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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.

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.

Hillsborough County woos Johnson & Johnson with $2M in incentives

Health care giant Johnson & Johnson is considering a massive move to the Tampa area.

In March 2015, Hillsborough County commissioners voted unanimously to approve a $2.1 million incentive package in hopes of encouraging the Fortune 500 company to invest in Tampa Bay. If Tampa is selected, hundreds of new jobs would be relocated or created at a new “shared services” headquarters for Johnson & Johnson.

Hillsborough County economic development director Lindsey Kimball says that the move would be a good one, economically, for the community.

“If Johnson & Johnson chooses to locate in Hillsborough County, the project will potentially represent 700 new higher wage jobs in the community and a $23.5 million capital investment,” Kimball says. “These jobs are in what we call a ‘targeted industry,’ which means the primary customers for their services are outside of our market -- and that is a good thing because they expand our local economy, driving demand for local services and goods.”

By the terms of the agreement, if Tampa is selected, Johnson & Johnson would be required to create the first group of about 200 jobs by December 31, 2016.

If Johnson & Johnson does set up shop in Hillsborough, the created jobs will be “shared services” functions typical of a headquarters operation, such as accounting, marketing, human resources, IT and legal. 

The average salary for these jobs would be around $75,000.

It is likely that not every position will be relocated, meaning the potential for new hires from within the Tampa Bay community.

“I would like to add that this project, if it chooses to locate here, will strengthen the biosciences cluster within our community by adding an additional marquis company to join Bristol-Myers Squibb, Draper, and Bausch and Lomb,” Kimball says. 

The Bristol-Myers Squibb North American Capability Center opened in Hillsborough County at 5104 Eisenhower Blvd. S. in January 2014 after similar wooing efforts from dozens of cities. Draper Lab, an engineering and tech research facility from MIT, has had a presence at the University of South Florida since 2009 and in Pinellas County for years at 9900 16th St. N. in St. Petersburg. Bausch and Lomb, the pharmaceuticals company, has had a manufacturing plant presence in Tampa since 1993 at 8500 Hidden River Parkway. 

Before the deal is decided, Johnson & Johnson will continue to look to several other states for the expansion. Florida’s incentive package depends on the $2.1 million from Hillsborough County along with a state incentive package of $7 million from the state’s economic development organization, Enterprise Florida, totaling a $9.1 million overall incentive package.

USFSP grad's startup 'Check I'm Here' hiring lead developer, campus outreach coordinator

Reuben Pressman has had a busy start to 2015. His newest startup venture with friend Evan Brady, Stacktive, launched in St. Pete in February, with immediate plans to expand to more locations including Tampa, Orlando and Miami.

Now, the University of South Florida Saint Petersburg graduate’s successful company Check I’m Here is expanding, too. Pressman, a two-time 1 Million Cups presenter, says the startup has more than doubled in team size in recent months; they’ve also received some external funding.

Check I’m Here, a campus engagement platform, is hiring for a lead software developer and a campus outreach coordinator. 

Which skills does Pressman think are most valuable for success at Check I'm Here?

“Communication, self-direction, a fun attitude, creativity and problem solving, and a growth mindset,” he says. 

The ideal lead software developer “not only has a passion for creating new software and solving new problems” but has the leadership experience necessary for “developing and managing the processes to do these and growing a team to execute them,” Pressman explains.

Requirements include 5+ years' experience with .NET web application development as well as with Microsoft SQL development.

The campus outreach coordinator, a new position within the company, will be responsible for initiating a relationship with prospective customers in a sales development role.

A successful candidate “should be very comfortable on the phone talking with new people, inspiring and learning about others, and will have an extreme affinity for organization,” Pressman says.

Both positions are in-house, but the company is open to the possibility of some remote work. 

Back when Pressman served as VP of Student Government at USFSP, he witnessed firsthand the pain points that student government and student affairs pros encounter when it comes to “retaining students, allocating funding and assessing success.”

This experience led to the creation of a seamless online interface for engaging students at campus events.

Company culture at Check I'm Here is casual, but with a focus. Perks include an open floor plan with standup desks, flexible schedules, open vacations, major holidays off, and a day off to volunteer in the community.

