James Faison has emerged as a leader in the technology community in Tampa Bay, and in Florida. Faison, an insurance industry professional, is also the founder of The Mainframe, a Tampa-based initiative to support the growth of black technologists, professionals, innovators and entrepreneurs statewide. This year, he’s organizing a $10 million venture capital fund to support black entrepreneurs with early-stage tech companies. It would be the first dedicated fund in the state for black tech entrepreneurs, and one of 30 nationwide.
Years in St. Pete
Tampa product, been in the bay area all of my life.
Organizations involved in
Plenty of affiliations, but my main focus right now is my work with The Mainframe.
What gets you out of bed every day?
Opportunities, hands down, get me out of bed every day. No days are promised to us. So making the most out of every day is really my driving force.
Why St. Pete?
There are so many opportunities here. I like to tell everybody that Tampa is in reset mode. There are a lot of opportunities – you can really make it your own if you have the drive and the will. I can’t see myself going to any other city right now, and be able to make a name for myself as well as I am doing here.
What is one habit that you keep?
I’m a fitness guy, that’s one of my routines daily. If I don’t get into the gym, watch out everybody. It may not be a pretty sight.
Who are some people that influence you?
Everyone, whether I’ve met them personally, indirectly, whether I’ve read about them. Anyone I’ve come in contact with who is a success in their respective fields or areas influences me. I appreciate anyone who is able to make something from nothing. That’s all inspiring to me.
What is one piece of insight - a book, methodology, practice - that you would share with our readers?
Just keep going, I think in today’s world with so many distractions, highs and lows, especially in the entrepreneurial space. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel. So no matter where you are, keep going.
What is one thing you wish you knew about your work 3 years ago?
Having the confidence to do it three years ago is the biggest thing. I was one of those people who wanted to wait for the perfect time to make a jump or even get started. If I could have told this to myself three years ago and made this move then, that would be the biggest thing.
People laugh when I say “take over the world,” that’s kind of my Pinky & The Brain joke, but that’s really what I want to do. I have a few missions that are happening simultaneously. Not only with The Mainframe initiative but also the $10 million VC fund that I’m raising. Being able to really establish the The Mainframe as a brand and continuing to educate folks in the VC space about what’s happening here in the startup community – not only locally but nationally. That’s what’s next.