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Hiring Heroes: New Tampa Bay Area job fair focuses on veterans

Veterans dress smart, have good skills and are reliable. Though people like to honor them, employers are not always willing to hire them. That can be a real problem, but it’s one Stephanie Sims is looking to solve.

“Veterans show up, dressed up, ready to go,” Sims says. “Sometimes a job offer is not made. The employer might think they’re too good.”

Other times veterans have problems translating military skills into civilian life. “To find and to convey transferrable skills is not always easy,” she says.

So Sims, who has witnessed the problems at national job fairs, is holding her first Tampa area job fair catering to miliary veterans: the Tampa Bay Hiring Heroes Career Fair. Their motto is: “The Best Way to Honor a Veteran is to Hire one.” The goal is to help vets meet face-to-face with employers, so hurdles can be overcome. 

“I don’t think there’s any substitute for a job candidate getting face-to-face with a prospective employer,” asserts Sims, CEO and Marketing Director of Florida JobLink, a career fair provider since 1996.

Hiring Heroes is a new initiative of the Palma Ceia-based corporation in cities with a military presence. Three or four fairs are anticipated this year in Tampa and Jacksonville, with the event expanding nationwide next year.

She explains that a resume is easily trashed when an employer believes a job candidate is expecting a higher wage than that being offered. But when the veteran and employer meet, they can discuss circumstances that make the job doable.

“Employers just love the enthusiasm and the work ethic that veterans and their spouses have,” she says.

Sims also is bringing Hiring Heroes job fairs to neighborhoods where veterans live, to make it more convenient for those employed or responsible for childcare. This event is in Wesley Chapel, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 22, at 2740 Cypress Ridge Blvd.

Some 30 employers are anticipated, along with some 600 to 800 job seekers. While the free event seeks to place veterans and those transitioning to civilian life, it is open to all. Job positions include healthcare, sales, marketing, insurance, food service, technical, production, clerical, customer service, education and legal. Register online.

Learn about other upcoming job fairs in the Tampa Bay region.

• A free job fair is planned from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 9, for people interested in working for Hertz. Managers will be conducting interviews for -- and hiring -- counter sales representatives at the free event at Hertz -- Rental Car Center, 5405 Airport Service Road., Tampa. A minimum of one year of experience in high volume sales or customer service in a service-oriented environment is required, along with a high school diploma or its equivalent. Learn more.

• A Young Talent Tampa Bay Career and Resource Fair is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 12, at the Tampa Career Center, 9215 N. Florida Ave. The free event by CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay caters to those 18 to 24. Check out the details.

• The JobNewsUSA.com St. Petersburg/Clearwater Job Fair is slated from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 16, at The Matheos Hall / Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 409 S. Old Coachman Road, Clearwater. Parking and admission are free. Job seekers who attend can build their professional network, meet one-on-one with recruiters and hiring managers, learn about unadvertised, upcoming job openings, be interviewed and hired. Pre-register.

National Career Fairs is holding a free recruiting/hiring event from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 23, at Doubletree by Hilton Tampa Westshore Airport, 4500 W. Cypress St., Tampa. Registrants receive updates and alerts, plus the opportunity to upload a resume and search for jobs online beforehand. Candidates are advised to bring resumes to the fair and dress for success.

Tech Bytes: TiE recognizes area business leaders

At its annual TiECON Florida, the nonprofit TiE Tampa Bay did what it does best: It connected businesses and investors to help them achieve success. The result was raising awareness about some of the region’s successful companies.

Three “Present Your Startup” competitors, culled from 42 submissions, were recognized. Five other companies were chosen for special awards.

“There are much larger competitions in terms of prize money. What is far more important is the visibility that these entrepreneurs get on a national and global stage,” says Kannan Sreedhar, TiECON Florida’s program chair. “That is one of the unique things that we do as TiE.

The event on March 31 drew nearly 250 to the Sam and Martha Gibbons Alumni Center at the University of South Florida, where they heard presentations from Arnie Bellini, Co-Founder and CEO of the Tampa-based IT firm Connectwise; Steve Raymund, Founder and Former Chairman/CEO of Clearwater’s Tech Data; and others.

“Present Your Startup” winners were Prefer Hired, a Tampa-based company for online recruitment, first place, $1500; Simpleshowing, a real estate brokerage firm operating in Tampa, second place, $750; and Russellville, TN-based Shockwave Motors, the designer of a three-passenger electric roadster that recharges in eight hours from a standard wall outlet, third place, which did not come with a cash prize.

“All three winners have the opportunity to present to the local TiE angel community," he says. “Top winners will also have the opportunity to present at TiE Global.”

Other winners, who received crystal globes, included Tony DiBenedetto, Co-Founder of Tampa's Tribridge, who claimed the Super Entrepeneur Award for having a significant positive economic impact on Florida through job creation and for leading a profitable enterprise with at least $25 million in annual revenues.

The Social Entrepreneurship Award went to MacDonald Training Centers for its positive social impact, while the Angel Investor Award was awarded to Dr. Vijay Patel for investing in Tampa-based startups in 2017. Paul R. Sanberg, Senior VP for Research, Innovation and Knowledge Enterprise at USF, was given the Community Champion Award for backing the community in 2017. The Startup of the Year Award went to Pik-My-Kid, which provides a tool to make school dismissals safer and more efficient. It made a profit within one year.

Nominations came from the greater Tampa Bay Area.

TiE was founded in Silicon Valley in 1992 by successful people with roots in the Indus Region. It has grown into a global organization with 11,000 members and 60 chapters in 17 countries. The Tampa Bay chapter, started in 2012, is now setting its sights on hosting a global conference in the future.

A charter member of TiE Tampa Bay, Liberty Group Hotels Executive Chairman Raxit Shah will be featured in TiE's Entrepreneurship Series later this month. He will share his journey and provide information about the establishment of Liberty Group, with current investments of more than $450 million in 55 hotels. The event, free to TiE members, is slated at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 24, at USF Connect, Oakview Room, 3802 Spectrum Blvd., Tampa. Registration is scheduled at 6:30 p.m.; dinner is at 8 p.m. after the presentation. Non-members and guests pay $10. Learn more by visiting the Events page and searching for the TiE Tampa Bay chapter.

Read on for more Tampa Bay Area tech news.

• If you need help defining your target business market, check out the free “Tools to Find Your Target Market” class at Entrepreneur Collaborative Center, 2101 E. Palm Ave., Tampa. The event is scheduled from 10:30 a.m. until noon Wednesday, May 2. The class by the Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative will include information about free electronic resources you can use to conduct demographic research and define your target market. The event is free. No registration is required.

The event follows 1 Million Cups of Coffee, a regular weekly program to educate, engage and connect business owners.  That free event runs from 8 a.m. until 10 a.m. Wednesday, May 2, at the ECC. You can just show up.

• CEO and Co-Founder of Next Machine. Phillipa Greenberg, will be speaking on “How to Lead with Grit and Grace” from noon to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, May 3, at USF CONNECT, Oak View Room, 3802 Spectrum Blvd., Tampa. Hosted by the USF Student Innovation Incubator, the event is free for Tampa Bay Technology and Student Innovation Incubator companies. Others pay $10 at the door. Lunch is  included. Register online.

Also at USF Connect, The CEO Forum: Tampa Bay featuring DiBenedetto is slated from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 8, at Oak View Room. The event is co-sponsored by GrowFL. General admission is $15. Register online.

• Have you been wondering how business analytics can help you make strategic decisions? Then the Florida Business Analytics Forum is for you. Designed for mid- and senior-level executives across various industries, the free event offers a program with important insights on topics like machine learning, artificial intelligence, blockchain, algorithmic fairness, health-care analytics and various ways to interpret big data. The event is scheduled Tuesday, May 15, at USF’s Marshall Student Center Ballroom in Tampa. Check-in starts at 11 a.m. The forum is presented by Suntrust Foundation, the USF Muma College of Business, and the Center for Analytics and Creativity. Register here.

• The countdown is on for poweredUP, the Tampa Bay Tech Festival, on Wednesday, May 23, at Mahaffey Theater, 400 1st St. S., St. Petersburg. Doors open at 12:30 a.m. for the 1 p.m. event highlighting people and projects in Tampa Bay’s tech ecosystem. “Last year we had 650 registrations and more than 500 attend. This year we anticipate doubling last year’s numbers,” says Daniel James Scott, Co-Executive Director of Tampa Bay Tech.

