Enjoy the podcast with Jeff Stanislow (CEO of Chief Internet Marketer) and Brian Kornfeld (President & COO of Synapse) discussion Innovation in Tampa and all of Florida.
"Florida’s innovation community is growing and needs to continue to share what has accelerate success and created thriving economies. Innovation needs to be all-encompassing, interactive, and flexible methodology for building, facilitating, and exposing the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem" says Brian Kornfeld, the President & Co-Founder of Synapse Florida
Currently, the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Florida is growing. Florida has been ranked as one of the most popular areas for growth, continually rising at record rates. Learn more at Synapse.com
Synapse is also looking to help grow careers and elevate skills of individuals that make up this eco system. Brian and the Synapse team recently gave away a Certified Professional Digital Marketing Course in conjunction with Chief Internet Marketer. Also it has launched a new challenge program where it works with industry to solve a challenge through innovation and its network of Synapse advocates.
Finally, but, certainly a key focus for Synapse is the Innovation Summit, where in 2019 over 5000 top innovators and industry leaders came to Tampa's Amalie Arena for an amazing two day event. Learn more about this great annual event and see whats on deck for next year!
Enjoy the Podcast, and the transcripts are also below! If you would like to be a guest, please fill out this form and enter podcast in the comments.
Jeff Stanislow, CEO - Chief Internet Marketing
Brian Kornfeld, Co-Founder - Synapse Florida
Transcripts for the discussion on Innovation with Synapse Fl
Hi, this is Jeff Stanislow, the chief at Chief Internet Marketer. I'd like to take a minute to thank you for your time today and introduce our guest, Mr. Brian Kornfeld from Synapse. How are you doing today, Brian?
Good. Jeff, thank you very much for having me today.
Excellent. Excellent. So, Brian, you're the president and cofounder of Synapse here in Florida. You put on a great show from last year. We'll get into that in a few minutes. But, sometimes I always ask people, tell me something you don't know about yourself. And I wish I would have asked this the first time I met you when we played cards together. So tell me a little bit about some of that. That's something that I should've learned before I played cards with you.
Yeah. But before the ringer was, was thrown in, back in my, college and Grad school days, I played a lot of poker, actually grew up playing after being taught by my grandparents around the kitchen table, probably starting around age five or six, which is scary to think about now, and the peak of the poker career, I'll say was my 10 seconds of fame on ESPN during the world series of poker. I made a nice deep run in 2006 in the main event. I had a really good time. On the third day of play, they had me seated right next to Daniel Negreanu, which if you're not in the poker world, he's one of the more famous players and more popular players out there. ESPN cameras like to follow him all the time. And so when the camera was on him, it was also on me. So that was my, a three seconds of fame prior to these last few years, prior to Synapse.
Well, I can probably say you know I mentioned something I didn't know about you before I sat down and played cards. So I guess I learned the hard way, eh. Well, I'll look forward to our next game. There you go. So tell me a little bit about a Synapse in itself and what drives you with this organization?
Brian: 02:03 S
o Synapse was created out of the minds of myself, Andy Heyfer Mark Blumenthal, uh, along with a lot of other people in the community who really don't get enough credit, the ned pokes of the world, Mitch Neff and Wesley Men and General Dave Scott, Rebecca White, it was born out of the need and out of this idea that Tampa Bay in the state of Florida really should be doing so much better in terms of innovation that we just weren't talking to each other and we're not connecting well with each other. The right hand and the left hand aren't talking. And in one scenario I was talking with a CEO of a company who was telling me he could not hire local talent to save his life. And then I was talking to my wife, who at the time worked for USSF College of Engineering who said that their students couldn't find local tech jobs to save their life. And, it was these two groups should be talking to each other all the time and it should be a very perfect fit talent pipeline. But the community was so unorganized and disconnected and disjointed that we were falling behind rankings of such powerhouses as Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Lincoln, Nebraska and Iowa City, Iowa. Not necessarily cities that most people would think of as household names for innovation markets. We really should be in line with Austin and Boulder and Pittsburgh and Cincinnati and Detroit, and that's where we really started to say, what can we do? What is there out there that we could really help to leverage and utilize to make the state of Florida to take advantage of all the great resources we have here in this state, the business friendly state that no state income tax, the fact that the Special Operations Command is here and people vacation here. So why wouldn't they want to live here and make this really a place for innovation, for businesses to build businesses, to move to businesses, to thrive, talent to be attracted to, and it just took a couple of big things and some action to really get us organized and connected, but that's what Synapse does. At Synapses, that first step of the journey. It's the guide to the community. It's the place where people can go to find what they need and share what they have so they can progress themselves along their innovation journey.
