If you have never attended One Spark, it is a culmination of teams or creators bringing their ideas and concepts out to share with the public. The fest is a great opportunity for the Jacksonville community to come together, enjoy and vote for their favorite creators, who are then provided funding to continue to build their ideas.
The origin of the concept, according to President of One Spark Ventures Chris Carter, is that there are a lot of people in Jacksonville who were doing creative things that just weren’t getting exposure.
The original three who created the crowdfunding festival debated moving it to larger markets, like the hotbeds of New York or San Francisco, but Elton Rivas, Dennis Eusebio and Varick Rosete ultimately agreed to keep the event in Jacksonville. In 2013, One Spark featured about 100 participating creators and lit up the streets of downtown for the first time and has continued to do so every year since (excluding last year due to complications from Irma).
For seasoned veterans returning to the festival, it is not taking place in the streets of downtown Jax like it has in the past. Instead, the festival is now being held at one of the newest venues to the city, Daily’s Place. There is also an entrance fee each day of $11, which provides admittance from noon to 11 p.m.
So besides the obvious, what’s really changing?
This time around, the team behind the curtain that makes this all possible wants to highlight community engagement. Carter emphasized that the Jacksonville community has always played a part in this event, and that won’t stray. However, this year he wants the community to be present and engaged, especially during the voting process … considering that’s part of how the winners are awarded prize money.
How exactly will the voting take place?
Over the past few years, the community voting system hasn’t been the most optimal. This year, a mobile app is being created, yes another app to download, but it’ll be worth it. The app will allow only people in the geofence to vote, meaning anyone voting has to be inside of the venue within a certain time period to ensure honesty in the voting process.
Why is anything changing though?
Over the years, the focus of One Spark had become skewed. It evolved into more of a party instead of focusing on the hundreds of creators, and some sponsors didn’t want to get aboard that ship. Hosting a massive party-like event downtown proved to be costly, and there wasn’t enough revenue to sustain this. So, the solution? “Let’s retest the model. Let’s go back to a narrow focus on ideas, innovation and the people that are developing it,” Carter said.
What will the upcoming itinerary of the two-day event look like then?
From noon to 6 p.m., both days the focus will be solely on the creators sharing their concepts with the public and some occasional guest speakers. This year, there are specific “Spark Zones” and the Innovation Zone as well as Spark Tank. After 6 p.m., there will be a transition into One Spark After Dark, but creators will remain out until 8 p.m. for individuals who couldn’t attend earlier in the day and to make the transition more smooth. One Spark After Dark will include multiple food trucks and vendors, including craft beer, live music and the atmosphere people have looked forward to in years past.
What are the Spark Zones and Spark Tank?
There are now five individual Spark Zones designed to be creator-focused zones and condense the creators ideas into specific areas to address specific demographics.
Spark Tank however is representative of all of the Spark Zones, with the hopes of narrowing down the best teams overall from each zone.
“How do we find these teams? How do we identify them? How do we encourage them to work with us after the festival so we can mentor, advise, guide them potentially to the point where they are raising capital here in Jacksonville,” Carter explained. The team behind One Spark is adamant about not only identifying creators with potential, but is invested in building those ideas after the festival.
Therefore, each individual winner of the five zones will receive $5,000 and from there go head-to-head in the “Spark Tank Championship” in front of a panel or judges who are interested in mentoring these creators. The winning team will be awarded $20,000 on top of the $5,000 to build their idea, product, invention or business.
The Innovation Zone, what the heck is this?
This is meant to engage people to participate with existing technologies and experiential displays, rather than just observing what the creators are bringing to the table. This will encompass companies large and small and will even showcase the creators who wish to demo their products.
“People are going to be charged to come to this. Well, we got food and beverage, merchandise, sponsors, you name it. So if you’re going to do that, you can’t just invite people to come to the Saturday farmers market and just kinda stroll through. So what’s the experience? That’s why there’s stuff like the Innovation Zone,” Carter elaborated.
Oh and parents, there will be a family zone with activities for kids. One Spark 2018 will be like nothing you’ve ever seen, and everyone who has worked to make it happen are excited to share this new wave of One Spark with you and the rest of Jacksonville.
Stay up-to-date on creators, vendors, performances and purchase your tickets here.