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St. Joseph's Hospital-North Hosts Tampa's First Robotic-Assisted, Single-Site Hysterectomy

A physician at St. Joseph’s Hospital-North is the first in Tampa to perform a relatively new, innovative option for a hysterectomy.

Dr. Pamela Twitty, OBGYN at The Women’s Group, says she is happy to be the first physician in Tampa to perform a robotic-assisted single site-hysterectomy.  Hysterectomies are the second most common surgery performed in America on women and are often used to treat serious conditions such as endometriosis, excessive bleeding or fibroids.

In a traditional hysterectomy, a doctor makes a five- to seven-inch incision, leaving a noticeable scar and resulting in an average of one to two months or recovery time. The new procedure, called the da Vinci robotic-assisted single site surgery, makes a single, one inch incision. The results are less pain and scarring, a shortened hospital stay and quicker return to normal activities.

A unique feature of the robotic assistance is the control provided to the physician. The doctor can control the surgical instruments using a console in the operating room, eliminating the need to coordinate one or more assistants to help with instrumentation.  

Robotic-assisted surgery technology has been used for almost 10 years and started with general surgeons for gall bladder surgery. It has become an option for gynecological surgeries within the past two years. What’s innovative about the da Vinci procedure is the single incision, allowing for minimal scarring and a quicker recovery.

"I’ve been a big fan for as long as I’ve been in medicine of staying innovative and using safe and new technologies," says Dr. Twitty. "I’m truly thrilled that it’s an option we can offer now."

The procedure can be used for other gynecological surgeries such as on the fallopian tubes or ovaries. As advancements continue, it could expand to other areas of general medicine.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Dr. Pamela Twitty, The Woman's Group

Florida Music Students Win Scholarships For Piano Performances

Six young pianists from around Florida were awarded a total of $22,500 in scholarship and prize money in the 2014 Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota Competition for Piano. 

Ten pianists made it to the final stage of the three-round competition in late March, which was judged by Julian Martin of the Juliard School; Robert Sherman, an award-winning radio broadcaster, music critic and educator; and acclaimed Pianist Derek Han.

Three pianists from the Scholarship Level (ages 14-19) received a total of $7,500 in scholarships. Priscilla Navarro, 19, of Ft. Myers was awarded the first prize Lee & Jerry Ross Scholarship of $3,000. Second-place Prize Winner Alvin Xue, 15, of Wellington, received $2,500 in prize money; and Third-place Winner Tiffany Chen, 16, of West Palm Beach received $2,000. 

In the Performance Level (ages 20-25), Heqing Huang, 20, of Boca Raton was awarded the first place Virginia B. Toulmin Award, amounting to $6,000. Second-place Winner Emily Charlson, 23, Tallahassee, received $5,000, and Third-place Winner Dan Sato, 25, Miami, was awarded $4,000. 

Endowments from private donors and money raised by Friends of the Artist Series organization provide the scholarship funding for the Artist Series Competition. 

The Artist Series Concerts Competition was established by Artistic Director Lee Dougherty Ross in 2002. Under the guidance of Coordinator Joy McIntyre, Professor Emerita of Music at Boston University, the competition grew to the statewide level in 2007. Since 2007, McIntyre says the competition has run on a multi-disciplinary cycle that annually celebrates top pianists, string musicians and vocalists.

“I applaud the Artist Series and its known leaders, Lee Dougherty Ross and Executive Director John Fisher. They have done really marvelous things with it. …  They are investing money in the future of classical music by supporting these young musicians,” McIntyre says. 

McIntyre adds that the city of Sarasota itself provides a unique cultural environment that fosters young musicians and artists.

“It’s a cultural mecca, if you will, where all kinds of things are going on. People of all levels of appreciation, whether it’s orchestra or theatre or art; classical or jazz music -- or the circus, of course -- are active supporters of the arts. Sarasota is where it’s at in terms of lively cultural life.”

Writer: Jessi Smith
Source: Joy McIntyre, Artist Concert Series Competition Coordinator

Tampa Startup Helps U.S. Travelers Find Parking Across Nation

Transportation reservation services like Discount Park and Ride intend to streamline your travel experience, whether you’re heading out of town for a business trip or a vacation cruise.

The Tampa startup launched in March 2014 to offer travelers a tailored parking solution -- and is quickly picking up speed in the national transportation sector.

