Synapse 2023 Summit: Participating in the Accelerating Rate of Business Innovation

The 6th annual Synapse 2023 Summit took over the Amalie Arena in downtown Tampa this last Valentine’s Day and summoned Florida’s innovation community to “Celebrate, Discover, & Engage”. Acting as a statewide connector of Florida’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, the nonprofit SynapseFL creates opportunities, like this Summit, for entrepreneurs, investors, corporations, and talent to immerse into everything the Florida innovation community has to offer. Called the “Super Bowl of Innovation” by Brian Kornfeld, the organization’s CEO, the Summit attracted more than 6,000 attendees, 800 investors, 300 exhibitors, and 150 speakers.

Walking into a hockey stadium full of ground-breaking ideas, new business approaches, unique cross-industry applications of emerging technologies, and inspired startups is a rather energizing but daunting experience. It takes some time to allow the mind to wrap itself around all the possibilities, to realize that this all represents “the future” and it is actively happening RIGHT NOW! An observer can only be struck by how rapidly ideas are developing into startup companies and new solutions.

The Synapse Summit clearly calls attention to and spotlights the broad network of entrepreneurial support organizations and the abundance of resources that exist in communities today to help drive business growth and innovation. The event also reveals how the new business operating environment for all industries is one of an accelerating rate of change. Further, it demonstrates the need for and impact of strategic relationships between the innovation community, academia, government, and corporations to help drive the growth of economic development, jobs, and wealth creation.

Opportunities for financial advisors

With this article I would like to also build awareness for financial services leaders and financial advisors that everywhere in this country, no matter how large or small an area or region, there exists at least the beginnings of local/regional entrepreneurial ecosystems. They need to be supported; not just with money, but with participation - investments of time, mentoring, and sharing of your community networks.

Understanding and mapping out your local/regional ecosystem could be of great value to your business model and competitive offerings by pointing out new local community-supporting investment opportunities and helping your business clients plug into and participate in what may well be one of the single largest catalysts for wealth creation happening right around them. Of course, there is also the need of providing financial wealth management and business guidance through the unique cycle of startup company growth leading to liquidity events. All in all, participation can further strengthen the positioning of financial advisors as local business leaders and wealth managers for small business owners.

Synapse 2023 Summit Highlights

In a special fire-side chat, Cathie Wood CEO of ARK Invest put into context the speed of change that is happening:

The killer opportunity now is productivity. Already we are seeing coders becoming twice as efficient just within the last 6 months and we think that is going to 10x more over the next 5-10 years…The productivity gains are going to be mind-boggling…Increasing productivity - output per man hour - is also a powerful force against inflation.

If you look at the platforms around which we have centered our research - multiomics, robotics, energy storage, artificial intelligence, blockchain - those are five major platforms that involve 14 different technologies. Critical in these technologies in order for them to scale, costs have to come down. Technology follows learning curves and we use Wrights Law, a relative of Moore’s Law, for each technology to understand the rate at which costs will decline based on these new technologies.

For a few examples of that and to lay out the Law.. for every cumulative doubling in the number of industrial robots produced, costs decline at a 50% rate…Another one is in DNA sequencing. That cost decline is 40%. AI cost decline is 48%. If you combine software and hardware in AI, those combined cost declines, that annual number is roughly 70%. That is why with AI, you might think whatever solution is too expensive for your business right now but, you don’t need too many 70% cost declines per year to get to an inexpensive solution. As an example of that, chatGPT in 2020 took $4.6 million to train that model, today it takes $450,000, and by 2030 it will be $30…genome sequencing was recently under $1000 and that number this year or next year will be under $200…Think about how these cost declines are going to make new products and services a reality…That is how quickly things are changing.”

Sessions on the New Business Dynamic of Change and Opportunity

How Academia and Commerce can Create New Markets – explored how university research models continue to spawn commercial innovations through tech transfer and research partnerships despite complex cultural differences - with Florida Polytechnic University.

The Business Case for Web3 Adoption - Web3 is unlocking new possibilities for businesses to be more impactful by harnessing the power of blockchain technology and decentralized networks to create specific economic ecosystems that support entire client communities.

The Disruption of Generative AI - provided insight into the current state of the AI-driven generative process, its potential implications, and insight on future trends. Session explored how cutting-edge technology is transforming the way we think, create, and innovate - with Beth Harrison, Digital Experiences Director of the Dali Museum and Tim Moore, CEO of Vu – a virtual production studio.

