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New Mobile App Offers User-Directed Ads, Tampa

Tampa-based MobAdWin offers a new type of advertising medium that uses a mobile app to benefit both customers and businesses.

Users open the app on their smartphones and view ads based on their pre-determined preferences. They then provide feedback about the ads and earn cash and other perks based on their activity. The user maintains complete control over their information, with no cookies to download, monitoring of Internet traffic or other lead-building devices. Participation is voluntary, and contact information remains private.

"We wanted to find a way to advertise with less money and better results, and to track responses and ROI," says Alex Dammous, co-founder of MobAdWin. Originally from Belgium, Dammous moved to Tampa Bay after vacationing in the area, and earned a masters degree in International Law from Stetson.

The users provide feedback about the ads they view, which businesses use to measure the impact of their advertising. Ultimately, the ads also drive traffic to the businesses, presenting a win-win. Current clients include retail establishments, bars, restaurants and small businesses.

MobAdWin recently hired advertising students from the University of South Florida to help grow the business. Originally brought on to assist with promotions at events, the students quickly learned the product and contributed ideas. Dammous responded by moving them into leadership roles. The company plans to continue sourcing local hires as the business grows.

The app is available for iphone or Android.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Alex Dammous, MobAdWin

Absolute Mobile Solutions Adds App Designers, Tampa

Absolute Mobile Solutions, a mobile technology development firm, is growing its Tampa team to include additional designers, project managers and marketing interns over the next month. Absolute now employs 42 team members internationally and six in Tampa.

“Although we have a strong development presence overseas, it is important for us to provide local project management, design and strategy in the U.S.,” says Alfred Goldberg, co-founder and president of the Americas. As the firm grows, adding project managers having specific expertise in mobile technology and design solutions is expected to add to the firm’s success.

Absolute is best known in the technology and software application industry for helping organizations develop and execute lasting mobile strategies.

“We’ve been adding project managers and will continue to add project managers as more projects come along,” says Goldberg.

The firm started as a software application development shop focused on the PalmPilot, and for the past 14 years, Absolute has been one of America’s leading mobile design and development companies. As the software application industry grew from hand-held technology of the ‘90s, Absolute focused its strategies on developing key software applications for the swiftly transforming mobile technology market.

“We started in mobile, and we stayed in mobile," says Goldberg.

In a highly competitive and dispensable technical market, Absolute’s client strategies focus on designing application interfaces that impact the user experience as well as aligning clients’ business objectives with strategic marketing planning that results in successfully attracting and retaining application users.

“About 8,000 new apps get submitted to Apple alone each week. The chances of your app staying unique for very long time is very slim. Our clients count on us to provide the best possible user experience to their users,” says Goldberg.

As a global firm based in Tampa Bay, Absolute has a large presence and plays a major role in the region’s technology arena. Often referred to as the “Forefather of Mobile” in the Tampa Bay region, Goldberg created a mobile design and development curriculum for three universities, including the International Academy of Design and Technology Online -- one of the first in the country.

Advancements in mobile technology continue to increase demand for consumers and companies alike. For companies exploring mobile technology applications as a value-add and sustainable growth option, avoiding missteps is serious business for companies who are not strategically focused.

“People are paying attention to Tampa Bay -- to our work in the cloud, to our work with mobile, and to the quality of life. More than anything, time is what’s going to settle some of the hype and let the world see where the best and brightest are.”

For information on hiring opportunities, visit Absolute’s website.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Alfred Goldberg, Absolute Mobile Solutions

Socius Marketing Hiring Web Designers & Writers, Tampa

Within seven years, Tampa-based search engine optimization firm Socius Marketing has grown over 400 percent, recently expanding to an 8,300-square-foot office.

With a full-time staff of more than 35 employees, the company is continuing to grow and is hiring additional web designers, web developers, and staff writers. In the last year, Socius has grown an additional 55%, adding more than five new team members.

