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A business having increased traffic by hundreds of people sounds like a very profitable day. But what does mean when the increase is due to a crowd-funding festival?

Beginning April 9, One Spark will have more than 70 businesses and organizations hosting as venues for 600 plus creators.

Visitors will explore One Spark, hopping from one venue to another. They will track in dirt and possibly leave behind trash with their primary focus being on the creator projects, not the hosting establishment. Why would a venue subject itself to such abuse? What’s the draw?

A lot of venue representatives said they loved the traffic from last year.

Mike Miller, the business development manager of Jacksonville Transportation Authority, said his company has a venue at two different skyway stops. Last year, JTA participated and provided free skyway service for the entire event. It received 45,000 riders on the system.

“It was phenomenal,” said Miller. “It was the second busiest event next to the Super Bowl.”

Sylvia Zarou of Adam Street Deli and Grill said she is very excited for One Spark because she anticipates heavy traffic. This is Adam Street’s first time as a venue and last year’s turnout prompted the restaurant to open its doors for this year’s festival.

Many of the venue owners are entrepreneurs themselves and want to support others with similar mindsets.

Newly opened Downtown Cigar Lounge will be a venue for the first time. Co-owner Troy McNair said he wants to bring brilliant minds together and help young people create their dreams.

“We’re all entrepreneurs and it’s so important to help infuse entrepreneurs,” McNair said.

The owner of Icon Boutique, David Lofton, said, “It’s important to help others get their craft out, especially if that craft can become a business.”

Natural As I Wanna Be is a new spa and storefront with a unique story. The store sells …   More

One Spark


Casa Dora Italian Café has served Jacksonville with well-loved Italian entrées for 17 years.

“We have authentic homemade Italian meals, the best New York-style pizza in the city, special sauces,” joint operator Freddie Ghobad said. “We’re the best. What more do you need to know?”

And now Casa Dora is serving more than food as it opens its doors to One Spark creators looking for a venue. Ghobad said Casa Dora plays a huge part in bringing culture to downtown.

“What can be better than the sound of good blues music, the happenings at the Florida Theatre, topped off by the best Italian food in town?” Ghobad said.

The restaurant is located next to The Florida Theatre, where people enjoy food at the café before heading to the theatre.

This story was reported by Ignite Media, an independent news bureau created by University of North Florida students.   More


The opportunities One Spark offers small businesses and entrepreneurs help support an innovative Florida economy. As such, One Spark has received the support of one of the state’s innovation incubators.

“This (One Spark) is huge for Florida,” said Florida Next Foundation President Ned Pope. “It’s an opportunity to differentiate ourselves as a state that embraces innovation of all kind.”

Pope, in Jacksonville last week for One Spark’s announcement of its expansion to Berlin, will be curating a venue through Tampa-based Florida Next for One Spark. The foundation’s venue of 30-plus creators will span the sixth floor of the SunTrust building.

Florida Next is one of some six curators who, unlike most other venues, do not own or rent the physical space but have stepped forward to organize a group of creators, mapping out the location and overseeing the venue. Most curators have selected creators who dovetail with their interests.

The foundation is a non-profit organization that focuses on inspiring a creative, progressive group of business leaders in the state. The Tampa-based group was founded in 2011 with the goal of stimulating Florida’s job growth in the entrepreneurial sector, along with encouraging development of the small business economy.

And that sector of the state’s business community isn’t small. According to a study conducted in 2009 by the Small Business Administration, there was a total of 2 million small businesses in Florida, which accounted for 98.9 percent of employers and created 2.9 million jobs

Florida Next organizers hope to boost those numbers even more by working with innovative businesses, such as the technology industry. This way the foundation can help support economic growth that can produce thousands of jobs, Pope said.

One of the ways of doing that is through taking part in ventures such as One Spark.

The Florida Next Foundation’s venue will be overseeing a variety of innovative products and …   More


One way to bring together a city as diverse as Jacksonville is with a nice, cold beer. One Spark creator Tony Allegretti has been brewing up a new brand of craft beer that he hopes will be enjoyed by everyone old enough in the Jacksonville community.

Allegretti’s brand, Placemaking Lager, is currently being brewed at Intuition Ale Works, a brewery in Riverside. Placemaking Lager is an independent lager and is not part of Intuition Ale Works’ production, Allegretti said.

Allegretti’s motivation for participating in One Spark is to gain $20,000 from voters to begin producing his beer on a larger level. He will also use the proceeds to market the brand to restaurants and breweries, Allegretti said.

Placemaking Lager will also support non-profit organizations, Allegretti said. For each case brewed of the craft beer, a certain number of bottles will be set aside to donate to charity and non-profit events as a catering service, Allegretti said.

One Spark would offer all the exposure needed to let the community know about Placemaking Lager, Allegretti said. Samples of the craft beer will be offered to visitors who are 21 years old or older.

The idea of a community united together has been a longtime goal of Allegretti’s. He is the new executive director of the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville, having just accepted that position after serving as JAX Chamber’s director of downtown engagement. He was also one of the founders of the Riverside Arts Market and also works with the First Wednesday Downtown Art Walk.

