Trip to Americas shines light on Miami’s challenges

Visit to entrepreneurial communities in Mexico, Brazil and Argentina educate, inspire and spur a call to action.

By Susan Amat

Special to The Miami Herald

Two weeks ago I returned from Geeks on a Plane (GOAP): Latin America. Hosted by Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm 500 Startups, GOAP involved 35+ technology entrepreneurs and investors traveling to different cities to be immersed in their tech entrepreneurship ecosystems. Reasons to join the 10-day adventure were varied: Some were looking for deals in which to invest, others were contemplating opening a foreign office or moving their businesses overseas.

Through the generosity of the Knight Foundation, my comrades from Miami and I hoped to experience the developing ecosystems in Mexico City, Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires, searching for inspiration and answers in our efforts to support and grow the Miami community. By leaving Miami, I saw the opportunities and issues we face in a new light.

In Mexico City, the importance of transparency was enforced daily. There are several funds investing in early- and growth-stage businesses in Mexico, a small community where everyone knows one another. Over several conversations, each speaker separately cited that “outsiders trusting their operations and interests” was the key to their abilities to raise, invest and maintain some level of cooperation with all interested parties (entrepreneurs, government, industry, etc.).

Interestingly enough, the money seemed to be telling the story of the opportunities in Mexico rather than the entrepreneurs. The investors painted a picture of ethical business dealings, government support and committed investors who are there for the long run. I’ll return to this point in a moment.

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