Doorway to success

EnterCircle summit promotes spirit of entrepreneurship


Every year, the EnterCircle entrepreneur and business summit organized by the Sapna Foundation and presented at the link gets bigger and more engaging. This third year, it ran for five days rather than the usual three, the goal being to eventually get to seven.

The theme of EnterCircle 2023 was “Thrive with Purpose,” which was selected to encapsulate the central aim of its offerings: to inspire attendees in their professional and personal endeavors.

And the summit offered indispensable inspiration, but it also offered information, real insights into the processes and methods that facilitate startups and promote growth, real struggles that lead to success.

Held Tuesday through Saturday, Nov. 14-18, the summit consisted of talks, workshops, breakout sessions, panel discussions and networking.

Day one was the JVC Showdown, hosted by the Jacksonville Venture Competition network.

“JVC Showdown is an opportunity for four companies to pitch to a panel of four judges,” explained JVC Program Director Karigan Cannon. “It aligns with our mission to build a world-class startup ecosystem in Jacksonville.”

It also served as a kind of dry run for entrepreneurs who hope to pitch their ideas at JVC’s main event in March.

[To read more about the JVC Showdown, click HERE.]

Day two was the Premier Business Showcase and Awards Night. Among the offerings here was a pitch competition, not unlike that of the previous day, which summit co-organizer Raghu Misra called “the most exciting” part of the whole event.

Witnessing these presentations, one had to marvel at the ideas put forth — how inventive and focused they were — and how prepared the presenters were to answer judges’ questions. Awards according to a variety of criteria were given out later in the night.

A business expo in the main lobby of the link encouraged attendees to visit with and learn more about the many businesses that had dedicated tables there.

In addition, County Administrator Joy Andrews and Melissa Wright, director of community relations and partnership for Northeast Florida Regional STEM2 Hub, spoke to those assembled. Andrews, newly appointed to her position, took the opportunity to share some information about herself and her background.

STEM2 Hub, whose mission is to grow STEM education programs in Florida schools, was this year’s nonprofit and received proceeds from another day-two event, Cocktails for a Cause Charity Networking.

[To read more about the various activities of Day Two, click HERE.]

Day three was the Youth Symposium. Students from four high school career academies in St. Johns County had opportunities to hear from speakers on a host of topics, including some solid advice on crafting their futures. The district’s Career and Technical Education department helped arrange the students’ participation.

[To read more about the Youth Symposium, click HERE.]

Day four was Women’s Day, featuring speakers from a variety of industries and professions. The goal of this day was to offer important insights to attendees as they initiate their own entrepreneurial journeys.

[To read more about Women’s Day, click HERE.]

Day five was the Jr. Business Fair, a collaboration between the Sapna Foundation and Acton Academy Ponte Vedra. Children and youth under age 15 were given opportunities to experience the launch of their own startups.

Next year’s theme will be “Unlocking Serendipity: Courage to Create.”