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Car sharing network zips into downtown Tampa

A car sharing network has arrived in downtown Tampa.
 
Zipcar, which offers on-demand, self-service access to cars, is now up and running with a fleet of 14 vehicles. These vehicles can be accessed at several locations, including the Tampa Convention Center, the Barrymore Hotel Tampa Riverwalk, the Skyhouse Channelside Apartments, the University of Tampa, Tampa International Airport and the Tampa Westshore Marriott.
 
“Reservations can be made on our mobile app for an hour or several days; gas, insurance and 180 miles of driving is included,” says Katelyn Chesley of Zipcar.
 
Six new Zipcars are now available downtown by the hour or by the day. In addition to using the mobile app, reservations can be made on Zipcar’s website or over the phone.
 
The benefits of having a car sharing network in the downtown area are plenty, according to Chesley. It gives residents and visitors the opportunity to travel to local destinations that are not within walking distance, it helps reduce the amount of cars on the road and businesses can use it as well.
 
“The official launch in Tampa builds on successful Zipcar programs at the University of Tampa, Tampa International Airport and the Tampa Westshore Marriott,” says Chesley. “With a number of members already using Zipcar in Tampa, we were eager to expand to the downtown area to provide more residents and visitors with convenient access to wheels where they live, work and play.”
 
In addition to the fleet of vehicles in Tampa, Zipcar members can reserve and drive vehicles in 12 other Florida cities where the company operates. For more information, visit the company’s website

50 tech jobs coming to downtown St. Petersburg

At least 50 high-tech jobs will be created in downtown St. Peterburg.

Inside Sales Solutions, which provides technology firms with sales consulting, training, recruitment and lead generation services, has established its national headquarters in St. Petersburg. The announcement of the new headquarters was accompanied with news that the company is projected to create 50 new jobs over the next two years.

“This is a conservative estimate though and we could be closer to 100 new jobs over this period,” says Aidan Snee, Principal at Inside Sales Solutions.

With offices in New York City and strong relationships with established brands such as HP and IBM, as well as next generation business-to-business technology companies, this announcement is a big win for the city of St. Petersburg.

So what was the draw to the area?

“As a service-based business, it's essential we're able to access the right people in the right environment,” Snee says. “They need to stay and grow with us as we grow and adapt to the rapidly changing tech industry we serve. We  looked at many different locations and did analytics on them all. The Tampa Bay region finished an easy first place in almost every category.”

The company considered locations in Austin, Atlanta and Kansas City before deciding that St. Petersburg was the best fit for their national headquarters.

The new positions being added at the national headquarters for Inside Sales Solutions in St. Petersburg are all IT sales and IT account management positions. For more information, or to apply visit the company's website.

Upcoming Tampa Bay technology meetups, coding events in spring 2016

Spring is officially here, Rays baseball season has begun in St. Petersburg, and members of the local technology and startup community are busy planning upcoming tech meetups in the Tampa Bay area.

To learn more about where to go and what to expect when rubbing shoulders with Tampa’s business leaders, entrepreneurs, and founders, check out the upcoming tech events listed below.

Thursday, April 7: USF Connect's Organize Your Business for Profitable Growth
3 p.m.
USF CONNECT
3802 Spectrum Blvd.
Tampa FL 33612

Learn how to grow a business from a retired Air Force colonel and business adviser. 

Saturday, April 9: Gulf Coast Maker Con
9:30 a.m.
Florida State Fairgrounds, Special Events Center
4800 U.S. Highway 301
Tampa FL 33610

See what can happen when innovative makers, crafters, inventors and artists come together to showcase their talents! The annual event has displays on everything from sustainable heritage to cutting edge drone technology.
 
Thursday, April 21: F***Up Nights Tampa Bay (FUN Tampa Bay)
6 p.m.
Rialto Theatre
1617 N. Franklin St.
Tampa FL 33602

FUN Tampa Bay started as a chapter of a national group with a meeting of successful entrepreneurs back in November 2015 at Ybor City’s Blind Tiger Café and CoWork Ybor. Led by organizer Maria Alithinos, who has a background in PR and marketing, the group is a little different from typical gatherings of business leaders. Rather than highlighting success, F*** Up Nights Tampa Bay brings well-known members of the business community together to talk about failures, losses and the trials of being an entrepreneur.
 
