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6 Miami-based investors share their views on the region’s startup scene – TechCrunch

Miami is shortly turning into an emblem for the tech exodus from Silicon Valley. The space is residence to a variety of investors, profitable tech founders and an keen native authorities.

For this survey, TechCrunch spoke to a variety of investors about the space’s potential, alternatives and key gamers. This is the second survey TechCrunch revealed on the space and the first could be discovered right here.

In this survey, these investors agree on a number of points of Miami. They see an enormous alternative for the area to develop into a serious startup hub by using its various workforce and great high quality of life. As they are saying beneath, the future of labor is unsure and Miami is turning into extra engaging as workforces disconnect from workplace buildings.

We spoke to the following investors:

  • Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, co-founder and managing associate, Clerisy
  • David Goldberg, common associate, Alpaca
  • Mark Volchek, founding associate, Las Olas Venture Capital
  • Maya Baratz Jordan, CEO and founding associate, Founders Factory New York
  • Sanket S. Parekh, managing associate, Secocha Ventures
  • Laura González-Estéfani, founder, TheVentureCity

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Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, co-founder and managing associate, Clerisy

Where do you see Miami’s startup scene 5 years from now?

Miami’s startup scene has been rising and evolving over the previous 5+ years because of native organizations supporting entrepreneurship together with, however not restricted to Endeavor Miami, The Knight Foundation, The Lab, Rokk3r Labs, eMerge Americas, Miami Angels and Wyncode. Many of Miami’s entrepreneurs, investors and startups have traditionally had ties to Latin America. I believe going ahead, the Miami tech scene will definitely proceed to be a conduit to Latin America because it has been in the previous. However, I predict extra non-Latin American founders, investors, engineers and operators from cities like New York, LA and San Francisco, may even select to construct their companies in Miami attributable to larger high quality of life and extra engaging tax charges. This dynamic will convey extra related expertise and a bigger, extra strong tech ecosystem to South Florida.

Remote work is pushing and pulling the world workforce. This implies that workplaces will disappear from Miami, even with extra corporations transferring in, but additionally extra locals who work remotely for corporations elsewhere. How do you see these components impacting the metropolis’s tech evolution?

I believe we’ll see extra various expertise stream by means of Miami because of distant work turning into the norm. If staff technically headquartered in different cities are in a position to work remotely from wherever, why not check out working from residence whereas primarily based in sunny Miami the place one could be outside daily of the 12 months? I not too long ago joined a WhatsApp chat referred to as “Nomads in Miami” that features quite a lot of intellectually curious individuals from all walks of life (from creatives, to entrepreneurs, to conventional professionals) who’re both briefly in Miami this winter or have made a everlasting transfer to South Florida. This chat is reflective of recent teams of individuals coming to expertise The Magic City. Anecdotally, I’ve discovered that many of those people who find themselves “testing Miami out,” had by no means spent vital time in Miami earlier than. I additionally not too long ago joined one other WhatsApp chat #miamitechlife that features a local people of founders, investors, executives and native leaders to fulfill, collaborate and community whereas participating in enjoyable actions round Miami. There is an pleasure and power in Miami proper now, and I consider it’s right here to remain!

What business sectors do you focus on inside Miami (and past)? What is going on in Miami now that you just’re most excited to fund?

I not too long ago launched a progress fairness fund referred to as Clerisy with my wonderful enterprise associate Lisa Myers who was most not too long ago a associate at L Catterton, a pacesetter in shopper personal fairness. We are excited to spend money on fast-growing shopper and techsumer corporations doing over $10 million in income, are shortly scaling and wish progress capital. We will fund companies that meet our standards in classes we like corresponding to well being and wellness, consumerization of healthcare, meals and beverage, magnificence, and different shopper and techsumer areas. I’d be thrilled to search out an funding primarily based in Miami, nonetheless Clerisy isn’t centered on a particular geography. We will spend money on companies positioned in cities or international locations the place we now have earlier enterprise expertise and ample, related networks.

