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Hillsborough Community College Launches Certificate Program, Event For Entrepreneurs

Hillsborough Community College (HCC) enhances its offerings for current and aspiring entrepreneurs with a new certificate program open to the public and an event focused on active military and veterans.

The 12-credit, one semester certificate program in Entrepreneurship and Innovation launches in January 2014. Students will learn from local business owners and HCC faculty as well as conduct field research in the business community.  

"It will give our students a chance to develop their ideas and collaborate with other entrepreneurs to begin contributing pretty substantially to the local economy," says Andy Gold, business faculty member at HCC and a driving force behind the program’s creation.  

A lifelong entrepreneur, Gold moved to Florida a year ago and has since immersed himself into the Tampa Bay entrepreneurship ecosystem. "I’ve met some really amazing people in Tampa Bay. We’re well on our way to building a substantial program at HCC that can work with everybody."

Students will start off in the same cohort, and will then be broken into groups based on where they are in their entrepreneurial journey:

Path one – Intrepreneur: People who enjoy the innovation, adaptability and problem solving skills that come with entrepreneurial education but still want to work in a traditional corporate environment.

Path two – Specialization: People with a desire to be self-employed but without a business idea. After the certificate program is completed, they can take additional courses in a specialized area of focus such as event planning or computer repair.

Path three – Launch: People who are prepared with a concept and ready to start their own business. The program will help students develop their idea and make it more scalable.

HCC is also hosting a Veterans Entrepreneurship Training Symposium (VETS) October 26 at its Dale Mabry campus in Tampa. Open to active military, veterans and their spouses, the program will provide entrepreneurs with a day’s worth of seminars about starting a business.

Greg Celestan, local entrepreneur and CEO of Celestar Corporation and U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel is the keynote speaker. At the end of the day, a business pitch competition will award $5K in assistance to the winning pitch.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Andy Gold, HCC

Valet Boss App Among Hottest Tech Startups In Nation

After lunch one summer afternoon, Susie Steiner stood in the hot sun for "what felt like forever.'' Steiner was waiting for her valet-parked car to be retrieved by an attendant at International Plaza in Tampa.

"It felt like 95 degrees,'' she recalls, "and I was frustrated that there was not a faster way to retrieve my vehicle.''
 
Steiner, who is CEO of ExecuTrans Services in Tampa and organizer and facilitator of Startup Weekend Tampa Bay, is no stranger to the startup community. So when she identified a need for a more streamlined valet retrieval service, she created one herself. The mobile app Valet Boss was born.

At last week's Tech Cocktail Social at Fox Jazz Cafe, Valet Boss competed with four local startups for the title of Hottest Showcasing Startup in the area, and for the opportunity to continue on to a national conference and showcase in Las Vegas.
 
The October 8th demo "went so well that we couldn't demonstrate the product fast enough!'' Steiner says. "Fortunately, we were allotted two minutes to pitch on stage and ended up winning the community vote -- as well as corporate Tech Cocktail's vote.''

Now, the startup will join 24 other companies from around the country to compete for the title of Hottest Showcasing Startup in the Nation at Tech Cocktail Celebrate, held Oct. 24-25 in Las Vegas.

Valet Boss will launch in Tampa in Dec. 2013, in anticipation of the holiday season. With no outside funding to date, the Tampa startup is completely bootstrapped. The app, which is free to the consumer, can be implemented at restaurants, bars, hospitals, casinos, hotels, airports and private events.

Valet Boss provides as a great a benefit to locations that implement the service as it does to consumers, says Steiner.

"Our peers have spoken, and 100 percent of valet users said they would use the app,'' she explains. "Additionally, many stated they would valet park more frequently because of the cashless system Valet Boss offers.''

The startup's public launch will include Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, LA and Minneapolis, Steiner says. To join the queue, visit ValetBoss.com.

Writer: Justine Benstead
Source: Susie Steiner, Valet Boss

Service Design + Tourism Conference Explores Creative Thinking, Sarasota

Design, service, tourism and creative thinking come together in Sarasota November 7 – 9 at the Service Design + Tourism Conference.

