Startup Champions Network Summits

Twice annually, Startup Champion Network members meet in-person to connect, share knowledge/experiences and take a deep, behind-the-scenes dive into the local host ecosystem.  This personal interaction is a critical part of the member value-proposition as well as an important commitment all members make -- to celebrate each other.

These 2.5 day intimate gatherings bring together the nation's top ecosystem builders and national ecosystem support organizations to convene conversations, gain insight from real world case studies, and explore and experience new communities, against the backdrops of some of the nation's top emerging ecosystems. Summits address topics most relevant-to and of interest-to members including:

  • Inclusive Entrepreneurship

  • Changing a community's culture to believe in possibility

  • Fostering collaboration

  • Engaging and empowering under-represented populations

  • Leading coalition support for entrepreneurship and innovation

  • Funding your ecosystem building efforts

  • Forging stronger startup teams

  • Creating mentor-driven networks

  • Unlocking local/regional capital and attracting outside capital

  • Supporting and connecting with corporate innovators

  • And more topics/best-practices from Members

OUR NEXT SUMMIT: Winter 2017

Where: Tampa Bay, Florida
When: Feb 15-17, 2017
Hosted By: Tampa Bay WaVE
Sponsored By: Hillsborough County EDi2

You don’t have to shovel sunshine.
— Unknown, but Probably a Floridian

We're headed to Tampa in February!

Warm weather, ocean breeze, and pirate ships taking over the Bay--need we say more?


**more details to come**

Tuesday, February 14th (Pre-Summit)

Early Arrivals: Meet/Tour @ Tampa Bay WaVE in Downtown Tampa

7:00pm: Dinner & Startup Week Event (Location TBD)

Wednesday, February 15th

9:00am: Breakfast on Your Own

9:30am: Tour of University of Tampa Lowth Entrepreneurial Center | 15 Minute Walk from Downtown Hilton

10:00am: Summit Kickoff with SCN, WaVE, and Ecosystem Overview. Welcome from Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Linda Olson | Location: University of Tampa Lowth Entrepreneurial Center

11:00am: Building Collaborative Regional Ecosystem Coalitions | Moderator: Lucas Lindsey | Panelists: Ned Pope (FloridaNext), Kirstie Chadwick (iNBIA), Jenna Buehler (Groundswell), Donna MacKenzie (Firespring), Joe Russo (Palm Beach Tech)

12:00pm: Lunch (Provided) and Side Talk

1:00pm: How to Engage Local and State Governments to Grow Your Ecosystem | Moderator: Emma Peck | Panelists: David Rixter (Treasury Department, State Small Business Credit Initiative U.S. Department of the Treasury), Lindsey Kimball (Hillsborough County, Florida), Others TBD

2:00pm: Building Volunteer Armies and Volunteer Leaders for Your Ecosystem | Moderator: Jesse Knox | Panelists: Ned Pope (FloridaNext), Others TBD

3:00pm: Break and Walk to Park

3:30pm: Team Building Exercise

4:30pm: Break and Transit via Pirate Water Taxi (yes, you read that right)

6:00pm: Dinner (Provided) at Hidden Springs Ale House

7:00pm and Beyond: Startup Week Tampa Bay Events

Thursday, February 16th

8:00am:  Breakfast & Side Talk: Tampa Day 2 | Location: Maureen Daly Innovation Center

9:00am:  Branding and Storytelling: How to Best Tell the Story of Your Ecosystem | Moderator: Tarik Sultan

10:00am:  Marketing Your Ecosystem to Regional, National & Global Partners | Moderator: Eric Renz-Whitmore

11:00am: Ecosystem Metrics - SCN Progress Report/Findings/Next Steps| Moderator: Tom Chapman

12:00pm: Lunch (Provided) and Side Chatter

12:45pm: Transit via Uber to St. Pete Station House

2:00pm: Local Startup CEO Panel - Pros, Cons & Lessons Learned with Decentralized Ecosystems | Panelists: Startup CEOs (Lumastream, Priatek, SavvyCard, TAOConnect, Intrinio, CheckImHere)

3:00pm: Strategies for Getting Your Ecosystem Development Funded | Moderator: Trey Bowles

4:00pm: Break and Option to Tour Local Startups

5:30:  SCN Group Dinner (Provided) | Location: TBD

7:00pm: Transport Back to Tampa

8:00pm: Whiskey and War Stories | Location: TBD

Friday, February 17th

8:00am:  Breakfast & Side Talk: Tampa Day 3 | Location: Tampa Bay WaVE

8:30am: Tactics and Programs for Building Inclusive Programs that Work | Moderator: Rodney Sampson | Panelists: Toni Warren (Iron Yard Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg), Others TBD

9:30am: Finding High Profile Champions, a Conversation with Jeff Vinik, Owner of Tampa Bay Lightning

10:30am: Convincing Corporate Partners to Join Your Effort | Moderator: Dwayne Johnson | Panelists: Mark Sharpe (Tampa), Others TBD

11:30am: Recap of Summit and Next Steps | Moderator(s): SCN Leadership

12:00pm:  Lunch on Your Own and Side Chatter

1:00pm: Startup Week Events Optional

5:00pm: Wrap Up & Startup Week Party (Pirates and Cigars are Highly Likely) Optional

Join SCN for a cruise through Tampa, where we'll dive deep and explore the region's innovation ecosystem.

Our Winter/Spring 2017 Summit is an invite only event. For more information visit or send us a note at See below for summit logistical details.

Our Winter/Spring 2017 Summit is an invite only event. For more information visit or send us a note at See below for summit logistical details.

With the establishment of St. Augustine in 1565, 55 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, Florida has more than four centuries of entrepreneurial history.