Monday, April 25: Tampa Bay Technology Forum’s Professional Women’s Network Luncheon
11 a.m.
Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront
333 1st St. S.
St. Petersburg FL 33701

Join local entrepreneurs and leaders to celebrate and recognize women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers, and to encourage female leaders in these industries to provide mentorship to girls and women.
 
Thursday, April 28: Geek Breakfast (recurring monthly)
7:30 a.m.
Jimbo's Pit Bar-B-Q
4103 W. Kennedy Blvd.
Tampa FL 33609

Join local self-described “geeks” as they enjoy breakfast BBQ and discuss all things technology. Recurring on the last Thursday of each month.
 
Friday, April 22: NASA Space Apps Challenge Hackathon
6 p.m.
Softwerx, at the corner of 19th Ave. & 13th St. in Ybor City, Tampa

Work together with attendees and sponsors from Tampa Hackerspace and Microsoft to develop code with the use of NASA’s extensive data files.
 
Thursday, June 2: Code-a-thon: Improve Medical records for Foster Children
12:30 p.m.
Adoption Related Services of Pinellas, Inc.
3941 68th Ave. N.
Pinellas Park FL 33781

Put your hacking skills to good service by coding for a cause.
 
Friday, June 3: Codapalooza, A National Day of Civic Hacking Event
7 p.m.
Peak 10
8350 Parkedge Drive
Tampa FL 33637                       

The theme of the weekend-long event is “Gimme Shelter,” a nod to the code fest’s goal of helping the homeless population in Tampa Bay. The event is co-hosted by the Tampa Innovation Alliance, along with Code for Tampa Bay and the Tampa Hillsborough Homeless Initiative.
 
Saturday, June 4: Pinellas Hack-a-thon, A National Day of Civic Hacking Event
8 a.m.-8 p.m.
The Iron Yard
260 1st Ave. S., Suite 300 
St. Petersburg FL 33701
           
Develop solutions for real-world community problems using data from Pinellas County during this one-day hack-a-thon, part of the National Day of Civic Hacking.             

Tampa startups raise $2.9 million in seed funding

Anyone who has visited a laundromat knows the drill: bring coins to operate dryers and washing machines.

But in a laundromat in Tampa's Carrollwood neighborhood, there is a more streamlined method of paying for laundry services: through a smartphone application, Washlava.

“It’s a mobile application that replaces coin-operated laundry," says Washlava's Founder Todd Belveal, a serial entrepreneur.

The application's uses go beyond pre-loading payment, Belveal explains: "You can reserve a machine before you go, monitor the machine while it’s in cycle, and ultimately tender the payment in a fast, seamless way when you’re done.”

The company received $1.8 million in a 2016 seed funding round, so more Washlava-operated facilities may be coming. About a third of the funding that Washlava received came from a private investor in Tampa, Belveal says.

Tampa Bay WaVe, where Washlava spent some time incubating, was a “great environment for us to be in,” Belveal says. Startups and aspiring entrepreneurs should focus on building a business plan and preparing a pitch, but building relationships with potential investors is just as critical to securing funding in Tampa, Belveal, who grew up in Tampa, explains.

“I’ve raised money for a lot of startups,” Belveal says, “and it has very little to do with the ideas.”

Instead, the serial entrepreneur says, relationships are key.

On the south side of Tampa Bay, the St. Petersburg-based startup TAO Connect, Inc, has been accepted into the Florida Funders network. The mental health online management platform startup, developed in the University of Florida’s Innovation Hub, has been awarded $1.1 million in funding from Florida Funders, Florida Angels Network and New World Angels.
 
TAO's founders, who exclusively focused on college students in university settings initially, plans to use the funds to expand into offering the mental health platform's services to veterans, therapists and Medicare patients.

