What is the Holy Grail for economic development? For most cities it is a thriving start-up ecosystem. Cities everywhere want to become the next Silicon Valley. States want their economic engines loaded with fuel.
Non-for-profit Synapse is trying to do just that in the state of Florida.
Doing so helps attract talent, entrepreneurs, investors, large corporations, educators and also creates a new blossoming small business community powered by technology.
Exposing the Entrepreneurial Start-Up Ecosystem
People often associate Florida with tropical weather, Disney World and nice beaches. Fewer realize that Florida now boasts the 3rd largest population compared to any state. Nor that the Tampa Bay region is the 18th largest Metropolitan Service Area (MSA) in the country. Put another way, if Tampa Bay were a state, with its population of 3.14 million, it would be the 30th largest in the country – larger than Nevada, Iowa, Arkansas or Mississippi.
There are major undertakings underway across the state including: the $3B Waterstreet Tampa urban redevelopment project, sky rises abound throughout St. Petersburg’s downtown, Orlando’s rank of 7th in job growth and Miami’s 11.3% start-up formation, ahead of cities such as Houston, New York City, San Diego or Chicago.
However, even with many brilliant minds and bold ideas present, Florida still faces many challenges. Building a successful start-up ecosystem requires specific financial actors to equally and mutually support each other: investors, entrepreneurs, large corporations, educators and the state and local government.
Synapse, led by a number of respected entrepreneurs, entrepreneurial service providers, and investors from Tampa Bay, is building a virtual platform to address this gap. They want to connect Florida’s various innovation ecosystems to create one massive virtual community – the first of its kind in the area.
The Synapse platform does not stop there – they want to expand from Tampa Bay to the entirety of Florida, and eventually across the globe. Cofounders Marc Blumenthal and Brian Kornfeld recently sat down with Bold Business to discuss what the team envisions for the state and then nationwide.
Taking lessons from Cincinnati, Ohio’s start-up ecosystem, led by Cintrifuse, essentially, Synapse wants to connect what they refer to as eight “personas,” namely:
- Educational Institutions
- Innovation Enablers
- Entrepreneur Support Organizations
“To shrink our great state virtually and to allow you to be one or two degrees of separation away from the right investor, the right next employee, the right entrepreneurial support organization, and the right customer,” Blumenthal explained.
Easy Platform for Innovators from Florida and Beyond
Through the Synapse platform, any of these key personas can log in and identify attributes or elements regarding their skills and experiences, as well as what they want to do or what they want to make into reality. The start-up ecosystem searches for these, as Blumenthal likened, “the same way that one would find a movie or a show on Netflix.” He then expounded how easy it is to do. “You don’t have to do an A-to-Z list of a million movies. You can find the seven or the 10 or the 20 that are most interesting to you, and then take action or even save them for later,” he said. Essentially, the platform helps these eight personas align and connect, regardless of their geographic differences.
Brian Kornfeld, another Synapse cofounder, explained to Bold Business how the platform works. “Click the check boxes and they’ll update right on the spot,” he said. “Whatever your thesis is, whatever you are, whatever builds into you and your persona and your journey and it’s going to provide what it is that you’re looking for and who it is that you’re looking for.”
Synapse product owner Rachel Fisher affirmed the excitement behind their bold innovation. “To be able to curate all the way down to that and find the people and companies, the mentors, the talent that you need, the funding that you need, that’s fantastic,” she told Bold Business.
Synapse Florida Inaugural Innovation Summit at Amalie Arena in Tampa this coming March 28 and 29. They will bring together over 1,500 attendees, with over 200 exhibitors, and the presence of over 50 speakers and more than 50 sessions – a truly exciting time for today’s brilliant minds. With this number of industry leaders serving as keynote speakers and panelists, Synapse’s Innovation Summit paves the way in discussing and enacting things for the future of innovation and start-up ecosystem in Florida and potentially everywhere.
“We have scheduled and are launching our inaugural event,” Blumenthal said. “…bringing together the best minds and our various resources and over 200 companies to exhibit.” He explained how their company is not just about the Sunshine state as well. “Synapse is really not only about Florida, right? It is born in Florida, it is focused on Florida, but what it is about is exposing the rich tapestry of the great companies, the entrepreneur is the innovators and the resources that are here, not just for people who are here doing business in Florida, but for really the whole world,” he affirmed.
Opportunity seekers everywhere are excited – Synapse is happening in the heart of Tampa Bay, the center of flourishing tech and innovation in the state. Through this bold event, individuals can connect with businesses to create ideas and grow whatever groundbreaking thoughts they have, turning them into reality.