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Tampa Bay Artists Featured In Digital Coffee Table Book

A new digital artbook features Tampa Bay artists that were part of the Leave a Message exhibition at the Morean Art Center in St. Petersburg in June and August 2012. The urban contemporary exhibit showcased graffiti art, illustration, graphic design and other pieces from artists whose work is a combination of street and gallery art. The artbook contains over 50 unique images as well as artist bios and links to their websites.

The book is part of the Artbook Archive iPad app available in the iTunes store, which features digital artbooks from Tampa Bay and other areas. The initial app is free, with the books costing $.99 each. The app and books were created by HD Interactive, a St. Petersburg company that produces websites, software, video games and apps. Artbook’s users span 32 different countries.

“We’re doing this because we love art and want to promote the arts community,” says Kevin Hohl, chief strategy officer for HD Interactive.

Sometimes referred to as a “new medium” for art, a digital artbook is more than a way to look at pictures on a screen. It’s a high definition retina display designed as a digital coffee table book, where users can swipe through the art piece by piece.  

The first book, Artbook Tampa Bay, was launched in March 2012 and contains 880 pages of art from 86 local artists. There were so many submissions for the first book, a second edition is being created. Submissions are currently being accepted from local artists, with a target launch of March 2013.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Kevin Hohl, HD Interactive

Speaker Series Features Tampa Bay Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs and innovators in the Tampa Bay technology community now have a chance to hear success stories and lessons learned from other successful Tampa Bay-made entrepreneurs.

The new quarterly series, titled “Diary of an Entrepreneur,” is part of TECH Talk’s monthly speaker lineup. Now in its 4th year, TECH Talk is a networking and education event hosted by the Tampa Bay Innovation Center. Participants include people involved in all phases of the entrepreneurship cycle, as well as service providers, consultants and established professionals.

“These entrepreneurships have a lot of information to share that’s very relevant to others who are at the beginning stages,” says Danielle Weitlauf, new venture manager for Tampa Bay Innovation Center. “This is our opportunity to get those successful CEOs to share.”

The kickoff event takes place January 29 from 8:30 to 10:30 am at Microsoft’s headquarter offices in Tampa. The speaker will be Mark Swanson, co-founder and CEO of Tampa-based Telovations, a cloud communications provider. Swanson’s presentation, “Five things you need to know about starting a business in Tampa Bay in 2013,” will focus on the unique aspects of starting and growing a business in the local technology arena.

Swanson has over 20 years experience in the technology realm, having founded and grown six multimillion dollar companies in cities across the U.S., including Silicon Valley, New York and Tampa.  His latest venture, Telovations, was sold to Bright House Networks in December 2012.

“It’s great to be able to have these successful entrepreneurs who are also giving back and sharing their experiences,” says Weitlauf.

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

Tampa Bay Inventors Named Fellows By National Academy Of Inventors

Six Tampa Bay innovators were recently named as Charter Fellows by the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), a global nonprofit organization of universities and research institutions. The group is part of a class of 98 Fellows from 54 institutions, which includes leading scientists and inventors from around the world.
 
Tampa Bay's Fellows were selected based on outstanding leadership, product development, and their support of and participation in innovation as a whole. Here are the locals from the complete list:

    •    Richard D. Gitlin, Sc.D., professor of Electrical Engineering, University of South Florida -- Gitlin has more than 45 patents in the field of electrical engineering. His research includes areas such as digital communication, broadband networks and wireless systems.

    •    D. Yogi Goswami, Ph.D., P.E., professor of Chemical Engineering, University of South Florida -- Goswami is co-director of USF's Clean Energy Research Center. He has developed 18 patents, his major accomplishment is a device that uses sunlight to purify indoor air.

    •    Barbara C. Hansen, Ph.D., professor of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, College of Medicine, University of South Florida -- Hansen is a Director of the USF Center for Preclinical Research and holds a patent in the area of diabetes treatment.