What are a few of the native challenges you’ve encountered or seen founders wrestle with? More typically, how ought to individuals seeking to rent in, spend money on, or relocate to Miami take into consideration doing enterprise in the metropolis?

The Miami tech ecosystem is smaller than in the Bay Area or New York and arguably much less intense, with fewer exits to this point of which to talk. Although tightly knit, it’s certainly welcoming to newcomers. I believe this native hospitality is as a result of Miami has had a little bit of a transient nature amongst a few of its inhabitants attributable to many Latin Americans coming and going yearly, relying on the political or financial conditions in their respective residence international locations. I believe will probably be simpler than ever to persuade new hires to relocate to Miami. The extra success and exits Miami’s current startups have, the simpler will probably be to draw extra funding at the native degree and extra future expertise.

Who are key startup individuals you see creating success regionally, whether or not investors, founders and even different forms of startup ecosystem roles like attorneys, designers, progress consultants, and so forth.

On an area degree, Miami wants a variety of individuals to assist its startup ecosystem: founders, high-quality expertise starting from engineers to entrepreneurs to creatives, angel investors, enterprise capital and personal fairness funds, attorneys, after which ideally a loyal and engaged shopper base that proudly helps its native corporations.

David Goldberg, common associate, Alpaca

Where do you see Miami’s startup scene 5 years from now?

Miami has every part in place to speed up its rise to be cemented as a major tech/startup ecosystem. It now has capital (investors), founders, expertise and infrastructure, every rising by the day given the attractiveness to the space. In 5 years, I’m assured Miami will solely path SF, NYC, LA and Boston when it comes to dimension/offers.

Remote work is pushing and pulling the world workforce. This implies that workplaces will disappear from Miami, even with extra corporations transferring in, but additionally extra locals who work remotely for corporations elsewhere. How do you see these components impacting the metropolis’s tech evolution?

It’s a double-edged sword. In a optimistic sense, you’ll get founders transferring right here, constructing out distant/distributed/hybrid groups. You’ll even have particular person staff dwelling right here, however working remotely for corporations primarily based in different areas. What will likely be tougher to get is the large firm all constructed from scratch with everybody native. These successes (e.g., Uber in SF) create 1000’s of future founders, operators and investors that pay it ahead in their ecosystem. Without that, will probably be robust to actually crack the prime tier.

What business sectors do you focus on inside Miami (and past)? What is going on in Miami now that you just’re most excited to fund?

As a agency, we focus broadly on shopper, marketplaces, e-commerce infrastructure, actual property know-how and fintech. Given the inflow of expertise, I’m undecided if Miami must be pigeonholed to a couple sectors. Traditionally, it’s been identified for journey/hospitality, healthcare tech and actual property tech, however I’m already seeing rising tendencies round blockchain/crypto, fintech, distant work and even some conventional enterprise SaaS. Miami can also be an unbelievable bridge to Latam and South America and I can see a slew of corporations profiting from that.

What are a few of the native challenges you’ve encountered or seen founders wrestle with? More typically, how ought to individuals seeking to rent in, spend money on or relocate to Miami take into consideration doing enterprise in the metropolis?

The bodily dispersion could make it tougher. Just in Miami, there are minihubs in Brickell, Wynwood/Midtown, The Grove, Coral Gables, and so forth. Then you may have utterly separate networks up north in Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, and so forth.

Additionally, Miami wants a much bigger focus and contribution from its universities. Silicon Valley, LA, Boston and New York every have top-tier establishments that churn out tech expertise. That’s nonetheless lacking right here.

Who are key startup individuals you see creating success regionally, whether or not investors, founders and even different forms of startup ecosystem roles like attorneys, designers, progress consultants, and so forth. We’re making an attempt to focus on the movers and shakers who outsiders may not know.

