| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter Youtube RSS Feed

Entrepreneurship : Innovation + Job News

477 Entrepreneurship Articles | Page: | Show All

Recent UT grad creates successful business concept

A new business created by a recent grad from the University of Tampa is already a success weeks after launching.

The idea came to John Publicover when he was a student at the University of Tampa, not too long ago. He needed a place to store his belongings over summer break. Looking into the conventional method of a storage unit, Publicover did the math; his possessions were not worth what he would pay for a storage unit.

Soon Storedby would be born.

“I looked at what investors were investing in, peer-to-peer platforms, like Uber or AirBnB,” Publicover says. “I thought there needed to be a similar platform where people could list spaces to rent.”

From there, Publicover connected with the Entrepreneurship Center at the University of Tampa, and started building his startup company.

“If someone has a closet, an attic, a basement, garage, basically any extra space in their home, they can rent it out on Storedby,” Publicover says. “In turn, someone looking for a place to store their items can browse the site and find an appropriate size space to rent.”

Storedby also offers parking listings as well.

The company, which just launched its site in April has users who have signed up from all over the world, according to Publicover. With a desktop and mobile browser version currently, an application platform is in the works and expected to be available in the coming months.

Publicover, who graduated from the University of Tampa in May, says he will continue his relationship with his alma matter.

“The entrepreneurship center has an incubator for businesses like mine, and as an alumni I can continue to work out of the university,” he says. “Moving forward as the company grows, I plan to keep the company headquarters here in Tampa.”

Tampa Bay WaVE offers more workshops with help from grant

Tampa Bay WaVE can now do more workshops with the help of a grant from Bank of America.
 
WaVE, a local nonprofit, that helps entrepreneurs with their start-ups, received $27,500 from the large bank to help them with their workshop series. The workshops will educate local entrepreneurs on a variety of subjects with the hope that the companies started here will stay and create high-wage tech jobs in the Tampa Bay region.
 
“The workshops are open to the public and are instructed by Tampa’s best industry experts,” says Gracie Stemmer of Tampa Bay WaVE. “They cover everything from marketing, CEO Leadership, design and development, accounting, legal and finance.”
 
To date, the nonprofit has supported over 70 startups and created over 300 jobs as a result of those new companies. Bank of America recognized the work Tampa Bay WaVE has done in a statement.
 
“Tampa Bay runs on the sweat and innovations of small business owners and entrepreneurs, and we're all lucky to have Tampa Bay WaVE growing this important part of our economy," Bill Goede, Tampa Bay president of Bank of America.stated in the news release "Supporting our future technology leaders and the economic health of our community is a no-brainer."
 
The Startup Workshop Series will have over 100 workshops over the next year. Each workshop is an hour long and are free to members, $25 for the public and $10 for students.
 
For more information, visit Tampa Bay WaVE’s website.

App created by Tampa developer plans to change the way you shop, share favorite brands

A new app created by a developer in Tampa could be a consumer choice game-changer.

MeSpoke, a social media app that gives power to the consumers, is set to launch this summer. The app allows members, known as "Speakers'' the opportunity to express themselves, while promoting their favorite brands and retailers. In turn, it offers brands and retailers an opportunity to follow a more cost-effective business model.

“MeSpoke really shifts all of the power from the business to the consumer,” says Sid Khurrum Hasan, co-founder of MeSpoke.

Hasan goes on to say that he has observed that while business to business commerce is down; consumer to consumer business is on the rise.

“If you’ve ever been out and see someone with a fantastic purse, or a beautiful bracelet, chances are you may ask where they got it from,” he says. "MeSpoke allows its Speakers to basically do the same, but take it a step further. It allows members to post an image and then whatever content is uploaded can be tagged, and other consumers can not only click on the content to see where the shirt is from, but take the consumer directly to the brand or retailer’s site to purchase.”

He explains that he wants MeSpoke Speakers to be brand ambassadors in the same way that sports figures and celebrities are today.

