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South Florida’s Media and Tech Start-up Landscape Changing Slowly but Surely

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South Florida’s media landscape at first glance may not seem diverse or thriving when the top news organizations consumed by local audiences are dwindling, the talent is leaving, and the tech community, which would support a media capital, is still developing, slowly.

But some say the solution is to bring more innovative minds together such as with meetups and conferences like Hispanicize and Social Media Club of South Florida and allow for ideas to naturally flourish.

Alex de Carvalho, organizer of Social Media Club’s South Florida chapter, cited Richard Florida in this slideshow on what this tropical landscape needs: “The key to economic growth lies not just in the ability to attract the creative class, but to translate that underlying advantage into creative economic outcomes in the form of new ideas, new high-tech businesses, and regional growth.”

“Miami has to be itself, we are never going to be a Silicon Valley,” said Steven McKeon, CEO of Acceller, in a forum about South Florida’s start-up culture. He also pointed out the advantages, “The weather is huge, the real estate crash resulting in lower housing prices has helped with recruiting, and the cross-cultural connections are a big plus.”

But in the last few years, South Florida’s unemployment rate has been swinging between seven and 10 percent and has made it difficult for talented youth to find jobs.

“I can’t think of one friend in South Florida who has a successful career,” said Lauren Hord, 31, through a Public Insight Network survey to The Miami Herald last year.

For those who want to be journalists, the environment feels grimm.

A 2007 market research study done by the Sun Sentinel shows the top news organizations visited online in South Florida are the two major papers, Sentinel and Herald, as well as local TV stations from the major networks NBC, CBS, and Telemundo.

The Sun Sentinel put together a research project of South Florida's audience to understand the top media websites visited by local residents.

The Sun Sentinel put together a research project of South Florida’s audience to understand the top media websites visited by local residents.


But these organizations are struggling to stay alive as the industry rapidly evolves faster than these companies can adapt. And it has resulted in various layoffs.

In an interview with Forbes Magazine, Daniel Lafuente, co-founder of new tech start-up The LAB Miami, shared his thoughts on why businesses hesitate to root themselves in South Florida.

“We felt Miami lacked the platform to retain its top talent and allow them a place to cultivate their businesses,” said Lafuente. “They need to be able to stay here and have access to the same type of community you might get in San Francisco or New York.”

However, there is hope.

Visionaries such as Alex de Carvalho (previously mentioned); Manny Ruiz, founder of Hispanicize; Brian Breslin, founder of Refresh Miami, and many others are changing this landscape. They are paving the way for forward-thinking professionals to come together, brainstorm, and share resources on how to make ideas come true.

Organizations such as The Knight Foundation are one of those resources, often providing grants for hyperlocal news projects. And now the city of Miami is joining the movement to make South Florida a media and tech hub by funding $1 million worth of grants for entrepreneurs.

South Florida has everything it needs to become as big as other American metropolitan cities. The ground is fertile, but the laborers are few. But a few forward-thinking leaders planting the seeds is all it takes for the growth of innovation and talent.

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