Entertainment For Good – Interview with Ethan and Tom

By: Josh Wilson

Entertainment For Good – Interview with Ethan and Tom

00:00 / 00:51:56

Ethan Founders Story

As far back as he can remember, GoodTix Founder and President, Ethan Curtis, knew he wanted to work in entertainment.  “I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but I always knew it would involve entertainment.  I wanted to bring people together to share special moments.”  His lifelong passion led him on a circuitous path of varying roles; from performer to songwriter to event producer to owner of what has become Florida’s premier recording facility, Plush Studios.  Eventually, Ethan landed in talent management, where he found immediate success helping to build the career of Gen-Z phenomenon, Baby Ariel.  By the end of his first year working with Ariel, she had amassed over 40-million followers online, secured a major record deal with Atlantic Records and a book deal with Harper-Collins, produced and starred in her own web series, launched her own clothing line, penned a multitude of major brand deals including partnerships with Converse, Neutrogena, EA Games, Instagram, MTV and Nickelodeon, had been named “one of the most influential people on the Internet” by TIME Magazine, graced the cover of Billboard Magazine, and landed a spot on Forbes’ 2017 list of “top entertainment influencers.”

“The success we had found with Ariel’s project was amazing.  In that first year, it seemed as though a week couldn’t go by without us receiving some new sort of accolade encouraging yet another self-administered pat on our own backs.  It was nice at first, but after a while, my sense of accomplishment didn’t match up with the success that others seemed to perceive. The honors we were getting acknowledged that we were doing better than others in our field, but they didn’t confirm that we were doing any good.  I had landed the cool job I had always wanted, but I was now at an age where cool alone didn’t do it for me anymore.  I began to seek out a deeper sense of fulfillment from my work.”

“A few months into my early onset midlife crisis, I was attending a show in Orlando.  I knew the act’s management and they had put me on the list, so I got to cut straight through the massive crowd of screaming teeny boppers.  When I walked into the venue, I realized that it wasn’t that full, yet hundreds of kids were standing outside wishing they could switch places with me.  I found out that the majority of people outside hadn’t bought or couldn’t buy tickets but were still camping out in the hope that they may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of their teen idol.  They never got their glimpse, but throughout the entire show, the screams outside far surpassed those inside the venue.  The promoter could have easily passed out all the unsold tickets and let the outsiders in.  Instead, they chose to hold onto the tickets to avoid angering those who had purchased theirs and in case any last-minute buyers decided to walk up.”

“At the end of the show, over 100 tickets still remained, but the second the artist had walked off of the stage, every single one of those tickets had lost 100% of its value.  They were now just worthless pieces of paper.  Thirty minutes earlier, they had been worth $90 each.  What a waste, I thought.  It would have cost them nothing to give those tickets away, and in return, the packed house would’ve made for a better show and increased merchandise and drink sales.  My three years in undergrad as an economics major started to flash through my head.  I began to think about the same scenario but on a macro scale.  If this show alone had allowed $9000 worth of inventory to spoil, how much value are we throwing away each year throughout the live-event industry as a whole?  How can we capture some of that value before it’s lost for good?  How can we help those on the outside who can’t afford a ticket without alienating those on the inside who can?  I realized at that moment that if I could answer those questions, I would solve a major market inefficiency that exists within my industry while simultaneously reconnecting with my original motivation for pursuing a career in entertainment by bringing those outsiders in to share in the experience.”

Tom Founder’s Story

From a very early age, Tom was drawn to the entertainment industry, particularly music.  “I fondly remember, when I was about four or five, curling up next to the radio and falling asleep listing to the hits of the day, memorizing all the lyrics, and later when I was about eight or nine doing living-room lip-sync performances of Beatles songs with my friends for an audience consisting of … our parents.”  When he was fourteen one of Tom’s friends dragged him to a Kiss concert.  Taking inspiration from Kiss’s incredibly theatrical live performance, Tom learned to play bass guitar, and after playing in bands during high school, made a living touring and recording in rock bands for twelve years.  During that time, Tom developed a keen interest in the music business, and after Virgin Records dropped his last band, Tom took his finance degree and headed to the University of Florida where he earned his MBA and his law degree.

During his twenty years of practicing entertainment law, Tom and his firm regularly worked to support numerous charities; building relationships that would prove valuable to the success of GoodTix.  Realizing the limitations of the charitable efforts he and his firm could provide, Tom sought to create positive social change on a greater scale.  “When Ethan [Curtis, co-founder of GoodTix] brought the GoodTix concept to me and asked me to partner with him I leapt at the opportunity.”  “GoodTix allows me to maximize the effectiveness of my personal social-benefit initiatives and seeing the potential to provide support for numerous worthy charities is very gratifying.”


GoodTix Story

GoodTix is a web-based platform that allows ticket sellers to donate excess ticket inventory to be sold online at a discount to the benefit of charities; helping to drive impact within our community.

GoodTix believes that live events are shared experiences that bring us together and are powerful “cultural capital.” A tremendous amount of live-event tickets go unsold or unused. GoodTix reduces this waste, increases access to events, and makes the world a better place by distributing this otherwise-lost value to charitable organizations that provide positive social impact where it’s needed most.


goodtix – www.goodtix.com
Plush Studios – http://plushrecordingstudios.com/
IG: @goodtix
FB: /goodtix
TW: https://twitter.com/goodtix

Capacitech Energy One of Three U.S. Companies Selected for Elite International Competition

By: David Brim

Orlando, Fla. – Capacitech Energy’s new method of storing energy in the form of a wire is being noticed around the world as a key to reducing the cost, and increasing the capacity of, energy storage.

Last month, the company was named a finalist in a global contest for energy storage companies – only one of three companies in the Unites States to be named. Just 32 companies made the cut out of the more than 200 that applied.

Capacitech is the only company from Florida to be included as a finalist.

If the company is one of the 15 selected, it will gain access to a network of more than 400 partners, including specialist business angels, 14 major European Cleantech VCs from the InnoEnergy VC community, and main energy corporations. Start-ups also gain board-level advice and mentorship and admission to European energy events.

The top company is awarded €100,000.

Source: incubator.ucf.edu


My $.02s…

Big props to Joe Sleppy and the team over at Capacitech Energy for being selected to compete in an elite International Competition for Energy Storage companies. What a great accomplishment. Very well deserved!

Capacitech Energy was selected out of 200 companies that applied to competition and is one of only three US companies.