    •    Alan F. List, MD, president and CEO, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute -- List holds several patents, including one involving stimulating growth in stem cells and bone marrow.

    •    Shyam Mohapatra, Ph.D. Endowed Chair, College of Medicine Internal Medicine, University of South Florida -- Mohapatra is director of the Division of Translational Medicine in the USF College of Medicine. His patents and research focus on molecular and cellular inflammation of allergens.

    •    Paul R. Sanberg, Ph.D., D.Sc., Sr. VP for Research and Innovation and President, Research Foundation, University of South Florida -- Sanberg holds over 100 health-related patents worldwide, primarily in the neurology field. His most recent research focused on innovative ways to repair brain damage.

"Tampa Bay should take great pride in this recognition of great minds who are conducting ground-breaking research,'' says Randy Berridge, president of the Florida High Tech Corridor Council, a sponsor of the NAI Fellows Program. "Their work has a direct impact on economic development, career opportunities, the potential for entrepreneurial success and our ability to build an innovation economy.''

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Randy Berridge, Florida High Tech Corridor Council; Keara Leach, National Academy of Inventors

Knowledge M Hosts Innovation Guru, Tampa

Businesses in Tampa have an opportunity to take their innovation up a notch with the arrival of Guy Kawasaki on February 28. Kawasaki will be the keynote speaker at The Art of Innovation event at The Tampa Convention Center in downtown Tampa.

Kawaski, an entrepreneur, bestselling author and Silicon Valley venture capitalist, played a critical role in marketing Apple's Macintosh computers in the 1980s and was named an Apple Fellow in 1995. He is currently managing director of Garage Technology Ventures and co-founder of Alltop.com, an "online magazine rack'' of trending topics on the web.
 
"We're trying to help inspire small businesses to break out of their shell and be more competitive and innovative in their sector,'' says Charise Strandberg, social media marketing manager for Celestar Corporation, which is coordinating the event. "We want Tampa to jump to the next curve, to be in that thoughtful set of innovation.''
 
What does innovation really mean? What does it take to innovate? How do today's businesses innovate to remain competitive? Kawasaki will speak to these things and more, as he provides hands-on learning with specific actions that can be implemented after the event. The topics will be tailored toward the audience and will include strategic steps to creating new products and services, how to break down barriers to innovation, and how set and achieve high goals. 

Attendees will include large and small businesses from the Tampa Bay region, including Florida Blue, Bank of Tampa, Digital Hands and 352 Media.

"A lot of businesses are doing the same thing day after day,'' says Strandberg. "We want to break out of that, to make Tampa an innovation hub. We're only going to do that by bringing people like Guy to Tampa.''

For more information and to register, visit Knowledge M, a division of Celestar.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Charise Strandberg, Celestar Corporation

Tampa Company Converts Trash into Renewable Energy

Trash2Cash-Energy, a newly created company in the Tampa Bay Technology Incubator at USF Connect, created a process that converts landfill gases into fuel.

When trash in a landfill is biodegraded, methane gas is produced. The EPA requires landfills to burn this gas on site or convert it into carbon dioxide. There are currently more than 3,000 active landfills in the United States -- 60 in Florida alone -- many of which do not fully utilize the energy produced by the gas.

A team consisting of two faculty members and three graduate students at the University of South Florida saw an opportunity and developed technology that converts this gas into fuel. The revolutionary, patented new process not only provides a renewable source of energy but greatly reduces the amount of emissions produced by the landfills. 

The team is currently developing the process further to see if it can be made commercial. If the technology takes off, the implications for environmental impact are tremendous. The team estimates that the average landfill will produce approximately 7,140 gallons of fuel each day, creating enough diesel to fuel 25 garbage trucks for a week.

The company received $100,000 in initial funding from the Department of Energy as the first place winner of the 2012 MegaWatt Ventures Competition, an annual clean energy business plan competition, and is seeking additional funding from the Small Business Administration.

The next step is to build a pilot plant in the Tampa Bay area that will test the process to see if it's financially feasible for commercial use.