Honestly, I’m uncovering extra every day. And everybody likes to speak about the “big names” which have not too long ago moved right here, like Keith Rabois, Anthony Pompliano, Harry Hurst, Jon Oringer, and so forth. But I even have deference to the of us which were right here, working tirelessly for years, creating the basis. Some that come to thoughts: Melissa Medina, Matt Haggman, Nico Berardi, Shervin Pishevar, Raul Moas, Nancy Dahlberg, Rebecca Danta, Moishe Mana, Laura Maydon, Brian Brackeen, Tony Jimenez, Brian Breslin, Juan Pablo Cappello, Mellissa Krinzman, Mark Kingdon, and now, after all, Mayor Francis Suarez.

Mark Volcheck, founding associate, Las Olas Venture Capital

Where do you see Miami’s startup scene 5 years from now?

We suppose that issues are nonetheless very early, however are bullish on the way forward for Florida tech. One of the key issues to work on over the subsequent 5 years is the continued group constructing — proper now, there are quite a lot of disparate teams and never a lot communication between them. Over time, that cohesiveness may actually drive south Florida ahead as a tech ecosystem.

Remote work is pushing and pulling the world workforce. This implies that workplaces will disappear from Miami, even with extra corporations transferring in, but additionally extra locals who work remotely for corporations elsewhere. How do you see these components impacting the metropolis’s tech evolution?

We do suppose there will likely be a future for workplaces and in-person collaboration. Across our total portfolio practically all corporations have some plan to retain in-person expertise. The largest profit is that distant work has enabled individuals in Big Tech to work exterior of Silicon Valley, and it seems Miami and South Florida, extra broadly, are having fun with the advantages of that decentralization. The distribution of expertise will profit founders right here regionally as the previous VC expectations of tech expertise to be hyperconcentrated in Silicon Valley is not as true, and other people right here regionally may have entry to higher assets.

What business sectors do you focus on inside Miami (and past)? What is going on in Miami now that you just’re most excited to fund?

Our fund targets two major themes: B2B vertical SaaS and SaaS-enabled companies/marketplaces, and broadly what we name information employee instruments — DevOps, cybersecurity and different usually product-led horizontal purposes. Within vertical SaaS, logistics and provide chain tech has actually taken off inside the previous couple of years, with much more tailwinds attributable to COVID’s influence on shopper demand and supply expectations. As logistics is a large business for Miami and Florida, we expect startups right here have a really thrilling alternative in that area. We have now funded a number of corporations in Florida throughout numerous points of logistics, from closing mile supply to long-haul trucking route optimization.

What are a few of the native challenges you’ve encountered or seen founders wrestle with? More typically, how ought to individuals seeking to rent in, spend money on or relocate to Miami take into consideration doing enterprise in the metropolis?

Access to capital has been a major downside for Florida-based founders since earlier than we began our first fund again in 2016. There are comparatively few funds actively investing in tech corporations right here at the seed and Series A stage, and primarily none post-Series A. Companies have traditionally had problem getting consideration from Silicon Valley-based VCs attributable to the preconceptions of Florida as a nasty place to begin an organization. Even as not too long ago as final 12 months the commonplace line from some Bay Area investors was, “Move out of Florida if you are serious about raising money.” That mentioned, a few of these preconceptions have been deserved, as traditionally South Florida as a enterprise group has been vulnerable to falling for flash over substance and that has sometimes been true for investors and startups as properly. With the buzz round Miami and Florida as a spot of curiosity for VCs and tech, we hope that attitudes round funding Florida corporations have modified, as it’s clear that good companies could be constructed wherever.

Who are key startup individuals you see creating success regionally, whether or not investors, founders and even different forms of startup ecosystem roles like attorneys, designers, progress consultants, and so forth.

We’d like to say all of our Florida-based corporations who’ve been heads down constructing nice companies right here regionally — ReloQuest, CarePredict, OneRail, SmartHop and Plum. They are all hiring and rising like loopy, and several other have obtained follow-on funding from prime VCs. Check them out!

Maya Baratz Jordan, CEO and founding associate, Founders Factory New York

Where do you see Miami’s startup scene 5 years from now?