On the calendar this year is a panel of CIOs talking about the future of technology and our workforce: Sigal Zarmi, PwC; Andrew Wilson, Accenture; John Tonnison, Tech Data; and Kim Anstett, Nielsen. Also featured is CEO2CEO, with David Romine, CEO of AgileThought; and Tom Wallace, CEO of Florida Funders; and Otto Berkes, Co-founder of Xbox, developer of HBO Go and CTO of CA Technologies. Tech tracks are planned on cybersecurity, data science and innovation.

Tickets are free for members, which includes employees of member companies. Non-members pay $100. Learn more.

• Six Florida Polytechnic University students have been interning at the Winter Haven Economic Development Council this semester with the goal of helping Winter Haven become a smart community. The plan is to build on the city’s fiber optic network and expand residential and business markets. Students have been interviewing residents, businesses and government leaders to determine how different sectors can benefit from being a smart city, a move that uses technology to prepare for the future.

• Mark your calendars for Ignite Tampa Bay, where some of the area’s most talented people share their stories. Ignite 2018 is slated Wednesday, June 13, at Palladium Theater, 253 5th Ave. N., St. Petersburg. The evening features five-minute presentations intended to teach, enlighten, or inspire. Topics vary. The event by the Tampa-based nonprofit Technova Florida, Inc., which is dedicated to creating tech and maker communities empowering positive change, came to Tampa Bay in 2011. Learn more.

• President/CEO Linda Olson of Tampa Bay Wave, a Tampa-based nonprofit growing tech-based companies in the region, has been named to Rays 100. The group is advocating for the Rays’ move from St. Petersburg to Ybor City and increasing business support for it. The Wave also has announced support for Tampa Bay Rays 2020, the nonprofit securing community support for the move. The Rays announced they were all in for a new Tampa stadium in February.


Career Cafe: Workshop helps girls land the jobs of their dreams

A Pinellas County high school student has created a career program that teaches the job-hunting skills girls need to land their dream jobs. Called The Career Cafe, it's intended to help girls compete more favorably in the marketplace.

Anne Bauer, a 17-year-old senior at East Lake High School in north Pinellas County, developed the program after recognizing two years ago that women face wage discrimination in the workplace. She’d attended a Women’s Conference of Florida, where she learned of the problem.

“My eyes were opened to the gender wage gap between male and females in the workforce,” she says. “I realized I was going to be entering the workforce soon. I did not want that to be prevalent at all.”  

So Bauer, a Girl Scout since kindergarten, created The Career Cafe, where girls can practice interviewing and hone resume-writing skills before they actually have an interview. The first Career Cafe was held in October; a second cafe is scheduled in May.

“The goal of The Career Cafe is to prepare the girls when they are looking for a job,” explains Clara Moll, VP of Membership Innovation for Girl Scouts of West Central Florida. “It [the interview] is very daunting. Some of them have never attempted to look for a job for themselves.”

A cafe, open to girls in high school and above, up to 23 years of age, is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 12, at The Kaizen Collaborative, 5215 W. Laurel St., Ste. 110, Tampa. Check-in begins at 8:30 a.m.

Girl Scout membership is not required.

The program teaches job-hunting skills like networking, personal branding, and interview dos and don’ts. It features opening remarks by Jamie Klingman, a Lightning Community Hero of the Year in 2014, and speakers Debbie Lundberg of Presenting Powerfully, along with Robin Kraemer and Ronda Clement of My Matrixx.

Coaches and volunteers include Camie Gibertini, Valley National Bank; Holly Donaldson, Holly Donaldson Financial Planning; Stephanie Gaines, Citi; Juliann Nichols, Julo Strategy; Adeola Shabiyi, Citigroup; and Jennifer McVan, Florida Hospital.

Bauer’s efforts have been recognized by the 2018 Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation’s Community Heroes of Tomorrow program, which awarded her a $25,000 college scholarship. She plans to attend the University of South Florida in Tampa next fall and double major in biomedical engineering and finance.

Another $25,000 was awarded to the Girl Scouts to continue the program.

“We hope to keep it going,” says Nicole Gonzalez, Public Relations and Media Manager for Girl Scouts of West Central Florida. “It’s definitely a great opportunity for high school.”

While the Scouts do offer other career-related programs like Camp CEO, The Career Cafe is open to the general public and gives girls a good career overview. “This is really more about envisioning their lives and where they see themselves,” Gonzalez says. “You’re going to leave here with the tools that you need.”

The Girl Scouts are looking for volunteers for the event, especially to help with resume writing and mock interviews. “It’s a good way to bridge the gap between women who are older that have more experience and the younger girls that are just starting their professional life,” Moll says.

To register or volunteer, visit the Girl Scouts website and search for The Career Cafe. For more information, email careercafe@gswcf.org.

Bauer will be receiving the Girl Scouts’ highest accolade, the Gold Award pin, for her efforts Saturday, June 9.

Women in Florida earn an average 87.5 cents for every $1 a man earns, according to The Status of Women in Florida by County: Employment and Earnings, a report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, in partnership with Florida Philanthropic Network and Florida Women’s Funding Alliance.

That’s up from 79.9 cents in 2004.

The report released April 9 shows the Sunshine State receives a D+, ranking 36th in its Employment and Earnings Index based on the number of women in the workplace, women’s median annual earnings, the gender wage gap and women in professional or managerial positions. The grade dropped from C- in 2004.

Learn about upcoming job fairs in the Tampa Bay area.

Hillsborough Community College is holding a free job fair Tuesday, April 17, from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the gym on the Dale Mabry Campus, 4001 W. Tampa Bay Blvd., Tampa.

• ECHO, the Emergency Care Help Organization, has scheduled its Spring Job Fair from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, April 19, at Brandon Boys and Girls Club, 213 N. Knights Ave., Brandon. The event is free. Learn more.

• Career Showcase is holding a Tampa Job Fair from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, April 19, at Tampa Marriott Westshore, 1001 N. Westshore Blvd., Tampa. The event specializes in careers in sales, particularly pharmaceutical, medical, IT, inside and outside, as well as business development, financial services, customer service/call center and marketing recruiting. It is free and open to recent college graduates through executive candidates. Pre-registration is required.

JobNewsUSA.com’s Tampa Job Fair is planned from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, April 25, at George M. Steinbrenner Field, 1 Steinbrenner Dr. The free event caters to all jobseekers. Recruiters will be available.

• A free job fair for Registered nurses and Certified Nursing Assistants is slated from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, April 28, at Kindred Hospital Bay Area St. Petersburg, 3030 6th St. S., St. Petersburg.
Learn more.

• Nations Joblink is targeting jobseekers from the Bradenton, Sarasota and Lakewood Ranch areas with its Tampa Bay Career Fair from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, May 10, at Homewood Suites Conference Center -- Sarasota Lakewood Ranch, 305 N. Cattlemen Dr., Sarasota. The event is for career seekers from a wide variety of industries. It’s free -- and hiring will be done on the spot. Register online.


Job fairs help connect people to open jobs in healthcare, many other professions

Jobs in the healthcare field aren’t just for nurses, doctors, and other trained medical personnel. There also are plenty of opportunities for janitors, drivers, cashiers, administrators, sales personnel, and lots of other non-medical employees.

The Brandon-based Red Carpet USA Entertainment and Events can help you find these opportunities. It is holding its first Medical Career Job Fair Thursday, April 12, at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa.

“There’s a lot of stuff out there that people don’t know is there,” says Susan Longo, CEO of the seven-year-old firm that holds job fairs, car shows, motorcycle shows and other events throughout Tampa Bay. 

Longo’s background is in healthcare -- and she noticed the need for employees in the field at a recent job fair, when Tampa’s Moffitt Cancer Center gave her a list of some 400 openings. “That’s a lot of openings,” says Longo. “ We couldn’t even begin to list them.”

Longo, who works with Arthur Pierce, the company’s Operations and IT manager, and Carolyn Miller, Community Liaison, is planning some 20 to 25 employers at the event. They will be accepting employer signups until Wednesday, April 11, the day they set up tables at the facility on U.S. Highway 301 south of Interstate 4.

“We’re trying to find a couple [of employers] that do multi-level marketing in the health field,” she adds. “They’re very welcome to come.”

They also are looking for at least one hospital, an insurance company and firms that employ drivers that deliver medical products.

The job fair offers free resume help and review plus free classes from Gene Hodge from HodgePodge Training in St. Petersburg, who helps applicants assess their talents and abilities. “When people come in, we ask them ‘what are you looking for?’ ” Longo explains. “When we get a shrug, we send them over to Gene Hodge. A lot of people come in just to get their resumes.”

