Jeff Vinik and San Francisco venture fund lead seven-figure seed round for Knack

Tampa-based educational technology firm Knack has closed a $1.5 million seed round that included several well-known local investors alongside funders from Boston and Silicon Valley.

The capital raise will allow Knack to amplify its sales and marketing efforts and tackle a new partnership strategy with greater speed, said Samyr Qureshi, Knack co-founder and CEO.

Knack, with an app and technology to connect students in tutoring and mentoring relationships on more than 40 college campuses, now has begun working directly with universities that want to boost their performance metrics and with corporations that are looking for good workers.

“A consumer business becomes difficult without raising a ton of capital,” Qureshi said. “We realized that while it was a viable path, there was a larger opportunity. I would call it a pivot and also an evolution.”

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Forward into the past: The St. Petersburg Museum of History looks ahead

The earth-turning and concrete-pouring for the new St. Pete Pier is taking place right outside Rui Farias’s office window. Every day, the executive director of the St. Petersburg Museum of History looks out on heavy machinery, mounds of dirt and an unsightly orange fence that warns visitors away from the construction zone.

The pier is still a year away from completion. “But this gave us a little kick in the butt, which we needed,” explain Farias. “we’ve been planning an expansion, and when this thing happened it sent everything into hyperdrive.”

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Business briefs: Brightline plans to go public, $100M bond pan for Patel project and more

- Virgin Trains USA LLC quietly filed for an initial public offering to raise up to $100 million. Virgin Trains is the new name for Brightline, the company developing intercity passenger rail service in Florida, including a potential Tampa-to-Orlando route.

- A foundation controlled by the family of Tampa health care entrepreneur and philanthropist Dr. Kiran Patel plans a $100 million bond issue to finance a new medical education complex in Clearwater.

- Tampa digital health company Peerfit is breaking into the consumer market. Peerfit now is offering a pay-as-you-go subscription for consumers to access their favorite studios and gyms in 46 states.

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How I Built This with Guy Raz: Whole Foods Market: John Mackey

In 1978, college drop-out John Mackey scraped together $45,000 to open his first health food store, "Safer Way." A few years later he co-founded Whole Foods Market — and launched an organic food revolution that helped change the way Americans shop.

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The Hustle

Emma Fivecoat + India Torrez (EF.IT)

Emma Fivecoat and India Torrez - EF.IT, for short - are the talented tandem behind EF.IT Design, a digital marketing firm.

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St. Pete Chamber of Commerce

he St. Pete Chamber of Commerce is practically synonymous with the City of St. Petersburg itself. With a history dating back almost to the inception of the city, cultivating business and community here has long been a priority for the Chamber of Commerce and its dedicated members.

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The Shuffle

Heidi Hugh
PACE Center for Girls

Lisa McClure
Ultimate Medical Academy


Peter Kageyama

Focus: Trafficking

Bikers Against Trafficking founder tells harrowing personal story at USFSP

As a 501(c)3 nonprofit, BAT believes that bikers are the “eyes and ears” of a community and are more likely to see individuals being sold for sex. The organization also raises awareness of what sex trafficking looks like.

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ACUMEN: Black Friday

Black Friday 2018: Consumers are eager, more digital, and willing to spend [McKinsey]

This annual survey helps companies better understand changing consumer attitudes about Black Friday retail and how shoppers are planning for the 2018 holiday season.

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