Diving into Miami's startup scene

November 2018

Since April, I had been coding nonstop and I knew I was going to burn out. After taking a cruise from Tampa to Cozumel, I was ready to get back to work. Over the previous 5 months, I spent most of my time taking Udemy courses and creating Github repositories that no one would ever see. Now it was time to start working on real projects in the real world.

I attended an event called “Startup Weekend”. Startup Weekend is an event hosted in cities around the world allowing entrepreneurs to come together, join teams, and create a business plan within 54 hours. On Sunday, the teams would pitch their idea and a winner would be announced. I attended Miami’s first Startup Weekend 6 years ago, and joined a team that created “FlyBy”, a geolocation app allowing for networking within airports while waiting for flights. Our idea ended up winning and the business was even was accepted into Venture Hive accelerator’s first cohort. Unfortunately, the team disbanded because many of them already had established careers and did not have the time to devote to a side project. Overall, I enjoyed the experience and learned a lot.

I did not really contribute much to FlyBy because I was just a Biology graduate that didn’t have much business acumen. 6 years later, I am an accountant with coding skills. So, I attended Startup Weekend again with the intention to contribute much more. I heard a pitch by Milan Pualic which was essentially a co-working space for restaurants. Of all the pitches I heard, I immediately knew this one had the most promise. I joined Milan as well as 2 others - Carlos Velazquez and Gaston Ghersi. We called our business Kitchen Concepts. Our skills were very complimentary, and we worked well together. Our pitch won.

While Kitchen Concepts was a great idea, there was not much we could do without significant initial investment. I did not want to sit around idly. Startup Weekend was hosted in the CIC, Miami’s best coworking space (in my opinion). The environment was very inviting to startups and I met many entrepreneurs. Travelastic was one of these startups that I encountered. I liked the team and decided to join them. The founder was a very skilled developer and I knew I could learn a lot from him. I started working on the frontend application built in Angular. At the time I had only used React so I was excited to learn a new framework.

Travelastic worked out of the CIC so I would bring my laptop and code there. In addition to meeting many of the startups in the area, I also really enjoyed their weekly Thursday networking events called “Venture Cafe”. They would host multiple entrepreneurship related workshops simultaneously during this event. The ones I was most interested in were related to startup financing.

Overall, Miami’s startup scene looks promising. There are a lot of ambitious people here, but it seems like funding is much more difficult compared to the more established tech hubs like New York and San Francisco. Miami’s biggest advantage is its proximity and connection to Central and South America. Ever since my first Startup Weekend in Miami 6 years ago, I’ve always had my eye on the startup scene in my home city. I see tremendous growth and I am excited to be a part of it.