"If we are successful, it will have tremendous impact not just within the community here, but for all of Florida and beyond,'' says Babu Joseph, VP of research for Trash2Cash-Energy and professor at the University of South Florida. "We think we can offer a very lucrative solution that will solve a significant environmental problem and reduce our dependence on imported oil.''

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Babu Joseph, Trash2Cash-Energy

Staffing Company Expands To Tampa, 60+ Jobs

Kavaliro Staffing Services, headquartered in Central Florida, is expanding into the Tampa market, creating more than 60 local jobs.
 
"Kavaliro is very excited about officially moving into the Tampa market,’' says Mark Moore, president of Kavaliro Staffing. "We have a substantial reach already into the Tampa/St Pete area, with more than 1 million dollars in revenue being generated in that market this year.  To expand our opportunities and better service our customers, this move is crucial to our growth and success.''
 
While the company will maintain its headquarters in Orlando, Moore says there is a great deal of growth planned for the Tampa office.
 
"Our intention is to see the same level of growth we have seen overall as a company in the last two years,'' he says. "We are expecting triple-digit growth for sure with a minimum expectation of 60 to 80 new jobs created.''
 
The positions that Moore plans to create with his company’s expansion will be primarily in the IT, administrative and accounting fields. He says there will also be some sales and human resources positions.
 
"These new positions will be created and spread out throughout 2013.''
 
Kavaliro’s local office is located at 1228 East 7th Ave. in Tampa.
 
Writer: Kimberly Patterson
Source: Mark Moore, Kavaliro Staffing Services

Tampa Company Helps Businesses Define Market Through Data Analytics

Tampa Bay businesses now have a way to make sense of the often ambiguous analytical data available about their website and other digital media platforms. A franchise of E-Nor, a web analytics company originating in Silicon Valley, recently opened in Temple Terrace.

The company's name is derived from Noor, the traditional Mediterranean word for light. As a certified Google partner, the company's expertise is in bringing to light meaningful digital analytics that will help businesses better understand their market. Many companies already access data for free through Google analytics, but they might not realize the full potential of how valuable the data can be to their growth.

"The digital economy is really growing rapidly, and big data is a major part of its progress,'' says Bilal Saleh, principal partner for E-Nor and owner of the Tampa franchise. "With all that's going on online and with social media, companies have tons of data they don't have real access to or insight about.''

Saleh has worked in the telecommunications industry for the past 20 years at companies such as Motorola and MCI Communications. He and E-Nor's founder, Feras Alhlou, started their careers together at Precision Systems Inc (Psi) in St. Petersburg in 1990. Alhlou, an MBA graduate from the University of South Florida, moved to California. PSi was acquired by a California-based company.

The technical work is currently being done by E-Nor's parent office in California, but as the local office grows, the plan is to become a fully functioning operation, covering the southeastern U.S.
 
"The Tampa Bay area is really growing in the IT sector,'' says Saleh.

"There's a lot of emphasis on growing the IT talent in the area. We're very upbeat about the future of these services in the Tampa Bay area.''
 
E-Nor is hosting a two-day, hands-on training workshop focused on Google analytics January 22 – 23, 2013, in Tampa. The agenda includes in-depth information about market segmentation, data tracking and generating reports. For more information, visit E-Nor's website

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Bilal Saleh, E-Nor

Eyecrawler: App Connects Social Network To Preview Your Destination, Tampa Bay

Have you ever tried to find something to do on a Friday or Saturday night, only to drive around from venue to venue and not find what you're looking for? Do you want to listen to live music, but not know where to find it? Or, maybe you want to know what's happening at the beach before you arrive.
 
St. Petersburg-based Eyecrawler is here to help. Download the free app on your Smartphone for access to a network of people currently at each venue. Content is created in the form of a "blink'' with the option for a photo and/or comment. Users see and interact with a live blink stream from locations in close proximity to their device, filtered by categories such as live music, sports or karaoke.