“We work a block off the water in a coworking space we started, surrounded by other startups,” Pressman says.  “With all of this, we all share a mindset of working hard and constantly challenge each other and ourselves, but want to make sure this is a place that we enjoy working hard in.”

Pressman expects to hire for positions in coming weeks. More details about open positions can be found on the company’s website.

Who's hiring? Brew Bus, Tampa Musuem of Art, and more

Did you know? 83 Degrees Media searches for growing companies to bring you exciting job opportunities in the Tampa Bay area. Reach out over on Twitter @83degreesmedia if our job listings put you on the path to success!

On the search for a job in advertising? Two high-profile Tampa ad agencies are currently hiring.

Schifino Lee 

Hyde Park-based advertising agency Schifino Lee seeks an experienced Media Buyer. The successful candidate will plan and buy for a variety of B2C and B2B accounts. Job requirements include superior negotiation skills, attention to detail, the ability to work directly with clients, and a familiarity with new media opportunities and digital strategies. 

Required Education: Bachelors Degree or related experience. Send a resume and work samples via e-mail to jobs@schifinolee.com.

Walker Brands

Full-service Tampa branding agency Walker Brands seeks a Brand Manager and a Part-Time, In-House Graphic Designer in Tampa. To apply for either position, submit a resume and work samples via email to careers@walkerbrands.com.

The brand manager role requires 8+ years in branding, marketing or advertising, with a preference for agency experience as well as real estate branding and marketing experience. The position will require leading several client accounts, and the ideal candidate will combine creativity and innovation with logic and business aptitude. Required Education: Bachelors Degree in a related field.

The part-time graphic designer position requires 2 years of related professional experience in file packaging for both online and print vendors. Advanced proficiency in Creative Suite (including Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat) is preferred. Mac proficiency is required.

Tampa Museum of Art

Card-carrying museum-goers, read on: the Tampa Museum of Art seeks a Development Officer for Sponsorship and Corporate Programs.

The Development Officer's primary responsibilities include securing corporate support and meeting event sponsorship goals for the Museum; stewarding funders and collaborating with board trustees, volunteers, long-time supporters, and other staff; and engaging with the region’s business community. The successful candidate will have fundraising or sales experience, with marketing and donor database experience preferred. An education that includes art history or a related field is a bonus. A Bachelor’s Degree and minimum of 2-4 years of related experience is also necessary.

Brew Bus

Hop aboard the Brew Bus, which takes patrons on tours of Tampa Bay craft beer breweries, bars, and restaurants, is hiring for two part-time positions: “Beertender” and Brew Bus Vehicle Operator

The Beertender position requires familiarity with the craft beer industry (particularly local breweries); basic service industry knowledge; strong social skills; and the ability to lift up to 50 lbs. A high school diploma or equivalent GED is required. Safe Serve certification and Cicerone beer certification are a bonus. 

The Vehicle Operator role requires a clean driving record and CDL with P endorsement, with previous experience. Brew Bus Vehicle Operators transport clients or “riders” throughout the area and possibly throughout the state. Qualified Brew Bus Vehicle Operators will possess a high school diploma or equivalent GED, the ability to lift up to 50 lbs, and a CDL Medical Card. 

Employers, if you have a career opportunity you would like to promote, please email innovationnews@83degreesmedia.com with "Hiring" in the subject line. 

Student entrepreneurs to compete for $4,000 prize at University of Tampa

Win $4,000 in 90 seconds? Student entrepreneurs in the southeasten United States will have just that opportunity during the Spartan Business Pitch Competition at the University of Tampa.

The event is a part of the 2015 Southeast Entrepreneurship Conference, which will take place at UT on Feb. 27-28, 2015.

Students of all academic majors through the southeast are invited to register, particularly students who have already developed an entrepreneurial enterprise.

During the two-day conference and competition, enterprising students will hear from more than 20 nationally renowned speakers, including keynote speeches from Joe Quaglia, president of Americas of Tech Data Corp, and Daniel James Scott, executive director of the Tampa Bay Technology Forum.

Scott’s keynote speech will focus on the realities of entrepreneurial success – and failure.

