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11.02.2018

Embarc Collective Community Survey 2018: Introduction

In preparation for our launch in 2019, Embarc Collective reached out to Tampa Bay’s entrepreneurial community to help identify specific needs and opportunities to guide our efforts. Our philosophy is to root what we are building in the needs of our community, which allows our team to measure impact as we move forward. More than 250 founders, employees, investors, and other community members responded to the survey.

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Illustration by Ali De Sousa

A problem well stated is a problem half solved.

— Charles Kettering

In preparation for our launch in 2019, Embarc Collective reached out to Tampa Bay’s entrepreneurial community to help identify specific needs and opportunities to guide our efforts. Our philosophy is to root what we are building in the needs of our community, which allows our team to measure impact as we move forward. More than 250 founders, employees, investors, and other community members responded to the survey.

Breakdown of survey respondents

Founder Findings

This is the first of a series of posts which will dig into the survey results and examine how we as a community can respond to those stated needs. This post will focus on startup founder needs. Startup founders are uniquely positioned to speak on all parts of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, whether that’s hiring talent, seeking investment, acquiring customers, or taking advantage of local resources. To that end, we asked founders what their upcoming milestones in the next 12 months are.

Because we allowed founders to select multiple answers, the following chart shows how frequently any two milestones appeared together. The diagonal shows how often each option appeared total.

What are your upcoming milestones in the next 12 months?

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What immediately jumps out in this chart is that founders are focused on growing their customer base, hiring more team members, and raising funds.

  • 75% of founders said an upcoming milestone is to grow their customer base
  • 62% of founders said an upcoming milestone is to raise funds
  • 62% of founders said an upcoming milestone is to hire more team members

42% of founders said all three of those categories are upcoming milestones. As the chart illustrates, these three are a bigger focus than launching a product, finding co-working space, or finding private working space.

Topics, programs, and services of interest

To get a better sense of what founders are looking for, we asked them what topics they’re interested in, as well as which training programs and mentoring services they’re most in need of. Both of these questions also allowed respondents to select multiple answers. Their responses broadly reflect what we learned about upcoming milestones, but they introduce some new categories to examine.

What topics are of most interest to you?

n = 76

The same three milestones are represented in the answers to this question, but at lower rates¹:

  • 64% of founders said either scaling or marketing/sales are topics of interest
  • 52% of founders said either hiring talent or building a team culture to attract and retain talent are topics of interest
  • 46% of founders said that investor readiness is a topic of interest

A new result of interest from this question is that 46% of founders said they are interested in hearing best practices from successful entrepreneurs who have built companies.

What programs and services are you most in need of?

n = 76

Distinct from topics of interest, we also asked founders what training/mentoring programs and services they are most in need of. Customers, capital, and talent were once again well-represented. However, founders did not express as much of a need for access to talent/recruiting strategy services²:

  • 63% of founders need better connections to investment prospects / sources of capital
  • 47% of founders need corporate customer introductions
  • 29% of founders need better access to talent/recruiting strategy services

Similarly to the previous question’s results on hearing entrepreneur insights,51% of founders said they need a like-minded community of entrepreneurs.

New to this analysis is that 43% of founders expressed a need for press coverage and brand building.

Connectivity and Storytelling

The last two questions we’ll examine in this post asked founders what their challenges for business growth are, and what the Tampa–St. Pete community can do to better support their growth. We classified these qualitative answers into categories, several of which mirror prior answer choices.

Founders once again considered funding, talent, and customer growth to be significant challenges. When telling us about how the community can help their growth, founders brought up two new categories: Connectivity and Storytelling.

We know from prior questions that 46% of founders are interested in learning insights from fellow entrepreneurs, and that 51% of founders want a like-minded community of entrepreneurs. What founders said the community could do to help their growth expanded on those ideas. How well does the community direct founders to available resources? Do individuals in the community support each other and share their insights? This concept, connectivity, is a particularly important indicator of how effective support organizations are within an entrepreneurial ecosystem³.

Another theme that emerged from these responses is that founders want the community to share their successes and tell Tampa–St. Pete’s entrepreneurial story. This isn’t just seen as something to be done for the sake of recognition; founders also expressed that by making our regional brand and success stories more widely known, we can attract more talent and capital. As one founder told us:

Continue building the innovation culture and marketing this within other regions in the Southeast. This will draw resources and talent here.

This founder brings up an excellent point — none of these needs exist in a vacuum, and working on one issue will positively impact the others. More successful startups will attract more investors and talent; more investors will allow for more startups to hire more talent; more talent leads to more successful startups. This can seem like a daunting chicken-and-egg problem, but we also see it as more avenues through which we can drive growth.

As Embarc Collective prepares to launch in 2019, we’re prioritizing our efforts using these insights and the many ongoing conversations we’re having with members of the community. To keep learning more about Embarc Collective, and to see how we’re using these results to inform our decision-making, sign up for updates below!


 

TL;DR: We found that there are five major categories in which we can help founders:

  • Funding
  • Talent
  • Customer growth
  • Community cohesion
  • Storytelling and building the region’s entrepreneurial brand

As Embarc Collective prepares to launch in 2019, we’re using these insights —alongside ongoing conversations with founders, investors, and other members of the entrepreneurial community — to help us prioritize which services and programs we direct our effort towards. Sign up using the form above to stay up-to-date on our next set of findings!

 


 

¹ There are a few potential explanations for seeing the same top answers at a lower rate. The simplest is that by expanding the total number of options to a question you dilute the responses (even if the question allows a respondent to select all that apply). The second is that there is a difference between upcoming milestones and topics of interest (or between milestones and needed programs/services). A founder may see fundraising as an upcoming milestone (62%), but a subset of those founders might feel that they are ready to pitch to investors and so therefore do not consider investor readiness (46%) as a topic of interest.

² A possibility for this discrepancy is that founders see hiring as a need but don’t see talent/recruiting strategy services as a way to meet that need. Founders indicated multiple times that hiring is a topic of concern, and one of our tasks moving forward is to better understand how we can help startups find the best talent.

³ As Stangler and Bell-Masterson (2015) put it, “ Recent years have seen a proliferation of entrepreneurship education and training programs around the world, but the mere existence of programmatic resources is not the same thing as effectiveness, let alone vibrancy. Connections matter, and a dense network of connections, among a small number of programs, is arguably more important than a sparse network among a larger number.”

Embarc Collective
Embarc Collective
We are a startup collective — curators of experiences, resources, and environment that help forward-thinking founders and their teams thrive in Tampa Bay, FL.
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