Hosted by Ringling College of Art and Design, the 2nd annual event focuses on improving services at every point of contact with customers. A global event, the first conference took place in Innsbruck, Austria in 2012.

Attendees include business leaders, designers, service and tourism providers, faculty and students from across the globe. They will walk away with new ideas and the latest best practices to help create meaningful, engaging customer service experiences.

The three-day experience includes speakers from across the world talking about service innovation in every setting from airports to cruises, theme parks and general service businesses. Luc Mayrand, creative director and senior show producer from Walt Disney Imagineering, will talk about developing an authentically Disney experience in a changing international marketplace. Simon Bradley, vice president of marketing, North America for Virgin Atlantic will discuss how the airlines focuses on the passenger experience to engage customers year round and turn them into brand ambassadors. Jonathan Frolich, vice president-global innovation for Hyatt Hotels Corporation, will talk about how Hyatt is using design thinking to transform the hotel guest experience.

Several local speakers will appear as well, including Paul Wilborn, executive director of the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg who will discuss how thinking local helped transform the theater into a major arts destination.

Thursday a pre-show will feature the first Tourism Service Jam in the United States, led by initiators of the Global Service Jams. Similar to a musical jam, the all-day event brings participants together in a cooperative spirit for a design challenge. Teams will be asked to develop a prototype for a completely new service with a shared theme.

On Saturday afternoon, Lorraine Buck of Marvel Brand of Feld Entertainment will give a preview of Marvel Universe Live.

"Tampa Bay has so many opportunities to distinguish itself as an important business ally to people from around the world." says Michelle Bauer, president and chief strategist for Common Language and member of the conference production team. "By bringing the heads of firms and universities from across the globe here to see this region for the first time, we have an opportunity to create impressions on them that could ripple in huge ways for our tourism, service, and education industries,"

Event partners and supporters include: RIDG, St. Petersburg Chamber, Visit Florida, WeVue, AIGA Tampa Bay, Spark Growth, BIG, Luxury Hoteliers, atLarge, Inc., Visit Sarasota, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, SRQ Airport, and The Ringling Museum of Art.

83 Degrees readers can get 20 percent off the full conference ticket price by using the code DESIGN when registering by Oct. 30.  

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Michelle Bauer, Common Language

EmbroidMe Adds 20 New Locations, 200+ Jobs in Tampa

EmbroidMe, a world leader in custom embroidery, screen printing and promotional products, has selected Tampa Bay for its next wave of expansion, adding 20 new locations that are expected to bring more than 200 professional jobs to the area.

It all began with Signarama, a custom brand signage franchise which has grown to more than 900 locations in 50 countries. In 2000, the EmbroidMe brand was added to create custom branded promotional solutions for businesses. With six different  brands under the United Franchise Group, businesses can grow their companies with brand solutions from outdoor advertising to convention planning to business brokerage and energy efficiency.

"We specialize in helping business from advertising to being more green. A lot of times our franchisees work together on providing solutions to businesses," says Erin Crawford, VP of Development.

The EmbroidMe brand has grown to more than 300 locations, with 200 in Florida and 15 abroad.

As the economy experienced a climate shift in recent past years, the company decided to focus its growth plan on strengthening its existing locations for long-term sustainability.

Now, the brand is opening up expansion and new franchise opportunities, centering its focus on the promotional products industry, which is one of the strongest forms of marketing for many businesses.

"We are not just an embroidery company; we are a full-service promotional marketing solutions partner. We’re growing and expanding throughout the United States, specifically in markets where we see things picking back up," says Crawford.

Over the next five years, EmbroidMe plans to add at least seven new locations in Tampa, four in St. Petersburg, and one in Clearwater. The new additions will call for up to five new employees per store which can grow to have up to 15 employees focused on production and sales.

