1. Business

Jeff Vinik among those investing $1 million in St. Petersburg startup

Jeff Vinik, owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning.  [WILL VRAGOVIC, Times]
Jeff Vinik, owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning. [WILL VRAGOVIC, Times]
Published Sep. 13, 2016

A group of startup investors that includes Jeff Vinik is investing $1 million in a St. Petersburg startup founded by a University of South Florida St. Petersburg graduate in entrepreneurship and rising player in local business startup circles.

The startup, called Check I'm Here, offers a software platform that helps universities and colleges manage organizations and events, track student involvement, assess engagement and reach more students. It will use its first significant investor funding to further its offerings in higher education technology. The startup says more than 80 institutions with 350,000 students in 30 states and three countries actively use its service. The firm's client list has grown by 25 percent every quarter.

Reuben Pressman, who founded Check I'm Here in 2014 and remains majority owner, runs the firm with 15 full-time employees. He's looking for more.

Here's how Pressman, 27, met Vinik, owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning and a joint venture partner with Cascade Investment (which manages money for billionaire Bill Gates) in an ambitious 40-plus acres around the Amalie Arena in Tampa.

Commercial real estate executive Lee Arnold invited Pressman to appear on a panel of millennials to talk about this region at a meeting of the Florida Council of 100. Vinik was in the audience. They later met and, according to Pressman, Vinik liked what he heard and saw enough to invest. Vinik has invested in other area startups as well.

In addition to Vinik, investors in the $1 million funding for Check I'm Here include Ronald Schlosser, a former executive chairman of McGraw-Hill Education who recently bought a home in this area, and a California venture capital group called 500 Mobile Collective.

Check I'm Here recently relocated to more space in a building at 100 Seventh St. S in St. Petersburg.


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