The developer on this innovative concept is Steve Tingiris of Dabble Lab who is also located in Tampa.

“We interviewed 24 development companies, but hands down Dabble Lab was the best decision,” Hasan says.

For more information, visit the company’s website

New roastery in NoHo Tampa helps you create your own coffee blend

Tired of your usual cup of joe?

There is a new coffee shop that can help with that, but The Lab in Tampa's North Hyde Park neighborhood is much more than your average coffeehouse. For one, co-founder Roberto Torres, calls his establishment a coffee bar and roastery. In other words, you can buy one of the rotating rare brews Torres and his team has brewed, or you can make your own. You can create your own coffee here.

“There are less than five facilities in the world like The Lab,” Torres says.

Torres says he got the idea after becoming familiar with the craft beer scene in Tampa. He saw the growing popularity with individuals wanting to brew their own beer, even distribute it and sell it. He figured why not coffee?

The Lab at 1703 W. State St. is a “collaborative community,” according to Torres, where anyone can try their hand at roasting.

“What I love about this concept is that it can serve so many purposes,” Torres says. “For example, a bride and groom can come in and make a blend that they can use as party favors at their wedding, or a boutique hotel in the Tampa Bay area can create a private label and put it in their rooms.”

Different coffee beans are rotated all the time and rare microbatches are served at the coffee bar, for those looking to just taste and not brew.  

Torres who also owns Blind Tiger Café in Ybor and Seminole Heights has been a successful entrepreneur in the Tampa Bay area for a few years. So what is it about the Tampa Bay area that is so attractive for innovators like himself?

“Tampa is in an expansion mode,” he says. “We are competing with other cities like Atlanta, Charlotte and Austin, but what we have going on in Tampa is exciting and I am looking forward to how we can continue to contribute to this expansion.”

50 tech jobs coming to downtown St. Petersburg

At least 50 high-tech jobs will be created in downtown St. Peterburg.

Inside Sales Solutions, which provides technology firms with sales consulting, training, recruitment and lead generation services, has established its national headquarters in St. Petersburg. The announcement of the new headquarters was accompanied with news that the company is projected to create 50 new jobs over the next two years.

“This is a conservative estimate though and we could be closer to 100 new jobs over this period,” says Aidan Snee, Principal at Inside Sales Solutions.

With offices in New York City and strong relationships with established brands such as HP and IBM, as well as next generation business-to-business technology companies, this announcement is a big win for the city of St. Petersburg.

So what was the draw to the area?

“As a service-based business, it's essential we're able to access the right people in the right environment,” Snee says. “They need to stay and grow with us as we grow and adapt to the rapidly changing tech industry we serve. We  looked at many different locations and did analytics on them all. The Tampa Bay region finished an easy first place in almost every category.”

The company considered locations in Austin, Atlanta and Kansas City before deciding that St. Petersburg was the best fit for their national headquarters.

The new positions being added at the national headquarters for Inside Sales Solutions in St. Petersburg are all IT sales and IT account management positions. 

Upcoming Tampa Bay technology meetups, coding events in spring 2016

Spring is officially here, Rays baseball season has begun in St. Petersburg, and members of the local technology and startup community are busy planning upcoming tech meetups in the Tampa Bay area.

To learn more about where to go and what to expect when rubbing shoulders with Tampa’s business leaders, entrepreneurs, and founders, check out the upcoming tech events listed below.

Thursday, April 7: USF Connect's Organize Your Business for Profitable Growth
3 p.m.
USF CONNECT
3802 Spectrum Blvd.
Tampa FL 33612

Learn how to grow a business from a retired Air Force colonel and business adviser. 

Saturday, April 9: Gulf Coast Maker Con
9:30 a.m.
Florida State Fairgrounds, Special Events Center
4800 U.S. Highway 301
Tampa FL 33610

See what can happen when innovative makers, crafters, inventors and artists come together to showcase their talents! The annual event has displays on everything from sustainable heritage to cutting edge drone technology.
 
