Chamber Launches Startup Scholars Program

The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Startup Scholars Program is an initiative which aims to encourage innovation as a part of our community culture and increase instances of entrepreneurial success. Our mission is to increase the competitiveness of the Tampa Bay business community by addressing and nurturing Tampa’s entrepreneurs and related business innovation in any industry sector.

Through this program, the Chamber will identify three entrepreneurs provide guidance and assistance in three critical areas: seed capital, best management practices and sales growth. Startup Scholars Program participants will receive the following:

  1. A professional gap analysis or needs assessment provided to the entrepreneur that focuses on specific critical success factors.
  2. A FIT Two membership to the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, allowing the entrepreneur to take advantage of the Chamber’s networking program and free best management practices educational offerings through the Competitive Edge Series.
  3. A mentor selected by the Chamber’s Business Innovation subcommittee to assist the entrepreneur in growing sales, connecting with investors or coaching on business management practices.
  4. Recognition as a Startup Scholar to the entire GTCC membership and Tampa business community.

Applications are now being accepted and can be completed by clicking here. The application deadline is October 19, at which point the committee will contact select entrepreneurs for final interviews, with an anticipated decision date of November 28. For more information, please click here to contact the Business Innovation subcommittee chair, John Wakefield.

The individuals that Startup Scholars will interact with include the following Business Innovation committee members.

Brent Britton is an Intellectual Property attorney at Gray Robinson where he leads the Emerging Business and Technology group.  Brent came to Tampa via San Francisco and Silicon Valley where he was influential in establishing the legal framework that ushered in the late 20th century Internet boom.  In addition to his law practice he is the founder of Gazelle Labs and Dealer Wizard.

Susan Gear is the Group Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Corporate Development for Catalina Marketing.  In addition to her successful career at Catalina which also includes the start up and early stage management and marketing of Catalina’s Coupon Network, she was instrumental in the early stage growth and development and subsequent IPO of Cool Savings.

Mo Kasti is the CEO and Founder of the Center for Transformation and Innovation (CTI) at USF.  Mo is Master Change Agent, a Six Sigma Black Belt and nationally recognized for his keen ability to conceive unorthodox strategies, execute plans and deliver transformative results.  Prior to CTI, Mo was the COO of USF Health after a very successful career with GE’s multibillion dollar Healthcare and Medical Systems businesses.

John Wakefield is the executive in charge of Corporate Business Development for Lykes Bros. Inc.  In this role, John leads strategic growth investments for Lykes Bros.  These investments have been primarily directed at data management and financial services for the energy and environmental sector as well as logistics solutions targeted at improving Florida’s supply chain.  Prior, to Lykes, John spent 10 years in corporate and investment banking as well as wealth and investment management.