In this seemingly interminable series, which has covered everything, then shifted to the government, then local business, most recently the individuals, and now we’re taking a look at the role of the money men in relation to the future of tech in south florida.
The primary reason I hear from entrepreneurs/startup guys here in South Florida for considering leaving the area is not lack of access to talent, but lack of access to money. Now we all know South Florida has a lot of money flowing through it (despite the city of Miami technically being one of the “poorest” ), though very little of it in the form of venture capital. There are a lot of rich individuals flowing through our neck of the woods as well, as is evident by the bevvy of Bentleys and Ferraris spotted on any day of the week down Brickell Ave or Ocean Drive.
According to crunchbase there are only 8 financial organizations with offices within 200 miles of Miami, FL with 25 investments. Though this really doesn’t account for the 30+ companies throughout South Florida which have taken venture funding from sources all over the country and the world (again according to CB). [Bridget Carey mentioned some larger figures in her Silicon Beach article, I’m not a journalist, so I don’t know where to look for those figures, ask her :-)] [note: I started writing this months ago, and never got around to finishing it. So excuse the fact that my train of thought sorta splits here]
My theory is that the well heeled investors that typically spend down here in South Florida, spend on Bio-Tech, for one reason: they get it. Bio-tech investing is simple to grasp: fund research or ideas to solve a tangible problem (cancer, drugs, viruses, bacterias, etc.). Software investing is tougher to put a finger on it. Imagine you’re not in the loop so to speak and someone comes up to you and tells you they need a million bucks to create a new elastic computing system that will revolutionize the data transfer systems being used in data centers. WTF does that even mean to someone without a technical background? Nothing. There are no tangible problems or issues that this solves to the non-technically inclined.
So what is it that we need to do in order to attract Investors? Well this ongoing chicken/egg situation isn’t as bad as one would think. Realistically with the affordability of servers and software these days, anyone can build a prototype quickly and easily, and get it to a stage where it becomes an easier sell to investors. But the beauty of being somewhere substantially cheaper than Silicon Valley, New York, London, or Tokyo, we can build out our prototypes quickly and cheaply. You don’t need a million bucks here to get to that series A or even the Angel round. You need creativity and hustle. Miami is a city filled with HUSTLE. People are very hard working here. Every morning from 5am on our highways are packed with people commuting long distances to work long hours in order to make ends meet.
Miami is the american dream realized for much of our population. We have people from all over the world who come here for a second chance. So we can’t sit around waiting for money and opportunity to come to us. We need to pull ourselves up and get to work. If we start building cool, innovative stuff, paired with our South Floridian work ethic, the money will flow. I guarantee it.