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Project Transition USA Helps Veterans Find Civilian Careers

For many military veterans, making the transition from military to civilian life can prove challenging -- especially landing a good job.

Project Transition USA is on a mission to ease that process by using the power of LinkedIn to help military veterans find and position themselves for unique post-military career opportunities.

The nonprofit organization teaches LinkedIn workshops to transitioning military, veterans, and dependents, showing them effective LinkedIn and professional strategies that will help ease their transition into the civilian workforce.

"We teach them how to brand themselves and be attractive in the market," says Nancy Laine, president and workshop facilitator.

Laine, the daughter of an Army Chaplain and also known as "The Linked Concierge," discovered the potential of LinkedIn after making a valuable new client connection via the online professional network.

Laine and the Project Transition USA workshop team share personal experiences and success stories with veterans about the benefits of using LinkedIn as a networking resource that can lead to rewarding civilian career opportunities.

For several, personal networking or using a platform such as LinkedIn can be a bit uncomfortable after having been removed from the normalcy of every-day career advancement opportunities.

"We start out by addressing their number one fear -- privacy," says Laine.

The Project Transition USA team then starts veterans out with LinkedIn 101, easing them through the learning curve of LinkedIn’s platform while teaching them how to best share their skills that many employers and recruiters look for in candidates, sharing information on:

- Creating a noticeable profile to showcase your skills
- Strategies to build a network to promote hiring
- Effective job-searching techniques on LinkedIn's website
- How to connect with influential people with common interests
- Guidance from professional recruiters and influential community leaders

Although 93 percent of recruiters are currently using LinkedIn as a resource to find qualified candidates, a substantial 69 percent of military veterans report finding a job as the most significant hurdle in their transition.

In November 2012, Project Transition USA collaborated with MacDill Air Force Base to bring the LinkedIn Job Search Workshop to MacDill’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP) -- the first held on a military base anywhere in the world.

The organization’s progressive goal is to additionally teach civilian career transition strategies to active duty service members prior to being discharged, integrating the approach in collaboration with each United States military base to capitalize upon the long-term benefits of career preparation to prospective employers after military service.

"They want a meaningful career, and we point them in the direction of whatever makes them come alive," says Laine.

For information on workshops or how to get involved, visit Project Transition USA on LinkedIn or online.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Nancy Laine, Project Transition USA

USF Health Pilots New Therapy For PTSD Patients

Veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) now have an innovative treatment option that offers promising results.

PTSD is an anxiety disorder experienced by combat military personnel and others who have been exposed to one or more life-threatening or traumatic events. According to PTSD Foundation of America, one in three combat veterans suffers from PTSD, yet less than 40 percent seek help.

Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) combines evidence-based psychotherapies with eye movements, and offers promising results within an abbreviated period of time compared with traditional therapist. Patients are asked to think about the traumatic experience and walk through it in their head like a movie. This elicits typical physiological responses to stress, including increased heart rate and chest tightening. They then participate in eye movement therapy, which creates a calming feeling or desensitization.

In the second stage, the patient reimagines the way the event occurred in a way they would prefer to remember it. They then do additional eye movement therapy, which essentially replaces the negative images in the brain with positive ones.

"It sounds a little farfetched, but memories can be changed," says Kevin Kip, PhD, professor and executive director for the Research Center at te USF College of Nursing. "When you bring up a memory, you can actually change features of it."

With ART, results can be achieved in just two to five sessions, compared with 10--12 in traditional therapies. It’s also unique in that the patient doesn’t have to verbalize or write about the trauma.

The first randomized controlled trail of the therapy with 57 participants was recently conducted by the Restore Lives Center at the USF College of Nursing, yielding promising results.

Representative Castor provided support through Congressional funding in 2009 for this and four other similar studies.

Approximately 300 clinicians in the U.S. have been trained on the therapy so far. Next steps include a larger study, with 200 veterans and a six month follow-up.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Kevin Kip, USF College of Nursing

Tampa General Hospital Recognized For Use Of Technology

Imagine you’re in the hospital, laying in bed, watching TV. A box pops up on your television screen, asking about your pain level and providing you with a way to answer on-screen. If your pain is over a certain threshold, a nurse is alerted. You can also use your TV to interact with clinical staff, asking questions on a digital whiteboard and keeping a journal of your medical information.

The Get Well Network, an interactive patient care system, is just one of the ways Tampa General Hospital (TGH) is using technology to improve healthcare delivery. The hospital’s electronic medical record (EMR) system recently received highest honors from the Health Information and Management System Society (HIMSS), an international organization that analyzes use of technology in healthcare.

The hospital received the Stage 7 designation, the final level of a multi-tiered process. Currently, only 2.2 percent of hospitals in the U.S. have this designation (four in Florida).

