By Fred Arnold
University of Tampa, a private college in the heart of booming Tampa Bay, hosted their annual SEEC Entrepreneur Conference where students from all over congregated to learn the tips and tricks of the trade.
The conference took place February 27-28 where an entire schedule of speakers, learning seminars, and competitions littered the decorative halls of the University’s College of Business, Sykes building.
“I’ve met people from all over,” a business student from the USC, who asked to stay anonymous, said. “It has been a blast talking ideas with so many intelligent people.”
Yes, the conference demanded time for business, but those who attended found more than just their major. They found new friends, new experiences, a new town filled with new beginnings, and for those who win the competition, funding for their business venture.
If the ornate buildings and class rooms of the University that screamed 21st century did not impress, the plethora of phenomenal speakers created a professional and awe inspiring atmosphere. One speaker, Joe Quaglia from Tech Data, brought with him an air of confidence and a voice to admire.
“I figured out a way to separate people from their money,” Quaglia said to a fixated conference room as the boom of his voice echoed with passion, “and to be happy about it,” he finished to applause.
Tech Data, a leading business in the manufacturing and moving of computer hardware, fell into success in the early 2000s, and Joe Quaglia took a part in it. He spoke to the students and on lookers with a knowledge beyond comprehension, but his ability to bring his ideas into laymen terms left little to question.
“Finance is the language of business,” he said numerous times, making sure the point hit home.
After the series of speakers, the competition took place. Known as the Spartan Idea Pitch Competition, students and attendees alike are given the opportunity to display an idea for a potential business venture to a panel of judges. Ideas ranged from full on businesses to simple one product pitches to out-of-the-box craftsmanship.
1st place went to Jared Young for his Veggie Vita business, a new view on health. 2nd place went to Sheldon Barnett for his CoCo Vanna debut, and third place went to Adam Silver for his business design called Ingenious Products. The prices ranged from $500 to $2,000.
The conference brought like-minded students together, it gave them opportunities and knowledge, and it groomed and molded the minds of potential business owners. One thing Joe Quaglia stressed often was to follow the green and not the dream.
“Dreams can only force a wrong decision,” he said, stepping off of the stage to applause.
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