Way to go Joe & Capacitech team! Good luck at the competition and much continued success growing your innovative business. Keep rocking and making Orlando & UCF proud. CHARGE ON 😉

About Capacitech Energy

Capacitech is bringing a new type of capacitor to market. This capacitor, unlike traditional capacitors, is built on the surface of a copper wire. Its performance is proportional to the length of wire the capacitor is built on. This essentially allows our customers to easily customize the performance (capacitance) of our capacitor by cutting the wire at different lengths. For electronics manufacturing companies, this cable-capacitor technology could significantly reduce costs associated to the logistics/inventory related to ordering, inspecting, and managing capacitors. For more information, visit capacitechenergy.com

Delight Your Customers – Interview with Lydia Chicles

By: Josh Wilson

Delight Your Customers – Interview with Lydia Chicles

00:00 / 00:46:05

Results-driven with over 20 years experience in developing, recognizing and bettering products, Lydia Chicles developed much of her expertise working in creative & management roles in the magazine and design industry. Involved with Magazines Canada, an influential industry advocate, she leads the efforts and navigated the changing world of the print industry which was especially significant in helping shape her understanding of digital media and early adoption. Lydia began her globetrotting experiences early on. Born in Greece, living in South Africa, Canada and America, she had the opportunity early in her career to go on buying trips to India, where she honed her skills.

After founding BOLD! Technologies, a mobile applications and technologies full-service agency. BOLD! has been recognized 3 years in a row by Clutch.co as a top mobile applications development agency. Thousands of companies from around the world are listed on Clutch, but only the most highly recommended global leaders are distinguished. Having expanded BOLD!’s capabilities to include fintech, blockchain, cybersecurity, R&D, start-up and business consulting, and a suite of company-owned platform as a service (PaaS) products, Lydia went on to produce Community Event Apps, with the vision to offer this as a mobile solution to organizations enabling them to grow their revenues, activate community engagement and participation for a cause. She continues to advocate for her strong beliefs of being resource responsible and creating economic opportunities that have lead to international adoption of the products, platforms and connected technologies she leads.

Lydia is proud to now serve as a Member of the Board at NAWBO National. She continues to be a leader in her field and the voice for women in technology, a proponent of women owning their business. Her recent recognition by Orlando Business Journal, as a Women Who Mean Business 2018, is especially meaningful. One of 6 finalists in the 2013 Business Plan competition sponsored by the likes of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, Duke Energy, Southwest.com amongst others led to her passion for serving women business owners and entrepreneurs. She has held varying positions at NAWBO Orlando and NAWBO National, including President and a member of the PASC.

Family is everything to Lydia!



Website: http://boldtech.co/



What is a Social Enterprise – Interview with Rob Panepinto

By: Josh Wilson

What is a Social Enterprise – Interview with Rob Panepinto

00:00 / 00:49:05

Rob Panepinto is an innovator who has always challenged the status quo of “good enough”. Rob has helped Orange County become a hub for technology, entrepreneurship, and creativity. He is passionate about the positive impact businesses and business leaders drive for their communities and is an active “civic entrepreneur” serving on multiple civic and nonprofit boards.

Rob Panepinto is President of Florentine Strategies, which provides board support, strategic consulting, and investment capital for healthcare, social enterprise and technology companies. Rob is also the CEO of Entrepreneurs in Action, who manage a social venture fund that invests in local social enterprises, helping them create successful businesses and jobs while addressing community and global social needs.

Rob is a Founder and Board Chair of Orlando’s Social Enterprise Accelerator, Rally, a partnership between the Central Florida Foundation, Rollins College, the City of Orlando, and other community partners. Rob is the current Chair of the Central Florida Foundation board, immediate past chair of Orlando, Inc. and is a Board Member member for the Orlando Economic Partnership. He also serves on the Board of Stater Studio, Rollins’ Crummer Graduate School of Business Board of Overseers and its Rollins Center for Advanced Entrepreneurship. He has served on the Operations Committee of the Central Florida Expressway Authority. He is also a member of the Young Presidents Organization.

Rob was a 2018 candidate for Orange County Mayor.

Previously, Rob was part of the founding executive team for Connextions, helping them grow from a small manufacturing company to become an innovative healthcare technology and services company based here in Orlando. Connextions was sold to Optum in 2011.

Rob has been married to his wife Stacy for over 27 years and they have 2 daughters, Ali (17) and Samantha (15). They live in Winter Park.

My email: Robpanepinto@florentinestrategies.com
Rally: www.rallysea.com
Starter Studio: wwww.starterstudio.org
LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/rob-panepinto-0b79aa4/

Breaking the Mold of Startup Funding – Interview with Dena Jalbert

By: Josh Wilson

Breaking the Mold of Startup Funding – Interview with Dena Jalbert

00:00 / 01:03:31

Dena Jalbert, Align Business Advisory Services

Dena Jalbert is founder and CEO of Align Business Advisory Services, a mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and business advisory firm based in Winter Park, Fla. Align was founded in 2010 with a mission to break the mold of the traditional advisory firm and is built on the core principles of service, diversity, innovation and value creation. Align leverages its deep industry and business knowledge to provide innovative solutions and align its clients’ business results with their objectives to create value. The company offers management consulting, business strategy, finance, and M&A services to holistically serve the middle market.

Jalbert leverages her nearly 20 years of success in building, scaling, and buying and selling businesses to accomplish her clients’ goals. Her career experience spans many years in “Big 4” public accounting and consulting firms, in addition to holding executive positions with Fortune 500 and hyper-growth middle market companies. An expert in M&A, Jalbert has facilitated nearly $1 billion of buy and sell-side transaction. Jalbert is a certified public accountant (CPA) and holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Florida State University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in public accounting from Illinois Wesleyan University.

Links Mentioned In The Show:






The Disney Influencer Community – Interview with Austin Frederick

By: Josh Wilson

The Disney Influencer Community – Interview with Austin Frederick

00:00 / 00:43:26


The Mouse Merch Box is a subscription box that works with Disney and their Licensees. Every box and piece of merchandise tells a story.

Austin is the Founder and CEO of The Mouse Merch Box. He grew up in a business family in Indiana and helped them build a Crossfit Box and Ice Cream shop.


When To Run From Money – Interview with Alex Guastella

By: Josh Wilson

When To Run From Money – Interview with Alex Guastella

00:00 / 00:50:15

Quick’rCare is a discovery platform for healthcare services. It enables consumers to locate the nearest care center or hospitals available to get the care and help they need. The company’s platform provides patients fast care service, improves patient experience, and offers online check-ins for the listed facilities in the network. By registering on the platform healthcare facilities can get access to many new patients on a daily basis.

