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2017 Tampa Bay Startup Week expands across Bay to Pinellas County

President of Tampa Bay Startup Week Gracie Stemmer shares announcements for the upcoming Tampa Bay Startup Week.

President of Tampa Bay Startup Week Gracie Stemmer prepares for the happy hour party at the Franklin Manor.

Event Organizer Ryan Sullivan speaks with Ned Pope and Nicholas Catania.

Sophia Sanh, founder of Sweet Rebel Boutique, signs in for the Tampa Bay Startup Week happy hour party.

Local entrepreneurs chat with one another over drinks during the Tampa Bay Startup Week happy hour party at Franklin Manor.

Tampa Bay Startup Week brings together entrepreneurs to help them take their venture to the next level or to give them the extra motivation they need to bring their entrepreneurial idea to life.

The third annual Tampa Bay Startup Week will be bigger and better than ever next year. Tampa Bay Startup Week 2017 will take place at venues in both Downtown Tampa and Downtown St. Petersburg. This will connect individuals on both sides of the bay with startup resources in the community and opportunities to network with fellow entrepreneurs.

“It's extremely important for people to know where to go to to ask for help. That's really what we do,” says Gracie Stemmer, President of Tampa Bay Startup Week, during a Startup Week happy hour party at Franklin Manor. “We bring out the key players in the entrepreneurial community, like Tampa Bay WaVE and The Greenhouse in St. Pete. We put those resources on a pedestal so people can see them.”

Stemmer also announced during the happy hour party on September 21st that Chase Bank is sponsoring Tampa Bay Startup Week 2017 for $50,000 -- for the third year in a row. Tampa Bay is one of six cities’ conferences that Chase chose to sponsor this upcoming year. Chase worked with 4 million businesses nationwide and more than 260,000 in Florida in 2015.

During the weeklong events, the National Startup Champions Network will also host a conference, where ecosystem builders and support organizations convene innovative conversations while experiencing some of the nation’s top emerging entrepreneurial communities.

TechStart Youth Impact Initiative will also be taking place at the Tampa Bay Startup Week. TechStart’s mission is to connect at-risk youth in Tampa Bay with mentors and provide children with opportunities in technology fields.

Valuable info on being an entrepreneur

Tampa Bay Startup Week’s free five-day event is set to begin Monday, Feb. 13, 2017. Stemmer says they are aiming to top the 5,100 people in attendance for the week’s 80+ events in February earlier this year.

Attendees from 2016’s startup week walked away from the celebration with valuable information on being an entrepreneur, starting your own business and expanding your existing ventures. Tampa Bay Startup Week is essential for small business owners and entrepreneurs, says Daniel Arthur, financial professional associate at Prudential Advisors.

“Tampa Bay Startup Week is good for someone who is thinking of starting a business to find out what all is involved in it — anywhere from marketing to legal to what it takes. It's good for people who already started their business to figure out how to grow it and expand,” says Arthur, who attended the startup week earlier this year. “It's about a community coming together to help each other out.”

Sophia Sanh, Founder of Sweet Rebel Boutique, is looking forward to “hearing about other businesses and networking with them” in Tampa Bay Startup Week 2017. Sanh is also hoping to collaborate with other entrepreneurs, even if they are in another industry.

Entrepreneurs at the Tampa Bay Startup Week happy hour party expressed how supportive the Tampa Bay community is, especially the government and private sector.

“We're one of the very few towns that I've seen that really has a lot of government support. We have huge support from the mayor and different counties,” says Mark Carpenter, Founder of FullShore, a recruitment firm that helps companies find talented remote developers.

“Our local government supporting us is really unheard of everywhere else,” says Stemmer. “When we go to other places, they're like, 'Holy cow! Your county gave you $20,000 to run a startup week?’ ”

“There's so much that the private sector could do to stop the energy and the momentum that's happening, that they're not doing here,” says Stemmer. “They're doing the opposite. They're trying to pass laws to keep innovation growing.”

That synergy helped lead Fortune magazine to include Tampa in its August listing of 25 Hottest Cities for Startups.

Startups lead way in new economy

Earlier this year during Startup Week, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn joined in on the celebration, acknowledging how the local tech startup scene is positively impacting the Tampa Bay area.

“We’re not going to be a call center economy anymore,” said Buckhorn at the kickoff ceremony. “Think about how we have risen from the ashes of the wreckage of that recession – and it’s the emergence of the tech sector that’s driving a lot of that recovery. Tampa Bay has created more jobs in the last three out of the five years than any place else in the state of Florida.”

Tampa Bay Startup Week 2017 is expected to be the best conference to date. There will be ferry rides carrying attendees between Tampa and St. Pete, along with dozens of opportunities to learn more about local startups and network with fellow entrepreneurs.

“Expect a lot of events at next year’s startup week and try to free up that week,” says Carpenter, who volunteered at the past two Tampa Bay Startup Weeks. “Bring a lot of business cards because you're going to meet a lot of people.”

By the end of the week, people will be inspired to start their own businesses after seeing how startups positively affects our community, says Stemmer.

“The more people who start up, the more the economy will grow,” says Stemmer. “We'll be an even more flourishing ecosystem.”

Read more articles by Zebrina Edgerton-Maloy.

Zebrina Edgerton-Maloy is a freelance multimedia journalist based in Tampa. She earned her BA in Journalism from Washington and Lee University in May 2016. Zebrina is also a social media specialist and content writer for startup companies and small businesses. She helps build their brand through social media management and creates their brand story through content writing. She is constantly motivated by Tampa Bay's entrepreneurial spirit. Zebrina is dedicated to share entrepreneurs' stories of grit, passion and innovation. Learn more at her website and follow her on Instagram or Twitter @zebrinaemaloy.
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