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Tampa Tank expands to Hillsborough County, adds 108 jobs

A new headquarters for Tampa Tank, Inc. & Florida Structural Steel in Ybor City could spell up to 24 new jobs at the company’s main offices. A refurbished manufacturing facility in Port Redwing at the Port of Tampa will create as many as 84 new jobs.

Altogether, the company’s expansion into Hillsborough County is anticipated to generate more than $18 million in capital investment and up to 108 new jobs. New positions will pay nearly 150 percent of the state’s average wage.

To learn more about open job opportunities, refer to the company’s website.

“Tampa Tank has long been a supporter of the Tampa community and Port Tampa Bay,” said Paul Anderson, Port Tampa Bay’s President and CEO, at the annual State of the Port luncheon in late January 2015. “We are excited for their growth and expansion. We look forward to supporting them for years to come.”

Tampa Tank, which has been in business since 1953, and Florida Structural Steel, which was acquired by the company in 1984, provide custom designs and repair steel products for customers around the world.

The company considered going outside the United States to other locations, but a hefty incentives package from the Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation, the City of Tampa, and Hillsborough County kept them close to home. Tampa Tank was provided with a competitive package of state and local incentives totaling $2,080,795. 

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn commended the move, saying at the luncheon, “This project is a big win for Tampa, for Port Tampa Bay, and for our local residents who will secure high-wage jobs. Tampa Tank’s expansion will kick off an historic revitalization of this important industrial asset, and fuel greater economic growth for our port community.” 

The company will lease two buildings at the port to fabricate steel and iron structures for export, and will invest some $18 million  into the expansion at Port Redwing. 

The Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation works to develop and sustain a thriving local economy through the attraction, retention and expansion of high wage jobs and capital investment within targeted industry sectors. Locally, the EDC helps existing businesses access the tools and resources they need to succeed, now and in the future.

Wristband developed in Tampa is designed to relieve nausea

For Jacqueline Darna, necessity truly was the mother of invention. While in the hospital for the birth of her second child, Darna felt so miserable from nausea that she couldn't even enjoy her newborn baby girl.

The only relief came when an anesthetist pressed a pair of peppermint leaves into Darna’s hands.

In the days that followed, she taped a small piece of medical gauze to the inside of her wrists, at the P6 pressure point. That, combined with smelling the peppermint leaves when a wave of nausea struck, was the best Darna could do while in the hospital.

Upon returning home, she searched for an anti-nausea product that combined these two well-documented strategies: acupressure and aromatherapy.

“None of the traditional drugs were working for me,” Darna explains. “The rest is history and the No Mo Nausea Band was born.”

The No Mo Nausea Band is the first natural oil infused acupressure and aromatherapy wristband designed to reduce nausea and vomiting from common causes like morning sickness, motion sickness, seasickness, and headaches.

“The quickest way to the brain is through the nose, so that is why I utilize aromatherapy of natural peppermint oil,” Darna explains. “Menthol is the active ingredient within peppermint oil that helps alleviate nausea and vomiting instantly. Medically, peppermint is a calcium channel blocker of the gastrointestinal tract, meaning that it relaxes an upset stomach.”

Darna was well equipped to develop the idea; she is an anesthesiologist assistant who graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in biomedical sciences, religious studies and biomedical physics before earning dual masters degrees in health sciences & anesthesia from NOVA Southeastern.

No Mo Nausea is among the five startup businesses in the Tampa area who were selected by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce as its 2015 class of Startup Scholars. The three-year-old Startup Scholars program engages participants in an eight-month mentorship program that focuses on providing growth and assistance in the areas of seed capital, best management practices, and sales growth.

Darna hopes to take away strategy, business knowledge and “lasting interpersonal relations with the business men and women I will meet” during the program.

She plans to use Startup Scholars seed capital for marketing to target areas: pregnant mothers, parents of children with carsickness, chemotherapy patients, and headache and migraine sufferers, to name a few.

Future goals include “becoming recognized as a leader in the Tampa business community, while associating my product, the No Mo Nausea Band, as a local household name,” Darna says.

Darna also plans to secure an office space and fulfillment center within Tampa to handle large distribution orders, which could lead to job creation down the line.

The No Mo Nausea band is endorsed by U.S. physicians and is considered the anti-nausea product of choice by NAUI licensed scuba divers, Darna says.

The band itself is slim, lightweight, waterproof and latex- and drug-free. A set of two costs $11.99 on the company’s website.

