Have you been working on a scalable business-to-business or business-to-government tech venture for six months to a year? Met with potential users of your product? Are you trying to solve a persistent problem for them?
If so, you may be a good candidate for the Tampa Bay Innovation Center’s B2B Accelerator.
“Ideas are a dime a dozen,” says Ken Evans, managing director of the tech accelerator, who has been working with early-stage startups for more than 30 years. “You’ve got to turn that idea into a viable product that people will pay for.”
The Pinellas County-based B2B Accelerator, scheduled August 4 through October 20, will help small businesses develop a product and take it to market. It is planned as an interactive program with group workshops on Zoom. The cohort, the fourth since 2019, will meet from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesdays. Additionally, the business founders will meet one-on-one either virtually or in person for mentoring.
The deadline to apply is July 12.
Businesses will be screened via Zoom interviews and must be accepted by a committee. Ideally, the businesses will have tech and non-tech co-founders, so there is a balance of skills.
“They don’t necessarily have to be here,” he says. “It doesn’t really matter, as long as they fit the mold and mindset.”
There is no charge to participating businesses; the accelerator does not take a portion of the business as payment either. Costs are covered primarily by Pinellas County Economic Development and other sponsoring businesses and organizations.
Nineteen companies have already gone through the accelerator program -- and raised about $4 million in capital. Graduates of this cohort, designed for eight to 10 companies, will showcase their products to investors, community leaders, the media and potential business partners/customers in early November.
The accelerator stresses building the right product and testing it in the market, rather than extensively practicing pitching to investors.
“I want people to be obsessed about customer revenues,” he explains. “That’s when venture capitalists come find you.”
Problem solving, not an interest in something like artificial intelligence, should be the aim.
“The No. 1 reason that startups fail is because they build something that nobody wants,” he explains. “That’s what you get when people are enamored with the tech, as opposed to solving a real world problem.”
It’s also critical to have a degree of open-mindedness.
“Ultimately, the product needs to be designed around someone else’s need, not the founder,” he explains. “If you build something just for your needs, it’s called a hobby, not a business.”
For more information, visit the Tampa Bay Innovation Center
in St. Petersburg.