Meet our team! FORUM’s Program Director Ibis Valdes was recently interviewed by VoyageMIA about background, why she loves entrepreneurship and why building community is important to our future.
From the VoyageMIA interview:
Today we’d like to introduce you to Ibis Valdes.
Ibis, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I grew up in Coral Gables and have seen first-hand its transformation from a suburban setting to a vibrant, live-work-play epicenter. I graduated high school from Gulliver Prep and went on to attend Northeastern University. After obtaining my master’s degree in international law and human rights from The United Nations-mandated University for Peace (UPEACE) in Costa Rica, I returned to South Florida.
I was presented with an opportunity to apply my newfound knowledge of economic development by spearheading the refugee employment program at a workforce development partnership in Miami. Here, I connected refugees with employment openings and adult education programs across the county while providing guidance on long-term career growth and entrepreneurship.
Today, I’m the community manager and business coach at FORUM, a new coworking concept that recently opened in Downtown Coral Gables. Miami is an emerging hub for startups and entrepreneurs of all types, and I am excited to work closely with our city’s creators. There is no “one-size fits all” approach to entrepreneurship and there are many elements along the journey that are essential to sustaining a business. My goal is to provide a personalized approach to each member, alongside the business services and resources available at FORUM.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
A few years ago, before I found FORUM, I read that Miami has one of the highest startup rates in the country, but many concepts fail within five years. I was looking for a chance to serve as the missing link and connect with these business owners to provide the support and background they needed to scale their business and thrive in the long-term. I was fortunate to find that there were untapped opportunities for this type of business development role in Miami.
FORUM – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
What sets FORUM apart is the access to business services and turnkey benefits, from consulting to networking, available to members. In addition to being the community manager, I am also an on-site business coach. As a team, we’ve developed a curriculum to truly get to know each business and business owner that comes through the door and their long-term goals to best diagnose areas of improvement and tailor programming to meet their needs. This genuine interest in each member’s business is what differentiates us.
Rishi Kapoor is CEO of Location Ventures, the real estate investment and development company that owns and operates FORUM. Location Ventures is based in Coral Gables and has several projects in the neighborhood, so they have a deep understanding of the area’s business owners and community. Rishi has a long-term outlook on coworking and set out to create a space that would help its members prosper, whether solopreneurs or established business owners.
As a team, we’re also proud to partner and develop relationships with local businesses from website designers to law and accounting firms, in order to share their offerings with our members. For some that may not know if coworking is the right fit for them, we also offer a day pass program where potential members can meet with us, ask questions in real-time, and spend the day working from FORUM. It all goes back to the notion of developing a welcoming, community-oriented space with a team that wants to see your business succeed.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
The proudest moment in my career has been the realization that the world of entrepreneurship is inclusive. There is no single archetype needed to access support resources or the inspiration to pursue your vision. After many interesting conversations with business owners and creators, I’ve found that the world of business has evolved and with it are new opportunities. The launch of FORUM is evidence of this, as a space that is designed for every person at any phase, from a startup to an established executive looking to refresh their business model.
Your Workspace in Downtown Coral Gables
An elevated workspace in Downtown Coral Gables, FORUM offers various coworking memberships created to suit the needs of entrepreneurs, freelancers, startups and enterprise businesses. From hot desks to private suites, business support and more, FORUM is here to support our community.
- Open workspace starts at $350/month
- Reserved desk starts at $500/month
- Private office suites start at $800/month