Innovative Innovation

According to a recent Mashup article, some companies are going back to the future in the way they innovate. It’s almost cliché these days when you hear about a group of youthful, tech-savvy individuals collaborating to produce the hottest new software or app. What happened to the good ole’ days when companies were the drivers of innovation because that was the only option besides bankruptcy?

While it’s obviously still the case that companies need to innovate to survive, it’s refreshing to hear examples of this. There’s much to be said about the power of small business innovation and its importance to our economy. Here are some examples of innovating companies:


Venture Realty Group’s staff was tired of spending vast amounts of time digging up contact information for owners of expired listings. As a consequence, they hired coders to create a program that massively increases the efficiency of the process. Now, the company sells the use of its platform for $57 a month to other realtors who are looking to streamline their business.


A mobile coat checking company, which provides coat checking services for special events, was disappointed with its data collection system. To combat this, they developed an app that stored all the relevant information needed to catalog, organize and store coats and other checked items. Now, the app is being poached by venues who want data on their attendees – an impressive value add.


Jesse Vollmer, a fifth generation Michigan farmer, saw a need in farming. The farming community is fertile ground for data management systems, and Vollmer set out to take advantage of this opportunity. Today, FarmLogs is used by over five percent of row farmers domestically, and the app is used in 130 countries abroad.

Examples like these are inspiring reminders of the ever-constant need to adapt, innovate and grow. In today’s high tech, fast-paced world, it may be easy to be complacent with minor adjustments and improvements. True growth is spurred by innovation, and sometimes the greatest innovation is a result of necessity.

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Nick Banks

Nick created Front Street Commercial Real Estate Group in 2002 and spent the first eight years developing and acquiring office and retail projects in South Florida as well as North Central Florida. In 2010 the focus of the firm was shifted to primarily serve third party clients and perform brokerage, property management and mortgage banking functions. Nick has personally developed and acquired nearly 200,000 square feet of office and retail properties in markets throughout Florida. Prior to founding Front Street, Nick was the Director of Finance and Dispositions for Stiles Corporation in Fort Lauderdale where he financed and sold over $500 million in commercial real estate. Before joining Stiles, Nick was an Associate Director at GE Capital Real Estate where he sourced over $200 million in financing throughout Florida. Nick is a graduate of the University of Florida with a degree in Finance and a concentration in Real Estate. He serves as a board member and current vice-chair for the United Way of North Central Florida where he also chairs the Development Committee. Nick is actively involved with the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce where he serves as a board member and committee member for the Council for Economic Outreach. He is also a recent graduate of Leadership Gainesville which is a year long leadership program hosted by the Chamber. He is a member of Grace United Methodist Church where he has served as finance chair and as a member of the leadership council. Nick serves as an advisory board member of the University of Florida Bergstrom Center for Real Estate Studies. Nick was recently named chair of the Gainesville committee for the North Florida chapter of Urban Land Institute (ULI). He is a licensed real estate broker in the State of Florida and is a long time member of the International Council of Shopping Centers.

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