StartupGNV is ALL IN at Upcoming Conference & Expo

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ALL IN GNV, startupgnv

On July 26th 2019, The Greater Gainesville Chamber and startupGNV will be teaming up to host the startup track at the ALL IN GNV Business Conference & Expo. The event will include: 35+ speakers, 24+ education track sessions, 62+ vendors with their work on display, and a cocktail party for good measure.

Education sessions will span a variety of topics highlighting the startup ecosystem of Gainesville while discussing the failures and successes of regional entrepreneurs. Learn about the real-world struggles of the entrepreneurial path during The Fairytale of Fairytale Start-Ups, the thrills and challenges of a startup’s early days at The Early Stage Excitement Panel!, an overview of Gainesville’s current startup scene at The State Of The Start-Up Swamp Panel, and the realities of late-stage startups at the Grown-up Start-ups Panel (plus an interactive design thinking workshop in between).

As non-profit organizations of the community, both startupGNV and the Chamber seek to engage with entrepreneurs and local employees to not only boost the Gainesville economy, but to make Gainesville a more exciting place to live in. The ALL IN GNV Business Conference & Expo is an expression of this shared mission where residents can engage with businesses of Greater Gainesville and the innovative entrepreneurs who are propelling the area’s economy forward. To learn more about the event, download the full schedule below and check out the event website where you can purchase your ticket using discount code “startupGNV19.”

ALL IN GNV will be hosted at the UF Hilton, from 8:30am – 6:00pm (doors will open at 8am). Use code “startupGNV19” for up to 40% off your ticket!

Register HERE.

Onward and Upward: Celebrating Josh Greenberg Day

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Josh Greenberg was the co-founder and CTO of Grooveshark, one of world’s first music-on-demand streaming services. As an independent, a visionary, and a pioneer, Josh left an undeniable stamp on Gainesville’s startup scene. What started as an idea fueled by passionate college dropouts and students turned into a full fledged tech company with 145 employees in downtown Gainesville. Along the ride, Josh created a thriving local startup ecosystem and left a legacy in his wake.

In celebration of Josh Greenberg Day, startupGNV and Gainesville Dev Academy are furthering Josh’s mission by empowering the entrepreneurs and the tech workforce of the future with the first annual Onward & Upward Grant and Gainesville Dev Academy scholarships.

Join us in honoring the legacy of Josh Greenberg by contributing to the Onward & Upward Grant which will be awarded at the annual celebrateGNV event.

Onward & Upward Grant

startupGNV is raising funds to assist a first-time aspiring Gainesville entrepreneur who lives and breathes Josh’s core values in accomplishing their entrepreneurial goals, no strings attached.

This carefully selected applicant will receive $5000 for their business idea in addition to ongoing support and mentorship from startupGNV during their journey.

Gainesville DDA Scholarships

Gainesville Dev Academy helps people of all skill levels become better programmers and assists graduating students with finding jobs at local tech companies.

Josh started Gainesville Dev Academy with Duncan Kabinu, who wants to keep Josh a part of their mission by donating two full scholarships to their bootcamp.

Want to learn more about Josh Greenberg’s story? Check out our series on the Grooveshark story!

celebrateGNV Recap

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celebrateGNV Recap

Late last month, walking into the Cade Museum felt uniquely charged with enthusiasm as Gainesville’s startup community and its supporters convened for an inaugural startup-focused celebration. The sold out event, dubbed “celebrateGNV” recognized the faces, organizations and events contributing to Gainesville’s thriving startup scene.

Though the non-profit organizer, startupGNV, curated the night with themed cocktails and a sit down dinner reception, the event was truly defined by the overwhelming turnout of the startup teams themselves.  

“I was thrilled by the amount of participants we had for this first event. The kind of people we were hoping to fill the room with are the busiest people, and this is the time of year where people are doing a lot of traveling with other engagements. And yet, so many people made time to celebrate the achievements of the startup community,” said Tracy Shank, startupGNV 2018 board member.

One collaborating business was local video production group, Betterme Productions. Owner Chris Cano lead his team in documenting the night and adding flare to the evening by photographing participants during the cocktail hour. Later in the evening Betterme presented a gripping video startupGNV commissioned, showcasing Gainesville’s fast-moving entrepreneurial spirit.

“As a video production company, we’re helping to tell the story of Gainesville. startupGNV is a big part of that in the way they organize so many members of the community who are building a vibrant startup culture,” said Cano.

Following the cocktail hour of mingling amongst rising star startups Brio, Aha Soup, BehaviorMe, Antiobiotic Adjuvant, Preview, and CharlotteAI, attendees gathered for dinner and a recognition presentation. Nearly 250 people filled the first floor of the museum with all eyes on startupGNV president, Aidan Augustin, as he highlighted Gainesville’s startup success stories. In a celebratory tone, Augustin emphasized quantifiable company wins such as growth in revenue, employee count, and office space for local startups Admiral, Eventplicity, Fracture, SharpSpring, Feathr and Paracosm.

