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Cheryl Rogers : Innovation + Job News

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Commuting without a car: Tampa ridesharing aggregator offers cost-saving option

Users of ridesharing apps like Uber or Lyft can find prices surging after a Tampa Bay Lightning, Bucs or Rays game. With prices potentially more than double, it’s a good time to shop for the best price. But who wants to stand on the sidewalk thumbing through a bunch of apps to find a bargain?

With the ridesharing aggregator Whipster, you don’t have to. The free, Tampa-based app enables ridesharing customers to find the service that offers the best service in real time.

“Our revenues are generated on the backend with those business relationships,” explains Founder and CEO Russel Olinger.

Whipster was officially incorporated in January 2017. Since then, it’s expanded to 400 U.S. and Canadian cities. It also operates overseas when a vendor services that area.

Olinger says the aggregator used on Androids and iPhones is needed because there are simply too many ridesharing apps, some 40 across North America.

“The single biggest response we get [to our app] is ‘I had no idea that there were so many rideshare companies out there,” he says.

In Tampa Bay, Whipster gives riders a variety of options. Besides Uber and Lyft, it includes taxis, bike share, and public transit. Curb, a taxi app, appears to be pushing into the Tampa market, he says.

Whipster helps smaller vendors to compete with more established providers, especially in new markets, Olinger says.

Its next goal is “telling the world we exist,” he adds.

With the cost of a car at about $750 a month, millennials and other cost-conscious commuters in urban areas are ditching the car to get around at a fraction of the cost, Olinger says.

“They’re looking to urban transportation options,” he adds.

Bike sharing is an option available in downtown Tampa and St. Petersburg and other neighborhoods, as well as at the University of South Florida, through the Coast Bikes brand.

Some 600,000 bike miles have been logged since 2014 when Coast Bikes first came to downtown Tampa, says Eric Trull, Regional Director-Florida for the provider, Cycle Hop.

Pay-as-you-go pricing at $8 an hour, along with membership rates, are even attracting bike owners for one-way trips. Computers mounted on the bikes and GPS systems are a deterrent for bike thieves.

Trull says the response to bike sharing has been tremendous.

These bikes are getting a ton of use,” he says.

Started in Tampa, Coast Bikes is now offering bike sharing in the United States and Canada. 

The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority offers yet another sustainable option through its 50 Compressed Natural Gas buses, 46 HARTPlus vans and eight HARTFlex vans. Together they remove nearly 580 cars worth of carbon dioxide emissions from the road annually, according to Sandra Morrison, HART Deputy Press Secretary. 

HART called attention to its effort to go green by handing out plant kits on April 17 in honor of Earth Week.


Jobs News: Connecting to employers in Plant City, Tampa Bay Area

Graduating seniors need jobs. Employers need employees. But sometimes there is a failure to connect -- and both sides may flounder.

In Plant City, they’re trying to do something about that. A grass roots movement, of sorts, has been growing. “We’re wanting to make those connections so we just continue to prosper,” explains Yvonne Fry, Chief Fry Cook at Fryed Egg Productions, a Plant City marketing firm.

A revised website, Plant City Jobs recently had a soft launch, and the third annual Future Fair is scheduled Thursday, April 26, at the Trinkle Center on Hillsborough Community College’s Plant City campus.

The event kicks off at 9 a.m. with Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam addressing several hundred students from Durant High School, Plant City High School and Simmons Career Center.

“I’ve been asked by so many people in the community, “Can I come?’ ” she says. “The companies of course want to meet as many people as they can.”

So the event, with approximately 50 businesses, apprenticeship programs, technical schools, and the military, includes a community component for the first time this year. Members of the community can meet with decision makers from noon until 2 p.m.

The Future Fair additionally includes a panel of business leaders who will share their own career paths and discuss opportunities for high school graduates. Moderated by Danny McIntyre of The Improvement League of Plant City, the panel includes Gilbert Esparza of Star Distribution Systems, Michelle Valdes of Tint Plus, and Matt Stone of A Stepping Stone Air Conditioning and Heating.

Fry, who describes herself as a serial volunteer, has been observing the situation as a parent and business owner. “I think that Plant City is the most special place in the whole world,” she continues. “I really believe that there is so much opportunity here. We are on the cusp of a whole next generation of what’s coming.”

Plant City has a strong sense of community, and people are rallying together. From the nonprofit Raiders Champion Foundation, to the Hillsborough County public schools, to Hillsborough Community College, to the Improvement League of Plant City and Safe and Sound of Hillsborough County, they are partnering. The Plant City Economic Development Corporation and business sponsors like The Mosaic Company, Hillsborough Education Foundation, Stingray Chevrolet, Florida Public Utilities, Star Distribution Systems, Suncoast Credit Union have been involved.

Among the advocates is Plant City Mayor Rick Lott, a member of the PCHS Business Advisory Board, and a proponent of economic development.

“What’s unique in Plant City is that the owners of our businesses, the C-level folks, are in the room,” she says. “The magic happens whenever somebody looks at you and says, ‘I believe in you.’ That’s a big part of what we’ve done.”

Ultimately, it’s more than about jobs. It’s about building a future for young people. “If people have jobs, they’re purposeful. They’re able to be altruistic and help with other things. They stay out of trouble,” Fry asserts.

The movement began at Plant City High School and has grown to include the year-round, 1-year-old Plant City Career Academy that prepares select students, who are not college bound, for the workforce. “It’s amazing the jobs that we have here in Plant City,” she says.

Below are other job opportunities in the Tampa Bay Area:

• The Tampa-based Greenway Health, a health information technology and services provider, has announced plans to add 104 positions through December as part of a $1.8 million expansion. The new hires at its Westshore location, which will be paid an average annual wage of more than $57,000, will fill positions in software development and training, legal, cybersecurity, and marketing. Greenway Health offers integrated electronic health records, practice management solutions and other tools to help improve care coordination, profitability and efficiency for ambulatory healthcare practices nationwide. Learn more.

• The global endurance sports firm IRONMAN announced in March that it was creating 70 new jobs and expanding its Tampa headquarters. The company is hiring for new jobs in a variety of areas. To check out the openings, visit Teamwork Online and search for IRONMAN.

• Currently in a growth mode, the Clearwater-based KnowBe4 is hiring. The IT security firm lists 26 positions on its website (some out of town) and invites interested applicants to submit a resume for future openings. Among them are software sales representative, which requires at least two years of experience, and a human relations generalist which requires at least one year of related experience. Learn more.

• The UK-based global design firm Atkins is seeking an architect intern in Tampa. The temporary part-time position may include developing models and drawings, along with construction and design budgets and schedules. For more information, visit the Atkins website and search for Tampa.


New Orleans-bound StartupBus rolls out of Tampa on Friday

The Florida StartupBus -- packed with 30 entrepreneurial-minded people who may be strangers to each other -- is set to roll out of downtown Tampa at 8 a.m. Friday, April 27. The bus embarks on a 72-hour journey of more than 650 miles to New Orleans, stopping at Atlanta, Nashville, and cultural and entrepreneurial hotspots.

Along the way, participants can create a product and business, take risks without consequences, and connect with mentors and collaborators who can help make their venture a success.

For some, it may be a life changer. “StartupBus is about experiencing, essentially, the first year of a startup,” explains Robert Blacklidge, the Lead Conductor. “We compress it into a short amount of time.”

Ultimately, the StartupBus is not about churning out a bunch of businesses, however. “Our goal is not to create companies,” he says. “It’s to give people the experience of creating a company in a short amount of time.”

The route the bus will take wasn’t disclosed.

“When you’re starting an entrepreneurial experience, you don’t know what the road is ahead of you,” Blacklidge says. “We like to keep the experience that way too.”

About a third of this year’s participants are veterans, like Blacklidge, who served in the U.S. Air Force. He describes the StartupBus as a boot camp that puts together hackers, or the creators, with hipsters, the designers, and hustlers, the marketers.

They’re in for a grueling experience: 15- to 18-hour workdays where they rely on Red Bull and coffee to function. “It’s not a cakewalk,” he points out.

In the end, it’s about opportunity rather than “creature comforts,” or “habit,” he says.

