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USF conference to bring sport, entertainment leaders to Tampa

The University of South Florida will welcome key decision makers and business leaders in the sports and entertainment industries to Tampa on February 18-19.

The conference is expected to bring industry professionals, students and university faculty together to network and learn about the latest innovations in analytics from experienced speakers and leaders in the sport and entertainment industry.

Speakers at USF’s Sport & Entertainment Analytics Conference will offer insights on an array of topics from the latest trends to data-driven business decisions and the growing importance of analytics in the sport and entertainment industries.

“The conference is an unbelievable value in terms of cost and opportunity to network,” says Professor and Associate Program Director Mike Mondello, who teaches Sport Business Analytics and Sport & Entertainment Finance at USF.

USF’s Sport & Entertainment Analytics Conference will bring a number of established industry professionals to Tampa, including:
  • Kevin Kelley, head coach of the Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, Ark.
  • Anthony Perez, VP of business strategy for the Orlando Magic
  • Jay Riola, assistant director of business intelligence & CRM for the Orlando Magic
  • David DeMontmollin, VP of marketing for the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa
  • Rick Johnson, senior director of Pricemaster product & strategy at Ticketmaster and Live Nation
  • David Smrek, VP of Live Analytics, a Ticketmaster company
  • Rich Luker, a social psychologist who created the ESPN Sports Poll
  • Chris Watson, senior director of relationship marketing and analytics for Feld Entertainment
  • Michael Farris, director of strategic consulting & research at the Aspire Group, a global sport and entertainment marketing firm
  • Bill Bailey, VP of SSB Consulting Group, a business intelligence and accounting firm
While the primary goal of the conference is to “allow industry practitioners to share their best practices and current trends of analytics in the sport entertainment industry,” Mondello says, “A secondary goal is to allow students the opportunity to network with other industry professionals to gain additional insight into further career options.” 

The two-day Sport & Entertainment Analytics Conference, hosted at the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel, 700 South Florida Avenue, will take place from noon- 6 p.m. on Feb 18 and 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Feb. 19

“Anyone interested in a potential or existing career in analytics” should consider attending the conference, says Mondello, who earned a PhD and master's degrees from the University of Florida and a BS from USF.

The cost to attend the conference is $99 for the general public, with a discounted rate of $50 available to USF students and faculty and a discounted rate of $75 for students enrolled at other universities. Purchase tickets in advance at EventBrite. For a detailed conference schedule, click here.

USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference.

Free Community Pass offers Tampa Bay residents museum, music fest discounts

The Community Foundation of Tampa Bay (CFTB) has found a creative way to celebrate its 25th anniversary. Beginning in February 2016, residents who sign up for the group's free 'Community Pass' will receive unique discounts to distinguished local arts and cultural-focused programs and institutions such as the Tampa Museum of Art and St. Petersburg Museum of History.

Perks for Tampa Bay area residents include buy one, get one free admission offers to select events or venues, and discounts to museums including the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, the Florida Holocaust Museum, the Tampa Bay History Center, and other centers of arts and learning. 

CFTB launched the Community Pass to help local residents discover and enjoy the local arts and culture organizations that CFTB donors support through discounts and other special offers.

Community Pass discounts include BOGO free admission to Great Explorations Children's Museum; "Palladium Presents" shows at The PalladiumSt. Petersburg Museum of HistoryTampa Museum of Art; and the University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum. Other discounts include 25 percent off admission to the Florida Holocaust Museum; $5 off admission to the Gasparilla Music Festival on Sunday, March 13; and $10 off admission to the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg.

“The Community Pass will give back to the residents of our tri-county area, and encourage them to enjoy the wonderful cultural institutions we have here in our very own backyard," Wilma Norton, VP of Marketing and Communications for CFTB, writes in a news release. “We are very excited to celebrate our 25th year serving the community of Tampa Bay by providing a gift to everyone who lives here."

The Community Foundation was founded in 1990 to serve as a connector between local donors, nonprofit organizations, community members, business leaders, and volunteers in Hillsborough, Hernando, Pasco and Pinellas counties. In those 25 years, the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay has awarded more than $175 million in donor funds as grants to nonprofit organizations across the country. 

To sign up for a free Community Pass, click here.

June coding weekend will aim to help Tampa homeless through technology

A June event will aim to benefit Tampa’s homeless population through computer coding.

The hack-a-thon, hosted by Hillsborough County annually in conjunction with the National Day of Civic Hacking, has been rebranded as a ‘code-a-palooza’ for 2016.

The weekend-long event will take place at Peak 10, an IT and cloud storage services company that is the premiere sponsor of the weekend-long code fest. Peak 10 is an anchor member of the Tampa Innovation Alliance, a group working to redefine the area surrounding the University of South Florida in northeast Hillsborough County.