Quick’rCare was founded by Raghu Dhulipala and Alex Guastella in 2016 in Orlando, Florida.

Alex Guastella: Alex is the founder of the company Quick’rCare, the interceptive digital platform that guides patients into immediate medical facilities. Prior to founding Quick’rCare he was instrumental in early growth with companies like ZocDoc, Medullan, TytoCare and many more. Alex has worked with companies like Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and HCA to build technologies that positively impact patients. His passion is to solve the deepest issues in current global healthcare systems.

When he is not in the boardroom, he spends his time with his wife Lynnann, two children, and their dog.


Orlando reaches INC’s Top 10 List of Best Places in America to Start a Business

By: David Brim

Where should you go to start your next business, expand your company, or find the best job candidates? Here’s your guidebook to the most dynamic cities in the U.S.

Source: www.inc.com

It’s great to see Orlando making INC’s top 10 list of Best Places in America to Start a Business. We were the only Florida city in the top 10, beating out Miami (#13), Jacksonville (#14) and Tampa (#24). INC evaluated many factors and displays their assessment through a cool interactive sliding scale.

What I found to be very cool was that Orlando was ranked #1 in job creation and #2 overall in population growth! That’s huge.

We also ranked #10 in net new businesses created – that’s more Orlando Entrepreneurs!

While our venture funding secured is still on the lower end of the spectrum (myself and many others are working to change that), I have always found Orlando a great place to start and grow a business. I also have to comment that quantity of jobs isn’t always as good as quality. While many of our jobs are in the hospitality industry, we also have several industries that Orlando is taking the lead in such as: simulation, defense, space-tech, gaming and others. I’m excited for what the future holds for Orlando, and Orlando Entrepreneurs.

This ranking from INC is great news. Keep rocking Orlando. People are taking notice!



Authority is Currency – Interview with Josh Elledge

By: Josh Wilson

Authority is Currency – Interview with Josh Elledge

00:00 / 00:57:39

Meet the man who’s committed to democratizing PR & influence

Founder & CEO Josh Elledge is changing an entire industry.

Josh Elledge is an adult man with a child-like, irrational fear of umbrellas. You could ask him to explain–but if he could–it wouldn’t be an irrational fear, now would it? A nice midwestern boy from Michigan, Josh also used to be fat. Not just chubby, or the owner of a now-trendy “dad bod,” but seriously overweight (ask to see his old drivers’ license photo). Ever the problem solver, he lost 55 lbs through ‘the couponing diet’ and now he enjoys going to restaurants that serve chicken waffles and biscuits, and ordering the salad. Just to test his mental toughness.
Josh is a serial entrepreneur who builds the companies he needs most in the world. In 2014, He launched UpMyInfluence (previously upendPR) to help entrepreneurs like himself attract the perfect audiences and grow their brands without the crazy costs and contracts associated with traditional PR companies. Since then, UpMyInfluence (UMI) has evolved into a purpose-driven platform bent on totally DEMOCRATIZING access to influence. Josh wholeheartedly believes UMI has a moral imperative to help entrepreneurs own their expertise, share their wisdom, and serve the world with their collective messages. Oh, and to help our members grow revenue too!
UMI was the natural outgrowth of his first startup, SavingsAngel.com. Josh founded the consumer savings platform in 2007 to bring in what he most needed at the time (namely, more money). Armed with a background in information technology and Internet development, Josh’s technologic tinkering cut his family-of-five’s monthly grocery bill by half and created the most comprehensive coupon and sale-matching service available. SavingsAngel.com soon become a major operation employing up to 50 employees and grossing more than $6 million in sales with less than $500 in advertising spent.
When other entrepreneurs began knocking on his door desperate for the magic formula that would bring similar success, his new mission in life was born! Today, Josh is known as one of the foremost experts in online influence and authority. He’s personally worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs – working to turn them into media celebrities.
Never shy in front of an audience, Josh is a frequent speaker at business and startup conferences including Social Media Marketing World and a Tony Robbins event for his Business Mastery grads. He’s appeared as an electrifying podcast guest more than 100 times. He’s a weekly consumer expert on Fox 35 Orlando and News 13, writes a syndicated column for nine newspapers (with total readership above 1.1 million readers), and regularly appears on more than 75 TV stations across the country. All told, Josh has appeared in the media more than 2000 times.
Passionate about his family, physical fitness (an avid fitness geek and 5K to marathon runner), and breaking out of Escape Rooms, Josh now lives in Orlando with his wife and three children.
The Michigan native’s exuberance and natural curiosity have fueled his life’s work as a journalist, technology specialist, entrepreneur and service-oriented family man. Josh served in the US Navy and earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in family science/therapy from Brigham Young University.
Josh also wants the public to know he thinks Daylight Savings Time is ridiculous. And umbrellas can poke your eye out!

Mini Business at Scale – Interview with Erik and Mat

By: Josh Wilson

Mini Business at Scale – Interview with Erik and Mat

00:00 / 00:44:17

About Mini Materials:

Mini Materials specializes in miniature cinder blocks and pallets. Our goal is to bring the love of building into the comfort and convenience of your own home. You can build for fun or use our blocks to generate your next big idea! Our miniature cement blocks are scaled following classic hobby-scaling ratio used for modeling. You can accurately turn your models into real life buildings.

About Mat Hofma:

Mat started Mini Materials in 2015. He is an Orlando native, growing up in Winter Park, attending high school at Winter Park High School and went on to UCF for a degree in Graphic Design.  He is the Creative Director for Mudhole Custom Tackle in Oviedo, the world’s largest supplier of custom fishing rods. Mini Materials is Mat’s brainchild. His vision and graphic design talents are on full display with the branding, website design, and marketing for the business.

About Erik Polumbo:

Erik joined Mat shortly after the creation of the business.  They met at UCF while getting his degree in Business Administration.  He went on to get an MBA from Troy University. His background is in Real Estate as a Realtor, property manager, and developer.  He owns another company that provides project management consultant services for clients in Central Florida. Erik handles the day-to-day business operations for Mini Materials.

