St. Petersburg has launched a new Entrepreneur-in-Residence program, and named Reuben Presssman, founder and CEO of Presence, to fill the role.
Mayor Rick Kriseman announced the new initiative during the breakfast kickoff Wednesday for Rise of the Rest, a national effort to highlight entrepreneurship and startups outside of the traditional tech hubs.
The Entrepreneur-in-Residence program is a two-year pilot to position a local entrepreneur as a liaison between the city and the entrepreneurial community and is the first of its kind in Florida, Kriseman said.
“It is an incredible time to be an entrepreneur in St. Petersburg,” he said. “We have implemented our Grow Smarter strategy and are seeing amazing growth in every sector. That is why now is the perfect time to implement an innovative program like the Entrepreneur-in-Residence program – to ensure we continue to work closely with our local business leaders and entrepreneurs.”
It was a strong kickoff to the Rise of the Rest tour, established by Steve Case, chairman and CEO of Revolution.
Case said 75 percent of all venture capital in the United States goes to three states. Florida gets only 1.2 percent of venture funding.
“What we’re trying to do with Rise of the Rest is to level the playing field, so everyone has a shot at the American dream, and in the process create jobs so we don’t have this divide in the country.”
It’s clear that St. Pete and Tampa are “on the rise,” Case said. “The momentum is building and the work you have done is starting to pay off. But it’s also clear we have a lot of work to do.”
The Rise of the Rest team visited two St. Pete tech companies. At the Penny Hoarder, a personal finance website with 12 million readers, founder and CEO Kyle Taylor credited the company’s growth to the resources and culture he has found in St. Petersburg.
The best thing about St. Petersburg is the ability to build a strong team, said Christina Cherry, CEO and co-founder of Inside Out, a sale lab.
Their stories are what Rise of the Rest is all about, Case said.
“The rest are rising,” Case said. “it’s because of entrepreneurs like both of you.”
The tour continued Wednesday afternoon in Tampa, ending with a pitch competition and a $100,000 prize to the winner.