Miami's Pitbull, a former foster child, once said Miami stood for "Money Is A Major Issue." But that will not be an issue this week, as the wealthy rapper joins a group of some of the highest echelon of techies in an effort to turn Miami into the Silicon Valley of Latin America.
Pitbull and Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez are some of the inspirational speakers present at eMerge Americas Techweek in Miami Beach. Others include gaming industry executives, venture capitalists and IT recruiters. They will be at events that include a Tuesday e-commerce fashion show, a Lincoln Road street party Sunday, and a New World Symphony rooftop event Monday.
"My name is Armando Christian Perez ... I'll do what ever I can do to help," Pitbull said during a recent eMerge meeting in Coral Gables, after using his story as an example of Miami natives capable of succeeding against the odds.
Manuel D. Medina, of Medina Capital, a Brickell-based equity investment firm said eMerge Americas Techweek at the Miami Beach convention Center, 1901 Convention Center Drive, will be like the "Art Basel" of technology, as it helps South Florida economy and expands the tech industry's reach.
"The traction we have generated in the market and across the region is significant," Medina said in a statement.
eMerge Americas founding partners -- Medina, the Knight Foundation, Miami-Dade County and Greenberg Traurig -- want to push Miami up in the list of cyber cities producing high-tech jobs. Their network includes some of the big names in the game like IBM, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Cisco, Amazon and Facebook.
"Miami is a place where ideas come to get built ... in English, Spanish and Portuguese," Knight Foundation president Alberto Ibargüen said in a statement.
Some of the events at eMerge include a competition that like the ABC reality television show "Shark Tank" will allow innovators to pitch their ideas to a panel. Pitbull was a guest-star on the show in 2012.
Some of the talent at the conference includes Argentina's NXTP Labs, Brazil's21212, Chile's Startup Chile, Colombia's iNNpulsa and HubBog, Mexico's Angel Ventures, Endeavor Global, and the multi-regional500 Startups and Wayra.
Technology Foundation of the Americas' Diane Sanchez said this year eMerge will not only allow startup companies to showcase their business models, but it will help the economy.
The foundation released a study that claimed eMerge would help Miami-Dade County’s IT sector create about 17,000 jobs in the high tech and related industries over the next 10 years. And that the first 10 conferences would bring in about $2.4 billion in sales tax revenues.
But for that they will need to have innovative problem solvers. And that is where Miami-Dade County public schools and local universities like the University of Miami and Florida International University come in.
For some, hacking comes naturally. And while "black-hat" hackers focus on criminal activity, the "white-hats" usually focus on security and the "gray-hats" claim to break laws to help. eMerge will host a hiring fair. And companies like Verizon Terremark -- which have recruited former "black-hats" and have found the experiment successful -- will be there.
"We look forward to gaining unique insights and unsurpassed access to the IT leaders that will shape the future technology landscape in Latin America," Verizon Terremark's Chris Drumgoole said in a statement about joining forces with eMerge.
The list of inspirational stories also includes Andres Moreno, of Venezuela, who raised over $55 million in venture capital to create about 2,000 jobs in Miami-Dade. His business out of Coconut Grove provides on the web live English lessons 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"I have witnessed the evolution of the city’s ecosystem firsthand," Moreno said in a statement. Adding that he believes, those partners who are traveling far to meet in Miami Beach "will greatly enhance the program of eMerge Americas."
REGISTRATION: Week passes range from $55 to $1,350 depending on the access. The $55 pass includes access to the expo and the hiring fair. To get to hear the speakers attendants need the $195 pass. And the $395 gets you into every event except for the VIP events and website. For VIP access to that you need a $1,350 pass. And the VIP Summit event is by invitation only. Click here for more information on registration or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
COMPETITIONS: There will also be hackatons with prices at the University of Miami's Life Science and Technology Park, 1951 NW 7th Ave. Click here to register to compete.