6 Tastemakers to Watch
Meet These Rising Stars Working to Set Our Cultural and Business Agendas in the Year to Come.
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Brett Diamond, 23
This visionary sees a Southwest Florida where youth and innovation are changing the landscape.
Brett Diamond has a message for all the bright, young minds of Southwest Florida: Don’t go anywhere. As the co-founder of co-working concept Venture X, Diamond believes the future is now for upcoming entrepreneurs. He’d like to see Southwest Florida follow the lead of places such as Boulder, Colo., where the tech scene has outpaced the tourism scene, turning the sleepy college town into an incubator for innovation.
“I would love to see more tech companies built here and stay here,” says Diamond, who graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University in May. “That’s what all the big cities have now.”
He doesn’t believe it’s impossible, either. Located at the Mercato in Naples, Venture X operates on the premise that collaboration nurtures creativity, courting clients who previously worked at home, in coffee shops or even in corporate space. Many of these members are small, individual business owners who may benefit from the networking offered at Venture X, where they rent furnished office space to work, hold client meetings and more.
Since opening in October, Venture X has added members from a range of professions, including marketing, insurance and the legal field. Diamond says the average age of these members is 35. Every economy needs a younger crowd to survive.”
Southwest Florida also offers these younger businesspeople a chance to learn from residents who may have walked the same path before them, tapping into a brain trust of entrepreneurs who have retired to the area. Diamond calls this the partnership of “older wisdom and young energy.”
That energy was on display almost immediately after Venture X opened its doors. The company held a competition where entrepreneurs raced to come up with a new startup business idea in just 48 hours. Organizers didn’t know what to expect, but were astonished when 25 participants registered for the event.
At the end of the event, the winner of the challenge had a working prototype, a smart doorbell called “Chime” that allows users to know when someone is at their front door when they’re away from home. Such ingenuity is what Diamond aims to continue to foster at Venture X.
He hopes Southwest Florida will join him.
“In order to be a great city, the community as a whole has to want to change,” he says. “We need support from the local government to bring in start ups and push forward.”