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Tech Bytes: PikMyKid ramps up school safety efforts

With recent school shootings and other tragedies elevating concerns about the safety of students in schools, a Tampa company – through its use of technology -- is positioned to help make a difference.

Founded in 2015 after a mistake in a school pickup line resulted in retrieving the wrong child, PikMyKid is gaining attention as a problem solver. Its founders are headed for San Francisco to participate as a finalist in an international software-and-information-industry competition June 13.

We’ve always been seen as a startup so far,” says Chitra Kanagaraj, Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer. “This is the award that is beyond startup.”

The company was named a finalist in the 2018 SIIA CODiE Award contest, Best Emerging Education Technology Solution for Administrators category, after virtual presentations. It was one of 152 finalists in 39 education technology categories.

 

PikMyKid, which now operates in public and private schools in 27 states, began rolling out a school-safety training program in Florida this month. That follows the release of its panic-button alert system being offered free while schools test the program and plan next year’s budget. The company's goal is to get initial responders to schools faster when there are intruders.

“We are giving schools one product that they can just focus on if there is a safety issue,” Kanagaraj says.

The company got off the ground with help from the Tampa Bay Technology Incubator at USF Connect and the Startup Scholars at the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. Now part of the Tampa Bay WAVE program, it also works with the TEC Garage in downtown St. Petersburg.

The mixup that inspired the company occurred when her husband, Pat Bhava, now Co-Founder and CEO of PikMyKid, went to pick up their fifth-grader and ended up with another girl in the backseat. The error was swiftly corrected, but it did trigger concern.

“It was really something we could change, rather than blaming the school or blaming ourselves,” she says.

When teachers are standing in the sun after a full day of class, facing a line of cars, things may not always go as planned. “It’s not their intent to mess up, but it does happen,” she says.

The app, licensed for use by the school or school district, is downloaded free by parents. It facilitates the pickup process by consolidating pickup changes and authorizations, improving safety and saving staff time.


Through a dashboard, parents have real-time communication with the school and are alerted as soon as the child leaves campus. “If there is anything wrong, the parents are able to fix the issue immediately,” she says.

PikMyKid, located at 5115 Memorial Highway, currently employs 10 and some part-time consultants. But it expects to add another four employees during its peak time in July and August, as schools gear up for the 2018-19 year. They are hoping to keep these full-time.


Company officials are looking for people with teaching backgrounds to work in customer service. “We think we’re competitive with what they’re getting from the public school system,” she says.

Read on for more news about Tampa Bay’s tech scene.

•  Monikl, which works similar to a dating service for jobseekers, has received a $25,000 Bizpark Grant from Microsoft and a Google Cloud for Startups Grant of $20,000, says spokesman Zachary Wright. The 1-year-old company now has some 25,000 active job candidates in its system. The company uses an algorithm to assess experience, skills, workplace preferences and personality.

Join Working Women of Tampa Bay and Tampa Bay WAVE for a morning of networking Wednesday, May 23. The event runs from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the Entrepreneur Collaborative Center, 2101 E. Palm Ave., Tampa. It’s followed by 1 Million Cups of Coffee, which is featuring two women-owned businesses as presenters.

• Homebrew Hillsborough, a networking group for techies and entrepreneurs in Hillsborough County, will be meeting at 8:30 a.m. Friday, May 25, at SecureSet Tampa Campus, 1403 E 9th Ave., Tampa. The group will be touring SecureSet, which offers comprehensive training for those interested in careers in cybersecurity. Sign up online.

• The Clearwater-based Digital Media Solutions, a digital marketing company, has acquired Avenue100 Media Solutions, LLC, a specialist in performance-based marketing and analytics in education. Avenue100 Media Solutions will join DMS’s education division, but operate as a separate subsidiary based in Massachusetts. DMS, which provides end-to-end customer acquisition solutions, has been recognized as one of America’s “Best Places to Work” in 2017 by Inc. magazine.

• TeamWerx, a platform designed to find innovative solutions to warfighter problems, has announced two challenges with cash prizes totaling $25,000. The submission deadline is Thursday, May 31, for help expanding the TeamWerx ecosystem, with a $2,000 prize. The deadline is Saturday, June 30, to enter a contest to figure out how to retrieve data from mobile locations using a mobile device but without revealing the locations of sensors. That prize is $23,000. Learn more.

