Groundswell Will Serve and Grow Local Startups, Renovating Melbourne Riverfront Building
By Space Coast Daily // February 21, 2016
provides cost-free mentoring services
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Groundswell Startups Inc., a Space Coast based nonprofit founded by local entrepreneurs and private equity investors to serve and grow local startups, will begin this week to renovate the old skate park on US 1 in Downtown Melbourne to serve as a world-class co-working and business incubation site.
The 11,300 square foot building will serve to connect startups to resources, mentorship and funding sources through a modern office environment.
According to Jenna Buehler, CEO and co-founder of Groundswell, “the goal is to provide local co-working space and business incubation services for game-changers in tech, commercial space and various other industries in order to establish a local startup culture that cultivates collaboration, creativity and success.”
After a lengthy site selection process, Groundswell selected the Melbourne Riverfront location in part to serve as a major revitalization effort in a historically underserved business zone.
Longtime resident and City of Melbourne Mayor, Kathy Meehan, says “it is essential to continue the redevelopment in the South Melbourne expansion area. It is also important to include the master plan improvements for a beautiful 15 acre Riverview Park with the intent of becoming more actively utilized by the community.”
Unlike many incubators and accelerator programs, the Groundswell effort is 100 percent privately financed.
The founding team has committed in excess of one million dollars of financial support for the benefit of Groundswell, including the purchase of the Riverfront location by local entrepreneur Bud Deffebach.
When completed, the Groundswell co-working space will be one of the largest privately financed co-working spaces in the country.
The Groundswell founding team includes Brevard natives with a personal track record of startup success beyond the Space Coast.
Founding members – like Deffebach, local business attorney and investor Mark Mohler and John Vecchio, serial tech entrepreneur and venture capitalist – say their personal investment in Groundswell is a first step to launching a cycle of perpetual startup investment and company success befitting one of the most dense tech centers in the entire world.
Available memberships levels will include 24/7 access to co-working facilities, dedicated office space, conference rooms, event space and amenities such as a coffee bar.
Groundswell will offer some open “floating” space for those just starting their business efforts. However, members will need to have or learn the “discipline of defining markets, refining products and moving their business forward.”
According to Vecchio, “Groundswell mentors do not ask for any equity or payment for their time, but we do expect progress and commitment.”
Launched in June 2015 with the support of venture capital investment firms Mosley Ventures and LaunchPad40, Groundswell has provided completely cost-free mentoring services to more than 30 local startups, sponsored local business networking and educational events and has helped to secure seed funding for four local startups.
“Groundswell serves as the fabric connecting entrepreneurs with fellow entrepreneurs, smart money investors and mentors,” Deffebach said.
“We are creating a collaborative, high-energy space for emerging talent – especially millennial talent – whose teams have the mental horsepower and drive that it takes to build successful high-tech companies.”
The early success of the Groundswell fails to surprise outside investment firm representatives who say the Space Coast region has historically been an enigma to investors because the density of local tech talent has not necessarily translated into high profile startups.
“As a Florida region, the Space Coast has as much to offer the national startup scene at-large as any other – the deep tech talent is a unique advantage,” said Alan Taetle, general partner at Noro-Moseley Partners, one of the oldest and largest venture investment firms based in the Southeast.
One of the earliest startups to benefit from Groundswell’s efforts is Swarmify, a Melbourne-based company that offers an innovative “SmartVideo” solution that improves online video quality and reduces the cost of streaming.
According to Swarmify CEO Nathan Barnett, Groundswell advisors gave his team of four the assistance they needed to reach new milestones.
“Working with Groundswell gave investors a level of confidence in their investment that I’m not sure we could have achieved otherwise in the southeast,” Barnett said.
“When you’re running a technology company, it’s critical that resources outside your own wheelhouse be made available and that’s exactly the kind of support we continue to receive from the Groundswell network.”
Groundswell celebrates its earliest sustaining sponsor, Novel Engineering, as a 2015 GrowFL Company to Watch and leading supporter of Groundswell’s nonprofit efforts.
Novel Engineering showcases its commitment to local startups as part of a three year sponsorship of Groundswell. TerraCom Direct is also a leading 2015 community supporter offering annual commitments in conjunction with the support made available by Corridor Legal, Mosley Ventures, LaunchPad40 and Groundswell partners.
Groundswell is accepting grand opening sponsors and community supporters during the next six months of construction. The building is expected to support more than 60 co-workers and 12 Groundswell startup teams of four to eight team members.
For more information on supporting or becoming a part of the Groundswell network, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
ABOVE MAP: Groundswell Startups Inc., a Space Coast based nonprofit founded by local entrepreneurs and private equity investors to serve and grow local startups, will begin this week to renovate the old skate park on US 1 in Downtown Melbourne to serve as a world-class co-working and business incubation site.