Tampa Bay Wave crosses the bridge, opens St. Pete office
Tampa Bay Wave, a Tampa-based nonprofit helping grow the region’s entrepreneurship community over the past decade, is debuting its first-ever St. Pete office.
Shortly after opening TBW’s new 8,000-square-foot office at the WeWork building in Tampa, CEO and founder Linda Olson is taking space inside Thrive Downtown St. Petersburg’s co-working and incubator hub, at 136 4th St. N., expanding the organization’s physical footprint.
“The opportunity to have more of an actual presence in St. Pete is something I’ve wanted to see happen,” said Olson, a St. Pete native. “I’ve always said from the beginning that we are ‘Tampa Bay Wave,’ St. Pete is included in our name and mission to support the startup ecosystem. People have asked us why we are not in St. Pete. We didn’t have the funds or the right partner at the time, but we do now.”
Thrive DTSP General Manager Brooke Beeler connected with Olson several months ago, informing Olson that some of Thrive’s tenants were shifting to different spaces inside the building and/or were expanding to traditional offices, creating an opportunity for TBW to claim an available spot.
“We share a lot of same values and passion, and some of our members work out of Thrive,” Olson said.
“We both believe in the power of diversity building to create strong communities and at Thrive. We are intentional with the type of members we have and TBW has a built-in network that’s an added benefit,” Beeler said, describing the collaborative partnership as a “natural fit.”
TBW is planning to host a grand opening event at Thrive at 4 p.m. March 20.
Congresswoman Kathy Castor, a longtime supporter of TBW, has an office in Thrive as well as TBW’s other partners and allies, such as the Tampa Bay LGBT Chamber and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Pinellas County.
TBW will continue to house its primary cohorts and programs at the Tampa HQ; however, Thrive, which has offices, open communal spaces and shared conference rooms, will allow TBW to have greater flexibility.
TBW’s FinTech|X Accelerator, a specialized 90-day accelerator program exclusively for innovative and disruptive fintech startups, will be hosted at the University of South Florida’s St. Pete campus, but Olson said she intends to run part of the programming inside Thrive, which will give startups a “fuller sense of the St. Pete experience.”
To date, TBW has received over $14 million in funding and has worked with 460 startups, which have raised a combined $700 million and created 4,200 jobs, according to Olson.
Since TBW’s founding 10 years ago, numerous co-working and incubator spaces have emerged following TBW’s inception, such as Embarc Collective in Tampa, the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, Station House, Rising Tide and others surrounding both TBW offices – a concept that presents more opportunities rather than competition.
“I don’t think we are overbuilding co-working offices. We have something for everybody that fits their energy. There’s room in the market to where we don’t have to compete to be incredibly successful,” Beeler said.
Olson shared a similar perspective on the topic. “I look at this from a referral standpoint; we always try to give the startups options in connecting them with co-working and incubator spaces, whatever is best for their business. In downtown Tampa, we are also surrounded by co-working spaces that offer different cultures.”