A standing room only crowd of more than 200 cheered as dignitaries cut the ribbon on Embarc Collective, the downtown Tampa hub for startups, investors and the technology community.
The ribbon-cutting came about 18 months after Lakshmi Shenoy, CEO of Embarc Collective, unveiled plans for the 32,000 square-foot innovation hub at 802 E. Whiting St.
See the gallery below for photo highlights of the ribbon-cutting and tour of the facility.
“Getting to this day has been a journey, and each of you in this room has been part of this mission to help Tampa Bay’s startup talent build bold, scalable, thriving companies,” Shenoy said.
The location, a one-time grocery warehouse, says so much about what Tampa is, said Mayor Jane Castor. “You’re taking a 100-year-old building that has lived through so many iterations and turning it into an innovative state of the art space for 43 startups.”
One differentiator for Embarc is its paid coaches, said Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, who provided much of the initial backing for Embarc and is chairman of the board of directors.
Vinik, who is a champion of the startup community here, remains bullish on the community’s prospects to compete and surpass similar cities.
“Tampa Bay is a great place to live. Combine that with great universities who turn out qualified strong talent, and with startup companies who are leaving the west coast and New York, and getting as good or better services here. That’s the secret to the success of Embarc, the secret to the success of Tampa Bay and the secret to our community surpassing Nashville and Austin and Raleigh and Charlotte,” Vinik said.
Embarc also announced that six local business leaders will join Vinik to form the Embarc Collective Founders Circle, which will focus on tracking the organization’s success on three core fronts: attracting, retaining and developing entrepreneurial talent in the Tampa Bay region.
The new Founders Circle members are:
• Steve Jenkins, Beach Park Capital LLC, and Carole Jenkins, president, Jenkins Charitable Foundation
● Jason Kuhn, owner, Kuhn Automotive Group and Courtney Kuhn, entrepreneur
● Steve MacDonald, partner, Florida Funders
● Brian Murphy, founder and CEO of Reliaquest
This group will join the current board of directors, which includes Vinik; Rebecca White, James W. Walter Distinguished Chair of Entrepreneurship and director of the Lowth Entrepreneurship Center at the University of Tampa; Dave Felman, shareholder at Hill Ward & Henderson; and Shenoy. The board provides strategic support and organizational sustainability.