Get to Know Jasmine Banks

Jasmine Banks is new to the area and the startGNV Board of Directors, but she's definitely drinking the Gainesville Kool-Aid. Check out our interview with this energetic social butterfly and marketing maven, you won't be sorry!

Get to Know Jasmine Banks

Jasmine Banks is new to the area and the startGNV Board of Directors, but that hasn't stopped her from being one of the innovation ecosystem's greatest fans. When she isn't serving on the startGNV events committee and planning our next fabulous mixer, she's out in the community learning about all that Gainesville has to offer. Check out our interview with this energetic social butterfly and marketing maven, you won't be sorry!

Did we mention she's hilarious?

A little about Jasmine:

Hi, I’m Jasmine! I am originally from Jacksonville, Florida. I am a proud graduate of the University of Alabama and now I am the Marketing Manager at OPIE Software. I love hanging out with my family and my dog and watching movies.

I have really enjoyed exploring new spots in Gainesville and exploring the parks and nature here.

How did you end up in the startup community?

I kind of stumbled into the startup community by way of OPIE. I was working at a giant corporation and needed a change (I hated where I was, the company I worked for, and then a pandemic happened). I found OPIE and after talking to a couple of the managers there, I was in love. They also said I could bring my dog to work and that they have snacks .... so I was sold!

From there, I really was able to jump into the GNV startup/innovation community  and have just been in awe of how open and familial it is. It was also the best way to meet people and learn about Gainesville when I first moved here. I have met some of my best friends and gotten some of my best recommendations from the tech community here in Gainesville.

Tell us about your work at OPIE and why you love the company?

I am the Marketing Manager at OPIE Software and I lead a team of Marketing Specialists through all the company’s digital, print, and social media marketing for all external and internal communications. I absolutely love what I do and I have the greatest team EVER!

OPIE Software is a patient management software for Orthotic and Prosthetic clinics designed by O&P professionals. We help O&P Clinicians and Office Managers do their jobs which literally help change people's lives. It's really cool being a part of a company that is helping people walk again, hold objects as simple as water bottles, or other simple things people can take for granted.

You had other plans in school originally, how did you shift to marketing?

Mine is your typical ‘coming-of-age’ saga. Like pretty much every first-generation college kid, I was wide-eyed and bushy-tailed when I first got into college and thought (foolishly) “I am going to go to law school” and be a lawyer. This was pretty much the goal all throughout college. I took all the classes and LSAT prep courses. I got accepted into law school and realized (about a month before the first semester) that I could not work and would have to give up a social life for the next four years and quickly decided it was NOT worth it.

After that, I panicked and took a job selling insurance right after college. I absolutely hated it and quit within 7 months. At that company, I met a girl who was doing an evening MBA program and I asked her about it and thought it sounded really cool and that was pretty much all she wrote. I changed my focus and a couple of temp jobs doing freelance marketing, everything from websites to social media. This helped me build my craft and my portfolio and it's been a great ride ever since.

Tell us how you found out about startGNV and how long you've served on the startGNV board?

I have been on the startGNV board since December 2020 and I found out through the OPIE grapevine.

A couple of my peers at work were talking about the importance that startGNV plays in fostering community and conversation that is changing the landscape of Gainesville and I had to learn more. I learned more about the programs, mixers, and events that startGNV has and thought about how I had never seen anything like it in Florida.

I applied to be on the board and as they say, the rest was history! Now I get to help plan events that foster the same community and conversations I was intrigued by.

Favorite moment/memory in the innovation ecosystem so far?

Easily, the Onward and Upward Concert in May. It was SO amazing to see people from Gainesville, from both inside and outside the innovation ecosystem come together and enjoy conversations and stories about how Gainesville has literally changed the course of people's life.

It was also great to just see people enjoy a safe, socially distant time while enjoying local food and local music. I enjoyed every minute of it and we raised a good bit of money for the Josh Greenberg Scholarship which will be put back into the innovation ecosystem to help more startups within Gainesville.

Tell us about your vision for startGNV and Gainesville's innovation ecosystem? Hopes and dreams for 2021?

My vision is that it continues to grow and get bigger and better! I want startGNV to be the stepping stone for startups all over Gainesville and northeast Florida and I am so very confident in the organizations ability to do that!

Advice for young professionals hoping to get involved/ interested in the innovation ecosystem like yourself?

Network as much as possible! Gainesville is filled with tons of people who want to help you succeed and do well but “closed mouths don’t get fed” — talk to as many people as you can and make friends wherever you go. Chances are someone will know someone who knows something and you be put in touch with people who can help.

You moved here during COVID. What's your favorite thing about Gainesville you've discovered so far, and what do you want to see next?

There are still so many places I want to go and try but I would have to say my favorite part of Gainesville so far is many cool parks and places to go and chill, relax, or clear your head... and the food. I spend a lot of time at Depot Park but also at all of the surrounding springs. Food-wise, I am pretty basic in my choices but Gainesville has really pushed me out of my comfort zone! Most recently I have been OBSESSED with TeaStori off 34th. I get Cookies and Cream Milk Tea and it is my favorite. It also comes in the cutest cup ever.

Any shameless plugs for why other people should move here?

The people. Gainesville is home to some really amazing folks! They really care about each other and the community around them and there is genuinely a place and a group for everyone.  

What's the best thing your peers can do to help build the innovation ecosystem and why should they do it? What's the benefit for all?

The best thing everyone can do is be an ally. Offer yourself as a mentor or come to a networking event and introduce yourself to others at the event. I think they best way for new ideas to thrive and the innovation ecosystem to grow is if we all are able to help in whatever way we can and a lot of times that is as simple as meeting new people and sharing resources. The growth of talent and ideas we can see in the community from just connecting other to our connections can literally leave a lasting impact for everyone to enjoy. So, come, network and make friends!

You're very close with family, tell us about them!

My favorite people on the planet! I am very close to my family and they are pretty much the coolest people ever (I’m not biased, at all). We are loud and fun and crazy but we love to have a good time. My mom and dad, my sister Ashia (20), brother Zaire (22), and then my baby brother, Maddex (10). Ashia is a junior at UF (Go Gators, I guess?) and Zaire just graduated from Warner University in Lake Whales.

Recently my parents bought a boat and that has been our favorite pass time. My parents have read all the safety manuals and read every book or article so you cannot tell them they are not boating pros! My dad also likes to go fast, which is a little scary but I just hang out, and then we find a good spot and anchor, we try to catch a couple fish. Didn't have great luck this past weekend (just a bunch of catfish) so went home with an empty cooler. But we had a blast!