JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The One Spark crowdfunding festival is scaling back from the week-long event held in past years to two days this April.
The board, along with city leaders, outlined details Monday of the 2016 event, which will feature a First Wednesday Spark Walk from noon to 10 p.m. on April 6 and a Creator Innovation Day on April 7.
"One Spark has been an amenity for Jacksonville for a number of years now and has created amazing cultural energy downtown,” Downtown Vision Inc. CEO Jake Gordon said. "Spark Walk comes out of the downtown community's desire to keep this energy going and is a way to celebrate the innovation of our artists and entrepreneurs."
Wednesday's event will feature artists, performers and creators in and around Hemming Park, throughout a 15-block corridor on Adams and Laura streets and inside The Jacksonville Landing. There will also be a food truck village.
Up to 120 creators will be selected to participate and are encouraged to crowdfund, sell approved goods and collect donations.
Creator Innovation Day will take place the next day at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront. This day-long program will include keynote addresses, expert presentations, panels and breakout sessions offering practical advice about topics that will help entrepreneurs build, manage and lead their businesses.
Chairman Peter Rummell said the changes are necessary to strengthen One Spark.
“We have changed direction,” Rummell said. “We haven't gone from north to south. We've gone from north to northeast. We're in it for the long term. Everybody behind me is in it for the long term, and we're going to make it work.”
One Spark Ventures will preselect the top projects and invite those creators to participate in a Spark Tank event on Thursday, where the entrepreneurs can pitch their ideas in front of capital and angel investors.
“As One Spark works to reestablish itself and become a year-round vehicle for creator success, we are thrilled to offer entrepreneurs not only a platform to test their ideas and receive validation, but also an opportunity to educate themselves during our Creator Innovation Day,” Rummell said. “This year’s event offers valuable opportunities for Creators, as well as entrepreneurs, investors, students and teachers to really understand the necessary steps to turn an idea into a success story.”
But not everyone is sold.
Jason Pratt and his two brothers used the crowdfunding festival to help build their business, Pratt Guys, which prides itself on being a one-stop-shop for high-quality outdoor design.
The brothers saw Jacksonville’s crowdfunding festival as the perfect outlet to help evolve their business, which they started in 2004. By 2012, they knew to grow the business they need a showroom to show off their products.
That’s where One Spark came in.
“Knowing it was a place to kind of launch your ideas and possibly launch businesses and a new product, we said, 'Let's go to One Spark and our project is going to be to open up this storefront to showcase our product,' and that's exactly what One Spark helped us do.”
But Pratt said the upcoming changes would have caused them to rethink entering altogether.
“To have five days to showcase this product that it took us three days to build at the event, it was worth it for us,” Pratt said. “Two days, it just wouldn't be.”
Pratt said despite the changes, he's a huge supporter of One Spark and hopes to see the event grow.
Creator Innovation Day schedule of events
- Keynote address about entrepreneurship
- Breakout sessions led by experts on topics including crowdfunding best practices, leadership, building and managing your web site as well as legal, governance and IP protection issues
- Two-hour workshop on the lean business canvas model, a one page business model framework that allows entrepreneurs to evaluate their business idea, understand key relationships and pivot quickly to develop and refine the idea while engaging with their target market and starting to build their business
- Hackathon begins: Teams of students will compete in solving a real-world problem the Jacksonville community is facing in a short period of time.
- Series of panels on entrepreneurship, what investors look for in seed to early stage investments, local resources available in Jacksonville for startups, as well as short presentations by organizations that are part of the growing Jacksonville entrepreneur ecosystem
- Hackathon continues
- Networking reception and announcement of the winning hackathon team
More details about speakers, presenters and updates to the program will be announced closer to the event. A limited number of tickets for Innovation Day are available for purchase online at JaxCoE.org. Advanced-purchase tickets are available for $20, with a student rate of $15.