TampaBayTech  Origin 

Ryan Negri, a friend and the co-founder of Laicos recently started TampaBayTech.org to help categorize, expose, and promote everything going on in the Tampa Bay Tech startup community. I thought it was nicely done and asked if he’d be willing to write about what, how, and why they are doing this in Tampa Bay. Ryan’s thoughts follow.

Over the past 5 years I’ve seen and been a part of a variety of different startup communities. I also have relationships with many founders from all over the country. I noticed, through living in these cities and speaking with other founders, that there wasn’t a clearly defined medium to learn about the local communities; the members, progress, failures, or efforts. When I moved to Tampa Bay in April 2015, I quickly realized that Tampa Bay, like other communities, didn’t have a community driven effort to unite itself.

I’m always recruiting. In fact, I treat everything as recruitment. When I talk with friends in other cities, I tell them that I’d love to have them here in Tampa Bay, joining me on my various efforts and visions. I talk with many very talented people from all over the country, explaining what we’re doing and that want to have them involved. I’m always talking with investors and explaining how Tampa Bay is an up-and-coming tech community they should pay attention to. I often talk about the huge investment made in Tampa Bay and how exciting it is to be a part of something early. I also find myself talking to a lot of local business owners, and sharing with them what Laicos, and other great companies, are doing. I’m constantly speaking with local leaders, learning about the region and learning about their backgrounds. I spend a great deal of time meeting with various startups in the area and asking them what they need.

I have to do all this talking because there isn’t one convenient place to go to read about everything that’s going on in Tampa Bay. I need to be able to show everyone, instead of telling them, what an excited and passionate community we live in. What is needed is a community driven and carefully curated website that gives an honest, unbiased peek into what’s going on locally. What we need, is TampaBayTech.org, the website that my Laicos co-founder Kyle Matthews and I developed and launched this week.

Driven by the same goals and mission found within Brad Feld’s Startup Communities, TampaBayTech.org is a community website which provides curated content distilled from local founders and entrepreneurs. It features a directory of Tampa Bay entrepreneurs and companies, a calendar of meetups in the area, and a map displaying local tech companies. This is a true community site filled with valuable resources available to founders and startups and information on how to get involved. The purpose of Tampa Bay Tech is to unite the local tech community and garner the attention it needs so the rest of the community can learn about, support or get involved.

Some of the reasons behind TampaBayTech.org

  • To inform the entire community about technology in TB
  • To unite all of the companies and individuals involved in technology in TB
  • Provide insight into local corporations and the tech companies in their space
  • To curate blogs and articles from local tech leaders in one convenient place
  • To promote local meetups
  • To promote local companies
  • To promote local leadership
  • To give outsiders insight into the rapid growth of Tampa Bay tech companies
  • To give investors a place to learn more about their prospective companies (Due Diligence)

We soft-launched TampaBaytech.org  this week and have plans to provide much needed and deserved exposure to local companies and founders. We also want to give those, not local to Tampa Bay, a place to go and learn about what’s going on in this great region. We’re using Brad Feld’s “Startup Communities” as our guide, and plan to incorporate many of his ideas and beliefs, into the Tampa Bay startup community. Hopefully we can be as successful as some of the other tech community sites, like VegasTech, Tech Cocktail, Startup Digest , KC Startup Village, Utah’s Beehive Startups, or NY Tech Meetup.

This is our beginning. I think of this as an opportunity for our area’s brightest minds to be united and show the world what Tampa Bay can do.

  • Kyle Matthews

    Proud to be working on this!

  • Marcus Williams

    I find it interesting how people believe that a website is the answer to growing a technology community. A website does not unify people, solidify value, or bring investment into communities. The only thing that matters is building real tech companies. That is why top people want to work for a company, it’s why investors invest and customers buy. If you are not building real businesses all of the press, websites and even capital do not matter.

    I’ve lived in Chicago, New York, Boston and DC as well as having two homes in Tampa. I have invested in over 100 tech startups in the past 8 years. This includes 5 in Florida. No investment opportunity was ever found on a website and it never will be that isn’t how the VC game operates and there are at least half dozen websites like this already in place in Tampa.

