| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter Youtube RSS Feed

Innovation : Innovation + Job News

480 Innovation Articles | Page: | Show All

Tampa startup aims to soundproof your sleep with noise-, light-blocking curtains

The sound of silence.

That’s what Tampa-based startup company Residential Acoustics promises with their patented soundproof curtains and doors.

The AcoustiDoor and AcoustiCurtains aim to block unpleasant sounds from invading your home: trucks roaring down the road; noise from nearby establishments; train whistles; loud neighbors; construction; even the sound of a roommate watching late-night TV.

Initially, Walker Peek developed and designed the AcoustiDoor to give his now-wife a quieter place to sleep or study, while Peek, a night owl, watched movies or sports in the next room.

After searching for a solution in stores, Peek turned up empty-handed. He decided to create his own version of a noise-blocking apparatus: the AcoustiDoor, which keeps sound from traveling from room to room within a home. A sample of his sound-proofing scientific research and resources can be found on the company website.

The original AcoustiDoor ($139-$199 for standard sizes) is still being used in the Peeks’ home today.

The AcoustiDoor was soon followed by soundproof, light-blocking thermal curtains.

“Many people struggle with unwanted noise in their home or business and are looking for a well-made solution,” Peek explains, especially apartment residents in urban markets like New York, Chicago and Atlanta, who consistently purchase AcoustiCurtains.

Most sound-blocking curtains on the market work by absorbing noise, but Peek says that AcoustiCurtains work by deflecting sound waves. “Sound deflection makes the AcoustiCurtain the most effective sound-blocking curtain on the market.”

AcoustiCurtains also aim to block out almost all traces of external light, making them “perfect for new mothers, night nurses or anyone on an irregular sleeping schedule," Peek says, by "transforming a daytime bedroom into a sleep sanctuary.”

In addition to keeping noise and light out, AcoustiCurtains are designed to keep heat (or cool air) in. The thermal curtain’s insulating properties have helped homeowners see a reduction in heating and cooling costs, Peek says.

AcoustiCurtains range in price from $99 to $189; custom design and sizing is also available.

Along with private homes, AcoustiCurtains can be found in property management firms, construction companies and hotels throughout the United States. And as for future endeavors, Peek says the sky’s the limit.

“Our team is constantly learning, innovating and improving,” Peek says. “Our mindset has always been, ‘What problem can we solve next?’ ”

With 13 employees and plans to hire several more over the summer, Peek says that Residential Acoustics is “looking to expand our manufacturing footprint.”

The company takes pride in manufacturing in the U.S. using locally sourced materials. Peek calls the choice “one of the best decisions for our business. The quality, detail and workmanship of our products is something I’m extremely proud to stand behind.”

Residential Acoustics plans to remain in Tampa, but move into a larger warehouse space.

“It’s a very exciting time,” Peek says. “The jobs added to the economy and the team we’ve created is empowering. I’m grateful for it everyday.”

Buy a pair (or a mat), plant a tree: Tampa company seeks crowdfunding

Two new must-have meditation accessories for yogis are being developed in Tampa, Florida.

Gurus sandals, inspired by “an ancient wooden sandal” that Prem Thomas bought in India around 2011, have resonated among yogis online, Thomas says.

“Mainly on Instagram."

Thomas and his Gurus cofounder, Joe Choorapuzha, loved the sleek, simple design of the wooden sandals, their place in Indian history and the story that Mahatma Gandhi wore them.

The duo set out to build upon the minimal sandal and “make a product that is superior to flip-flops, but still retains the design of the original Indian version,” Thomas explains.

The result is a natural rubber sandal, sustainably sourced and hand-processed from rubber trees -- a practice that can continue for up to 25 years without harming the tree. 

The $30 sandal comes in a variety of colors, accompanied by a natural-fiber jute bag that features a Gandhi quote. Currently, Gurus sandals can be found online or at retailers such as surf shops, theme parks, salons, yoga studios and boutiques.

The cofounders place emphasis on producing and packaging products sustainably. The Guru sandal is biodegradable, making it a more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional plastic or foam flip-flops and sandals. To help promote the pair’s commitment to sustainability, a tree is planted in the developing world each time a product is sold.

“At the end of the day, a lot of companies can make new products and sell thousands or millions of sandals,” Thomas says. “We think if we can plant thousands or millions of trees, that’s a little more special.”

A successfully funded Kickstarter campaign ($16,236 pledged) helped bring Gurus to life. After the success of the sandal, brand ambassadors for the company wondered whether the cofounders could develop a yoga mat using the same type of natural rubber.

Thomas and Choorapuzha developed a solution: natural rubber topped with a layer of cork. A Kickstarter campaign for the cork yoga mat ends on Friday, May 22, at 1 p.m.

Click here to back this project.

At prices that range from $80 to $115 (up to half off for pledge backers), the campaign slogan reads, “Experience a no-slip, natural yoga mat that costs less than your yoga pants!”

“The mat is pretty amazing,” Thomas says, “and will even work when it is drenched with water or sweat, allowing yoga practitioners to do hot bikram yoga without a towel.”

If the Kickstarter goal is met, backers can expect to receive their mats in August 2015.

Thomas and Choorapuzha are “pretty confident” that the Kickstarter goal of $20,000 for the Gurus cork yoga mat will be met. But even if the crowdfunding target is not met, “we will most likely end up producing it in some form,” Thomas says.

“We think it’s an amazing product, and there is a market need from consumers and studios.”

Thomas, who grew up in Tampa, has worked in finance in the Philippines and with a civic venture capital fund in New York City. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before working as an investment banker for Bank of America, where he met Choorapuzha.

Choorapuzha, an MBA student at the University of Pennsylvania, grew up in Pittsburgh, PA before attending Columbia University. Prior to cofounding Gurus, Choorapuzha worked with an investment fund in NYC.

Along with CEO Thomas and president Choorapuzha, Gurus employs six independent sales representatives and a distributor in Australia and Canada. The company plans to hire another employee in the field of marketing or design, and is seeking interns in Tampa beginning in summer 2015.