"We're creating a perspective so you can find out what's going on everywhere before you arrive,'' says Shaun Rubrecht, founder of Eyecrawler.  "It gives you a better idea of where to go and what to do.''

Unlike other social networks, you don't have to be directly connected to someone or "follow'' them in order to see what they have posted. The content is open to everyone, and users can interact with each other instantly. 

Companies can build and manage advertising campaigns directly through the app. There's also a widget that websites such as Hobnob St. Petersburg are using to post a content stream directly on their site.

The network eventually plans to add content to more categories such as family friendly (people are already adding blinks at the Saturday Morning Market in St. Petersburg) and then expand to all U.S. cities, eventually going global.

Eyecrawler's official launch will take place Thursday, December 13, at Naughty Noel, hosted by Nova 535 in St. Petersburg.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Shaun Rubrecht, Eyecrawler

Bradenton Company Ups Employee Educational Support

Many businesses value educational attainment and appreciate the impact on the local economy. Bradenton IT support and consulting firm United Systems Computer Group not only recognizes the external benefits, but takes it one step further to integrate it into the company culture. 

Now in its eighth year of business, the company delivers IT support services to small- and medium-sized businesses in the Tampa Bay region. The company is growing and thriving in a down economy, something they attribute, in part, to the value placed on employee educational attainment.

"Education is paramount to our success,'' says David Spire, president and CEO of United Systems Computer Group.

In addition to the typical tuition reimbursement, the company takes it a step further by providing paid time off for employees to study. They also have an on-site lab where employees can take a study break during the work day. Education is also an integral part of each employee's individual strategic plan.

In a world where long work hours are encouraged, the company truly supports work/life balance by telling employees to go home if they're working too long. Spire has even been known to pay for an employee to go on a date with his wife. "I don’t care if you like me, as long as your wife likes me,'' jokes Spire. 

Support from the business community is essential to increasing educational attainment in the region, a goal of the Graduate Tampa Bay initiative launched in March of this year in conjunction with the Talent Dividend. A 1 percent increase in the number of Tampa Bay residents with college degrees would result in an additional $3 billion for the region in the form of increased productivity, innovation and social benefits.

A perpetual learner himself, Spire is currently pursuing an MBA degree at Webster University's Sarasota campus.

"I'm the champion for my people,'' says Spire. "If I make their existence in the organization solid and enjoyable, they're going to take that out to our clients. Our clients are happy, and that's based on the happiness of our staff.''

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: David Spire, United Systems Computer Group

Startup Weekend Tampa Generates New Social Interaction Platform For Events

EXMO, winner of Tampa's third annual Startup Weekend, represents the Tampa Bay region in the first-ever Global Startup Battle. The team is competing against 137 other regional Startup Weekend winners for a chance to travel to Rio De Janeiro for the Global Entrepreneurship Conference, as well as other prizes to help with the company’s launch. ?

EXMO is an interactive platform designed to facilitate communication between organizers, vendors, sponsors and attendees to help people EXperience MOre at conferences and other events. The app provides a localized feed that integrates with other social networks, allowing for real-time virtual interaction. Virtual conversations can occur pre-event, during and post-event, allowing for more personalized connections.

?The motivation for the concept came from co-founder Todd Goldberg, who was looking for a better way to connect with people at large events. As he prepared to attend Startup Weekend, he realized the only way to connect with other attendees was through Facebook or individual messaging. The original idea was to provide attendees with a way to communicate even if they didn’t know each other.

"During Startup Weekend, the concept evolved into a full conference solution that not only provides an amazing attendee experience, but also enables event organizers to offer more,'' says Nancy Vaughn, co-founder of EXMO and principal, pr & marketing director for White Book Agency.

The founders, all of whom reside in the Tampa Bay area, worked together for the first time at Startup Weekend Tampa. Their identification and understanding of the target customer ultimately led to their selection as the winner. 

The next step is additional feature enhancement and a beta release using Tampa Bay technology events, expected in late January. 