HIMSS looks at how the hospital leverages technology for better and safer patient care, quality outcomes improvement and reduction in medication errors. The designation includes an on-site inspection in which the hospital receives a thorough scrutinization. Nurses and doctors are questioned about how they use the system, and specific outcomes are studied, such as disease management, research and how available data is used to improve the wellness of the community.

They also look at governance in decision-making, including new ideas, innovations and the involvement of key stakeholders.

"What’s unique about our organization is that we involve everyone who has to use the system on a daily basis," says Scott Arnold, Senior VP and Chief Information Officer for Tampa General Hospital. "What’s most important is patient safety and a higher quality of care."

TGH first launched its EMR in 2011, and has seen a reduction in medication errors of 63 percent since implementation.

by: Megan Hendricks
Source: Scott Arnold, Tampa General Hospital

USF Entrepreneurship Alumni Crowdfund Youth Community Center

Alumni from USF are on a mission to “Turn on the Lights” at the yet to be opened Youth Development Center in Tampa Heights.

The USF Alumni Society of Entrepreneurs, an organization of Masters of Science in Entrepreneurship and Applied Technologies graduates from USF, has developed Tampa Heights Unite. The project is using the crowd funding platform Indiegogo to raise funds for lighting a the new youth community center. Donors can contribute any amount toward their goal of $5,000, which they hope to raise by December 31.

The center is a project of the Tampa Heights Junior Civic Association, a community-based nonprofit that provides leadership and civic development for youth in Tampa Heights through mentoring and support. The group is renovating an abandoned church at 2005 N. Lamar Ave., built in 1905, to turn it into a thriving, inviting place for at-risk youth and families.

"I walked into the church and could see the vision they had for the center," says Mit Patel, USF Masters in Entrepreneurship graduate and board member for the Tampa Heights Civic Association. "I fell in love with the project."

Patel’s company, MIT Computers is donating a computer lab, and Columbia Restaurant Group is providing a kitchen.

"We’re getting a lot of support from the community," says Patel. "It’s really a community-based, grassroots movement."

The renovation is part of a larger project, which includes a community garden, entrepreneurial garden club and playground that are already in existence.

The 9,055-square-foot center will include a Learning Center, Teen Center, Center for Creativity and rental space for meetings and events. Programs to be offered include: leadership skills, business and entrepreneurship, financial literacy, workforce preparation and technology training.

Completion of the renovation is expected for summer 2014.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Mit Patel, USF Alumni Society of Entrepreneurs

WaZINIT App Wins Startup Weekend Tampa Bay With Focus On Food Allergies

A mobile app that identifies food ingredients and allergens has won Tampa Bay's fifth Startup Weekend. WaZINIT is designed to help consumers with allergies and specific preferences compare products directly from their smartphones.

WaZINIT President and St. Petersburg native Brian DiVito has lived with Crohn's disease for over half of his life. For 16 years, he navigated a cycle of flare-ups, hospital stays, abdominal surgery and recovery related to the condition.

Along the way, DiVito learned that he had about 30 food allergies. He developed a new diet that avoided trigger foods. Today, he experiences virtually no Crohn's-related issues.

"With 30 allergies, I kept thinking, 'There's got to be a better way','' DiVito explains. "I spend a ridiculous amount of time reading ingredient labels in the store.''

Multiple food allergies also kept DiVito from trying new things. "Once I found a food product that worked, I'd stick with it,'' he says. "Current solutions that are out there limit you, many times, to the eight FDA allergies. They also charge a super-high premium.''

The eight major food allergens identified by the Food and Drug Administration include: milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans.

"Our app will allow you to focus on many more specific ingredients: Do you want to eat this, or avoid it?'' says DiVito, who attended the University of South Florida, where he studied Architecture and Civil/Structural Engineering.

As a "hobbyist'' front-end developer, DiVito had been "kicking around'' the idea of an app that could help consumers search a large database for specific products or ingredients. Smartphone and tablet users will be able to scan products and identify ingredients from the app's directory.

Enter Startup Weekend Tampa Bay. The team included DiVito and his wife, Christina DiVito, along with Gregg Hilferding, Zach Kanzler, Todd Broyles, Adriane Jacobsen, Collete Lawson and Elizabeth Rugg. WaZINIT won.

"Our pitch for the judges was focused on how we could monetize the app -- but for me, the most important thing is to keep it free,'' DiVito explains. "Whatever their reasons, I want people to be able to use it and share it with family and friends for free.''

Now that Startup Weekend is over, the team is back down to a skeleton crew as they work to develop a beta version, market the app and source funding. They applied to the First WaVe Accelerator program, and competed in the Global Startup Battle, which is sponsored by Coca-Cola. DiVito hopes to "attract the attention and support'' of manufacturers like the brand.

"Ultimately, the goal is to keep the mobile app free of charge for the user,'' Di Vito says.

WaZINIT will be released in 2014 for mobile devices.

Writer: Justine Benstead
Source: Brian DiVito, WaZINIT

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
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