| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter Youtube RSS Feed

Technology : Innovation + Job News

377 Technology Articles | Page: | Show All

Online continuing education company hiring, expanding Tampa HQ

An online educational training company has expanded its headquarters in Tampa’s Westshore business district and is hiring for seven full-time positions locally.

RedVector, a division of the larger organization Vector, has provided online training space for engineering, construction, industrial and public businesses since 1999. The Tampa-based business was developed and sold by David Chitester, whose Florida Funders group of angel investors is gaining traction locally -- most recently, by partnering with Uber on a 'ride-and-pitch' event that put potential entrepreneurs alongside angel investors and venture capitalists for 15-minute spins around town.

RedVector, which employs more than 80 workers in the Tampa Bay area, has recently moved from the 7th floor to the 3rd floor of the Urban Centre II building at 4890 West Kennedy Blvd., expanding its national headquarters in the city’s Westshore business district.

“We take a lot of pride in RedVector’s close-knit culture, but we were pretty squeezed for space at our old location,” explains RedVector CEO Tom Wallace.

The company’s vision for the new, 18,000-square-feet offices was "to create a larger, free-flowing environment, without taking away from that unified culture that we love so much,” Wallace says.

Aspects of the new RedVector offices include a large break room and coffee station, six conference rooms named for the company’s core values (Entrepreneurship, Learning, Integrity, Teamwork, Excellence, WOW), healthy snacks, and even a production studio.

One unique feature of the new space: a private ‘mother’s room.’

A number of full-time positions with RedVector in Tampa are currently available, including:
  • Accounts Payable Specialist
  • B2B Sales Representative
  • Business Development Representative
  • CRM Analyst
  • Inside Sales Representative - Education Advisors
  • Sales Representative - B2B Industrial
  • Vice President of Enterprise Sales
Visit the company website to learn more about job qualifications or to apply for these positions. 

Wallace hopes to see the new headquarters, designed with "more modern features, like low cube walls and glass partitions, foster even greater collaboration and creativity and attract new talent.”

Wallace, who serves on the Board of Directors of well-known local companies like Tribridge, is also a co-founder and past president of the Tampa Bay Technology Forum (TBTF). Wallace attended Indiana University of PA, and presently serves on TBTF's Board of Directors and Executive Committee. He is also a trustee of the University of Tampa.

Global VC tournament to take place in Tampa in 2016

A startup pitch competition offering $1 million in prizes to a global winner is headed toward Tampa Bay. The 1776 Challenge Cup, which will take place at startup business accelerator and venture center Tampa Bay WaVe in February 2016, is billed as a ‘worldwide tournament for the most promising, world-changing startups to win cash prizes, make international connections and share their vision on a global stage.’

The Challenge Cup competition, which was created by Washington, D.C.-based incubater 1776 in fall 2013, takes place in three rounds across 45 cities and nine regions across the world, culminating in a global competition in D.C. in spring 2016. Startups that focus on solving challenges related to topics like health, education, energy and smart cities have been determining criteria for past winners. 

Current and prior local hosts for the competitions in the United States have included tech hubs like Denver, Austin and San Francisco. So how was Tampa Bay selected as a host for a local round of the 1776 Challenge Cup this year?

“Tampa Bay just made its case for its startup community," Nick Caputo says. "This is really just further evidence of the growing startup community in Tampa Bay.”

Caputo, who interned with Tampa Bay WaVe from spring 2014 through fall 2015 while completing a Bachelors in Entrepreneurship at the University of Tampa, began working for the business as a part-time marketing assistant and later accepted a full-time role as an SEO analyst for Rank K.O., an internet marketing company housed at WaVe’s new, expanded downtown headquarters

“We all know that it is difficult -- not impossible -- to find funding in our region,” Caputo says, and the 1776 Challenge Cup could “enable some of our startups to get experience that they will rarely have the chance to get.”

Not to mention exposure, he adds. 

“You don't receive many opportunities to be showcased on a global scale,” Caputo says. “This is going to be huge for our region’s entrepreneurship community.”

What makes the 1776 Challenge Cup a different kind of pitch competition from the many others that Tampa Bay has seen in the past few years? It's primarily focused on scalable startups that aim to solve problems and modern challenges -- in other words, social good companies. 

Two startups have already applied to compete in the local challenge, Caputo says, but both teams are from Gainesville, two hours north of Tampa Bay. 

“I will be ramping up outreach in the coming weeks, so applications will be starting to roll in very soon,” Caputo says.

To apply to compete in the local Tampa Bay round of the 1776 Challenge Cup, visit the challenge website. Deadlines listed on the event website indicate that applications must be received three weeks prior to any event.  

The local Tampa 1776 Challenge Cup will take place on February 10, 2016, at Tampa Bay WaVe, 500 E. Kennedy Blvd, Suite 300. WaVe headquarters relocated from Tampa’s Skyes Building to the new location in Oct. 2015 after earning a second i6 Challenge grant (for $500,000 in 2014; the first was for $1 million in 2008), and a $50,000 Growth Accelerator Fund Grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), which was presented at WaVe's Grand Opening event.

Pitch competition offers prize money, mentorship to local winners

Startup companies affiliated with several business incubators in the Tampa Bay area will have the opportunity to win $1,000 in prize money at an upcoming business pitch competition.

Building Entrepreneurship Around Tampa (B.E.A.T.) Pitch Competition, sponsored by South-Florida based investors New World Angels, is a collaborative pitch event open to companies currently working with Tampa's USF CONNECT or Tampa Bay WaVE, Pasco County's SMARTstart and St. Pete's TEC Garage.

The B.E.A.T. Pitch Competition will provide local entrepreneurs from six finalist companies with the opportunity to pitch their ventures to angel investors on November 17, 2015. The winner of the pitch competition will receive $1,000 in prize money. Perhaps equally as valuable, winners also earn 20 hours of coaching. 

First, second and third place winners will also receive the opportunity to pitch in front of 15 investors at a New World Angels monthly meeting.

The pitch competition comes at a time when local innovation efforts are expanding through the leadership of groups like the Tampa Innovation Alliance and Hillsborough County. USF CONNECT Program Coordinator Amy Yonai expects the B.E.A.T. Pitch Competition to attract “an expanded network of individuals, due to the growth of the economic ecosystem in Tampa.”
The B.E.A.T. Pitch Competition is tapping into that growth by hosting a “TEC Talk” during the event -- attendees can sip coffee and start a conversation with Tampa Innovation Alliance Director Mark Sharpe and Stephanie Ashley, Director of Incubation Programs and Economic Development at USF Research.

Along with the TEC Talk, the B.E.A.T. Pitch Competition will feature a keynote speaker and “Entrepreneurship Breakout Sessions” that cover a gamut of topics from potential legal concerns to adversity and leadership or startup funding.

“B.E.A.T. is an event that supports the entrepreneurial ecosystem though a showcase of innovative start-ups, educational programming and opportunities to pitch for capital,” says Yonai, who received a BA from the University of California, Irvine.

Local start-ups, business leaders, entrepreneurial support organizations, [and] anyone interested in becoming involved in the economic ecosystem in Tampa" should consider attending the event, says Yonai, who has worked as a program coordinator at Duke University and a fellowship coordinator at UNC Chapel Hill.

Yonai stepped into the role of program coordinator at USF Connect and the Tampa Bay Technology Incubator (TBTI) in May 2015.
USF CONNECT works to provide support for technology start-ups and connects new companies from counties across Florida to business opportunities with the school. USF CONNECT and the USF Research Foundation are located at the University of South Florida, 3802 Spectrum Blvd., Suite 100, in Tampa. To learn more about the B.E.A.T event, click here.

Job seekers: Fall, winter career fairs in Tampa Bay

As the end of the year approaches, a number of Tampa Bay and St. Petersburg area companies and local governments are seeking candidates for part- and fulltime positions.

New graduates, young professionals, those seeking a career change or industry advancement, take note of these upcoming job and career fairs in the Tampa Bay area in fall 2015 and winter 2016. Events include job fairs for veterans, law enforcement and students.

Career fairs in Tampa Bay can connect job seekers in the Tampa and St. Petersburg areas with the industry leaders and resources that help open the door for new hires.

Monday, November 2: Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office Job Fair
noon-4 p.m.
Falkenburg Road Jail Assembly Room (North side)
520 N Falkenburg Road, Tampa

Thursday, November 12: City of Tampa Mayor’s Alliance for Persons with Disabilities Job Fair
9 a.m.-1 p.m.
Port Tampa Bay, Terminal 2,
651 Channelside Drive, Tampa

Veterans and persons with disabilities are encouraged to attend. To register as an employer, click here

Thursday, November 19: Tampa Career Fair 
11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Doubletree by Hilton Tampa Westshore Airport
4500 West Cypress Street, Tampa

Friday, December 11: Tampa Career Fair 
11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Doubletree by Hilton Tampa Westshore Airport
4500 West Cypress Street, Tampa

Monday, January 11, 2016: Tampa Bay Job and Career Fair presented by the Tampa Bay Times
10 a.m.-3 p.m.
The Coliseum
535 4th Ave North, St. Pete

More than 50 local employers will be in attendance. Professional business attire required. Bring at least 20 copies of your resume.

