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Florida TechMatch is coming to Orlando in January of 2016, paving the way for local tech companies to build relationships and contracts with national industry leaders. In its inaugural year FL TechMatch will focus on establishing connections between 50 nationally established companies and 75 local businesses. Companies such as Verizon, Lynx, UPS, NBC/Universal, Siemens, and the Florida Hospital have been invited to participate in January’s FL TechMatch, along with a myriad of other established firms.

FL TechMatch is geared towards local tech firms whose business relies heavily on business-to-business interaction, and stand to gain the most out of new connections, and contracts. Firms often fall behind in sales and marketing, while continuing to drive innovation. FL TechMatch offers those firms a foot in the door with large companies, and the possibility for new business.

FL TechMatch is not a trade show, nor is it a networking event. It is a matchmaking event where the primary goal is to establish mutually beneficial contracts between local businesses and bigger firms. The FL TechMatch format requires that applicant businesses share metrics such as  revenues and sales volumes in order to expedite the discovery process between the two types of businesses, large and local. With the applicant information readily available, the established companies can review data and learn about the local firms prior to the event, and target the firms that most appeal to them.

The companies then meet face to face during the FL TechMatch event  where they are given 15 minutes to talk shop. If you are interested in applying to participate in FL TechMatch, click here.

Carlos Carbonell, CEO of Echo Interaction Group and President of OrlandoTech Association, is chairing the event. Here’s what he had to say:

FF: When did you first have the idea to set something like FL TechMatch up?

CC: I have a passion for connecting people, connecting companies and for seeing people and companies succeed. It brings me great satisfaction to see my community grow and thrive.

I’ve gone to matchmaking events before, specifically ones for minority owned businesses trying to do business with larger enterprises, as well as matchmaking events for government agencies looking to do business with small businesses. I’ve seen how successful those events are and how they help small business to get hired by large entities they wouldn’t normally be able to connect with. The right contract can transform small businesses.

Understanding the networking format, and knowing that the tech community is comfortable with pitching in short time frames, this type of event seemed like it would be a good format to draw from.

And how were you able to organize the event?

I went to Orange County Mayor’s office of Economic Development, and Eric Ushkowitz (Orange County Economic Development Administrator) considered it a good idea to present to the mayor. The Mayor and her staff decided to help and proposed that the matchmaking event immediately following their well-attended Economic Summit.

With their help, we secured a venue, marketing assistance, and sponsors. The event could then be free for both buyers and vendors – which is seldom the case with these types of events.

I enlisted the help of the Orlando Tech Association, Orlando Trep, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Canvs and other organizations I already have good relationships with. We assembled a committee which has been meeting weekly for a couple of months.

Thanks to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, we connected with Leyla Eagle at Diverse Strategic Alliances (a business development firm) who coordinates these types of matchmaking events for various organizations, and who has contacts in major brands and organizations throughout the country.

Why is this sort of event important for Orlando?   

We have to continue to make sure that we nurture an ecosystem where it is easy for digital media and tech companies to do business with large, established, companies. We have to develop connections between those two groups.

Do you intend on FL TechMatch to be a recurring, yearly, event?

It would be great to have this event grow beyond our region to attract small businesses from the whole state, so that we can collectively showcase our region as a technology hub. If Central Florida is seen as the place where we have innovative events that make it easier for tech companies to do business, we can attract participating companies from South, West, and North Florida to move here. Hopefully this does become a recurring event.

Leading up to the event, what kind of feedback have you been receiving from the participating companies and your peers?

It has not been easy to convince small tech businesses to attend and we are having to do a lot of work to get people to apply. Hundreds of emails and calls have been made. Since this isn’t a typical way to do business in the tech community, the companies are not readily applying, but we are hopeful that we will reach our goal of 75 small business vendors and 50 large enterprise buyers.

It’s a chicken and egg situation. The large enterprise buyers need to know that there are enough viable tech and digital small businesses in Orlando to do business with before they commit 100%. Similarly, some small businesses want to know who will be there buying. We cannot disseminate a final list of attendees until the small businesses commit. So as of now, we have dozens of small businesses who have applied and dozens of large enterprises invited (with many committed).

What do you hope to see out of the event? Your ideal vision.

My ideal vision is for the digital media and tech community to incorporate yet another method of doing business into their marketing and business development processes. I’d like to see dozens of companies garner attention, get contracts, find buyers, and possibly start conversations about acquisition with some of the industry giants who may be in attendance.

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