A Q&A with Alejandro Mainetto, Partner of Globant, a multinational company that creates innovative software products for brands, about Globant's footprint in Miami, collaboration and making Miami a living tech lab.
By Natalia Martinez-Kalinina
Miami has a ways to go before we can truly claim the title of regional epicenter, but Argentina has long been recognized as one of the primary entrepreneurial - albeit not particularly stable - ecosystems in Latin America. Figuring out how to support Argentina’s wave of growth and appetite for engagement represents a unique opportunity to add value to the region and truly deliver on our vision as a gateway.
As a first step to test these waters, a group of us came together last year to co-author a full day of programming within StartupWeekBuenosAires - the largest event of its kind in Latin America- specifically focused on how to engage with the U.S. ecosystem and market by way of Miami. From the CIC Miami perspective, we have been working to build tangible bridges with Argentina though a handful of partnerships that will be announced in the next few months, in addition to our general softlanding offering. But most recently, a few interested entrepreneurs have come together with the support of the Argentine Consulate in Miami to create a better toolkit for entrepreneurs and small companies looking to come to Miami from their native country. We are still finalizing the framework, but anyone interested in participating or learning more can email EmprendedoresArgMia@gmail.com
Given the aligned priorities and interests, it seemed worthwhile to continue featuring interviews with a varied range of Argentine entrepreneurs and companies making their way to Miami. The first installments of this series have featured interviews with Balloon Group, Wolox, La Comunidad, and Oasis, Juana de Arco, and Socialmetrix. For this installment, we spoke with Alejandro Mainetto (pictured here) to shine a light on a major regional player, Globant, where he is a Partner.
Globant is a powerhouse of a company in Argentina and the region. What was the genesis story for the company? What has been the trajectory of growth these last years?
Globant's history began in 2003, when four friends got together with the idea of creating an multinational company that could provide innovative IT services to brands across the world, while offering challenging career opportunities for IT professionals and talent. In just 12 years they built a company that today has more than 6,000 professionals working for companies like Google, LinkedIn, JWT, EA and Coca Cola, among others. Globant’s story has also been selected as a case study at MIT and Stanford.
What’s next - how do you see the company’s future growth and development?
Globant continues being focused in becoming a global digital thought leader, in creating software that appeals and connects emotionally with millions of consumers. We seek to deliver the optimal blend of engineering, design, and innovation to harness the potential of emerging technologies for our clients. While engineering is central to information technology, only by combining strong engineering capabilities with creativity and agility can we deliver innovative solutions that enhance end-user experiences while meeting our clients’ business needs.
We take a dive into our customers industry, culture, challenges and goals in order to understand their business. The harmonious integration future trends and existing IT, infrastructure, services and applications is a critical enabler of any Digital Transformation process.
The US is currently a big focus of expansion - Globant has recently made four acquisitions in the US in a very short period of time and we continue to increase the number of people we hire in key markets for us such as Seattle, Dallas, Raleigh, Orlando and also Miami. Finally, Globant will also expand and grow by continuing to invest in key emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Virtual Reality and Blockchain among others. In order to fuel this growth we strive to find the best talent possible - hopefully we'll find that talent coming from places such as South Florida and in particular Miami.
What is Globant’s footprint/engagement with Miami? Why did it choose to come here?
Globant has had a presence in Miami for the last 8 years working with several of the most important corporations in the city and the state of Florida. We are a global leader in advising clients in the travel and hospitality, financial services and healthcare industries - all big industries in Miami - We are currently working with many of the largest leaders in cruise lines, hospitality, entertainment, and software. However, the potential is still very large in terms of the number of companies that we could be helping in the South Florida area. We need to do a better job in getting the Globant brand and our capabilities recognized in the Miami market. We came to Miami because we believed in the city, the clients we could serve, its growing talent and specially its potential and what Miami could become one day.
What kinds of opportunities were you looking for here? What aspects or risks worried you? How have those played out over your time in Miami?
