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Five on the 40 Under 40 List Compiled by the Tampa Bay Business Journal Are Affiliated With the Muma College of Business

By Keith Morelli

40 Under 40

TAMPA (October 25, 2018) -- 

Brian Kornfeld’s mind is buffeted by the winds of innovation, stoking his passion to help start-ups and entrepreneurs navigate early-state ecosystems and to connect entrepreneurs through summit events. This, he said, “enables me to continue my mission.”

The cofounder and chief operating officer of Synapse and alumnus of the Executive MBA program (2014) at the Muma College of Business was named this month to the 40 Under 40 list compiled by the Tampa Bay Business Journal. He is one of five honorees affiliated with the Muma College of Business. The list recognizes the region’s up-and-coming executives, entrepreneurs, sales representatives, teachers, healthcare professionals, sports icons and other influential individuals.

“I feel honored to be among these other great 39 leaders in Tampa Bay,” Kornfeld said. “It is incredible to see what happens when preparation meets serendipity.”

Kornfeld’s love of technology began at an early age and culminated in a master’s degree from the University of Florida in aerospace engineering.

Early in his career, he worked on projects that ranged from hand-held encryption devices to fighter jets to cutting-edge satellites. After receiving his Executive MBA from USF, Kornfeld joined Nielsen as a senior manager and became a key player in a $25 million international software development project as well as helping to integrate a $1 billion acquisition.

His interest in entrepreneurship blossomed while attending classes at the Muma College of Business, where Kornfeld saw the difficulty some entrepreneurs experienced in overcoming anxiety caused by the very technology that was designed to turn their ideas into reality.

So, he launched Popkorn Apps, a mobile app development company and mini-incubator for entrepreneurs with the mission of not letting good ideas go to waste.  As CEO, he saw first-hand the connectivity roadblocks in the Tampa Bay region.

“In 2016, I was working hard at understanding how we can make Tampa Bay the world's next great innovation community,” he said. “I had a chance meeting with Marc Blumenthal and in a massive leap of faith, I joined him and Andy Hafer in starting Synapse.”

Kornfeld’s honors are not just local. This month, Business Journal publications from around the nation selected 100 for the National List of Rising Star Executives and Kornfeld made that list, chosen from the 1,000 execs profiled from around the United States.

Kornfeld, 35, who often returns to USF as a guest speaker in business classes, is among five entrepreneurs and business/community leaders on the 40 Under 40 list with Muma College of Business connections. The other four are:

  • Linden Arakawa, senior manager of assurance at CBIZ MHM. He has been in his current position since January 2017 and has worked with the company since 2011. He also spent a couple of years as a coach of the Tampa Tribe Lacrosse team. At 30 years old, Arakawa, who attended business classes at USF in 2010, has been a key business partner for clients involved in some 30 mergers and acquisitions. The Tampa Bay Business Journal’s profile says he is one of the youngest senior managers at CBIZ when he was promoted last year.
  • Jim Barnish, general partner and cofounder of Morgan Hill Partners, an executive consulting firm that has a strong focus on technical startups, strategic consulting and investment management. The vision of the company is to help startups build and innovate using a “playbook” for executive talent. Since January, Barnish, 33, has served as director of content for Synapse, a nonprofit established to help Florida’s entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystems thrive. In 2014, he received an MBA and a master’s degree in management, graduating magna cum laude. Barnish’s bit of wisdom, as quoted in the Journal’s profile: “Each stop along my professional journey has resulted in a litany of incredible opportunities to prove myself.”
  • Lauren Fernandez, senior vice president and middle-market banking director with The Bank of Tampa. She has been with the bank since 2012 and previously has served as vice president of TD Bank Group, M&I Bank and SunTrust. She was hired at The Bank of Tampa as a commercial banker and remained in that role for just over a year before being promoted to middle-market director. The 38-year-old banker, who earned an MBA in 2008, received the company’s outstanding achievement award for exceeding expectations in relationship building and consistently reaching production goals. Her bit of wisdom, as quoted in the profile: “Health and wellness is so important to me and I think it contributes to my success because when you look and feel good, you perform strong in all facets of life.”
  • Joshua Korlin, senior manager of partnership development with the Jeff Vinik-owned Tampa Bay Sports & Entertainment group and current Executive MBA student in the Muma College of Business. The 29-year-old executive has interned with the Houston Astros, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Miami Dolphins. He has been with the Tampa Bay Sports & Entertainment group since 2014 and was promoted this year to oversee all sponsorship and new business efforts for all of Vinik’s properties, including the Tampa Bay Lightning, the partnership with USF and Identity Tampa Bay. The piece of Korlin wisdom offered in the profile: “The minute you stop learning is the minute the world will pass you by.”