“We’re showing them a mountain that they don’t have a choice but to climb,” he explains. “All the time, people will rise to the challenge.”

Bus riders with be in the Big Easy on Monday, April 30, and Tuesday, May 1, along with the big Collision tech conference April 30-May 3.

Some 30 teams from eight buses, including a bus from New York City with women interested in block chain, the technology used to build crytocurrency, will be presenting their businesses before industry leaders.

The prize is the experience, the people you meet and the bragging rights,” Blacklidge says.

This trip’s sponsors include Veterans Florida, Hillsborough County’s Economic Development Innovation Initiative EDi2, and the technology consulting and software development firm, Sourcetoad.

Nine years ago, the first StartupBus wasn’t planned. Some entreprenuers were headed across the country to a conference, when they decided to challenge themselves to create a company along the way. Since then the idea has been growing, turning into an international challenge that spurs inventiveness and creativity.

“You would be amazed what gets created in a short amount of time,” Blacklidge says. “It’s truly an incredible experience.”

In 2017, two Florida teams were among the five finalists: Course Align and DropIn Pedals.

Blacklidge came up with the idea for his company, Course Align, while on the bus. The company, designed to help universities develop curriculum that meets evolving business needs, is in the seed-funding stage with 14 employees, most of them unpaid interns.

Conductors Morgan Thacker and Tyler Baumgardner, a 2017 team out of Dunedin, placed second with DropIn Pedals, an adapter transforming clipless bike pedals into flat pedals that an be used with casual shoes.

A limited number of seats are available on the bus for latecomers this year. “Every year we get one or two people that just found out about it,” Blacklidge says.

Potential participants can sign up at http://Startupbus.com/florida using the invite code 83Degrees.

“They will need to fill out the application and schedule an interview when they sign up,” Blacklidge says. “The time line will be tight to get them through the process and on the bus.”

Participants need to pay for a $399 ticket, plus food, hotels and airfare.


Career Cafe: Workshop helps girls land the jobs of their dreams

A Pinellas County high school student has created a career program that teaches the job-hunting skills girls need to land their dream jobs. Called The Career Cafe, it's intended to help girls compete more favorably in the marketplace.

Anne Bauer, a 17-year-old senior at East Lake High School in north Pinellas County, developed the program after recognizing two years ago that women face wage discrimination in the workplace. She’d attended a Women’s Conference of Florida, where she learned of the problem.

“My eyes were opened to the gender wage gap between male and females in the workforce,” she says. “I realized I was going to be entering the workforce soon. I did not want that to be prevalent at all.”  

So Bauer, a Girl Scout since kindergarten, created The Career Cafe, where girls can practice interviewing and hone resume-writing skills before they actually have an interview. The first Career Cafe was held in October; a second cafe is scheduled in May.

“The goal of The Career Cafe is to prepare the girls when they are looking for a job,” explains Clara Moll, VP of Membership Innovation for Girl Scouts of West Central Florida. “It [the interview] is very daunting. Some of them have never attempted to look for a job for themselves.”

A cafe, open to girls in high school and above, up to 23 years of age, is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 12, at The Kaizen Collaborative, 5215 W. Laurel St., Ste. 110, Tampa. Check-in begins at 8:30 a.m.

Girl Scout membership is not required.

The program teaches job-hunting skills like networking, personal branding, and interview dos and don’ts. It features opening remarks by Jamie Klingman, a Lightning Community Hero of the Year in 2014, and speakers Debbie Lundberg of Presenting Powerfully, along with Robin Kraemer and Ronda Clement of My Matrixx.

Coaches and volunteers include Camie Gibertini, Valley National Bank; Holly Donaldson, Holly Donaldson Financial Planning; Stephanie Gaines, Citi; Juliann Nichols, Julo Strategy; Adeola Shabiyi, Citigroup; and Jennifer McVan, Florida Hospital.

Bauer’s efforts have been recognized by the 2018 Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation’s Community Heroes of Tomorrow program, which awarded her a $25,000 college scholarship. She plans to attend the University of South Florida in Tampa next fall and double major in biomedical engineering and finance.

Another $25,000 was awarded to the Girl Scouts to continue the program.

“We hope to keep it going,” says Nicole Gonzalez, Public Relations and Media Manager for Girl Scouts of West Central Florida. “It’s definitely a great opportunity for high school.”

While the Scouts do offer other career-related programs like Camp CEO, The Career Cafe is open to the general public and gives girls a good career overview. “This is really more about envisioning their lives and where they see themselves,” Gonzalez says. “You’re going to leave here with the tools that you need.”

The Girl Scouts are looking for volunteers for the event, especially to help with resume writing and mock interviews. “It’s a good way to bridge the gap between women who are older that have more experience and the younger girls that are just starting their professional life,” Moll says.

To register or volunteer, visit the Girl Scouts website and search for The Career Cafe. For more information, email careercafe@gswcf.org.

Bauer will be receiving the Girl Scouts’ highest accolade, the Gold Award pin, for her efforts Saturday, June 9.

Women in Florida earn an average 87.5 cents for every $1 a man earns, according to The Status of Women in Florida by County: Employment and Earnings, a report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, in partnership with Florida Philanthropic Network and Florida Women’s Funding Alliance.

That’s up from 79.9 cents in 2004.

The report released April 9 shows the Sunshine State receives a D+, ranking 36th in its Employment and Earnings Index based on the number of women in the workplace, women’s median annual earnings, the gender wage gap and women in professional or managerial positions. The grade dropped from C- in 2004.

Learn about upcoming job fairs in the Tampa Bay area.

Hillsborough Community College is holding a free job fair Tuesday, April 17, from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the gym on the Dale Mabry Campus, 4001 W. Tampa Bay Blvd., Tampa.

• ECHO, the Emergency Care Help Organization, has scheduled its Spring Job Fair from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, April 19, at Brandon Boys and Girls Club, 213 N. Knights Ave., Brandon. The event is free. Learn more.

• Career Showcase is holding a Tampa Job Fair from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, April 19, at Tampa Marriott Westshore, 1001 N. Westshore Blvd., Tampa. The event specializes in careers in sales, particularly pharmaceutical, medical, IT, inside and outside, as well as business development, financial services, customer service/call center and marketing recruiting. It is free and open to recent college graduates through executive candidates. Pre-registration is required.

JobNewsUSA.com’s Tampa Job Fair is planned from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, April 25, at George M. Steinbrenner Field, 1 Steinbrenner Dr. The free event caters to all jobseekers. Recruiters will be available.

• A free job fair for Registered nurses and Certified Nursing Assistants is slated from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, April 28, at Kindred Hospital Bay Area St. Petersburg, 3030 6th St. S., St. Petersburg.
Learn more.

• Nations Joblink is targeting jobseekers from the Bradenton, Sarasota and Lakewood Ranch areas with its Tampa Bay Career Fair from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, May 10, at Homewood Suites Conference Center -- Sarasota Lakewood Ranch, 305 N. Cattlemen Dr., Sarasota. The event is for career seekers from a wide variety of industries. It’s free -- and hiring will be done on the spot. Register online.


Tech Bytes: Competitions spur tech innovation

A woman-owned business, VRenewables LLC of Tampa, claimed a $3,500 cash prize March 29 for its design for a hybrid, standalone streetlight independent of the electric grid.

Led by Vrinda Vairagi and Shesh Narayan Vaishnav, the company has a vision to work toward a better future. Its streetlight, which uses solar power, took the Social Entrepreneur Student Pitch Award, sponsored by local companies Connectwise and Sourcetoad.

Vairagi has experience in business relations and HR management while Vaishnav is in photovoltaic research industry, says Vaishnav, CEO. 

The award was given at the 2018 Innovation Summit organized by the nonprofit Synapse. “I am planning to invest this money towards the research and development of the hybrid street light which will be powered by both Solar Module and Wind Turbine,” Vaishnav says. 

“I think Innovation Challenges are the single most effective way to catalyze innovation and spur collaboration in a very organic, tangible way,” says Trey Steinhoff, Lead Designer and Challenge Organizer at the Summit. There truly is nothing more inspiring than having groups of passionate, talented people put their heart into building something on a tight deadline.”

