A special thank you to Allie Felix for writing this amazing article, published on March 29, 2021.
In celebration of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, Embarc Collective is excited to introduce you to Women in Tech Tampa Bay — a content series profiling women who are building at Embarc Collective and how they’ve built their careers.
Meet more women tech founders and investors across the state of Florida here.
Meet Rosa Shores, CEO of BlockSpaces.
What pivotal points in your career led to your current role?
Without question, 1) the decision to jump from traditional retail to eCommerce and then, subsequently, 2) the first time I heard the word “bitcoin” in 2012. I had witnessed how transformative the Internet was for all business in the nineties, but especially traditional retail, and I remember so clearly listening to retail executives talk negatively about the Internet and really dismissing it as “hype”, even though, at the time, it seemed so inevitable to me regardless of its nascent stage. So, I really “get” how technology emerges in a business setting and the phases of that cycle, because I lived it, and was always fascinated by it. I was actually working in eCommerce at HSN when I first heard of this new thing in tech called “bitcoin.” Like everyone, the concept seemed crazy to me at first, but dots started to quickly connect and I realized that, once again, I was witnessing an emerging technology that would change the business landscape.
HSN was experiencing the shift from eCommerce to mCommerce, which again seemed the inevitable transition of digital commerce, and it seemed so obvious to me that cryptocurrency was just a new, better way to transact in this mobile-focused digital world. By 2014, the multiple business use cases for blockchain, the technology framework that makes cryptocurrency possible, were beginning to be explored by a variety of businesses. Again, it seemed so obvious and inevitable to me that if we now had a technology that offered decentralized validation, immutable storage, redundancy with no single point of failure, and all secured by encryption, it would be the future, no matter how nascent it seemed at the time.
All of my personal time was being spent on blockchain-related endeavors because living in the past or maintaining the present really doesn’t excite me; I love being a part of improving the status quo with forward-thinking people. So, I jumped full-time into blockchain in 2018 when we opened BlockSpaces and have never looked back. There is only a deep blue ocean of opportunity ahead now for blockchain and this industry has truly shaped my current life.
What do you wish you had known earlier in your career?
That the world is changing at an exponential pace. Some of the highest paying, most in-demand, jobs in 2020, did not even exist a decade ago. If you are 20, the job you have at 30 or 40 or even 70 may very well be in an industry that itself does not exist yet, solving problems we don’t even know are problems yet. You do not need to decide in high school, or even college, what you will do the “rest of your life”. Explore new things always, stay current on technology always, and try to see through negative feedback loops encouraged by people who can’t imagine a drastically different future. You are never, never “stuck” in a career or job and you absolutely can go in a completely different direction whenever you choose to with no explanations or apologies to anyone.
What communities, networks, or resources have helped you build in your career?
As mentioned, the ethos of the thinkers, doers, founders, and enthusiasts in the blockchain community as a whole has transformed my life, career and way of thinking. I came together with them at a time when we were collectively seen as kind of crazy, so being around the like-minded is a support system that was, and is, so necessary and empowering. Likewise, startup founders, in general, are a little nuts by default, so in the same way, Embarc Collective has been that rock for all the blood, sweat and tears of startup life, which requires an extensive network of support that I think most people just don’t realize. It truly “takes a village” to create a startup ecosystem that manifests successful companies, and Team Embarc has that support down to a science. We consider ourselves extremely lucky to be a part of their founder family! And finally, the network of women that I have purposefully built around me in every facet of this business has provided me guidance, confidence, and some incredibly strong shoulders to lean on when the business struggles I face need a perspective that only they can provide.
What is one piece of tactical advice that you would give to another woman considering your career path?
You mean considering jumping, as a single mom, from a stable career at a large global corporation with great benefits to being a woman startup founder of a tech company in Tampa, Florida focused on a very nascent, emerging and highly misunderstood technology? If that is on your radar, know that your naysayers will far outweigh your believers. It will take much longer than you think and will be significantly harder than you have remotely imagined. Stay resilient, tenacious, creative and bold. You are building the future, so there is no template. Surround yourself with people who can envision a different kind of world and live in that mindset. And also, contact me, because I would love to support you!
Lastly, an exciting and timely announcement: BlockSpaces, a Tampa, Florida-based blockchain integration platform, recently completed a $1.2M seed round of financing. The funds will be used to scale operations, make key hires, and speed development of the company’s core software that connects business applications and data to multiple blockchain networks. The platform reduces barriers to deploying, managing and participating in distributed networks by leveraging a “plug and play” API connector framework built for blockchain.
Connect with Rosa and follow BlockSpaces.
Want to stay up to date on the latest startup news, events, and resources? Get the Weekly Collective delivered directly to your inbox by subscribing here.
Tampa, FL: March 25, 2021 - BlockSpaces, a Tampa, Florida-based blockchain integration platform, has completed a $1.2M seed round of financing. The funds will be used to scale operations, make key hires, and speed development of the company’s core software that connects business applications and data to multiple blockchain networks. The platform reduces barriers to deploying, managing and participating in distributed networks by leveraging a “plug and play” API connector framework built for blockchain.
“The roots and the soul of BlockSpaces will always be ecosystem cooperation and a diverse network of participants, just like it is for blockchain”, said co-founder, Gabe Higgins. “We could not be happier with how that is represented with the group of investors behind this funding round.” The company will be hiring up to 10 new positions on their core development team along with, CTO, Chris Tyler, who left a 16 year tenure at Fortune 500 emerging technology, cloud and blockchain giant, IBM, to join the startup.
