Embarc Collective connects, nurtures young professionals

One introduction can dramatically boost a startup’s chances of success. 

Just ask Will Sitton, founder and CEO of Slipseat, a company connecting drivers with trucking companies who need them. He wanted a business introduction to enable him to create a strategy for attracting customers. Through the Embarc Collective’s Young Professionals Board, he got one.

“Our main objective for the Young Professionals Board is really to create a vibrant network of opportunities for top talents, for Embarc Collective member companies, and leaders in the business community,” says Evan Erickson, leader of the Young Professionals Board. 

The Young Professionals Board, which launched a little over a year ago, has 44 active members serving staggered, two-year terms. The members represent a wide variety of backgrounds.

Allie Felix, the board’s original leader, says it can build a bridge between established businesses and rising business leaders.

“We saw a really big opportunity in the Tampa Bay market,” says Felix, Embarc’s VP of Platform, who oversees the startup support platform. “We really wanted to ensure that rising business leaders could build connection points.” 

The board main mission is accomplished through two committees: the quick wins committee, aimed at helping member companies access helpful resources and business connections, and a second committee profiling tech talent moving into the region to work in the sector.

“We’ve identified 125 individuals who have relocated from a major tech market,” Felix says.

Since 2018, Embarc has tracked tech talent relocating here from cities like San Francisco, Chicago, New York City, Austin and Los Angeles. They meet quarterly for breakfast at Embarc as the Tampa Bay Tech Transplant Network.

The committee aims to create a video where these transplants can share their stories.

“The main goal of these stories ... is to shine a light on Tampa, showing all of the wonderful talent that is moving to the Tampa Bay Area, even if they are outside of Embarc Collective,” Erickson says. “That has to say something about our region, what we’re doing and what we’re building here.”

What does serving on the board mean for board members? It’s an opportunity to collaborate, says one of the initial board members, Alyinth Bowen, director of Talent at Bisk.

“This is an important way to groom the next generation of workforce in this area, and, to give those that are hungry for it a way to network and contribute to the greater good of Tampa Bay Business and entrepreneurship,” Bowen says.

While on the board she hopes to create: 1) a content series highlighting the area’s brilliant thinkers and creators of business; and 2) a working model to help future board members to get the most out of their time serving.

Board members usually have 15 or fewer years of experience. Everyone contributes $500, which is either personally financed, paid for by an employer, or raised through a fundraising network. Funds are used to support programs for Embarc Collective, a non-profit.

“All of our board members have applied ... on our website. Some people are sent by their employers. Some people find us on their own,” Erickson says. “Everybody has a goal of supporting Tampa and the tech community.”

Learn more about the startup hub operating at 802 E. Whiting in Tampa.
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Read more articles by Cheryl Rogers.

Cheryl Rogers is a freelance writer and editor who enjoys writing about careers. An ebook author, she also writes Bible Camp Mystery series that shares her faith. She is publisher of New Christian Books Online Magazine and founder of the Mentor Me Career Network, a free online community, offering career consulting, coaching and career information. Now a wife and mother, Cheryl discovered her love of writing as a child when she became enthralled with Nancy Drew mysteries. She earned her bachelor's degree in Journalism and Sociology from Loyola University in New Orleans. While working at Loyola's Personnel Office, she discovered her passion for helping others find jobs. A Miami native, Cheryl moved to the Temple Terrace area in 1985 to work for the former Tampa Tribune