Monthly Archives: November 2019

11.28.2019

Gratitude for Passion

 

Thanksgiving has always been a time for reflection for me. Last year was the first time I reflected publicly, and I'm grateful to have the opportunity to share my thoughts again.

Since March, the team at Embarc Collective has supported 25+ early stage companies on a nearly daily basis. We have the best job - we get to work alongside entrepreneurs who are so passionate about solving a global problem and support them wherever we can be additive. We've been able to work with companies during the good days and celebrate their wins, but more importantly, we are there for them on the bad days and remind them that their vision is bigger than the day's stumble.

Entrepreneurship is hard. There is no plainer way to say it. You're in a constant state of tension - you want to build fast, but be thoughtful as you map your company's plan forward. You want to build the best team, but are likely limited in resources. You want to focus, but you are in charge of all elements of the business. You want to prioritize, but everything is a priority.

It takes a special person to choose entrepreneurship - one who is resilient, driven and relentless.

On a recent trip to Israel, I had the opportunity to meet many technology entrepreneurs solving ambitious, global problems. In listening to their stories, I became focused on one question: "This founder could be doing anything in the world (and could be choosing an easier path than entrepreneurship), why are they dedicating their life to solving this specific problem?"

Their passion drove them to take the more challenging route forward because they could not see themselves doing anything but solve that problem for the world. I was so moved by their drive, I began to ask that same question to entrepreneurs that we interviewed for Embarc Collective membership:

"You could be doing anything in the world, why are you solving this specific problem?"

When this question was asked, I could see an instant and physical shift from interviewing with well-rehearsed responses to sharing an authentic and honest human story.

I learned about the urgency behind each problem being solved by the startups being interviewed and why each problem they were tackling mattered. For so many, it was personal.

 

A heartfelt story of what happens when the administration of managing end of life care goes wrong.

An understanding that women can achieve their worth when they feel confident about themselves.

Complete frustration about the inefficiencies when getting life-saving answers to time-sensitive medical questions.

A belief that cultural awareness can help children develop empathy, curiosity and worldliness.

An optimism that through coordinated efforts, we can sustain our Earth.

 

That passion is why most of these companies will outlast the startup survival statistics and be ultimately successful. And I am so grateful that Embarc Collective gets to be, even a small part, of this growth journey. Helping bring their passion to life energizes me each day.

Embarc Collective is on its own growth journey. We started supporting 25 early stage technology startups with customized, hands-on support in March 2019. Since then, we've grown the portfolio of startups supported by Embarc Collective to almost 40 companies. And in January 2020, this community of passionate of driven builders will have a physical home in downtown Tampa. We welcome you to come visit and catch the passion of the startups of Tampa Bay.

 

Keep up with the latest in Tampa Bay startup news, local talent interviews and founder resources.
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11.28.2019

The Tampa Bay Black Friday Gift Guide – Startup Edition

 

As you mentally prepare to navigate the sales and promotions of Black Friday, consider giving gifts to your friends and family from a few amazing Tampa Bay-based startups. These gifts are easy to purchase and help a high growth company headquartered or with operations in Tampa Bay! Here are a few of our favorites:

 

 

CALMA

We all know someone who needs to take more time for themselves. Calma is a self-care box that delivers quality, sustainable products quarterly. We tried it recently and indulged in the bath salts from the Dead Sea, the natural facial toner and assortment of teas.

  • Perfect for: Your mom who puts everyone else first
  • Purchase here: https://staycalma.com
  • Use Embarc Collective Discount EMBARC for 10% off

 

 

Little Global Citizens

Give your child the Gift of the World, all year long! Adventure around the world from the comfort of home with a Little Global Citizens subscription. Every 2 months, a Little Global Citizens box will guide your child around a new country & its culture. Each box is jam packed with hands-on crafts, screen free games, keepsake book, recipe and 12 page kids guide.

 

 

n.o.w. Tone Therapy System by solu

The benefits of meditation are well understood, but it's hard to make the time for a meditation practice. In comes n.o.w. Tone Therapy System, a meditation tone device which just requires 3 minutes of your time. Use it at home for meditation or just general calming or bring it to work for when you need a moment of calm.

 

 

Dataquest

At Embarc Collective, we're firm believers that the best gift is knowledge - especially when it's knowledge that helps your gift recipient earn a (median) pay increase of $12,450/year. Dataquest is a data science learning platform that offers flexible bite sized lessons, delivered to fit your busy schedule.

