Startup Spotlight: Local Vyntage Sells Nostalgia in Style

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Startup Spotlight: Local Vyntage Sells Nostalgia in Style

Chet Winnicki had decided he was going to do something very different long before last April, when he parted ways with his job in the health insurance industry. With the fresh career change, Chet began tapping interests and passions that had been building for years--like connecting to his childhood nostalgia through lifestyle apparel. This drive sparked him to turn his ideas into a reality for people like himself, whose unique taste isn’t easily found on the market. He began researching the apparel industry and building a team through Domi Station and personal connections. By the end of summer, Chet had charted a course for his next venture: Local Vyntage.

Although the apparel industry drastically differs from healthcare, Chet relates his previous job to his new one in many ways. “My past jobs were always focused on consumers. The last company I worked for had clients who were very large employers like Walmart and IBM; It was my job to build great healthcare decision tools for their employees,” he said. “For the most part, I had already been managing products end-to-end, sort of as a business-within-a-business, so I felt confident in my ability to transfer my experience and run my own business. The big change was stepping out from under the security of a corporate roof.” His knowledge and experience from his previous job, combined with his entrepreneurial passion, provided the fuel needed to pursue success in a completely different industry without depending on a “safer” corporate business salary and benefits. Also at that time of his career change, Chet and two teammates were fresh off winning the grand prize in Domi Station’s Spring 2016 Get Started incubator program, which helped provide motivation toward trying something new.

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Unlike more common “nostalgia” type t-shirts, with designs like a vintage Coca-Cola logo or Mickey Mouse, Local Vyntage is all about celebrating those more intimate memories, such as old restaurants, stadiums, or amusement parks that may no longer exist, but remain part of your identity and local culture. When people reminisce about “the good ol’ days” and “simpler times,” Chet wants to help them show their pride and share their memories by wearing Local Vyntage shirts. “We’re passionate about the things we have experienced and loved, especially during childhood through early adulthood.”

Local Vyntage’s designs include places and events from the 1960s through the 2000s, though most are from the ‘80s and ‘90s. “When you go online, you can find countless t-shirts featuring retro beers or video games, corporate logos like Pan Am Airways, old gas stations; things that were national,” Chet stated. “What’s unique about Local Vyntage is we’re focused on local stories that really only you and others from that area will remember.”

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Local Vyntage wants to be a trusted source of local nostalgia. “We want to help our customers tell their stories and celebrate their fond memories,” said Chet. The company carefully researches local history, which often requires in-person trips to city archives. They work hard to ensure the final products are accurate representations and pay tribute to the original inspirations. Local Vyntage shirts are made from high quality yarns, and are manufactured in the United States. “It’s important to us that communities don’t see us as just another brand running through their city, grabbing up everyone’s favorite memories and printing them on poor-quality t-shirts made on another continent.”

Local Vyntage is starting with nostalgia t-shirts local to Tallahassee and Austin, Texas. In Tallahassee, Chet’s first designs include the old Spirit Spear at Doak Stadium, Mutt & Jeff’s Drive In, The Silver Slipper, Tallahassee Tiger Sharks, and more. The t-shirts themselves also have a soft vintage feel.

“It just doesn’t feel right to me, buying a t-shirt about a cherished local memory that was made somewhere outside of the U.S. I wouldn’t want to do that, so I don’t expect my customers to either. Sure, it means slightly higher costs, but I think it’s worth it.” Not only are the shirts made in the U.S., but they’re also labeled in the U.S. and screen-printed right here in Tallahassee.

In the future, Chet hopes to expand his lifestyle brand to many metro areas across the country. “My team and I have history, memories, connections and roots all over the country, and we can’t wait to expand to other places. We’ve received so many great ideas from our families and friends – ‘you’ve got to make a shirt about this thing or that place.’ It’s an overwhelming positive response, but we’re listening and it’s very exciting.”

“We’ll know we did our job when our customers head down memory lane with a total stranger because they were seen wearing one of our shirts.” Local Vyntage even has an area of their website reserved for visitors to share their own stories and fond memories of places they might not have expected to ever see again. “People love to reminisce, and we’re here to help them share their memories.”

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Chet has affiliated Local Vyntage with a great-fitting charity for his nostalgic apparel business, the United States Lighthouse Society (USLHS). “I honestly can’t think of a better match. Lighthouses are all over the U.S. and once served a critical purpose – protecting vessels from rocky shores. Most no longer function with their original intent, but still serve as beautiful, historic structures on our coastlines. They’re part of our identity, just like our t-shirt designs. Unfortunately, many lighthouses are in dire need of repair and preservation, and we want to help with that.” Local Vyntage has pledged to donate annually to the cause.

Local Vyntage officially launched their first t-shirt collections last week. They are now available at localvyntage.com. Give new life to your unique nostalgia that’s been revitalized for modern use! Oh, and follow Local Vyntage on social media, too: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.

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NAI TALCOR Partners with Domi Station

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NAI TALCOR Partners with Domi Station

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA – [August, 2017] – NAI TALCOR is proud to announce a partnership with nonprofit startup incubator, Domi Station. With a vested interest in supporting entrepreneurial ventures, the partnership between Domi and NAI TALCOR is an ideal fit. “We are inspired by the continued growth in Tallahassee” comments Frank L. Langston, CCIM, Principal of NAI TALCOR. “It’s fascinating to see how the process comes together in the incubator setting that Domi provides for startups.” NAI TALCOR will be collaborating with Domi on a special event in October highlighting technology in Commercial Real Estate.


NAI TALCOR and Domi have partnered to increase the amount of resources available to local entrepreneurs and to support the growth of Tallahassee’s startup community. NAI TALCOR’s support will assist Domi in continuing to deliver Get Started, its flagship entrepreneurial program. Get Started runs twice a year and works with admitted companies for six months to help them focus on their people, examine their process, and build their product. The first three months are spent in classroom facilitation, covering purpose, business model, and customer discovery. This prepares entrepreneurs to launch in the second half of program. Over the last two years, 46 early-stage teams successfully graduated from Get Started. The support of partners like NAI TALCOR help us drive our mission forward and build a more diverse startup community in the South East.

