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Entrepreneurship : Innovation + Job News

278 Entrepreneurship Articles | Page: | Show All

Webjet Grows, Adds 15 Jobs In NoHo In Tampa

Tampa-based online travel agency Webjet is adding 15 jobs over the next year. The company is seeking experienced travel agents and customer service staff members to accommodate their bustling growth and growing customer service needs.

In 2009, after building a successful career in sales, travel and global business operations and additionally helping to transform Australia’s Virgin Blue Airlines from low-cost carrier to world carrier, Germany native Mathias Friess partnered with Webjet Australia -- the largest online travel agency in Australia and the Pacific -- to form a joint venture that would bring a division to North America.

For Friess, whose wife Carren Rieger-Friess was a Tampa native, the decision was easy. Webjet opened its North American headquarters in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Tampa in April 2010 and soon became among the top 10 online travel agencies for airfare purchases in the United States.

Coupled with a proprietary technology algorithm and a strategic mix of search engine optimization methods, Webjet's goal is to bring low-cost international travel fares to the Americas while providing pristine customer service and support. And the company’s philosophy is straightforward:

Simple online booking with no surprises.

"We put the price first. Our technology finds airfare that others may not find. We find you a way which is convenient, but most importantly gives you a price advantage," says CEO Friess.

Webjet has also established an innovative customer education platform via Google+ Hangouts, collaborating with students, bloggers and customers to share expert advice to those travelling abroad.

"Everyone is on social media. We may as well have certain topics and customer groups -- talk to them and give them our expertise. We have it, and we’d like to share it. Travel is emotional -- you want to be helped with qualified people," says Friess.

The company recently expanded into Canada and Mexico, both new sites which are managed from the Tampa office, and additionally signed an agreement with Kayak, giving the company more growth.

Within three years of its stateside launch, the Webjet team has grown from 9 to 20, recently relocating its offices to North Howard Avenue.

"We knew there was going to be growth moving forward, and we do expect to see substantial growth in the next year," says Friess.

For information on hiring opportunities and business partnerships, visit Webjet’s website.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Mathias Friess, Webjet

Project GenYes! Brings Arts To Life For Generation Y

The Tampa Bay area is booming with technology accelerators, which provide mentoring and other resources to take a new company from idea to implementation. Inspired by the success of this model, Studio@620 in St. Petersburg offers a new accelerator for emerging artists in the millennial generation.  

Project GenYes! is led by Tampa Bay entrepreneurs Hunter Payne and Reuben Pressman, along with John Collins of the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance, artist-in-residence Sharon Scott, grant master Sandy Tabor and Bob Devin Jones of Studio@620. Funding is provided by a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

"We’re inspired by accelerators for tech company startups because of their focused collaborative energy and are excited to see artists function within this platform," says Pressman.

The accelerator, which focuses on jazz, dance and theater, uses both virtual and physical space to turn concepts into performances while bringing multigenerational audiences together. Twelve artists will be selected initially from those who apply online to participate in a private two-month online workshop with vocalist, writer and mentor Sharon Scott. Six artists from that group will then go on to the second stage, where they will receive one-on-one mentoring, a website to gather additional support from the community, a $1,000 stipend to use toward their performance, and access to volunteers and creative space at Studio@620 to work and perform.

"This is crucial for the Tampa Bay community to keep our emerging artists engaged," says Pressman. "It says to them: We want you to share your journey here with us in Tampa Bay. Let’s all stick around and make something beautiful together!"

The team hopes the creativity collaborative energy of the project will serve as a sustainable model for other arts organizations around the world.

The deadline to apply is mid-October.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Reuben Pressman, Project GenYes!

Glide Interactive Hosts Idea Pitch Contest, Sarasota

The Tampa Bay community is flowing with ideas, innovation and concepts, but many of these never get off the ground due to lack of resources to get to the next step.