Florida Polytechnic University graduated its first class of 220 May 4 in Lakeland. The group included most of the students who enrolled when the university opened in fall 2014. Dedicated to science, technology, engineering and math, Florida Polytechnic is located on Interstate 4’s high-tech corridor between Tampa and Orlando.

The university’s robotics team, Purple Fire, earned the Judges Award recently at the VEX Robotics World Championship. The team of eight students won half of its matches and ranked 22nd internationally out of 45 teams.

And Florida Poly is attracting attention in Mexico for its bookless, digital library. The university’s Vice Provost of Academic Support Services, Dr. Kathryn Miller, was a guest speaker at the first International Colloquium on Library Architecture and Environments, hosted by the National Autonomous University of Mexico earlier this month.


Opioid Update: Sarasota firm working on Smart pill dispenser

A Sarasota design firm is working to curb opioid addiction -- and save lives -- with a Smart container that dispenses pills at pre-configured time intervals.

Called PILL, the product in development by ROBRADY design is packaged similar to a Z-Pak of antibiotics. “It just happens to be Smart,” explains Rob Brady, CEO and Design Director.

The design has developed over the last six years, ever since physician assistant Afton Heitzenrater observed opioid prescriptions were being filled too quickly. Her husband Jeff and Jeff’s uncle, Joseph Bujalski, were on board to help develop a solution. Bujalski came up with the idea of controlling the timing between doses, obtained the first patent, and brought the idea to ROBRADY.

During the last 18 months, ROBRADY has invested “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to develop the concept into what it is today, Brady says. It has a broader patent pending and, through consultant and team member Rob Hartwell, is reaching out to governmental leaders and potential industry partners.

With recycled parts and a projected cost of $2 per unit, the PILL is seen as a low-cost means of controlling opioid prescriptions and discouraging unauthorized use. The prescribed pills are locked into the device until pre-set times, after which the user can remove them from the foil blister pack. The dispenser and unused pills are returned to the pharmacist, keeping them out of the hands of the black market, those who would abuse them and potentially become addicted, and community water supplies. If it's been tampered with, it's noted through the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, along with pharmacists' comments.

The white computer chip and battery that power the device can be removed, checked, scrubbed of data and re-used. Pharmacists can retrieve usage data which can help future studies about how opioids are being used.

“In talking with physicians about this idea, they really like it,” Brady says.

Clinical trials could begin in six to nine months, but it’s uncertain when it might be commercially available to physicians and their patients. “Obviously, we wanted this thing available yesterday,” he adds. “We’re looking for a couple million more to take it across the finish line.”

Opioid addiction and overdoses have reached epidemic proportions in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, emergency department visits for suspected opioid overdoses rose 30 percent from July 2016 through September 2017, based on data from 52 jurisdictions in 45 states.

ROBRADY received positive feedback when it took a team to Washington, D.C. in April to promote PILL, and fight the epidemic claiming more than 120 lives every day. The group met with representatives of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Food and Drug Administration, the Drug Enforcement Agency and the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, along with U.S. Senators Marco Rubio, R-FL, and Lamar Alexander, R-TN.

The Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018, which has passed unanimously out of committee, calls for package design to help prevent abuse and overdose.

“We think we have a real shot of getting this to market,” Brady says. “We’re lacking a few more partners.”

While the initial user is an individual prescribed opioids for pain, Brady doesn’t discount it may potentially have other roles. “I would love to see this thing help people that are already addicted,” he says.

But the device isn’t tamper proof, just tamper evident, which means it flags problems early. “If you smash it, if you break it, if you ‘lose it,’ you don’t get more,” he says. “Our position is we’d like to find that information out in the first 15 pills -- and not with the first overdose.”

So their initial focus is on those who potentially may become addicted. "We greatly reduce the people that we’re treating [for opioid addiction and overdoses,]” he says.

Keeping focused can help them do the job right. “We know that opioids are a huge problem,” he says. “We’ve got all kinds of things to tackle.”

Hiring Heroes: New Tampa Bay Area job fair focuses on veterans

Veterans dress smart, have good skills and are reliable. Though people like to honor them, employers are not always willing to hire them. That can be a real problem, but it’s one Stephanie Sims is looking to solve.

“Veterans show up, dressed up, ready to go,” Sims says. “Sometimes a job offer is not made. The employer might think they’re too good.”