The 2015 Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Startup Scholars class includes: No Mo Nausea, along with Arcturus Creative, a creative marketing team that builds custom visual brand strategies; Hannah’s Shoebox, a startup that specializes in custom shoes for all occasions for “tween” and preteen girls with larger shoe sizes; LilyPad, an activity management platform for professional workforces; and PikMyKid, a simple but streamlined mobile app that allows public schools in the U.S. to organize and manage the after-school dismissal process.

New St. Pete startup streamlines your workout

Reinvent the way you workout.

That’s the selling point behind Stacktive, a new St. Pete-based startup company that offers members a universal fitness membership to an array of area gyms and sports clubs.

Stacktive, founded by University of South Florida Saint Petersburg graduates Evan Brady and Reuben Pressman, launched in early February 2015 in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Stacktive aims to reduce the hassle of multiple gym memberships through a streamlined service. And like many startups, Stacktive was inspired by personal experience: at one point, CEO Brady maintained three separate memberships to a Crossfit gym, a boxing gym and a traditional gym.

“I had to pay full price at each, just to split my time between them. I definitely was not getting my money’s worth,” Brady said in a press release.

The company plans to expand to Tampa quickly, Pressman says – and to other cities in Florida throughout 2015, including Orlando and Miami.

“We've had lots of interest already and people saying they'll be signing up,” Pressman says. “We've begun discussions and have actually had partners in Tampa request to join already.”

Participating gyms can be found on the startup’s website. Stacktive has already secured partnerships with a wide range of 14 St Petersburg-area gyms and businesses. Stacktive partners specialize in crossfit, yoga, MMA, kickboxing, paddleboarding, and more.

There are multiple plans to choose from, capping out at $99 per month for unlimited access to partner gyms and studios. These include Crossfit 9, Elite Training Center, IAMFITNESS, Citygym, Elevate Fitness, YogaBlu, and others in St Petersburg. All partners are locally owned, boutique locations.

“You will never find the expertise and personal attention at a gym chain that you will at the boutique gyms and studios that Stacktive has partnered with,” says Brady.

Membership cards have been replaced with a mobile app for iOS and Android phones. Members will be able to work out at any participating gym in any city.

Stacktive is fully bootstrapped and may seek future funding.

A local perk? The startup offers unlimited kayak and paddleboard rentals in St. Petersburg to members. 

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.

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.

Tampa Bay WaVE launches tech job board, seeks student interns

Tampa Bay WaVE has launched a new job board for tech-related positions with growing companies in the Tampa Bay community.
 
The board includes listing for jobs in the Tampa and St. Petersburg areas, primarily in the technology field. Typical listings include marketing or development work. 

A centralized job board for local tech positions “allows companies to pull from talent that’s in or around Tampa Bay WaVe already,” says WaVE marketing manager Gracie Stemmer.

Current listings include two positions with Tampa startup KiteDesk, a company that participated in WaVE’s Accelerator program for tech entrepreneurs. Along with the Accelerator program -- designed to help startup businesses succeed -- the Tampa Bay WaVE space in downtown Tampa’s Sykes building is also home to the First WaVE Venture Center, a coworking space for local entrepreneurs, and newly home to Gr8code, a code camp for kids and adults.

CBT Development and advertising agency 22squared are also among the small group of companies who have posted tech job listings on the Tampa Bay WaVe job board.

In addition to tech-related jobs with local Tampa companies, the Tampa Bay WaVE job board will also list in-house internship opportunities.
 
WaVE “has quite a robust internship program,” Stemmer says. “We’re always looking for interns in the fields of graphic design, writing and journalism, and business and marketing.”

Tampa Bay WaVE’s internship program is open to undergraduate and graduate students. Internships technically run for one semester, but Stemmer estimates that “90 percent of the time, our students will stay for more than two semesters.”

“Most of our students are there for more than a year,” she explains. “They get in, they love it and they don’t want to leave!”

Tampa Bay WaVE internships begin with a preliminary unpaid period, after which interns can qualify to be paid.
 
The job board is an additional amenity for current Tampa Bay WaVe members, while non-members may place job listings for a fee, or take advantage of sponsorship opportunities. To explore current listings or learn more about adding your own, visit the Tampa Bay WaVE job board or contact Gracie Stemmer.

