Monthly Archives: January 2023


Featured Founder: Charity Golden of Atlas Web3 Data Inc.

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 Charity Golden of Atlas Web3 Data Inc., a startup providing secure, private, and easy-to-use Web3 cloud storage.

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

I have been a global growth strategist since business school. I did some consulting, I was in venture capital, [and] I was a Chief Experience Officer for a tech company in New York. I love to see and help people grow. They know where they’re at, and they know where they want to be, but to help them get there is really, really cool. I want to be a part of that. 

Sometimes people doubt themselves – they don’t know how to get access to things. To be alongside them in their journey, improve their metrics, and maybe iron out some personnel issues or advocate for yourself is really cool.

I’m the cofounder of [Atlas Web3 Data Inc.] with my husband, Peter Golden. [Atlas] really was a confluence of our talents. He had an idea to build A-Lock, the B2C product that Atlas is launching at Synapse publicly. It is a private cloud storage company. A-Lock is the first B2C private cloud storage company accessible to the B2C market. So you don’t need a [computer science] degree, you don’t need to be a developer to access it – it’s going to be very, very simple. 

We have two little girls, and we wanted to protect their privacy. I have beautiful photos of them in the tub (just when they were wee babes) and birthing videos, and my husband and I really saw an opportunity to protect those memories and protect some of those precious moments. And we kind of put our heads together.

[My husband] has a coding background – he was Duke [computer science], electrical engineering, and computer engineering (so, you know, a slacker). He worked as a nuclear submarine officer, so he saw the kind of “classified” side of things. And then he moved into anti-money laundering, both as a consultant and then for a bank.

So he really saw how government and business were taking our personal data – our private data – and monetizing that. So we just thought, “Hey, what a wonderful opportunity to provide a layer of protection for people that said, ‘Hey, listen, this is really precious.’” 

Maybe it’s a diagnosis. Maybe it’s your financial returns. There are all sort of nefarious actors out there trying to hack things, and unfortunately we have friends who have [had a phone hacked]. I have a mom friend – a single mom friend, a business owner – [and] her phone got hacked. And the people who hacked it actually applied for PPP loans. You know, that kind of silly, terrible stuff. We really just saw an opportunity to encrypt, dissect, and distribute personal data in a way that just hadn’t been done before.

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

Really, it’s just back to that choice. That people don’t have to accept what the market has out there with big companies – what Apple, Google, AWS say: “Trust us, we’ll protect you.” People can really reclaim their right to privacy and say, “Hey, I’m no longer going to surrender my right to privacy on the altar of your technological convenience.” It’s really saying, “Hey, these are precious moments that I’d like to protect. This is a diagnosis that I’d like to protect.”

Our slogan at A-Lock is, “Protect what’s yours.” Whatever that is, it’s coming alongside and giving people real opportunity.

So the pain point [we’re solving] is giving people a choice – I guess [it’s] an underdog choice, I guess [it’s] the “American dream” choice. I guess [it’s] two parents wanting to protect their little kids, coming up with an idea, and then building it with amazing collaborators and saying, “Hey, this is an alternative for you, and we really want you to consider it and have a go at it.”

And you know, [it’s] proving to people that you can have privacy without a company looking into your data. So A-Lock never actually has a copy of that original picture. Apple, Google, [and] AWS always have an original for their employees to look at (or not look at, God willing), but we at A-Lock never see that because the devices for each user – it’s encrypted on that device. So A-Lock never gets any of that from the get-go.

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

This [question] is real for us, because we were at Synapse last year and we had no app. Our biggest problem is proving to people that they need this. I know we’re not the iPhone (yet), but until Steve Jobs stood on that stage and said, “Here’s the iPhone – you’ll never need anything else in your life,” no one really knew that they needed or could use an iPhone.

For us, [the challenge is] saying and marketing ourselves in a way that says, “Hey, listen: take back your privacy. You can be in charge of that. Let me empower you, let me give you [back] ownership [of] your own memories, financial details, budgeting, college savings details, plan, or debt.”

Whatever it is, let me empower you to say, “Thank you for Google Maps, but that doesn’t mean that Google gets to see my child’s birthing video or their first recital playing the piano – to then later have an algorithm push me stuff to buy piano stuff.”

It’s just this saying, “Hey, you guys deserve to have a little protection and a little privacy from the world out there.” Not that they’re doing bad things (and, God willing, that doesn’t happen!), but mind your business. I don’t need to know your dating profile. No one does!

