Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Business

Momentum grows to raise bar for area business startups

Can regional momentum raise the bar for entrepreneurs? Sure feels that way given the uptick in plans to stimulate startups.

"I think it's because the economy is better and people are more optimistic and excited about technology," says Heather Kenyon, CEO of the Tampa Bay Technology Forum. "We're still working on getting the word out about Tampa Bay's growing entrepreneurial activity and the increase in the diversity of events certainly helps."

Three events stand out:

1. How about a cable TV show styled after ABC's Shark Tank for funding Tampa Bay area startups? That's the goal of "Pitch 6" – an event happening this Tuesday afternoon at the Lowry Park Zoo. Five handpicked startups from this area compete against each other for $5,000 and free cable TV advertising. Come watch from the bleachers.

The concept is the brainchild of entrepreneur Mark Swanson, whose Telovations startup in Tampa was acquired by Bright House Networks. Now Bright House and Swanson are filming Tuesday's showdown in which each business gets six minutes to pitch their business idea to three venture capital judges.

Kevin Harrington, one of the original "sharks "on ABC's Shark Tank TV show, will get the Pitch 6 ball rolling. The winning startup will be announced Feb. 27 at the Bright House Networks regional business awards gala.

"Our primary goal is bringing the region together to better operate as one economic entity," says Swanson. "The problem here is that we have a lot of diverse efforts for startups." Better coordination and sharper programs will deliver "a better way to serve entrepreneurs and make a more robust ecosystem." More information at bit.ly/1nI815M.

2. On March 2 a three-day road trip kicks off from Tampa for about 30 area entrepreneurs. Split into teams, they will start businesses from scratch on the StartupBus. This year eight buses from across the country converge on San Antonio, Texas, to compete for bragging rights for the best business idea assembled during the trip. From Tampa, three bus leaders or "conductors" this year include Lindsey Nickel-de la O, 31, who was thrilled by her experience on last year's bus. Now she's paying it back by mentoring others.

Entrepreneurs must apply to be considered for the StartupBus. More information at startupbus.com.

"People are excited to be starting businesses," says Nickel-de la O, a director at Sarasota's Nickel Communications. "We are migrating into a generation of entrepreneurs."

3. For those skipping the bus, TampaServiceJam from March 7-9 is a global competition among teams to create the best solution to a given customer service problem. The goal is to "create a quality service experience by improving the way the customer and the service provider interact."

The beauty of this event is it requires less tech savvy but more design smarts about helping consumers receive better service under adverse conditions. More information at tampaservicejam.com.

Robert Trigaux can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Career Q&A: Disillusioned with grind of telecommute

Career Q&A: Disillusioned with grind of telecommute

Q: I have become very disillusioned with my telecommuting job. I accepted this position about a year ago because I liked the idea of working from home. However, I now have so many assignments that I can barely keep up. I was recently given a huge pro...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Pinellas County commits $41.7 million to Blue Jays Stadium

Pinellas County commits $41.7 million to Blue Jays Stadium

DUNEDIN — The Pinellas County Commission pulled the final trigger Tuesday on dedicating $41.7 million in bed taxes for upgrades to the Toronto Blue Jays’ stadium and spring training facilities, a pledge that amounts to covering more than half of the ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Florida’s small businesses need more skilled workers, survey says

Florida’s small businesses need more skilled workers, survey says

Florida small business owners say their top concern is a lack of skilled workers, according to a recent survey by the Florida Chamber of Commerce. Workforce quality has been a recurring issue for small businesses, according to previous surveys. In th...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Marriott CEO: Our three-hotel bet at Water Street Tampa reflects how Tampa is evolving

Marriott CEO: Our three-hotel bet at Water Street Tampa reflects how Tampa is evolving

TAMPA — The world’s biggest hotel company already has 29 properties in the Tampa Bay area, but its CEO says a plan to put more than 1,400 rooms in three Marriott-branded hotels within a few blocks of each other says something about how Tampa is evolv...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Study ranks Florida No. 8 for most aggressive drivers

Study ranks Florida No. 8 for most aggressive drivers

If you’ve ever complained about other motorists on the road, you may have been justified. The Sunshine State ranked No. 8 on GasBuddy.com’s list of states with the most aggressive drivers."Our findings indicate that states with densely populated citi...
Updated: 7 hours ago
First curbside delivery, now Amazon leaves packages with no one in the car

First curbside delivery, now Amazon leaves packages with no one in the car

Amazon is taking the growing curb-side delivery trend a step further — now shoppers don’t even have to be inside their cars to get their items.The online retailer announced Tuesday it has begun delivering packages to newer cars with OnStar service in...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Ex-Yahoo paying $35M to settle SEC charges over 2014 hack

Ex-Yahoo paying $35M to settle SEC charges over 2014 hack

WASHINGTON — The company formerly known as Yahoo is paying a $35 million fine to resolve federal regulators’ charges that the online pioneer deceived investors by failing to disclose one of the biggest data breaches in internet history. The Securiti...
Updated: 10 hours ago
The ‘most interesting man in the world’ will be tending bar in Tampa on Friday

The ‘most interesting man in the world’ will be tending bar in Tampa on Friday

"Stay thirsty, my friends," the most interesting man in the world is coming to Tampa to tend bar on Friday. Jonathan Goldsmith, the face that launched a thousand memes, will be slinging cocktails at Tampa’s trendy Hall on Franklin, the food hall anno...
Updated: 11 hours ago
So far, Pasco’s tourism base: Floridians, Canadians

So far, Pasco’s tourism base: Floridians, Canadians

NEW PORT RICHEY – The typical tourist in Pasco County this year most likely is a Floridian.But there are lots of Canadians here as well. Nearly 80 percent drove, rather than flew, to the region. Forty percent stayed in hotels, but more than a quarter...
Published: 04/24/18
Girls hockey could replace boys lacrosse on Pasco tourism calendar

Girls hockey could replace boys lacrosse on Pasco tourism calendar

NEW PORT RICHEY – Hockey pucks could replace lacrosse balls as the required sports equipment for the holiday tourism season in Wesley Chapel.The Wickenheiser World Female Hockey Festival, founded by Canadian hockey player Hayley Wickenheiser, is seek...
Published: 04/24/18