Local 'Shark Tank': Making business dreams come true

'1 Million Cups' is free and open to all

TAMPA, Fla. - Le’Ann Jackson had a secret cheesecake recipe… and a dream.

And now, thanks to 1 Million Cups, a free “Shark Tank”-style business pitch event happening on both sides of the bay, Le’Anns Cheesecakes are one of the hottest desserts in town, available at some 50 locations, including Tampa International Airport.

“You have investors there, you have restaurant owners who can look at your product and purchase it right on the spot,” she says of 1 Million Cups, a national program aimed at helping inventors, dreamers and small business owners looking for a big break.

The 1 Million Cups in Tampa is every Wednesday at the Mark Sharpe Entrepreneur Collaborative Center.

The 1 Million Cups in St. Petersburg is every Wednesday at the St. Petersburg Greenhouse.

Everyone is invited. Anyone can pitch an idea; pitches are six minutes long, and you never know who’s sitting in the audience.

“If the idea’s really good, funding will find its way to them,” says Chris Krimitsos, a mover-and-shaker at 1 Million Cups, who’s currently raising interest in his new film, “The Messengers: A Podcast Documentary”.

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