Local library Venture Club introduces Tampa Bay area kids to entrepreneurship

Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Libraries has taken another step toward embracing modern technology and innovation with a new five-month program aimed at elementary-school children: the Venture Club. 

Venture Club begins with students brainstorming to identify a need that they see either in their home or their school communities. Then, with the help of volunteer speakers and mentors, students will attempt to develop ideas for something that can help solve that issue. 

“It’s more about the process than the product,” Senior Librarian Laura Doyle emphasizes. “We want to help students figure out the skills that entrepreneurs use to recognize an audience, evaluate the resources around them and information in front of them, and how to make decisions based on that.”
 
Venture Club is based on curriculum provided to the library by Venture Lab, a group that has developed several successful programs geared toward teaching children how to innovate. Venture Club has been implemented as an after-school program in other areas of the country, but Tampa’s is the only club based in a library. 

The club, open to students in grades 3-5, will meet two Saturdays per month from January through May in The Hive at John F. Germany Library. Classes will run through May to coincide with the academic school year. The Friends of the John F. Germany Public Library subsidize program materials and costs.

Bimonthly sessions include topics like, “What is Entrepreneurship?” and “Prototyping” and “Practicing/Preparing Pitches,” which will be presented by volunteers who are well-versed in the subject matter.
 
Current volunteer speakers and mentors come from a wide range of skills, backgrounds and experience levels, from a high school student who runs his own successful photography business to community leaders like Daniel James Scott, the new Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Technology Forum.
 
Good mentors are “people who can share their experiences, encourage kids, challenge them, empower them, ask questions and help guide them to resources to develop their ideas,” Doyle says.

Venture Club first met on Jan. 10, but several seats are still available for interested students. Doyle plans to offer a recap of previous sessions to new students. 

HCPL introduced programs like volunteer-run CoderDojo (where mentors teach children to code) in 2013, along with Alligator Zone (a family-friendly ‘Shark Tank’-like pitching event) and the revamping a large area in the John F. Germany Library into The Hive, a mixed-use maker space, in 2014.

The library is aligned with Hillsborough County’s efforts toward building up the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the area, says Doyle. 

“We’re trying to get to know the entrepreneurial community better, to serve them better,” Doyle explains. “Starting with the kids and getting them to see that they can solve problems right here in their community is very important.”

1 Million Cups comes to Tampa, Hillsborough County

Entrepreneurs and startup founders in Tampa will soon have a new platform for sharing their visions with the local community. 

1 Million Cups, a Kauffman Foundation program that operates in cities across the country, is set to launch at the Hillsborough County Mark Sharpe Entrepreneur Collaborative Center in Ybor City. Tampa’s inaugural 1MC Cups will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 4, 8-10 a.m. at the ECC.

Those 1 million cups? That’s the amount of coffee 1 Million Cups hopes to serve during weekly meetups. Each week, two startup founders present their companies to local leaders, entrepreneurs and students. Presentations are followed by Q&A sessions with audience members.

While a coffee sponsor for Tampa’s location has not yet been announced, Kahwa Coffee has served 1 Million Cups at its St. Petersburg location The Greenhouse since that program launched in Oct 2013.

Some of the many startup companies that have presented at the 1MC St. Petersburg location include SavvyCard, a web-based business card; Florida Funders, a crowd-funding portal for entrepreneurs; WazInIt, a mobile application that won Startup Weekend Tampa Bay in Nov 2013; and Venture House, an effort to turn vacant houses into housing and job sites for local entrepreneurs and artists.

The ECC, located at 2101 E. Palm Ave. in Ybor City, celebrated their grand opening in Dec 2014.

The ECC serves as a small business services center, as well as a meeting place for community partners and local businesses. Entrepreneurs and “wannapreneurs” alike can use the center’s resources, all of which are at little or no cost, says the county’s Economic Development Manager Lindsey Kimball. Those resources include conference space, free classes, business training, and workshops aimed at helping startup founders build their businesses.
 
Headquartering 1 Million Cups in Tampa at Hillsborough County’s new entrepreneurial space is the latest in a series of efforts to bring a focus on local business to the community, from the upcoming Startup Week Tampa Bay to Venture Club, a meetup for entrepreneurial children that lauched in Jan 2015 at the county’s flagship library. 

Meanwhile, north of Ybor City, near the University of South Florida, Busch Gardens and Moffitt Cancer Center, steps are being taken to revitalize the area into an “innovation district,” led by former Hillsborough County Commissioner Sharpe, for whom the ECC is named. Sharpe stepped into the role of executive director for the Tampa Innovation Alliance in late 2014.

