1. News

Young St. Petersburg entrepreneur orchestrates a growing business

Lauren Davenport and her dog, Bella.
Published Jul. 27, 2016


You could say that the entrepreneur in Lauren Davenport began to emerge in middle school.

For 25 cents an item, she would iron clothes for her mother and some of the people in her neighborhood, all for the love of shoes.

"I definitely had the most shoes out of everyone in school," she said. "It was fantastic."

Davenport, 27, still likes shoes — more than 50 pairs, at last count. And as founder and CEO of a rapidly expanding digital marketing company in St. Petersburg, she can afford them.

Her Symphoni Media has more than 25 employees and a wide client base that includes companies such as Marriott, American Strategic Insurance, Bryant Heating and Cooling Systems, and Tampa Steel and Supply.

The St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce named Davenport a finalist for its Entrepreneur Iconic Woman of the Year award in 2014.

The next year, the Business Observer, a weekly magazine for business leaders from Tampa Bay to Naples, named her one of its "40 under 40" bright, young entrepreneurs to watch. She was the youngest person on the list.

Davenport said she chose the name Symphoni Media because she likes to compare her agency to an orchestra, where everyone works together "to create something beautiful."

Davenport got her start in public relations in Nashville, her hometown.

While studying journalism at Middle Tennessee State University in nearby Murfreesboro, she began handling social media for the bar where she worked. Soon she was editing code and HTML for 15 businesses.

"I knew I would always be 'the college kid' if I stayed there," Davenport said. "So to continue my business, I had to move."

She looked for a city with at least 200,000 people and more small businesses than corporations. St. Petersburg fit the bill, she said, and "it has a beach."

Three days after arriving in 2011, Davenport took her dog out after a night with friends and tripped over another dog named Chance. It was a propitious encounter.

"I knew right then I wanted to marry her," said Chance's owner, Daniel Fernandez.

Their first date was skydiving.

"I had to set the bar as high as possible, and I did at 14,000 feet," Fernandez said.

Davenport started Symphoni Media with four interns in an office on Central Avenue in downtown St. Petersburg.

Her staff includes her husband as chief marketing officer and her father, Chris Davenport, as president and chief operating officer.

Her father, who flies back and forth from Nashville, handles human resources and legal issues and helps oversee operations. He is also a global security consultant for IBM.

Before marrying Davenport and joining her company, Fernandez was director of marketing at Florida Hospital Orlando.

He studied Davenport's goals and realized they were passionate about the same things.

In a small-business setting, being married to the boss can be tricky for the couple and uncomfortable for employees.

"They are a power couple, and they work well together," said Tyler Killette, who was a content creator there for seven months in 2014 and 2015. "It isn't awkward."

With a growing staff came the need for a bigger office. Symphoni Media now works in 7,000-square-foot quarters in an office park off Roosevelt Boulevard.

The new office has a common area, projectors, Mario Kart video games, computers and a quiet room.

It is also dog-friendly. Davenport's dog Bella is around almost every day.

Marla Korenich is a student reporter at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.


  1. Paul Skalnik in a 1987 Pinellas County Sheriff's Office booking mug. He played a pivotal rule in the death row sentences of multiple inmates.
    From the archives: The Tampa Bay Times has covered Paul Skalnik, the subject of ProPublica and New York Times story, since 1987.
  2. St. Petersburg police said they arrested Jesse Millis-Dwyer after Homeland Security detected him uploading a sexually explicit photo of a 12-year-old girl to a Russian photo-sharing site. St. Pete
    Police said he uploaded photo to Russian picture-sharing site
  3. This photo taken from video provided by WEAR-TV shows emergency responders near the Naval Air Base Station in Pensacola, Fla., Friday, Dec. 6, 2019.  The US Navy is confirming that an active shooter and one other person are dead after gunfire at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola. Area hospital representatives tell The Associated Press that at least 11 people were hospitalized. The base remains locked down amid a huge law enforcement response.   (WEAR-TV via AP) AP
    Family members on Saturday identified one of the victims as a 23-year-old recent graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who alerted first responders to where the shooter was even after he had been shot...
  4. Lawanda Ravoira, DPA, president & CEO, Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center, said girls are subject to an alarming rate of violence and bullying and are not getting the help they need from counseling and other social services. CHRISTOPHER O'DONNELL  |  Times
    Leader of Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center comes to Tampa to warn of “unchecked crisis” of violence and victimization of middle and high school girls.
  5. This rendering shows Scientology's proposed L. Ron Hubbard Hall, a 3,600-seat auditorium with an all-glass facade at the corner of Garden Avenue and Court Street in downtown Clearwater. [Courtesy City of Clearwater]
    Plans for L. Ron Hubbard Hall go back 26 years. If constructed, it would have more seats than Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall.
  6. Classic Reflections Carriages is offering carriage rides starting at 6 p.m. Dec. 19-21 throughout downtown Brooksville. Reservations are made in person on each event date, starting at 4 p.m., in front of the historic courthouse. Brooksville Main Street
    Holiday events in Pasco and Hernando counties
  7. A huge number of homes owned by Baby Boomers will sell in the next 20 years. How will the trend affect the Florida housing market? CAMERON GILLIE  |  NAPLES DAILY NEWS
    The enormous generation born between 1946 and 1964 owns about 40 percent of the homes across the country.
  8. A Brinks security guard was shot during a robbery attempt at a GTE Financial credit union in Brandon Friday morning. TONY MARRERO  |  Times
    Deputies thought they had the suspect pinned down at the Bridgeport Apartments, but he fled.
  9. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. Tampa Bay Times
    The motorcycle was headed south on Dale Mabry, while the northbound bus was making a turn.
  10. Police are seen outside a home at 5342 22nd Ave. N Friday in St. Petersburg. Stanley Jones, inset, is accused of stabbing two women at 22nd Avenue North and 53rd Street. One woman died from her injuries and the other was hospitalized. [URSO, CHRIS | Tampa Bay Times] CHRIS URSO | Times; St. Petersburg Police Department
    Police arrested Stanley Jones just after the stabbing Friday on 22nd Avenue N.