 

About NAI TALCOR

NAI TALCOR was founded in 1990 as a real estate brokerage firm specializing exclusively in commercial properties in North Florida and surrounding areas. In 2012, TALCOR became a part of the NAI Global Commercial Real Estate Network becoming NAI TALCOR. The brokerage company is staffed with the most experienced and competent advisors and professionals in the real estate business. NAI TALCOR offers commercial advisors in retail, office, agricultural, multi-family, industrial, and investment property sectors. NAI TALCOR is currently the largest locally owned commercial real estate firm in North Florida, with a West Florida office located in Panama City and a new office located in Dothan, AL. NAI TALCOR has been offering superior results to clients for over 25 years. Whether it be purchasing or selling land, managing properties, or offering our expert advice, NAI TALCOR is the commercial real estate company to turn to. To learn more about NAI TALCOR, please visit: www.naitalcor.com.

 

About NAI Global

NAI Global is the single largest, most powerful global network of owner-operated commercial real estate brokerage firms. NAI Global provides a full-range of corporate real estate services, including brokerage and leasing, property and facilities management, real estate investment and capital market services, due diligence, global supply chain consulting and related advisory services.  NAI Global member firms, leaders in their local markets, are actively managed to work in unison and provide clients with exceptional solutions to their commercial real estate needs. Founded in 1978, today NAI Global member firms span the US and 54 other countries, with 400 offices and more than 7,000 local market experts on the ground, completing $55 billion of transactions annually. Supported by the central resources of the NAI Global organization, member firms deliver market-leading services locally and combine their in-market strengths to form a powerful bond of insights and execution for clients with multi-market challenges.

NAI Global was acquired in 2012 by C-III Capital Partners, a commercial real estate services company engaged in a broad range of activities, including primary and special loan servicing, loan origination, fund management, CDO management, principal investment, title services and multifamily property management.

To learn more, visit www.naiglobal.com

 

About Domi Station

Domi is a non-profit startup incubator and coworking space with 75 active members. We offer programs, resources, and events that help entrepreneurs start and scale sustainable companies. Our regional network enables us to match our members to seasoned mentors, investors, and industry advisors. Domi’s incubators programs educate and empower early-stage entrepreneurs. Over the last two years, our members have earned $5.4 million in revenue and attracted $2.5 million in investment.

 

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The Domi Story

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The Domi Story

“Why Tallahassee right now?” The Domi Story

Three years ago, Tallahassee gained its first ever privately ran business incubator and coworking space located in a warehouse in front of the former Amtrak station. Today, we celebrate 3 years of the space where locals, travelers, and students of all ages have found a home for their entrepreneurial goals and most innovative ideas.

In 2016, Startup Capital, Cuttlesoft’s podcast focused on spotlighting Tallahassee startups and entrepreneurs, recorded its first ever episode at local brewery GrassLands Brewing Co. (who happens to be a Get Started alum). Cuttlesoft’s Director of Communications, Nick Farrell, sat down with two of Domi’s founders, Micah Widen and Jake Kiker, to answer questions and tell the story of how Domi Station came to be. Due to recording issues, the episode was not released at the time, but in celebration of Domi's 3rd birthday, the podcast has been remastered.

Please enjoy the never-before-heard Startup Capital podcast episode: The Domi Story.

*Disclaimer: There is some mild profanity in this episode.*

 

 

“[Tallahassee] is a damn blank canvas, so you can build whatever you want here.” Micah Widen.

 

 

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How Get Started is Getting Ahead

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How Get Started is Getting Ahead

Our Get Started Fall 2016 Cohort has recently come to an end. The program’s newest grads have completed the initial steps towards conquering the best of what the business world offers. In the past six months, the resilient entrepreneurs of the Fall 2016 Cohort have experimented, pivoted, and found clarity as to the true potential of their ideas. From finding inexpensive airfare out of Tallahassee to delivering pillows through an online subscription, we are proud of all that the Get Started family is bringing to life.

    After 6 months of incubation, mentor access, and coworking, many of the Fall 2016 cohort entrepreneurs have moved into new phases in their startups. Quinterious Enzor of Envint Management Group is moving forward on his pivot, allowing him to focus on what is meaningful and connect grant seekers with grant writers (see Why I Chose to Pivot). One Fresh Pillow, the world’s first online pillow subscription service, recently completed its beta testing phase, receiving a wealth of exciting user feedback and actionable data. Founders Aaron and Adrianne Kautz expect to do a soft launch in the next few months.

    FLY Mouthwash has also been on the receiving end of good news, particularly from Amazon and Vitacost where the revolutionary mouthwash concentrate has been approved for sale. Co-founder Nick Telford’s post-Get Started focus has been on the production process and team building for FLY Mouthwash. A supplier for the bottles and shrink sleeve labels, as well as designer Enrique Morgan, were recently acquired to assist with branding. But FLY Mouthwash isn’t stopping there. Telford believes they’ve finalized the perfect formula after holding countless interviews and tests with consumers. As a result, FLY Mouthwash is preparing to launch in August with a confident look, brand, and product.

    On the educational side of the spectrum, Meagan Bonnell of Codecraft Works has been busily accepting enrollments for summer camps taking place on both FSU and FAMU’s campus. “We are offering camps in Game Design, Web Dev, Python, Cyber Security, and Block Programming,” Bonnell says. In the future, she hopes to open after-school programs for elementary and middle school students. “The need and demand for STE(A)M access for kids is stronger than ever,” Meagan adds. “At Codecraft Works, we hope to continue to provide computer programming education in Tallahassee.”

    Since Get Started, Michele Kiker, founder of Fare Skies, a subscription service that finds discounted flight prices out of Tallahassee, has been exploring additional ways to reach travelers, including hosting workshops to create one-of-a-kind trip itineraries. A couple of weeks back, she successfully helped create an itinerary for siblings traveling to Amsterdam. She has also been working with Cuttlesoft to develop a website that provides subscribers deal alerts via email and text notification. Fare Skies began beta testing near the end of May and has partnered with Jacob Waites to create the brand logo.

    Successful startups disrupt industries and traditions, and that’s what Weather Tiger aims to do in the world of meteorology. Unlike other forecasters, Weather Tiger predicts a lower chance of the El Niño weather phenomenon this hurricane season. Ryan Truchelut, co-founder and chief meteorologist, tells The Democrat, “TigerTracks’ predictive algorithm incorporates more and better sources of input data than other seasonal hurricane prediction methodologies.”