Other times veterans have problems translating military skills into civilian life. “To find and to convey transferrable skills is not always easy,” she says.

So Sims, who has witnessed the problems at national job fairs, is holding her first Tampa area job fair catering to miliary veterans: the Tampa Bay Hiring Heroes Career Fair. Their motto is: “The Best Way to Honor a Veteran is to Hire one.” The goal is to help vets meet face-to-face with employers, so hurdles can be overcome. 

“I don’t think there’s any substitute for a job candidate getting face-to-face with a prospective employer,” asserts Sims, CEO and Marketing Director of Florida JobLink, a career fair provider since 1996.

Hiring Heroes is a new initiative of the Palma Ceia-based corporation in cities with a military presence. Three or four fairs are anticipated this year in Tampa and Jacksonville, with the event expanding nationwide next year.

She explains that a resume is easily trashed when an employer believes a job candidate is expecting a higher wage than that being offered. But when the veteran and employer meet, they can discuss circumstances that make the job doable.

“Employers just love the enthusiasm and the work ethic that veterans and their spouses have,” she says.

Sims also is bringing Hiring Heroes job fairs to neighborhoods where veterans live, to make it more convenient for those employed or responsible for childcare. This event is in Wesley Chapel, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 22, at 2740 Cypress Ridge Blvd.

Some 30 employers are anticipated, along with some 600 to 800 job seekers. While the free event seeks to place veterans and those transitioning to civilian life, it is open to all. Job positions include healthcare, sales, marketing, insurance, food service, technical, production, clerical, customer service, education and legal. Register online.

Learn about other upcoming job fairs in the Tampa Bay region.

• A free job fair is planned from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 9, for people interested in working for Hertz. Managers will be conducting interviews for -- and hiring -- counter sales representatives at the free event at Hertz -- Rental Car Center, 5405 Airport Service Road., Tampa. A minimum of one year of experience in high volume sales or customer service in a service-oriented environment is required, along with a high school diploma or its equivalent. Learn more.

• A Young Talent Tampa Bay Career and Resource Fair is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 12, at the Tampa Career Center, 9215 N. Florida Ave. The free event by CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay caters to those 18 to 24. Check out the details.

• The JobNewsUSA.com St. Petersburg/Clearwater Job Fair is slated from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 16, at The Matheos Hall / Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 409 S. Old Coachman Road, Clearwater. Parking and admission are free. Job seekers who attend can build their professional network, meet one-on-one with recruiters and hiring managers, learn about unadvertised, upcoming job openings, be interviewed and hired. Pre-register.

National Career Fairs is holding a free recruiting/hiring event from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 23, at Doubletree by Hilton Tampa Westshore Airport, 4500 W. Cypress St., Tampa. Registrants receive updates and alerts, plus the opportunity to upload a resume and search for jobs online beforehand. Candidates are advised to bring resumes to the fair and dress for success.

Florida StartupBus team runner-up in national contest

For the second year in a row, Florida’s StartupBus has claimed a top prize in the national competition that enables teams of potential strangers to start businesses in about three and a half days.

This year dadSAK, a team which created a versatile backpack enabling dads to tote infants, baby gear and other stuff, was runner-up in the New Orleans competition.

“It was really an amazing experience,” says Robert Blacklidge, Conductor. “We grew those individuals extensively in three days. They went out into the world. This is what’s really amazing about it.”

The Florida StartupBus rolled out of Tampa Friday, April 27, bound for New Orleans, where teams from eight different buses presented their businesses conceived and developed on the journey. Three teams were created on the bus that headed north from Tampa into Georgia, where riders stayed two nights in Helen while enjoying side trips to Nashville and Atlanta. Riders also stayed overnight in Biloxi.

The StartupBus was in New Orleans at the same time as the big Collision tech conference, where riders were able to share what they’d just learned with others.

DadSAK, a patent pending baby carrier/diaper bag/backpack, was the brainchild of Lance Robinson. Other members of the team, with representatives of Tampa Bay, Atlanta, and Charlotte N.C., included Walter Mathews, Jeremy Losaw, Vanel Marc, and Geovanni Suplee.

The team put together a protype and website in the allotted time, advertising the dadSAK as a solution by dads, for dads from SAK LABS. It can be used separately as a infant carrier or backpack, or combined into a single unit. The website indicates dadSAK is taking pre-orders, with shipments starting in November.

