Women in Tech Tampa Bay: Rosa Shores, CEO of BlockSpaces

    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.

    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.

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