She encourages jobseekers to dress appropriately. “Definitely, be ready to be interviewed. We’ve had people walk out with jobs,” she says.

Those who want to attend the free fair, scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Fairgrounds Pavilion off Martin Luther King Boulevard, are advised to signup in advance at http://redcarpetusa.us and skip the sign-in line. Available jobs will be posted online prior to the event.

“My advice to anybody coming to a job fair is know in advance what you want,” she adds.

Check out other upcoming job fairs in the Tampa Bay region:

• A Rocky Point luxury hotel is looking to hire approximately 100 team members for its hotel and new dining and party venue. The Godfrey Hotel and Cabanas Tampa is holding a job fair from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. today, March 21, at the hotel at 7700 W Courtney Campbell Causeway, Tampa. The hotel is accepting applications for food and beverage supervisor, restaurant manager, sous chef, line cook, server, bartender, barback, host, food runner, dishwasher and room service attendant. Jobseekers are encouraged to apply online here. Previously called the Bay Harbor Hotel, the property has undergone extensive renovation to create an elegant, resort-style ambiance. The final stage, to be completed this spring, includes the pier-side dining and poolside party venue.

• A Nursing Job Fair is slated from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on both Thursday, March 22, and Friday, March 23, at the nonprofit skilled nursing facility Egret Cove Center at 550 62nd St. S., St. Petersburg. The center is looking for experienced nurses, nursing students, and new graduate nurses. Tours and interviews will be given. Please reserve a place by contacting Betsy Norris, Lead Recruiting Consultant, at 561-353-7848 or by emailing her at BNorris@facsupport.com.

• Aramark is holding a job fair from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 22, at Raymond James Stadium, 4201 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. Aramark is looking to fill part-time seasonal, event-based positions that may involve working nights, weekends and holidays. The positions include bartenders, catering attendants, cleaning crew, concession stand workers, concession supervisors, cooks, runners, stand leads, suite runners and warehouse worker. Jobseekers are advised to apply before the event for one or two positions only. The event is free; plan to be interviewed. Attendees must reserve a place and bring a resume. Learn more.

 

• Bradenton and Sarasota jobseekers can check out the free Employment Expos job fair from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, March 26, at Sahib Shrine, 600 N. Beneva Rd., Sarasota. The event is for jobseekers beginning their careers or searching for a career. Opportunities include cooking, housekeeping supervision, front desk supervision, resort hosting, shuttle driving, and life-skill coaching. Register online.

• The Tampa Bay Times is holding its Tampa Bay Job and Career Fair from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, April 9, at The Coliseum, 535 4th Ave. N., St. Petersburg. No pre-registration is required for the free event, which anticipates more than 50 local employers. Learn more about the Times’ job fairs and other expos here.


• Tired of submitting your resumes online and getting no reply? Mark your calendars for the Tampa Career Fair from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, April 18, at Holiday Inn Tampa Westshore Airport Tampa. The event, which is free for jobseekers. is conducted by Best Hire Career Fairs. It enables you to learn firsthand about the businesses that are hiring – and what their needs are. Employers hire on the spot. A wide variety of industries are expected to participate, including agriculture and agribusiness, apparel and accessories, banking, employment, energy, fashion, fine arts, green technology, sports, video games and web services. Learn more and/or register.

• Florida Joblink and Nations Joblink are pairing up for the Florida Joblink Career Fair slated from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 18, at Clarion Inn and Suites Conference Center, 9331 E. Adamo Dr., Tampa. The event targets jobseekers in Tampa, Brandon and Lakeland. The goal? To connect growing companies with the best talent, regardless of race or affiliation. A variety of career opportunities are anticipated. Learn more.

• United Career Fairs has scheduled a Tampa Career Fair from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 24, at Holiday Inn Tampa Westshore Airport, 700 N. Westshore Blvd., Tampa. The event kicks off with an executive presentation, where companies can introduce themselves and their job opportunities. Jobseekers in attendance can then meet with hiring managers of their choice. The fair focuses on sales, business development, marketing, customer service, retail and sales management jobs. Learn more about this free event.


Tech Bytes: TiE looking for novel tech startups for pitch opportunity

The deadline is fast approaching for entrepreneurs who want to pitch their startups at TiECON Florida 2018, an annual conference by the nonprofit TiE Tampa Bay to foster entrepreneurship.

“We are looking for entrepreneurs who have an idea in terms of digital transformation across any and all industries,” explains Kannan Sreedhar, program chair for the conference. “It could be in the areas of social, mobile and cloud services. They could be leveraging artificial intelligence, virtual reality or augmented reality and Iot, Internet of Things.”

Applicants have until March 12 to apply for “Present Your Startup,” which will give about 10 startups the platform for seven-minute pitches to a panel of judges and angel investors.

The top three finalists will have an opportunity to pitch to the national or global TIE organization as well,” Sreedhar adds.

The emphasis is on opportunity and exposure. “People recognize the TIE brand,” Sreedhar says. “We will help you build your brand. We will help you get recognized. What we are not is a foundation.”

TiECON 2018 offers a day packed with activities starting with registration at 8 a.m. and lasting through 10 p.m. March 31 at the University of South Florida’s Sam and Martha Gibbons Alumni Center on the Tampa campus. This year the program includes three featured speakers, instead of one keynote speaker, and has a more enterprise rather than consumer feel, Sreedhar says.

Featured speakers are: Arnie Bellini, Co-Founder and CEO of Connectwise, a Tampa-based IT firm, who’s having a question-and-answer session on entrepreneurial life lessons; Steve Raymund, Founder and Former Chairman/CEO of Clearwater’s Tech Data, who’s speaking on the challenges of growing an organization organically over a long period of time; and Sarvajna Dwivedi, Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of the Redwood City, CA-based Pearl Therapeutics, now a division of United Kingdom-based Astra Zeneca, who’s sharing about why he became an entrepreneur.

Other highlights include sessions by Apparsamy Balaji, Director of Enterprise Data Management and Web Applications for BayCare Health System, on analytics in healthcare; and Theodora Lau, Director of Market Innovation for AARP, on caring for the aged at home. Other sessions focus on financial, urban and government technology, angel investing, and patents.

Awards also will be given, including the Super Entrepreneur Award, Social Entrepreneurship Award, Angel Investor Award, Community Champion Award and Startup of the Year Award. Winners will receive crystal globes. 

The event is free to TiE members; non-members pay $100, the regular annual membership fee. “We are not looking for one time participation,” he says. “The more you participate, the greater the value you get.”

Learn more and register here.

TiE, short for The Indus Entrepreneurs, was started in Silicon Valley in 1992 by successful people with roots in the region. The global organization has 11,000 members and 60 chapters in 17 countries. The Tampa Bay chapter was founded in 2012.

Read more about what’s happening in the hot Tampa Bay tech scene.

• Hillsborough County Community College has received a $250,000 grant from the Everyday Entrepreneur Venture Fund in Norwalk, CT, as a seed fund for students. The fund is to help launch community college students into business; matching funds will be sought from area businesses.

•  Tampa is getting closer to having driver-less cars. As part of a demonstration for transit experts and local leaders Feb. 27, the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, city of Tampa, and the Michigan-based May Mobility arranged for a May Mobility fleet to carry passengers on the city streets and Marion Transit Way corridor. HART is hoping to implement the driver-less vehicles in this same area by the end of this year – and May Mobility is being considered as a potential partner.

• Clients at the Florida Israel Business Accelerator (FIBA) are featured at the 1 Million Cups Tampa networking event from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 7, at Entrepreneur Collaborative Center, 2101 E. Palm Ave., Tampa. 1 Million Cups is hosted weekly and it’s free. Registration is not required.

• Artificial intelligence will be the focus of a meetup from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 7, at Entrepreneur Collaborative Center, 2101 E. Palm Ave., Tampa. The monthly event is open to anyone interested in artificial intelligence, robotics, and machine learning. It’s free and registration is not required.

• If you are a Latino tech entrepreneur, check out the free co-working space at Tampa Bay WaVE in downtown Tampa. Its FirstWAVE Venture Center at 500 E. Kennedy Blvd., Suite 300, is open to Latino founders and cofounders on the first Wednesday of the month – March 7, etc. at 8 a.m. Not Latino? Women entrepreneurs can come free on the second Wednesday of the month starting at 9 a.m. Veteran businessmen and businesswomen can come at 9 a.m. on the third Wednesday of the month. Learn more and sign up here.

