Locally-grown SharpSpring expanded into a newly-built, state-of-the-art office building in Innovation Square to accommodate its rapid growth. A publicly-traded company offering robust marketing solutions, SharpSpring’s success has been largely supplemented by its inclusive and positive organizational culture.
“You come in as a stranger and, in less than two weeks, you feel like part of the family,” said SharpSpring employee Kim Anchors.
SharpSpring hired 43 new employees over the course of the last year. The positions ranged from entry-level to management in fields including web development, sales, marketing and IT. The company was strategically positioned to attract clients and elite talent with its new, modern headquarters and central location within UF Innovation Square.
CEO and founder of SharpSpring, Rick Carlson, earned his MBA from the University of Florida. Carlson then worked for ten years in the private sector before moving back to Gainesville to raise his family and chase his dream of starting a company that provided powerful, affordable marketing for small businesses.
SharpSpring launched in early 2012 in a small office within the Sun Center in downtown Gainesville. The company offers cloud-based automated marketing software that allows clients to hyper-target leads based on their particular interests. By tracking when and where potential customers have been, SharpSpring sends targeted content that drives leads and converts them to sales efficiently.
Since its inception, the company has grown from 4 to 100 employees, and this job creation in Gainesville has only produced more demand for local goods and services, propelling circular job growth around Alachua County.
“This is a paramount example of how we are all winning with the booming tech and startup industry in Gainesville,” said former Gainesville Mayor Ed Braddy. “While businesses grow, money and jobs and tax dollars are brought into the local economy so that private business and public service are positively affected at all levels.”
The 15,000-square-foot building that was customized for SharpSpring is one of many Innovation Square projects completed by local developer Trimark Properties. Known as Nimbus, the energy-efficient building features a custom open floor plan to attract today’s employees that thrive on collaboration and culture. Flexible breakout offices allow for meetings, conferences, or private phone calls.
Similarly, the Ingenuity building, with an expected completion date of January 2018, is the next project for Trimark Properties. This space will be 50,000 sq. ft. and feature four stories instead of two. The start of this new project hinged on the success that the Nimbus building created for companies in Innovation Square and the Gainesville community as it moves towards urbanization.
Nimbus features state-of-the-art eco-friendly elements that are truly cutting edge. Dynamic glass windows frame the building and automatically tint based on feedback from on-site sensors and data pulled from geo-location based weather projections. This system was designed by ViewGlass, a leading provider of high-tech dynamic glass. It also blocks excess heat on sunny days, which helps curb utility costs for the building. The Goodwin Co. restored 100-year-old reclaimed heart pine wood from a building previously located on the property. The salvaged heart pine wood was used to create a historic wood feature wall in SharpSpring’s new lobby. The reclaimed wood stands as a reminder of Gainesville’s history and the rejuvenated character of the area, which was once a railroad town before it grew into the burgeoning tech center of today.
“As SharpSpring grows, their needs will change, and our building will grow with them,” said John Fleming, managing partner of Trimark Properties, the local developer that is building and managing Nimbus for SharpSpring. “Our architectural team creates flexible floor plans, so SharpSpring will be able to add a significant number of employees in a short period.”
Fleming mentioned that the modern features offered at Nimbus reflect the future of commercial office space in Gainesville. Those elements are shaped for employees who desire to work in open, modernized environments.
“Gainesville needs smart buildings like this,” said Fleming. “Just like SharpSpring, companies all over the map are looking to Innovation Square, and to Gainesville in general, and they are looking for commercial space that reflects their business ethos.” Fleming feels confident that by focusing on modern, high quality commercial real estate in Gainesville, Trimark will be able to significantly grow their commercial division in the upcoming years.
By Josh Steppling