“As our company grows, it will be great to build a larger team locally to support that growth,” Thomas says.

Hillsborough teacher wins national award for student achievements

Last year Hillsborough County Public Schools piloted a new way to engage middle school students struggling with math through a dynamic intervention system designed by Scholastic called MATH 180™ -- complete with videos and computer lessons.

This school year, the program was available to eligible sixth graders throughout the county and is being used in all 50 states by 400 districts.  A Tampa educator using the program, Joel Leventhal of Webb Middle School, stood out nationally and was the sole winner of Scholastic’s Math 180 Educator Award for 2015.  

Margery Mayer, President of Scholastic Educational Technology and Services, says Leventhal won for “harnessing the power of the MATH 180 to rebuild his students confidence in math and accelerate them toward algebra-readiness,” and that he “empowers his students to take risks, embrace a growth mindset about their intelligence and guides them toward understanding, fluency and mastery.”

“I feel really fortunate,” says Leventhal who received $1,200 in prize money and will also be flown to Atlanta for Model Schools Conference in late June. “I tried to build a classroom where kids aren’t afraid to take risks and they really bought into it. I think the kids are really making me look good!”  He also credits his math coaches and Webb principal, Frank Diaz, who he says has been “extremely supportive.”

Leventhal says the curriculum provides intensive support and is geared toward kids who have struggled with math throughout elementary school. He is impressed with the Math 180 program and says it clearly illustrates through videos and other exercises “how math is important in their daily lives and real world scenarios.” He cites a video in the program that shows the example of a global soap delivery project for Africa -- “it showed division in real life,” said Leventhal. “How many boxes could fit in a package?” 

Half of the work is done on the computer, which Leventhal says provides “a lot of encouragement and positivity,” is something the kids enjoy, and allows them to work at their own pace. The rest is work in the classroom, together, supported by a workbook.

The students take benchmark and progress tests throughout the year. By midyear, Leventhal’s students had already achieved 70 percent of what they needed for the entire year -- well ahead of schedule. 

Leventhal has a degree in exceptional student education from the University of South Florida. This is Leventhal’s first year teaching math and first year at Webb, having taught science for the three years prior at Buchanan Middle School. In addition to regular math and PE classes, he teaches a total 90 Math 180 students, divided by four classes. You do the math.

$1.1M grant boosts employment services at Helen Gordon Davis Centre for Women in Tampa

The Helen Gordon Davis Centre for Women has championed employment service efforts in the Tampa community for nearly four decades. In May 2015, the Centre announced that a new $1.137 million grant from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity will help to substantially expand its Employment Services Program.

Grant funding will enable the Centre to broaden employment programs in Hillsborough County, and executive director Ann W. Madsen says that the Centre might provide future services in Pinellas County, as well.

The new grant will be dispersed to the nonprofit organization over a five-year period, and will help to fund training and placement programs for men and women the Centre identifies as displaced homemakers.

The programs at the Centre are distinct from more general training and job search programs, Madsen explains in a news release, because their primary goal is to “assist women and men in their efforts to achieve lasting economic self-sufficiency. The program helps them to focus on careers that can provide a realistic, livable income for families.”

The JobSync program provides displaced homemakers with one-on-one counseling to help individuals address emotional issues before seeking employment and to develop career plans. It also provides resources to help individuals learn to navigate job applications, computer training, interview techniques and other skills essential to transitioning into a new role -– and economic stability -- successfully.

JobSync aims to “help people, both men and women, to get connected to the right job,” says Madsen.

The original profile of a displaced homemaker when the Centre first began offering services in the late 1970s was “a woman in her mid-thirties or older who had lost her source of income due to divorce, separation, death, disability or unemployment,” explains Alice Thompson, director of the Centre’s Employment Services Program.

Today, Thompson says, “there are many types of individuals and situations that would qualify.”

Now, the displaced homemaker program provides services for both men and women, as long as they meet certain criteria: ages 35 or older; have relied on federal aid or unemployment; are not employed (to learn more about The Centre’s Displaced Homemakers Program and how to qualify, email Alice Thompson or call 813-251-8437.

“Helping displaced homemakers has been one of our core programs,” Madsen says. “Through the years, the Displaced Homemakers Program has provided the opportunity for hundreds of people in our community to lead financially independent lives and find careers that truly support their families.”

The Centre for Women provides many programs and services that help local women and men, including workforce development, entrepreneurial and employment strategies, individual and family counseling, substance abuse treatment and services for girls and senior citizens.

Creativity takes center stage at June startup event

Up Global’s Startup Weekend events often bring together a city’s brightest techies, entrepreneurs and advocates for innovation. In June, for the first time in Tampa, entrepreneurs and artists will have the chance to create, invent and innovate during Startup Weekend Design Edition, Tampa Bay.

The new event is the result of the strong showing of the creative community during Tampa’s inaugural Startup Week in February 2015, event co-organizer Ryan Sullivan explains.

“Creatives, just like everyone else, experience challenges on a daily basis, and we wanted to provide them with a platform to solve those problems,” Sullivan says.

The three-day event will follow the traditional Startup Weekend format – over the course of 54 hours, Tampa Bay designers, developers, entrepreneurs and experts from all domains will come together to create an innovative solution to a real-world problem.

This time, the focus is on the challenges faced by those in the creative industry. Local fashion entrepreneurs, interior designers, architects, graphic artists and other creatives are invited to join in on the collaborative event.

Anyone can pitch an idea; teams form around the most popular ones. Over the next few days, teams work to develop a product and a business model to bring their idea to life – this time, with creativity in mind. On the last night, teams will present their visions to local entrepreneurial leaders from creative or design industries and one team will be named the winner.

The goals of a Startup Weekend event in any community are to educate people about entrepreneurship and to encourage networking, says Sullivan, who has organized multiple Up Global events including Startup Week and Startup Weekend Youth Tampa Bay. He anticipates around 50 attendees for the region’s first design-focused startup weekend. 

