Sept. 21--Fresh off a meeting with Pitbull, Manny Medina shared some details about the upcoming eMerge Americas conference and his vision of South Florida as a technology hub for Latin America.
During a tech talk at the coworking center Pipeline Brickell Thursday night, the founder of Terremark noted the progress the region has been making in building a tech hub -- particularly with the proliferation of accelerators and incubators -- and said one of the key advantages Miami has is the continent to the south. Because of the downturn in Europe, the big players in technology are very interested in Latin America right now, he said, so "how do we do something that will spark what is happening today into something bigger?"
Medina's team at his nonprofit Technology Foundation of the Americas is betting that the eMerge conference next May will do just that.
Medina said dozens of major companies -- IBM, Cisco, Oracle, Univision and others -- are already on board. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez is "all in" as are all the local universities. Local advisory groups of business leaders from sectors where Miami is strong -- such as healthcare, media/entertainment, government, logistics, etc. -- have been meeting and "interest so far has been over the top," said Medina, who also founded Medina Capital.
"All these Latin American countries are going to bring their best and brightest [tech companies]. At the same time we have been visiting Silicon Valley and have all the VCs salivating. The hope is that this conference will be the spark -- some of the VCs open shop, some of the companies establish themselves here, education happening, that's the plan. It's a gargantuan plan."
Medina said the conference is just one part of a much larger movement to transform the region into a true tech hub. "This is an exciting time to be a part of something that I am convinced will be a part of the legacy of Miami," he said.
And where does Pitbull fit in? Medina said an important component of the eMerge conference will be music, the parties and the culture, and that the conference needs to be fun as well as educational, substantive and a good networking opportunity. "We are trying to emulate South By Southwest [Austin's signature conference] with a Latin American slant," he said. As for the rapper, "Pitbull is Miami, he loves the city and he gets it."
Startups get the stage
Ready to pitch? Opportunities abound.
The NewME PopUp Accelerator returns to The LAB Miami this Friday through Sunday and includes a two-part pitching workshop held on two evenings, a one-on-one mentoring session and a "Demo Night" competition with prizes and an opportunity to join NewME's accelerator in San Francisco. The cost for the popup is $99 and registration is required. More info: http://www.newmeaccelerator.com/miami.
Once you've learned to pitch, take your skills to Tech Cocktail's Miami Mixer and Startup Showcase, sponsored by Refresh Miami, on Oct. 1 at Miami Dade College.
Tech Cocktail says its mixers combine a party-like networking atmosphere with a fast-paced pitch event (one minute pitches). The winner of the crowd vote can compete in Las Vegas. For event tickets and more info: http://techcocktailmiami2013.eventbrite.com/
From there you can enter the University of Miami Launch Pad's Elevator Pitch competition open to the community. The finals will be held during Global Entrepreneurship Week Nov. 18-22. Stay tuned for details.
Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter at @ndahlberg