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Clay Florida Entrepreneurial Ecosystem is Strong

Clay Florida Entrepreneurial Ecosystem is Strong

 Jacksonville Business Journal, by Jensen Werley, Jan. 9, 2017 - Full Article Here

A Jacksonville company was one of eleven selected to participate in a national investment competition for businesses creating ways to eliminate or have more sustainable usage of plastic. Weed Recede, created by Bob Hawkinson, is a patented design for mulch bags that are biodegradable and provides a protective barrier against weeds. Instead of dumping mulch out and tossing the bag, customers open the bag up and spread the mulch over the bag.

Now, Hawkinson is competing for the attention of investors at Think Beyond Plastics’ New Plastics Economy Investor Forum and Innovator Showcase on January 17 in New York. “This is a way to get investable capital to harvest solutions for plastics waste,” Hawkinson told the Business Journal. “It’s a good sized deal and a whole lot of big folks come out. It’s for products that are ready to go to market, like ourselves and others that are ready to launch. For us, it’s been a long road. There have been a lot of tech things and intellectual property to figure out.”

For Hawkinson, the presentation is a big opportunity to be on the national stage, but he’s still focused on what he can do locally. When asked what he was doing to prepare for the event, Hawkinson said he was busy planning a “Pitch in the Park” event for Clay County companies, taking place January 21st and Town Hall Park. At that event, pitchers will have two minutes to present their ideas and the audience and judges will have two minutes to ask questions.

“We’re trying to showcase North Florida as a really good place to own a business and live,” he said. “Most of us are in Clay County and started there or live there, so that was the goal.”

Hawkinson said he will use the opportunity at the Think Beyond Plastics Event, which has members from Allied Capital, the Schmidt Family Foundation and Patagonia in attendance , to further Weed Recede.

“Our goal is to get funding and help us get to market,” said Hawkinson. “We want to build out the business. We have patents in Canada and the U.S., but it’s a big industry that’s largely regional. Shipping dictates that you need regional manufacturers. Our idea is to get an investor that says “aha, we get this,’ and help us with marketing and licensing our product and getting retailers to say yes.”

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The Clay Florida Economic Development Corporation provides concierge service for companies who want to re-invest in expansion in the county or relocate their companies to the region.

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