| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter Youtube RSS Feed

Tampa : Innovation + Job News

621 Tampa Articles | Page: | Show All

Verizon Wireless Recognizes Tampa Bay Companies For Innovation

Tampa Bay companies were recognized recently for using Verizon Wireless technology to improve efficiency and operations.

Now in its second year, the Verizon Wireless Technology Innovation Awards are hosted in various communities across the U.S. – this year in Arkansas, Central Alabama, Southeast Louisiana, Central Texas, the Carolinas and Tampa Bay. A winner is selected in each community to receive a $10,000 prize.

"We're looking to foster innovation, and specifically acknowledge and recognize our customers who are using our technology to innovate in the way they do business," says Chuck Hamby, Florida Region Public Relations Manager for Verizon Wireless.

The Tampa Bay competition was open to small to mid-size businesses with up to 500 employees. Companies submitted entries that explained how they use Verizon Wireless solutions to solve business challenges.

The overall winner was TransCare, a nonprofit division of the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay that responds to non-emergency 911 calls. The company operates 19 ambulances and 10 other transit vehicles, responding to over 40,000 calls per year in Tampa.

In 2009, the company noticed a significant increase in call volume. Looking for a way to keep up and maintain operational efficiency, they implemented Verizon’s WiFi technology to equip each ambulance with internet capability, allowing for continuous communication between the vehicles and the dispatch center. Doing so reduced average response times from 15 minutes to 10, increasing monthly patient services by 40 percent.

"It really got us to a place of efficiency," says Terence Romatar, VP for TransCare. "Verizon stepped up to the plate and offered a solution. They’re not a vendor, they’re a partner."

The company also improved billing processes by transmitting data wirelessly.

"Tampa is a technology incubator," says Hamby. "This area in Florida is business savvy, tech savvy -- an early adoptive area."

Caldeco, a heating and air conditioning company, received the runner-up award. Other finalists in Tampa Bay included Creative Sign Designs and Freedom Boat Club.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Chuck Hamby, Verizon Wireless; Terence Romatar, TransCare

Tampa Native Opens Online Vintage Thrift Store

Maegan Hayward has always been both a thrift store and a fashion junkie. She says her sense of style gives her the unique ability to throw together trendy looks using what is already available.  

Growing up in Tampa, her passion for vintage thrift store finds started when her father, also an entrepreneur, took her to her first thrift store. As an adult, she started selling vintage finds on eBay and has now turned her hobby into an entrepreneurial venture with a website called Red’s Vintage Threads.

Affectionately named after Hayward’s red hair, the site features items she finds at thrift stores across the country, ranging from styles popular in the 1940s through the 1990s. There are close to 300 pieces of clothing for sale, in addition to shoes and accessories. You’ll find everything from a leopard coat to a Metallica T-shirt to a New Kids on the Block hat.

"It’s fashion forward, which really doesn’t make sense because it’s really fashion backward," says Hayward while laughing.

The site can be searched by size, price, color and era.

Hayward also runs a recording studio in New York, doing film and TV work while spending her free time thrifting for the store. She enjoys scouting a vareity of thrift stores to put together unique looks for the site. "It’s kind of neat to see the stuff that people have discarded," says Hayward.

Another motivator for her is the sustainability and environmental factor of reusing things.

Future plans include expanding online sales and eventually opening a store front.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Maegan Hayward, Red's Vintage Threads

TEDxTampaRiverwalkWomen Celebrates Women's Ingenuity

TED first began in 1984 as a national conference that highlighted technology, entertainment and design, and has since become the go-to place for creativity, inspiration and new ideas. Local communities across the world host TEDx events, with the “x” indicating they are independently organized but still follow the TED structure.

For the first time in Tampa Bay, TEDxTampaRiverwalkWomen will highlight and celebrate creativity, innovation and insight from inspirational women across the world. The event will be held Thursday, December 5, at the John F. Germany Library in downtown Tampa, in conjunction with the TEDWomen event in San Francisco. Over 150 communities will be hosting TEDxWomen events on the same day.