However, these algorithms do more for the people than just tell hurricane season statistics. What this means for both meteorology and the public is that Weather Tiger’s unique and modern tuning can also be used for other customized seasonal forecasts like public safety, risk, retail businesses, and more commodities in the future. The startup will continue working for the Tallahassee Democrat by providing expert tropical weather forecast during hurricane season, as well as weekly outlook videos released every Wednesday. The first one was released on Wednesday, May 31st.

Weather Tiger has also been developing their business pitch by participating in 1 Million Cups as well as the Leon Co. Research and Development Authority Elevator Pitch Night competition, where they finished second runner-up.

    This Get Started cohort’s forte lies in not just working hard but thinking differently. Entrepreneurship isn’t just about creating an app and waiting for it to go viral. It is about disrupting a comfortable system with innovative possibilities that didn’t previously exist. Fortunately, this is one of the many diverse talents that live and grow in Tallahassee. Stay tuned as these talented entrepreneurs continue working to create services and products to evolve the status quo.

 

 

 

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Catchin' Up with DivvyUp

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Catchin' Up with DivvyUp

It's been a while since the last time we caught up with DivvyUp, the one-for-one sock company that donates a pair of socks to a homeless shelter for every pair purchased. Eight months to be exact. Many changes have happened since then, such as moving out of Domi and into their own office in January of 2017 and new strategies for business expansion. Recently, we sat down with founders Jason McIntosh and Mitch Nelson for an update on what they've been up to and what is to come from DivvyUp in 2017.

 

1. Tell me about all the new changes happening at DivvyUp right now.

Oh boy, where to start?! A lot has changed at DivvyUp since the last blog post in June 2016. After two and a half years working out of Domi Station, we moved into a small office a few miles away from Florida State’s campus.


As for the new machine, it’s actually a digital sock dying machine. We got it up and running at the beginning of February, but everything that could go wrong went wrong. From trouble-shooting software (special thanks to Robert McLaws!) to ruining hundreds of socks, the past month has been filled with important learning lessons.

Gabe Grass, the owner of Grasslands Brewery, helped us get the machine off the truck.  

Gabe Grass, the owner of Grasslands Brewery, helped us get the machine off the truck.

 

2. What do these changes mean for the future of DivvyUp?

For the first time in two and a half years, DivvyUp has a true competitive advantage in the market. In the custom sock industry there are companies that either offer low order quantities, but the price is too high and quality is poor or companies that offer high-quality socks, but the order quantity is way too high for small teams and organizations. The new sock machine allows DivvyUp to fill this gap. We are able to offer quantities as low as 15 pairs and give a far superior product. These new changes also mean DivvyUp controls the entire sock process. Owning the production side means we can iterate quicker, ensuring customers get the highest quality pair of custom socks that ship within 5 business days.


On the giving side, the new sock machine and expanded team will enable us to expedite our mission to give clean socks to those in need locally. There are many one-for-one companies like TOMS and Warby Parker that promise to give a product for every product sold, but there are still a lot of questions on the customer side: “What exactly is being given? Where is it going? When is it being given?”. DivvyUp is the first local one for one company. If you’re a baseball team in Indianapolis and purchase 25 pairs of custom socks, we ship 25 pairs of clean socks on behalf of the baseball team to their local homeless shelter. We think localized giving is the next step for the one for one model. The Giving Back page on our site has an interactive map that shows what’s gifted, where it is gifted and how much is gifted by the community.

 

3. What made it possible for the changes to happen?

The two biggest things that made these changes possible are, as strange as it may sound, a lack of funding and finding traction doing custom socks with Dance Marathons in 2015/2016.

Mitch and I went to Fort Worth, Texas in April 2016 to compete in TCU’s Values and Ventures Social Enterprise competition. The top prizes were $25,000, $15,000 and $10,000. DivvyUp ended up receiving an honorable mention and winning $2,500 for our monthly 3 pack business model. A few months into the model, we realized it was going to take a significant amount of ad dollars to get the pack concept off the ground. If we had won one of the top prizes at the competition, we would have wasted a lot of time throwing money at a model that didn’t have a strong competitive advantage. Having very little money forced us to question DivvyUp’s strategy.

We dipped our toes in custom socks last year by partnering with 7 Dance Marathons. However, due to lead times, minimum order quantities and knitted sock limitations, we were unable to work with more programs. Working intimately with these organizations and understanding their needs, allowed us to work with over 35 Dance Marathon programs around the country this year. Together, through these partnerships, we’ve raised over $30,000 for children’s hospitals and medical research and gifted 5,800 pairs of clean socks to homeless shelters across the country.

Founders Jason McIntosh (left) and Mitch Nelson (right) at TCU’s Values and Ventures Social Enterprise competition.

Founders Jason McIntosh (left) and Mitch Nelson (right) at TCU’s Values and Ventures Social Enterprise competition.

4. What have you learned in the past few months that you now implement to the development of DivvyUp?


The past few months taught us a lot about managing the design process, running maintenance on the sock machine, and understanding the true cost of making a pair of socks. All three will be invaluable moving forward as we hire more graphic designers and purchase additional machines.

 

5. What should we look forward to with DivvyUp/Is anything else you’d like to share?

A lot of cool socks! Keep an eye on the shop page as we are adding new designs every week.

DivvyUp x Ella Bing in Tampa, FL | Photo credit: ella_bing on Instagram

DivvyUp x Ella Bing in Tampa, FL | Photo credit: ella_bing on Instagram


DivvyUp has made socks for fundraisers, sponsors, corporate gifts, teams, retailers and breweries over the past month. If you are interested in custom socks, head over to their custom sock page.

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Member Spotlight: Cuttlesoft

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Member Spotlight: Cuttlesoft

“Funny name, amazing software” welcomes you to the website of dynamic Tallahassee-based software developing service called Cuttlesoft. From its innocent Florida State undergrad roots to its newest expansion to Colorado, Cuttlesoft’s funny name seems like it will only be spiraling off more tongues as the former startup continues to flourish.