Chase, UpGlobal select Tampa to host pilot Startup Week in February

Tampa has hosted its share of startup-related events, from pitch contests to networking groups, and in 2015, entrepreneurs are taking center stage for the area’s first Startup Week.

During the five days of Startup Week festivities, Feb 2-6, 2015, attendees can choose among 50 unique events that fall under one of 10 “tracks,” from the startup tried-and-true (Developer) to the unique (The History of Tampa Bay) to the innovative (Craft Beer Entrepreneurship).

Startup Week events will be hosted at spaces like Tampa Bay WaVE in downtown Tampa and The Greenhouse in downtown St. Petersburg, as well as smaller venues such as The Blind Tiger Café in Ybor City. Tampa Startup Week partners USF Connect and the University of Tampa will also host industry experts at events in which attendees can discuss entrepreneurship.
 
The week’s sessions will culminate at Amalie Arena with a special skate night for attendees on Friday, Feb. 6.

Tampa Bay was selected by the event’s premiere sponsor, Chase, and by Startup Weekend founding group UpGlobal, as one of seven cities across the country to host a Startup Week in 2015.

“When we found out that they picked us, we were elated. They could have picked any number of cities, and they saw lots of potential in the Tampa Bay area,” says Gracie Stemmer, one of Startup Week’s co-organizers.
 
Tracks were inspired by previous Startup Week models, but developed around the local entrepreneurs who will lead them, making the event uniquely Tampa-oriented with topics like “Playable Cities,” which will be run by Tampa group Urban Conga.

Lead Organizer Ryan Sullivan “saw this as an opportunity to bring the different aspects of the entrepreneurial community together with the goal of changing the conversation.” 

Sullivan, who previously organized Tampa Bay Startup Week Youth, hopes to see Startup Week create momentum for entrepreneurs and bystanders.

The Startup Week organizing team anticipates 3,000-4,000 attendees across all of the events.
 
What is Sullivan most excited about? Well, there’s the Tampa Bay launch of Plum Alley, a crowd-funding site for women; the craft brewing entrepreneurs track, “something unique that highlights why Tampa is a top five best beer city”; the youth events (“very exciting because the community is demanding more and more of these”); as well as the maker track, which Sullivan hopes to see elevate the maker movement in the community. 

“Our main goal for Startup Week is to let all of Tampa Bay know the entrepreneurial things that are going on in our city,” says Stemmer. “We want to change the discussion from ‘There’s not much going on here’ to ‘Wow, there’s so much going on here.’”

For more information during Startup Week, visit Chase Basecamp, located at 1930 7th Ave in Ybor City, Feb 2-6. The base camp will host breakfasts, daily Happy Hours, speaker panels and mentor hours.

Innovation Alliance invites businesses to help transform University area of north Tampa

The Tampa Innovation Alliance aims to transform almost 15,000 acres of commerce, housing and retail surrounding the University of South Florida and affiliate hospitals into a revitalized “Innovation District” that will attract local visitors and tourists.

After a 10-year stint as a Hillsborough County commissioner, Mark Sharpe has stepped into the role of executive director for the Tampa Innovation Alliance. The group formed in 2011 with intentions to redevelop the university area as a premiere destination, but focused too much on a “master plan,” Sharpe says. “I want to make sure that we focus on our key mission: to create this ‘Innovation District’ core.”

The area, which stretches from I-75 on the east to I-275 on the west; north to the Bearss/Bruce B Downs intersection; and south to Busch Blvd, is comprised of thousands of acres in which run-down retail and residential blocks co-mingle with specialized hospitals like Moffitt and the VA center, the University of South Florida’s campus, and popular entertainment destinations like Busch Gardens and MOSI Tampa, the Museum of Science and Industry.

“I think there is a way to capture some of the market that is driving past or through, not stopping, at the local businesses that abut these major anchors,” Sharpe explains. “We’re going to focus on outreach and bring in members, large and small, who will all partner together.”
 
A kick-off luncheon on Friday, Jan. 9, serves as the group’s first outreach to the broader community, Sharpe says. Local businesses both inside and outside the future Innovation District are invited to join Sharpe and other Tampa Innovation Alliance members, such as USF President Judy Genshaft, at the USF Connect Building to discuss the group’s next steps and ideas for area branding.