"The Tampa Bay area has a growing and diverse tech community, with many events bringing people together from all aspects of the industry,'' says Karl White, co-founder of EXMO and Founder of Charisma Studios. "We would love to be able to lead the way with a global flagship product, promoting both Tampa Bay’s technology events and its highly skilled community.''

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Todd Goldberg, EXMO; Nancy Vaughn, White Book Agency; Karl White, Charisma Studios

3 Tampa Marketing Companies Merge, Create 7 Jobs

Visual Alliance Media, Moonstruck Marketing Group and Good Dog/Bad Dog Creative Design will be merging to create Exakt Marketing, a full service marketing agency in Tampa. As part of the merger, the newly created company plans to create seven jobs.
 
"There are two overarching reasons to why we decided to merge,'' says Kerek Lee, CEO and partner of Exakt Marketing. "The first stemmed from the realization that we couldn't be experts in every aspect of marketing whether we wanted to or not. Also, coming together allowed us to bring together three organizations that were experts in their own respective areas of marketing. We can’t begin to stresss enough the importance of cohesive marketing strategy as it relates to a brand and an organization’s success.''
 
Visual Alliance Media specialized in social media marketing, while Moonstruck Marketing and Good Dog/Bad Dog specialized in creative design. Lee says that the merger will allow Exakt the ability to offer clients a full range of services including branding, graphic design, website development, search engine optimization and social media marketing.
 
In order to give clients the array of services Exakt plans to offer, Lee says the new company will need to expand right away.
 
"We are anticipating bringing on two sales positions prior to the end of this year,'' Lee says. "We’re also expecting to add two to three additional positions in the realm of social media management, web development and design. The remaining positions will be filled over an approximate 18 month period.''
 
Exakt Marketing plans to serve several different market sectors; with an emphasis on hospitality, health/wellness and conference planning.
 
Writer: Kimberly Patterson
Source: Derek Lee, Exakt Mareting

Pasco Logistics Company Plans Move To Palm Harbor, Creating 60 Jobs

FreightCenter, a full-service freight logistics company in Pasco County, plans to relocate its headquarters to Palm Harbor in Pinellas County. The company’s need to move is due to the amount of growth the successful business has had and the continued growth that is planned.
 
"We’re running out of space at our current location,'' says Terese Kerrigan, director of marketing at FreightCenter. "We’re moving into a modern office building in Palm Harbor that has 13,000 sq ft of space, which triples the square footage of our current location.''
 
Kerrigan goes on to say that the move is designed to attract a larger group of qualified workers since the new location will be closer to a metropolitan area. With the company needing more workers, she says FreightCenter is already hiring.
 
"We’re looking to create about 60 jobs between now and the end of the first quarter of 2013,'' Kerrigan says. "We're hiring immediately. We will be transitioning groups to the new building in waves. March is our busiest month and we're hoping to get new hires trained and ready to go before that time next year.''
 
FreightCenter is currently hiring account managers, however, as the company continues to expand, there will be openings in marketing, IT, accounting and customer service.
 
"Our immediate need is for account managers who manage inbound calls from customers who need to ship a piece of freight,'' Kerrigan says. "These positions offer excellent mobility and benefits after 90 days.''
 
For more information on FreightCenter, or to apply online visit the company’s website and job page.
 
Writer: Kimberly Patterson
Source: Terese Kerrigan, FreightCenter

Local Coderetreat For Tampa Bay Software Developers

In a typical day’s work, software developers focus on specific tasks and end results, but may not have a chance to explore alternative approaches to the craft of coding.

Enter Global Day of Coderetreat. The day-long worldwide practice event on December 8, 2012, gives coders a chance to practice different approaches, styles and philosophies in a focused and intense environment.

The organizers aim to engage 3,000 developers in 200 cities around the world, asking them to solve the same problem, but in their own unique way.