  • Perfect for: Your little sister or brother that is eager to accelerate their career
  • Purchase here: https://www.dataquest.io/subscribe/
  • Commit to learning now and save 50% on our Premium Annual plan. You'll get a full year of total access for less than $0.80/day

 

 

Embarc Collective

Share your pride for the Tampa Bay startup community with Tampa Bay and Embarc Collective branded gear. Everything from tees to phone cases to tote bags - we got you covered!

  • Perfect for: Your favorite startup enthusiast
  • Purchase here: shop.embarccollective.com
  • Use Embarc Collective Discount "SUNSHINE10" for 10% off

 

Products We're Excited for in 2020

 

Fruutfull

Most women are wearing the wrong size bra, and Fruutfull is out to change that. Through their new design, Fruutfull is introducing an entirely new category of bras that will allow their customers to create a personalized fit - for the first time ever.

  • If you're looking for a better bra, join their waitlist and be the first to know when they launch: https://fruutfull.com

 

 

Grifin

Investing as easy as getting your morning cup of coffee! $1 invested in Starbucks stock for every purchase made at Starbucks.That's exactly what Grifin is allowing us to do. Sign up to get access!

 

 

Keep up with the latest in Tampa Bay startup news, local talent interviews and founder resources.
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11.28.2019

Featured Founder: Matt Redler of Chefit

Welcome to our Featured Founder series, where you’ll meet startup founders from Tampa-St. Petersburg who are building and scaling their ventures to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges. We interviewed Matt Redler, Founder of Chefit, an online ordering service where personal chefs prepare delicious meals in the comfort of your own home.

 

 

What were you doing previously, and what inspired you to launch your company?

I was studying business at the University of Florida, presiding over my fraternity, and coaching speech and debate champions. I followed an insanely busy schedule and ordered cold, soggy food delivery more often than I'm proud to admit. Around the same time, my girlfriend started a food-Instagram (@cookingwithsab) and became an impressively talented cook in a matter of weeks. I recognized the opportunity to connect insanely busy people like myself with skilled, passionate artisans like Sabrina, and Chefit was born. I then "took an indefinite leave of absence" from school. I avoid using the D-word.

 

What pain point is your company solving? What gets you excited to go to work every day?

Our customers enjoy all the comfort, freshness, and health benefits of home-cooked meals without ever having to worry about shopping, prepping, cooking, or cleaning. Chefit connects families with chefs to cook affordable delicious specialties right in the diner's home.

Every day I'm blown away by the stories of our chef community. I am blessed to be able to be in a position to empower them and help them find financial success doing what they love.

 

Name the biggest challenge you faced in the process of launching the company. How did you overcome it?

Chefit was strapped for cash and actively running out of money during it's founding summer. To catch the attention of investors, we needed to launch a product fast to show them we could hustle. We ended up putting together a duck-taped MVP and finding our earliest customers within ten days. Our speed was vital to our ability to keep the lights on.

 

Where do you see your company headed next?

Chefit is heading to Tampa! After raising our latest round led by Version One Ventures, we're excited to be expanding into new areas and improving our technology. Starting in December, you can order a chef as easy as you'd order food delivery.

 

Give us a tactical piece of advice that you'd share with another founder just starting.

Speak to your customers as often as humanly possible.

 

Learn more about Chefit on Facebook and Instagram.

 

 

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11.21.2019

Featured Founder: Danielle Rushton of Wherewithal, Formerly Fruutfull

Welcome to our Featured Founder series, where you’ll meet startup founders from Tampa-St. Petersburg who are building and scaling their ventures to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges. We interviewed Danielle Rushton, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Wherewithal (formerly Fruutfull), a technology-enabled startup with a unique design that allows women to personalize their brassiere size.

 

 

What were you doing previously and what inspired you to launch your company? 

Prior to pursuing Wherewithal full-time, I spent my career in the fashion industry at the Home Shopping Network, specifically in the intimates category. Building a career on the intersection of retail, marketing and technology, I was able to gain experience through my roles on both the eCommerce and social media marketing teams. This experience provided me with more tools than I realized at the time, and has been integral as I apply those learnings towards launching a digitally native consumer packaged goods company. When I think back to what led me to start a bra company, originally it had nothing to do with bras at all and everything to do with what I thought was inadequate and inconsistent sizing standards across the retail industry. Once I grew out of my tomboy phase, I quickly developed an affinity for the creative, personal expression that can be represented through the clothes we choose to wear daily. This form of expression does not come without limitations and there is a subtle theme in fashion; as size goes up, the style tends to go down. The catalyst for me was when I purchased a bathing suit top in my “standard” size that was so small it had to have been – quite literally – made for ants.

