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University of Tampa Hosts Second HSN American Dreams Academy for Entrepreneurs

Students at a table with the American Dreams Academy logo superimposed

The HSN American Dreams Academy was held at the University of Tampa in Florida on January 24 to 26, 2018. The second in a series, the event was held in partnership with the University’s John P. Lowth Entrepreneurship Center, Sykes College of Business, and Quirky. This is a free two-day conference on entrepreneurship where the participants were chosen from a long list of applicants.

A New Generation of Bold Innovators

The event was designed to be experiential, interactive and educational. It was also meant to launch the participants onwards on their path as entrepreneurs. The participants could attend the optional third day where they are given the opportunity to pitch their business idea or product to a panel of experts from HSN, Quirky and the University of Tampa.

HSN has been a proponent of new ideas and products since its inception. The conference was a tight fit for them to gather new products for their pipeline. HSN has been successful in pitching new products to viewers through their cable shopping channel.

About the program, Head of Corporate Affairs for HSN Jill Kermes says:  “It’s about giving back, but it’s also about giving a platform for creators, innovators and entrepreneurs so that they can be successful with their products and their programs.”

Quirky is an interactive community-based collaborative website which solicits ideas from its visitors and matches them with the skills and ideas of other Quirky visitors. This basket of ideas has led to new products and processes being developed by entrepreneurs and inventors who have never met before. The inventors are compensated based on royalties from the products and shared between the principals of the invention or process.

Quirky believes that the Academy is a great concept. According to Lissa Regets, Head of Marketing and Community for Quirky:  “American Dreams [Academy] is a fantastic idea. [Participants] partner with all these other folks and include Quirky as part of that to come into this room and educate these inventors and entrepreneurs about licensing, manufacturing, marketing, and about how they can connect with each other. They know that they are not alone and they are doing business together.”

Entrepreneurs Helping Fellow Entrepreneurs

Randi Zuckerberg, head of Zuckerberg Media and JJ Ramberg, the host of MSNBC’s Your Business headlined the conference. Ramberg is an advocate of entrepreneurship and discusses startups and entrepreneurship in her show. She says this kind of initiative is needed, especially for “entrepreneurs, who help entrepreneurs and investors with their big bold ideas.”

Rebecca White, Director of Entrepreneurship Center at the University of Tampa sees the conference as an important undertaking which can help entrepreneurs and startups. UT’s entrepreneurship team is honored to have been selected to serve as the providers of the American Dreams curriculum. “To design this program, we combined our experience as both entrepreneurs and educators to create a skills-based program that will provide participants with the opportunity to enhance their odds of success in the marketplace.”

A hundred Local companies and entrepreneurs were invited in the  American Dreams Symposium  to share their experience. Sean Kennedy, Manager of St. Petersburg Chamber Greenhouse shares that the event espouses the idea “that we support entrepreneurs and have a common understanding of what’s lacking, what we can do to help, and how we can move forward. It’s a matter of time and effort and I think we’ll get there.”

For more information about HSN’s American Dreams initiative, Quirky or The University of Tampa’s Lowth Entrepreneurship Center please visit,, and and join the conversation @HSN on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.



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