Next-Generation Startups

By staff writer

January 2019

Miami’s growing reputation as a startup hub is no secret. The Miami/Fort Lauderdale/Pompano Beach region was ranked number one on the Kauffman Foundation’s 2017 Index of Startup Activity among 40 metropolitan areas. Furthermore, the city garnered a wealth of publicity when it was considered as a host for Amazon’s HQ2 site last year.

“I’m very happy with how the startup market in Miami has been evolving,” said Olivier Grinda, founder and CEO of local startup Home61, a digital real estate brokerage company, when he recently sat down with the Invest: Miami team. “The market now represents the first generation of startups i.e., those like us that came here in 2015-2017. Thanks to the work of local investors who decided to take a chance on the city back then, businesses such as ours were given the platform to grow and recruit employees.”

Thanks to decisions made over the last decade by local organizations and co-working spaces such as the Knight Foundation, Refresh Miami, LAB Miami and Pipeline, among others, the city was provided a foundation on which to grow its tech sector. However, there are other factors driving the city’s appeal for those looking to found or invest in startups.

When Invest: spoke with Richard Lavina, co-founder and CEO of Miami-based startup Taxfyle which has been the number one tax-time app in the App Store for the past three years he pointed to the city’s relatively low cost of living as a key asset for startup activity.

“$1 million doesn’t go as far in Silicon Valley as it does here in Miami,” Lavina explained. “Cost of living is cheaper, so people hired to come here can experience a better quality of life for lower pay.”

The low cost of living, favorable tax laws, weather and geographic location all work to ensure the city’s long-term appeal for startups, thus giving way for an upcoming “second generation” of startups over the next decade, which, according to Grinda, will further stabilize the local startup market and allow for continued growth.

“The city, which was once generally considered to be nothing more than a vacation destination, will grow into an intricate and diverse business center,” Grinda stated.

Given the city’s penchant for innovation and the velocity at which its tech sector has flourished, surely we can look forward to this second generation being just as robust and groundbreaking as the first. For more information on our interviewees and the local startups they founded, visit and


Dynamic Offerings

By staff writer

January 2019 — 2 min. read

Miami’s higher education system is as dynamic as the city itself, and the University of Miami Business School is no exception. The school’s enrollment rate shot up 12 percent last year, and with that growth has come revamped curricula and new degree program offerings catering to international students, future sustainability officers and aspiring entrepreneurs.

Given that the school is the only higher education institution in the country that offers a Spanish-language Global Executive MBA program, which is designed for professionals with experience in the field, it should come as no surprise that the school is appealing to international professionals and their families looking to further integrate themselves within the local business ecosystem.


“Many high-net-worth individuals including family business leaders from throughout the Americas have second homes in Miami,” Miami Business School Dean John Quelch told Invest: Miami when he sat down with our team. “For those working here already, we offer our new part-time Professional MS in Finance as well as our Professional MBA. We are offering students multiple ways to earn high-quality specialist or general management Masters degrees faster, better and cheaper.”

Quelch pointed to the city’s “growing entrepreneurial spirit” as a key driver of the school’s growth, and the school is wasting no time in following suit with this trend.

“We are much more integrated into the Miami entrepreneurship ecosystem than we were one or two years ago,” Quelch explained. “We have made significant upgrades to our business plan and hope to soon launch a Canes Angel fund that will be directed at startups involving our students and alumni. We’re also upgrading our entrepreneurship curricula to include more experiential learning and case-based teaching.”

Quelch added that the school expects to open a center for entrepreneurship by 2020, if funding is forthcoming. Furthermore, the school will be starting its STEM-certified Master of Science in Sustainable Business degree program next August, which according to Quelch will be “the first STEM-certified M.S. in sustainable business degree in the country.”

The program will integrate climate science, law, engineering and public policy into its teachings of business sustainability and will train graduates for careers in industries such as energy, manufacturing and healthcare. Its establishment speaks to the school’s commitment to ensuring long-term success for its students in the local market, as well as its and its ability to satisfy the demands of the city’s dynamic business landscape.

To learn more about our interviewee, as well as new developments and course offerings from Miami Business School, visit



The Underline is Underway

By staff writer

December 2018 – 2 min. read

December 2018 — Miami’s Underline officially broke ground in November 2018. The city’s version of Manhattan’s famed High Line has already begun phase one of its five-phase development plan, with the first phase currently underway in Brickell. The project, which was proposed just five years ago, has received massive support from the state, city, county and local community and is expected to create thousands of jobs.