I remember thinking, this style would be fine if they would just add more fabric to the design. I decided to make this idea a reality and purchased my first sewing machine, watched about 100 hours of YouTube tutorials, and “they” became “me” as I started learning how to sew.

It started with bathing suits, then blouses and an attempt at dresses. There was a point when I noticed each garment I was making had a supportive, bra-like feature about it. I reached an epiphany when I realized individual apparel pieces shouldn’t require a supportive bra-like feature, our bras should be designed differently in order to be the supportive feature all on its own. I was inspired and grabbed all of my bras from my drawer, threw them on my sewing table, cutting off pieces from each and reconfiguring to create our V1 – which I still wear today and is so accurately dubbed the “Frankenbra.”

But what really inspired me to start isn’t exactly what inspired me to launch this company. I didn’t realize how many women were suffering in silence along with me because as women, we don’t talk about our bras. Since there hadn’t been much innovation in terms of design, functionality or personalization in the way our bras can be adjusted to fit and feel, I solved for what I thought was a personal issue at first, but it wasn’t until I began speaking with other women that I realized this was a problem much bigger than my own.

A Facebook post that generated over 300 comments and likes of women sharing their insecurities that have been anchored by ill-fitting bras, ultimately became my “why.” But as my co-founder, Ellery Linder, and I talk to more women who have felt the same way, bringing this to the world for everyone who has ever felt insecure, uncomfortable or limited because of their bra is the driving force through all the challenges and what inspires us daily to continue building this company.

 

What pain point is your company solving? What gets you excited to go to work every day? 

Wherewithal is a direct-to-consumer (D2C) company that has taken a modern approach to the bra industry and will offer an entirely new sizing system for personalized bras. The problem with bras today, at its core, comes from an antiquated design and a complicated sizing system, leaving more than 80% of women wearing the wrong size bra.

A bra is a garment most women wear almost daily for the majority of our lives after adolescence – so when more than 80% of women are not wearing the right bra size, that’s a pretty huge indicator that the issue isn’t the consumer – rather a telling indicator that the bra industry has changes to make

There are are over 120 different bra size combinations offered today and with so many sizes, retailers choose to carry a limited amount of options. For example, the market leader carries just 33 sizes. This size limitation force-fits consumers into the sizes retailers have available in order to make the sale, leaving us never truly satisfied with how our bras fit or feel.

Our patent-pending design uses personalization to solve this fit issue for our customers. Our bra design will allow us to offer more size options and eliminate excess inventory more than any other bra company today. We are replacing hook and eye closures with an adjustable back band feature that will allow our customers to create their own unique and personalized fit, for the first time ever. Because of this feature, we can offer just 30 SKUs, covering 253 sizes from 26AA-48J. This allows us to reach a wider customer base than any of our competitors.

 

Name the biggest challenge you faced in the process of launching the company. How did you overcome it?

One eye-opening challenge has been uncovering all the aspects of the niche manufacturing process of women’s undergarments. In today’s technology era, it’s crazy to think that most bra manufacturers still sew bras by hand.

What I think has also been the challenging is understanding and uncovering just how antiquated and inconsistent the bra industry is as a whole. And what is even more surprising is how many bra companies exist (a handful) compared to the amount of apparel brands that exist.

As a result, bras are one of the most technical garments manufactured, and to recreate that entire design, ergo that entire manufacturing process that has been embedded for 100+ years, it was surprisingly difficult to find someone with the technical experience to help take proof-of-concept to an MVP product stage.

 

Where do you see your company headed next? 

Ellery and I have had an exciting few months. We recently competed against 100 startups at Startup of the Year and placed in the top 5 and most recently advanced to the Global Round at the SoGal pitch competition. Currently, we are heads down working on our MVP and readying for our official launch.

 

Give us a tactical piece of advice that you’d share with another founder just starting out.

Walls exist to keep people out who don’t want in bad enough. Starting something new comes with countless challenges, nay-sayers, and self-doubt. For me personally, the constant walls I faced turned into mirrors of self-doubt and at times I thought maybe the idea of creating a new bra company wasn’t for me.