Tampa Innovation Alliance board members set out to put on a traditional weekend hack-a-thon event, but with the goal of creating “an element that will stretch out longer than just the weekend, and actually solve a real-world problem,” explains Alliance executive director Mark Sharpe.

A request by the Alliance to Hillsborough County for data led to a counter-request: solve a problem for us. County or government-sponsored hack-a-thons often have a civil services component, and for the June ‘code-a-palooza,’ the focus is on the homeless population in the Tampa Bay region.

“They’ve got social service organizations helping them to manage this homeless problem, which the county is responsible for, but they don’t have tracking devices or an application which can effectively connect the homeless person -- many of whom do have smartphones -- with the services,” Sharpe explains.

Using county-provided data, coders and creative thinkers will work together to bridge the gap between members of the homeless population and the service organizations that aim to connect with them.

By creating an application that enhances on or is compatible with the county’s existing software, Sharpe hopes to see coding teams develop something that can "maybe even have a market application.”

“There are severe homeless problems in other cities,” Sharpe says, “like Denver, Colorado,” with whom the Alliance has partnered for the 10-10-10 conference.

“We’re still kind of exploring -- we don’t have it all figured out -- but we’re going to be encouraging people who have coding skills, or who can solve problems, to join in at ‘code-a-palooza’ in June,” Sharpe says.

Coding skills are not required to participate.

A winner of the weekend event will be announced on the final day of the hack-a-thon, but the Alliance hopes to see concepts worked on by the teams continue to grow, Sharpe says. Peak 10 will allow interested coders to use the company’s cloud data system for work throughout the summer and fall, and Alliance partners such as University Mall may facilitate projects by providing meeting space.

“We hope the winner might have the opportunity to sell their application, or have it used by the county,” Sharpe says.

To learn more about the June ‘code-a-palooza’ event, visit the Tampa Innovation Alliance website.

Tampa Bay tennis pro serves up love for the sport with innovative game

Tampa Bay area tennis professional David Archer is rallying for support behind a new game his dad invented to teach children how scoring occurs. Tennis, The Game was invented by Richard Neil Archer in 1997 to help the younger Archer’s four-year-old son, Justin, learn the rules of the game. 

“My dad used a cardboard carrying tray from a 24-pack of Pepsi and a string tied across the top of that to create a net,” explains Archer, who is now 55 years old. In 2000, the Archers made 2,000 copies of the game and sold it to parents, schools,and organizations throughout the United States and in other nations, including England, Mexico, Serbia and Spain. 

“Tennis scoring is easy once you get it,” Archer remarks, “but getting to understand it can take time.” A rather unusual 15-30-40 scoring sequence and unique gameplay terms, such as “love” for a score of zero points and “deuce” to describe a tie at 40 points, make learning the game challenging for many, both young and old, who are unfamiliar with tennis. 

More than 2,000 copies of Tennis, The Game have been sold over the years, but now the Archers are hoping a Kickstarter campaign will serve up enough funds to produce more copies of the game to educate more children in classrooms across the country. 

“Tennis, The Game allows 30 children to learn the scoring and basic rules of the sport in 45 minutes,” Archer says. “The game is retro -- you have to interface with someone to play the game, handle scoring, call the right lines. It’s not a roll-the-dice, move-the-piece kind of game -- you’re really playing tennis.” The Archers, who sell the game for $30 each through their Kickstarter site, are hoping to raise $15,000 to launch the next edition and fund a series of YouTube videos that will teach tennis fundamentals to a much wider audience. 

What’s the inspiration behind all of this? Spreading the love of tennis to the next generation, especially at-risk and economically disadvantaged youth who may not otherwise have opportunities to learn the sport. 

“I realized that many kids wake up every day and have no hope. I want to give these kids a hope and a future.” Tennis, The Game can be played indoors, taught in after-school groups and in other settings where children can be taught tennis without use of a court. 

Archer also parlays his love for the game by teaching children the basics as a coach with Global Community Tennis of Pinellas, a nonprofit organization that teaches at-risk boys and girls throughout the community beginner-level skills for free with the aim of preparing them for more competitive play at the high school level and beyond. 

The kids play on tennis courts at the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Police Athletic League, High Point Neighborhood Family Center in Clearwater, and Citizen’s Alliance for Progress, Inc. Union Academy Family Center in Tarpon Springs. 

“We’ll learn how successful this can be when one of these kids becomes ranked in the United States Tennis Association of Florida.” 

Archer, who is authoring '8 Weeks to Tournament Tennis,' an instructional book aimed to prime children ages 5-8 in the fundamentals of the sport, says Tennis, The Game is something that children “absolutely love.” But the board game will need investors to expand the product into a larger market and subsequently help more young children learn about the sport. “Our mission is to instill a love for the game. Love is not something you manufacture -- it is given to you and then given to others.” 

