May 4, 2014
Maybe I’m slightly biased here; I’ve grown up in Boca Raton, a stone’s throw away from Miami, for the last 18 years and have looked to the city as a hub of entrepreneurial activity for the last four years. While Silicon Valley has always been a “Mecca” of sorts for young tech-minded entrepreneurs (and was my home for two months last summer), over the years I’ve come to appreciate Miami even more as an burgeoning tech hub. While amazing weather, a world-class nightlife, and championship basketball team are just some of the typical draws you’d expect to hear about “305,” there are plenty of other valid reasons that Miami is an awesome city for tech.
1. Startup Costs Are Lower
When entrepreneurs are starting a company, their dollars go further in Miami than in other cities — like San Francisco or New York City — where costs of living and, thus, average salaries, are more expensive. “South Florida offers an exceptional cost/value proposition compared to other cities where labor, infrastructure, and other costs dramatically effect burn rate,” says Brian Breslin, CEO of Infinimedia, Inc. and co-founder of Refresh Miami, a nonprofit serving the local tech community with over 8,000 members. It costs way less to build a startup here than in other tech hubs, which has helped create the recent surge of new companies we are seeing in Miami.
2. It’s Easy To Join the Community
When asked why Miami is an awesome city for tech, Auston Bunsen, the CTO of 1Sale.com (who has written on the awesomeness of Miami previously) mentioned, “In places like Silicon Valley or New York, it can be really hard to integrate yourself into the tech community.” He added, “Right now, in Miami it’s easier than ever to integrate yourself into the community. Places like LAB Miami, Pipeline, and events put on by organizations like Refresh Miami and Tech Cocktail make it exceptionally easier to meet the people who can amplify your chances of success.” I’ve seen this firsthand as a young entrepreneur. The Miami tech community has, for the most part, been extremely accepting and helpful to everyone who needs a helping hand, which is the type of connectedness necessary to grow into a world-renowned tech hub.
3. International Perspective
Miami has always been known for its cultural diversity, and it has proven to be a unique advantage to a growing tech scene. Dr. Abhinav Gautam, chief medical officer and co-founder of Nexus Clinical, weighed in, “There is a plethora of cultures and nationalities represented in this city. This is a huge advantage that inherently adds perspective and depth that local entrepreneurs can leverage. They can benefit from this whether it is through the larger hiring pool or in ensuring a broad user perspective for their products or services. This cultural blend coupled with the advantages of living in Miami makes our city the next logical place for a tech hub.” Nancy Dalhberg, writer for the Miami Herald and host of the Starting Gate, has also noticed this trend. “A lot of startups tell me that Miami is a great base for a company with aspirations to grow in Latin America.” This makes a world of sense considering how connected Miami is as a cultural hub in the US as well as an emerging tech hub, and these international ties should certainly strengthen the value others see in the Miami tech scene.
4. Conferences Are Getting Serious
With the new presence of Tech Cocktail in Miami as an events coordinator, and the growth of organizations like Refresh Miami who now host tech celebrities like Alexis Ohanian at some of their events, Miami is taking their events more and more seriously. And, with eMerge Americas officially beginning yesterday; Miami is looking to become a destination city for major tech events. eMerge Americas is looking to hold an unprecedented type of conference in the following week, with speakers ranging from Peter Diamandis to Pitbull taking the stage at one of the largest tech events the city has ever seen. If these conferences continue to escalate in size and importance, it may not be long until Miami tech conferences join the ranks of events like LAUNCH festival or SXSW hosted in other tech hubs like San Francisco and Austin, Texas.
5. Tech in Miami is Growing Faster Than Ever
“The tech scene in Miami has never been better and the momentum is apparent here on a daily basis. Instead of trying to replicate the formulas of San Francisco or New York, Miami has formed its own identity when it comes to tech, and that’s paying off. Not only that, but the support system now in place is outstanding. All of the sudden there are a lot of active investors, mentors, advisors, and co-working spaces that are all striving for similar goals, which makes for a very warm and welcoming community,” states Will Weinraub, CEO and co-founder of LiveNinja. This final reason is perhaps a culmination of the first four reasons listed here, but there is no getting around the fact that the Miami tech scene is growing at a faster rate than ever before. There are definitely exciting times ahead for the city of Miami.
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