celebrating small business connection, learning & insight: OFBPalooza

On Thursday, May 23rd, The Miami Foundation and Partners for Self Employment hosted OFBPalooza, an all-day resource festival for local small business owners to gain access to free support organizations and knowledge from expert speakers.

Whether or not you were in attendance, we hope you take advantage of the resources below shared through our panel sessions.

Scroll to gain a recap of speakers and their affiliations and access presentations or resources that were shared from each session.

Jump to a specific session:

Pictured (from L to R):

Jesús Padilla (Florida International University Small Business Development Center (FIU SBDC))

Christina Scott, (Legal Services of Greater Miami)

Lawanda Wright (Miami-Dade County Small Business Division (SBD))

William Porro  (Miami-Dade County – Office of Innovation and Economic Development (OIED))

Business Fundamentals Roundtable

In our opening session, we were thrilled to hear from leading small business resource providers on the fundamentals of starting and operating your small business. From proper incorporation type (S corp or LLC?!), to negotiating contracts, to registering your business properly with the government, speakers had amazing insights and helpful tips.

Don’t miss out on the resources they shared below.

Always have a written contract. While word-of-mouth agreements can happen, it’s always best to get any contractor arrangement in writing.

Christina Scott, Esq.

Community Economic Development Attorney , Legal Services of Greater Miami

Business Funding Landscape

Later in the morning, we heard from a variety of small business bankers, ranging from Wells Fargo, to local community development finance organizations, who provided insight on how to secure financing and get approved for a business loan. They included tips for preparing financial statements, making sure you file your corporate business taxes (even if you don’t show a profit), and not to comingle your business and personal finances.

Access their presentations on how to prepare for financing and what goes into the underwriting process at each lending institution.

Pictured (from L to R):

Julio Villiers (Ascendus)

Stephanie Adam (Tools for Change)

Joshua Numa (Miami Bayside Foundation)

Barrington Edie (Ten North Fund (formerly CFNMD))

Carmen Danger Stewart (Wells Fargo)

Moderator: Maria Coto (Partners for Self Employment)

Pictured (from L to R):

Moderator: Kenasha Paul (Black Professionals Network)

Jessica Garrett Modkins (Hip Rock Star)

Cristy Stewart-Harfmann (BizHack Coach & Owner of Happy Family Blog)

Takicha Roundtree (The Brand Amplifiers)


Digital & Brand Marketing

During the morning sessions, we also heard from amazing marketing professionals who shared how you can create an authentic brand that encourages consumers to not only get to know you, but also to build trust and buy from you.

Whether you are interested in building your social media presence, hosting events & activations, or storytelling using photos and videos, they offered valuable advice to put into practice in your business.

When it comes to marketing, it’s important to have a strategy that is integrated. Make sure your brand is consistent across social media, website, in-person, and in print.

Jessica Garrett Modkins

Founder & CEO, Hip Rock Star

Entrepreneur Mental Wellness

In this session, business owners took the time out of their busy day to reconnect with themselves and pour back into their own cup. Mental health practitioners, who are also entrepreneurs of their own businesses, spoke about what it means to avoid burnout and to ensure business owners prioritize their sustainability alongside their profitability.

Pictured (from L to R):

Ruban Roberts (RER Consulting)

Dr Magda Demeritt, LCSW (Wonderful Counselor)

Altheresa Clark, LCSW (Inspire4Purpose)

Moderator: Lia Yaffar (Ten North Fund (formerly CFNMD))

Pictured (from L to R):

Orlando Espinosa (Emineo Media)

Lawanda Wright (Miami-Dade County Small Business Division (SBD))

Joy Starkey (Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA))

Megan Gamell (Health Foundation of South Florida (HFSF) Anchor Alliance)

Moderator: Brian Van Hook (Florida International University Small Business Development Center (FIU SBDC))

How to Secure Government Contracts

In this afternoon session, procurement and supply chain experts who work with small businesses to get government contracts every day provided advice and coaching on how to get certified and win contracting bids.

Advice included figuring out where to get certified and register your business, to make sure your business is profitable or can secure necessary financing to deliver a large contract, and partnering with other businesses to collaborate on larger bids.

When it comes to applying for government contracts, the first step is to READ! Then to READ it again. There is a lot of fine print in the details – noticing these details is a major key to securing public contracts. 

Orlando Espinosa

Emineo Media

Small Business Policy & Advocacy

Politics is essentially a fight over resources, and that also means resources intended to help small businesses grow in Miami.

This session was tailored to help small business owners of all experience levels understand how to use their voices to create change for the business community and drive profit in their businesses.


Pictured (from L to R):

Matthew Pigatt (Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce)

Nathalie Setoute (Catalyst Miami)

Marlon Hill, Esq. (Weiss Serota)

Moderator: Brenda Lea Morrison (The Miami Foundation)

Pictured (from L to R):

Moderator: Michaeljohn Green (Miami Downtown Development Authority (DDA))

Diana Valdivia (CareerSource)

Carlos Vazquez (Miami EdTech)

Cara Hunter (Living HR)

Zedrick Gilo (Andavaris)

HR, Staffing, and Workforce

In this session, business owners learned about crucial programs and incentives for acquiring paid staff and employees who can support your mission to grow.

From apprenticeship programs to host young adults in job opportunities through Miami EdTech, to wage-subsidized job placement programs offered by CareerSource, this session was full of helpful advice and guidance for moving beyond the “solo-preneur” phase of your business. 

Future of AI and Small Business

In this closing session, we heard from cutting-edge technology and IT experts who spoke about how the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) is affecting how small business owners can work more efficiently and cost effectively. 

From AI-generated display photos of your products, to quickly drafting text for online content, to automating processes. the possibilities are endless. We hope that small business attendees consider connecting with one of the panelists to explore how to further adopt AI — beyond chatbots like ChatGPT — to boost their business to the next level. 

While we are all excited about the possibilities with AI, we can’t also forget about the cybersecurity basics. How safe is your business and client data? We want to adopt new technologies, but let’s make sure we don’t overlook the fundamentals. 

Felicita "Fifi" Sandoval

Security GRC Analyst, LiveRamp

Pictured (from L to R):

Micah Berkley (UrbanVision Media Group)

Felicita J. Sandoval (LiveRamp)

Moderator: Latoya Byrd (Miami-Dade Economic Advocacy Trust (MDEAT))

Marlon Avery (AImpact)

Stephanie Sylvestre (Avatar Buddy)


Access Professional Headshots

Photo credit: Bruna Marcon Weber photography.

Vendor Appreciation

Thank you to all of the vendors who contributed to make OFBPalooza a success! We appreciate your collaboration and partnership.

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