Let's Talk Startups In Florida's Emerging New Economy

Enter any discussion within the local startup community in just about any U.S. city and the conversation soon turns to what’s missing.

Money (venture capital), money (second stage investors), money (government incentives) usually top the list followed by communications, connections and role models.

Tampa Bay Times Columnist Bob Trigaux put it in context when writing last year about Tampa Bay’s startup culture being at a crossroads of vibrancy in creating startups and what it will take it get it to the next level.  

Since then the state of New York came out with what initially seems like a fabulous incentive: Move there and pay no taxes for 10 years. Really? Stay in Florida and pay no income taxes, low corporate taxes and less sales and property taxes than almost anywhere. Yes, paying no taxes seems pretty darn cool if you’re the one not paying. But who needs snow, cold, congestion (traffic as well as in the sinuses) and too many people with attitude. 

Still ads for NY’s incentive program targeted Tampa Bay for a reason. This area is already known as a place that encourages startups and aims to enhance the culture needed to nurture second stage companies. A variety of rankings place Florida and Tampa Bay in the top 10 places worldwide for patents, innovation, research, business development, entrepreneurship and emerging technologies.

Startups coming out of  Tampa Bay WaVE, Tampa Bay Innovation Center, Tampa Bay Technology Forum, USF Connect, UT’s Entrepreneurship Center, The Greenhouse, M2Gen, USFSP's Gazelle Lab, business incubators, coworking spaces, hackerspaces, makerspaces, launchpads that didn’t exist five years ago now get invitations to sit with traditional business and industry at corporate award ceremonies and chamber lunches. 

There is suddenly a plethora of people driving the transition, including Joy Randels, Linda Olson, Ken Evans, Tonya Elmore, Nathan Schwagler, Daniel James Scott, William S. Dalton, Sean Kennedy, Ashok Kartham, Kunal Jain, Mark Sharpe, Joel Lopez, just to name a few. The list goes on and on as the larger community embraces the startup culture as not only real but full of potential.

So what is Tampa Bay getting right when it comes to startups? And what’s next for reaching the next level and the level after that? 

Such will be the center of discussion on Tuesday, May 13th,  when the latest “Not Your Average Speakers’’ lead a community conversation about “How Do We Grow From Here? Nurturing The Tampa Bay Startup Culture.’’ The free event is open to the public and will be at the USFSP Student Center. It starts at 5:30 with networking; the program starts at 6.  

The event is underwritten by Pinellas County Economic Development, USFSP, Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute and PNC Bank. In-kind support comes from Onli Beverages and White Book Agency

You can RSVP here.

Look Who’s Talking

The panel of “Not Your Average Speakers’’ includes:

  • Stephanie Ashley -- As Hillsborough County’s Economic Development Manager, Ashley manages innovation, entrepreneurship and technology initiatives, including the new Economic Development Innovation Initiative (EDI2). This program is designed to drive the growth of technology and innovation start-ups and small businesses needing financial, technical and infrastructure support, and address the mounting consensus by the technology and innovation community at-large that there needs to be greater appreciation, awareness, resources and coordination commensurate to their potential impact on the economic prosperity of the community. She received a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Interdisciplinary Social Science from Florida State University and a Masters of Public Administration from the University of South Carolina. Ashley is an active member of the Junior League of Tampa and serves on the Council of Professionals with USF CONNECT.
  • Timothy J. Cartwright is Managing Director of Compass Advisory Group, LLC,  an M&A consultancy that completes mergers & acquisitions and corporate restructuring for middle market companies. Additionally, he  is a  Partner at Fifth Avenue Advisors, a Family Wealth and Fund Administration company.  Locally, he is the Chairman of the Tamiami Angel Fund I, SW Florida's first ever Angel Fund, and Chairman of Fusion Pointe, (formerly the Gulf Coast Venture Forum), a  nonprofit Angel Investment Network. He is a member of the Board of Directors for the Golisano Children's Museum of Naples and the Florida Gulf Coast University Foundation. He also serves as a member of the organizing committee for the Southwest Florida Chapter of BioFlorida. He has volunteered frequently for Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida and is a former Director of the Economic Development Council of Collier County, the Florida Economic Development Council and Southwest Florida Regional Technology Partnership. At the state level, Cartwright serves as a judge for the Florida Venture Forum's Early Stage Conference and for ITFlorida. Tim resides in Naples with his wife and three children. He is a softball coach, a soccer coach, and an active member of First Baptist Church of Naples.
  • Ashok Kartham -- The President of TiE Tampa and founder and CEO of m-ize, Kartham is a successful serial entrepreneur with 15+ years of experience as CEO of software and high tech companies. Kartham founded 4CS, a leading warranty and service lifecycle management company acquired in 2011 by Parametric Technology Corporation (PTC), a multibillion dollar public software company listed on NASDAQ. Kartham also founded Mize, Inc in Tampa, FL in 2012 to create the smarter customer engagement platform to connect mobile and social consumers to brands. Kartham holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU) in India. He has been involved as an investor and board member in various organizations here and abroad to help foster entrepreneurship.
  • Daniel James Scott -- Co-founder of Alorum, a local startup that offers embeddable online marketing and protecting of content, Scott helped launch and lead the Entrepreneurship Program at USF St. Petersburg. He serves on the boards of the Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ASBE) and Lions Eye Institute for Transplant & Research. For his work, Scott’s 2013 honors include ASBE Entrepreneurship Educator of the Year, Tampa Bay Technology Forum Technology Leader of the Year, and U.S. Small Business Administration State of Florida Advocate of the Year.
  • Dr. Javier Torres-Roca -- A board certified radiation oncologist, Torres-Roca is an Associate Member at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in the Department of Radiation Oncology, the Chemical Biology & Molecular Medicine Program, and the Department of Biomedical Informatics, and an Associate Professor of Oncologic Sciences at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Torres-Roca earned his medical degree from the University of Puerto Rico and subsequently performed post-doctoral training in immunology and molecular biology in the laboratories of Nobel Laureate Professor Luc Montagnier at the Institut Pasteur and Dr. Irving Weismann and Dr. Leonard Herzenberg at Stanford University. Torres-Roca completed his clinical training in radiation oncology at the University of California. Since 2002 Torres-Roca has been clinical faculty at Moffitt Cancer Center with a sub-specialty in urological malignancies. He is also the founder and chief scientific officer of Cvergenx, Inc, a personalized medicine company that is commercializing the first genomic molecular diagnostic to predict a tumor’s radiosensitivity.

