Bellumio began his career in banking as an intern at Barclays Capital, the investment-banking arm of Barclays Bank PLC. How he negotiated his way into such opportunity speaks of his enterprising attitude.
At the time, Bellumio was still in college and selling flooring products on weekends. When he found out that one of his clients was the managing director of Barclays Capital, he called him and proposed a deal: a 50 percent discount on the products in exchange for an internship. Initially, the man thought he was “crazy,” Bellumio says, but asked him for his resume. It gave him his start.
Barclays hired him officially after a year of his traveling and making deals, but in the summer of 1999, while he was waiting to start, Bellumio became intrigued by Miami’s budding Silicon Beach community. He didn’t take the permanent job at Barclays. Instead, he worked at the local offices of DeRemate.com as an intern, “and I saw that they had raised $50 million and were buying companies so I basically started advising these companies after hours.” That turned into BroadSpan Capital, a boutique technology investment bank — and he was on his way.
Eventually he realized he wasn’t a banker. “People would come to me with passion and deals and my job was to get them money. So in that process I felt part of the team, but then the deal closed and you moved on to the next deal—and I wanted to be part of the creative, the passion side. We actually thought of starting a film production company. My family in Argentina is in the film business.”
That wasn’t a perfect fit either. “Making movies is probably riskier than technology and more complicated,” he says, “and as I was in that process, Manny Medina called me and offered me a job at Terremark.”
Bellumio became the vice president of corporate finance and development at Terremark Worldwide Inc., a leading provider of Internet infrastructure services, and worked there for four years. Verizon acquired the company in 2011.
Bellumio joined Senzari the same year. It was a new company, developing technology to analyze music, social data and personal preferences to make customized real-time recommendations. The company now has 30 employees and offices in Miami, San Francisco and Berlin.
“For most people, technology is not on the radar when talking about Miami,” he says. “It’s not on the radar from a business point of view or from an academic point of view, so the hardest challenge is to show people that you could do business here. Fundraising for us hasn’t been easy. We have raised less than 5 percent of the money here [including an investment from Knight Foundation’s Enterprise Fund]. It’s been really hard to access big-ticket investments in cutting-edge technology in Miami. The money has come mainly from the West Coast, Atlanta and New Jersey.”
For Haggman, one of the main challenges for Miami is “the lack of awareness about what is going on here,” he says. “We not only have success stories such as .Co, Mako, Open English or Senzari, but we also have a critical mass of universities. The Miami metropolitan area is seventh in the nation in college students per capita. “