Sarasota-based Glide Interactive is looking for the next innovative business idea, app, website or lifestyle brand in its first pitch contest. Titled “Glidea Pitch,” the contest is open to anyone with a creative idea. There are no specific criteria or business plan requirements. Interested participants submit an application online that is then reviewed by the Glidea team.

"We’re here to take an idea that’s phenomenal and make it happen," says John Carlson, CEO for Glide Interactive.

Six semi-finalists will be selected from online submissions, and will present in front of a panel of judges on July 16. The winning idea will be developed and promoted by Glide Interactive in exchange for equity share. Ten percent of the profits will also be donated to charity.

The deadline to submit an idea is July 9.

Glide Interactive is partnering with Ringling College of Art + Design, whose president Dr. Larry R. Thomson and Futurist in Residence David Houle will serve as panelists to determine the winner. "They [Ringling College] are a leader in this space on the education side, so it made sense to approach them," says Carlson.

Tamiami Angel Fund
will also help determine the winner, and consider the idea for future funding beyond the development that Glide Interactive will provide.  

Projects like these bring the community together, spur local economic development and encourage investors to take a look at Tampa Bay businesses, Carlson says.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: John Carlson, Glide Interactive

BambinOz Grows, Adds 3 Sales Jobs in Tampa

Baby travel accessory designer BambinOz of Tampa is growing steadily, adding a new three-member sales team to grow retail partnerships, drive brand awareness and increase market penetration for existing product distribution.

The company’s first product was the PortaChair, a lightweight fabric portable high chair with fully adjustable shoulder straps, fit for children from age 5 months to 2½ years. Soon after, BambinOz designed the Instant Heat Bottle Warmer Pack with a reusable heat source for warming bottles in any scenario.

"We recognized the need to have safe, practical, well-designed portable feeding products that got the job done. Our products and company serves a really important need; parents really want something that they know is going to work, is functional, looks nice and is innovative," says Tampa Entrepreneur Carren Rieger-Friess.

Since its launch, BambinOz has seen tremendous growth, recently expanding distribution and products into Canada and Indonesia. In late 2012, the company launched the Anywhere Chair, a version of the PortaChair developed for mass market appeal and market penetration.

"We have grown into the markets that we serve, and we’ve really expanded the types of stores that we’re selling at within the U.S.," says Rieger-Friess.

A former Wall Street strategy consultant and Tampa native, Rieger-Friess launched BambinOz in 2007 after moving to Brisbane, Australia with her husband and encountering difficulty finding safe, clean and suitable high chairs and feeding products that would accommodate traveling families and babies on-the-go.

BambinOz began selling its products in the U.S. in 2010, and within three years developed stateside partnerships with Seedlings, WalMart.com and Uncommon Goods. The company was also recently featured in SkyMall, with exposure to more than 40 million travelers.

BambinOz’ long-term growth plan includes further increasing market presence, capitalizing upon geographic expansion opportunities and driving product awareness to traveling and on-the-go families as well as the broader consumer market.

The company has additionally linked up with United Cerebral Palsy to provide solutions for special needs children requiring core support.

"We’re looking for opportunities to show families that this is very useful and something that everyone can have. We get a lot of parents who are looking for things that are just a little bit unique and a little bit different, and that’s what we’re really hoping to serve," says Rieger-Friess.

For more information on open positions, contact Rieger-Friess at this email address.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Carren Rieger-Friess, BambinOz

Toffee To Go Grows, Adds 30 Jobs In Tampa

Tampa’s popular chocolate maker, Toffee to Go, is hiring 30 new employees, adding warehousing, cooks, sales support, customer service, retail shop associates and packaging assistants to accommodate its booming holiday season.

It all started with an intimate network of family and friends enjoying the mouthwatering chocolate treat from the Schalk family kitchen.

In 2002, the small, family-based business went live and decided to share their sweet handcrafted treasure with the world.

"We started out by giving it to our family and friends who we cared for and wanted to give a treat. They continued to say,  'You have to sell this!' " says Taylor Schalk, director of development.