Thursday, April 21: F***Up Nights Tampa Bay (FUN Tampa Bay)
6 p.m.
Rialto Theatre
1617 N. Franklin St.
Tampa FL 33602

FUN Tampa Bay started as a chapter of a national group with a meeting of successful entrepreneurs back in November 2015 at Ybor City’s Blind Tiger Café and CoWork Ybor. Led by organizer Maria Alithinos, who has a background in PR and marketing, the group is a little different from typical gatherings of business leaders. Rather than highlighting success, F*** Up Nights Tampa Bay brings well-known members of the business community together to talk about failures, losses and the trials of being an entrepreneur.
 
Monday, April 25: Tampa Bay Technology Forum’s Professional Women’s Network Luncheon
11 a.m.
Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront
333 1st St. S.
St. Petersburg FL 33701

Join local entrepreneurs and leaders to celebrate and recognize women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers, and to encourage female leaders in these industries to provide mentorship to girls and women.
 
Thursday, April 28: Geek Breakfast (recurring monthly)
7:30 a.m.
Jimbo's Pit Bar-B-Q
4103 W. Kennedy Blvd.
Tampa FL 33609

Join local self-described “geeks” as they enjoy breakfast BBQ and discuss all things technology. Recurring on the last Thursday of each month.
 
Friday, April 22: NASA Space Apps Challenge Hackathon
6 p.m.
Softwerx, at the corner of 19th Ave. & 13th St. in Ybor City, Tampa

Work together with attendees and sponsors from Tampa Hackerspace and Microsoft to develop code with the use of NASA’s extensive data files.
 
Thursday, June 2: Code-a-thon: Improve Medical records for Foster Children
12:30 p.m.
Adoption Related Services of Pinellas, Inc.
3941 68th Ave. N.
Pinellas Park FL 33781

Put your hacking skills to good service by coding for a cause.
 
Friday, June 3: Codapalooza, A National Day of Civic Hacking Event
7 p.m.
Peak 10
8350 Parkedge Drive
Tampa FL 33637                       

The theme of the weekend-long event is “Gimme Shelter,” a nod to the code fest’s goal of helping the homeless population in Tampa Bay. The event is co-hosted by the Tampa Innovation Alliance, along with Code for Tampa Bay and the Tampa Hillsborough Homeless Initiative.
 
Saturday, June 4: Pinellas Hack-a-thon, A National Day of Civic Hacking Event
8 a.m.-8 p.m.
The Iron Yard
260 1st Ave. S., Suite 300 
St. Petersburg FL 33701
           
Develop solutions for real-world community problems using data from Pinellas County during this one-day hack-a-thon, part of the National Day of Civic Hacking.             

Sarasota Whiskey Obsession Festival at Michael’s on East features local distilleries

Whiskey enthusiasts in southwest Florida have a reason to raise their glasses -- snifters, for those in the know -- as the date approaches for the fourth annual Whiskey Obsession Festival, taking place March 30 - April 1 in Sarasota, FL. 

Held at the Michael’s on East Restaurant and Wine Cellar, the Whiskey Obsession Festival is one of the largest whiskey festivals in the United States. Dozens of master distillers and professional ambassadors descend on Sarasota to share their knowledge and to sample and sell their finest whiskeys at the annual festival. The main tasting event on April 1 will feature master classes, cigar pairing, exclusive on-site package sales and VIP pours.

The Whiskey Obsession Festival features more than 250 whiskies from around the world, including fine spirits from Scotland, Ireland, France, Japan, Canada and the United States. This year, the festival will also feature several independent distillers representing the growing craft spirits scene in the greater Tampa Bay area. 

The makers of Wild Buck American Rye Whiskey, husband and wife distilling duo Kevin and Natalie Goff, are based out of Weeki Wachee. Wild Buck Rye is made using only local, non-GMO 401 black rye -- a grain varietal specially adapted for the Florida climate. The Goffs grow 401 black rye on their own farm in the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Reserve and receive harvests from the Melton Family farms in Dade City.

