20 Questions with Linda Olson

Linda Olson, is the chief executive officer and founder of Tampa Bay Wave, an accelerator that has supported 480 startups since 2013. Collectively, these startups have raised more than $760 million and have created more than 4,400 jobs. To date, Olson has raised $14 million from sponsors, donors, foundations and various grants.

Olson began her career consulting for Fortune 500 companies on technology projects and has worked with tech startups and venture capital since 1999. In 2020, she was featured by Forbes for her work leveling the playing field in the tech startup sector.

She is an alum of Leadership Tampa (2018) and Leadership Florida (2022). She is also an original member of Startup America Partnership and is currently an active member of Startup Champions Network.

1. College alma mater? Columbia Business School, for MBA, and Florida State University, for undergrad. #GoNoles!

2. Last show you binge-watched? I usually have more than one binge series going on at any one time but my latest most-watched binge is Succession.

3. Favorite place for a business meeting? The Columbia. It’s hard to beat their 1905 salad with the Cuban bread.

4. iPhone or Android? iPhone.

5. What time do you wake up on workdays? At 6:30 a.m. Sometimes, 5:30 a.m. for morning runs during hot summer months.

6. What part of your morning routine can you not miss? Drinking a full glass of water, immediately, after waking up (sometimes two glasses). 

7. What movie terrified you as a child? Poltergeist. I am not sure I ever got over the clown!

8. Proudest moment? Testifying before a United States Congressional Hearing in Washington D.C., in December 2022, about the work of Tampa Bay Wave.

9. Dream dinner companion? Sara Blakely. She’s an inspiring woman entrepreneur, from Tampa Bay, who dared to do many unconventional things in the pursuit of building Spanx.

10. Biggest business failure? Right out of college, I had an internship with a major accounting firm. While I thoroughly enjoyed my experience,  I was not invited to join the firm being told that management was not confident that I was “cut out to be an auditor.” That failure was really a gift, and ultimately changed the direction of my career. 

11. Best concert you’ve ever seen, live? Rolling Stones and Cage the Elephant (not at the same time).

12. What is your cellphone wallpaper image? My daughters, of course!

13. Most famous person you’ve ever met? Andre Agassi, about two months after he won Wimbledon. I saw him at a Bennigan’s, in Sarasota, and he asked me to sit down with him at his table, asking Nick Bollettieri to move over to make room for me. I was a huge tennis fan growing up.

14. What is your go-to drink order?  Vodka tonic with no fruit.

15. How do you manage the volume of emails you receive? Ha! “Manage” is a great term. I do my best to setup inbox rules that block, or divert, spam emails. However, most people know to text me if they sent me an email I need to read, or respond to, in a timely manner.

16. Last thing you ordered from Amazon? Workout equipment for my home.

17. Emojis in the workplace, yay or nay? 👍

18. Charity you support? Besides Tampa Bay Wave, of course, I personally support Think Big for Kids, Junior Achievement, Metropolitan Ministries, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, American Heart Association and American Cancer Society.

19. Favorite childhood memory? Spending time at Pass-a-Grille Beach and on the water with my family in our modest fishing boat, especially around Fort DeSoto. The salt air is so good for my soul, still today!

20. Best advice ever received? Once you decide that you do not care what other people think of you, you will be unstoppable and so much happier. 

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