This month we spoke with Elton Rivas, Co-Founder of Co-Work Jax, One Spark and, most recently, KYN, an accelerator group that supports early stage companies.
What anchors you to the First Coast?
I love the fact that it’s on the median of everything. This makes it fairly easy to do things here; launch new businesses and be an entrepreneur. There are so many opportunities. It’s only going to be like this for another decade or so; eventually density is going to fill that in. Also, I’m a triathlete, and this region has great training weather year round and one of the best triathlete clubs anywhere (Hammerhead Triathlon Club).
Are you native to North Florida?
I bounced around a lot growing up because I was a “Coast Guard kid”. We moved around to different coastal areas including San Diego, Miami the Florida Keys and New Smyrna Beach. I moved to Jacksonville almost 14 years ago when I followed my girlfriend at the time to UNF. That didn’t work out well, but everything since then has been great!
What do you do when you’re not busy with your new companies?
I love traveling and experiencing different cultures, going to places I’ve never been and getting outside of my comfort zone. Also, my triathlons keep me sane. A lot of people say that starting a business is hard. It certainly is, but what’s really hard is getting up at 5:30am every day for 20 weeks to train for an ironman distance race. I hope to get another one on the books in the coming year.
Do you have any new plans on the horizon?
We are working on a book right now. It will be centered around starting things, and it will feature the personal story of One Spark. I’m also looking forward to scaling One Spark and helping it grow worldwide, rather than starting another new thing. There’s nothing like it anywhere in the world. Shame on us if we can’t figure out how to make a positive impact on millions of people around the world through One Spark
What challenges does Jacksonville face as a community?
Jacksonville has always prided itself on being a smaller market, but now we are growing and we need more positive ego and pride. The downtown piece is a big issue. As with anything, it will take strong, consistent leadership and focus to continue developing our city.
I heard you have an admiration for Rhinoceros Beetles. Explain.
(Laughing) I remember reading once that the Rhinoceros Beetles are nearly indestructible and can lift something close to 1,000 times their weight. That has stuck with me. There are over 300 types of them, they live on their own and are introverted creatures. I’m kind of the same way; I don’t really like the limelight.
What advice would you give to those who want to get involved but are not sure how?
Just start! It’s really that simple.