We’re overcoming [these problems] by actually building [a solution]. We decided to bootstrap this and build a product that we could show people. It’s not an idea. This right to privacy that’s empowering and uplifting and positive is an option.

We’ve built it, and we’re launching it, and we’re literally going to push it to people and say, “Hey, use this. If it fixes your problems, or if it stores everything you need to – [does] everything the cloud does – and also protects your privacy, choose us!”

So we’re putting our money where our mouth is. My mom always says, “Proof’s in the pudding.” So we’re putting the proof in the pudding and saying, “This is an alternative for you. We are transparent. Please pay us money based on the storage.”

We’re not trying to back in and get money through marketing and [whatever]. If you want a terabyte of privacy, true privacy – we’re defining that as true, transparent privacy – please pay us X amount of dollars. There’s no back end. 

Where do you see your company headed next?

Hopefully mass adoption. I would really, really like to change the conversation. These bigger companies, they say, “Hey, you know, we respect your privacy…” But do they really? I would just really encourage people to claim that back.

We really would love to continue to grow. We have some advisors, we just brought on our first equity partner, and that’s going really well. So we want to grow intentionally while in line with our values.

We’re not just interested in taking money from whomever. That’s why we’re bootstrapping this. Peter works a full time job. I have my own practice to pay for this. Because we really want to partner with people who have our vision that’s really uplifting and positive and powerful.

I guess that’s the hope for the next year: work out any of the bugs that might pop out and continue to improve our worth. We want to prove our value proposition, which is true privacy – [and] for the people that trust us to use it. 

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

This is kind of a life mantra: “Don’t be in a rush to get it wrong.” For me, that means: don’t just take money from whomever. Take your time planning it out.

But also: “Don’t let fear stop you.” Do it scared. Get feedback. Get your trusted people. Get three to five people around you who think a little differently than you. Yes, men and women around you – [but] do not get into the hole of groupthink.

You want people to come from different industries, older than you, younger than you – really, that diversity of perspective when you’re building a company is really crucial.

Because when you have that diversity of thought, of industry background, of undergraduate, of global origin or point of origin, you really get this – I don’t want to say foolproof, but you get this holistic perspective on what you’re trying to build and can put into the world, which you hope is good and is going to add value. And when you have those trusted people, those diverse thinkers around you, it’s really going to make it even more robust.

Why Tampa Bay?

I’m a Plant City girl. I grew up in Hillsborough County, my family’s from Plant City – winter strawberry capital of the world. My uncle’s a strawberry farmer, and my grandparents still own that land off of McIntosh Road.

Plant City, Tampa – they’re my roots. I was [on] special assignment at Armwood High School, and cheered there, and graduated [from] there, and went off to New York. I was gone for 15 years and lived in New York, Spain, Bulgaria, and Singapore… [and] picked up my husband along the way. But this is home. These are where my roots are. And when you’re raising children, you want them to have good, solid roots in a place that is curious and forward thinking.

I’ve been really grateful to see the growth and maturation of Tampa as a forward-thinking place and space here in the Southeast. I want to commend Embarc Collective and its colleagues down in Miami and what they’re building [in] this startup space: bringing innovation and bringing talent back to that global, diverse thinking – that’s really important to me. 

And the food’s gotten better. I love food, and I’ve lived and traveled all over the world. So having all different kinds of amazing food – I’ve been really proud of Tampa for that. And having an international airport has been really helpful so that we can bugger off to different places and spaces around the world.

Tampa’s home, it’s where my roots are, and I like to say [that] you have good roots so you can sprout wings, and fly, and explore… and bring the good stuff back. And that’s just the cycle of life. My roots are in Plant City, and then I went off to New York, got some of the good stuff, [and brought] that back.


Tampa Bay Innovation Week is Coming!

Tampa Bay Innovation Week will take place from February 10 through February 17. During this week, Tampa Bay will showcase the different technologies, people, and organizations focused on innovation from across the region.

Anchored by the Synapse Summit, Tampa Bay Innovation Week brings those close to the innovation economy and those new to the space together to learn, connect, and engage. “With an intentional and diverse lineup of topics and speakers, Tampa Bay Innovation Week is a great introduction to new themes and trends across topics of technology, startups, and innovation broadly,” said Embarc Collective Manager of Events, Evan Erickson. “As part of Innovation Week, Embarc Collective will bring many national investors to Tampa Bay to meet with member startups and will welcome Steve Case ahead of his keynote at the Synapse Summit for an exclusive Embarc Collective member event.”