"We have a strong presence in this area and in this market, so we have a heavy growth plan for the bigger markets in Florida -- like Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville and south Florida," says Crawford.

For more information on franchising and career opportunities, visit EmbroidMe’s website.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Erin Crawford, EmbroidMe & United Franchise Group

USF Entrepreneurship Students Use Paper Clip For Charity

Teams of students in the New Venture Formation class at the University of South Florida (USF)’s Masters of Science in Entrepreneurship in Applied Technologies program were given a challenge: Start a business and see how far you can get using one paperclip. They had one week to do it.

The challenge, presented by Sean Lux, PhD, was based on One Red Paper Clip, a 2005 project by Kyle MacDonald in which he traded a red paper clip with random people, item by item, until he eventually received a house.

Given the timing of the challenge, the night after the government shut down, one team had an interest in doing something that would benefit people. The thinking was that people who may have donated to local charities in the past may not be able to do so because of lost wages and furloughs. They put up a web site using Go Fund Me to see how much money they could raise for Feeding America Tampa Bay.

The team used the paper clip as a symbol of tying people together, adding a double meaning with the title “clipping hunger.” They reached out to family, friends and used social media to spread the word. In just four days, they raised over $2,000, with donation amounts ranging from $1 to $1,000.

"We were absolutely overwhelmed by everyone’s generosity," says Summer Decker, PhD, a member of the student team, which also included Victor Florez, Kelly Heckinger and Ronald Solis. Decker is an assistant professor in USF’s Department of Radiology who enrolled in the program to become more entrepreneurial in the lab environment.

"As entrepreneurship students, we learned that having a really good, sound idea and a good story would help people feel excited and passionate about your project and your group," says Decker. The group also learned the value of networks, as the largest donor was someone Decker connected with during a previous class assignment which asked students to get in touch with someone they had not seen in a long time.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Summer Decker, USF

1 Million Cups Of Coffee Support Entrepreneurship In Cities

A new opportunity is brewing for entrepreneurs in Tampa Bay. 1 Million Cups St. Petersburg officially kicks off October 9 at St. Petersburg Greenhouse and invites business owners, mentors and the entire community to come together to support local businesses and start-ups.

The concept was launched through the Kauffman Foundation, with the idea of seeing how much business and support entrepreneurs could receive around one million cups of coffee. The idea is simple: every Wednesday at 9:00 am, communities across the country bring together entrepreneurs, mentors, advisers and business minds to learn about and support new businesses. Each event features two businesses that present for six minutes each and then allow 20 minutes of questions, with the event ending at exactly one hour.

The concept began in Kansas City in April of 2012, and has rolled out in 20 communities nationwide. Kauffman provides back end administration, support and promotion, as well as opportunities for participating communities to gather together for benchmarking.  

The organizing team for 1 Million Cups St. Petersburg consists of: Sean Kennedy of St. Petersburg Greenhouse, John Morrow with USF St. Petersburg’s Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Innovation Alliance, Reuben Pressman, serial entrepreneur, Danielle Weitlauf of Tampa Bay Innovation Center and Richard Wood with Eagle Datagistics.

“We want more energy, more people coming together to talk about entrepreneurship in a very casual format,” says Danielle Weitlauf, Manager for Tampa Bay Innovation Center and one of the organizers for 1 Million Cups St. Petersburg.

In keeping with the 1 Million Cups theme, Kahwa Coffee is donating coffee each week.

Presenters for the kick-off event are Eye Crawler and Causetofund.

A common question that comes up at other 1 Million Cups events is: “What can the community do to support you?” Speakers will walk away with just that -- advice, connections and support from the community.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Danielle Weitlauf, Tampa Bay Innovation Center

Tampa Startups Compete For National Attention At Tech Cocktail Event

Have you heard of Taskvilla, a Tampa company that offers business-hiring software? How about Tie the Knot, a custom website and iPhone app builder for the modern bride and groom?