February 2, 2016: University of South Florida Career Fair Week
10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Marshall Student Center Ballroom, USF campus
4103 USF Cedar Cir, Tampa

Employers, are you hosting an upcoming career fair in the Tampa Bay area? Put potential future employees on the right path by sharing the details of your upcoming job or career fair in Tampa Bay with 83 Degrees. 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.

Hiring in Tampa Bay: November 2015 job news

Fulfill online orders at a Tampa Bay area warehouse in a seasonal role; handle media relations and marketing for a local architecture firm fulltime; tee up for a position at a popular Pinellas County golfing resort.

All of these opportunities and more are part of the 83 Degrees Media monthly Tampa Bay jobs roundup. 
Here's who's hiring in Tampa Bay in November 2015:

Online giant Amazon is currently hiring for a number of temporary, seasonal positions at the megastore's Lakeland fulfillment center. Seasonal Fulfillment Associates must be 18 years or older and have a high school diploma or equivalent. To learn more or apply, visit the company's website

DHR Mechanical Services is seeking several full-time associates in Supermarket Refrigeration, Energy Management Systems, Installation, Foremen, Startup Technician, and other roles. Foreman applicants must have at least five years experience in a supervisor or management role.

To learn about job requirements for these positions in the supermarket and cold storage industry, send an email or call 727-835-9088. 

Harvard Jolly Architecture is hiring a Marketing Coordinator for the firm's St. Petersburg headquarters. Responsibilities will include writing proposals, media relations, branding, content development, internal and external communications, database maintenance, and more.The successful candidate will be a creative thinker and problem solver with a flexible schedule.

To learn more, visit the company website.

HealthPlan Services, a Water Street Healthcare Partners affiliate, is hiring for 11 jobs in the Tampa Bay area, including Data Analyst; HR Analyst; Sales Engineer; Director, Data Warehouse; Website Content Manager; and more.

To see the full job descriptions and available positions, visit the insurance company's website.

Tampa Bay's well-known Innisbrook Golf Resort is hiring for a number of fulltime positions, including General Maintenance, Cosmetologist, Regional Group Sales Manager, Greenskeeper, Mechanic, Night Auditor, and more. Responsibilities and requirements vary per position; visit the Innisbrook Careers website to learn more about each opening. 

Tampa Bay Partnership is hiring a VP Public Policy and Legislative Affairs. The position reports directly to the president and CEO and is primarily responsible for developing and implementing legislative priorities and public policy agenda. Successful candidates will have previous policy or legislative experience.

Visit the TB Partnership website for a complete listing of job requirements and essential responsibilities. 

IT staffing firm TEKsystems is hiring for an ECommerce Business Analyst in Tampa. The successful applicant will have five or more years of experience as an IT Business Analyst; be knowledgable about creating diagrams and workflows; and have UX experience. Retail experience is a bonus.

TEKsystems is also hiring for a Business Systems Analyst and a VoiP Network Engineer. To learn more about these available positions or to apply, click here.

St. Pete Pedicab challenges employees to exercise while on the clock. Interested in peddling for the popular DTSP transport as an independent contractor? Click here to learn more or apply for a position as an Operator. 

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

Startup Weekend brings Global Startup Battle to UT campus in November

Startup Weekend events have helped shape the entrepreneurial community of Tampa Bay in recent years, with notable businesses and connections forming as a result of the 54-hour weekend coding and creating marathons.

83 Degrees asked Startup Weekend event co-organizer Michael LaPlante what's new and fresh about this year's meetup, who might want to attend, and how Startup Weekend has impacted Tampa Bay. LaPlante, who earned a BS in web design from Full Sail University in Orlando and runs a web development business in Tampa, has helped organize several Startup Weekend events and curates Tampa Bay Startup Digest.

Check out the Q&A below to see his responses and score a $25 coupon code for Techstar's Startup Weekend Tampa Bay, which will take place at the University of Tampa's John P. Lowth Entrepreneurship Center November 13-15, 2015.

83 Degrees: What's new or different this year at Startup Weekend?
MP: This year, we are really trying to blow it out of the park during the Global Startup Battle event. There are more prizes and tracks to advance to than ever before. We are really trying to connect to the community this event, and we have teamed up with the University of Tampa to also reach out to the younger crowd. 

83D: How is the event financed? Is the city or county providing funds? 
MP: In the past, we have worked with Hillsborough County through their EDI2 grant to help fund our event along with sponsors, but this year we are back to hitting the ground and finding local community sponsors that can make the event possible. If [you] want to get [your] name out there, definitely reach out. Nothing is too big or too small, and it all goes back to making the Tampa Bay community even more awesome.

