Tampa Bay entrepreneurs: Got what it takes to compete in Ernst & Young 2010 contest?
Ernst & Young LLP runs one of the coolest national competitions for entrepreneur of the year, and the competition within Florida alone is well worth your attention -- and participation if you think you've got the entrepreneur's bug. Today, Ernst & Young opened its nomination period for the its Entrepreneur Of The Year 2010 Awards in Florida. The deadline for applications is March 19. The awards ceremony will take place on Thursday, June 10, at the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate. More information here.
Last year, nine entrepreneurs in nine categories from Florida were selected as Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year award winners from nearly 100 nominations. Four of those nine are based in the Tampa Bay area. Those winners were:
* Health services: Stephen F. Dickey, M.D., (photo above by Michael C. Weimar of the St. Petersburg Times) founder and vice president of operations, Doctor’s Walk-In Clinic, Tampa. He rattled Tampa Bay's medical status quo nearly 30 years ago with low prices and convenient hours. Now owned by Med Express.
* Marketing, media and entertainment: Tony Little (right, photo), president, chief executive officer and founder, Health International Corp., St. Petersburg. Since competing last year, Little's published a book called There's Always A Way: How to Develop a Positive Mindset and Succeed in Business and Life. "Selling is my game -- and my passion," Little crows on the opening page.
* Services: Scott Riley (left, photo), chief executive officer, Fintech, Tampa. Check out this great video interview with Riley done by Ernst & Young at last year's Strategic Growth Forum held in California. Riley explains how the recession has been an excellent time for finding better talent for his organization.
* Technology: Tony DiBenedetto, chairman and chief executive officer, Tribridge, Tampa. Tony and I talked over lunch at Mitchell's Fish Market at Westshore Plaza while I learned how Tribridge uses Microsoft-based systems to help area companies gain efficiency and productivity.
So, come on, Tampa Bay entrepreneurs. If you think you're ready, take the plunge and enter the E&Y contest. Venture-backed companies that win a regional Entrepreneur Of The Year award are also eligible for the Venture Capital Award of Excellence on a national level. All honorees are invited to the national Entrepreneur Of The Year gala, hosted by Jay Leno, on Nov. 13, 2010 in Palm Springs, Calif.
-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist