A Penny A Day

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A Penny A Day

When Bryant Joseph and Connor Grady studied at Florida State University, they wanted one thing: for local food truck Kübanos to deliver their delicious, Cuban cuisine in a convenient and cost-effective way. At the time, there was no service in Tallahassee that effectively tapped into everyone’s introspective longing for low cost delivery from their favorite local restaurants.

After Joseph and Grady graduated from FSU, they began building their concept and developing a concession delivery app which they presented to their friend Zach Zelner, CEO of Z Baked. The team fused Joseph and Grady's tech expertise with Zelner’s operations experience to create an independent, tech-based food delivery service called Penny Delivery! Aside from fulfilling college-day yearnings, the main goal for Penny is to solve a clear problem: Tallahassee needs an efficient delivery service for non-fast food options.

Penny Delivery is a service that delivers food from local restaurants like Kiku Japanese Fusion, Madison Social, Guthries, and Starbucks who typically don’t deliver food. “We route orders very competently and our entire model is predicated on achieving a level of efficiency that is necessary for us to sustain what we do,” Joseph tells us.

The structure of Penny’s network of drivers is formulated to allow space for service expansion, where partnerships with retail stores hold a lot of promise for future endeavours. “Any local store can have same-day shipping as an option,” Joseph says. “We have a network of drivers who are already delivering, so now we can make other kinds of deliveries more efficiently.”

From their versatile experiences of living and operating here for a period of time, Joseph, Grady, and Zelner have gained a unique understanding on the geography and customer base in Tallahassee. The capital city serves as a test bed for exploring other opportunities in a market in which they have familiarity. The founding trio is constantly working to understand and meet the needs of the ever-evolving market. However, their eye continues to remain focused on why they started in the first place. “It’s always good to solve a problem that you experienced first hand, that’s what happened with Penny Delivery,” says Joseph.

Treat-yo-self by eating out without going out. Order from Penny Delivery’s array of food and snacks at any time of the day for just one cent. Check them out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

 

 

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Startup Holiday Gift Guide

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Startup Holiday Gift Guide

Somehow, someway, it's already that time of year, so we went ahead and made a guide to help you spread some holiday cheer! Here's a curated list of 10 Domi startups—be they online or IRL—that offer the perfect holiday gifts for anyone in your life. So break out your credit card and check out all these startups have to sell! 🎄🎁 

One Fresh Pillow

For the Tosser & Turner

Your friends and family deserve better than to go into 2018 with a stiff neck after a bad night's sleep. One Fresh Pillow is the world's first pillow subscription service. These upstarts invented and patented a new kind of pillow perfect for side and back sleepers. Give the gift of a good night's sleep! 
Can't-Miss Gift: The Dreambox


Olde Fields Clothing

For the Rad Friend

Fashion trends constantly change, but this startup is always up-to-date. Olde Fields is a Gaines Street classic, an on-trend local boutique packed full of apparel, jewelry and accessories for both women and men.
Can't-Miss Gift: All Power to the People tee


Driftour

For the Traveler in Your Life

Sometimes the best gift is new (and possibly life-changing) experiences. Driftour is a one-of-a-kind subscription serving for local immersions, staycations, and unique tours through the very best of Tallahassee.
Can't-Miss Gift: 3 Month Staycationer Membership


Local Vyntage

For a Trip Down Memory Lane

There is never a reason to not wear a conversation-starting tee. Local Vyntage takes nostalgia to a whole new level with premium fitted apparel. If you remember the Silver Slipper, then this has your name written all over it.
Can't-Miss Gift: Noles 'Get Loud' Tee


DivvyUp

For the Passionate Pet Owner

So your friend never stops talking about their new chihuahua (or pet rock, we don't judge). DivvyUp is a 1 for 1 custom sock company that'll put your furry friend's face right on a pair of high-quality socks. They're already booked until Christmas, but gift cards make for the perfect stocking stuffer!
Can't-Miss Gift: Gift Card Good for One Pair of Custom Pet Socks


