyn Baumgarten — CEO, Boatsetter

Demian Bellumio — CEO, GraphPath

Leigh-Ann Buchanan — Executive Director, Venture Café Miami

Santiago Canalejo — COO, TheVentureCity

Camila Casale — CMO, Sofftek

Alan Christiani — HR Director, Odebrecht Construction USA

Adriana Cisneros — CEO, Cisneros

Sam Cohen — FL General Manager, Lyft

Karen Comas — Talent Partnerships, Facebook

Guillermo Cortina — VP of Bank, TheVentureCity

James Covey — Marketing Manager, UberEats

Cesi de Quesada Covey — Head of Product Partnerships LatAm, Facebook

Karina DuQuesne — Associate, DLA Piper LLP

Nelly Farra — Entrepreneur & Business Consultant

Laura Gaviria Halaby — Chief Acceleration Offier, TheVentureCity

David Gilarranz — Global Business & Technology Executive, Milicom

Fermin Gonzalez — Creative Director, Fusion

Laura Gonzalez Estefani — CEO, TheVentureCity

Laura Juanes — Director of Privacy Policy, Facebook

Ashley Juchawski — Attorney, DLA Piper LLP

Natalia Martinez-Kalinina — General Manager, CIC

Alia Mahmoud — Director, Radical Partners

Melissa Medina — Executive Vice President, eMerge Americas

Raul Moas — Managing Director, AGP Capital

Jorge Pardo — CEO, Fastmind

Teddy Rebollo — CEO, Iberico Club

Elisa Rodriguez-Vila — Campus Director, TheVentureCity

Michael Samway — President, BHR Group

Victor Servin — CTO, TheVentureCity

Raquel Solorzano- Partner, Total Market Media

Rosa Sugrañes — Entrepreneur & Community Leader

Marcela Tonello — Marketing Manager, Facebook

Borja Zamacola — VP of Studio, TheVentureCity

Jimena Zubiria — VP of University, TheVentureCity