“We need to work on Miami pride. There are all these successful and well known companies here that no one knows started in Miami, like Burger King. There are also successful startups like CareCloud and Open English. Only nobody knows they started or are headquartered here.”
– – Brian Breslin & Peter Martinez
Brian Breslin and Peter Martinez, both Miami natives, operate Refresh Miami, a platform that enables entrepreneurs and technologists to network, learn, receive mentorship and get exposure to a like-minded community of peers and investors.
Brian has always been a techie, experimenting with software and apps since high-school. After college, Brian returned to Miami as he felt it offered him more opportunity for impact than other cities. As a tech enthusiast, he preferred to talk tech wearing a T-shirt, jeans and flip flops. This was not traditional in Miami so he decided to form his own meetup group of technology enthusiasts to share ideas with. Refresh Miami started out with five people hanging out at a Starbucks and has now grown into a large and organized community. Brian is now one of the pioneers of the Miami tech scene.
Peter was born an entrepreneur. He experimented with various entrepreneurial activities and eventually created one of his first apps. “I spent 2 years building it, launched it and realized no one really wanted it. It was a great learning experience.” He then created a photo and video sharing site with over 150,000 registered users and a few million visits a month. He caught the attention of big players, such as Microsoft and Nokia. “I signed an exclusivity deal thinking it was great. Didn’t realize those phones weren’t very popular. It wasn’t necessarily a good deal but I learned from that as well.” Peter has had successes but also some failures; feats he feels are valuable in the life of an entrepreneur. Five years ago he joined Brian to help run Refresh Miami.
Refresh Miami, based at The LAB, is “a not for profit organization that encourages tech entrepreneurship by providing educational content in the form of monthly meetups, workshops, hackathons, demo days and other mechanisms that facilitate the community’s existing needs.” It encourages communication between investors, people trying to get into the tech scene and startups.
When speaking of current challenges, Brian says “I’ve never had a mentor” and now he wants to change that for future generations. They both also note that there’s more work to be done on educating investors who haven’t had the experience of investing in non-traditional companies where they may not understand the technology involved.
“Statistically, the number of exits are low. There are those who make it big, but nobody knows they’re from Miami. We need to work on Miami pride.”
Brian and Peter’s Words of Wisdom:
- Take more risks, be more outgoing and connect with the people who are doing things.
- Network more with like-minded people and ask for support and knowledge.
- Validate your ideas with your peers.