The last decade has marked a new feat for growth in Miami's local startup scene. The imagery of beaches and strip clubs might dominate Rick Ross lyrics about the region, but tech is shaping up to be the new frontier. Last week the Knight Foundation, headquartered in the southeastern city, announced its $1 million grant infusion into eight distinct organizations supporting entrepreneurship, funding, and development throughout the local tech community. The investment comes out of what Knight Miami director Raul Moras says is really a jumping-off point for accessing and increasing long-term support for and investment in building a more robust and diverse innovation ecosystem.
We want to see a base in Miami where anyone can come and build a high-growth company and have a deep sense of place and community, explained Moas in an interview on Friday. From LGBTQ-centered resource organizations to national networks like Venture Cafe, to newly minted groups like Black Men Talk Tech, which brought its first conference to the city in October, the spread of the dollars appears to intersect place, space, and opportunity as the city continues to take strides as a major contender in the startup scene. According to Moas, the new $1 million grant infusion brings a total of $34 million in Knight funding granted to entrepreneur support organizations in the Miami region over the last seven years.
A New Network for Black Investors
The newly launched Black Angels Miami group took home a quarter of the Knight distribution, a $250,000 cash infusion helping to seed the investor network matching wealthy Black investors with local and national deal flow. We want to activate a lot of capital in the Black community, which is out there, but not in this space. We want to make sure that that capital is couched, that we can diversify the investors in the space, and hopefully help diversify the founders as well, said Kevin Cadette, the group’s new executive director. According to Cadette, there are eight active angel investors in the Black Angel Miami network and an open application process for those looking to join the club. Cadette, who recently took on the role, is tasked with laying the foundation for the club’s success, attracting new members, and tapping pipelines of founders who are ready to pitch their companies to the angels he’s putting together.
Cadette says the $250,000 from Knight will help to develop back-end operations for Black Angels Miami. He plans to bring on at least two more support people in roles to help advance the group, manage the membership experience, and work on external education initiatives to help teach those who would like to become investors about what accreditation means and ways they can get started. Cadette also mentioned being in touch with local initiatives like Black Tech Week, as well as other local and national accelerators and incubators to lay the ground for a robust pipeline of deal flow. The Black Angel Miami group is open to any investor who believes in the group’s philosophy to invest in developing a robust and diverse ecosystem.
Here's the full list of grant recipients and how the funds will be allocated:
- Black Angels Miami ($250,000): To contribute to a more diverse and inclusive venture investment landscape within Miami's startup community by supporting the launch of Black Angels Miami, an angel investment group connecting its members to top-notch startups while also increasing the number of Black angel investors.
- Function Collective ($240,000): To elevate Miami as a source of investment capital in the global venture capital ecosystem by supporting the launch of Function, a membership organization that connects Miami's investor and private wealth community and activates them in early-stage technology investments across the hemisphere.
- Venture Cafe Miami ($160,000): To expand the diversity of high-growth businesses in Miami and engender a more inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem through Passport, a program that trains and connects founders in low-growth businesses with each other and with partners to enable these businesses to transition to higher growth.
- Craftspeople ($140,000): To increase the availability of high-growth company building expertise so that Miami's founders do not have to look elsewhere for guidance and mentorship by supporting the launch of Craftspeople, a membership organization that brings together entrepreneurs through monthly workshops led by seasoned founders and venture builders.
- Black Men Talk Tech ($100,000): To support more successful tech ventures led by Black men by better connecting Black entrepreneurs and investors through the expansion of the Black Men Talk Tech conference.
- Miami Herbert Business School ($100,000): To increase the flow of global entrepreneurial leaders and knowledge coming through Miami by supporting a speaker series featuring distinguished leaders in business and venture building.
- The Idea Center at Miami Dade College ($50,000): To create additional avenues for new participants to enter Miami's startup ecosystem, and to create a denser, more familiar community of entrepreneurs and high-potential talent by supporting the local chapter of 1 Million Cups, a national network of weekly meetups by and for entrepreneurs.
- Out In Tech ($50,000): To support community building and career advancement within Miami's startup community for LGBTQ+ stakeholders by supporting the launch of the Miami chapter of Out in Tech.