Redesigned One Spark to return to Jacksonville April 6-7


Canceled last year due to Hurricane Irma, the One Spark entrepreneurial festival will return to Downtown Jacksonville April 6-7 for the first time in two years, and this time it will feature an entirely redesigned concept.

“This will be a completely re-envisioned One Spark,” said Chris Carter, president of One Spark Ventures, Inc. “It’s a combination of festival and interactive experience. We want this to be a very new look and new concept that people haven’t seen before.”

First held in 2013 as a five-day event, One Spark was originally billed as the “world’s largest crowdfunding festival” and spanned several city blocks in Downtown Jacksonville. Over the years, however, the event has evolved in shape and size, and this year, according to Carter, the self-proclaimed “idea fest” has been re-conceptualized for a more defined, focused event.

First on the list of One Spark changes will be the location of the event, which this year will be held at the new Daily’s Place amphitheater next to EverBank Field.

“We are going to create a stage within the amphitheater and just use all of the facilities in that area of the sports complex,” Carter said. “It just made sense to use this brand-new, state-of-the-art facility for the event and to be able to stage up to 150 or more creators comfortably. We think it’s a better footprint and better facilities to stage an event that will be, in our minds, more experiential than just a street festival, and that’s what we’re building towards—that’s the vision.”

To make that vision a reality, another change that will be implemented this year is the addition of five “spark zones,” which will categorize creators and their exhibits by concept.

“The zones are really focused on very specific categories that have been a part of One Spark in the past: education, healthcare, technology, social good and, the fifth zone that we’ve added and are really excited about, is what we’re calling ‘lifespark,’ which will be focused on consumer solutions,” Carter said.

According to Carter, the new spark zones will impact voting and the ways in which prizes are awarded.

“We’re going to have a voting competition in each of the zones, where those winners, based on the community’s vote, will receive a combination of prizes and sponsor packages,” he explained. “And then those five teams are going to compete again, based on the community’s vote, to determine who the top creator of the year is.”

A new competitive aspect this year will be the “Spark Tank” competition, in which teams will compete for the honor of being named “One Spark Champion of the Year.”

“It’s basically a presentation competition for teams that are selected by myself and other judges that are more investment-oriented,” Carter said. “We’ll look at the teams that are accepted in each of the five zones, and we will evaluate them based on their full application and then make an invitation for them to participate in the competition.”

Carter encouraged those interested in becoming creators to visit for more information. As for the rest of the community, he said, their participation and feedback is just as important to the One Spark experience as the creators and their exhibits.

“The community’s role in all of this is incredibly important—I can’t emphasize that enough,” he said. “There’s a huge opportunity for them to change the lives of many of the people who are going to be participating. So, I say come, sign up, participate and give your feedback, because this engagement is the whole reason this festival is put on, and I think we’ll see a completely different experience that will be as unique to Jacksonville as the original One Spark was.”