Woven Futures

For Those Who Love to Give Back

Big brands try but there's nothing like the real deal. Woven Futures partners with Guatemalan artisans to import hand-crafted shoes, bags, and bracelets. It's fashion with purpose, and all products support the women who make them.
Can't-Miss Gift: Amarillo Cosmetic Bag


EyeDope

For the Trendsetter

Introduce authentic Tallahassee fashion to a new set of eyes. EyeDope is a stylewear movement born right here in Florida's capital city. They design and sell premium sunglasses that are guaranteed to give you a #dopemoment every time you rock a pair.
Can't-Miss Gift: The Jag Multi-Hue


Chocolate Shanah

For the Sweet Tooth

The only thing better than a box of chocolates is a box of pretty gourmet chocolates. Chocolate Shanah is a local chocolatier featuring unique, artistic creations by Shanah, a Parisian trained Master Chocolatier. These beautiful sweets are perfect for those that love the finer things in life. 
Can't-Miss Gift: Set of 6 Bonbons


DripDrop

For the Fitness Lover

Working out is a necessary evil. Thankfully there's ways to make the process as fun as possible. DripDrop is a group fitness studio that's sure to make you sweat, even while you have a good time. Their classes include yoga, dance cardio, and toning. 
Can't-Miss Gift: 5 Class Pass


Gourmet Pup Club

For the Pup in Your Life

Some people believe there is a limit to how much one should spoil their dog. Gourmet Pup Club doesn't. Customize all-natural dog treat boxes, including birthday cakes or monthly treats, delivered right to your doorstep! Give your pup the love (aka full-belly) they deserve.
Can't-Miss Gift: Monthly Treater & Eater box

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Driftour satisfies your exploratory tastebuds

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Driftour satisfies your exploratory tastebuds

“Entrepreneurs are seen as change agents in communities and I had never ascribed to such an aspiring label before, but there’s power to ascribing to what you aspire to be. So that’s kind of how I got started.” Val Rodriguez, co-founder and CEO of Driftour, never foresaw herself as a tech startup founder. Like many, Val didn’t know what being an entrepreneur really meant. However, in entrepreneurship she found the perfect avenue to pursue her passion for community growth, which led to the creation of Driftour.

Driftour is a micro-tourism subscription service for Tallahassee’s local and visiting explorers, who seek authentic and unique adventures. It offers locals two kinds of subscriptions, Solo Staycationer and Staycationer Duo. These packages provide Tallahassee residents with various options to engage locally in a brand new way. They include one monthly immersion, an exclusive event held and hosted by a local business, and access to self-guided tours. For visitors, the company offers The Weekender. This package gives visitors access to locally themed self-guided tours for the duration of their stay, as well as itineraries they can follow at their own pace based on the kind of Tallahassee experience they seek. Through Driftour, anyone with a traveler’s soul can explore the capital city in an unprecedented way.

Val’s experiences as a student at Tallahassee Community College and Florida State University set the foundation to start a business that cultivates her vision of impacting systemic change in communities. She now gives back to the city that gave her everything to pursue her passion. It began at TCC where she was student government vice president and attended conferences, spoke in front of 300+ students, and developed her resume. “I have so much love for TCC. I was able to accomplish a lot of great things that began to shape me into the professional I am today, because I opened the door and asked a question,”.

At Florida State University, Val’s undergraduate studies did not initially involve the college of business. Instead, she gravitated towards social sciences and opportunities like the social entrepreneurship specialization. There, she was invited to attend an interdisciplinary design thinking exchange program with students from the College of Communication and Information. Through this program, Val and 4 FSU STARS (Students & Technology in Academia, Research, and Service) students went to Puerto Rico with the task to partner with creative entrepreneurship students from the Universidad del Sagrado Corazón and prototype a business idea. Val and her partners formulated an events calendar that would allow locals from different parts of the island to connect with other locals and exchange tourism information. Residents would then use the platform to discover new parts of Puerto Rico. The bedrock of the prototype were local businesses thriving with genuine community interest and support, while producing economic growth. It would also attract tourists interested in local authentic experiences and invite them to get to know and invest in Puerto Rico. “When you shop at the local businesses, the local establishments, the corner store with the really good pinchos, you become a traveler who invests in community growth,” Val explained. Going through the exchange program gave Val the idea of bringing an initiative like this to Tallahassee.