Cities with a various set of well-represented industries are sometimes fertile grounds for constructing attention-grabbing corporations. New York is a good instance. Tech ecosystems thrive in an setting the place you possibly can unearth and resolve a myriad of various issues versus simply the issues of a single sector. The most attention-grabbing and profitable corporations are inclined to focus on blindspots in massive markets. The blindspots are sometimes found after they emerge out of silo and there’s a inventive stream between industries. This is why I consider the variety of industries and expertise is finally a energy for Miami.

Remote work is pushing and pulling the world workforce. This implies that workplaces will disappear from Miami, even with extra corporations transferring in, but additionally extra locals who work remotely for corporations elsewhere. How do you see these components impacting the metropolis’s tech evolution?

One of the causes it appears lots of people are transferring to Miami now’s the undeniable fact that their job is probably not tethered to a geographic location they usually can work the place they take pleasure in dwelling. Given this distinctive energy to embody work/life steadiness, Miami can experiment with hybrid fashions of working environments. Perhaps the dichotomy of working in an workplace versus working at house is dated. Offices have been created for a time when know-how was once restricted and the quickest approach to talk was in individual. In-person interplay is necessary, however maybe there are methods we are able to keep [in-person interaction] that aren’t essentially tethered to an workplace and that incorporate extra methods to combine with one’s life.

What business sectors do you focus on inside Miami (and past)? What is going on in Miami now that you just’re most excited to fund?

Consumer healthcare is an space I’ve been actively investing in, and it looks like there’s been quite a lot of exercise in Miami in that vertical, starting from medical robotics to distant monitoring for continual diseases. I’m additionally taken with the future of labor and the creator economic system, and I consider the various set of industries in Miami will breed attention-grabbing corporations that deal with the want for individuals to lucratively pursue their passions.

What are a few of the native challenges you’ve encountered or seen founders wrestle with? More typically, how ought to individuals seeking to rent in, spend money on, or relocate to Miami take into consideration doing enterprise in the metropolis?

People in Miami joke that they run on “Miami time,” which is one thing between island time and the way New Yorkers consider time.

Who are key startup individuals you see creating success regionally, whether or not investors, founders and even different forms of startup ecosystem roles like attorneys, designers, progress consultants, and so forth.

Miami is a metropolis constructed by immigrants, and that energy is what’s going to enable Miami to thrive as a tech ecosystem; immigrants begin companies at larger charges than those that are native born. It looks like feminine founders particularly have been quietly constructing attention-grabbing and profitable companies right here.

Sanket S. Parekh, managing associate, Secocha Ventures

Where do you see Miami’s startup scene 5 years from now? The metropolis has attracted a variety of individuals over the years, together with extra tech and finance corporations very not too long ago. How will it add as much as one thing greater than the sum of the components?

If you consider Miami as a product and consider its adoption curve, it looks like we now have reached the chasm. I.e., these of us who’ve been right here pre-COVID are like these you’d characterize as innovators and the during-COVID crowd as the early adopters. Miami is at the level the place we now have to show we are able to proceed on the curve from early adopters to early majority.

Five years from now we’ll hopefully be centered on headlines showcasing startups which are rising and hiring right here, and never nearly which investor has relocated right here (which can also be good, don’t get me fallacious, however not the end-all).

We may also want that Miami’s finest traits — its worldwide perspective, its racial, socioeconomic and cultural variety — will infuse one thing distinctive and actually distinctive into the founders and investors constructing their companies right here.

Remote work is pushing and pulling the world workforce. This implies that workplaces will disappear from Miami, even with extra corporations transferring in, but additionally extra locals who work remotely for corporations elsewhere. How do you see these components impacting the metropolis’s tech evolution?

I don’t see a future the place people cease interacting with one another IRL. While how we “work” will look very totally different, workplaces “disappearing” is a little bit of a stretch. It’s extra probably that we’ll see an evolution of what an workplace appears to be like like and the way it features as a “hub.”

