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LatAm vs Miami: A startup ecosystem comparison

By May 16, 20126 Comments2 min read

One of the purposes of this trip I’m on to Latin America was to learn from the communities down South and figure out how we can apply these lessons to the community in Miami. To say this trip has been eye-opening is the understatement of the century. The people I have met, and the companies I have seen in Mexico and Brazil have blown my mind.

The common everyday obstacles that startups in LatAm face make our “issues” seem inconsequential or trivial by comparison. The fact that entrepreneurs are starting companies in Mexico, Brazil, and other countries throughout the area despite the fact that everything costs more than it costs us, that they have government regulations through the wazoo, makes me envious. They may not have the resources we have from even an infrastructure or safety standpoint, yet they persevere, they push forward, and they chase the supposed American Dream harder than many of the entrepreneurs I’ve met in Miami. In Miami we don’t have to deal with traffic so bad it takes you 2 hours to go 5 miles, or paying 52% tax on electronics (including servers and SaaS), unstable electricity, spotty broadband, and countless other hurdles that make life harder. There is an inherent attitude of hustle in these communities throughout Latin America; if you have a problem, you figure out a solution.

Miami is spoiled by regional standards. Miami should be a beacon of light for companies targeting the Latin American markets and building companies throughout the Americas. We have easier access to capital, better employment laws (at will employment is a godsend to our companies, seriously), lower costs of living and operating (not even kidding, just look at Sao Paulo). So what is our excuse as a community for not building more impressive scalable companies that we can use as examples of the knowledge and skills available in Miami.

Take this as a call to action South Floridians! It is on you to stop expecting things to be handed to you and to rise up and build scalable businesses that can expose Miami as a leader in startups throughout the region.

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  • @maxnucci says:

    Completely agree on how we have it so good here in Miami.

    I can see so many obvious reasons why LATAM and Miami could be collaborating on a large scale – we (LATAM and Miami) have so many things we want from each other.

    • @e2732c387fe9a90978bafb5f1b7d5a1c:disqus i think there should be tons more collaboration, how do we work on fixing that?

      • Max Nucci says:

        Hey Brian,

        We need a stronger local Startup or Entrepreneur community – I am new to this space, and see a few interesting ideas popping up (Refresh Miami, Incubate Miami etc) but none strike me as the clear leader and/or particularly successful. Yet.

        I am in no way dissing any of these efforts, on the contrary – I think that they’re great starting points – I am just commenting from my (newbie to the scene) point of view.

        We need a friendly business/hacker/funding/success structure to attract and bring together more business/hacker/funding folks.

        Take a look at this:

        Their video tour explains their concept (co-working / collaborating etc). 

        What about something like geekdom in South FL? The Grove has some commercial space available right? 🙂

        What do you think we need more of here in Miami? Biz talent? Coders? Money? Something else?

        • Hey Max,
          Refresh (which I started 6 years ago) is a lot bigger than it seems. We have several thousand members. However we lack support from the corporate and startup community from a financing standpoint. With our limited budget we can’t commit to the big expenses a space would require. To setup a space like you mention would require close to $400k to get going. The business model is not viable. The only way to get something like this done is to piggy back off of a big corporation and their funds. 

        • Max Nucci says:

          After posting my last message, I went on to see lots of stuff on Refresh Miami. A few thousand members in no small feat!

          About a month ago I had dinner with a Citrix engineer, and he was telling me about how they work (open areas, collaboration, no cubicles etc). Yesterday – coincidentally and unrelated – I stumbled upon they are actively investing in startups and providing space at their Silicon Valley location.

          They have offices here in South Florida. Maybe they are a good fit and worth reaching out.

  • CarlosAOrdonez says:

    The problem of creating a community that collaborates is trying to find the right synergies, and leaving the egos at the door. It is like dating a girlfriend, if you don’t get along why try pushing it? I propose to do a speed dating event with all the different meetup groups leaders in technology and finance, and lets find out how many matches we get, lets measure how much people are willing to collaborate.