If you don’t live in Sarasota, Florida, it might surprise you that in 2015 the real estate blog Movoto named this seemingly sleepy little city by the Gulf the second “nerdiest” city in the U.S. For those of us who live and work here, however, this was no surprise at all. We’ve been wondering when the world was going to start figuring it out.
Long the butt of jokes for its seasonal migration of polyester-clad snowbirds, towering condos, and waterfront McMansions, there is a side to Sarasota that outsiders don’t usually see. The town has a high-tech, cutting-edge pulse fueled by another yearly movement of people: Sarasota’s Ringling College graduation. Every May, Sarasota turns out hundreds of the most talented computer animation and graphic design students in the country. And yes, Ringling College was founded by the same family of Ringling Bros. circus fame. The school is basically a nerd incubator that also happens to be well-steeped in circus attitudes.
Sarasota: a high-tech circus
So now that you have some idea of the origins of Sarasota’s nerdiness, let’s dive headfirst into Sarasota’s nerd culture. A good place to start is right here at Blink;Tech headquarters, which is located smack dab in the center ring of the high-tech circus, the third floor of the HuB building in downtown Sarasota. It may look like every other office building in town, but this is a nerd nirvana where websites are launched, YouTube videos are produced, and crazy ideas are hatched. As a nerd business incubator and shared workspace, the HuB is filled with the smell of coffee, the clacking of computer keys, and the buzz of collaboration. It is the kind of place where you could be meeting with an important client in the glass-fronted conference room and see someone in a gorilla suit go by on a skateboard (true story). There is even a reality television series in the making about the place we work.
Although Blink;Tech has been in business for more than a decade, this is the ideal space for us since we work so closely with startups. Our own culture is to always consider ourselves a startup, because it is in that headspace where you are most open to new ideas and are able to not just identify, but solve the problems that a business more settled into routines will often miss. Not only can we serve our clients better with this nerdy approach, but we (and they) also have more fun.
Now that our secret’s out…
The cat is definitely out of the bag about Sarasota’s underground nerd world, and one of the biggest indicators is Aloft hotels’ choice to open a new location right in the heart of downtown. The chain’s modern, techie appeal and spirit of high-energy, anything-goes travel may go against that retirement villa image so often associated with Sarasota, but those of us in the know are ecstatic that Aloft recognized our city’s place among cool, nerdy, tech-savvy cities.
Blink;Tech is extremely proud to be based out of Sarasota, FL. Living and working in this nutty, nerdy, circus-y beach town keeps our minds fresh with new ideas and our energy levels high. The only thing we feel Movoto got wrong was not making Sarasota number one.