How to connect with Mini Materials

Website: www.minimaterials.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/minimaterials/ 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/minimaterials
Twitter: https://twitter.com/minimaterials
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1cErEE5hkWw-gbfZJZUqQQ

Position For The Exit – Interview with Joe Raymond

By: Josh Wilson

Position For The Exit – Interview with Joe Raymond

00:00 / 00:42:34

Joe Raymond is a Managing Partner and Founder of RVR Consulting Group, an action-oriented management consulting firm supporting small and midmarket companies nationwide in the areas of growth strategy, exit planning, and turnaround situations. With a specialization in HR outsourcing companies, RVR partners with organizations seeking to accelerate growth and maximize their value, utilizing tailored initiatives and strategic action to drive performance, profitability, and scalability. Joe is a strategic advisor for small to multi-billion-dollar companies within the PEO and staffing industries; however, above all else, Joe is an entrepreneur who is committed to empowering other businesses, starting at the executive level. In less than a year, Joe was able to assist in the creation of over $250M in enterprise value for a PEO client, which continues to see returns on its bottom-line.
In 1986, Joe founded and grew the Transworld Services Group staffing company to over $45 million in 10 years. By 1994, the company was among Inc. Magazine’s fastest-growing, privately-held companies. Looking forward, Joe facilitated the business’ ISO 9002 certification, securing a standard of prestigious, international quality, and sold the company at a significant market premium ten years later. Soon after, Joe became President and 50% owner of ASG, a $3.5 million construction staffing company, building it into a $150 million business with 30 offices in five years. In 2007, ASG was sold to a publicly traded company, again at a market premium.
Throughout Joe’s career, the products, services, and challenges have differed, but the solutions impeding growth have consistently been the same for clients: structure, people, processes, systems, and reporting. Having been personally involved in the sale or purchase of over 100 companies (and counting) ranging from $5 million to $5 billion in revenue, Joe has a comprehensive understanding of the pain points that decision-makers and executives face daily. As such, he provides ongoing support to entrepreneurs at speaking opportunities such as the 2018 NAPEO Annual Conference, the Lightsource Client Summit at the Hard Rock Hotel Orlando, and other local, regional, and national engagements.
As an active business leader with an intersectional lens on growth, Joe sits on the BB&T Regional Advisory Board but also provides coaching and pro-bono services to Orlando’s rising startups. For decades, Joe has demonstrated a commitment to the business community, but also to nonprofit boards and mission-driven organizations. Today, he remains an active alum to his alma mater, Rollins College, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics and Business. He serves on Rollins’ Crummer Graduate School of Business’ Entrepreneurship Advisory Board, driving impact beside the next generation of MBA professionals.
Joe is also the proud Chairman and Founder of the Conductive Education Center of Orlando (CECO), a charter school that uses holistic, individualized programs to address the academic and therapeutic needs of children and adults with motor disabilities.


About RVR

Established in 1999, RVR Consulting Group is an action-oriented management consulting company based in Orlando, Florida, supporting small to mid-market companies with exit planning, growth strategy, and turnaround situations. RVR partners with business leaders to understand their organizational objectives, to assess their business from a 360-vantage point, and to provide tailored recommendations that optimize company performance, scalability, and profitability.

About CECO
Since 2001, CECO has been providing hope for families that have been searching for the place where the impossible IS possible. CECO offers a special needs school day kindergarten through 12th grade, summer camp, early intervention ages 6 months to 4 years old and walking challenge program, adult program and Parkinson’s program.
Conductive Education is an educational approach to help children with Cerebral Palsy and other motor disabilities achieve their greatest level of independence through physical and cognitive activities. We welcome families and our community friends to stop by and tour our facility…see how hard the children work on a daily basis to obtain their greatest potential.

Links to Share

Publish or Perish – Interview with Greg Rollett

By: Josh Wilson

Publish or Perish – Interview with Greg Rollett

00:00 / 00:45:16

About Greg:

Greg Rollett is an Emmy® Award-Winning Producer, Best-Selling Author and media expert who works with business owners, experts and entrepreneurs from all over the world to create personality driven TV shows and media content that drive their business. He is the host and Executive Producer of Ambitious Adventures, a travel reality show for entrepreneurs that can be seen on Entrepreneur.com as well as Amazon Prime Video.

Rollett is the founder of Ambitious.com, and Ambitious TV, a media network that is known as “the voice of small business.” Through Ambitious.com and the Ambitious TV Network, they have been able to create hundreds of episodes for their clients that are now seen across the globe on Apple TV and Roku, as well as many other online and offline outlets. This gives small business owners an opportunity to be seen and heard by the people that they can best help.

Greg is the proud father of 3 boys and married his high school sweetheart. When he isn’t in front of or behind a camera, he is training to be the next American Ninja Warrior and shooting arrows in his backyard.

How to connect with Greg:





Polyblox Totems launches innovative teaching toy. Partners with local tech firm Leap with Alice.

By: David Brim


Source: www.clickorlando.com

My $.02s…


The Polyblox toy founder, Laresa Tapia, has a deep passion for helping children learn that really shines through. It’s great to see her making such positive strides in her business and learning more about the difference their company is making.

I was very pleased to see that my friends at Leap with Alice have partnered with her to integrate an augmented reality component to the blocks.

Integrating digital experiences (augmented reality) with physical objects, like Polyblox, adds a whole dimension and realm of possibilities that can make learning much more fun and also lead to deeper comprehension.

Imagine scanning a block of an animal and having that animal appear through the block then being able to learn all about it. Very cool technology!
If you’d like to learn more about Leap with Alice, the co-founders recently joined us on our Orlando Entrepreneurs Podcast.

I look forward to seeing the future of both Polyblox and Leap with Alice.

From Teacher to Founder – Interview with Katie Brown

By: Josh Wilson

From Teacher to Founder – Interview with Katie Brown

00:00 / 00:50:43

About ClassMax:

When company founder, Katie Brown, began to feel the frustrations of the data collection demands placed on her as a secondary classroom teacher, she decided to do something about it. Armed with nothing more than a sketch pad, she began to dream up what an ideal classroom data collection tool would be for educators. After surveying over 500 teachers all across the country, Katie put together a robust and passionate leadership team and over the next six months, they developed ClassMax, a data collection platform for 21st century teachers.

ClassMax began by offering affordable, reliable, and efficient individual teacher accounts. After the popularity of these stand-alone users, the company began developing a school-wide platform which uses AI analysis to provide insights and information to administrators with data collected by their teachers. ClassMax Schools was launched in August of 2018 and has become successful enough to begin the development of ClassMax Districts in the spring of 2019.

About Katie:

Katie Brown is the founder and CEO of ClassMax.  As a veteran secondary classroom teacher, Katie felt the frustrations of the push towards data collection and management in her own classroom.  From this frustration, and with her dynamic leadership team, Katie founded and created ClassMax, a data collection tool for 21st century teachers.  ClassMax is in thousands of classrooms across the county, changing the way teachers are collecting and utilizing data in their instruction.