The story of Cuttlesoft began how many other startups have begun: innocently and unexpectedly. Founders, Frank Valcarcel and Emily Morehouse-Valcarcel, met at a computer science lecture at Florida State University in their undergrad years. It did not take long for the duo to hit it off professionally and personally. Their professional networking began in 2014 when they met Brewfest, Tallahassee at one of Domi Station’s monthly Happy Hours. After a couple of beers and flavorful conversations, Frank and Emily volunteered to build an impromptu pro-bono mobile app for the local beer festival. Less than a year later, a small software and IT consulting startup agency was born.

Fast forwarding to three years later, Cuttlesoft expanded their services to the west, opened an office in Denver, Colorado, and currently balances more than 15 client projects between their Colorado and Florida locations.

Cuttlesoft has grown into a service that provides a unique level of expertise in custom software development and IT consulting by helping clients through business analysis, design, and development of a wide range of IT solutions including cloud computing, custom web and mobile apps, and more.

“We don't outsource any development or design; everything our team builds is 100% domestic,” adds Nick Farrell, Cuttlesoft’s Director of Communications, “We are a people-first organization.”

The future of Cuttlesoft is looking snowy but very bright with their current success in both offices. However, they do aim to extend their services to artificial intelligence and conversational computing, as well as continuing to support the entrepreneurial ecosystems of the cities who've helped them succeed.

What the community can do for Cuttlesoft is spread word of their incredibly diverse services and their insightful Startup Capital interview series and podcast focused on spotlighting Tallahassee’s ever-growing startup community.

Cuttlesoft accurately depicts the unique talents, strengths, and savviness that lives and cultivates in Tallahassee.

Check out their work here!

 

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Why I Chose to Pivot

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Why I Chose to Pivot

Initially, pivoting is what I feared most about entrepreneurship. The thought of shifting my focus from one direction to another scared me. It became a nightmare for me to accept change in my entrepreneurial pursuit, but it happened. I pivoted and here is why.

 

In March 2016, I introduced the world to Envint Management Group, a grant consultancy and fundraising conglomerate that specialized in creating funding opportunities for startup nonprofits and religious organizations. My efforts were birthed out of my desire to help others by providing real solutions to real problems via funding. I wanted to give resources to organizations that catered to the needs of the less fortunate. At the time, the morale behind my business idea felt strong enough to be able to support an actual business. Well, it wasn’t. The problem began when I started wearing a consultant hat without any consulting experience.

 

Consulting has big shoes to fill and it entails more than what it seems. It’s a lifestyle – one that’s heavily regimented. Grant consulting, with my exclusivity, required far more of my services than what I could provide. Some clients needed business consulting, strategic planning, and program building before I could begin to assess their funding opportunities. And those were just the simpler clients. It was then that I realized how far from prepared I was for the workload and the insistent demands of the clientele. Not to mention, my wage was not cutting it either. I was overworking and extremely underpaid, which only made me abrasive and terse with my clients. Eventually, I stopped caring altogether about the purpose of Envint Management Group.

 

I hit rock bottom both externally and internally. My faith collapsed and my health was compromised from all fronts. I became depressed and needed a break. I ran into a brick wall of hopelessness.

 

I once heard that great creativity comes from depression. Whether or not this is entirely true, it became my reality. I remember lying in bed contemplating the “how-tos” and “what-ifs” to changing Envint Management Group’s direction. Past conversations with mentors and colleagues about diversifying my services frequented my brain more than ever. I thought excessively but did nothing. At this point, my depression became a toxic concoction amalgamated with fear.

 

One day I decided to make a rash move. I contacted one of Domi Station’s mentors for guidance. At first, I was not prepared for the mentor’s openness and integrity. I expected him to be far removed and obtuse to my dealings. It did not take long to discover how far from the truth my expectations actually were. I initiated a conversation and we began sharing business interests and commonalities almost immediately. I strategically selected this mentor after learning that we both have a rigorous background in grant writing. We talked for an hour but its effect will last infinitely. I vividly remember griping about my experiences with Envint Management Group and seeing the mentor nod and smile in agreement. That meant a lot because I was no longer isolated with my feelings. I shared them with this stranger who I trusted. It was surreal.

 

As soon as the trust kicked in, I became all ears. The mentor dissected my grief and shared his views on my prior approach to Envint Management Group. Instead of insulting or picking at my mistakes, he suggested different paths to resolve my clients’ problems while minimizing my physical involvement. Amidst of his suggestions, it hit me that I had to pivot. Of the many offered suggestions, one aligned with my “what-ifs” and “how-tos” that I contemplated in my depressed state. It was verbatim, and couldn’t have been more serendipitous. Rather than doing any consulting myself, I transitioned my business into a web-based platform that facilitates all grant seekers to meet and connect with grant writers.

 

It suddenly all became worth it. From the shortcomings with my clients to the depression, my pivotal point was finally here. If I could, I wouldn’t change a thing because I learned to face my pivoting fears. It was uncomfortable and a lot of time was sacrificed. However, my time was not wasted. I learned to tolerate and grow through the struggle in order to make my business reach its full potential. Today, I am excited for what pivoting will do for Envint Management Group.

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Meet the Talent of Get Started Fall 2016

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Meet the Talent of Get Started Fall 2016

A solid pitch, a sustainable business model, a couple of potential clients, and validation to ignite momentum--these are just a few of the things each of the 11 teams in our Fall 2016 Get Started cohort signed up for. During Get Started, each team went outside of their comfort zone to learn about their markets and their business model.

Here’s the story of Get Started told by the entrepreneurs that proudly ran the gauntlet of 3 months of weekly meetings and intensive facilitated workshops.

 

Fly Mouthwash | Nick Telford

 

Fly Mouthwash is a highly concentrated mouthwash designed to give the traveling user the portability of a pack of gum or mints with the fresh feeling and effectiveness of an at-home mouthwash. At the beginning of Get Started we thought that every living human was part of our target market (like every startup for a time). Before coming to Domi, we were really infatuated with people using it at bars, clubs, or any social setting. Once I went through Get Started we began to peel back the layers of who really needs this in their life and started seeing our true target market. It became more clear that our product will make the most impact to someone who travels multiple times a year. We realized a strong piece of our product is that it's TSA friendly. For someone constantly on flights, it offers a much better value in their travel pack opposed to repeatedly buying travel sized mouthwashes. During the idea stage, our first thought was to heavily market our product as “safe to swallow” so consumers would be able to use it anywhere. After a few interviews and focus groups, we found out that people don’t like to swallow mouthwash, even if it’s safe. We then shifted to market it as a true mouthwash where you should spit after swishing for 30 seconds. However, you can also add a drop to your tongue if there's no water present to get the quick burst of freshness people need at critical times during the day. We also started out with a very weak concentrate and realized that it was lacking the burn that most consumers associate with germ killing. Since the testing, we have made a much stronger, better tasting and more effective product.