Yeah, that's that's interesting. Oftentimes a lot of communities, throughout the country you put a bogey on Silicon Valley and so we want to be like Silicon Valley. Well, there is really only one Silicon Valley. I mean you've watched and seen what they've done. What unique proposition does Tampa and Florida for that matter have that could give it a competitive advantage that advantage or differentiate itself from the Silicon Valley? Brian: 04:59 Yeah. And I always like to tell people, I don't want us to make the next silicon valley because you can't recreate what they have out west. You can't recreate San Francisco, and granted, yes, Tampa, we also have a bay area. I wouldn't work well. They just have different resources than we do. We should create the best Florida innovation community that we can. And even thinking the most innovative city in this country prior to silicon valley or the most innovative community prior to Silicon Valley was Detroit, Michigan, and the cars and the automotive and the industrial community that was going on up in the Midwest, and a place that Jeff, you and I both have some very strong ties to. If silicon valley tried to create the next Detroit, it just would have been some great factories and some great automation, some great industry, but it wouldn't have been as, as it is today. So if you look at Florida and the macro landscape of Florida, you have a thousand people that move here every day. You have 19 of the best research institutions of the country that are right in this state. You have great patents that come out of USF there, one of the leading universities in the country for patents, and it's right in our backyard that doesn't even include Florida poly, which is right in the middle of the state and University of Florida in Gainesville. Then you have everything going on in Orlando. And yes, there is a Walt Disney world right there, but they are doing so much in terms of gaming and virtual. [inaudible] augmented reality [inaudible] just an hour and a half away from us here in Tampa, Miami has a ton of industry. They have a tech conference that attracts 15,000 people all about doing innovation and doing business with Latin America. So we have a lot of great resources that are already right here for the taking and that are already right here to be utilized. We just have to figure out ways to access them and get them involved. Some of that is telling them the stories of the winds that are going on in that are taking place. Another advantage that we have, and like we said, a lot of people like to vacation here. A lot of people also like to retire to Florida. People who have been in business for a long time and who have made their wealth and they're now ready for either a third career and call it that last stage of their career. It might not be a hands on operation of the company, but it might be investing in a company and supporting and mentoring. And we have a lot of great individuals who live up and down the coast of Florida or in central Florida who really have that time, talent, treasure that they can contribute to help progress some of the earlier stage companies. and we're starting to see that happen now a little bit. We're starting to see people who have either sold companies here locally or who have moved here starting to get involved to the next level. There's still a lot of hidden secrets and a lot of uncovered gems that we really can connect with to help progress this state to a whole other level in terms of innovation. Jeff: 08:15 Yeah, I think you're spot on in regards to that and telling the story and telling your story in the marketplace is so important. Successes, you know, if you tell successes, people want to listen to it and follow it. and tune in and dial in and want to be part of something that's growing and evolving. I think that's one of the successes that we can have here in the Tampa and Florida for that matter, down here in the south. So what type of attendees come to your event? Tell me a little bit about the Synapse summit and Synapse in general. I know you're trying to bring these people together. How do you bring them together?