Startups compete for top spot in Bright House pitch competition

Five startup companies formed in the Tampa Bay area have been selected from a pool of more than 30 small businesses to compete as finalists in the Bright House Networks Pitch 6 competition.

Finalists include:

Motorworks Brewing
Residential Acoustics, LLC (learn more about the company in this 83 Degrees profile)
Safer Home Services
Urban E. Recycling 
VetCor, LLC

The annual Bright House Networks Regional Business Awards recognize a number of regional companies in categories for startups, mid-size, small and large businesses. The Pitch 6 competition serves as the final phase in selecting a winner for the Start-up Category of the awards.

"The Tampa Bay region’s best start-ups will pitch their company to our panel of judges," says Joe Durkin, Sr. Director of Corporate Communications at Bright House Networks.

Bright House Networks partners with local and regional Chambers of Commerce, including those in Hillsborough, Hernando, Pasco, Pinellas and surrounding counties, to select local businesses and startups for recognition in the awards program each year.

For a complete list of the finalists in every category, click here

The Tampa Pitch 6 startup competition will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, January 26, at the Straz Center's Jaeb Theater in downtown Tampa. A post-show reception will immediately follow.

Winners of the "shark tank style" event will be announced on February 11th at the communication company's Regional Business Awards Gala, where up to $1 million in prizes and services will be awarded to winners across the four categories.

To learn more about Pitch 6 or purchase tickets, click here. Find tickets and information about the Bright House Networks Regional Business Awards Gala, Feb 11 at the Tampa Convention Center, here.

UF researchers cultivate hybrid poinsettias that thrive year-round in Florida

Hybrid poinsettias decked the halls of the Hernando County Government Center during the Christmas season of 2015, and researchers at the University of Florida say they could soon be popping up in landscapes throughout Florida.

While poinsettias, also called “Christmas flowers,” were first brought to the United States from southern Mexico by Joel Roberts Poinsett in the 1820s, they don’t necessarily grow well in North America because they aren’t cold tolerant and are susceptible to problems such as root-borne diseases. Still, there has been increasing demand for poinsettias to be included in landscaping as a year-round plant.

Researchers at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) have spent 20 years studying various poinsettia cultivars. 

“The interest in utilizing poinsettias for southeastern landscapes as shrubs, trees, and combination bedding plants has been voiced as the variety of poinsettia possibilities is expanding beyond its designated holiday,” remarks George Grant, a researcher with the National Poinsettia Trials at UF. “For the poinsettia market to thrive in an environment outside of the greenhouse or home, it will require newer, redefined cultivars and education to the consumers on how to grow them effectively.” 

What are the objectives that poinsettia breeders and researchers such as Grant must confront? “To the consumer, color is what sells. However, growers want cultivars that will sell, but also are easy to grow, produce a quality plant without a lot of chemicals and will transport well.” He adds, “it is a challenge for breeders to come up with new cultivars that satisfy all of these requirements.” 

Some of these challenges were beautifully met with the hybrid poinsettias that Hernando County showed off in its 2015 holiday display. Some of the new poinsettia cultivars on stage at the busy county government center included “Autumn Leaves 2016,” “Luv U Pink,” “Red Glitter” and “Winter Rose Early.” Grant says these cultivars, produced by poinsettia breeder Dümmen Orange [http://dummenorange.com/], are novelty poinsettias that vary in bract (flower) color and growth habit. “They do all share one characteristic,” observes Grant. “Uniqueness.” 

The plants were brought to Hernando County by master gardeners Wynn Miller and Conny Cunningham, who traveled to UF to select the innovative hybrid poinsettias and install them in the government center.

“I’m very proud of how our master gardeners have transformed the atrium at the County Government Center from a neglected space to more of a ‘theme park’ type of display, complete with seasonal color and flowers,” says Dr. William Lester, an urban & commercial horticultural agent with the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension in Hernando County. Lester and his colleagues with the Master Gardener program are working toward training volunteer gardeners on a wide array of gardening disciplines.  

According to Grant, the hybrid poinsettias don’t usually turn up in places such as the local grocer or big box stores. “Finding these types of poinsettias will require a little searching [at] local nurseries, ornamental gardens stores, or the University of Florida’s Annual Poinsettia Show [every] December, where over 150 cultivars of poinsettias are sold to support the Environmental Horticulture Club.” 

Grant adds a few tips to those who are looking to include poinsettias (hybrid or otherwise) in their landscape. “Choosing a planting location away from street lights or external light sources that come on at night is essential. This incidental light can actually delay or restrict your poinsettia from ever producing flowers.” 

He says poinsettias need full morning sun and shade during the afternoon, and they also require a planting area with good drainage. Grant tells gardeners that poinsettias don’t establish well outdoors when temperatures are less than 50 degrees. Therefore, new poinsettias are best kept indoors during the winter; they should be situated near a window that lets in full sun. “Once your poinsettia is planted, or when the spring time comes, you will notice how quickly it grows into a tree-like shrub. It is completely up to the property owner as to how tall or wide their plant will get as it is mainly controlled by pruning.”

