Diane Court, Orlando Chapter Director of Startup Grind, details an important thread in the Orlando community and how abandoning silos makes the region’s tech ecosystem unique.
The Orlando innovation ecosystem is rich with high-caliber tech talent and boundary-pushing entrepreneurs. In an effort to foster a more connected community, the Orlando Tech Council presents “Profiles in Tech,” a new series highlighting the region’s top executives, innovators and movers and shakers whose ideas and companies are changing the world right from our own backyard.
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This week’s Orlando Profiles in Tech features Diane Court, Orlando Chapter Director of Startup Grind. She details an important thread in the Orlando community and how abandoning silos makes the region’s tech ecosystem unique.
Have you experienced an “only in Orlando” moment? If so, what was it?
While not a singular moment, the way our community comes together is a common thread that ties itself to important moments in the community. At one end of the spectrum, it showed after Pulse as the One Orlando movement was palpable and visible everywhere – the rainbow lights on buildings downtown and the throng of people in front of the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts. And at the joyful end of the spectrum, the vibrant life that has filled downtown including Immerse – Cirque performers, dinners, orchestras, ballet, jazz, visual art, poetry, and technology like a river of creativity. Our diversity honored in unity.
What brought you to the Orlando region? What’s kept you here?
My husband was a freelance director and technical director. His job brought us here as he worked on some gameshows for MGM and then on the run of the Mickey Mouse Club production in the early nineties. Raising our family here was wonderful – great schools, a hop to the airport, and the many faces of nature in Florida so close to home. What really kept me here after the kids left the nest? Diving into the creative, tech and entrepreneurial communities and growing roots here with people who are giving so much to grow a community ever richer in opportunities.
What makes Orlando the right place for your business? How does being in Orlando contribute to your business success or personal growth?
The past 10 years have been an extraordinary period of exploration and growth for me, both personally and professionally. I can’t imagine this time without the supportive connections offered and made across disciplines – the arts, the tech-centered organizations, community and civic groups. I’ve been blessed to meet Orlando at its best, where “How can I help you?” is asked wholeheartedly and the opportunity to create collaboratively is a cultural feature. It’s been at the core of everything I’ve been part of building ever since I dove in.
What makes the Orlando tech ecosystem unique?
For one thing, our tech ecosystem is rediscovering itself, who we are, how diverse we are, and the common interest we all have to leave our silos and come together. I think what makes us unique is the way we are growing now: connecting across the technologies with history here (space, simulation and training), entertainment technologies, optics and photonics, and the newer clusters that have taken root – healthcare, financial tech, XR and gaming. Especially exciting is that we’re not only engaging across industries, we’re pulling in from the grassroots and the edges as well as established organizations. That is how we’ll map the vibrant hub of innovation in Orlando. The Orlando Tech Council has been instrumental in activating this awakening.
What‘s one thing you wish Orlando had? What will it take to make that a reality?
A connected public transportation system would be transformational. For that we need time, capital, and political will. With that said, the sustainability initiatives of the city around infrastructure and transportation are exciting and are taking critical steps toward making Orlando a model for other cities with considerably more resources.
If you had to describe to an out-of-town friend what it’s like to live, work, learn and play in Orlando, what would you say?
There are few places in the world when you can do all those (live, work, learn and play) things at once. Orlando is one of them.
The Orlando Tech Council is composed of private industry, resource organizations and public partners that work to develop new programs with the core objectives: strengthen the Orlando region’s innovation resources, create new opportunities for companies to scale, and to amplify the region’s success stories, raising the global profile of Orlando as a leading community for entrepreneurship and innovation.