83D: Who would you recommend consider registering to participate in Startup Weekend?
MP: Anyone with an idea, or an itch to solve a problem: this is your space to be. Whether you are new to the area, or have been here for years, you can always meet new people and grow your network. 

The amount I see people grow in the span of 54 hours during our events is tremendous. I can guarantee everyone will learn something. I have been doing these for almost five years, and have been involved in more than 20 in some way, shape, or form, and I still learn something new every time.

83D: Do you think SW events have positively impacted the community in the past few years? How/why?
MP: I certainly think the past events have greatly impacted our community. We have seen companies form, friendships and partnerships birthed, and ideas come to life. I still hear buzz all throughout the year about the events... I am constantly asked when the next event will be, because someone has an idea they would love to pitch.

Our goal is to show anyone they can follow their dream and build a thriving business here in the Tampa Bay region, and we work with awesome partners and sponsors to help bring that to life.

83D: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
MP: Readers can use code “83DEGREES” to get $25 off any normal price ticket.

To register for Startup Weekend Tampa Bay events, click here.

Military Hackathon challenges developers to innovate solutions to DoD challenges

A Hackathon focused on solving potential problems using military and defense tactics took place in Tampa over the weekend.

Hackathons are events at which groups of programmers and developers come together to create solutions to posed problems. The Mil-OSS Tampa Hackathon, which kicked off with a Friday night networking event and concluded with a Sunday evening awards ceremony, could “provide potential solutions to challenges faced within the DoD,” says event organizer Jeff Young.

The goal of the Hackathon: to “showcase talent that is interested in supporting the defense community,” Young explains.

Tampa Bay is home to the U.S. Special Operations Command and U.S. Central Command, and the two commands worked with the event organizers to develop the Mil-OSS Tampa Hackathon. The challenge was expected to bring out members of the government and military, as well as local students and professors.

Hackathon topics were selected by experts from the Department of Defense, Young says. Challenges for this event will focus on topics such as open source framework, cyber security and cloud security, tactical terrain models, and 3D model visualization.

The MIl-OSS Tampa Hackathon kicked off at SOFWERX, 1910 North Ola Avenue in Tampa, but teams were able to choose between working from the event headquarters or a location of their choosing. Participants were required to work on their own devices during the Hackathon.

Event organizers expected around 50-70 challenge participants and another 20 to 30 attending to observe. People from across Florida, as well as out of state, visited Tampa Bay to participate in the Hackathon alongside teams “from local industry and academia,” says Young, who is VP of Marketing and Business Development at Marjau Systems Corporation, a tech company that focuses on providing IT solutions for government and private entities. Young, who attended college at the University of San Francisco, previously worked for Brighthouse and Time Warner Cable and is a charter member of the Marketing Advisory Committee for United Way of Tampa Bay.

Mil-OSS goals include improving tech development and innovation through creating networking opportunities, connecting veterans, and creating solutions.

Expenses for the Hackathon are covered by a myriad of event sponsors; all remaining funds will be donated to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. Hackathon sponsors include the University of Tampa, Kahwa Coffee, Hillsborough County, Tribridge, Agile Thought, Reliaquest, and other local businesses.

Tampa Innovation Alliance hosts global thought leader at dinner

Tampa Innovation Alliance will unveil an updated plan for revitalizing a section of Tampa once known as “Suitcase City” at a dinner celebrating author Bruce Katz on Oct. 29.

Katz, a renowned expert on innovation districts, is founding director of D.C.-based think tank The Brookings Institute and author of The Metropolitan Revolution. Tampa Innovation Alliance Founder, Mark Sharpe, a former Hillsborough County commissioner, who follows and engages with Katz on social media, invited him to speak at the dinner.

“We realized that as we launch an innovation district, there’s no one better to come in and assess the situation and be a part of it,” explains Kelley Sims, director of communications and community engagement for the Tampa Innovation Alliance.

“It’s time for us to really launch the vision for the district,” says Sims. “We have a sense for the change that can be made and how it will happen here, and it’s really time for us to share that with the community. A great deal of forward movement is happening.”

The Museum of Science and Industry will host the “cooking with science” concept dinner, which is open to the public. The event will “feature science and technology in a lot of different ways,” says Sims.

The Tampa Innovation Alliance was developed by Sharpe in 2014 and launched almost one year ago with four program “anchors”: the University of South Florida, Busch Gardens, Florida Hospital and Moffitt Cancer Center

“Anchor institutions that were doing things on their own weren’t necessarily working together before,” Sims says, “but now, you see this incredible dynamic between them.”

Membership has increased to around 90 members since the Innovation Alliance launched, including community leaders like MOSI and big-name brands like Brighthouse. The addition of University Mall owners New York-based RD Management to the Alliance executive committee is “very exciting,” Sims says, “because they have plans to put as much as $150 million into a complete revitalization of that mall -- a completely new concept.”