A live webcast of Session I of TEDWomen will be shown, along with three local speakers. The global theme is: Invented Here, and celebrates invention in all forms, whether it be inventing a new product or service, creating solutions to world issues such as poverty or inventing yourself through creative expression.

"TEDxWomen is a great way to bring women together to celebrate the wonderful innovations we have come up with and continue to develop," says Jamie Klingman, VP of Learning is For Everyone, the event's host organization.

Local speakers include Loran Tripp and Lisa Demmi of Lab3 Marketing, who will talk about embracing differences to make an impact on our communities and the world as a whole. Monica Stynchula will discuss her entrepreneurial venture, Dovetail Care, which provides innovative approaches to healthcare management for seniors through the use of technology and database management tools.
 
Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Jamie Klingman, Learning is for Everyone

LumaStream Donates Lighting To Tampa Coworking Space

A new partnership provides eco-friendly and highly efficient lighting for over 100 technology start-ups at Tampa Bay WaVE, a nonprofit organization that provides mentoring and support to growing ventures.

The lighting was donated by St. Petersburg-based LumaStream, a digital lighting distributor. The company’s product converts high voltage lighting to low voltage and then sends it long distances in a more controlled way than traditional lighting systems. The result is a more efficient and longer lasting system, reducing lighting usage in commercial buildings by as much as 80%.

"The program that Tampa Bay WaVE has going is supporting hundreds of entrepreneurs every month," says Kelly Bousman, VP of marketing for LumaStream and advisor to WaVE. "To be able to donate the lighting that lightens the space and is part of where the bright ideas are hatched is a natural fit."

The lighting was installed at Tampa Bay WaVE’s FirstWaVE Venture Center in the Rivergate Tower in downtown Tampa.  The 16,000 square foot space houses over 100 local start-ups and entrepreneurial support organizations such as Startup Bus Southeast and Florida Next.

The new lighting will not only reduce energy consumption but will also allow WaVE to fully use its event space to support more evening events. It will also assist the Venture Center, which was originally started through a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce and support from the University of South Florida, with becoming self-supporting.

"We know the struggles that other tech companies go through, and it’s kind of our way of giving back," says Bousman.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Kelly Bousman, LumaStream

Pecha Kucha Tampa Bay V13: Making You Think Differently

Pronounced "pech chak cha," Pecha Kucha Tampa Bay is a combination open mike, happy hour and forum for creative people to share what they are passionate about.

The term is Japanese for chit chat, and the event was started by a pair of architects in Tokyo in 2003. The idea was to provide a way for young architects and designers to network and show their work. It has grown to include talks about a wide range of topics and now takes place in 700 cities around the world.

The format, 20 slides per presenter that run 20 seconds each, help the presenters stay concise and to the point and keep the audience engaged.

The November 22 event at the Tampa Museum of Art is the 13th of its kind in Tampa Bay. The concept was brought to the region by Kenneth Cowart, architect at ASD. The first event in 2009 came about from Cowart’s desire for an artistic outlet and a way to meet new and interesting people. Originally hosted by the Tampa chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the events quickly grew to become “the” event for creatives in the region.

Speakers at V13 will share about tactical urbanism, driverless transportation, a water park in Bradenton and arts in education, among other things. Attendees will walk away with a unique way of seeing things, a different perspective about ideas and an understanding about what others in Tampa Bay are doing.

"It’s about the sharing of ideas, inspiration, and things that you’re passionate about," says Cowart. "Events like this are critical to stirring up creative juices and having people engage with their city.

Admission is $5, and the event is open to the public.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Kenneth Cowart, Pecha Kucha Tampa Bay

Teen Business Challenge Builds Creativity, Collaboration

Next February, 20 entrepreneurial-minded teens in Tampa Bay will have an opportunity to hone their business skills and bring a new idea to life.

The first ever Teen Business Challenge, February 21 – 23 at FirstWaVE Venture Center in Tampa, allows selected teens to participate in workshops and activities to hone their entrepreneurial skills, creativity and perhaps even create a new business.

The event takes place over a three days. Participants start by learning basic concepts such as creative problem solving, concept modeling and marketing. They then gather in teams of five to create a business model, taking it into the community to identify potential customers. The final step is a Shark Tank-style pitch competition to an audience of local business leaders, venture capitalists and investors.