Other teams were Buddy Bunker, designed to help people find a suitable golfing partner, and PolitiTrust, a functioning chatbot to help people find politicians that share their values.

Buddy Bunker team members were Edward Sanchez, Kyle Sasser, Kim Mohr, and Tatyanna Cobb. On the PolitiTrust team were Richard Kim, Rosmarie Morales, Adam Cummings and Jahtia Haynes.

Mentors on the bus were Brent Henderson, Chris Mcelveen and Prateek Gupta.

After the demanding schedule of the trip, Blacklidge advises teams to take a break rather than forging ahead immediately with business plans. “My methodology is to tell them to take a month out,” Blacklidge says.

The StartupBus began nine years ago after the first participants decided to challenge themselves to create a company as they traveled across the country to a conference.

Last year two Florida teams made it to the finals, with DropIn Pedals claiming second place for an adapter that converts clipless bike pedals into flat pedals that can be used with casual shoes. That team from Dunedin included Morgan Thacker and Tyler Baumgardner.

Now Blacklidge, whose team Course Align made it to the finals in 2017, is planning to independently expand upon the StartupBus concept. He’s making plans to offer a similar entrepreneurial experience aboard a cruise ship, and may partner with an airline on an entrepreneurial program as well.

“It teaches people what they’re capable of,” he says of the StartupBus concept.

Blacklidge is not a newcomer to hackathons. He already has experience organizing events like 2017’s BizSprint, designed to help veterans develop their businesses.

“I’ve always known the power of hackathons,” he says. “What I want to do is really take it to a larger scale and grow it across the world.”


New service arms parents in battle against cyberbullying

Bullying is bad, but at least children can escape it when they are safe at home. With cyberbullying, not so much.

“Bullying no longer ends when the child goes home from school. It follows them home because it’s social media,” explains Allison Mook, Vice President of Client Services for a new Tampa-based service, BulliPatrol.

The company is trying to address the cyberbullying problem by raising parental awareness of their children's online activity. Its goal is to reach the most vulnerable with the message that they are not alone and can get help.

“Bullying now is different,” asserts Andrew Grubbs, Founder and President, a programmer who came up with the idea. “It’s always a threat. That’s where we need to accept that the genie is out of the bottle. Social media is here to stay. Kids are going to use it.”

The service works by analyzing phrases in online messages. “Once the child starts receiving messages that are negative, the parent receives an alert,” explains Mook, who is handling marketing.

The service, which costs $5.99 a month, has launched in Tampa Bay, with plans to expand nationally. It already is generating a fair amount of interest in the TV media locally and in North Carolina and Indiana.

It’s hard to say exactly what BulliPatrol’s staffing needs will be just yet. But Grubbs expects hires to be in Tampa Bay.

“We aren't hiring currently, but have identified our personnel needs and will be able to fill them as we gain momentum,” Mook adds.

In the meantime, they are reaching out to moms, mom and dad blogs and websites, schools, libraries and churches, even the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay. “We feel like this is something we can actually make an impact with on a national level,” she says.

What’s next? “We’re always looking at how do we help the kids escape from the problem they’re experiencing,” Grubbs says.

Transit conference focuses on technology, future trends

Some 1,500 transit leaders from around the world, along with transit workers, vendors and manufacturers from across the country, will converge on downtown Tampa starting Friday, May 4, to talk about new transit technologies and hot topics like automated buses.

Ultimately, the nearly week-long event is about sharing what works and what doesn’t -- and showcasing what we have in the Tampa Bay Area to others in the transit industry.

"This conference means a big win for the local Tampa economy since conference attendees will be spending money at Tampa-area hotels, bars and restaurants thus boosting the monetary impact within the city," says Kenyatta Lee, Chief Administrative Officer/Interim Chief of Staff for the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART). “This particular conference is their second largest, behind their annual conference. It kind of moves across the nation.”

Ticket prices ranged from $825 to $1,375 per person, depending on when they ordered and whether they’re a member of the Washington, D.C.-based American Public Transportation Association.  

The main event -- in the works for two years -- is at Tampa Marriott Waterside May 6th to 9th. Guests are expected to arrive on May 4th to participate in committee meetings, a welcome reception, and the International Bus Roadeo (yep, as in road) at the Hilton Tampa Downtown. Educational sessions and workshops begin Monday.