“Tampa Bay Innovation Week is an extension of the robust connections generated and celebrations at the Synapse Summit,” said Brian Kornfeld, CEO of Synapse Florida. “It helps ensure that individuals attending Summit know where they can turn to to keep the conversations going and shining a bright spotlight on all the incredible growth across the Tampa Bay Community —including Embarc Collective, its 125+ startup member companies, and the many organizations hosting events at Embarc Collective.”

Throughout Tampa Bay Innovation Week, Embarc Collective will host both public and private, member-only events.

Innovation Week Public Events at Embarc Collective

Keep up with the events happening at Embarc Collective. Learn more about how to host an event at Embarc Collective. 


Innovation Week Events Exclusive to Embarc Collective Members

  • Embarc Collective Member-Only Ask Me Anything with Steve Case, Co-Founder of AOL and Founder of Revolution Ventures (member-only)
    • Tuesday, February 14
  • Embarc Collective National Investor Fly-In (member-only)
    • Wednesday, February 15 + Thursday, February 16

You must be an Embarc Collective member to attend these events. Learn more about Embarc Collective membership.


Embarc Collective Ranked as a Top Program by UBI Global


Today UBI Global recognized Embarc Collective as a top incubation program in the world. Now serving over 125 tech and tech-enabled startups across Florida, Embarc Collective launched in 2020 and quickly began delivering results. Within just three years, Embarc Collective has achieved the level of impact to merit this global recognition and now gains the distinction of being only one of two US-based programs in the top rankings overall.

The UBI Global World Benchmark Study 2021-2022 named Embarc Collective as a Top Challenger in North America. UBI defines Top Challenger as a business incubator or accelerator that stands out due to its impressive overall impact and performance achievements relative to its respective regional peers.

The performance and impact of Embarc Collective were measured across 21 KPIs against other programs from around the world. The Benchmark Study assessed 1,895 programs, received 356 applications, and ultimately benchmarked 109 programs. Just 41 organizations made the Top Performer or Challenger rankings.

In 2022, Embarc Collective delivered over 1,700 hours of individualized coaching from its staff of startup veterans. That coaching was complemented by 70 programming sessions and over 160 community events in 2022. Embarc Collective puts tremendous focus on the quality, relevancy, and impact of our support to help Florida’s startup talent build bold, scalable, thriving companies.

In 2021, Embarc Collective became Florida’s fastest-growing startup hub. Being benchmarked based on the quality of our offering and recognized as a top program globally means we are actualizing the vision of Embarc Collective—to help put Florida, and specifically Tampa Bay, on the map as a great place to build a technology business.

The impact of Embarc Collective is a testament to the tremendous energy, capital, and knowledge that have been put into the building of this organization and the support we offer startups. Thank you to our startup membership, community partners, sponsors and donors, Board of Directors, Corporate Advisory Council, Young Professionals Board, and the Embarc Collective team. Your tireless work has helped this region become a top place to build a company.

Having been recognized by UBI Global in my prior work, I know what credibility and visibility this award will offer our community. Let’s grab hold of this momentum and continue to put this region on the map.

– Lakshmi


Featured Founder: Katey Mulfinger of Raxar Technology Corporation

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 Katey Mulfinger of Raxar Technology Corporation, a startup delivering an all-in-one SaaS work automation platform focused on the mobile operations worker who does not sit at a desk.

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

I am a bit unique in this context, as I am not the founder of Raxar – I am the CEO, as of March of last year. My previous work was with small social enterprise startups featuring an innovative model or solution that efficiently and effectively solves a societal need, from education (PresenceLearning) to medical devices (LegWorks, MGDinnovations).

Raxar’s goal to empower a workforce to not only complete but excel at management of assets and work orders convinced me to make the move, and I’ve loved every minute of it (no matter how hectic the day might get!).

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

Raxar allows a deskless workforce to easily collect information on the go while helping management facilitate real-time monitoring of asset health, work completion, and analysis of collected data for strategic planning. By serving both populations simultaneously, we enable streamlining of previously onerous tasks involving paper checklists and disparate systems.

I am a data nerd and efficiency is my favorite thing, so that – combined with helping clients not only succeed but thrive – gets me pumped for work every day.