"I know that if kids could be a part of this somehow, they would love it," says David Harris, executive director for Teen Business Challenge and graduate of the University of South Florida.

The inspiration for the program came when Harris saw a 10-year-old boy begging on a street corner. "We’ve got to be able to reach these kids, let them know there are alternatives," thought Harris. The group is targeting those in low-income neighborhoods that might not otherwise have access to this kind of opportunity, but anyone can be nominated.

A gamification component provides additional motivation by awarding points at different times during the event.

All participants receive an iPad mini, with the winner receiving additional prizes. But, the ultimate win is the skills gained by everyone involved. "I like to feel like everybody leaves a winner," says Harris.

Teen Business Challenge is partnering with Computer Mentors Group and 100 Black Men of Tampa Bay on the first event.

The event will take place annually in Tampa, and will eventually be expanded on the global level.

"We want to show kids how to uplift themselves, and leverage their awesomeness to come up with new products and ideas," says Harris.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: David Harris, Teen Business Challenge

HealthPlan Services Expands, 1,000+ Jobs In Tampa

HealthPlan Services is expanding its Tampa offices to make room for the 1,000 jobs the company will add by 2018. The company has made a $34 million capital investment toward infrastructure and new facilities to accommodate the firm’s growth in Hillsborough County.

HealthPlan Services currently employs more than 650 employees in Hillsborough County and provides sales, benefits administration, retention, reform and technology solutions to the insurance and managed care industries.

HealthPlan's new site will feature an operations center that will house all employees in IT, sales, customer services, human resources, and finance. The newly created positions will focus on building new platforms as well as helping to maintain existing client platforms.

"This expansion strengthens our commitment to provide our clients with the innovative services and high-quality customer support they need to succeed in the evolving post-reform insurance landscape," says CEO Jeffrey Bak.

With the influx of the new federal healthcare law, the client base of HealthPlan naturally grew to include clients who needed assistance to connect and participate in Obamacare.

As the company considered the amount of staff needed to handle the increased operations, Bak alternatively considered Ohio and Nevada for expansion sites, ultimately choosing Florida for its talented workforce and lower taxes.

"We have more than 40 locations, and we looked at all of our main hubs. We chose to expand here in Tampa," says CFO Steve Saft.

The firm will also receive state-based incentives worth several million dollars for each job created in addition to grants toward worker training programs.

Enterprise Florida, Hillsborough County, City of Tampa and the Tampa Hillsborough EDC were involved in facilitating the company's expansion in Tampa Bay.

"We are glad that the Tampa Hillsborough EDC and the governor made a compelling offer. So far, we’re happy," says Saft.

For more information on career opportunities, visit HealthPlan Services online.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Jeffrey Bak and Steve Saft, HealthPlan Services

Innovation Incubator Brings New Business Potential To USF Students

Global Entrepreneurship Week brings a new “beat’’ to the University of South Florida starting today (Tuesday, November 19.)

During the Building Entrepreneurship Around Tampa (B.E.A.T.) event, USF will launch its new Student Innovation Incubator (SII) in the USF CONNECT Galleria at the USF Research Park.

The Student Innovation Incubator will offer USF undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to work in a collaborative business environment with peers in a new on-campus workspace. The goal: to allow students from all disciplines to create and grow new businesses.

SII was developed by USF CONNECT, the business side of USF Research & Innovation, in partnership with the USF Center for Entrepreneurship, Florida High Tech Corridor Council and Hillsborough County.

Tampa tech startups and entrepreneurs from the First WaVE Accelerator and small businesses from USF’s Tampa Bay Technology Incubator will showcase their companies at a ribbon cutting today to students and entrepreneurs from across the Tampa Bay area.

Doors open to the public at 1 p.m. with tours of entrepreneurship facilities and exhibits, showcases and open house tours of the new Student Innovation Incubator.

At 3 p.m., following remarks from dignitaries including Randy Berridge, President of the Florida High Tech Corridor Council; Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe; Tampa City Council Councilman Mike Suarez; and Paul Sanberg, Sr. VP for Research & Innovation at USF, USF President Judy Genshaft will cut the ribbon to officially mark the grand opening of the student incubator. A reception is to follow.

