Along with tremendous growth in downtown Jacksonville’s start-up community, the First Coast is becoming a hub for tech incubators who recognize the necessities of living in an app-based world.
Jeremy Vaughn and Mike Potts are the principals of feature, a software consulting company with plans to set up shop in a historic downtown office building.
Vaughan and Potts shared their latest developments with Melissa Ross during this week's Tech Tuesday segment on First Coast Connect.
“We’re focused on helping small and growing firms in their technology needs,” said Potts of feature.
The team is relocating their software expertise from St. Augustine to downtown Jacksonville’s historic Greenleaf Building, where they will introduce a new model for tech innovation dubbed “The Factory.”
“The Factory is what we’re referring to as a venture technology lab," Vaughn said. "We’re focused on the open innovation platform to work with startups and help them through the beginning phases of launching a product or idea.”
The move comes at a time when the opportunities for tech innovators in Jacksonville are greater than ever.
“The momentum seems to have stuck. People aren’t waiting any longer,” said Potts. “They want a part of it.”
In light of the growing activity in the technology sector, Vaughn and Potts weighed in on Jacksonville’s potential to become like Silicon Valley, and highlighted the local flavor that the city brings to its tech start-ups.
“There’s always a contingency that says, ‘How did Austin do it? How did Silicon Valley do it?’” noted Potts. “I think, consistent with Jacksonville’s roots, people are saying ‘Who cares? Let’s do it the way Jacksonville will do it.’”
They aren't going at it alone, either.
Vaughn and Potts are working to strengthen the tech network by teaming up with the University of North Florida's engineering and innovation departments. Vaughn says they want to help students bridge the gap between classroom experience and current technological demands.
Both Vaughn and Potts agree that the team behind an idea is what attracts them to invest. They want to see the dedication to go all-in on a venture, a risk that more and more tech-entrepreneurs might be taking in the years to come.
You can find out more about feature and The Factory at feature23.com.
You can follow Melissa Ross on Twitter @MelissainJax.
WJCT News intern Aaron Badida (@aaronbadida) contributed to this report.