The idea for the project originated when Meg Daly — founder and CEO of Friends of the Underline, the nonprofit organization behind the project — suffered a serious injury that forced her to rely on the Metrorail to get to and from physical therapy.

In doing so, she noticed how wide the area under the tracks was and how much shade the tracks offered, and thus the idea for the Underline was born.

“2019 will see construction of the first half mile of the Underline’s Brickell Backyard,” said Daly in a recent conversation with Invest: Miami. “2019 will also see the second phase from Brickell to Coconut Grove in the design phase.”

The park will run for 10 miles underneath Miami’s Metrorail and span over 120 acres, stretching from downtown Miami to Dadeland. It strives to provide an alternative mode of transportation for civilians in the area, as well as foster community engagement and recreation. In addition to offering biking and walking trails, dog parks, playgrounds and outdoor gyms, the project will also showcase the city’s blooming art scene.

“Led by Friends of the Underline Art Advisory, in collaboration with Miami-Dade County Art in Public Places and curated by Ximena Caminos, the Underline’s public art will feature local, national and international emerging and established artists that will engage and connect visitors to place and each other,” Daly told Invest:.

The project’s goal of offering alternative transportation to civilians while also providing ease of access to the city’s metrorail is significant due to the city’s traffic issues. The South Florida Business Journal reported that Miami drivers spent an average of 64.8 hours in traffic last year, according to a report from Intrix Inc., which also estimated that this congestion costs local drivers an average of $1,762 a year.

Given the project’s potential to alleviate some of the city’s traffic and its potential for job creation, it should come as no surprise that it has received massive support at both the state and local levels. Phases one and two have been funded by Miami-Dade County, the State of Florida and the City of Miami. Phase one also yielded funding from the Florida Department of Transportation. Earlier this month, the Knight Foundation awarded Friends of the Underline $500,000. With the total costs of construction estimated to be around $120 million, however, there is still plenty of room for the public to take part in the project.

“Supporters can generously donate at and/or attend our many community-building events, including health and wellness programs sponsored by Baptist Health South Florida, support of our four-legged friends on February 2, 2019 and attend our upcoming Underline non-gala in the fall 2019,” said Daly.

Phase one is expected to be completed by June 2020. Given the project’s velocity thus far, it shows no signs of delay or slowing down.


For more information on the project, our interviewee and ways to donate, visit

Art Basel Miami Beach: Gateway to the World

By staff writer
December 2018 – 2 min. read

December 2018 – Miami is known to many as the “Gateway to Latin America.” While the city has always been regarded as an international hub, its global footprint has grown in recent years, particularly in terms of arts and culture. A key contributor to this is Art Basel Miami Beach, an annual December art show that packs the city with international tourists.

With the 2018 edition of the show happening December 6-9, and Miami Art Week kicking off on December 3 and closing on December 10, Miami residents far and wide are preparing themselves for seven days of nonstop art, events and high-profile parties that bring in influential figures (and street traffic) from around the world.

In 2017, Miami’s Basel saw the likes of Cardi B, Drake and Paris Hilton, with showcased art by Andy Warhol and Basquiat.


The show attracted 82,000 visitors to the city — nearly triple that of the 30,000 seen in 2002, the show’s first year — and showcased 268 galleries with artwork from 32 countries. This year’s show will be just as broad and diverse as that of previous years, and many of the galleries will highlight social, political and cultural issues, with themes such as colonialism and post-colonialism, gender politics, immigration, feminism, climate change and racial inequality.

Since its establishment, the show has spurred the growth of other art fairs and events in Miami, all of which occur during the same week. The effect is what has become known as the “Basel halo.”

When Capital Analytics sat down with Kieran Bowers, president of Swire Properties Inc., he pointed to the fact that Basel, and the dozens of other events under its “halo,” help to stimulate Miami’s tourism industry during a time when most other cities experience a lull in such activity — i.e., post-Thanksgiving through the beginning of December.

“Basel started as a Miami Beach proposition, and now it has broadened to many parts of the city as a celebration of art in general,” Bowers stated. “It’s a huge positive boost for the city in a period where other cities are in a post-holiday lull. There is a large influx of businesspeople and cognoscenti, domestic and international, that brings an outside investment boost to the city’s retail, hotels and restaurants.”

Miami’s arts and tourism industries are now more robust than ever before, and it is events like Art Basel that help ensure the long-term growth and sustainability of these sectors by furthering the city’s exclusivity and global appeal. Given the velocity of Art Basel Miami Beach’s popularity, one can expect this year’s show to be the largest and grandest yet.

