Biter writes an editorial in the Sarasota Herald Tribune, advocating for Uber to be allowed to operate in Sarasota.
I’m disappointed when an innovative company like Uber begins operations in Sarasota and it has been met by a regulatory battle with the city government…Now is the time for Sarasota officials to prevent our city from falling behind. Modern regulation for ride-sharing is being passed across the country. There will not be a better opportunity for our city’s commissioners to show they are serious about innovation in practice , not just on the campaign trail. Seeing our elected officials embrace modern regulations will signal the sort of forward thinking that can transform our city for the better.
Biter hires Healy as the CEO for Professional Lien Search. Healy was previously CEO of Novitex Enterprise Solutions, and spent 30 years with the U.S. Postal Service. PLS Operating Partner Biter:
Once PLS surpassed 60 employees, we knew it was time to bring in the big guns. Healy’s impressive resume made him an obvious choice to take the reins. I’m excited to know that our clients will be able to expect better service, faster turnaround times and additional services under Tim’s watch.
Space Florida’s Board of Directors approve the creation of a bonus plan for employees. Under the plan, the maximum amounts of annual payouts would depend on employees’ positions. Some employees could receive a bonus worth five percent of their pay while President and Chief Executive Officer Frank DiBello, who is paid $267,952 a year, would be eligible to receive up to 50 percent of his pay — $133,976. Board Member Biter:
All we’re doing is agreeing that this is the structure, that this makes sense. When the actual numbers come back, we’ll have the opportunity to discuss and say that’s way too much or that’s too little.
Biter plans to add a seven-story residential building with 90 one and two bedroom apartments, called called HuB Lofts, next to the HuB business incubator. The 1000 sq ft units will rent for $1600 a month and are targeted to those who work in the incubator, with 30 inquiries so far. The 5,500 sq ft ground floor of the building would be used as HuB office space. Construction is to begine by June 2106. Co-developer Brian Jones:
I look at it like an overall campus we’re creating. It’s not just an office, just apartments and they’re separate. The residential portion will be able to use office amenities, and the office will be able to use residential amenities.
Biter sells a 13,881-square-foot office building at 1445 2nd Street in Sarasota to a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Carter Acquisitions for $3.04 million. Biter bought the building for $2.8 million in June 2013.
In an interview with a Sarasota magazine, Biter recounts influences in his life:
I can’t begin to describe how I’ve been shaped by my parents. They are the biggest influences. They have done the most for me and gave me a work ethic by never letting me get away with anything. They held me accountable but never micro-managed my life. They set boundaries that were pretty broad, and, as long as I operated within their rules, had the opportunity to learn and to fail and to try again in life.
Bill Gates and Michael Dell are heroes of mine. Watching what other successful people do is important, but I was always more impressed with people who came from nothing. I didn’t grow up with a silver spoon, and there was not anyone in my family with real business experience, but I knew I wanted more for myself. To see people come from middle-class families and become super successful, that was my goal, and these men were whom I wanted to replicate.
Gov. Scott announces Biter is to take one of the governor’s seats on the board of directors at Enterprise Florida (subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate). Biter has already been serving the organization as an appointee of the Speaker of the Florida House since 2011. He succeeds Henry Rodriguez, and is appointed for a term from today through Sept. 30, 2018. Scott:
Jesse has been a leader in the Florida business community, and I’m confident he will work tirelessly to make Florida the best state for job creation.
In a move that signals that Biter either has a buyer or a new partner, attorneys representing the Atlanta-based Carter Acquisitions, LLC, will ask the City Commission on Nov 17 to let the project proceed under a new site plan and without paying into the city’s affordable housing trust fund. Carter Acquisitions has a new site plan for the project that includes a greater number of smaller, affordable apartments, with at least the 168 units being under 1,250 square feet. Since the group is building more affordable housing, according their letter to the city earlier this month, they should not have to pay into the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
Biter accepts the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge from Evan Berlin. He takes the challenge in his rooftop hot tub overlooking Sarasota Bay and calls attention to Operation Second Chance, a veteran’s support charity. He nominates his brother Ethan Biter, a test pilot in the US Navy.
Biter says he cannot get the necessary bank financing for his $46m affordable housing project because he lacks real estate development experience.
Banks love the project, but because I have never built anything before, they want me to have an experienced partner. It hasn’t been for a lack of effort, that’s for sure. The numbers make sense, It’s just a matter of whether the bank thinks so. They’re the ones writing the check.
Biter says some individuals have offered to finance the construction, but at interest rates higher than 10 percent, which would result in more than $3-4 million in interest, making the project unaffordable. Biter has already has received six offers for the former site, mostly from groups wanting to build high-end condos. He says he would prefer to sell either a stake in the development or the entire site to an entity that would stay true to his vision.
Biter talks politics, business, home life, and his interest in developing low-cost housing:
Before I was heavily invested in the stock market. I felt like, I don’t even know these companies. Why are they making money, why not? I decided to put my money where I live, make my town better and make money at the same time. I’m not bashful about that. Some people have criticized me for wanting to make money. Well, that’s what people do, we make money. You create jobs and make money. There are ways to do that, that are evil and ways that are not evil. If you make a good service or product and people are paying you for it, then it is ok by me.
Following an exchange on Facebook where Biter said that “‘This death by committee is killing our city,” Sarasota Herald Tribune columnist, Tom Lyons, argues that Biter was attracted to Sarasota for the very reasons he is now pushing against:
I’d suggest the reason he liked Sarasota so much was, in no small part, because rules had kept it from becoming the congested, ugly mess many developers would have happily created if allowed.
