StartUp Miami: Making the city more of a place where ideas are built

Communities / Article


See video from StartupCity Miami with Knight Foundation and The Atlantic here.

A key component of Knight Foundation’s effort to help strengthen and propel Miami’s startup community is creating better opportunities for entrepreneurs to connect and learn together.

Toward that end, today we’re having our biggest gathering yet.

In partnership with The Atlantic and author Richard Florida, we’re launching Startup City: Miami. The free program will be a day-long series of talks and conversations asking how we can make Miami more of a place where ideas are built.

Illustrating the appetite for the topic: more than 1,100 people have RSVP’d to attend the weekday event. Set in the New World Center on Miami Beach, the conference will run from 9 to 4 pm and be live streamed as well.

At the heart of the convening is the belief that Miami is poised to make important gains as a community that’s buzzing with entrepreneurs, innovators and change-makers of all kinds, whether seeking social change or pure profit. And, in doing so, will foster increased resident engagement and deeper attachment to our young, rapidly evolving city.

“My hope would be that some of those people figure out a way to incubate start-ups [in Miami],” said Richard Florida recently in the blog, Beached Miami. “Not just high-tech start-ups — social innovation, social enterprise, urban transformation, arts and cultural organizations.”

Over the past decade Miami has developed many of the elements needed to succeed as a startup hub: a strong and improving university system, an increasingly active and developed urban center, a thriving cultural and creative life, a uniquely diverse and highly entrepreneurial population, and a startup scene that continues to gain momentum.

And, yet, there are gaps: lack of contacts with other entrepreneurs, lack of access to mentors, lack of connection to smart capital that help ideas take flight. So too, a lack of conviction that Miami is a place where people can launch and grow new ventures. A persistent refrain is that Miami still suffers from a brain drain, as people feel compelled to go elsewhere.

To address this, Knight Foundation – which seeks to create more informed and engaged communities – is aiming to help build the infrastructure, and provide the support and tools that connect, educate and inspire entrepreneurs.

Thus far, it’s an effort that includes investing in physical places to co-work and share, like The Lab Miami in Wynwood. Building mentor and support networks for the most promising entrepreneurs by funding the launch of Endeavor in Miami. Supporting myriad events that connect and focus attention like NewME Pop Up Accelerator and HackDay Miami, along with upcoming events like Super Conf or next year’s inaugural eMerge Americas conference. All the while providing opportunities for future entrepreneurs to build their capabilities through programs like Girls Who Code and Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship. 

Yet Startup City: Miami also provides a special opportunity to assess Miami now, review what’s been done in other cities, and consider strategy going forward with leading thinkers and doers in Miami and around the world.

Speakers will include Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh who will discuss his effort to foster greater community by combining arts, urbanism and entrepreneurship in a forgotten part of Las Vegas.

Fernando Fabre, President of Endeavor, will talk about the non-profit’s 15-year track record of building thriving, sustainable entrepreneurial eco-systems around the world, and why Endeavor is set to launch its first U.S.-based effort in Miami.

Brad Feld, participating via Skype, is set to discuss the dos and don’ts that comprise the success of building the startup community in Boulder.  Feld recently authored the book, Startup Communities: Building An Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City.

Richard Florida, along with curating the entire day’s programming, will discuss the nexus between tech innovation and good, urban neighborhoods.

All the while, there will be many Miami-based voices.

“I think there’s a lot to build on in Miami,” said Florida, in the Beached Miami blog post. “The question then is, how do we build those idea-capital institutions. Miami did it with arts and culture, they did it with museums, they’ve done it with [food] — the one place we haven’t done it is in the realm of ideas. So I just think it takes a little bit of a catalyst.”

By Matt Haggman, program director/Miami at Knight Foundation

Related: “Start-Up City: A community forum on ‘urban tech,’ building a hub” by Nancy Dahlberg in the Miami Herald