Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

New report details challenges, opportunities for Miami entrepreneurs

Jan. 28, 2014, 7:15 a.m., Posted by Rhett Morris

A new Endeavor: Why we chose Miami from Knight Foundation on Vimeo.

In 2013 Knight Foundation funded the launch of the first U.S. affiliate of Endeavor, a global nonprofit that promotes high-impact entrepreneurship. Below, Rhett Morris, director of Endeavor Insight, the nonprofit’s research division, writes about its new report on entrepreneurship in Miami, which is the first publication in its “City Hubs for Entrepreneurship Series.”

In preparation for the launch of Endeavor’s new office in Miami, we analyzed Miami’s entrepreneurship ecosystem based on research Endeavor Insight had conducted in other cities across the world. This analysis found that there was a clear and demonstrable need for Endeavor’s work in Miami.

Through our research in the 19 countries where Endeavor works, we have seen that cities that wish to reap the benefits of entrepreneurship must empower high-potential companies to access resources, such as talent and financing. This requires cultivating the development of the local entrepreneurship ecosystem, which is made up of individuals, companies, governments and other organizations that influence the development of local entrepreneurs and their firms.

Miami is a unique place. We found that the central challenge for local entrepreneurship was that many local companies were starting up, but very few were growing to become medium or large firms. A recent report from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation found that Miami had the highest rate of new business formation among the 15 largest U.S. metropolitan areas in 2012. However, since 2000, the number of large businesses in the area has declined by more than 20 percent.

In the course of the analysis, we found that Miami’s entrepreneurship ecosystem had a number of important strengths. Entrepreneurs value living in Miami. As one founder mentioned in an interview, “In Miami, I have great quality of life, great friends and great weather. It’s a great place to raise a family.” Support for entrepreneurs has also rapidly increased in recent years. More than 12 investment firms, accelerators and co-working spaces have opened offices in Miami since 2009. Knight Foundation itself has invested in co-working spaces, meet-ups convenings, and mentor and investor networks. In addition, Miami offers excellent access to customers and suppliers. More than 60 percent of entrepreneurs at growing companies in the area reported that customers were “easily accessible” in the area.

We also learned that Miami’s entrepreneurship ecosystem had a number of major challenges. Finding financing and talent is difficult. Only 36 percent of entrepreneurs we interviewed and surveyed agreed that talented employees were available in Miami, and venture capital investment in the state of Florida is seven times lower than the national average. (City level data on venture capital investing is unavailable for Miami.) It was also clear that entrepreneurship mentors and role models were not readily available in the local area. Many of the successful entrepreneurs we spoke to told us that they were not mentoring any younger entrepreneurs in the community. Sixty-three percent of the entrepreneurs we interviewed also reported that another entrepreneur in Miami did not inspire their work.

Endeavor’s work in Miami will help to address these challenges in a number of ways. As the report states, “Endeavor’s new office will select local high-impact entrepreneurs and support their growth with programs that increase their access to talent, capital and mentors, and then promote successful entrepreneurs as role models for the next generation of founders in the community.” That work is already underway with the selection of My Ceviche and KidoZen as the first Endeavor Miami Entrepreneurs.

The findings in this report have increased our excitement about Endeavor’s work in Miami, supervised by Managing Director Laura Maydon and an outstanding local board. We see tremendous potential in developing entrepreneurs in Miami, which will benefit local networks and our global family.

Download the full report or view a summary of its results