After graduating, Val and Chelsea Schneider, Driftour’s co-founder and Val’s former business partner, started Driftour and applied to Domi Station’s Get Started incubator program. “I didn’t get into Get Started, but they told me I could reach out to them, so I did. They reviewed the problems in my application and gave me a year’s worth of membership to work on those problems,” Val said. “A really cool aspect about Domi is that even though I didn’t get into the program, I showed an initiative to get productive feedback and they opened up resources for me. That personal connection is more apparent in smaller cities.”

Val and Chelsea used Domi’s mentors and coworking space to work on Driftour. They participated in 1 Million Cups and began testing out immersions with local businesses, which exposed Driftour to a whole new network bringing in pivotal results. “The best part of growing professionally in Tallahassee is working alongside revolving doors of people passionately working to uplift the community,” said Val. “You’re a part of something bigger in Tallahassee.”

From that moment, Driftour progressed to an easily-navigable, user and mobile-friendly web-app with GPS directions for each immersion. Last month, Driftour beta launched with “The Barista Experience Immersion” hosted by Red-Eye Coffee. This event takes staycationers through a coffee triad by learning how to make lattes with baristas and how to brew your own coffee using different methods. The immersions allow local business owners to form a meaningful bond with customers while delving into a different and engaging marketing approach. Local businesses and organizations can reach out to Val to hold immersions or sponsor self-guided tours. Hosting an immersion with Driftour results less costly than regular marketing fees and brings new traffic through the door.

For some, the misconception that Tallahassee doesn’t offer much past college and government resources is prevalent. Val invites residents and visitors to get to know Tallahassee, see what it offers, and get inspired by the people living and dreaming in the capital city. There is a community culture waiting to be explored. “Driftour is for those with exploratory tastebuds,” Val emphasizes. “We are your guide to the local current.”

Check out Driftour and find something new to do every month while boosting our local economy!

Also: See Val Rodriguez star in our #Sockpreneurs promo video!

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They're bold, groovy, and impactful. They're Sockpreneurs!

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They're bold, groovy, and impactful. They're Sockpreneurs!

It’s 6 A.M. and your alarm goes off. You wake up, shut it off, and put your socks on. But these aren’t just any socks. These socks carry you through your day. These socks are sometimes the only ones there to see you succeed or fail. These socks know and share your struggle. These socks help you build your story every day. They tell tales of the bold who take “no” and turn it into “keep going”. They are worn by the movers and shakers that turn problems into opportunities.

Until now, these socks didn’t have a face or story of their own. But that changes today. Introducing Sockpreneurs, a collaboration between DivvyUp and Domi Station to raise funds for the first ever Get Started scholarship. This initiative will also aid DivvyUp’s mission of donating a pair of socks to a homeless shelter with every pair of Sockpreneurs sold.

Starting today until October 25th you may purchase a pair or two (or more!) and pick them up on November 3rd during our Sock Party at Domi. Your purchase can make a huge impact. Only 47 pairs are needed to get an entire company through the program.

So let’s break it down, when you buy a pair, you donate a pair to a homeless shelter AND help fund an entrepreneur’s journey. That’s a pretty amazing story for your socks to tell. Wear them when you need an extra kick of motivation, inspiration, boldness, or even grooviness. Create impact and celebrate with us the growth of our local startup community! Get your sockpreneurs today: divvyupsocks.com/domi

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Meet FLY, the Mouthwash Startup That Loves to Hear No

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Meet FLY, the Mouthwash Startup That Loves to Hear No

Michael Bracciale worked full-time and then some. He spent all day, five of them a week, at a desk with a South Florida zip code, a recent college-grad carving out a career in healthcare recruiting. He made calls and sent emails. He cracked jokes with coworkers and, when necessary, nodded in meetings. He did the things he needed to do, the things he’d been told his whole life he had to do, but it wasn’t enough. That didn’t bother him much, though, because he had a plan. It wasn’t like most plans, the kind where you bide your time and bite your tongue and climb the corporate ladder. Instead, this plan involved a billion dollar chemist, fresh breath on the fly, and a business partner up north in Tallahassee named Nick Telford.