It consists of APTA’s Bus and Paratransit Conference and the Roadeo, a day-long competition of driving and maintenance skills which will take place Sunday at the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority in St. Petersburg.

In Tampa, there are sessions on topics such as "Next Stop: The Future,” ''Automated Buses in Transit,” “Automated and Connected Vehicles,'' “It’s All About the Ride: Strategies for Sustaining and Building Ridership,” and “Zero-Emission Buses Are Ready. ... Are You Ready for Them?” They’ll also be looking at shared challenges such as recruiting and retaining bus operators and dealing with distraction and driver fatigue.

HART will be giving technical tours to show its Compressed Natural Gas Facility, Hyperlink service connecting riders to regular routes and Streetcar Barn.

While in town, conference visitors will be able to use a new Tampa Bay transit innovation, the regional Flamingo Fare, for free. When the pilot program goes into effect on a limited basis this summer, Tampa Bay area riders will pay with Account Based Smart Card or Smartphone Application accepted across multiple jurisdictions.

Tampa Bay is holding its own in the transit arena, according to Lee. HART ranks 68 among 822 transport agencies in APTA, based on the numbers of rides not involving transfers. PSTA ranks 72.

“We have been recognized for being very creative and innovative with what we have,” she explains.

So what else is happening? After a misstart with a contractor that didn’t keep on schedule, HART will again be seeking proposals for driverless services downtown. It’s looking to get proposals in June and get the vehicles on the road by December.

Since it will be in a formal submittal process, it’s up to the vendors to propose what they can offer, and discussions are precluded. “We can’t have a lot of conversation with them,” she says. “We can look from afar to see what they have available.”


Tech Bytes: TiE recognizes area business leaders

At its annual TiECON Florida, the nonprofit TiE Tampa Bay did what it does best: It connected businesses and investors to help them achieve success. The result was raising awareness about some of the region’s successful companies.

Three “Present Your Startup” competitors, culled from 42 submissions, were recognized. Five other companies were chosen for special awards.

“There are much larger competitions in terms of prize money. What is far more important is the visibility that these entrepreneurs get on a national and global stage,” says Kannan Sreedhar, TiECON Florida’s program chair. “That is one of the unique things that we do as TiE.

The event on March 31 drew nearly 250 to the Sam and Martha Gibbons Alumni Center at the University of South Florida, where they heard presentations from Arnie Bellini, Co-Founder and CEO of the Tampa-based IT firm Connectwise; Steve Raymund, Founder and Former Chairman/CEO of Clearwater’s Tech Data; and others.

“Present Your Startup” winners were Prefer Hired, a Tampa-based company for online recruitment, first place, $1500; Simpleshowing, a real estate brokerage firm operating in Tampa, second place, $750; and Russellville, TN-based Shockwave Motors, the designer of a three-passenger electric roadster that recharges in eight hours from a standard wall outlet, third place, which did not come with a cash prize.

“All three winners have the opportunity to present to the local TiE angel community," he says. “Top winners will also have the opportunity to present at TiE Global.”

Other winners, who received crystal globes, included Tony DiBenedetto, Co-Founder of Tampa's Tribridge, who claimed the Super Entrepeneur Award for having a significant positive economic impact on Florida through job creation and for leading a profitable enterprise with at least $25 million in annual revenues.

The Social Entrepreneurship Award went to MacDonald Training Centers for its positive social impact, while the Angel Investor Award was awarded to Dr. Vijay Patel for investing in Tampa-based startups in 2017. Paul R. Sanberg, Senior VP for Research, Innovation and Knowledge Enterprise at USF, was given the Community Champion Award for backing the community in 2017. The Startup of the Year Award went to Pik-My-Kid, which provides a tool to make school dismissals safer and more efficient. It made a profit within one year.

Nominations came from the greater Tampa Bay Area.

TiE was founded in Silicon Valley in 1992 by successful people with roots in the Indus Region. It has grown into a global organization with 11,000 members and 60 chapters in 17 countries. The Tampa Bay chapter, started in 2012, is now setting its sights on hosting a global conference in the future.

A charter member of TiE Tampa Bay, Liberty Group Hotels Executive Chairman Raxit Shah will be featured in TiE's Entrepreneurship Series later this month. He will share his journey and provide information about the establishment of Liberty Group, with current investments of more than $450 million in 55 hotels. The event, free to TiE members, is slated at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 24, at USF Connect, Oakview Room, 3802 Spectrum Blvd., Tampa. Registration is scheduled at 6:30 p.m.; dinner is at 8 p.m. after the presentation. Non-members and guests pay $10. Learn more by visiting the Events page and searching for the TiE Tampa Bay chapter.