West Pasco Business Challenge includes $1K cash prize

Local Tampa Bay area businesses will have the chance to pitch their ideas and compete for cash prizes and services in the West Pasco Chamber "Business Challenge" on January 28.

“The goal of the Business Challenge is to say ‘New Port Richey is open for business,’ explains City of New Port Richey Economic Development Director Mario Iezzoni.

The Chamber of Commerce advanced the idea of a local business challenge “because West Pasco County consists of many family-run businesses,” Iezzoni says.“The Business Challenges is one of several conduits New Port Richey is implementing to provide as a resource for further business development.”

A long-time professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of South Florida and a CPA, Iezzoni says the city hopes to convey a message of community growth through locally owned businesses.

“I’ve come to realize that children raised in a family-run business environment, witnessing the challenges their parents experience in the daily grind of operating a business, do exceptionally well in their own enterprises,” Iezzoni says. “The business challenge is one small step in a chain of events that must occur to achieve this lofty goal.”

Business Challenge finalists will present to a panel of judges, which includes: 
  • John Gaston, of Tampa Bay MultiMedia
  • Steve Farrell, of Team Farrell
  • Minh Mai, of Venom
  • Irene Hurst, Director of the USF MBA Program
  • Bob Carroll, of Bob Carroll Building Contractor, Inc.
Event prizes include a cash prize of $1,000 from an anonymous donor and a variety of cash and service donations from local businesses, including Waverly Media, HITS 106, Wiseman Accounting and Bookkeeping, Minuteman Press, The Tampa Bay Times, 72HRPrint.com, WPCC, and ABCO Graphics and Printing.

The presentations, which are open to the public, will start at 3 p.m. on January 28 at the Richey Suncoast Theatre. An awards program will be held at 5 pm at Dulcet Restaurant & Lounge.  

“The goal is to activate what I believe is a rather large talent pool of potential entrepreneurs,” Iezzoni says. “The goal is to leverage generational talent as an economic development strategy to address many of the economic challenges that exist along the Highway-19 corridor.”

Along with an emphasis on entrepreneurial talent among local business owners, the city is taking strides toward a goal of defining itself “as the next New Urbanism City,” Iezzoni says.

Efforts include an emphasis on walking, biking and upgrading IT infrastructure, as well as the development of two residential complexes that Iezzoni says are being designed as “new urbanism concepts” geared toward millennials.

“Millennials don’t want to waste time traveling, they want resources - such as the business incubator we’ve developed in town that is a crossroads and gathering place,” Iezzoni says. “They want recreation, nice parks, affordable neighborhoods, and unique natural resources such as the Grey Preserve to be close by, all within 5 minutes. Our city offers that.”

Cigar City Brewing founder among speakers at upcoming 'business failures' meetup

Inspirational quotes that highlight growth out of failure and the ability to overcome setbacks on the path to success abound, especially online. Rather than read about successes and failures, however, members of the local startup community can mingle with area entrepreneurs during the second edition of F*** Up Nights Tampa Bay on Thursday, January 14. 

That's when Tampa Bay's high-profile meetup - with the not-so-family-friendly name - is back, for the group's first gathering in 2016. Many an f-bomb will be dropped, if the inaugural event is any indication.

Cigar City Brewing founder Joey Redner is among the speakers at FUNTampaBay's upcoming get-together, where business owners will share failure stories with Tampa Bay area startup founders in an informal way over beer, wine, and light snacks.

Along with Redner, speakers at FUNTampaBay on January 14 include the former NFL guard Ian Beckles, who is also the longtime co-host of The Ron & Ian Show on iHeartMedia, and successful serial entrepreneur Joy Randels, who has launched more than a dozen technology companies around the country.

Randels is herself the organizer for the Tampa Bay chapter of Startup Grind, which invites successful - and sometimes not-so-successful - founders to join Randels in a fireside chat and Q&A before a live audience.

Since the launch of FUNTampaBay in October 2015, event organizer and University of South Florida alumni Maria Alithinos says the group has been getting "more and more interest from the Tampa Bay community.

"To make the next event a bit more engaging, we're adding an 'Open Mic F*ckUp,'" Alithinos explains. After speakers finish their presentations, audience members can take the stage for five minute mini-sessions.

The open mic element is unique to Tampa Bay, and while Alithinos says she doesn't know how it will play out, "It could be cathartic" for attendees who open up about past mistakes to the crowd.

