Intrino founder and CEO Rachel Carpenter was once asked by a New York-based investor if her being based in St. Petersburg was a strategic disadvantage.
She pointed out the skilled workforce, the ease of living, and the tax incentives, as well as the fact that she could easily travel to any place in the country where she was needed.
“You should want me to be located down here,” Carpenter said in response. “It’s going to cost you less money. That shut them up pretty quickly.”
She recounted the tale at BurgBorn, an event celebrating St. Pete-based businesses on Thursday, where she was joined by several other business owners and representatives. The event, which featured panels about businesses that focused on art, tech, craft beer/food, and ones that are online, was hosted at the Mahaffey Theater.
The central theme was growth — how the companies had come to be, and where they were going. Each of the business owners were given a few minutes to talk about how their businesses had come to be, and some of the challenges that they’d faced along the way.
“Being pushed out of the local brands and having to stay local was good for us,” said Ron Petrini, the third-generation owner and CEO of the Great Bay Brewery.
Also discussed was a lack of chain stores and restaurants in St. Pete, and what local businesses had to do with that.
“Enough businesses built so quickly that the folks who look at the metrics of [where to build a new location] said ‘Let it go’,” said Mike Harting, owner of 3 Daughters Brewing. “It all happened in 14 months.”
“I could throw a stone in the air and it’ll land on a new business that’s going to open,” said Andrew Harlan, a writer and editor for both ilovetheburg.com and thatssotampa.com.
Harting announced at the event that 3 Daughters Brewing was looking to expand to Costa Rica this fall, something that BurgBorn director Olga Bof supported.
“The whole point of this exercise is that we have all of these local stores and they’re reaching dizzying heights,” Bof said. “We don’t want them to stay small.”
Pieces of advice from BurgBorn:
Rachel Carpenter, Intrinio: “You’ve got to expect you’re gonna fail 1,000 times. Just when you’re ready to give up, that’s usually when you get that deal with Microsoft.”
Joe Bardi, Marxent: “Start working on things. Whatever that is, start working on it. The world is full of overnight successes that took 10 years.
Monica Leonard, Molly’s Suds: “We reached out to a lot of companies that are non-competitors to us to find out what they’re doing. A lot of times we find that the entrepreneurs and small business owners want to help.”