Steve Case: Orlando ‘is on the rise,’ but still needs work

That was the assessment from the Orlando Business Journalarticle by Matt Richardson on Steve Case’s Rise of the Rest bus tour of Orlando. “There’s still work to be done,” Case said. “People are paying more attention, but at the same time, it is still really hard to raise capital here. It is still really hard to establish partnerships with the big companies in the area and attract the talent they need. But I am optimistic.”

Some comments Matt solicited locally:

“I think what Rise of the Rest has shown us is that we have all the right ingredients here,” Donna Mackenzie, executive director of StarterStudio, told the OBJ. “But we need to work closely and cooperatively together as a region to continue to raise our collective profile. That’s how we can get a larger piece of the funding pie, which we most certainly deserve.”

“Tampa and Miami are leading the way in Florida — fueled by the general business community participating in the innovation economy in those cities,” said Dennis R. Pape, founder of Orlando coworking area Catalyst Spaces and business accelerator VentureScaleUp. “Orlando needs to better engage the business community to partner with and invest in our startups and startup community.”

I also told Matt that Orlando needs leadership from the entrepreneurial community if it is to grow into a significant startup hub.  Surprisingly, unlike Tampa and Miami, The Rise of the Rest tour in Orlando was not organized by the entrepreneurial community.   And for some reason, significant portions of the entrepreneurial community, including, most notably, early-stage investors, potential investors, and key investment support groups, were not included in the tour. That was a missed opportunity to shine a spotlight on and further energize this group – ironically when one of the main observations by all was the lack of capital here.  I encourage folks to read (or reread) Brad Feld’s book Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City, for a clear explanation of why entrepreneurs need to lead the entrepreneurial ecosystem here.