Tonight at Fox Jazz Cafe on West Kennedy Boulevard, these local startups, along with LilyPad, Seat by Seat, and Valet Boss, will each compete for the title "Hottest Showcasing Startup'' and the chance to continue on to a two-day national conference in Las Vegas.

Since 2006, Tech Cocktail has hosted "Socials'' in cities worldwide, including tech hubs like San Francisco and Austin. For the first time, Tech Cocktail is coming to Tampa.

"Tech Cocktail was created to stimulate local tech communities,'' explains Gracie Stemmer, marketing director for Tampa Bay WaVE and head of the Tech Cocktail Committee in Tampa. "The event will showcase some of the area's most exciting tech companies and most supportive organizations.''

Entrepreneurs, supporters of the tech community or members of the public who are interested in what is taking place in Tampa Bay's tech world are welcome to attend, Stemmer says.

Criteria for selection of the five startups that will demo tonight included being established less than three years ago, raising less than $1 million in total funding, and having a working product in at least beta stage.

Each startup will have two minutes to pitch their products, while attendees will have the opportunity to network with members of the local entrepreneurial community and area tech enthusiasts.

Community-building events are an asset to Tampa's entrepreneurs, Stemmer says. "When our local community comes together and rallies around our startups, we are re-enforcing and strengthening what Tampa Bay has to offer.''

Tech Cocktail Celebrate, to be held in Las Vegas on Oct. 22-23, will offer 30 worldwide finalists the opportunity to showcase their companies to big names in the tech world.

"Becoming a recognizable tech community in the national entrepreneurial arena will not only keep our talent here in Tampa Bay, but also allows us to move talent in to our thriving area,'' says Stemmer.

Tech Cocktail's Social is Tuesday‚ Oct. 8th‚ 6-8:30 p.m., at Fox Jazz Cafe at 5401 W. Kennedy Boulevard.

Writer: Justine Benstead
Source: Gracie Stemmer, Tampa Bay WaVE

ROBOCON Tampa Bay Celebrates Technology, Learning

Elementary, middle and high school students from the Tampa Bay region and across the Southeast are coming together for the ultimate in community-based STEM collaboration.

ROBOCON Tampa Bay, a two-day event October 25 and 26 at the University of Tampa, features demonstrations, workshops, a college and career fair and robotics competitions. FIRST Robotics teams will participate in Ultimate Ascent, a high speed game of ultimate robot Frisbee. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a national organization that inspires youth to discover science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) through robotics competitions.

Workshops will be taught by Tampa Bay business leaders on topics such as programming and technical skills as well as how to run a business, providing students with real-life application to accompany the educational aspect.

One unique attribute of the FIRST programs in Tampa Bay is that teams are formed across schools and even from homeschool environments, giving students a chance to interact and collaborate with people from a variety of backgrounds.

The event is produced by Learning is for Everyone, a Tampa-based nonprofit that provides creative learning opportunities for all ages. Funding was received by a matching grant from the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation as well as from Hillsborough County's new program, EDI2. Tampa Bay Sports Commission is also an event partner.

An important goal of the event is to grow economic opportunities in Tampa Bay, particularly in technology fields, to help retain local talent.

"We want to show the connection between childhood technical hobbies and jobs in a strong economy," says Jamie Klingman, board member for Learning is for Everyone.

The event is free and open to the public, and local businesses are encouraged to attend to meet students for possible internship and apprentice programs.

"We need to highlight and celebrate our students and their achievements, especially in technology," says Klingman. "They will be the next big leaders in the technology world, and the drivers going forward."

The organizers also hope to use this event to attract the national FIRST competition to the Tampa Bay area.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Jamie Klingman, Learning is for Everyone

Tampa Bay Inventors Celebrate 30 Years Of Innovation

"Inventors Helping Inventors" is the motto of an organization of inventors in Tampa Bay who have been gathering together to advise and support each other for the past 30 years.

The nonprofit, all volunteer Tampa Bay Inventors Council (TBIC) is open to both professionals and novice inventors who want to network, collaborate and learn how to protect themselves and their inventions. The group meets twice per month for advice and information on topics such as patents, prototyping and marketing opportunities such as crowd funding.  