Lisa Gilmore, founder and lead interior designer at Lisa Gilmore Design, anticipates networking with members of the local creative community during the upcoming Startup Weekend Design event.

“As a creative myself, I know that we can run a bit wild with our ideas,” Gilmore says, “and collaborating with other professionals during Startup Weekend will be beneficial in bringing some of those ideas and dreams to life!”

Startup Weekend Design Edition co-organizer Nancy Vaughn has previously participated in and sponsored Startup Weekend events, and “experienced first-hand the impact that Startup Weekend has on the community,” she explains. As for potential outcomes of the event, Vaughn, principal at White Book Agency, hopes to see “some cool creative businesses started.”

Vaughn, creator of Tampa Bay Fashion Week, suggests examples including “an app that takes everyday colors for use in textiles or wallpaper, or maybe a new runway show seating platform, or wearable technology that allows for automatic VIP check-in. Can someone make that, please?”

“More importantly, I hope that great connections are formed, new ideas are sparked and launched, and everyone has a good time working together,” Vaughn says. 

Startup Weekend Design Edition, Tampa Bay will begin at 6:30 pm on June 5 and conclude in the late evening hours of June 7. The 54-hour make-fest will unfold at CoWork Tampa, 3104 North Armenia Ave. Ste 2.

To register, or learn more about the weekend’s schedule, visit the Startup Weekend Design Edition, Tampa Bay website. Be sure to use the code "83D'' for $25 off. 

Discover more upcoming entrepreneurially minded events in the Tampa Bay area, like Startup Weekend Tampa Bay Youth (May 15-17), in the 83 Degrees Spring/Summer 2015 startup events guide.

With $1 million at stake, UT students take on urban slums

A student team has earned the University of Tampa the distinction of being the only university in the United States to secure a spot in the final round of competition for the 2015 Hult Prize. Up for grabs: $1 million in seed funding to the winning team.

The Hult Prize Foundation is a nonprofit that focuses its efforts on solving world issues through challenging young, social and eco-conscious entrepreneurs to come up with innovative ideas.  The challenge, this year, was to develop an idea that would meet the goal of educating 10 million children in urban slums by 2020.

UT’s student team, Athollo, joined other competitors from across the globe, including another team from UT, to address the issue of early childhood education – or lack thereof - in urban slums. The team aims to use mobile phones as the key component in providing top quality early childhood education to children from the ages of 0-6 who are living in the urban slums of developing nations.

Inspired by the educational theme, the team name derives from the Greek god of wisdom, Athena, combined with the Greek god of knowledge, Apollo. Founder and Chief Visionary Officer Phil Michaels explains that the team’s mission is to ”endeavor to alleviate the inaccessibility of education around the world.”

Athollo won first place in the San Francisco regional competition, one of six Hult Prize regional locations around the world. Along with the other regional winners, the team will attend a 6-week accelerator over the summer. In September, the teams will then head to NYC to present in front of President Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual meeting.

One team will be named winner, and earn $1M in seed capital funding.

If Athollo wins the Hult Prize competition, Michaels says, the team will “funnel the seed capital funding into providing salaries for their employees, developing an app, subsidizing marketing efforts and other operating expenses.”

“Tampa is the next wave of social entrepreneurs!” says Michaels, who also serves as the UT campus director for the Hult Prize. “I never doubted the ability of our university’s young social entrepreneurs to address this pressing challenge intelligently and thoughtfully.”

Athollo is comprised of six enterprising UT students:
  • Michaels, a dual degree-seeking student (MBA in Entrepreneurship and MS in Marketing) at UT and self-described serial entrepreneur.
  • Chief Social Capital Marketing Officer Sercan Topcu is an MS (Marketing) student at UT. Chief Education Officer Brittany Brescia is a dual-degree seeking student in Education and English at UT.
  • CFO Ulixes Hawili is an honors student at UT pursuing a dual degree in Mathematics and Economics.
  • COO Ravi Goldberg is an honors student at UT who is majoring in Entrepreneurship and minoring in Leadership and Business Analytics.
  • Akingbolahan Akinwumi, Chief Cultural Officer, M.D. is pursuing an MBA.
A second UT team, BamBoost, came in second at the Boston regional competition, but they aren’t out of the running for the $1 million yet.

This year, any participating teams can compete for a wild card spot in the final competition by earning the most money in an Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign. To date, BamBoost has earned about 60 percent of their goal of $20,000. Click here to learn more or to donate to their crowd-funding campaign.

Athollo is also seeking donations via crowdfunding website GoFundMe; the team hopes to raise $53,000 to implement a pilot study in sub-Saharan Africa. Click here to learn more or to donate to their crowd-funding campaign

“I am incredibly proud of the hard work that both teams have put into their efforts to educate impoverished children in urban slums that need it most,” Michaels says. “It is a humbling experience to watch them grow into the business pioneers they were destined to become while changing the lives of millions of people in the process.”

Casting call: Musicians, show how 'St. Pete Shines' in the city's new national ad campaign

The City of St. Petersburg will place local singers and bands on the national stage in an upcoming advertising campaign.

During a live competition on Saturday, May 9, musicians who are based in the St. Pete community will have the chance to publicly perform a rendition of the classic song “You Are My Sunshine” at a live, battle-of-the-bands style competition.

Four winners will be selected, and the winning performances of the song will be featured in the city’s first national ad campaign.

Nina Mahmoudi, Creative Services Manager for the City, describes St. Pete as “a city filled with talented people, from artists and musicians to technology innovators and food and brewing connoisseurs.”

"We are a community known for our growing arts and culture,” Mahmoudi says. The casting call is “just one way we are engaging the community to show how ‘St. Pete Shines’.”

Bands and artists who are interested in competing in the “You Are My Sunshine” Music Contest must submit an entry to the contest website by Friday, May 1, 2015. Entry submissions should include a link to your website or reel (new recordings are not required from musicians, as long as a video of the artist performing is submitted).

