Episode 50 of The Informed Life podcast features a conversation with Miami-based tech entrepreneur, educator, and community builder Brian Breslin. Brian is the director of The Launch Pad, the entrepreneurship center at the University of Miami, and founder of Refresh Miami, a non-profit organization dedicated to growing South Florida’s tech and startup ecosystem. In this conversation, we focus on community-building, especially during this time when geographic boundaries are becoming blurred.
Brian started Refresh Miami from scratch, and it’s now the largest tech and startup community nonprofit in the Southeast United States. I wanted to know how he did it. Among other things, we discussed the importance of focus. (For Refresh Miami, the focus is the intersection of the South Florida location with the topic of tech-centric entrepreneurship.) Towards the end of the conversation, Brian brought up the power of having a strong relationship network:
In cases of geographic communities like Miami, one of our underlying theses here with Refresh is that the more bonds and the more connections that people can make, the less likely they are to leave physically. And if they do leave physically, they’ll at least maintain connections with the local community. I guess it’s like Metcalfe’s law, right? The more nodes there are in the network, the stronger the network becomes. The more individual connections you can create amongst your customers or amongst your constituents, depending on what type of community it is, you know, the stronger the bond can be. You see this in small ethnic and religious and other communities where the communities are super tight because everybody knows each other, and everybody knows who knows each other and who’s the right person to introduce to if you need something, or to call. And so I think that’s becoming more and more relevant in whether it’s technology communities or design communities or different areas of focus, you know? These tribes, the more tight-knit the tribes can be, the higher likelihood they are to survive, and to thrive.
In these times of extreme political polarization, we run a high risk of fragmenting as a society. Our key interactions are happening in information environments, so the designers of these systems ought to learn from effective community builders. Brian is such a builder; I was glad to be able to learn from him on the show. I hope you, too, find our conversation valuable.