    It looks like a lead source for Laicos projects, maybe or maybe not. If these individuals have good intentions, by all means have fun but don’t expect your efforts in this endeavor to have an impact. Media hype is just that, hype and when you scratch the surface you find a lack substance. Saying something is real does not make it so, if it’s real you don’t have to say a thing. Boulder and Denver don’t focus on hype, neither does Seattle, Austin, Boston, or a long list of others and yet we all know about them. Why? Because great companies are born there, not because of websites, events, and PR. Focus on what matters like building a real company that can scale.

    • Kyle Matthews

      Hey Marcus, thanks for the critique.

      We’re definitely aware a website doesn’t constitute a community. After living in Tampa for ten years, and spending the last two avidly working to meet and get plugged into the tech community, we’d crafted the beginnings of TampaBayTech in our personal contact and Twitter lists. It seemed condensing it into an easily digestible format and sharing it may be useful for others, as it had been for us personally.

      TampaBayTech won’t make Laicos any money (if it gains traction we’ll most likely spin it off to a non-profit), and it’s goal isn’t to net a term sheet for any of the companies represented there – we know that, and aren’t trying to solve those issues here. It will, however, hopefully add to Tampa Bay’s in-person relationship-building by allowing us to keep and share a solid beat on the thought leadership and happenings in tech in Tampa Bay, and provide a central place for others (both in and out of Tampa Bay) to connect to those things faster when they come to town, or get further plugged in to what’s already happening here.

      As far as building companies that can scale, we and others in Tampa Bay are doing that, with great focus, and are 100% in agreeance with you on building something being the best way to get others to build something.

      tl;dr: we’re not looking to create hype or bring in business with TampaBayTech.org, rather working to clarify and condense the Tampa Bay tech scene.

      • Marcus Williams

        Kyle, I understand that you probably don’t agree with me. That said I am an active Angel investor with ore than 70 companies in my portfolio from all across the U.S. including the Tampa/Sarasota area.

        Another non profit isn’t needed in this community, we have far too many already. We need people who can build product based companies that scale, until you have those all of the websites and service providers in the world mean nothing. Condensing the tech scene is not a positive, it’s negative. There is no single source in any vibrant tech community on the planet. I would say that to you along with the effort that Stuart Rogel has launched as well. In total this wold give the area eight websites that are almost identical.

        If you want to see in-person relationship building then attend events like Barcamp, Meetups, TBBO, or Startup Grind, where the focus is on learning, helping others and relationships rather than another for profit or non profit service provider.

        When you combine all the cheerleading, the paid propaganda reported by 83 Degrees Media, and the lies told about about money raised and companies that are supposed to be a part of the First Wave Accelerator along the false information put for in the grants supported by USF for them you end up with a facade that is viewed as both naive and fraudulent by every potential new company or investor looking at Tampa Bay. These attempts to bolster the community only do harm to the startups trying to build real businesses here. In the past 12 months 3 F1000 tech companies, two venture backed accelerators, and three venture capital firms chose other locations after narrowing the field to have Tampa/St. Pete in their top five locations, all of them cited the lack the aforementioned issues as the reason. That should say something.

    • Who needs TechCrunch when you need to build a real tech company, right? This is merely a way for the Tampa community to get to know what’s going on from those ‘in the know’. And who cares if it brings awareness to those working hard to make it happen?

      Also, websites do unify people. The internet is one of the biggest achievements in history because of that single component: unification. This has led to what we call ‘Globalization’. And yes, the internet runs on websites and apps. It will continue to evolve, but it will still be the internet.

      Don’t get me wrong, I understand the whole “building real businesses” point you’ve made, but that’s obvious and has nothing to do with this initiative which is based on informing and networking. Unfortunately, the local papers aren’t a good source of information for the startup scene.

      • Marcus Williams

        There are half a dozen nearly identical sites so if a website were going to unify anyone it would have happened long ago. The information is already available in a unified fashion on multiple sites. The focus should be on products, no services, not hype and not the non-profits. Until that happens there will not be any progress.