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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