TiE Tampa Bay Grows Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

Recognizing the Tampa Bay region as ripe for innovation and investment that will lead to global expansion opportunities for startups, TiE Tampa Bay emerged less than a year ago with a passion to stimulate entrepreneurial success and regional development through an influential network of mentorship, collaboration and unique business investments.

The local group grew out of TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs) Global, which was founded in 1992 by a successful group of entrepreneurs, executives and senior professionals in Silicon Valley.

"There are many companies in Tampa that have been started here and are growing. We want to take successful people who have experience in starting companies and use that expertise to mentor, guide and advise startups to create new jobs and new opportunities in the marketplace we are in," says Cardiologist Kiran Patel, a leader in Tampa Bay philanthropy and founding chairman of TiE Tampa Bay.

In 2012, Patel, CEO of Freedom Healthcare and the name behind the Patel College of Global Sustainability at USF, and other local business leaders saw a unique window of opportunity to champion philanthropic business investments by establishing a local TiE chapter that would fuel the growth of startups to effectively "recognize Tampa Bay as an incubator for startup companies."

TiE Tampa Bay calls upon the experience and successes of its network of professionals, utilizing the benefits of members' diverse backgrounds to bring a valuable mix of resources and business connections to local entrepreneurs.

"An organization like this is helpful in two aspects. The Tampa Bay area can be a great forum to share intellectual capital. Secondly, through monetary contributions of one thousand to five thousand dollars, a group of 200 people can generate two hundred thousand to a million dollars," says Patel.

TiE’s charter members are successful local business owners and industry veterans who serve as mentors and educators to entrepreneurs, professionals and students.

Creating Opportunities

Charter members also become investors who share in a small amount of risk, thus generating a pool of capital to help fund startups that pitch unique business ideas. TiE Tampa Bay now has 23 charter members.

The combined investment makes it possible to provide "opportunities to a lot of people," says Patel.

Through conferences, workshops, business forums, programs, special events and larger global TiE connections, TiE Tampa Bay creates a powerful platform of cross-collaboration, providing opportunities for startup creation and business growth by building important business bridges among entrepreneurs and investors.

Local quarterly chapter meetings and flagship events like TiEcon, the world's largest professional and networking conference for entrepreneurs, strategically position startup teams to pitch business ideas to charter member investors and obtain funding for their initiatives. It also gives startups an opportunity to connect nationally and globally with investment bankers or angel investors.

Once funded, entrepreneurs additionally go through six-to-seven months of a due diligence process, including team interviews, business concept analysis and business plan development.

"Most importantly, we analyze the people involved -- their patience, their skills, their long-term goals, the fire in their belly. You have to analyze all of those things. It gives you the confidence that you should be going forward," says Kunal Jain, TiE Tampa Bay president and CEO of Practiceforces, a Tampa-based healthcare billing company,.

The TiE Tampa Bay board is preparing for June's quarterly meeting and is anticipating the application of general members to present their business ideas via pitches to charter member investors.

Four of TiE Tampa Bay's charter members recently invested 20 percent ownership to launch Feathr, a startup created by Aidan Augustin and Neal Ormsbee, former University of Florida students who developed the mobile app to enhance networking connections at business events.

"We are seeing that we are helping to grow companies here, and we expect to continue helping businesses in different ways -- from mentoring and networking as well as future investments," says Ashok Kartham, CEO and founder of M-ize and charter member of TiE Tampa Bay.

Gaining Momentum

As TiE Tampa Bay grows, its leadership is focusing on three goals:

    •    creating a strong mentorship program dedicated to fueling targeted conversations among advisers and entrepreneurs;
    •    sustaining a strong resource bank to find and share intellectual capital; and
    •    raising capital to create an influential incubator that spearheads startups, leading to job creation and local economic growth.

"If we can do these three things, we can make a big impact on that new and emerging entrepreneurial person or organization," says Patel.

Making An Impact

TiE's core organizational initiative is designed to position the Tampa Bay region as an economic leader in business development, emphasizing local industry sectors that are a magnet for innovation, development and entrepreneurship.

TiE Tampa Bay's HealthCamp 2013 on May 10 was designed to create an environment that connects health care leaders and entrepreneurs, spurring the collaboration of new local and global ideas focused on moving healthcare innovation forward.

"There is enough talent and enough money in the Tampa Bay area. The potential is there. The capacity is there. The question is, 'Can we harness that energy and translate it into a powerhouse that delivers something to this community?' It’s not going to happen overnight; we must get working at it," Patel says.

Kaye Brown is a branding and organizational management consultant who actively engages in grassroots community development, diversity and economic growth initiatives. She is an avid blogger, and in her spare time she roasts her own coffee and conjures up new recipes. Comments? Contact 83 Degrees.
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