Founded in 2006, Socius Marketing specializes in creating customized internet marketing solutions, organic search engine optimization and website design and development for national clients in the healthcare, home improvement, office furniture, and military defense industries.

“We continue to grow and are focusing on expanding into new industries,” says President Chris Behan.

Because the firm helps a wide variety of national companies establish brand recognition as well as generate leads for their local networks, Socius’ employees have very specific specialties and capabilities that are a tailored fit for their clients.

“We create original content for our clients’ websites so that they own the marketing solution. We are always looking for talented writers,” says Public Relations Manager Jacintha Anderson.

Hiring employees having expertise in such areas as law, engineering, electronic media, commercial art and multimedia technology is a value-add to Socius’ clients.

Placing a keen focus on targeting client needs and accomplishing results has helped Socius continue to grow in a shifting economy. “Marketing is even more important than ever. By focusing on the results, what converts, and having phenomenal employees, we are able to produce those results for our clients,” says Anderson.

“We are excited to serve our clients and are proud to be a part of their growing businesses as a result of the work we do,” says Behan.

The corporate culture at Socius is built around employees working closely with each other to accomplish company and client goals while experiencing flexible regular business hours -- and half-day Fridays.

Interested writers should have degrees and experience in English, public relations, marketing or communications. Candidates interested in web design and development should have 2-3 years of experience in php, html and design. To apply, visit Socius’ website.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Sources: Chris Behan and Jacintha Anderson, Socius Marketing

Tampa Bay WaVE Announces Inaugural Class In FirstWaVE Accelerator Program

Tampa Bay WaVE recently accepted the first group of startups into its FirstWaVE Accelerator Program.

The companies will receive assistance in all phases of development, including workshops, bootcamp events, mentors, professional services and opportunities to meet with investors and other successful entrepreneurs. They will also have access to the coworking space at FirstWaVE’s new Venture Center in downtown Tampa.

"The program will fill in some of the missing skills sets and experience that my team doesn't have,'' says Brian Burridge, president and founder of Commendable Kids, a startup that is part of the inaugural class.

Commendable Kids is an online experience that helps parents, teachers and other caregivers motivate and encourage children toward achieving goals, reaching milestones and learning new skills.

Parents sign up online, and their children can earn badges for their accomplishments. The parents then add information to their account to illustrate what their child did to earn the badges. They can invite family and friends to become supporters and give the children virtual "high fives.''

As an early supporter of Tampa Bay WaVE, Burridge was eager to be a part of the first class in the Accelerator program.

"Tampa Bay is a lot stronger in tech than anyone realizes,'' says Burridge. "FirstWaVe is laying the foundation that will build confidence in developers and help them know there is support.''

Burridge is looking to the Accelerator program for validation that his company can be sustainable as well as help with marketing to allow him to reach even more families.

The early stage start-ups making up the inaugural FirstWaVE Accelerator class are: SHOOTRAC, Cartooga, Secondhand Living, Drawer, Commendable Kids, Confy.co, Kite Desk and  SavvyCard.

FirstWaVE is currently accepting applications for the next class. The deadline to apply is April 1.
Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Brian Burridge, Commendable Kids

University of Tampa Aims To Increase Women in Technology

The University of Tampa (UT) is joining the national effort to attract, increase and retain the number of women in technology fields by participating in The National Center for Women and Information Technology’s (NCWIT) Pacesetters program.

Launched in 2010, the Pacesetters program is designed to recruit untapped talent pools of technological women as well as retain women at risk of leaving their organizations -- commonly referred to as “net new.” The 2013-2015 initiative includes a two-year fast track program and a collaborative network of senior executives from 20 universities and 14 companies working to add almost 2,000 women to the U.S. technological field.

“Twenty-five percent of IT professionals are female,” says Natasha Veltri, assistant professor of information and technology management and lead on the NCWIT Pacesetters program at UT. The goal of the Information and Technology Management (ITM) Department at UT is to increase female enrollment in the management and information systems program (MIS) from 23 percent to 50 percent.

To heighten that effort, UT’s ITM professors are practicing “in-reach” -- connecting with students during early college years, learning about their career and technological interests, and introducing them to classes, opportunities, industry connections and mentors so that students can explore the field.

By 2020, an estimated 1.4 million technology jobs will be added to the workforce. With 56 percent of women in computing and technology leaving jobs at the mid-career level, women in technology represent a significant value-add to companies.

“We encourage students to learn computing and pursue careers in this field; this way we can address the IT shortage and create a new pool of qualified, educated workers,” says Veltri.

Veltri also reaches to her network of IT professionals who have been successful within the field to serve as role models to students. “There are many female professionals who are passionate about this issue and who want to serve. We can support students considering a career in IT and can share our experiences with them by using our business connections.”

ITM works closely with the business community in Tampa Bay including Tampa Bay Technology Leadership Association and Tampa Bay Technology Forum. They also have an advisory board that keeps updated with the industry’s needs in order to prepare students for workforce leadership.

Each month, the Office of Career Services lists several openings for IT positions. “We don’t have enough candidates to fill those roles,” says Veltri.

“The innovation in the IT field has been tremendous in the last four years, and for us to continue the innovation, we need the right supply of talent. For us to provide our region with the right talent, we have to grow this locally. That way we can attract new employers.”

ITM is additionally working to increase interest and career development for females in technology by partnering with Tampa Bay’s technology professionals and utilizing UT’s Office of Career Services to introduce students to internships and career opportunities. ITM also provides a hands-on technology and computing platform to middle and high school students through their Get Smart program.

“There is a pipeline of talent, and we can contribute by developing local talent to grow Tampa Bay's industries, businesses, and IT field in particular.”

Visit the website for details on all of the University of Tampa’s information and technology management degrees. For more information on the Pacesetters program, contact Natasha Veltri via email or at 813.257.3970.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Natasha Veltri, University of Tampa

Dashes Mobile App Offers Private Story Sharing, Wesley Chapel

A mobile and web app launched by Wesley Chapel-based Lifedash makes it easy to memorialize life experiences.

Users create a "dash," or a private mini blog, that allows them to share stories about their life through photos, videos, text and more. They can then selectively add people to their dash with whom they want to share their story. Friends and family can follow and participate in the stories in real time.

The private, group-focused nature of the app is designed to allow users to share more meaningful content than they would on more open social networks. It also presents a more complete story, rather than fragmented pieces of data.

The idea for the app came when the Lifedash team attended a local gala event. After the event was over, they spent lots of time making sure everyone had the pictures from each other’s phones. They knew there had to be a better way to share videos and pictures within groups.

Users might attend a party or other event together and create a dash to share pictures and stories with each other. A parent who travels might use the app to virtually participate in their child’s first day of school or other activity if they aren’t able to be there in person. A trainer at a gym might use the app to track progress with his or her clients.

"It becomes a true story, a friendly one, because you know who your audience is and can behave accordingly," says Travis Bond, USF graduate and president, CEO and founder of Lifedash. "The depth of experience creates a more meaningful, everlasting story.

Dashes is available on the web, iphone or android. 

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Sources; Travis Bond and Courtney Larned, Lifedash

New Accelerator Program for Tech Businesses, Tampa

Budding entrepreneurs in Tampa Bay now have an opportunity to apply for a vast toolkit of resources to help them achieve their goals.

Newly formed Tampa-based ICT Funds launched its first accelerator program for new and emerging companies in the internet communication technology (ICT) sector.

The program is unique in that it is open around the clock, with no deadlines or formal business plan requirements. Anyone with an idea who wants to start or grow a business can apply by submitting a Linkedin page, recommendations and simple scope sheet of their goals and idea.

In exchange for a negotiable amount of equity in the business, companies receive assistance with design, product development, marketing, legal assistance and office space at Cowork Tampa. They also assist the businesses with obtaining capital.