Placemaking Lager is designed to be a lighter beer that’s not hop heavy and has a crisp, fresh flavor. The beer would be an affordable beverage that people could enjoy while on a picnic during a hot afternoon, Allegretti said.

“Beer brings people together historically,” Allegretti said.

Every purchase of a case of Placemaking Lager will donate a portion of the profits to a non-profit organization. It’s a beer with a …   More

One Spark


What’s your definition of a competition? If your idea involves a judge who analyzes and compares each participant to determine the best, then you have no concept of what goes on at One Spark.

In fact, that’s where One Spark differs from other competitions of its nature. The winners of the crowdsourcing event depend entirely on the will of the crowd and not a single or even a panel of judges.

One Spark provides the unique opportunity for ordinary people to vote on the creator’s proposal they find most appealing. The event takes the power to fund another person’s project away from a judge and puts it into the hands of spectators looking to select the newest innovation that could change their lives.

“The way you will be able to vote is by attending the festival,” said One Spark Customer Solution Specialist Patrick Murphy.

There are several ways a member of the audience will be able to vote. One Spark’s website will provide a voting registration section that will be open to viewers when the event begins on April 9. If people want to vote for a creator on the spot, they can text their votes to One Spark. A smart phone app also will be available to download.

People are interested in voting can view the creator profiles and proposals and become informed of who they want to choose for funding.

Registering for an account with One Spark turns an ordinary person into a judge of an event where creators come from across the nation to compete for their dreams to become a reality.

Those who create an account can vote for their favorite project and see who receives funding from the $3.25 million dollars in crowdsourcing and money from investors that the One Spark event organizers have garnered for this year’s event.

This story was reported by Ignite Media, an independent news bureau created by University of North Florida students.   More


The moment you turned down Forsyth Street and walked towards the Florida Theatre electricity was in the air as locals were buzzing with everything One Spark regarding the big reveal, the next location for One Spark 2014 — Berlin.

Food trucks lined the street and inside craft beer was served. The first to sell out was a local Intuition Ale Works brew called Smoke IPA, an exclusive beer only available in downtown Jacksonville.

Local business owners, creators, venues and One Spark staff were mixing and mingling, as everyone was excited to hear the big news.

“They aren’t just supporting us, they are supporting our creators,” said Joe Sampson, executive director of One Spark.

A local band, Canary in the Coal Mine, welcomed everyone into the Florida Theatre. As more and more people gathered One Spark’s public relations and volunteer services manager, Meredith O’Malley Johnson, made sure that everyone was being taken care of from the selling of merchandise to handling the media.

The lights dimmed down and Karen Feagins, news director from WJCT, took the stage to welcome everyone to the big reveal. One Spark’s executive director, Joe Sampson redefined how the funds for One Spark 2014 are going to be distributed and then teased the crowd before Elton Rivas, original One Spark co-founder, started the reveal.

Berlin– the next host city of One Spark 2014, set to begin mid-September.

The spark will grow across the pond. The layout of the following cities is not finalized however talk of Sydney, Seoul, Johannesburg and Rio de Janiero would make One Spark a worldwide phenomenon.

“We are launching One Spark Berlin this year and couldn’t be more excited,” Rivas said.

Sampson explained to the crowd how much One Spark means to Jacksonville and why the creators are the ones that are igniting the spark. Jacksonville is transforming into a start-up-hub. Places like Co-Work Jax are paving the way to the future of business in …   More


It all started in 1995 when Chris Lesley heard a speaker who contended that all the world’s creatures had descended from earlier generations that consisted of much larger versions of themselves

Of all the animals-ancestor images that Lesley saw that day, the giant cockroach grabbed his attention the most and his fascination soon led to him conducting his own research on ancient large ancestors.

Lesley’s interest soon evolved into what he would call The Greater Ancestors World Museum project. He currently curates his museum online but said he hopes to be able to build a bricks-and-mortar museum in Jacksonville with One Spark funding.

The project is centered on the premise that all animals descended from greater ancestors that were bigger, stronger and faster in the past — sometimes called devolution. Lesley’s ultimate goal is to gather enough funds for a museum in which real artifacts from the ancient earth will be displayed.

“I conducted research over the next two decades after I attended the conference in 1995 and discovered more information that indicates that even humans were as tall as 9 feet,” Lesley said.

But, Lesley’s project has proven controversial.

”One of Mr. Lesley’s greatest faults is that he is only looking at a very small portion of evolutionary history,” said Dr. Matthew Gilg, a biology professor at The University of North Florida.

Lesley’s perspective contends organisms gradually became smaller and thus, weaker.

“Depending on the environmental conditions faced by an organism, there are many situations in which smaller size is better than larger size,” Gilg said. “So to say when an organism gets smaller it is ‘devolving’ is not correct.”