Miami is stuffed with disjointed “neighborhood clusters.” Up till now, this has been a destructive, however given the modifications we’re going to see in how we work, I consider that is not as crucial. In reality, it may be seen as a bonus the place somebody may dwell/work on the seaside, and go to occasions/conferences at their “hub,” which can be elsewhere, when wanted versus being so centered on dwelling near your office since that you must commute daily.

What business sectors do you focus on inside Miami (and past)? What is going on in Miami now that you just’re most excited to fund?

While we’ve been primarily based in Miami for the final seven years, we make investments globally. In reality, COVID has made it much more acceptable to not be geographically constrained. This is the exact purpose you’re seeing investors transfer right here.

We spend money on fintech, healthcare tech, shopper tech and shopper merchandise.

One of our most enjoyable portfolio corporations relies in Broward: CarePredict. With the modifications that COVID has led to, they’re uniquely positioned to take benefit and supply the proper dose of know-how that eldercare requires.

Within our native ecosystem, Chewy and MagicLeap have been massive employers. I’m most excited to see what their staff department out and create in the coming years.

We are additionally excited to see a rising variety of exceptionally proficient founders transferring to Miami to begin their corporations. These skills could have chosen San Francisco or NYC beforehand, which is a good alternative for us to fulfill distinctive groups at the infancy of an concept.

What are a few of the native challenges you’ve encountered or seen founders wrestle with? More typically, how ought to individuals seeking to rent in, spend money on or relocate to Miami take into consideration doing enterprise in the metropolis?

Angel rounds are difficult right here as in comparison with different extra mature markets the place founders or of us from the startup ecosystem play a bigger position in angel rounds. Most native angels are used to investing in actual property, and strategy early-stage offers in another way than those that could also be extra accustomed to the asset class.

Hiring top-quality expertise was additionally historically tougher right here than in tier-one entrepreneurial cities. With the vital inflow of distant staff in the previous 12 months and the change in perceptions about Miami, we’re hopeful that native corporations will have the ability to overcome this problem.

Miami is a set of neighborhood clusters, as I discussed earlier. If somebody is seeking to relocate right here, they need to spend a while attending to know what works for them earlier than they decide to a neighborhood.

Who are key startup individuals you see creating success regionally, whether or not investors, founders and even different forms of startup ecosystem roles like attorneys, designers, progress consultants, and so forth.

  • Venture Bites is an area grassroots group made up of individuals obsessed with the startup ecosystem. They manage instructional classes with key gamers from throughout the nation and are additionally organizing a pitch competitors with distinguished private and non-private partnerships already in place.
  • Refresh Miami has been a vocal supporter and “info hub” for the group.
  • Miami Angels has been working tirelessly to get extra angel investors into the startup ecosystem. There are quite a lot of excessive internet value people right here, nevertheless it’s been traditionally difficult to get their consideration away from actual property investing to startup investing. Hopefully, with Miami crossing the chasm it’ll convey extra of us into the combine.
  • Animo Ventures and Las Olas Venture Capital are two different VC companies positioned in South Florida from pre-COVID days. Hopefully we’ll hear of many extra establishing store right here in the coming months.
  • The Knight Foundation has been one in all the most constant supporters of the ecosystem and its influence can’t be understated.
  • 500 Startups is one in all the very first Silicon Valley companies to have acknowledged the potential of Miami, establishing an workplace right here a number of years in the past. Ana and her colleagues have been instrumental in stimulating and fascinating the native ecosystem.

Laura González-Estéfani, founder, TheVentureCity

Where do you see Miami’s startup scene 5 years from now?

If the leaps we now have made in the final 5 years are any indication of the subsequent 5, we consider Miami will likely be the subsequent massive tech hub in the southern United States. We have all the proper items to make that true: engineer/developer colleges and academies, startup applications and accelerators for seed, a thriving tech group, exits from founders reinvesting in the subsequent era of founders, inflow of recent capital, high quality of life that tech firm founders and staff are beginning to prioritize, engaged native authorities as we now have not too long ago seen, in addition to an extremely various pool of expertise.