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

Our biggest challenge has been staying focused on our primary verticals for sales and marketing. We have identified airports and venues as our concentration and built out solutions particular to their needs, but with a product that can work for so many industries, it is very easy to get distracted and chase the next big thing. (But absolutely contact me at if you are interested in using the platform!)

Plus, as a remote-based team, we have struggled a bit with effective internal communication and project management. The team has cycled through many approaches over the past eight years, and we have gone back and forth between in-person and remote, but we landed on remote-only prior to the start of the pandemic.

Finding the right combination of tools and systems has been challenging, and the team is tired of trying the next new idea, training on a new system, and integrating new platforms into their daily tasks. We have landed on a combination of CRM and integrated project management that will allow us to effectively communicate and stay on the same page without dropping any of the many balls we are juggling.

Where do you see your company headed next?

We are in the process of revamping our sales and marketing collateral – everything from our website to our decks to the contents of our emails. It is a significant undertaking, but one that is important as we continue to learn and iterate upon our communications with prospective and current clients. 

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

Team is key! Enthusiastic, smart, and energetic humans who see problems first and foremost as solvable are the foundation of a startup. It’s not just being able to do the job – it’s the desire to attain new heights together in a collaborative and supportive environment. (If you know anyone who fits that description and is hungry to join a growing startup, please send them my way at!)

Why Tampa Bay?

I am a true Tampanian born and raised, but I lived in Northern California for 13 years prior to returning to the Sunshine State to join the team. Tampa has undergone so many exciting changes over the time I was absent, and the burgeoning startup scene made keeping Raxar in Tampa an easy decision. Add in the lack of snow, opportunities for outdoor activities, and increasing cultural and gustatorial options, and I can’t see why you wouldn’t choose Tampa.


Featured Founder: Dr. Carla Dorsey of The Dorsey Group

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 Dr. Carla Dorsey of The Dorsey Group, a business performance improvement firm specializing in operational optimization.

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

Over 30 years ago Tim Dorsey, my husband, started The Dorsey Group, an operational performance improvement consulting company. I joined the company 20 years ago after spending the first part of my career in public accounting, and as a CFO for several small businesses.  

In 2020 we developed the D-MAPP™ software. It was a culmination of years of experience in performance improvement along with the research I worked on while earning my Doctor of Business Administration from USF Tampa (completed in 2019). My research focused on how small businesses could improve their chance of success. To do this, I “highjacked” a tool we used in our consulting practice and tested it on 7 small businesses.  We found that the tool changed both how the companies viewed their organizations and their decision-making towards improving their operations.

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

Our mission is to provide a solution for businesses that want to improve their performance – whether they want to improve their processes, their people, their profits, or all three.  

The D-MAPP digitizes several of the most powerful performance improvement tools and provides analytics to both diagnose and set a plan to fix underperformance.  We wanted to provide a solution that was easy to use, cost effective, and remote – and to generate instant, sustainable results.

We are very excited about the D-MAPP and its future development. Users are getting excellent results and savings and their feedback is positive. We hope the D-MAPP helps many companies both survive and thrive.

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

We are still in the process of learning how to properly position and market the D-MAPP. Selling software is far more different than selling consulting services. We had to slow down, put together a talented team (including Embarc coaches) and strategically approach determining target markets, product-market fit, the customer journey and the product journey. 

Where do you see your company headed next?

As we continue to work on target markets, customer and product journeys, we will need to add staff and put the infrastructure in place to handle an increase in users. Then, we need to keep those users loyal.

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

Marketing and product research have a much larger role than product development. You can develop an outstanding product, but without fully addressing customer pain points / needs and designing a user-centric journey for your product (from awareness to conversion to loyalty), you won’t get the traction you need.

Why Tampa Bay?

I earned my Doctor of Business Administration at USF Tampa. During that time, I met so many outstanding people and noticed a true sense of community and support for entrepreneurship.  We felt a spark in Tampa, and want to be a part of it.


Embarc Collective Welcomes Jason Putorti to Coaching Team

We’re excited to welcome Jason Putorti, UX Strategist, to the Embarc Collective coaching team—here to deliver customized, consistent, and high-quality strategic guidance to our members.

Read on to learn more about Jason’s unique background and perspective on startup building.

What fostered your passion for product?