Discount Park and Ride already has 35 partners across major U.S. markets, including San Francisco, Atlanta, New York, Chicago, Boston, Miami, and, of course, Tampa.  

How does it work? DPR partners with local parking lots to help travelers search for a safe place to park their cars. Partner facilities offer shuttles services and guaranteed reservations in off-site locations.

Concerned about just where these “off-site” locations may be? Discount Park and Ride has thought of that. Browse each location in advance and compare with other parking options through an interactive map on the DPR website. Local parking partners in Tampa, for example, include Memorial Airport Parking and Embassy Suites Tampa Airport/Westshore.

Consumers can search the Discount Park and Ride website by filters like price, location, service offerings, and distance from the airport/seaport; reviews and detailed information like shuttle frequency and payment methods are also available.

“Our goal is to provide value for the consumer and a prime customer experience,” says Discount Park and Ride President and co-Founder Alex Miningham.

Miningham attended Florida State University and holds an MBA in Business. A serial entrepreneur, he co-founded software technology startup inDegree as well as Capital Parking, a former parking company in Tampa. The company quickly expanded from a valet parking business servicing local high-end restaurants into a surface lot management company with a focus on airport and seaport parking in Tampa.

In 2013, HEPdata Inc. acquired inDegree. Shortly after, Miningham left his role at Capital Parking to found Discount Park and Ride.

 DPR plans to spread out into other sectors of parking, from special events at sports and concert venues to off-street and garage parking in large metropolitan areas of the country.

Miningham cites problems in the parking industry between “brick-and-mortar facilities and third-party reservation companies” as part of the inspiration for founding Discount Park and Ride. DPR aims to eliminate some of the industry’s problems by offering parking partners a host of tools to manage and modify data, from listings to pricing to sales reports.

So far, feedback from industry partners has been positive. In fact, Discount Park and Ride is expanding much more rapidly than originally anticipated, says Miningham, with partners in major markets nationwide after only one month of operation. 

Discount Park and Ride isn’t the first company to offer parking and shuttle service to and from facilities like airports; Park N’ Fly  also operates in the Tampa Bay area. The difference, according to Miningham, is scale. 

“Park N’ Fly is a nationally branded parking company with brick-and-mortar locations nationwide who have struck partnerships on a very small scale with strategic partners in certain markets. DPR, on the other hand, doesn’t operate any brick and mortar facilities; rather, we strike partnerships with facilities across the nation on a much larger scale,” Miningham explains. 

Discount Park and Ride currently employs 15 people in the Tampa Bay region. The company, which raised over $1 million in a seed round of financing through a private equity firm, is currently closing in on its second round of funding.

“We’re excited to continue our expansion with a focus on innovation along the way,” Miningham says. “Our ultimate goal is to be the go-to reservation company for consumers when they’re looking to reserve parking across any sector.”

Writer: Justine Benstead
Source: Alex Miningham, Discount Park and Ride

Stay Smart Solutions Launches Accessibility Pilot Project In Tampa

An Ohio-based company is running a test pilot project in Tampa to help medical providers offer a safer environment for clients and help people with diabilities caused by aging or medical conditions to more easily navigate their own homes.

Stay Smart Solutions has a three-step approach to construction and renovation modifications: assess, recommend, modify. First, they work with patients and healthcare providers to perform a comprehensive environment assessment. Next, an Occupational Therapist recommends modifications that make the most sense for the individual. Finally, a modification team installs the products.

The innovative approach is designed to make transitiions in living more successful, ultimately improving safety for patients and group home residents, while allowing individuals to remain in their own homes when possible.

"It’s not just about installing things. It’s about looking at it clinically from the inside and out to see if it’s the best thing for the customer," says Nina Corsi, director of market development for Stay Smart.

Stay Smart Solutions recognized the need after observing that many modifications to homes and businesses don't fit those challenged by accessibility issues. Simply installing items like grab bars doesn't help without first getting guidance to make sure the placement works properly for the person or people served.

The company began in 2013 with the pilot project taking place now in Tampa through building contractors and DIY stores.  

One of the company’s first clients was a gentleman who had a stroke and was returning home after several months of rehab. His wife purchased a grab bar for the shower and was planning to place it on the right side. Stay Smart’s Occupational Therapist visited the home to see how the patient was functioning. During her visit, she asked how he gets in and out of the tub. Noticing that he leans to the left, she recommended the bar go on that side. She then watched him walk down the hallway and noticed he was leaning to the right. To assist with this, custom bars were installed in the hallway that match the design of the house. 

