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An enterpreneurs guide to Miami's startup ecosystem

Updated: Jun 30, 2021

By Charly Esnal | Base Miami

Visão de Miami durante o dia

Miami is an ever-changing landscape, but the fact that it’s becoming a destination for business expansion, growth, and investment, can’t be denied. Just in 2016, the city attracted $1.3 billion in venture capital.

The “Magic City” is now a major player in the business landscape. How big? Well, the city made it into the top 20 finalists of Amazon HQ2. Other companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Uber, Lyft, and Spotify have built their Latin American Headquarters in Miami. This serves as a reminder that the city has the culture, growth, and technological strength to gain the interest of these tech giants.

All of this boom that Miami is experiencing has made several organizations such as the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) to direct efforts to promote the city’s strengths and guide business people and entrepreneurs when navigating all of this fascinating, yet complex landscape.

Born out this goal lead to the creation of Why Miami, a CIC based initiative to gather information, content, and resources, from local people, organizations, and public and private institutions that have a direct impact in Miami and to present the city for what it is: one of the most promising tech hubs in the US.

There are plenty of reasons, just like we have discussed before in our piece on the “5 Reasons Why Miami is the Best City for Latin American Startups.” However, we want to guide all of the entrepreneurs interested in exploring this city to get to know the Miami startup ecosystem.

Go through the topics using the menu below:

Be inspired through attending events

Events can be the spark that fuels the idea behind your company, but not only that. It also serves as a way to bring together different communities with one goal: to innovate.

Miami has a wide range of events, going from hack-a-thons to gatherings for new entrepreneurs. It has something for every person. Some of the most relevant events are being held by Venture Cafe, which hosts the largest weekly convening of entrepreneurial, engaged, and creative innovators in South Florida. On the other hand, Tech Beach provides you with the ability to network, project your company, and learn more about the goings-on within the community.

eMerge America, one of the biggest events of the year, is used for a plethora of activities, all with the purpose of building, launching, and scaling the ideas of the attendees. In 2019, it hosted more than 15,000 people from over 400 companies and 40 countries.

Startup Grind Miami organizes different events that can help you connect with the South Florida startup ecosystem, whether you’re an early-stage entrepreneur, a professional at leading corporations, or an investor.

All of these organizations and activities have the same goal: to transform Miami into the Tech Hub of America.

Attend training courses to develop team skills

Your startup might start with a few people, but you’ll need human talent to sustain your business expansion when experiencing fast-paced growth. For this, the importance of training courses to develop and improve skills is of utmost relevance. Academic institutions and companies are devoting considerable efforts to provide the resources that the growth of Miami startups are demanding.

There are plenty of choices of institutions and companies that can help you with this matter. Wyncode, a renowned coding academy based in Miami, graduates individuals with highly placed skills in startups and high growth companies. They believe and promote a disruptive education model that is constantly changing and improving.

The iLab Startup Foundation is another example of institutions taking talent to new heights. Through a challenging and rigorous curriculum, they provide early-stage and aspiring entrepreneurs with the structure, training, mentoring, and global network needed to start a company. It has been supporting entrepreneurs by offering education, mentorship, networking, and funding opportunities. It dedicates itself to wealth creation and giving back to the community.

The talent pool of the city contains a vast potential. The mixture of cultures (40% of Miami’s residents are foreign-born) provides a wide range of perspectives. There’s a steady flow of talent for companies to choose from, you just have to pick those who match your needs.

Find your co-working space

Miami is home to the most coworking spaces in America,” according to research made by the group Yardi Matrix, back in 2018. Why is co-working such a hit in Miami? The study calls out a large number of entrepreneurs and startup businesses in the telecommunications and medical sectors. But there’s also the fast-paced growth that the city is having, which demands that teams find a co-working space that meets their requirements.

Companies have stepped up to find solutions and meet the needs of the fast-growing startups based in Miami. WeWork is one of those institutions that can help you solve your office space requirements, whether you’re an established enterprise or a growing startup. They are committed to supporting their member companies using their insight, experience, and real estate portfolio to provide the solutions you’re looking for. Almost 40% of the Global Fortune 500 use WeWork to enhance workplace strategy.

CIC is another excellent option when looking for coworking spaces. It’s a global leader in building and innovation communities that has supported over 6,000 startups and technology companies (with over $8 billion invested in companies that began within CIC spaces) and has a strong presence in Miami. It offers resourceful and flexible office spaces and coworking options that adapt innovators, business people, and entrepreneurs.

Receive assistance from local authorities

One of Miami’s government’s strengths is that it is aware of the potential that one day could transform the city into a world-class Tech Hub. Because of this, they offer free-tax incentives and one of the lowest corporate taxes across the US (5.5%).

“Miami has gone from being simply a gateway city to now a global city. This is not only because of our wealth of diversity and multiculturalism but also because of a unique entrepreneurial spirit that resonates deeply through our neighborhoods.”, said Francis X. Suarez, Mayor of Miami.

Besides, there are several organizations like the Beacon Council that provide guidance and assistance about tax-related information. CIC, and Endeavor Miami, also help entrepreneurs connect with all of the different programs available for them.

Attend seed funding mentor programs

Funding is a critical part of any company because it increases your visibility and adds value to your business. However, it can be particularly game-changing at the early stages of any startup.

The Venture City is an excellent example of committed seed funding. They have over 50 Tech Partnerships, and more than 25 companies benefit from their growth programs every year, thanks to the skillset and mindset they provided, which tops those of Silicon Valley.

There are plenty of other choices in Miami for your startup. Endeavor ScaleUp Program, 500 Startups, Startup FIU, Venture Hive, and The South Florida Accelerator, are just a few who excel at mentoring new startups.

Remember, without resources and someone to guide you, even the most dedicated and passionate team will have difficulties to develop its projects and generate interest from investors.

Where to raise funds

Navigating through a booming city like Miami, looking for funds for your business, can be incredibly complex since not everyone has the connections to investors. But there are good and reliable options for those new startups.

Miami Angels is a group of angel investors based in South Florida that funds companies during its early stages. It has invested over $14 million since 2014 and accredited over 100 investors. The best thing is that you can contact them directly through their website. Just send them a brief email explaining your company’s goal and why they should back your business. Their collaboration goes beyond providing capital since they will ensure you have the talent and resources you need.

The Knight Foundation is another strong institution that are funding ideas that support and grow Miami’s tech ecosystem. It has invested more than $30 million in spaces, accelerators, and events as big as eMerge Americas. Miami is the center of their entrepreneur program, which is a testimony of how the city can attract well-renowned institutions to back up companies and their tech.

Many companies have already taken advantage of all the benefits that Miami offers. Wyncode is one of them. In 2014, their founders, Johanna and Juha Mikkola, moved to the city with just one mission: to transform the way education works. They did so without knowing a single person. Today, Wyncode has graduated over 800 people, and more than 400 companies, ranging from startups to behemoths like Amazon, have hired their coders.

In Summary

All in all, Miami has all of the ingredients to take your company to new levels. Business-friendly incentives, low taxes, an incredible human talent pool, and a vast entrepreneurial ecosystem, are the factors that make the city a promising Tech Hub. It’s a place that is still being built, and for an entrepreneur, there’s nothing more exciting than jumping early into a project that could change their lives.


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