How Miami Is Filling The High-Tech Void In Latin America
I’ve just arrived at the offices of YellowPepper, a software and tech services company headquartered in Aventura. Waiting for me is Alexander Sjogren, YellowPepper’s chief product developer – and he’s holding an ax that’s big and sharp enough to kill me.
“Yeah, this is a Viking ax,” Sojgren tells me. “We won it a couple weeks ago at a 24-hour PayPal hackathon here in
OK, it turns out the ax is a prize for computer hackers. Get it? But it’s just one award that YellowPepper’s been raking in lately. This past summer it secured some $30 million in venture funding from heavyweight sources like the World Bank and
And that’s due in no small part to YellowPepper’s new partnership with
“This is a very interesting time to be a tech company focusing on LatAm in
In fact, thanks largely to Latin America, Miami’s entire tech scene looks wheels up these days – and its “Silicon Beach” aspirations don’t sound so far-fetched anymore as a result. A growing number of South Florida tech firms and start-ups are finding their
“Miami is obviously the capital of Latin America now,” says Dominica-born Cliclogix co-founder Rafael Bonnelly, as he shows me the company’s e-learning platform and chats about his upcoming trip to Panama to spread the social media gospel to newspapers that are starting to feel the same “cancer,” as he calls it, that’s afflicting U.S. print media. “In terms of developing new technologies and attracting Latin American business, this is definitely the place to be.”
In fact, thanks largely to Latin America, Miami’s entire tech scene looks wheels up these days – and its “Silicon Beach” aspirations don’t sound so far-fetched anymore as a result. A growing number of South Florida tech firms and start-ups are finding their El Dorado, or gold, in a developing region where the number of Internet users has mushroomed since 2000 from 18 million to 254 million today. No other region in the world, in fact, sports more social media usage.
And as far as Bonnelly is concerned, the best place to be is
Cliclogix and a number of other tech firms with hip names like Vanilla Shake Media share office space in an expansive Wynwood facility known as The LAB
That Latin ambience – the fact that two-thirds of
Perhaps the most important lure, he adds: rule of law. Investors from Tijuana to Tierra del Fuego simply feel more secure investing in the U.S. than in, say, Panama, where YellowPepper was once registered.
Still, players like Cappello realize that
“In terms of the development of
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