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January 23, 2019

Are the people we lost to “brain drain” making their way back to Miami?

TheVentureCity Team

A Silicon Valley star returns home.


If you live in Miami, you’ve heard the term “brain drain” as often as you hear El Burrito Sabanero on Power 96 in December. If you aren’t familiar, “brain drain” in Miami refers to the mass exodus of our “talented” young people to larger cities with “better” opportunities such as New York or Los Angeles. And of course, if you are a founder or work in the tech industry, you’ve probably taken your Miami brain to Silicon Valley. But what’s the term for when these brains come back to Miami? Are more and more people jumping on the brain train back to Miami?

Mónica Simó Black, fund partner at TheVentureCity and a native Miamian who recently moved home after successful stint in Silicon Valley.

At least one incredible brain has found its way back to our sunny hideaway: Mónica Simó Black.

A native Miamian, she left for college to attend MIT in Boston and entered the world of investment banking and private equity in New York. Her desire to have an impact on society brought her, like many others, out to Silicon Valley. After receiving her MBA and Master’s of Education from Stanford, she worked with organizations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Khan Academy, and Clever. Her combination of experiences in investing and education landed her as one of the first ten hires of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. One could argue that you can’t get more impactful than that. But as it turns out, Miami still has some things you can’t find elsewhere.

Mónica has a unique perspective having moved back home after thoroughly getting to know Silicon Valley. Although some issues are universal, like the rampant casual sexism in venture capital, she has noticed some striking differences between the two tech hubs:

  1. Miami is more open to founders from a wide range of backgrounds — there is less of a focus on status symbols like school or which unicorn you worked at and more of a focus on the actual person and the product and business they’re building.
  2. Miami founders are far more ethnically diverse than Silicon Valley, which is incredibly refreshing, though there is still a ways to go to see a founder base that truly reflects our population base.

Mónica onstage with Natalia Martínez-Kalinina of Aminta Ventures and CICMiami during a fireside chat at TheVentureCity.

In her role at TheVentureCity, she will be looking for impactful startups throughout the Americas. One trend she has noticed in Latin America that she thinks is worth importing is applying innovation and tech to public transportation (not just personal mobility like ride-sharing). Miami, as the gateway to Latin America, could also be the entry port for bold ideas being implemented in cities like Medellin and Buenos Aires.

So, while Miami can learn a lot from Silicon Valley, the Valley can learn a few things from Miami. Additionally, with Miami’s characteristically open-minded nature, it is only natural that we look beyond our backyard to cities all over the world, especially Latin America, for lessons and ideas on how to leverage technology to take our city to the next level and create truly global and innovative city that serves its diverse citizens. With all-stars like Mónica coming back home with their bags packed with knowledge and experience, we can be sure that this “reverse brain drain” will serve Miami well and lead us to an even brighter future.

This post was put together with content that was discussed by Mónica Simo Black at the #SmartSessions panel with Aminta Ventures that took place at TheVentureCity on January 8th. TheVentureCity hosts several workshops, panels and events every month. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to stay up to date with our schedule and we hope to see you at our next event!

Fireside Chat with Mónica Simó Black and Aminta Ventures on January 8, 2019 at TheVentureCity.

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