Katie has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Florida State University and a Masters in Science in Educational Leadership from Quinnipiac University.  She is a former Digital Curriculum Teacher Leader in Orange County Public Schools and recipient of the Teacher of the Year, Rotary Citizen of the Year, and Spirit of Women in Excellence awards.  She currently serves as President of the Dr. Phillips Elementary PTA and is active in the Dr. Phillips community with her husband, Chris, and her two children, Michael and Gracie.

How to connect:

Website / App




Built to Sell – Interview with Nick Parker

By: Josh Wilson

Built to Sell – Interview with Nick Parker

00:00 / 00:47:14

About Nick:

Nick Parker is the founder and CEO of LEADLION a digital marketing agency downtown Orlando. He’s an entrepreneur who’s started four companies in 4 different industries over the last 20 years. Nick’s raised seed investment twice from angel investors and boot strapped twice. He’s had over 250 television appearances as an industry expert across several industries. Married his childhood sweetheart and has two kid’s, boy and a girl ages 13 and 10.


Digital Marketing agency that specializes in Facebook advertising (as well as Instagram). Primarily serving the fitness industry throughout the country as well as a few other industries.

How to Connect:



Orlando Veteran Business Resources to Support your Entrepreneurial Mission

By: David Brim

2018 UCF Business Incubator – Veteran Graduating Class


Today is Veterans Day, and this particular Veterans Day marks 100 years since the end of World War I.

Over the last 3 years I have been fortunate to get to know many Veterans in our community through my board position with Crossroads Corral – a Central Florida based 501(c)(3) organization co-founded by my wife that promotes personal growth, hope and healing through the use of horses. Crossroads Corral’s leadership has a big heart for our Veterans and has collaborated with Mission Continues,  Wounded Warrior Project, Camaraderie Foundation and other Veteran support organizations.

Priscila Kalagian & Mayor Dyer cutting the ribbon to start the Veterans Day Parade.

As a community, we are thankful for the commitment that our Veterans have made to protect and serve our country. Many of the skills that Veterans have developed through their years of service translate very well into the business world. These include: hard work, commitment, determination, strategy, management, communication, resource allocation, the use of technology – the list goes on!

With the help of my friend Priscila Kalagian, a Veteran and the Chairperson of the Orlando Mayor’s Veterans Advisory Council, we’ve organized a list of helpful resources for Central Florida Veteran entrepreneurs.


UCF Business Incubator Veterans Program

The UCF Business Incubation Program recognizes veterans are equipped with a powerful set of skills including leadership, striving for excellence and completing the mission. Through the incubator’s Veterans Initiative, we help veterans realize and leverage those skills in an entrepreneurial setting. Whether you’re veteran looking to explore an idea for a potential business or need help scaling your existing company, Our Mission is to empower and support veteran entrepreneurs through business guidance, education and mentorship. Learn more about the veteran entrepreneurship programs offered by UCF.

Boots to Business

Boots to Business (B2B) is an entrepreneurial education and training program offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) as part of the Department of Defense Transition Assistance Program (TAP). The course provides an overview of entrepreneurship and applicable business ownership fundamentals. Active Duty Service members (including National Guard and Reserve), Veterans of all eras, and spouses are eligible to participate. Learn more about the Boots to Business program.

Camaraderie Foundation Mentorship Program

Each year, Camaraderie Foundations partners with local business members in the Orlando Area to provide a leadership program to assist transitioning service members prepare for a career in the local community.  We provide this program free of charge to 15 highly qualified Veterans.

Successful business leaders in Central Florida with prior Military service will serve as Mentors to selected Protégé Veterans at points of transition in their lives including: Veterans in college who will soon graduate, Veterans seeking new careers, and soon-to-be Veterans who will be transitioning soon.

The Mentor Leadership Program has the following outcome objectives:

  • Build networking skills
  • Establish business relationships
  • Create new friendships
  • Learn about local opportunities
  • Improve transition readiness level
  • Share the benefits and skills learned through participating in the program

Learn more about the Camaraderie Foundation mentorship program.

Florida Association of Veteran-Owned Businesses

The purpose for the Florida Association of Veteran-Owned Businesses, Inc. (FAVOB) is to promote and unite the many established and start-up businesses that are owned by Veterans and Disabled Veterans throughout the State of Florida, and to increase awareness of the organization at the city, county, state and federal levels. Learn more about the Florida Association of Veteran-Owned Businesses.

Veterans Business Initiative

The Veterans Business Initiative is offered by a partnership through the Disability Chamber and CareerSource Central Florida. This comprehensive program will select approximately 100 highly qualified candidates who wish to develop and refine their business acumen. Participants will receive the tools, knowledge and personal contacts needed to further their mission of establishing a meaningful career while advancing their education, and developing their entrepreneurial skills.

The Veterans Business Initiative offers the following services:

  • Job leads throughout Central Florida to assist with outcomes of placement
  • Veteran’s job matching program
  • Entrepreneurship education and training
  • Financial Training
  • Personalized Resume Assistance
  • Self-paced Computer Training
  • Training Grant Information
  • Salary and Job Market information
  • Continuing Education

Learn more about the Veterans Business Initiative.

Veteran Entrepreneur Portal via Department of Veteran Affairs

The Veteran Entrepreneur Portal (VEP) is designed to save you time with direct access to the resources necessary to guide every step of entrepreneurship. VEP makes it easier for small businesses to access federal services, regardless of its source—and quickly connects Veteran entrepreneurs to relevant ‘best-practices’ and information.

Learn more about the VA Entrepreneur Portal.

Other Orlando Entrepreneurship Resources

In addition to the veteran specific resources, I would also encourage veterans to browse our Orlando Entrepreneurs resource center to take full advantage of many business and entrepreneurship resources that Orlando has to offer. On our resource center you can find organizations that assist with business advising, co-working space, funding, CEO roundtables, accelerators, incubators, and more.

Learn more about Orlando Entrepreneurship Resources.

Lift Orlando’s West Lakes Food Business Accelerator Pitch Night – November 16th, 2018

By: David Brim

Lift Orlando, the West Lakes Business Partnership and Rally invite you to the first West Lakes Food Business Accelerator Pitch Night at Credo Conduit. The 8 food businesses that are a part of the cohort are excited to showcase what they have been working on.
All are food-related businesses with a love for unique cuisine, community, and culture will pitch for an opportunity to engage investors, supporters, and new potential partnerships and restaurant goers.
Hear each company’s pitch, learn about the vision of West Lakes Partnership and Lift Orlando , find out how to get involved in Lift Orlando efforts, and enjoy community and food.

