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Miami

Miami lies at the nexus between Latin America and North America, granting it access to Latin American markets, along with expertise and capital from North America. Although it is better known as a tourist destination due to its beaches and weather, Miami is just beginning to take shape as a regional technology hub. The eMerge Americas tech conference convenes thousands of attendees annually, and connects investors with innovators from all over the hemisphere. Entrepreneurs in Florida benefit from a favorable tax structure, a low cost of doing business, and one of the fastest growing populations in the entire country. Despite Miami’s size, the small startup ecosystem means that people are more easily accessible than they would be in more mature markets. Organizations such as Venture Hive, The Knight Foundation, and Endeavor Miami provide the ecosystem with valuable support and needed mentoring. Miami still faces several challenges, including the lack of a major venture capital firm that is able to fund companies after their seed rounds, and the segmentation of the market across geographic and industrial lines.

In This Market

These businesses offer industry expertise and are a source of startup talent and potential customers. They help fuel the local startup community.

Opportunities

  • Due to its advantageous location, Miami’s airport has more Latin American destinations than any other major American city and is one of the largest cargo airports in the nation. As a result, the city hosts many regional corporate headquarters focusing on Latin America.
  • With the second largest health district in the nation, Miami is a magnet for health IT and medical related technologies. The health district includes over a dozen hospitals and research centers, along with three medical schools.
  • Despite the relatively small size of the Miami startup ecosystem, the city is one of the leading markets in the country in terms of micro-entrepreneurs per capita. An advantage of this is that it's easier to gain access than in more developed markets where people are less likely to provide resources.
  • Florida has a very favorable tax structure. There is no state income tax, so entrepreneurs have a longer runway to work with. The PATH Act allows businesses with <$50 million in gross receipts to apply an R&D tax credit against the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT).
  • The cost of living is much lower than in New York City and the Silicon Valley. Developers are much cheaper to hire, and are much more loyal than their counterparts in Silicon Valley.
  • eMerge Americas, a homegrown tech conference, convenes thousands of attendees and hundreds of companies to Miami, connects investors with innovators, and retains a heavy focus on Latin America.
  • The Council of the Americas, an organization that seeks to improve public private partnerships in Latin America and has opened a regional office in Miami.
  • Verticals include logistics, health IT, tourism, e-commerce, and media based companies.

Risk Factors

  • The lack of a major venture capital firm that would be able to support a Series A round for companies. This causes many to leave Miami in search of venture funding.
  • Miami does not have a highly technical university that churns out heavily sought after developers. Although there are plenty of initiatives to address this issue, there is still a talent deficiency.
  • Not enough big wins. The ecosystem does not have many exits, which means that the mentorship and capital that come with exits are not fully developed.
  • Miami suffers from the perception of being a purely tourist destination. This is primarily a PR issue, but it also means that those who are interested in the space may not actively seek out Miami, as they would other cities.
  • Due to the youth of the community, the city is very segmented across geographies and industries. There are very few centers of gravity that are pulling in any certain direction, which makes it hard for the city to have an identity.
  • Cooperation between the public sector and the community could be improved so that startups see the public sector as a more visible partner.
  • Despite the fact that Miami hosts many corporate headquarters, this has not translated into support for the local ecosystem.
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