“When entrepreneurs hit big, we usually only hear the positive spin of their journey to the top. Most success, in reality, is a path that was longer and more difficult than ever imagined,” Scott says. “I'm going to dispel the myths that attitude and failure are the magic bullets for achievement, and talk about the three shared traits - that you don't learn in college - that afford us the opportunity to win.”

SEEC 2015 sponsors include local Tampa companies Agile Thought, Total Quality Logistics and Gray-Robinson Attorneys. The conference’s emcees are professional speaker Topher Morrison and American performance coach Jairek Robbins.

SEEC brings participants together for networking opportunities with students and speakers alike. The conference is hosted by UT Entrepreneurs, the UT chapter of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization (CEO).

“Tampa Bay is quickly becoming a major hub for Entrepreneurship education,” Scott says, noting that the Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ASBE) and the Entrepreneurship Education Project Conference are both headquartered in the Tampa Bay area.

The USF, USF St. Petersburg, and UT Entrepreneurship programs have all received accolades in recent years; the programs at USFSP and UT were back-to-back winners of the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE) Outstanding Emerging Entrepreneurship Program Award, in 2013 and 2014; and students in the Entrepreneurship program at USFSP are three-time winners of the CEO's national Startup Simulation Challenge Champions (2012-2014).

Scott himself was named the ASBE Entrepreneurship Educator of the Year in 2013; UT’s Eric Liguori was named the Lyles Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship's Entrepreneurship Education Excellence Award winner in 2014; Bill Jackson at USFSP was named the USASBE Entrepreneurship Educator of the Year in 2015; and Rebecca White at UT was named a Fellow of USASBE in 2015.

“Every student in an Entrepreneurship program in the US should attend and pitch at this event,” Scott says. “The visibility is outstanding, it is an opportunity to practice pitching, and there is an award and cash available. It is a win all the way around.”

“Plus,” Scott adds, “Who wouldn't want to be in Tampa Bay during February?”

The final round of the Spartan Pitch Competition is open to the public and will take place at 3pm on Saturday, Feb 28, in the Reeves Theater at UT. To learn more about SEEC 2015 or to register, visit the event website.

HCC awarded $100,000 to create Tampa jobs for low-income residents

Hillsborough Community College was recently awarded $100,000 to help promote job creation for lower-income residents of the city of Tampa.

As part of regional and local efforts to create a wide spectrum of jobs in tech and innovation, HCC’s Institute for Corporate and Continuing Education (ICCE) was granted the $100,000 through the Community Development Block Grant by the City of Tampa’s Housing and Development Division.

These funds will aid the creation and development of a Workforce Development and Training Initiative (WDTI) at HCC, which aims to promote job creation for low-income residents who reside within a specific target region in the city of Tampa’s borders.

That area, defined as a “Green Tech Corridor area" or the Tampa Industrial Park/ USF Research Park, falls along East Fowler Avenue, between 30th Street and 50th Street. The neighborhood is along the edges of the innovation district of the University of South Florida, which represents a critical mass of education, science, medicine and research including the Moffitt Cancer Center, Florida Hospital, and USF.

The up-and-coming neighborhood is part of an innovative district whose revitalization is under the leadership of Mark Sharpe, a former county commissioner working to revitalize the USF neighborhood from a “Suitcase City” into a vibrant and sustainable area.

The Tampa Innovation Alliance plans to create to “live, work, play” atmosphere in the USF and Busch Gardens area of north Tampa.

Meanwhile, ICCE expects the implementation of the WDTI to serve as a catalyst for improving employment opportunities for residents and businesses within the target area.

“With this funding, HCC will be able to provide free, career-driven training programs that will effectively increase the competencies of individuals seeking professional development in preparation for the workforce,” said Yolanda Levell-Williams, HCC’s executive director, in a press release.

HCC’s Institute for Corporate and Continuing Education promotes short-term educational programs and services which lead to economic growth and advancement in the community, including continuing education, professional development, and personal enrichment programs and services. 

Other efforts the county has taken to promote economic development include the support of many local startup events, pitch contests, and the economic development innovation initiative. The next round of EDI2 funding for Tampa area startups closes on Monday, March 2, 2015.

Pasco County opens its first STEAM magnet school

The nation’s best schools are places where children can grow, discover and learn in a collaborative environment, asking questions to help them gain a deeper understanding of subject matter in a way that facilitates lifelong learning.

That’s what Pasco County’s Sanders Memorial Elementary School plans to be when it opens in August, 2015. 

The county’s first magnet school for elementary students, Sanders has a unique emphasis on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) subjects. 

The STEAM focus is workforce-driven, with the prediction that jobs in STEM fields are increasing at double the rate of non-STEM fields. The addition of the arts exemplifies the role arts play in creative problem solving and innovative thinking critical to all careers. 

“That’s important to Pasco, when we look at college, career and life readiness,” says Jason Petry, recently appointed Principal at Sanders. “We want to start installing an excitement and curiosity about these subjects in students at a young age.”

A New Port Richey native and University of South Florida graduate, Petry has worked in Pasco County schools for all of his career. His passion and excitement about the learning environment at Sanders is evident by hearing him speak. 

“This school will look different, and it will feel different,” says Petry.

The LEED-certified buildings will feature group learning stations, where students will at times move in between classrooms during the day. The hands-on instruction will allow them to make real-world connections. To borrow from entrepreneurship education, Sanders will employ a “failing forward” philosophy, which believes that perseverance through failure is key to providing a positive learning experience. 

As a public school, Sanders will mirror other schools in the district. The curriculum will include the same core standards that other public schools adhere to, but with the addition of STEAM-focused subjects such as computer coding. Arts subjects such as design thinking, music and humanities will be integrated into the curriculum.

“Engagement is a big factor,” says Lauren Burdick, STEAM coordinator, K-12 for the Pasco County School District. “We want to create a felt need in students and relate that to concepts around STEAM.” 

With 1,699 applicants for the 762 openings at the school, the need is evident. According to Burdick, the county has implemented project-based learning and cross-curricular connections in other schools throughout the district as well. 

Pasco aims to expand the model to middle and high schools in the future.

Who's hiring: The Infiltrator, Tampa Theatre, Hillsborough County and more

Did you know? 83 Degrees Media searches for growing companies to bring you exciting job opportunities in the Tampa Bay area. Employers, if you have a career opportunity you would like to promote, please email innovationnews@83degreesmedia.com with "Hiring" in the subject line. Reach out over on Twitter @83degreesmedia if our job listings put you on the path to success.

This week, the Bryan Cranston-led movie, ’'The Infiltrator,'’ is first up on our list of hiring opportunities. There are no permanent roles, but for those who would like to appear on screen when the movie films scenes in Tampa in mid April, there’s a chance that you could! Selected extras will be paid for their work. Inquiries, resumes, and hiring questions should be submitted at the casting website. Click here for more information, or visit @FilmTampaBay on Twitter.

Dabble Lab, a new collaborative software development studio in Tampa, is about to launch and already growing. Dabble Lab, based out of Tampa Bay WaVE, aims to help successful companies retain a startup edge through “growth hacking.” Sound intriguing? The company is hiring for two positions, a Sales Coordinator role as well as a Growth Hacker, whose responsibilities will include sales, coding, and communication. Dabble Lab Tampa is set to launch in early Feb 2015.

Want to get involved with local business? Now’s your chance! The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce is hiring an Events Manager. This position will assist the Director of Events in event planning, committee management, and providing service to Chamber members, among other duties. A Bachelor’s Degree and a minimum of 2 years of experience in event planning are required. To view the complete job description, click here.

Hillsborough County is hiring for over 30 positions, ranging from a Wellness Asst. in Aging Services to a Public Works Senior Engineering specialist. A Treatment Counselor Behavior Analyst position is available with Hillsborough County Children and Youth Services. The job requires a bachelor’s degree in a mental health field; Board Certified Behavioral Analyst (BCBA) eligible to work in Florida; and other qualifications, which can be found on the county’s job board.

Lorrica, Inc is hiring for a Marketing and Communication Manager. The Tampa-based IT security company Lorrica, Inc provides security consulting to small and large enterprises. For consideration, applicants should have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent in marketing, and must have 3-7 years of marketing experience.

The historic Tampa Theatre in downtown Tampa is hiring for two part-time, hourly roles: Patron Services Representative and Box Office & Operations Asst. Tampa Theatre has been a mainstay in the downtown since 1926, astonishing first-time visitors with the decadent interior and ceiling that is painted to look like a night sky. Today, the theatre is a Tampa City Landmark managed by a non-profit group, while the historic building is owned by the City of Tampa. To learn more about job opportunities, visit the Tampa Theatre website.

USF Young Innovators compete for chance to appear on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Teams from the upcoming USF Young Innovator Competition could have the chance to appear on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”
 
The University of South Florida, along with Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI Tampa) and Home Shopping Network (HSN), is sponsoring the contest to seek out innovative young inventors.
 
The USF Young Innovator Competition is open to students in grades K-8 in the Tampa Bay area. The top inventor will be awarded a $1,000 cash prize.

During a practice session on Feb 7 at the HSN studio in St. Petersburg, the top 10 finalists in the competition will be filmed presenting their innovative ideas. With parent permission, USF Young Innovator Competition leaders will send these videos on to "Tonight Show" producers, in hopes of helping finalists get selected to appear in an upcoming “Fallonventions” segment. 
 
Even if students don’t achieve a slot on the nationally televised show, all participants will win a day pass to MOSI. Finalists and runners-up earn additional awards, including cash prizes and annual family passes to MOSI.
 
In addition, each winner’s school receives a matching cash prize to support science and engineering programs.
 
Anton Hopen, director of the USF Young Innovator Competition, offers would-be young inventors a tip: build a model.
 
“Judges are looking for inventions that are creative, useful and could reasonably be produced,” Hopen says. “Students who actually try and build a prototype tend to have better invention descriptions, because the idea is more thought-out.”
 
The USF Young Innovator Competition is seeking ideas that identify a problem with current technology and offer a potential solution. Students will be expected to explain their invention and demonstrate how it works. Judging criteria includes creativity, persuasiveness, public benefit and marketability.
 
The top 10 finalists will present their ideas and prototypes at USF on Feb 11 (famed inventor Thomas Edison’s birthday) before a live panel of judges.
 
Several past finalists in the USF Young Innovator Competition have commercialized their inventions and secured patents, including Marissa Streng, Luke Anderson and George Seits.
 
 Interested students can now submit online or via paper copy before the entry deadline of Feb 1.
 
For full contest rules and details, visit the USF Young Innovator website or contact Anton Hopen, director of the USF Young Innovator Competition.

'Shark Tank'-style competition invites companies to compete for $1,000 prize

Tampa Bay area companies are invited to participate in a business competition that will award the winning idea with $1,000. ThinkPitch Tampa Bay is a first-time “Shark Tank” style tech event that will take place at TEC Garage in downtown St. Petersburg on Jan 27. 

Following the competition, a free Happy Hour Networking event will be held at Central Avenue Sports Bar in DTSP from 4:00 pm-6:00 pm.

IT professionals and companies who can provide innovative technology solutions, as well as “’out of the box’ thinkers,” are encouraged to participate, says Kristin Jackson, an account executive with event sponsor AC4S Consulting.

Jackson anticipates around 20 presenters in the free pitch competition, which will be held in a closed conference room at TEC Garage, the Tampa Bay Innovation Center’s incubator space. Each participating company will have 10 minutes to pitch ideas that would help solve problems for a Fortune 100 retailer, followed by a five-minute Q&A session.

Judges for ThinkPitch Tampa Bay include Martin Davis, a former Chief Technology Officer with Wells Fargo; Joanne Isham, a former Deputy Director for Science and Technology for the CIA; and Hugh Campbell, the CEO and president of AC4S and AC4S Consulting, Inc.

The ThinkPitch challenge: Solve problems for a Fortune 100 retailer.

The categories:
  • “Barcode Replacement: How can a retailer connect physical products to their digital identities, providing valuable information to both retailer and customers regarding the product that will help enable better decision making?
  • Next Generation Wearable Technology: How will wearable technology influence the way in which retailers operate their business today? What are the form factors around ways to make associates more ‘hands free’ while improving productivity, and what is the look and feel of that user interface?
  • Modular Integrity: How can a retailer stay in stock at the right place at the right time for customers on an ongoing basis?
  • Open: How can a large retail chain improve any aspect of their business with innovative technology solutions?”
Sponsored by AC4S Consulting and the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, ThinkPitch Tampa Bay will be held from 1:00 pm until 4:00 pm at TEC Garage, located at 244 2nd Avenue N. in St. Petersburg.