Now in its second year, the Tampa area event is hosted by 8th Light, Inc. on North Dale Mabry Highway. Coders break into pairs and participate in six to eight sessions throughout the day, each with different challenges and learning opportunities. The challenges are designed so that the teams won’t finish them during each session, purposely encouraging questions and issues. At the end of each session, the group reconvenes for a retrospective -- discussing what they liked, didn’t like, achievements and frustrations.

“It’s more about the practice,” says Gavin Stark, VP of product development for Real Digital Media and co-founder of Tampa Coderetreat. “We’re getting people away to improve their development skills.”

The event attracts a wide range of participants, from experienced developers to those just starting their software careers. Developers code in whatever language they know, and some will try a new language or learn a new approach to coding.
Last year’s event spawned monthly coding practice nights in which Ruby developers continue to practice the craft outside of the constraints of the workplace. The group plans to eventually expand these monthly events and form software communities throughout Tampa Bay to include other coding languages.

“Any time the community can help people reinforce or improve their skills, we improve as a community,” says Stark.

Source: Gavin Stark, Real Digital Media
Writer: Megan Hendricks

New App Helps Parents Monitor Children Online And On The Road, Tampa

Now there’s an easy way for parents to keep track of their children and monitor their online presence regardless of their technical expertise. The recently launched MamaBear app is the first of its kind to combine location tracking with monitoring of both social network usage and driving speed.

The inspiration for MamaBear came from a conversation co-founder Stuart Kime had with a parent who described keeping up with a child as a fulltime job. The parent company, geoWaggle LLC, had already designed location-based technology through GeoMofo, a customer loyalty app. The social media piece was added, ad MamaBear was born.

“Parents don’t realize the level of importance they should put on social monitoring,” says Robyn Spoto, president of MamaBear and a graduate of the University of South Florida and the University of Tampa. “There are some pretty explicit, open, public things our children have access to.”

The app’s four founders are all parents from the Tampa Bay region. “Our passion for wanting to protect our children became a big commonality, and MamaBear just took off,” says Spoto. “We knew it was going to help other parents.”

Those parents include a single mom of a 12-year-old and a 16-year-old. She uses the app to keep an eye on her children while she’s traveling for work, and a mom with an autistic son who was hesitant to give her son a phone, but now has a level of comfort she didn’t have before.

The app was recently recognized in the “GEW 50” – a list of the 50 most innovative new companies showing high-growth potential competing in the Startup Open during Global Entrepreneurship Week – and was also selected as one of 25 highlighted by CNBC.

The founders credit the connections they made in Tampa Bay with contributing to their success. “There’s talent here,” says Spoto. “To recognize that is really important. Many times we think we need to look outside of our own backyard for talent in the tech development area, but if you look hard enough you’ll be able to find it here.”

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Robyn Spoto, MamaBear

Tampa Law Firm Uses Innovative Technology

Foley & Lardner LLP was recently recognized in the InformationWeek 500, a list of the most innovative users of technology in the nation, for the seventh year in a row.

The recognition came primarily because of the law firm's adoption of the cloud-based Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), a software program that allows employees to access corporate systems in real time, regardless of their geographic location or device. Because files are kept on a central vs. local server, employees can access the same programs, applications and data, and perform all of the same functions from any location. They can also access files and execute applications from any type of device, such as a smartphone, iPad or laptop.

"It has drastically reduced the amount of person power we need from an information technology help desk standpoint because everything is centralized,'' says Chris Griffin, Tampa native and commercial litigator for the firm. This means problems can be solved from the central server, allowing for a quicker response in a litigation situation when time is critical.
 
Employees also have the flexibility to choose their preferred work device. The company no longer purchases computers for its employees, but instead gives them an equivalent amount of money to spend on the device they are most comfortable with. It also provides more responsiveness and timeliness to meet client needs.

"As we look to keep Tampa's business community thriving, recognition of local businesses by organizations like the InformationWeek 500 list will help enhance Tampa's reputation as a city that will welcome and support companies like Foley, that work every day to improve business performance,'' says Linda Sanders, chief information officer for Foley & Lardner.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Sources: Chris Griffin and Linda Sanders, Foley Lardner
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