Startup Businesses Are All Creating Buzz in Sarasota
The one-day BuzzPrize showcase event gives vendors and attendees with a unique networking opportunity to meet and greet as well as discuss ideas and forecasts.
We all know how great Sarasota is. That’s why we choose to call it home instead of just vacationing here like everyone else. But in terms of establishing itself as a business destination, Sarasota has seen its share of growing pains.
Fortunately, Sarasota has found itself a cheerleader and its name is The Economic Buzz, a digital media content developer founded to promote and highlight the untapped of Sarasota to potential investors, entrepreneurs, and philanthropists. Suzette Jones, CEO and Founder of the Economic Buzz, is a serial entrepreneur with decades of experience in all areas of organizational structures from contractor to C-level executive. Her desire to invite the right key players to Sarasota and highlight this community as a must-see future business mecca is brought to fruition in form of the publication’s upcoming event, BuzzPrize Expo 2015.
The one-day BuzzPrize showcase event gives vendors and attendees with a unique networking opportunity to meet and greet as well as discuss ideas and forecasts. A component of particular interest for local and regional entrepreneurs is the contest portion of the event. The launch of the online BuzzPrize Startup Contest will kick off at the expo and run through the end of the year. And Shark Tank fans: listen up! The competition model involves specially-selected early-stage companies that will present to targeted investors. Although the pitches will take place in the Owner’s Suite, attendees can watch the pitches during the live broadcast feed on the monitors throughout the exhibition hall.
Exhibition admission is free to the public and highlights niche vendors from the region. Free admission also includes over 40 breakout sessions throughout the day for attendees to grow and become inspired in their business pursuits.
This inaugural expo came from humble beginnings as a casual conversation over drinks with a client.
“The expo was a cocktail napkin idea that grew legs and ran,” says Summer Ammond, Business Development for The Economic Buzz and co-coordinator of the BuzzPrize contest and expo.
The rapid expansion of idea warranted moving the showcase from original venue -the cozy confines of the Sarasota Opera House - to a larger venue that could accommodate the scale and expected turnout.
“Within weeks of announcing the expo, we had 70% commitment from our vendors,” recalls Ammond. After a discussion with the Baltimore Orioles Sarasota Home, Ed Smith Stadium, the stadium quickly turned from becoming a potential exhibitor to serving as the event’s host and sponsor. The heavy hitters of the event won’t be found on the baseball field but instead throughout the halls and clubs of the stadium itself.
Non-exhibitor invitees including lobbyists, elected public officials, and the event’s keynote speaker U.S. Senator and National Association of Broadcasters’ CEO Gordon Smith are expected to bring in public crowds and further promote the cause. The idea of bringing in strategic stakeholders serves a dual purpose.
“We’re trying to bring attention to the talent in this area and drive more incentives to bring business here,” says Ammond.
The community has been a driving force behind this expo, including a great deal of support from the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce. The giving goes both ways as the competition’s main beneficiary will be the Young Entrepreneurs Academy and the expo’s beneficiary is Goodwill Manasota’s Emergency Veteran Fund: Project SERV.
And naturally, the HuB, Sarasota’s premiere hotspot for entrepreneurial connections and coworking will be hosting an interactive networking Happy Hour at the stadium immediately following expo and sponsored by Stella Artois. With an awards show and after party (all included in the purchase of one special event ticket) rounding out the evening, the BuzzPrize expo is an event that anyone who wants to keep their finger on the pulse of Sarasota’s newest economic developments can’t afford to miss.
For more information about the BuzzPrize expo and to buy special event tickets, visit www.buzzprizeexpo.com/tix for details and a full list of sponsors.