New name, new focus, new initiatives for 2018 and beyond.
The Gainesville Area Innovation Network (better known as GAIN) was established in 1985 to help support entrepreneurs and create connections between UF researchers and the local business community. Over 32 years, GAIN held hundreds of networking and educational events, from monthly luncheons to annual investor pitch competitions. For much of its history, GAIN was the only organization in Gainesville truly focused on local entrepreneurs, and thus played an indispensable role connecting, promoting, and inspiring.
As Gainesville has evolved, so too has its entrepreneurial ecosystem. Investments from UF, Santa Fe, the CRA, and the City, as well as private developers have quite literally changed the landscape. Take a walk around Innovation Square and there are no less than three new buildings under construction, right on the heels of The Hub doubling in size. New co-working spaces like StarterSpace, the Selling Factory, and MindSpace Collective offer flexibility as well as community. The Cade Prize and UF’s Big Idea Competition offer significant equity-free seed funding to early-stage companies every year, while StartupQuest, Gainesville Dev Academy, and the Collaboratory for Women Innovators offer new experiential learning programs.
Most importantly, a new breed of startups has emerged that cherry-picks the best practices of Silicon Valley while channeling Gainesville’s unique soul of diversity, creativity, and quality of life.
Acknowledging these changes, GAIN spent most of 2017 re-evaluating our role in this new, exciting era. How could we add novel value to Gainesville’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, while avoiding duplicative or siloed efforts?
Our conclusion: laser-focus on startups. We exist to help form, fund, and grow startups in Gainesville, defined as young ventures with both the potential and intention of achieving significant scale. This means that while we respect other forms of entrepreneurship and innovation, our initiatives will be 100% focused on startups. A more narrow scope will enable us to have a greater impact.
Our first step for 2018 was to adjust the makeup of GAIN’s board to better reflect Gainesville’s startup community, followed by our re-launch as StartupGNV. New name, new focus, new initiatives for 2018 and beyond. A sneak peak of what’s to come: a Startup Weekend (potentially two), an end-of-year Startup Summit (replacing the GAIN ShootOut), a startup accelerator program (first pilot cohort), and a research report on the state of Gainesville startup community. We also will enshrine the spirit of cooperation by sponsoring, promoting, and otherwise supporting existing events aligned with our mission like StartupChallenge, BarCamp, Gainesville Games, and the Brewlympics Creative Bash.
We invite you to join us in growing the Gainesville startup community, whether that’s by attending, mentoring, investing, volunteering, or founding. A special thank you to our founding partners Hutchison PLLC, SharpSpring, Trimark Properties and Santa Fe’s CIED, GTEC and IPDC programs for believing in us and giving us the financial resources to bring StartupGNV’s mission to life.
The 2018 StartupGNV Board of Directors