Networking @ 6 – 6:30 pm
Pitch Event @ 6:30 – 9 pm

What companies are in the cohort?

Food Trucks in the City: Food Trucks in the City is an events service that brings local artists, businesses, and food trucks together to provide a fun-filled time for the community. FTIC connects businesses to food trucks to improve employee and workplace morale, too. We have access to over 100+ food trucks and caterers in the Central Florida area that are eager to be of service.

Oley’s Yummy Kitchen (aka: Oley’s Smokehouse): Oley’s has been serving amazing and yummy food since 1990. Oley’s Restaurant, is “the” neighborhood restaurant that so many residents frequent for great food and conversation. It is a popular, highly-rated, family-style dining restaurant and catering company specializing in bar-b-que, Caribbean and American flare.

Nikki’s Place: Nikki’s Place has been serving up traditional flavor soul food and catering special events in Orlando, Florida since 1999. However, if you’ve never experienced the finer side of soul food, Southern Cuisine, then you must visit Nikki’s Place located less than two minutes from downtown Orlando. We know what you like and how you like it!

HEBNI Nutrition: Hebni Nutrition Consultants, Inc. is a community-based, not for profit agency formed in 1995 to educate high-risk, culturally diverse populations. HEBNI’s mission is to provide culturally appropriate nutrition education and intervention strategies to prevent diet-related diseases. H.E.B.N.I. stands for Health Education through Behavioral and Nutritional Initiatives.

Mercantile Coffee: Mercantile Coffee helps businesses thrive through quality coffee. They design, build, and manage beverage programs for organizations focused on offering exceptional experiences. Mercantile Coffee Co started as a nitro cold brew pop up bike at the Parramore Farmers Market in January 2018. With flavors from Nitro Thai Tea to Cereal Milk Lattes their originality, creativity, and craftsmanship shine through every drink.

Orlando Coffee Roasters: Orlando Coffee Roasters was established in 2004, and our family took ownership in 2006. As an established, family-owned business, we are committed to providing our customers with the best quality coffee experience. We offer fresh roasted coffee and a diverse selection of premier and high-quality beans from different regions around the world. The great thing about being a small, family-owned business is that we treat our customers like our family; and our mission is simple: to provide the best coffee and service to our coffee family.


Questions? Contact Casey at Casey@LiftOrlando.org


Source: www.eventbrite.com

My $.02s – I’m very impressed with the work Lift Orlando is doing to improve the West Lakes District. I love that they have engaged the community to understand their needs and help formulate their plans – very entrepreneurial approach to economic development!

Did you know they did over 1,200 door to door interviews to collect information? Talk about customer discovery!

Equipped with this information they have taken a strategic approach, working together with local stakeholders to advance the West Lakes Community.  This involves real estate development projects, health & wellness initiatives, educational efforts, and efforts to advance local businesses through the West Lakes Business Partnership and the Food Business Accelerator.

I’m honored to be a mentor to one of the companies in this year’s Food accelerator cohort and look forward to seeing the great work Lift Orlando will continue to do to advance the West Lakes community.

I encourage you to attend the West Lakes Food Business Accelerator Pitch Night on Wednesday November 14th at 6:00 pm.

Know Your Numbers – Interview with Joel Goldstein

By: Josh Wilson

Know Your Numbers – Interview with Joel Goldstein

00:00 / 00:40:16

About Joel:

Joel Goldstein developed his experiences in business as a young entrepreneur. He was able to develop and successfully exit his first startup before he graduated from high school. With entrepreneurship in his blood, he became a marketing consultant to some of the world’s most visited websites making a name for himself as the Google Guru.

He published his first book “A Professional’s Guide to Social Media” at the age of 26. The book quickly became a “best seller” on Amazon within the first month and is now in its third revision.

Joel’s second book “Start from Success” quickly rose to the #1 best selling business book on Amazon within the first week of its release. Through his study of successful entrepreneurs and innovative businesses, while researching for the book, he began to realize that there is a generational leadership gap developing among enterprise-level companies.

As a consultant, Joel met has met with hundreds of business leaders developing strategies to train, retain and develop future leaders. Joel began to research and write his third book, the “Millennial Leadership Manual” in 2013. Joel developed this book to share the trends and insights that pioneering executives have successfully employed when working with the Millennial generation.

With a certificate in management from the Wharton School of Business, Joel has been able to apply managerial principles from the classroom to the boardroom. Not the typical ivy league student, Joel has pursued extraordinary adventures such as deep sea diving, running with the bulls in Spain, and spelunking through ancient caves in Israel.

Joel has had the extraordinary privilege of speaking around the world for associations, corporations and prestigious universities on Millennial leadership. Joel is community focused and is the president or on the board of Orlando Young Professionals, New Leaders Council and Jewish Chamber of Commerce. In 2014, Joel has been asked to participate in the Congressional economic development committee held in Winter Park, FL.

Currently, Joel has purchased his family business Mr. Checkout Distributors and continues as it’s President. He also consults for a national think tank on retail business and sits on the board of 13 retail associations.

About Mr. Checkout:

Established 1989 | Mr. Checkout is a national group of Independent DSD Distributors, Full-Line Grocery Distributors and Wagon-Jobbers.

We represent products in over 60 major retailers and our distribution network services approximately 35,000 retailers across the United States, Canada and parts of the Caribbean.

Distributors, Wholesalers and Retailers turn to Mr. Checkout to find the best selling products, learn which categories are trending and discover what is the next hot new product.



Orlando Children’s Business Fair

By: David Brim

Don’t miss the Orlando Children’s Business Fair this upcoming Sunday (November 11th). Our areas finest young entrepreneurs will be showcasing their business at the Orlando Public Library from 2-5.

Ignite Your Child’s
Entrepreneurial Passions

Observe the opportunity for children to launch their very own startup business!

Kids develop a brand, create a product or service, build a marketing strategy, and then open for customers at our one-day marketplace.

We will host 30 booths at the Orlando Public Library located at 101 E. Central Blvd., Orlando, FL 32801 on Sunday, November 11, 2018, from  2:00 pm – 5:00 pm.