The Music Box: Tampa Bay launches in Sulphur Springs neighborhood

A free, experiential and pioneering “musical architecture” project constructed on the grounds of  the Community Stepping Stones (CSS) in Sulphur Springs will be open to the public for a month starting March 25, 2016.  

“The Music Box: Tampa Bay” is an interactive public artwork and performance space that allows visitors to participate in creating sound and music through a temporary village of musical structures. 

“The project is about inspiring and building community,” says Sarah Howard, Curator of Public Art and Social Practice at the The University of South Florida’s Contemporary Art Museum (CAM), who is leading the project. “Anyone can access it: It’s music, it’s architecture, and a there’s a little magical realism that goes along with it.”

The Music Box village is situated on the Mann-Wagon Park along the Hillsborough River and will celebrate not only local artists and musicians, but also the history of Sulphur Springs. 

Concerts by local musicians are planned for Friday and Saturday evenings at 7 p.m. Cultural programs will occur on Thursday evenings, including a presentation of storied Sulphur Springs history by Historians Rodney Kite-Powell and Hermann Trappman. The history discussions will cover geographical details to Sulphur Springs’ role through time from serving as a Native American destination for healing waters to becoming a tourist destination to its modern day purpose.

The music village will be open for exploration and play on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sundays from noon-6 p.m. 

Howard says many layers of collaboration and community engagement are already taking place on the grounds. She notes that neighbors have stopped by out of curiosity and then become volunteers on the project. Other collaborators include more than 20 USF students of architecture, history, music and studio art students and students from the host organization, Community Stepping Stones, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting underserved youth through after-school programs in the arts. 

“They are getting the value of working with professional artists and seeing a project through from planning to execution to public presentation,” says Howard referring to the students’ participation. 

Howard notes that many jobs have been created as well and that the professional artists and musicians involved are paid. She hopes and expects that the events will attract visitors to local businesses and restaurants. 

The Tampa installation is modeled after the New Orleans Airlift (NOA) initiative, which sought to restore artist communities after Hurricane Katrina. The NOA has provided guidance and collaboration with local Artists Jan Awai, Devon Brady and Michael Lemieux from Livework Studios and community-based land Artist Tory Tepp in designing and constructing the village. The project was funded by grants and donations from the National Endowment of the Arts, the University of South Florida, the Frank E. Duckwall Foundation and several local organizations. 

The Music Box is fun and family-friendly, Howard says, and “gives you the sense of awe and wonder that unites people. That’s the goal.”

All programming is free but tickets are recommended for evening events because space is limited. For more information on scheduling and ticketing, click here.

Fashion entrepreneur to speak at Centre for Women on Thursday

The creator of a high-performance women’s innerwear collection will join local women entrepreneurs Thursday for a special event honoring the winners of the 2016 innovateHER Business Challenge.

The ‘Sip, Tip, and Talk’ innovateHER reception will take place from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, March 10, at the Westin Tampa Bay’s BluVu Rooftop Venue.

BODYOLOGY founder Kelly Burton will address the crowd with tips and advice for building a successful business. Burton, a former research professional, developed the line to create sweat-wicking and quick-drying undershirts, shorts, leggings and more.

“I love women entrepreneurs,” Burton says. “They inspire me and cause me to be excited about the future of our country and our world. There are few places I'd rather be than in a room filled with women who are chasing their dreams.”

Aspiring entrepreneurs shouldn’t be afraid of the potential for failure, Burton says.

“If you're bold enough to step out on faith and start your own business, one thing is for sure: you're going to make mistakes. It's a part of the process,” Burton says. “However, if you're going to be successful, you've got to learn quickly and efficiently. Download the lesson and keep it moving. Don't beat yourself up or throw your own personal pity party. You made the best decision you could with the information at hand. Just dust yourself off, recalibrate and get back at it.” 

The innovateHER Business Challenge, which took place in fall 2015, was sponsored locally by a partnership between the Helen Gordon Davis Centre for Women and the Small Business Administration.