Read on for more Tampa Bay Area tech news.

• If you need help defining your target business market, check out the free “Tools to Find Your Target Market” class at Entrepreneur Collaborative Center, 2101 E. Palm Ave., Tampa. The event is scheduled from 10:30 a.m. until noon Wednesday, May 2. The class by the Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative will include information about free electronic resources you can use to conduct demographic research and define your target market. The event is free. No registration is required.

The event follows 1 Million Cups of Coffee, a regular weekly program to educate, engage and connect business owners.  That free event runs from 8 a.m. until 10 a.m. Wednesday, May 2, at the ECC. You can just show up.

• CEO and Co-Founder of Next Machine. Phillipa Greenberg, will be speaking on “How to Lead with Grit and Grace” from noon to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, May 3, at USF CONNECT, Oak View Room, 3802 Spectrum Blvd., Tampa. Hosted by the USF Student Innovation Incubator, the event is free for Tampa Bay Technology and Student Innovation Incubator companies. Others pay $10 at the door. Lunch is  included. Register online.

Also at USF Connect, The CEO Forum: Tampa Bay featuring DiBenedetto is slated from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 8, at Oak View Room. The event is co-sponsored by GrowFL. General admission is $15. Register online.

• Have you been wondering how business analytics can help you make strategic decisions? Then the Florida Business Analytics Forum is for you. Designed for mid- and senior-level executives across various industries, the free event offers a program with important insights on topics like machine learning, artificial intelligence, blockchain, algorithmic fairness, health-care analytics and various ways to interpret big data. The event is scheduled Tuesday, May 15, at USF’s Marshall Student Center Ballroom in Tampa. Check-in starts at 11 a.m. The forum is presented by Suntrust Foundation, the USF Muma College of Business, and the Center for Analytics and Creativity. Register here.

• The countdown is on for poweredUP, the Tampa Bay Tech Festival, on Wednesday, May 23, at Mahaffey Theater, 400 1st St. S., St. Petersburg. Doors open at 12:30 a.m. for the 1 p.m. event highlighting people and projects in Tampa Bay’s tech ecosystem. “Last year we had 650 registrations and more than 500 attend. This year we anticipate doubling last year’s numbers,” says Daniel James Scott, Co-Executive Director of Tampa Bay Tech.

On the calendar this year is a panel of CIOs talking about the future of technology and our workforce: Sigal Zarmi, PwC; Andrew Wilson, Accenture; John Tonnison, Tech Data; and Kim Anstett, Nielsen. Also featured is CEO2CEO, with David Romine, CEO of AgileThought; and Tom Wallace, CEO of Florida Funders; and Otto Berkes, Co-founder of Xbox, developer of HBO Go and CTO of CA Technologies. Tech tracks are planned on cybersecurity, data science and innovation.

Tickets are free for members, which includes employees of member companies. Non-members pay $100. Learn more.

• Six Florida Polytechnic University students have been interning at the Winter Haven Economic Development Council this semester with the goal of helping Winter Haven become a smart community. The plan is to build on the city’s fiber optic network and expand residential and business markets. Students have been interviewing residents, businesses and government leaders to determine how different sectors can benefit from being a smart city, a move that uses technology to prepare for the future.

• Mark your calendars for Ignite Tampa Bay, where some of the area’s most talented people share their stories. Ignite 2018 is slated Wednesday, June 13, at Palladium Theater, 253 5th Ave. N., St. Petersburg. The evening features five-minute presentations intended to teach, enlighten, or inspire. Topics vary. The event by the Tampa-based nonprofit Technova Florida, Inc., which is dedicated to creating tech and maker communities empowering positive change, came to Tampa Bay in 2011. Learn more.

• President/CEO Linda Olson of Tampa Bay Wave, a Tampa-based nonprofit growing tech-based companies in the region, has been named to Rays 100. The group is advocating for the Rays’ move from St. Petersburg to Ybor City and increasing business support for it. The Wave also has announced support for Tampa Bay Rays 2020, the nonprofit securing community support for the move. The Rays announced they were all in for a new Tampa stadium in February.


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.


Job 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 can 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.

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