Riley Smith, President of The Riley Smith Group

What does it take to be the #1 Top Producing Team in Coconut Grove for seven years and counting? After sitting down with Mr. Riley Smith for breakfast, at his favorite local haunt Greenstreet’s, I surmise it has much to do with tenacity, a systematic approach to doing business and authenticity. Riley – whose for sale signs dominate Coconut Grove – is delightfully down-to-earth and candid about his successes, and challenges, in the business.  His popularity undeniable, our table was a frequent pit stop for passer-by traffic exchanging greetings and setting up appointments.  Riley quips, “Welcome to my office.”

In South Florida there are 41,000 realtors according to the Miami Association of Realtors, and that number is on the upswing. “Staying relevant and competitive requires an edge,” says Riley. Among the many things he preaches, and practices, is ongoing education through respected local and national institutions, market mastery and content marketing.

Premiering his blog almost a decade ago, Riley was a pioneer. He saw opportunity with the burgeoning forum and created a place where he could share data and help customers to better understand the ins and outs of buying a house in the Grove. Today, he and his team manage four blogs: The Real Estate Coconut, Coral Gables Real Estate Vault, Brickell Condo Blog and Unlock Key Biscayne Real Estate, as well as a digital newsletter and social media pages. There are numerous benefits to creating the content, says Riley.  For one it helps him and his team, remain current and knowledgeable. It’s a great tool for SEO and empowers buyers and sellers with valuable information.

Born and raised in Coconut Grove, Miami’s oldest neighborhood, Riley has a keen understanding of the area’s rich history. His relaxed and low-key demeanor is quintessential Grove and that translates well with locals looking to list their properties.  He also lives a lifestyle that’s indicative of the area, including boating and dining out. As a marketing expert, I often work with brands to create activity that connects them with target audiences — Riley is doing that organically.

“You’re as good as you’re team,” is a message heard often in the world of business.  Riley has carefully curated his, creating specific job roles with clear goals.  He’s created an environment of open communication and diversity. And most importantly, he leads through example. Together, The Riley Smith Group has grown significantly in the last five years to a team of a dozen.

With new development activity on both the residential and commercial front, the Grove continues to reinvent itself.  “It’s an interesting and complex market, with different communities,” says Riley.  As it evolves, I’m looking forward to seeing how Riley and his business do so as well.


Open English Founder & CEO Andres Moreno

The Internet went from basic to brilliant in the last decade. Facebook and Youtube were in their infancy, Twitter did not exist formally, nor did Gmail. Usage was primarily utilitarian and people logged-on from a personal computer or clunky laptop — handheld devices were a novelty. This was the backdrop in which an ambitious entrepreneur had a vision — to create an innovative online language-learning platform utilizing the nascent Voice Over IP technology (VoIP). It was the start of a new era for online learning.

The pioneering Andres Moreno launched Open English in 2007. As it approaches its 10-year anniversary, the leading education technology company focused on English language learning for the Latin American and U.S. Hispanic markets has raised millions in venture capital and surpassed an enrollment benchmark of 500,000 students. Students, from all walks of life, each motivated to create new opportunities through multilingualism. His startup has become one of Miami’s biggest success stories.

The son of a diplomat, Andres traveled extensively and was fascinated by language. Growing up in Venezuela, he saw first-hand the benefits that came with speaking English. Although he was at the university studying engineering, the lure of his passion was too strong. He wanted to become an entrepreneur and make learning American English easy, accessible and effective.

He has done just that. It’s been quite the ride for the enterprising Andres. He moved his headquarters from Silicon Valley to Miami to tap into the LatAm talent pool unique to our city, and explains, “To thrive you must surround yourself with the right people.”

As well as the right environs too! In looking for a space to house his growing company, which boasts over 1,500 employees today, he and his team decided on plush, low-key Coconut Grove. Andres states that he loves the neighborhood’s walking culture and restaurants, as do his staff. He also fell in love with the architecture and design of his office space. “It all just clicked here for us,” exclaims Andres. In addition to the Grove, Andres has incubator offices around Miami to keep his finger on the pulse of the rapidly developing startup community found throughout the city.

In closing, Andres offered some parting wisdom. His recipe for marketing and PR success: keep it organic. Let your PR strategy be guided by your passion, it will also impact your company culture. We concur Andres! The foundation from which to launch a PR campaign should be steeped in authenticity.