With six current employees, Toffee to Go has grown 21 percent in 2013 alone, recently adding a new director of development as well as a new sales manager.

"We’ve always made an incredible quality product. We’ve become a community of toffee buyers," says Schalk.

The company’s growth is a result of bringing a creative new edge to its marketing mix. By creating key customer touch points and product education resources via their website, email newsletter and social media, customer and wholesale engagement grew while creating a new world of branding opportunity.

"What’s cool about Tampa is that everyone in the Tampa Bay community works together. Everyone here has big roots in the Tampa area, and everyone supports each other’s business, which is very unique to our city," says Schalk.

Featured at the Republican National Convention in Tampa in 2012, Toffee to Go’s initiatives include strengthening and growing corporate and tourism business channels by sharing the value of a local company with strong dedication to the community.

"It not only shows a local company but also gifting a wonderful treat to tell a little bit about the area," says Schalk.

For information on hiring opportunities, business partnerships or sweet treats, visit Toffee to Go’s website.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Taylor Schalk, Toffee to Go

Convergence Consulting Group Grows, Adds 7 Jobs In Tampa

Convergence Consulting Group (CCG) is rapidly growing, surpassing its annual growth goals significantly and adding 7 new business intelligence consultants and administrators to its 50-member team.

"We set a goal to grow 30 percent year in and year out, and we’ve exceeded that. The last few years have been over 50 percent. In the first five months of this year we were at 28 percent growth already for this year. We plan to continue doing that -- we’re ok with exceeding our goal," says Todd Davis, CCG’s manager of recruiting and retention.

The CCG team has outgrown their existing offices and is all set for a September move to a new 7,600-square-foot office featuring a new cafe and technologically advanced collaborative workspaces.

CCG specializes in creating comprehensive and focused enterprise business intelligence and data warehousing strategies for companies throughout Tampa Bay and the Southeast U.S., partnering to access and interpret mission-critical information necessary for strategy implementation.

As companies mature in business intelligence solutions needs, properly extracting, organizing, evaluating and interpreting vital data that accumulates over time is critical in defining new strategies and creating future business growth opportunities.

"Our goal is to be the premiere provider of business intelligence and data warehousing in Tampa. I think we’re well on our way to being that," says Davis.

In 2001, CCG started with a team of five partners, implementing a controlled growth strategy as project needs arose. Over the past three years, CCG has grown from 9 to 50 employees.

The company’s growth model includes a healthy balance between reactive and proactive hiring: the evaluation of project needs while considering the overall team needs. The firm attributes its growth to a focus on quality and internal business culture.

"We’ve never had to do a layoff, and our turnover is very low. There are a lot of things we do strategically to maintain that," says Davis.

CCG is now gearing up for 3rd quarter growth, surpassing the current tally to support and accommodate new and existing client projects.

"We’re recruiting heavily now with several more in the pipeline," says Davis.

For information on career opportunities, visit CCG’s website, email your resume or call 813.968.3238.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Todd Davis, Convergence Consulting Group

Pinellas Academy Turns Artists Into Entrepreneurs

Do you want to turn your art into a business, but aren’t sure how to do it?

Artists in Pinellas County now have an opportunity to learn entrepreneurial and business skills through The Academy, an educational program from Creative Pinellas.

The six-week program focuses on strategic planning, financial skills, marketing, web presence and topics specific to different genres including visual arts, theater, film, dance and music. The program offers real-world, practical learning and experiences to help artists both in the short- and long-term.

For example, a musician might learn how to setup MP3s and market music online. A visual artist might learn how to create a circuit approach to selling work at art fairs. Artists in all genres will put together business plans and learn other aspects of running a company.  

Mentors will also spend individual time with participants to help them set goals and objectives. They will then follow up after the series concludes to provide long-term assistance.

"A program like this can help increase the sustainability of an artist and increase the chances of them staying in the area," says Hampton Dohrman, director of Creative Pinellas. "Through entrepreneurship, you can create your own opportunities. That’s the great thing about our area. You can find your own niche."