If the initial pilot is successful, the company plans to expand to Orlando and eventually cover the State of Florida.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Nina Corsi, Stay Smart Solutions

Ignite! Tampa Bay Announces Speakers For 4th Annual Event

Notable names in the growing Tampa entrepreneurship scene will take the stage at the Cuban Club on May 22, 2014. Doors open at 6 p.m. for the fourth annual Ignite! Tampa Bay, an event billed with the phrase "Enlighten us, but make it quick!''

Speakers will cover a range of topics from local politics to TED-like inspirational talks. Armed with slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds and whatever props they can carry, presenters take the podium for exactly five minutes to inspire and "ignite'' the audience. 

Ignite! Tampa Bay 2014 presenters include local Tampa and St. Petersburg residents who are active members of the startup community: USFSP Entrepreneurship program co-Founder Nathan Schwagler will discuss his love for Tampa Bay with a talk titled "On Gratitude''; Software Engineer and Technologist Aubrey Goodman is tackling "Active Vulnerability''; and Launchtrack Founder Jonathan Cordeau is talking about "How NO Empowers.'' A complete list of speakers will be released in coming weeks. 

Chris Krimitsos, founder and CEO of the Tampa Bay Business Owners, will be the evening's emcee.

Held at the historic Cuban Club in Ybor City, the 2014 Ignite! will strive to find a balance between inspiring and overwhelming the audience, says Joy Randels, one of the event's organizers.
 
The national movement (founded in Seattle in 2006 through O'Reilly Media) launched in Tampa in 2011. Some might say that Ignite! Tampa Bay has found footing after three years of trial and error.

Almost four years ago, Ignite! was one of the first entrepreneurial showcases to step into the Tampa limelight. The event moved from the former Wyndham Tampa Westshore (now Holiday Inn Tampa) in summer 2011 to the Glazer Children's Museum in January 2012, doubling in audience size. By 2013, the evening was staged at the Tampa Theatre in downtown Tampa, where over 800 attendees heard from more than 30 speakers.
 
"It was too much,'' Randels says of the 2013 event, which ran long. "This year, we will be done on time so that people can go out and connect afterward, and the number of presenters will be limited to 20.''

Randels spoke at the 2013 event, challenging local entrepreneurs to work together to change the status quo and be supportive of each other's endeavors.
 
Ignite! Tampa is subsidized by the Hillsborough County EDI2 fund through Technova, Florida Inc., a nonprofit that produces entrepreneurial events like Ignite! and Barcamp Tampa Bay throughout the year, along with supporting independent events like Startup Weekend, Startup Bus, Tampa Hackerspace, FIRST Robotics and Robocon.

Join the Ignite Tampa Bay Meetup group for event updates or visit the website to purchase tickets.

Writer: Justine Benstead
Source: Joy Randels, Ignite! Tampa Bay

Un-Tourist Guides Feature Hidden Gems In Tampa, St. Pete

Tampa and St. Petersburg are the latest cities featured in the Un-Tourist Guide series, which helps those new to the area make their home in the Tampa Bay region.  

The concept was originally launched in 2013 by Florida-based publisher Voyager Media, Inc. with the first title: “Moving to Naples: The Un-Tourist Guide.” The Sarasota title was added the same year, as well as Charlotte, NC. Cities were selected strategically based on a high potential for growth, jobs and housing activity.

In the Tampa guide you’ll learn about the legacy of the old Tampa Bay hotel that now houses the University of Tampa. The guide also features the world class educational system from pre-K through post graduate study and the diversity that can be experienced through festivals, parades and ethnic restaurants. Tampa's rich history and modern culture are used to show why it’s a great place to live and work for people in all stages of life.

"For me, the great thing about Tampa is the fact that it is so diverse. I really wanted the book to share that," says the Mary Lou Janson, the guide’s author and publicist.

Janson says the easiest chapter to write was how to assimilate into the community by volunteering, noting the ample opportunities Tampa nonprofits have to offer for all ages and interests.

The St. Petersburg guide focuses on the area’s low cost of living, excellent healthcare, vibrant arts and enterainment, and frequent dolphin sightings. Other hidden gems can be discovered through the guide, including dog-friendly beaches, year-round fruits and flowers and citywide pride in the "burg."

