Born and raised in Paris, France, David Bensoussan, Founder and Managing Director of Starthub, spent his college years traveling between Paris and New York City. His father ran a large stock option trading company in New York and, as a result, Bensoussan learned a great deal about day trading and financial markets. After graduating from The American Business School of Paris with a degree in International Finance, he moved to Miami, FL, to pursue new opportunities.
“When I moved to Miami at the end of 2013, there was a strong call for entrepreneurship,” he said. “Miami is such a strategic market for anyone looking to start a business. The proximity to Latin America and the transpiration options make it a great hub. Also, the cost of living and the taxes are lower than other major cities in the United States.”
Bensoussan continued, “Before moving to Miami, I was involved with the family business, including real estate investing. I knew there was a tremendous opportunity to invest in residential and commercial real estate in Miami. When I got here, I did just that. I also started networking and got pretty plugged into the entrepreneurial community.”
In 2015, Bensoussan purchased a piece of commercial real estate in downtown Miami. Originally, it was intended to be an investment property. However, as Bensoussan shared, the idea quickly emerged to turn it into a shared office space.
“At the time, WeWork just opened in Miami,” he said. “I knew co-working and shared office space was something people wanted. We went through the process of getting the plans approved by the city, we hired a contractor and an architect and built the space based on square foot profitability. Everything happened pretty quickly. By October 2015, we were open for business.”
When Bensoussan launched Starthub, competition was growing in the co-working space. To differentiate his space, he incorporated the concept of a business accelerator geared towards foreigners looking to do business in the United States.
“The original goal was to help international companies, mainly from Europe, expand their business to Miami,” he said “By leveraging local organizations and resources and by using my experience as a foreigner starting a business here, we put tools in place to help them to launch in the U.S. market. We ran with that model until last year.”
By 2019, it was clear to Bensoussan that a new model was needed to ensure the future success of Starthub. The accelerator model wasn’t scalable and an opportunity to offer a new type of service presented itself.
“The accelerator was a big slow-moving type business that didn’t necessarily work with my personality,” Bensoussan said. “We thought, ‘How can we add services and support businesses in a more mass-market way?’ That’s when we decided to shift the model to focus more on virtual office space. The new model supported entrepreneurs that wanted to establish a business identity in Miami without spending a lot of money. We put together a ‘virtual office’ package that includes virtual assistants, receptionists, a physical mailing address and other services. After we made our pivot, we attracted some big companies from Europe, and other locations outside of Florida, that wanted to have a virtual presence in Miami.”
Through a combination of networking, attending entrepreneurship events, establishing relationships with key players, digital marketing and an affiliate program designed to encourage members to refer their friends and colleagues, Starthub has established itself as one of the premier co-working spaces in downtown Miami. It’s certainly been an adventure, but for Bensoussan, that’s what he enjoys most.
“I thoroughly enjoy the ups and downs of entrepreneurship,” he said. “Finding success along the way is extremely rewarding. Also, to be in a position to use that experience and share with others is a great feeling.”
Looking ahead, Bensoussan is focused on continuing Starthub’s growth rate of approximately 1,400 new clients per year. The ultimate goal is to reach 10,000 customers and establish an entrepreneurial community while creating synergies along the way. Bensoussan is a strong believer in the potential of the Miami entrepreneurial ecosystem and wants to do his part to showcase Florida’s second-largest city as a great place to start and grow a business.
What advice does Bensoussan have for aspiring entrepreneurs? “Just get started,” he said. “It seems so complicated, time consuming and costly, but just start. Success is an equal combination of strategic thinking and luck that, in order to get lucky, you have to put yourself out there. Opportunities will come up as a result of that first move. Also, you’re never going to know or control everything. Be adaptable, willing to learn and willing to change. Competition led us down the accelerator path and then we changed the model again when we introduced virtual offices. Remember, everything you go through happens for a reason.”