Banking on the Future: How Fintech is Revolutionizing Financial Services - many banks are partnering with FinTechs to leverage their technology and offer cutting-edge solutions to their clients but it’s not without its challenges. Discussions explored solutions that are making these collaborations smoother and what to expect as a result of these partnerships - with Jeffrey Hunt, Sr. Managing Director, Skyway Capital Markets and Brian Alvarez-Bailey CEO of Allison – a startup that connects Fintechs and Community Banks via a visual API builder and helps them Launch Fintech products and services without writing a lot of code.

Interesting Startups

Husain Jaffer, Founder, ROI Finder - created by a real estate agent and investor for real estate investors to help them not only locate but analyze investments. ROI Finder was designed to be an easy platform to find an investment property – whether a rental property or a flip – and gives you the ability to calculate your returns instantaneously.

Aly Slahetka, Founder & COO, Flexsible - a software development agency with a focus on emerging technologies such as blockchain, smart contracts, AI/Machine Learning, IOT, mobile app development, creating applications that serve as entrepreneurial solutions for companies in a cross-section of industries interested in exploring this space and improve their client’s experience.

Ralph Lehnert, CEO, Bytient – billed as the only platform leveraging forensic intelligence and predictive analytics to get hundreds of data points on your potential buyers/prospects, competitors, partners, and even entire entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Juan Manuel Barrero, CEO of Lazo – A startup for VC-backed startups offering an outsourced financial, tax and legal solution that provides information in a timely manner, ready to be shared with investors, that ensures startups are always investment-ready and prepared for their next funding round.

Education to Keep Up with Change and Opportunity

Another thing I found interesting, as I was pondering how we can keep pace with the accelerating rates of change happening around us, was the number of different educational and training efforts out there trying to help people of all ages, especially young children and high school students, to learn how to participate with science, technology, financial literacy, and business:

Danielle Cannon, Executive Director, Tampa’s Children’s Business Fair and The Kidpreneur Club – a non-profit empowering the next generation of entrepreneurs aged 6 – 16 to develop a brand, create a product or service, build a marketing strategy, plan the cost of goods and pricing, and then open for customers at their business fairs.

Mac Gardner, Founder and Chief Education Officer, FinLit Tech - a certified financial planner practitioner building a bridge between financial literacy and financial technology by creating the tools and resources to bring financial knowledge to more people across all ages. This effort includes his Four Money Bears #FunancialLiteracy Game and book for young children teaching financial literacy and entrepreneurial skills.

Robyn Mussler, President, Chief Problem Solver, Connect-IT - considered the “shark tank” for students, their Award-winning “Next Gen Tech 360” program is a technology startup program fostering innovation and enabling high school students to develop skills to succeed in the fast-paced world of tech.

Kevin J. Ruth, Founder, Finance411 – a financial education gamification platform developed for high school students to learn the basic financial literacy skills necessary to make informed financial decisions around budgeting, saving, investing, and borrowing. Platform includes an educational app and an online financial literacy game students play against each other in a national competition to earn scholarship money.

Anthony Hughes, CEO, Tech Elevator – a leader in the coding bootcamp industry guides people with zero coding experience through their full-stack software development training, career coaching and placement program. They also conduct reskilling training for workforce and community development efforts including offering scholarships to historically underrepresented groups creating greater accessibility to careers in technology.

Stefano Selorio, CEO, Carevocacy - helps seniors learn about technology through live online classes and personal mentoring. They host these sessions one-on-one or in a group setting helping seniors stay social, connected, and learn new tech skills.

Final Comments

I highly recommend that all corporations and business leaders seek out their local/regional entrepreneurial ecosystems in their area. Witnessing the behind-the-scenes mechanics of modern-day business innovation and learning how to participate can be a very motivating catalyst for all business owners. In today’s business environment of accelerating change, it is essential to develop a greater practical understanding of the need to tap into this new mindset and dynamic of business innovation.

Related: Future-Proofing RIAs With a New Productivity Toolkit

The Institute for Innovation Development is an educational and business development catalyst for growth-oriented financial advisors and financial services firms determined to lead their businesses in an operating environment of accelerating business and cultural change. We operate as a business innovation platform and educational resource with FinTech and financial services firm members to openly share their unique perspectives and activities. The goal is to build awareness and stimulate open thought leadership discussions on new or evolving industry approaches and thinking to facilitate next-generation growth, differentiation and unique community engagement strategies. The institute was launched with the support and foresight of our founding sponsors — Ultimus Fund Solutions, NASDAQ, FLX Networks, TIFIN, Advisorpedia, Pershing, Fidelity, Voya Financial and Charter Financial Publishing (publisher of Financial Advisor and Private Wealth magazines).