Orlando entrepreneurs look to take next step together - FOX 35 News Orlando

Orlando entrepreneurs look to take next step together

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Here's a bold statement from within the city's community of entrepreneurs: Orlando can be just as good a place to start a business as Silicon Valley.

Business consultant and self-described "start-up junkie" Ron Ben-Zeev admits money won't soon flow into Orlando the way it flows into Silicon Valley, but he's part of a community that thinks wealthy  investors can be replaced by a wealth of support.  

"Less than one percent of companies in the U.S. benefit from venture capital money," Ben-Zeev said, citing research by the Kaufman Foundation, a private foundation whose mission is to foster entrepreneurship.  

The foundation funds, and Ben-Zeev helps organize, weekly 1 Million Cups events where Orlando's spirit of entrepreneurship is on display.

Each week business-minded members of the community gather to hear presentations from local entrepreneurs and offer feedback.
"Something like this is just a great opportunity to learn and speak to individuals and really pick people's brains," said Alan Adzima, a recent college graduate who recently launched a late-night snack delivery service called MidKnight Munchies on the University of Central Florida campus.  

The spirit of cooperation can be felt in Orlando's burgeoning gaming industry, too, said Kunal Patel, co-founder and president of Phyken Media.

While the industry can be "cut-throat" in other places, Patel said the city's crop of independent video gaming companies have come to rely on each other for feedback and trouble-shooting.

"We work on very hard technical problems and creative issues, too, and if we know someone else who's going down that same path or done things that we haven't we can talk to them, we can share problems, we can find solutions together," he said.

According to Patel what began as occasional meet-ups in bars has turned into weekly events.  

He said an influx of venture capital would more quickly raise Orlando's status as a premier place to start a business, but "at this point a lot of companies are starting to prove their worth, a lot are producing, they have the talent base, and now it's time to take the next step," Patel said.

Perhaps by helping each other the heads of Orlando's start-up companies will take the next step together.

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