From Clearwater, Florida and Florida State University, Sara Blakely began her business journey in 2006 with only $5,000 in savings. She has grown her undergarment business, Spanx, into a $1 billion company. 

Blakely will be the featured keynote speaker at Synapse Summit 2020. This is a two day conference to highlight the innovation in the Tampa Bay area. Lauren Prager, Synapse Vice President for Community Engagement, said Blakely was the top choice because she is a true innovator. "Her decision to accept this invitation is a reflection of the phenomenal innovation movement Synapse is powering with community partners like MyArea Network."

“We had a wish list of inspiring leaders with global name recognition who we felt could be part of celebrating innovation in Florida, and her name was at the top of my list,” Prager said.

“She’s a Florida native, graduated from Florida State University and was inducted in 2018 in the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame. It underscores the relevance Synapse has in celebrating innovation.

Sara has become a world renowned entrepreneur with a long list of game-changing accomplishments. She has been recognized by Forbes as a Global Game Changer and, in 2012, one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the world. She also created the Spanx by Sara Blakely foundation to continue her mission of empowering women.

 Additionally, She is the first self-made female billionaire to join the Giving Pledge with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. Sara still owns 100% of the company and has never taken outside investment.

“Sara is the quintessential innovator and an inspiration. We’re thrilled to welcome her to the Synapse Summit stage,” said Prager. “Her achievements in business and philanthropy have empowered and emboldened so many. We’re proud to welcome her back to her home state to celebrate innovation with us!” 

The 2019 Synapse Summit hosted over 330 exhibitors and 300 speakers in its two day span at Amalie Arena and pulled in 5,542 attendees. The 2020 Summit will return to Amalie, gearing up with even more exhibitors and speakers, and will have over 6,000 innovators, entrepreneurs, and investors.

Blakely will speak on Feb. 12, said Brian Kornfeld, Synapse Co-Founder and President. Kornfield believes Blakely’s appearance will be a “game-changer” for Synapse.  

“We believe this is the best event to get connected to the innovation community, and we hope more people will attend, get engaged, and become a true part of innovation in Florida,” Kornfeld said.

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Cover photo courtesy of Facebook