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An Open Letter to the Tampa Bay Startup Community

I moved to Tampa Bay 8 months ago, recruited by Jeff Vinik to lead the innovation hub, now known as Embarc Collective: A physical location that will make Tampa Bay a prime destination for diverse startup talent to make an impact — professionally and personally.

Thank you for being a great partner to our team as we launch Embarc Collective. I’ve sought out your input along this journey, so know that your feedback has guided the way that we are building the organization.

Why are we so focused on startup talent? As you know, start-up talent is made up of entrepreneurial people with big ideas, tremendous drive, and courage. Over the course of their careers, as they may move from startup teams to corporations and back again, they make a positive impact. Startup talent includes founders such as Samyr Qureshi from Knack, who connects employers and prospective talent via college tutoring services. And it includes Michael O’Rourke from Pokt, who is building the infrastructure so that financial transactions can be made via the blockchain. It is the team at the Suncoast Developers Guild, led by Toni Warren and Jason Perry, who filled a market gap and built a program to train coding talent when a prior player in the region left the market. We are lucky to have many strong entrepreneurs in Tampa Bay. We need to create opportunities and reasons for them to stay and need to welcome more inspiring entrepreneurs to join our region.

Why do we need a physical hub? J.K. Rowling said, “We are as strong as we are united.” A physical hub brings people and resources together in one place so that we can put Tampa Bay on the map for its startup potential. While we have a robust network of startups here, we can do a better job to help Tampa Bay become nationally and internationally known as a great place to start and grow a business.

Why Embarc Collective? As many of you have experienced, starting a new venture is akin to embarking on a voyage. The voyage is filled with ups and downs, but we sail on, we make progress, we move forward. Since arriving in Tampa Bay, I’ve been impressed by the courage and drive of the founders who have embarked on their own voyages.

To help make it a successful voyage for an entrepreneur– it takes all of us, the collective of Tampa Bay. The collective is a community of startup teams, invested supporters and the residents of Tampa Bay at large who are all focused on helping the founder and his or her team be successful.

How can we help you? Feel free to reach out to me directly at

We look forward to joining the effort to support the Tampa Bay startup community.

Here to help,

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CEO at Embarc Collective Tampa Bay
Lakshmi Shenoy