Inside the LatAm Leaders Forum
By: Claudia Repsold
Miami is a great launching pad if you are interested in selling to LatAm or tapping into the U.S. market, with a privileged positioning to cater to U.S. Hispanics. The city with one of the most diverse populations in the country became the strategic capital of the Americas, binding the Latin America to the U.S. market.
I had been coming to Miami regularly in the last 30 years and its transformation is astonishing. Not just on the facade, with new buildings carefully designed to amaze you, but within its core. Miami is no longer a city for a cool vacation or to dream about the retirement.
The entrepreneurs are moving to the city not to fall back. Instead they are focusing in working hard to expand their business. Miami is now the second most entrepreneurial city in the U.S., with the highest startup density in the country at 247.6 startups per 100,000 people, according to the Kauffman Index.
Conferences such as the LatAm Leaders Forum, which annually brings together 250 senior leaders from multiples countries into the city to discuss the future of the region, is helping to consolidate Miami as the coalition city that gathers companies from all over the continent.
The opportunity is increasingly notorious for big companies that make Miami their LatAm headquarters. Companies such as Google, Twitter, Facebook, Uber, Lyft and Vice have moved to the city, along with new investors hungry for this opportunity.
“Miami is the perfect place to start or grow your business, especially if you are interested in an international venture. There is talent, there is support from the institutions and private initiatives that are focused on boosting innovation. Also, there is an incremental interest from VCs and business angels for innovative projects” explained Laura González-Estéfani, Director of Partnerships & Mobile LatAm for Facebook during the LatAm Leaders Forum .
There are currently 139 startups and companies on the Inc. 5000 list that are based in the Miami metro area, doing everything from media to tourism to health tech.
Miami has become a strategic market for one of the most valuable startups in the world: Magic Leap. The virtual reality startup that raised $542 million in venture capital from Google and Qualcomm, among other tech giants, relocated its headquarters to Dania Beach, just few miles north of the city.
Another example of Miami’s thriving startup ecosystem is Andres Moreno and Wilmer Sarmiento’s Open English. The company raised $120.25 million in venture capital, and took advantage of Miami’s strategic position to launch an online English-learning business that serves more than 400,000 students in Latin America and the Spanish-speaking community within the U.S.
Brazil & US Biz chatted with Miami Beacon Council President and CEO, Larry K. Williams, after he spoke at the LatAm Leaders Forum.
In the last 3 years the Beacon Council attracted 4,600 jobs at 119 companies. “Miami is diverse in so many ways — the people, the languages, the communities. Our diversity is a tremendous business advantage; company leaders tell us that a diverse workforce makes us more attractive as a world class 21st-century city”, he explains.
In a charming Portuguese, Mr. Williams jokes that the Brazilians loves to shop in Miami and points out how the city can be a great getaway for the Brazilian companies to connect with the American market.
“Florida’s status as the third-largest state in the U.S. allows businesses to locate in Miami to reach the growing Florida and U.S. markets. We have a very competitive business climate with low taxes, no personal income tax, and the geographic position is centrally located, which provides access and connectivity to the world’s most important markets. Brazil and Florida have a strong connection that is very beneficial for business from both countries. The Brazilian companies can take advantage of many programs and incentives offered by the Beacon Council to help International.
Claudia Repsold is the Editor-in-Chief of Brazil & USA Biz. She is a Brazilian international award- winning journalist with twenty years of experience in editing, research, coordination, production and reporting news on Brazil and U.S.