Entrepreneurship – Engagement vs. Education

Entrepreneurship Conference at UT

This week marks the return of the annual South East Entrepreneurship Conference (SEEC) hosted by the University of Tampa. University sponsored teams from all over SE will converge on UT to attend workshops, listen to keynotes from expereinced business owners, and pitch their ideas in a series of presentations. Once again, I am honored to be participating as a judge at the finals on Saturday afternoon and I look forward to seeing the wide variety of ideas that these participants have prepared for the conference.

While I am not a big fan of business plan contests and prefer to see people building products vs. pitching them, the participants at this conference and similar events like those hosted by USF’s St. Pete Entrepreneurship program continue to impress me with their insight and enthusiasm. After judging at last year’s SEEC, I got to know a few of the local participants and see them often at tech-focused gatherings such as BarCamp and Startup Grind. Their passion for building new products and businesses lasted well after the conference had ended and even if they have moved on from their original idea to something new, they are some of the most motivated and curious individuals that I have had the pleasure to meet.

I am pleased to see the “Always Be Learning” mentality extends far beyond academia for these folks with several of them mentioning their diverse peer network in the community and how hands-on resources like the Tampa Hackerspace helped them to see their ideas as more than a plan on paper. It is very encouraging to hear these teams focus less on chasing money and more on testing their ideas in the market and developing better means of customer engagement. I hope this year’s batch of teams brings more of the same. Good luck to all.

Reviving Tech Rant – Brainstorming for Tech Startups

We started Tech Rant back in late ’07 as a supplement to the workshops hosted by TBTF’s Emerging Companies Academy myimgprogram. These weekly coffee chats were structured as an informal support group for start-up founders and early stage tech companies. They were held every week for almost two years before moving to the IdeaField space, the first full-time coworking facility in the Tampa Bay region.

With the Hillsborough County Entrepreneur Collaborative Center (ECC) about to officially open this week in Ybor, it seemed like a good time to revisit the Tech Rant format to see if there was interest in restarting these startup brainstorming sessions.

Please let us know what times / days work best. As a test run, let’s shoot for a brown bag lunch format on Thursday Dec. 18th at 11:30 am.

As it was before, all topics are fair game. Stop in to discuss any challenge you may be facing in your start-up including:

• Idea validation
• Creating a product roadmap 
• Finding co-founders (and do you need one) 
• Creating / refining your business model & roadmap
• Market validation & product readiness 
• Sales & distribution strategy 
• Hiring contractors or full-time employees 
• Applying for an incubator / accelerator program 
• Raising outside funding (angel, venture, crowd, etc.) 
• Partner development & agreements 
• IP strategy & licensing 
• Hiring service providers (attorneys, accountants, other) 
Thursday Dec. 18th
11:30 – 1:00
Hillsborough County’s Entrepreneur Collaborative Center
2101 E. Palm Avenue (in Ybor City)
Parking lot north of Palm is free 
RSVP on TechRant’s MeetUp page

If you have any other questions, feel free to ping me on MeetUp or on Twitter @StartupMonkey.

Startup Tampa Bay – Nov. 14th

In his final Startup Tampa Bay video as a @HillsboroughFL Commissioner, @MarkSharpeFL discusses his successful EDI2 program and how it has helped the local tech ecosystem grow in both activity and visibility.

A few recurring topics came up in this video that are worthy of additional discussion:

  1. Finding startup resources in Tampa Bay
  2. Branding Tampa Bay as a active & growing tech ecosystem
  3. Availability of investment capital in the region

Continue reading Startup Tampa Bay – Nov. 14th