Mayor of Tampa, Jane Castor, Kicks Off Florida Blockchain Summit

Jane Castor, the current Mayor of Tampa, is going to key note the Florida Bitcoin and Blockchain Summit, which will be hosted at the Amalie Arena, home to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tampa’s rise to blockchain epicenter is no surprise to those who have been living in the metro area for the last 5 years. The momentum continues to increase in Tampa, and Mayor Castor is showing she is prepared and willing to capture that momentum.

Since taking office in 2019, Mayor Jane Castor has guided the City of Tampa through a pandemic, a historic Super Bowl hosting experience—and victory, in addition to countless milestones on the path to Transforming Tampa’s Tomorrow. To honor how far Tampa has come in just two years, Mayor Castor delivered a State of the City presentation unlike any other on June 2, 2021.

That Super Bowl victory was in large part due to Tom Brady, who himself has become quite the blockchain and crypto star, investing and creating such platforms as Autograph for digital NFTS, as well as buying into crypto exchange FTX.

Tampa’s rise goes beyond just super star stardom however. The startup community has continued to grow and drive it’s success.

Embarc Collective CEO Lakshmi Shenoy was recruited to Tampa Bay three years ago to start the organization, which helps Tampa Bay entrepreneurs build companies.

As an ambassador for the city, Embarc is focused on increasing the number of startups in Tampa and Florida as a whole, providing intensive coaching and programming and leveraging Embarc’s network so that businesses can have better accessibility to talent and customers, she said in an interview.

Shenoy started with 25 companies in 2019, and today works with more than 100 technology companies. As such, Embarc recently opened a new facility in the downtown area, she said.

“Tampa is a much smaller startup market, so it needed deliberate support to start to make the flywheel happen,” Shenoy said. “In a lot of ways, the pandemic put eyes on Florida and helped us accelerate.”

When she moved there, Shenoy began meeting with individuals in the blockchain space, and one of the first things she observed was everyone’s desire to learn more about blockchain. She knew from the start that it was going to be a critical piece of the puzzle around what the startup community would look like, she said.

What she found, too, was that blockchain was embedded into businesses other than cryptocurrency applications, which she said she found exciting.

“It is the less sexy stuff, but areas like health care, insurance and the vitamin supplement tracking, are emerging,” Shenoy said. “The technology will grow to be so pervasive that we won’t have to talk about blockchain. It will just be there.”

John Fohr, co-founder and CEO of TrustLayer, recently relocated the company to Tampa Bay from San Francisco just as it was closing on its $6.6 million seed round at the end of last year. TrustLayer is an insurtech company using distributed ledger technology to automate insurance verification.

The motivation for the move was seeing a lot of customer service centers and companies having success building out customer success teams with talent from the area, which is ripe with industry experts, Fohr said in an interview.

At the time, he didn’t realize how big of a community the blockchain folks had, but found the ecosystem to be helpful for collaboration and meeting company champions.

“We are super happy we ended up coming here,” Fohr said. “Tampa hits way above its weight class. It’s a big city with a small-town feel where everyone works together. Entities like Embarc have turbocharged the tech scene. Tampa also now has this funding world that has opened up, which was traditionally limited to San Francisco.”

The Florida Blockchain Summit will further highlight than Tampa will be a leader in the United States in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space, and Mayor Castor is poised to lead it.

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