Innovation Hub USA



I was strolling down the beach the other day.  The tide had turned when I came upon a formerly grandiose sand castle. Before I knew it, Jimi Hendrix singing “Castles Made of Sand” was stuck in my head. I paused to see the sandcastle eventually fall into to the sea.  It was an unfortunate end to that structure – standing alone – to be gone without a trace in the rising tide.

In stark contrast, I thought more about the rising tide.  A boat stuck on a sandbar would soon be set free. Like the win-win nature of a healthy community: “A rising tide lifts all boats!”

A “Rising Tide” community creates an environment of collaboration, encouragement, and forgiveness.  

Andy Hafer - Capri island in Italy

COLLABORATION – Knowing that one single member of a community cannot accomplish as much alone as they can with others, community constituents find ways to help each other succeed and reach each other’s goals.  “The whole is much greater than the sum of the parts.”

ENCOURAGEMENT – A sports team gains home field advantage when the crowd is cheering loudly for them.  So do the members of a community.  Members should see one of their counterparts’ wins as one that helps the whole.  

FORGIVENESS – Members of a thriving early stage ecosystem are constantly taking risks.  Members should see the battle scars of valiant, but failed attempts as a badge of honor on their colleagues.  Most likely some of the innovator companies listed in this book will not be here in a year.  “Failing forward” and allowing the community to learn from it, is a virtuous trait.


A key to bringing a community together is figuring out the specific values each of the members or constituent groups bring to each other.  Once specific values are identified, the community leaders can set up communications, collaborative tools, events, and platforms to make sure all those value-laced interactions happen often and happen purposely.

I see all the individual people and elements necessary for a world-class innovation eco-system already present in Tampa Bay and Florida overall.  We are a boat on a rising tide headed for the blue water of open seas.  When we learn how to each grab our respective bow lines, pull together and in the same direction, the rest of the world will know it too.  All we need is each other.

Andy Hafer is the CEO and Founder of Dynamic Communities – an organization that supports the establishment and growth of communities.  He is also a committed energy behind Synapse – a groundbreaking platform to connect people in Florida’s early stage eco-system.   Hafer’s 30 year career in technology includes entrepreneurial start-ups, large company roles, and not-for-profits.  As past CEO of Tampa Bay Technology Forum, he saw, first-hand, the opportunities for eco-system players to collaborate together in a world class way.