“There’s so much potential to learn from one another, and I now recognize the value of an effective, nimble outside organization like startupGNV acting as a catalyst to bring the community together,” said Ariana Aragon, a local entrepreneur in attendance. “It was beneficial to recognize the ecosystem as a whole and get excited for where Gainesville is headed. celebrateGNV was just yet another reminder that Gainesville’s startup scene is becoming a real, tangible force within the community.”

Augustin’s presentation highlighted just that idea – that Gainesville’s startup environment is thriving and is becoming an incubator from which entrepreneurs of all shapes and sizes can learn from and work with one another to create an exciting future.

The motivation, inspiration, and networking continued into the night as dessert and cocktails rounded out the event. This startup pep rally came to a close as the community left the Cade Museum’s beautiful venue, with Gainesville entrepreneurs fired up for the future. Surely by next year’s celebrateGNV, this city will have even more startup success to toast to.

Article contributed by Meg Boria-Meyer

Startup Weekend 2.0 Recap

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Startup Weekend 2.0 Recap

October 12th – 14th, 2018, saw startupGNV’s second ‘Startup Weekend Gainesville’ event of year, the eighth such event in recent history. Startup Weekend brought together students, professionals, and inspired individuals looking to build a concept from scratch – In just 54 hours, small teams of participants and mentors pitched concepts, created prototypes, validated business ideas, and received feedback from experienced entrepreneurs, all culminating in a “pitch-off” to determine which concepts were most viable and in a position to succeed. GTEC, Santa Fe College’s Technology Entrepreneurship Center hosted the event with over 30 participants, culminating in final presentations at the CADE Garage.

The event kicked off on Friday, with dinner and networking. Participants and volunteers broke the ice with a few social exercises, and more than 30 1-minute elevator pitches were presented to the audience of more than 40. Of the 30 concepts, 5 moved through to be worked on throughout the weekend, with participants self-organizing teams and presentations.

On Saturday, local coaches and mentors met with teams to work on their ideas and lead them through work processes and validation. In some cases, teams pivoted their concepts completely. Some teams worked through both evenings to get as much time as possible to work on their pitches. 

Sunday evening saw the culmination of the final presentations, led by Michael Norton, of TechStars. A panel of locally appointed judges took the stage with the pitching participants as they presented their concepts – With 5 minutes to pitch and 5 minutes of Q&A, the judges graded concepts on 3 basic criteria, each weighted equally.

  • Business Model: How does the team plan on making this a successful business? Have they thought about (either solved or identified problems) competition, how to scale, acquiring customers, revenue model, etc?
  • Customer Validation: Are teams building something that people actuallywant? How well does the team understand their customer and their needs? Did the team get out and talk to customers? What is the value proposition to customers?
  • Execution and Design: Has an MVP been established? Does it deliver a compelling and captivating UX? Were they able to demo a functional concept?

The ideas:

  • Matzoh: Gainesville’s first Jewish Deli Style food truck! Enjoy home-cooked comfort food, offering catering as well as event planning services, to cater to the the largest Jewish Student population in the United States.
  • Essence: This social game concept is a combination of retail wristband that ties to a mobile app and allows its players to collect virtual pets, train them, trade them, and battle them with friends.
  • Ecogen: Utilizing a combination of microbial fuel cells and solar panels, users will be able to generate power and charge small battery packs in the case of emergency or natural disaster.
  • Research Collaborators: A combination social and professional platform for scientific researchers to connect with each other.
  • TOPPERZ: An AR–based social company that allows retailers to utilize print media to promote interactive & incentive-based reward programs.

After these fantastic presentations at the beautiful CADE Garage, the judging panel consisting of Paracosm founder Amir Rubin, lecturer at UF Engineering Innovation Institute, Dr. Melissa White, and founder of Web3Dev and and active angel investor, James Ruffer, selected Ecogen as the First Place finisher, with Research Collaborators in Second, and Matzoh in Third.

Everyone from StartupGNV and Startup Weekend Gainesville wants to thank all of the participants, coaches, sponsors, and organizers who made this event a success! The standard overall was high and it was incredible to see how far these concepts came in just one weekend!

startupGNV Founding Partners: Trimark, Hutchison Law, SharpSpring, and Santa Fe College

Startup Weekend Event Sponsors: UF Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) and Locke Lord

Facilitator: Michael Norton, Techstars

sGNV Organizers: Bryan Tobin, Nicole Levy, Bill Dorman, Kathy Sohar, Joshua Javaheri, Aidan Augustin

Distinguished Mentors: William Richardson, Gary Ritzenthaler, Joshua Javaheri, Coach Rhonda Black, Marc Lefton, James Ruffer, Greg Stetz.

Media Crew: Betterme Productions

For the 54 hours, it was extremely exciting to see how much the participants had transformed, and we received a good amount of positive feedback from people who didn’t know what to expect, but walked out of the weekend having learned a lot and having made new connections.