Global Entrepreneurship Week, held annually each November, is designed around the concept of inspiring innovation and celebrating entrepreneurship. In 2013, 138 countries around the world are hosting events with the help of local partners like USF CONNECT.

B.E.A.T. will take place Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013, at 3 p.m. at the USF CONNECT Galleria at 3720 Spectrum Blvd, Tampa, FL. Directions can be found here. Free parking is available in a visitor lot on the north side of the red USF CONNECT building.

Writer: Justine Benstead
Source: Judy Lowry, USF Research Communications

TEDxYouth@TampaBay Celebrates Local Youth

What do a conservationist, a scientist and the youngest solo hiker on the Appalachian Trail have in common? They’re all Tampa Bay residents under the age of 18. They’re also all speakers at TEDxYouth@TampaBay.

The fourth annual event, November 16 at the John F. Germany Library in Tampa, brings the community together to celebrate the unsung heroes among Tampa Bay youth. The 18-minute "TED talks" are modeled after the larger TED organization, which originally stood for technology, entertainment and design but now includes any topic that is encouraging and inspiring.

This year's event is being held in conjunction with over 70 events across the globe during the weekend-long TEDxYouthDay

"We have a fantastic slate of presenters who are inspired by something and then go out and act on it," says Terri Willingham, the event’s organizer. "They’re not just thinkers, they’re doers."

The theme is "Spark of Inspiration." The six presenters, all from Tampa Bay, plan to exemplify the theme, each in their own way. For example:
  • 15-year old Neva “chipmunk” Warren is the youngest person to do a solo 1,700 mile hike on the Appalachian Trail. Her focus is encouraging people to move away from body image issues and focus on what your body can do.
  • Carrie Boucher takes art on the road to serve youth through the NOMADStudio (Neighborhood-Oriented Mobile Art & Design Studio) and the belief that art is for everyone.
  • James Geiger, a recent Masters’ degree graduate from the University of South Florida, is a multidimensional artist. Complications at birth left him with Cerebral Palsy, but that hasn’t slowed him down or stifled his ability to inspire and encourage others. His message is that there aren’t any disabilities. It’s all about what you can do with what you’re given.
  • At the age of 12, Avalon Theisen is this year's youngest presenter. When she was nine, she founded a nonprofit, Conserve It Forward, which promotes environmental awareness and action, especially among youth.
"We don’t always take a lot of time to listen to one another," says Willingham. "This is an opportunity for these young people to be heard, and for us to listen. It gives me reassurance and hope for the future."

The event is sold out, but can be viewed via live stream.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Terri Willingham, Learning is for Everyone

New App Captures Real-Life Recommendations From Friends

Like many newcomers, when Justin Davis and his wife moved to Tampa two and a half years ago, they didn’t know many good restaurants, entertainment venues or things to do. As they met people, they would ask for recommendations, only to forget them when it came time to actually go out and try a new place.

A new app named Drawer meets this need by allowing users to capture and track recommendations from people they know and trust.

"Think of it as Twitter meets Foursquare meets Pinterest," says Davis, Drawer’s founder.  

Users create virtual "drawers," giving each one a descriptive name such as "On the beach" or "Cuban restaurants." As they receive recommendations from others, they can add the location to the appropriate drawer. Other information can be added as well, such as who provided the recommendation or maybe a specific dish to try. Users can also create their own lists of places they want to recommend to others.

In a Twitter-style feature, users can also follow others to see their favorites.

The app was launched last week by Davis’s company, Madera Labs, a user experience firm based in Tampa. Although initially marketed in Tampa, the app can be used globally.

Drawer was part of Tampa Bay WaVE’s inaugural FirstWaVE Accelerator class, which provides entrepreneurs with resources such as mentoring and networking.

Next steps include expanding to allow businesses to deliver more customized experiences for their customers.

The app is available on iPhone and should be launched for Android and the web soon.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Justin Davis, Madera Labs

Triad Retail Media Expands, Adds 150+ Jobs In St. Pete

On November 1st, Triad Retail Media moved into its brand new 65,000 square-foot St. Petersburg national headquarters which will accommodate the firm’s growing staff as well as 150-200 new jobs created over the next three years.

