Speaker: Aakash Patel

Entrepreneur Aakash Patel founded the fast-growing Elevate, Inc., a Florida-based strategic business consulting firm providing public relations, community relations, targeted networking and social media, in 2012, and he has quickly become well reputed for making connections and achieving client results.

A master networker and community leader, prior to Elevate, Inc.’s launch, Patel served as an Editorial Assistant at the Tampa Bay Times Tallahassee Bureau, the Public Relations Coordinator for the Westin Tampa Bay hotel and Aqua restaurant, and was the founding Business Development Director for Chamber.com (an application-based world-wide business networking website launched in 2010 with 5 members, and grew to 1.5 million+ members).

In 2014 Governor Rick Scott appointed Patel to a 3-year term as Chairman, Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough County. Similarly, Scott selected Aakash as a gubernatorial appointment to Florida’s Early Learning Advisory Council (ELAC). Patel often volunteers time to conduct TV interviews and write opinion editorials on behalf of the coalition in order to make a difference in awareness and action.

A driven life-long learner, Patel is a graduate of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce's Leadership Tampa, FBI Citizen's Academy, Tampa Police Citizen's Academy, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s Mayor’s Neighborhood University, Tampa Bay Public Leadership Institute, Leadership Tampa Bay (Executive Committee since 2014), Tampa Connection, and College Leadership Florida. He is a current class member in the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership St. Pete program and a member of the Society of International Business Fellows (SIBF) Leadership Academy.

Respected for his engagement, Patel was named a Florida State University Alumni Association top "Thirty Under 30" (2013). Aakash was cited as one of Tampa Bay’s Up & Comers by the Tampa Bay Business Journal (2008), and featured as a “Rising Star” by the Tampa Bay Times. Additionally, he was denoted in The Tampa Tribune as one of "Tampa's Networking Heavyweights”, in the Tampa Bay Business Journal as "Tampa's Master Networker”, and in Tampa Bay Metro as the “Face of Connectivity” (2015 & 2016).

In 2015 Patel was installed as an Honorary Commander to the 6th Air Mobility Wing Director of Staff for a two-year appointment, something Aakash takes seriously, as his love for Tampa Bay is only rivaled by his appreciation and respect for those who bravely serve our county.

Patel had voting rights as a UT Board of Trustee when he served as Chairman of The University of Tampa (UT) Board of Counselors in 2015-2016. Under his leadership, the organization grew from 62 to 105 members; the largest historical growth in membership and in revenue (2015-2016). The organization also rose over $50,000 which contributed to scholarships for University of Tampa athletes.

A community advocate, Patel serves as: Vice President, the Indo-US Chamber of Commerce, Advisory Board Member, Gasparilla Film Festival, Chair Elect, Centre Club Tampa Board of Governors (where he has been the Bell Ringer, bringing in the most new members 2013 – 2016), and Board of Directors Member, The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce (where he received the Top Performer Award for membership growth 2015 & 2016). Aakash serves on the Tampa Bay Regional Board of Advisors for the James Madison Institute, and currently is in Class 3 of its Regional Fellows Leadership Program. Patel was recognized as a Co-Founder, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Bucs Connection Young Professional Organization in 2016. He is actively involved in the Tampa Downtown Partnership, and Tampa Economic Development Corporation.

Aakash was a finalist for the 2013, 2014 and 2015 Deanne Dewey Roberts Emerging Leader Award. Additionally, Elevate, Inc. was a 2017 finalist for the South Tampa Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year.

An in-demand speaker, Patel has engaged with: The Florida Council of 100 - Florida’s top 100 privately held CEO’s, students at Saint Leo, The University of Tampa and USF, career-seekers at CareerSource Tampa Bay, PPN & TEN. He travels to present for numerous clients, companies and entrepreneur organizations. And his efforts are not only in Florida. Aakash traveled to Guantanamo and, LackLand Air Force Base in San Antonio, and Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, through MaDill Air Force Base, traveled to Dubai with The UT Sykes College of Business, and visited Israel with the Tampa Jewish Federation. Patel has attended six benchmarking trips with The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, and another one with the St. Petersburg Chamber Area of Commerce.

In 2009, Aakash co-founded the Leaders' Friday Luncheon group, an effort that, each month, connects young professionals with seasoned experts in industry, the community, and civil service in a way that forges not just introductions, but true contacts. The annual VIP reception has become a mainstay in Tampa Bay for those who have attended the lunches and those who look to be included.

Aakash has been humbled by the variety of opportunities he has received, prides himself on his pride and determination to succeed, and is unique in his world-wide connections. Aakash is acknowledged for his perseverance and resiliency. It’s Patel’s view that what others may perceive as obstacles, he perceives as challenges, and even opportunities. He is committed to networking and connecting people to others, to causes, to businesses, and to Tampa Bay, because he enjoys helping people and making a difference. Aakash is consistently surprised by how many people truly enjoy meeting new people, and yet often feel as though they cannot gain access to those with whom they seek acquaintance.

