By Auston Bunsen – Guest Contributor
Nancy asked me for a recap of Miami Tech in 2021. I wrote a similar retrospective last year that was mostly well received. This year, we’re fortunate enough to have an amazing recap by Nancy and Riley – it’s extremely thorough. I’ll do my best to cover the things they didn’t and provide my vision on how we can continue to grow and help keep this city special.
Plenty of fuel in the tank, more on the way
2021 continued to see mass migration to Miami from talented people as well as world renowned investors. The caliber of talent moving to, visiting and considering Miami is insane. Visionary product focused thinkers like Damiana Amabile, Ryan Hoover, Tom Uebel from DropBox. Talented founders like Trevor McFedries, Hari Raghavan, Ruben Harris, Srikanth Srinivas, Zach Bruch and Zach Sims. Relentless executors like Alex Marshall + Julia Figueirdo from the legendary Silicon Valley Bank, Derrick Gellidon, Avi Dabir from FTX and Jordan Holberg from GameStop. Not to mention the constant stream of amazing people flowing through the HF0 house run by Dave and Lucy at Backend Capital.
We all know about SoftBank, Founders Fund, Atomic, Pareto and more but there was and continues to be amazing investors arriving, like John Curtius + Scott Shleifer from Tiger Global, David Blumberg, Leo Polovets of Susa Ventures, Nic Carter of Castle Island Ventures, Ben Ling of Bling Cap, and David + Arul from Borderless that raised more than $500m to invest into crypto focused startups. We’re also starting to see some early talent movement, like Marell Evans who spun out of SoftBank to create Exceptional Capital, likely to be a behemoth of a fund focused on the most talented Miami founders backed by big names. Also what looked underreported was the fact that Seven Seven Six opened two sister funds in the hundreds of millions for Polygon-based projects and Solana powered projects. Not to mention 305 Ventures, which did 45 deals in 2021, created by recent implants Zaid Rahman, Joey Levy and Michael Melikian.
Of course we need to continue to attract the best and brightest, which is why work from people like Mayor Suarez should be celebrated and more resources funneled to people like Matt Haggman at the Miami-Dade Beacon Council.
The core burns bright
Our homegrown talent continues to do more with less, like the DotCo alumnus Ana Guzman creating Binibi, the Lula team that posted insane YoY growth, Mean DAO finding some strong early traction, BetaBlocks getting funding to build the Shopify of NFTs, Healthcare.com raising $180m, Papa continuing to crush it, and Securitize making tokenization of everything possible. Miami Tech Runs DAO was founded by Derrick Thomas and BoatSetter looks like it’s about to take a sizeable chunk a billion dollar market.
Our homegrown capital allocators continue to fund companies like Miami Angels doing 12 deals, Florida Funders clocking in 27 deals, Black Angels Miami syndicating 5 deals, Flamingo Capital spinning up and clearing 10 deals in its first year of existence, Mark Kingdon continuing to invest in deals, and leaders like Charmel Maynard affecting serious change for UM’s endowment.
Events continue to go strong, with eMerge hosting La Casa and Michelle Abbs and the MANA Tech crew hosting a remarkable NFT BZL for what can only be described as Miami NFT Week.
Comms are mostly functional
Community has always been strong in Miami Tech, but there is always room for improvement. However, I’m happy to share that from my point of view, things have headed in a positive direction in 2021 despite whatever bumps we may have encountered.
The great work from Demian Bellumio has kept plugging fresh imports into the local scene with Miami Tech Life WhatsApp and Telegram groups. The amazing work from Harry Tormey and Preethi Kasireddy on the Miami Crypto builders meeting and the joint effort between long-time local David Small and recent Miami transplant/AirBnB alum Jeremy Smith is also extremely promising. We’re also fortunate to have had many Weekly Tech Socials held by Chris Adamo, the Atomic community event at their office and many events hosted by Refresh Miami!
Over all, the efforts to play nice amongst transplants and imports has been amazing to see, but there are still some lingering issues from before Miami Tech became a phenomenon, mainly a lack of support for women and racial minorities. Luckily, there appears to be some help on the way for this, with Melinda Gates putting $50m to work to place more women, particularly those of color, into education and internship programs to prepare them for careers and leadership roles in Miami’s burgeoning tech sector.
Let’s continue to do our best to support females and minorities in 2022. We did a great job on integrating over the last 365 days — let’s crush this one in 2022.
A note on housing
This isn’t directly related to tech but rent is seriously getting out of control here. Whoever is in charge of approving permits to build new stuff, let’s give those people a raise and beef that whole department up and install a strong mission-driven leader so we can get a metric ton or two more of condos built ASAP.
2022 likely to be parabolic
We did so much in 2021, we’re going to reap some serious benefits in the form of Miami companies getting crazy growth in 2022, like: OpenStore, Nuelife, Upstream, Tenably, Flexbase, QuickNode, Osigu, Corellium, Lumu, ByteChek, Cura, R2 Capital, Cryptoys, Faraway, Icy.tools and SwagUp. Almost all of these companies look like they’re at an inflection point with the most likely outcome being growth up and to the right.
We also have a stacked events calendar for 2022, with eMerge leading the charge for Miami Tech Month, alongside other organizers like Michelle Bakels, and even Founders Fund is going to hold a community event during Miami Tech Month!
2022 looks like it will be another banner year for Miami Tech, let’s take this baby to the moon!
Auston Bunsen is a web developer and entrepreneur building out the future of the internet at QuickNode. Follow him on Twitter @bunsen.
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