Celebrating One Year at Groundswell HQ
One year ago, on March 25, Groundswell HQ opened its hangar doors to the public for the first time. More than four hundred technologists, entrepreneurs and creatives huddled inside to raise a glass and celebrate the skatepark-turned-innovation-hub. And every day since that one, Groundswell has worked to keep the promises made at our grand opening — to empower Space Coast innovators.
Since our founding in June 2015, Groundswell has sought to grow an ecosystem where entrepreneurs can build, collaborate and thrive. We’ve worked to support this mission from Open Mike’s Coffee Lounge, Anaya in Eau Gallie and anywhere else we could drop our laptops and connect to Wifi. With the opening of our very own space, in the former indoor skatepark in Riverview Park, we sought to scale our efforts and connect with founders and experts from the farthest flung corners of Brevard.
Let’s see how we’ve done.
This past year was full of big wins. Companies were formed, business plans made, and pivots tested.
In January, Tomahawk Robotics launched from Groundswell’s Milestone Hall. Ubicquia made the move to Melbourne, FL and more than doubled their team of engineers and technicians. Real Food Real Kitchens celebrated their third season with viewing parties and tastings both here in Melbourne and in New York City.
We’ve met with dozens of new startups and watched several relocate to the Space Coast. New companies who are building out robotic solutions, empowering cities to take control of their air quality and safety, and building neural-networks to analyze weather patterns.
In one year, we’ve added eight mentors to our network — experts in UI/UX, prototyping and manufacturing, biomedical engineering and more. Our network of mentors has donated hundreds of hours to refining pitches, researching industries and helping to adjust business models. With their support, we’ve redoubled our efforts of supporting entrepreneurs in the area: with more than 25 jobs created in the building alone and millions of dollars raised.
But we’re not even at the exciting part.
Last June, we announced the Moonshot Prototype Series in partnership with the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast. Twelve companies paired off with mentors for an eight week bootcamp where they learned the basics on creating business models and marketing plans, building out sales teams, developing a pricing model and pitching their product. Each team finished the bootcamp with a polished pitch deck and executive summary, which they took to the October Finale.
Although every company that participated made great strides, only one could emerge the winner. Leela and Mike Watson of InitWeather won first place, taking home the grand prize of $5,000.
In August, Micah Widen took the helm at Groundswell as CEO. Serial entrepreneur and former Executive Director of Domi Station, an incubator in Tallahassee, Micah brought a wealth of knowledge to the position. Since taking the position, Micah has kickstarted several initiatives to better reach companies in the area and help inspire technologists to set their own ideas in motion.
Just before the year ended, Groundswell hosted the very first Space Coast Cybersecurity Conference (SCx3) in collaboration with University of Florida, the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast and Raytheon. Drawing talent from academic, commercial and startup sectors — the conference saw more than a hundred students, professors, startup founders come together to discuss obstacles in the industry.
None of this would have been possible without the generous support of our community partners. Their contributions have been integral to the growth and development of Groundswell’s network of resources.
That’s cool, but what’s next?
For the next year at Groundswell, we’re aiming our sights high. Our first formal cohort, the Explorer Program, launches in May. Participants will build the foundation for the skills necessary to create new business models to scale their business through a hybrid curriculum both online and in-person roundtables. They’ll have the opportunity to learn from seasoned entrepreneurs and begin building a network that they can lean on throughout the process of starting their business.
And next we’re launching the Caffeine-Induced Campaign, a tee-shirt campaign supporting a new pitch event. Two original designs by Florida-based artist and graphic designer Carly Berry will go on sale this Summer, with all proceeds going toward the Caffeine-Induced Pitch Event in the Fall. And you get a limited edition piece of swag that you can wear with pride.
The past year at Groundswell HQ has been full of unforgettable experiences. We’ve watched the start of something awesome happen behind our hanger doors and we couldn’t be more excited to see what the next year will bring.
In the meantime, come out and celebrate Groundswell HQ’s anniversary on June 2nd at noon. We’re bringing the community together for a Saturday afternoon BBQ with games, drone races and maybe even a couple food trucks (water balloons, anyone?) Click here to RSVP.