The “walls” you experience will be unique to your build but what’s common for all founders is your “why” that drives you to continue to better someone else’s life. You’ll start to see that every “no” gets you closer to the “yes”. The people who doubt you become less important on your list. Each setback creates the space you most likely needed to regroup, and the challenges you face will push you to become more nimble, more creative, and ultimately better because you had to face those challenges. Your “why” becomes the driving force that breaks down brick walls and provides you your reason to persevere.

The challenges and unexpected setbacks that occur daily is enough to make anyone second guess leaving a comfortable corporate job. But when you sacrifice comfort to build something to better someone else’s life – there is a sense of serenity in knowing that what you are creating is something bigger than you, and that becomes your “why”. The walls you experience will be unique to your build but what’s common for all founders is the “why” that continues to drive you. 

That being said – time is your most valuable asset that you can never make back. Don’t waste it chasing after people – customers or investors – who don’t see the value in what you are building. Stay true to your vision and with every “no” learn how to improve for the next conversation. The ones you want to be with you on this journey are those that see your path just as vividly as you. Stay focused, keep going, and never stop. The ones who didn’t see your vision prior will be at the finish line. You’ll start to see that every “no” gets you closer to the “yes”. The people who doubt you become less important on your list. Each setback creates the space you most likely needed to regroup, and the challenges you face will push you to become more nimble, more creative, and ultimately better for having faced them. Your “why” becomes the driving force that breaks down brick walls and the continual resource to persevere.

 

Learn more about Wherewithal on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter

 

 

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11.21.2019

Florida Business Development Corporation Continues Partnership with Embarc Collective to Strengthen Function-Specific Support for Technology Startups

Tampa Bay startup hub to expand function-specific support for talent building early-stage technology ventures

 

Tampa, Florida Embarc Collective is expanding its partnership with the Florida Business Development Corporation (FBDC) to broaden its function-specific support model to a growing number of high-potential, early-stage technology startups in Tampa Bay. This support has been available to all startups supported currently by Embarc Collective since March 2019 and will roll out to twice as many early-stage technology companies throughout 2020. 

In June 2019, Embarc Collective began its partnership with the FBDC to develop on-the-job startup knowhow for high potential tech talent. This support includes interactive workshops led by local and national experts on specific startup-focused functions, the development of online tools and a resource database to support specific business function areas, and maintaining a job board with available startup opportunities that allows for resume submissions from prospective talent. 

By way of FBDC’s support to date, Embarc Collective has: 

  • Provided 342 members with access to online tools and a resource database
  • Brought 28 local, national and international experts to Tampa Bay to share learnings with companies supported by Embarc Collective
  • Hosted 50 learning workshops that supported 527 attendees
  • Posted 476 open jobs to www.tampabaystartupjobs.com
  • Submitted 33 new resumes to Embarc Collective’s in-house recruiter

“We are grateful and invigorated that Embarc Collective’s unique model has quickly demonstrated effectiveness in tackling the continuous challenge of training entrepreneurial talent while on-the-job,” said Bill Habermeyer, Presented and CEO of the Florida Business Development Corporation, “Through thoughtful function-specific programming and peer learning, we can strengthen and better equip local tech talent to directly impact the growth of this region’s economy.  We hope our investment spurs additional involvement from the local community and that others will be eagerly watching Embarc’s impact on the workforce in Tampa alongside FBDC. ”

Embarc Collective will continue to deliver this function-specific support in its 32,000 square foot physical location when it opens later in 2019 in downtown Tampa and will serve as a central landing zone for technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

To learn more about Embarc Collective and its startup support program. Visit embarccollective.com/join.

 


About Embarc Collective:

Embarc Collective is a 501c3 nonprofit that helps Tampa Bay's startup talent build bold, scalable, thriving companies and current supports almost 40 early-stage technology startups. The support from Embarc Collective is hands-on and driven by the specific goals and needs of each startup being supported. Later in 2019, Embarc Collective will open its 32,000 square foot innovation hub in downtown Tampa.

About FBDC:

Florida Business Development Corporation (FBDC) is a private, non-profit Certified Development Company established in 1989 to administer the Small Business Association (SBA) 504 Loan Program. In addition to the 504 Loan Program, FBDC is active in the economic development in the community in which it serves.

