If you have attended any recent tech event in Orlando – or elsewhere, really – you probably ran into Joel Martin, the energetic hype man championing some of Orlando’s more interesting small tech businesses.
The full-time business adviser considers himself a skilled connector of dots.
Martin has worked with some of Orlando’s coolest tech companies.
NuEyes, 302 Interactive, CodeFirm and Talon Simulations.
Each of these companies has been growing and each has been promoted by Martin’s enthusiastic voice.
The flashpoint for this work started when Martin arrived in Orlando, looking for community.
“I moved to Orlando 10 years ago looking for a sense of belonging,” he said. “I immediately found that in the Orlando Gamespace.”
The Orlando Gamespace is an incubator-like community space that started as a coworking area for video game-related companies.
Ever since, however, it has focused on any sort of tech-related business or service.
For Martin, it’s where he met a number of partners that he continues to hype.
“This is an amazing ecosystem,” he said. “I found my tribe in the startup community here. I truly believe Orlando is one of the best places where to start a business right now.”
Orlando Tech News sat down with Martin to talk about his career and Orlando’s tech ecosystem.
What attracted you to the Orlando Gaming Community?
My grandfather imported and distributed the Atari 2600 to several Latin American countries. So, as a kid, I had every system you could imagine at an early age and became a collector. Famicom. Intellivision. ColecoVision. You name it, I’ve played it.
When I first met the startup community in Orlando, I naturally gravitated towards the gamers. I quickly became an evangelist, promoting the work of NuEyes, Talon Simulations, and 302 Interactive.
What does a business tech advisor do?
Most of the projects I have worked on in the last ten years have been with boards or business owners who need an outside advisor to help the company build internal alignment of all resources within the organization that relates to generating revenue.
In some cases, I become a coach. Every company story is different so there is no one type of situation where you can give advice. There are a lot of success stories that started as hobbies or where the owner wasn’t interested in profitability, but at some point employees and investors want to know if there is an exit strategy. Gaming is fun, but if you don’t create value what is the point of running a business?
How does the process work?
It starts with a lot of questions. You want to make sure you can bring value to the table. I’ve taken on some projects full time and even took a job selling custom app software for a year so I could learn about the space.
If the board or the CEO has a scope of work laid out my role might be advising only on strategy or media sales. I’ve had companies that hired me to advise on media and then decided to have me help run their experiential or events team since they did not have someone experienced in that area.
COVID, however, changed the way many people worked. I found myself giving a lot of sales coaching. Looking at the process itself within sales organizations. I would sit and help the company pivot or identify and deliver new revenue opportunities.
What are some of the bigger changes in the market you have seen?
The reality is you can’t buy a Rolodex these days. If you are going to create relationship-minded salespeople, you can’t fire your sales team every five months. They have to be trained, retrained, and believe in what they are selling. This is the key to success these days.
What are some memorable situations you’ve encountered?
Many of my best stories come from mistakes. They have led to bigger jobs and bigger opportunities. When I met with the team at Swiftmile in San Carlos, I showed several slides on companies I worked with and why they closed or failed. My presentation was basically that failure is a business MBA in and of itself. It was a learning lesson or showed me how to pivot quickly to minimize risks as much as possible.
The President loved it and told me that everyone who came to visit them only talked about how great they were. I was the only one who presented a list of companies that closed and what I learned. The executive team loved that and I joined the advisory team.
What is it about Orlando that drew you?
This is an amazing ecosystem. I found my tribe in the startup community here. Everyone visits Orlando, plus this is one of the few cities in the world where you can go to two major trade shows in a week. Only Vegas or New York has that level of connectivity.
I truly believe Orlando is one of the best places to start a business right now.