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2017-07-14 digital edition
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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2017 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved. 


 

July 14, 2017  RSS feed
Front Page

Text: T T T

Israeli companies sell themselves at Tampa event

By JAMIE SHAPIRO Jewish Press


Company founders: (L-R) Bob Reish (WeissBeerger), Oren Milstein (StemRad), Oleg Korol (Tevatronic), Derek Schwartz (Safe-T), David Sachs (Tomobox), Yaniv Shneiderman (BlazePod), and Gonen Vardi (eProc Solutions) at the Florida-Israel Business Accelerator. Company founders: (L-R) Bob Reish (WeissBeerger), Oren Milstein (StemRad), Oleg Korol (Tevatronic), Derek Schwartz (Safe-T), David Sachs (Tomobox), Yaniv Shneiderman (BlazePod), and Gonen Vardi (eProc Solutions) at the Florida-Israel Business Accelerator. More than 350 people gathered at the Bryan Glazer Family JCC on June 22 to learn about eight Israeli start-up businesses that are using offices at the JCC as a base for establishing markets in America.

Israeli company executives pitched their businesses at the first-ever Florida Israel Business Accelerator (FIBA) Collaborative Exchange, an event which included a speech by Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, who is redeveloping a large sector of downtown Tampa’s Channelside District, and to hear from a panel of local business experts.

FIBA, founded in 2016 by the Tampa Jewish Community Centers & Federation, is a technology accelerator with the purpose of helping establish and nurture successful, high-growth Israeli tech ventures in the Tampa Bay area.


Yeniv Shneiderman, CEO and founder of BlazePod, presents his fitness solution onstage. Yeniv Shneiderman, CEO and founder of BlazePod, presents his fitness solution onstage. Each startup works with the FIBA organization for 12-18 weeks, with the next batch of startups expected to begin in the fall of 2018. FIBA is based at the Glazer JCC and is headed by former JCC executive director Jack Ross.

The FIBA event’s purpose was simple, show the people of Tampa just how promising these Florida-Israel partnerships are and provide an in-depth look into what exactly these startups are doing in Israel and hope to do in America. CEOs from the eight startups currently working with FIBA prepared presentations for guests, each lasting about 10 minutes and highlighting the importance of the Florida-Israel collaboration in their success.

The startups ranged from an Israeli beverage management company, WeissBeerger, to a group that has created anti-radiation gear that will be tested on NASA’s next flight to Mars, Stemrad.

One of the eight, Tomobox, an Israeli startup that uses artificial intelligence and smart bots in customer service, announced their plan to build their headquarters in Tampa, creating jobs and boosting the economy.

Tomobox CEO David Sachs said he decided to make the move to Tampa permanent after his involvement with FIBA and experiencing first-hand the Tampa Bay area and the promise it holds.

Like Sachs, the Lightning’s Vinik shared his enthusiasm for the local region.

“We just have to let it be known that Tampa and the Tampa Bay area is open for business in the innovation space,” Vinik said.

Vinik and his local real estate company, Strategic Property Partners, are currently undertaking a $3 billion mixed-use development project that aims to revitalize downtown Tampa. A big reason for this investment is to keep attracting the best and brightest to Tampa, to live and work, he said.

“Tampa is one of the country’s best kept secrets,”

Vinik said. “We need to change that.”

Many of the companies flew in their CEOs from Israel, including fitness startup Blazepod’s CEO Yeniv Shneiderman and Oleg Korol of Tevatronic, an automated irrigation company that aims for optimal crop growth for farmers.

Jobs were a primary focus at the collaborative exchange, and local officials, including Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman, are strong believers in these startups and whatever future ones may join FIBA.

“Our Hillsborough government is completely devoted to these startups,” she said.

In spite of budget cuts, Murman said they would continue to give between $100,000 and $150,000 to the organization annually.

The CEOs of the eight startups currently working with FIBA all expressed a genuine desire to increase the workforce and enhance the city of Tampa.

The event also featured a panel of local investors, educators and businesspeople who discussed the potential that the Israeli startups possess and how it could possibly help the local economy.

In an area that is rife with culture, culinary experiences and incredible educational opportunities, such as the University of Tampa and the University of South Florida, it’s no wonder these startups are interested in coming to Tampa and getting their starts, Vinik said. “We’re at the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “But we have all the potential in the world to be successful.”


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