Miami has been called the “Capital of Latin America.” Cubans, Venezuelans, Colombians, Brazilians, Puerto Ricans, and many others call the Magic City home. While historically many have come to Miami to visit South Beach, own a beachfront property, or have quick access to Cuban coffee, today businesses are finding there are many more reasons to make Miami home.
From the south, Miami represents an entry point into the U.S. economy, but in the opposite direction, it’s the gateway to one of the strongest and most promising economies in the world today; Latin America.
Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, and Argentina are spearheading this economic growth. According to Forbes, in 2020 combined, these economies will have a 2.6% GDP growth (compared to a previous forecast of 2%). The picture is even better compared to Asia-Pacific, where growth is expected to remain flat. Let me restate that…LATAM’s expected growth is higher than Asia-Pacific!
The fin-tech & startup opportunity
Latin America represents nearly 10% of the world’s population. A population that has a growing middle-class that is adopting U.S. consumer behaviors with a huge appetite for online technologies. Interestingly, most of this up-and-coming middle class is also underbanked and as financial services become less centralized and more digital, another great opportunity arises.
In Miami, Brickell Avenue has the largest number of international banks in one place, which is the right place to create a fin-tech ecosystem to answer all of LATAM’s demands with access to both U.S. and LATAM capital to build to disrupt.
Latin American investors have historically bought real estate and invested in businesses here in a flight to quality play. But as opportunities like the above mentioned become more obvious, more capital should start moving from real estate and most importantly the sidelines and into the disruption of antiquated technologies.
Along with a growing tech-savvy population, you’re starting to see more and more graduates in Miami take less-conventional routes and start educating themselves in coding to create the technologies of the future. Coding schools like Wyncode are the forefront of educating Miami natives on how to code, create applications for any purpose, and make themselves attractive hires for companies looking to innovate.
The corporate opportunity
Miami, is a 3.5-hour flight to Bogota or Mexico City, 8.5 hours to Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo, nine hours to Buenos Aires, and less than three hours to New York City. These short travel distances coupled with the growing local talent (which you can employ for a fraction of the cost vs. hiring in cities like New York or San Francisco) have also attracted many large corporations to establish a presence here.
Operationally it makes too much sense to be in the same time zone, with competitive talent, and at a fraction of the cost. Not to mention that Miami talent understands both LATAM and the US, speaks both English and Spanish fluently, and is very happy to live in a place where rent isn’t as prohibitive, homeownership is approachable, and the beach is a short drive away.
An estimated 300,000 people move to Florida every year. For Miami specifically, you’re starting to see a trend of people looking for a better quality of life and a nicer cost of living (myself included having moved from San Francisco to Miami 1.5 years ago). But also, locals that may have left to the north, due to historical lack of opportunities, are starting to return to their home state.
Large hospitality companies that are based in Miami are now also starting to create innovation departments to create better experiences which could give birth to a huge hospitality tech sector.
The VC & PE opportunity
But it’s not only the large corporate users that establish a presence here. Given the saturation and below average (or lack thereof) returns in mature markets like Silicon Valley, Austin, New York and other, many venture capital and private equity shops are starting to take note of Miami.
Labeled as the No. 1 city for small business growth in 2019, VCs can find more opportunities in Miami versus oversubscribed monster rounds in other cities that don’t have the returns they used to have.
The consistency of exits will attract more and more capital to Miami. In the last two years there have been some notable deals that will continue to give investors faith that Miami can become a place of great returns. Ultimate Software, an HR platform, was acquired for an eye-popping $11 billion earlier this year. In 2018, construction management platform e-Builder was acquired for $500 million and Farelogix, a travel industry management platform, was acquired for $360 million.
All under one roof
Whether you’re an early stage startup, large corporation, big bank, venture capital firm or private equity shop based in Latin America or the U.S., businesses like yours are a significant part of Miami’s growth potential. There is one place where all of these businesses reside together: WeWork Miami!
With seven locations open, it’s the right place for companies of all sizes to arrive from Latin America or anywhere in the United States to network together, build together, and take advantage of this huge opportunity.
Talk to the wework team to visit their new Wynwood location - just blocks aways from the Wyncode campus.
This post was first published on the WeWork Blog by Javier Ramírez, who leads the Medium & Large Business sales team in Florida and Texas.