What I Love About Mayor Levine’s Tech-Hub Comments? Our Response.
When I first read the comments by Miami Beach Mayor Phil Levine, I smiled. I smiled because I knew exactly what was going to happen: that this community would stand united in its mission to make Miami a major tech-hub.
See, Miami Beach is a major competitive advantage for us, but the soul of Miami is in its people. We are a tough bunch that knows how to build something from nothing. And that’s what we’ve done over the last two-or-so years with the tech community (most of the assets registered on MapYourStartup.co were founded less than two years ago). We’re in a city that’s ruled by traditional business – understandably so, with so many competitive advantages – and one startup at a time, one LAB Miami and Refresh Miami meet-up at a time, one Knight Foundation and Miami DDA investment at a time, one Miami Open Coffee Club meet-up at time, we’ve built something very real and amazing.
And in my opinion, the strength of what we’re building has perhaps never been more evident than this last week. After Mayor Levine’s comments, entrepreneurs and community leaders Brian Breslin, Brian Brackeen, Will Weinraub, Matt Haggman, Nancy Dahlberg, Binsen Gonzalez, and several others made public comments in defense of our community as a whole. And I knew they would, that is why I am smiling. I knew that when the dust settled, we’d all walk around that much more united in our collective effort.
Of course it would have been better if Mayor Levine had made empowering comments, instead of alienating comments that support the old Miami mentality that we’ve worked so hard to eliminate: that we’re divided and work in silos.
In a perfect world, Mayor Levine would have announced a demo night in Miami Beach, with an emphasis on companies whose target market is in the beach. Companies like NightPro, BoatYard, Boatbound, BarEye, and even companies focused on fashion like Fitting Room Social and Vividly – just to name a few – could definitely benefit from support of one of the nightlife and entertainment capitals of the world.
Obviously it would’ve been far more empowering to recognize and applaud the efforts of Rokk3r Labs, a Miami Beach tech company who has helped launch 30+ companies, many of which call Miami Beach home, and to recognize the legendary effort, ambition, and potential of the highly-anticipated eMerge America’s Conference, which will take place in Miami Beach this upcoming May.
But he didn’t. And that’s okay, because our united, passionate, professional, matter-of-factly rebuttals has led to something very powerful, as I now sense people will stop asking me “is this tech thing for real”, and start asking me “which companies are most likely to experience an exit in the coming years”. In other words, no more asking if we’ve really built something, we’ve built it; the foundation is largely set. All current and future elected officials have no doubt taken notice.
I sense that at some point down the road, we’ll look back and mark this week down as a time when the community - as a whole – went from feeling that we’re creating an amazing startup ecosystem, to undoubtedly knowing that we’re well on our way there.
And I knew this community would rally together, that’s why I’m still smiling.
Norberto “Tito” Gil
CEO or MapYourStartup.co; hatched in Miami Beach in 2012.
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