• “What’s the Buzz about Blockchain?” is the topic at the next meeting of Tampa Bay Women in Technology International scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 15, at Girl Scouts of West Central Florida, 4610 Eisenhower Blvd., Tampa. The event costs $25 for non-members; members are free. Register online here.

• The St. Petersburg-based InformedDNA, a large independent supplier of genetics services, has been expanding its counseling services into 14 major health systems nationwide. InformedDNA services include a variety of specialty markets including oncology, ophthalmology, maternal and fetal medicine, pediatrics, and cardiology.

Sabal Smart Homes, a new townhome development at 532 Fourth Avenue South in downtown St. Petersburg, is offering high-tech options like an electric car charger, and a connected-home “Einstein Package,” a rooftop alfresco kitchen and in-home private elevator. The home automation system includes technology from companies like Sonos, Nest, Lutron and Alarm.com. Developed by Salt Palm Development, the initial eight units start at $740,000 and feature three bedrooms, multiple baths and a one-car garage. Construction already has begun on a second building expected to open by the end of the year.

• Payton Barnwell of Tampa was one of 41 globally to receive the 2018 Brooke Owens Fellowship, which ensures her a paid summer internship at one of the nation’s leading aviation companies. A junior at Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland, Barnwell will be interning at Generation Orbit, an Atlanta aviation firm that builds launch systems. Barnwell also will be mentored by a senior aviation professional.

In other Poly news, a new 8,600-square-foot Student Development Center featuring geothermal heating technology opened Wednesday, Feb. 28. Relying on the Earth’s heat, the competition-sized, eight-lane pool is kept at near-constant temperature. The building was designed by Straughn Trout Architects LLC in Lakeland and utilizes natural lighting in the interior. It features a strength and cardio training area, plus office space and a multi-purpose room.

ª TeamWERX, a prize challenge program to help warfighters, has released two new challenges. It’s looking for a light-weight and rugged hose storage and delivery system compatible with Air Force Special Operations’ hose lengths and sizes, by March 31. The deadline is April 15 for augmented reality navigation assistance using GeoPackage. Learn more.

• It’s almost time for WAMICON. The 19th annual IEEE Wireless and Microwave Technology Conference is planned April 8 and 9 at Sheraton Sand Key. The theme is "mm-Waves and Internet of Things (IoT) for Commercial and Defense." Learn more.


Tech Bytes: A modern business matchmaking service prepares to go live

Singles often go online to numerous dating sites in hopes of meeting that special someone. Making business connections, especially for busy entrepreneurs who must stay laser focused to keep moving forward but need the help of other specialists, isn't as easy.  

Now a Tampa nonprofit is preparing to launch a digital platform to help businesses make meaningful connections that can mean the difference between going nowhere and getting ahead.

“There’s a lot of customers here. There’s a lot of talent,” says Brian Kornfeld, a founding partner at Synapse. “There’s also a lot of money. ... The connections aren’t taking place.”

The platform, slated to go live March 29, is “slick,” “easy to use” and capable of digitally pairing Tampa Bay businesses better than regular search engines, he says. Whether people want to know how to invest in a startup or real estate, learn about blockchain, build a business or host an event, or simply need to work with a specialist such as an accountant, an attorney or a success coach.

Signup is free for most users, such as entrepreneurs, inventors, mentors, jobseekers, employers, entrepreneurial service organizations and government workers. Those considered innovation enablers, like patent attorneys, bankers, accountants, software developers and marketers, would pay a small fee.

Kornfeld, Marc Blumenthal and Andy Hafer are founding partners in the effort underway since last year. The platform's launch is anticipated during Innovation Summit 2018, the second summit in Tampa Bay connecting innovators, entrepreneurs, corporations and community leaders.

The summit will be held March 28 and 29 at Amalie Arena in Tampa, and will feature Tampa Bay Lightning Owner Jeff Vinik as the keynote speaker during the kickoff at 9 a.m. He will share updates since the event last year as well as future plans.

Also slated to speak are IBM Chief Innovation Officer Bernard Meyerson, Henry Ford Health System Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer Mark Coticchia, Water Street Tampa’s Innovation Hub CEO Lakshmi Shenoy, and Dr. Ajay Seth, who is famous for his bionic work advancing treatment prospects for prosthetic patients.

Multiple innovation hubs, focusing on defense technology, Internet of things, blockchain, cryptocurrency, wearables, robotics, 3D printing, renewables, energy, augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, machine learning, digital health, urban tech, and financial tech, will feature product demonstrations and speakers from companies in the region.

To buy tickets, visit the Synapse website.

Read on to learn more about what’s happening in the Tampa Bay tech scene.

Tampa Bay WaVE has launched a new TechDiversity Accelerator Program funded by a $100,000 grant from The Nielsen Foundation. The 90-day program is for early-stage technology firms with a majority ownership by a minority, woman, veteran, lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender person or combination of these.

The WaVE is currently accepting applications for the program to run this summer. The application period closes March 31.

• 1 Million Cups Tampa, a free national program to engage, educate and connect entrepreneurs, is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21, at Entrepreneur Collaborative Center, 2101 E. Palm Ave., Tampa. The event is free and registration isn’t necessary.

Homebrew Hillsborough is meeting at 8:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 23, for a visit and tour of AVI/SPL, an audio video technology company, at 6301 Benjamin Rd., Suite 101, Tampa. Homebrew is held monthly at different locations for techies and entrepreneurs to network.

Sixteen-year-old Abby Forman has developed an app for fellow Berkeley Prep students named Flower Sale – and it has been accepted into the App Store. An alumna of Tampa’s Hillel Academy, Forman created the app so students can buy flowers for one another. Funds raised are designated for the Students Helping Students Scholarship program through the school’s French Club.

• Four companies in the Tampa Bay region made G2 Crowd’s list of the top 25 companies in Florida’s business-to-business tech scene. They include Qgiv of Lakeland, ranked 7th place, followed by VIPRE Security of Clearwater, 17th; Connectwise of Tampa, 19th; and SunView Software of Tampa, 24th. The top ranking company was Goverlan of Coral Gables.

• Florida ranks third in the nation for cybercrime and losses reported to the FBI, according to a report, The State of Cybersecurity in Florida, released Feb. 8 by The Florida Center for Cybersecurity (FC2) at USF. On the plus side, the report done with Gartner Consulting says “Florida is well positioned to develop a strong workforce, with nearly 100 cybersecurity certificate and degree programs offered by institutions of higher education across the state.”

• At Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland, faculty members are working on next-generation spacesuits to make astronauts happier, more comfortable, and efficient. Because astronauts can be adversely affected by lack of exercise, excessive light and lack of sleep, professors Dr. Arman Sargolzaei and Dr. Melba Horton, together with Computer Science student James Holland, are developing Smart Sensory Skin to detect deficiencies through wireless sensors. The sensors can initiate changes in temperature, light exposure, light color, and oxygen levels.

In related news, seven of 10 science and engineering students chosen for the Hays Travel Award from the Florida Academy of Sciences Council are from Florida Polytechnic. Students will be presenting their research projects March 9 at Barry University in Miami Shores, during the FAS Annual Conference. The winners were Mechanical Engineering student Brian Gray of Tampa, Mechanical Engineering student Sean Cloud of Brandon, Mechanical Engineering student Geoffrey Doback of Brandon and Computer Science student Nathaniel Florer of Kissimmee, Mechanical Engineering student Ecieno Carmona from Summerfield, Innovation and Technology graduate student Jephté Douyon of Haiti, and Innovation and Technology graduate student Mohammad Bharmal of Pakistan.

• Digital currency: risky business or a big moneymaker? Bitcoin Pioneer Charlie Shrem can help you decide what to believe. Shrem will be speaking on “Bitcoin, Blockchain, and the Future of Finance” from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday, March 1, at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg’s College of Business. The event is open to the public. Register by Feb. 28 here.

• Students at USF St. Pete are participating in 2018 Ex Labs, a competitive Accelerator Lab involving the latest technology. Teams will be creating new products, business plans and marketing strategies March 12 through 16. One team will win a training package from Cisco valued at $2,300.

• In Manatee County, the Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Angel Colonneso has begun offer e-filing through Simplifile. The office now is able to electronically receive, stamp, record and return documents in minutes with less error and cost.

