Local Angels Have Backed Gamification Technology Company Priatek To Boost Retail Industry
St. Pete based Priatek makes Tampa Bay Area its home, even as it prepares for giant strides nationwide.
Remember the days of “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”? Priatek founder Milind Bharvirkar has effectively tossed that adage out of the window.
When someone steps up to one of his in2win kiosks, they don’t pay anything to play a game; they don’t even have to give up their name or personal information. In return? TPriatekhe guarantee of winning a prize every time from one of the big name sponsors with whom Bharvirkar has partnered to dish out everything from spa day coupons to a free cruise.
It’s a model that Bharvirkar, who took an early interest in gamification, has struck gold with before, when he created a Tiger Woods PGA Golf game that he sold to 10,000 kiosks in the United States. Over three years, those machines made $100 million. However, when he initially tried to start up Priatek (which operates in2win) in Tampa Bay, the going was so slow that it’s taken six years to perfect the kiosks he plans to launch this month. The problem was the usual one: finding capital. The solution and the reason that the company was able to successfully raise $10 million? A local angel investment group that has quietly funneled millions of dollars of funding into growing numbers of startups.
“It was very difficult to get technology investors,” recalls Bharvirkar. “The support wasn’t as strong six, seven years ago. Who I believe was on the map first, and a lot of people don’t really know this, was TiE Tampa Bay.”
TiE Tampa Bay and its charter members were instrumental in advising Bharvirkar and helping him raise the seed money he needed—and in the process, were able to bring and retain much-needed technological capital to the area.
“Technology is our future,” says Bharvirkar. “It brings higher paying jobs, it keeps kids here. But to have a growing technological sector, we need investor support, and TiE has been that for this area. With my company, they stepped up and many members made investments. Now, dozens of companies are growing from seed all the way to revenue because of TiE support. It’s important to understand the value of what TiE brings, not just to tech startups but to the community. These guys are visionaries.”
To find your next cutting edge tech investment, plan to attend TiEcon Florida 2016, to be held Oct. 15 at the Embassy Suites USF, 3705 Spectrum Blvd., Tampa. Look out for keynote “super entrepreneurs” and several discussion panels featuring Tampa Bay entrepreneurs and investors. The all-day conference ends with an evening of entertainment and dinner. Register at tieconfl.com.
TiE Tampa Bay, headquartered at 2410 Northside Dr., Clearwater, FL 33761, USA, is a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit organization, founded in September 2012 to foster entrepreneurship in Florida through mentoring, networking and education. TiE Tampa Bay’s leadership is comprised of accomplished volunteers with a successful track record in entrepreneurship and an eagerness to help other entrepreneurs. TiE Tampa Bay is part of the global TiE.org group, the largest volunteer-led not-for profit entrepreneurship organization in the world. TiE Tampa Angels is an informal group of Charter Members