Other award winners were Tracy Ingram, owner of Dade City's Intention Technology, in a Connectwise challenge; and Matt Spaulding, in the Metropolitan Ministries Hackathon for Social Good. Both also won $3,500 each.

Connectwise was looking for an inclusive interface for employees and other users. “I built a [mobile-friendly] bot that could be put on any existing site with a few lines of code,” Ingram says.

Metropolitan Ministries sought digital solutions to help those in crisis, so it can operate more effectively. Details were not immediately available.

These awards were sponsored by Connectwise, Sourcetoad and Metropolitan Ministries. 

The creative problem solving that is required to compete in these events forces competitors to push their assumptions and come up with solutions that no one saw coming, not even the partner companies,” Steinhoff says. “The cherry on top is seeing these competitors working together with each other and the partner companies at and after the event. I have been to a lot of tech and entrepreneurial events in Tampa Bay and have yet to see another event that molds deep, genuine relationships quite like a hackathon or pitch competition.

Read on for more local tech news.

Thomas Wallace, managing partner of Florida Funders, will be featured at the April Diary of an Entrepreneur program. Wallace, an active angel tech investor for 25 years, co-founded his first business at the age of 23. His talk, "Startups and Raising Capital," will include insights from his career as a tech entrepreneur, executive, investor and more. The presentation by TEC Garage is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. Tuesday, April 10, at Microsoft, 5426 Bay Center Dr., Suite 700, Tampa. The event is free, but reservations are requested because of limited seating. Learn more and/or register here.

• A panel discussion entitled “Cybesecurity – Skills, Trends and Industry” is planned at the next Trep Talks gathering for entrepreneurs at Hillsborough County’s Entrepreneur Collaborative Center in Ybor City. The event is planned at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 24, at 2101 E. Palm Ave. Sign up online here.

• Florida Venture Forum is hosting the 11th Annual Florida Early Stage Capital Conference and the 8th Annual Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition Friday, May 18, at The Westshore Grand in Tampa. Described as one of the largest angel and early-stage-investors’ gatherings in the Southeast, the event features pitches from dynamic Florida-based ventures, along with panel discussions, speakers and presentations. The deadline for presenter applications is Wednesday, April 18. Presenters are required to pay conference registration fees. Learn more here. At the event there will be two, $25,000 cash prizes to Accelerating Innovation Award winners from Space Florida.

• The U.S. Air Force is looking for help closing the science and technology gap, so it’s hosting a workshop Thursday, April 26, at the University of South Florida in Tampa. The workshop for the scientific community, academia, and business professionals will include ideas about how to facilitate a conversation about Air Force technological advances. The deadline to submit ideas is Friday, April 13. Learn more about the 8 a.m. event at CW Bill Young Hall.

• If you’re looking for recognition for your business, consider TechCo.’s Startup of the Year competition. It’ll give you the opportunity to expand your startup by providing opportunities to meet investors, gain insight, get funding and win prizes. Startups need to be innovative and have a live, viable product. Candidates must submit their applications before Monday, April 30. Check it out here.

• Florida Polytechnic University students in Lakeland have joined the quest for biofuel. Using algae from Polk County lakes, they are working with a professor of biology, Dr. Melba Horton, to find a renewable energy source. While algae already is being used for biofuel, this source would be cheaper. The research is being funded by Florida Industrial and Phosphate Research Institute.

In other Florida Poly news, Dr. Kanwalinderjit K. Gagneja, a computer science professor, has won a $44,000 grant from the Florida Center for Cybersecurity at the University of South Florida to develop a new Digital Forensics course. Through hands-on training, the class would help address a shortage of cybersecurity experts.

The university drew a record crowd of 300 to its third annual Women in STEM Summit March 14, to hear a panel of successful individuals talk about how they applied science, technology, engineering and math to their careers.

• Knack, a Tampa-based peer-to-peer tutoring service, was as finalist in the 2018 Challenge Cup contest in Washington D.C. March 22. Tampa’s Preferhired was a semi-finalist in the contest hosted by 1776. The winning company was Caribu in Miami.


Tourme: A digital platform transforming the tourist industry

Bill Marquez’s quest for a pineapple-picking farm in Maui turned into an unforgettable adventure. He realized -- with help from friendly residents -- other travelers could fulfill their dreams too.

As a result, Tourme was born.

Developed by the St. Petersburg-based International Touring Apps LLC, the Tourme platform makes it easier to book memorable personalized tours at a savings.

“We’re really mainstreaming tours and travel,” says Brittany Cooper, Tourme’s Marketing Coordinator.

As a child, Marquez had noticed tourists disembarking from cruise ships in Bonaire, the Dutch island near Arruba in the Caribbean, with cellphones that didn’t work. He wanted to make it easier for them to connect to the locals. Later, he recognized the niche in the market when he wanted to book his own pineapple-picking tour.

He eventually became business partners with Gary Capuano, company Co-Founder and Principal, who had witnessed the rise in development in St. Petersburg.

Today Marquez is CEO of the company located in co-working space in the Station House in downtown St. Pete. At 2 years old, it has six employees, most of them remote. International Touring Apps is scouting for an office worker to help manage tours, and expects to hire local residents for office and management in the future. “We’re taking it day by day,” she says.

Prospective employees should visit partner.tourme.com to apply for tourist guide and other positions.

Tourme received more than 10,000 applications from tour guides since the beginning of the year. About 800 have been approved in more than 180 cities across the world. The platform offers at least 400 user-generated tours -- and plenty more are pending.

The number of users wasn’t disclosed, although the company is projected to have 50 million downloads by the end of 2020. “It’s gong to be huge in the next couple of years. We anticipate having millions of users,” she says.

The company, which launched its platform earlier this month, is preparing for rapid growth. “I think that it’s going to be a great tool for the tourist industry,” she says.

Tourme is expected to benefit both tour guides and tourists. “We just really want to streamline that process,” she says. “It will be disruptive, in a sense. I think it will be an asset.”

It will make it easier for guides to book customers. Tourists will find it easier to find reputable guides and book their tours without using big companies or cruise lines. Larger groups are expected to benefit most from the peer-to-peer approach.

“I think we’re just following the natural progression of how business is done these days,” she explains.

Tourme will be adding badges to some profiles to show the guides are licensed. Ratings and personal endorsements will be available.

The platform has an app for tour guides and an app for tourists. Now available in the App Store and Google Play, both are free to download and use.

Tourme makes its money through a 25.5 percent cut of the touring fee. “Taxes vary by location,” she says. “No one booking a tour in Florida will have to pay a service charge.”

The company’s mission right now is building recognition for the brand and strengthening partnerships with visitor and convention bureaus and others.

It is enjoying the sense of community in downtown St. Petersburg. “The industry for startup companies has just been booming in St. Petersburg for the last couple of years,” she says. “It just really fell together and seemed like the perfect place to get started.”

Read on to learn more about the Tampa Bay Area job market.

• If you’re interested in helping grow Tampa’s downtown, check out Strategic Property Planners, a joint venture between Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Cascade Investment LLC that is developing Water Street Tampa. It lists 10 openings on its website, including an asset manager, assistant controller, IT help desk and systems administrator, real estate development manager, senior development analyst, senior graphics designer, senior development multi-family residential manager, senior recruiter, and VP for construction management-office. An open-ended “Opportunities at SPP” listing invites applicants for urban developer, construction project manager, marketing expert, accountant, real estate technology visionary, or finance expert. Learn more about job openings at SPPTampa.

• The Tampa-based chronic care management company, Caresync, lists 17 job openings in Tampa, including telephonic nurses, nurse phone care coordinators, a medical care coordinator, and project administrator. Learn more about the jobs.

• The Mentor Network, a national network serving those with intellectual and developmental disabilities or other medical-related needs, lists two job opportunities in the Tampa Bay area. One is for a quality improvement specialist in Tampa, who must have at least three to five years of experience in quality improvement or a related field, and a direct support professional or caregiver in New Port Richey, who must have at least one year of related, direct care experience. Check out the details here.

• Robert Half is seeking a junior, mid-level software engineer to work with a client in St. Petersburg. This permanent position pays $50,000 to $70,000 annually and requires C# and SQL knowledge. Check into opportunities through Robert Half.

