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Verizon Adds 100 Sales Reps In Downtown Tampa

Verizon is opening a new national customer retention center in downtown Tampa and adding 100 full-time customer-contact representatives dedicated to the company’s landline products and services.

The company’s new sales representatives will provide after-hours sales and customer support functions for FiOS Internet and FiOS TV in 12 states, including Florida and Washington, DC.

"We want to be accessible to customers when they want to reach out. Our current employees do a marvelous job of serving the customers and getting results; we are confident that the 100 we hire will do the same," says Harry Mitchell, director of media and public relations for Verizon.

The new customer retention center will be housed in Verizon’s existing downtown Tampa office and will complete its launch in mid-September 2013 once the hiring process and training is complete. Customer-retention services were previously handled by an outside contractor.

Verizon's decision to bring services in-house was based in part on Tampa’s talented workforce and the valuable labor pool that results from the local educational systems, colleges and universities.

"There is a very good labor pool and available workforce, and there is good news happening in the area," says Mitchell.

"Verizon’s expansion in Tampa is an indication of how we are successfully growing our economy and why we are leading the state out of the recession,'' says Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. "I appreciate Verizon’s ongoing investment and look forward to welcoming 100 new employees to our downtown core."

For information on hiring opportunities visit Verizon’s website.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Sources: Harry Mitchell, Verizon; Bob Buckhorn, City of Tampa

Computer Mentors: Youth Helping Youth Bridge Digital Divide

Computer Mentors is increasing the skills of Tampa’s workforce while making an impact on local youth.  

The mission of the nonprofit, grassroots organization is to put technology in the hands of underprivileged youth while encouraging them to consider information technology as a career path.  

The group's main program, the STEM Corps High School Program, is a service learning model. After earning a certification, teens perform technology projects for other nonprofit organizations. Past projects include a website for Green ARTery, a neighborhood-based initiative to connect walkways and other green space in Hillsborough County, and a video for Positive Spin, which provides family support systems.

According to a 2011 study by the U.S. Department of Commerce, home computer and Internet use are strongly associated with household income. Almost half of households in the lowest income category did not have a computer, compared to 4 percent of those in the highest income category.

"There really still is a digital divide," says Ralph Smith, founder and executive director for Computer Mentors. "It hurts the country and hurts our area. Internet and computer power are very important to help kids have access to education."

Computer Mentors’ civic justice corps (CJC) program helps former juvenile offenders complete their GED and enter into a computer technology field. Participants recently worked with Community Stepping Stones, an afterschool learning center for at-risk teens based in the Sulphur Springs neighborhood of Tampa, to refurbish computers donated by the Patel Foundation. They also installed software and provided basic computer training.

"Tampa is becoming a well-known technology hub," says Smith. "Computer Mentors is trying to enlarge the talent pool for our companies to be able to grow here in our area."

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Ralph Smith, Computer Mentors

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

Tampa Company Creates App For Online Giving

Companies can now involve their supporters in their charitable giving decisions, promote their favorite charities and increase social media engagement -- creating a community win:win:win.

Lots of companies make charitable contributions each year, with varying methods of determining where to allocate the funds. A new Facebook app called CharityVote allows companies to involve their customers and other Facebook fans in these decisions. Companies determine the amount they want to donate and create a contest involving five of their favorite charities. Facebook fans then vote on which charity should receive the money, with each receiving a portion of the donations. Since fans have to "like" the company page in order to vote, the app increases the company’s social media reach.

"It's kind of like a feel good app," says Charise Strandberg, social media marketing manager for Celestar Corporation, the app’s creator. "People like to vote on something they support. The fans of the brand feel good about what they’re doing, and they have a say-so in who actually wins."

The app provides the added benefit of increasing exposure for the charities in the contest as well as creating a community spirit, or giving network, for the company and its supporters.

The first organization to use the app was the Tampa Bay Storm. Fans selected between three charities during a weeklong contest: Southeastern Guide Dogs, Exalted Warrior Foundation and Warriors in Action. All three charities attended a Tampa Bay Storm game, where the funds were distributed to the winner, Southeastern Guide Dogs.

Whereas other charity apps are focused on individuals donating directly to the charities, CharityVote is also unique because it can be used by any company or brand.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Charise Strandberg, Celestar Corporation

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

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

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

Pure Air Control Services Offers Energy Solutions, Adds Jobs In Clearwater

The innovative energy strategies of indoor air quality consulting firm Pure Air Control Services, Inc. are significantly improving the way we live, work, and play. The firm is now growing its staff to include additional technical field representatives, administration, sales and marketing team members.

"Over the long-term, we will be adding more staff as well as purchasing new equipment. As we grow organizationally, so does our staff," says President and CEO Alan Wozniak.