Many people think of Florida as a travel destination full of theme parks, retirees, beaches, and as family fun vacation spot. However, the Sunshine State is a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity with roots going back to the 19th century. From railroad magnets like Henry Flagler and Henry Plant, who both spawned development up and down the East and West coasts of the Florida peninsula, to the Cuban immigrants who turned Tampa Bay into the cigar manufacturing capital of the world for most of the early 20th century, Florida has a rich entrepreneurial history.

Today, many entrepreneurs and recognizable brands have their roots in Florida and/or Tampa Bay: Walt Disney, Wikipedia, Outback Steakhouse, Home Shopping Network, Spanx, and more.

In 1885, Cuban-born entrepreneur Vincente Martinez Ybor sailed from Key West to Tampa to move his cigar factory to the area now known as Ybor City. Soon, many other cigar makers followed, building over 200 cigar factories and transforming Tampa from a village with fewer than 1,000 residents into the city that it is today. Once called the “Cigar Capital of the World,” Ybor City also is credited with sparking the Cuban war for independence from Spain.

Modern Tampa Bay has a rich and diverse ecosystem with dozens of entrepreneurial support and academic organizations, plus other assets that foster innovation and collaboration:

  • MacDill Air Force Base, located in Tampa, is home to US CENTCOM and US SOCOM, along with a significant defense tech industry
  • USF, a major research university, ranks 10th in the nation and 15th in the world for US patents
  • A recognized US finance hub as the headquarters for Raymond James, Franklin Templeton, the Deposit Trust & Clearing Corporation, as well as major operations centers for MetLife, JPMorganChase, Citigroup, USAA, State Farm
  • A top center for medical device manufacturing that employs over 10,000 workers and produces over $2B worth of goods annually
  • Quick Fact: The world’s 1st commercial passenger airline operated from Tampa Bay.

Your Host City: Tampa Bay

a.k.a the "Lightning Capital of the World"

The 2017 Tampa Bay Summit will be a 2.5 day gathering bringing together some of the world's top startup ecosystem builders and national ecosystem support organizations.  

  • Tampa Bay is home to a high concentration historic architectures and quality art museums, including the Salvador Dali Museum, Ringling Museum, and Chihuly Collection. 
  • Florida Southern College in Lakeland is home of the world's largest single-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture. 
  • Fresh seafood and locally grown produce are available in many restaurants and in weekly farmers' markets in multiple urban centers in the area.
  • Recently rated one of "America’s Top Ten Emerging Beer Towns" by The Pour Fool, Tampa prides itself in celebrating the rich history of craft beer locally echoing a state of mind rooted in history. With more than 20 local breweries in Tampa Bay, you can enjoy nationally recognized beers from Cigar City, St. Somewhere, 3 Daughters and many more.

About Our Host Organization: Tampa Bay WaVE

Tampa Bay WaVE is a by entrepreneur, for entrepreneur non-profit with a mission to help entrepreneurs build, launch, and grow breakout tech companies in Tampa Bay.

Tampa Bay WaVE provides local entrepreneurs with facilitated access to the resources, expertise and capital they need to grow vibrant technology-based companies in Tampa Bay. Thanks to a regional collation of private and public sector partners, along with grant funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Tampa Bay WaVE actively supports over 100 local tech startups “from cradle to Series A” with a mix of programs and incubation services.

To find out more visit

Meet Your Host Team

Linda Olson, President | Tampa Bay WaVE

Linda founded Tampa Bay WaVE in June 2008 and has grown this grassroots nonprofit into a major economic player that have served over 150 local startups.  Since 2012, Linda has raised over $3 million to fund WaVE’s programs and services including two grants from the US EDA and another two grants from the US SBA. Since March 2013, the companies supported by WaVE have raised over $80 million in outside capital and have created 790 new jobs for the region. Linda is one of the original Startup America Champions under Startup America Partnership, and she also currently serves on the board of TechStart Tampa Bay, a charity with a mission is to empower at-risk children through STEM education and opportunities. 


Gracie Stemmer, Marketing Manager | Tamp Bay WaVE

James Zebrowski, Managing Director | Collegiate Entrepreneurs' Organization

Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Mayor | City of Tampa

Jeff Vinik, Owner | Tampa Bay Lightning

Logistical Notes

Our Winter/Spring 2017 Summit is an invite only event. For more information visit or send us a note at

What's Covered

With a contribution from the Tampa Bay ecosystem, plus the individual champion registrations, we will cover all daytime events including
•    Day 1 (Feb 15th): Lunch & Dinner
•    Day 2 (Feb 16th): Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
•    Day 3 (Feb 17th): Breakfast

What's Not Covered

Champions will be responsible for their own travel, lodging, snacks, and drinks each night.

Bringing Guests and/or Sending Someone in Your Place

All meeting attendees must be fully registered members of the Startup Champions Network or have received an official invitation to attend.  If there is someone you would like to invite/send who is not a member, please reach out to Andy Stoll (andy@seedherestudio) to discuss.  We are aiming to keep this event small to maximize relationship building and maintain budget sustainability.

Lodging Details

Tampa Bay WaVE has arranged a summit discount with the Hilton Tampa Downtown ($199/night). This hotel is a located:
•    0.7 mi (15 min walk) to the University of Tampa (primary summit location)
•    0.3 mi (6 min walk) to Tampa Bay WaVE
•    1.4 mi from Ulele (the dinner location on Thu, Feb 16)

Past Summits:

Baltimore, Maryland (Fall 2016)
hosted by Startup Maryland

Santa Barbara, California (Winter 2016)
hosted by StartupSB

Portland, Maine (Summer 2015)
hosted by Maine Accelerates Growth

Little Rock, Arkansas (Spring 2015)
hosted by The Venture Center

Nashville, Tennessee (Summer 2014)
hosted by the Nashville Entrepreneurial Center