Stimulating economic development in Northeast Florida by fostering high-growth potential startups through the shaping of the innovation ecosystem.
We are a growing community of creators and builders on Florida's First Coast. We are founders of innovative startups. We are investors with a vision of our city as a hub of innovation. We are members of educational, economic, governmental, and charitable organizations and institutions dedicated to Jacksonville and its people. We are service providers with the expertise to help our clients excel.
We are an inclusive community that understands that great ideas do not rely on our gender, race, age, or status. We believe that our community is enriched every time someone new chooses to join us.
We know that the success of one of us makes success more achievable for all of us - collaboration is our way of being. All that is required of us is our idea and the commitment to work at full capacity, whatever that is for each of us.
Many of our ideas are not viable. When this happens, we fail fast and learn from the experience. We support one another so that we can all rise together.
We are not a formal organization requiring membership. Instead, we are a large but closely-knit group of people who have come together organically to pursue our individual dreams as a group and our group goals through individual contributions.
We believe in the future of Jacksonville as an Innovation Center of Excellence.
We know that it begins with us.
Following a successful and exciting experience as One Spark 2014 creators, several Jacksonville tech founders found themselves adrift. They had difficulty locating the resources and fellow travelers they needed to do the hard work of building a company. Some told them they should take their companies to a city that was more startup-friendly. Instead, they formed Tech Founders Jax, a peer mentorship group limited to 10 members.
Over time, the founders discovered many of the resources they needed already existed. In addition to One Spark, which did a great job of connecting the community, they found meetup groups, Startup Weekend, programs through the Chamber of Commerce and SBDC, and many others. They also discovered many innovators who appreciated these resources but also wanted more of a community created by and for entrepreneurs.
The Tech Founders met monthly. Soon, many other creators asked to join the group. Instead of expanding the group, which worked so well because it was small, a few of the members considered various approaches to strengthen the larger innovation ecosystem.
The core group performed an informal needs assessment and studied best practices of startup ecosystems in other cities, like Boulder, Boston, Nashville, Austin, Cincinnati, and Kansas City. They learned what had worked well and began adapting these practices to their city's culture and environment. They created a 501(c)(3) to expedite the process.
Within six months, JAXCoE hosted the first Northeast Florida Angel Investor summit, bringing together local investors and qualified startups. As more people learned of the community, many of them took leadership roles, creating new resources. 'Collisions' increased - those interactions that result in new collaboration and innovation. JAXCoE joined One Spark 2015 as a creator and hosted the Jax Innovation Connection Conference. Connections between investors and creators were formed through the Northeast Florida Angel Summit and relationships with the Gainesville and Orlando ecosystems. Twice monthly Founder Talks were held in the Main Library. The Exceleration Team initiative was developed and beta-tested.
The next chapter of the community's story has yet to be written. Much has been achieved in a very short period. It is a ground-up, emergent process and therefore not predictable. We know, though, that the community will continue to be vibrant and to grow. Future innovators will not be advised by well-meaning supporters to move to another city. They will find everything they need right here.