Know of other growing companies adding jobs in the Tampa Bay Area? Email tips@83degreesmedia.com


Job fairs help connect people to open jobs in healthcare, many other professions

Jobs in the healthcare field aren’t just for nurses, doctors, and other trained medical personnel. There also are plenty of opportunities for janitors, drivers, cashiers, administrators, sales personnel, and lots of other non-medical employees.

The Brandon-based Red Carpet USA Entertainment and Events can help you find these opportunities. It is holding its first Medical Career Job Fair Thursday, April 12, at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa.

“There’s a lot of stuff out there that people don’t know is there,” says Susan Longo, CEO of the seven-year-old firm that holds job fairs, car shows, motorcycle shows and other events throughout Tampa Bay. 

Longo’s background is in healthcare -- and she noticed the need for employees in the field at a recent job fair, when Tampa’s Moffitt Cancer Center gave her a list of some 400 openings. “That’s a lot of openings,” says Longo. “ We couldn’t even begin to list them.”

Longo, who works with Arthur Pierce, the company’s Operations and IT manager, and Carolyn Miller, Community Liaison, is planning some 20 to 25 employers at the event. They will be accepting employer signups until Wednesday, April 11, the day they set up tables at the facility on U.S. Highway 301 south of Interstate 4.

“We’re trying to find a couple [of employers] that do multi-level marketing in the health field,” she adds. “They’re very welcome to come.”

They also are looking for at least one hospital, an insurance company and firms that employ drivers that deliver medical products.

The job fair offers free resume help and review plus free classes from Gene Hodge from HodgePodge Training in St. Petersburg, who helps applicants assess their talents and abilities. “When people come in, we ask them ‘what are you looking for?’ ” Longo explains. “When we get a shrug, we send them over to Gene Hodge. A lot of people come in just to get their resumes.”

She encourages jobseekers to dress appropriately. “Definitely, be ready to be interviewed. We’ve had people walk out with jobs,” she says.

Those who want to attend the free fair, scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Fairgrounds Pavilion off Martin Luther King Boulevard, are advised to signup in advance at http://redcarpetusa.us and skip the sign-in line. Available jobs will be posted online prior to the event.

“My advice to anybody coming to a job fair is know in advance what you want,” she adds.

Check out other upcoming job fairs in the Tampa Bay region:

• A Rocky Point luxury hotel is looking to hire approximately 100 team members for its hotel and new dining and party venue. The Godfrey Hotel and Cabanas Tampa is holding a job fair from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. today, March 21, at the hotel at 7700 W Courtney Campbell Causeway, Tampa. The hotel is accepting applications for food and beverage supervisor, restaurant manager, sous chef, line cook, server, bartender, barback, host, food runner, dishwasher and room service attendant. Jobseekers are encouraged to apply online here. Previously called the Bay Harbor Hotel, the property has undergone extensive renovation to create an elegant, resort-style ambiance. The final stage, to be completed this spring, includes the pier-side dining and poolside party venue.

• A Nursing Job Fair is slated from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on both Thursday, March 22, and Friday, March 23, at the nonprofit skilled nursing facility Egret Cove Center at 550 62nd St. S., St. Petersburg. The center is looking for experienced nurses, nursing students, and new graduate nurses. Tours and interviews will be given. Please reserve a place by contacting Betsy Norris, Lead Recruiting Consultant, at 561-353-7848 or by emailing her at BNorris@facsupport.com.

• Aramark is holding a job fair from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 22, at Raymond James Stadium, 4201 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. Aramark is looking to fill part-time seasonal, event-based positions that may involve working nights, weekends and holidays. The positions include bartenders, catering attendants, cleaning crew, concession stand workers, concession supervisors, cooks, runners, stand leads, suite runners and warehouse worker. Jobseekers are advised to apply before the event for one or two positions only. The event is free; plan to be interviewed. Attendees must reserve a place and bring a resume. Learn more.

 

• Bradenton and Sarasota jobseekers can check out the free Employment Expos job fair from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, March 26, at Sahib Shrine, 600 N. Beneva Rd., Sarasota. The event is for jobseekers beginning their careers or searching for a career. Opportunities include cooking, housekeeping supervision, front desk supervision, resort hosting, shuttle driving, and life-skill coaching. Register online.

• The Tampa Bay Times is holding its Tampa Bay Job and Career Fair from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, April 9, at The Coliseum, 535 4th Ave. N., St. Petersburg. No pre-registration is required for the free event, which anticipates more than 50 local employers. Learn more about the Times’ job fairs and other expos here.


• Tired of submitting your resumes online and getting no reply? Mark your calendars for the Tampa Career Fair from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, April 18, at Holiday Inn Tampa Westshore Airport Tampa. The event, which is free for jobseekers. is conducted by Best Hire Career Fairs. It enables you to learn firsthand about the businesses that are hiring – and what their needs are. Employers hire on the spot. A wide variety of industries are expected to participate, including agriculture and agribusiness, apparel and accessories, banking, employment, energy, fashion, fine arts, green technology, sports, video games and web services. Learn more and/or register.

• Florida Joblink and Nations Joblink are pairing up for the Florida Joblink Career Fair slated from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 18, at Clarion Inn and Suites Conference Center, 9331 E. Adamo Dr., Tampa. The event targets jobseekers in Tampa, Brandon and Lakeland. The goal? To connect growing companies with the best talent, regardless of race or affiliation. A variety of career opportunities are anticipated. Learn more.

• United Career Fairs has scheduled a Tampa Career Fair from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 24, at Holiday Inn Tampa Westshore Airport, 700 N. Westshore Blvd., Tampa. The event kicks off with an executive presentation, where companies can introduce themselves and their job opportunities. Jobseekers in attendance can then meet with hiring managers of their choice. The fair focuses on sales, business development, marketing, customer service, retail and sales management jobs. Learn more about this free event.


Tampa Innovation Summit features Hyperloop, Tesla, IBM, Water Street Tampa, and more

Imagine traveling from Tampa to Tallahassee or from Tampa to Miami in 20 minutes or so? Or zipping across the continent from Florida to California on the ground, at airplane speeds, safely and securely? It may sound like a science fiction plot, but it isn’t.

It’s a revolutionary, tube-based transport system capable of speeds of 700 miles per hour, which has been under development since 2013 by Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, a California-based company.

Hyperloop has put together a team of more than 800 on six continents to work on the system powered by magnets and sunlight. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but it’s already attracting plenty of interest. A Cleveland-to-Chicago run could well be the first in the United States. And it has already passed the muster of a major reinsurer, Munich RE.

So where does Tampa Bay fit into this, you might ask? Hyperloop’s CEO Dirk Ahlborn will be a featured speaker at the 2018 Innovation Summit March 28 and 29 at the Amalie Arena in downtown Tampa. The event organized by the nonprofit Synapse is part of an effort to unify the community to make Tampa Bay a “very welcoming and easy place to do business,” says Marc Blumenthal, a Founding Partner of Synapse. 

What Hyperloop is developing has the potential to change the way people think and operate as well as where they can live,” he says.

They’re designing this thing to be far more affordable than ... most rail,” he adds.

Ahlborn’s talk, part of a segment on the future of mobility after lunch on the 29th, is expected to lead to further meetings among community leaders. “Clearly Hyperloop is something that can be considered to move people around the region and the state,” Blumenthal says.

The summit is expected to include 257 exhibitors, more than 70 pavilions and 55 breakout sessions. It also has at least a couple of more items of special interest on transportation. Kasra Moshkani, a General Manager for Uber in the southeastern U.S., is expected to share Uber’s vision for the future in that segment on mobility. 

“It’s not going to be whatever they do today. It’s going to be what they do tomorrow," explains Blumenthal. “Somebody’s got to move you the last mile.”

Tesla will have a number of vehicles on hand on the 28th to give people rides around the arena and downtown.

Look who else is talking

Other key speakers include Jeff Vinik, Tampa Bay Lightning owner and part owner of Strategic Property Partners, the real estate entity which has embarked on the $3 billion Water Street Tampa project; Dr. Bernard Meyerson, Chief Innovation Officer of IBM; Lakshmi Shenoy, CEO of the Innovation Hub started by Vinik; Arnie Bellini, CEO of the Tampa-based Connectwise; Dr. A.J. Seth, CEO of Bionic Miracle; Col. Josh Potter of the U.S. Special Operations Command’s Transnational Threats Division; and Blaire Martin, Executive Director of Florida Angel Nexus.

