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40 Under 40 - Class of 2013
Business Observer Friday, Oct. 4, 2013 9 years ago

Ferdian Jap, 28

Partner, Big City Events LLC

With an associate’s in arts, a bachelor's in biomedical science, a master's in entrepreneurship, an M.B.A., and a law degree in progress, you may not guess that Ferdian Jap is in the event planning business. But events are what Jap and his company, Big City Events, do best.

With a mission to activate downtown Tampa, the company comes up with a concept for an event first, then reaches out to sponsors for capital and other resources to make it happen.

Jap just finished the Summer of Rum Festival, a sold-out event Aug. 24 with 4,000 attendees. Sponsors included Cruzan Rum, Appleton Estate Jamaican Rum and Red Stripe.

The company also runs the Tampa River Lights Festival, the Tampa Margarita Festival, the Gasparilla Music Festival and the Gasparilla Film Festival, to name a few.

Projecting revenue from events is easier than it looks, according to Jap. For alcohol-based events, Jap estimates that the average attendee will bring in between $35 and $40 from ticket and drink sales. Sponsors cover around 40% of costs. To get a permit from the city of Tampa, each event must donate a certain percentage of profit to charity.

The company has brought in $350,000 in revenue this year, and is on its way to reach $500,000 by the end of 2013. The company aims to hit $800,000 in revenue next year.

As one may imagine, Big City Events isn’t Jap’s only business venture. Carrying more than five business cards at any given time, the serial entrepreneur also runs several real estate investments: he manages a multifamily property, leases commercial real estate and flips homes.

During a week with no events, Jap says he spends around 40 hours working at Big City Events, about six hours working on his real estate ventures, and about 10 hours a week in school. He clears his email inbox around 1 a.m. “I never wanted to have a 9-to-5 hours kind of thing,” he says.

So why all the degrees? Jap found himself consulting businesses about funding and creating business plans, so he decided to get his M.B.A. When he started to realize how much legal work was necessary when planning events, including risk mitigation and contract writing for sponsorships, he decided to pursue his J.D.

Jap says his friends in law school tease him because he hasn’t gone shopping in a long time. There’s no need, he says. “Every day I wear a different nonprofit or event T-shirt.”

— Traci McMillan Beach


City of residence: Tampa

Birthplace: Jakarta, Indonesia

Years on the Gulf Coast: 15

Alma mater: University of South Florida, University of Tampa

The most important business lesson I’ve learned: Shoot then aim, meaning, just do it and pull it off, then figure out as you go.

Coolest business experience: Pulling off the Tampa Tee Off, where we shut down Franklin Street in Downtown Tampa and built a golf driving range.

One website that makes your job easier: Facebook... since we do events and social media is prominent

Book you’re reading now: Law books

Favorite techno gadget: Go pro

If I had a magic wand I’d: Fully develop Downtown Tampa and the Tampa Riverwalk and activate it every weekend with events!


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