The Tampa bay area is nothing if not ambiguous, according to Daniel Scott COO of Tampa Bay Tech.
Tampa Bay Tech is a corporate membership organization based in Tampa, Florida and is similar to a technology council except that they do not work with startups.
Scott worries that the image of what the Tampa Bay area is and what it has to offer is unclear. This is what Tampa Bay Tech is working to change.
Creating a strategy
The organization is trying to change the mindset that the Tampa area is not one in which entrepreneurs can succeed. They are working to bring the community aspect of the area’s workforce to light.
“The thing I get most excited about is this idea of taking southern hospitality, which is incredibly prevalent here, and creating a scaleable version of that so as soon as you get off the plane at TPA [Tampa International Airport] you are embraced by the warmth of Tampa Bay Tech and we call that radically connected,” he said.
He said that the organization wants to create knowledge of the amount of support that is in place for businesses in the Tampa area.
“The next five years are going to be building an infrastructure that is defined by radically connected and hopefully helps build a mindshare in folks across the country understand that, ‘when I come to Tampa Bay I am not going to be left out in the cold,” he said.
He is excited for newcomers to feel the support of other industry professionals. In the Tampa bay area, he thinks community is the way to set Tampa apart from other tech hubs around the U.S.
Scott is hoping that a warm “southern hospitality” atmosphere will be in stark contrast to tech hubs in big cities where it has more of a every man for himself atmosphere.
“I [new residents] can feel opportunity because I can feel the warm embrace of other technologists, of CIOs, of corporate recruiters all looking to help me assimilate into the ecosystem,” he said about the feeling that the company is trying to convey.
Discovering the problem
Scott first saw the need for a shift in the way young people thought about the Tampa area when he was working as at University of South Florida or USF.
At the university, Scott started an award-winning entrepreneurship program but he realized that many students didn’t think that Tampa was a good place to launch their careers after graduation.
“During the course of that program, we would see a majority of our students leave the area either before graduating or right after graduating with the belief in their head that there’s better opportunity elsewhere,” he said.
He said that this is true for technologists and entrepreneurs.
“I saw an opportunity to be able to leverage the corporations here in this market and across the country to be able to help solve some of that,” said Scott.
Changing the narrative
Scott serves different roles at multiple organizations to accomplish this but he says that the area would be exceptionally lost without Tampa Bay Tech as it concentrates on a unique area.
“The voice of the technology ecosystem would be missing [without TBT] especially around corporate,” he said.
He said that in the area there are over 80 entrepreneurial support organizations or ESOs but that no one does what Tampa Bay Tech does.
“If one [ESO] goes down or stumbles or has an issue for a couple of years you have 79 more to help support the ecosystem here and tell the story but there is only one corporate-level technology council in this area,” he said.
The organization has a very specific goal and audience that they cater to that is unique in the area.
“I would fear that the story of that number of jobs, which is approaching 60,000, would dissipate and we would lose more talent than we would gain,” he said.