I’ve been building software and websites since I was 8, from the code to the user interfaces. In college, I became fascinated with design applied to problems like advertising, marketing, and brand-building, where your tools are words and imagery on a page, and your goal is to create an emotional connection with the person seeing it. Applying those same principles to software became much more interesting to me than writing code. People have so many choices when it comes to most apps, and making design the differentiator that drives product choice, and solves someone’s problem, is something I love—whether it was replacing a chore like money management and automating a lot of it with a delightful visual interface, or taking a painful process like filling out multiple web forms to contact your officials and making it a two-minute text conversation instead.

What guidance would you offer the startup founder that needs to know a little of everything and execute with limited resources?

I firmly believe that the best marketing is a well-designed product. Focus on deeply understanding the problem you’re solving, the people you’re solving it for, and building the minimum viable product to test your assumptions and lower your risks for investing further capital in development. If I had to pick a single book to read and understand, it’s the Lean Startup. Any founder can start here and make real progress toward a successful product. There’s a lot more to learn and many specialties in UX design, but learning and iterating is fundamental.

What area of a startup’s product strategy is oftentimes overlooked?

A mental model of the problem space and behavioral segments for customers is a key part of how decisions should be made in the product design process: from knowing precisely what your product should and shouldn’t do at an early stage, to how it should work. The average founder will practice an immature type of design known as “self-design,” where you’re solving problems for yourself and hoping the market has a lot of people just like you. UX research is a stronger foundation than luck or hope.

What’s one trend you’re excited about in your industry?

Over the last twenty years, the tools have gotten so much better for creating products. We’ve gone from using an app designed for photo-retouching to design websites, and pixel-based tools; to vector and markup-native tools like UX Pin or Figma that make it incredibly easy to bring app ideas to life. I used to even recommend paper prototyping to founders, but the digital tools have finally caught up. Full design systems like Material 3 are now out there so founders can focus on solving user problems rather than how a drop-down should work. It’s also great to see bold typography and color, digestible copy, responsive design, and higher performance / lower page weight become more common.

Embarc Collective’s new UX strategy coaching is available to our member companies. Consider applying for membership to Embarc Collective here.


Featured Founder: Mike Maseda of Circadios

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 Mike Maseda of Circadios, a digital health solution that treats all mild to severe sleep disorders. It uses its online platform to provide diagnosis, conduct in-home sleep studies, and create customized care plans.

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

Previously, I was Chief of Staff at Reside Health, a medical group based out of New York that builds clinics in office spaces, including the World Trade Center. Working in healthcare during the pandemic helped me see how the patient experience within primary care and additional specialties can dramatically be improved. Looking deeper into insomnia and sleep apnea, I learned how the current healthcare system is ill-equipped to manage patient needs.

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

Our mission is to help the one in five Americans that suffer with sleep issues. Most go undiagnosed, and getting an appointment to see the right specialist and receive the right diagnosis can take over four months! We’re creating a patient-centric solution that allows you to get care quickly from the convenience of your home.

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

Starting a company as the only full-time employee can be a lonely and challenging journey. I’m lucky to be supported by additional cofounders, an advisor, and the Embarc team that can field ideas and make sure we’re focused on the right things.

Where do you see your company headed next?

We are launching this month with our direct-to-consumer beta and are exploring pilots with healthcare organizations. Once those are complete, we plan to scale our solution to serve enterprise clients throughout Florida and the rest of the nation.

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

There will be many highs and lows throughout the process of launching and scaling a company. The core skill of innovators is error recovery, not failure avoidance.

Why Tampa Bay?

My wife matched for her orthopedic surgery residency at the University of South Florida. We moved down from New York City in June, and both of our parents live in Florida.


Embarc Collective Receives Grant from the Florida Blue Foundation to Prevent Burnout, Promote Mental Well-Being for Startups

The grant will provide founders with resources to avoid burnout and continue to build thriving companies

Embarc Collective, the startup hub helping founders in the Tampa Bay region build bold, scalable, thriving companies, today announced it received a $20,000 grant from the Florida Blue Foundation. This grant, its third from the Florida Blue Foundation, will enable Embarc Collective to launch CEO Peer Groups, which are close-knit communities of startup CEOs at the same stage of startup building who will keep each other accountable and help to navigate business challenges under a common ethos of accountability, trust, and candor.

Unfortunately, burnout and associated mental well-being challenges are far too prevalent within the startup space.

