The Real Work Begins
With the advent of Domi Station’s grand opening on May 15th, all of our focus now shifts to building companies and creating jobs. There is no rocket science to doing this--it’s all about hard work and mentoring by Domi alongside support from the local ecosystem.
After months of working with young companies and entrepreneurs in the area, it is clear that one of the highest priorities will be growing the startup culture here in Tallahassee. That goes way beyond what happens within the walls of Domi Station. Real growth of the culture doesn’t happen until entrepreneurs start helping one another. Right now aspiring treps are just starting to learn about each other as well as resources available throughout the community. The next priority will be identifying what works in Tallahassee given how young the startup community is compared to other successful areas around the country. This summer and fall will be a crucial time for everyone in the area to invite others, develop working relationships, and collaborate.
The Challenges Ahead of Us All
If we are going to move forward, we need an honest assessment of what's holding us back. Our challenges include:
1. Limited investment for early stage companies
2. No recognition by the venture community as a place to start and grow companies
3. Few visible mentors
4. A severe lack of startup wherewithal by students and faculty at the universities
5. Limited historic tech scene in the community
6. A scarcity of the kind of skill sets tech companies need as they grow and hire
We need to work through each of these challenges, but we also need to get entrepreneurs thinking about solving hard problems, adding science to their concepts, and disrupting the marketplace. Young treps need to limit their focus on social media apps and the dearth of "me too" websites that have been done to death (and failed) by others. We need to find the innovators and creators that are key strengths of the universities and community.
Above all we need to help craft business models that can launch from Tallahassee. This would likely include models that require limited capital and mitigate the geographic handicap. Software as a Service (SaaS) with strong technology behind it are a good example. We'll also have to innovate to attract investors by doing things like holding online (via Google Hangout) pitch days so investors can join and participate remotely. It can be done, but just like the entrepreneurs we're here to help, Domi and all of our community partners need to find innovative ways to create companies and jobs in the heart of Florida's capital city.