FUNTampaBay: Vol II will be held at Redner's Cigar City Cider & Mead1812 North 15th Street in Ybor City. The meetup will take place from 6:00- 9:00 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. Alithinos expects the event to hit the venue's 75-person capacity. To register for tickets or learn more about the event, click here

The inaugural FUNTampaBay event unfolded in CoWork Ybor and The Blind Tiger Café. Local business owners and serial entrepreneurs Brent C.J. Britton, Chuck Papageorgiou, and Scott Moore spoke at the meeting, which drew around 50 guests on a weeknight in early October 2015. Speakers shared anecdotes about losing millions on bad deals, crippling whole companies, and how to make the perfect mistake in business.

"I really hope FUN becomes part of the Tampa Bay startup and entrepreneurial ecosystem," Alithinos says. "I think it's valuable. It would be awesome for the movers and shakers in the area to share their professional bad luck stories...because we all have one." 

Mingle with local tech crowd at upcoming Tampa Bay area meetups

Meet like-minded friends and potential business partners at the upcoming Collaborative Technologies of Tampa Bay, Tampa Bay Startup Week, and other technology events put on by and for tech enthusiasts and members of the Tampa Bay startup scene in spring 2016.

FUNTampaBay
Thursday, January 14
6 p.m.
Cigar City Cider and Mead
Ybor City

The second edition of F*** Up Nights Tampa Bay -- or FUNTampaBay -- will be held at event speaker Joey Redner's Ybor City outpost, Cigar City Cider and Mead. During the informal gathering, hear discussions about success and failure from speakers including Redner, local serial entrepreneur Joy Randels, and former NFL guard turned media personalist Ian Beckles. The event will also open the floor to audience members for an "Open Mic" portion.

To search for tickets or learn more about FUN events around the world, click here.

1 Million Cups
Wednesday, January 20, recurring
9 a.m.
St. Petersburg GreenhouseHillsborough County Entrepreneur Collaborative Center

1 Million Cups, a weekly Wednesday morning gathering where area business leaders and local residents come together to hear aspiring startups and growing companies pitch their ideas, has become a staple of both the St. Petersburg and Tampa business communities. The Bay area's first 1 Million Cups event took root at St. Petersburg's Greenhouse in 2013, and expanded across Tampa Bay to the Hillsborough County Mark Sharpe Entrepreneur Collaborative Center in 2015. Now, each week brings a packed house of community members to hear new ideas and sip on donated Kahwa Coffee

Each Wednesday morning, visitors to either location can hear from new startups or get updates from past presenters. To learn more about Tampa's 1 Million Cups meetups or to apply to present, click here; see information about 1 Million Cups in St. Petersburg or apply to be a presenter here.

Tampa Bay Startup Week
February 8-12
TBD

Tampa Bay technology enthusiasts and members of the startup scene saw a new concept unfold in 2015 - a full week of dedicated events, broken down by track and then further by subject matter. Topics ranging a wide gamut of interests from coding to beer brewing drew a diverse crowd to the events -- some interactive -- that took place around the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg.

The 2016 Tampa Bay Startup Week main event sponsor is Chase, working together with tech.co. Stay tuned for more info about events, speakers, and special opportunities - in 2015, events culminated with an open skate on the ice at Amalie Arena.

To learn more or register for Tampa Bay Startup Week events, click here.

1776 Challenge Cup
Wednesday, February 10
Tampa Bay WaVe offices
Tampa

The 1776 Challenge Cup offers grand prize winners up to $1 million in prizes during the final round of a startup pitch competition. A local round one will take place at startup business accelerator and venture center Tampa Bay WaVe in downtown Tampa on February 10. The Cup is billed as a ‘worldwide tournament for the most promising, world-changing startups to win cash prizes, make international connections and share their vision on a global stage.'

Southeastern Entrepreneurship Conference
February 19-20
8 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.
University of Tampa John P. Lowth Entrepreneurship Center 
Tampa

At the two-day 2016 Southeast Entrepreneurship Conference (SEEC 2016), local college students will come together with students from top-ranked schools across the nation to compete in the Spartan Pitch Competition at the John P. Lowth Entrepreneurship Center on the University of Tampa campus.

During the competition, students will pitch startup ideas to a panel of judges in hopes of securing funding for their business ventures. Along with the business challenge portion of the event, students will have the opportunity to network with business leaders and peers. Around 20 speakers will also share insights on business and entrepreneurship.

The event is open to the public, and members of the local business community are encouraged to attend. To register, click here.

#Collabtb (Q1 Tech & Entrepreneur Peer Networking Event)
Thursday, March 3
5:30 p.m.
The Getaway
St. Pete

Hosted by Collaborative Technologies of Tampa Bay with partnership from Tampa Bay Tech Events, #collabTB quarterly meetups draw a crowd of several hundred to the laid-back beach bar behind St. Pete staple The Getaway. The focus of the gatherings is networking and community-building in a relaxed atmosphere, with no speakers or formal agenda.
 
Tech startups and area entrepreneurs,aspiring students, and those who want to make new connections in the community are encouraged to attend. Raffles, "swag," and giveaways will be offered.

