“I am super excited for this event,” said Adrien Powers, a third-year history major at FIU with no business experience or technical skills. “I have a start-up tech company—it’s an app that delivers skinny jeans to customers. It’s like the Uber of jeans. It’s called Tight—and I think attending this event will give me the connections I need to finally close my series-A funding round.”
The event, of course, is Manny Medina’s annual eMerge Americas conference, the premier event for Miami’s start-up community. Started in 2014, the conference’s aim is to introduce Miami to the global technological community by positioning it as a hub for Latin America technology. “This is really a wonderful event for Miami’s robust tech community, which absolutely exists”, said Manuel Astaraga, a spokesperson for eMerge Americas. “All you have to do is look at the incredible list of speakers participating in the conference this year, and you can see that our focus is on attracting serious tech talent to Miami.”
This year’s event brings a proverbial Who’s Who of the Country’s leading tech minds to Miami, including former presidential mistress Monica Lewinsky, aging skateboarder Tony Hawk, and sort-of-rapper Pitbull.
“It is such a great honor to speak at the eMerge Americas conference,” said Lewinsky, who, after a very public affair in the 1990’s with then President Bill Clinton, become an internationally renowned computer scientist specializing in R/Python and who has taught courses at MIT and Cal Tech on Haskell, Scheme, Erlang, F# and SML. “My presentation will be primarily technical. I think a lot of young local developers will learn something from it.”
Similarly, Tony Hawk sees the eMerge Americas conference as an opportunity to impart his unique expertise on an eager Miami audience. “Most people don’t know this, but I'm an equity partner at Peter Thiel's Founders Fund and have a long history of putting together high-valuation deals for emerging technologies. I want to impart some of my wisdom on Miami’s growing tech community."
But for Mr. Powers, he is most excited to hear from Miami’s own Pitbull. “He’s really an inspiration,” said Powers, who admits that his app idea is “really just in his head at this point” but is nevertheless convinced he is ready to close on a 7-figure funding round.
Pitbull, proving as always to be blissfully self-aware, admitted that he doesn’t have technological or business expertise at the level of Ms. Lewinsky and Mr. Hawk, but was using the conference as a platform to announce his candidacy for Mayor of Miami-Dade County.
“Miami knows technology,” said Mr. 305. “Dale Dade”.