If you ask a local, South Florida’s startup scene is burgeoning—some have even tossed around the moniker “Silicon Beach.”
Locals and transplants alike are contributing to and supporting the growth of our emerging entrepreneurial class, which begs the question—why is South Florida so hot right now?
We chatted with one of our Aminta co-founders, Mary Anderson, who’s recently relocated from the Bay Area, about the differences between the coasts and what makes Miami and its surroundings so magical for angel investing.
Aminta: Tell us a little about your background and what brought you here to Miami.
Mary: Sure! I have been in the technology world all my career, working in both the hardware and software space. Most recently I built a global team of product marketers for Dolby Laboratories to launch five new consumer brands. I got a chance to move closer to my family and to get more involved with some very exciting entrepreneurs leading new startups that I’m passionate about. So voila - here I am. I love it here!
Good, glad to hear it. What do you think are the biggest differences between Silicon Valley and South Florida?
One thing I noticed immediately as I started getting involved locally was how supportive and passionate everyone was about making Miami a place that entrepreneurs could really thrive in. \The second thing was diversity of new companies as well as their founders, that was really fun to see. Miami has a wonderful energy. No one wants to be just another Silicon Valley like I’ve seen other places try to do. They want to make Miami just more inviting to entrepreneurs while keeping all the unique and fabulous things about this area and culture alive.
How did you go from roles in corporate America to working with start ups and entrepreneurs?
It actually happened a bit by accident but through the journey, I can say with confidence, anyone who wants to can get involved. About 4 years ago, a local startup came to me to help them think about their product branding and positioning. The teams was awesome and we had a great time working together. The next question from their CEO was how to scale the team. I realized that all the things I had been learning through the support of large corporations were extremely valuable to this entrepreneur and hence, probably others. I started reaching out to local mentor groups for women leadership back in San Francisco and just kept getting introduced to new companies. When I got to Miami, I just repeated the process—reach out to local programs such as the Cambridge Innovation Center, Endeavor and Babson College’s WIN Lab to see if I could help. It’s been really great to work with so many exciting folks. I hope to expand that network even more in the coming months.
What was the catalyst that took you from mentoring and advising these entrepreneurs to investing in them?
I was advising a women founded/led startup and I thought the product had tons of potential to re-invent the way women like myself try and buy makeup. The company is called SoChoix.com They were raising a small round, I felt very close to the business and felt it was time to try to help them get to the next level not just with my expertise and advice, but also with capital. It was a way for me to broaden my financial investment strategy as well as to support a woman I felt could really make the business successful in time. It seemed like a great ‘win win’.
Tell us about Aminta Ventures and why you are involved.
As I mentioned earlier, one of the things that was really impressive to me just in the first three months I moved here was how passionate some people were about making a difference here. I happened to quickly find some like minded women and literally in a matter of weeks we were meeting and thinking about what we could do to help the entrepreneur and start up ecosystem in Miami thrive. Our team is a mix of business leaders, investors, and entrepreneurs so we felt like we had a broad view. Through our meetings what really started to emerge were two key themes: How do we activate more capital for start ups, and how do we get more women involved in the process? Aminta Ventures was our response to those questions. Its and organization where South Florida women can begin their journey into Angel investing. We provide education and networking with other established groups here in the area. I’m excited to say our first educational series is happening on May 23rd and 24th.
Sounds exciting, how does someone know they are right for Aminta Ventures?
That’s easy. If you are a South Florida woman, and have been thinking about broadening your investment strategy, or want to get involved in the exciting start up world happening right here in our back yard, but you don’t know how to begin… you are perfect for Aminta Ventures.
Mary Anderson is a Senior Marketing and Growth Executive from the technology industry with over 15 years of experience building $100MM dollar businesses. Currently Mary is focused on investing and advising early and mid stage companies. She sits on the Board of Directors for So Choix, consults for accelerator groups, and is an advisor to multiple start ups. Prior to her work with entrepreneurs she was the VP of Global Product Marketing at Dolby Laboratories. In her tenure she launched four new businesses accounting for more than $200M of revenue. Prior to this she was responsible for building Dolby’s mobile audio business which now accounts for 15% of Dolby’s annual revenues. Prior to her 7 years at Dolby she held multiple business and technical positions in the semiconductor industry. She is an avid supporter of women in technology and built Dolby’s first Women’s community. She is a member of Society of Women in Engineering, Women’s Evolutionary Leadership, Peer 150, Watermark, AWE and U50. In addition she is a speaker and mentor for Growthx, Girls Who Code, and Women in Technology. Mary holds a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of Michigan.