So far, all of the funds for The Greater Ancestors World Museum have come from Lesley’s pocket. Through One Spark 2014 he hopes to raise enough money to establish a location for the museum.

Aside from developing The Greater Ancestors World Museum, …   More

One Spark


The Catty Shack Ranch mystery hinting at the possible appearance of a big cat at the upcoming One Spark festival has been solved and now Jacksonville residents have the chance to “crowd-select” that cat.

The rumors began bouncing around Jacksonville about a month ago on Twitter and elsewhere. This week, Jordan Joseph, the volunteer and business partner coordinator for Catty Shack, said that the sanctuary does plan to bring either a tiger or a leopard on at least two days during One Spark.

Four cats at Catty Shack, which is also a One Spark creator, are currently in the running for a One Spark debut. And now, Catty Shack Ranch in conjunction with #IgniteMedia have launched a special poll to let One Spark’s audience help decide what cat to bring.

The felines in the running are a pair of white Siberian tigers, Nokia and Hercules, and the other two are black leopards, Khala Hala and Two White.

Although the poll’s findings will figure strongly in the selection of the felines to appear, the ultimate appearance of a big cat really depends on the felines themselves, Joseph said. Catty Shack’s plans — which include bringing along a giant cat to promote its One Spark creator project — cannot be promised because as executive director Curt LoGiudice said, “It isn’t up to us, it’s up to the cats.” If an animal is not behaving favorably or just doesn’t seem to want to travel, the staff will not force the cat to go downtown.

Catty Shack Ranch is an established wildlife sanctuary in Jacksonville and it is entered as creator project in One Spark. The sanctuary is a home to lions, tigers, panthers, leopards, bobcats, foxes and even coatimundis. Some animals are retired zoo residents while others came from neglectful situations.

Joseph said money raised from One Spark will go toward the sanctuary’s “Fur-ever Home Fund,” a collection that will help with the purchase of a new …   More


With the announcement of One Spark reaching Berlin in September, it has become clear the festival is growing at a rapid pace. As the festival nears its second year, global expansion is a goal.

That expansion has already begun with One Spark’s recent announcement it will expand to Berlin in September. Jacksonville businessman, Peter Rummell, a major One Spark funder, said Germany is the perfect spot to begin.

“Berlin is a much bigger city than Jacksonville,” said Rummell, a real estate entrepreneur and the former president and CEO of several prominent companies. “If we continue to acquire more sponsorship, we can gradually spread One Spark to more cities around the world. Our focus is more international so we won’t be competing with ourselves within the country.”

Ultimately, Rummell and the One Spark board seek to make One Spark self-sufficient, a goal Rummell defines as “enormous.”

“Right now we are figuring out how to make that goal feasible. One Spark itself is a 12-month effort,” he said.

It all started in Grand Rapids, Mich., at a visual arts festival called Art Prize. The two-week festival features artists from all around the world presenting their work in downtown. Art Prize provides a source of inspiration where art is on display for everyone to see and talk about.

Elton Rivas, an entrepreneur and marketing executive, drew inspiration from Art Prize and soon contacted Rummell.

“Elton came to me and told me about his vision and how he couldn’t raise enough money,” Rummell said. “And I became very interested in the concept and got deeper into it. Now I’m the bank.”

The vision for One Spark became more complex than that of Art Prize’s — it would offer not only artists, but other kinds of innovators of the arts, sciences and more the opportunity to put their creative projects out there. With a capital funding this year of $3.25 million and 632 creator projects, One Spark is ambitious.

So what does …   More

One Spark


The current rap scene in mainstream music glorifies scantily clad women, money and living a lavish lifestyle. Top rappers such as Kanye West, Jay-Z and Drake produce entire platinum albums filled with this content on their tracks. But not all up-and-coming artists feel the need to follow suit in the precedent persona of mainstream artists.

Jacksonville native Langston Brown exemplifies the positive side of hip-hop with his project, “The Bright Side,” which includes a clean, family-friendly and motivational platform for rappers and other local artists. Brown also promotes his collective production association, “Champ Life,” which is a platform for arts and entertainment as well as music production.

Brown clearly differentiates himself from other artists through the lifestyle he embodies. Being an uncle, Brown said he is very conscious about his lyrics and what he promotes. He does not want to be clustered into the stereotype of “just another rapper,” yet Brown still wants to be an influence for purpose and dedication to his young nephews.

Though Brown said that it is hard to differentiate him from any other rapper out there, he singles himself out due to his personal outlook on life.

“A lot of things people glorify that shouldn’t even be thought of as fun,” Brown said. “I am not big on small talk when there are uneducated and hungry people out here, especially in Jacksonville.”

Brown only made it to the last few hours of One Spark last year and was blown away by the amount of creativity that rests in the depths of Jacksonville.

“There’s no particular vibe to the One Spark project, my main focus is to promote a positive spirit, positive thought and no profanity,” Brown said.

Having only pursued music for just over a year, Brown has a clear and direct vision for his music. Being a Jacksonville native, Brown hopes to change the perception of Jacksonville to the …   More