Miami businessman looking to turn city into a tech hub for the Americas
Jorge Plasencia is a businessman who deeply knows Miami – the city where he was born 40 years ago – and which he’s determined to transform into a tech capital, with the help of his locally based advertising and public relations agency.
“Together with my business partner, Luis Casamayor, we founded República in November 2006, at a time when social media, the Internet, and all things tech were starting to gain strength,” Plasencia recalls.
República is a Miami-based multicultural agency serving domestic and international customers, a company that according to its founder was born in the digital era.
“Digital is embedded in our DNA – we didn’t have to adapt because we were born with it,” he emphasizes.
He and his firm have been intensely engaged in causes related to technology.
Hence, República was among the first corporations to join forces with Google in 2014, when the Internet company created the domain “dot soy” that is focused on the Hispanic market.
República has also been among the first businesses to support eMerge Americas – an event held in Miami that gathers specialists in technology, innovation and entrepreneurship, and which will be celebrating its second edition in May.
“Thanks to eMerge Americas we can lay the foundation of making that dream a reality: to turn Miami into a tech city – acting as a bridge between Europe, the U.S. and Latin America,” he said.
Plasencia explained that when eMerge’s founder, Cuban-American businessman Manuel Medina, told him about his dream, he did not hesitate to offer his support.
Just like he did when Jim McKelvey, co-founder of Square, spoke to him about bringing LaunchCode to Miami – a project that was launched successfully in his hometown of St. Louis, Mo.
LaunchCode is an initiative that provides formal training to individuals who lack the traditional credentials but have learned coding on their own. They aim to attack the tech-talent shortage in South Florida’s technology community.
“I told Jim that the first LaunchCode graduate would work in my agency and it happened so. This person first came as an intern and now is a full-time employee at the República.”
Plasencia is part of a group of people who want Miami to become a tech hub for the Americas, said the businessman, who is also associated with organizations such as the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and Amigos for Kids.
Plasencia is convinced that “we are building a great city, with a lot of passion, energy and entrepreneurial spirit.”
A passion that this entrepreneur has had since childhood, as the son of a Cuban couple who came to this city in 1961, when Miami was just a “beach town.”
“I come from a family of entrepreneurs. My maternal grandfather was one an owner of CAWY, a beverage company in Cuba, which he brought to Miami; and my paternal grandfather was in the tobacco industry.” His father, Jorge Plasencia Sr., was a distinguished banker.
Plasencia affirms he always felt he had “entrepreneurial blood” flowing through his veins.
“It all began selling lemonade as a kid just like many others, but in school I was already helping children who had been abused. So at 17, I founded Amigos for Kids.”
But his real career, he said, had started a couple of years earlier when he was an apprentice Radio Mambí.
“I started my career at age 14 in the radio station. While my friends enjoyed their summer vacations, I occupied every possible position within the station and fell in love with radio.”
It was this experience that sparked his penchant for communications and marketing, and which led him to hold high-level positions such as VP and operating manager at Univision Radio, director of Hispanic marketing for the Florida Marlins, or vice president of Estefan Enterprises.
“During my career many people believed in me, and I learned a lot from those who gave me responsibilities such as Armando Pérez Roura, Betty Pino, Javier Romero, Emilio and Gloria Estefan, and Shakira, but my dream was to own my business,” he explained.
And that dream came true in 2006 when he decided to leave a secure job and bet it all on the new agency he named República, in honor of Republic National Bank where his father worked for 30 years.
Now he’s resolved to continue helping those whose mission is putting Miami on the map of the great global cities of the future.
“Miami is a young city we all are building together. So far, a lot has been accomplished but we still have a long way to go,” he concluded.