To register for the Collabtb Q3 Tech and Entrepreneur Peer networking event, click here. Be sure to use the hashtag #Collabtb on Twitter.

Are you, or an organization you know, hosting a tech-oriented event in the Tampa Bay area in 2016? Let us know in the comments below to have your activity included in a future 83 Degrees newsletter!

January job news: Who's hiring in Tampa Bay in 2016

Digital marketing agencies, architecture consulting and stonework firms, beachfront customer service and other roles with expanding local companies are highlighted in the first 83 Degrees job news roundup of the year. 
 
Here's who's hiring in Tampa Bay in January 2016:

St. Petersburg-based A1 Marketing Concepts is seeking to fill several fulltime marketing and communications positions, including Marketing Coordinator, Public Relations Assistant, Business Management Associate, Sales Account Representative, and Customer Relations Associate. The company provides targeted marketing and promotional campaigns to clients in a variety of industries. To learn more about available roles or to apply for a position, click here

A digital marketing agency with the distinction of being a full-service HubSpot Gold partner is seeking a Marketing Director to join the Big Sea team in downtown St. Petersburg. Job requirements for the role at Big Sea include five or more years of marketing industry experience;  a BA/BS degree in Communications or Marketing is "strongly preferred"; excellent written and verbal communication skills; time management and organization skills; the ability to think creatively; HubSpot certifications, WordPress and web-based CMS experience preferred. To learn more or apply, visit the company website.

L-3 Communications is hiring an ISR Systems Engineer in the company's Tampa offices. Qualifications include a BS or MS in a relevant field, with eight or more years of intelligence analysis or C4ISR experience, or specialized training combined with 10 or more years experience. To learn more, visit the national security company's website.

Masonite International is hiring for a variety of roles at the company's Tampa offices; current openings range from senior roles in accounting and auditing to customer service or internship positions. To explore job qualifications for these roles, click here to visit the company website or visit the company's job openings on LinkedIn.

The Fortune 1000 Pall Corporation is seeking a Manufacturing and Industrial Engineer to work from the materials science company's New Port Richey offices. Job requirements include a minimum BS in Engineering; at least three years related work experience in a technical capacity; five years preferred. Computer proficiency, with experience using SAP and CAD/CAM, and in the Filtration and Aerospace industries, preferred.

To learn more or apply for this role, visit the company's career website. Summer internships at the NPR location are also available.

PGT Industries has operated from Sarasota County for several decades as a leading industry supplier and manufacturer of custom aluminum, vinyl and impact resistant house windows, doors and porch enclosures. PGT plans to hire dozens of new employees in fields that range from sales to customer service to finance or engineering. To browse a complete list of all PGT Industries current job openings, click here to visit the company's job website. 

Downtown St. Petersburg-based Symphoni Media is hiring a Web Designer. Two or more years of experience with HTML and CSS is required, along with a portfolio, strong design skills, and excellent communication skills. To apply for this role and explore all job qualifications, click here.

The 20-acre beachfront hotel property Tradewinds Island Resorts on St. Pete Beach is hiring for dozens of positions in early 2016. Job roles are both part- and full-time positions, including Valet, Cook, Reservations Agent, Front Office, Security, Night Auditing, Bartending, and many more; available positions cover a range of experience and educational requirements. 

To browse available positions, click here to head to the resort's website.

Hiring in the Tampa Bay region? Send a note to tips@83degreesmedia.com. Hired? Reach out on Twitter @83degreesmedia if our job listings put you on the path to success.

UT student team wins local round of Hult Prize competition

A student-led team from the University of Tampa hopes to pitch their ideas to President Bill Clinton and a panel of judges for the chance to earn $1 million in startup funding.

Each year, hundreds of teams from universities around the world compete in the Hult Prize competition to solve a pressing issue related to education and poverty.

The 2016 challenge: “Can we build sustainable, scalable and fast-growing social enterprises that double the income of 10 million people residing in crowded urban spaces by better connecting people, goods, services and capital?”

The annual competition awards one million dollars in start-up funding to the team of students that develops the most compelling solution to this question.

Each student team competes in a regional round before moving on to the finals in New York City next fall; but before teams can head to Boston, San Francisco, London, Dubai, or Shanghai for regionals, they must win the competition at the local level. In December 2015, a student team from UT, led by business management student Bay Downing, took top honors in the local round of competition.

Team OptiMrkt was chosen of the 10 competing teams because they “had the most compelling idea,” explains Hult Prize at UT Campus Director Caio Amaral. “The main argument was that the initiative and team work in OptiMrkt was very optimistic.”

OptiMrkt aims to reinvent the way that trade works for those “on the bottom of the pyramid” with a fresh approach to urban markets.

