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Entrepreneurship : Innovation + Job News

312 Entrepreneurship Articles | Page: | Show All

LumaStream, St. Petersburg College Partner To Meet Workforce Needs

A new partnership combines academic learning with real world training to prepare students for high demand manufacturing jobs.

LumaStream, a designer and manufacturer of energy-efficient LED lighting systems, recently moved into a 22,000 square foot facility in midtown St. Petersburg. Within that facility is classroom space that is used to train and certify students from St. Petersburg College (SPC), providing highly technical training and electronics skills that can eventually leads to an associate of science degree and national certification.

The training is one program being funded by a $15 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Labor provided to the Florida TRADE Consortium, a partnership of twelve state and community colleges throughout the state of Florida. Funds are designed to help colleges better develop the technical workforce in their region through innovative, non-traditional initiatives.

Out of 120 applications, the first class of 11 students started January 4.

Students will use LumaStream’s facility and equipment for hands-on studies and will also be mentored and taught by their engineers and technicians. The company’s ultimate goal is to hire some of the students in the program, but some may go on to work at other companies.

"It’s about developing and growing talent organically in our own community rather than deciding to have to move someplace else," says Kelly Bousman, vice president of Marketing for LumaStream.

The company plans to stay in Tampa Bay, noting the attractiveness of the natural environment, weather and culture. They recently moved their manufacturing base from Canada to St. Petersburg and plan to hire more highly skilled, trained workers as a result of this partnership.

Partnerships like these increase local educational attainment, a goal of the Graduate Tampa Bay initiative launched in March 2012.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Kelly Bousman, LumaStream

Stop Rubbernecking Grows, Adds Jobs in Bradenton

If you have ever been an inquisitive passer-by or "rubbernecker" of an accident or crime scene, you know all too well of the potential safety hazards it can create.

Local Bradenton-based company Stop Rubberneccking has developed a portable barrier system to prevent others from seeing what's going on at the accident scene and giving responding officers an added layer of safety.

The company is expanding nationally and internationally, adding distributors, manufacturing and sales contractors.

"I had an inclination to invent something that I felt was necessary to keep people from rubbernecking at accident scenes. There would be an accident, and on the other side of the street, people would stop, stare and cause additional accidents," says President Carl Cannova.

Cannova, a retired president and CEO for Sysco Food Services of West Coast Florida, began to design and develop a prototype for the system in 2011 while working with Ro Brady, a local design company in Sarasota. The company went live in 2012 by incorporating and receiving patents, and by 2013 they were distributing and selling units of the SRN1000.

The SRN1000 is a portable barrier system that protects victims of accidents and their families from prying eyes, keeps officers safe while working accidents, and hides traumatic scenes from onlookers while also preventing rubbernecking. The screen is meant for use of law enforcement officers and has even been used by coroners and investigators who rely on the safety of the screen as well as the ability to protect from possible contamination and interruption to investigations. The system adjusts to 6 feet high by 12 feet wide and is expandable by attaching other SRN1000 systems.

Since February 2013, the company has sold more than 100 units throughout the U.S., and is now increasing national market penetration with new law enforcement clients throughout Washington, Arizona, Texas, Nevada and Kansas.

"We are thrilled to have the support of not only law enforcement agencies locally, but now also across the country. There’s so much opportunity in the U.S. Everything is manufactured here, shipped and assembled in Bradenton," says Cannova.

Stop Rubbernecking is also reaching out to markets in Europe and Bermuda.

As the company continues to grow, the need for distributors to handle the products has increased. The firm’s long-term growth plan includes the addition of manufacturing, administration and sales employess in addition to warehousing space.

For more information on products or career opportunities, visit Stop Rubbernecking online.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Carl Cannova, Stop Rubbernecking

USF Entrepreneurship Alumni Crowdfund Youth Community Center

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Completion of the renovation is expected for summer 2014.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WaZINIT will be released in 2014 for mobile devices.

Writer: Justine Benstead
Source: Brian DiVito, WaZINIT

Tampa Native Opens Online Vintage Thrift Store

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Angelo's Invests $50 Million in Florida, 120+ Jobs In Pinellas

A national pioneer in recycled building materials, Angelo’s Recycled Materials, is expanding rapidly, recently selecting St. Petersburg, as its national headquarters and creating more than 120 new green jobs by the end December 2013.

Angelo’s, which has already created more than 100 jobs locally in 2013, recently added a new container division for construction and demolition job sites and currently operates six active recycling facilities.

As Angelo’s continues to expand through the addition of new recycling operations centers, the company also plans to add more than 200 jobs over the next few years.

"The company saw a real need for this kind of business in St. Petersburg. The entire area and the building has been repurposed to make the property more attractive. It is the perfect place to invest their future," says Mario Farias, public relations manager.

Founded by Angelo Iafrate in 1960, the company originally recycled reclaimed concrete into aggregate and road-base products. Realizing the opportunity to reuse many of the materials that were originally discarded during the demolition process, Angelo & his brother designed a machine to crush the concrete while extracting metals, sand, wood, plastics and other particles in order to avoid unnecessary landfilling and reduce costs on construction projects as they reuse materials.

In addition to the 13-acre site at its new St. Petersburg headquarters, the firm has invested more than $13 million in Pinellas County and over $50 million in the state of Florida, and is committed to continuing its investment in the Tampa Bay region.

