Ocean Drive Magazine – Is Miami the new Silicon Valley?
“People underestimate the caliber of the people coming through Miami,” says Nabyl Charania.
As cofounder of Rokk3r Labs, a venture builder and venture-capital firm with offices in Miami, Bogotá, London, and New York City, Nabyl Charania has his finger on the pulse of the world’s ever-changing tech industry. Miami start-ups brought in $49.4 million in VC funding in 2014, while infrastructure investments by firms aimed at helping develop the start-up ecosystem here have led to 19 tech acquisitions since 2012. The serial entrepreneur spoke to Ocean Drive about why the Magic City is the new place to be if you’re in tech.
How has Miami’s tech culture matured?
The market has exploded from a budget perspective. From a talent perspective, it has gotten 100 times better. People underestimate the caliber of the people coming through Miami. They underestimate the pull we have as a location to people around the country and the world. Enterprises are starting to see there’s an ecosystem they can tap into. From the education side, we’re lacking. We don’t train or give people the right tools. I wouldn’t say we’re there, and I wouldn’t say we’re close. We’ve taken the first few steps. But we have all the right ingredients to build—but you have to be committed to that. If you’re going to be here, then understand that you have to do things differently.
How does Miami’s unique global positioning benefit its local tech economy?
We have become a very important gateway, not just for Latin America. The European market is looking to Miami for its way into the US, and we are looking at it for our way into Europe and Africa.
Which industry-specific ideas work best in this market?
Some of the core Miami industries—healthcare, big data around advertising, real estate, travel, finance—we’re looking at digital bank
What do you look for in a potential entrepreneur?
We want to build on the intersection of exponential technologies. If I’m going to take an asymmetrical risk, I’d rather each one have the potential of becoming a billion-dollar company. Entrepreneurs need to be resourceful. They have to be willing to work in a team, and they have to be resilient. Things aren’t going to work the first time.
What should south Florida start-ups take into consideration?
If it’s a consumer play, know what your go-to market strategy is, because you’re not going to get those millions of users in South Florida. But it’s not a bad place to start, because you have a small market to test. 1680 Michigan Ave., Miami Beach
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