During our in-person interview for the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce?s Small Business of the Year competition, the panel of judges asked our CEO Pete Slade a great question: ?If you could give a piece of advice to an entrepreneur looking to start business in Tampa Bay, what would you tell him/her?? Pete?s response? ?Network. Network as much as possible and start now. In fact, you should have started yesterday.?
Last week, Team Nitro practiced what we preach and headed over to The Getaway in St. Petersburg as Gold Sponsors of #collabTB, the Q4 Tech & Entrepreneur Peer Networking Event. The event was hosted by Collaborative Technologies of Tampa Bay and drew in more than 250 techies from various professional backgrounds.
#collabTB brings together tech startups and entrepreneurs, technical professionals, students/interns, and tech organizations from across Tampa Bay. There are no speakers or agenda at these quarterly events? instead, they are designed to be an opportunity for Tampa Bay?s techies to hang out, have fun and network in an informal environment. By providing a casual atmosphere, CToTB can help ensure important word-of-mouth buzz around the Bay?s best opportunities and places to work.
?If you?re hiring and you want to collaborate with people that can help your company grow and succeed, come and meet people with the skill sets to help you obtain those goals,? said CToTB Founder, Sylvia Martinez. ?Our main initiative is to help small startups to mid-size companies build out their technical resources and teams. We like to recruit out of our network. Our tagline is ?Put our network to work for you.??
The tech industry in Tampa Bay is rapidly expanding and it?s events like these that help maximize the potential for a booming technical population. According to this article by Tampa Bay Partnership, ?In the first six months of 2014, Florida has created 4,100 tech jobs ? only 400 jobs away from the number of tech jobs it created in all of last year (4,500).? With growth like that, our local techies need all the networking they can get.
In ?How to Grow the Technology Sector: A Regional Approach,? a report by the Tampa Bay Technology Forum, new IT positions will increase 16 percent through 2019 in Tampa Bay. For each IT position filled, 1.54 new jobs will be created. Of course, this growth momentum is great news? but our community can?t let our celebration of success become too distracting. If we don’t maintain this growth by filling and creating more of these positions, Tampa Bay could lose talent to competing markets, like Silicon Valley.
Aside from invaluable collaboration with fellow techies, #collabTB attendees received an awesome prize package including a T-shirt, sunglasses, backpack, mustache, a coozie and the chance to enter a raffle for some fun give-aways. Included in the prize options were Tampa Lightning game tickets, two Chase Club tickets, and Microsoft Windows 8.1 software. To top it off, a DJ kept the vibe up all night by spinning tunes while guests tried their luck at giant versions of Connect Four and a Jenga tournament, sponsored by yours truly.
Kicking yourself for missing out on #collabTB? Stay in touch with us and with CToTB to score the details of the next techie networking event, scheduled to take place March 5, 2015. Registration and event details can be found here.