• A licensed and registered Microsoft refurbisher, Goodwill Manasota’s Tech Connection program kept more than 208,000 pounds of e-waste from the area’s landfills last year. It raised nearly $71,000 last year, plus more than $17,000 in January. The program to refurbish and resell computers and accessories, headquartered at Goodwill’s Ranch Lake store at 8750 E. State Road 70, Bradenton, installs the Microsoft Digital Literacy Program, helping to improve basic computer skills.

• The Mulberry-based ArrMaz has opened a new, state of the art Innovation Center at the company’s headquarters. Designed for its research and development team, the center features a modern work environment with cutting-edge laboratory equipment for analytical and synthetic chemistry. Its open layout facilitates collaboration, team-based research and innovation. A 50-year-old company, ArrMaz is a global producer of specialty chemicals for the mining, fertilizer, asphalt, industrial ammonium nitrate, and oil and gas industries.


Millennial Mixer: Diverse networking group hits one-year mark

He’s an internist. She’s a general dentist. Together, they run the Healthy Bodies Medical and Dental Center in Brandon. The husband-and-wife team, Martha and Watson Ducatel, got their start with help from Millennial Mixer, a regular East Tampa event that brings together millennials and those who want to connect with them.

“It’s really just to connect millennials and to connect other people with millennials,” explains Fort Myers native Ivy Box, Millennial Mixer's founder and curator. “We just want to provide a comfortable atmosphere.”

Millennial Mixer attracts a diverse crowd to its gatherings at 5508 Co-working and Collaboration Exchange, a place where small minority-owned businesses can operate affordably. While there, attendees might munch on finger foods, order drinks at the cash bar, or buy food from food trucks.

The space is donated. Sometimes wine is donated to be sold at the event. So people show up and mingle. Businesses show up and advertise for free.

“It’s a mixed crowd. A majority of businesses are minority owned,” says Box, whose parents migrated to Florida from Haiti for a safer environment and more financial opportunity. “They’re diverse in their background and they’re diverse in their professions.”

The idea developed to make more people aware of the exchange run by Tampa-Hillsborough Action Plan Inc. and Coastal Bay Properties. “It just made sense. Provide something for millennials to do. Get them over to 5508 to see what’s going on,” says Box, a millennial herself.

So Millennial Mixer began as an every other month event – and celebrated its first year in existence with a gathering Jan. 24 at 5508 N. 50th St. In the future, Box may hold the mixers on a quarterly basis and involve more people, perhaps by collaborating with other groups on themed events.

Many who come aren’t familiar with the facility made of refurbished old storage units converted into offices and businesses. Its conference center is the event space, where vendors can set up tables and people can sit at high top tables in the middle and socialize while music plays in the background.

Through word of mouth and social media promotion, the event has grown from 30 people and three vendors to more than 100 with 13 to 14 vendors. “That’s all that can fit in that room. We’ve had to run away vendors,” she says. “We’re almost at the point where we probably need to get a bigger space. For now, we’ll stay at the space that’s free.”

What sets Millennial Mixer apart is its demographic and its laid back approach. After all, there are no memberships, meeting agendas or admission fees. “Here people can ... loosen up a little bit. They can chill at the bar,” she says.

In keeping with the millennial style, the mixers last about two hours. “We like it fast and quick,” Box says.

Box, the chief executive officer of the nonprofit Voice T.H.E. Movement, has a passion for encouraging those who seek to inspire others. A portion of money generated goes toward the organization seeking to improve individuals’ quality of life through health, education, arts, entertainment, and technology.

A marketing consultant and former castmate on Black Entertainment Television‘s hit reality TV series College Hill: Interns, the event helps Box connect to marketing clients. It’s also a place where she can sell her self-help book, The 365 Go Get H.E.R.S. Guide.

Though Millennial Mixer is designed for business, personal relationships could potentially develop. “For us, it’s strictly business,” Box says. “Whatever happens, it’s on them."


Tampa Bay Startup Week: Bigger, better than ever

Tampa Bay Startup Week is growing -- and expecting to double attendance with this year’s diverse program spanning both sides of Tampa Bay. This year’s calendar, which attempts to weave diversity into the events, features a panel of female leaders who, collectively, have experience raising $500 million in capital.

“It’s going to be really cool. We’re really excited about it,” says Lead Organizer Gracie Leigh Stemmer.

“Gender dynamics in the workplace” will be discussed, she says. “Men and women both were highly recommended to come to the talk. We want it to be a conversation.”

The event is called “Fullstack Pancake Breakfast + Boost Your Business with the $500M All-Star Panel,” and it starts at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 13, with a pancake breakfast sponsored by Full Stack Talent. Stefanie Jewett, Founder and CEO of Activvely, will moderate the panel including Chitra Kanagaraj, COO of Pikmykid; Susan O'Neal, CEO and CTO of Dabbl; Joy Randels, serial entrepreneur and CEO; and Jamie SewellCMO of Washlava.

The program, which lasts until 10 a.m., is being sponsored by Startup Sisters. It will be held at CAVU, 1601 N. Franklin St, Tampa.

Startup Week 2018, scheduled from Monday, Feb. 12, through Friday, Feb. 16, is expected to draw some 3,400 attendees, double the number who participated in 2017. Early registrations were brisk, with about 1,300 registered by Friday, Jan. 26, Stemmer says.

Keynote speaker is serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, co-Founder of the full-service digital agency VaynerMedia. Most known for helping his father grow one of the first e-commerce wine sites, WineLibrary, into a multi-million dollar business, Vaynerchuk is a New York City venture capitalist and New York Times best-selling author. He is expected to talk about marketing, media and his new book, Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence - and How You Can, Too.

His 30-minute talk, followed by a question-and-answer session, is slated at 5:45 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 13, at Tampa Theatre, 711 N. Franklin St. Seating is limited and an RSVP does not guarantee a seat, so interested parties are advised to arrive early.

The free event is intended to help people with business ideas, people trying to network, people trying to raise capital, and people developing new ideas/products within larger corporations.

Organized by the nonprofit Startup Tampa Bay, the event is presented in conjunction with Tech Stars, a global network that helps entrepreneurs be successful.

The program in its fourth year features 14 tracks on a wide variety of topics including education and health technologies, cybersecurity, legal, veterans, food and beverage and fashion. Some tracks will have limited seating because of the size of the venue.

Here are some other highlights.

• Q&A with Tampa Bay’s Talent Leaders, “Learn from the Pros and hear their successes and failures!” The event is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., Monday, Feb. 12, Redeemer, 1602 N Florida Ave, Tampa.

• “How to Build a Multi-Million Dollar Business from Home,” slated from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday, Feb. 12, also at Redeemer, 1602 N Florida Ave, Tampa.

• “Pitch the Press,” with members of the local media giving their ideas about to effectively work with journalists, scheduled from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 12, at CAVU, 1601 N. Franklin St, Tampa.

• “Startup Surge,” hosted by Tampa Bay WaVE, an accelerator for Tampa Bay’s tech community, is scheduled from 9 a.m. until noon on Wednesday, Feb. 14, at CAVU, 1601 N. Franklin St, Tampa. Seating is limited at the program bringing together regional tech advisors.

• “How to fund your TB startup using Bootstrapping, Internet, Blockchain and ICO” features high-tech from artificial intelligence and Blockchain, which powers Bitcoin, to the Internet of Things, smart homes and cars. The class kicks off at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14, at 2 p.m. and lasts an hour. It’s at CAVU, 1601 N. Franklin St, Tampa.

• “How to Build an E-Commerce Empire from Scratch (using Amazon and Shopify)” is planned from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 15, at Station House - 4th Floor, 260 1st Ave. S., St. Petersburg.

• If you’re seeking the ear of startup health and technology CEOs, this is the event for you. A CEO Roundtable, with limited seating, is scheduled from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Station House - 4th Floor, 260 1st Ave. S., St. Petersburg. The CEOs will be meeting with attendees in small groups. The event is suited for investors, plus collaborative individuals in healthcare, research and the community.

Check out the full program and register here. Registration is recommended.


Job fairs recruit road crews, students, stadium and beach help

State contractors are looking for road construction crews for long-term work in the Tampa Bay Area.

“In the next 10 years, Tampa is the focus area,” says Rich Alvarez, director of workforce development for the Pinellas Ex-Offender Re-entry Coalition. “They’ll be long-term jobs.”

PERC is a partner in The Pinellas County Construction Careers Fair from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 30, at Pinellas Technical College, 901 34th St. S., St. Petersburg.