Finalists will be notified and invited to play their version of “You Are My Sunshine” before a live audience.

The promotional campaign will “highlight our city's greatness," Mahmoudi explains, “and we decided using local talent was the best way” to do that.

Interesting in putting your own twist on the song, but don’t have much experience? That’s OK, says CLEAR Labs executive director Jenn Greacen. Interested parties who have never performed before are invited to submit a pitch video explaining why they should be selected as finalists.

“Anyone who would like to share their love for St. Pete should send in an audition," explains Greacen, whose St. Pete-based marketing agency is partnering with the City of St. Petersburg for the "Casting Sunshine" campaign. "You don't have to be a professional singer, you just have to have love for St. Pete!” 

Fans of the Sunshine City's local music scene are invited to attend the free public concert/competition, which will be held from 4-10 pm on May 9 at Sly Bar in DTSP.

“Even if you are not a performer, the entire community is welcome at the event to cheer on the finalists, help us in our selections, and, just in general, to come out and have a good time,” says Greacen.

Along with the chance to be featured in the campaign, contest winners will receive a $500 cash prize and a recording studio session, and will retain master publishing rights on their rendition of “You Are My Sunshine.”

Visit the City of St. Petersburg's "Casting Sunshine" website to learn more or refer to the contest’s rules of entry for details.

“You Are My Sunshine” Music Contest sponsors include local Sly Bar, The Hideaway Café & Recording Studio, and Urban Brew and BBQ.

Hillsborough Community College sacks recycling apathy

If you happened to step foot on the Ybor City campus of Hillsborough Community College (HCC) during the week leading up to Earth Day on April 22, perhaps you noticed some students were carrying around more than just their backpacks. Biology Professor Paul Rabaut gave some of his students a most unusual assignment. As an extra credit task, he asked them to carry a trash bag for a week, throwing their garbage into the bag. 

The goal? “I wanted them to be inconvenienced by their waste and realize the burden it creates in the community and on our planet,” says Rabaut. 

To ensure his students were staying on track with the project, under the heading of a sustainability initiative called HCCthinksgreen, he required them to check in via Twitter three times a day and post using the hashtag #TrashBag. Rabaut says 80 to 90 students participated in the event, with many even drawing faces or cartoons on their trash bags. 

“The bags really proved to be conversation starters with other students on campus,” he comments. “The idea was to make everyone feel comfortable about carrying around a trash bag on campus and encourage others to partake in the project.” 

Not only did the weeklong project, which started on April 16, catch on with several faculty and staff members, but some local businesses also took interest. “Fit2Run – The Runner’s Superstore, which operates a location at International Plaza, engaged with the initiative on Twitter and started following us.” He hopes the event, which was in its first year, will expand to the other HCC campuses throughout Hillsborough County. Rabaut, who masterminded the project and even runs his own composting maggot farm at his home, refers to the #TrashBag initiative as his “baby” and says he will certainly promote the event more heavily next year. 

HCC Marketing and Public Relations Manager Angela Walters says the event helped her realize how much trash she produces on a weekly basis. 

“It really made me stop and think about how much waste I created,” she remarks. “It’s quite interesting carrying around a bag of trash for a week.”

The #TrashBag event culminated on Earth Day at the HCC Ybor City campus, when the participants were to turn in their bags. Rabaut and Walters both said that around 20 students did so, but some had only a few items in their bags. 

“Throughout the duration of the project, students were encouraged to throw food waste into a compost pile and recyclable items such as plastic bottles and aluminum cans into appropriate receptacles, which we have around the campus,” says Rabaut. While there wasn’t a final tally on precisely how much trash was collected by all participants during the week, Rabaut believes the active engagement from the students was the greatest result of the project. “Many students spread the message to parents, friends, and others and helped get them involved, too.”

Walters adds, “This project shows that small steps can make a huge impact.”

Spring/Summer startup events guide: Tampa Bay

Technology and innovation enthusiasts in the Tampa Bay area can look forward to an array of upcoming events for meeting like-minded peers and mingling with successful serial entrepreneurs in the coming spring and summer months. From recurring meetups such as Startup Grind and Homebrew Hillsborough to annual adventures like the Startup Bus Florida (launching from Tampa on June 4), 83 Degrees has the details on upcoming spring and summer 2015 technology, networking and startup-centric events.
 
StartUp Xchange
April 23, 5 pm
Green Bench Brewing Co.
1133 Baum Ave. N. St. Petersburg

Hosted by the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, StartUp Xchange is a monthly gathering that brings TBIC mentors together with local entrepreneurs and innovators. Small business owners have the opportunity to network with other local leaders or aspiring entrepreneurs, and to discuss business-related questions or concerns with mentors.

April 2015 Startup XChange mentors include Chris Paradies, an Intellectual Property Attorney at Paradies Law PA; Kellye Dash, a social media and virtual assistant expert who founded her own company The Busy Buddy; and JJ Roberts, Client Service Manager for TBIC.

The event will take place at Green Bench Brewing, a local business named for the iconic colored benches that once resided on DTSP's Central Ave. To register for April's Startup XChange, visit the event’s Meetup page or the TBIC website for more information.
 
Homebrew Hillsborough
April 24, 8:30 am
Krazy Kup
101 East J. Arden Mays Blvd. Plant City

Join your local area network of small business owners at monthly Homebrew Hillsborough coffee shop meetups. As part of Hillsborough County’s economic development initiatives, Homebrew Hillsborough brings local leaders in the county’s Economic Development Department together with small business owners from Seminole Heights to Plant City. Each month, the meetup is hosted in a different neighborhood of Hillsborough County.

Along with the April 24 meetup at Krazy Kup in Plant City, upcoming Homebrew Hillsborough events will take place on May 29 at Kahwa Café in Westchase; June 26 at Tu Sabor Café in Town n Country; and July 31 at the Tampa Club in downtown Tampa.
 

