Gainesville has a divided startup community. Currently we have different feeders trying to be the “real” leader of the startup community and at the end no real change happens. Ironically, every time I talk to other founders, we all want change. We can all feel that there’s something not working and we can all see the potential to make Gainesville a great city to work, live, and play. However, founders elect not to engage with existing organizations and that, I think, is a mistake. Being involved in the community will not only create benefits for your startup, it will also make Gainesville the best place for your company to grow. Among all local organizations, I think every founder should be involved with GAIN. Engaging with GAIN is better for your startup because we help you get funded, make connections to the right resources, and bring recognition to the local startup community.
Every startup needs funding. We at GAIN are constantly looking for ways to attract the right investors for our members. GAIN is switching its focus to help startups who want to raise money with this process. Further, we have 3 opportunities where companies can get equity-free money and, not only that, they can also meet investors to raise further funds. Currently, we are giving away over $15,000 (equity-free) in grants and prizes every year and we are looking to increase this amount next year. Moreover, GAIN is focusing on three industries technology, life-sciences, and manufacturing. We are constantly working to ensure that our programs and events bring investors from each industry to start relationships with local founders.
Likewise, it’s not enough for startups to have a great team or product, they need access to the right resources to grow. For example, if you’re doing a deal you have never done before, like licensing your product, you want to have a team of people who can advise you on how to make a good deal. GAIN is the glue that connects people who are doing interesting stuff with the ones who have done it before. We help connect rookie entrepreneurs with successful entrepreneurs; to VCs that can give you money and open doors for your startup; and to service providers who deal with your type of company in your industry and know what a good or bad deal looks like. We are the network connecting the new comers to the existing startup community.
Finally, Gainesville needs to be sold as a startup hub. At some point, each startup will be selling Gainesville to either a possible hire or partner. If these people don’t think of Gainesville as a great location, they may not accept an employment offer or a partnership agreement. One entity is required to put out news about the startup community, its accomplishments and successes. Also, there should be a unified voice about how great of a location Gainesville is to launch a startup. GAIN is closing media partnerships to get the word out about all of the cool things happening in town.
In conclusion, Gainesville can have a unified startup community that benefits all of us. To accomplish this goal, we need to come together. And I believe the best way to do so would be by engaging with GAIN. Engaging with GAIN will help you raise money, hire better talent, and live in a very cool place. The opportunities to engage with GAIN are numerous: become a stakeholder, become an ambassador, become a sponsor, come to our events, tell your friends about us, join the newsletter and reply to it, fill out our surveys, or reach out to us. The more we talk to each other and empower an organization to represent us, the more we all will benefit. Together we can make Gainesville the best place to start and grow a company.