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.