"Anything and everything they need to get their business started -- we’re going to help them," says Chris Arnoldi, founder of ICT Funds and Uhsome, which is providing marketing assistance for the companies.

The first three companies in the portfolio include:

MyAreaNetwork, which owns and operates 80 local news and nightlife websites across the U.S. The flagship site, 813area.com, provides nightlife, dining and entertainment news in Tampa Bay. ICT Funds is providing design and finance assistance.

GoToGuy, a free peer-to-peer recommendation website. ICT Funds will assist with product development and consulting.

Ndorsd, which connects athletics with product placement. ICT Funds is helping with app development and consulting.

The program's goal is to assist entrepreneurs who have solid ideas and commitment to follow-through, in hopes that they will do well and continue to grow Tampa Bay’s tech community.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Chris Arnoldi, ICT Funds

Tampa Bay Youth In Florida Robotics Competition

A group of 10 Tampa Bay middle and high school students plan to show off their teamwork and technical skills at FIRST Tech Challenge’s Florida State Championship on March 2 in Daytona Beach.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Tech Challenge
is an annual robotics competition for students in grades 7 to 12. The challenge is run by FIRST, a the national organization that fosters youth interest in science and technology.

Teams of up to 10 students are provided with a robot kit and asked to design, build and program their robots using a game scenario that changes from year to year. The students are judged based on robot performance, an engineering notebook which documents the design and building process, a team video and overall teamwork.

Team Duct Tape, sponsored by Learning is for Everyone, is a group of 13- to 15-year-olds with the philosophy: Character before Completion. Typically based out of just one high school, Team Duct is unique in that it includes students from public, private and home schools across the Tampa Bay region. 

Teams receive the challenge in September of each year. This year's challenge, called "RING IT UP," involves a tic tac toe game, where the robot has to grapple plastic rings and score them on a peg board. At the competition, teams are randomly paired with another team who could end up being their opponent in the next round. In addition to the technical skills required, students must learn to collaborate and stay professional throughout the process.

"These are important skills that we want kids to develop as we grow our tech community," says Terri Willingham, president of Learning is for Everyone.

The team will compete against 24 students for various awards and prizes, including scholarships. To financially support the  team by helping subsidize travel costs, visit the Team Duct Tape website.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Terri Willingham, Learning is for Everyone


Mercedes Medical Adds 50 Jobs, Bradenton

International medical supply distribution firm Mercedes Medical, Inc. has twice topped the Inc. 500 list of America’s fastest growing companies -- and they are growing once again. Mercedes is adding 50 new jobs as they expand their Bradenton facility.

"We have been growing steadily at 10 percent annually, but we anticipate much faster growth,'' says CEO Alex Miller.

Mercedes is adding inside sales representatives, customer care representatives, purchasing agents, accounting clerks and warehouse administration to its existing 64-member team. Miller is looking for enthusiastic and technologically proficient professionals who will bring a value-add to their team.

The company qualified to receive up to $111,000 in performance-based incentives from the Manatee Board of County Commissioners as they add new positions at or above 115% of the local wage of $35,633. The expansion is anticipated to generate $25 million in revenue.

"The expansion allows us to double our sales force while adding other support positions,'' says Miller.

Located in Bradenton, Mercedes is currently renovating the former 4,800-square-foot Merita Bakery, just next door to their existing facility, therefore making the "transition, expansion and integration seamless.'' The firm plans to take over the new facility by the end of spring 2013. Miller shares that over a three-year period, the Bradenton Area EDC’s incentive will "cover an estimated 65-75% of the capital expenditures related to the conversion of warehouse space to office space.''

"We are currently on target to $30 million in revenue for 2013,'' says Miller. Mercedes' 2015 goal is $50 million.