After the first series concludes, Creative Pinellas plans to create a virtual incubator with videos and tutorials available to the public.
 
The series will be offered three times per year. The first session of classes begins Tuesday, June 25, and continues weekly through July 30.  Applications are available online.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Hampton Dorhman, Creative Pinellas

Teen's Gaming App Wins Startup Weekend Tampa Bay

More than 100 entrepreneurs, software developers, online designers and marketers convened to collaborate and compete in creating innovative startups during the fourth Startup Weekend Tampa Bay June 7–9 at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg.

Taking first place was Live Warfare, an interactive, person-to-person video game that takes place in real life using a smartphone. Players take a picture of someone and then digitally "shoot'' them, sending a notification to their opponent's phone.

The game is the brainchild of 14-year old Nathan Eyal, whose father Omer brought him to Startup Weekend and also participated in the product development. Other teammates included: Ed Galarza, Akira Mitchell, Ken Morris and Matt Saulding.

The judges used three sets of criteria to select the winners: customer validation, business model and execution. The Live Warfare team reached out to Eyal's friends and other participants for validation. They also created and executed the entire app over the weekend, allowing for a live demonstration at the event.

"We focus on the team, and I think their team was really strong,'' says Ryan Sullivan, co-organizer for Startup Weekend. "Because Nathan was so passionate about the idea, he kept the team moving forward and making decisions.''

Second place went to BuySignal, which monitors Twitter feeds to pull out indicators, or "signals'' that someone is about to make a purchasing decision. For example, someone might tweet that they need a repair for their car, which triggers a mechanic to reach out to them.

Taking third place was StreezWize. A team of 13 participants developed an app that allows people to provide real time feedback about potential crimes. The app attaches police and emergency service data to citizen input, which assists in solving crimes. 

"Crowdsourcing real time data is becoming a huge niche,'' says Kim Randall, co-organizer for Startup Weekend. "I'm super excited to see where Streetwize will go.''

Sources: Ryan Sullivan and Kim Randall, Startup Weekend Tampa Bay
Writer: Megan Hendricks

4th Startup Weekend Tampa Bay Moves To St. Pete

Do you have a business idea but need support and feedback to get it off the ground? Or maybe you’re an entrepreneur who wants to meet others of like mind and become a part of the next big business venture in Tampa Bay? Startup Weekend might be the place for you.

Holding its fourth event in Tampa Bay, Startup Weekend Tampa Bay is part of a larger network that has hosted more than 400 events in 100 countries around the world since 2011. The event is attended by individuals, teams and groups of entrepreneurs set out to make their mark on the business community and become a part of something new.

Attendees pitch their startup ideas and receive feedback from other participants. Teams then form around the top ideas (voted on by participants), which starts the 54-hour event complete with design, planning, collaboration and presentations. Groups receive feedback on their ideas from a panel of experts, and everyone comes out of the experience with new knowledge and connections.  

"Success is having people leave the event with a better understanding of how to take their ideas and bring them to life," says Ryan Sullivan, Startup Weekend Tampa Bay organizer and facilitator.

Sullivan also helps facilitate other Startup Weekends across the country. What’s unique about Tampa Bay’s event is that it doesn’t focus on a specific industry or niche. "We have a very passionate community and an abundance of unique ideas from different background," he notes.

The St. Petersburg location was chosen in hopes of better connecting the Tampa Bay region, as well as for the open layout that will encourage collaboration and knowledge sharing among attendees.

The event begins Friday, June 7, at 6:30 pm and concludes Sunday, June 9, at 9 pm at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Ryan Sullivan, Startup Weekend Tampa Bay

Cardinal Solutions Group Expands, Adds 50 Jobs In Tampa

National IT solutions provider Cardinal Solutions Group is headed to Tampa Bay, expanding its operations to provide an extended level of support to its local client base. Plans call for the Tampa office to open in October 2013 and to grow from 10 employees to 50 over the next 36 months.

