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The Second Annual Tampa Bay Entrepreneurship Gala

Tampa, FL (May 15, 2013) — Wearing offbeat bowties or eccentric jackets in keeping with the night's "creative black tie" theme, the attendees at the Second Annual Tampa Bay Entrepreneurship Gala showed off the creative spirits that made them successful entrepreneurs.

Band playing at the gala

The event, held on May 10 at the Sheraton Riverfront in downtown Tampa, was hosted by the USF Alumni Society of Entrepreneurs to benefit the Michael W. Fountain Scholarship Fund. It included a cocktail hour and dinner, silent auction, and awards presentation.

Dippin' Dots CEO and Founder Curt Jones gave the evening's keynote speech. He spoke about how as a scientist in Illinois, he created the "ice cream of the future" using techniques he used in the lab. While the creation of the product happened fairly quickly, he said it took years to be able to market it properly. He said he was honored to be speaking at an event that supported entrepreneurs like himself, and encouraged those who might be in the startup stage.

"I think the biggest thing for entrepreneurs is knowing that if you don't give up, you've got a real good chance to make it," he said.

The evening's awards highlighted USF's Center for Entrepreneurship student accomplishment, presenting an "Alumni of the Year" award to Infusion Brands Chief Operating Officer Allen Clary and a "Student of the Year" award to Brenton Basinger.

Basinger, who is working with other entrepreneurship students to start a biomedical waste disposal company, thanked his fellow students in the program for expanding his business thinking and credited the program with enabling his achievements.

"Fortunately, I won't be looking for a job after graduation," he said. "I'll be creating my own job."

Entrepreneur of the Year

Other awards for Entrepreneur of the Year and Social Entrepreneur of the Year went to Cigar City Brewery and Sweetwater Organic Community Farm, respectively.

Clary and others throughout the evening recognized Michael Fountain, the Center for Entrepreneurship's founding director, for his contributions to the program and encouraged attendees to make sure the center continued to be successful.

Social Entrepreneur of the Year

Mit Patel, who runs MIT Computers, joked that he knew from his first job bussing tables as a teenager that "this whole job thing wasn't going to work out!" He told the gala guests that by giving to the scholarship fund, they would help promising entrepreneurs create jobs for themselves and others, as he had.

Now in its 10th year, the Center for Entrepreneurship trains students from across USF's campus with skills they need to start successful businesses. The nationally ranked center is part of the USF Muma College of Business, in collaboration with the USF College of Engineering, the Morsani College of Medicine, and the Patel School of Global Sustainability.