Four Tampa Bay winners emerge in Ernst & Young entrepreneur contest
Wake up and good morning. The ten Tampa Bay area companies vying for top statewide entrepreneur bragging rights is now down to four. Last night at the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate, Ernst & Young LLP announced the recipients of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year award in Florida. Most of these folks have had a vision and pursued it for a long time, so don't discount perseverance as a big factor. Ernst & Young's Mike Brennan, who oversaw the Florida contest, says the independent judges looked for examples of overcoming adversity. Here are the four Tampa Bay winners:
• Health services: Stephen F. Dickey, M.D., 64, founder and vice president of operations, Doctor’s Walk-In Clinic, Tampa. He runs eight walk-ins in Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties. He rattled Tampa Bay's medical status quo 29 years ago with low prices and convenient hours. Now owned by Med Express.
• Marketing, media and entertainment: Tony Little, 52, president, chief executive officer and founder, Health International Corp., St. Petersburg. The infomercial legend keeps pushing his personal brand into clothing, shoes, pillows, even buffalo meat (Body by Bison). Coming soon, a biography from Wiley Publishing.
• Services: Scott Riley, 55, chief executive officer, Fintech, Tampa. Processes 200,000 daily electronic invoices worth tens of millions of dollars for alcohol between distributors, retailers. Took 17 years to reach 50 states.
• Technology: Tony DiBenedetto, 43, chairman and chief executive officer, Tribridge, Tampa. Microsoft consulting firm is a fan of “fast failure.” Innovate, but pull plug on no-go ideas and move on. Big on challenging status quo.
Award recipients were selected by an independent judging panel of regional business, academic and community leaders. So these four winners are now eligible for consideration for the Ernst & Young LLP Entrepreneur Of The Year 2009 national awards. Winners in numerous national categories, as well as the overall national Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year award winner, will be announced at the annual awards gala in Palm Springs, Calif., on Nov. 14.
Congratulations to all ten area finalists and kudos to the four winners.
-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist