How Tech Became the Hottest Scene in Miami Beach

Miami Beach is known for surf, sand and sun. A new wave of startups and expanding companies want it to be known for something else: tech.

Scan through calendars of events going on in Miami Beach, and there’s no shortage of full moon meditation sessions, film festivals and visiting DJs — and swimwear fashion week will be here before you know it.

But look a little deeper, and there’s a tech boom happening just under the glittering surface of this South Florida city.

Bizagi Catalyst, a digital conference, is scheduled for October. Tech Beach, a Meetup group for STEM entrepreneurs, has more than 3,000 members. And perhaps most exciting for the beach, website builder Wix opened a Miami Beach office on Lincoln Road with a lease through 2025. With the tech scene growing so rapidly, it’s no surprise that Miami Beach made our list of the 10 Best Cities for STEM Workers.

“There is clear momentum that the South Florida region is starting to mature,” said Chris Todd, the president of Airborne Response, a company that uses unmanned aircraft systems like drones to work major incidents. Todd says Miami Beach has been an “ideal location” for the company since it launched in 2016. The systems can be used in disaster response, security, mapping and surveys, training and more. Not only is the weather and airspace favorable, but it’s also perfect conditions for making videos.

Just north of Miami Beach, aptly named North Miami Beach was chosen as the location for the 2018 UAS/Drones for Disaster Response Conference.

Also on the beach is The Venture City, a venture capital fund and startup accelerator with the aim of helping small companies with a dream.

“We invest, nourish, help and take startups to a higher level. We are growth experts,” said Rosa Jiménez-Cano, the chief of ecosystem relations. “Most of our team comes from Silicon Valley companies. We want our methodology to have a worldwide impact through entrepreneurship.”

Laura González-Estéfani, the founder and CEO of The Venture City, worked with Facebook for nine years, which brought her to the Miami area. She fell in love with the scene and its potential for tech companies, she founded her company.

“During her time in Latin America and Miami, she met lots of entrepreneurs. Many of them lacked of access to capital but were brilliant. She felt that she should be doing something to flourish the Miami tech scene and impact some more emerging hubs,” Jiménez-Cano said.

The Venture City currently has offices in San Francisco, Madrid, Sydney, and its Miami Beach headquarters opened on Lincoln Road’s 1111 building. It’s just a five-minute walk from the new Wix headquarters.

“Wix chose Miami Beach in 2014 to better serve our growing customer base, tap into a vibrant technology sector and provide access to language skills that serve our Latin American users,” said Matt Rosenberg, director of PR and communications at Wix. “Miami provides a diverse workforce and we have been able to hire a very talented team as we’ve expanded our presence here and continue to provide customer service and support to our global customer base of more than 130 million users around the world.”

While quality of life, diversity and talent are propelling Miami Beach’s tech renaissance, there are some things holding the area back from realizing its full potential as a major tech hub — most notably: cost.

“Overpriced real estate — both commercial and residential — is an inhibiting factor preventing many startup tech firms from viewing Miami Beach as a viable option for them to plant a stake in the ground,” Todd said.

According to Newmark Knight Frank, which tracks office trends, the average asking price per square foot of rented office space in the Miami area is $34.97, while the national average is $27.68.

To help with costs, shared spaces like the new WeWork space on Lincoln Road helps cut down costs for startups.

Also, as the local tech scene grows, networking events and workshops have been instrumental for small companies. Wix Miami hosts a Wix Workshop once a month, where entrepreneurs can improve their digital skills. At The Venture City, staff hosts free workshops every two weeks. To educate future remote pilots, Airborne Response hosts exam preparation ad post-licensing training for those look to be certified by the Federation Aviation Administration.

“With the technology spotlight increasing on South Florida, now is the time for Miami Beach to circle the wagons and put a plan together to attract new startups and tech companies to come and do business in the city,” Todd said.

Originally published on

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Discovering the Youthful (and Delicious) Side of Boca Raton


Boca Raton is famously known as a retirement community, but the city’s younger residents are carving out a culture of their own.

The words “Boca Raton” tend to instantly evoke images of retirees who spend their winters on the beach and pastel one-bedroom condos. But ask those who actually live in this South Florida city, and they’ll tell you the stereotypes about Boca don’t capture the reality of this multifaceted — and surprisingly youthful — place.

“The culture has evolved in Boca Raton,” said Shaan Dholakia, 33, who has lived in Boca Raton since he was four years old. “There’s a lot of creative people doing creative things, whether it is a hip gastropub or a ramen shop or a Korean BBQ … these were things that were unheard of in Boca Raton.”

When Dholakia and his brother were teenagers a little over a decade ago, they were eager to experience the independence a driver’s license granted them. Budding foodies, they started looking up local restaurants they could try out on their own.

The top search result? Red Lobster.

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The Town That’s the Heart of the South Florida Rodeo Scene

Courtesy Davie Pro Rodeo

Yes, you read that right: the South Florida rodeo scene.

South Florida: it’s a place vacationers flock to every year to bask in the sun from beach towels, watch mega yachts on the Intracoastal, and explore the booming nightlife scene. But just 30 minutes west of those world-famous beaches is an unexpected gem, a place where cowboys throw on their spurs and Stetsons.

It’s the Bergeron Rodeo Grounds in Davie, Florida.

Drawing 30,000 spectators a year, the grounds had its first rodeo in 1946, back when it was known as the Davie Rodeo Arena. For decades it hosted competitions and continued the town’s western tradition. However, in 1978, the rodeo was under threat from an ongoing enemy of the townspeople: development. Undeterred, hundreds of residents rode to a town council meeting on horseback to protest tearing down the arena, and they succeeded.

