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Miami's tech start-up scene is heating up

In a sunny, roomy office overlooking a vibrant bustling Miami Avenue below, Freddie Laker is putting the finishing touches on a potentially groundbreaking app that turns written text into video.

He's not shepherding his Gui.de in Silicon Valley, or even in one of the top start-up cities like New York, Boston or the Denver/Boulder area, but way far away at the extreme southeastern part of the country.

Miami? Home to hot temps, leggy South Beach models, a bustling Latin American scene and thousands of retirees?

"There's more talent here than people give us credit for," says Laker, son of the late British airline mogul of the same name. "Because it's Miami, people assume everyone will be by the pool. They forget that nerds are nerds and they're happy to be inside anywhere."

Great weather, cheaper real estate and labor and being the gateway to Latin America doesn't hurt either.

"You're lucky if you can carve out a corner for yourself in San Francisco or New York, but in Miami it's wide open," says Daniel Lafuente, co-founder of The LAB Miami, a tech-geared shared workspace in the Wynwood area.

The Lab this year expanded from its original 700 square foot location to a 10,000 square foot facility, due to demand for space.

On a recent visit, Wynwood was bustling with colorful factories awash in purples, greens and yellows. Just a few miles away from pricey South Beach, Wynwood is known for the hosting the well-attended Art Basel event in December and frequent weekend art walks.

Why settle in Miami? "You might enjoy its gorgeous winters, warm oceans, Latin American edge, world-class cultural happenings, art scene, Eastern time zone, pace, more manageable cost of living," says David Notik, who runs the MiamiTech.org website. "There are lots of great places to start, grow or invest in a company. Miami's one of them, and it might be right for you."

What Miami has yet to produce is a big success story. The San Francisco area is known for Google and Apple, while New York has Kickstarter and AOL, and Boston has TripAdvisor. The biggest tech names to come from Miami so far are gaming PC manufacturer Alienware — a unit of Dell — and Open English, a website that teaches English in tutorial videos...