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Latin America left, right and center at Unbound Miami Innovation Festival

In Miami, Spanish and English overlap. It’s the city where you can start off speaking English and then end with one of the various Venezuelan, Puerto Rican, Cuban or Colombian accents that call Miami home. So it’s of little surprise that Unbound’s latest innovation festival in Florida’s most iconic city would have Latin America running through as a vital thread through the two-day event.

In addition to having crucial sections of the festival devoted to Latin American interests, the event also showcased how intermingled Miami’s tech scene is with Latin America and the Caribbean.

The event included a matchmaking forum whereby Colombian entrepreneurs had 30 minutes to pitch to investors. Speaking to LATAM.tech, many investors said how interesting the country had seemed to investors from afar and that the country was definitely on their list of places to look into for the future.

In addition to speaking of the cross-continental pollination, panels also discussed the concerns presented to businesses set up in Latin America; the predominant one being how best to send money into Latin American banks. “Getting money into a Colombian bank is still one of the biggest challenges.” Ashley Golding of CloudTask, a sales outsourcing startup from the States that has set up shop in Medellín, said about some of the obstacles early-stage companies can face within Latin America.

Ian Tuason of Toronto, Canada on a speed date with Colombian John Higuera of Cubic Age.

In one half of Mana Wynwood Convention Centre stood ProColombia’s speed dating forum

In a conversation with me as part of the event’s In the Elevator Series, Serge Elkiner of digital banking app Yellow Pepper announced that they were going into their tenth Latin American country, Brazil. “People are very receptive of new technology” Elkiner said, adding that “Some of the processes in Latin America are very tedious and so we’re very happy to help some of these banks.”

Santiago Canalejo of The Venture.City in Miami.

TheVenture.City COO Santiago Canalejo said that Latin American companies at the accelerator are characterised by being very diverse, flexible and they are capable of adjusting to anything.” Having spoken at a panel about breaking innovation barriers in South Florida, Santiago noted that a third of the accelerator’s intake are from Latin America.

The speakers invited to the event also highlighted the important connection between North and South, and included the Colombian Ambassador Francisco Santos and Adriana Cisneros of Venezuelan media behemoth Cisneros. Also in attendance was Mayor of Miami Francis Suarez who said that it’s not just important to innovate but be proactive as well, in answering questions about affordable housing and making Miami more than just a tourism city.

Over 5000 attended the event this year and, speaking about a hugely successful second outing at Unbound Miami, CEO and Co-founder Daniel Seal said “We’re back in Miami for a second year and I feel this year’s event cemented Unbound’s place in the thriving ecosystem. It is great to see the vibrant Miami tech scene galvanising, as the gateway to the Latin American tech scene.”

 

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