Then one day, as summer set in on 2017, the plan went into motion. After months of meeting the chemist on his lunch hour, months of coming home to work on the plan at night, Bracciale’s partner called him and said the time had come. It was now or never. “Burn the boats,” Telford told him. “We can’t go back.” 


Before the plan was the plan, it was December 2015 and final exam week at Florida State University. Bracciale and Telford sat studying at Strozier library when they suddenly faced something of a serious collegiate problem. An attractive classmate walked up and asked Bracciale for help studying. He’d have been game if it weren’t for the ghost of malodorous meals past. Without a quick way to fix his breath, he made up an excuse and went home to rinse with mouthwash, but by the time he got back to the library the girl and, as it were, his newly freshened breath were gone.

This left the duo with a question, “Why isn’t there anything that’s effective at killing bad breath AND easily portable?”

For the next couple of weeks, Bracciale and Telford spent time researching small, on-the-go products that got rid of bad breath as opposed to just providing short, temporary relief. They came up empty-handed, which, to a couple of entrepreneurs, meant only one thing: It was time to create. And so, the plan for FLY Mouthwash, a highly concentrated product designed to deliver the same effectiveness as an at-home mouthwash with the convenience of fitting in your pocket, was laid.


By 2025, the global oral care industry is expected to reach $41 billion in value. In the U.S., the industry has significant penetration, with experts anticipating a mere 1-2% growth annually. New product development remains one of the few ways the industry will expand, but corporate behemoths write the rules and control the playing field. Just four major firms--The Procter & Gamble Co, Colgate-Palmolive Co, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Products Inc and GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Health--control 73% of oral care retail. 

But FLY isn’t intimidated. On the contrary, they’re motivated by the opportunity to compete. Bracciale said that precisely because of the size of the industry, the FLY team feels they can create a brand that capitalizes on what established players have overlooked. “We see room for the chance to innovate upon a widely used product,” said Bracciale.

Talking a big innovation game is one thing. Delivering on it is another, which is why Bracciale and Telford have been focused on product quality from day one. “It had to be good,” said Telford.

After that fateful finals day in the library, the two ordered potential ingredients and created the first prototype in Bracciale’s kitchen. But the results were less than, shall we say, fresh. Looking back on those first batches, Bracciale admits, “It couldn’t have gone much worse---it made the smell worse, actually.” They knew they needed professional help, and so they did it old school, knocking on doors and burning up the phone lines.

The team searched for someone to develop the product, but faced hurdles attracting chemists to come on board. At one point, they flew to New Jersey to meet with a manufacturer only to wait for months without word and then be turned down. But instead of closing up shop and updating their resumes, they dug in. 

Telford googled ‘oral care chemist,’ picked up the phone, and went down the list, cold calling everyone he could find. Turned down by more than 20 chemists, Telford finally stumbled into a call with Dr. Martin Giniger, an oral-care chemist with 20 years experience in the industry who has helped create products grossing more than $10 billion. Dr. Giniger’s formula now fills every bottle of FLY Mouthwash.


FLY’s chemist isn’t the only experienced advisor to have thrown their weight behind the bold, young company. In fact, if the mouthwash business doesn’t work out, Bracciale and Telford could make a mint traveling the country and selling out seminars on how to build all-star teams. 