The firm is adding professionals having experience in MIS, IT, project management and business analysis.

"We are looking for people who are very dedicated and passionate about technology -- from recent graduates to senior-level employees," says Bill Nickley, director of business development for the Tampa office.

Headquartered in Cincinnati, Cardinal Solutions' portfolio touts a range of Fortune 500 companies, helping clients to build and deliver key software initiatives centered on mobile, cloud, social and data development solutions.

"Our customers want to work with a local firm, so new branch and new city expansions are a big element of our overall growth," says Chief Technology Officer Brandon Ebken.

Two years ago, Cardinal Solutions began to evaluate the next market in which to expand and deliver local client solutions. After researching cities throughout the Southeast and Midwest, Tampa Bay emerged as the number one place for the next expansion opportunity.

"We have a very healthy partner ecosystem that is encouraging the firm to go forward. We also have a very large list of employees who wanted to go for that next challenge," says Ebken.

As the firm presses toward the opening of the Tampa office this fall, the goal is to draw upon local interest and expertise in cloud, mobile, social and business intelligence while strategically collaborating and partnering with technology networks to introduce innovative IT solutions to the Tampa Bay market.

Cardinal Solutions partnered with Microsoft in May to host a case study focused on the benefits and business drivers behind moving to the cloud as well as the development and deployment of business-critical applications. The firm is hosting a Project Server 2013 seminar at the Microsoft Office on July 18th.

"All the information we collected on the area’s economic environment lined up with what we were looking for, and we have been very successful working together with Microsoft field sales and partner teams throughout the Southeast," says President Kelly Conway..

For information on hiring opportunities, visit Cardinal Solutions' website.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Sources: Kelly Conway, Brandon Ebken, Bill Nickley, and Erin Stanley, Cardinal Solutions Group

Visual Edge Design Adds 6+ Jobs in Clearwater

Clearwater-based website design and internet marketing firm Visual Edge Design is in a growth mode, planning to at least double their 6-member project team to include website designers, administration, internal sales leaders and field sales representatives.

"The hiring effort is on-going. We’re a small company, but we’re in expansion mode; and my plan is to fill the building with personnel. We have a decent sized building with a lot of expansion room," says Morgan Fagerman, president.

Three months ago, Visual Edge Design brought on new company president Fagerman who began to focus on strategic marketing planning and promotion, drawing upon his industry expertise and capitalizing upon a collaborative mix of traditional, social and internet marketing methods, leading to an upswing in business.

For Fagerman, the solution is simple:

"Get all of your marketing ducks in a row. Promote, promote, promote. Then deliver, and make sure your customer service is really top notch," says Fagerman.

Visual Edge Design is committed to being an information resource to customers by offering the on-going support and website maintenance necessary to create dynamic online experiences that effectively create exposure and growth opportunities.

Since launching in 1999, Visual Edge Design grew from providing dedicated website design solutions for niche markets to delivering services to more than 450 clients globally.

The company credits the loyalty of existing customers as a contributor to their market sustainability and continued growth.

"The loyalty of the core clientele of this company is phenomenal. The amount of repeat business is amazing," says Fagerman.

As the firm continues to move forward, team members are additionally focused on developing relationships and partnerships with other companies to deliver website design and internet marketing solutions to an extended network of customers.

For information on hiring opportunities, visit Visual Edge Design’s website.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Morgan Fagerman, Visual Edge Design

The Green Can Collects Recyclables At Tampa Bay Apartments

A Tampa-based company has found an economically viable way to help the environment.

The Green Can places large green recycling containers in the shape of a soda can in apartment complexes and other high traffic areas. Described as "the perfect marriage of economic and social responsibility," the cans have a triple benefit: they make it easy for people to recycle, they support charities through the donation of proceeds from recycling, and they benefit local businesses through advertising.

The idea came about when CEO and Founder Dennis Gallagher was working as a painter for apartment complexes. He noticed that none of them did any recycling, which he found odd. After crunching the numbers he realized the reason was probably economical, since the proceeds from recycling would only pay for the process itself. It was then that he came up with the idea of adding advertising to the process, to make the business profitable.