The Orlando Children’s Business Fair is brought to you by the Orange County Library System in conjunction with the Acton Academy, Acton School of Business, and the generous support of our partners and sponsors.  We all believe that principled entrepreneurs are heroes and role models for the next generation.

Whether an entrepreneur is famous like Elon Musk or Oprah Winfrey or they are one of the thousands of unsung business owners across this country, these are the people who make sacrifices to innovate, create jobs and serve their communities.

What Is Influencer Marketing- Interview with Kristen Wiley

By: Josh Wilson

What Is Influencer Marketing- Interview with Kristen Wiley

00:00 / 00:55:22

About Kristen:

Kristen is the Founder & CEO of Statusphere. Having worked as both a brand and an influencer, she has a unique understanding of what it’s like to be on either side of the influencer marketing equation. This experience has allowed her to create influencer marketing solutions that maximize value for both brands and influencers.’

About Statusphere:

We help brands find influencers to tell their story in a way that brings authenticity back to influencer marketing. In a time when influencer marketing has become extremely transactional, we are working to clean up the digital landscape by putting talented content creators first so that they can promote brands that they genuinely care about. How it works: Brands tell us how many influencers they want per month, send us the product, and we handle the rest.

How to connect:




City of Orlando Testing Amazon’s Facial Recognition Technology

By: David Brim

Amazon’s facial recognition software, called Rekognition, analyzes footage from video surveillance and works to identify the people in it by scanning their faces and searching databases.

Source: securitytoday.com

My $.02s…

This facial recognition technology is really neat (and a little scary)! While the article is not specifically related to Central Florida entrepreneurship per se, as our community further adopts technology into the fabric of various aspects of our lives it presents opportunities for entrepreneurs that are well prepared to innovate and create the future, and threats for those businesses not ready to adapt in industries poised for disruption.

This technology reminds me very much of the view Arnold had as the terminator in the mid 90s. The next 20 years is going to be quite interesting!

Entrepreneurs, unbuckle those seat belts, step out of your comfort zone and get prepared. Change is coming.


Tap Into Bigger Audiences – Interview with Rudy Ellis

By: Josh Wilson

Tap Into Bigger Audiences – Interview with Rudy Ellis

00:00 / 00:55:48

About Rudy:

Rudiger J. Ellis, better known as Rudy, is the CEO of Switchboard Live; the developer of a B2B-SaaS based live video, social media management platform named Switchboard Cloud. Switchboard Cloud helps Creators, Producers, and Brands manage the distribution and syndication of their live video activations, across multiple streaming platforms (i.e. YouTube Live, Facebook Live, Periscope, etc.) to improve audience reach and engagement. In the past 10 years, Rudy has held various senior leadership positions within the network operations and live streaming services industries. For three years, he served as the Director of Streaming Services for NeuLion. After leaving NeuLion, he worked for XOS Digital where he was responsible for implementing and the leading the Digital Broadcast and Live Services teams.

About Switchboard:

Switchboard Live offers a cloud-based solution that allows brands to live stream video content to multiple social media destinations. Distributing live video to Facebook and Periscope and Twitter and YouTube takes a technical heavy lift that many individuals are unwilling or unable to do – so they are relegated to one destination. Whether it’s sending live video to dozens of Facebook pages (sponsors, partners, or organizations) or across platforms, we have a seamless, intuitive solution to amplify the reach of your live stream. Switchboard Live let’s you engage with your audience no matter where they are watching from!

How to connect:







Orlando Startup Weekend 2018 is Approaching. (November 16th-18th)

By: David Brim

Attend Techstars Startup Weekend Orlando on November 16th, 2018 in Orlando. Learn to build a startup by being an entrepreneur!

Startup Weekend is a 54-hour weekend event, during which groups of developers, business managers, startup enthusiasts, marketing gurus, graphic artists and more pitch ideas for new startup companies, form teams around those ideas, and work to develop a working prototype, demo, and presentation by Sunday evening.

This time, we’ll be hosting our event in Downtown Orlando’s Catalyst Spaces, a co-working space in the heart of downtown. You’ll have access to a ton of potential customers on the streets as well as all the resources you will need within the venue to be ready to pitch to our esteemed panel of judges on Sunday night.

This weekend is particularly special, as it’s occurring during Global Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW).

Global Startup Weekend brings together more than 15,000 entrepreneurs for over 200 events! Attendees and winners will have access to exclusive resources from the global community to help you launch your startups!

Source: communities.techstars.com


My $.02s…


Orlando Startup Weekend is just around the corner. This program, through TechStarts.com is a dedicated weekend focused on action, innovation and education. Get feedback on your business concept and even have the opportunity to launch your new business in a very fertile environment to accelerate its growth.

Orlando’s startup weekend has a great leadership team that has been very dedicated in advancing our entrepreneurial ecosystem for many years including:

  • Rajiv Menon of Informulate
  • Dennis Pape of Catalyst & Venture ScaleUp
  • Josh Murdock of FL BlogCon

Jessica Korthuis is also on the organizing team and while I do not know her personally she is in good company and I’m sure she is a rockstar as well!
Last year LeaseCake won Orlando’s startup weekend and went on to winning the Global Competition, which is very impressive! Taj Adhaj sat down with us on a recent podcast interview to share his story – it is well worth listening to!

I encourage you to pick up a ticket for Startup Weekend taking place November 16th-18th.


Keep rocking Orlando!



StarterStudio Mentor Appreciation Night

By: David Brim

This past Wednesday I attended the StarterStudio mentor appreciation night. During this event, a new class of StarterStudio companies pitched their business to mentors that can offer assistance with fundraising (refining their pitch deck & biz plan), better understanding their customers, product improvement, marketing, refining their business model, sales / business development, etc.

I was impressed by the current status and potential of a number of the companies. I’m looking forward to seeing the new heights these startups will reach after going through the official accelerator program. I can say that I have already had conversations with several entrepreneurs that pitched since mentor night and have found them to be very coachable and eager to grow, which is promising.

The companies spanned two core levels – either Seed Stage, or Ideation.

I received this content from StarterStudio and with their permission am reposting. Keep an eye on these local companies!