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8 Surprising Things About Living in Florida

From wildlife to road trips to rodeos, take it from a local: Florida is full of surprises.

As someone who was born in Florida but didn’t return to the Sunshine State until college, I’m an odd hybrid of a Florida native and transplant. Since I returned 14 years ago, I’ve traveled all over the state — from Key West to TampaJacksonvilleOrlando and more — and gotten acquainted with all the unique aspects of this incredibly diverse state.

Most people think of Florida as all white sand beaches and retirement homes. Trust me: this state is so much more than that. Here are some surprising things about Florida that most people don’t know:

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Miami Art Week events and installations that will be all over your Instagram feed

Tania El Khoury’s “Fingertips”

Art Basel is here, which means your Instagram game needs to be on point.

Whether you’re swimming in a pool of sprinkles at the brand-new Museum of Ice Cream, wandering the Upside Down at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, or traveling through Kanye’s brain at Basel House, there’s no end to the exhibits for you to immerse yourself in.

We’ve gathered the most selfie-friendly spots, so get your smart phones ready, pick a favorite filter, and get ready to hashtag.

Read the rest at


This year, the city of Sunny Isles Beach celebrated its 20th anniversary since incorporating. This beach boomtown is a 2-mile stretch of luxe condos, diverse retail and high-end hotels that draw visitors from around the world. Sandwiched between Aventura and Bal Harbour, Sunny Isles put itself on the luxury map with the 2003 opening of Trump International Beach Resort. That drew other upscale hotels and residences, like Acqualina and Porsche Design Tower. More than just pretty buildings, Sunny Isles also boasts picturesque parks, beautiful beaches and globally inspired restaurants.

Meet our guide

Chef Kurtis Jantz might have the best view in the working world, overseeing Neomi’s Grill, Gili’s Pool Bar and Gili’s Beach Club at the seaside Trump International Beach Resort. “Sunny Isles has such a diverse culture for a small community, and we have the most beautiful, clean beaches,” he said. Born in Japan and with an affinity for modern Florida cuisine, Jantz has been the resort’s executive chef since 2003, picking up scores of accolades along the way.

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For Ben Brafman, Becoming A Leader In Mental Health And Addiction Meant Overcoming His Own Obstacles

It was supposed to be a normal day for one of Ben Brafman’s clients. But a simple trip to a meeting ended with the client in jail. The client, who was battling a mental illness, began acting out, which prompted a bystander to call the police. Brafman assured the officers that he just needed a few minutes to calm his client down and they would be on their way.

“They ended up arresting him for being loud and boisterous,” Brafman remembers. “As soon as they tried to handcuff him, he got aggressive, agitated.”

Brafman, 47, founder and CEO of Guardian Behavioral Health Foundation, says this incident and others aren’t uncommon in the arena of mental illness and addiction.

“We have a tendency to minimize things in society and not really put a lot of stock in it. We’re asking for trouble,” the Parkland resident says. “We need to crack some stereotypes and stigmas.”

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This ‘gas highway’ across the Southeast is angering everyone in its path


Photo courtesy of Jim Tatum

When Jeb and Bob Bell’s mother was diagnosed with bone cancer in 1985, she purchased 100 acres of land in Mitchell County, Georgia, to grow timber on. She wanted her sons taken care of if she didn’t make it, and for them to have something they could pass on to their own children.

She survived the cancer, but a new threat to the land has emerged. Today, private companies want to build a natural gas pipeline through the Bell’s land to run south into neighboring Florida.

“In 2014 we received a letter saying they were interested in coming down through here and putting in the pipeline,” said Jeb Bell, a resource manager at Georgia State Parks. “I sent them a letter telling them to stay off my land. I did not want them on my land. Who in their right mind would want a 36-inch pipeline three feet under the ground in proximity of their house?”

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How to fix Florida’s unbearable, sewage-driven algae blooms before they get worse

MIAMI—When Nadia Smart and her husband moved from Okeechobee to Stuart, FL, last fall, they were looking forward to spending the summer kayaking and swimming.

A year later, they haven’t been able to do any of that.

“We bought our house here because we like the beaches, we like the waterways, and we can’t use them,” she said. “It’s just been a dead summer, it’s sad.”

For the Smarts and other residents on Florida’s Treasure Coast a few hours north of Miami, the summer has been marred by an infestation of cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae.

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This is where orphaned baby elephants go after their parents are killed by poachers

Photo by Christiana Lilly

Photo by Christiana Lilly

NAIROBI, Kenya—It was October, 2014 on the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya when a tourist saw a horrific sight on the plain.

A herd of elephants surrounded a downed female with a poisoned spear wound in her cheek, her face cut open, and her two tusks missing. The elephants mourned their family member—especially a tiny, 10-month old calf crying over her mother and resting her trunk on her belly.

When the team at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which abuts Nairobi National Park, found out about the newly orphaned baby, they knew they had to rescue the calf, as she would die of starvation without her mother’s milk. They went into action, flying into the park, separating the calf from the herd, and taking her back to their center.

There, she was welcomed by more than two dozen other orphaned baby elephants and the staff named her “Roi.”

“They could have seen their mother killed before their eyes,” Rob Brandford, executive director of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, said of the orphans. “They’re completely lost. They don’t know what’s happened, they don’t know where they are.”

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