Feb 18, 2022 - Business

The coolest companies at Synapse this year

Conference attendees stand around

Photo courtesy of Synapse Summit

Tampa techies once again flocked to Amalie Arena yesterday for Synapse Summit, myself included.

Why it matters: After last year's hybrid virtual event, the summit aiming to make Tampa Bay the next big tech hub made a big in-person return, with speakers like "Godmother of the Metaverse" Cathy Hackl.

Here are the companies that most impressed me:


  • The leader: Alexander Rodriguez, based in Tampa
  • The product: An augmented reality platform that turns anything from family photos to business fliers to greeting cards into an interactive experience.
  • The intrigue: I was impressed when Rodriguez pointed his phone camera at a family vacation photo and a video popped up. But I literally screamed when he showed me the 3D effects of a dancing teddy bear on a cute greeting card. It's a product I actually want to use.


  • The leader: Mike Raymer, based in Tampa
  • The product: An app that lets businesses leverage word of mouth leads and pays the people who give referrals. Think: Yelp reviews you get paid for.
  • The intrigue: This app seems to take the hard work out of finding services. So instead of telling someone "hey I really liked this handyman/personal trainer/plumber/etc." and then digging out their number to share, you can instantly connect people to your favorite service providers while also earning a few bucks.


  • The leaders: Becky Meadows and Mandi Rivera, based in Tampa
  • The product: Human-centric, empathetic marketing services led by creatives and centered on kindness.
  • The intrigue: An LGBTQ and woman-owned company that seems to focus on cutting the blandness and sterility that's commonly seen as professional out of marketing.

Spark Now

  • The leader: Dana Devlin, based in Orlando
  • The product: An app for strengthening romantic relationships with tips, games, reminders and a shared calendar.
  • The intrigue: Devlin says she came up with the app after a disagreement with her husband about vacuuming. I am chronically single so I have no idea if an app can really help fix a relationship, but it seems like something that could be fun to try.

Krew Social

  • The leader: Mike Chahinian, based in St. Petersburg
  • The product: An app (yet to be released) to help make friends and connections based on common interests.
  • The intrigue: Sites like MeetUp are geared towards big groups of people, and finding friends on dating apps can be awkward. Chahinian wanted to fill that gap for people looking to find friends in a new town or who want to improve communication with existing groups.

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