Remote work is pushing and pulling the world workforce. This implies that workplaces will disappear from Miami, even with extra corporations transferring in, but additionally extra locals who work remotely for corporations elsewhere. How do you see these components impacting the metropolis’s tech evolution?

We consider expertise has no zip code and sensible cities are people who appeal to and retain the finest expertise — it’s not nearly connectivity or infrastructures solely. In the previous, individuals needed to relocate to work at their dream job sacrificing an excessive amount of personally. 2020 has simply confirmed that you just don’t have to sacrifice the approach you need to dwell your life due to a dream job. The grievance we used to listen to from expertise was that there have been not sufficient mid- to senior-level roles in Miami in tech — distant work has considerably strengthened Miami. Miami is a dream vacation spot for lots of people in several levels of life, so we see Miami additionally turning into an incredible distant work hub for these that may be 100% distant, even when they solely spend a part of the 12 months right here after which migrate to different climates. The workforce has extra selections now than ever earlier than and we expect individuals will begin to actually put high quality of life over job location. It is a real recreation changer.

What business sectors do you focus on inside Miami (and past)? What is going on in Miami now that you just’re most excited to fund?

We have been primarily based in Miami for the previous 4 years and we make investments from Miami to the place the finest founders are. Sometimes [they are] in Miami and typically in different states or international locations. “We are from Miami to the world.” We at the moment are witnessing an enormous inside motion from different states to Miami, however many people moved from our international locations to Miami due to the immense alternatives Miami affords. We spend money on software program corporations disrupting conventional industries, Health tech, fintech, mobility, cybersecurity and jobs. We have additionally invested in market enterprise fashions in merchandise disrupting journey, pets, options for SMBs. We love giving a primary ticket from $100,000 to seed stage corporations collectively with a product-led progress program or a pre-Series A to a ticket of a median of $3 million by means of our Fund II. We love various corporations, worldwide mindset and execution over the rest.

Miami has at all times been a rare hub for fintech, we’re carefully following attention-grabbing corporations on this area and clearly well being tech. We need to say that we now have seen very disruptive corporations in proptech and likewise very attention-grabbing marketplaces of every kind B2C and B2B.

What are a few of the native challenges you’ve encountered or seen founders wrestle with? More typically, how ought to individuals seeking to rent in, spend money on or relocate to Miami take into consideration doing enterprise in the metropolis?

Our largest problem has at all times been preventing the biases of individuals round Miami. You need to expertise Miami to know the alternatives it brings. It’s a really welcoming metropolis the place so many individuals will enable you to land. The subsequent largest problem is that the quantity of capital that Miami strikes versus how a lot is invested in tech is ridiculous, actually a pity. For this purpose we’d like a fund of funds that helps the native funds in order that they will develop the ecosystem on this entrance. And I’m not speaking about leftovers of capital that want to fulfill a quota or small initiatives. I imply individuals investing with true conviction in the asset. That is what will get the flywheel working, capital to fund managers that selected the proper entrepreneurs from Miami or exterior [and] that create jobs, and so forth. Let’s not overlook that capital attracts founders and founders develop an enormous business that creates 1000’s of jobs. It isn’t solely about investing in Miami, it’s additionally about investing from right here to the world.

Who are key startup individuals you see creating success regionally, whether or not investors, founders and even different forms of startup ecosystems roles like attorneys, designers, progress consultants, and so forth?

Sure, Juha and Johanna Mikola from Wyncode [since submitting these answers, the company was acquired by Brain Station], Andrew Parker from Papa, Claudia Duran from Endeavor, Victor Servin — CTO of TheVentureCity, David Smith — chief information scientist from TheVentureCity, David Marcus — chief product officer at TheVentureCity. Jimena Zubiria — VP of People at TheVentureCity, Anabel Perez-Novo — CEO of NovoCost, Adolfo Babatz — CEO of Clip, Rodrigo Teijeiro — CEO of RecargaPay, Jackie Baumgarten — CEO of Boatsetter, Justin Meyers — CEO of Explorest and Vivek Jayaram (lawyer).

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