 

Envint Management Group | Quinterius Enzor

 

Envint Management Group started off as a grant consultancy and management conglomerate that specializes in creating funding opportunities for startup nonprofits and religious organizations. Since enrolling into Get Started, however, Envit Management pivoted and made important changes. With the program’s resources, I had the ability to transition EMG into a web-based platform for all grant seekers and grant writers. I started the program with very specific customers and a niche in place, but my customer discovery has widened to a new audience and my business model has strengthened.

 

Weather Tiger | Ryan Truchelut & Erica Staehling

 

WeatherTiger is a next-generation weather forecasting company with proprietary technology. It fuses the power of predictive analytics with meteorological insights to bring customized and accurate seasonal climate forecasts to commodity, risk, and retail markets. Our involvement in the Get Started program has led to our vision for WeatherTiger becoming more ambitious. The entrepreneurial development professionals at Domi Station helped us realize that we were undervaluing our core algorithm by limiting our marketing efforts to one sector. That discovery broadens our horizons and helped us find ways to more effectively grow our business. As both of our co-founders are technical, we truly value that kind of perspective. Get Started really encouraged us to deeply research our target markets and understand the unmet demand for quality long-range weather forecasts. In our conversations with prospective clients, we've found that off-the-shelf, overly broad seasonal outlooks aren't particularly valuable to them; they need a trustworthy forecast customized to their precise region of interest and for their exact weather concern. Those core principles guide WeatherTiger's product development as we bring our forecasting technology to market for threats ranging from seasonal hurricane risk to drought, heat, and severe weather.

 

Codecraft Works | Meagen Bonnell

 

Codecraft Works is a program that provides computer science and code education to students age 8 to 18. A lot has changed since joining Get Started! The main change we made was moving to a more agile business model. Codecraft Works is now set up to get students coding as soon as possible. We have trimmed the overhead of lab spaces and now work directly with schools and community centers that already have labs in place. Through customer discovery, we learned that there is a big market for computing education for kids and a lack of ready-to-go platforms. We learned that the biggest advantage Codecraft Works can offer is our awesome plug and play platform.

 

Career Mojo | Sam Brown & Bryan Skykes

 

Career Mojo is a personal and professional development platform that exists to transform companies and their people by discovering better ways to work. We offer products and services to help businesses avoid the high costs of "mis-hires", employee disengagement, and low-performance cultures. The software we are creating uses predictive performance analytics to predict the performance outcome of a potential candidate. Get Started really helped us build a formal structure to our efforts. The program immersed us in our idea, and now we can easily communicate not just the human resource problem we aim to solve but how our product solves it.

 

One Fresh Pillow | Aaron & Adrianne Kautz


One Fresh Pillow is the world's first online pillow subscription service. Millions of Americans sleep on pillows that don't support their body properly and that house millions of germs, bacteria, mold, and dust mites. We help you decide which of our three unique pillows is right for your body type, then ship one to you as often as you need it so you're always sleeping on a fresh pillow. The idea has really stayed the same since joining Get Started. What's changed is our operating less in hypotheticals and more in concrete tools and resources available to take our idea and make it come to fruition. We're still working on discovering who our customers are. We have found that our message and how we deliver it is very powerful. People who are skeptical of the idea of a pillow subscription service are quick to buy into the concept of One Fresh Pillow when we talk to them about how they're sleeping and why they could be sleeping better on a clean and supportive pillow.

 

FAN4D | Celeste Debro

 

FAN4D is a real-time fan interaction web-based application with SMS technology. The purpose of this company is to help music artists gain an organic fan-base in the most engaging moments. It also provides fans (supporters) with a better experience interacting with their favorite artists and an easier way to gather their information. Since joining Get Started my ideas have become more cohesive and I actually understand my customer. The things I have learned are invaluable to the progression of really making my vision come to life. Customer discovery broke down the important aspects of my customer and differentiated between the way I wanted to serve them and the way they actually needed to be served. That's super important when trying to find a valuable solution to a problem.

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The Future is Here: Our Thoughts on 2017

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The Future is Here: Our Thoughts on 2017

Over at Domi Station, we talk a lot about the future. Our members are building it, we give it a home, and so on and so forth in tweet-worthy bites. Because there’s nothing more at odds with startupland than the status quo, we’ve had our sights set further down the road. We’ve worked hard and learned a ton. We’ve built and planned and gotten things done, always in relentless pursuit of some near-term future state.

As a result, 2016 was a busy year. 18 teams graduated from Get Started, 9 from Get Started U, and 7 from TCAP. We hosted 125+ events, tag-teamed TrailHacks with Visit Tallahassee, tackled a 3-day event in Atlanta that brought together 80 HBCU students from across country, made transitions in (and additions to!) staff, built out a board (complete with elected officers and a finance committee), spoke at a couple of conferences, attracted new sponsors, worked up a strategic plan, partnered on a pitch event with The Chamber, joined the Startup Champions Network, and launched PowerUP (big thanks due to fine folks over at First Commerce Credit Union). But 2016 is over. The future, it seems, has finally arrived.

Domi is now well into its second act. We are a bigger, better, stronger version of ourself, but just because the future is here doesn’t mean we’re done. We’re happy to announce a handful of new things for the new year, including an updated website, big changes to coworking memberships, and a pretty awesome new promo video. Other 2017 announcements are in the works, but we won’t spill all the beans just yet. You’ll have to follow along to find out more as the news drops. 

Thanks to the work of many organizations and many more entrepreneurs, Tallahassee’s innovation ecosystem adds depth and complexity by the day. We plan to be there for it all, continuing to build, continuing to plan, and continuing to get things done. So here’s to a new year. Here’s to the future. 

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Kicking Off the Tallahassee Innovation Partnership (TIP)

Last Wednesday, on the final night of Entrepreneur Month, The Gathering thrived with students, startups, government officials, entrepreneurs, non-profits, business owners, and more. They came together for one reason: entrepreneurial growth in Tallahassee.

