Tampa Bay entrepreneurs create support system

Posted at 4:50 PM, Apr 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-20 17:34:02-04
"Uber for trucks" is how Brandon-based Trucks on Demand is pitching their app that can be used to quickly summon a local truck and driver to help you move something.
The inventors, including founder Reggie Wood, admits his company is still working out the kinks, which is why he intentionally took the time to pitch his idea to local business community leaders to find out what he might be missing.
Overall, they got a very warm response for their business model and overall game-plan.
"As a small business owner you don't know everything," Reggie Wood tells ABC Action News. "So all of the questions that they have helps to grow our business."
His pitch and feedback session happened at a weekly meeting called 1 Million Cups. Think of it as a local shark tank, a place entrepreneurs can get honest feedback from the community and business leaders, and maybe even find an investor.
The program, started and funded in part by the Kauffman Foundation, now has versions of 1 Million Cups all over the country, including St. Petersburg. Tampa entrepreneur Leon Donovan, as well as Hillsborough Community College faculty member Dr. Andy Gold, say they visited the one in St. Petersburg last year and knew immediately they wanted to bring the concept to Tampa.
Their Tampa version just turned a year old.
After a short presentation, Reggie Wood of Trucks on Demand got questions from the crowd like, "What is your revenue model, and how do your drivers get compensated?" Another listener told Wood he needed a new font in the app.
Wood says his new app "is not perfect now" and adds that's why he wanted to pitch his idea to this local community.
"1 Million Cups really helps us as a business because it allows us to see the things we don’t see while we’re working on our business," Wood said.
Also on Wednesday, Joseph Dalessio told the crowd about his company Waldenponics, a Henry David Thoreau-inspired "urban agroecology" concept that "combines aquaculture and hydroponics" to create a sustainable and manageable plant-growing wall. His design, which he displayed to over 50 people at the Mark Sharpe Entrepreneur Collaborative Center (ECC) in Ybor City, turns fish waste into plant feeder, and was also a hit at this week's session.
"I've been trying to build a business for a long time, and I was reaching walls of really connecting within the community and developing a business and so I needed to go out and seek help and people in the community who could teach me," Dalessio tells ABC Action News.
Dalessio was encouraged by people in attendance to patent his creation, and he now plans to continue to show off his design in hopes of refining his pitch and gaining interest.
You can learn more about 1 Million Cups in Tampa which meets every Wednesday at the ECC by clicking here.