Scott Conlon, the CEO and co-founder of MyArea Network, a digital advertising and marketing company based in Tampa, died unexpectedly Nov. 14. He was 41.
The death of Conlon has devastated the Tampa Bay tech community, says Linda Olson, CEO of Tampa Bay Wave, a business accelerator of which MyAreaNetwork is a member. Conlon was also on the Tampa Bay Wave board.
“Our entire organization is mourning the loss of Scott,” Olson says. “He was the definition of persistence and tenacity — the exact qualities you see in successful founders.”
She adds: “He was an entrepreneur through and through, but at the same time, he was somebody you wanted to be around because he was just so genuinely nice and treated the everyone with dignity and respect. Talk to his employees — they all loved working for him.”
His cause of death was not announced but Olson says “underlying health issues” might have contributed to his sudden passing. “He was with his family the weekend before (his death),” she says.
Conlon was a key part of the growth of MyArea Network, which specializes in maximizing exposure for local businesses to both tourists and residents. It posts content to curated websites, such as 813area.com and 727area.com, and makes additional contact with users via email and text message updates. Participating businesses can claim a web page for free but then have the option to pay a recurring fee for an advertising and content marketing plan.
When the Business Observer spoke with Conlon in 2019, he said one of the company’s goals was to help local businesses cut through the noise of search-based websites such as Facebook, Google and Yelp.
MyArea Network “is not about search; it’s about discovery,” he said. “We want to help businesses be in front of the audiences they want to connect to.”
The concept drew the support of prominent Tampa Bay investors, including former Catalina Marketing and Folgers Coffee Co. CEO Jamie Egasti and Tony DiBenedetto, founder of TriBridge, an IT and cloud computing firm that surpassed $175 million in value before it was acquired in 2017. In 2019, MyArea Network had surpassed $1 million in gross annual revenue and had been growing 80% year over year.
The company, Olson says, “was on such a great upward trajectory when this happened. Everyone was exceptionally positive about where MyArea Network was going.”
Conlon’s loss, she adds, will be keenly felt by aspiring Tampa Bay entrepreneurs who leaned on him for advice and guidance.
“He loved talking with anyone about entrepreneurship,” Olson says. “He would hear somebody talk about a business idea and his wheels would start spinning about how to help them on their entrepreneurial journey. He was a big part of helping grow the entrepreneurial community here, in so many ways.”
Conlon is survived by his wife, Jennifer Keys Conlon, and two sons, Brycen, 7, and Ashton, 4.