There will be sessions for folks of varying interests, allowing them to focus on topics like financial tech and blockchain, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, biotech and healthcare, defense and cybersecurity, building a business, urban tech, software, coding and more.

Participants also can take in exhibits like On Med, a telemedicine booth facilitating physical examination and treatment without the doctor or pharmacist being physically present. Or from Marxent, a St. Petersburg software company which has developed View In Room Augmented Reality for furniture retail. Or the Tampa-based Flymotion Unmanned Systems, a veteran-owned small business utilizing drones for public safety purposes.

Signups for the summit have already far surpassed last year’s 600. We anticipate no less than 2500. We can probably support 4,000. They should hurry up and get their tickets,” Blumenthal says. “We just want people to participate. It’s for everyone. It’s not just for people involved in tech.”

Reservations for breakout sessions are encouraged but not required. A mobile app will enable users to sign up on their Smart phones or on the web.

At the event, Synapse is rolling out its digital platform to help businesses make those all-important connections required to further their endeavors. “Tampa’s success is the state’s success,” he says. “We believe it’s important to nurture those relationships, those connections across the entire state.”

Momentum is building for the Tampa Bay Area’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. “You can sense that this is the moment. This is the crescendo, where we bring all the great members of this community together and we start working for a common vision,” Blumenthal says.

Learn more or signup on the Synapse website here.


Tech Bytes: TiE looking for novel tech startups for pitch opportunity

The deadline is fast approaching for entrepreneurs who want to pitch their startups at TiECON Florida 2018, an annual conference by the nonprofit TiE Tampa Bay to foster entrepreneurship.

“We are looking for entrepreneurs who have an idea in terms of digital transformation across any and all industries,” explains Kannan Sreedhar, program chair for the conference. “It could be in the areas of social, mobile and cloud services. They could be leveraging artificial intelligence, virtual reality or augmented reality and Iot, Internet of Things.”

Applicants have until March 12 to apply for “Present Your Startup,” which will give about 10 startups the platform for seven-minute pitches to a panel of judges and angel investors.

The top three finalists will have an opportunity to pitch to the national or global TIE organization as well,” Sreedhar adds.

The emphasis is on opportunity and exposure. “People recognize the TIE brand,” Sreedhar says. “We will help you build your brand. We will help you get recognized. What we are not is a foundation.”

TiECON 2018 offers a day packed with activities starting with registration at 8 a.m. and lasting through 10 p.m. March 31 at the University of South Florida’s Sam and Martha Gibbons Alumni Center on the Tampa campus. This year the program includes three featured speakers, instead of one keynote speaker, and has a more enterprise rather than consumer feel, Sreedhar says.

Featured speakers are: Arnie Bellini, Co-Founder and CEO of Connectwise, a Tampa-based IT firm, who’s having a question-and-answer session on entrepreneurial life lessons; Steve Raymund, Founder and Former Chairman/CEO of Clearwater’s Tech Data, who’s speaking on the challenges of growing an organization organically over a long period of time; and Sarvajna Dwivedi, Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of the Redwood City, CA-based Pearl Therapeutics, now a division of United Kingdom-based Astra Zeneca, who’s sharing about why he became an entrepreneur.

Other highlights include sessions by Apparsamy Balaji, Director of Enterprise Data Management and Web Applications for BayCare Health System, on analytics in healthcare; and Theodora Lau, Director of Market Innovation for AARP, on caring for the aged at home. Other sessions focus on financial, urban and government technology, angel investing, and patents.

Awards also will be given, including the Super Entrepreneur Award, Social Entrepreneurship Award, Angel Investor Award, Community Champion Award and Startup of the Year Award. Winners will receive crystal globes. 

The event is free to TiE members; non-members pay $100, the regular annual membership fee. “We are not looking for one time participation,” he says. “The more you participate, the greater the value you get.”

Learn more and register here.

TiE, short for The Indus Entrepreneurs, was started in Silicon Valley in 1992 by successful people with roots in the region. The global organization has 11,000 members and 60 chapters in 17 countries. The Tampa Bay chapter was founded in 2012.

Read more about what’s happening in the hot Tampa Bay tech scene.

• Hillsborough County Community College has received a $250,000 grant from the Everyday Entrepreneur Venture Fund in Norwalk, CT, as a seed fund for students. The fund is to help launch community college students into business; matching funds will be sought from area businesses.

•  Tampa is getting closer to having driver-less cars. As part of a demonstration for transit experts and local leaders Feb. 27, the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, city of Tampa, and the Michigan-based May Mobility arranged for a May Mobility fleet to carry passengers on the city streets and Marion Transit Way corridor. HART is hoping to implement the driver-less vehicles in this same area by the end of this year – and May Mobility is being considered as a potential partner.

• Clients at the Florida Israel Business Accelerator (FIBA) are featured at the 1 Million Cups Tampa networking event from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 7, at Entrepreneur Collaborative Center, 2101 E. Palm Ave., Tampa. 1 Million Cups is hosted weekly and it’s free. Registration is not required.

• Artificial intelligence will be the focus of a meetup from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 7, at Entrepreneur Collaborative Center, 2101 E. Palm Ave., Tampa. The monthly event is open to anyone interested in artificial intelligence, robotics, and machine learning. It’s free and registration is not required.

• If you are a Latino tech entrepreneur, check out the free co-working space at Tampa Bay WaVE in downtown Tampa. Its FirstWAVE Venture Center at 500 E. Kennedy Blvd., Suite 300, is open to Latino founders and cofounders on the first Wednesday of the month – March 7, etc. at 8 a.m. Not Latino? Women entrepreneurs can come free on the second Wednesday of the month starting at 9 a.m. Veteran businessmen and businesswomen can come at 9 a.m. on the third Wednesday of the month. Learn more and sign up here.

• “What’s the Buzz about Blockchain?” is the topic at the next meeting of Tampa Bay Women in Technology International scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 15, at Girl Scouts of West Central Florida, 4610 Eisenhower Blvd., Tampa. The event costs $25 for non-members; members are free. Register online here.

• The St. Petersburg-based InformedDNA, a large independent supplier of genetics services, has been expanding its counseling services into 14 major health systems nationwide. InformedDNA services include a variety of specialty markets including oncology, ophthalmology, maternal and fetal medicine, pediatrics, and cardiology.

Sabal Smart Homes, a new townhome development at 532 Fourth Avenue South in downtown St. Petersburg, is offering high-tech options like an electric car charger, and a connected-home “Einstein Package,” a rooftop alfresco kitchen and in-home private elevator. The home automation system includes technology from companies like Sonos, Nest, Lutron and Alarm.com. Developed by Salt Palm Development, the initial eight units start at $740,000 and feature three bedrooms, multiple baths and a one-car garage. Construction already has begun on a second building expected to open by the end of the year.

• Payton Barnwell of Tampa was one of 41 globally to receive the 2018 Brooke Owens Fellowship, which ensures her a paid summer internship at one of the nation’s leading aviation companies. A junior at Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland, Barnwell will be interning at Generation Orbit, an Atlanta aviation firm that builds launch systems. Barnwell also will be mentored by a senior aviation professional.

In other Poly news, a new 8,600-square-foot Student Development Center featuring geothermal heating technology opened Wednesday, Feb. 28. Relying on the Earth’s heat, the competition-sized, eight-lane pool is kept at near-constant temperature. The building was designed by Straughn Trout Architects LLC in Lakeland and utilizes natural lighting in the interior. It features a strength and cardio training area, plus office space and a multi-purpose room.

ª TeamWERX, a prize challenge program to help warfighters, has released two new challenges. It’s looking for a light-weight and rugged hose storage and delivery system compatible with Air Force Special Operations’ hose lengths and sizes, by March 31. The deadline is April 15 for augmented reality navigation assistance using GeoPackage. Learn more.

