One of the things that stuck out to me on this trip was the idea that Miami has lost its edge and advantage in the quest to become the gateway to the americas. With the advent of internet, the advantage of being in Miami for its role as gateway is changing. Previously you needed to be here to do business with all of South America, but it seems that cities like Sao Paulo are taking the crown slowly and surely. The amount of money being poured into Sao Paulo startups makes Miami look like kindergarten.
Many investors I met along the way thought it no longer an advantage to be in Miami, and are skipping us over to invest directly in South America on its own. From a transportation and access standpoint, Miami still makes tons of sense, but if we sit on our laurels we could soon be passed over for cheaper locations like Panama for instance. Miami is still the only US city with direct flights to almost all the major cities in South America. San Francisco has no direct flights to BsAs or Sao Paulo. It is also 4 hours less flying than to the west coast.
So how can Miami re-establish itself from a gateway perspective and make itself the defacto place you setup to do business in all of South America?
- Leverage govt incentives for setting up in Miami (beacon council perhaps?)
- Leverage lower costs (salaries, living, etc)
- Access to easy transportation to area (hello American Airlines)
- Easier business rules (labor, bureaucratic, etc)
- Multilingual workforce (nowhere else can you as easily find enough spanish speaking developers)
- Better timezone balance to both europe and south america vs West Coast
I think Miami can stand a chance of being a viable competitor for startups, it just needs to get its ass in gear. How do you think Miami can improve to stay competitive?