The newly created jobs will focus on content, communications, IT, business intelligence, design and creative, ad operations, and video content management.

Triad creates, manages and operates online media programs for leading, high-traffic retail e-commerce websites including Walmart, eBay, Toys "R" Us, CVS, Sam’s Club, and several other recognizable brands.

The company’s move from the Westshore neighborhood of Tampa to the new office at Carillon in St. Petersburg was specifically selected because of the space available to accommodate the company’s expanding workforce.

"It will be a gradual, persistent hiring. We don’t expect to grow and then stop," says Misty Brown, Triad’s VP of communications.

Tampa’s market for technology, art and talented workforce highly resonated with the firm’s decision to further expand its presence in the Tampa Bay region.

"There are many advantages and multiple levels of talent in Tampa Bay. There is terrific talent here, several tech hubs are here, and there great art schools," says Brown.

Recently named on the annual Inc. 500|5000 list as one of the nation’s fastest growing companies and #27 in Tampa Bay, Triad reached a three-year sales growth increase of 143% and employs more than 400 in seven offices nationwide.

"We are a company of entrepreneurs; if you have an idea, you can expect to see it grow here. We welcome challenges," says Brown.

The firm’s early 2013 acquisition by Rockbridge Growth Equity has helped to further position Triad’s stock in the Tampa Bay market as well as the company’s significant and continued growth.

"Rockbridge has been a fantastic partner to enable our growth. It’s been an aid to our continued growth," says Brown.

The City of St. Petersburg worked closely with Pinellas County to facilitate Triad’s relocation to St. Petersburg as well as working directly with Triad and Enterprise Florida to qualify the firm for tax refunds through the Qualified Target Industry program.

For career opportunities, visit Triad online or via LinkedIn.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Misty Brown, Triad Retail Media

USAA Invests $164.3 Million, 1,200+ New Jobs In Tampa

USAA (United Services Automobile Association) is undergoing a major expansion in Tampa Bay, announcing a $164.3 million capital investment to create 1,215 new high-wage jobs and grow its local operations by 2019.

USAA leads the industry in insurance, banking, investment and retirement products and services for the military community and their families.

"It’s a big deal, and it will have a pretty significant ripple effect in our economy. Add to that Amazon’s 1,000 new jobs, Bristol-Myers Squibb adding 600 jobs, and HealthPlan Services’ 1,000 jobs -- this is pretty serious economic growth that secures our future and the development of our community," says Rick Homans, President and CEO of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation.

USAA has operated in Florida for more than 40 years, with a significant presence in Hillsborough County. With more than 1,800 individuals currently employed at USAA’s New Tampa facility and over 600 employees additionally located throughout Florida, the firm has already created nearly 370,000 new jobs in just two years.

"USAA is growing as the demand for our financial products and services among the military community increases. We’ve had a great team of employees in Tampa for forty years, and we are excited to grow that team in this great military community," says USAA CEO Joe Robles.

In April, the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners approved a local incentive package of $729,000, supporting a commitment of $2,916,000 from the State of Florida through the State’s Qualified Target Industry (QTI) program. The total QTI allocation of $3,645,000 will provide the company with $3,000 for the creation of each new high-wage job, incentives which will be payable over a nine-year period.

The company will initially lease 50,000 square feet of office space at Lakeview Center in Tampa and will soon construct a new 420,000 square-foot facility at Brandon’s Crosstown Center by 2015. Once complete, the facility will be the largest built-to-suit office project in Hillsborough County since 2001.

"This is another sign that Florida is becoming the number one place for business. Not only has Florida’s unemployment rate continued to decrease, but we are still below the national unemployment rate at seven percent," says Governor Rick Scott.

Interested candidates are encouraged to visit the Career Center online for more information on available positions.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Joe Robles, USAA; Rick Homans, Tampa Hillsborough EDC; Governor Rick Scott, State of Florida

Salsarita's Plans 500 New Jobs In Tampa Bay

Mexican-inspired Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina is rapidly expanding throughout Florida, and plans to bring up to 500 new jobs to the Tampa Bay region over the next three to five years.

