Until about five months ago, Rob Strandberg was a bored semi-retired tech executive living in Central Florida, and his golf game wasn’t improving either. His three kids were off on their own and the public companies he had been a director of had been sold. “I realized I wanted to get back into the business of helping tech companies,” he said.
That’s why the job at the helm of the nonprofit Enterprise Development Corporation of South Florida was appealing to this former CEO of several tech companies. EDC’s mission: to dramatically improve the chance for success of science and technology start-ups in Palm Beach, Broward and Dade counties by offering a wide range of valuable services.
“I have learned the hard way what does and doesn’t work and I hope to provide the type of advice and assistance I wish I had received early in my career,” said Strandberg, who started as president and CEO of the EDC in May.
The Miami Herald met with Strandberg at the C. Scott Ellington Technology Business Incubator in Boca Raton, which the EDC manages, and followed up with questions by email.
Q. What are your top goals for the EDC?
A. Our primary goal is creating successful enterprises, and in doing so, create high value jobs. To do this, we are quickly expanding the services we offer and, most importantly, the quality of these services — whether it is providing advice from strong, experienced mentors to providing broader access to business services such as legal, financial/accounting, marketing/sales, go-to-market strategies and, most importantly, provide actual assistance in fund-raising.
Q. More broadly, why does South Florida need an EDC?
A. My first answer is an easy one: In this current economic climate, any successful efforts by the EDC are more important than ever. A consequence of this prolonged recession is that there has been a creation of a whole wave of experienced technology entrepreneurs. And this avalanche of talent thankfully has occurred more or less simultaneously with the emergence of numerous exciting technologies that promise to change our lives in many extraordinary ways. The endless opportunities created by social media, mobile/wireless technologies, accelerating medical breakthroughs, big data apps, cloud computing, web enabled commerce, etc., etc., etc, is occurring exactly when our economy could really use the economic jolt from start-ups — This is why EDC is needed. We know we can help many, many entrepreneurs succeed and grow despite these challenging times; full stop.
Q. What are the key benefits for the entrepreneur who is accepted into the Technology Business Incubator?
A. First, we try to help all entrepreneurs, whether they are a tenant in one of our locations or what we call a “virtual tenant” — those that still work from their own location. We are certainly building our core capabilities but believe we are well on our way in offering the quality of broad, customized assistance that many entrepreneurs would be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. I could go on about all the typical benefits of incubators, but the one that I have found most important has been the networking we can provide. We may not be able to always give the specific advice or help an entrepreneur may exactly need, but we can sure make some great introductions with people who can.