CONTACT

For press inquiries, contact: media@embarccollective.com

www.embarccollective.com

 

 

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11.14.2019

You Can Bet on Tampa Bay

 

In 2006, I moved to Tampa for college (Go Bulls!). As a rare native Floridian, I was initially drawn to the city due to its proximity to my hometown of Crystal River and family within a short drive’s distance. While in college, I quickly fell in love with the beaches nearby and the carefree but creative pulse that radiates through Tampa Bay.

Shortly after graduation, my boyfriend (now husband) and I were grappling with “What next?” for our careers like many other recent graduates. We had recently visited San Francisco and fell in love with the city. With his brother in San Fransisco, it seemed like an option worth considering. As we started coming to terms with the reality of a move across the country, we had a candid discussion about why we were actually moving out of Tampa Bay. It quickly became clear that the culture, food, and music scene that we loved while visiting other cities was blossoming right in our own backyard, and there was a new energy in the city that indicated that Tampa Bay was in the process of a rebrand.

So together we decided to make a bet on the city. I began my events career with the Straz Center in community outreach, working with non-profit partners to bring the arts into the community. I could see first-hand the difference it made to cultivate meaningful relationships across the community. People from different organizations connected with each other at our events and shared resources – they lifted each other, growing each other, and in turn, growing what I’d consider to be the heartbeat of Tampa Bay.

My career path eventually led me to Home Shopping Network as a television producer, where I was inspired by stories of home-made entrepreneurs. I was particularly in awe of those that put everything on the line, confident on a personal level that they had a great product. I learned that for some, with the right community support and mentors, the entrepreneurs with a dream and a fire in their belly would find themselves on our network.

It’s obvious that I love building community. But why Tampa Bay?

The mix between work and leisure in Tampa Bay helps foster an amazing energy of the city, where there is a ton of action every day, but you’re always minutes away from a relaxing walk on the beach. The size of the city is also perfect; it’s big enough to allow both startups and large corporations to thrive and to offer a great support network to both, yet it’s small enough not to feel lost and overwhelmed. The mindset of the people who have contributed to the recent growth in Tampa Bay are super excited to see the snowball effect. There’s no ego. People are willing to lend a hand or share experiences so that others can help contribute to the momentum of the city and region.

As the Events Manager at Embarc Collective, I already love the feeling that I’m helping that momentum and bringing the startup community together. The entrepreneurial ecosystem that has been building in Tampa Bay is contagious, and the strength of the community undeniable. We are at the beginning of something great, and I’m so glad I’ve bet on Tampa Bay.

If you are interested in hosting events connected to technology, entrepreneurship, or innovation, drop me a line, I’d love to chat.

 

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11.14.2019

Lessons on Building a Brand: One Year with Embarc Collective

 

As a Tampa Bay native, this region holds a special place in my heart and is home to my most cherished memories. From attending college at my parents' alma mater to building a business and career here, I'm definitely what you'd call Tampa Grown. After college, despite having opportunities available to me around the country, I did not want to leave Tampa Bay. First, I'm not a fan of the cold weather of any variety (we have the best weather here, don't @ me) but more so, I felt that this region was on the cusp of something amazing — you could almost feel it in the air. At the time I wasn't sure of what Tampa Bay's potential could be or how I would play a part in its growth, but it was one of those intuitive feelings where you knew it was going to happen, it just required pushing forward.

On November 12, 2018, I officially joined the Embarc Collective team as the Communications Manager and by the second day, I launched The Weekly Collective. One of the best first week experiences for sure, but you can imagine the pressure that weighs in once you decide to release a branded publication.

Transitioning from owning a business and wholly dedicating my work to the mission and values of Embarc Collective is something I didn't expect to encounter in my career path. However, it was one of the best decisions I've made. Prior to joining the Embarc Collective team, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to start a business in Tampa Bay and learn first-hand the challenges that exist in this region for entrepreneurs building bold, scalable, thriving ventures. A few months before joining (or knowing about) the Embarc Collective team, I came to a realization that while many amazing organizations exist in Tampa Bay to support entrepreneurs, there was a growing need to connect these pieces together.

After my first meeting with Lakshmi Shenoy and learning about Embarc Collective's mission to support talent in Tampa Bay from high school and beyond, I knew this was the organization for me. My ties to Tampa Bay run deep. This place is my home, my opportunity playground, my community — it only made sense to give back to a region that helped me grow so much. The best way I knew to do this was build a brand focused and empowered entirely by the community that provides it purpose.

