Why Tampa Bay Wave?

August 16, 2019

The concept of paying it forward and the idea that small, consistent acts add up over time have shaped the values and careers of many – including mine.

The actions and results inspired by these values are why Cherry Bekaert’s Tampa office and I are especially proud to support Tampa Bay Wave.

About Tampa Bay Wave

The Wave got its start more than a decade ago when founder and CEO Linda Olson literally gathered Tampa Bay’s tech entrepreneurs together in one room and created a community that didn’t exist before.

As the earliest participants started to find success, the Wave’s mission expanded – from helping Tampa Bay tech businesses succeed to helping those companies become, in Linda’s words, “breakout companies.”

Helping entrepreneurs – and the Tampa Bay area – BUILD, LAUNCH, and GROW.

A homegrown, long-term community mindset distinguishes Tampa Bay Wave and its programs. They understand the complementary roles tech entrepreneurs and the broader Tampa Bay community must play for each other, so both can continue to thrive.

The Build-Launch-Grow framework, which serves as the foundation for their various (and excellent) accelerator programs, reflects the inputs and outputs required to make this type of long-term success possible.

Some of these are business school topics, such as product development, product and market validation, scalability, developing and filling funnels, and finding capital. Others are often lost in the shuffle as we discuss the business of technology: people and opportunity.

I’d go as far as to suggest economic opportunity may be just as important to our friends and neighbors as many a technical innovation.

Tampa Bay Wave has this covered, too.

  • Its TechDiversity Accelerator program offers minority, woman, veteran, and LGBTQ entrepreneurs valuable access to connections, mentoring, and capital they may not have been able to acquire on their own.
  • Their new partnership with Think Big for Kids plans to address the much-publicized tech skills shortage by inspiring (and developing) local talent. Starting with middle and high school students.
  • And it’s continuing its original mission of community and connection: teaming up with entrepreneurial and economic development organizations throughout our region. Rise of the Rest came to Tampa Bay for a reason…

Tampa Bay Wave is about carrying us ALL forward.

And it’s working. Over the last 11 years, Tampa Bay Wave’s 269-plus startups raised $200 million.

Recent Wave company successes include: Immertec winning the Rise of the Rest Tampa Bay pitch competition (and a $100,000 prize); Verapy making the finals of the Eleventh Annual SXSW Pitch Competition, and Washlava raising $1 million and gaining a big-name partner.

Why support Tampa Bay Wave? It’s not just about creating a better “tech and entrepreneurial ecosystem.” It’s about creating a better economy and community for all of Tampa Bay.