“We are funded for five years by SBA to provide business counseling and training for women,” Women's Business Centre Director Stacey Banks-Houston told 83 Degrees in September.

The competition challenged local female entrepreneurs to develop and present a business plan for the chance to win prizes and move forward to compete in a national round of the competition.

Burton advises women entrepreneurs to take the time to pursue opportunities like those presented by the Centre.

“Be good to yourself. Consider what that means for you and do it,” she says. “You've only got one life to live and you don't want to look up one day and realize you're all spent up because you did everything for everyone else, but never gave yourself what you needed to truly thrive.” 

The Sip...Tip...and Talk Reception will have hors d'oeuvres and a cash bar. The event cost is $30 for Centre for Women members and for $35 for the general public with advance registration; $40 at the door.

Spring job fairs in Tampa Bay

Spring 2016 job fairs offer job seekers the chance to start a career with a Tampa Bay area company. Learn more about which companies are seeking candidates for part- and full-time positions in spring 2016 at upcoming local career fairs.

Career fairs in Tampa Bay can connect job seekers in the Tampa and St. Petersburg areas with the industry leaders and resources that help open the door for new hires. Job seekers, mark your calendars for these upcoming job fairs in spring 2016:

Saturday, March 5: Community Job Fair
9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Robert W. Saunders, Sr. Library
1505 N. Nebraska Ave., Tampa

The Tampa Bay Community Advocacy Committee (TBCAC), in partnership with Austin Commercial, LP and Ariel Business Group, Inc., is hosting this Community Job Fair to facilitate employment opportunities in skilled or unskilled jobs in construction at the Tampa International Airport (TIA). The event will feature construction and construction-related companies currently working on TIA improvement projects, including Skanska, Kimmins, Mitsubishi, West Tampa Glass, and more.
 
For more information about the TBCAC Community Job Fair, call 813-812-JOBZ or 813-812-5629, or visit TBCAC's website.


Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront
333 1st St. S., St. Petersburg

The Live Hiring job fair in St. Petersburg is hosted by National Career Fairs. To register for the free career fair, click here.

Tuesday, April 5: Tampa Career Fair 
11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Doubletree by Hilton Tampa Westshore Airport
4500 West Cypress St., Tampa

Monday, April 11: Tampa Bay Job and Career Fair presented by the Tampa Bay Times
10 a.m.-3 p.m.
The Coliseum
535 4th Ave. N., St. Petersburg

More than 50 local employers from institutes of higher education and vocational/technical schools will be in attendance. Professional business attire required. Bring at least 20 copies of your resume.

Wednesday, April 13: CareerSource Tampa Bay Career Fair
TPepin's Hospitality Centre
4121 N. 50th St, Tampa

Open to the general public. Veterans will receive priority of service. A CareerSource Tampa Bay recruiter will be present to offer resume assistance and job search techniques. 

Thursday, May 12: Florida Statewide Job Fair
10 a.m.-3 p.m.
CFE Arena (formerly UCF Arena)
University of Central Florida campus
12777 Gemini Blvd. N., Orlando

The Florida Career Centers will host the annual Statewide Job Fair in May 2016 as an effort to recruit graduates and alumni from Florida’s state universities. Typically, more than 150 employers and 1,500 students and alumni seeking full-time career opportunities attend the annual event.

Click here for directions to the CFE Arena on the UCF campus. 

Employers, are you hosting an upcoming career fair in the Tampa Bay area? Put potential future employees on the right path by sharing the details of your upcoming job or career fair in Tampa Bay with 83 Degrees. Reach out over on Twitter (@83degreesmedia) if our job listings put you on the path to success. Follow Florida Jobs - 83 Degrees Media on Facebook.

March job news: Who's hiring in Tampa Bay? IT company, architecture firm, and more

Work for one of the most popular city destinations in the state; sign on with an architectural design firm; perform quality control as a software engineer. These Tampa Bay area job opportunities -- and more -- are available in March 2016. 

