Orlando technology scene is on fire and ready to grow

Lake Eola in Orlando

The Orlando technology scene is on fire.

As someone burrowed in the ecosystem for eight years, I have been waiting for a unified front.

I thought this was missing and, frankly, I understood why that was.

How do you get a series of disparate industries to pull toward the same goal, one that revolves around location and place rather than industry in an effort of making Orlando one of the best tech communities in the state, much less the country?

The obstacles to that kind of accomplishment, on its face, are daunting because one entity or person can blow that up.

Now, however, we are ready to see what that looks like.

Let me take you back to what I saw when I came here in 2014 (when Stax, nee Fattmerchant, had maybe five employees and a dream) along with developments that followed.

ORLANDO MAKES ITS MARK AT SYNAPSE IN TAMPA

Where were we then?

Yes, there was Fattmerchant, promising to become what it eventually became.

But you could also take a tour around the city and feel something big coming in tech (I’ll argue that this was going to happen in 2020 … if not for those damn COVID tests!).

Why?

Let me count the ways.

  • In medical tech, two behemoths – Orlando Health and AdventHealth – at that time could have made this a medical research hub on their own.
  • Multiple organizations sprung up, ready to support startups and small businesses at every step of the way. That level of business needs backing to become the next era of tech firms in a city. The existing school system will mean the supply of future entrepreneurs is literally perpetual.
  • Electronic Arts anchored a video game industry that employs the skillsets that now dominate most industries while a growing independent video game community showed off the region’s depth.
  • Theme parks and hotels are two of the most tech-forward industries so their buy in of the tech community would build it even more.
  • A sensor factory in Kissimmee aimed to dominate an industry that, well, will dominate the decades to come, as more consumer goods rely on this technology.

There are plenty more specific examples, as well.

Luminar brought its self-driving car initiative here.

Limbitless Solutions is building prosthetics for those missing limbs.

Even the Orlando Magic has gotten into the game, as they are known as a top tech-forward thinking organization in sports.

As a reporter who still dabbles with an on-again, off-again website, I still get press releases on the regular.

Where are we now?

Just in the last week, I have been told of a new cohort in a support program for Orlando entrepreneurs, a partner for UCF’s Future City initiative, a new CEO for Starter Studio and a world-renowned company that tends to fly under the local radar, MyRadar, launching its own satellites.

Then there is Stax.

Making the rounds in Orlando’s tech circles was this week’s announcement that Suneera Madhani and Sal Rehmetullah have grown that company into a unicorn, meaning its valuation surpassed $1 billion.

That’s impressive. It’s badass. The news is incredible. it’s an anchor.

Now, here is the sobering section of this column. If you know me, you knew this was coming.

We are not going to get there without pushing harder now so these next steps are crucial.

We cannot allow ourselves to think we have arrived yet.

At the same time, I’m excited to watch the Orlando technology scene establish itself, develop its personality and persona and use its strengths to build its own narrative.

Now, that said, what has been great has been seeing information-sharing networks pop up from the Orlando Economic Partnership, Orlando Inno, Florida High Tech Corridor and more.

Where are we heading?

I don’t consider myself a competitor to these organizations.

With Orlando Tech News, I want to contribute to the growing megaphone and ensure we are not an echo chamber.

We need to reach outside of our circles to take the next step.

The network shows an appreciation of what I have been preaching since before the pandemic: If you don’t tell your story as an ecosystem, you won’t reach your potential.

You see it in Tampa and Miami. It’s not an accident that once a new story outlet popped up in Tampa, the city’s tech profile grew.

And when Miami’s mayor dubbed the city the home of crypto, tech and mainstream media outlets alike constantly repeated it.

Yes, Stax has a huge megaphone thanks to Suneera and Sal’s expert work on social media.

But to really grow, the Orlando technology scene needs outlets with collective capacity and bandwidth to showcase the up-and-comers.

Fluix. ViewStub. OneRail.

The list goes on but understand: This is not a knock on existing outlets.

It’s an acknowledgment that Orlando’s technology scene is so on fire it needs several outlets to paint the complete picture.

I’ll get my brushes.

1 Comment

  1. Ananth Veeriah

    A newbie to central FL moved to this region after spending 2 decades in Pacific NW. I have worked in the healthcare technology most on the hardware side for more than 3 decades.
    I am plesantly surprised to learn about the bright future for tech industries in the region in addition to aerospace and theme park related technologies.
    Looking forward to next post.

    Reply

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