DRINKandCONNECT
April 30, 5:30 pm
The Patio
421 South MacDill Ave. Tampa

During the free networking event on April 30, entrepreneurs and techies are invited to come out to the The Patio’s large indoor/outdoor courtyard and mingle with Cigar City Brewing VP Justin Clark and Angry Chair Brewing co-founder Ryan Dowdle. Enjoy a cold local brew as Cigar City & Angry Chair “takeover” the taps for the night.

Along with the tap takeovers and networking, the event will host raffles to benefit the Tampa Police Department's Honor Guard. Raffle items include spa gift certificates, a custom skateboard, and Cigar City or Angry Chair baskets.

To register, visit the event Meetup page.

Plum Alley's Jan Mercer Dahms at Startup Grind
May 6, 6:30 pm
CoWork Ybor/The Blind Tiger Café
1901 E. 7th Ave. Ybor City

Each month, Joy Randels and the Tampa Bay chapter of Startup Grind host fireside chats and intimate gatherings, where entrepreneurs share the secrets of their successes – and failures – with attendees, who range from small business owners to students to serial entrepreneurs. Startup Grind Tampa Bay will host Jan Mercer Dahms, managing director of Plum Alley, at Ybor City's mixed use cafe and coworking space, The Blind Tiger Cafe/CoWork Ybor, on May 6. Entry fee is $10.

Plum Alley is “the premier crowdfunding platform for women in the world,” Randels say. During May’s Startup Grind, guests from across the state will discuss their products and how Plum Alley can help them. To learn more about Plum Alley and the campaigns it supports, visit the company website. 

Startup Weekend Youth Tampa Bay
May 15-17, 5:00 pm
Trinity School For Children
2402 W Osbourne Ave, Tampa

Students, do you dream of starting the next Facebook or Snapchat? Startup Weekend is back with a special youth edition, open to aspiring designers, developers, business leaders or entrepreneurs! The 54-hour event has been a staple in Tampa Bay for several years, and in 2015, the event will include coaches and mentors from across the Tampa Bay area, including Todd Broyles, David Harris, Gregg Hilferding and founder and host Angela Ardolino.

Step into the shoes of an entrepreneur during Startup Weekend Youth Tampa Bay at Trinity School for Children. The three-day startup crash course includes pitching your ideas, forming teams, building a tangible product (including coding and creating a business model), and launching (I.e., presenting your case to the event judges, local entrepreneurial leaders).
 
#Collabtb (Q2 Tech & Entrepreneur Peer Networking Event)
June 4, 5 pm
1930 Grande Room
1930 East 7th Ave. Ybor City

Collaborative Technologies of Tampa Bay hosts quarterly networking events for tech-savvy designers, developers, programmers and other entrepreneurs who want to interact with peers without hearing sales pitches from recruiters. Students, job seekers, entrepreneurs and tech professionals are encouraged to attend the June event at Ybor City's event space and unique venue, the 1930 Grande Room.

#Collabtb events are free, but registration is required. Entrance into the event includes a free T-shirt for the first 100 attendees, a free drink ticket for the first 200 and light appetizers. Click here to register for the #Collabtb Q2 networking event.
 
StartupBus Florida
June 4-8, Tampa-Nashville

For the sixth straight year, StartupBus participants across North America will join together on buses and work to pitch and develop a startup idea. The 72-hour competition ends in Nashville in June 2015, with buses originating from six different regions competing. The Southeast region bus will leave from Tampa on June 4. One catch: you’re on your own for the return trip.

“Hackers, hustlers, and hipsters” are encouraged to apply for a seat on the bus. To pre-apply for the 2015 Startup Bus Florida, visit the Startup Bus website
 
Startup Surge
June 5, 10 am
Tampa Bay WaVE
400 N. Ashley Dr., St. 200. Tampa

Hosted by Tampa Bay WaVE at the Sykes building in the heart of downtown Tampa, Startup Surge is a one-day opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs and students to meet and hear from more than 50 mentors from around the region. Attendees will be matched up with mentors, all of whom are successful entrepreneurs, before participating in coaching sessions and workshops. Learn about building a successful startup (from identifying a target market to crowdfunding and early stage marketing); the launch process (development, updates, and analytics); and growing your company (fundraising, bring on a Board of Directors, and more).

Click here to register for Startup Surge; to learn more about event mentors, visit the Tampa Bay WaVE website.
 
Startup Weekend Design Edition, Tampa Bay
June 5-7, 6:30 pm

For the first time in Tampa, creative entrepreneurs and artists will have the chance to come together for a Startup Weekend event! Startup Weekend Design Edition will follow the traditional 54-hour format and aims to bring together Tampa Bay designers, developers, entrepreneurs and experts from all domains. Fashion entrepreneurs, interior designers, architects, graphic artists and other creatives are invited to take part in the collaborative event.

Meet peers, network with creative industry leaders, and design or develop ideas to help solve real-world problems faced by those in creative industries. Pitch your ideas and form a team (or join another -- popular vote wins out), develop a product and business model, and then present the final version to local entrepreneurial leaders in creative or design industries.

To register, visit the Startup Weekend Design Edition, Tampa Bay website. Use code "83D'' for $25 off. 

TEDx Tampa Riverwalk
August 29, 1 pm
John F. Germany Library Auditorium
900 N. Ashley Dr. Tampa

TEDx events are independently organized meetups of thinkers and innovators based on the popular TED talks that focus on the slogan of “ideas worth spreading.” The theme for the 2015 TEDx Tampa Riverwalk session is “Going Places!” TEDx presenters should consider the theme and how it applies scientifically, socially, economically, geographically, artistically and philosophically.

Nominations for speakers and presenters will be accepted through June 2015. Click here to apply or to nominate a speaker for the August event at downtown Tampa's John F Germany public library. Learn more at the TEDx Tampa Riverwalk website.

