In The Silicon Tropic

By South Florida entrepreneurs, for South Florida entrepreneurs. All things tech in the sunny Silicon Tropic.

Meet: Jen Lannon of Building

Jennifer Lannon is in charge of business development and membership at Brickell’s premier collaborative workspace, Building. Learn about how Building adds values to its members, about Springboard Enterprises, BioHealth, and more.

Who are you?Jennifer Lannon. I am a Baltimore native and graduate of University of Maryland (go Terps!) where I studied cell biology and genetics. My passion for entrepreneurship came through working first with BioHealth Innovation and then with Springboard Enterprises, where I ran the accelerator program for women-led startups in life sciences and health tech. I moved to Miami this past summer to join the team at Building and am especially excited about the developing opportunities for health tech and female founders here. I’m also co-director of the Health 2.0 Miami Chapter.”

What is your job? “Business Development and Membership at Building. I develop partnerships with others in the Miami startup community – from event partners to those who can provide tools and resources to our members. Basically, my job is to be a connector. Whether it’s introducing members to each other, or to others in the broader MiamiTech community, I am here for them! I also handle all Membership applications for Building – so if you are building a growing tech startup in Miami and want to work from an amazing place, I’m your girl!”

Tell us about Building: “Building is the premier collaborative workspace for technology companies in Miami. We have about 25 companies and 110 individuals working across our 3-floor building in Brickell – in a mix of dedicated desks and offices, we don’t have any day passes or “hot desks”. Our goal is to provide an atmosphere where growing tech companies can thrive. We recognized the need to help Miami startups grow here, rather than leaving to San Francisco or New York at the earliest sign of traction – so we are building a place where they can do that. To answer a question we get a lot: we are a workspace – we are not an incubator or accelerator. Although we do partner with those types of programs!”

Tell me about the technology-centric culture: “Members really appreciate that our base is technology focused. They know that if they are facing an issue or have a question, they can turn to another member nearby who has experience with it – or if there isn’t someone with direct experience, that Building will help them find someone in the community that can help. Together with the fact that all of our memberships are 100% dedicated desks or offices, we think this really helps our members focus and get the most out of working here.”

How do you connect your members to the community? “It all depends on the need for the particular member. But for example, when 500 Startups was going to run their program in Miami, we referred one of our members, ClutchPrep, to them and it was a really great company for the program. For IronHack when they were launching their new evening course called ‘Programming for Non-Programmers‘ we promoted it to the full membership and they ended up with half of their students coming from Building.”

Tag an entrepreneur to be interviewed: “Marcio Souza – because ClutchPrep is one of the most under-the-radar startups in Miami, but they’re kicking ass and growing like a weed with awesome metrics to prove it. Their team really knows how to execute, and they’re passionate about being a Miami-based company.”

What is a current project or idea Building is working on? “Honestly, we just opened this past summer, so we are still focused on perfecting our offering in Brickell – but I’d be lying if I said we weren’t exploring expansion into other markets. There are a few areas that are interesting to us right now – you’ll have to stay tuned to hear more when we get that figured out.”

Has Building raised money? “We are self-funded by our parent company, STRAAT, which is a company builder (think of them similar to Alphabet, but on a smaller scale – for now).”

Who are your biggest competitors? “With the stage of our companies, our biggest competitor is commercial real estate – many of our members are deciding between leasing their own space or working at Building. Some people may be surprised that I didn’t mention another coworking space here – but we welcome other spaces in Miami, it just helps to show the growth of our ecosystem, and I think every space has something different to offer for different types of entrepreneurs.”

How did you get your first members? “Our team has been in the Miami scene for years, so our initial members were many of our friends and colleagues. Over time, the word has spread pretty organically through existing members and our presence at various events and activities. I suppose our pretty large launch party didn’t hurt either!”

Who made your website? “Almost everything we do, we do internally. STRAAT does all of our marketing and creative in-house.

Tell us about Springboard: “Springboard is a nonprofit that runs accelerator programs for women-led startups across the globe. Their definition is constantly changing. Springboard is more for series A companies. But there are some other great programs for female entrepreneurs in Miami, such as:

  1. Women, Innovation & Technology (WIT) – an eMerge Americas program. There is a day-long program at eMerge as well as monthly events called WIT Rendezvous, and its programming is focused on the intersection of women, tech, and the arts.
  2. Newly announced, this year will bring the first Miami cohort of the Babson WIN Lab – an accelerator for early-stage women entrepreneurs.”

What do you think Miami needs to become the next startup hub? “Everyone complains about transportation here. Naturally tech resonates with young people and young people like to live in dense places, not necessarily have a car. It’s just not a super millennial-friendly place at the moment and better public transportation would help. I don’t have a car here, but I need to not be the only person I know who doesn’t have a car here. Other issues are a lack of senior developers, and a lack of clout in the startup community at the national level.”

Where do you see Miami’s tech scene in 3 years? “I think that we will get more investment in startups, whether it’s a consequence of sophisticated outside capital coming in, or developing private wealth money to invest locally in tech and early-stage companies.”

Could you see yourself living in Miami forever? “I don’t know, it’s definitely a possibility. It depends on my personal life – I’m happy now with plenty of professional opportunity, and have made some incredible relationships here. I like the people I’m working with and I believe in the future of Building.”

Best Happy Hour in Miami: “I wish I knew. Can you tell me?”

In what neighborhood do you live? “Brickell.”

Finish this sentence: I wish a Miami startup would create an app that…“aggregates your personal health record.”

Want to learn more about Building, Springboard Enterprises, BioHealth Innovation or Health 2.0 Miami Chapter? Email Jen at jennifer@building.co.

 

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