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CEO - Embarc Collective (formerly known as the Tampa Bay Innovation Hub)

Posted By Joe Hamilton


Lakshmi Shenoy has been in Tampa Bay for just a short time, but her influence is already palpable. Shenoy comes from Chicago's 1871, a goliath tech hub that is home to more than 400 digital startups. To build Tampa Bay's own hub, Shenoy was recruited by Tampa Bay Lightning owner and investor Jeff Vinik. A veteran of the startup scene, Shenoy is enjoying the conveyed power of Vinik's backing to bring a deafening buzz to the launch of the new brand, Embarc Collective. The sheer brand power behind the venture may draw the lifeblood of what any successful hub would need - investors, press, high-potential startups, et cetera. But the magic will be made in Shenoy's ability to launch Tampa Bay's name nationally through major startup wins. She's off to a strong start. During her short time here, she's hit the ground running, meeting with hundreds of entrepreneurs, investors, business people and community leaders. The Catalyst is looking forward to seeing the Embarc Collective officially launch in 2019.

Years in St. Pete

Tampa Bay for six months and two weeks.

Organizations involved in

Right now, my main focus is really about launching Embarc Collective, but I’ve had the chance to meet a lot of different organizations since moving down to Tampa Bay.

What gets you out of bed every day?

My very, very long to-do list. It’s more items than I can get done in a day but if I don’t get up early, I’ll never have a chance.

Why St. Pete?

Tampa Bay has an energy about it that’s really compelling. It’s hard for me to articulate. You get down here and realize that this place is on the precipice of change – and really positive change. The people who are residents of Tampa Bay, whether they are natives or new transplants like myself, are really excited about that change and are welcoming it. Being a part of that was tremendously compelling for me.

What is one habit that you keep?

I love to be productive. I know that sounds weird but I’m really judicious about how I use my time and so the habit that I keep to ensure that I am really metered about what I get done in a day is by using a bullet journal. If you Google bullet journals, you’ll see all of these techniques people use. I’m not that artistic, but what I do every day is understand what I need to get done in that day and anything that doesn’t get done gets shifted to the next day so I have a sense of personal accountability to get it done.

Who are some people that influence you?

My father passed away last year, but he is probably the most impactful person in my life. My father was a scientist, so I grew up in this scientific community. Every Saturday and Sunday, he’d bring me to the laboratory as a 3-year-old to, like, a 15-year-old. I would doodle on his whiteboard on weekends. But it gave me tremendous exposure to people who were just so driven by what they wanted to solve. My father, as a leader in the scientific world, came to the table with no ego and really wanted to empower people to go after their passion.

What is one piece of insight - a book, methodology, practice - that you would share with our readers?

My world is about creating sustainable ventures. So using something like Michael Porter’s 5 Forces. It’s not novel by any means, but it’s not novel because it works. If you are looking at those types of business frameworks to really self-protect and make sure that you’re creating a viable entity, then I think you’ve created the right path.

What is one thing you wish you knew about your work 3 years ago?

That I’m really suuited for it. Earlier in my career I was doing roles, and I was adequate at those roles. But they weren’t the best fits for me in terms of function and in terms of environment. Now I’m in the entrepreneurial environment where I get to be a builder; it’s exactly where I should be.

What’s next?

We’ve got to make Embarc Collective happen. We’ve got to bring it to life. The goal around that is that we’ll get our product to market by early 2019, and that is my sole focus right now.

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