• It’s almost time for WAMICON. The 19th annual IEEE Wireless and Microwave Technology Conference is planned April 8 and 9 at Sheraton Sand Key. The theme is "mm-Waves and Internet of Things (IoT) for Commercial and Defense." Learn more.


Career Readiness: USF pilots program to digitally demonstrate skills

If you’re a jobseeker, there’s something you really ought to know: more than likely, your resume will have to pass the muster of a machine before you’re given an interview. It works very much like search engines when they rank websites, except it’s your resume that is ranked by keyword.

“It’s just easier to let computers make the first pass,” explains Peter Thorsett, Communications and Marketing Officer for Career Services at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

That is not to say you should stuff your resume with keywords so it’s nonsensical. After all, humans are behind the machinery. Still, it can help to know how your resume is being screened.

Networking is advised to help you build your skills and connect you to potential employers. “It’s best not to go it alone,” advises Lynn Chisholm, USF’s Director of Internships and Career Readiness. “So much of it is based on who you know and whether you are branded effectively for the company.”

Keeping current also is important. “I have not seen a lot of success in individuals who think what they did 15 years ago will help them get a job now,” she adds. “The whole process has changed.”

USF is helping students compete in an increasingly automated job market through its new Career Readiness Badging program, now in pilot mode on the main campus. It works pretty similar to the Scout badges system, except students don’t wear the badges on a sash. Instead, they post digital badges on resumes or electronic job boards, helping students rank higher on applicant tracking systems.

“The more we can have a student showcase those skills ... The more likely it is that they are going to be called in for an interview,” Thorsett says.  “We also empower them with the right language to be able to talk to an employer.”

The pilot began last fall and is expected to roll out across the Tampa campus next fall.

USF recognizes students may not be able to articulate their academic experiences effectively, or in ways employers expect. So the badging program helps by building and demonstrating eight key skills including communication, leadership, critical thinking technology, global citizenship, career management, professionalism and teamwork.

Through various partners on campus, even more badges are offered. For example, USF Libraries are offering workshops to build skills in Adobe Creative Cloud, Photoshop, Indesign, Illustrator and Premiere. The workshops, which are one and half hours long, are in the afternoons and evenings, says Barbara Lewis, USF’s Digital Learning Librarian.

More workshops are planned, and students can also use the school’s subscription to Lynda.com for online tutorials, she adds.

The program helps prepare students for broader, open learning sources in the future. “It is exciting for our students. They’re learning how to do something they’re gong to use their entire career,” Chisholm says. “It’s going to set them up for career success beyond USF.”

Students on the Tampa campus can enroll in the program through the online job platform Handshake or through Career Services. Professors can involve students through their department or individual coursework. There is no charge to participate.

There are lots of opportunities for jobseekers in Tampa Bay, if the numbers of recruiters on campus are any indication. Top career fields are healthcare, tech, sales, and financial services.

Internships are being used to recruit new talent. “We find that there is a very healthy market for internships in the Tampa Bay area,” Chisholm says. “There are likely more internships than there are students to fill them.”

Read on to learn more about the local job scene.

• Two of the 2018 FORTUNE “100 Best Companies to Work For are based in the Tampa Bay region, including the Lakeland-based Publix Super Markets ranked 47th, and the Clearwater-based Baycare Health System ranked 65th. Power Home Remodeling, which ranked 87th on the list, has a Tampa Bay office at 4135 Crescent Park Drive in Riverview. It is based in the Philadelphia region.

Publix hires for a wide variety of careers in the region, including corporate and administrative, real estate, quality assurance, marketing, pharmacy, distribution, manufacturing and human resources. It likes to promote its associates. An online search tool lets potential employees track opportunities that suit their particular interests and qualifications.

Baycare operates 15 hospitals in the Tampa Bay region, including St. Joseph's Hospital in West Tampa, and has openings listed for medical technologists, registered nurses, clinical nurses, patient support technicians, histologists, pharmacy technicians, cooks, medical office reps, environmental services techs, home health clinicians and more.

Power Home Remodeling currently lists openings for sales representatives in Riverview. Learn more.

• Interested in a career in Finance? Raymond James lists a wide variety of openings in St. Petersburg, including summer internships, a staff accountant’s position for a new graduate, a number of analyst positions, a reconciliation specialist, a portfolio reviewer, and a marketing associate for investment products.

Headquartered in Herndon, VA, Indexcel, a technology provider specializing in Cloud Services, Application Modernization, and Data Analytics is looking for a Tableau Developer/Data Reporting Analyst in Tampa. The job requires the ability to act as a data storyteller and liaison between tech and non-tech workers. The position requires one to three years in reporting and analytics.


Tech Bytes: A modern business matchmaking service prepares to go live

Singles often go online to numerous dating sites in hopes of meeting that special someone. Making business connections, especially for busy entrepreneurs who must stay laser focused to keep moving forward but need the help of other specialists, isn't as easy.  

Now a Tampa nonprofit is preparing to launch a digital platform to help businesses make meaningful connections that can mean the difference between going nowhere and getting ahead.

“There’s a lot of customers here. There’s a lot of talent,” says Brian Kornfeld, a founding partner at Synapse. “There’s also a lot of money. ... The connections aren’t taking place.”

The platform, slated to go live March 29, is “slick,” “easy to use” and capable of digitally pairing Tampa Bay businesses better than regular search engines, he says. Whether people want to know how to invest in a startup or real estate, learn about blockchain, build a business or host an event, or simply need to work with a specialist such as an accountant, an attorney or a success coach.

Signup is free for most users, such as entrepreneurs, inventors, mentors, jobseekers, employers, entrepreneurial service organizations and government workers. Those considered innovation enablers, like patent attorneys, bankers, accountants, software developers and marketers, would pay a small fee.

Kornfeld, Marc Blumenthal and Andy Hafer are founding partners in the effort underway since last year. The platform's launch is anticipated during Innovation Summit 2018, the second summit in Tampa Bay connecting innovators, entrepreneurs, corporations and community leaders.

The summit will be held March 28 and 29 at Amalie Arena in Tampa, and will feature Tampa Bay Lightning Owner Jeff Vinik as the keynote speaker during the kickoff at 9 a.m. He will share updates since the event last year as well as future plans.

Also slated to speak are IBM Chief Innovation Officer Bernard Meyerson, Henry Ford Health System Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer Mark Coticchia, Water Street Tampa’s Innovation Hub CEO Lakshmi Shenoy, and Dr. Ajay Seth, who is famous for his bionic work advancing treatment prospects for prosthetic patients.

Multiple innovation hubs, focusing on defense technology, Internet of things, blockchain, cryptocurrency, wearables, robotics, 3D printing, renewables, energy, augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, machine learning, digital health, urban tech, and financial tech, will feature product demonstrations and speakers from companies in the region.

To buy tickets, visit the Synapse website.

Read on to learn more about what’s happening in the Tampa Bay tech scene.

Tampa Bay WaVE has launched a new TechDiversity Accelerator Program funded by a $100,000 grant from The Nielsen Foundation. The 90-day program is for early-stage technology firms with a majority ownership by a minority, woman, veteran, lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender person or combination of these.

The WaVE is currently accepting applications for the program to run this summer. The application period closes March 31.

• 1 Million Cups Tampa, a free national program to engage, educate and connect entrepreneurs, is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21, at Entrepreneur Collaborative Center, 2101 E. Palm Ave., Tampa. The event is free and registration isn’t necessary.

Homebrew Hillsborough is meeting at 8:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 23, for a visit and tour of AVI/SPL, an audio video technology company, at 6301 Benjamin Rd., Suite 101, Tampa. Homebrew is held monthly at different locations for techies and entrepreneurs to network.

Sixteen-year-old Abby Forman has developed an app for fellow Berkeley Prep students named Flower Sale – and it has been accepted into the App Store. An alumna of Tampa’s Hillel Academy, Forman created the app so students can buy flowers for one another. Funds raised are designated for the Students Helping Students Scholarship program through the school’s French Club.

• Four companies in the Tampa Bay region made G2 Crowd’s list of the top 25 companies in Florida’s business-to-business tech scene. They include Qgiv of Lakeland, ranked 7th place, followed by VIPRE Security of Clearwater, 17th; Connectwise of Tampa, 19th; and SunView Software of Tampa, 24th. The top ranking company was Goverlan of Coral Gables.

