LNB Q&A: Raymond

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Name:
Ramon

In what part of town do you live?
Pinecrest.

How long have you lived in the area?
About three and a half years. Before that, in West Miami for about 10 years. My family’s from Venezuela, but I’ve lived most of my life in Miami.

Would you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am married with one 13 year old son and one on the way – due at the end of May. I own a digital agency that creates digital products, whether they be mobile applications, software, websites, e-commerce…any sort of digital platform. I went to Belen Jesuit High School in Miami and then Barry University. I’ve been doing what I’m doing for about 15 years now. I love Miami, love Pinecrest, love hiking, and the outdoors.

How did you get into the digital space?
I studied information tech management and worked in that space for a few years. At some point, a friend of mine who owned an IT and a marketing business, asked if I wanted to come work with him. I was 25 at the time and did not love being behind the computer all day long, and not talking to people. So, I saw it as an opportunity and I started working with him and fell in love with the marketing side of things. At some point he decided to just run with the IT part of the business and I made an agreement to buy the marketing side.

Where do you do the development?
We were having a hard time hiring developers so we opened an office in Colombia. We’re a small business and good developers command a lot of money and we didn’t have those resources. We started with one developer there and that grew to two and three and then eleven. We opened an office as well in Chicago. And then, we have our office here in Miami.

Funny enough, just before the craziness of the pandemic started, we were planning on making the offices fully remote. People really liked the idea of working home and the technology these days allows for it. Luckily for us, it just kind of worked out.

Are clients already approaching you for solutions to adapt to this new normal?
Yes. The Perez Art Museum is a client, and obviously they are currently closed. We maintain their web presence. We had a conversation with them yesterday about creating a web series with new media artists, specifically in the film category. 

Have you found any good things come from all the current difficulty?
Yes. I meditate pretty much every day. I’ve found it very helpful over the past year as a small business owner dealing with stress and the stresses that come with life. I use an app called ‘Waking up‘ by Sam Harris. I’ve developed a gratefulness practice where I write down things that I am grateful for. I’ve written down a few: Quality time with my family, especially my son who’s a teenager right now. Spending a lot more time with him, being able to cook with him is something that he had never done with us before. I’ve been able to meet some of my neighbors that I had never met before, there’s a lot more sense of community. And, I’ve been able to sleep more since I don’t have to commute to the office or get up early to go to they gym.

What’s it like planning to be a new father again?
That’s an interesting question because as I mentioned regarding meditation, I’ve tried to be a little bit more present in my thoughts and not think too far forward. But, it is starting to get closer. We had to close off a family room and put a door and wall in there to start prepping for the baby’s room. I’m just starting to think of all the things that we’re going to experience all over again.  

How often do you come to the Pinecrest Market?
I tried to go almost every Sunday. Usually, I would ride my bike over there alone and really enjoyed that time. I’m an only child, and my time alone is scarce these days. That little bit of time was really nice.

You’ve been to all of our popups since the Pinecrest market was canceled. You came to our popup at our house as well as our new store. Would you share a little bit about that experience?
I think it’s been great. At the beginning it was cool to try and find out where it was going to happen and get the text message. It was very smooth. You guys have been doing an awesome job. You’re making sure to use digital payments and making it super safe for everybody. When it was at your house, it was literally a two minute drive from our house. But now, even though your store is a little bit further, it’s a kind of adventure for us. We’re going to go get our smoothies, we get in the car and take a little bit of time outside of the house. Love it so far!

What local restaurants are you supporting during these times?
We’ve gone to the Last Carrot a few times in the Grove. We order from Mi Italia. We’ve ordered from A Pizza Brooklyn. Of course, you guys. One of my favorite coffee places was a Brewing Buddha, but unfortunately they closed and don’t even have takeout. We’ve gone to Wayside Market a few times. We’ve gone to Lokal to order and truthfully to walk around the Grove with a beer in hand. They have a window where you can can get a draft beer and burgers for takeout. Last week we went by and walked around the Grove, which is a bit apocalyptic with nobody around on a Sunday afternoon. There is Mojito Grill in South Miami. And, we’ve been getting ice cream delivered from Azucar through their Instagram page.

(A+W) Have you tried the new ice cream at our market – called Frice Cream?

(RB) No. I have not.

(A+W) You are in for a treat. They make some of our favorite ice cream ever and starting this week we will have their pints for sale at our drive through store. They make chef driven flavors using our fruit, and make everything from scratch, even the add-ins. Serendipitously, their last name is Frice.

What’s Miami’s best kept secret?
Something that we would do every Friday at the office was go Sparky’s barbecue in downtown. They have a great selection of beers, the food is superb, and they have good music. That’s something I really, truly miss throughout this whole thing.

What is a worthy splurge for you?
I know it’s probably a cliche, but I really enjoy Hillstone’s. The food is always so good. It’s a little bit expensive and it’s a franchise, so it’s a tough one. But if I, if I had to go with one choice, I’d probably have to say that.

What’s a good rainy day activity?
I love sitting in my porch in the backyard and just hearing the rain in the trees.

What community events or philanthropic groups are important to you would like to promote or share?
I’m on the board of the Sebastian Strong foundation. Sebastian was a kid that passed away from cancer about three years ago. The organization was started by his parents and they are making an effort to raise funds for new treatments for pediatric cancer.  

Would you like to share a quick pitch about your company?
Sure. Our agency name is Branger Briz. We develop digital products for startups and multinational corporations alike. We can make mobile applications, custom enterprise software solutions, e-commerce sites, as well as interactive installations. On our website, we can see a little bit about us and some of our portfolio and the type of work we do.

Is there a challenge that you would like to pose to the community?
What idea can we think of using technology that can help people dealing with stress and any sort of mental illness. That’s something that I’m always thinking about. There’s a lot of negatives of technology, obviously too much screen time, but how can technology be used in a positive way to help?

What have I not asked that I should have?
You’ve covered a lot. I love the questions. I just think it’s great for the community and really appreciate everything you guys are doing.

(A+W) Thank you so much. See you at the drive through!