The Alliance sees the mall “as sort of the town center,” Sims says, “a beginning of the revitalization of the whole alliance area.”

The area comprises about 25,000 acres -- bordered by Bearss Ave to the north and Busch Boulevard to the south, between interstates 275 and 75. Working with Hillsborough County’s Economic Development Corporation has helped the Alliance to identify an “inner core,” where an innovation district will be centrally defined over time, Sims says.

Discussions regarding some gateway projects have also begun; these could include freeway identifier signs to brand the district.

“There’s serious momentum with regards to change, and it will be nice for folks to see that as they enter the area,” Sims says.

Students and professors from USF are assisting the Alliance with studying the area and conducting planning studies.

“We feel that this is incredibly important: to involve the community that already lives in our area,” Sims says. “We want those who are living here to have opportunities for better wage jobs, better education, startup business support; and we want to make sure the community is involved and their ideas are represented in our planning."

“We’re building an innovation district where people want to 'live, work, play, study, and stay.' Having involvement at every age is really important to us.” 

Visit Eventbrite for tickets to the Premiere Innovation dinner or visit the Tampa Innovation Alliance website for more information. Katz will also speak at the Florida Chamber of Commerce quarterly innovation caucus during his visit; contact Sims to attend.

Unconference draws tech crowd to USF College of Business

Annually each fall, a group of technology enthusiasts from the Tampa Bay community comes together at the University of South Florida’s large, airy College of Business building to listen to local speakers give off-the-cuff presentations about all things tech.

BarCamp Tampa Bay 2015, which is now in its eighth year, bills itself as an “un-conference,” one where tech industry programmers, developers, designers and entrepreneurs come together to share knowledge and develop connections. Marketers, copywriters and other web-related content creators are also welcome at BarCamp events.

One constant of any BarCamp is change. Each year’s speakers and topics are laid out in a first-come, first-served informal format. Instead of assigning topics or asking for presentation outlines ahead of time, BarCamp organizers crowdsource topics and the speakers from the local tech community. Topics can range from agile development and user experience design to 3D printing, startup funding or networking tips. 

“We never know until the morning of the event exactly what is going to be presented,” explains event co-organizer Ken Evans.

The one-day event took place on Saturday, October 17, with early morning speaker signup and a steady stream of topics presented from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A break for lunch included a mile of subs donated by Firehouse.

Startup Monkey Founder Evans hopes to see participants walk away “with an appreciation for what others know and a willingness to freely share with each other as peers. BarCamp’s greatest asset may be that someone in the audience last year is inspired to get up and be a speaker this year.”

"Cool T-shirts" and an after party are also part of the BarCamp package. This year, the after party took place at the newest location of the successful Tampa-based tavern, World of Beer, on Fowler Ave. 

The event has been hosted at USF for the past four years, and Evans, who attended Syracuse University in New York, was “delighted” to see the event welcomed back to the campus in Tampa's growing Innovation District for a fifth.

USF’s Muma College of Business is “a wonderful venue host,” Evans says. “I know they see the value in what we are doing for the students, as well as the broader tech and business community.”

Collaboration is key for technology professionals, Evans says. BarCamp Tampa Bay is a “fun and rewarding program that has meant so much to the growth of the local tech ecosystem.”

Evans estimates that coworking spaces, dozens of companies, and “an effort to bridge government, economic development and the tech community all began as a result of BarCamp and the people involved in fostering that spirit. It all comes down to the fact that BarCamp is not only a day of sharing, but also a day of action.”

Action that Evans hope to see last through the rest of the year. “Get involved and keep that spirit of sharing technical and start-up business knowledge alive,” he urges.

BarCamp Tampa Bay is organized by Evans, Joy Randels and TechNova board members, along with community volunteers, and it is supported by Hillsborough County's Economic Development Innovation Initiative fund (read more about EDI2 here).

TechNova is a volunteer-run nonprofit organization based in the Tampa Bay region that organizes annual community tech events like Ignite Tampa Bay and BarCamp.

Robotics competition brings STEM-focused K-12 students to Tampa

More than 50 teams of students from kindergarten age through to high school seniors will build robots, create lego structures, and participate in technology-themed challenges at Roboticon Tampa Bay on Saturday, Oct. 10, and Sunday, Oct. 11.

Roboticon Tampa Bay will host a series of FIRST Robotics (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) educational events during the two days at the Bob Martinez Athletics Center at the University of Tampa in downtown Tampa: a LEGO League, Tech Challenge and Robotics Competition. All of the events are open to the public.