“There’s such a big movement for crafts spirits right now -- but it has to be quality… Most people get rye out of places like Minnesota or Colorado, but the problem is that when you grind it, it can smell stale or moldy. That wasn’t acceptable to us. We wanted it as fresh as possible,” says Natalie Goff. 

Natalie adds that she and her husband distill their whiskey, and sanitize, polish, fill and cork each bottle by hand.

“We don’t have any automation. … It’s really a quality measure. It’s a labor of love,” she says.

The Goffs will return to the Whiskey Obsession Festival for the second year following a successful, sold-out launch of their Wild Buck Rye at last year’s festival.

Also in attendance at this year’s festival will be the St. Petersburg Distillery, founded in 2014 in the midtown area of St. Pete, just south of Central Avenue and west of downtown. St. Petersburg Distillery’s “Old St. Pete” line features locally inspired spirits including Sweet Corn Whiskey, locally sourced from Okeechobee and distilled in vintage copper pots from the 1930s, and Tippler’s Orange Liqueur, made from natural Florida Temple oranges -- peels and all.

St. Petersburg Distillery PR Manager Hanna Marcus says that the distillery is excited to serve its WSWA award-winning “St. Pete Sour” cocktail at the Whiskey Obsession Festival, featuring the distillery’s Sweet Corn Whiskey, Tippler’s Orange Liqueur and American Royal Mead. 

Although the Whiskey Obsession Festival focuses primarily on whiskeys -- including scotch, bourbon, rye, single malt, blend, Irish and Japanese whiskeys -- the festival will also feature a selection of cocktails, rums, cognacs, and even barrel-aged beer. Tampa’s own Coppertail Brewing will feature a barrel-aged brew at this year’s festival. 

The Whiskey Obsession Festival kicks off on March 30 with the “Dram Dance” party at downtown Sarasota’s historic Gator Club, featuring Brooklyn-based electronic music artist, Brothertiger. The festival’s Panel of Whiskey Experts Interactive Tasting and Discussion takes place on Thursday, March 31. The main event’s Grand Tasting and Master Classes start at 6:30 p.m. for VIP ticketholders and at 7:30 p.m. for general admission on April 1 at Michael’s on East. 

For a full event schedule and to purchase tickets, visit the Whiskey Obsession website.

Tampa startups raise $2.9 million in seed funding

Anyone who has visited a laundromat knows the drill: bring coins to operate dryers and washing machines.

But in a laundromat in Tampa's Carrollwood neighborhood, there is a more streamlined method of paying for laundry services: through a smartphone application, Washlava.

“It’s a mobile application that replaces coin-operated laundry," says Washlava's Founder Todd Belveal, a serial entrepreneur.

The application's uses go beyond pre-loading payment, Belveal explains: "You can reserve a machine before you go, monitor the machine while it’s in cycle, and ultimately tender the payment in a fast, seamless way when you’re done.”

The company received $1.8 million in a 2016 seed funding round, so more Washlava-operated facilities may be coming. About a third of the funding that Washlava received came from a private investor in Tampa, Belveal says.

Tampa Bay WaVe, where Washlava spent some time incubating, was a “great environment for us to be in,” Belveal says. Startups and aspiring entrepreneurs should focus on building a business plan and preparing a pitch, but building relationships with potential investors is just as critical to securing funding in Tampa, Belveal, who grew up in Tampa, explains.

“I’ve raised money for a lot of startups,” Belveal says, “and it has very little to do with the ideas.”

Instead, the serial entrepreneur says, relationships are key.

On the south side of Tampa Bay, the St. Petersburg-based startup TAO Connect, Inc, has been accepted into the Florida Funders network. The mental health online management platform startup, developed in the University of Florida’s Innovation Hub, has been awarded $1.1 million in funding from Florida Funders, Florida Angels Network and New World Angels.
 
TAO's founders, who exclusively focused on college students in university settings initially, plans to use the funds to expand into offering the mental health platform's services to veterans, therapists and Medicare patients.