“We’re going to have clients there that are looking for jobs,” Alvarez says.

Typically the applicant pool is small for road construction jobs, which involve physical labor outdoors. “Companies are more willing to consider people they might not have considered in past,” he says.

The fair is an opportunity for jobseekers 18 and older to meet with contractors ready to hire for positions like general laborers, pipe layers, welders, carpenters, traffic flaggers, paving and concrete workers, and heavy machinery operators. Openings exist for both experienced and inexperienced candidates. The program’s goal is to boost the number of minorities, females and veterans in federal- and state-funded roadway construction jobs. 

Employees are being sought for the Gateway Expressway Project and other active road and bridge projects in the region. The Florida Department of Transportation currently has 19 ongoing road projects in Hillsborough County and another 17 in Pinellas County.  Learn more about local road projects here.

Applicants should be drug free, eligible to work in the United States, capable of lifting 50 to 90 pounds, and have transportation to work. Interested individuals are advised to bring resumes and a great attitude to the free Onboard4Jobs event. Registration is encouraged, but it isn’t necessary. Learn more at On Board 4 Jobs

Other partners in the fair include FDOT and Quest Corporation of America.

In Tampa, University of South Florida students and alumni from all campuses will be converging on the Marshall Student Center on the main campus soon for three separate job fairs.

The All Majors Fair is slated from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 31, followed by the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Fair from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 1. The Accounting and Financial Services Fair is scheduled on Friday, Feb. 2, at the same times. Learn more here.

Continue reading for information about other Tampa Bay area job fairs.

  • Looking for part-time work? Check out the Aramark Job Fair at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Wednesday, Jan. 24. The free event kicks off at 5 p.m. and lasts until 7 p.m. Attendees need to RSVP and bring a resume for these part-time seasonal, event-based jobs. Aramark is looking for bartenders, catering attendants, cleaning crew, concession stand workers, concession supervisors, cooks, retail sales associates, runners, stand leads, suite runners and a warehouse worker. Positions may involve nights, weekends and holidays. Interested parties should apply beforehand for one or two positions at most. Interviews will be inside the East Galley/Club Entrance. Candidates should enter at Gate B, with the guard shack on the left. Learn more.
  • Be prepared to meet, interview and be hired at the Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce job fair for the retail, hotel and restaurant industries Monday, Jan. 29. The Clearwater Beach Hospitality Job Fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Clearwater Beach Recreation Center, 69 Bay Esplanade, Clearwater Beach. The event is free. Register online.
  • Jobertising.com has planned its Tampa Career Fair with diversity in mind. The fair, scheduled Tuesday, Jan. 30, brings together jobseekers with diversity-minded companies. The free event is from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Doubletree by Hilton Tampa Airport – Westshore, 4500 West Cypress St., Tampa. Jobseekers should bring resumes and be prepared to interview.
  • All Support Services is holding its Tampa Job Fair and Hiring Event for healthcare workers Friday, Jan. 26. The free event will be held from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. at 5404 Hoover Blvd., Suite 11, Tampa. All Support Services is looking for full-time, part-time, and temporary employees, with openings available for caregivers, certified nurse assistants, home health aids, support living coaches, support employment coaches, and administrative support. Jobseekers must wear business professional attire or scrubs and present a resume at the entrance.
  • It’s time to mark your calendars for METRO Job Fair 2018, an annual event hosted by Metro Places, CareerSource Pasco Hernando, the Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce and Pasco-Hernando State College. The job fair will be held from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 13, at the college’s Porter Campus at Wiregrass Ranch, 2727 Mansfield Blvd., Wesley Chapel. Candidates should dress professionally, bring plenty of resumes and register in advance.
  • The Florida JobLink Career Fair for Tampa, Brandon and Lakeland area residents is slated from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 15, at Clarion Inn and Suites Conference Center, 9331 E. Adamo Dr., Tampa. Its mission is to connect the best candidates with companies seeking top talent, regardless of race, creed or other labels. A variety of jobs are being offered, including sales, management, customer service, insurance, education, government, information technology, human resources, engineering, blue collar, clerical and more. Career and resumes services are available at the free event. Learn more.
  • National Career Fairs is holding a free, live recruiting and hiring event from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 20, at Holiday Inn St. Petersburg North Clearwater, 3535 Ulmerton Rd., Clearwater. Jobseekers should register in advance, upload their resumes at NCF Jobs and wear business attire.
  • United Career Fairs is planning its Tampa Career Fair for sales, management and business jobseekers from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 19, at Doubletree by Hilton Tampa Westshore Airport, 4500 West Cypress St., Tampa. The free event caters to jobseekers of varying experience levels, providing face-to-face meetings with hiring managers. Jobseekers are advised to arrive no later than 6 p.m. to hear company presentations, bring 10 to 15 copies of their resume, look motivated, and wear professional business attire.

USF, TIE Tampa Bay enter collaboration agreement

The University of South Florida has entered into a five-year collaboration agreement with TIE Tampa Bay, the local chapter of a global nonprofit dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs, to further the development of Tampa Bay’s economic ecosystem.

“We’ve seen in the small steps we’ve made ... how much that increases the startup ecosystem,” says Valerie Landrio McDevitt, USF associate VP for technology transfer and business partnerships. “My expectation is that we're going to be able to see greater interaction.”

The collaboration began informally about a year and a half ago as an experiment.

“We tested out this relationship without any paperwork,” says TIE Tampa Bay President Ramesh Sambasivan. “We wanted to make sure that we didn’t start off with things that we will not be using.”

The USF agreement involves its Tampa Bay Technology Incubator, which helps early stage technology companies succeed and grow, the incubator’s outreach arm USF Connect, and the Student Innovation Incubator. They are located in USF Research Park, which acts as a front door to the Tampa campus on Fowler Avenue.

TIE, founded in Silicon Valley in 1992, has 13,000 members in 61 chapters across the globe. It seeks to help entrepreneurs through mentoring, networking, education, incubating and funding.

Founded in 2012, TIE Tampa Bay is run by successful entrepreneurs who volunteer their time to help other entrepreneurs. In early 2017, angel investors from TIE formed the TIE Tampa Bay Angel Fund with the goal of attracting and retaining talent in the Tampa Bay and North-Central Florida region through capital and mentorship.

Sambasivan expects to see a closer collaboration now that the agreement is formalized. “What we want to see unfold is a closer collaboration in terms of bringing potential mentors to the startup companies, founders and USF incubator space,” he says. “We want to be able to give the startup companies a pathway to capital, whether it is through TIE’s network in Tampa or through TIE globally. The pathway just doesn’t happen on its own.”

He also expects TIE members who are investors to become more active in the incubators.

McDevitt credits Sambasivan for helping to bring the collaboration into being.Ramesh is essentially one of the catalysts of it,” she says. “My group and him work very well together, that whole group.”

“The TIE group is a critical component in the ecosystem,” she explains. “The local group has tremendous talent and then they also have an international reach.”

Established in 1956, USF serves more than 49,000 students in three locations on an annual budget of $1.6 billion. In the last year, TBTI has served some 77 companies that either hired to retained 360 employees and raised more than $54 million externally.

The two groups have collaborated on six projects including the Startup Shuffle, which gave startups a chance to pitch to venture capitalists, among them Dr. Kanwal Rekhi of Silicon Valley.


Florida trade mission to Israel solidifies local economic development efforts

Dr. Vicki Rabenou was an OB-GYN juggling motherhood in the 1990s and her very demanding profession. One day she got a life-changing wakeup call: Her two young children were talking to her in the native language of their nanny, a Filipino.

“I felt so guilty,” she recalls. “I took one year leave of absence.”

That was the end of her career as a physician. Instead the Jerusalem native discovered her love of helping entrepreneurs. She migrated from Israel to the United States, and eventually landed in Tampa.

I really fell in love with Tampa. This is a great place,” she says. “Everybody is so welcoming and happy to work with you.”

Today Rabenou is co-Founder, President and CEO of StartUp Nation Ventures, an Orlando-based company with offices in Tampa and Tel Aviv. She is positioned to change attitudes when Israeli companies view Florida as a place for tourism and agriculture, not tech.

“I believe that our solution is a complete solution that really takes care of 360 degrees of the needs of companies that are looking to reach out to the U.S. market,” she says. “It’s for the long run.”

SUNV is partnering with the Israel Innovation Authority to spur the growth of Israeli companies that want to locate their U.S. headquarters in Florida. It will be investing up to $500,000 in select, innovative Israeli companies -- who are eligible for a 50 percent match from the Israeli government -- through the Israel-Florida Innovation Alliance, a cooperative initiative, says SUNV co-Founder A.J. Ripin.