Who's hiring in Tampa Bay? Women's Tennis Assoc., Advluence, and more

Did you know? 83 Degrees Media searches for growing companies to bring you exciting job opportunities in the Tampa Bay area. Here's who's hiring in and around Tampa in April 2015:

Advluence

Have you ever thought about working for a full service creative advertising agency located in the heart of Tampa’s growing SoHo district? Now’s your chance! Advluence, a successful startup developed by a University of Tampa graduate, is a young, innovative team of branders who have an impressive social media following and a steadily growing portfolio. Advluence is hiring for a Graphic Designer at their South Tampa offices.

The ideal candidate will have 1-2 years of graphic design experience, a BA in Graphic Desgin or a similar field, and will work closely with a team of designers, producers and marketers to design for various mediums. Must be proficient in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. Visit the company website to submit a portfolio and application.
 
BISK Education

The distance learning and online education company, Bisk Education, is hiring for 11 roles in Tampa, including: Marketing Manager, Database Admin, Instructional DesignerDeveloper, Media Buyer, Systems Engineer, Business Analyst, Mobile DeveloperHR Generalist, and other roles.

Bisk Education's headquarters is a 135,000-square-foot corporate campus in Tampa. A staff of more than 900 employees includes an award-winning advertising team, enrollment representatives who work to place students in programs, web developers, and more. To learn more about the positions or to apply, visit the company website.
 
The Great Escape Room

Aspiring sleuths, puzzle solvers and mystery fans: The Great Escape Room in the heart of downtown Tampa is hiring for multiple part-time positions. The Great Escape Room is a puzzle solving mystery game that is a perfect activity for friend groups, parties or business team-building exercises.

The ideal candidate will be fun, energetic and enthusiastic. The positions will be for 10-20 hours a week, primarily on evenings and weekends. Job duties include helping customers in the event that a clue or puzzle has a technical issue, fixing any technical difficulties, interacting with customers, light cleaning, and returning telephone messages and emails. To apply or to learn more about The Great Escape Room Tampa Bay, visit the company’s website.

Garcia & Ortiz, CPA

Garcia & Ortiz, CPA is hiring for a full-time Staff Accountant. The business is a corporate environment that maintains a family culture. The Staff Accountant will join a department of 10-15 members in accounting and finance, with responsibilities including assisting with preparation of annual and mid-year budgets, preparing journal entries, analyzing accounts and preparing reimbursement billings, and more. 

The successful candidate will have a BS in Accounting, 1-4 years of experience, know advanced Excel, and be familiar with applicable laws, codes and regulations. To apply, visit the company's website and follow instructions.

Kobie Marketing

Full service marketing firm Kobie Marketing is hiring for an Email Marketing Manager. The position will be target-focused, requiring 7+ years of experience with email marketing and at least three years experience with Exact Target marketing. The role will involve developing and managing all aspects of email marketing and production for email campaigns, including code development, campaign setup, testing and delivery, and reporting.

The successful applicant will have prior email marketing experience, HTML and AMPscript knowledge, project management experience, strong written and verbal communication skills, and advanced Excel skills. Kobie Marketing is hiring for several other roles in the Tampa Bay area, including Front End Developer and Project Manager. To apply, visit the company's website.

SPCA Tampa Bay

For those who would enjoy a career in animal welfare, the SPCA Tampa Bay is currently hiring for three fulltime positions, including Intake CounselorAdoption Counselor and Medical Assistant. The SPCA Tampa Bay recently announced that the hospital will expand to include a St. Petersburg location.

The Intake Counselor job role requires at least two years of experience working in an open admissions shelter environment, veterinary office or other animal welfare organizations, and five years of driving experience with a clean driving record. The successful applicant must be a Pinellas County resident.

The Adoption Counselor role requires three years experience of working in a retail environment. Weekend and evening hours required for both roles. For detailed job descriptions, and information about how to apply to either position, please visit the SPCA Tampa Bay website.

WTA – Women’s Tennis Association

The Women’s Tennis Assoc. is hiring in Tampa Bay for a Social Media Coordinator to work with the WTA’s Digital team on social media projects. Responsibilities include daily monitoring and maintenance of WTA social media pages; assisting in the gathering of social media user data; working with the WTA Digital team; uploading videos to WTA’s video platforms; and coordinating content with WTA’s content calendar.

The ideal candidate will have knowledge of and interest in tennis, excellent verbal and communication skills, a background in social media, journalistic experience, the ability to work independently and a BA degree in Media, Communications, Journalism or equivalent. The role requires evening, weekend, and holiday availability. To learn more and apply, visit the association’s website.

Employers, if you have a career opportunity you would like to promote, please email the 83 Degrees Innovation & Job News editor with "Hiring" in the subject line. Reach out over on Twitter @83degreesmedia if our job listings put you on the path to success.

Design-a-thon invites student innovators to pitch solutions

College students with innovative ideas, mark your calendars for April 10-11.

That’s when USF St. Petersburg’s Kate Tiedemann College of Business, along with the student chapter of the Tampa Bay Technology Forum, is hosting a first-time event: a "design-a-thon” and pitch competition, during which enterprising students will have the chance to solve a real-world problem proposed from the local business community.

One small catch? Innovation Overnight is a 20-hour long event, beginning at 3 pm on April 10 and culminating in an 11 am awards ceremony April 11. Students can leave from midnight to 7 am, but they are also welcome to stay and keep working.

During the marathon brainstorming and building session, students will work through the phases of design thinking to build a functioning prototype that solves a problem sourced from event sponsors (including Jabil Inc, Valpak and the Tampa Bay Rowdies soccer team).

Games like “Are You Smarter than a Freshman?” and a hula hoop competition will help keep things light during the long hours.

Similar to Startup Weekend events, Innovation Overnight aims to connect members of the community in an informal but inspirational environment. Unlike Startup Weekend events, only students are permitted to participate.

Jessica Chin, co-creator and Chief Innovation Officer for the event, says that Innovation Overnight was developed to help students focus on approaching a problem using “design thinking and a structured thought process.”