Local event to help boomers create a roadmap to meaningful work

A nationally recognized expert in career transitions and retirement will be the keynote speaker at a special event to help Tampa Bay Area baby boomers navigate a successful path to a new job, entrepreneurship or volunteering.

The “Encore Connect: Your Roadmap to What’s Next” presentation and expo will take place from 4-7 p.m. Wednesday, March 16th, at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg (USFSP) Student Center in downtown St. Pete. 

The event is hosted by Encore Tampa Bay, a nonprofit organization focused on creating a network of community and business resources to help those over 50 explore, retool and connect to opportunities for an encore career. Commonly defined as a second or third act in life that typically takes place after age 50, encore careers often combine personal meaning, social impact and continued income. 

“Today, many boomers are trying to figure out how to leverage their skills and strengths in new ways that meet their needs,” says Bevan Rogel, Founder and President of Encore Tampa Bay. “Our event can help you go from thinking about how you want to redefine your next chapter to actually doing something about it.”

Kerry Hannon, Author of 10 books on careers, money and retirement, will address “What’s Next? Your Guide to a Working Retirement: Finding Your Passion and Your Dream Job.” Her presentation will cover finding encore careers, starting a business, nonprofit work and how to “fall in love with your job again.” All event participants will also receive a free copy of Hannon’s 2015 book, “Getting the Job You Want After 50.” 

“Living longer, healthier lives is revolutionizing the way we navigate what was once considered our retirement years – and our retirement savings strategies,” says Hannon, AARP’s Jobs Expert and a regular contributor to The New York Times, Money and Forbes.  “We must re-think the value of longevity and focus on the money-wise reasons to stay in the workforce as long as possible.”

An interactive expo after the presentation will feature local resources where participants can connect to career experts, coaches, businesses and nonprofits to develop individualized action plans.

According to AARP research, there are more than 500,000 adults over 50 in the Tampa Bay area, and 70 percent of adults in this age group have decided to work beyond 65 in some capacity.  

To learn more about Encore Connect and to register, visit Encore Tampa Bay. Event registration is $50.

Fashion entrepreneur to speak at Centre for Women on Thursday

The creator of a high-performance women’s innerwear collection will join local women entrepreneurs Thursday for a special event honoring the winners of the 2016 innovateHER Business Challenge.

The ‘Sip, Tip, and Talk’ innovateHER reception will take place from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, March 10, at the Westin Tampa Bay’s BluVu Rooftop Venue.

BODYOLOGY founder Kelly Burton will address the crowd with tips and advice for building a successful business. Burton, a former research professional, developed the line to create sweat-wicking and quick-drying undershirts, shorts, leggings and more.

“I love women entrepreneurs,” Burton says. “They inspire me and cause me to be excited about the future of our country and our world. There are few places I'd rather be than in a room filled with women who are chasing their dreams.”

Aspiring entrepreneurs shouldn’t be afraid of the potential for failure, Burton says.

“If you're bold enough to step out on faith and start your own business, one thing is for sure: you're going to make mistakes. It's a part of the process,” Burton says. “However, if you're going to be successful, you've got to learn quickly and efficiently. Download the lesson and keep it moving. Don't beat yourself up or throw your own personal pity party. You made the best decision you could with the information at hand. Just dust yourself off, recalibrate and get back at it.” 

The innovateHER Business Challenge, which took place in fall 2015, was sponsored locally by a partnership between the Helen Gordon Davis Centre for Women and the Small Business Administration.

“We are funded for five years by SBA to provide business counseling and training for women,” Women's Business Centre Director Stacey Banks-Houston told 83 Degrees in September.

The competition challenged local female entrepreneurs to develop and present a business plan for the chance to win prizes and move forward to compete in a national round of the competition.

Burton advises women entrepreneurs to take the time to pursue opportunities like those presented by the Centre.

“Be good to yourself. Consider what that means for you and do it,” she says. “You've only got one life to live and you don't want to look up one day and realize you're all spent up because you did everything for everyone else, but never gave yourself what you needed to truly thrive.” 

