Entrepreneurs Experience Adrenalin Rush at AlligatorZone, Where Kids Meet Cool Startups

July 22, 2014

As we prepare for the 3rd session of AlligatorZone on August 9, 2014 at the Bloomingdale Regional Library, Valrico, Florida, we want to share the exciting ambiance at the AlligatorZone session.  We want to share some lessons learned, and some changes we are considering to the format as we fine-tune it further.

Let’s start off with some videos of the founders sharing their thoughts on the experience soon after the session concluded.

Here are some pictures of the event.

The AlligatorZone is held in a public library.  In the picture below the Innovation Studio is just starting to have visitors.  It’s a nice feeling to see familiar faces.  Repeat visitors in the audience indicates we are doing something right, providing something valuable to the audience.


It’s 10 a.m. on the Saturday of AlligatorZone.  We walk in to find some people already seated and all the startup entrepreneurs already present.  The show is scheduled to start at 10:15 a.m.  In the picture above, the presenting startups are testing their connections for the big screen.  We are thinking of doing away with the screen and the ubiquitous slide show, that we believe are impeding more free wheeling conversations between the startups and the kids in the audience.  The big screen is probably a distraction in this case.


By the time the session began, it was a packed house.


Here’s another view of the packed room.


More families joined us later because they had to drive an hour to get to the AlligatorZone.  See the kid in crutches?


No kidding!  These kids mean business!

Laura Doyle from the Hillsborough County Library Cooperative kindly shared comments from the audience members, gathered in the comment cards.  Read the excerpts below, edited for relevance.

  • “I feel like this is a pretty efficient way to spread the word about new businesses and I feel like this is very helpful for the presenters.”
  • “It was very interesting to learn about local entrepreneurs.”
  • “Better than I expected!
  • “It was useful.”
  • “Very educational. Excellent for adults and children.”
  • Suggestion: “Give more time for questions.”
  • “Awesome! Keep the entrepreneurial stuff coming!”

Based on the feedback in the videos and the comments from members of the audience, we are thinking of limiting each session to 2 presenters as was originally planned.  The third presenter was supposed to be on standby in our original plan.  Limiting it to 2 presenters might allow for more one-on-one time between audience members and the entrepreneurs.  We may need to revisit where the speakers stand and how they audience is seated.  The learning continues.  Thank you to everyone for their support – the library officials, the parents and families, the startups, the kids, and the media.  Look for coverage about AlligatorZone in the upcoming issue of The Bloomingdale Gazette.

If you know any startups that would be cool to present to kids, please let us know with an email sent to events [at] siliconglades [dot] com.  We have started to sign up entrepreneurs to present based on their availability, since we have started planning for regular sessions of AlligatorZone.

One more thing.  After a couple of changes, we think we have distilled what AlligatorZone is all about in its new tagline: Where Kids Meet Cool Startups!


For your convenience, here are links to previous articles about AlligatorZone

Follow AlligatorZone on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/AlligatorZone.  Join us for the next session of AlligatorZone.  Reservations are to be made at AlligatorZone.eventbrite.com.  AlligatorZone is one of several impact programs being designed at SiliconGlades.

31 Tips for Founders of Startups Talking To Families and Kids at AlligatorZone

July 7, 2014

Last weekend we released several tweets with tips on what startup founders could do or expect, and get the most out of a shot at talking to parents and kids at an AlligatorZone.  These are based on observations and lessons learned in our inaugural session last month.  There’s an incredible amount of learning going on as we start running AlligatorZone sessions.  Our goal is to develop a set of guidelines and best practices as we continue down this path of bringing startups in front of families and kids for a community interaction of symbiotic enjoyment and benefit.  Here’s a listing of the recent flurry of tweets.

  1. Expect surprises. Last session a 6th grader asks “What analytics do you capture?”
  2. Linger for 1on1 chats post-session & get more ideas
  3. Talk little, then ask crowd for ideas and #listen
  4. It’s a chance to nudge a #mom to be a #mompreneur
  5. It’s an opportunity to inspire a kid or teenager
  6. You’re seen as a contributor to the local economy
  7. Silly dance video > Showing mugshot slide
  8. Wouldn’t hurt to offer families a tour of your lab
  9. Relax, Smile. Audience is out to help, not judge you
  10. Yr next employee/intern/distributor maybe in audience
  11. Traits that help — humility, vulnerability, patience
  12. Present to be likeable & the community reciprocates
  13. Don’t assume kids/teens learned tech concept in school
  14. When kids/teens ask questions, repeat for all to hear
  15. Avoid words ‘business model’; say Here’s how I make $
  16. Between real demo and deck, prefer demo
  17. Between demo & product, prefer audience trying product
  18. It’s teaching time; show kids how you solve a problem
  19. Learn from NYC street performers near EllisIslandFerry
  20. If it’s a physical product, bring samples
  21. Kids, teens are your future consumers; they’re always right!
  22. Practice in front of kids, not mirror.
  23. Explainer videos can’t convey #founder‘s passion
  24. When audience gives ideas, ask if they’d like to be kept posted
  25. When #teens in audience suggest a new market, consider hiring them as #interns
  26. Kids seeking dad’s iphone means you stopped #storytelling
  27. Slideshow can’t replace power of conversation
  28. If kids get it, #angel #investors will.
  29. Avoid saying “raised #seed money” or explain.
  30. Avoid responding to kid’s question with another question.
  31. Avoid words like #ideation.

Follow us on http://www.twitter.com/AlligatorZone for the latest.  Bookmark and sign up at http://AlligatorZone.eventbrite.com to reserve spots and to learn of new startups in your neighborhood.  If you wish to suggest a startup, send an email to events at siliconglades dot com.

Hope to see you at the Bloomingdale Regional Library in Valrico Florida this Saturday at 10:15 a.m.  We plan to be showcasing startups every 2nd Saturday of each month at the Bloomingdale Regional Public Library in Valrico, Florida.  Look for us also in Jan Platt Library, in the near future.  We’ll also be in Sunnyvale Public Library on August 23, 2014 at 3 p.m.  Bring your children, nieces and nephews, parents and grand parents, and make it a community gathering to bring robust common-sense to startup founders, sharing perspectives that may never have occurred to them.