For more information about Art Basel Miami Beach, visit

For more information regarding our interviewees, please visit their websites:
Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau:
Swire Properties:



Midterm Madness

By staff writer
November 8, 2018 – 2 min. read

Tuesday’s midterm elections attracted record numbers of voters, with estimates putting the count at 113 million. This historic turnout brought 110 female winners, the country’s first openly gay governor and more than 30 flipped seats in Congress, but it also underscored the deep and often contentious divide facing our nation. Capital Analytics has been keeping a close eye on the results, particularly those affecting our markets in Florida, Georgia and Pennsylvania.

One of the biggest takeaways is the Democrats regaining control of the House, surpassing the 23 seats necessary for majority rule by more than 10. In Florida, former University of Miami president Donna Shalala won the 27th District previously held by Republican representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, edging out Republican opponent Maria Elvira Salazar. Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell also won over Republican Carlos Curbelo in Florida’s 26th District. Pennsylvania saw three seats flipped by Democrats Mary Scanlon in the 5th District, Conor Lamb in the 17th District and Chrissy Houlahan in the 6th District.

Two congressional races in Georgia remained too close to call Wednesday evening, the first in the 6th District, where Republican Karen Handel is seeking reelection but trailed Democrat Lucy McBath 49.55 percent to 50.45 percent. In the 7th District, Republican Rob Woodall and Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux were in a similar position, with Woodhall holding a slight lead of 50.23 percent over Bourdeaux’s 49.77 percent. Georgia law requires a recount if the final vote margin is 1 percent or less, according to the Associated Press. Both campaigns are waiting for absentee ballots to be counted in hopes of naming a clear winner.

Though the House succumbed to the “blue wave,” the GOP not only retained control of the Senate but also bolstered it with a number of key victories in states like Indiana, North Dakota and Missouri. In Florida, the hotly contested race between Republican former governor Rick Scott and incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson is heading for automatic recount. According to unofficial returns posted on Wednesday by the state Division of Elections, Scott held a 30,239-vote lead out of 8.1 million ballots cast — a difference of just .38 percent. In Florida, if the margin in a race is less than .5 percent, a recount is automatically triggered. The Senate race might not be the only one to move to recount, either. Florida’s agriculture commissioner contest between Republican Matt Caldwell and Democrat Nikki Fried is even tighter, with Caldwell carrying a slim .16 percent lead on Wednesday evening.

While Tom Wolf comfortably won reelection in Pennsylvania, the Florida and Georgia governor’s races were much more hotly contested. In Florida, Democrat Andrew Gillum conceded to Republican opponent Ron DeSantis early on Wednesday, but by late Wednesday DeSantis’s lead had narrowed to a margin of just .57 percent. However, this still remained outside of the .5 percent margin that requires a recount under Florida law. Votes were still being counted on Thursday morning, and if the margin falls below .5 percent, a recount will be triggered.

Georgia’s gubernatorial race is even closer, with Democrat Stacey Abrams refusing to concede to Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) and vowing to “fight for every vote.” While Kemp’s campaign declared victory to reporters on Wednesday evening, the Abrams campaign readied its legal team to challenge the election results. A runoff, if it comes to that, would be held on December 4.

Even as heated battles underscored the increasingly polarized nature of U.S. politics, culminating in a divided Congress, the 2018 midterms marked a new high for women taking seats in the chamber, with 98 women projected to win in the House and 12 in the Senate. Even more notable is the fact that 34 of these women are newly elected members of Congress. This “pink wave” includes 29-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman in history to take a seat in Congress, serving New York’s 14th District. In Pennsylvania, a record-breaking four women are projected to win seats in the House. This is particularly momentous considering not a single woman currently represents the state in the House. Women are also projected to win in nine gubernatorial races (not counting Stacey Abrams, who is still vying to become the country’s first female African-American governor).

In addition to the inroads made by women, there has also been a noticeable push for diversity in public office. Two Muslim women and two Native American women will take seats in Congress, and Colorado’s Jared Polis (D) will become the country’s first openly gay governor. Overall, more than 100 LGBTQ candidates claimed victory on Tuesday night, indicating changing attitudes toward how voters think about both LGBTQ candidates and rights. Exit polls suggest that voter diversity also hit all-time highs for midterm elections, with the non-white vote estimated at 28 percent. (For perspective, in 1990 non-white voters accounted for just 9 percent of the vote.)

While some races remain too close to call and others were resounding losses or victories, depending on which side of the party line you walk, the fact that so many people showed up to vote is something all parties can be proud of. We’ll be keeping an eye on the tight races in Florida and Georgia and looking forward to what’s in store in 2020.