Members’ inventions include the in10did, a touch typing keyboard with only 10 keys, the Halo Nightlight, which lights up the floor of a room while keeping the rest of the room dark, and the PamiPocket a lightweight cell phone purse.

Their 30th Anniversary celebration will take place October 1 at the EpiCenter at St. Petersburg College. Inventors from across the state will have their innovations on display, ranging from a cat pool to a new bed design. The group’s founder, patent attorney Ron Smith, will be speaking, as well as Kevin Harrington from Shark Tank and "As Seen on TV."

"America has always embraced the inventor or entrepreneur…people who are willing to start a company or build upon an idea," says Wayne Rasanen, president of TBIC. "Tampa is kind of a small town for businesses, so generating more start-ups and entrepreneurial spirit in Tampa Bay is vital to establishing new companies, to building new industries."

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source, Wayne Rasanen, TBIC

MOSI Tampa Hosts STEAM Summit On Innovation

What do science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) have in common? They’re all part of Tampa Bay’s growing reputation as a region that nurtures innovation, and they will all be discussed at an upcoming professional leaders forum.

Hosted by the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI), the forum on October 10 is a first for Tampa Bay and brings together professionals from all industries and across the region.

"The goal is to have a conversation with business leaders in the community about the importance of STEAM education, the opportunities that brings to Tampa, and our challenges as a region as we strive to be an innovative place," says Molly Demeulenaere, VP of development for MOSI.

Panelists include Raul Cuero, PhD., MOSI's 2013 National Hispanic Scientist of the Year. A microbiologist originally from Columbia, Cuero is a national spokesperson for STEAM and innovation who discovered through growing up in poverty that creativity can help bring about a better way of life.

Kerriann Greenlagh, Ph.D., a local organic chemist and University of South Florida graduate will provide an entrepreneur’s perspective of taking her liquid bandaid, KeriCure, from lab to market.

The panel is rounded out by local artpreneur and biologist Jeff Hazelton whose innovations include medical games, animation and imaging technology.

In addition to the panelists, the event is intended be an interactive conversation with involvement from the entire community.

STEAM is a focus of MOSI’s masterplan for 2025, but it has always been an important part of the educational process for the museum.

"As a science center, we have been teaching STEM/STEAM since MOSI opened in the 1950s," says Demeulenaere, adding that many people don’t realize that art is already integrated into STEM initiatives. For example, architecture plays a critical part in building design, as does design as an element in automobile manufacturing.

In bringing the STEAM conversation to the masses, MOSI also hopes to inspire the next generation of our region’s youth to take advantage of careers in STEAM fields. "We want people to know that it’s accessible, that it’s not hard for them to accomplish."

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Molly Demeulenaere, MOSI Tampa

Tampa Native Creates Wallet With Slim Design

The Snapback Wallet was designed with minimalists in mind. With space for 10 credit cards, as well as receipts and cash, the wallet is made of stretchy elastic that can be carried on a wrist or in a pocket or purse.

The concept was developed by Nick Augeri, a Tampa native and University of South Florida graduate, who was frustrated with the lack of quality wallets in a slim size that would hold cards, cash and receipts. After Internet and retail searches came up blank, he decided to start sewing. "I had some terrible prototypes at first," laughs Augeri.

The product development involved a great deal of searching for the perfect elastic, as well as enlisting the help of his mother, an experienced seamstress. Once the design was perfected, he found a manufacturer located in Melbourne. All in all, the process took approximately five months from idea to final execution.

"There’s a lot that goes into making a product that I had no idea about," says Augeri. He learned, for instance, that the country of origin has to be on every product, as well as the nuances involved with shipping.

Augeri launched a campaign on Kickstarter to raise funds to make the first products. The campaign recently exceeded the initial $10,000 goal. He plans to launch two new colors if $15,000 is raised by the end of the campaign on September 27.

