“TAMPA BAY INNOVATORS SIMPLY NEED TO CONTINUE CHALLENGING THE “WHAT IS”, LEVERAGE THE, EVER EXPANDING, RESOURCES OUR REGION HAS TO OFFER TO DELIVER THEIR VISION OF “WHAT IT CAN BE;” TRY NEW THINGS. BE WRONG. LEARN FROM IT. AND ALWAYS LOOK FOR BETTER SOLUTIONS.”
CHUCK PAPAGEORGIOU, ENTREPRENEUR, CEO OF INTERNATIONAL SCREENING SOLUTIONS, MANAGING PARTNER OF IDEASPHERE PARTNERS.
For many years, I never really considered myself an innovator because I was the operator, the solver, the builder, or the fixer, but not the “idea guy”. Then a professor friend of mine pointed out that finding creative ways to solve big problems, was doing just that. After all, being an innovator means shaking things up from time to time, and always looking for improvements. Now that I look back, I’ve been doing this for most of my life.
It started early on when, as a 16-year-old student, I built my first FM radio transmitter. I followed the process, mostly, and applied for a license for a 10W school radio station based on an old military design. I decided to modify the design to boost one of the factors, and ended up building a 1,000W station, which messed up other local signals for a couple of weeks, baffling the local authorities, until they figured out what was going on and called my school. I got into a little trouble over that, but my love for technology endured and I continue building electronics and writing software.
Chuck is an operator. From building and leading his own successful company, International Screening Solutions, to taking on turnarounds of global companies with thousands of employees. He is a mentor for entrepreneurs and inventors, both at the University of Tampa and the Tampa Bay Wave; and volunteers his time annually to the St. Petersburg College Business Plan competition. Life balance and finding time for family and self is important to Chuck. In addition to spending time with his wife and two beautiful daughters, Chuck finds time to meditate, practice Martial Arts, fish the Tampa Bay waters, and enjoys time in his woodworking shop, designing and building furniture pieces.
Fast forward a few decades; past my tour as a Sergeant in the Cyprus Army, in special services, a couple of attempts at a corporate career, a couple of startups, leading transaction for over $9Bn in M&A, and driving some major turnarounds all over the world, and I ended up back building some cool technology for the global risk space, WorldWatch Plus® (www.worldwatchplus.com), with my company International Screening Solutions (www.intlscreening.com).
Of course, as much as I love the field, technology, and innovation by themselves don’t always make commercial sense, and over the years I had my share of failures. But being occasionally wrong is also part of the fun. It’s where change happens. People need to realize that being an innovator simply means refusing to accept the status quo, being open to looking at problems and challenges from multiple angles, and willing to try things even if it means being wrong. Becoming a successful innovator also requires going beyond this and being curious, pursuing continuous learning across many disciplines, and learning to use the tools that can translate ideas into plans, strategies, products, and solutions.
I love the Tampa Bay region and have been actively engaged in building our ecosystem for over a decade. And it has been a great base for me, ISS, and Ideasphere. I have built friendships with many of the local innovators, who are always willing to bounce ideas around that help me improve our products. And when, for the first time ever, I decided to raise outside capital for ISS, the lead investors where all local. This region is becoming a hotbed of innovation and I am thrilled to be part of it!