Tallahassee techies are talking – and mobilizing – with Launch Tally initiative

From the Tallahassee Democrat

The inaugural Launch Tally Conference attracted more than 200 tech-based industry leaders, entrepreneurs and others at the Florida State’s Turnbull Center; all gathered to better understand the new effort to spotlight Tallahassee’s tech sector.

Other tech-based groups and efforts already exist. Launch Tally, according to Eddie Gonzalez Loumiet, isn’t meant to replace anything but rather to promote what’s here and serve as a launch pad to find companies and tech-based events.

Coordinators latched on to a space theme because they want Tallahassee’s tech sector to reach new heights.

Loumiet, CEO of Ruvos, an IT service company that securely handles data from laboratories, hospitals and healthcare facilities, is the face behind Launch Tally.

During the conference, he explained the concept’s evolution and how quickly it took off. Loumiet mentioned a Jan. 14 Tallahassee Democrat article that included more than 60 tech-based companies in the capital city. Two months later, the Launch Tally list has now grown to nearly 200 companies or organizations working in the local tech sector.

“If it wasn’t for that article and other articles, the podcasts and the folks going out to cover technology, during these times when there’s a lot of other news, many people here wouldn’t know what Launch Tallahassee is about,” said Loumiet, adding the coverage has led to national attention.

That, he said, helps put Tallahassee’s vibrant sector in the spotlight.

More than 14,000 residents work in the IT industry within the capital region, according to Tallahassee-Leon County Office of Economic Vitality. In addition, Tallahassee has 10% more women in tech compared to the national average.

Emily Saras, CEO at Knowli, a woman-owned data science and technology firm, said her company launched in 2009 and specializes in supporting data-driven decision making in the healthcare sector.

With 15 employees, Saras said the company is “small but mighty.” She wasn’t aware of Tallahassee’s tech scene when she first arrived in the city, and it took about five years to get plugged into the local tech sector.

Like many industries, the uphill battle is finding top talent in the capital city.

“We are trying to recruit students from FSU, FAMU and TCC, who just don’t know about the incredible and lucrative change-making jobs that exist in this town,” Saras said. “It has been a struggle to help folks know we’re not also the only opportunity. We want to make sure people know they could work for us or work with any of our partners.”

When asked about the lack of awareness of Tallahassee’s tech industry, Saras said many companies work with state agencies and institutional partners and local companies may not be as visible.

One common theme throughout the conference surrounded what’s next: Less talk. More action.

Some said momentum needs to continue and permeate through each local tech company from not only executive leadership but to every employee and intern. Other needs for future sector growth involve investment in local tech companies and keeping Launch Tally updated with fresh information.

The conference attracted a diverse mix of attendees, including college students that will soon decide whether to stay or leave Tallahassee upon graduation.

Diksha Jangra, 21, a junior at the Jim Moran School of Entrepreneurship majoring in STEM entrepreneurship, is one of them.

Her venture is Myplant, an artificially intelligent automated system that allows users to grow plants by using smart pots and sensors – essentially taking the guesswork out of watering and keeping plants alive.

At age 16, Jangra came up with the idea but didn’t know how to push it further into a marketable product until she cultivated relationships and resources as a budding student entrepreneur.

Trenton Tarala, 21, a graduating senior from Sarasota who’s majoring in commercial entrepreneurship, created a startup called Sitefina – a website development and digital marketing company that helps local communities develop brand awareness.

He’s planning to remain in Tallahassee as a result of the strong support system he’s acquired as a student and for his company.

“There’s a lot of tech coming up in this area,” Tarala said. “It’s really growing in that sector which aligns perfectly with what my company does. For me it absolutely does make sense for me to stay in Tallahassee.”

“The MagLab is here, FSU is here. FSU is the biggest research center in the United States,” Jangra said. “That basically proves we have ideas. We have scientists. The only things is that the scientists don’t always know how to interact with the entrepreneurs, and the entrepreneurs don’t know how to interact with the science side of it … We’re building a business where we can create harmony between both of those fields.”