Calling all job creators!
Yesterday's Job Expo, sponsored by Arianna Huffington and The Huffington Post proved to be quite the energetic happening. Over 60 businesses, representing dozens of business genres participated in this unique job exposition. The Cuban Club in Ybor City, Tampa's Latin Quarter, was the perfect setting for this high spirited gathering.
Arianna Huffington, herself a job creator and number 12 on Forbes' first-ever list of the Most Influential Women In Media, was on hand to offer welcome and congratulations. In the first of a series of scheduled events for entrepenuers, Arianna greeted her guests with enthusiasm. She reminded everyone in attendance that it's innovation and creativity that drives the engine of business opportunity and that while government has its place in creating jobs and helping to grow the economy, it's nuance and the spirit of adventure from individual citizens that make the most difference.
I met one such individual who in January of this year launched a start-up concept business. Mike Mason, the "Zeo" of Zentila, traveled from Orlando to participate. His "ZOO," Drew Bagley, accompanied him as well. Their creative spirit is not lost in the subtle way in which they market themselves. This upstart, a very unique niche company, currently employees four. But as Mr. Mason is quick to point out, their plans call for upwards of 150 employees in the next five years. That certainly qualifies for job creation, don't you think?
Mr. Mason shares with us that in his 25 years in the hotel business he understands the frustration in going back and forth trying to figure out just what you might need. So he created the first 'booking engine' for meetings and conventions. In keeping with the business trends of today and tomorrow, all of your accommodations are booked online. It's just that easy.
Zentila, is a one-stop-shop for all your meetings and convention needs. After years of working with many different agencies to meet the requirements for hotels, rental cars, convention space and travel, Mr. Mason decided it was time to think outside the box. After about a year of developing the software needed to launch his new company, Zentila came to life. He pointed out that from his Winter Garden offices they can reach all of central Florida and take advantage of the very stable convention market between Tampa and Orlando. Certainly being available online, the potential for growth is limited only to ones imagination.
What's in a name you might ask? I asked the same question. Mr. Mason pointed out that his company took into consideration that whole 'meeting -- planning experience' is very fast, very fiery. He wanted a word that would reflect that. From there, it was determined that the Latin word for "spark" is scintilla. They knew that they wanted to add a little Zen, a little calm, so they came up with Zentilla. From there they dropped the two Ls to make them easier to find, and viola, Zentila was born. In keeping with their creative marketing aspect, the traditional CEO became the ZEO, and the COO became the ZOO. Very cool!
A special shout out to Drew Bagley for helping me with my report, as he manned the camera for our live interview. It should also be pointed out the Drew graduated from Hillsborough High School in Tampa, and his wife is a Tampa native. Great to see such creative energy being cultivated from right here in my hometown.
If the energy in the expo hall was any indication, there is no shortage of talented people out there who are willing to invest their own capital to make things happen. Perhaps while we figure the best way for Washington to come up with a lager, more comprehensive work program on a national scale, these local and regional business leaders can help fill the gaps. No denying that some of these jobs require a certain set of skills (computer technology is your friend), but we should consider that this may just be the wave of the future. And more and more it looks like the future is here.
Congratulations to all the expo attendees. You served yourselves and your community well. May your businesses flourish and may you prosper. Or may you fail quickly, so that you might be on to your next venture post haste. After all, it's that drive to succeed, prosper and live life full that makes us uniquely citizens of this planet. Always looking ahead, always looking for that next opportunity.
In the meantime keep reaching for the stars and watch out for Zentila.