The government money is a loan to be repaid when a company has sales.

“Startup nation is a nickname that Israel has been called in the business marketplace, because of the success that Israeli companies have had,” he explains.

“Memorializing” the SUNV agreement was part of a Florida trade mission to Israel earlier this month that included Florida Gov. Rick Scott and an entourage of nearly 70, he says.

This collaboration that I’ve signed with the Israeli Innovation Authority is all about going to market,” Rabenou explains. “Most times Israeli Innovation will only finance research and development that is done, and stays in, Israel.”

“The idea is that we will do it by [industrial] cluster. We will choose clusters that we have strength with here in Florida,” she adds.

Israeli companies are interested in economic opportunities abroad because of limited opportunities at home in the state about the size of New Jersey, Ripin points out.

“The Israeli companies are really advanced. They just don’t have the opportunities because of the small size of the state,” he explains. “Their natural place for that is the U.S. ... Once their product and solution work in the U.S. market, then they’re able to compete in the global market.”

The initiative gives Florida access to a pipeline of innovation for industry clusters throughout the state. It will focus on two to four areas in 2018; possible areas include cybersecurity, hotel technology, agriculture technology, automated vehicles, smart city, smart city innovation, and medical technology.

SUNV leaders point out Israeli innovation already is having a positive impact in the United States. A 2016 economic impact study shows Israeli innovation is a major driver of the Massachusetts economy. It indicates more 200 Israeli businesses made the greater Boston area home in 2015, bringing in more than $9 billion that year.

“This is the right time to reach out to these Israeli startups,” Rabenou asserts. “I believe we can duplicate what they have in Massachusetts. This is the first step.”

During the trade mission to strengthen its economic development/trading partnership with Israel, Gov. Scott also recognized the first class of graduates from the Tampa-based Florida-Israel Business Accelerator. In addition, FIBA attracted the attention of the Israeli media.

Rachel Marks Feinman, FIBA’s executive director, who made the trip, says the mission gave FIBA an opportunity to cultivate both relationships with Florida leaders as well as people in the Israeli startup community. “If we can have a critical mass of Israeli companies that call Florida their U.S. home, or even their international headquarters, that can really set Florida apart,” she says.

“I’m pleased that there is this effort to support Israeli companies,” she says of SUNV. “I think the FIBA program has its own way of achieving its goals.”

FIBA, a technology accelerator launched in 2016 by the Tampa Jewish Community Centers and Federation, is preparing for another cohort of eight companies to begin arriving by mid-February. It will be choosing from a pool of at least 40 applicants.

“There’s a lot of work to do in a short period of time,” she says.


Exclusive dating app launches in Tampa, Orlando

An exclusive group of 507 in the Tampa Bay Area will gain access to an invitation-only dating app called The League today, Tuesday, Dec. 12. The app’s goal is to connect ambitious high achievers who are career focused -- and want partners to balance them.

“We weren’t planning to do this until spring 2018,” says Meredith Davis, head of Communications for the San Francisco-based company. “Once we launched Miami, we saw numbers in Tampa and Orlando skyrocket.”

The League had 2,524 in Tampa sign up, but pared that down for the initial class. Five percent are teachers, 3 percent are lawyers and 3 percent are founders. They live primarily in South Tampa, downtown Tampa, and northwest Tampa, representing 7, 5 and 3 percent of the class, respectively.

The League’s goal is to curate its membership much like universities do its students, using data from applicants’ Facebook and Linkedin accounts. It blocks colleagues and first-degree connections so users can keep their dating profiles and professional lives separate.

Users need clear photos, including face and full-body shots, of themselves alone rather than in groups.

Each week, a team at The League will sort through the wait list and invite more members, with the goal of having a diverse group in terms of race, ethnicity, religion, education, profession, and more.

The wait is intended to vet members and make sure they are interested in regular rather than casual dating.

The League profiles become live at noon. At 5 p.m. every day, dubbed Happy Hour, members will receive three potential matches. There also are groups similar to those on social media sites; groups might be for dog owners, or hikers, or people who like to eat brunch.  Members also can meet at special events, either The League events (such as a launch bash for Valentine’s Day) or community events like a parade.

“We’re really building a community,” Davis says. “It’s not just about dating. It’s about meeting other singles in your area.”

The app, which is free to download, can be used on iphones, Androids and tablets, but users pay for upgrades like additional matches or expedited review. It is different from apps like Tinder or Bumble because it is invitation only, she says.

“Not everyone gets in and the reason for that is this is a curated community,” Davis explains. “There are dating apps for everyone. Those are a great platform when you are looking for that.”

Members for the Tampa dating community will come from a 100-mile radius of the city. So far, the group includes women 22-32 and men 23-33, but later on The League will broaden the pool to include older adults. Their core demographic is for 28 to 35 year olds, she says.

Founded by its CEO Amanda Bradford, The League launches in Orlando Dec. 12 as well. Other cities may go live when they reach 2,500 applicants. “We wouldn’t open a city until we hit that number,” she says.

Davis is a success story for the app operating in New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, Washington D.C., Chicago, San Francisco and other areas across the United States; she currently is dating someone she met in The League. “We’ve seen tons of success stories form it,” she says. “We even have a few league babies right now.”


Job fairs help relocating Puerto Ricans, sales professionals and others

Puerto Ricans are relocating to Florida in the wake of hurricane Maria – and they’re going to need jobs. That’s the idea behind the Job Fair for Relocating Puerto Ricans by the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Polk County.

“Their number one concern is get the kids in school and get myself a job,” says Ana Rivera, who organized the fair at Southern Technical College’s Auburndale campus.

Housing is often provided by family or through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, she says.

The 10-year-old chamber founded by Rivera has scheduled the free job fair from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16, at 298 Havendale Blvd., Auburndale.

In addition to helping relocating Puerto Ricans, the fair will be assisting the college’s graduates looking for work. “You’ll be seeing a potpourri of people here,” says Rivera, the chamber president.


Jobseekers are encouraged to bring an updated resume and whatever identification they have.

Online registration is available. “Everyone has been registering in advance,” she says. “The employers will have access to their emails.”

So far about 12 employers have signed up to participate in the event, some of them seeking bilingual employees for a call center or the local 911. “Even the Supervisor of Elections is looking to hire people to work at the polls,” she adds.

Three temporary agencies are looking for people for a variety of jobs, including teaching assistance.

The need for job help was highlighted by a Nov. 13 forum at Southeastern University, Rivera says, when Puerto Ricans expressed a need for a more “intimate forum” where they could ask questions.

 

After hurricane Maria wreaked havoc in their homeland, Puerto Ricans have been streaming into Florida for a better life. Gov. Rick Scott set out the proverbial welcome mat, opening Disaster Relief Centers for families and suspending state occupational license fees to ease the transition.

The Interstate 4 corridor has been an attractive place to relocate. “They’re finding Polk County has things to offer them,” she says. “It’s better for their buck.”

Here are some other job fairs scheduled in the Tampa Bay region.

  • The Aramark Job Fair is planned from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 6, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Jobseekers need to RSVP, bring a copy of their resume, and enter through Gate B within the East Galley/Club Entrance. Openings are available for a wide variety of positions including bartenders, cooks, runners, stand leads, and warehouse workers, will be conducted. Jobseekers are advised to apply to no more than one or two positions in advance.
  • Nations Joblink is having its Florida Joblink 2017 Career Fair from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7, at Holiday Inn Conference Center, 700 N. Westshore Blvd., Tampa. The free event serves people in Pinellas, Pasco, and Hillsborough counties as well as others in the surrounding areas. Multiple career fields will be represented, including sales, management, customer service, insurance, government, education, and human resources. Register online here.
  • A job fair is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7, at Stone Ledge Manor, a Thonotosassa assisting living and memory/respite care center located at 12006 McIntosh Rd. The center is seeking to fill positions in nursing, maintenance, activities and more. Register for the free event.
  • Tampa Job Fair, a Coast-to-Coast Career Fairs event featuring multiple employers, is slated from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Dec. 11, at Holiday Inn Tampa Westshore – Airport Area, 700 N. Westshore Blvd.,Tampa. This is an opportunity to meet – and interview with – hiring managers from both small and large organizations. A wide range of industries will be represented, including accounting, advertising, biotechnology, construction, health, information technology, journalism, music, tourism and telecommunications. The event is free. Register online.
  • Career Showcase is holding its Tampa Job Fair from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 11, at Tampa Marriott Westshore, 1001 N. Westshore Blvd., Tampa. The fair focuses on sales positions, offering job candidates an opportunity to connect with Fortune 500 companies. Show up promptly at 5 p.m. to hear the company presentations. Register here.
  • United Job Fairs is having its Tampa Career Fair from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 12, at Doubletree by Hilton, Tampa Westshore Airport, 4500 W. Cypress St., Tampa. The fair specializes in sales, business development, marketing, customer service, and retail and sales management jobs. Reserve a place.

