Michael Laplante started his business 10 years ago out of his home in Brandon, confident he would be successful.
It didn’t quite turn out that way — at first.
"When I graduated college, I had this grand dream that I was going to go off and take over the world by making my own company and everything would be great and the money would flow in," Laplante said. "And then the reality hit. The first gig I had out of college, a guy tried to sue me, and I realized that there was a lot more to this. I was learning on the job, and I was able to network and that’s how it all got off the ground."
Laplante’s experience will prove to be a valuable lesson at Tampa Bay Startup this week. Some 3,000 entrepreneurs will converge on downtown Tampa to participate in the third annual event. Business owners and self-starters will trade knowledge on all aspects of starting a business, from social media management to recruiting and hiring.
The week-long event will feature local and big-name entrepreneurs who have learned from their mistakes, as well as their successes.
Laplante has been involved in Tampa Bay Startup Week since its inception three years ago, when Chase For Business and startup mentors Techstars dubbed it Startup Weekend in 2015.
"I was part of the original organizing team," Laplante said. "It’s an immense benefit for entrepreneurs. There’s a lot of entrepreneurial activity that’s going on here that people don’t know about or aren’t connected with, so by bringing Startup Week, we’re able to get a lot of helpful resources out to the masses."
Laplante is one of more than 200 speakers who will share their successes, failures and knowledge on how to build a business.
With more than 2,700 people preregistered, Startup Week lead organizer J.R. Griggs says they are on track to double the attendees from last year.
"We should have over 3,000 registered attendees by the time the event starts," Griggs said.
Last year’s event had about 1,500.
For entrepreneurs planning to attend, with plans to start any type of business, Laplante says come ready to learn.
"Be ready to network, because the wealth of knowledge even from an audience member at a presentation is great," Laplante says. "It’s the best networking opportunity. When else are you going to have 2,000 to 3,000 other startup professionals in the same area?"
Contact Kelsey Sunderland at [email protected]
>>IF YOU GO
Tampa Bay Startup week runs from Feb. 12-16. For more information, visit tampabay.startupweek.co.