Oh, how the times are changing in Tampa! The inaugural year of the Tampa Bay Innovation Summit provided a sign of how drastically the landscape in the Bay area is changing. It’s exciting to see that the Tampa Bay Business Journal not only held an event like this, but that it sold out weeks in advance with more than 600 attendees! This was a great kickoff event, and likely a sign of the great things to come in the Tampa Bay area.
Jeff Vinick, one of the event’s keynote speakers, spoke of his vision for the future development of Tampa Bay. This roadmap includes studying the transportation infrastructure as well as supporting local entrepreneurs. Vinick also highlighted the great value Tampa provides, reiterating that it is an undervalued city when you compare it to the likes of Austin, Boston, or Silicone Valley.
James “Hondo” Geurts also spoke at the conference, which provided great insight into the invaluable asset that U.S. Special Operations Command being located at MacDill Air Force Base provides the Tampa Bay ecosystem. Geurts is responsible for the funding of hundreds of projects, writing an average of $35 million in contracts a day. Local entrepreneurs are on the doorstep of one of the largest venture funders in the country, with the focus on everything from satellite systems to bandages used in the field.
This event also provided an opportunity to hear from some of the key people transforming the area and the challenges and successes they have encountered. PeerFit’s Ed Buckley and NoMo Nausea’s Jacqui Darna provided an excellent contrast between a financed and a self-funded company. Although both approaches to startup face their own unique challenges, it was enlightening to hear more detail from the individuals who have found their own success.
Overall, the event was outstanding and provided insight into the community as well as the people creating change. If only there were more opportunity to experience events like this more frequently! If this event is any indication of the continued focus on the growth of the Tampa Bay entrepreneurial community, then the future is quite bright for the Bay Area!