The Tallahassee Innovation Partnership is a collaboration with leaders from Domi Station, Florida A&M University, Florida State University, Tallahassee Community College, the state of Florida, Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare, the city of Tallahassee, and other large nonprofit and public institutions. The overall goal of the initiative is to “facilitate business relationships between local institutions and local entrepreneurs; build a forum for decision-makers to provide useful feedback on local products and services directly to entrepreneurs; and leverage the ideas and innovations from local startups and small businesses to help local institutions address their most pressing challenges” (Tallahassee Democrat).

    Six startups pitched on Wednesday night to an audience that ranged from university students to city government officials. Proper Channel, Swellcoin, Elite Office and Business Supplies, StatusTLH, Pinnacle Education, and Rent Certified each took the stage for 6 minutes followed by a brief Q&A session from the audience. Open Pitch Nights like this one benefits all community attendees, not just shark tank investors. Dustin Daniels, the Chief of Staff to the Office of the Mayor, explains that the Tallahassee Innovative Partnership’s focus on this Pitch Night “takes the conventional understanding of a pitch night and flips it on its head. [Pitch nights] are usually for angel investors, but it’s for bureaucrats and public sector individuals too because we make decisions that direct resources in a very large significant way.”

     Joseph Sasson of Pinnacle Education spoke to the usefulness of events like these for local startups. “I want to tell the community what we’re doing and give back to the the city and let them know that their support is driving the development of good businesses in Tallahassee.” Even community members not involved with the entrepreneurship scene are encouraged to attend to learn, engage, and network.

    People naturally associate Tallahassee as a government and college town, which brings a unique opportunity for the entrepreneurs in this town. Daniels says that Tallahassee has large purchasing powers with state and local government and three institutions of higher education. “If we were to take all of those institutions and help them be a little more intentional about investing in local startups and entrepreneurs in terms of doing business, make referrals, or even just giving them feedback about their products and services, we can actually turn the reality of Tallahassee into one of our strengths.”

    This collaboration, along with the other entrepreneurial efforts picking up in the city, give exciting insight into what may unfold in Tallahassee’s entrepreneurial ecosystem in 2017 and beyond.

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5 Local Businesses Selected to PowerUP with Domi Station and First Commerce

A diverse group of five businesses have been selected to participate in PowerUP's inaugural 2017 class. PowerUP is a 12-month long incubator program for local entrepreneurs who are ready to expand the market footprint of their existing small business by delivering new products and scaling-up operations. The program is made possible by a partnership between Domi Station and First Commerce Credit Union. 

A committee of seven small business and entrepreneurship experts reviewed PowerUP applications and selected a highly-competitive cohort of five local businesses. The businesses were selected based on key criteria, including existing revenue, potential for economic impact, and capacity for innovation. Domi and First Commerce Credit Union are excited to announce that the 2017 PowerUP class includes Nic's Toggery, Chop Barbershop, Catalina Café, the FL Aviation Center, and Secure Records Solutions.

"We are impressed by the strength of PowerUP's first class," said Cecilia D. Homison, CEO of First Commerce Credit Union. "Our city has many strong entrepreneurs, but there are some of the best. They run well-known companies with a proven track record, and they are ready to be leaders in the growth of Tallahassee's entrepreneurial ecosystem."

PowerUP offers a chance for local business owners to look at entering a growth phase and reinvest in their company's future. The 2017 class will meet quarterly at Domi Station in a facilitated, peer-to-peer environment, and have monthly meetings with experienced consultants and advisors. 

"It's exciting that our entrepreneurial ecosystem is growing and finding more resources for second stage communities that are looking to simplify, scale, and re-invent themselves." said Dominick Ard'is, Domi's Director of Incubation Programs. "Selecting these companies was extremely difficult but we are confident that we have a diverse group of companies, ranging from retail to fashion to technology, that have collectively served our community over 75 years."

The program aims to bring a fresh set of eyes to existing businesses by connecting them to an experienced group of program facilitators who act as objective consultants. Participants can explore the launch of a new product, the viability of entering a new market, or make plans to expand existing operations. 

More information about PowerUP can be found here: www.domistaiton.com/powerup

About Domi

Domi is on a mission to educate and empower entrepreneurs. It offers incubator program, mentorship resources, connections to capital, and community events at Domi Staiton, a 8,000 sf warehouse turned coworking space. Over the last year, Domi has worked with 43+ different early-stage startup teams through competitive, cohort-based incubator programs. 

About First Commerce Credit Union

First Commerce believes in The Power of Yes! It's the power to realize your business's dreams. The power to fuel our local economy. The power to improve our communities. That's why First Commerce looks for ways to say yes to local businesses. That's what we call local strong! First Commerce makes local decisions on loans, has deep knowledge of the local economy, offers local advice on growing a business, and provides local service by local people. First Commerce Credit Union is federally insured by the NCUA and is an equal housing opportunity lender. 

About Entrepreneurship in Tallahassee

Tallahassee continues to gain momentum toward building a thriving environment for startups and small businesses. In July, the city was named a Top 50 City for Entrepreneurs by Entrepreneur Magazine. Local officials and economic development related organizations increasingly recognize that the future of our region hinges on empowering entrepreneurs to take bold, calculated risks, build high-impact companies, and diversify the economy. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, startups that survive their first five years often turn into growth phase companies that account for a significant number of new jobs, making the expansion of existing firms an important emphasis for successful economic development. (http://www.nber.org/digest/feb11/w16300.html)

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Better Block Foundation stops by Frenchtown, Tallahassee

Local businesses frame a community, but participation and unity from the people builds and sustains its growth. This past Saturday, on the corner of Old Bainbridge and Brevard, local food, pop up shops, a newly built greenhouse, and live music set an ambience of ease in Frenchtown. In an area some perceive as threatening, Frenchtown Better Block united a community to create a large interactive effort to improve Frenchtown and set new goals for the area. The project began on August 6th, with the help of volunteers from Florida State University, Florida A&M University, the city of Tallahassee, and Better Block, and finalized on Saturday with a block party to showcase the progress being put into enhancing Frenchtown. The Better Block Foundation provides and donates the resources to build, and the people of Tallahassee provide the vision to remodel the historical city of Frenchtown.

