December 11, 2012

On Florida and Startups

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Florida startups: What are some of the specific challenges you have running a startup in Florida and what would keep you here?

Juan Bermudez, Minister of Tech @

I think finding mentors and/or advisors is harder down here, we are pretty spread out in south florida and the volume isn't huge yet. So finding the right person, with experience in your industry seems more dificult than in other obvious cities.

We work from a home aparment at the moment, but
we thing that colab-workspaces like, ,  etc or similar concepts would help a lot.I know about Miami Shared, Buro and LAB Miami but the first twe seem more like a formal shared workspace. Kudos to LAB and two anyone that tries to create colab spaces.

And this last point does not apply to us at nightpro right now, but from previous jobs I got a glimpse at how hard it can be sometimes to find great developers and designers.  Not that there aren't any, but there could definitely be more and I also feel that the local schools have a big part in this, in how they structure their programs.

Brian Albert, Founder, Lawyer, Programmer, Journalist
There aren't enough smart young people in Florida. It's a tough place to hire for a tech startup. You don't have any great, or even good, colleges training your future employees. There's no startup culture here. You'll eventually hit a growth wall in Florida. That aside, in many ways it's a great place to live. If you're already living in Florida and starting a company, it might make sense to start it here because that's where your contact base is. But, there are few if any cases in which you should move to Florida to start a tech business.

You're right, there are definitely not enough smart people willing to work for other people in Florida. It's not the best place to move to start your company. You need to look long & hard, make seriously good offers as far as compensation & be determined (this means as much as 25+ hrs a week) to find good talent. FIU has a decent Comp Sci department (they have some smart kids coming out of there!) & UM has the launchpad.

However, you're mistaken (or just uninformed). There is a startup culture here, it's small, but growing. If you're not someone who is determined to make it work, you will indeed hit a growth wall. My anecdotal evidence to counter this idea is CareCloud, funded with $20m.

It is a great place to live & soon (thinking 2-3 yrs) it will be a great place to work / start a tech company.

3. [949 members]
6. [300 members in a niche group]

Tom Ordonez, Hackatrain,CodeAirplane

What type of advisors are you looking for? Or what would you expect from an advisor? To guide you doing what exactly?

I will give you some comparison with the tech scene in Chicago.

My experience coworking all over Chicago is that these places are co-working space. Not collaboration spaces. Meaning that you go and work in the same room with a bunch of other people. The whole collaboration thing does not really come out organically.

A coworking space is good because you don't get distracted at home watching TV in your PJs or surfing at whatever on the net. You really feel like you should be working. But you could do the same at a public library for free.

In my opinion, collaboration should take place more at hack nights or some type of meetup where you are networking and building something together.

Networking just for the sake of networking doesn't really work. The best experience would be to meet some folks once or twice every week during a hack night or some kind of builder night. It doesn't have to be coding. It could be business related. Maybe like a "let's help each other with marketing". Or a skill trading type.

It is hard to find good developers and designers in Chicago as well. Finding good Rails developers is very very hard. Schools in Chicago don't try to add to their programs things like Python, Ruby or Obj-C. And Chicago has 2 of the top schools in the US in computer science. Why? No clue. Maybe they are too theoretically like every college I know.

I have seen so many college grads drop out of school because they learned Ruby on their free time and got a good job programming. I don't see schools anywhere in the near future adding these type of things to their curriculum.

A place like Miami, in my opinion could have more "builders" events where to meet and work with other people to cultivate mentoring and just give it forward to build a better tech ecosystem.

For the mentors it would be people with experience in SaaS.  And in terms of what we are looking for, some experience that might help avoid some mistakes.

We actually work from a home office, and it has been productive.  But I do see value in being around other developers, it raises the bar even if there is very little colaboration just getting a glimpse of how other people work has helped me (and pushed me) to be better.

Now that we talk to clients a conference room would be nice too. :)

I feel miami is getting better and better in terms of builder events like refresh miami that have had great attendance and support, and Miami Tech meetups is also one of the newer groups working towards growing the tech community. 

The hackathons are becoming more frequent. (I am going to the ATT one soon) and I have been able to meet great people there.

So in conclusion, I was just stating what I see as areas that could improve down here. I don't think they are impediments, just aspects of the local scene that could get better.

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