"To sweeten the deal, we donate the proceeds from the recycling, so everyone can benefit," says Gallagher.

There are currently around 200 cans at 130 locations in the Greater Tampa area. The company is expanding into Pinellas this week with the same of its first franchise to Boley Centers, a nonprofit that services the homeless, youth and those with mental disabilities in the Tampa Bay region.

Gallagher recently designed a cap for the containers to keep the water out and plans to start collecting clothing donations soon.

Close to one million cans have been recycled in roughly a year’s time, with an estimate of 4,000 pounds of aluminum and plastic being recycled each month.

The Green Can is one of 13 local businesses honored recently with The University of Tampa’s Earth Charter Sustainable Business Awards.The awards were based on three criteria: people (employee and community wellbeing), planet (environmental health) and profit (economic viability).

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Dennis Gallagher, The Green Can

Gulf Coast Commercial Expands, Adds Jobs In Tampa

Commercial real estate and business brokerage firm Gulf Coast Commercial, LLC (GCC) is on the move, expanding their corporate offices and adding real estate agents, business brokers, marketing analysts and administration to their 11-member team.

"We moved our corporate headquarters to Ybor because we have every intention to expand our staff, and this was a unique opportunity to occupy space within Ybor City. It’s historic Tampa and there are quite the amenities that are proving to be a good pool to attract talent here in the market," says Scott Dobbins, founder and managing partner at GCC.

In just a few short months, the firm added seven new agents and has settled into their chic, new 4,000-square-foot Centro Ybor digs. GCC will also retain their St. Petersburg office as a satellite location.

Traditionally focused on providing retail real estate services to regional and national retailers, GCC’s growth spurt is fueled by a unique blend of cyclical market changes and strategic investment opportunities.

As the real estate market experienced economic downturn, several of GCC’s clients approached the firm with requests to help sell their existing businesses or to find like businesses for them to acquire.

"It really jumped us into 12 to 18 months of underwriting the business brokerage business -- we hadn’t done it before," says Dobbins.

GCC struck up a partnership with Corporate Investments International (CII), the oldest business brokerage firm in the state of Florida, which had locations in Orlando, Jacksonville, and south Florida but no presence on the west coast of Florida. The strategic collaboration resultantly established CII Gulf Coast, a wholly-owned subsidiary of GCC and the firm’s new business brokerage division.

"We are seeing synergies back and forth that are very exciting to us. What we’re seeing is a positive trend with business sales and business acquisitions," says Dobbins.

The firm is now concentrating on developmental opportunities and investments in up-and-coming markets like the west coast of Florida.

"The west coast has a lot of attributes that will lead to very positive population growth. We have a real potential to double in population in the next 15 years. With that population, it leads to infrastructure and jobs."

GCC also identifies “leading edge indicators” of three types of buyers emerging within the targeted growth areas:

    •    Retirement 2.0: Baby boomers with a shifted view of traditional retirement who have had their nest-eggs shrink are now buying businesses, therefore creating jobs for themselves or families.

    •    The Lost Generation: Post-college graduates with unconventional employment opportunities are adding parents as investors and growing businesses organically.

    •    International Community: Foreign investors are purchasing local businesses and effectively receive citizenship through various visa programs that are available to them.

"We are converging upon affordability, lifestyle, climate, and a younger group coming in. Couple that with the population growth, and we think it is a recipe for success -- both in our commercial real estate business and in our business brokerage business," says Dobbins.

Within 18 months, GCC plans to add a regional office in southwest Florida.

For information on hiring opportunities visit Gulf Coast Commercial’s website.

Written By: Kaye Brown
Sources: Scott Dobbins, Gulf Coast Commercial, LLC

LumaStream Makes Big Plans For Lighting

LumaStream offers a turnkey, innovative lighting infrastructure that is not only cost effective but energy efficient and highly controllable.