Both Janson and the St. Petersburg Guide’s author, Cindy Dobyns of AboveWater Public Relations and Marketing, grew up in the Tampa Bay area. Each of them lived in one or more other states as an adult, but eventually found their way back, vowing never to leave again.

"Once you move here and find out how much this area has to offer, you’ll probably wonder why you didn’t move here sooner," says Janson.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Mary Lou Janson, The Un-Tourist Guide

Iconic Ringling Cube Gets Facelift From Students

For decades, motorists and visitors to Ringling College of Art + Design have been greeted by the same image on the college’s front lawn: A minimalist, tilted cube that stands more than 15 feet high at the corner of Tamiami Trail and Martin Luther King Boulevard. 
 
Over the years, time and the elements weathered the Cube into a drab, gray block, and it faded into the scenery for most passersby. Three Ringling College students, however, recognized the sculpture as a six-sided blank canvas, and seized the opportunity to give the Cube a fresh makeover. 
 
Graphic Design Seniors Mariana Silva, Anna Jones and Kim Daley developed the concept for the “Faces of Ringling” project, a school-wide collaboration aimed to give the Cube a literal “facelift” by combining the self portraits of two dozen students.
 
“A lot of alumni like the Cube a lot, so we didn’t want to remove it. Instead, we were looking for a cost effective way of bringing life back to the Cube, and in a way that would represent the college today and its diverse student body,’’ Silva says. “We found that bus wrap is cost effective and can be done quickly.” 
 
The team worked within the RCAD Design Center, an internship class that gives students the opportunity to work on “real world” projects, to draft the concept for “Faces of Ringling,” and presented to the college board early in the Spring 2014 semester. They also put out a call to student artists for self portraits, and received more than 100 submissions.
 
The team selected the work of 24 students from approximately half of the college’s 14 majors to be displayed in four-portrait collages on each of the Cube’s six sides. Sarasota-based sign company, Signs in One Day, installed the Cube portrait wrap on April 11, providing the Cube with a fresh face -- 24 of them, in fact.
 
“The idea is to create something different every year, or at least regularly, with lots of student involvement. It’s a better representation of the school,” Silva says. 
 
Writer: Jessi Smith
Sources: Mariana Silva, Kim Daley, Anna Jones: RCAD Graphic Design ‘14
 

Global Business Forum Discusses Indo-U.S. Partnership, Economic Growth

As actors, actresses and film fans converge in Tampa for the International Indian Film Acacemy’s (IIFA) Bollywood awards, the FICCI-IIFA Global Business Forum focuses on the business side of the relationship between the U.S. and India.

A joint initiative of the IIFA and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Forum takes place at the Tampa Convention Center April 24 – 25.

The theme: "Indo-U.S. Partnership: A Catalyst for Economic Growth'' focuses on the trade relationship between India and America, bringing in change makers, thought leaders and business owners to discuss new and existing business opportunities.

Speakers will represent government, education and industry, and will include Consul General of India Ajit Kumar, Dr. RK Pachauri, who leads the Nobel prize winning UN Intergovernmental panel on Climate change, Raj Biyani, managing director of Microsoft IT-India and N.R. Narayana Murthy, executive chairman of Infosys Limited.

Prominent women leaders will speak about issues particularly relevant to women. Speakers include Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi; Nisha Desai Biswal, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs; Judy Genshaft, president of the University of South Florida; and Renu Khator, president of the University of Houston and former USF Provost. Actress and former Miss World Priyanka Chopera and actress Tara Abrahams will present the Girl Rising Project, a global campaign for girls’ education.

The Indian economy is currently the 10th largest in the world, with trade between India and the U.S. reaching the $60 billion level in 2012.  

The event is the 10th of its kind, and the first time in the United States, indicating a strong interest in developing relationships and strengthening ties between the two countries. With close to 30,000 people of Indian descent, the Tampa Bay region was a natural fit for the forum’s U.S. debut.

The event will increase the visibility of local brands on an international scale. "It’s a recognition of Tampa Bay to the world," says Kunal Jain of TiE Tampa Bay, an event partner.