With two locations already existing in Florida, Salsarita’s has more than 80 locations across the United States. The brand has targeted the Tampa and St. Petersburg area as a prime location to plant 20 new locations.

"Growth of the brand is happening in two ways: we are going to continue to build company restaurants in the Carolinas. Outside of the Carolina’s we’re going to be growing through franchising," says Chris Bailey, head of franchise development.

After settling the sale of McAlister’s Deli two years ago, the former owners began to seek out brands having significant growth opportunities. The team identified and purchased Salsarita’s, immediately beginning plans for long-term growth development.

The company’s expansion in Florida is a part of a tailored approach to franchise development that will begin operational investments in Tampa Bay in early 2014. The brand is committed to protecting the market territory of franchisees, adding one or more new locations per franchisee per year.

Each new Salsarita’s location would add between 15 and 22 new positions, including full-time restaurant managers, shift managers and servers.

Franchising has become a source of professional re-birth and a second career investment opportunity for many seasoned professionals seeking solid entrepreneurial opportunities.

"There is a growing appreciation and eagerness to work with franchises. Of all of the areas in industry and business that have been impacted adversely by the last several years of economic challenges, franchising has been the least impacted and the most consistent. It is, by nature, designed to give that go-getter entrepreneurial spirit the engine in which they can execute a good business," says Bailey.

For information on franchising and career opportunities, visit Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina online.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Chris Bailey, Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina

Need A Ride? RideCommand App Promises To Get You Where You Need To Go

A new partnership makes it easier to find a taxi service when you need it within the Tampa Bay region.

Tampa-based Cab Plus, an upscale taxi service in the Tampa Bay region recently partnered with mobile app RideCommand  to provide a way to book transportation on demand or up to three months in the future through the web or a mobile phone.

The "ride now" feature lets you request an immediate pick-up from the location of your choice, including airports or places of business. The network identifies the closest car who will get to you in the shortest amount of time. A countdown clock displays within the app, and after 90 seconds if no car is available a message displays to please try again.

The "ride later" feature allows car services to compete for business by placing bids that you can choose from. You can pick the type of car and desired fare from those presented. The information provided also includes the company’s customer rating.

"We call it 'RideCommand' because we’re putting the passenger in command of their fate," says Alan Stapleton, founder and CEO of RideCommand.

The idea came about when Stapleton had a bad car service experience while trying to attend a wedding a few hours away from the airport. Having no idea where to start or what competitive prices should be, he went through a frustrating experience only to end up stranded at the airport. Although the company is based in Maryland, the app launched recently in Tampa based on connections made at a recent limo show in Atlantic City.

"We’re in Tampa because it’s innovation-friendly," says Stapleton.

The app is free and available on Android and iPhone.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Alan Stapleton, RideCommand

USF Offers Seed Capital To Companies In Technology Incubator

A new source of capital is available for startups that were formed based on the licensing of University of South Florida (USF) technologies.

Companies affiliated with the Tampa Bay Technology Incubator (TBTI) at USF Connect can apply for up to $50,000 in funding to help take their products or services to the next level.

The goal is to assist these companies with reaching their goals within a year or less. The money is designed to help them overcome obstacles that may be keeping them from taking the next step -- whether it be taking a product to market, developing a prototype, paying salaries or purchasing needed materials.

To qualify, a company must have been formed using USF-licensed technology. Companies at TBTI span all industries, from a skateboard briefcase to science education materials, to mobile structures that will be deployed in therapeutics.

The funding is available through the Seed Capital Accelerator Program and is sourced from the USF Research Foundation, which set aside money from its long-term earnings for this purpose.

"One of the biggest things these early stage companies struggle with is getting proof of concept that helps them get investment or move them to the next level," says Valerie McDevitt, assistant VP for Patents & Licensing at USF.
"At the beginning stages it can be really hard to get that money, and it makes a huge difference."

Funding will be based on agreed project objectives being met. The deadline to apply is November 15, 2013.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Valerie McDevitt, USF
621 Tampa Articles | Page: | Show All
Signup for Email Alerts