The conversation will be guided by moderator Tami Simms. Simms has been in the business of organization, marketing and graphic design since starting her first business in 1993 at the age of 23. An entrepreneur by genetics, she left the freelance world in January of 2002 to join her mother's real estate practice which has now evolved into The Simms Team at Coastal Properties Group International, a boutique brokerage located in downtown St. Petersburg. She is also a national trainer and speaker within the real estate industry. Simms is engaged in the Tampa Bay community, serving in nonprofit and volunteer leadership roles, including with St. Petersburg’s Downtown Business Association, the Downtown Waterfront Parks Foundation, Queens Court, Inc., the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club, Business & Professional Women/St. Petersburg- Pinellas, PARC, and the Tampa Bay Public Leadership Institute.

A Little Bit Of History

This is the 14th event in the "Not Your Average Speakers'' series, which 83 Degrees Media launched in October 2011 to give voice to important and influential perspectives on key community issues while encouraging progress in urban places, including showcasing models for economic success.

Previous local topics have included: “Tampa Bay Mobility,’’ "What's Working In [Tampa Bay] Cities,'' "Champions for Change,'' "Community Building,'' "Placemaking,'' "Talent Squeeze,'' "Valuing Diversity,'' "Putting P3s To Work,'' "Innovation,'' "Tampa's Curious Quest To Be Cool,'' "STEM or STEAM: Shaping the Future of Tampa Bay,'' "What's New and What's Next for Downtown Tampa'' and "Transforming Military Might Into Civilian Talent.''

Past events have been held at a variety of cool places, including Nova 535, The Tampa Firefighters Museum, The Vault in the Franklin Exchange, Hillsborough Community College-Ybor City campus, CAMLS, Jaeb Theater, Stageworks Theatre, Freefall Theatre, The Roosevelt 2.0, Walker Brands, the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, MOSI Tampa and ENCORE! Tampa. To suggest a venue to host a future event, email 83 Degrees.

83 Degrees Media covers growth, investment and social innovation in the Tampa Bay region by featuring stories about Talent, Innovation, Global Diversity and Environment -- creating a new narrative for a new economy. "Not Your Average Speakers'' features creative, innovative and influential thought leaders in and around Tampa Bay who are doing their part to move the region forward.

Tweet about 83 Degrees and the NYAS events on Twitter by using #83DegreesNYAS @83degreesmedia. Also, if you’re feeling agreeable, like us on Facebook. We just might like you back!

Diane Egner is publisher and managing editor of 83 Degrees Media. Comments? Contact 83 Degrees.

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Diane Egner is a community leader and award-winning journalist with more than four decades of experience reporting and writing about the Tampa Bay Area of Florida. She serves on the boards of the University of South Florida Zimmerman School of Advertising & Mass Communications Advisory Council, The Institute for Research in Art (Graphicstudio, the Contemporary Art Museum, and USF’s Public Art Program) Community Advisory Council, Sing Out and Read, and StageWorks Theatre Advisory Council. She also is a member of Leadership Florida and the Athena Society. A graduate of the University of Minnesota with a BA in journalism, she won the top statewide award for editorial writing from the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors while at The Tampa Tribune and received special recognition by the Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists for creative work as Content Director at WUSF Public Media. Past accomplishments and community service include leadership positions with Tampa Tiger Bay Club, USF Women in Leadership & Philanthropy (WLP), Alpha House of Tampa Bay, Awesome Tampa Bay, Florida Kinship Center, AIA Tampa Bay, Powerstories, Arts Council of Hillsborough County, and the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. Diane and her husband, Sandy Rief, live in Tampa.