Saturday’s festivities were nearly impossible to miss if one drove by the Old Bainbridge block. Activities ranging from the multi-colored crosswalks to children and volunteers painting a multi-colored “Frenchtown” mural, brought enthusiasm and unity to the community. The pop-up shops from local businesses displayed the different talents of the town and their genuine ambition to renovate Frenchtown. “All we really need is a community effort to continue what Better Block started,” said one of the local businesses.

Devan Leavins, senior planner for Tallahassee-Leon County’s Planning Department who contacted Better Block Foundation to come to Frenchtown, credits a large portion of the success of the Frenchtown Better Block project to the Frenchtown residents communicating their ideas and desires for a better community. “I think how many people are out here is a success,” Devan says. “From that point forward the successes are what the people want to see left behind, what should stay and where it could use to grow in the future.”

He believes that the project will help change the perception some people have of Frenchtown by showing that it “is a safe place where people like each other and want to hang out and talk. There’s also a lot of talent in the community that people need to know about.”

Piecing the project together has also been impactful to those working on it from the start. Anthony Milordis, a graduate student in the Florida State University Urban and Regional Planning Department, has been volunteering for the project since it began in August. When asked about the challenges of the project, he tells that although the Frenchtown residents are very passionate people, it was a challenge reaching out to them due to their lack of internet and social media access. “A lot of them don’t even have emails, so we’ve been firing the neighborhood and getting to know people, which required a lot of manpower. It’s been challenging, but fun.”

The Frenchtown Better Block project has succeeded in getting word out on what the community wants to see and bringing people of all ages together to collaborate in a vision to renovate the neighborhood, remove its negative stigma, and imagine a new future for the historic area.

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Startup Spotlight: 3 Startups Investing in the Growth of Tallahassee

Businesses do more than just sell; they work to solve problems for people that speak to our priorities as a society. Tallahassee startup culture embodies this idea by creating services that teach the new generation how to code, reduce the number of drunk drivers, and eliminate the dependency companies have on paper. Startups like Codecraft Lab, Blaze 24x7, and Greenflux provide innovative services while combating issues that hold the world back.

Codecraft Lab recognizes the importance of empowering children to have the right tools in the ever-changing workforce. They teach children one the most useful skills employers are already looking for: computer science. Codecraft Lab, which began as a coding school in Melbourne, Florida for children ages 8-18, has recently branched out to Tallahassee, partnering with FAMU’s Developmental Research School to run a summer pilot program.

Meagan Bonnell, Program Director of the FAMU DRS summer pilot, said that students can start with the Introduction to Computer Programming Class and continue with further classes to grow their skill set. Codecraft Lab is looking to expand in the fall and spring at both FAMU DRS and other local schools. In response to the growing gender and racial gap in the STEM workforce, the program has a mission to reach out to girls and minority groups. Fortunately, many organizations share Codecraft Lab’s passion and are financially supporting the movement. “This year, for example, a generous donation from Florida Blue will provide scholarships to a number of students who are excited to start learning to code,” Bonnell said. “We are constantly looking for new partners who can help us reach out to more young people.”

The courses are hands-on, communicative, and social, so students remain engaged as they develop multiple skills needed in any workforce. “There is nothing stopping them from building an app, a game, a website, or even starting their own company,” says Bonnell. From expanding a person’s problem-solving abilities to being able to make a high-wage salary, coding is a multidimensional skill that suits anybody with or without an interest in a career in STEM.

Shifting from an educational service to a potentially life-saving one, Blaze 24x7 offers several opportunities to avoid drunk-driving and time-wasting. Their app allows one to order basic grocery items, hard and soft drinks, late-night munchies, and miscellaneous items generally carried by convenience stores. Blaze’s Founder and CEO, Charlie Patel, grew up in the gas station business. His family owns several Sunoco locations throughout Tallahassee. Based on his knowledge of the industry, Patel came up with the idea for Blaze 24x7 after several of his friends received DUIs for late-night beer and cigarette runs—runs that could have been easily avoided.

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“It happens. People drunk-drive on a daily basis,” Patel said. “People, especially college students, should be more cautious and not ruin their lives by partying.” Blaze 24x7 prioritizes convenience by offering product discounts and weekly offers. Purchases over $35 offer free delivery, purchases of 15-30 items charge a $1 delivery fee, and purchases under 15 items charge a $2.49 delivery fee. Items are typically delivered anywhere between 30 mins and 1.5 hours. Patel knows the clientele and caters to their needs as well as ensuring a strict ID check for orders that require it by law.

Convenience doesn’t end at home, though. Sometimes it extends into the workplace. Earlier this year, Joseph Petty created Greenflux, a customizable software for businesses that eliminates paper dependency. Greenflux provides small businesses with streamlined workflow that simplifies filing, removes human error in data entry, and facilitates document access. Along with these general features, Greenflux also offers customized software individually crafted to each business’s specific needs.

The development process begins with a free consultation from Petty, where he learns about the company’s goals and history. He then analyzes the best way to create an application for that company’s needs. With the workflow feature, a person can navigate through documents and data, normally printed on paper, from any electronic device. For example, if a company has their Greenflux app, an employee who is momentarily out of the office can access and handle work documents through a phone and immediately store it in the company files, or share it with co-workers. Petty noted that the business of going paperless is efficient, more company-manageable, environmentally-friendly, and exceptionally cost effective. “I did a study on paper waste and found that the money a company spends on paper-related expenses combined, such as printers, ink, storage, shredding, and more, is 31x the amount a company spends on paper alone,” he said. Petty is currently making more third-party integrations, such as PayPal and Dropbox, available for the software. He looks to share his services with small and local businesses that can truly benefit from a service like Greenflux.

Tallahassee’s startup culture is rooted in advancing the community at-large. The success of startups of CodeCraft, Blaze, and Greenflux will solve problems, grow our economy, and make Tallahassee an even better place to call home. 

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UberOps Partners with Domi, Sponsors Startup Incubator Program

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UberOps Partners with Domi, Sponsors Startup Incubator Program

On their homepage, UberOps says they are on a mission to integrate the world’s data, bit by bit—but that’s not the only thing they are up to. They’re also on a mission to jumpstart Tallahassee, startup by startup. UberOps has joined Domi in building a startup community by sponsoring Get Started, our incubator program for high-growth companies. 

