As tech world descends on Miami, latest Knight investment supports local entrepreneurship – Miami Herald

Dani Spikes is the founder of beauty service BeLoved Box and Hello Beautè, a group that supports budding female entrepreneurs of color.

Dani Spikes is the founder of beauty service BeLoved Box and Hello Beautè, a group that supports budding female entrepreneurs of color.

Dani Spikes

As tech companies and entrepreneurs from across the nation sweep into South Florida, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is staking efforts to ensure locals get their share of bounty.

On Thursday, the foundation announced a $665,000 investment in four Miami organizations working to connect local talent with South Florida companies, ensure equitable access to opportunities and provide resources for entrepreneurs and innovators.

The recipients:

Talent Scout ($240,000) is a new organization that connects talented workers, especially but not exclusively ones from diverse backgrounds, with South Florida-based technology companies. It sends out a newsletter featuring two top candidates, recruited and vetted, to companies it has screened. It’s supported by Miami Angels.

Digital Grass ($235,000), a longtime minority-based tech group, is launching GROWTHerapy, a program that advances mental wellness, peer support and sense of community for local Black entrepreneurs.

Hello Beautè ($140,000) is an entrepreneur peer group connecting female founders of color to community, capital, and commerce.

Refresh Miami ($50,000) is a digital hub to educate and connect members of South Florida’s startup tech ecosystem by providing collaboration tools.

“We’re proud to support organizations that are placing founders at the center of our ecosystem and making it easier for all Miamians to participate in our tech economy,” Raul Moas, Miami program director for the Knight Foundation, said in a statement.

The grants come as Miami finds itself the talk of much of the tech universe thanks to the efforts of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez to lure firms away from Silicon Valley — and the interest among some Valley-ites to escape what they see as San Francisco’s increasingly anti-libertarian bent.

While many in Miami’s existing tech community are hopeful about the new arrivals, they want to make sure the newbies hire from throughout Miami’s talent ranks.

“If you’re here to support the ecosystem, support the entire ecosystem,” said Hello Beautè founder Dani Spikes.

Spikes isn’t waiting around to find out what the new techies will do. Having founded her own beauty box company, BeLoved Box, in 2016, Spikes saw the need to support female entrepreneurs of color like herself. She created Hello Beautè in 2019 to share her connections with corporate giants like Target and Walmart.

“When you’re selling a consumer packaged good product, you’re not selling a service,” she said. “So you have to hire locally and find people who get your community and your culture.

“In terms of these [new-to-Miami] tech firms, I don’t know how that’s going to work. But the women in our organization are hiring locally, and it’s a direct pipeline — you’re pumping your money directly back in the community you’re part of.”

She estimated the 10 founders that have formed Hello Beautè have hired “dozens” since they joined the organization.

Rob Wile covers business, tech, and the economy in South Florida. He is a graduate of Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism and Columbia University. He grew up in Chicago.


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