Camila Souza or Cami as her friends call her was born in Brazil and raised in Peru, a globe trotter whose communications work has spanned from organizations like Greenpeace International, The Organization of Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) where she worked to empower the indigenous community of Mapuches in Chile.
Now in Miami, she has co-founded pFunk Media, behind various tech events and startup companies in South Florida. She is also a writer and community manager for Tech Cocktail in Miami.co-host The LAB Report, an internet talk show which focuses on culture, entrepreneurship, and ed in South Florida.
Our City Thoughts: What do you love the most about this Miami?
Camila Souza: This city is changing right in front of our eyes: niche communities are flourishing in different neighborhoods and people are starting to find within these communities a place they feel they belong.
What is most interesting about this is that parameters are still malleable; therefore people have the opportunity not only to say they are part of a community but to play an important part in shaping these spaces.
That is something pretty unique about Miami. That and the ever-expanding variety of delicious culinary options!
OCT: What are your most important goals in the next six months/year?
CS: Like most entrepreneurs, I want to see my business grow. Working with the startup community is great in that everyone is very supportive and always open to give you advice on how you can succeed.
But like any new business, we’ve made our mistakes, we’ve learned and now we can recognize when and how we need to pivot.
On a more personal level, I love to read and this year I’ve compromised reading time, placing more importance on other work-related activities, so my goal is to get that time back.
OCT: Why do you do what you do? What led you into your path?
CS: It all happened very organically. My previous experience was mainly in international organizations and non-governmental organizations. When I moved to Miami to be closer to my family I started working with startups and loved it.
My family has always encouraged me to start my own business, the opportunity came up and I took it. pFunk Media was inevitable. I love to create, be it a radio show at LAB Report, a video about a cause I care about, or even something as simple as creating the opportunity to tell people’s stories. I firmly believe, however, that people should not always be defined by one single path.
Some of the most successful entrepreneurs, artists and politicians are often defined best by their breadth rather than singularity of experience.
OCT: Describe an innovation advancement happening in the city most people don’t know about?
CS: I’m always surprised when locals don’t know about Miami’s growing tech community. These companies are bringing so much innovation to our city, and jobs. We are a city of entrepreneurs!
OCT: Which major challenges do you think our city will face in the next year?
I’m not sure it’s a challenge that will be contained to next year, but public transportation in this city needs to improve. This city can often feel fragmented and the current public transport options are overly reliant on the road.
As more people move here (which is a great thing, by the way), traffic will only get worse. Building, or at least beginning to coordinate planning to have a viable public transportation system that connects the city is imperative for its growth and appeal in making the city into a world-class urban destination.
Driving in this city is unnecessarily exhausting, stressful and the time consumed in driving short distances has a big effect on time-management and planning (especially for newcomers to Miami). I’d also say that we have an issue with a lack of green spaces in our urban centers.
No amount of beautiful beaches can compensate for this, although they can certainly complement green spaces. Just imagine we had both; that would really set us apart from other coastal cities.
OCT: What wisdom would you share with your younger self?
CS: It’s an old cliché, but I would tell my younger self not to let self doubt rearrange my drive for what I am passionate about.
OCT: What’s the most gratifying aspect of what you do? And the most grating?
CS: The most gratifying is the amount of people I get to meet and great ideas they have to share. People fascinate me, so I am big on listening, observing and getting to know people.
The most grating in working with startups is having to watch them go through the agony of failing. In the startup world, failures can sometimes be perceived as badges of honor but they have an immense emotional (and financial) toll.