The team also “had partnerships lined up, and a business model that impressed most of the majority of the judges,” says Amaral, who competed for the prize in 2014 on team BamBoost (read about their story here).

OptiMrkt team members include Downing along with MBA-seeking Chenoy Ceil and entrepreneurship students Luciano Perdomo and Monty Berrow.

“UT is very proud of OptiMrkt and how far they have come,” Amaral says.

OptiMrkt will compete with around 50 teams, including those from Ivy League schools like Harvard and MIT, during a regional competition March 11-12, 2016. If they win the regional phase, team members will have the opportunity to attend the Hult Prize Accelerator program in summer 2016, along with the top five teams from other regions.

There, Amaral says, “They will launch from a simple idea to being feasible in the market.” 

Finally, they will travel to New York City to pitch their solution before world leaders at the Clinton Global Initiative’s next annual meeting in late September 2016.

The University of Tampa is no stranger to the Hult Prize competition; multiple teams have made it to regional and final competitions in previous years. Team Tembo, which operates from the UT Innovation and Collaboration building, has transitioned from student project into a full-scale, growing business.

To learn more about Tembo’s efforts to provide education to children and parents in urban slums through mobile phones and an evidence-based curriculum, or to contribute, visit their GoFundMe page

Tampa father, son build tiny house as model for others

A father-and-son duo in Valrico are hoping to make a big impact with their little house. The 200-square-foot-home the two are building together will soon be going on a 20-city tour across the U.S. to teach others the importance of quality control in construction practices.

Paul Lynch, the patriarch of the team, is an attorney with Shumaker, Loop and Kendrick, LLP based out of downtown Tampa. Working with his eldest son, Corbett Lunsford, the two are building the tiny house to be efficient, with solar panels, a composting toilet, sensors built into the walls to measure performance and the highest-quality non-toxic materials available.

“My son is an expert in testing homes, like a doctor for houses, and in his view and those of his fans, once you have metrics about your home you can make educated decisions and get control,'' says Lynch. “Like the craze for Fitbit pedometers, or feedback displays in new cars, better information about how the things we own are performing means we become better owners.”

The first stop on the 20-city tour will be in St. Augustine in April 2016. For the purpose of the tour, the tiny house will be called the 'tiny lab' due to its innovative features including technology from Mitsubishi that uses an infrared eye to sense areas in the home that need the temperature adjusted. During the tour, Lunsford and his team will spend one week in each city offering tours, workshops and contractor training.

During the tour, Lunsford and his wife will also be taping a TV show called Home Diagnosis and a web series called Ms. Tiny Detective. According to Lynch, it really is a family effort.

“Not a lot of guys get the opportunity to build a house with their kids, so I'm trying to enjoy the whole thing,” he says. “Obviously it's a bit stressful, we're building a house that has to withstand a hurricane and earthquake at the same time. But it's going to make great memories, and I'm proud of what we've already accomplished with the structure.”

For more information on the tour, visit their website.

Creator of Chinese family robot talks tech at Startup Grind Tampa Bay on Dec. 16

The final meeting of Startup Grind Tampa Bay in 2015 will feature a founder who is visiting Tampa as a potential U.S. headquarters for his company, Solbit, which is currently based in Shenzhen, China.

Gavenraj Sodhi, CEO of 7 Senses Labs (formerly iMedia), will visit Tampa along with Solbit, the company's product and namesake. The founder and CEO will demonstrate the prototype of Solbit, a family robot, at the Startup Grind Tampa Bay event at CoWork Ybor on Wednesday, Dec. 16.

Sodhi initially launched iMedia as an edutainment company using gamification for students in grades K-8, but the technology has since evolved into Solbit, a company that aims to deliver educational materials focused on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) through the use of the family-friendly robot.

Solbit's robot features integrated camera capabilities and a cloud-based language library that help the robot to serve as a child’s personal learning companion. 3D printing functions, voice recognition and other Artificial Intelligence functions are just some of the improvements Sodhi hopes to makes to the robot in time.

Initially, Solbit is aimed to serve as a learning-based companion for children ages 4-7.

Team data scientist and robotics engineers are working to further develop ways to foster two-way communication between child and robot to create a better learning experience, Startup Grind Tampa Bay founder Joy Randels says. 

"From an artificial intelligence standpoint, our ecosystem is developing into a content-friendly, data-rich environment," Randels wrote in an email. "The robot is meant to learn and adapt with the child and family."

Solbit, which is incorporated in Hong Kong with offices in Shenzhen, is currently funding its product through bootstrapping, some funding from JD.com, which is akin to Amazon.com in China, and winnings from several competitions, like the 1776 Challenge Cup for Education.

