This is a part of our Q+A series. Know someone we should interview? Nominate them here.
Profile: Christin Strawbridge is an influential member of the Catapult Lakeland community. Formerly the co-working space’s Workspace Director, Christin has risen through the ranks and now works alongside Lakeland’s leaders in business, economic development, and the arts as Catapult’s president.
In an effort to learn about Lakeland’s small business scene, we’re asking Christin 15 questions. Read on to find out what she loves about our city, who she thinks the coolest Lakelander is, and her favorite test kitchen menu items that you should try.
Q: What’s your name, title, and 3-5 things you want people to know about you?
A: Christin Strawbridge, President
- Pickleball is my new favorite sport— hit me up if you’re ever looking to play!
- I love Lakeland, but honestly, swans scare me a bit.
- You can catch me having the time of my life commuting to work on my electric scooter.
Q: What’s one thing about Catapult that our readers might not know?
A: Like other startups, Catapult began as an experiment in a basement and now has over 215 members.
Q: Why do you think a co-working space works so well in Lakeland?
A: Starting a business or working from home can be lonely. Having the opportunity to connect with others in a vibrant space can increase productivity and lead to a deeper sense of satisfaction in work.
Q: Tell us why Catapult is unique from other coworking spaces?
A: As a non-profit, people are our priority. We don’t want to just be someone’s office space but also to provide valuable connections, mentorship, and funding opportunities to drive startups forward.
Q: What local dish from the Catapult test kitchen do you crave + rave about?
A: Three of my faves are Blue Dog BBQ’s brisket, Omsubee’s tuna + mayo onigiri, and Vegetation Plant Food’s oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.
Q: Fill in the blank: The coolest person I’ve met in Lakeland is ___________.
A: Tim Cox. He joined our team to mentor startups. When you combine his desire to give-back with his top-notch fashion sense, he is definitely “cool”.
Q: If you were taking someone on a tour around Lakeland, where are the three places you’re going?
A: We would start with coffee on Black and Brew at the Library’s patio before heading to the farmer’s market—popping into Scout & Tag, Take Heart + June Taylor while we were down there. Then we would end up at the Woodlake Park pickleball courts for some healthy competition.
Q: You’re ordering a drink from Lakeland-coffee shop/bar: What’s in it?
A: Since it’s still hot outside but fall flavors are arriving, my go-to is an iced dirty turmeric chai latte from Black and Brew.
Q: Convince a friend to move to Lakeland in 15 words or less. Go.
A: Lakeland is a community where you can make a significant impact.
Q: Any need-to-know details we should share to get readers excited?
A: Fridays from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. through mid-November, different Catapult Kitchen members will be selling lunch on our patio. Anyone can come and try food from a variety of cultures. Here’s the schedule.
Q: What three people would you invite to an imaginary dinner party?
A: Anyone who knows me, knows that I am obsessed with Queen Elizabeth, so she has to be there! The different historical events she has seen first-hand intrigues me—yes, I can be a history nerd at times. Sarah Blakely, the founder of Spanx, is someone I really look up to. She laughs at herself, and I admire the humility that takes. I would also invite my mom because she just makes everything more fun. ❤️
Q: If you’re originally from Lakeland, why have you stayed here? If you’re not, what brought you here?
A: I grew up here and ended up staying in town to pursue my dream of playing college basketball at FSC and later SEU. During school, I got an internship working for the LEDC’s Summer Leadership Program. This gave me the chance to tour different places around town and listen to people speak about leadership and what makes Lakeland unique. Their enthusiasm rubbed off on me, and this became the place I wanted to plant roots.
Q: For a small biz owner or entrepreneur looking to become a member, what is one piece of advice you would give?
A: People make Catapult great, so get the most out of your membership by meeting as many people as you can. Come to events, work out of the space, and find opportunities to lean in and ask questions. There is always more to learn.
Q: How did you get your start working for Catapult? Tell us a bit about that experience.
A: I started as an intern and was hired full-time as a Project Manager, which gave me the opportunity to do everything from event planning to implementing back-end systems for our team. Getting to work on a variety of projects with different people really shaped my mindset and helped me discover what I love to do.
Q: You were recently promoted to president — congratulations! What’s one major accomplishment you hope to make in this new role?
A: For the last couple of years, our team has been focused on bringing our new state-of-the-art facility to life. Now that the building is complete, I am excited for us to continue adding to the mentorship and funding opportunities that are currently available.