• Florida ranks third in the nation for cybercrime and losses reported to the FBI, according to a report, The State of Cybersecurity in Florida, released Feb. 8 by The Florida Center for Cybersecurity (FC2) at USF. On the plus side, the report done with Gartner Consulting says “Florida is well positioned to develop a strong workforce, with nearly 100 cybersecurity certificate and degree programs offered by institutions of higher education across the state.”

• At Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland, faculty members are working on next-generation spacesuits to make astronauts happier, more comfortable, and efficient. Because astronauts can be adversely affected by lack of exercise, excessive light and lack of sleep, professors Dr. Arman Sargolzaei and Dr. Melba Horton, together with Computer Science student James Holland, are developing Smart Sensory Skin to detect deficiencies through wireless sensors. The sensors can initiate changes in temperature, light exposure, light color, and oxygen levels.

In related news, seven of 10 science and engineering students chosen for the Hays Travel Award from the Florida Academy of Sciences Council are from Florida Polytechnic. Students will be presenting their research projects March 9 at Barry University in Miami Shores, during the FAS Annual Conference. The winners were Mechanical Engineering student Brian Gray of Tampa, Mechanical Engineering student Sean Cloud of Brandon, Mechanical Engineering student Geoffrey Doback of Brandon and Computer Science student Nathaniel Florer of Kissimmee, Mechanical Engineering student Ecieno Carmona from Summerfield, Innovation and Technology graduate student Jephté Douyon of Haiti, and Innovation and Technology graduate student Mohammad Bharmal of Pakistan.

• Digital currency: risky business or a big moneymaker? Bitcoin Pioneer Charlie Shrem can help you decide what to believe. Shrem will be speaking on “Bitcoin, Blockchain, and the Future of Finance” from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday, March 1, at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg’s College of Business. The event is open to the public. Register by Feb. 28 here.

• Students at USF St. Pete are participating in 2018 Ex Labs, a competitive Accelerator Lab involving the latest technology. Teams will be creating new products, business plans and marketing strategies March 12 through 16. One team will win a training package from Cisco valued at $2,300.

• In Manatee County, the Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Angel Colonneso has begun offer e-filing through Simplifile. The office now is able to electronically receive, stamp, record and return documents in minutes with less error and cost.

• A licensed and registered Microsoft refurbisher, Goodwill Manasota’s Tech Connection program kept more than 208,000 pounds of e-waste from the area’s landfills last year. It raised nearly $71,000 last year, plus more than $17,000 in January. The program to refurbish and resell computers and accessories, headquartered at Goodwill’s Ranch Lake store at 8750 E. State Road 70, Bradenton, installs the Microsoft Digital Literacy Program, helping to improve basic computer skills.

• The Mulberry-based ArrMaz has opened a new, state of the art Innovation Center at the company’s headquarters. Designed for its research and development team, the center features a modern work environment with cutting-edge laboratory equipment for analytical and synthetic chemistry. Its open layout facilitates collaboration, team-based research and innovation. A 50-year-old company, ArrMaz is a global producer of specialty chemicals for the mining, fertilizer, asphalt, industrial ammonium nitrate, and oil and gas industries.


Top educators to provide free training to inner city businesses

Businesses in or near urban or economically underserved areas in the Tampa Bay region can receive free training from top name educators beginning Feb. 28.

The Inner City Capital Connections program, rescheduled from Sept. 12 as a result of Hurricane Irma, will kick off with a conference at University of South Florida’s Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation (CAMLS) in downtown Tampa.

This is a really awesome opportunity for businesses to get the tools that they need to achieve the success that they desire,” says Hyacinth Vassell, director of the program.

The goal is to help businesses overcome obstacles to growth, such as lack of capital. “It’s an opportunity to work on their business while they are being guided by the most brilliant minds in the U.S.,” she says.

To be eligible, businesses must be in or near a depressed area or have 40 percent or more of their employees living in a distressed area. That’s broadly defined to include “parts of the city that have had little investment or disinvestment” as well as major population centers, adds Jeremy King, VP of Corporate Communications for Regions Bank, an ICCC partner.

“That’s almost everywhere in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. We don’t want anyone to feel limited,” King says.

The company must be at least two years old and have $500,000 or more in revenue.

What ICCC primarily looks for is “readiness to participate,” Vassell says, “readiness for growth.”

“This is about helping each business take stock where it is now, identify where it wants to be in the future and identify a path how to get there,” King adds.

Founded in 2005, the program is ICCC’s first in 2018 and first in Florida, unless you count last year’s training relegated to webinars after Irma.

The ICCC training consists of modules on growth strategies, including talent management, entrepreneurial finance, marketing and sales, and access to capital. Among the experts involved are:

Dobbin Bookman, an adjunct lecturer from Harvard University who holds dual master’s degrees from Harvard and who works with MBA students and the Harvard Business School’s Career Services program to assist businesses;

• Gail Taylor, a professor of Business Administration at Dartmouth College, who is an expert in marketing communications, retail promotions and services marketing; and

• Susan Perkins, an Associate Professor of Strategic Management at University of Illinois-Chicago, whose specialties include business strategy, corporate governance, and organizational learning.

The deadline, originally set for Feb. 9, has been extended to Feb. 16. Interested companies, which can send one representative in a senior leadership role, can apply at www.iccapitalconnections.org. Click on “Tampa Bay” and “application page” to access the form.

Run by the Roxbury, MA-based Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, a nonprofit, ICCC is offered free because of partnerships with Regions Bank and other regional sponsors including Florida Blue, Carlton Fields, the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, Ernst and Young, United Way Suncoast, the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and Valpak. ICIC was started by Michael Porter, a Harvard Business School Professor, to build communities through education and investments from the private sector.

“Our goal as we sponsor ICCC is to connect with the small business communities in various markets that we serve, and work with them hand in hand,” King says.

The Birmingham, AL-based Regions will be providing coaching, expertise, and information. “This is about beginning a relationship and providing access to opportunities for these businesses long term,” he explains.

According to its preliminary 2017 report, the ICCC has trained 1,659 businesses and created 15,946 jobs. Average revenue grew 172 percent while raising capital of more than $1.47 billion.

ICCC is heading for 14 cities where they will hold executive education seminars in 2018, including Atlanta, Memphis, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Baltimore. The program also includes webinars and a live meeting at the conclusion.

It hasn’t been decided if, or when, the ICCC program will be offered again in Tampa.


Job fairs: Employers recruiting at Florida Polytechnic, Kaiser, and more

Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland is preparing for its third Career and Internship Fair -- its largest to date.

“We’re starting to have a product in our students. Companies are seeking the technology, the innovation that our students are bringing forward,” says Kathryn Miller, Vice Provost for Academic Support Services.

The fair increased from 13 companies in 2016 to 29 in 2017 and 53 companies who had signed up by Monday for 2018. Open to all Polytechnic and state university system students, as well as Polytechnic alumni, the event will help attendees find jobs and meet internship requirements.

“We do have a variety of career fields [represented] with a concentration on engineering, computer science, logistics and data analytics,” she says. “That directly aligns with our curriculum.”

Among the companies signed up are Accusoft, Baycare Health system, Citrus Connection, the city of Lakeland, CognitutorDronePhD and Publix Super Markets.

The event is slated from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 20, at the campus Innovation, Science and Technology building designed by architects Santiago Calatrava and Albert Alfonso. Eligible students and alumni are asked to email Miller to register.

The university, established in 2012, opened in August 2014 and attracted nearly 1,450 students by fall 2017 semester.

Read on to learn about more career fairs in the Tampa Bay area.

• if you’re looking for a job as a certified nursing assistant, licensed practical nurse or registered nurse, check out the Rehabilitation and Health Care of Tampa Job Fair. The fair runs for three days at Rehab and Healthcare Center of Tampa, 4411 N. Habana Ave. Hours are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 14; Thursday, Feb. 15; and Friday, Feb. 16. Attend, meet the management team, and tour the facility. On-the-spot interviews will be given. Register online.

