Miami, long known for Sandy Beaches, beautiful sun, exciting Latin culture, and hordes of the elderly, is now developing a growing interest in entrepreneurship.
Although it is notoriously difficult to develop a successful technology startup cluster, Miami certainly has a fighting chance. Other smaller cities that have succeeded in creating regional tech hubs, such as Boulder and Chicago, have thrived because their cities already had great local wealth and were seen as desirable places to live - both for the wealthy and the young. Miami has both of these attributes in spades.
Miami is also more multicultural and diverse than most cities, and its approach to entrepreneurship reflects an emphasis on diversity; a positive step for the industry. Indeed, my own syndicate, Gaingels, focused on LGBT entrepreneurs, has begun to take an interest in the city, especially because of the vibrant LGBT culture in the area and its lifestyle desirability for talented LGBT entrepreneurs.
The city's first VC-in-residence program was announced as a partnership between Code Fever and Blacktechweek, and will follow the EIR model used by NYC and Valley VCs to connect entrepreneurs with funding, with a particular emphasis on African American entrepreneurs.
Marlon Nichols, the first VC-in-residence in the program, cut his teeth at Intel Capital and was impressed by Miami's progress.
"After spending two weeks on the ground in Miami, I've met with a diverse group of entrepreneurs, investors, government officials, accelerators, and co-working facilities. The diversity among the entrepreneurs comes in culture, stage of company, and, most importantly, ideas. I've also been pleasantly surprised by the angel investor activity: one entrepreneur reported raising $6m from 50 angels. I look forward to spending more time here," Nichols said.
These are early days, challenges remain, and Miami is unlikely to rival tech ecosystems like NYC or Boston, let alone San Francisco, anytime soon. But the city should be commended for both taking steps in the right direction, and for unabashedly planting a diverse flag while doing it.