The Sip...Tip...and Talk Reception will have hors d'oeuvres and a cash bar. The event cost is $30 for Centre for Women members and for $35 for the general public with advance registration; $40 at the door.

Uber, Tampa Bay WaVe partner to drive innovation forward

Entrepreneurs in Tampa Bay will now have the chance to work with representatives from a revolutionary startup with international reach: Uber.

A new partnership between the ride-sharing company and local business incubator Tampa Bay WaVe was announced in February 2016.

Tampa Bay WaVe will offer Uber Technologies space in the nonprofit’s FirstWaVE Venture Center in downtown Tampa, where Uber drivers can plan and host driver training sessions. In return, Uber representatives will participate in entrepreneur workshops and other open-to-the-public events hosted by Tampa Bay WaVe, offering the local tech community a first-hand look at the company that revolutionized the car services industry.

“We are ecstatic about this new partnership and look forward to welcoming Uber as part of the WaVE community,”  WaVe Marketing Manager Gracie Stemmer says. “Uber’s insights and experiences are invaluable for entrepreneurs who are in the same position Uber was before their breakout success.” 

Tampa Bay WaVe is billed as 'by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs,' while Uber allows drivers to create flexible schedules and work as independent contractors in Florida.

Uber has helmed previous events for entrepreneurs in Tampa Bay; in October 2015, the company sent established angel investors out in Uber cars around Tampa and St. Petersburg for a three-hour pitch event. Local startup founders or residents who scored a ride got 15 minutes to make a backseat business pitch to angel investors from groups like the Tamiami Angel Fund and Florida Funders, LLC.

“This is a great opportunity for local startups to benefit from the past experiences of a successful startup that has reached their breakout success,” Stemmer wrote in a blog post announcing the WaVe/Uber partnership. “Uber has been there, done that, bought the T-shirt and created the app!”

Tampa Bay WaVe, home to an entrepreneurial business center and coworking space in downtown Tampa sponsored an event track at Tampa Bay Startup Week in February. Learn more about Startup Week by clicking here.

Uber of Tampa Bay has also developed a partnership, Direct Connect, with Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority in neighboring Pinellas County. The pilot program, which was announced in late February, will reimburse riders who use Uber to reach designated bus stops by half of the fare, or up to $3.

How Gasparilla Interactive Conference aims to inspire attendees

The Gasparilla Interactive gathering in mid-March will focus on a creative theme: discovering inspiration. 

During the inaugural event in 2015, the Gasparilla Interactive Founder's Club focused on branding the first-year festival as a companion to other well-known and well-attended Gasparilla events that take place in Tampa each spring - the film and arts festivals, for example. 

The focus on branding helped establish Gasparilla Interactive and made sense, since the event's roots are in AAF Tampa Bay and Ad 2 Tampa Bay; lead event organizer Vinny Tafuro is a past president of both organizations.

The second time around, the conference "covers a broader range of topics, and focuses much more on entrepreneurship and the future” than technology alone, Tafuro explains. 

For 2016, replacing the word ‘festival’ with conference was a specific choice, Tafuro says. 

“We discussed what attendees should expect to leave with," Tafuro explains. "We felt that regardless of current industry or profession, everyone should walk away feeling inspired about the future in some way.”

Gasparilla Interactive Conference will draw presenters from big-name companies in the tech world, like product designers Gabe Valdivia of Facebook and Alison Chefec of BuzzFeed. Tampa’s World IA Day organizer Amy Espinosa will moderate a discussion on information architecture between the two.

Gasparilla Interactive Conference presenters also include:To see all of the speakers scheduled to present at Gasparilla Interactive, click here

“Anyone who wants to be inspired by, and prepared for, the vast opportunities that technology affords us to create value” should consider attending, Tafuro says. “Regardless of industry.”

Gasparilla Interactive Conference is a non-profit event that will be held March 10-11 at the Hillsborough Community College’s Ybor City. Register and find more information by clicking here.

