Not Your Average Speakers talk 'Big and bigger: How to grow your startup from here'

As one of America’s fastest-growing startup communities, the Tampa Bay region plays host the first week of February to an inaugural Startup Week with a series of events in Tampa and St. Petersburg. 

During the five days of Startup Week festivities, Feb. 2-6, 2015, attendees can choose among 50 unique events that fall under one of 10 “tracks,” from the startup tried-and-true (Developer) to the unique (The History of Tampa Bay) to the innovative (Craft Beer Entrepreneurship). 

Among the highlights will be the latest edition of 83 Degrees Media’s “Not Your Average Speakers’’ series. This time, we’ll be talking with a panel of experts on “Big and bigger: How to grow your startup from here.’’ 

The two-hour event takes place Thursday, Feb. 5, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at The Iron Yard, 260 1st Ave. S. in downtown St Petersburg.

The program starts with networking at 5:30 p.m. The panel discussion runs from 6 to 7 with additional networking till 7:30. Bring your business cards. Expect to meet smart people and make new connections. Share what you know. Be open to new concepts and the potential for non-traditional collaborations.

Meet the panelists 

Brian Burridge is Ruby Instructor at The Iron Yard in St. Petersburg. Brian was born in Philadelphia, PA but has lived in the Tampa Bay region of Florida since he was 2. Brian learned to program when he was 7 with his dad, who was a teacher and was learning to code in order to start a computer programming class. Brian has worked professionally as a developer, software architect and CTO for over 20 years. He has written apps in Basic, Pascal, C/C+, Perl, PHP, ASP, J2EE, Javascript, and Ruby on Rails. He was the sole developer for the Miley Cyrus websites for over five years. He has worked through his own company as a freelancer, as well as full time for several startups and large companies including IBM, Cox Target Media, Brighthouse, Intercontinental Hotels and GitHub. Brian is also a black belt in Tang Soo Do and has belts in Akido, Judo, Jujitsu and Filipino Arnis stick fighting. 

Sarah Perrier grew up in the St. Petersburg area before leaving to get her BFA in Philadelphia at the University of the Arts. She lived there for 10 years dancing in a nationally touring dance company as well as becoming Company Manager for the nonprofit dance company and school. She met and married her husband Raphael there and they returned to St. Petersburg in 2005. They founded Kahwa Coffee Roasting together in 2006 and put down roots in The Tampa Bay area. They now have 2 beautiful daughters and 6 cafes as well as a local, national and recently international wholesale coffee business. They have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the growth of downtown St. Pete as that is what drew them back to this area. They enjoy the community here and take pride in supporting and partnering with many nonprofit charities and arts organizations in our area. 

Elton Rivas is a serial entrepreneur, triathlete, speaker and a passionate human. He is the founder/cofounder/adviser of various ventures ranging from footwear to tech startups. After exiting corporate America four years ago, Elton ventured forth to launch a number of initiatives including CoWork Jax, Downtown Jacksonville’s first coworking space and Jacksonville’s One Spark, The World’s Largest Crowdfunding Festival (April 7-12, 2015). 

Johnette Isham is a designer-educator with over 30 years in arts, education, nonprofit, corporate and municipal settings. Her degrees and advanced certifications are from Rhode Island School of Design, Lesley University, Harvard University and Case Western Business School. She worked for Corning Glass Works, Polaroid Corporation, Rhode Island School of Design and Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, before moving to Florida in 1988. After 18 years as VP for Academic Affairs at Ringling College of Art and Design, Johnette was the Project Director for a LEED gold cancer care facility called the Center for Building Hope in Lakewood Ranch. Her work in the area of design and sustainability was featured at the United Nation’s Global Forum for Business as an Agent of World Benefit. In fall 2009 Johnette became the founding director of Realize Bradenton, a nonprofit community benefit organization that promotes downtown Bradenton’s arts, culture, heritage and sports for greater economic development, tourism and quality of life. With a deep belief that all is possible when people work together, she actively engages with others to develop and promote the physical, cultural and social assets of the Bradenton area. Outside of work, Johnette can be found gardening at her new home in downtown Bradenton along the Manatee River.

Meet the moderator 

The moderator for the NYAS event is Daniel James Scott, Executive Director at the Tampa Bay Technology Forum. Daniel is a noted technologist, job creator and talent developer. A self-taught programmer, Daniel’s first web app was featured in Entrepreneur Magazine the summer of 2006, and he went on to manage projects for media companies, municipalities, and universities. Described as “an accomplished entrepreneur” by the Tampa Bay Business Journal, his most current venture is described by as one that “will dominate the tech landscape in the years to come,” while his previous companies have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch and the Wall Street Journal.

At USF St. Petersburg, Daniel has been instrumental in starting and developing an entrepreneurship program honored as the 2013 USASBE "Outstanding Emerging Entrepreneurship Program" award and earning him the 2013 Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship "Educator of the Year" award. Daniel’s efforts have Florida Trend identifying him as “one of Florida's economic impact players” and the Tampa Bay Times listing to him as “one of ten who make Tampa Bay area's economic outlook brighter.” His results have translated into such honors as being named the "State of Florida Business Advocate of the Year" during the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 50th Anniversary Celebration and "Technology Leader of the Year" during the TBTF’s 10th Annual Industry Achievement Awards Gala. He serves on the board the Lions Eye Institute for Transplant & Research, advises a number of local technology startups and is one of six behind the Tampa Bay 6/20 initiative.

You are invited and can RSVP by clicking here.

How we got here

83 Degrees Media launched the "Not Your Average Speakers'' series in October 2011 with a community discussion about "What's Working In [Tampa Bay] Cities.''

Each event is designed to create an environment where speakers and audience members can engage in conversation face to face as ideators, innovators, instigators and thought leaders. Our goal is to create connections that will lead to collaborations across communities, disciplines and industries.  

Local events and topics have included: “Cultivating Innovation At The Intersection of Arts & Technology,’’ "Nurturing The Tampa Bay Startup Culture,'' "Champions for Change,'' "Community Building,'' "Placemaking,'' "Talent Squeeze,'' "Valuing Diversity,'' "Putting P3s To Work,'' "Innovation,'' "Tampa's Curious Quest To Be Cool,'' "STEM or STEAM: Shaping the Future of Tampa Bay,'' "What's New and What's Next for Downtown Tampa'' and "Transforming Military Might Into Civilian Talent.''

Events have been held at a variety of cool places, including at Tampa Bay WaVe, The Vault, Nova 535, Hillsborough Community College-Ybor City campus, CAMLS, USFSP, Jaeb Theater, Stageworks Theatre, Freefall Theatre, The Roosevelt 2.0, Walker Brands and the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts. To suggest a venue to host a future event, email 83 Degrees.

Support for the events comes from 83 Degrees community partners and underwriters, including Pinellas County Economic Development, The Iron Yard, The Station House and White Book Agency. To become a sponsor of this event or a future event, email 83 Degrees.

83 Degrees Media covers growth, investment and social innovation in the Tampa Bay region by featuring stories about Talent, Innovation, Global Diversity and Environment -- a new narrative for a new economy. "Not Your Average Speakers'' features creative, innovative and influential people in and around Tampa Bay who are doing their part to move the region forward.

Tweet about NYAS events and 83 Degrees on Twitter by using #83DegreesNYAS @83degreesmedia. Also, if you’re feeling friendly, like 83 Degrees on Facebook. We just might like you back!

Reminder: You can RSVP by clicking here.

Read more articles by Diane Egner.

Diane Egner is the publisher and managing editor at 83 Degrees Media in the Tampa Bay region of Florida. 
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