How Networking in the Restaurant Industry Paid Off for LumaStream

July 17, 2015
Standing in the stifling heat last summer during a photo shoot, I casually asked Chris Steinocher, CEO of St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, “What businesses should I know about in St. Pete?”
“LumaStream,” he said without a moment’s hesitation.
I was not familiar with LumaStream at the time, but in the ensuing months I would hear about the innovative LED lighting company constantly.
That louder-and-louder buzz led me to the weekly edition cover story, “Bright Lights, Big Money,” which focuses on CEO Eric Higgs’ quest to raise $17 million in venture capital to fund the company’s ascendance.
In recent months, I’ve covered the opening of Ulele, Richard Gonzmart’s “native inspired” concept in Tampa Heights. I was immediately impressed with the large restaurant’s interior and exterior lighting. I asked who did it.
In May, I dropped in on a new restaurant project in downtown St. Pete called Souzou. Co-founder Patrick Marston proudly demonstrated the lighting system.
Turns out Marston is an investor in Higgs’ company.
Higgs, a Silicon Valley veteran who has lived in the Tampa Bay area for 15 years, founded LumaStream five years ago. He employed his networking savvy to raise capital, but also to generate valuable early-stage sales.
While LumaStream’s LED technology has wide applications, the company has found a stronghold in the restaurant business.
“You work hard, deliver on what you promise, develop a stellar reputation and chances are you’ll get some breaks,” Higgs says.
Sometimes outright serendipity plays a big part.
Published by: Tampa Bay Business Journal
Author: Eric Snider