“We’ve seen a dramatic demand for mental health resources over the past three years, which is why the mental health of our members remains a top priority for us,” said Dan Holahan, Director of Member Experience at Embarc Collective. “We’re incredibly grateful to the Florida Blue Foundation for allowing us to continue to grow our burnout prevention and wellness support through introducing expert-facilitated CEO Peer Groups.”

Startup founders are under pressure as they balance the needs of customers, employees, investors, directors, partners, and vendors. Their workloads often mean sleepless nights, hurried meals, and skipped workouts, all of which can increase harm to mental health.

“Mental well-being is a critical component to our overall health. The isolation of the pandemic exacerbated an already major need for mental health support in our communities,” said Susan Towler, Executive Director of the Florida Blue Foundation. “We are focused on supporting organizations like Embarc Collective that are implementing innovative programs to address the specific needs of their community.”

Through this grant, Embarc Collective will provide startup founders with a curated group of peers to regularly work through the complicated ups and downs of startup building, including mental health, stress, and leadership development. Each group is facilitated by Kelby Kupersmid, Embarc Collective’s Wellness and Burnout Prevention Coach, and receives access to tools and resources from the experts at Pilea, a global integrative leadership and human development community that coaches venture-backed founders on physical, mental, emotional, and relational health.


About Embarc Collective

Embarc Collective is a nonprofit startup hub helping founders in the Tampa Bay region build bold, scalable, thriving companies. Embarc Collective offers hands-on support driven by the unique goals and needs of each member startup. Member companies receive customized, ongoing coaching and support from startup veterans to help propel member companies’ growth.

Embarc Collective works with a growing roster of over 125 early-stage startups at its 32,000 square-foot office in downtown Tampa. Its partners include over 100 expertise-focused organizations and 160 early-stage venture firms across the country dedicated to assisting entrepreneurs. In 2021, Embarc Collective delivered 1,300 hours of one-on-one coaching to its members as well as 65 group learning sessions.

For more information, please visit


Featured Founder: Jake Dyal of Certus

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 Jake Dyal of Certus Group, which enables rapid decisions through knowledge systems.

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

I previously was a government civilian project manager at a research facility that works on advanced analytic solutions for the US Air Force. My partners and I (who I met there) really came together on a project focused on global money laundering, where we were given the opportunity to process over 40 terabytes of cryptocurrency, banking, and shipping data into a cohesive picture of sanctioned individuals and organizations.

This project eventually became a $10M government program. However, we knew we were onto something bigger that could benefit many different people and industries! Integrating multiple, disparate data sets – centered around a desired impact and effect – was the real value of what we came up with.

We then decided to create Certus Group to help others bring data together and organize it around their goals, providing context to enable rapid, more informed decisions focused on customer’s desired outcomes.

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

I’m passionate about helping people solve their large-scale business problems and using their data and expertise to do it!

Everyone gets that they need data to make decisions, but how do you find the right data? What about the context of the decision that only you, who knows your problem and industry domain, can provide that data?

At Certus Group, we enable rapid, more informed decisions using your domain expertise. We bring it back to the questions you’re trying to answer and problems you’re trying to solve. And we bake your context into the data structure so that even if one of your data sources changes, you don’t have to re-architect your entire analytic process to continue enabling decision-making for your business.

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

Coming up with the opportunity that gave us the capital to quit our jobs and focus on what we’re passionate about was the biggest hurdle. Belief in what we’re doing is what got us through. We had a good network and a good track record, but our passion for enabling people to solve their large-scale data problems is what our first customers saw in us and what got us that first opportunity.

Where do you see your company headed next?

We’re excited because we’re growing our team and bringing on new customers who align with our vision. We want to empower people with the understanding that their expertise in their industry is an asset when dealing with data. Let us help you solve one problem with your data, which should then empower you to solve many other problems without us (and hopefully one day you’ll tell us about them!).

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

Partner with others coming up. Help people out, and they, in turn, will help you. Build a community and an ecosystem that sustains you. Don’t be afraid to give.

Why Tampa Bay?

I’m from Tampa, but when I turned 18, I left because there really wasn’t a future for me here in what I wanted to do.

Twelve years later, I came back, and the town had changed. Now, Tampa’s tech scene is growing to the point where we’ve got some big names and some attention. It’s the perfect time to be doing what we’re doing here, and I’m glad to be on the short list of natives doing it!