Tampa Bay Wave, a business incubator and co-working space, aims to connect at-risk youth with tech entrepreneurs.
Tampa Bay Wave Inc., a business incubator and co-working space, staged a pitch night July 18 at Red Mesa Cantina in downtown St. Petersburg, an event that drew more than 100 attendees, including potential investors.
And although 11 startups each made the case as to why dollars should flow their way, the theme of the evening was more about unity than competition, when Tampa Bay Wave officially launched its partnership with Think Big for Kids, a nonprofit that connects underprivileged young people with mentorship, skill development and career exploration opportunities.
It’s a grassroots initiative founded in 2016 by Tampa entrepreneur Tony DiBenedetto, who founded tech firm Tribridge in 1998, grew it into a $140 million business and then sold it to DXC Technology in 2017. Tampa Bay Wave will support Think Big for Kids with a 10-week social media campaign and a fundraising push that aims to raise $500,000 for the organization.
The end goal, according to a press release, is to prepare some 2,000 Tampa Bay area teenagers who receive services from local Boys & Girls Clubs to enter the workforce by 2022.
“Our goal with this campaign is to shed light on two very important issues in our community. First, we are helping deserving kids who are often overlooked break out of the poverty cycle, and second, we are filling a much-needed pipeline for great talent that will continue to fuel the region’s economy,” DiBenedetto states in the release.
Tampa Bay Wave President and CEO Linda Olson says the campaign will provide at-risk youth with direct access to some of the region’s top tech and entrepreneurial talent. “This partnership is an exciting opportunity to connect the dots between Tampa Bay Wave’s mission and the kids in our community,” she states in the release.