"We are committed to investing in the greater St. Petersburg area and all of Florida by building upon our existing locations and developing new locations," says Angelo’s Principal Dominic Iafrate, Jr.

Angelo's recycling rate is over 80 percent in its St. Petersburg and Largo materials processing facilities, which is critical to helping city, county, and commercial clients reach the state's 75 percent recycling goal

The company is also in the permitting process to add four additional yards in Florida in 2014: one in Brandon, one in Tampa, and two in Orlando.

For more information on career opportunities, visit Angelo’s online.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Dominic Iafrate and Mario Farias, Angelo's

LumaStream Donates Lighting To Tampa Coworking Space

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Kelly Bousman, LumaStream

Teen Business Challenge Builds Creativity, Collaboration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Innovation Incubator Brings New Business Potential To USF Students

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sarasota Company Designs Innovative, Customizable Electric Scooter

A new plug and play transportation vehicle will soon be on the market that adds convenience to city life.

The Vectrix VT-1, ‘tall wheel’ e-scooter includes interchangeable lithium batteries that can be removed from the vehicle and plugged directly into a standard electric outlet. What’s different and innovative about the design is its ease of use. To charge the battery, simply lift up the seat, remove the battery cover and pull the batteries out. This is particularly attractive to city dwellers who are not able to charge an entire vehicle through the night because of lack of a carport or garage.

It also has an option for removing the back for expanded storage, and an LCD command screen with animated digital communications. Another innovative feature is the fact that it transforms into a fleet vehicle if needed, giving it the nickname "the transformer" among designers.

The scooter was designed by ROBRADY, a product design and development firm headquartered in Sarasota. The manufacturing and engineering was done by partner company, Vectrix.

ROBRADY has been designing scooters with Vectrix for years, but this is the first time all of these components have come together in one product.

"This one is a watershed moment for us," comments Rob Brady, CEO and Design Director for ROBRADY. "It has been exciting and dynamic to try to figure out how everything works in such a clean, tight electric vehicle."

All in all, the design took 18 months and was done with the use of clay modeling, prototypes and a lot of testing.
The scooter has a range of 55 miles on a full charge and can reach a speed of 62 miles per hour.  

The product was unveiled in early November in Milan, Italy and will be available in the United States in 2014.

ROBRADY has been in Sarasota for over 20 years and has five buildings, with just under 50 employees.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Rob Brady, ROBRADY

New App Captures Real-Life Recommendations From Friends

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Justin Davis, Madera Labs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For career opportunities, visit Triad online or via LinkedIn.

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

Salsarita's Plans 500 New Jobs In Tampa Bay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

USF Offers Seed Capital To Companies In Technology Incubator

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Valerie McDevitt, USF

TBTF Honors USFSP Technology Thought Leaders

Daniel James Scott, associate director of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg (USFSP) Entrepreneurship Program, and Reuben Pressman, the first graduate of the program, recently received honors at Tampa Bay Technology Forum’s 10th Annual Industry Achievement Awards Gala.

Scott was recognized as Technology Leader of the Year, an award that acknowledged the accumulation of work he has done in the entrepreneurship community for the past 10-12 years. His work includes co-founding the Entrepreneurship Program at USFSP, Gazelle Lab, a seed stage investment fund, and the Tampa Bay 6/20 Initiative, a group of entrepreneurs working on a 20-year plan for the region. Scott also had a part in the development of the St. Petersburg Greenhouse and bringing the headquarters of the Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship to Tampa Bay. He recently founded Alorum, which uses technology to simplify lead generation.

"We’re trying to kick the ball further down the field in terms of what we can do with technology, entrepreneurship and the marriage of the two in our community," says Scott, USF Tampa graduate.  

Scott’s priorities for the future of entrepreneurship in Tampa Bay are focused on two areas: giving students a voice in the discussion and identifying more seed funding for start-ups.

"The community’s students, (including middle school, high school and college), should be given much more of a seat at the table when we talk about how we’re building our community," says Scott, noting that today's young people will be successful entrepreneurs 20 years from now, and therefore they need to be a part of the conversation now.

As for identifying seed capital, Scott says one thing other successful cities have in common is one or more visionaries who have grown a company in the area and are willing to put forth substantial financial support to help other companies succeed.

Pressman received the Rising Star Award, which recognizes someone under 30 who is involved in the technology community.

A recent graduate from USFSP’s Entrepreneurship Program, Pressman runs monthly meet-ups for entrepreneurs and provides assistance for Tampa Bay WaVE, Startup Weekend Tampa Bay and Startup Bus Southeast. Initiatives he co-founded include Awesome St. Petersburg, which provides microgrants for projects that further the livability of the Tampa Bay region, Swings Tampa Bay, which builds communities through public swings, and Reuben & Hunter, a brand identity and web development firm.

His latest endeavor, Check I’m Here, allows universities to track and increase campus engagement through card readers on mobile phones.

"We’re at a continuous growth stage for technology here in Tampa Bay," says Pressman. "I plan on staying here and helping create a better ecosystem for everybody. I’m excited to be able to start and grow companies in Tampa Bay."

His vision is to see the technical community get more involved with non-tech communities, such as investment and the arts, creating what he refers to as "cross-community collaboration."

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Sources: Reuben Pressman and Daniel James Scott, USFSP
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