Thirty-five startup teams have participated in Get Started since it launched in the summer of 2015. A variety of public and private partners invest in the program in order to keep costs low to entrepreneurs and expand the number of resources available to startups across the region. 

“Over the last two years, we were able to stand up Get Started thanks to the backing of sponsors like Florida State University, Florida A&M University, and Carr Riggs & Ingram,” said Lucas Lindsey, Domi’s Executive Director. “It means a lot to add UberOps to that list of supporters.”

Dominick Ard’is, Domi’s Director of Incubation Programs and Operations, added that buy-in from private sponsors highlights Get Started’s value. “Whenever you have corporate sponsors buying into your mission, it’s a good sign, and it shows their commitment to educating and empowering early-stage entrepreneurs. They were there once, and it shows true community power when established businesses support early-stage entrepreneurs,” he said. 

For UberOps cofounder Jeff Couch, it all hinges on one word: Opportunity. 
Collaborating with a diverse group of people across backgrounds and interests gives his company an opportunity to learn new things, share new ideas, and meet talented new people. “UberOps is grateful for the opportunity to partner with Domi as it is a cornerstone of the growing tech community in Tallahassee,” said Couch. “The relationships and community that Domi affords have given us an opportunity to recruit from an expanding and visible pool of talent that will help us innovate the future of healthcare IT.”

One of those uber talented people is Karla Galvan. Once an FSU student and Domi’s part-time designer, she now works for full-time at UberOps, helping drive a culture of creativity. “Domi gave me the tools and support needed to succeed in a multi-generational workplace,” she said. “I made countless life-long connections and got to work on a wide range of projects. It opened up so many doors.”

Eduardo Gonzalez Loumiet, UberOps' CEO, emphasized the importance of creating environments that invest in professional and leadership development. “Domi doesn’t only produce amazing startups. It produces very talented people,” he said.

In addition to Get Started, UberOps supports important K-12 education programs like CreatorsCamp. At a recent Fireside event at Domi Station, young creatives learned what it takes to create something of value by rapidly planning the launch of a lemonade stand.

In addition to Get Started, UberOps supports important K-12 education programs like CreatorsCamp. At a recent Fireside event at Domi Station, young creatives learned what it takes to create something of value by rapidly planning the launch of a lemonade stand.

As a growing healthcare tech firm with a flair for innovation, UberOps demonstrates the importance of bridging partnerships between established tech firms and up-and-coming startups. What’s more, their commitment to innovation goes above and beyond the support of programs like Get Started. They’re in the trenches, staying creative and entrepreneurial, launching new startup products like BloomDot, a healthtech software used in newborn screening. Their work proves the importance of innovation as a mindset that helps companies not only keep pace with but outpace a rapidly changing market. 

“Over the last four years we have experienced a tremendous amount of growth—not only throughout Florida but nationwide,” Loumiet added. “In order to fulfill our commitment to Tallahassee and the Big Bend region, it is important that we partner with organizations like Domi. Through this partnership, we have met other tech companies, we have learned about innovative products and services, and we have had the opportunity to recruit and hire the best talent in all facets of our business.” 


Stay tuned for more news about our Get Started program. Applications open in September, and the admitted cohort will kick off their journey in October. 

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Domi 2.0: Where We've Been and Where We're Headed

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Domi 2.0: Where We've Been and Where We're Headed

This summer Domi rocketed by its 2nd anniversary. It's been a wild ride, but a ton of incredible things have happened thanks to the hard work, creativity, and relentless drive of hundreds of Tallahassee's finest entrepreneurs. An angel investment network launched. Then they put their money where their mouth was. Startups have been acquired. Storefronts have opened (bonus example). Partnerships have formed. Events have been thrown. Tech celebs have visited. New programs have launched. Awards have been won (by awards we mean plural; like, a lot of them; ok, we’re really done this time). We were ranked a top 50 city for entrepreneurs. And, not least of all, NASA landed in TLH.

But what's past is prologue. The future is why we’re all here, and we’re happy to report that the future is bright. Over the next year, we plan to do two things: 1. Double down on what's working and 2. Increase impact through new initiatives. These include improvements to our Get Started incubator program, the launch of a research commercialization series in partnership with FAMU and the Florida Institute, a strong focus on increasing diversity in our startup community, and forays into K12 code education. Stay tuned over the next few months as we release more information about each of these important initiatives.

Another thing you can expect to see are new faces and strategic shifts in Domi’s full-time staff. As a cofounding partner, Micah Widen served as Domi’s leader and CEO for more than two years. He worked tirelessly to build a startup community in Tallahassee and laid a strong foundation for Domi’s future. Micah has transitioned to serving on our board, where he will continue to create and invest in partnerships that return significant value to the capital-region.

Similarly, Domi’s former Incubator Manager, Christine Urban, also sits on our board, focusing her energy on research commercialization and diversity initiatives. In a show of true commitment to entrepreneurship, Christine has launched a healthcare tech startup called BloomDot. If you haven’t heard of it, you can find out more here.

Domi’s mission--to educate and empower early-stage entrepreneurs--will be executed by three full-time staff. Lucas Lindsey will serve as our Executive Director. Sabrina Torres will serve as our Community Manager. And Dominick Ard’is will join the team as our Director of Incubator Programs and Operations. Lucas, Sabrina, and Dominick will be backed by an active board of advisors and a passionate community of entrepreneurs. Domi’s board currently includes cofounders Micah Widen, John Vecchio, David Lawson, and Jake Kiker, as well as Christine Urban, David White, Yuh-Mei Hutt, Reis Alsberry, and Christic Henry. Each board member brings experience and vision to the table, rounding out a committed and capable team.

Over the last two years, we’ve come to realize that Domi isn’t just another building down by the railroad, a network of ambitious creators, or the best place to spend Happy Hour on the first Friday of each and every month. It’s much more than that. If we build it the right way, it’s not about any one organization. It’s about a community-wide movement.

It’s about a rising tide of people that believe in this city, in this state, and in the South. It's about a forward-thinking, future-building, critics-be-damned group of leaders banding together to leverage shared resources, build upon each other's shoulders, and get things done.

We’ve spent years building a startup community, and we’re ready to spend years continuing to accelerate its growth. Whether it means investing in local startups, putting your company through Get Started, or simply attending an event--come on over, get involved, and let's build the future together. 

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