Back in February, “The World’s Largest Crowdfunding Festival” announced it would be downsizing, leaving many to question if this marked the beginning of the end for One Spark. But, like the entrepreneurial spirit the festival was founded on, One Spark learned the importance of pivoting in order to keep the vision alive.
Where We’ve Been
Last year’s One Spark was a bustling, five-day event spread out over several downtown blocks with live music, food trucks and dozens of creators pitching their ideas. With nearly 500 hopefuls, some of the creator ideas were life-changing, while others left you questioning if this person had ever Googled a business plan before. It was a broad social event that tried to be a lot of things that eventually included a global expansion in One Spark Berlin.
As fast as the organizers expanded One Spark, the event was handed a healthy dose of reality just as quickly. Financial complications hit and Elton Rivas, founder and CEO of One Spark, resigned in the best interest of the company. The leadership team split and One Spark Ventures was formed with the intent of having a strong focus on helping entrepreneurs who had fleshed out ideas as opposed to those with weeks-old concepts.
From the outside looking in, the downsizing looked disastrous. But this change is likely the only reason One Spark will live on.
Where We Are
A pivot can be a lot of things. A mistake. A failure. A f*** up. But it also keeps your overall vision intact.
One Spark’s new two-day vision placed an emphasis on cultivating local talent, and when they become successful, offering financial help to those companies that hire local and keep our talent in Jacksonville instead of letting it escape to Silicon Valley. Vetted creators were given the opportunity to pitch their ideas to potential investors during the Wednesday night festival while entrepreneurs from all over participated in Innovation Day that included more than 60 influential speakers.
Kate Stewart, founder of the Jacksonville Community of Entrepreneurs and the one who organized the event, said, “This pivot is One Spark growing up.”
Where We Can Go
Peter Rummell, chairman of the One Spark board, drew inspiration from famous hockey player Bobby Orr when he said, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it currently is. We need to spend our energy and scarce resources on where the future is going.”
Rummell and the One Spark team defines that future through five major keys:
- Establish a sense of community.
- Have a connection to a research institution.
- Create efficient venture capital.
- Develop the labor force.
- Establish strategic alliances between these hubs.
Pockets of entrepreneurship can be seen all across North Florida with the PGA TOUR, the Jacksonville Jaguars, the healthcare sector, software development, logistics, accounting and finance technology. Even Mayor Lenny Curry is a financial accountant entrepreneur.
One Spark’s new focus shines a light on our already budding entrepreneurial scene, but also offers the ability to connect with each other to foster continued growth.
The changes in One Spark mirror changes many entrepreneurs will eventually face when running a business. But no matter how much revenue you’ve generated, there is one thing that binds us all — curiosity.
Entrepreneurs look for what’s broken to find a solution. But with that curiosity, it’s also important for entrepreneurs to avoid being a mile wide and an inch deep. If One Spark has taught us anything, it’s that you want to focus your efforts, but at the very least, get out there and try, because failure is always more acceptable than the failure to try.