Randels, who has long known Sodhi and served on the board of one of his previous startup companies, offers some highlights of Solbit:
  • Dr. Cory Kidd, a long-time robotics expert and MIT Media Lab alumni, has joined as Director of Robotics and will be supporting 7 Senses Labs in the development of learning robots and the A.I. portion of the platform
  •  Bater Makhabel, from Tsinghua University, joined as Data Scientist with a focus on machine learning and algorithm development
  • Solbit just launched with Essential Learning Group in Shanghai, a pilot for a first learning module, that leverages Leap Motion and Intel Real Sense for kids to gesture during the learning exercises for skills mastery and for those that have learning disabilities. The module launched in September in Apple and Android stores and will be supporting Solibit integration 
Click here to register to attend Startup Grind Tampa Bay at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, December 16, at CoWork Ybor, 1901 E. 7th Ave.

Tampa native launches mobile boating app for marinas

A mobile app that allows boaters to make reservations for docking vessels with the ease of booking a table at a restaurant has expanded to Tampa Bay area marinas.
 
Dockwa, which launched in the New England area in May 2015, has seen rapid expansion on the eastern coast of the United States and into the Bahamas, with more than 175 participating marinas in 16 states getting on board with the application.
 
“There's an incredibly vibrant entrepreneurial spirit within Tampa, and I'm grateful to be a part of it and eager to expand Dockwa's footprint in the region," explains Dockwa co-Founder and CEO Michael Melillo, a Tampa native. 
 
Dockwa is marketed as “Open Table meets Hotel Tonight.” The award-winning mobile application and marketing platform has raised over $1.4 million in angel and private investments from such investors as David Skok of Matrix Partners and HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan. 

The app has a simple, straightforward premise aimed at connecting boaters to marinas in real time: interested parties can download Dockwa, explore the app’s maps, and hit a button to reserve a slip. Payments don’t go through until customers verify their reservations on site at the marinas; all information is kept in an integrated database.

A growing number of marinas in the Tampa Bay area have joined the Dockwa network, which includes 40 marinas across the state. Local partners include:
  • Gulfport Marina in Gulfport
  • Port Tarpon Marina in Tarpon Springs
  • Marina Jack in Sarasota
  • Longboat Key Club Moorings in Longboat Key
  • Tampa Marriott Waterside Marina in downtown Tampa
An expansion to the Gulf Coast made sense, Melillo says: “Tampa is among the top boating destinations in Florida.”

But bringing his business to Tampa Bay also struck a personal chord, Melillo says. "Expanding Dockwa to the Tampa Bay area has been an important milestone both personally and professionally for me. Tampa is also where I was born, lived for a number of years, and frequent often to see family.

“Having the opportunity for them to see Dockwa contribute to the Tampa community and economy is an especially rewarding experience,” says Melillo, who earned a BS in Finance/Economics from Elon University and spent time as a financial analyst before co-founding Dockwa in fall 2014.  

The Boat Owners Association of the United States (BoatUS) launched a partnership with Dockwa in October 2015 that allows members who arrange dockage through the Dockwa app or online platform to waive booking fees.
 
By early 2016, Melillo plans to expand the company to include marina partners on the west coast of the U.S.

St. Pete launches free shuttle route in time for holiday visitors

Visitors to St. Petersburg have one more reason to spend their weekends seeking out award-winning cuisine, strolling through local parks or window shopping in the many boutiques and stores found in downtown and the nearby thriving Central Arts District.

On Friday and Saturday nights through May 2016, weekend visitors to DTSP and the Central Arts District neighborhood can park once at the Sundial (117 Second Street North) or South Core (101 First Ave. South) parking garages (regular rates apply), then board the free shuttle.

Destinations along the Park Once route include the downtown waterfront, Beach Drive and the Central Arts District. Shuttles will run on a continuous loop on Friday and Saturday nights between 5 p.m. and midnight, with about 7-10 minutes between each stop. 

The Park Once shuttle route also intersects with the area’s already implemented Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority's Central Avenue Trolley and Downtown Looper routes. 

Five Park Once shuttle stops are located at the Sundial garage on First Avenue North; outside the South Core garage on Central Avenue; on Central Avenue, at Fourth Street; at Fifth Avenue North, in front of the Vinoy; and on Bayshore Drive at Second Avenue North.

Evan Mory, director of Transportation and Parking for the city of St. Petersburg, notes that the program will be re-evaluated after six months to determine whether the Park Once program “should be made permanent, with any tweaks to make it even better.”

The City of St. Petersburg launched the Park Once downtown shuttle pilot program in November 2015 and Mory says that the response from the public has been “very positive.”

By the second weekend of the Park Once program, “we had a good turnout that will continue to grow,” Mory says.

Drivers and two motor coaches for the Park Once program are contracted through Largo-based Escot Bus Lines, Mory says. Shuttles are air-conditioned, equipped with bicycle racks and a wheelchair lift, and can each seat 30 passengers.

Along with the free shuttle, the Park Once program will expand in 2016 to include components like a bike share program and bus route re-alignments in the downtown neighborhood.
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