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Career advice from the young and successful: USFSP to host business innovation panel

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USF St. Petersburg will be opening its ballroom doors to the public for a business innovation panel discussion.

The event, titled “Start-Up State of Mind: Inspiration and Innovation from Young Entrepreneurs,” will kick off at 2 p.m. on Thursday, September 10.

The four-person panel — two men, two women — will talk about spotting good ideas,  and applying transformative ideas, as well as other cross-disciplinary business themes. They’ll each also speak to specific innovations in his or her field.

“Our panelists represent diverse fields and interests,” said Dr. Thomas Smith, Honors Program director and USFSP associate professor of government and international affairs. “All have made significant contributions to their businesses by embracing innovation, recognizing that good ideas often come from unexpected sources, and may even require a level of risk.”

They include:

  • Shawn Bercuson, former vice president of business development, Groupon
  • Ariana Chernin, co-founder of The Barre Code fitness centers
  • Ethan Chernin, director of operations at Baycare Physician Partners
  • Julia Taxin, vice president at GroTech Ventures

The panel’s moderator will be Craig Sher, the executive chairman of The Sembler Co., a 50-year-old national shopping center development and management firm. Sher’s been working there since 1984.

Bercuson is an entrepreneur and start-up adviser. He was part of the team that helped launch Groupon, the popular website for flash deals that permanently changed the online social commerce game. His job as vice president of business development consisted of handling overseas mergers and acquisitions. He’s also the founder of Medycation, a consumer-facing healthcare marketplace.

Ariana Chernin is a certified fitness expert, entrepreneur and co-founder of The Barre Code, a Chicago-based national fitness center chain. She’s been chronicled in Cosmopolitan, Entrepreneur, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, Inc., Prevention, SELF Magazine, and Women’s Health.

Ethan Chernin is the director of operations at Baycare Physician Partners. He has more than 10 years of experience as a strategy professional, specializing in healthcare management and leadership. As executive director of accountable care at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Ohio, he obtained a $13 million grant from the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation to create one of the country’s first pediatric-capitated Medicaid accountable care organizations.

Taxin is a venture capitalist and vice president at GroTech Ventures. Her work focuses on investment opportunities in software, Internet, digital media and healthcare information technology. She also serves as a member of the CIT Gap Funds Investment Advisory Board.

“This is a great opportunity for students and the public to think differently about innovation in the workplace,” continued USFSP’s Dr. Smith, via a press release.

The USFSP “Start-Up State of Mind: Inspiration and Innovation from Young Entrepreneurs” event is organized by the University’s Honors Program and the Kate Tiedemann College of Business. For more information, call 727-873-4872.

Devon Crumpacker is a Tampa Bay based writer and reporter for Extensive Enterprises Media. He primarily covers Pinellas County politics for, but also makes time to write the occasional bar review for He lives in St. Petersburg with his fiance, Sydney. To contact, e-mail [email protected], or visit his Twitter page @DevonCrumpacker.

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