The event is led by the University of South Florida College of Business and Tampa Bay Trade and Protocol Council, among others. Partners include Enterprise Florida, Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation, Visit Tampa Bay and TiE Tampa Bay.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Kunal Jain, TiE Tampa Bay

Sarasota Philanthropists Unveil Plans For Hands-On Science Center

Sarasota philanthropists and STEM education advocates, Dr. Fritz Faulhaber and his wife, Ping, announced preliminary plans to open a new science center in Sarasota during a news conference on Monday, April 21.

The Faulhabers envision the upcoming Suncoast Science Center as a learning facility geared toward students of all ages, ranging from mid-elementary to high school. 

“What we’re talking about is hands on, experiential science and engineering,” says Dr. Faulhaber. 

“We want to involve all the senses so that when kids are exploring, they do it with their whole being … If you begin to pull the thread of experimentation and understanding of [scientific] concepts early, it can continue through every grade,” he adds, noting the lifelong benefits of establishing an early interest in the STEM disciplines. 

Ping Faulhaber notes that while U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics project a 62 percent increase in STEM-related jobs by 2020, the Department of Education currently reports that only 16 percent of high school seniors plan to pursue STEM-related careers. 

“We need a place outside of the classroom, without time limits and where kids don’t have to worry about tests, where they can explore science … a place that will keep kids interested in STEM,” Ping Faulhaber says. 

The science center will include amenities such as the Faulhaber Fabrication Laboratory (Fab Lab), which was formerly housed at G. Wiz, as well as a science equipment lending library for teachers and classroom space for experimentation.

Sarasota Schools Superintendent, Lori White, announced that the former Sarasota County Technical Institute (SCTI) building in south Sarasota will serve as a temporary home for the Suncoast Science Center. The Faulhabers say they are currently in the process of seeking a permanent location for the organization, which they expect to house approximately 60,000 square feet of experiential learning space. 

The Suncoast Science Center has yet to schedule an opening date in its temporary space in the SCTI building, however, interested patrons can sign up for the organization’s e-newsletter to receive email updates and become involved in the future of the upcoming Suncoast Science Center. 

Writer: Jessi Smith
Source: Fritz Faulhaber, Suncoast Science Center

USFSP Student Entrepreneurs Win 3rd National Startup Competition

On a whim, Lazar Anderson enrolled in a 'Creativity in Entrepreneurship' course at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg a few years ago. It quickly became his favorite class.

Anderson's impulse paid off. In April, he and four team members from the USFSP Entrepreneurship Club took home top honors from a national business competition for the third consecutive time.

"Each year it's an intense challenge, working for weeks against some of the best entrepreneurship students in the country,'' Anderson says. "The strength of our team is what pulls us through every year. There's so many amazing minds at USFSP  that putting five of them in the same room has incredible potential.''

In the Collegiate Entrepreneurs' Organization's Startup Simulation Challenge, student competitors worked on business simulators with a team of 3-5 of their peers. Participating USFSP Entrepreneurship Club team members included Anderson, Andrew DeFraties, Christa Hegedus, Kevin Mircovich and Liz Powers.

Startup Simulation Challenge gameplay lasted from March 1-31, over six virtual quarters. Teams competed at their own pace to make decisions about a simulated startup business using the Marketplace Business Simulation platform.

Awards included a $500 first place cash prize for USFSP and $250 to the second and third place teams, Willow International Center and Brigham Young University-Idaho.

The three top teams will be acknowledged at the 2014 CEO National Conference Oct. 30 – Nov. 1 at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando, FL. The event is expected to draw over 1,000 students and entrepreneurs and will include a National Elevator Pitch Competition, CEO Chapter Awards, and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.

"Winning this competition demonstrates that our entrepreneurship program is competitive on a national level,'' says Anderson. "We've consistently beaten top tier universities across the country. Although we're a young program, we're dominant.''

The USFSP Entrepreneurship Program has received national recognition as an outstanding emerging entrepreneurship program in the United States.

Writer: Justine Benstead
Source: Lazar Anderson, USFSP Entrepreneurship Club

Tampa Startups Shine At Jacksonville Crowd-Funding Festival

The second annual One Spark crowd funding festival in downtown Jacksonville, FL, drew a mass of more than 260,000 attendees April 9-13, 2014. Over 600 creators pitched products and projects to the crowds during the five-day event.
 
“It’s kind of like a Bonnaroo for entrepreneurs,” says Tampa Bay WaVe marketing manager Gracie Stemmer.
 