FIRST Robotics programs around the world are largely volunteer-run; nearly 200,000 worldwide volunteers work with around twice that many students. Studies of students involved in FIRST activities have shown that involved students are 50 percent more likely to attend college than their peers, four times more likely to pursue a career in engineering, and 2.5 times more likely to volunteer in their communities, says Roboticon Tampa Bay organizer and Eureka Factory Founder Terri Willingham.

“Ultimately, we want to build a capable, technically literate and professional workforce of future employees and business leaders in Tampa, and we need young minds like the ones that will be at Roboticon,” Willingham says. “This is our chance to make a powerful impact on visiting students. Caring business professionals make a difference in children’s lives, and can influence our economic future, as well.”

By highlighting technology and robotics at the local Roboticon, Willingham seeks “to show youth attending the event why they might want to live, learn and work in Tampa as they move on from high school.”

Highlights of the two-day Roboticon Tampa Bay events include:FIRST LEGO League team scrimmages will “give folks the chance to see some of our youngest engineers in training,” says Willingham, while robot-building will earn some high school students awards.

In addition to educational workshops and interactive competitions, Roboticon Tampa Bay will feature music by teenage DJ Jake Delacruz, as well as a “tropical Star Wars” performance by Steel Pan Band from the Maestro Maines School of Music on Oct. 11 at 1 p.m.

Also on Sunday, visitors can browse the FIRST Robotics Teams fundraiser.

“Robots and a sale! How awesome is that?” Willingham exclaims.

In early fall 2015, FIRST released a Newspaper in Education special edition dedicated to STEM themes to middle and high school students statewide in an effort to bring student -- and administrative -- attention to STEM fields.

Rather than allocating funds primarily to sports or non-academic programs, Willingham says, public high schools that invest “school dollars and student time into more STEM-related programming will provide a far higher return on the investment for schools, students and the community.”

Roboticon Tampa Bay is one of many innovative local events to receive funding from the Hillsborough County Economic Development Innovation Initiative (EDI2) grant.

“The outlook for science and technology careers is robust,” Willingham says. “The future is what Roboticon is all about. What it’s showing: just a slice of a world full of empowered, educated, supported and inspired youth can do.”

Hillsborough County “sees that future,” she adds, “and we’re grateful for our county’s dedication to these goals.”

All of the weekend’s Roboticon Tampa Bay events are open to the public, and Willingham anticipates up to 1,000 students, parents, and interested attendees from around Tampa Bay and across the state of Florida to stop by the two-day weekend expo. Over 50 teams are slated to compete; double 2014’s numbers. 

Uber hosts "ride-and-pitch" for Tampa Bay investors, entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs and aspiring startup founders in Tampa Bay enjoyed a new way to reach an investment audience for one day only: in an Uber car.

For three hours on Friday, October 9, select Uber drivers hosted investors from the local Tampa Bay area, giving entrepreneurs the chance to "ride and pitch." 

Following two successful stints in its home base of San Francisco and in Philadephia, ridesharing company Uber paired up with Florida Funders, LLC to bring Tampa Bay investors and entrepreneurs together - for 15 minutes per ride. 

David Chitester founded Florida Funders, a Tampa-based company that connects local businesses with investors and financing, in 2014, after noting that the Tampa Bay region was "losing too many young, promising entrepreneurs to places like Silicon Valley and Austin. If we can fund some of these firms, they can grow here, and the local community will benefit.''

Using modern technology to give them a few minutes of investors' time could be a good way to keep those young, promising entrepreneurs. 

Chitester found himself hesitant to get involved with the UberPitch contest initially - "but when I returned the call from Uber and discussed the concept, it really made sense for us to get involved," he says. "We are well connected in the Tampa Bay region with both investors and entrepreneurs. Also, we are disrupting the investment industry and Uber is disrupting the transportation industry, so it is a great match of philosophies." 

Since Uber has run the pitch contest in only a few cities around the country, the unconventional company's selection of Tampa as a host city "shows we are getting national recognition for the efforts everyone here is making in the local startup community and eco-system," Chitester says.

Each Uber car involved in the pitch contests hosted two investors, riding separately, for an hour and a half each on Friday morning. Altogether, two UberPitch cars could be requested around downtown St. Petersburg; two in Tampa's downtown and West Shore business districts; and one in the University of South Florida's growing "Innovation District." That means that selected riders were able to talk about their ideas with ten potential investors during the three-hour event.

To access Uber cars with investors, individuals simply input a code (TBPITCH) when reserving a ride through the Uber smartphone app. Once an investor car picked them up, riders had 15 minutes to pitch to an investor before getting dropped back off at their original locations.

Not all rider requested were granted in the "lottery-style" special event time frame.

