Connecting Potential Investors with Local Tech Entrepreneurs

Todays News

BY JOHN WITTE SRQ DAILY WEDNESDAY PHILANTHROPY EDITION WEDNESDAY JAN 15, 2020

Digital technology has often been referred to as “the modern frontier” or “the electronic frontier,” recalling images of homesteads, covered wagons, and fur skin caps. But Tuesday’s Upsurge Florida event—organized by Economic Development Administration, in coordination with the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and Bridge Angel Investors, and quietly paid for by Goldman Sachs—used a different image: open water. Framed by beautiful Sarasota Bay, the event occurred at the Sarasota Yacht club, and sought to connect potential investors with local tech entrepreneurs. Water spanning towards the horizon, teasing endless possibility, made a compelling image for an event provoking its attendees to imagine a brand new Florida. A Florida where the capital, like the water, is fluid and plentiful.

The tone of the event was educational—a succinct one hour program (sandwiched between two leisurely paced mixers), aimed at walking its audience through the idea of investing in small scale, early-stage technology companies. Attendees were ‘accredited investors’ meaning that they met certain SEC standards for net worth and minimum income. Speakers like StarterStudio’s Terry Berland, an alumni of McKinsey Consulting, and a veteran of the technology industry, walked these potential investors through Tampa Bay’s financial and academic landscape.

“We see Sarasota-Bradenton as a part of Tampa Bay," said Terry Berland. "Tampa Bay in our minds is Tampa, St. Pete, Lakeland, Sarasota-Bradenton and all the points in between. We got this grant to promote awareness of the tech industry in the entire 1-4 corridor, and Sarasota is one of our main assets in that pursuit.”

Allen Clary, the architect of the event, is the founder of an organization called Tampa Bay Wave, who act as a “venture accelerator” by holding these sorts of events. He says he always wanted to be a rockstar, so the Upsurge events are his big chance to go on tour.

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