David Brim is a marketing strategist, entrepreneur and investor living in Orlando, Florida. He is a founding partner of Orlando Opportunity Fund (OrlandoOpportunityFund.com), and the founder of Orlando Entrepreneurs (OrlandoEntrepreneurs.org), a network, podcast, and resource center created to connect, cultivate & celebrate Central Florida entrepreneurs. His primary professional focus areas include business model development, online lead generation, Software as a Service (SaaS) products, angel investing, and commercial real estate. Learn more at his blog, Filled to the Brim: DavidBrim.com.
It’s no secret that Orlando is a top destination for tourism. In recent years, our community has focused on ways to highlight other aspects of Orlando outside of tourism. Understandably so. We have so much more to offer and as the Orlando Economic Partnership eloquently proclaimed, “Most people don’t know the half of it.”
I came to Orlando thirteen years ago from Pittsburgh where I was born and raised. I had an urge to step outside of my comfort zone and craved a place where I could dream, innovate, and lay roots down for an abundant future.
I evaluated many locations including New York, Tampa, Miami, Orlando, and others. As an outsider, I perceived Orlando as a new and growing city. A city ripe with opportunity. A place where dreamers can dream, create a lasting impact and help define the world of tomorrow.
Like many outsiders, when I thought of Orlando, Disney came to mind, but not as you may think. The multibillion-dollar tourism industry was of no interest to me as an aspiring tech entrepreneur. Like many of us, I have fond memories of watching Disney movies as a child. These classic films are often inspirational tails of an underdog that faces many challenges then goes against all odds to triumph and bring their dreams into reality.
This journey mirrors the challenges that entrepreneurs and innovators face on their quest. It also mirrors the challenges that Walt Disney faced himself. As entrepreneurs we frequently encounter setbacks, but like Disney and the characters in his films, the best entrepreneurs pick themselves up and hold onto the hope of creating a better future through the magic of innovation.
Walt Disney’s spirit of innovation, creativity, and commitment to progress permeates Central Florida to this day. It’s in our DNA. That spirit of innovation is what lured me to Orlando, helped me to choose UCF and inspired me to stay here to build my business endeavors after graduating. Our culture and fertile environment for innovation birthed our multibillion-dollar tourism industry, accelerated our space programs, created a leading defense & simulation industry, developed us into a leader within the gaming industry, and spawned a growing tech community.
We tend to refer to our tech community as the other half of Orlando. In order to grow and evolve to the next level, it’s time that we lean into our spirit of innovation in unison with all parts of our community. It’s time to position Orlando as the place for dreamers to dream and innovators to create the world of tomorrow. Yes, Central Florida is where you can experience your dream vacation, but also your dream education, job, startup, and life.
Since I arrived in 2006 our entrepreneurial ecosystem has advanced, but we still have a long way to go to reach our potential. Orlando was not recognized as a top 10 startup city of the south through a recent study by TechCrunch based on venture capital dollars invested and quantity of deals. We have all of the key ingredients necessary to be a leading hub for technology and innovation, but we are under-resourced in terms of startup investments. To achieve greater success as an ecosystem we need to come together to better leverage the resources we do have and connect entrepreneurs to the right resources at the right time to maximize their potential. We need to celebrate our entrepreneurial successes and spark capital investments into early-stage companies both from local investors and those in other markets that can take advantage of our favorable tax climate, lower cost of living and culture of innovation.
I am fortunate to work with many partners in our community to connect, cultivate, and celebrate our local entrepreneurs through Orlando Entrepreneurs (OrlandoEntrepreneurs.org). I have witnessed firsthand the innovative solutions that our entrepreneurs are creating as well as the great work done by the vast number of entrepreneurial service providers supporting them.
This is a very exciting time for Orlando entrepreneurship and we have a bright future ahead. If we come together and lean into the vibrant spirit of innovation existing in the fabric of Orlando, there is no telling the magic we can create together.