Tampa Bay area startups that pitched at One Spark include Drawer; Marbel; MamaBear App; PledgeYourBets; WeVue and Wazinit?; all are housed in the First WaVe Venture Center
 
Startup Weekend Tampa Bay 2013 winner Wazinit, an app for scanning food labels and comparing ingredients, took the second place finish as a Top Tech creator at One Spark. The beta-stage startup received a check for $980.79.
 
Local clothier Black & Denim was also selected from more than 20,000 applicants to present at One Spark. The clothing company received over $7,000 in funds directly through contributions from attendees, says founder Roberto Torres. 
 
“Something remarkable is happening in our state,” says Torres, “and we got to represent Tampa and show them what we are all about!”
 
The Florida NEXT Foundation partnered with Tampa Bay WaVE to sponsor and curate a venue on the sixth floor of the Sun Trust building in Jacksonville during One Spark.
  
The space hosted 40 creators from Tampa and Jacksonville, making it the largest venue at the festival. Public attendees visited venues to see creator pitches, enticed by DJs, food, free beer, games, and other events to drive traffic to the creators.
 
Pitches and projects ranged from apps to stores to art galleries to summer learning camps. By using the One Spark mobile application, attendees voted for the startups that they liked best. Based on the popular vote, $310,000 in crowd funding and cash awards was divvied up amongst winners in the juried categories of Art, Innovation, Science, Technology and Music. 
 
One Spark itself began as a project on crowdsourcing platform Kickstarter in 2013
 
“WaVe has a great relationship with OneSpark,” says Stemmer. “We’re really trying to facilitate entrepreneurship in all of Florida.”
 
Sources: Gracie Stemmer, Tampa Bay WaVe marketing manager; Roberto Torres, Black & Denim founder

Startup Grind Tampa Bay Hosts Citizinvestor, StatWeather Founders For Fireside Chats

Local networking group Startup Grind Tampa Bay will host Citizinvestor founders Tony DeSisto and Jordan Raynor as featured speakers on Thursday, April 17, at a monthly meetup for area entrepreneurs.
 
Tampa-based startup company Citizinvestor is modeled on the principle of ‘crowdfunding for the people.’
 
“A lot of what they’ll talk about, I think, is quitting their full time jobs, jumping in with two feet to risk everything on it,” says Startup Grind Tampa chapter director Joy Randels. “They’ve completely bootstrapped their company from the beginning, have found office space with little more than ‘friends and family money’ and are growing with real revenue. I think that’s a pretty inspiring story.”
 
Citizinvestor has established itself in the crowdfunding arena as a distinctive player by partnering exclusively with government officials or partners. The startup has over 150 government accounts registered to date.
 
“I love the fact that they’re giving citizens the ability to make decisions about how they want to see money used,” says Randels. “Whether it’s a public event, or building a park in your neighborhood, it’s a way for the government and the citizens to work together to get projects and programs funded that citizens of that community feel are valuable.” 
 
Startup Grind aims to make events diverse to appeal to a wide range of attendees, offering smaller group meetings to interested entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs alike. Visit the Startup Grind Tampa Bay website or Youtube channel to learn more.
 
At the following month’s meeting on May 15, Scientist, Mathematician and Entrepreneur Ria Persad Carlo will speak at Startup Grind Tampa Bay as part of the Google for Entrepreneurs “#40forward” initiative. Every Startup Grind chapter around the world will feature a female entrepreneur in the month of May, says Randels.
 
Persad is the founder of StatWeather, a company that has created an enterprise software application which allows them to determine predictable weather streams. StatWeather then sells weather predictability to risk management companies.  
 
“She’s had an amazing, inspiring life,” Randels says of Persad, who studied mathematics and physics and was also a child piano prodigy.
 
The next meeting of Startup Grind Tampa Bay will take place at 6:30 p.m. on April 17, 2014 at the Oxford Exchange Commerce Club. Tickets are $20 at the door.
 
Source: Joy Randels, Startup Grind Tampa Bay

Florida Hospital Carrollwood Honored For Sustainability

Florida Hospital Carrollwood was recently recognized for its efforts to decrease consumption of fuel, water and energy.

The Hospital received the Green Business Designation from The Sustany Foundation and the City of Tampa. The program recognizes efforts of Tampa-based businesses in energy and natural gas consumption, water consumption, fuel consumption, solid waste and recycling.

