Graduate Tampa Bay: From Silicon Valley To Sarasota

Jeff Paleczny is an engineer, a designer and an innovator. His technology career includes contributions to the first color correct computer display, smart phone displays and ebook displays. It’s safe to say he has “been there, done that” in the technology world. After many setbacks, Jeff decided to put down roots in the Sarasota area and add a degree at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg to his credentials.

Paleczny graduated from an electronics technician program at a community college in Canada in 1977. His first job was a broadcast engineer at a TV station. He eventually made his way to Silicon Valley, where he worked on high-powered microwave devices at a company called Varian Associates. As a foreign national, he had trouble selling these devices because of the large number of military clients.

His next venture was at a company by the name of Conrac, where he was involved in the creation of the first color correct computer display, allowing desktop publishers to see the same thing on screen they could see on paper. This was a major innovation in the design world.

“Desktop publishers and ad execs in New York were screaming for this,” says Paleczny.

The increase in popularity of the Internet eventually led to the business becoming a commodity. Paleczny decided to re-engineer himself and create something new.

His next endeavor brought him to Philips Electronics, where he helped create the first smart phone displays for Hewlett Packard’s I-PAC (Compaq, at the time). Philips eventually decided to release the product line in favor of custom development, putting Paleczny out of a job again.

Now at the age of 50, Paleczny thought, “I better figure out how to do this on my own.” From his connections at Philips, he had the materials and technology that turned into today’s ebook displays. He tried to sell the technology to publishers like Barnes & Noble and Borders, but they weren’t interested. He decided to take the entrepreneur route and opened his own company, by the name of Ereaderoutfitters. He started out with 70,000 ebooks, selling for $600 each. 

The business was tremendously successful for around 14 months. Then, the iPad was introduced. With a color product at a lower price point, there was no way he could compete.  Disappointed, Paleczny left the business.

“In retrospect I should have exited sooner,” he reflects. But he wanted his business to work so he stuck with it and was eventually forced to exit.

What brought him to Tampa Bay was a vacation with his family in Lido Beach. The natural beauty of the area convinced him and his wife to put down roots here.

While looking for jobs, he realized that prospective employers didn’t know what to do with all of his experience. He decided to go back to school.

He is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Management at Eckerd College. He chose Eckerd after reading that Steve Jobs went to a liberal arts college.

“That legitimized that maybe a technology guy needs a more rounded view of the world,” says Paleczny. He plans to graduate in December 2013 and is hoping to get involved in the corporate world again.

“I had to be productive and constructive in some way and felt like [going back to school] would help,” says Paleczny. “And it has. I’m learning, and I’m enjoying.”

Megan Hendricks is a Florida native and longtime Tampa Bay resident who loves the culture and diversity of the region. In her free time she enjoys local restaurants, thrift store shopping and spending time with her family. She earned her masters of business administration from USF Tampa. Comments? Contact 83 Degrees.
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Read more articles by Megan Hendricks.

A Florida native and longtime Tampa Bay resident, Megan Hendricks graduated from the University of South Florida with a master's degree in business administration. She worked at the USF College of Business and has extensive community experience including the Tampa Bay Partnership's Talent Dividend Advisory Board, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, Emerge Tampa Bay, Ekhos, and Bar Camp Tampa. She is a former board member and newsletter editor for Creative Tampa Bay. Megan enjoys telling the stories that make Tampa Bay a unique, diverse cultural experience.