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View: 4 calls to action for the Miami tech community

By Tom Ordonez

Tom_OrdonezMiami is a contradiction. 

I spoke with some employers that said "there is no talent in South Florida." Non developers say there are no developers in South Florida. Developers say there are a lot of developers.

Here are 4 calls to action for the Miami and South Florida's tech community.

1. Synthetic collaboration of developers and non-developers.

Bringing an army of developers to an event is counterproductive if they don't collaborate with non developers.

Organic does not seem to be working too well. So let's do some synthetic collaboration. Let's make an effort to meet new people. Go to hackathons and discourage your friends to join you, instead join unknowns.

Next time you go to an event, hackathon or tech meetup. Don't hang out with your friends. Instead make your goal to meet at least 2 new people each week and offer them some help.

2. Build micro communities with events

Events bring people together to network, create teams and build products. Networks can promote products with the community. Communities buy products. Teams expand, creating jobs. Win-win.

Miami and South Florida cannot localize a tech hub in one place. Public transportation sucks. The train will never reach remote places. Carpooling doesn't work well. Traffic is so bad that commuters spend 1 to 3 hours in traffic. Not everybody lives in Coconut Grove, Brickell or Wynwood.

Instead let's build micro communities wherever people live, with meetups and mini-events. And let's help each other with bigger centralized events.

3. Digging out the dark matter developers and entrepreneurs

You go to a meetup and you bump into the usual suspects, entrepreneurs and developers.

Where are the developers, marketers and wannabe-entrepreneurs from American Airlines, Carnival Cruise, American Express, Amadeus, Publix, FPL, Fedex, Royal Caribbean, City of Miami, Terremark, MTV, LAN Chile, IBM, Bellsouth, etc...?

Richie Rump, organizer of the .NET meetup group, sent me a blog post that talks about "Dark Matter Developers" (google it). Developers that don't read blogs, don't write blogs, don't go to meetups, don't go to conferences.

Miami suffers from Dark Matter entrepreneurs and developers.

Please come out of your cave. Miami and South Florida need YOU!

4. Participate in your community

There are a lot of people in Miami and South Florida contributing to the tech community. There are meetups like Refresh, Ruby, Android, .NET, Lean Startup, LAB Miami and so many others.

My brother Carlos Ordonez and I are promoting a couple of events too:

**Code Retreat Miami 2012**

December 8, 2012: A software development workshop created by Corey Haines. It improves your coding skills by using Test Driven Development and pair programming. http://coderetreatmiami.eventbrite.com/

**App Awards**

Feb. 22, 2013: The App Awards celebrates web and mobile apps where the judge is you. The People’s Choice awards of apps. http://appawards2012.eventbrite.com/#


AppDojo is an idea-stage incubator/hackerspace, where entrepreneurs can find team members and get mentorship. http://www.appdojo.co/

Participate and go to events. Network. Meet new people. Offer help, mentorship, advising. Let's show the rest of the world that Miami and South Florida have the power to grow.

Tom Ordonez is a Managing Director of Creatus Angels and CEO of Aerostock.co in Miami.


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Diego Lapiduz

As a hiring manager, and a developer myself, I think that there is a big difference between "developers" and "talent". Yes, you could find developers if you wanted to. But it is really hard to find good ones.

Great developers are very hard to find anywhere, not just in Florida. But here it is more challenging since the community is small and segregated. I can't find great developers even to have a chat with.

David Notik

I am glad you appropriately described the problem with Dark Matter developers, i.e. those who are professional developers but not necessarily visible in the tech scene. We need to proactively work to make them more visible to our community, which would benefit all parties. Perhaps that's related to another big issue: the need to reach out to the businesses (i.e. not the scrappy startups, but the AT&T's and whatnot) and offer them a way to have a stake in and support our community.

One way we can do that is to seek broad partnerships on events. I know Refresh is already doing this to an extent, and perhaps we go further to identify and feature more companies as supporting the scene, and ask of them to promote it inside their organizations and encourage employees to join us. We need to hone and present the argument that they too have an interest in a healthy tech ecosystem.

I also think about how our online presence and tools can help. I run MiamiTech.org (http://miamitech.org) and it's the best view of what's happening across the various groups in our community. I've entertained ideas about how the more established companies in the community might have a structured way to sponsor existing groups or events. Most of what we need to is offline, but I welcome your ideas about how our online resources can evolve to help.

Mike Greenberg

Diego, I disagree that you can find great developers to have a chat with. You have my number and can join me for a beer anytime. ;)

As Tom identifies, we should support our local community when possible, but it's unrealistic to expect Miami to be the hub for all of South Florida. For those in Broward and Palm Beach, they should seek out their local communities and "dig in" there. Having strong communities across the tri-county area is the best way to fight our distribution problem here.


We (Picture Marketing in Doral) have found a good strategy is to build our own "micro environment" by having an internal development program that gives our developers an opportunity to pair on interesting technologies, hosting meetups whenever possible, creating the ultimate development office environment, offering equity, and having the attitude that we are always hiring. If you can't find the community in your area, build it.

Tom Ordonez (@tomordonez)

Diego Lapiduz,

There are a lot of great developers to have a chat with. This is the point of the Code Retreat. Not only to have a chat but pair with them to write some code.

I am also thinking of promoting a Code and Coffee by areas. In Chicago a Code and Coffee is a weekly gathering of programmers on Tuesday morning from 7-9am. The same could be done in many areas of South Florida on the same day with the intention of building a tech community and where people can talk about code and their experience. Very informal hangout to pair program.

David Notik,

I like what you said with reaching out to companies. I am having that issue myself. Why would someone working 9-5 at a company find benefit from going to meetups or meeting new people? The assumption is that they are not looking to join a startup or learn about the latest technology or meeting people, when they know enough people at work. Then you have to reach out to the company and not just the people and show them the benefit that their people would get from such an event.

Quick example is the Code Retreat. People that go to these workshops are looking to be better developers and improve the way they write code. If you work at a company that doesn't train or doesn't have a training culture then you wouldn't go to workshops. If your company encourages training then this would be an easy sale, sort of speak.

The point is that is not enough to tell a company, hey participate in the tech community, if they don't see the benefit on participating. We have to find ways to sell community to a company.

Mike Greenberg,

Well said.

Tim Hoyt,
Let's hangout. I am in Doral as well.

Final point on the Code Retreat. I am not trying to make money with this workshop. I am not making any. I just want to push community and enable a day where developers can learn from each other.

Diego Lapiduz

Mike, I enjoy chatting with you! And I know a couple other guys that are really good developers but people like you are really hard to find here.

I am not trying to be pejorative about the community. Talent is hard to find in any geography but given that we have a small technology community it makes it 10 times worse.

Mike Greenberg

For each Beer and Tell I organize, I meet at least another handful of interesting and motivated developers. I'm not sure what they do during the other 29 days of the month, but I'm not convinced it's as bad as you project. Yes, apathy is rampant. I think what is missing is "vision". This is what I've been working on lately, personally, and find it to be working.

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