Counting Lucky Stars

Today, I count my lucky stars.

You can, too.

I’m here to tell you, some things are going right in this world. Despite what we see in our news feed every day, there is a little pocket of potential greatness right here in Central Florida. Stars are shining.

How do I know this? Because I’ve been interviewing applicants for StarterStudio’s Idea Stage Accelerator, set to begin the first week of September 2021. A little brag here on behalf of StarterStudio: this will be the 18th class(!!!) of the Ideation Stage Accelerator.

Don’t forget we have Build and Seed Stage Accelerators as well and have crossed double digits for the number of classes to date for these two accelerator programs.

As co-facilitator of this next class (along with Bob Reed, Program Manager for StarterStudio), I don’t want to sound trite, but I am humbled, excited, and hopeful. Humbled by the caliber of applicants, excited to be a part of the unfolding of these ideas, and hopeful for even more innovation in our region.

Please allow me to share a bit of (anonymous) background on some of our applicants. [You’ll know their names soon enough.]

· One of our founders is an accomplished consultant from a Big Four professional services company. His team is attacking a $15 billion dollar problem. He’s in it to win it!

· We have an accomplished CEO of a firm focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion in corporate settings. She’s keeping her “day job” while she builds a financial platform.

· Another woman, with deep experience in the worlds of art and commerce, is building a niche platform for collectors.

· We love an applicant with a startup idea who hasn’t figured out the technology yet, despite her strong IT background. This is what ideation (and innovation!) is all about.

· A seasoned medical professional is pouring his 25-years of experience into a new platform that consumers might love. Customer discovery is at the top of his agenda.

· Yet another young woman, who has led marketing innovation projects for a few billion-dollar companies(!), has her eyes on automating a paper and spreadsheet process.

The make-up of these founders and their startup ideas is, to me, profound. Where else do you find people who have quit a good job to work solely on a product or service that have no sales? Yet.

And where else would you find a CEO of a busy company pulling double shifts to develop a business idea that no one has tackled (but needs tackling!)?

Frankly, I think of an Edison or a Bell when I meet a technology leader who is diving feet first into a business where the technology hasn’t been invented yet.

There’s another layer to the make-up of this class that you don’t see here. StarterStudio prides itself on its efforts in the area of diversity. In its hiring, in our applicants, in the mentors our startups can tap into.

While diversity is a principle we follow and promote, when it happens, in part, “organically,” as it has with this pool of applicants, we are even more proud. To be sure, based on interviews so far, we will have estimable diversity.

How can we not when our applicants include Asians, Blacks, founders over 40, First-Generation Americans, Hispanics, and military veterans?

As I said, I am counting my lucky stars—and you can, too.

Here’s to #18!