Brian: 08:54 So we bring people together in three different ways. One is we have a web platform called Synapse Connect. You can access that from synapsefl.com and that's the 24/7, 365, the digital pane of glass to help people access and guide their way through the community. Again, it really makes it simple to help you find what you would need to help progress yourselves along the way. The second we bring people together through doing innovation challenges where a mature company would pose a problem for innovators, and students to help solve. And that really helps get companies started. It helps talent get jobs. It helps the larger companies get innovation that they desperately need at a fraction of the price that they would have to do if they were to hire an internal R and D team. It really is wins for the entire community and we've seen that happen multiple times over now. The last is the Snack Summit. As Jeff mentioned, we run a conference once a year and it's our big get everybody under one roof start to build that network. We recreate a really tight downtown style network where people will run into each other and create collisions. And what we see is we see a broad spectrum of people who come, and it could be anything from a CEO of a major company here that's talking on our main stage to a student who's coming because they're there on a scholarship and they just want to check out the tech and the innovation that's going on across Florida. This past year was our second summit. We had 5,500 people come to this event. It was a great time. 83% of people who came said that they've really enjoyed the networking and they got connected to people through this and we see people getting jobs, companies getting funded, people who want to move to this area, companies getting customers. And it could be anything from an early stage company, a middle stage company, a later stage company service providers who are getting connected and building partnerships to provide their business outbound. It's just one of those things that really is needed to help make that progress happen that much more rapidly over the course of two days in the winter. And for those of you who are listening, who are out of state, maybe you live in the Midwest or in the northeast where it gets cold coming to Florida in late January, early February it's not so bad. It's kind of Nice. I highly recommend it as somebody who grew up here and who has lived in the Midwest. Uh, so take advantage of this opportunity and see the great things that we have to offer.
Brian: 11:34 We have over 300 exhibiting tables and it could be anything from $1 billion business to a company that's really just getting started and has a prototype in the virtual reality space. The only thing that we ask of all these companies is they provided an immersive experience. So something hands on, something people want to utilize, they can touch, they can feel, they can play with that way people are really getting that feeling of being a part of this and they really understand what the innovation is doing and where it's going in the future versus watching a video and just saying, okay, that's nice and moving on.
Jeff: 12:16 You know, that's fantastic. I mean, you talk about immersive, you know, a lot of times you tend to trade shows and you know, they just kind of go and do your thing and what have you. I was pleased enough to speak at the Synapse Summit last year and I wanted to tell you just when I was walking around the exhibits and the engagement was far more than other shows that I've been to and I really enjoyed that. He got to see, touch, feel and interact with it. So, you know, keep that up, that's for sure and speaking of presenting on digital marketing, my understanding that you guys made an accomplishment on Twitter during that event. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
Brian: 12:56 Yeah. This is something that we really take with a lot of pride and our marketing team did a phenomenal job to help get this to happen. We trended nationally on Twitter, the Synapse Summit, and for an event in Florida, it, just to give a little bit of framework to this, my business partner Mark Blumenthal went out to a conference in Silicon Valley about two years ago and they asked where everybody was from around tables and he said he was from Florida. Somebody looked at up sideways and said, you had an innovation there. And I compare that to my freshman year of college at the University of Michigan. When I went to go try out for their club hockey team and they, when I was signing up for the tryout, they asked where I was throwing, I said, "Tampa, Florida," and they said, "you have hockey?" They're like, people play, you probably shouldn't even bother showing up if you're from Florida. You're just not going to be able to hack it. They flat out said don't show up. And that's the way we were kind of feeling like we were being looked at the city of Tampa and I'm from here and I'm very proud of this area. So for us to be able to get enough traction and enough people talking about us around the country that we were trending nationally, it's such a feather in the cap and it says that there is a story to be told here and that we are really on the rise. It is still very early. It's a good time if you're thinking about getting involved in the innovation community, you do it because now is the time where people can still be a leader. You could still be a big fish in a small pond, but that pond isn't going to get big really quickly over these next few years. And we're going to look back on 2017, 2018, 2019 and say, and think about just how far we came. We've now set the bar there that if we don't trend nationally in 2020, it's going to be disappointing. So, we really have to think about how we can continue to capture that national audience going forward, and digital marketing is a huge piece of this.
Jeff: 15:02 Well that's quite an accomplishment at your second event to be on Twitter net trending nationally. So as we kind of wrap up here, Brian, a couple things. Rapid fire questions, what's your favorite marketing campaign?