Surprise Win in the Sunshine State Primaries

By staff writer
August 29, 2018  – 2 min. read

In the wake of last night’s primaries, Florida has quickly become the setting of one of 2018’s most important governor’s races. In the hotly contested Democratic primary, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum prevailed over former member of Congress Gwen Graham, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and businessman Jeff Greene to advance as the Democratic candidate. In November, he will go up against Trump-backed Republican Ron DeSantis in a contest that election forecasters predict will be a toss-up.

Gillum’s win came as a surprise to many. Going into the primary, he led no independent polls and trailed the field in fundraising. However, with 94 percent of the votes counted, he had a 3 percentage point lead over Graham, his closest rival. In Miami-Dade and Broward, the state’s two largest Democratic counties, he overwhelmed Graham by a margin of two to one with record turnouts at the polls.

Gillum, who is both young (age 39) and ideologically progressive, would be the first black governor of Florida, and he has already made history as Florida’s first black nominee for governor. The foundation of his campaign centered on a message of social justice, raising the downtrodden and appealing to the state’s growing diversity. His agenda includes support for Medicare for all, raising the minimum wage and strong opposition to the Stand Your Ground self-defense law.

Looking ahead to November’s election, Gillum’s work is cut out for him. While Florida’s population is growing and the state’s demographics are changing rapidly, Florida has not elected a Democratic governor since 1994, and the state voted for Donald Trump in the last presidential election.

Like Gillum, Republican candidate Ron DeSantis is young (also 39), and his opponent, Adam Putnam, outspent him two to one in the primary campaign. But that might be where their similarities end. An Iraq war veteran with a strong conservative record, DeSantis’s campaign largely rested on his Florida credentials (he was first elected to the U.S. Congress in 2012) and his vow to continue the economic progress he credits to outgoing Governor Rick Scott. He supports tighter restrictions on illegal immigration and staunchly supports the Second Amendment.

The stage is set for a clear ideological contest in November’s gubernatorial race in one of the country’s major presidential battleground states. 2018 is certainly shaping up to be an exciting midterm election year, and Invest: Miami, Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County and Invest: Tampa Bay will be keeping a close eye on the races in Florida.

Hot Desks and Hot Coffee

By staff writer
July 2018 – 2 min. read

Co-working has been on the rise in recent years in major cities across the U.S. This shared office space concept holds many benefits for entrepreneurs, startups and tech companies. Miami is at the forefront of this trend; the Magic City is ranked number one in the country for co-working space in percentage of stock, according to a study by Yardi Matrix. The study found that roughly 3 percent of all commercial office space in Miami is dedicated to co-working. To put that in perspective, Manhattan comes in second, with only 2 percent.

As a gateway to Latin America, Miami has become a place for professionals to test out the waters of doing business abroad. With its booming international trade and fast-paced business environment, Miami is an ideal incubator for co-working spaces.


Co-working allows employees of small businesses to experience the office atmosphere and escape the distractions and isolation that can come with working from home. Memberships range from “hot desks,” where you sit in any open space available, to private offices. Usually Wifi and coffee are provided — and sometimes even beer. Built-in networking takes place in the form of events, from World Cup-viewing parties to happy hour functions., a co-working space in Brickell, rents to tech entrepreneurs, which adds industry networking and collaborating value to the office space.

While the flexibility of shared space was what attracted people initially, today co-working spaces have to do a lot more to stand out in the crowd. Invest: Miami sat down with Laura Kozelouzek, CEO of Quest Workspaces, earlier this year to talk about the changing landscape. “Co-working is a trend that’s not going away,” she said. “Although shared spaces have been around, they’re evolving and accelerating due to technology and the changing ways in which people work. So much of co-working, just like in other hospitality fields, is about service, which is such an intangible thing. Unless a co-working operator is able to deliver a significant value to its members, having flexible, cool space is not going to be enough.”

Co-working spaces are more than just physical spaces; they are a place to share ideas and collaborate, as well as a way to foster important business connections with a diverse group of neighbors daily.

The services these spaces offer and the social aspect of working near other entrepreneurs, often from a wide variety of industries, have led to a veritable co-working boom. WeWork has five buildings in Miami, with its Coral Gables location opening earlier in 2018. Quest Workspaces has nine locations in Florida and a 10th in New York City. Pipeline has buildings from Coral Gables all the way up to north Florida, and Regus has 34 locations in Miami-Dade alone. Miami Modern Architecture District, or MiMo, is no stranger to co-working either, with Büro planting one of its five locations there. No neighborhood is left uncharted. Brokers see co-working as an opportunity to cash in as well, charging as high as 20 percent in fees for helping to lease out spaces for a year.