Mercedes will be adding professionals to their team based upon a monthly hiring schedule. The firm recruits through ADP Total Source on Monster and will also use Suncoast Workforce for recruiting and testing.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Alex Miller, Mercedes Medical

BizTech Innovation Summit Showcases Technology In Business, Tampa

A showcase event in Tampa aims to teach businesses how to leverage technology to enhance performance and increase innovation.

Tampa Bay Technology Forum’s (TBTF) third annual BizTech Innovation Summit takes place March 14 at the A La Carte Event Pavilion in Tampa. The summit and expo will bridge questions from the business community as well as showcase some of the cutting-edge technologies being developed and used in and around Tampa Bay.

"The objective is to marry business with technology," says Heather Kenyon, president and CEO of TBTF.

Keynote speaker Murray Wright, president, the Americas for Tech Data, will speak about the future of technology and why it’s important to business.

About 400 participants are expected, including business owners, entrepreneurs and anyone who wants to learn more about using technologies such as VOIP or mobile applications to become a competitive differentiator.

Exhibitors will display innovative emerging technologies such as:

The University of Central Florida’s Office of Technology Transfer will have a four-foot-tall iPhone display to demonstrate apps such as Combat Lifesaver, a card game that reinforces learning and procedures that help save lives on the battlefield, and a virtual retail employee training program.

Rapid Prototyping Services will have a 3D printer on site to demonstrate the creation of 3D mechanical prototypes used for cad modeling, appearance models and tooling.

PowerPatent Inc. will demonstrate ProvisionalBuilder, a patent-creation software tool that allows inventors, entrepreneurs, startups and universities to draft and file high-quality patent applications.
"We want to promote the idea of using local companies, forge partnerships and raise the bar for everybody," says Kenyon.
Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Heather Kenyon, Tampa Bay Technology Forum

St. Pete Tech Firm Grows, Adds 18+ Jobs

For two years in a row, Crystal Clear Technologies has been on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies. Since the company started in 2002, it has grown from 5 to 32 employees -- and is still growing.

Crystal Clear Technologies (CTT) is a certified woman-owned small business that provides IT services and data communications to government agencies. The company's services in strategic product sourcing, professional services and IT enterprise help to support mission-critical objectives of the U.S. Department of Defense. The IT Enterprise division is adding several new positions in 2013. Additionally, to support the growth of contractual needs for that division, the plan is to add program managers and administration to its team.

"It is likely that we can grow to 50 or more employees pretty quickly,'' says COO John Lescarbeau.

In the recent years, CCT has focused on maintaining business relationships coupled with strategic partnerships to achieve organic growth. CCT and its mentor partner SRA International recently received the 2012 GSA Mentor-Protégé Award designed for large businesses to support and mentor small businesses like their own.

"We will be able to do about $25 million in revenue in 2013, if not more,'' says Lescarbeau. "We want people to understand who we are and the value that we bring.'' CCT's continued growth, he says, has been a combination of valued relationships and partnerships, consistent performance and innovative hiring.

"We've brought some really talented people into the organization'' and provide an innovative, fun environment where people want to work, he says. CCT recently expanded to a high-tech, 5,000 square-foot building on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg and plans to keep its existing space for future company growth.

For information on CCT and hiring opportunities, visit the company website.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: John Lescarbeau, Crystal Clear Technologies

Hillsborough Engages Citizinvestor To Fund Prizes For Hack-a-thon

Hillsborough County is opening up data from several of its departments to the Tampa Bay technology community to see who can build the best app on top of the data. The Hack-a-thon is first event of its kind for the county government.

Tampa-based Citizinvestor is being used to collect funds that will go toward prizes for the competition. Citizinvestor is an online service that allows municipalities to submit projects that have already been approved but are in need of funding in order to come to fruition. The crowd-funding idea is to encourage citizens to invest their own money in the projects they care most about, letting local governments know where they most want to see funds spent. Credit cards are not charged until 100 percent of the funds are received for each project. 

Past funded initiatives include a project in Boston that put iPads into the hands of blind students who were able to control them by voice.