He contributes social media channels with helping him spread the word, as well as USF marketing professor Bob Pecoraro for giving him the guidance and direction needed to get the business started.

Augeri hopes to eventually turn the company into a full-time job, selling the wallets both online and in retail establishments.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Nick Augeri, University of South Florida

Anago Cleaning Systems Grows, Adds 40+ Jobs in Tampa

Anago Cleaning Systems’ Master Franchise Owners Raul Gonzalez and Omar Fernandez are spurring economic growth in Tampa Bay, creating small business opportunities for entrepreneurs while generating more than 40 jobs.

One of the leading commercial cleaning franchise organizations with over 2,400 business units across the country, Anago has been recognized by the Entrepreneur Magazine as the 10th fastest-growing franchise in 2013 in the United States and by the National Minority Franchising Initiative as the top franchise for minorities.

"We are adding small businesses by virtue of those people who open a cleaning business and are simultaneously adding jobs because the unit franchisees are hiring employees to assist them in running their small business," says VP of Marketing Judy Walker.

Cousins that came from a close-knit family in New York, Gonzalez and Fernandez moved to Florida together and saw a need for growing companies that would cater to the entrepreneurial needs of the Spanish community. Many of Anago’s Florida unit franchisees are from different countries -- entrepreneurs seeking business opportunities but who may face market entry and language barriers.

"They saw a need that people wanted. In a community, people really stick together, and we wanted to become part of that community by reaching out to them and fulfilling their needs," says Trish Carr, regional director of Anago Tampa.

For the past 15 years, Gonzalez and Fernandez have successfully added new franchise units in the area, connecting entrepreneurs with a structured business management system, allowing franchise business owners the freedom to concentrate on their craft while fulfilling the American Dream. The Master Franchiser, Anago Tampa, provides the franchise unit with on-going local contracts, mentorship, marketing and administrative services, effectually connecting families and communities with long-term business and job opportunities.

"We work hand-in-hand with our business owners. We build relationships," says Carr.

Gonzalez and Fernandez have already added seven new franchise units this year and plans to plant up to eight more before the end of 2013.

"I have so much faith and belief in Omar, Raul and Trish. Their success has been excellent through the years, and we expect them to grow exponentially and the economy as well," says Walker.

For more information on unit franchise or career opportunities, visit Anago Tampa online or call Trish Carr at 727.535.8752.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Sources: Judy Walker and Trish Carr, Anago Cleaning Systems

xByte Technologies Adds New Location, Jobs

Sarasota-based xByte Technologies nearly tripled its physical space recently with the purchase of a new 30,000-square-foot facility in south Manatee County.

The company refurbishes and resells IT equipment, specializing in servers, storage components and networking equipment. They relocated to Tampa Bay in 2006, seeking a great living environment for employees.

They currently work mostly with Dell, HP and IBM computers. The new facility will allow them to expand their offerings to include Cisco products as well as expand their server manufacturing lines. In addition to hardware, the company will also be adding services component to its business model, including leasing, hosting and short-term equipment rentals.

The company participates in the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corporation’s (EDC) jobs incentives program to help identify qualified candidates.  

"The community involvement with organizations like the Bradenton Area EDC has been tremendously helpful for us to get our name out there," says Stephen Jaynes, COO for xByte Technologies, noting that the recognition they receive locally helps them attract good candidates and support their growth.

The expansion will bring about 10 to 20 new positions within the next year, adding to the current employee base of 32. Positions will be sales, administrative and IT technicians.

The company was recently honored in the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s Florida Fast 100 privately held companies. "It’s big news for us, something we’re very excited about," says Jaynes. The award reflects revenues, job growth and community involvement.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Stephen Jaynes, xByte Technologies

USF Grads Create New Approach To Online Giving

People interested in charitable giving now have a way to donate to Tampa Bay's hidden gems with complete transparency and assurance that 100 percent of their donation will be used for the intended purpose.

