Innovation itself has evolved. It used to be that you could create something, patent that something, and it would serve its purpose until a new and superior product came along and replaced it. Now, innovation is not just about solving a problem that hasn’t been solved before; it is an evolving question of, “How can I become better at what I am doing?” Innovation is about pivoting in a way that’s fast enough to both respond to changes in your environment and to ensure that your competition cannot keep up.
It’s about maintaining a first-mover advantage, and leveraging what’s out there—not reinventing the wheel. I think of Elon Musk’s Hyperloop One. It wasn’t about capitalizing on the concept; it was about innovating innovation itself (in this case with an open-source design and software). That sort of thinking, the kind that changes a landscape, is what I have in mind when I say think big. Don’t think of Latin America, don’t think of Africa—think about how you can build something that is truly global.
With my advice to think big—to think globally—I still have Miami in mind. This is a great city to build a company. The quality of life here is high, and Miami is a safe city. Also, if you’re coming from Latin America, you feel right at home! No matter their origin, there are many ways for companies to succeed in Miami’s ecosystem, especially as startups. Becoming an Endeavor entrepreneur is one way. You do have to be invited to apply, but it is a robust resource for those looking to build flexible, global companies that tackle big issues around the world.
My advice is to be flexible, be ready to change, and to stay focused on large-scale issues with a significant impact. The bigger the market that you’re part of, the more crucial this becomes. Having a strong COO can help you maintain that focus. They should be someone you can trust and who can carry your burden in terms of taking care of the numbers, the legal work, and anything else that may be of extreme importance on the operational side. Having someone who leaves you time to think, to create, to talk to clients, to innovate, to pivot, will help you keep scaling as your top priority. In addition to that kind of support, surround yourself with good mentors.
Always seek to create and maintain connections with people who know more than you, who really listen to your ideas. The opportunity to talk with someone like that is always phenomenal. It is our networks that help us to succeed in Miami and far beyond. In that vein, as we move forward, we should focus on what we can do to build up Miami’s ecosystem in a deeper way.
In Fintech, for example, we have plenty of companies in the industry but we do not have a Fintech association yet. As people of Miami, we have cultivated a regional-global mentality in the sense that businesses based here are actually conducting business all over the world. We are in a position to fully participate in markets that are becoming increasingly global and porous. Our regional-global mentality makes us unique; let’s use it well.