We hope to announce new events throughout the year. Stay on the lookout for our announcement of CelebrateGNV, our first annual celebration of Gainesville Startup Community this holiday season. And as always, let us know if you’d like to get involved in any way. 

Thanks again and see you next time!


Article contributed by Josh Javaheri

Startup Weekend 2018

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A Startup Weekend to Remember

If you’ve considered attending a Techstars Startup Weekend event but haven’t for whatever reason — don’t let that happen again. We’re still buzzing with the positive energy from the most recent Startup Weekend here in Gainesville. On Friday, June 10, dozens of participants from many walks of life convened at UF Innovate at the Hub, a business incubator in downtown Gainesville.

There they started on a 52-hour journey that could leave its mark on the world for years to come. One participant told the crowd at the end of the weekend, “I’ve been an entrepreneur since 2009 in Boston and Seattle. I don’t think I’ve seen such a collection of brain power in one spot than here.” It’s clear that Gainesville’s efforts to stimulate and support its thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem are having an effect.

Here is how it starts…

For those who don’t know what a Startup Weekend is, imagine being thrown into a blender with a handful of likeminded people — who you may or may not know — with the expectation that a business would emerge when the blades stopped whirling. Here’s how it goes down:

  • People with an idea for a business or product pitch it to the crowd on Friday night.
  • Next all the participants vote on the ones they are most excited about.
  • The top 10 go forward, selecting participants to join their teams.
  • The teams work together until Sunday afternoon.
  • Then the entire crowd gathers to take turns presenting their progress to a panel of judges from the local business community.

Jose Vilches, a developer at a local SEO agency and two-time participant, helped as a mentor at this most recent event. He says the hardest part may actually be getting started as a team. “I’ve learned a lot about leading and cooperative efforts, because personalities don’t always mesh.”

But he sees that as invaluable experience in terms of understanding what it would be like to run a startup, with diverse groups comprised of people from technology, medicine, science, accounting, real estate, business development, marketing and sociology backgrounds. “You have to keep your group cohesive and help everyone see the vision,” Vilches says.

First prize winners: Honeycomb

James Ruffer, a leader in his community’s homeowners association, had noticed that there was no existing software to bring order and transparency to HOA operations. He and his team, consisting of Michael Sholty, Linda Heshmat, Eric Hosford and Scott Lavery, built a business plan and prototype in just two and a half days to fill that void.

He says, “I do believe we would have never gotten this far with the idea to market without the Startup Weekend program.”

James and his crew plan to make good use of the first prize, three months of rent-free office space at the Hub generously donated by UF Innovate.

Second place: Adulting 101

The runner up, Adulting 101, proposes to help youth make the transition to adulthood with live events tackling issues like personal finances and other things you’re expected to handle as a grown-up. They received $3,000 towards legal services from sponsor Locke Lord to help with contract formation and other necessities for getting a startup going. We can’t wait to see where they take this idea!

Third place: Medscribe

Medscribe saw an opportunity to improve medical care using AI and video to reduce the burden on doctors to enter data during patient consultations. Sponsor Locke Lord also provided the third place winners with $2,000 towards legal services. The future of medical care needs these guys.

Here is how the story continues…

Techstars representative Michael Norton facilitates Startup Weekend events around the country. He had an abundance of kind words for Gainesville. “You get 50 to 100 of the most interesting people in the city — intelligent and creative and beautiful to the core. People want to create something good for the world. It’s my third year in a row coming to Gainesville, and its a city I’ve come to love.”

Indeed, the other seven ideas chosen give even more insight into what matters to the energetic startup community here. Also pitched was an app to help people adopt pets more easily, a platform that would bring greater transparency to the renter-landlord relationship, a 3D learning program that mirrors the brain, a home health agency for personal care of the aging, a medical device for reestablishing blood flow in the body, a career development network for recent grads, and holographic learning technology.

Deysi, a 52-year-old nurse with a passion to improve elder care — who almost didn’t pitch her idea — stood up and told the crowd, “On Friday night, I won. I won when others, people with no background in medicine, techie people, saw something in my idea and wanted to do it.” Echoing the sentiments of many participants, she said, “I got this amazing team with all our different backgrounds, and I’m so thankful.”

Here is who we need to thank…

These founders have now started to grow the idea they arrived with on Friday into something concrete. Many teams left equipped with people to fill crucial roles, a business plan and prototype, and input from members of the business community.Many thanks to the esteemed judges who provided valuable feedback on the team presentations:

And a big shout out to event sponsors Hutchison PLLC, SharpSpringTrimark PropertiesLocke LordeUF Innovate, Santa Fe College Center for Innovation and Economic Development (CIED) as well as StartupGNV organizers Nicole Levy and Bryan Tobin.

Want to learn more about participating in or sponsoring a Techstars Startup Weekend? Talk to us about how you can get involved!

Article contributed by Lisa Banks.