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Conversations with Allie Felix

Today we’d like to introduce you to Allie Felix. 

Allie, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I am fortunate to have called two of the largest startup ecosystems my home, San Francisco and New York City. I spent my early career building and supporting the entrepreneurial community in these cities, having been exposed to and working with some of the most successful entrepreneurs and investors, and innovative thinkers. 

My story today rewinds to where I started my career, in San Francisco. I once was in an Uber pool ride and began speaking to the rider next to me – a rare occurrence in a busy city! As we began talking, I discovered that he was building a tech company and also from Tampa Bay. During our conversation, I went on to tell him my goal to someday return to my hometown and help build the local startup community. Since that conversation, I’ve probably told it to every friend and colleague I’ve met. About four years after that run-in, I was recruited back to Tampa Bay from New York City by Lakshmi Shenoy, CEO of Embarc Collective. How did she hear about me as a candidate? From the local founder, I once shared a fateful San Francisco Uber ride with, Pat Bhava from PikMyKid. 

Historically, founders needed to relocate to major tech hubs to launch companies, submitting to an exorbitant cost of living for access to high-caliber networks, contagious entrepreneurial energy, and the promise of venture capital funding. If you wanted your startup to succeed, you needed to be in the thick of it. But the narrative is changing. It’s clear that this is the beginning of a new era for entrepreneurship across the U.S. — high-growth companies can now start and scale anywhere. 

My personal mission is to ride this wave of momentum and help build the local startup community. Born and raised in the Tampa Bay area, this mission helps me to create an impact on a much deeper, more personal level. Once a “long-term career goal” to build the startup community in my hometown, I could not have imagined the impact we’ve made. Since June 2018, we’ve built an organization from scratch serving over 100 companies, convened a community of over 100 tech transplants, and witnessed the “great tech Twitter migration” to Florida. 

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
While so much has been done to build the region over the past decade, there are still key areas of development that me, Embarc Collective, and the larger community are actively working toward. These include: 

– Growing the sheer density of local startups (and diverse founders), which will attract even more companies, talent, and capital to our market. 

– Creating career pathways with nationally competitive earning potential, which will reduce brain drain to bigger cities. 

– Leveraging local public figures to evangelize Tampa Bay in their national social circles, which will help validate the move for others. 

– Ensuring that innovation and entrepreneurship remain sectors that are accessible and inclusive for all within our community. 

– Working with other communities in our region to ensure shared strengths are celebrated and that we are working collaboratively to attract talent. 

– Continuing to educate and diversify the local investing community and familiarize them with the concepts of startup venture capital. 

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
It’s clear that this is the beginning of a new era for entrepreneurship across the U.S.—high-growth companies can now start and scale anywhere, not just in a few coastal cities. This shift in thinking is making an impact in Tampa Bay.

To capitalize on this momentum, I have the distinct pleasure of working alongside Lakshmi Shenoy, CEO of Embarc Collective, on a team that’s building a strategy to support the growth of local tech companies and encourage new startups to plant roots in Tampa. We are a new kind of support model focused on increasing the number of startups in Florida, providing top-rated coaching, and access to investors, customers, and talent to help companies scale.

Specifically, I see my role within Embarc Collective as one that rallies around the city’s bubbling growth by working with external partners and stakeholders, and internal members companies.

So, before we go, how can our readers or others connect or collaborate with you? How can they support you?
Over three years into being a part of the Embarc Collective team and I’m still incredibly excited to show up for my city every day. I give thanks and credit to Lakshmi for providing me the opportunity to be a part of this vision. As CEO of Embarc Collective, she supports our entire team with resources, knowledge, and the testing grounds to deliver on our mission of helping Tampa Bay’s startup talent build bold, scalable thriving companies. 

In addition to Lakshmi’s support, I truly believe that the sum is greater than its parts and we have partnered with impactful organizations from around the world to help our startups push progress. The collaboration of our entire community can help Tampa Bay raise its profile as a destination for tech startups to grow. Partnership is at the core of creating better conditions for startup success. In my role, I build meaningful collaborations with organizations also committed to supporting our startup community. 

Some of our recent partnerships and collaborations within the community include: 

-In September, we joined forces with a coalition of Tampa Bay businesses, nonprofits, and governmental organizations to launch HiTampa Bay, a group that serves as the official “welcome wagon” for prospective newcomers to Tampa’s tech ecosystem. 

In October and November, we partnered with Tampa Bay Wave’s TechWomen Rising Accelerator on two exciting projects: The Glaring Gap Report and the Glaring Gap Summit. Both of these are meant to assess the landscape of women in venture capital in the state of Florida and then train prospective women investors in our state to be fully equipped as impactful venture capitalists.

Most recently, we announced a grant we received from the Florida Business Development Corporation that will help further develop the Tampa Bay workforce.

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