Brian: 15:19 Oh Wow. My favorite marketing campaign that is the Chick-fil-a marketing campaign and, and it's kind of a weird one, but it's so simple. If you think about it, it's a cow that says, don't eat me. Eat the chicken. The reason I love it though, be besides the simplicity is it scales. It can work in so many different ways and there's so much you can do with it and it's time tested. We can work for year after year after year, and it's not. It's one of those things that is just so easy and so simple that everybody can get it. You don't have to explain it. There's another, there's a number of other marketing campaigns that are great, phenomenal. But that one, whether you do it on a billboard or a TV commercial or somewhere online or a quick something before a Youtube video, it just always seems to work. And the execution behind it is why I'll say that. That one's my favorite.
Jeff: 16:19 Awesome. Awesome. What is some of the best advice that you can give to our listeners here today?
Brian: 16:26 Ah, man. There's always a lot of good advice. I take a lot of advice from quotes from a lot of people, a lot of famous, whether they're famous, whether they're successful CEOs are athletes or coaches, and one of them is from Walt Disney. And Walt Disney has a great quote that says "It's kind of fun to do the impossible." And when you're doing marketing and in the digital marketing realm I know some things could seem super easy, but to do something like trend nationally on Twitter, make something go viral to build up to a million followers that can seem like a lot to chew, like a lot to pull off, but think about how you're going to get there, take it step by step, work at it a little bit at a time and have fun doing it. And when you do, pull it off, celebrate, enjoy it. Go in with that smile that next day because you absolutely deserve it.
Jeff: 17:25 So to end this year, planning for 2020 event, can you talk to me a little bit about what you're thinking there? Any insight, any surprises, any information you want to share and how does one connect with you?
Brian: 17:38 Well, I'll start with the last question. Join our newsletter for sure. Go to synapsefl.com and join our newsletter. The reason I say that is because we're going to be announcing our dates for the Synapse Summit 2020 very soon. We have not announced them yet. Once the hockey season ends, which will be Wednesday night, then the schedule will be coming out over the next few weeks. Once NHL schedule is official, then we can actually formally announce our dates to the world up. But be very excited for what's coming in some at 2020, we're doing even more with immersive experiences with catering more to the networking. We want to make sure that people are getting very pointed and driven networking going forward. It's going to be a blast. And if you want to connect with me personally you can follow me on Twitter @therocketmanbk. That is once again @therocketmanbk, a little Ode to my past. My background is in aerospace engineering. So being a rocket scientist, somebody created that handle for me. I take zero credit or blame for that whatsoever.
Jeff: 18:44 So on top of it, I got beat by a person that went to the world series of poker and a rocket scientists, no wonder why I didn't win any money at that table that night.
Brian: 18:52 Yeah, or follow synapse as well at @synapsefl, "s-y-n-a-p-s-e-fl," like Synapse Florida. We're really excited about what's upcoming, and we're very excited about connecting the state of Florida. There's a lot of very cool possibilities, a lot of upcoming in our future, and we just want everybody to be a part of it, certainly.
Jeff: 19:20 So by saying you're waiting for the hockey schedules to finish up, I'm assuming that you're going to be looking at Amalie Arena where the Lightning play again.
Brian: 19:29 Amalie Arena, we will be there in the winter. Once again. Amelia Arena is a great venue. A lot of people think we're absolutely crazy for hosting a conference in a hockey arena, but just like we encourage innovation, we innovate ourselves. So we put our money where our mouth is and we have a lot of fun taking up a beautiful venue, the city, Jeff Finnick and his organization and the Tampa Bay Lightning. They've done a great job with the venue and we love using it.
Jeff: 20:02 Well, listen, Brian, I'm going to wrap this up and I want to let you know that I really appreciate your time and anything we can do to help support Synapse, you know, feel free to call upon us. And again, thanks for your time and I appreciate it very much.
Brian: 20:16 Thank you very much. I appreciate it. Bye.