Start Up Downtown Draws Big Crowd

By Bradley Osburn

Almost 300 hopeful jobseekers packed the second floor of Union Street Station in downtown Gainesville on Thursday night during the first-of-its-kind Start Up Downtown.

The event, sponsored by FloridaWorks, the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce and Innovation Gainesville, lasted from before 6pm to after 9pm and featured more than a dozen Gainesville startups looking to hire, including music-streaming service Grooveshark and app developers SwampMobile and Mobiquity.

Stephanie Gocklin, director of communications for FloridaWorks, said that the show was a success because of the attention it brought to Gainesville’s bustling startup industry.

“It was really cool to see so many people in the community interested in our startups,” she said. “You’d hear people say things like, ‘Wow, this is awesome. I didn’t know there were so many startups here in Gainesville.’”

Martin Elkins, co-owner of the private-room karaoke service Stage 7, said that while his team was there to recruit a couple of new coders and salespeople, the event was a great way show off the company’s brand.

“It’s a great place to get to know people who want to work with these startups,” he said. “You know, people who might not be looking for that corporate feel.”

Gainesville resident Garrett Garner-Wells doesn’t come from a technical background, but he was still interested to see the companies on display.

“The innovation industry is pulling in people from all kinds of backgrounds,” he said. “It’s really cool to see the variety of things that companies are doing here in town.”

Eric Pheterson, a resident of the Gainesville HackerHouse, was there to show off his custom pet feeder, which is designed to read a chip in the pet’s collar and open for only one animal.

“Nobody knows about the startups, so nobody gets the jobs,” he said. “They’re trying to keep the talent here in Gainesville.”

“What happens is they graduate and leave and graduate and leave, and this event is trying to break that cycle.”




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