Tony Albelo’s companies Ocean Promotions and Social House Events have been creating and managing events since 2002. During these past 13 years they created some of the most important events in the marine industry including Florida’s largest fishing tournament, The Grove SLAM! In 2010 plans to expand their event scope found Albelo creating Grovetoberfest, now Florida’s largest and most respected craft beer festival. He and his team went on to create many events which are now household names including Sprung!, the Coconut Grove Seafood Festival, Grillin’ in the Grove and more. The companies had grown greatly. On the other side of town, Javi Zayas’ company Zevents was busy too. Zevents was focused on a slightly younger demographic as they produced events like Cinco de Mayo Brickell, Basel House, Love&Wine, St. Patrick’s Day Brickell and the popular series the Kitchen Hop.
Over the years, Albelo and Zayas had met at several times and created a friendship. Their mutual respect for each other’s work had them vow to one day work together on a larger project. Then Wynwood Life happened. The concept for a three-day art, music, food and fashion event had been floating around the drawing board when the duo decided to team up to execute the large and multi-faceted event. What resulted was a huge surprise and instant hit. Wynwood Life attracted over 18,000 people in its first year and hit the festival map with a bang. Immediately they each recognized the synergy and teamed up on more projects. The team gained the contract to run Second Saturday Art Walk in Wynwood (a monthly event). They moved Basel House during Art Basel Week to a larger and more central location in Wynwood and it was the largest street art event in all of Art Basel. They took over the Sam Adams Octoberfest. The team partnered with the City on America’s Birthday Bash, Miami’s largest 4th of July celebration. They were on a roll. But things were getting a little complicated with four entities working out of one office and utilizing a team of five full-time employees.
Urged by longtime friend, mentor and partner Harry Davidson, the team created the new corporation, SWARM. SWARM absorbed all the events from Ocean Promotions, Social House Events, Zevents and the joint ventures between the three. The operation quickly became more streamlined and efficient. Economy of scale was not an abstract concept; it was bringing experience first-hand. SWARM immediately saw increases in attendance, website traffic, social media interactions, fan and sponsor involvement. Subsequent years saw the birth of many new events including Grillin’ and Chillin' and MegaRumba Colombia. Each event unique with MegaRumba being one of SWARM's largest events with over 20,000 people.
What’s in a Name?
When the decision was made to merge all the companies, there was a lot of discussion regarding the name. Should one of the exiting company names be used or head in a new direction? The board quickly decided that a new direction was important and a name search was on with SWARM being the clear-cut winner. But why SWARM?
In the early 1900’s, the richest and most powerful people in the world were railroad tycoons. If at that time you were to ask them what was their core business, each one of them would give the same answer “We’re in the railroad business.” But they were wrong. At the same time a gentleman named Henry Ford came on the scene and revolutionized America with the advent and popularity of cars and trucks. This greatly impacted the wealth and fortune of the railroad tycoons and many consolidated and lost a portion of their conglomerates. And why? Because they failed to truly recognize what business they were in. They were not in the railroad business, but in the transportation business. If they would have had the foresight to recognize this, they could have invested with Ford, bought him out or made certain moves to protect their real business, transportation.
When devising a name for the new company, the same thought process took hold, “What was the team’s true core competency?” Was it the ability to organize subcontractors or pull permits? Was it their expertise in hiring the right teams for execution and building relationships with sponsors? Although all of these are important, they are byproducts of running successful events. What the team is really great at; what they do better than anyone else is simple: it is their ability to get multitudes of people together at one time in one place: a swarm. And hence SWARM Inc. was born.