The Hack-a-thon is the first project in Tampa Bay to be funded through Citizinvestor. The county is seeking $2,700 in total funding. 

"Anything the community can be doing to promote civic innovation is a good thing,'' says Jordan Raynor, co-founder of Citizinvestor. "This particular project is exciting for transparency sake, making government more open. It's also another way to showcase Tampa’s technology talent.'' Raynor is also happy to see the county using a homegrown business to help others in the technology community.

The Hack-a-thon will take place April 12 -- 14, 2013 at Hillsborough Community College’s Brandon campus.

"This is a really big moment for Hillsborough County," says Raynor. "A lot of places talk about innovation. Hillsborough County is actually doing something about it.''

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Jordan Raynor, Citizinvestor

Radiant Power Expands, Adds 16 Jobs, Bradenton

Radiant Power Corp. is expanding for the second time in less than a year. The introduction of a new product line will add 16 jobs to their current staff, making room for engineers, quality control specialists, assembly technicians, test technicians, and administration and sales representatives to join the Radiant team.

Radiant Power’s services include providing products and subsystems for emergency power, data acquisition, power distribution and control, and passenger comfort to the air transport, aerospace and aviation markets. The company currently produces the back-up battery for the flight data recorder, commonly known as the black box. They will now begin to manufacture the acoustic beacon pinger for the black box, which emits ultrasonic sound waves in the event the aircraft crashes into water.

"We are definitely in a growth mode,'' says Kim Oliver, human resources manager. Radiant is growing their current product lines and the integration of beacons.

The recent expansion includes an $80,000 state Qualified Target Industry tax incentive and a $16,000 match from the Manatee Board of County Commissioners, allowing Radiant to acquire the product line from a company owned by their parent firm HEICO Corporation, and manufacture it locally in their Sarasota offices.

Through a unique partnership, Enterprise Florida, Inc., Manatee County EDC and Manatee BOCC were instrumental in bringing the project to life in Florida.

"We had the option to leave the product line in Illinois, but the incentives made the decision easier'' to move the development of the product to Florida, says Oliver. "It makes it more functional to have it here since everything specific to it will now be in one facility.''

For more information on the company's expansion and hiring opportunities, visit Radiant’s website or email resumes here.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Kim Oliver, Radiant Power Corp.

FirstWaVE Accelerator Supports Early Stage Technology Start-ups

Are you a technology entrepreneur with a great idea, but you need that extra boost to get to the next stage? Tampa Bay WaVE is accepting applications for the inaugural class of its FirstWaVE Accelerator Program.

Participants will go through three stages: Build, Launch and Grow. The Build stage provides one-on-one coaching from Entrepreneur in Residence Christy Chadwick, who will help the company solve their biggest challenge. The Launch stage uses an advisory team of mentors to help build the business. In the Grow stage, companies engage with funding and relationship coaches, helping them refine their pitch and meet local contacts to help get the business off the ground. All in all, the program takes approximately one year.

Other benefits include a full-day venture bootcamp, 24/7 access to coworking space in the FirstWaVE Venture Center, dedicated advisors, access to student interns, quarterly “live pitch” events and access to FirstWaVE’s business network.
“One thing we hope to accomplish is a one-stop shop and collaborative resource for entrepreneurs in the Tampa Bay region,” says Jennifer Metz, program director for FirstWaVE. “To be able to work with such a great entrepreneurship ecosystem in this region is an exciting opportunity for Tampa Bay WaVE.”

Participating companies must have a unique and innovative idea with some type of technology component and the potential for future job growth.

The program is funded, in part, by a $1 million grant from the U.S. Commerce Department designed to support early stage technology ventures.

The deadline to apply for the inaugural program is Feb. 1 Applications are accepted each quarter.

To apply for the FirstWaVE Accelerator Program, download the forms here from the Tampa Bay WaVe website.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Jennifer Metz, Tampa Bay WaVE

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
328 Technology Articles | Page: | Show All
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