Businesses react to possible shortening of One Spark

Crowdfunding festival could be reduced to 3 days, with 1 day for public

One Spark festival in downtown Jacksonville
One Spark festival in downtown Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville’s One Spark crowdfunding festival is scaling back from a week-long event to possibly one day in April.

The board is floating the idea of reducing to a three-day event, starting with a one-day public festival on Wednesday, April 6.

One Spark spokesman Michael Munz said the atmosphere will still be festive.

“We are looking at how we can maintain that in a full day of activities for people,” he said. “We know that people really like coming downtown, but we also want to be able to expand and focus on connecting creators with intellectual and financial capital.”

That would be followed by two days of meetings between creators and funders, with entrepreneurs pitching to venture capitalists and investors in "Shark Tank"-like events.

The festival’s big winner last year was the nonprofit Yoga 4 Change.

Executive Director Kathryn Thomas said shortening the festival from five days will help attendees focus more on creators.

“Now, they’re not being forced to vote the day of the festival, but they’re able to see that their impact is a lot stronger because the festival has been shortened,” she said.

But concerned business owners said a one-day festival could be bad for their bottom lines.

Jennifer O'Donnell, the general manager of Chamblin Bookmine, said her store sold coffee, beer, food and books during the festival.

“Basically it was about $25,000-$27,000 in sales. That is a substantial loss of income,” she said.

O'Donnell said the company will survive but she fears for how it will affect the creators.

“The busiest day we experienced was Friday last year. Prior to that it was Friday and Saturday. They're running neck and neck, so for them to do it on Wednesday, I don't understand the reasoning behind that,” O'Donnell said. “And that is the creators that are going to suffer from that.”

One Spark, under the newly created One Spark Ventures, will also let creators submit ideas year-round.

The number of creators hasn't been decided yet, but it will be fewer than last year.

The amount of room the diminished One Spark will occupy also has not been determined yet.

More details are expected to be announced within the next week.


WJCT.org contributed to this report.