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.