We were looking for opportunities to help companies become true transformational leaders in their own industries, we were looking to gain a presence in a city that could quickly become a tech hub within the US and the tech hub for Latin America, and finally we were also looking to establish a presence in a State which traditionally has been very pro business and easy to do business with.
How do you see Miami today? What works, what surprises you, what frustrates you? How have you found your industry reflected here?
It's a different Miami than the one from 5 years ago. A lot has happened and a lot more will continue to happen. - Places like co-working spaces came, innovation districts like CIC came, conference events like Emerge Americas came, accelerators and incubators came, powerful startups such as Magic Leap came, the money came but most importantly the talent came and the talent stayed.
Miami works because it's like putting together NYC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro all in one. Its weather, its lifestyle, its location - all major pluses, it's a good kept secret, but not for long. What surprises me, is that it still hasn't been able to attract bigger Fortune 500 companies and it hasn't built a new top technology and engineering education institution. The tech, creative and marketing industry which today has converged into a Digital Industry is not yet well represented, which is a huge opportunity for those who are smart enough to settle and lay roots in Miami - The city, the county and the state need to collectively join forces to attract more digital companies, more tech universities and more digital jobs.
What can Miami do better to become a truly value-adding “hub” for the region? (in your industry and in general)
I have written extensively about this and it goes back to five key points:
1) Need for a true coalition of government, corporate, vc, startups, academia and the community led by a set of progressive leaders
2) Need for development of innovation districts and the need for creating concentrated hubs/tech parks of technology and digital companies
3) Build a world class public transportation system and build somewhat affordable housing around these innovation districts
4) Make Miami a Living Tech Lab - Become the Smart City Poster Child, become the Autonomous Self-Driving Capital of the World, etc.
5) Become obsessed about marketing the Miami Tech brand, its value proposition and reward those who take a bet in Miami.
How has it worked to have your company straddling Miami and Buenos Aires (and the US and Latin America overall)? Any lessons or advice for companies exploring similar moves?
It's has worked very well - There is a natural magnetic connection between Latam and Miami - Miami is both aspirational and inspirational. While our company is a global company, we find it hard for anyone to say no when we ask them to come work and spend some time in Miami. However, the key is in committing, betting and investing on it.
The advice I would give companies or entrepreneurs is to commit to Miami, leverage its virtues when hiring talent and finally get deeply involved in the transformation of the city.
Organizations like Endeavor have talked at length about the “Argentine Model,” but Argentina is also a country that has lived through rocky political and economic cycles. Is there something Miami can learn from the Argentine case study?
Miami can learn from Buenos Aires and many other cities in Latin America - From Buenos Aires you can learn about tenacity and hard work, about staying the course even when things may not be going right or you may be living under a not so ideal environment. It can also learn about the perseverance, vision and risk taking ability of the unicorns that Buenos Aires has produced - Globant being one of those. Miami can learn that "Si se Puede" - It's Possible.
Do you see potential for collaboration and bridge-building between the entrepreneurial ecosystem and the creative economies in Buenos Aires and Miami? Why or why not?
Absolutely - I think, there are ways to formalize the informal collaboration and bridge-building that has been established already but much more can be done. Miami can make Buenos Aires a sister city and offer an immediate presence here to all key Argentinian technology firms. Miami could become the epitome of how easy it can be to do business in the US. Miami companies should have the ability to penetrate Latin America by easily establishing their Latam HQ's in Buenos Aires. Co-working spaces and innovation districts have an opportunity to collaborate and forge exchange partnerships. The sky is the limit.
Natalia Martinez-Kalinina is the General Manager of CIC Miami and the Founder of Awesome Foundation MIAMI, and co-Founder of Aminta Ventures. If you are an Argentine company looking to expand to Miami or a Miami-based entrepreneur/investor looking to connect with the argentine ecosystem, please reach out to Natalia at email@example.com. Past installments of this series can be found here: Balloon Group, Wolox, La Comunidad, and Oasis, Juana de Arco, and Socialmetrix.