First to join was Tracey Priest, Owner of Strategic Marketing Partners and 25-year veteran of the consumer product goods industry. Priest was recruited after he walked, unsuspecting, onto FSU’s campus and gave a guest lecture to an entrepreneurship class. Telford received a text from a friend in the class: “You need to get over here right now, this guy would be a perfect fit for FLY.” Telford ran across campus, breathing hard but arriving with a homemade bottle sample in hand. Priest would later become FLY’s Chief Marketing Officer. 

Over the summer, the team landed their first investor, Stuart Lasher. Lasher, the Tampa-based Founder, Chairman & CEO of Quantum Capital Partners, Inc. is a fellow FSU-alum and College of Business Hall of Fame Inductee. His $100,000 seed investment gave FLY the ability to manufacture an initial order of 7,000 bottles in Ohio, build a new website, run clinical trials, and invest in marketing their product launch. The team had been in contact with Lasher for more than a year, sometimes without a response, working to prove the value of their idea.

“We are grateful that Stuart believed in us. It wasn’t easy to convince him either...We lost a lot of sleep, but it was all worth it. I’ve never learned more about business strategy, detailed planning and myself over those four months,” Telford said. “It came to a point where we weren’t even chasing the money anymore, it was more about the partnership we wanted with Stuart. Working with him was way more valuable than any dollar figure we could receive.”

Last fall, FLY dove into Get Started, Domi Station’s incubator program for early-stage entrepreneurs. They attended weekly cohort classes, interviewed customers, and even earned a $1,000 pitch prize courtesy of Tallahassee’s Chamber of Commerce. Having recently completed the second half of Get Started, the team is now preparing for a November soft launch (they’ve recruited a brand ambassador force to distribute and sell across FSU) and an official rollout in January 2018, when they will begin fulfilling orders direct to consumers through both their website and Amazon. The goal now--bottomline--is to sell bottles, and with the help of the Tallahassee community, FLY hopes to gain enough traction to get into big box retail by the summer of 2018.

“FSU’s College of Business and Jim Moran Institute were great launch pads, and Domi Station was really the gasoline that ignited the fire,” said Telford. “Without it, we wouldn’t be able to see or speak to people who have been through the journey, people who have failed, who have succeeded and who are always willing to help.”

For Dominick Ard’is, Domi’s Director of Incubation Programs and facilitator through the Get Started process, the most inspiring thing has been FLY’s commitment to their vision. “Nick and Mike were told no so many times,” he said.

Care for an example? Telford was an early-adopter of Cyber Dust, a messaging app that debuted in 2014 with support from Mark Cuban, billionaire and owner of the Dallas Mavericks. Through the app, Telford connected with Cuban, wasting no time to pitch the Shark himself on FLY’s vision for concentrated, on-the-go mouthwash. Cuban told him, frankly, “I would rather use gum or mints.” 

Undeterred, Telford fired back, “Well, you can try it on the shelves someday.”

Dominick Ard'is working with Bracciale and Telford. Photo courtesy of Alicia Osborne Photography.

Dominick Ard'is working with Bracciale and Telford. Photo courtesy of Alicia Osborne Photography.

“They trusted the process,” Ard’is said. “They questioned their assumptions through countless focus groups and product testing, refined their product, and became very clear on their brand objectives, not just in having a logo but having a brand that customers can truly experience."

That plan they have? You better believe it’s backed up by hard work.


In some ways, FLY’s story is like any other startup taking on the world--that compelling moment when an entrepreneur recognizes a problem firsthand, their brashness in thinking they can solve it, and the absurdity of actually trying--but in more important ways it isn’t.

Because FLY’s is a story of relentlessness and getting-their-hands-dirty grind (both co-founders still pick up bartending shifts on nights and weekends). It’s a story of leveraging every resource and snowballing intros across networks. A story of being motivated by ‘No.’ That’s the story of FLY,  of how it got where it is today, and, if Bracciale and Telford keep at it, it’ll be the story of how they get where they are going, wherever that may be, armed with their audacity, a burning desire to make their own way through the world, and yes, it must be said, the freshest breath around. 


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To follow FLY, sign up on their website.
 

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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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