The City of St. Petersburg is hiring for a number of opportunities, including Librarian, Digital and Media Specialist, and many other roles in maintenance, sanitation, and with the golf course. To search the available job opportunities with the city of St. Pete, click here and select “search vacancies.” 

HDR design firm is hiring a Project Architect for the company’s Tampa offices. The position will entail leading a team of engineers, designers and architects on architectural projects. A Bachelor's or Master's degree in Architecture is required, along with five or more years of experience. Registered architects only.

Follow this link to search for the role and apply on the company website. 

Suncoast Credit Union is hiring for a number of roles in Tampa and Brandon, including an investment operations manager and several member advocates and tellers to serve the Brandon community.

The operations manager should have a Bachelor’s degree in a business-related field, at least six years of experience in the securities industry, and two to four years of experience serving as a supervisor.

To learn more or apply for the role, click here.

IT management service SunView Software, Inc. is hiring for dozens of positions in Tampa, with a recent office expansion that created room for 45 new jobs. Click here and follow instructions to submit a resume. 

National staffing firm iTalent, LLC is hiring for a full-time copywriter position. The successful candidate will have five or more years of creative copywriting experience (previous advertising agency is a plus). The copywriter will assist in marketing and advertising campaigns and communication including advertisements, promotions, mailers, fliers, brochures, posters, in-store signage and digital media.

iTalent is also seeking an Interaction designer/UI designer for a six-month contract that could become a full-time role with benefits. To learn more about either job opportunity, visit the company’s website.

Cloud-based commerce company Verifone is hiring for several roles in the company’s Clearwater offices, including multiple software QA engineers, a senior business analyst, a recruiter, and more. The Software QA Engineer role requires a Bachelor’s degree in computer science and 5-10 years of experience in software test engineering. The role is responsible for developing and performing test plans.

To see a complete list of available roles with Verifone, click here

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.

Impromptu popup gallery features art by newcomer to Tampa

In an innovative trifecta of art, marketing and real estate, art consultant Kathy Gibson of Arthouse3 will present Tampa newcomer and artist Taylor Thomas’s body of work entitled “The Chase.”  

The impromptu exhibit will take place at an empty South Tampa loft whose owner, Michael Palori, hopes will also spur interest from potential renters. The exhibit will be held at 1617 West Platt Street in South Tampa, March 4-6th. 

“All of us are looking for a way to enjoy our business, celebrating talent and new development,” says Gibson who has done this before, in empty houses. She says the art sold, and the houses, too. She is expecting success here, too. “A modern abstract in a loft space, attracts people in general. Tampa is building and changing and becoming more and more contemporary.”

Though this is Taylor’s debut exhibit in Tampa, she is represented around the country by various galleries. She relocated from Nashville in November to be closer to her Tampa-native boyfriend, Will Wellman, catalyst and raison d’etre of the Pig Jig Foundation which raises money for Nephcure Kidney International. In 2014, she was awarded a Regional Artist Project Grant from Charlotte’s Arts & Science Council to travel to Bennington VT and study under Cullen Washington, Jr. -- a contemporary artist whose work, she says, inspires and challenges her. 

Gibson, who describes her role as  “an art finder, an art communicator” connects businesses and individuals with artists and works. Gibson describes Taylor’s body of work for The Chase as a collection of “deeply, richly layered colored abstracts,” about 20 pieces in all sizes from small drawings to 4’ x 6’ works. Pricing ranges from $100 to $3,500 or more, depending on size. 

Palori, whose family has been long-involved with Tampa real estate, with major commercial and residential holdings throughout the city, says the loft, one of three 1,000-square-foot units over a restaurant, was transformed from what was once a printing warehouse. He says he likes the idea of the pop up art and says it fits with the character of his building. “I think its good for the area, and good exposure in the meantime.”

Taylor says her previous exhibitions have been in conventional settings but says this space is “spontaneously ideal -- it nearly mirrors what one would often look for in a gallery space: clean walls, concrete floors, an influx of natural light. The drool-worthy garage door that opens up to a balcony is definitely the cherry on top.” 