With all of the memorable experiences he has been fortunate to have had, Aakash will never forget serving on the Honorary Host Committee for the 2014 Indian International Film Academy (IIFA) Awards which were successfully held in Tampa to international acclaim, and serving as the youngest member of the College Football Championship Host Committee, where he was able to procure six-figure donations!

While at Florida State University, Patel was awarded the Milton S. Carothers Ethical Courage award for his Student Government leadership. A college highlight was spending a spring semester at the FSU London Study Centre. Aakash Patel holds degrees in both English Literature and Political Science.

Speaker: Andra Hedden

CMO | Marketopia

Andra Hedden is Chief Marketing Officer at Marketopia, a Clearwater, FL-based sales and marketing agency that provides end-to-end sales strategy, lead generation, marketing and sales enablement for the entire span of IT channel organizations. Andra is a marketing dynamo and established leader with a proven track record for building resilient client relationships, executing successful brand marketing strategies, crafting effective business development plans, as well as clearly understanding and implementing efficient organizational processes. Her past roles have given her an exceptional perspective on the entire IT channel from software, hardware and cloud vendors to distributors, MSP and VARs. She has held various leadership roles at Tech Data, where she commanded numerous initiatives widening customer reach and strengthening competitive advantages. Her vast channel marketing knowledge has also created dynamic go-to-market strategies for other tech powerhouses and cloud vendors, such as Amazon, Carbonite, Intermedia, Microsoft, PGi, Symantec and VMware, resulting in maximized reseller channel sales.

Speaker: Terry Hedden

CEO | Marketopia

Terry Hedden is a veteran MSP business owner that founded Infinity Technology Solutions and built it into a force in the MSP market growing from 1 to 49 employees in 6 years with no outside funding and only $24k in seed capital.  He sold his firm in 2012 to dedicate his professional endeavors to helping technology firms succeed and grow.  He now operates a leading marketing and lead generation firm that is 100% dedicated to helping technology companies in the channel generate leads, close sales and increase bottom line profits.

Terry Hedden, started his professional career working in sales for AT&T and as a consultant with EDS. After graduation from UF with his bachelor’s degree, he joined the Management Consulting practice of Ernst & Young LLP, now Cap Gemini, leading projects in IT Project Management, Post Merger Integration and ERP Implementations worldwide. He then moved to E.piphany, now Infor, as an executive in their Consulting organization leading CRM implementations for Fortune 100 firms before joining Lectra Systems as the CIO and Director of their North America and Caribbean Consulting Organization.

In 2003, he left Lectra to start Infinity Business Systems, later renamed Infinity Technology Solutions, a leading IT service provider with operations throughout Florida and Georgia. Infinity provided a complete technology offering for hundreds of businesses, including hardware and software solutions, outsourcing, Managed IT Services, Cloud Solutions, VoIP Telephony, website and software development services. Infinity received numerous awards, including recognition as a Best Place to Work in Florida, 4 time winner of Inc. Magazine’s Inc. 500/5000, a 5 time winner of the 50 Fastest Growing Firms in Tampa, 3 time winner of Best Computer Support organization in Tampa Bay, Orlando Chamber’s Most Outstanding Small Business and Greater Tampa Chamber’s Business of the Year. He led Infinity to success transforming a $24,500 investment into one of the nation’s fastest growing and most successful Managed IT firms before selling Infinity to Zeno Office Solutions in 2012.

He enjoys giving back to the technology industry thru over 40 speaking engagements per year and consulting with firms on topics related to Cloud Computing, Managed IT Services, Sales and Marketing Best Practices and Entrepreneurship. He is a dedicated family man that runs his life based on Christian principles.  Terry has a Bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems (MIS) and an MBA from the University of Florida.

Speaker: Aaron Ross

Author | Predictable Revenue

Aaron Ross is the best-selling author of Predictable Revenue: Turn Your Business into a Sales Machine with the $100 Million Best Practices of Salesforce.com. Called “The Sales Bible of the Silicon Valley,” the book has been #1 on Amazon’s telemarketing list for more than two years.

Aaron founded Predictable Revenue, a consulting company that helps B2B companies triple sales growth and create self-managing sales teams. He’s also founder of PebbleStorm, which is helping 100 million people “make money through enjoyment” by combining happiness and money. Aaron’s clients include: Oracle, Acquia, Digium, Crunched, SalesForce, Servosity and Responsys.

Before Predictable Revenue and PebbleStorm, Aaron was an EIR (Entrepreneur-in-Residence) at Alloy Ventures, a $1 billion venture capital firm. Prior to Alloy, at Salesforce.com, he created a revolutionary Cold Calling 2.0 inside sales process and team that helped increase their revenues by $100 million. Aaron was also CEO of LeaseExchange, an online equipment leasing marketplace.

Aaron is one of those rare individuals who walks the talk and gets his clients results! He graduated from Stanford University, is an ex-Ironman triathlete and graduate of the Boulder Outdoor Survival School. Aaron lives in Los Angeles with his wife and children.