Gainesville, FL -- (SBWIRE) -- 06/13/2016 -- After receiving $2M in recent funding, emerging event marketing application Feathr has relocated to a larger commercial office space in Gainesville's Innovation Square to accommodate their growing size. Feathr partnered with commercial real estate developer Trimark Properties in their move from the Innovation Hub at the University of Florida to their customized and newly-renovated space in Innovation Square just a few blocks away.
What does Feathr do?
Feathr's co-founders Aidan Augustin and Aleksander Levental started their business four years ago with the idea of revamping outdated interpersonal networking using digital business cards instead of physical ones. From those humble beginnings, Feathr transformed into an event mobile application company, working with more than 350 conferences over the course of two and a half years. While working with such industry leaders as Reed Exhibitions and UBM, Feathr refined their vision, using their experiences in the event marketing industry to pivot into a focus on event organizers by creating an all-encompassing marketing cloud. Feathr's analytics platform helps businesses track marketing data and campaigns, enabling event coordinators to connect and engage with their audience online and on mobile devices. Event organizers each have an interactive digital profile built for smartphones that consolidates contacts and social networks. Using this interface, organizers can manage several events, share their profile and receive schedule updates. Currently, Feathr's software is used to power over 200 events in countries such as the US, Germany, Australia, and France.
Feathr was one of the first companies to move into the Florida Innovation Hub, a UF-sponsored incubator program helping startups. The Innovation Hub offers startups a vital combination of elements: office and lab space, opportunities for networking, legal guidance and marketing support. Feathr benefitted greatly from the advice and networking afforded by their stay at the Innovation Hub, an advantage that helps companies like Feathr grow.
Feathr won a SXSW competition in 2014. As a result, Capital Factory, an accelerator in Austin, Texas, offered Feathr the opportunity and funding to move to their incubator in Austin in order to continue developing their marketing cloud. Though Austin is often recognized as a stellar city that is very startup friendly, Levental and Augustin found that it lacked many of the benefits that they had taken for granted in Gainesville. The over-abundance of software companies all competing for talented hires in Austin meant increased recruiting challenges and much higher labor costs for the same talent level that they had previously hired in Gainesville. Added to this came the challenges presented by the geography and the urban sprawl; networking events and recruiting opportunities were physically more spread out. Feathr no longer had a sense of community like the one at UF's Innovation Hub in Gainesville since the University of Texas in Austin had no connection with Feathr and did little to encourage or support startups that were not home grown.
Instead of moving to another tech hub like New York or San Francisco, or even large cities in Florida such as Orlando or Miami, Feathr chose Gainesville as their place of residence in May of 2015.
"Gainesville and the University of Florida are uniquely supportive of local companies. You don't see the level of support in other cities that you see in Gainesville. In terms of recruitment, it's priceless. There are career days just for local companies; they have 'stay in the swamp'; they have many different things which encourage the top students at the University of Florida to meet local companies. UF supports this directly," explained Augustin.
Co-founders Augustin and Levental believed that the graduating talent coming from UF, combined with Gainesville's low cost of living, could be strategically beneficial to their expansion since potential employees are drawn to these conditions. The smaller number of Gainesville tech companies meant lower competition for hires and an opportunity for Feathr to develop their brand recognition.
Levental said, "It's easy to feel like Gainesville is a startup-y city, and it's easier to stand out."
Augustin and Levental were right. Since their relocation back to the Innovation Hub in 2015, Feathr has already grown from two employees to fourteen. They also reached $2M in capital investment, led by Florida Gulfshore Capital with support from partners such as the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Florida Opportunity Fund. Feathr's new financing and employee growth led them to outgrow their original space in the Innovation Hub, making the move to a more sizable workplace unavoidable.
Collaboration with Trimark Properties
In their search for a new office, Feathr wanted to stay close to Innovation Square, an area with a strong network of local startups. Innovation Square is mere walking distance to both downtown Gainesville and the University of Florida campus.
"The fact is that there's only one viable place to be a cool startup in Gainesville, and it's this two-by-two block corridor between UF and downtown. It's where Paracosm is, SharpSpring is, we are, Mobiquity is, and where MindTree is. It's a lot easier to be in a community and to know the people, to talk to each other and schedule events," said Augustin.
Feathr collaborated with Gainesville commercial real estate and Innovation Square developer, Trimark Properties, to reach a deal allowing Feathr to move into a newly-renovated office building in Innovation Square. Their new Gainesville office space is located at 102 SW 6th Street, a 1,940 square foot office that neighbors two other successful tech companies, Fracture and Starter Space.
The original building was transformed from a vanilla shell to a modern office specifically designed by Trimark Properties for Feathr. Acting as a lead developer of the Innovation Square area, Trimark renovates pre-existing commercial real estate and also adds new, modern buildings in the area.
Feathr's new office is contemporary and personalized specifically for Feathr. Trimark integrated Feathr's brand into the office design by placing the logo in a frosted glass accent on a wall in the open work area. Trimark's design team also added the blue accent color from Feathr's logo to the trim work and an accent wall. The use of glass-front walls adds some privacy without sacrificing a sense of community amongst team members working inside. The features mentioned above combine with elevated ceilings, stained concrete flooring, and exposed ductwork to create a unique and stunning effect.
Feathr was greatly attracted to these features since, "bringing employees into a nice space where they can envision themselves working makes a huge difference during recruitment" according to Augustin.
John Fleming, managing partner at Trimark Properties said, "When companies like Feathr graduate from the Florida Innovation Hub, they want a space that is going to mimic the collaborative, open, inspirational culture of the company that they are creating– a space where they can bring clients, employees, and colleagues, and be proud of where they work."
Feathr started moving into their office space last week, with co-founders Augustin and Levental expecting to reach twenty employees by 2017. Both Augustin and Levental believe that Feathr's new location central to the growing Gainesville tech startup scene will provide the best opportunity for Feathr to advance its business and further develop its software.
Feathr co-founder and CEO
Feathr co-founder and CEO