Several of the participating investors are based in Tampa Bay; all in the state of Florida. Investor riders include:Interested in learning more about the Uber Pitch events? Search the hashtag #UberPITCH on social media sites and follow @Uber_Florida on Twitter for real-time updates.

Radio show podcast program teaches Tampa teens digital entrepreneurship

Local Tampa Bay area teenagers have the chance to learn about digital radio programming and podcast creation during a seven-week class at the Hillel Academy in Carrollwood.

Tampa Bay-based non-profit Forward Thinking Initiatives (FTI), in partnership with Life Improvement Radio, is teaching local students who range from 5th through 12th grades how to start their own radio podcast program at the Teen Radio Show: The Digital Entrepreneur program.

Students are learning “everything they need to know to create their own podcast program, including how to create scripts for actual guest interviews, how to use the technology, understanding how to finance their own show, how to create ads and sponsors, and how to interview exciting guests,” says FTI founder Debra Campbell.

Campbell hopes to see students take the skills they learn in the Teen Radio Show program, which began in mid-September and runs through mid-November, and apply them to other interests. 

“When young people think about starting their own business, they typically don't think to begin with their own passions and interests,” she explains. “Although all of our programs are under the umbrella of entrepreneurship and innovation, we frequently theme the programs to appeal more to the young people we work with.”

During the seven week digital entrepreneurship workshop, students learn about:
  • Technology used to create podcasts
  • Conducting an interview
  • Developing and writing scripts for guest interviews
  • Financing a radio show
  • Creating ads and sponsors for the show
  • Interviewing live guests on the air
Podcast programs created by students in the classes will run on Life Improvement Radio.

“What I hope the students will gain from the experience is a ‘no fear approach’ to learning something totally new, or even a bit intimidating,” Campbell says. 

Parents might just learn something, too: “Last time we ran the program, many parents stayed for the classes as well,” Campbell explains. “We welcome parents! It fosters great dinner conversations at home.”  
The two-month-long program takes place weekly on Friday evenings at the Hillel Academy in Carrollwood neighborhood of Tampa. 

Students in the Teen Radio program are "gaining entrepreneurial skills such as budgeting, how to finance their programs and how to market them,” Campbell says, “but my hope is this will be the kind of learning kids gain when they get a new game that they want to learn how to play. They don't think about the learning, they just jump in.”

FTI aims to engage young students in after-school programs that focus on entrepreneurship, innovation, leadership and creative thinking. A recent FTI program hosted at the St. Petersburg Greenhouse taught students from local Artz4Life Academy about helicopter design and innovative thinking. FTI programs and partners such as the Greenhouse and the John F. Germany Library have earned accolades including the Kauffman Foundation Platinum Award and The Freedoms Foundation Leavey Award for Private Enterprise Education.


TiEcon Florida 2015 brings innovators, investors to Tampa

Silicon Valley investors and serial entrepreneurs from the Tampa Bay Area and around Florida were among the speakers and attendees during TiEcon Florida 2015 on October 3rd at the Westin Harbour Island Hotel.

The conference's program was "very meticulously assembled to take the audience through an incredibly inspirational day, filled with story-telling,” says TiE Tampa Bay President-elect and TiEcon Chair Ramesh Sambasivan.

Entrepreneurs and investors traveled from around the nation to attend TiEcon Florida 2015, which highlighted such topics as raising capital, bootstrapping efforts and business accelerators.

TiEcon Florida 2015 attendees learned ''about innovative disruption from millennial entrepreneurs who are presently redefining the banking, sports-media and web-browsing experiences, the future of healthcare and life sciences,” Sambasivan says.

Other topics included: “What it takes to found and fund startups in Florida; how to get media-savvy; what it takes to raise entrepreneurs; and what investors look for in Florida, as told by a venture capitalist and angel investors.”

In short, Sambasivan adds, the day's event speakers addressed “the issues that keep startup founders up at night.”

A group of “very approachable” speakers differentiates TiEcon from most other conferences, Sambasivan says. “The day is peppered with phenomenal keynote speakers who will literally regale the audiences with inspirational stories of their entrepreneurial journeys."

Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn opened the event's dinner banquet, and comedian Kabir Singh performed. 

During a pitch segment, startups had a chance to be picked to present to angel investors from the TiE Tampa Angel Forum. The top 3 finalists -- Residential Acoustics led by CEO Walter Peek, Knack led by Co-Founder & CEO Samyr Qureshi, and Grand Opinion led by CEO Ashish Dhar -- won an invitation to pitch to real investors (an exclusive event for TiE Tampa Bay Charter Members who are accredited investors). The Pitch-Your-Startup award did not involve getting a capital infusion as part of the event.  

