Funding, talent still challenges for Miami’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, study finds

 

ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Miami’s entrepreneurial ecosystem has a number of strengths but significant challenges remain, found a report released Tuesday by Endeavor Miami, a nonprofit that selects, mentors and accelerates high-impact entrepreneurs.

The 20-page study, produced by Endeavor and funded by the Knight Foundation, was based on data from more than 100 early-stage and growth-stage companies, as well as interviews and focus groups with entrepreneurs, investors and policymakers held between April and September of 2013 as Endeavor Global was getting ready to open the first U.S. office in Miami. The findings — which included data showing that although new business creation was strong in Miami-Dade, the number of large companies has been falling and the great majority of companies based here have fewer than 10 employees — confirmed the need for and value of Endeavor, said Laura Maydón, managing director of Endeavor Miami.

Among the strengths noted by focus groups: The ecosystem is seeing increased support, the local quality of life is effective at attracting and retaining companies, and South Florida offers a strong customer base for entrepreneurs. However, the study also said that entrepreneurs list access to early-stage financing and a large enough pool of talented employees as significant challenges. The report also cited low levels of mentorship from successful founders and few local entrepreneurial role models as obstacles to growth.

“I feel really positive about the opportunities,” said Maydón. “The positives [cited in the report] mean Miami is already a great city for entrepreneurs. And as to the challenges, Endeavor is very well used to overcoming those kinds of challenges, so i think we are very well positioned to help entrepreneurs scale.”

Matt Haggman, program director at the Knight Foundation’s Miami office, said the study helped identify obstacles to success and will “help fill in these gaps and chart a way forward.”

Among the study’s findings:

•  One-third of entrepreneurs at scale-up firms had not worked or studied in the area.

•  Only 36 percent of entrepreneurs at growing companies agreed that talented employees were readily available in Miami.

•  More than 60 percent of entrepreneurs at scaleup companies stated that customers were easily accessible in Miami.

•  Venture capital investment for the state of Florida is only $10 per resident compared with an average of $71 for the U.S. as a whole.

To help the ecosystem, the report recommended an early-stage investment summit, a recruiting program for entrepreneurial firms, an award that promotes local mentorship and a program that highlights local examples of successful high-growth companies.

To read the report, visit www.endeavor.org/cityhubsmiami.

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