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What Embarc’s new strategy means for the Tampa-St. Pete startup community

Margie Manning

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Embarc Collective will be at East Whiting Street and Jefferson Street in downtown Tampa

About two dozen young technology companies in Tampa-St. Pete now have connections to entrepreneurial support organizations across the country, under a new partnership strategy unveiled by Embarc Collective.

Embarc, the Jeff Vinik-backed initiative in downtown Tampa to elevate the startup community, is collaborating with more than 50 local, state and national partners, it announced in a news release.

Allie Felix, director of programming and partnerships for Embarc Collective

“These partnerships create more access for the startups we support to resources, people, events and spaces,” Allie Felix, Embarc’s director of platform, told the St. Pete Catalyst. “If a member startup is traveling to the San Francisco Bay Area or Boston for a conference or meeting, they can work from our partner location at GSVlabs. This allows member startups to embed in a community with the same ethos as Embarc Collective whenever they are traveling to a major startup hub. Or, if the LAB Miami is hosting a tech conference or pitch event, Embarc Collective is provided with an opportunity to share exclusive discounts to attend or recommend companies to apply.”

There’s been a big push nationwide among communities seeking to foster an innovation economy and become home to startups, which often bring high-skill, high-wage jobs. Cities with organizations that can provide extra support to those startups could have an edge over other locations.

“We know the more successful entrepreneurial ecosystems are the more connected ones,” said Rebecca White, University of Tampa professor of entrepreneurship and director of the John P. Lowth Entrepreneurship Center. White also is on the Embarc board.

Increasing access to support is key for Lakshmi Shenoy, CEO of Embarc.

“We see this opportunity to connect regional and national resources  as critical to strengthening and supporting the growing number of startups in Tampa Bay,” Shenoy said.

Embarc announced its first 25 members in April. Those members, who pay a monthly fee, will have access to the partner network at no additional cost. “We’ve done the leg work to secure reliable partners with startup communities, events, venture funds, and/or business tools,” Felix said.

Partners range from local groups such as Synapse, Tampa Bay Wave, the Tampa Bay Innovation Center and the Florida-Israel Business Accelerator, to organizations in national tech hubs. One partner in Chicago is 1871, where Shenoy previously was vice president of strategy and business development. Another is Hero City at Draper University, a coworking community in Silicon Valley. See the full list of partners here.

Embarc is open to adding more partners, Felix said.

“From our start, we’ve been committed to building local collaborations to reduce silos and more easily and effectively connect resources within our community to the entrepreneurs that need them. The partners we approached are aligned in a mindset towards cooperation, and we are excited to grow this local network in the future,” she said.

Embarc Collective is building out a 32,000-square-foot space in downtown Tampa and expects to open the site by the end of the year. It already has begun providing services to members.

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