Building a community around your product or service requires a strong and consistent brand. Much like people, brands are unique entities with their own story, values and messages. In this past year at Embarc Collective, I learned a lot about building a brand inspired and fueled by a community of passionate entrepreneurs. Brand building isn't easy, but here are a few lessons I've learned along the way that make it a little bit easier:

 

Brand Guidelines are a Must

Brand guidelines do more than help you sustain brand. It is the second most important document, aside from your company filing, to building your business. Brand guidelines not only guide the stylistic aspects of your identity but clarify your company's values and messages. These are key when building brand beyond advertising or marketing communications. Leverage brand guidelines to help communicate culture with your team. Clearly outlining your messages and values gets your team on the same page when it comes to decisions about product design, innovation or communications.

 

Stay Consistent

Brand consistency is like attendance. By staying consistent with content, it shows customers your brand is present, active and ready to engage. It's important, especially in early stage development, to define what consistency looks like for your company. Maybe it's one blog post a month, a monthly newsletter or posting on social media twice a week. Determining what ways you'll communicate brand content and when is essential to growing your brand steadily.

Consistency doesn't have to be complicated. Building true consistency starts small. Don't overwhelm yourself trying to launch at the current rate of your competitors (who may have started years before you) as you build consistency. A simple, consistent marketing effort will outweigh a complicated, inconsistent marketing effort every time.

 

Provide Value

Your customers should always be the focus of your brand. Your content and communication should be rooted in providing value to your brand fans. If they don't find it valuable, who will? Providing value doesn't always mean rehashing your value prop. You can provide value to your customers by truly serving as a resource to help solve their needs through content. Provide the 101 resources to help ready your users to adopt your 201 product. Providing value through every communication channel that aligns with your customers is what helps one brand stand out from the next.

 

Champion the Voices of Your Community

You don't have to build a brand alone. Your customers, especially the ones that love you, are willing to sing your praise from the rooftops. Provide them with opportunities to do just that. Champion the voices of your community by providing a platform where they feel included. This can be through interviews, hashtags or social media competitions. Get your users involved, they are your most passionate brand ambassadors.

 

These four tips have been extremely helpful in building Embarc Collective's brand. As any good startup, we're learning every day — so thanks for joining us as we embark. If you've subscribed, shared or praised The Weekly Collective, thank you! Our brand wouldn't be complete without you. ❤️

 

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11.14.2019

Featured Founder: Logan Clemens of WanderSeat

Welcome to our Featured Founder series, where you’ll meet startup founders from Tampa-St. Petersburg who are building and scaling their ventures to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges. We interviewed Logan Clemens, Co-Founder and CEO of WanderSeat, an airline ticketing platform for flexible travelers.

 

 

What were you doing previously and what inspired you to launch your company?

Prior to WanderSeat I was fortunate enough to work for Southwest Airlines in Dallas, TX. First as an intern with the Technology FP&A team, then full time as a Market Analyst in the Revenue Management department. I have a lot of LUV for my Southwest family and learned so much during my time there, I’m truly blessed to have had such an amazing experience with a great company.

Herb Kelleher (Southwest Airlines Founder) has always been a huge inspiration of mine.

 

What pain point is your company solving? What gets you excited to go to work every day?

Over 127 million seats spoil every year, and that’s just domestically… This is a huge pain point for the airlines. I’ve always considered myself a problem solver, and this was a problem I felt needed a solution.

As someone who is passionate about travel, but is a terrible planner, we wanted to create a platform that connects spontaneous travelers on a budget to unsold seats on the verge of spoilage. Our Patent Pending process provides the airlines a cannibalization free solution to seat spoilage, while at the same time providing our community of Wanderers last minute tickets cheaper and closer to departure than any of our competitors.

I believe that what I’m doing will have a lasting impact on both the airline industry and society as a whole. This is where I find my excitement.

 

Name the biggest challenge you faced in the process of launching the company. How did you overcome it?

To be fair we are still pre-launch, but we’ve faced many challenges… Funding, Product Development, Government Approvals, you name it… We overcome, because we believe. We believe in ourselves, we believe in our ability to execute, and we believe in the future.

 

Where do you see your company headed next?

What a loaded question! We are wrapping up product development and have been speaking with a few different carriers with regards to piloting WanderSeat. We would love to launch from Tampa International Airport (Such an amazing airport), but everything is dependent on which carrier we feel gives WanderSeat the best chance at success.

