Why Miami Is Emerging as a Top 5 Entrepreneurial City

Wide-angle view of the Miami skyline with the sun peeking through a cloudy sky

Editor’s note: Gustavo Trindade MBA’17 is the director of Babson Miami.

MIAMI—Like so many other entrepreneurs and people seeking opportunity in this booming, beautiful city, I don’t have deep roots in Miami. A native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, I first arrived here in 2017 with a chance to help tap into this emerging entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The opportunity was exciting as the first director of Babson Miami, opening the College’s popular Miami campus to offer a variety of educational programs, including a Blended Learning MBA. Babson has strong connections to Miami, which is one of the College’s largest alumni bases, and it was an inspiring moment to begin to build our roots in the city, often considered the unofficial capital of Latin America.

The city of Miami could not have been more welcoming to me or to Babson. Mayor Francis Suarez even attended our first day of operations, delivering a speech about the importance of Babson College being in Miami.

Over the past six years, I’ve seen firsthand how Miami has grown into a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem, where Babson alumni succeed and contribute to a supportive community of business leaders. I’ve also seen the enormous potential of the city to emerge as one of the top five entrepreneurial cities in the United States.

Extraordinary Growth

I am not the only one emboldened by the future of Miami as a top entrepreneurial hub.

April is #TechMonth in Miami, and last week, I had the privilege of attending eMerge Americas, the largest tech conference in town. Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, called it “the most fun tech conference I’ve ever been to.”

Schmidt was there to share his views on AI, but his enthusiasm for Miami was contagious and shared by other attendees and the eMerge keynote speaker, Tom Brady, the seven-time Super Bowl champion who, like Schmidt, now resides in Miami. The conference and their participation illustrated that the city is on the right path to becoming one of the five most important entrepreneurial cities in the country.

Mayor Suarez interviewed Schmidt at eMerge and recited his favorite statistics about Miami in a rapid-fire, 15-second delivery, highlighting the city’s recent achievements:

  • 120 new-to-market companies
  • $9 billion in new wages
  • No. 1 in the nation for tech job migration
  • No. 1 in the nation in wage growth
  • No. 1 in the nation in direct foreign investment
  • No. 1 in the nation in diversity
  • No. 1 in the nation for Gen X

Miami has made significant progress in the past decade. The city has established itself as a global hub and a top 10 destination for venture capital investments in startups, diversity, and business formation.

“There is so much talent that is coming through Miami that is available to the entrepreneurs here to build a really world-class knowledge economy.”
Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO

“The growth rate in Miami, in terms of real estate jobs, corporate formation, and inbound funding is one of the strongest in all of the United States. That’s extraordinary,” Schmidt said. “A rising tide lifts all boats, (and) the problem with the older cities is that they seem to have lost their commitment to growth.”

On the startup fundraising side, while the Bay Area, New York, Boston, and Los Angeles are uncontestable leaders, they are losing share. Miami is vying for fifth place with Seattle, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, and Austin, Texas. In 2022, despite the decline in venture capital activity in the United States, Miami’s startups raised $5.5 billion, putting the region in eighth place nationally, according to the NVCA-PitchBook 2022 Venture Monitor Report. This is before adjusting for companies headquartered elsewhere in the country but whose founders are fundraising and running their businesses from Miami.

Embracing Diversity

Miami also is a global and diverse city, with almost 60% of its residents born outside the United States, positioning it as the No. 1 city in the world for diversity. In terms of visitors, Miami ranks second only to New York City nationally. According to Bloomberg, it is also third nationally, after New York and Los Angeles, and fifth globally, for the super-rich to own property.

“I like the fact that Miami is sort of the capital of Latin America, it’s this mixing point,” Schmidt said. “There is so much talent that is coming through Miami that is available to the entrepreneurs here to build a really world-class knowledge economy.”

Miami has consistently ranked first in the number of businesses started. And, while there is still work to be done to reach the top five cities in net tech employment, the city has made significant progress in attracting tech jobs, recently ranking No. 1 in tech job migration.

As Schmidt put it: “Let’s try to figure out a way to have more higher-paying jobs. Tech is a way of doing that. There are others, but tech is so obvious, because when it works, it scales so quickly.”

Two men engage in conversation while sitting on stage at eMerge Americas
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez (left) interviews former Google CEO Eric Schmidt during eMerge Americas in Miami.

Welcome to the Future

Of course, this is not an overnight success story. A lot has been written about the efforts made by: Mayor Suarez; Manny Medina, founder and chairman of eMerge Americas; Matt Haggman, former Miami program director of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; and many others over the past 10 years to create eMerge and other initiatives that helped advance the region.

Schmidt said Miami is all about the American Dream: “You show up from wherever. You just show up.” He went on to thank Suarez for having welcomed him to Miami, adding, “I realize now that you do that to everyone.” And, he does indeed. Not just Schmidt, but also CEOs Ken Griffin of Citadel LLC, Keith Rabois of OpenStore, and many others. If there were a ranking for the coolest and most pro-business mayor in America, Suarez would be No. 1 in the nation.

I can attest to Miami’s welcoming environment. Babson Miami has thrived since that first day when Mayor Suarez greeted our arrival. Our programs, including the Blended Learning MBA, are here to support and create more and better entrepreneurial leaders who create social and economic value.

We’re honored to contribute to Miami’s rise as an entrepreneurial hub, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for our city.

Posted in Community, Entrepreneurial Leadership, Insights

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