Businesses are invited to provide feedback at Friday’s meeting, along with a series of monthly meetings Sharpe plans to host, similar to those he conducted at Buddy Brew during his run as a county commissioner. The first of these meetings, open to the public, is scheduled for Jan 23.

The first focus is getting organized, Sharpe says. “I’m doing it all right now – I’m approving colors of the logo, and spellchecking things, and calling people to encourage them to come.”

The group’s current members and partners include Fifth Third Bank, the Tampa Bay Lightning, Brighthouse, Tampa International Airport, EWI Construction, and more. Tampa Innovation Alliance’s Kickoff Luncheon will be held 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 9, 2015, at USF Connect, 3802 Spectrum Boulevard in Tampa.

Valpak ventures to St. Pete, adds jobs and an app

If you’ve saved money recently by using a coupon from one of the seemingly ubiquitous blue envelopes that appear in your mailbox monthly, it’s thanks to Valpak. But did you know that you could get the same coupons for local and national businesses online -- and even through your smartphone?

For modern shoppers, the company has developed an array of up-to-the-minute digital advertising products and online services to complement its traditional direct mail campaigns. 

Most innovative is Valpak’s Local Savings smartphone app, where customers can search for coupons for local businesses like restaurants, spa services and auto care. Those coupons can then be automatically integrated into the Samsung Wallet, iOS Passbook, Google Wallet and Windows Phone Wallet. 

“We are in an exciting time here!” says Valpak’s PR Manager Marsha Strickhouser.

The company is currently hiring for a number of new jobs in the Tampa Bay area, including positions like Senior Computer Operator and Digital Process Planner. A complete list of current job openings can be found here.

At Valpak’s new North St. Pete offices, collaboration and a fun atmosphere -- with perks like ping-pong tables, cushy beanbag chairs and even scooters -- are all part of the design.

Strickhouser credits Valpak president Michael Vivio for the changing company culture, which includes a focus on community. An emphasis on volunteering through the employee-led “Blue Crew” has helped Valpak sponsor volunteer activities like the United Way Day of Caring, Habitat for Humanity, PACE, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and Boys and Girls Club. 

Valpak was listed #37 on United Way Suncoast’s 2014 list of Tampa Bay’s most generous workplaces.

In Dec. 2014, the coupon aggregator moved to new corporate offices located at 805 Executive Center Drive West in St. Petersburg, Fl. The move places the company’s headquarters closer to their manufacturing center, an automated facility that prints Valpak coupons and envelopes for the almost 170 Valpak franchises around North America. Between the two facilities, Valpak has around 700 local employees, along with another 1,000 franchise employees throughout the US and Canada.  

Valpak is owned by Cox Target Media, whose parent company, Cox Enterprises, is based in Atlanta.

TekBank appoints Tampa tech leader, expands to Tampa Bay

Washington, D.C.-based technology consulting firm TekBank has chosen Tampa Bay as the hub for its Southeast expansion efforts. The firm has a global reach and more than 20 years of industry experience, with enterprise giants like Amtrak on their list of customers.

TekBank’s expansion into the Tampa Bay market will mean job creation locally, along with a focus on growing consulting efforts in Florida and nearby states.

The company “strategically picked Tampa Bay as an expansion hub for the Southeast,” says newly appointed Senior Partner S. Khurrum "Sid'' Hasan.

Hasan will head up TekBank’s business development efforts in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, Orlando and Miami, Florida. 

Hasan brings over 15 years of consulting and business development experience to TekBank. While he moved to Tampa from D.C. only recently (in 2014), Hasan has already begun to establish himself as a community leader in the Tampa Bay scene. The technology executive was selected as a judge for the 2014 HULT Prize regional competition at the University of Tampa, where student entrepreneurs pitched startup ideas as solutions to a global social issue. Hasan also co-founded CUPS, a neighborhood program for Channelside District residents.

Now Hasan will bring his leadership and expertise to TekBank’s consulting services.

The company specializes in the compute stack and offers businesses functional and technical consulting, from conceptualization to post-launch follow-up. TekBank’s services include: application development, mobility, quality assurance, infrastructure support, and PMO.

“Our DNA historically has been centered around customers that offer a B2B and B2C land, sea and air function,” says Hasan. “We hope to employ a consulting practice centered around our suite of services.”

TekBank’s Southeast Launch will take place at The Tampa Club, 101 E Kennedy Blvd, from 5:30-7:30 pm on Thursday, Feb 12.
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