 

Give us a tactical piece of advice that you’d share with another founder just starting out.

The startup journey is an absolute roller-coaster. Finding the right mentors and advisors  is an absolute must…

I alluded to this earlier, but believing in yourself and what you as a person are capable of doing is so paramount to your success.

 

Learn more about WanderSeat on LinkedIn.

 

 

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11.10.2019

Junior Achievement Partners with Embarc Collective to Deliver Entrepreneurship Opportunities to Students

Tampa Bay startup hub leverages the nation’s largest organization dedicated to youth development to increase regional entrepreneurship opportunities for junior talent

 

Tampa, Florida Startup hub Embarc Collective is partnering with Junior Achievement to develop an entrepreneurship academy and lab within its 32,000 square foot hub that will open later in 2019. The JA Entrepreneurship Academy & Lab at Embarc Collective will deliver entrepreneurship opportunities to middle and high school students, educate and inspire young people to embrace entrepreneurial thinking, and drive innovation to strengthen our global economy.

Junior Achievement USA is the nation’s leader in developing experiential learning programs for students from kindergarten through 12th grade on work-readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy skills. The student-focused non-profit reaches nearly 4.9 million students per year in over 200,000 classrooms and after-school locations. JA USA programs are taught by volunteers in inner cities, suburbs, and rural areas throughout the United States. Junior Achievement’s Tampa Bay Chapter currently has nearly 10,000 business and education volunteers led by over 200 local community board members throughout the region.

The JA Entrepreneurship Academy & Lab at Embarc Collective will provide a physical space where students can connect with local entrepreneurs and develop entrepreneurial skills, which include accountability, creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, decision-making, idea development, leadership, product evaluation, speaking, sales, self-assessment, evaluating information and teamwork. 

“We are absolutely delighted to partner with Embarc Collective to deliver this world-class education experience to the students of Tampa Bay. Our goal at JA Tampa Bay is to consistently offer support and provide kids with the essential tools they need to succeed in their future,” says Richard George, President is Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay, “with the new JA Entrepreneurship Academy & Lab at Embarc Collective, we can continue to invest in our students and inspire young people to create, innovate, and cultivate a learning environment in which to thrive. JA Tampa Bay’s devoted commitment to the future of our children is driven by the generous support of our donors, sponsors and volunteers.”

By 2022, Junior Achievement will engage 1000 high school students annually through the JA Entrepreneurship Academy & Lab by way of an entrepreneur experience known as JA Job Shadowing. This experience includes an integrated in-school curriculum focused on entrepreneurship, the opportunity to join a teenage-led startup, and guidance from entrepreneurial adult mentors. The Lab will also provide a stage to reward and recognize student entrepreneurs through local, national and international competitions to compete for scholarship awards.

"Given the outstanding track record of Junior Achievement USA in providing growth opportunities for youth across the country, Embarc Collective is thrilled to partner with an organization so skilled at training and inspiring students to aspire to change the world through entrepreneurship within our community of startup builders." said Lakshmi Shenoy, CEO of Embarc Collective.

Junior Achievement’s partnership with Embarc Collective will provide opportunities and educational resources to develop the future pipeline of young entrepreneurs in Tampa Bay. The JA Entrepreneurship Academy & Lab will be one of the first landing zones in the region for students to learn about innovation, technology and entrepreneurship in close proximity to early-stage technology startups. 

 

To learn more about Embarc Collective, visit embarccollective.com/join.

 


About Embarc Collective:

Embarc Collective is a 501c3 nonprofit that helps Tampa Bay's startup talent build bold, scalable, thriving companies and currently supports 40 early-stage technology startups. The support from Embarc Collective is hands-on and driven by the specific goals and needs of each startup being supported. Later in 2019, Embarc Collective will open its 32,000 square foot innovation hub in downtown Tampa.

 

About Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay:

Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay inspired 85,963 students with more than 1 million Instructional Contact Hours through the support of 7,521 volunteers in 2018-2019 in the twelve-county region.  Junior Achievement is a for impact, non-profit organization that delivers K-12 programming for entrepreneurship, financial literacy and career readiness including two capstone programs of JA BizTown and JA Finance Park. For more information on the organization, visit jatampabay.org.

