One Spark founders Elton Rivas, Dennis Eusebio and Varick Vosete

One Spark Is Here, But What Does It Mean for Jacksonville?

One Spark is the world’s largest crowdfunding festival. That’s not like a ‘world’s best coffee’ or ‘world’s best pizza’ type of moniker; it’s legit. The beauty of One Spark is that it was created organically by three Jacksonville residents who have a background as creatives. It’s not that founders Elton Rivas, Dennis Eusebio and Varick Rosete lacked entrepreneurial chops, but that they founded the festival realizing the powerful coalescence of creative vision and business savvy. And it is that meaningful mixture that has made this such an important event for Jacksonville.

One Spark has grown each year in attendance, activities and funding:

2013:  406 projects showcased, $250k was awarded to creator projects and 130,000 attended

2014: 610 projects showcased, $310k was awarded to creator projects and 260,000 attended

2015: 555 projects are ready for the event with an increase of 44% in the tech category, $350k will be awarded to creator projects, and attendance, well, that’s up to you!

While important, those are just the cold, hard numbers. It’s far more substantial to know how that money was actually used. SnapFOODS secured private investment funding at One Spark in 2014 and is now in production creating and distributing their healthy snacks for both kids and adults. Grandpa’s Cough Medicine was the top-voted music creator in 2014 and used the awarded $10k to produce their new album. Pratt Guys had been in business for ten years and used One Spark 2014 to launch a new project. They experienced their biggest sales month ever the month after One Spark and will be opening a storefront in the next few weeks. There are so many stories like this generated from One Spark, and even the creators who don’t win a large amount of funding draw a profound amount of awareness to their business, idea or art.

Additionally, One Spark is constructing ways to further foster creators, adding the Creator Academy and rewards-based crowdfunding to the mix for 2015. This type of support is being instituted so that creators can not only make the most out of their One Spark experience, but be successful beyond it.

The impact of One Spark is not only about the creators that participate, but about the reverberating effects that the event has on Jacksonville. Meredith Johnson, One Spark’s Public Relations Director, points out that the event has a “tourism impact and a direct, and indirect impact on small businesses and startups throughout the region.” This year, One Spark is commissioning an in-depth economic impact study to realize exactly how Jacksonville is financially impacted by the event. In terms of cultural impact, Meredith pointed out that Jacksonville has always been a creative community and framed One Spark as a “connecting point.” “During the festival itself, artists, designers, educators, entrepreneurs and innovators all come together, make new connections and those connections spawn new projects. One Spark also showcases that creative energy Downtown for everyone in Jacksonville, and attendees from around the country, to be inspired by.”

In case you’re not familiar, One Spark is a crowdfunding festival with “Creator Projects,” live events, live music and a bevy of food vendors. The Creator Projects are the chance for people to share their ideas in art, education, health and science, music, social good and technology. As an attendee, you can contribute to Creator Projects and vote for them to be receive a portion of the $350k that will be awarded this year. The festival takes place throughout 20 square blocks of downtown Jacksonville. This year sees the advent of many new aspects including the Creator Academy and a 5k race. The Speaker Summit is always a fantastic experience, but is sure to be unforgettable as former General Electric CEO, Jack Welch, along with his wife Suzy Welch, are the headlining speakers. “One Spark After Dark” is Jacksonville’s biggest free block party and will feature live music from several acts including Ha Ha Tonka, SUNBEARS! and Kopecky Family Band.

Entrepreneurial spirit, life-changing ideas, great art, live music, delicious food, Jack Welch, making Jacksonville everything we knew it could be . . . whatever your motivation, this is a game-changer for our city, and you should be there. As Meredith told me, this is truly an event for everyone: “The One Spark festival provides an outlet for creatives from all walks of life in our community. Whether you want to showcase your music talents, artwork, science research, tech startup or any other creation, One Spark offers a pathway for that in a fun, open and family-friendly setting. The event can be a source of pride to our citizens. One Spark helps add to the brand of the city of Jacksonville as a place where creativity and innovation can thrive.”

One Spark will take place throughout downtown Jacksonville from April 7th – 12th. Visit for further information.

About Brenton Crozier

Brenton has lived in Jacksonville for nearly 25 years and worked in various capacities in the digital marketing industry. He was the Multimedia Producer for the NPR show, State of the Re:Union and has written for EU Jacksonville for more than 7 years. Follow him on Twitter: @brentoncrozier.