In nearly all categories and subcategories measured, women entrepreneurs rate the ecosystem lower than their male counterparts, and Black ESO and BSO leaders rate the ecosystem lower than their white and Hispanic peers.
Dense relationship networks remain inaccessible, especially to underrepresented founders. What's more, general community sentiment perceives a lack of diversity in local networks.
South Florida is one of the most diverse communities, but this isn’t always reflected by who is being represented as industry leaders or within the talent pipeline. Over half of scorecard respondents experienced a lack of representation and voicelessness of their perspectives.
While we want to embrace the influx of newcomers to the South Florida community, we must be intentional about how we build the ecosystem. Primarily, stakeholders asked the question: What are we doing for the current ecosystem? Older generations and those that have lived in the community longer rate the ecosystem lower.
Individuals and organizations alike expressed that diversity, equity, and inclusion are current priorities. However, many are experiencing challenges in building (or rebuilding) processes and structures to be more inclusive.
South Florida's tech and innovation ecosystem has a unique value proposition. Stakeholders call for a cohesive identity and greater intentionality in how we build the ecosystem going forward, particularly in terms of meeting the needs of existing players and newcomers.
South Florida boasts being one of the most diverse regions in the nation (a minority majority); we want to preserve and leverage this diversity, and translate it and embed it into the core of our ecosystem identity.
A perceived lack of trust is an obstacle to deeper impact made through partnerships and collaboration. Part of this was attributed to a lack of transparency among stakeholders
Both leaders and community members call for tools to objectively measure the tech and innovation ecosystem growth and hold ourselves accountable, particularly around equity and opportunity. We currently lack a centralized dashboard or integrated, public metrics, but we need them.
We need to keep players in the ecosystem accountable to their priorities of promoting racial equity, diversity, and inclusion. How do we evaluate organizations and companies (especially in light of a spike in diversity initiatives).
We have exceeded the critical mass of organizations focused on supporting entrepreneurs and tech stakeholders; it's creating duplicate and triplicate efforts. Absent a more collaborative and streamlined approach, community members find it difficult to navigate resources and locate the best fit opportunities.
Many recognize the importance of leaving egos and individual motivations aside, and work towards building a unified inclusive ecosystem with common goals and a roadmap to get there. This includes bridging gaps to promote cross-sector collaboration between the private, public and nonprofit sectors at large.
We need to invest in the tri-county area's cohesiveness as a region and ecosystem. Ecosystem building and business support organizations of Miami-Dade, Broward and West Palm Beach Counties should all put aside unique individual motivations in favor of working together towards greater impact through common goals and brand alignment.
Oftentimes we see the innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem as isolated from traditional corporations that have local and global presence. More collaboration among both sectors would grant better ecosystem outcomes and increase the flow of capital.
Our ecosystem boasts a large, ethnically diverse tech talent pool, which is growing rapidly due to relocation trends. However, diverse talent express difficulty accessing the connections and job placement opportunities. Conversely, companies express challenges in locating and recruiting diverse tech talent.
Our ecosystem has a dearth of free or low-cost programs available to support entrepreneurs at various stages and levels of business growth. Programs were consistently rated highly among all demographic groups.
Doing so includes closing the digital divide and incorporating programs in K-12 education around design thinking, entrepreneurial mindset, and increase opportunities to learn hard skills like coding.
Ensuring individuals in the pipeline reflect the diversity in the community, in part, requires companies to source talent beyond the university system. This includes placing talent coming from certificate programs, bootcamps, junior colleges, and trade schools.
Beyond attracting great talent, organizations state difficulty retaining talented individuals, largely due to financial constraints and undefined pathways for professional growth.
Our ecosystem rated access to capital and funding in the bottom tier of available assets. It's no surprise that increasing available funding was ranked as the No. 1 priority. Notably, stakeholders emphasized the need for capital acquisition opportunities specifically focused on underrepresented founders (women, BIPOC).
While there is consensus that capital more generally needs to be more accessible, some stakeholders particularly called out a lack of pre-seed, or friends-and-family round, and growth capital as barriers for underrepresented founders (particularly BIPOC founders).
On both a local and regional level, stakeholders highlighted a disconnect between municipal leadership priorities and the needs of the tech, innovation and entrepreneurial community. Respondents consistently ranked the availability and quality of policy and government supports in the bottom 3 of all 8 measurement subcategories. Notably, Black ecosystem leaders and black female entrepreneurs rated performance in this category the lowest compared to all other groups.
Resources and opportunities are unevenly distributed among neighborhoods, and among cities within the South Florida region. Additionally, as South Florida rebrands itself as a tech hub, those in other industries, like Main Street or hospitality founders, receive fewer supports.
Resources and support for entrepreneurs need to go beyond the "Miami downtown core" and spread to reach other less represented urban areas throughout Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties. COVID changed the landscape of physical space. We have the opportunity to innovate and update current physical spaces for entrepreneurs in a variety of industries and gatherings to provide more central spaces for entrepreneurs to learn and do business.
There’s a need to have a "one-stop-shop" centralized directory that identifies the major players and resources across the tri-county area, and vets them accordingly, so entrepreneurs and other stakeholders know who to trust.
While South Florida is an attractive region for companies to move to currently, stakeholders question the region’s ability to retain them, citing a need for better quality of life infrastructure. This includes affordable housing, quality K-12 education, better transportation, and greenspace to name a few.