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Creative Business

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  • | 12:24 p.m. October 7, 2011
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Daniel Scott has a knack for seeing opportunity in the most unlikely places. For example, when Scott noticed the lights were off at a Tallahassee Greek restaurant, he wondered why, given that a long line of people waiting to get into a nearby music venue were standing in front of it.

Scott, 33, made his first step into the entrepreneurial world when he seized the overflow of business from that venue. “There were always people lined up in front of this gyro place,” says Scott of the daytime restaurant, “so we rented it from the owner at night.”

Scott says the makeshift nightclub changed the way Tallahassee bars operate. Instead of encouraging bouncers to keep the bar exclusive, Scott brought his tough guy in on the profit. This made it more attractive for the bouncer, one of his fraternity brothers, to maximize capacity.

A little more than a decade later, the strip that Scott says was once a quaint collection of shops is crammed with bars and nightclubs espousing the same business strategy.

From these beginnings, Scott was drawn to the world of startup businesses.

Scott honed his skills at the University of South Florida, where he received an M.B.A. and a master's in entrepreneurship and applied technologies.

After working in commercial real estate for Fifth Third Bank, Scott co-founded Alorum in 2006. As a backend software development firm, Alorum helped create the software for Maddux Newswire, among other projects. Tampa-based Maddux is a free website that aggregates press releases for news outlets.

This year Scott founded Gazelle Lab, an incubator headquartered in Tampa that is under the TechStars Network of startup accelerators. The firm provides startup money of around $18,000 to three to five companies that it mentors for three-month sessions. It takes a 6% share of the company after the new business is launched.

The companies Scott and his team of mentors groomed with Gazelle have produced 14 jobs so far in the region. Though that seems modest, Scott keeps a positive attitude. Says Scott: “Every job counts.”

The newest project Scott has taken on is teaching at the Sustainable Entrepreneurship & Innovation Alliance in USF St. Petersburg's College of Business, where he holds the title of associate director. The program teaches the intricate workings of developing a creative business plan. “It's really an arts program within the USF School of Business,” he says.

And he hopes that the program keeps graduates — and the jobs they may create — in the area. “One of the model students from our beta run [of the program] wanted to go to Silicon Valley, because that's where the jobs he wanted were,” says Scott. “The relationships he made in Tampa Bay kept him here, and we're happy about that.”

Next up: Scott will teach two classes at USF St. Petersburg in the coming school year. And that's in addition to the work he is already doing at Gazelle and Alorum.

He doesn't plan on slowing down though. Says Scott: “I want to change Tampa Bay for the better.”


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