CONTACT

For press inquiries, contact: media@embarccollective.com

www.embarccollective.com

 

 

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11.07.2019

Keeping Your Website Design Mobile-Friendly

Let’s face it, we’re living in the mobile age and there’s no sign of that changing anytime soon. Over the last several years there has been a shift from desktop use to mobile use for those surfing the web. To capture users’ attention and give them a positive experience, it is important for founders to optimize their company’s website design for mobile.

Continue reading for a breakdown of the best practices for making your website mobile-friendly.

 

Create a Responsive Experience

Mobile responsiveness is an absolute must for your website. A responsive site displays correctly no matter the dimensions of the device it’s being viewed on. This practice is great for user experience, but another added bonus is that a responsive site can help boost your company’s SEO searchability.

There are quite a few methods for achieving responsive design. For example, if you’re building your site in WordPress, there are a number of responsive themes to choose from. The best way to make sure it’s correctly optimized, however, is to hire a designer with experience in responsive web design. Check out these additional tips for making your site responsive.

 

Keep User’s Content Needs in Mind

Our world today is fast-paced, and users want to find the information they need quickly. When optimizing your content for mobile use, think about what information if most important to your users and place this at the top of the page. Not all vital information needs to be front and center on the homepage, but these assets should still be easily accessible from the navigation menu.

 

Leave Flash in the Early 2000’s

Whatever you do, stay away from using Adobe Flash on your site. Apple has close to 900 million iPhone users worldwide, and none of those devices support Flash. In addition to ostracizing Apple users, Flash is known to slow down your site’s loading speed. This not only effects user experience but can also hurt your ranking in Google. Instead, HTML5 has become the standard for animated web design.

 

Use Bigger Buttons for Better Engagement

Mobile button design is something that’s often forgotten but can make all the difference for mobile users. Clicking on a button of almost any size is easy when you’re using a mouse, but if a button is too small to tap on mobile then there is a problem. The easiest way to combat this is to simply use bigger buttons. To check if the sizing is right, round up other employees or friends to try it out on their devices.

 

Forget About Small Fonts

As a general rule of thumb, your site should use a body font size of at least 16px. Because mobile screens are so much smaller than desktops, fonts smaller than 16px can be a struggle for users to read. However, you should take your site’s unique design into consideration to determine what works best for you.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to stick with traditional fonts on your site because custom fonts can slow load times. Again, it’s best to test the font appearance across multiple devices for the best user experience.

 

After your site is built, an important last step is to perform regular mobile testing to ensure everything stays in good working order. Mobile devices are constantly evolving as new technology comes out, so this will allow you to tweak where necessary and keep your website up to date with the latest trends.

 

Our partners at Bayshore Solutions contributed this guest post.

 

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11.07.2019

Featured Founder: James Mitchell of eNotaryLog

Welcome to our Featured Founder series, where you’ll meet startup founders from Tampa-St. Petersburg who are building and scaling their ventures to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges. We interviewed James Mitchell, Co-Founder of eNotaryLog, an online notarization company that allows you to sign and notarize your documents online, anytime, anywhere.

 

 

What were you doing previously and what inspired you to launch your company?

I have a law degree from Southern Methodist University School of Law, with a specialization in contract law. I took some time off of work with my co-founder Joseph Bisaillon to move back to Tampa from Dallas and take care of a close friend of ours that was diagnosed with cancer. During his end of life care, we truly realized how unnecessarily frustrating it was to get access to a notary when you need it most. My goal is to create the most trusted online notary service so people can conveniently have access to a notary at anytime.

 

What pain point is your company solving? What gets you excited to go to work every day?

We are bringing a new level of convenience, training and security to the entire notarization process. Each day brings new and unique challenges to tackle, and at the end of the day it is very rewarding to look back and see the progress of the notary industry and our impact on it.

 

Name the biggest challenge you faced in the process of launching the company. How did you overcome it?

Since we hire, train and place all of our notaries in house, it presents a unique challenge that most SaaS companies do not have. We are a Notary as a Service (NaaS), which means defining a roadmap and business process that that can scale was no easy task. Thanks to the support of the local start up community and organizations like Embarc Collective, we have been able to access the resources required to build a plan and execute on it.

 

Where do you see your company headed next?

We see extensive scaling and expect eNotaryLog to be the go-to for remote online notarizations throughout the US.

 

Give us a tactical piece of advice that you’d share with another founder just starting out.

Build your team early. The path of an entrepreneur is a difficult one, but you do not have to travel it alone! Having the proper support behind you will make all the difference, it already has for me.

 

Learn more about eNotaryLog on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

 

 

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