The First Prize for ThinkPitch is $1,000, while Second Prize is $500. Winners will be announced January 28.

For more information about the event, call (813) 609-4320 or find tickets.

Tech startup KiteDesk expands, adds 2 jobs in Tampa

A Tampa-born startup business is adding jobs as the company expands its presence both locally in the Tampa Bay area and in Silicon Valley during 2015.

KiteDesk, a cloud-based social sales platform, “will be hiring in all areas of our business,” says CEO Sean Burke. “Sales, marketing, product, development; as well as building a data science team.”

With the rapidly growing popularity of social media, platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and KiteDesk provide ample opportunity for “social selling,” says Burke.

“Access to decision-makers through social channels has become a smarter option then trying to cold call them,” he explains.
Social selling is a form of modern sales that takes advantage of social platforms to find new clients.

By harnessing data from email, calendars and other sources, KiteDesk aims to facilitate the sales process by helping clients learn who to sell to and how to sell it. From platform customization to lead-generating criteria, the platform is geared toward increasing sales productivity for clients.

Social selling allows businesses to “grow their networks, listen and learn about (customer) interests, engage in meaningful dialogue with them, share valuable content with them, and guide them through the buying process,” Burke says. 

KiteDesk is currently hiring for an Operations Manager and Director of Marketing.

KiteDesk “takes culture seriously. It's an integral part of our hiring process,” Burke says. “We want people to challenge themselves and others to put out the best work possible, but balance that with enjoying the challenge and each other in the process.“ 

At the core of the company’s culture, says Burke, are shared values: individual responsibility, collaboration, creativity, transparency and humor.

“Each one of these values helps to guide us as we make important decisions - but humor allows us the freedom to be ourselves and to enjoy the journey.” 

The Tampa startup company, which was launched in 2011 by co-founders Jack Kennedy and Jared Rodriguez, was a part of the inaugural class of startups in the Tampa Bay WaVE FirstWaVE Accelerator program. KiteDesk is currently a coworking tenant at Tampa Bay WaVE, located at 400 North Ashley Drive, Suite 1500, in Tampa.

St. Petersburg Chamber announces $3,000 scholarship for Iron Yard student developers

The St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce will provide one student with a $3,000 scholarship toward tuition for an upcoming course at The Iron Yard, an intensive 12-week coding class for developers.

“The Iron Yard has become another destination attractor for our community,” says the St. Pete Chamber’s president and CEO Chris Steinocher. “Talent from around the country are coming to St. Pete for this type of training, and it changes the paradigm of how we think about ourselves and our ability to compete for talent.”
 
The St. Pete Chamber is partnering with The Iron Yard to provide a scholarship to a student in part because The Iron Yard “fits so well in our community,” explains Steinocher. “Their unique and powerful model for cutting edge skill development is empowering for those seeking to pursue their passions.”

A $3,000 scholarship will be awarded to one student in The Iron Yard’s upcoming Tampa Bay - St. Petersburg Front End Engineering course, which begins on Jan 26.

The scholarship is centered on an innovative topic: “What would you build?”

Developers and interested students with little technical experience alike are invited to apply for the scholarship. Interested parties should apply for The Iron Yard’s Tampa Bay class starting on January 26th and include a 250 word essay explaining what kind of app or website you would build after graduating from The Iron Yard’s course. 

St. Pete has a sincere focus on nurturing a life-long learner -- and providing the lift for anyone wanting to work hard to pursue their dreams,” Steinocher says. ”This scholarship is just a symbol -- a welcome mat for Iron Yard and for those wanting to grow smarter in St Pete.”

The St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and The Iron Yard will jointly judge submissions and select one winner.

Applicants “should be energized by this new opportunity, need an intense interest in wanting to learn, and a willingness to make their dreams come true,” says Steinocher.

They should also “be willing to sleep a little less for the next 12 weeks,” he explains, “because it is an ‘all-in’ proposition.”

To learn more about The Iron Yard, visit their website.
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