Tech Bytes: Tech awards, new funding for tech programs highlight tech scene

Ray Carr, chief technology officer of Tampa’s Occam Technology Group, was named Technology Executive of the Year at an energy-charged tech gathering Friday, Nov. 10. At the gathering the organizer, Tampa Bay Technology Forum, officially announced its new name, Tampa Bay Tech.

Usually a traditional black-tie affair, the 14th Annual Tampa Bay Tech Award show reflected the growth and excitement of the developing Tampa Bay tech community. “The energy was quite palpable,” says Jill St. Thomas, the organization’s director of Partnerships and Engagement.

The group also exhibited a team spirit, reflective of the collaboration in Tampa Bay. “Working together gets us a lot further than standing in our own spots, our own lanes,” St. Thomas explains. “We wanted our organization to really be at the front of that.”

Nextech, a healthcare technology company in Tampa, was named Technology Company of the Year. Other winners were Michelle Curtis, senior manager of IoT Solutions Group, Americas, at Tech Data Corp. in Clearwater; Emerging Technology Leader of Year; Harness of Tampa, Emerging Technology Company of the Year; Jeremy Rasmussen, chief technology officer of Tampa’s Abacode, Technology Leader of the Year; Valpak in St. Petersburg, Technology Project of the Year; Vology of Largo, Excellence in Service; and Fintech of Tampa, Workplace Culture Program of the Year.

Tampa Bay Tech members represent more than 2 million employees, $300+ million in venture capital, and $500+ billion in annual revenue.

“We really are significant nationally and, for those of us that have been in the Tampa Bay market for along time, this is where we want to be,” St. Thomas says.

The organization’s new name was an attempt to rebrand and update. “We wanted our brand to feel a bit more reflective of the strength that we’re seeing in this market,” she adds.

At the event, Tampa Bay Tech also announced it would be holding its poweredUP Technology Festival May 8 at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg.

Here’s more techology news.

  • St. Petersburg College has landed a $250,000 grant to help build the Tampa Bay tech talent pipeline. JPMorgan Chase awarded the grant to fund a new program to help residents be hired by employers needing skilled tech workers. Working with TBT, the college will provide classroom and online training, plus provide a website where employers can connect with students and faculty. Funds also are expected to support the expansion of a boot camp developed by companies to give students real-world experience.
  • Tampa Bay WaVE , a tech industry accelerator in downtown Tampa , has snagged a $50,000 prize from the U.S. Small Business Administration. A three-time winner, it was one of 20 in SBA’s fourth Growth Accelerator Fund competition. The WaVE is looking to beef up services to women entrepreneurs in the tech sector; it offers open and free co-working for women tech entrepreneurs on the second Wednesday of every month. The intent of the SBA contest is meet needs for attention and funding in parts of the country where gaps exist in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. The WaVE also is holding its Pitch Night at the Attic at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 30. It is accepting applications its accelerator program through March 9, 2018.
  • Interested in personal watercraft? SOFWERX is having a collaborative event with a Nov. 17 RSVP deadline. It’s looking for partners to develop a functional prototype to assist warfighters. The event is planned Wednesday, Nov. 29. To RSVP or get more information, visit the SOFWERX’s Event Calendar.
  • Code for Tampa Bay is having an Open Hack at 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18, at Tampa Bay WaVE, 500 E Kennedy Blvd #300, Tampa. The group is trying to use technology to make government information and services easier to use. The meeting is open to anyone interested. A Code for America Brigade, Code for Tampa Bay typically meets at 6:30 p.m. on the first Monday of the month, but is beginning to meet on a Saturday to involve those unable to attend during the week.
  • Building Cities of the Future, a Commercial Real Estate and UrbanTech Summit, is being held Tuesday, Dec. 5, at  Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel and Marina. The event, by Bisnow and Dreamit, features Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik as an opening keynote speaker. The first-ever event, slated from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., is intended to drive commercial real estate through innovation. Bisnow is a commercial real estate news and events platform. Dreamit Ventures is a New York City-based global accelerator holding its first UrbanTech accelerator in Tampa. For more information or to register, visit Bisnow, click on Events and choose Tampa.
  •  Celebrate the holidays in Ybor with Tampa Bay Agile, Tampa Java User Group, Tampa Bay UX, and Front End Design communities. A celebration is planned from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7, at Tampa Bay Brewing Company, 1600 E. 9th Ave., Tampa. To RSVP, go here.
  • Steve Parker, an entrepreneur, executive and mentor, has been chosen as Director of TEC Garage, an incubator and co-working space run by the Tampa Bay Innovation Center. TEC Garage fosters the creation of high-tech jobs by nurturing early-stage ventures.

WURK: Community radio for East and West Tampa

When Dee Jackson was growing up in the 1970s and '80s in West Tampa, his neighbors helped keep him in line when he became too curious. They were quick to reprimand him -- all over the neighborhood -- before he even got home.

But many people are reluctant to discipline another’s child these days, which empowers them to do wrong things, he says.

“That village concept, we have to get that back,” Jackson asserts.

That’s the idea behind 96.3 low-power FM station WURK, a community radio station serving East and West Tampa and a diverse audience of 460,000 potential listeners 24 hours a day in Hillsborough County. Its broadcast area extends from Mango on the east to the Howard Frankland Bridge on the west, Lutz on the north and MacDill Air Force Base on the south.

Other platforms, such as the Internet, expand the 100-watt station’s listening area to the entire globe.

WURK is intended to be a positive voice in the East and West Tampa neighborhoods, reporting the good news instead of the bad. It will be working to boost literacy and reduce high school dropout rates through job training.

“I know we will utilize radio as a tool to get the village back in shape,” says Jackson, who co-founded WURK with Horace Bailey.

The nonprofit, locally programmed station was made possible by the Local Community Radio Act, signed into law by former President Barack Obama. It was about five years in the making.

As a music producer, recording engineer and graphic designer, Jackson had been interested in doing radio programming as an outlet for musicians for a long time. He was inspired to actually start one while volunteering as an after-school youth arts coordinator in Brooksville.

WURK, owned and run by Rainbow Heights Neighborhood Association and Crime Watch Inc., offers music in a wide range of styles including Hip Hop, Folk, Latino, Jazz, Blues, Rhythm and Blues, Classical and Reggae. It is intended to appeal to African American, Carribean, Irish, Scottish, Italian, Latino, Indian, Jewish, Chinese, and other local groups.

“Our goal is to eliminate the division and create unity,” Jackson says.

Jackson, WURK’s General Manager, wants the station to serve as an outlet for musicians, but it also is intended to be a training ground for journalists, producers and graphic artists. The process has begun with two youths reading public service announcements. Later on trainees could cover high school football games.

In the future, he would like to partner with other media, training broadcast trainees by having them read on the air news stories written by the partners. Attributing the stories to the original news outlets would help them gain potential new readers.

Those who are trained may find jobs at the station as it grows. Job and business opportunity announcements by the station are intended to help others find success.

WURK also intends to help bridge a generation gap by reaching out to seniors and young people. “There was a communication breakdown,” he explains.

Now the radio station is focusing its attention on recruiting advisory board members; it currently has five including Dr. Carolyn Collins, former NAACP Tampa Chapter President; businessman Willie Anderson; James Green, who retired from United Parcel Services; Ralph Smith of Computer Mentors of Tampa; and Benjamin Baisden of West Tampa Alliance.

It's also soliciting funds to better help what he calls the “underserved,” in Tampa. “Funding is the key to be able to initiate those programs,” he says.

WURK, which has been on the air since April 2, already has raised some $25,000 for the endeavor. “I think the market is watching,” he says. “Participation is coming, and we’re growing with the help of a lot of our volunteers ... sharing our info on social media.”

While the station’s name is in line with its mission to train youths for jobs, it was actually inspired by all the work required into getting its call letters approved, Jackson says.

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