Follow along with the Gasparilla Interactive Conference by using the hashtag #GasparillaIX.

New water taxi aims to transport passengers on Tampa area waterways

Yacht Starship Dining Cruises is launching a new pirate-themed water taxi service around Tampa that will help “landlubbers” travel the high seas of the Hillsborough River, Hillsborough Bay and Garrison Channel. 

Pirate Water Taxi will offer three 50-foot vessels that make stops at 14 locations along the waterfront in the Channelside District, Davis Island and downtown Tampa. Passengers aboard each vessel will enjoy the convenience of onboard restrooms and concessions while the captains, acting as pirates, engage guests with witty, whimsical narrations. 

“The pirate inspiration is part of the rich Gasparilla tradition here in the city,” says Troy Manthey, president and CEO of Yacht Starship Dining Cruises. Manthey, who hails from New Orleans and is a fifth-generation Mississippi River passenger boat captain, began cutting the currents of Tampa Bay when he visited the area in 2001 and realized the potential here. “I wanted to open up the beautiful waterfront to the community.” So he did, when he established Yacht Starship. Now, Manthey hopes his Pirate Water Taxi service, which debuts on February 27, helps locals and tourists connect with Tampa’s growing number of waterfront attractions.

“There will be multiple stops between The Florida Aquarium and Rick’s on the River, including Ulele, Curtis Hixon Park, Bayshore, and other places.” Unlike other water taxi services, which often have just one vessel, Pirate Water Taxi will field three. “That way, one boat can be undergoing maintenance, another can handle a private charter, and we’ll still have a vessel operating for public service,” he explains. The water taxis will operate seven days a week, with extended hours during weekends and special events. 

While Tampa Bay’s new water taxi will handle the utilitarian duties of ferrying 40 to 50 people around downtown Tampa, Manthey stresses that his new water taxis will be more than just another way to get around the city. 

“This service is as much a tourism attraction as it is a mode of transportation,” he says. “Our captains will be cast as pirates and they will engage with passengers, telling them about the area, where the best places to go are, and what they can enjoy at each attraction.”

Pirate Water Taxi will be officially unveiled Friday, Feb. 26, during a christening ceremony at the Tampa Convention Center. Hearkening a longtime tradition for launching new boats, bottles of champagne will be smashed against the new water taxi vessels, and the boats will be ceremoniously named. 

June coding weekend will aim to help Tampa homeless through technology

A June event will aim to benefit Tampa’s homeless population through computer coding.

The June 3rd through 5th weekend-long hack-a-thon, hosted by Hillsborough County annually in conjunction with the National Day of Civic Hacking, has been rebranded as a ‘code-a-palooza’ for 2016. It will take place at Crossover Church, 1235 E. Fowler Ave. in Tampa, a larger venue than initially planned. 

The event will be sponsored by Peak 10  an IT and cloud storage services company that is is an anchor member of the Tampa Innovation Alliance, a group working to redefine the area surrounding the University of South Florida in northeast Hillsborough County.

Tampa Innovation Alliance board members set out to put on a traditional weekend hack-a-thon event, but with the goal of creating “an element that will stretch out longer than just the weekend, and actually solve a real-world problem,” explains Alliance executive director Mark Sharpe.

A request by the Alliance to Hillsborough County for data led to a counter-request: solve a problem for us. County or government-sponsored hack-a-thons often have a civil services component, and for the June ‘code-a-palooza,’ the focus is on the homeless population in the Tampa Bay region.

“They’ve got social service organizations helping them to manage this homeless problem, which the county is responsible for, but they don’t have tracking devices or an application which can effectively connect the homeless person -- many of whom do have smartphones -- with the services,” Sharpe explains.

Using county-provided data, coders and creative thinkers will work together to bridge the gap between members of the homeless population and the service organizations that aim to connect with them.

By creating an application that enhances on or is compatible with the county’s existing software, Sharpe hopes to see coding teams develop something that can "maybe even have a market application.”