While many businesses come to Miami temporarily to start expanding into Latin America, co-working is not exclusive to new entrepreneurs or people trying to break into the market. Whether expanding or relocating, many businesses are moving out of their own offices and into co-working spaces for convenience and cost.

“Miami has the highest percentage of co-working space in the nation,” Kozelouzek told Invest:. “It is a growing city, and co-working is moving faster than the development of commercial office buildings. This dynamic will lead to more commercial office development with flexible office options.”

Co-working is the wave of the future, and so far Miami seems to be riding it well.

For more information on our interviewee, visit the company’s website:
Quest Workspaces:


Miami Beach: More than Sand and Sea!

June 2018—Miami Beach is home to over seven miles of beaches and world-famous nightlife, making it one of America’s favorite playgrounds, but the city is more than just fun and games. Each fall Miami Beach hosts one of the world’s most prestigious art events: Art Basel. Due to an agreement made in 2017, the event will remain on the beach for the next five years, cementing Miami Beach’s already strong reputation as an arts and culture destination.

As Mayor Gelber told Invest:, “A lot of Miami Beach’s cultural offerings have appeared in the last 10 to 15 years because of the vision and investment from people who wanted it here. We are the center of the art world during Art Basel, and we become the ‘foodie’ capital of the world during the South Beach Wine and Food festival. We also have this organic creation of cultural centers, including the Bass Museum, the ballet and the New World Symphony.”



The Miami Beach Convention Center was closed in 2017 during ongoing renovations, which was one of the biggest challenges to the region’s tourism industry last year according to William Talbert III, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. The convention center reopened for business in mid-March 2018, although the final touches are still being completed. The project will be completely finished in time for the city’s newest event: Grand Basel, a celebration of old and new luxury cars. The event will take place in February 2019 and will highlight Miami’s cultural fixation on antique and luxury automobiles.

Another unique aspect of Miami Beach is its real estate, as Phil Gutman, president of Brown Harris Stevens, told Invest. “Often the Miami Beach market is lumped in with all of Greater Miami, but it should be analyzed as its own sector,” he said. “When prospective buyers from all over the world are thinking about buying a vacation home, one of the top places on their radar is Miami Beach, not inland neighborhoods. Part of the reason for that is the Miami Beach government. The mayor is making sure that Miami Beach maintains its integrity. The government is proactively getting in front of challenges and correcting them, which gives investors confidence. Anytime individuals are making sizable investments in property, they will want to make sure that their money is going to a place that is stable and secure. The government of Miami Beach takes pride in doing what’s best for the community. It has evolved quite a bit, but the city is doing a great job of balancing that against overdevelopment.”

With a proactive local government, new and familiar world-class events and a soon-to-be-completed renovation of the city’s convention center, Miami Beach’s future looks sunny indeed!

For more information on our interviewees, visit their websites:
Mayor Gelber, City of Miami Beach:
William Talbert, Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau:
Phil Gutman, Brown Harris Stevens:



The Mothers of Miami

Julia Tuttle.

May 2018 — May is the month to celebrate mothers. In honor of all mothers out there, Invest: Miami wanted to take the time to give a shoutout to Julia Tuttle and Mary Brickell for founding the Magic City. While Tuttle is famed for bearing the nickname the “Mother of Miami,” both she and Brickell were extremely influential players in the founding of Miami and contributed much to what the city is known for today.

In 1871, Mary and William Brickell, unable to stand the cold winters of the North, moved their family to what is known today as Brickell Point in the City of Miami. Hoping for a new railroad, Mary Brickell acquired a total of 6,427 acres of land between what are now West Palm Beach and Coconut Grove.

In 1891, Julia Tuttle and her family moved to Miami, as well. Julia and Mary both persisted in convincing Henry Flagler to bring his railroad south and build a city on the river. When a harsh freeze ruined the rest of the country’s crops, Tuttle sent fresh fruit to Flager and convinced him to extend his railroad with the promise of a prosperous and hardy crop yield.

Mary Brickell gave Flagler the rights to her land stretching from Palm Beach to Miami on the condition that he establish a city north of Miami. With that, Fort Lauderdale was born out of a one-square-mile site. Tuttle gave Flagler the land north of the Miami River, and Brickell gave him the land south of the Miami River. Once the railroad was officially built, residents, tourists and opportunists alike began flocking to Miami to take advantage of the potential offered by this brand-new city.

Miami would not be what it is today if it weren’t for the persistence and vision of these pioneering women. We extend deep thanks to the Mothers of Miami!


Mary Brickell.