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Founders wanted for business accelerator program

The Tampa Bay Innovation Center wants to help entrepreneurs move beyond the elevator pitch and develop themselves and their team.

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  • | 6:00 a.m. March 13, 2020
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Tonya Elmore, center, with members of the Tampa Bay Innovation Center's 2019 business accelerator cohort. Courtesy photo.
Tonya Elmore, center, with members of the Tampa Bay Innovation Center's 2019 business accelerator cohort. Courtesy photo.
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Catchy elevator pitches used to be all the rage in the world of tech startups, but a local business accelerator and co-working space wants to help entrepreneurs get back to basics and position them for long-term, sustained success — not just quick investment — built on a strong business model. 

Based in downtown St. Petersburg, the Tampa Bay Innovation Center has opened the application process for its next accelerator program, funded by the city of St. Petersburg, Florida Blue, Pinellas County, the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership, PitchLyst and Seedfunders.

President and CEO Tonya Elmore says the program, which culminates in July with a “challenge event” in front of an audience of investors, community leaders, media and potential business partners/customers, will emphasize product validation and go-to-market strategies. 

“There are many great accelerator programs that focus on helping their cohort participants create a good pitch,” Elmore tells Coffee Talk. “While the pitch is very important, we found few programs were dedicated to helping the founders become good leaders. Good leadership is important at every level of company growth. It is the team more than the product that is heavily eyed by key investors. Focusing on the founders and helping them develop a healthy corporate culture as well as evaluating their leadership style is a value-add to their overall pitch to investors.”

According to a news release, successful applicants will receive 10 weeks of training that includes workshops and sessions with serial entrepreneurs who have enjoyed successful exits. To qualify, companies must have less than $2 million in capital, two or more team members and be at the post-minimal viable product/proof of concept stage. Their funding status can range from pre-seed, seed and post-seed to Series A.

“Creating a product that meets a real and sustainable market need is the biggest challenge for startup founders,” TBIC Managing Director Ken Evans states in the release. “The TBIC accelerator program focuses on validating the early-adopter opportunities and testing market demand to build the credibility and confidence the founders need to be successful leaders of an emerging tech venture.”

Applications will be accepted until March 22. To apply, visit


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