“There are severe homeless problems in other cities,” Sharpe says, “like Denver, Colorado,” with whom the Alliance has partnered for the 10-10-10 conference.

“We’re still kind of exploring -- we don’t have it all figured out -- but we’re going to be encouraging people who have coding skills, or who can solve problems, to join in at ‘code-a-palooza’ in June,” Sharpe says.

Coding skills are not required to participate.

A winner of the weekend event will be announced on the final day of the hack-a-thon, but the Alliance hopes to see concepts worked on by the teams continue to grow, Sharpe says. Peak 10 will allow interested coders to use the company’s cloud data system for work throughout the summer and fall, and Alliance partners such as University Mall may facilitate projects by providing meeting space.

“We hope the winner might have the opportunity to sell their application, or have it used by the county,” Sharpe says.

To learn more about the June ‘code-a-palooza’ event, visit the Tampa Innovation Alliance website.

Tampa Bay tennis pro serves up love for the sport with innovative game

Tampa Bay area tennis professional David Archer is rallying for support behind a new game his dad invented to teach children how scoring occurs. Tennis, The Game was invented by Richard Neil Archer in 1997 to help the younger Archer’s four-year-old son, Justin, learn the rules of the game. 

“My dad used a cardboard carrying tray from a 24-pack of Pepsi and a string tied across the top of that to create a net,” explains Archer, who is now 55 years old. In 2000, the Archers made 2,000 copies of the game and sold it to parents, schools,and organizations throughout the United States and in other nations, including England, Mexico, Serbia and Spain. 

“Tennis scoring is easy once you get it,” Archer remarks, “but getting to understand it can take time.” A rather unusual 15-30-40 scoring sequence and unique gameplay terms, such as “love” for a score of zero points and “deuce” to describe a tie at 40 points, make learning the game challenging for many, both young and old, who are unfamiliar with tennis. 

More than 2,000 copies of Tennis, The Game have been sold over the years, but now the Archers are hoping a Kickstarter campaign will serve up enough funds to produce more copies of the game to educate more children in classrooms across the country. 

“Tennis, The Game allows 30 children to learn the scoring and basic rules of the sport in 45 minutes,” Archer says. “The game is retro -- you have to interface with someone to play the game, handle scoring, call the right lines. It’s not a roll-the-dice, move-the-piece kind of game -- you’re really playing tennis.” The Archers, who sell the game for $30 each through their Kickstarter site, are hoping to raise $15,000 to launch the next edition and fund a series of YouTube videos that will teach tennis fundamentals to a much wider audience. 

What’s the inspiration behind all of this? Spreading the love of tennis to the next generation, especially at-risk and economically disadvantaged youth who may not otherwise have opportunities to learn the sport. 

“I realized that many kids wake up every day and have no hope. I want to give these kids a hope and a future.” Tennis, The Game can be played indoors, taught in after-school groups and in other settings where children can be taught tennis without use of a court. 

Archer also parlays his love for the game by teaching children the basics as a coach with Global Community Tennis of Pinellas, a nonprofit organization that teaches at-risk boys and girls throughout the community beginner-level skills for free with the aim of preparing them for more competitive play at the high school level and beyond. 

The kids play on tennis courts at the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Police Athletic League, High Point Neighborhood Family Center in Clearwater, and Citizen’s Alliance for Progress, Inc. Union Academy Family Center in Tarpon Springs. 

“We’ll learn how successful this can be when one of these kids becomes ranked in the United States Tennis Association of Florida.” 

Archer, who is authoring '8 Weeks to Tournament Tennis,' an instructional book aimed to prime children ages 5-8 in the fundamentals of the sport, says Tennis, The Game is something that children “absolutely love.” But the board game will need investors to expand the product into a larger market and subsequently help more young children learn about the sport. “Our mission is to instill a love for the game. Love is not something you manufacture -- it is given to you and then given to others.” 
477 Entrepreneurship Articles | Page: | Show All
Signup for Email Alerts

Underwriting Partners