The Chase will be open to the public Friday, March 4th, 5-8 p.m.; Saturday, March 5th, 1-6 pm; and Sunday, March 6th, 1-4 pm. For more information on the exhibit, click here. For more information the apartment, click here

Uber, Tampa Bay WaVe partner to drive innovation forward

Entrepreneurs in Tampa Bay will now have the chance to work with representatives from a revolutionary startup with international reach: Uber.

A new partnership between the ride-sharing company and local business incubator Tampa Bay WaVe was announced in February 2016.

Tampa Bay WaVe will offer Uber Technologies space in the nonprofit’s FirstWaVE Venture Center in downtown Tampa, where Uber drivers can plan and host driver training sessions. In return, Uber representatives will participate in entrepreneur workshops and other open-to-the-public events hosted by Tampa Bay WaVe, offering the local tech community a first-hand look at the company that revolutionized the car services industry.

“We are ecstatic about this new partnership and look forward to welcoming Uber as part of the WaVE community,”  WaVe Marketing Manager Gracie Stemmer says. “Uber’s insights and experiences are invaluable for entrepreneurs who are in the same position Uber was before their breakout success.” 

Tampa Bay WaVe is billed as 'by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs,' while Uber allows drivers to create flexible schedules and work as independent contractors in Florida.

Uber has helmed previous events for entrepreneurs in Tampa Bay; in October 2015, the company sent established angel investors out in Uber cars around Tampa and St. Petersburg for a three-hour pitch event. Local startup founders or residents who scored a ride got 15 minutes to make a backseat business pitch to angel investors from groups like the Tamiami Angel Fund and Florida Funders, LLC.

“This is a great opportunity for local startups to benefit from the past experiences of a successful startup that has reached their breakout success,” Stemmer wrote in a blog post announcing the WaVe/Uber partnership. “Uber has been there, done that, bought the T-shirt and created the app!”

Tampa Bay WaVe, home to an entrepreneurial business center and coworking space in downtown Tampa sponsored an event track at Tampa Bay Startup Week in February. Learn more about Startup Week by clicking here.

Uber of Tampa Bay has also developed a partnership, Direct Connect, with Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority in neighboring Pinellas County. The pilot program, which was announced in late February, will reimburse riders who use Uber to reach designated bus stops by half of the fare, or up to $3.

How Gasparilla Interactive Conference aims to inspire attendees

The Gasparilla Interactive gathering in mid-March will focus on a creative theme: discovering inspiration. 

During the inaugural event in 2015, the Gasparilla Interactive Founder's Club focused on branding the first-year festival as a companion to other well-known and well-attended Gasparilla events that take place in Tampa each spring - the film and arts festivals, for example. 

The focus on branding helped establish Gasparilla Interactive and made sense, since the event's roots are in AAF Tampa Bay and Ad 2 Tampa Bay; lead event organizer Vinny Tafuro is a past president of both organizations.

The second time around, the conference "covers a broader range of topics, and focuses much more on entrepreneurship and the future” than technology alone, Tafuro explains. 

For 2016, replacing the word ‘festival’ with conference was a specific choice, Tafuro says. 

“We discussed what attendees should expect to leave with," Tafuro explains. "We felt that regardless of current industry or profession, everyone should walk away feeling inspired about the future in some way.”

Gasparilla Interactive Conference will draw presenters from big-name companies in the tech world, like product designers Gabe Valdivia of Facebook and Alison Chefec of BuzzFeed. Tampa’s World IA Day organizer Amy Espinosa will moderate a discussion on information architecture between the two.

Gasparilla Interactive Conference presenters also include:To see all of the speakers scheduled to present at Gasparilla Interactive, click here

“Anyone who wants to be inspired by, and prepared for, the vast opportunities that technology affords us to create value” should consider attending, Tafuro says. “Regardless of industry.”

Gasparilla Interactive Conference is a non-profit event that will be held March 10-11 at the Hillsborough Community College’s Ybor City. Register and find more information by clicking here.

Follow along with the Gasparilla Interactive Conference by using the hashtag #GasparillaIX.

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.” 
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