Monthly Archives: May 2021

05.25.2021

Featured Founder: John Sung Kim of Jetbridge

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 John Sung Kim, Founder of Jetbridge, which is an invite-only marketplace for elite software developers and VC-backed startups.

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

I'm a serial entrepreneur. I was working in a call center for Schwab which inspired me to create Five9 - the first virtual call center technology. My young cousin Steve passed away from NH Lymphoma, which is the reason I started DoctorBase.  I was teaching software development & design to post-grads in Ukraine and Poland, so I launched JetBridge my current company (a community of elite international engineers).

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

Most non-technical founders have no idea how to scout and vet technical talent, and top coders in the USA are beyond the financial reach of most non- FAANG companies, so our clients come to JetBridge to find the best engineers internationally.  Seeing our clients launch successful products, get funding and build international remote engineering teams thrills me every day.

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

Understanding the different cultures and communication nuances between our engineers in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Belize, Poland, Ukraine, Hungary, and San Francisco took quite a bit of time, but well worth it for my global education. The only way for me to solve it was to spend time with each of my teammates visiting the countries, speaking at the local universities, and making techie friends in all our hiring locations.

Where do you see your company headed next?

IPO or bust.

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

If you don't have a technical co-founder that is either a) innately brilliant and/or b) built a commercially successful application before, you're going to be in for some long, extended pain which you won't be able to diagnose as a non-technical founder. Don't skimp on this important piece of your team - you'll pay dearly later when your platform gets exposed and new features take forever to build.
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05.18.2021

Launching Wellness & Burnout Prevention Coaching at Embarc Collective

Those of us working in the startup space often experience moments of burnout — in fact, research shows that founders are 50% more likely to report having a mental health issue, 10 times more likely to suffer from bipolar disorder, and 2 times more likely to suffer depression. That is why Embarc Collective has decided to prioritize mental health and wellness within our community.

We are excited to welcome Kelby Kupersmid as a Wellness and Burnout Prevention Coach for our member companies at Embarc Collective. Kelby’s approach is a confidential, reflective-inquiry process to help founders clarify their thinking and expand their perspectives by creating breakthrough insights.

Kelby Kupersmid Photo

What led you to work as an executive coach and leadership development specialist, supporting founders around the world?

I realized that what I loved most was working with people and making things better, and that kicked off my journey down this path. I dove head-first into the industry to try and learn as much as I could. I went through an accredited coach training program, started working at the Center for Creative Leadership, and founded a chapter of the International Coaching Federation. As the child of immigrant entrepreneurs, working with founders was always in my blood. I worked in an early startup in college, co-founded a company, and now my passion is focused on helping other founders elevate their success, fulfillment, and impact.

 

Why is it important for startup founders to prioritize wellness?

To put it simply, your company can only grow to the level of your leadership, and the foundation of your leadership is your wellbeing as a person. Many of us overfocus on growing our companies to the neglect of taking care of ourselves. We can get caught in the trap of seeing these as competing priorities — that we can either do one or the other. The truth is that investments in yourself produce oversized returns for your business. You have to take care of yourself in order to take care of your company.

 

What are common indications of burnout that can be present in startup founders?

The typical symptoms I see are prolonged feelings of exhaustion, and sometimes even cynicism or resentment towards work. There can be physical symptoms, like headaches or intestinal issues. Or social-emotional problems, like distancing ourselves from others or feeling numb towards life in general.

 

What are wellness tools or resources that you often refer startup founders to?

The most simple tools are often the most effective. Things that are common knowledge, but not always common practice. Getting enough sleep, physical exercise, sunlight and fresh air, and time with our loved ones. Reflective practices like journaling and meditation, and of course therapy. Although I’m an idealist, it’s hard to make all of these changes at once. I tend to focus on one practice at a time and slowly build a foundation of wellness that is sustainable.

 

Embarc Collective’s new wellness and burnout prevention coaching is available to our member companies. Consider applying for membership to Embarc Collective here.

05.17.2021

Featured Founder: David Gillis of Flipmine

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 David Gillis, Founder of Flipmine, which is a tool that identifies potential flipping opportunities for Amazon sellers by scanning marketplaces & stores for price inefficiencies.

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

Several years ago, I taught high school with Teach For America and flipped stuff on Amazon to make some extra money. I originally started Flipmine as a side project to help me source my own products, but later decided that a SaaS model made more sense for my goals. I kept evolving the software over the years and took on a few beta users, which helped immensely in getting it in the right direction. Then, after my former employer, Brandless (SoftBank-backed e-commerce startup) folded in early 2020, I decided to focus full time on Flipmine.

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

Flipmine allows Amazon sellers to quickly find underpriced products on eBay (and other stores soon) that potentially be flipped for a profit on Amazon. The industry calls this strategy “online arbitrage,” and it serves new sellers well due to its relatively low barriers to entry.
I get excited about solving the technical challenges in this space, and about hearing my users’ success stories. It’s really inspiring when you hear that someone in a rural part of the country is making a decent side income from a product you created.

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

The biggest challenge by far was building the technology and scaling it up without a large engineering team to maintain it. I often joke that keeping the site up feels like I’m operating a nuclear power plant by myself, as the system is so large (processes over 10 million background jobs each day) and sensitive to external factors. It took me a really long time to build a functional architecture that could handle the required load reliably, and I tried 3 different ones. This meant that I had to grow as an engineer in the process to get my technical skills where they needed to be, which required a lot of hard work, especially since I am self-taught.

Where do you see your company headed next?

