St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership Invests in Local Start-Up SavvyCard® and St. Pete’s Hi-Tech Future

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SPDP is actively working to support and promote a high-tech corridor in downtown St. Petersburg.

In St. Petersburg, there’s the potential for something like what happened in Austin, where a combination of civic engagement, collegiate support and good culture created a booming hotspot for start-up activity.

The St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership (SPDP), a non-profit coalition of city business leaders promoting investment and redevelopment in St. Pete’s downtown, has announced that it will take a financial stake in SavvyCard, a St. Petersburg based technology start-up. The strategic investment will support SavvyCard in accelerating sales efforts for its mobile web platform and further the Partnership’s goals of building a vibrant downtown St. Pete.

“SavvyCard is the kind of company we want to see more of in St. Pete – young, dynamic, and with a big idea that could really transform the landscape,” says SPDP Chairman Rob Kapusta. Though their main efforts consist of advocacy and advising on public planning issues, the SPDP occasionally makes direct investments in local tech starts with significant potential for creating high paying jobs. A previous investment in St. Petersburg based smart-LED manufacturing start-up LumaStream, and this new investment in SavvyCard, illustrate a vision of St. Pete where hi-tech firms draw creative and technical talent to a bustling, culturally rich city center.

David Etheredge, CEO of SavvyCard, is particularly impressed with the leadership of SPDP. “One of the primary things that separate would-be technology hubs from places like San Jose and Austin is the level of civic engagement,” says Etheredge. “Many civic organizations claim to support the growth of the local tech start ecology, but in practice very little happens beyond posting a mission statement or hosting a conference. St. Petersburg is exceptional because of the number of civic leaders willing to actively spend time, money and reputational capital to nurture viable local start-ups.”

SPDP’s investment in SavvyCard reflects that dynamic ethos. Etheredge met Jeff Hearn, a board member of the SPDP, on an escalator in the 200 Central building where both of their offices are located. Etheredge mentioned that he was running a start-up next door and Hearn immediately requested and sat down for a demonstration. Within a week, Hearn brought a group of SPDP board members into the SavvyCard offices to learn more about the company for themselves. After two weeks of due diligence by the board, the deal was done.

“There aren’t many civic organizations that are engaged and nimble enough to act that quickly,” says Etheredge, who previously lived and worked in San Francisco, Boston and Austin, three of the most dynamic start-up communities in the U.S. “In St. Petersburg, there’s the potential for something like what happened in Austin, where a combination of civic engagement, collegiate support and good culture created a booming hotspot for start-up activity. SPDP is right at the heart of turning that vision into a reality.”

Kapusta believes that fostering a community that supports entrepreneurial endeavors like SavvyCard is essential to St. Petersburg’s future. "Communities that fail to get involved in supporting successful early stage start-ups run an increased risk of those companies relocating elsewhere in search of capital, talent or strategic support,” says Kapusta. “Our goal is to not only retain successful local start-ups, but to turn St. Petersburg into an attractive destination for new entrepreneurs and high tech talent.”

About St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership:
The St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership ( is a business-supported, non-profit 501 (c) 6 organization with a purpose to promote business growth and redevelopment in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida.

About SavvyCard:
SavvyCard ( is a system for quickly, easily and cost effectively building mobile web applications for marketing almost anything - people, businesses, events, real estate, charities, products and services.

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David Etheredge
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Rob Kapusta
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