Founded in 1984 by Wozniak, the Clearwater-based environmental consulting and engineering firm provides professional indoor air quality solutions to healthcare, governmental, military, educational, professional, and international facilities.

PACS developed the Green Clean Institute Certified PURE-Steam Coil Cleaning process as an alternative to foam rinse cleaning the debris-covered coils of HVAC systems. Foam cleaning coils allows dirt and debris to be pushed further into the system, resulting in pressure loss, decreased air flow, failed temperature cooling, and exponentially large energy costs.

"Conventional coil cleaning includes chemicals which are relatively harsh on coils, it’s not biodegradable, and they get washed into the water system, which is not a good green process," says Wozniak.

PACS’ chemical-free process includes steaming HVAC coils up to 350 degrees, causing heat to penetrate the coils while loosening and dislodging dirt and debris that has been lodged into the system. "The energy savings is astronomical," says Wozniak.

As energy costs rose, Florida State University (FSU) began to take a precise look at its HVAC maintenance and operating program. Within one year of implementation, FSU saved over $800,000 in energy costs, a 157 percent return on their initial investment.

The firm has serviced more than 600 million square feet of indoor environments for over 10,000 facilities and recently joined Charlotte County Public Schools' Green Cleaning initiative, focused on alleviating long-term health risks, improving air quality in the educational environment, and saving energy.

"We are improving value every day, both environmentally and by saving energy. We look at health, energy, and comfort. All three have to be incorporated."

For information on hiring opportunities and green energy-saving solutions, visit PACS’ website or call 1.800.422.7873.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Alan Wozniak, Pure Air Control Services, Inc.

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

Tampa Company Aims To Help You Organize Online Experience

In today's digital world, it can be difficult to keep track of emails, social networks and files in one place. KiteDesk has developed a cloud-based application to address this need and help individuals and companies better organize their online space.

Launched in December 2011, the application links content from user accounts, allowing for real time integration, aggregation and personalized information streams. By integrating multiple sources of data, customers have access to complete and up-to-date information that is easily accessible through multiple portals.

KiteDesk is one of 18 Florida-based companies (five in Tampa Bay) that will be pitching at the Florida Venture Forum Early Stage Conference in Orlando May 15. They are attempting to fund expansion, which will include strategic hiring in sales and marketing.

The company's founders, Jack Kennedy and Jared Rodriguez, have been working together in the software start-up arena for over 15 years. They plan to remain in the Tampa Bay area because of the strong support network for entrepreneurs.

"We see a lot of really positive movement, both in terms of organizations that help us be a catalyst for innovation and funding as well as the great connections in terms of talent in the area," says Jack Kennedy, Tampa native and USF graduate, and current CEO of KiteDesk. "We think it’s an exciting place to be all around, from the ability to hire and the costs to run a business."

The company will be launching a new product that focuses on social customer relationship management (CRM) within the next few months. The product will help companies mine information from employee relationships to create warm introductions to prospective customers.

Long term plans include additional product offerings in the social business arena, including a recruiting based platform. "Our intention is to stay in Tampa and grow in this community," says Kennedy.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Jack Kennedy, KiteDesk

Second-Stage Companies Find Advice At Tech Talk In Tampa

Tampa Bay Innovation Center (TBIC) is hosting a panel of CEOs from local second-stage companies at the May TECH Talk program on May 14 in Tampa.

While opportunities seem to abound for companies just getting off the ground, second-stage companies (or, those with $1 million to $25 million in revenue and 10-15 employees) often find themselves seeking mentoring and other resources to assist with their unique challenges.

"It's a pivitol point for a company," says Danielle Weitlauf, new venture manager for TBIC. "It's often make it or break it when you get to that level."

It's also a point where a lot of job growth occurs, and with a large number of Tampa Bay companies in this stage the opportunities are tremendous. May’s TECH Talk will highlight the importance of these companies to the region while providing success stories to help both those starting out and those in the second-stage.

Panelists from Mercury New Media, Seibert Insurance Agency and CBT Development Corporation will share their stories about the growing pains and unique challenges of second-stage companies, such as attracting and retaining quality employees, positioning yourself for growth, and how to work ON your business instead of IN your business – removing yourself from the day to day details in order to move your business forward.  

TBIC is the local provider for the statewide Grow Florida program for economic gardening at the University of Central Florida, which aims to support these companies to get them to the next step. TBIC’s Economic Gardening program also provides companies with technical assistance to help with business strategy and roundtable events to discuss business management with peer CEOs.

Applications are currently being accepted for the next group of participants in TBIC’s Economic Gardening program.  

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

USF Heart Institute Opens New Genomics Laboratory In Tampa

Did you know your genetic makeup can predict your risk for disease, severity of certain diseases and how they will respond to treatment?