Lyons also criticizes Biter’s push to replace the current five city commissioners with a single, elected, mayor:
Since Biter has not been able to get his way with the commission on some things, he naturally wishes that, when he wants to change some density rule or other city code, he shouldn’t have to convince three out of five commissioners. He’d rather just have to persuade one mayor. And Biter already tried putting money behind a commission candidate he thought might tip the commission votes his way, but his candidate didn’t win.
After just one year a 40,000- square-foot building owned by Biter is fully occupied. The building near downtown Sarasota is primarily occupied by the HuB collaborative workspace, which occupies the third floor and half of the four-story building’s second floor.
The initial 37 incubator offices became so popular that HuB founder Rich Swier Jr. and Biter built an additional 17 collaborative workspaces earlier this year. Thirty separate businesses are in the 54 HuB offices.
Biter reaches the 19,341ft summit of Mt Kilmanjaro, Tanzania, Africa, with friends. Biter had got the idea from reading Zappos founder Tony Hsieh’s book, “Delivering Happiness,” in which the celebrated entrepreneur writes about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and other experiences.
Biter unveils plans for bar next to the Hub building where he works. The open-air taproom will formalize a current practice: He keeps a beer kegerator in the lounge of his office, and it has become a 5 p.m. gathering spot for the building’s workers.
The whole idea is conversation. I want to create a place where everyone can go have a drink after work. He hopes the pub will be a similar nexus for congregating, and a place where people will come to watch a big game and enjoy some suds.
Presidential candidate Rick Santorum picks the 35-year-old Sarasota entrepreneur to be the chairman of his campaign in Florida. This is the first time Biter has committed himself so deeply to any candidate:
After I heard him speak in Sarasota, I felt I had to get involved
Biter says Santorum’s pro-family and socially conservative perspective fits perfectly with his views and he has become one of Santorum’s top fund-raisers in Florida.
Being the Florida campaign manager for Rick Santorum was an amazing experience. First of all, I learned how someone can be and how the press can portray somebody completely different. To watch someone speak for an hour and a half and give great ideas and great ways to change the country through everyone’s lives from the richest to the poorest. And then for the newspaper to write, “Rick Santorum hates gays.” WHAT? It was just amazing how they twisted things. To really be a close part of a national campaign, to see how it was run, was very exciting.
Biter and Sarasota Ford operations manager, Matt Buchanan, son of U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, launch Dealers United. The plan is to build a nationwide network of dealers that will have combined buying power with vendors.
The firm creates deals services common to many dealers, from search-engine optimization to customer management software. Network members decide independently if they want to buy into the deal.
Biter and Buchanan say they will spend at least $1 million in startup costs on the business. Five employees have already been hired and Biter plans to hire at least five more for a Dealers United call center.
Buchanan: We are going to work for the dealers. We’ll be more powerful than any one group.
Biter buys an old bank property just north of Sarasota downtown for $2.8 million. He wants to use it as his own office and to create a “fun” environment for young, creative entrepreneurs. He convinced his good friend Rich Swier Jr., the founder of the Sarasota business incubator The HuB, to relocate his enterprise from the Rosemary District to the building in January.
AutoTrader signs a deal to have HomeNet revamp the software that supports the company’s entire online inventory. Accorfding to Biter the project will increase HomeNet’s monthly revenues by at least 50% when the work begins in August, turning a company that hit about $1.3 million a month in sales in 2009 to one that borders on $2 million a month by the end of 2010.
The company has hired about 40 people over the last two years, including customer service reps and software developers. The employees work out of a variety of locations, from Sarasota to remote offices in Michigan, Los Angeles and suburban Philadelphia.
After a road trip through the Carolinas, across the Texas coast and up and down Florida Biter settles on Sarasota, Florida as his new home. He invests in local real estate.
The number of dealerships HomeNet works with rises to 500.
After he drops out of college his mother loans him $1,000 to start HomeNet, a company that installs fiber-optic cable. To make ends meet, he works at car dealerships, setting up computers and helping dealers save money by, for example, stringing together their PCs so they could use a common printer.
Bill Gates (was my inspiration) because he started a company in his basement — a software-based company. I could associate with him. He was solving problems with software, and I knew I could do that.
One dealership asks him to build a website to advertise its cars online. Biter doesn’t know how to create a site, with a friend, makes one. Soon he starts building websites for other dealers.
Biter starts building software that allows information about sales and listings to be handled electronically. The software cleaned up any spotty data…
Dealers would spell ‘Chevrolet’ 100 different ways
…and let sellers and buyers both know exactly what was available where, in real time.
Drops out of Shippensburg University in the first semester of his junior year.
I went to the state office to register my business, and they asked if I wanted it to be an S-Corp or C-Corp. I asked my business professor, and he didn’t know. I said, “Why am I spending all this money to find out how to start a business?”
Biter grows up in a middle-class household in Westchester, Philadelphia. His father is an administrator with the U.S. Department of Transportation. His mother sells real estate.
Jesse shows an early knack for business. If the power went out, Biter fixes clocks and other settings on neighbors’ VCRs for $1 apiece. By high school, he has graduated from lawn mowing to his own car detailing business (Biter Car Detailing) and stereo instillation business.
It was a God-given gift. Whenever there was an opportunity to make some money, I would do it. I never knew what I wanted to do in life, but I knew I didn’t want to work for someone else. That was my goal.