Sambasivan says the conference is “among the best kept secrets of Florida's entrepreneurial ecosystem, where speakers are highly accomplished entrepreneurs.”

TiE Tampa Bay aims to foster entrepreneurship in Florida startup ventures through access to TiE's global network, mentoring and early stage funding, Sambasivan explains. 

“TiEcon Florida is for every person who enjoys a good, inspiring entrepreneurial story. TiEcon Florida is for those who want to meet mentors, investors and like-minded people. TiEcon Florida is for those who believe in entrepreneurship as an engine of prosperity and economic development," Sambasivan says.

To learn more about TiE Tampa Bay, visit the group’s website.

Caution: Flashing yellow left-turn arrows light up more Tampa Bay intersections

Florida motorists still getting used to flashing yellow left-turn signals, are seeing more of them at intersections throughout the Tampa Bay area. The signals have become increasingly common along major roadways, such as State Road 60 in Clearwater, Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa and State Road 54 in Pasco County. 

The flashing left-turn arrows started appearing across the United States several years ago and caught on quickly as innovative devices to improve traffic flow. The first one was installed locally at the intersection of Nebraska Avenue and Belcher Road in Palm Harbor in November 2009. 

“Since then, the use [of these signals] has been implemented at state and local intersections throughout Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties,” says Florida Department of Transportation spokesperson Kristen Carson. 

In some respects, the distinctive-looking, four-lens traffic signals generally function in much the same way as the more widely recognized three-lens traffic signals; a green arrow provides a protected left turn; a red arrow tells drivers to stop. It’s the blinking yellow arrows that sometimes confuse drivers.

The flashing yellow arrows (actually an amber color) indicates that motorists in the left-turn lane are permitted to cautiously make left turns, but they must yield to oncoming traffic. 

A solid yellow left-turn light signifies that a red light is about to illuminate and therefore motorists should prepare to stop if they have not yet proceeded into the intersection. 

The flashing yellow lights have been replacing a common five-lens traffic signal widely referred to as a “doghouse” signal. Doghouse signals, featuring a clustered arrangement of four lenses topped with a single red light, provide drivers with a green left-turn arrow for a short time; once the protected green left-turn light disappears on the doghouse signal, a solid, circular green light indicates motorists should yield to oncoming traffic before making left turns. 

“Research from the Federal Highway Administration found that the flashing yellow arrow made significant improvements to left-turn safety compared with the circular green signal,” Carson reports. 

There are currently about 90 intersections in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties with the flashing yellow left-turn signals. More are on the way.

“The department has received positive feedback from citizens with continued requests for locations, on a case-by-case basis, to be modified with the flashing yellow arrows installed.”

USF area in Tampa gets new pedestrian safety beacons

New pedestrian safety beacons have been installed along a one-mile stretch of 50th Street between Fowler and Fletcher Avenues in North Tampa. The goal is to help prevent accidents such as one that involved a University of South Florida student who was seriously injured in November 2014 while crossing the busy two-lane thoroughfare. 

The flashing beacons were officially unveiled on Wednesday (Sept. 16, 2015), and transportation officials spent the morning along the road passing out educational cards to pedestrians to help teach them about the new safety measures. Deputies from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office were also out in force, pulling over speeding motorists. 

“Speeding is one of the biggest problems we face when it comes to pedestrian safety,” says Julie Bond, a senior researcher at the Center for Urban Transportation Research. “We don’t want people to be scared to walk. Walking is a healthy and enjoyable way to get around, and we want our community to enjoy these benefits and feel safe.” 

The $70,000 pedestrian safety improvements along 50th Street are part of a larger initiative in the USF area. In early 2015, $5 million in improvements were completed along the congested stretch of Fletcher Avenue between Nebraska Avenue and Bruce B. Downs, just west of the USF campus. Speed limits along that portion of Fletcher Avenue were also reduced from 45 miles per hour to as low as 35 miles per hour.

“This is really an extension of the pedestrian safety enhancements that were recently completed along Fletcher Avenue,” Bond says. The flashing beacons along 50th Street, which benefit students walking to and from several apartment communities just east of the campus, pave the way for further pedestrian safety improvements around USF. In the next year, similar pedestrian safety enhancements will be completed along 42nd Street and 56th Street. 

These projects are funded and supported by a consortium of organizations, including the CUTR, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, and the Florida Department of Transportation. Another major advocate is WalkWise Tampa Bay, a grassroots initiative that aims to educate local citizens on pedestrian safety. The organization also offers free, personalized pedestrian safety presentations. 

“We need to talk to more people,” Bond adds. “Education is the only way we can help pedestrian and motorists safely co-mingle on the roads.”
377 Technology Articles | Page: | Show All
Signup for Email Alerts

Underwriting Partners