$1 Million for Entrepreneurs in Miami
Venture Café Miami will expand its work in providing programming, networking opportunities and other resources to help local innovators across all Miami’s communities build and scale their ideas with $1 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
“After years of rapid growth, Miami’s startup culture has taken root, and entrepreneurial activity is everywhere. But to ensure the long-term success of our innovation ecosystem, all of Miami’s communities must have a seat at the table,” said Raul Moas, program director for Knight Foundation. “With its distinct community-focused approach, Venture Café Miami is uniquely positioned to facilitate much-needed opportunities for new entrepreneurs to get involved and grow their ideas.”
Venture Café Miami, a nonprofit founded in 2016, seeks to create an inclusive and accessible local innovation ecosystem in Miami, providing entrepreneurs of all backgrounds with the support they need to build their ideas. It hosts the largest weekly convening of innovators in Miami, connecting upwards of 325 entrepreneurs and investors at its “Thursday Gathering” to network and share learnings and resources. It has offered more than 1,500 free educational sessions, 40 percent of which were led by women and 70 percent by people of color.
Knight Foundation’s investment will build on this work and enable Venture Café Miami to advance its high-quality programming and partnerships, including the launch of new initiatives aimed at accelerating business growth and incorporating students and faculty in the entrepreneurial community.
The funding will also support Venture Café Miami in expanding its:
- Geographic reach to engage entrepreneurs from all local communities.
- Efforts to connect innovators and broaden access to capital, resources and opportunities needed to scale—including its Captains of Innovation initiative, which connects larger companies to startups to foster better understanding about new technologies, market trends and business-to-business (B2B) opportunities.
- Initiatives that drive more inclusive engagement in Miami’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, such as its Thursday Gathering and free professional one-on-one advising for entrepreneurs from traditionally underrepresented constituencies.
“The currency of innovation is opportunity,” explains Leigh-Ann Buchanan, founding executive director of Venture Café Miami. “Each week, we encounter hundreds of individual innovators navigating varying stages of scaling ventures. Their individual and collective experiences demonstrate that access is not equally distributed—even in a diverse metropolitan center like South Florida. That’s why Venture Café Miami’s work focuses so heavily on pursuing solutions for economic and social mobility and accelerating the growth of an inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
Venture Café Miami’s “collaboration-first” approach of partnering with local and national organizations to execute its programming allows it to offer unrivaled levels of quality, content and diversity, as well as access to investors, community leaders, job creation and workforce development for entrepreneurs and members of the community at no cost.
The new $1 million investment will be distributed over a three-year period and aims to be a catalyzing force for the local entrepreneurial community.
The investment is part of Knight Foundation’s strategy to engage new innovators in Miami’s growing entrepreneurial ecosystem, expanding opportunity for residents and the city as a whole. Since 2012, Knight has made more than 200 investments totaling more than $25 million in entrepreneurship initiatives across Miami.