Design thinking refers to a process of problem solving through specific phases: “Explore, Ideate, Build and Test,” Alison Watkins, associate dean of the USFSP COB and event co-creator, explained in a news release. It is “particularly useful in terms of defining multifaceted problems and providing innovative, multidimensional solutions to complex business challenges.”

The 20-hour design-a-thon, which mixes play with problem-solving, will include time to pitch a prototype solution to judges, network with potential employers, and learn design thinking tactics from keynote speaker Michelle Royal. Judges will include representatives from several Innovation Overnight sponsors, USFSP, and the TBTF.

Royal, CEO of Royal Innovation Design Group, was selected as keynote speaker “based on her willingness to engage in higher education and her professional expertise,” Chin explains.

Students can sign up for Innovation Overnight as individual participants, but Chin recommends that interested students engage each other on social media before the event to create a team, or contact her to facilitate team creation.

“Innovation Overnight provides an opportunity for students to connect classroom learning to real world situations, demonstrating to the business community that there is high quality talent graduating from area colleges,” TBTF’s Pat Gehant noted in the release. “This program lifts the bar for developing tech talent in the Tampa Bay area.”

The event will be held at USFSP’s University Student Center, 6th Ave S., in Ball Room A. Student pitches, which are open to the public, begin at 9 am on Friday, April 10; an awards ceremony and reception begins at 11 am Saturday, April 11. 

To learn more or to register for Innovation Overnight, click here.  

Maker convention brings inventors together in the DIY spirit

Gulf Coast MakerCon just keeps growing.

This year’s Tampa Bay area community do-it-yourself celebration will be held at the Florida Living Center at the Florida State Fairgrounds on Saturday, April 18. Lead organizer Terri Willingham anticipates about 800-1,000 guests at the one-day event. 

Gulf Coast MakerCon 2015 is open to the public and covers a wide array of technical, creative and professional workshops and sessions across more than 80 anticipated indoor and outdoor exhibits, from modern tech like 3D printers to “heritage tech” that focuses on woodworking and fiber arts.

Entertainment and educational opportunities at Gulf Coast MakerCon 2015 range from the Mid-Pinellas Comic Con exhibit and Gamers on the Edge tabletop gaming area to the Tampa Amateur Radio Club and the Tampa Bay Inventors Council “Inventors Showcase” to the USF Robotics Interest Group “Fight Robots” competition and a Young Makers section.

More than 30,000 square feet of available exhibit space triples the size of last year’s MakerCon, and the “makers” who have applied more than double last year’s numbers, as well; about 60, with applications still coming in. 

“We're excited about the diversity of exhibitors and programs we have on tap,” Willingham says.

The annual springtime festival is produced by Eureka! Factory, the nonprofit that Willingham runs with her husband Steve, and is supported by a grant from Hillsborough County’s Economic Development Innovation Initiative (EDI2). 

“We believe Gulf Coast MakerCon showcases the best of our community and inspires others to try their hands, hearts and minds at making and learning new things,” Willingham says. 

The community DIY festival “fits in perfectly with our mission to help move people from passive consumption to active creation --making!” Willingham explains. “A society of capable, creative, self-reliant people is a healthy, empowered and productive society."

Making things -- "products, solutions, services, inventions, games, gadgets, industrial and commercial tools like robots, mechanical devices and assistive technologies, and resources for sustainability," she says, is good for economic development, academic enrichment and personal fulfillment.

Back in 2012, the Willinghams introduced Tampa's first and only maker festival, the Tampa Bay Mini Maker Faire. In 2014, the event expanded into Gulf Coast MakerCon. This year, big name community sponsors like USF Connect and the Florida High Tech Corridor have signed on.

“We've got some amazing collaborative partners this year,” Willingham says. “MityMo Creative in St. Petersburg has been doing all our promotional materials and graphic design; TBIC has been actively curating and providing promotional and other event support; Scrap on Spot is sponsoring the Deconstruction Zone; and the Innovation Lab at Seminole Community Library at St. Petersburg College has been organizing our ComicCon and Gaming Festival.”  

Gulf Coast MakerCon 2015 is a designated USA Science & Engineering Festival satellite event, as well as a National Robotics Week event.

Tickets, which are $10 per person ages 13-up and $8 for children ages 6-12, can be purchased online at the event website

Call for Florida startups: April 6 deadline to present at entrepreneurial conference

Executives and entrepreneurs with select Florida-based startups and early-stage companies will have the chance to pitch their businesses to a group of potential investors and venture capitalists during a May conference at the well-known Vinoy resort in St. Petersburg.

Florida Venture Forum, a nonprofit, statewide support organization for venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, organizes the annual conference to serve a dual purpose: providing a platform for growing Florida startups and companies to pitch to potential investors, and promoting networking opportunities through workshops and expert panel discussions.

The annual event coincides with the organization’s 5th Annual Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition, which will see entrepreneurship students from across Florida (including the University of South Florida’s Center for Entrepreneurship, the University of Florida’s Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation and The Lauchpad at the University of Miami) competing for a presenter spot at the Early Stage Conference.

Florida Venture Forum president Kevin Burgoyne anticipates that this year’s conference will be “a record-breaking success,” citing increased interest among national investors and a number of early-stage companies that have already applied to present.

Cumulatively, past presenters at Early Stage Conferences have raised more than $20 million in investment capital. 

“We are thrilled to help another dynamic group of emerging companies connect with capital sources from across the country,” Burgoyne said in a press release. “This sends a clear message that Florida’s rapidly growing entrepreneurial ecosystem continues to gain momentum and national attention.“

Day one will consist of a workshop focusing on post-investment best practices, including topics such as: the fundamentals of preparing and executing a post-investment plan; mentoring entrepreneurs; management transition; board of directors; tax issues; follow-on funding; and exits. Florida Venture Forum presents the workshop in partnership with the Kauffman Foundation, the catalyst behind the 1 Million Cups meetups in cities around the country (including St. Pete and Tampa locations), and its Angel Resource Institute.

