Rich Heruska was building companies in Tampa Bay well before the tech ecosystem had the kind of safety net he's helped to solidify within it today. Fresh out of the University of South Florida, Heruska wasted no time co-founding and building his first company, Home Discovery Real Estate, from a three-person mortgage firm to a 300-person full-service real estate company. From then on, the entrepreneurial drive in Heruska never stopped. Several successful companies later, he exited his latest in 2016 and went to work helping other entrepreneurs succeed at Tampa Bay Wave. Heruska is a go-to entrepeneurial brain, plugged in to Tampa Bay's best-known entrepreneurial organizations. He currently serves on the boards of both Synapse and TiECon Tampa Bay.
Years in St. Pete
In Tampa Bay for 25 years.
Organizations involved in
USF Alumni Association, Past President, Tampa Bay Wave, Synapse Board Member, Chair of TiECon for 2019, baseball coach.
What gets you out of bed every day?
My three boys are early risers, so they get me out of bed. Being a great dad and trying to create the next great environment for them is very important to me. Professionally, we have 50+ businesses in Tampa Bay Wave and a lot of them are doing some incredible things. I didn't have the mentorship and support in my prior businesses so I really love being a small part of helping them out.
Why St. Pete?
Tampa Bay has been instrumental in my life. I flocked down south from New Jersey. Went to USF and met amazing people, my wife, my closest friends, some of my mentors. I've found the people in Tampa to be so giving and so helpful. Coming down to St. Pete, for example, for our Tech Diversity cohort, Mayor Kriseman rolled out the red carpet for us. JP with the St. Pete EDC gave us a two-hour walking tour in 90-degree heat, brought us the tech startups. St. Pete and Tampa community has embraced different innovative and entrepreneurial ventures like the Tampa Bay Wave and our companies.
What is one habit that you keep?
One habit that I've been making a huge focal point this year has been a great morning routine that starts with me doing a little cardio on the bike. Making breakfast and having breakfast with my three sons. And then having a cup of coffee with my wife on the front porch.
who are some people that influence you?
I would start back in my USF days, Luis Visot who is a general in the military. He was very influential in teaching me as a student. In the alumni association, Michele Norris was the past president, she was very influential in asking great questions and helping me see the bigger picture. Being a part of the tech ecosystem I've been very blessed to be around some amazing mentors who have done some amazing things. Like Tony DiBenedetto, Steve MacDonald, Alex Sink. I just get to learn from all of their amazing experiences. My kids are doing cool things too, so I always look up to them.
What is one piece of insight - a book, methodology, practice - that you would share with our readers?
I'll never forget, when I had my real estate company. One of our employees was told by her father, always, no matter what organization or company, treat it as your own. I always try to take ownership in everything I do.
What is one thing you wish you knew about your work 3 years ago?
If I could amend that question to 13 years ago, quite candidly when building my prior companies, I didn't realize the immense network of mentors and support organizations. Even 10-15 years ago, I wish I had the same guidance and mentorship and support that we're able to offer now as a larger tech ecosystem.
There's been a lot of talk about some big breakout technology exits in the last few years in Tampa, like MyMatrixx, TriBridge, Vector, some of our companies are getting to the next level. In 2019, you're going to continue to see some of our companies and the entire ecosystem do some great things and then prepare for some more breakouts in the coming years.