An entrepreneur who grew an $8,000 investment into the largest cookie store franchise in the United States will give one of two keynote addresses at TiEcon Florida in February.
The speech by Michael Coles, co-founder of the Great American Cookie Co., will cap a full day of activities at TiEcon on Feb. 16. The conference will also feature a pitch competition for startups and a lunch keynote by Samira Salman, a New York tax attorney-turned-deal expert.
TiEcon Florida is the annual conference held by TiE Tampa Bay, a nonprofit that fosters entrepreneurship. This year’s event will be Feb. 16 at the USF Alumni Association.
Eight startups will be selected to pitch, with winners chosen by a panel of three judges:
- Lakshmi Shenoy, CEO of Embarc Collective in Tampa
- Conrad Syzmanski, past president of Bealls Outlet Stores and an active angel investors affiliated with Bridge Angels in Sarasota, FAN Fund in Orlando, Florida Funders in Tampa and Tech Operators in Atlanta
- Diana LaTour, operating partner for LFE Capital and managing partner of LaTour & Associates in Orlando.
Kathy Chiu, the managing partner of Orlando-based angel capital group FAN Fund, will moderate the pitch competition.
After making their pitches, startups will be able to exhibit and get extended opportunities to talk to potential investors.
Three winners will be named. The first place winner of the pitch competition will get $1,500, with $750 for the second-place winner. The winners also will get the opportunity to share their ideas with TiE Global Angels, an alliance of more than 3,000 TiE members and investors worldwide.
Coles, the afternoon keynote speaker, is the namesake of the Coles College of Business at Kennesaw State University in suburban Atlanta. He co-founded the Great American Cookie Co. in 1977 and sold it 21 years later, then led Caribou Coffee Co. through an initial public offering.