Day two of the eighth annual Early Stage Conference will include the collegiate business plan competition, pitch presentations and a panel discussion. 

The 2015 Early Stage Conference will take place Wednesday, May 13, 1:30 pm-5:30 pm; and Thursday, May 14, 7 am-5:30 pm, at the Vinoy Renaissance Resort & Golf Club, 501 5th Ave NE, in St. Petersburg. Requirements for presenting companies can be found on the event website.

Interested early- to mid-stage Florida-based companies and entrepreneurs must apply to present at the 2015 Early Stage Conference by April 6, 2015.

SoHo businesses to host April block party in South Tampa

Local businesses and nonprofits in the growing Courier City neighborhood of South Tampa are coming together in April to host SoHo's first “block party” of 2015.

Austin’s Board Shop, Fruitwood Standup Market, Surf Outfitter and onbikes will co-host the block party on April 18 at 2205 W. Swann Ave. (near the corner of Swann and Howard Avenues). The block party will be 5-8pm that Saturday, with live music by Morgan Davis.

“We’re going to try to do one every couple of months, rotate it around and get more people involved,” Austin’s Board Shop Owner Michelle Marcum explains. “We just want to get the whole neighborhood interested.”

Austin’s Board Shop, located at 301 S. Melville, usually carries around 60 boards in stock, which can range from $100-200 to more than $500 for custom boards and upgrades. The shop has created custom boards for Gorrie Elementary and Berkeley Prep to auction in fundraisers. Marcum and her son, co-owner Austin Anderson, will be raffling off a longboard during the block party to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities of South Florida. 

“It’s very important to both of us that we are very connected to the community,” Marcum says.

Other items will be raffled at the April 18 block party, including a GoPro; along with RMHC, proceeds will benefit Surfrider Foundation, a grassroots environmentally focused nonprofit, and a fundraising group for ALS awareness, Pray for Jay.

In 2013, Justin Clark opened Fruitwood Standup Market at 2203 W. Swann Ave. next door to the Smoothie King he owns in SoHo. Marcum recommends the apple lemonade and flatbreads at the casual, fresh concept space where salvaged brick and wood decorate the space and light bulbs hang in mason jars.

Marcum has known Clark since her father coached the Tampa Bay Storm years ago. They reconnected and, in turn, she was connected with Charlie Schiller of Schiller's Architectural and Design Salvage in Seminole Heights, who supplied wood for the Fruitwood space and later worked with Marcum and Anderson on the design concept for Austin’s Board Shop.

Surf Outfitter, located at 1413 S. Howard Ave., Suite 104, sells a range of “lifestyle” apparel, accessories and equipment that is handpicked by staff members. The Tampa-based small business counts contributing to nonprofits and charity, along with supporting the environment, as a primary part of their mission.

Florida Bike Association chose onbikes as the 2014 Program of the Year because of the group’s efforts to help make bicycling safe and accessible. Onbikes Executive Director Julias Tobin called the recognition an “unbelievable honor” on social media sharing service Instagram.

As the Courier City area grows into a South Howard foodie paradise and welcomes bicyclists or foot traffic to a more pedestrian-friendly Platt Street, the Neighborhood Association has been actively developing a community presence by hosting social meetups at The Hyde Out and MacDinton’s Irish Pub in recent weeks. Meanwhile, a new boutique, The Paper Seahorse, hosted a Maker’s Market in Feb 2015, bringing together local vendors.

Now, the upcoming block party’s hosts aim to continue the momentum of a neighborhood on the move.

“We knew this neighborhood was the most ‘walkable’ in Tampa, and we just love it – it’s perfect,” Marcum explains. "This whole group (the Neighborhood Association) is so excited that we’re here, that Mr. Penguin’s here – that it’s not another just bar.” 

Calling all women in tech for Tampa meetup

Local women in the technology industry will have the opportunity to meet and greet peers, mingle with local tech leaders and hear from female field experts during a free event at the Seminole Heights Library on Monday, March 30.

The Women in Tech gathering aims to highlight females in the industry, and to teach and inspire young women to pursue careers in technology through shared connections and resources.

Attendees can expect a variety of activities at the free networking event; along with a tech meet and greet and a speed networking round, Women in Tech will also include a “Learn to Code!” class and will culminate with an interactive panel.

Collaborative Technologies of Tampa Bay founder and CEO Sylvia Martinez, who will be on hand to help out with the speed networking segment, encourages women who are actively in the tech field to participate in Monday’s meetup, but also suggests that those who are not yet in the field, students motivated by technology, and “any woman looking to support the awesome ladies in tech that we have here in Tampa Bay” should attend. 

Hillsborough County Economic Development Director Lindsey Kimball will moderate the interactive panel, whose members include:“I am very much looking forward to being part of this event. It's inspiring to be surrounded by other women who want to positively impact this thriving tech ecosystem just as much as I do,” Martinez explains.

Women in Tech will be held from 1-4pm on Monday, March 30, at the Seminole Heights Library, 4711 N. Central Ave. The free networking event is part of Hillsborough County’s economic development innovation initiative, with local partners like Kahwa Coffee and Eureka Factory providing resources and sponsorship. 

To register for Hillsborough County’s Women in Tech event on March 30, click here.

Martinez, who runs a quarterly networking meetup for tech professionals through CToTB, is “a firm believer in peer events. It's fantastic when those that share common goals and interests can come together and support one another,” she says. “The synergy is incredible and it's great to have others like you that you can learn from.”

Since launching in June 2013, the $2 million in funding set aside by Hillsborough County commissioners for the EDI2 program has helped to host events from coffee shop gatherings to the weekly 1 Million Cups program to local and regional conferences. In Dec 2014, EDI2 and Small Business Information Center programs were relocated to the new Mark Sharpe Entrepreneur Collaborative Center at 2101 E. Palm Ave. in Ybor City.
480 Innovation Articles | Page: | Show All
Signup for Email Alerts