Through its green initiative, launched in 2011, the Hospital has been able to save 2.4 million kilowatts of energy and 583,307 gallons of water, among other savings. Specific efforts include replacing incandescent light bulbs with more energy efficient options and purchasing only ENERGY STAR products. A partnership with Stericycle allowed them to identify recycling opportunities, leading to 30,683 lbs of recycling. They also implemented employee-focused programs such as recycling education, designated parking spaces for fuel efficient vehicles and a Green Team to help review their progress and develop new ideas.

"We believe strongly that we’re here to benefit the community," says Florida Hospital CEO Joe Johnson. "We want to do whatever we can to minimize the impact to our landfills and our environment."

The Green Business Designation process involves businesses completing a set of specific metrics including materials recycled, percent of employees that carpool, ongoing hours of energy and water conservation and training and business-generated metrics.

The Hospital responded to a recent challenge by Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and is the only hospital to receive the designation thus far. The challenge was first identified by a hospital employee who championed it internally. "I knew it was a challenge we needed to accept," says Johnson.
 
Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Joe Johnson, Florida Hospital Carrollwood

Too Funny! Eckerd College Improv Team Among Top In Nation

An improv group from Eckerd College was selected to perform at the longest-running and largest improv festival in the world.  

The 11-student group, Another Man’s Trash, performed at the Chicago Improv Festival on April 4. The team is one of only two student groups selected to perform at the event, which featured 150 performances. Seven of the group’s members performed, and the trip was partially funded by the Eckerd College Organization of Students.

Formed in 2008, the group was founded and is completely run by students from all majors, from theater to marine science. The group has grown in popularity, with weekly shows bringing sellout crowds on campus, even having to turn people away at times. The audience selects the subjects for the shows, and the students make it their own.

Being a part of the group is not only fun, but a learning opportunity for the students. Being on stage in front of hundreds of peers takes a considerable amount of poise, not to mention communication skills and the ability to think on your feet.

These skills can be applied to a wide range of future careers -- any job that requires presentations or working with people. The group's director, Geoffrey Fella, takes a more personal view. "My favorite skill that the group has taught us is how to honestly portray life on stage,” says Fella. “People think improv is about making jokes in front of an audience, but truly beautiful improv aims at presenting the truths of our day-to-day lives in a way that is funny in and of itself."

Fella, a philosophy major, learned about the group second-hand and at first wasn’t particularly interested in performing. He underwent an apprenticeship to see if he was a good fit for the group, and he learned to enjoy the challenge. Eventually, he fell in love with the craft. "Improv makes you a better human being."

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Geoffrey Fella and Tom Scherberger, Eckerd College

Pinellas Tech Company Adds Local Jobs, Expands In California

A Tampa Bay area company and major player in the technology solutions provider market is expanding its West Coast presence while adding jobs locally.

Oldsmar-based Vology in Pinellas County has acquired a California division of Govplace, a value added reseller (VAR) to the federal government.

With the acquisition, Vology will need to create additional sales and engineering resources in Irvine, CA, along with additional back office staff in the Tampa Bay region to support them.

Vology will likely add between 100 to 120 "really good'' jobs in Florida over the next three years, says CEO Barry Shevlin.

The majority of the positions will likely be technical resources, with the average Vology employee earning "a bit over $75,000 per year,'' Shevlin says.

The company currently employs approximately 200 people in the Tampa Bay region, with plans to double its Florida business over the next three years.

"We're committed to the Tampa Bay area,'' says Shevlin. "It's a great place to work and live.''

Vology launched in Oldsmar in 2002 as Network Liquidators before rebranding in 2010. The company offers services like IT consulting and engineering, virtualization and storage, and end-to-end technological solutions. Vology has been ranked in the Inc. 500/5000 list of fastest growing private companies in the U.S. for eight consecutive years, beginning in 2006.

California is Vology's second largest market. Acquiring Govplace allows Vology to bring in the company's 18 years of experience exclusively serving state, local government and education (SLED) customers in California through enterprise IT solutions.

The Govplace acquisition also gives Vology a second physical location in California to support a growing customer base. Vology is headquartered in the Tampa Bay region, with current offices in Irvine, Sacramento, Syracuse, New York City, Denver, Austin, and Oklahoma City.

Writer: Justine Benstead
Source: Barry Shevlin, Vology CEO
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