I’m currently working on expanding my team, building more marketplace integrations, and creating resources for people that aren’t familiar with selling on Amazon. The Amazon selling space is blowing up (3rd party sales accounted for 54% of Amazon’s revenue in 2020), and I think Flipmine can play an important role in many sellers’ businesses.

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

There’s a mentality in the startup world (specifically software) to launch your product ASAP, even if it sucks and is full of bugs. While it’s important to get user feedback and iterate as quickly as possible, there’s something to be said about taking the time to build a high-quality product that stands out amongst your competitors. This extra time could be a lot, but it will likely be worth it, as it was for Flipmine. Your brand and reputation still matter even if you’re shipping software, and going the distance to build something that’s premium and polished will speak loudly. Good things come to those who wait.
05.11.2021

Featured Founder: Matt Morrison of Openly

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 Morrison, Founder and CEO of Openly, which is a repository of information, reviews, and discussions about jobs for professionals who work in sports.

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

Most of my career is in the Workforce Solutions/Talent Acquisition space and for the last 2 years, I was at EY in a Markets & Business Development role. Before EY, I worked for a Marketing & Branding firm representing Professional Athletes. When I was looking to figure out what was next for me, I had a really hard time learning about organizations in sports beyond a very basic job description. I wanted to know about the culture, work-life balance, benefits & perks, and growth opportunities. Glassdoor was of no help and basically only had job reviews for sports teams from concession workers, parking lot attendants, and tour guides. Now more than ever, people want to know if the values of an organization align with theirs and we felt the sports industry was behind in this category. In addition to bringing more transparency to this industry, we saw a drastic shift in the talent market within the sports/sports tech space. These new "modern professionals" working in sports have skill sets that are relatively new to the industry and unfortunately, the one big job board in this space hasn't kept up with the times.

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

We are bringing greater transparency to careers in sports while offering the highest quality jobs that are available in this space. We are taking some of the best talent acquisition practices we've learned from the tech and healthcare industry and giving the sports industry a much-needed facelift. Our goal is to help every single person currently working in sports or who wants to work in this industry by providing information & opportunities that will be useful throughout their entire career. With our marketplace concept, it's not just the people working in sports we want to help. We've built a platform where organizations in sports can tell their story and engage with their current and future workforce. A career in sports today looks very different than it did less than 10 years ago. The massive boom in the sports tech, sports media, gambling, and eSports space has given individuals more career options outside of just professional teams and college athletics. We are excited to get these companies and new-age jobs in front of our talent pool.

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

Our founding team doesn't come from an extremely technical background, so we weren't sure how we were going to build an MVP and ultimately launch our platform. However, with the rise in popularity of "No Code" tools, we spent the beginning part of 2020 learning how we could use these tools to build our solution.  Ultimately, we built and launched by using a variety of these no-code tools which allowed us to be in control of the product and saved us significant time and money.

Where do you see your company headed next?

We will be launching the "2.0" version of our platform that will allow more integration between our job reviews and the talent marketplace. We have also developed some really innovative processes around D&I that we are excited to release to our customers in the near future.  With our goal of being a one-stop-shop of information around a career in sports, we will be launching more content verticals and resources for all stages in someone's career journey.

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

Be resourceful. If we didn't explore no-code tools this would still be an idea on a deck. There are so many tools and resources available to founders that I never knew existed. I was fortunate enough to go through the OnDeck Founders cohort and not only met some amazing people, was exposed to an entirely new community that gave me the insight and confidence to build this ourselves.
05.04.2021

We’re Hiring a Growth Marketing Manager!

We are hiring a growth marketing manager at Embarc Collective. If you are passionate about building systems and experiments to grow the Embarc Collective digital audience, this could be a great role for you.

The right person for the job is also savvy in creating written, visual, and video content that reflects the Embarc Collective mission and the startups we support.

In this role, you will manage all online communication assets for Embarc Collective, including the website, email communication/weekly newsletter, and social media properties. You would report to Embarc Collective’s CEO and will work closely with the Membership and Data & Insights teams at Embarc Collective.

Interested? Email your resume to jobs@embarccollective.com.

Must-Haves for the Role:
• Have an interest in and experience with startups, new technologies, and the broader innovation community
• Have a passion and excitement for building Florida into a premier geography for entrepreneurs to build technology startups
• Are experienced in developing marketing campaigns and understands how to evaluate data to evaluate marketing performance
• Are fluent on WordPress, HubSpot, and on social media platforms
• Are able to design leveraging tools like Canva
• Are familiar with marketing best practices in SEO, Google AdWords, social media, and email
• Are a master at crafting concise and clear messages and content for different audiences
• Are extremely meticulous, organized, responsive, and resourceful
• Are tech-savvy and interested in using tech-forward solutions at work
• Are self-directed but also extremely collaborative, both within the organization and externally when engaging with partners
• Have managed vendors or a cross-functional team in prior experience
• Are a natural problem solver but knows when to ask for help and how to manage up
• Are a great communicator, in-person and in writing
• Demonstrate professionalism, a customer-focused orientation, and polish in one’s work

About Embarc Collective

Embarc Collective is Tampa Bay’s startup hub. Structured as a 501c3 nonprofit, we help Florida’s startup talent build bold, scalable, thriving companies and currently supports nearly 100 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. Embarc Collective operates from its 32,000 square-foot hub in downtown Tampa at 802 E. Whiting Street, Tampa, FL 33602.

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Embarc Collective does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, color, religion, age, national origin, marital status, disability, veteran status, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other reason prohibited by law in provision of employment opportunities and benefits.