• Sales professionals can learn about opportunities in a variety of career fields at Career Showcase’s Tampa Job Fair from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 20, at Tampa Marriott Westshore, 1001 N. Westshore Blvd., Tampa. The free event specializes in careers in the pharmaceutical, medical, IT, business development, financial services, customer services/call center and marketing industries. It’s open to everyone from recent college graduates to executive level candidates. Pre-registration is required.

• Kaiser University is holding its annual career fair for students, graduates and members of the community. The free event is planned from noon to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 20, at 5002 W. Waters Ave., Tampa. Among the employers anticipated are Quest, New York Life Insurance, Spectrum, Cognizant and Computer Generated Solutions. Learn more.

• Interested in part-time seasonal work at Raymond James Stadium? Aramark will be doing interviews for a variety of jobs from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb.21, and from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 3, at the stadium. Reservations and resumes are required. Learn more.

• Norwegian Cruise Lines is hiring staff for its ship Pride of America. It is holding two information sessions on shipboard employment on Tuesday, Feb. 27, at Hilton Tampa Downtown, 211 N. Tampa St. Attend either at 9 a.m. or 2 p.m. Sessions begin promptly at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. following registration; an interview follows. Norwegian is looking for candidates with recent experience in a number of jobs including Asian Cuisine Sous Chef, Assistant Chief Butcher, Broadcast Technician, Entertainment Technician (Audio/Stagehand), Pastry, Restaurant Steward (Busser/Server), Stateroom Steward (Hotel Room Housekeeping), and Utility Galley (Dishwasher). Register online.

• The Pasco County schools are looking for teachers. Their Spring Instructional Job Fair is slated from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, March 1, at Dr. John Long Middle School, 2025 Mansfield Blvd., Wesley Chapel. They’ll be holding Teacher Certification Information Sessions so candidates without certification can learn what steps to take. The 20-minute sessions are scheduled at 3:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Pre-register here for this free event.

• Mark your calendars for March 14: a live recruiting/hiring event is slated from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Doubletree by Hilton Tampa Westshore Airport, 4500 W. Cypress St., Tampa. Plan to register, upload your resume, attend with plenty of resumes, and be hired. The event by National Career Fairs is free.

• Coast-to-Coast Career Fairs is holding its Tampa Career Fair from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, March 22, at Holiday Inn Tampa Westshore Airport, 700 N. Westshore Blvd., Tampa. The free event features hiring managers from small to large companies representing a variety of industries including biotechnology, chemical, communications, electronics, entertainment and recreation, green technology, information technology, journalism and media, health and medical, real estate and sports. Learn more.

• Jobseekers in the Sarasota and Bradenton areas can meet and interview with employers at a career fair by Nations Joblink and Florida Joblink. The event is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, March 20, at Homewood Suites Conference Center – Sarasota Lakewood Ranch, 305 N. Cattlemen Dr., Sarasota. Top companies will be represented in a wide variety of career fields including advertising, beauty and cosmetics, financial services, fine arts, legal services, manufacturing, motion pictures and video, transportation, and web services. Candidates are advised to be ready to be hired at this free event. Register online here.


Millennial Mixer: Diverse networking group hits one-year mark

He’s an internist. She’s a general dentist. Together, they run the Healthy Bodies Medical and Dental Center in Brandon. The husband-and-wife team, Martha and Watson Ducatel, got their start with help from Millennial Mixer, a regular East Tampa event that brings together millennials and those who want to connect with them.

“It’s really just to connect millennials and to connect other people with millennials,” explains Fort Myers native Ivy Box, Millennial Mixer's founder and curator. “We just want to provide a comfortable atmosphere.”

Millennial Mixer attracts a diverse crowd to its gatherings at 5508 Co-working and Collaboration Exchange, a place where small minority-owned businesses can operate affordably. While there, attendees might munch on finger foods, order drinks at the cash bar, or buy food from food trucks.

The space is donated. Sometimes wine is donated to be sold at the event. So people show up and mingle. Businesses show up and advertise for free.

“It’s a mixed crowd. A majority of businesses are minority owned,” says Box, whose parents migrated to Florida from Haiti for a safer environment and more financial opportunity. “They’re diverse in their background and they’re diverse in their professions.”

The idea developed to make more people aware of the exchange run by Tampa-Hillsborough Action Plan Inc. and Coastal Bay Properties. “It just made sense. Provide something for millennials to do. Get them over to 5508 to see what’s going on,” says Box, a millennial herself.

So Millennial Mixer began as an every other month event – and celebrated its first year in existence with a gathering Jan. 24 at 5508 N. 50th St. In the future, Box may hold the mixers on a quarterly basis and involve more people, perhaps by collaborating with other groups on themed events.

Many who come aren’t familiar with the facility made of refurbished old storage units converted into offices and businesses. Its conference center is the event space, where vendors can set up tables and people can sit at high top tables in the middle and socialize while music plays in the background.

Through word of mouth and social media promotion, the event has grown from 30 people and three vendors to more than 100 with 13 to 14 vendors. “That’s all that can fit in that room. We’ve had to run away vendors,” she says. “We’re almost at the point where we probably need to get a bigger space. For now, we’ll stay at the space that’s free.”

What sets Millennial Mixer apart is its demographic and its laid back approach. After all, there are no memberships, meeting agendas or admission fees. “Here people can ... loosen up a little bit. They can chill at the bar,” she says.

In keeping with the millennial style, the mixers last about two hours. “We like it fast and quick,” Box says.

Box, the chief executive officer of the nonprofit Voice T.H.E. Movement, has a passion for encouraging those who seek to inspire others. A portion of money generated goes toward the organization seeking to improve individuals’ quality of life through health, education, arts, entertainment, and technology.

A marketing consultant and former castmate on Black Entertainment Television‘s hit reality TV series College Hill: Interns, the event helps Box connect to marketing clients. It’s also a place where she can sell her self-help book, The 365 Go Get H.E.R.S. Guide.

Though Millennial Mixer is designed for business, personal relationships could potentially develop. “For us, it’s strictly business,” Box says. “Whatever happens, it’s on them."


Tampa company works to cut power costs for businesses

The Tampa-based COI Energy Services has gone live with a platform designed to cut energy costs from 6 to 30 percent for commercial and industrial users. Among its first clients are the University of South Florida Research Park and an undisclosed Tampa-based utility.

We’re getting a lot of attention from utilities. This is definitely a problem that has not been solved [previously],” says Founder and CEO SaLisa Berrien. “It is a unique solution.”

The company is preparing for growth by raising seed capital to pay for 12 additional staff members needed to serve more than 1,000 customers. It’s hiring people in software engineering, marketing, business development, and customer’s experience within the next quarter.

USF Research Park was to be the first to use the platform. That installation was completed Thursday, Feb. 1, with training following.

The park also lined up a $1,650 rebate on a 150-ton air conditioning unit.

“Energy sustainability is an important issue at the University of South Florida Research Park, and we are proud to be one of the first customers for COI and explore how this new technology can provide us greater insight into how we use energy,” says Allison Madden, director of USF Research Foundation Operations.

Site inspections for some 100 users are required before the utility can utilize the system. “It will save in time and cost to support the grid. Simply put, our platform saves time, saves money, and saves the environment for both the utility and its business users,” Berrien says.

Another major customer is PBS39, a key account for Pennsylvania Power and Light.

A public demonstration is scheduled at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 9, at the Galleria of USF Research Park. It is expected to attract investors, potential customers and partners. “Anybody that is interested in clean tech is welcome to come,” she adds.

The 2-year-old company helps energy users save in three key ways: 1) by alerting customers when are able to cut waste, and 2) notifying them about potential rebate programs they qualify for, and 3) facilitating the sale of renewable energy into the grid. It is designed for businesses with a peak use of at least 50kW.

“We can predict their bill, based on how they are using their energy now,” Berrien says. “If they’re fine with the way the bill looks, they can continue operating as they are.”

COI Energy already has outgrown its three-person office space at USF Connect in the Research Park. The staff is using communal office space at the facility while the company waits for a larger office. It also is considering space in Channelside.

Additionally, COI Energy has been participating in the climate economy innovation accelerator, Accel-VT, in Montpelier, VT. It is slated to complete the three-month program, aimed at helping with capitalization, next week.
 

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