Creative Risk Taking: Tampa Bay Startup Week

Tampa is making its way up on lists for being a top startup and entrepreneur city.  Tampa Bay Startup Week celebrates the successes of local startups by putting them in the spotlight as speakers, panelists, sponsors, and guests, while creating a week of engagement with those starting out or looking to connect and grow.  There is an emphasis on technology, alongside various tracks such as brewing (2017) and hospitality (2018) to diversify the experience for a wider variety of attendees.

I was asked to speak about my experience with taking risks with as creative startup (8-Count Productions) and the process of renovating a brick and mortar (Rialto Theatre).


Photo by: Jeff Souvenir of 9L Studios @itsbigjeff


“My biggest risk was not starting 8-Count.   That was simply an online registration and a fee to become an LLC.  It was just a concept on paper while I was still making a paycheck from other work. ”

“My biggest risk came at the tail end of my degree when I purchased a historic building that had nothing and balanced everything I had to do it.  It was twice as big and 3 times as expensive as I had hoped and not exactly what I had envisioned.  I was not only taking my business from concept to brick and mortar, before it was even a functioning business, but I was shifting my business model without realizing it until later. ”


Photo by: Jeff Souvenir of 9L Studios @itsbigjeff


“Plan, but do not plan forever.   Do not jump blindly, talk to everyone, talk about your idea frequently, have others hold you accountable, consult professionals, but do not get stuck in planning.  Brain mapping is a fantastic exercise to clarify jumbled thoughts, and can create a map and a path, where you didn’t see one.  Sometimes brain dumping is also necessary, where you simply need to get all the thoughts in your head out, so you can begin to create a clearer plan.”

“Take steps, even if small, and keep moving forward.  Always forward.  Don’t let missteps deter you, just enjoy the path.  Most of the most beautiful paths are not straight lines.  Think of the scenery along the way, the learning and growth.”


“Transitional fear- Different from fear of change, this is tipping point fear.  Can I make my side hustle my full hustle?  Should I shift my business model from my plan to something that is more profitable or stick it out?  Athletes face this even in times of success- am I good enough?  Do I deserve this?  Or transitioning out of sport to something different, which is still okay and can be a better fit for the individual if they get out of their own head.  But transitions can be scary.””

“Get out of your head and get into the arena.  Sometimes the process has to flush itself out in real life and not on paper.”

“What is the worst that could happen?  I asked myself this frequently in the planning stages and especially before I signed away every collateral item I had to close on the theater.  And the answer is everything.  I could literally lose any property I owned, any money in savings, the relationships that needed time and energy I would not have.  Then I asked, could I bounce back from that?  Are those things important?  And I always believed that the stuff was replaceable, the people who mattered would stick through it with me, and me, the person, would survive to try something else.”

Enjoy the Journey 

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