Seed Stage Teams

GRD Biomechanics
wearable tech for knee disorders

Automated adventure sport rental

Lucerna Studios
video gaming learning

real-time public transit info/payment

talent matching for remote work

investor marketplace for home loans

Taab (did not present)
travel as an employee benefit

membership rewards for college

Ideation Stage Teams

modular batteries

modern American family app

GoGo Power Juice
mobile battery pack

Grand Openings
business grand opening alerts

restaurant job matching

ridesharing platform

virtual health assistant

hydration tracking

XMDocs (formerly Fletebase)
SaaS platform for int’l shippers

via StarterStudio team…

Last night marked the introduction of our new Starters In Residence (SIR) program that will bring experienced entrepreneurs with deep subject matter expertise in-house to meet with our Starter teams. This is our own brand of Entrepreneur In Residence that you’ll find in other well known accelerators and incubators. SIRs will spend a day or more each week helping our teams grow their ideas and companies.

We are very excited to bring this powerhouse lineup to StarterStudio:

Lyn Berelsman
Lyn’s technology career spans three-plus decades with a large focus on interactive technologies and computer mapping. A passionate community service volunteer and philanthropist, she continues her deep commitment to provide equal opportunities for under-served girls and women. After a long stint in executive roles at AOL, she retired in 2002 from her final role as CEO of AOL Australia’s joint venture company with Bertelsmann AG. LinkedIn.

Luis Morales
A “graduate” of StarterStudio’s Ideation Stage and Seed Stage Accelerators, Luis is the founder of Artistry.ai, an e-commerce optimization company leveraging artificial intelligence. He received his law degree from the University of Puerto Rico School of Law and was a JAG (Judge Advocate General) Officer in the U.S. Army for more than seven years. He applies his technology and programming expertise to his own business, as well as a mentor to many startup teams at StarterStudio. LinkedIn.

Scott Richey
An experienced finance and strategy pro, Scott is a CPA with deep experience in global sustainable businesses. He frequently consults with early-stage, high-growth companies and is also a Principal of All Star Materials, LLC, an aggregate and concrete business he refers to as a true “bricks and mortar” business. LinkedIn.

Steven Roth
Steven is both an entrepreneur and an advisor to startups with special expertise in product management and retail advertising. He spent nearly ten years with local success story Channel Intelligence that was sold to Google in 2013 for $125 million. Steven continued his executive career with Google after the sale where he led teams that took a $75 million line of business to $1 billion in revenues. LinkedIn.

Orlando’s 10 Best 2019 Tech Startups According to Tech Tribune.

By: David Brim

The Tech Tribune staff has compiled the very best tech startups in Orlando, Florida. In doing our research, we considered several factors including but not limited to: Revenue potential Leadership team Brand/product traction Competitive landscape Additionally, all companies must be independent…

  1. FattMerchant
  2. UniKey
  3. FanHero
  4. Hoverfly
  5. GotChosen
  6. FlexReceipts
  7. Ushahidi
  8. Switchboard Live
  9. Mercury Cash
  10. SightPlan

Source: thetechtribune.com


My $.02s

In my role at Orlando Entrepreneurs I have the opportunity to see and work with many local startups. I have also worked with hundreds of Growth Companies (10+ employees) through my consulting work with organizations like GrowFl. This list provided by Tech Tribune has some amazing companies.  Narrowing Orlando’s startups down to the 10 best is no easy task. With that said, I think too many in our community take the easy route when sharing our best startups and I would propose that often times the top ones frequently mentioned are no longer startups at all and have graduated beyond that stage.

It goes back to asking yourself – what is a startup?

Think about a startup as a baby or child (Side note, you may like my post on 17 startup lessons parenthood can teach you). Once a person grows from a baby into a child and goes through elementary school, middle school and enters high school – they are no longer a baby. They are a young adult. If we have been watching that baby through their journey and they end up being a remarkable adult we as a community may still see them as our baby (like most parents do), because we followed them through their journey and “remember when they took their first steps”, but they’re not a child any longer.

We recently interviewed FattMerchant’s CEO Suneera Madhani on our podcast (ranked # 1 on this list).They are truly a disruptive company that has done a fantastic job! Suneera is a great leader, community entrepreneurship advocate and was recently recognized as the “Most Influential Women in Payments”. She is undoubtedly one of Central Florida’s best entrepreneurs. FattMerchant is also a shining example of a great company that started, scaled and stayed in Orlando (we sincerely appreciate and love her for that!). But FattMerchant has now  raised over $18M and been in business since 2014.  As we near 2019, is a 5 year old company still considered a startup after raising a C round? At what point are they simply considered a great early stage company and no longer a startup? FattMerchant to me is one of the most innovative FinTech companies and one of the top growth companies in Orlando. But a startup? I would probably classify them as a tech growth company that has went beyond startup phase, but that’s me.

Defining a startup can be like defining beauty – it’s often in the eyes of the beholder. Are startups a…

  • company idea on the back of a napkin?
  • tech innovation with a prototype or MVP?
  • company with product market fit that just received their first seed or angel investment?
  • a company that has went through the grinds of starting up and is scaling by attracting $MM in venture capital funding?
  • based on number of employees?
  • revenue numbers?
  • user numbers and/or pace of user growth?
  • potential relative to current status?
  • company age?

Unikey, ranked number 2 on the list, was started by Phil Dumas. A wonderful entrepreneur that launched his company in the same UCF Incubator that I was based in for my past startup. He started his company in 2010 and has also raised nearly $20M. He was featured on SharkTank and landed a deal on national television. Phil and his team are great and also deserve to be celebrated, but similarly – is an 8-9 year old company still a startup? They surpassed 1M customers recently, which is AWESOME, but to me, while they have substantially more room to grow, they are another example of a company that has surpassed the startup stage and by definition can be considered a growth company.

Companies like FattMerchant and UniKey are great examples of companies that have started and scaled here in Orlando. While they deserve to be celebrated, it is easy to point to companies after they have become vastly “de-risked”. If a company has shown great levels of traction and success, attracted $MM of venture capital funding and been in existence for 5+ years I don’t see them as a startup any longer.

As a community we need to celebrate those that have graduated from startup to growth companies , but also embrace and celebrate the next round of true startup companies. Ones that have not yet been fully de-risked and haven’t attracted $XX in venture capital funding. As many have heard there is a clear correlation with risk and reward. Yes, startup investing can be very risky, but as an asset class a startup fund (and when done the right way with a portfolio approach and ran by experienced management) can be very rewarding (one of the highest average returns over 5-10 years).

If we as a community know, celebrate and support our true startups our ecosystem can grow by leaps and bounds. Part of our mission at Orlando Entrepreneurs is to shine a light on our entrepreneurs and their companies. We want to understand their needs and goals so together we as a community can help open doors and break-down barriers to help them scale and stay in Orlando. We hope that you will support us in our mission.

Also, drop us an email or comment with your favorite local startups! We’d love to connect with them.