Large enterprise companies have deployed blockchain networks and are realizing significant ROI as they streamline their operations, but these networks require participation of middle-market suppliers, vendors, products and partners to realize their full potential. Due to a variety of barriers, mid-market participants in this ecosystem are falling into the gap of the technology adoption curve. This stifles the growth of these networks for all businesses that are needed in the network. The BlockSpaces platform allows the easy integration of enterprise applications and blockchain networks and hides the complexities associated with managing blockchain technology in a business environment. “We know every participant in a blockchain network needs to collaborate and share transactions in order to deliver on the promise of the transparency and trust this technology provides across what we know will be a multi-blockchain world” said Rosa Shores, BlockSpaces Co-Founder/CEO. “How these multiple blockchains will come together, co-exist and share data in a business setting is a challenge that is further compounded when companies lack the budget and know how to implement and manage this emerging technology. We want to be the solution for business leaders and enterprise developers who need to connect to a blockchain but aren’t sure how to execute with their existing resources.”
BlockSpaces was founded in 2017 by Higgins and co-founder/CEO, Rosa Shores. The financing is also notable as it represents the first woman-led blockchain company to raise over $1 million in the state of Florida (Source: Crunchbase), and joins a growing number of blockchain start-ups that are emerging in the Sunshine State. “We live in a new global world where technology, thankfully, continues to erase the lines between geographic borders, and diversity of thought needs to be at the center of business” said Rosa Shores, CEO of BlockSpaces. “I look forward to a breakthrough year for underrepresented founders in this industry, regardless of where they happen to be located.”
"This last year has proven that finding talented founders building innovative companies has no geographic boundary," noted Ali Rosenthal, Managing Partner of Leadout Capital. "Our criteria is not simply following others to a trendy city, but to evaluate standout and diverse leaders everywhere who we regard as gritty, focused and empathetic. We see these attributes and more in Rosa and Gabe with BlockSpaces and are enthusiastic to lead the round and extend our commitment to blockchain technology." Leadout Capital was founded in 2018 by Rosenthal and is a $27M early stage venture capital fund with a focus on backing "non-obvious," resilient founders working on solving problems in overlooked and under-served markets.
About BlockSpaces, Inc.
BlockSpaces believes in a future where every business will transact with more trust, transparency and security. Our mission is to blockchain-enable traditional business applications to leverage the unique features and benefits that various enterprise blockchain networks provide. Through our B2B integration platform, we manage blockchain connections, data flow and configurations, so our customers can plug-and-play into any existing system. BlockSpaces is simplifying the blockchain integration experience for all business applications and use cases.
About Leadout Capital
Leadout Capital was founded in 2018 to back “non-obvious”, resilient founders with deep customer insights, who pursue software driven solutions to an unmet customer need in large end markets. We support them with world-class network access and experience-based advice. We work to unlock the tremendous value inherent in diversity in order to expand the size of the market of new ideas and products in the startup ecosystem.
BlockSpaces; Rosa Shores, 727-483-3563, firstname.lastname@example.org
BlockSpaces is excited to announce the release of its very own, customized user dashboard: BlockSpaces Node Insights v0.1.0. In a commitment to providing an exceptional user experience for blockchain node management, we have worked hard on ensuring that our user dashboard brings the most accurate, real-time data directly to your fingertips.
“Michelle brings an extremely rare and unique blend of business acumen and emerging technology expertise that is critical for our team to incorporate into the design of our platform,” said Shores. “Additionally, for the last five years, Michelle has served as a consultant for an exclusive community of blockchain experts in support of implementing this emergent tech, and we look forward to continuing to leverage their collective expertise across policy, infrastructure and development of new business ideas.”
Royal joins Gregory Pierce (CCG Analytics;DXC Technology;Concerto Cloud/Tribridge) who serves as Chairman of the Board and James Olson (AgileThought) The additions also complement the leadership and business model changes the company made earlier this year , which are being led by Chuck Dyer, BlockSpaces COO, formerly with DXC Technologies, and Chris Tyler, the company’s CTO, from IBM, who joined founders Rosa Shores and Gabe Higgins in late 2019.
Founded in 2017, BlockSpaces is an end-to-end tech company that connects blockchains to existing business applications through a seamless, easy API based platform, BlockSpaces Connect. Dedicated to accelerating enterprise blockchain adoption, the company combines advisory, technical functionality, and industry focused support through their core PaaS to provide business value to an ecosystem of client innovators. The company works out of the Downtown Tampa Innovation Hub, Embarc Collective. For more information, visit https://blockspaces.io/
Tampa, FL— October 6 , 2020 — Today, BlockSpaces released a new Node-As-A-Service product feature to their core blockchain integration platform, BlockSpaces Connect™, and announced the product will be immediately supporting Pocket Network. The partnership culminates after years of mutual support between the two blockchain-focused organizations around the emerging technology.
BlockSpaces is dedicated to accelerating enterprise blockchain adoption. Combining advisory, technical functionality, and industry focused support with a core integration platform-as-a-service (iPaaS), BlockSpaces Connect™, the company provides business value to an ecosystem of client innovators.
For more information on BlockSpaces, please visit https://blockspaces.io.
About Pocket Network:
Pocket Network is a unified Blockchain API protocol that provides applications decentralized access to the full spectrum of blockchain data, starting with Ethereum, while node operators and infrastructure providers earn $POKT, it’s native cryptocurrency, in exchange for servicing application requests in a completely censorship-resistant manner.
For more information on Pocket, please visit https://pokt.network.