The University of South Florida (USF) Heart Institute is opening a genomics laboratory on May 14 that will use state-of-the art technology and equipment to study this unique, personalized approach to medicine.

The 7,550-square-foot space is located on the fifth floor of the Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute and will house technology-heavy laboratories to conduct intensive research on regenerative medicine, genomics (DNA analysis), personalized medicine and heart disease prevention and treatment.

Rather than a traditional trial and error or "one drug fits all" approach, personalized medicine uses individual physiology and genetic makeup to determine the best treatment options.

"The way medicine is practiced today, we don’t take advantage of this wealth of information that can be obtained from someone’s genetic makeup," says Dr. Stephen Liggett, vice dean of research for the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine. Dr. Liggett was brought to USF in June of 2012 specifically to develop a program to work on genetic medicine.

The lab was funded by a combination of $8.9 million in funding from the State of Florida and Hillsborough County. Additional funding is being sought to build a larger, stand-alone Heart institute. Future plans for the genomics lab include working with The Villages retirement community in Tampa to gather information from their electronic medical records.

USF plans to hire seven additional faculty and post-doctoral fellows as well as technicians to work in the space.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Dr. Stephen Liggett, USF Health Morsani College of Medicine

Economic Development Flourishes At Riverwalk 2013, Bradenton

From the grassroots,"un-conference" style of BarCamp Sarasota-Bradenton to the more traditional panel discussions at the Economic Development Summit, the entrepreneurial-minded can expect to be informed and inspired at Riverwalk 2013.

May 2 – 5 at the Riverwalk Complex in Bradenton, the community can attend one of four different events, all with the same purpose: to help entrepreneurs and the community at large navigate the changing business landscape.

The series kicks off on May 2 with a "Coding for the Non-Profit" event, bringing together designers, coders and project managers to provide technology solutions for Realize Bradenton – a local arts and culture council focused on downtown Bradenton.

The Economic Development Summit on May 3 at the Manatee Performing Arts Center features keynote speaker Jim Stikeleather, Chief Innovation Officer for Dell, who will speak on disruptive technologies and business models. The event will also feature panelists, including business leaders, funding professionals, educators and entrepreneurs, speaking on the full spectrum of entrepenueurial development, from seed through later stage funding. Panelists will discuss why they chose to create or move their businesses here, changing the perception of a "retirement community" to a place where people purposely come to live and grow their business.

May 4's event is BarCamp Sarasota-Bradenton at Manatee Technical Institute, an "unconference" with an open agenda and talks created on the fly. This participatory event allows everyone to contribute through talks, discussions, round tables and feedback.

The series concludes on May 5 with the U.S. Green Builders' Council’s green technology expo and music festival, as well as a special showing of Fiddler on the Roof at the brand new Manatee Players' Theater.

The event series was created by Spark Growth, a community-based company focused on social enterprise, as well as several non-profit community groups.

"Our goal is to create a destination event that will highlight the attributes of where we live and bring it all together," says Sara Hand, co-founder of Spark Growth. "People won’t just come to the events and get information, but they’ll be impacted and changed, with a call to action. We hope they’ll be inspired."

Some events require registration, others are open.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Sara Hand, Spark Growth

TIE Investors Back Event Networking Mobile App

A group of investors in Tampa Bay is backing a new app designed to better facilitate networking connections at business events.

Four members of the Tampa Bay chapter of TiE, The Indus Entrepreneurs, recently invested in a 20 percent ownership of Feathr, a start-up created by former University of Florida students Aidan Augustin and Neal Ormsbee. The mobile app is designed to create better connections during events and conferences by serving as a virtual business card. It provides profiles and contact information for speakers, exhibitors and attendees, allowing people to connect instantly for meaningful communications. It also provides real-time schedule and room updates as well as logistical information about the event.

"Feathr has assembled a very talented team to build a mobile app to revolutionize the age old practice of business card exchange," says Ashok Kartham, TiE Tampa Bay Charter Member and board member for Feathr.

TiE Tampa Bay was founded in 2012, and is part of a global organization with 25,000 members in 17 countries. The organization provides local entrepreneurs with connections, education, mentoring and financial support. There are 22 charter members who provide most of the investment funding. The group is also open to general members, most of whom are local entrepreneurs and business owners taking advantage of the expertise.

The philosophical foundation’s primary goal is to nurture and invest in up-and-coming companies with good ideas. Quarterly pitch sessions provide general members with a chance to have their idea heard in front of potential investors.

"We hope the Tampa chapter can make a huge difference in helping to grow tens if not hundreds of businesses in Tampa and Florida in the coming months and years," says Kartham.

TiE has already helped Feathr with product repositioning and marketing and billing and accounting systems. The app will be launched at VenturePitch Orlando on May 7.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Ashok Kartham, TiE Tampa Bay
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