USF Center for Entrepreneurship Celebrates the 10th Annual Fintech Business Plan Competition Coming Up In April
By Keith Morelli
TAMPA (February 23, 2018) -- From Clinic Catalyst's innovative software that streamlines medical records to Tembo's breakthrough models that educate 6-year-olds around the world through text messages to Yummi Empanadas (self-explanatory), entrepreneurs are making their marks. And many in the Tampa Bay region can trace their successes to a business plan competition sponsored by Fintech and coordinated by the University of South Florida's Center for Entrepreneurship.
The annual competition will celebrate its 10th anniversary on April 28 and to mark the occasion, the center, which is part of the part of the Muma College of Business, is recognizing winners and finalists of the Fintech Business Plan Competition over the past nine years by publishing a "where-are-they-now" list.
Most have remained in the Tampa Bay area and are thriving in their own businesses, either the ones they started back then or new ones. They are valued members of the community who are making names for themselves in the regional business world, said Michael Fountain, founding director of the center.
"Since 1999, more than 50 teams have competed in the annual competition held here at USF," Fountain said. "Of these students, over 90 percent have remained here in the business community in greater Tampa Bay.
"This is impactful, as over 70 percent of the participants were not originally from Tampa," he said. "This program has positively changed the lives of all of these students by creating companies in Tampa Bay which employ both the Fintech Business Plan Competition alumni and others, strengthening our Tampa Bay business ecosystem."
Here is a list of the previous business plan competition winners and what they are doing now:
- 2017 – Corey Reeves is a medical doctor and developer of Clinic Catalyst, a cloud-based software that streamlines the clinical experience for both the health-care provider and patient.
- 2016 – Alana Posluszny runs Live Art Laboratories in Ybor City. Her business is the region's first facility that offers space for artists and serves as a social club for artists and art lovers.
- 2015 – Derek Redmon is the owner of Visual Flo, a 3-D modeling concept company that now contracts with the U.S. Department of Defense.
- 2014 – Dez Williams founded Aquamelon, a fruit drink corporation that currently is found in 60 stores around Florida. Last year, he opened a manufacturing plant in Dover.
- 2013 – Casey Henry is the owner/manager of South Tampa Paintball and has since developed multiple venues for paintball competitions.
- 2012 – Audrey Buttice and Samuel DuPont developed Scientific League, which creates and develops engaging and instructive materials for primary and secondary school students.
- 2011 – Leon McIntosh developed Teburu software and three years ago, founded Swyft an interactive development and design agency.
- 2010 – Jeremy Land founded Wolf Global Enterprises and now works as an international consultant for the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.
- 2009 – Simon Schewmaker went to Wall Street and worked for Goldman Sachs after graduation and currently works in real-estate development and acquisitions.
Fountain gives credit for the much of the success of the program to Scott Riley, CEO of Fintech since 2005. Riley attended the University of South Florida, majoring in mass communications and industrial and organizational psychology. He has been named Entrepreneur of the Year in Florida by Ernst & Young and Outstanding Leader of the Year by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.
Riley's connections with USF run deep. He currently serves on the Muma College of Business Executive Advisory Council as well as the Center for Entrepreneurship Advisory Board.
Riley said Fintech was proud to be the corporate sponsor for the business plan competition.
"Giving back to the Tampa Bay area's most talented entrepreneurs is our way of showing the community how much we truly appreciate the help and support Fintech received in our development and growth over the years," Riley said. "We understand the importance of giving people with innovative and creative ideas the opportunity to follow their entrepreneurial dreams, while nurturing home grown businesses in the Tampa Bay area."
Fintech business plan competitors present their ideas to a panel of judges who then choose the best plan for the top prize. Winners of the competition take home $15,000 to help jump start their businesses.
Runner-ups don't go home empty-handed; they're also given access to in-kind services, such as tax and legal advice.