Track Your Effect features little known Tampa Bay charities that are in need of assistance. Opportunities to give run the gamut – from hay for abused horses to personal energy transportation vehicles for victims of landmines.

The website is the brainchild of recent University of South Florida graduates Todd Lincoln and Jason Scolaro, who met in a class through the MBA program. The inspiration came from their mutual frustration with charitable giving, especially as fake charities tend to pop up after national tragedies.  

"We can provide some great insight into how the money is spent and used, who it’s delivered to, and how it’s delivered," says Scolaro, Tampa native and USF MBA graduate, and co-founder of Track Your Effect.

The team meets with each charity to determine their unmet needs and then sets specific goals. They then create a web portal for the community to donate to the individual project. Once the goal is met, they purchase the items and deliver them directly to the charity, being able to show donors copies of receipts. Videos are created at the beginning and end of each project to add another layer of transparency for donors.

The team also hopes to raise awareness of nonprofits that may have flown under the radar but are doing good work and have real needs. The first project raised enough money to buy over 6,500 diapers for families in need through Lithia-based Blessed Bottoms.  

"We hope this will increase charitable giving in the community, and inspire more do-gooders." says Lincoln, Track Your Effect co-founder and USF Masters in Entrepreneurship graduate.

Track Your Effect is part of a larger project called Transparency Initiative led by Scolaro and Lincoln. The two intend to take the idea of transparency to the next level and provide clarity into other processes that are not so clear, such as the political sector.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Todd Lincoln, Jason Scolaro, Track Your Effect

Hackerspace Builds A Community Home In Tampa

How would you like to use a 3D printer to turn a wild invention into a working prototype? At Tampa Hackerspace, this kind of dream will soon be a reality.

Sufficient funding for the group's founding members to set up shop at CoWork Tampa was met in early August.

Working under a "short deadline to make it happen,'' founder Bill Shaw explains, the group appealed to Facebook members to help raise enough initial revenue to secure their new space, a large open-floor plan venue on the ground floor of the West Tampa building.

Education is the primary goal of the Tampa Hackerspace, says Shaw, founder of nonprofit Inspiration Labs. Shaw hopes to "build a community of people who like to experiment and tinker.'' 

Along with offering free classes and facilities where individuals and groups can work on projects, Tampa Hackerspace will house "equipment that's mostly too expensive for people to purchase on their own. We'll have 3D printers, laptop location equipment, soldering stations -- there will be a lot of things that people can come to use as members,'' Shaw explains.

Classes will be taught by members and the curriculum will be regulated by member interest, but Shaw notes that the Tampa Hackerspace hopes to bridge the gap between a "hackerspace and a makerspace.''

He emphasizes, "The type of audience that we're targeting are people who are into the do-it-yourself thing -- and not just traditional 'hardware' people. We have a pretty large number of people now who are into electronics and robotics and technology, and I think we have the potential to bring in members who enjoy different types of art projects, like the Tampa Bay Steampunk Society.''

Classes will also cover a broad range of topics: "Technology is not the only component; there's a large creative side to what we're trying to accomplish, as well,'' Shaw explains.

The group relies on the community it brings together, with "a small amount of revenue from classes,'' Shaw says, to raise enough funds for furnishings, equipment, and consumable resources.

"Primarily, our revenue will come from members. … There are a lot of other operating expenses now that we've secured the space,'' explains Shaw, "but CoWork Tampa has been really supportive in helping us make it work. And as we grow, we'll be improving equipment and adding new things to make it more valuable as a member.''

Tampa Hackerspace will offer 24/7 access to "keyholder'' members for $100 monthly, while lower-priced options are also available. Meetings, which Shaw hopes will becomes a weekly occurrence as Hackerspace finds footing, are open to the public.

Over 35 participants attended the group's second meeting. The next Tampa Hackerspace event will be held tonight (Aug. 20), at 7:00 PM, at 3104 N Armenia Ave.

Writer: Justine Benstead
Source: Bill Shaw, Inanimate Reason, Inc.
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