The Wynwood Walls and Startup Grind in Miami Florida
The start-up culture in Miami is booming as entrepreneurs, developers and investors flock to Florida’s paradise, making the Capital of Latin America a contender amongst Silicon Valley, New York, and Boston as a tech startup hub.
Wynwood’s Economy wasn’t always booming, but Tony Goldman saw the vision and was instrumental in overhauling the architecture with magnificent street art.
In 2010, the uninhibited Wynwood Free Trade Zone transformed into a production studio supporting movies and TV shows, now the district continues to attract art galleries, studios, along with wholesalers of shoes, fashion, jewelry, and organic skincare products.
A Global Startup Community powered by Google
Arriving about an hour early to the Startup Grind’s first meeting in Miami I was excited to see so many shops nearby still open at 5:30pm and eager to test out my new business cards.
Foursquare in Wynwood
After downloading the pay by phone app to pay for parking I decided to take a look at who was using Foursquare on 27th street.
Wynwood Fashion District
The first business I added on Foursquare is Ruppes Inc, an extremely unique shop offering the Indian wear and accessories both eTail and retail. This is when I realized Foursquare will succeed, unlike Yelp and other local business directories Foursquare made it extremely simple to add a business, as I was talking to the owner Sachin Dhupelia, Foursquare sent me a push notification inquiring if Rupees accepted credit cards, and Mr. Dhupelia promptly answered of course.
The second business I added is Sonata Fashion, they were closing up shop so I didn’t get to learn much about their business but they were happy to have their brand added on Foursquare and to learn about the “new” social media channel.
The LAB Miami
Nearing 6:00pm I headed over to 26th st as Startup grind was commencing. The LAB (Learn, Act Build) I learned used to stand for Love Art Business. Immediately I was amazed, the environment, the people, everything about this place was incredible. If you are an entrepreneur and you haven’t been to The LAB I highly recommend going to one of their events.
The Miami Startup Community
The Startup grind was formed to inspire entrepreneurs and with resources from Google, Jason Ibarra coordinated a phenomenal event bringing hundreds of founders, developers, designers, and tech professionals together.
Nancy Dahlberg, who received a warming welcome covers entrepreneurship and local tech with the Miami Herald on her blog the Starting Gate and was our guest of honor.
While listening to the interview it was fantastic to learn about the history of business in Miami and how events like these did not exist a few years ago. It was also interesting to hear talk about county lines blurring and South Florida becoming more of a cohesive unit. Nancy also discussed the contraction in the media and how mediums are often collaborating on stories, at times the Miami Herald may even call the Palm Beach Post, inquiring if they are covering a particular story of interest.
A Passionate Community of Entrepreneurs
Perhaps one of the most inspiring moments was during the Q&A when Richard Dimarco Barea, founder of the Greenside Agency & Midtown Miami Magazine posed a question that Nancy encouraged the participants to answer.
How do us entrepreneurs transform Miami into a start up city similar to Silicon Valley?
This evoked many emotions from the audience as everyone in that room is passionate about not only making their company succeed but they want to be part of a city that they are proud of.
Make Friends Not Contacts
One of the key takeaways was to make friends, “rather than walking away with a wallet full of business cards have engaging conversation as you never know who is sitting next to you”, says Jason.
This was solid advice, knowing I that I wouldn’t have the chance to return to Miami for a couple of years, I could have focused on connecting with everyone there or make meaningful connections with the individuals I did get to speak with.
Choosing the latter Ashley Juchawski, introduced me to an incredible project called the Venture Law Project, sponsored by the Knight Foundation the Venture Law Project provides free legal aid to startups. I found this extraordinary because so many entrepreneurs aren’t familiar with laws, especially when it comes to intellectual property, privacy policies, PCI compliance, and Florida business regulations.
Overall it was a tremendous experience and I have no doubt Miami will continue to thrive as it attracts entrepreneurs, developers and investors from all over the world, many right into the heart of the city at the Wynwood Art District.