"We don’t have small plans. We intend to change the world of lighting," comments LumaStream's CEO and Founder Eric Higgs.
 
A high-tech entrepreneur with ties to Silicon Valley, Higgs discovered the product while searching for lighting solutions for the exterior of the parking garage at the Element building in downtown Tampa. He wasn't happy with the cost and quality of available LED products. Teaming up with an electrical contractor, he saw an opportunity. The team learned about a company in Canada that had created the core technology now being used by LumaStream. They bought the company, developed the product and patented the digital power conversion technology.
 
The product converts high voltage lighting to low voltage digitally and then sends it long distances in a highly controlled way. The result is a longer lasting lighting system that is also more efficient and has a higher quality output. Described as an "intelligent power center," the system is also unique because of its control center, which includes a wireless interface that can be used through a smartphone or other mobile device or a push-button wall station.
 
Also a sculptor, Higgs is no stranger to large visual displays, with his artwork being found in major public installations and museums around the world. He credits his fine arts background with helping him create the design for the fixtures.

LumaStream's lighting systems can be found in venues across Tampa Bay including Tech Data, Tropicana Field and the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg.

The company plans to stay in Tampa Bay and is moving its power supply manufacturing from Canada.

"What I like about this area is that it’s one of the top technology hubs of anywhere in the country. The passion, with the incubators and accelerators, and the momentum and desire to support new ventures is absolutely amazing," says Higgs.

LumaStream is one of 13 local businesses honored recently with The University of Tampa’s Earth Charter Sustainable Business Awards. The awards were based on three criteria: people (employee and community well-being), planet (environmental health) and profit (economic viability).

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Eric Higgs, LumaStream

M-ize Launches My Products App, Adds Jobs In Tampa

Temple Terrace-based consumer and brand experience start-up M-ize has officially launched its new My Products mobile app, designed to enhance customers’ purchasing experience by connecting them to brands, family and friends via mobile and social networks.

Earlier this year, M-ize opened a 30-member development center in Hyderabad, India, and is now adding designers, software engineers, sales consultants, product managers, data architects and interns to grow their headquarters in Temple Terrace.

Kick-started in May 2012, M-ize was founded by entrepreneur and TiE Tampa Bay Charter Member Ashok Kartham after successfully developing a platform for 4CS, a service life-cycle management firm for high-end industrial products.

Kartham utilized the same life-cycle management concept, but custom-tailored it to the growing mobile and lifestyle needs of consumers. He created M-ize to focus on bringing smarter consumers together to connect them to products, community, advice and technical support by leveraging mobile, social, cloud and analytic technologies.

The new My Products app is a two-ended network where consumers can plug into any given brand’s products while being connected to trends, customer reviews and product information that is valuable to making significant purchasing decisions.

"The key is placing everything about products in a single, digestible format. We give you the big picture and also give you a more intimate picture by allowing you to ping your social network. It’s a more personalized picture," says CMO Bruce Burke.

The My Products app also connects consumers directly to a brand’s support, services and necessary accessories post-purchase.

The advantage for brands? Aggregation of customers during different stages of the purchasing process. The new app also integrates Smart Block for companies, where brands receive the benefit of utilizing the existing app platform while allowing them to customize their theme and share their tailored brand messaging to customers using the app.

"We currently have about one million products in the app. It’s the first generation of what will be a much larger community ecosystem that supports it," says Burke.

M-ize has already launched Support Me, a consumer-end app giving customers access to product support from anywhere.

Both M-ize and key team members are socially and technologically invested in Tampa Bay as well as the firm’s growth and innovation.

Kartham recently invested in the new Feathr app, designed to enhance networking connections at business events. Burke has been selected to receive Google Glass, and plans to utilize key innovations, trends, and technologies to help enhance the consumer experience for M-ize app users.

"Sometimes things come together because people are actually communicating with each other," says Burke.

For information on hiring opportunities and unique business partnerships, visit M-ize’s website.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Bruce Burke, M-ize
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