Ryan Sullivan, Gracie Stemmer, and Steinhoff founded Startup Tampa Bay 2016, but the nonprofit’s spirit was born in 2010 when Tampa hosted its first Startup Weekend. Since then, hundreds of volunteers have come together to host events that have impacted tens of thousands of people. United by a common belief that entrepreneurs shape the future of their communities, the organizers, volunteers, and business partners of Startup Tampa Bay serve as a foundation for our community by creating opportunities, inciting collaboration, and providing support to entrepreneurs from all walks of life. The organization believes these efforts will embolden entrepreneurs to solve meaningful problems, build innovative technology, create jobs, excite our citizens, attract top-notch talent, and develop Tampa Bay into a national entrepreneurial focal point.
(Left) Mayor Bob Buckhorn declaring Tampa Bay Startup Week is officially recognized by the Tampa legislature. (Right) Startup Tampa Bay co-founder Gracie Stemmer.
Startup Tampa Bay’s cornerstone event is Startup Weekend. Known globally for its ability to cultivate innovation, this event brings together developers, designers, and hustlers to pitch ideas, form teams, and launch companies over the course of 54 hours. Tampa Bay’s Startup Weekends culminate in pitches to local influential entrepreneurs, business leaders, and investors. These thought leaders decide which startups return home with prize packages designed to jump-start their companies. Multiple standout companies formed at Startup Weekend Tampa Bay since its inception, including the ticketing platform Eventjou (acquired by Ticketmaster in 2014). In an effort to bring the lean startup lessons of Startup Weekend to a younger audience, Startup Tampa Bay began hosting Startup Weekend Youth in 2014. The event is a weekend-long crash course in creativity and entrepreneurship for children ages 10-12.
As a testament to the growth of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Tampa Bay, Techstars selected our community to host Startup Week, for the first time in 2015. Now in its third year, Tampa Bay Startup Week has empowered over 15,000 attendees. This community-curated conference packs over 70 free, public events into five days that cover a variety of topics. Past workshops include coding, boot camps, legal counsel for businesses, IoT panel discussions, craft-beer sampling, speed dating, and more. Entirely supported by local businesses and volunteers, Tampa Bay Startup Week is a crowdsourced platform for knowledge sharing and community engagement.
In 2017, Startup Tampa Bay will host its first Hackathon, where partner companies will present their business challenges to the community of problem solvers. Over the course of a weekend, new technology will be built to address these problems and the winning teams will go home with generous prizes. The organization also hosts monthly “Startup Socials,” casual meetups that alternate between Tampa and St. Petersburg that seek to create collisions that spark innovation. Startup Tampa Bay is volunteer-driven and community-backed. The non-profit exists as a platform for passionate individuals and businesses to get involved with the growth of Tampa Bay’s entrepreneurial community.
Startup Tampa Bay welcomes collaborations of all kinds.