TheVentureCity’s Laura González-Estéfani on building bridges between Miami and Madrid tech

By Riley Kaminer

As we’ve previously reported, connections between Miami and Madrid abound – with investors, entrepreneurs, and tech community builders increasingly shuttling across the Atlantic to take advantage of the opportunities present in both markets.

In many ways, Laura González-Estéfani, the founder and CEO of VC TheVentureCity, has pioneered many of these connections. The Madrid native originally arrived in the US to work at Facebook in Silicon Valley. She acknowledges that landing in Miami was “an accident” – albeit a pleasant one. And in 2017, González-Estéfani founded TheVentureCity with offices in Madrid and Miami.

We sat down with González-Estéfani to hear about her thoughts on the two markets and the opportunities present for technologists in both ecosystems. This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Refresh Miami: Tell us about the history behind setting up TheVentureCity in these two cities in the first place.

Laura González-Estéfani: When I first came to the US, I was in San Francisco. I started to go to Miami because we had a Cuba-related project. So it was an accident that I was visiting Miami.

At that time, Miami was known because of its weather and party scene. But as I spent more time here, I realized that there was something special going on here. It is a great melting pot and has the best operational aspects of American culture and the spontaneous part of Latin culture.

The fact is that in the tech world, there is no longer going to be one hot Silicon Valley-type area isolated from the rest. Rather, it’s about the creation of connected networks of tech ecosystems.

There is a lot of talent in Miami and in Spain. The problem is in Miami that many talented people have trouble finding jobs with competitive compensation. In Spain, talent is not paid or recognized as much either – although there is some extraordinary engineering talent in particular there.

My positioning has always been from Miami to the world, from Madrid to the world. Not only investing in Miami or Madrid, but investing out. And that mentality continues today.

How would you compare Miami and Madrid as tech hubs?

Both are safe and easy welcome pads for the US and EU. Miami is truly global – there are not just a lot of Latinos here, but also Europeans.

The change that Miami has seen over the last three to five years is the same that Madrid has seen. Of course, if you ask a European from the North what city in the US they want to start their company in, they’ll say Miami. It’s a great place to land.

Now what we need to do in both places is to figure out how to make them stay. For example, we need to work on our school systems, transportation systems, and the affordability of real estate.

What can people in these two ecosystems do to support each other?

First, as ecosystem builders, we have a responsibility to filter who is BS from who is real. Because there is nothing more frustrating than when people are shiny on the surface but bring nothing on the inside. If we truly want to build something that lasts, we have to filter and we have to avoid overselling ourselves.

Second, we need to talk more about how Miami welcomes newcomers with both the heart and the brain. That is very special. I was welcomed in SF with the brain, not the heart. People welcome you in Madrid with a brain, with a heart, and with her mother-in-law. We need to talk about that more.

Third, we have to share our pride in being Miamians. We need to go deeper when it comes to meeting each other and creating more opportunities for people in tech to network. 

We also need to get rid of this idea of “Miami tech OGs” – people who think that they discovered this land first. Excuse me, but colonialism is over! We need new people to feel part of Miami tech and that their contributions are valuable.

What should people in Miami know about Madrid’s tech ecosystem?

We have a lot of things in common. To start, both cities have a lot of talent and have lost a lot of talent due to misalignments in the local ecosystems. 

In Madrid, there is a meaningful focus on energy transition and climate tech companies. A lot of fintech and B2B as well.

Neither Madrid nor Miami has enjoyed much local funding. Both lack any real fund of funds. This poses a major problem in the long term. That’s why I’m dedicated to helping Madrid and Miami founders land. And that’s basically our thesis: how can we help these amazing entrepreneurs land in other places and grow?

RELATED STORY: PART 1

Read From Miami to Madrid: Charting the symbiotic relationship between these two high-growth tech hubs

TheVentureCity team

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Riley Kaminer