• Tony Selvaggio

Meet Tony Selvaggio - A Small Business Executive Program Graduate

Tony Selvaggio has been an entrepreneur at heart for as long as he can remember. Born and raised in Venezuela with deep roots and love of his Hispanic culture, he never imagined leaving his home, friends and family.

But, when friends of Selvaggio’s family decided to emigrate to the U.S. from Venezuela in 2011 and open a scrap metal recycling business in Tampa, Florida, they asked if he would be interested in helping them get the business started. Since Selvaggio was fluent in English and had knowledge of the industry, he graciously accepted.

“I didn’t even know where Tampa was on the map. I just happened to land here,” said Selvaggio. Within three years of establishing roots in the U.S., he met his wife, had two girls, and established his own business in 2014 – eSmart Recycling.

Driven by core values of giving back to the community, eSmart Recyling collects technology that large corporations no longer need and find ways to monetize it, either by recycling or reselling it, then uses a portion of the proceeds to fund local, educational programs for children. In just six years, the company has deployed more than 1,700 computers to around two dozen computer labs in the Tampa Bay area.

“We have a footprint of more than 5,000 kids and we’re just getting started. There is so many other projects we have in the works because of the relationships we have with organizations in the Tampa community including the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship,” said Selvaggio.

A graduate of the Jim Moran Institute’s Spring 2019 Small Business Executive Program (SBEP), Selvaggio credits his company’s growing success to the experience he had during the SBEP program. He also said Smart Recycling has been able to pivot their strategy during these unprecedented times and still give back to the local community because of the various relationships he made during the program.

The Tampa SBEP program consists of eight sessions, each focusing on a particular aspect of growing and managing a small business. Designed for CEOs, presidents and small business owners, applicants must be actively involved in running a business, be key decision-makers and their companies must have been established for at least three years and have five or more employees (or volunteers if their company is a nonprofit).

“Because of my relationship with the Jim Moran Institute, Shane and our local Tampa Bay Small Business Development Center, we were able to ask questions and be quick to apply obtain the Small Business Bridge Loan and the Paycheck Protection Program Loan,” said Selvaggio. “Both of these grants were instrumental in eSmart Recyling being able to continue its mission by providing kids with access to technology and computers locally and nationally.”

“eSmart Recycling was among the first organizations that I reached out to when we were looking to fill our first program in the Tampa Bay office,” said Shane Smith, director of Central Florida Operations for the Jim Moran Institute. “I knew with Tony’s vision and the help of the Tampa SBEP program he would create positive change for so many, and he has done just that. The best part is, I know that this is just the beginning for him and that he will inspire so many others to do the same.”

In partnership with Dowdell Middle School and Hillsborough County Schools, eSmart Recyling established a 12-week pilot program in 2019 that focuses on students learning entrepreneurial concepts and technology skills in a sustainable atmosphere. In the recent months because of the coronavirus pandemic and closing of the economy, Selvaggio, eSmart Recyling and its partners have had to shift their efforts.

“We have a goal of deploying more than 250 computers directly to kids and families by the end of summer to help with the lack of access to technology children are experiencing in their homes,” he said. “I think we have a huge opportunity to use business as a force for good,” said Selvaggio.

Everyone should find their niche in this world and use that as an instrument to increase positive change in the communities that they serve.” Selvaggio and his team at eSmart Recycling have partnered with more than 50 organizations since starting their computer deployment programs including Colegio Fe y Alegria, Hope for Her, Central Florida Foster Care, University Area CDC, the Innovation Lab at St. Petersburg College, AmRoc, St. Petersburg Innovation District, Enterprising Latinas, Veteran's Treatment Court, Tampa Metro Area YMCA, Computer Mentors, After School All-Stars and many more.

“We are just happy that we are in a community that has taken us in with open arms and created a platform for us to be able to use our mission for the greater good,” he said.

Applications for the Fall 2020 Tampa Bay SBEP program and Nonprofit Executive Program will close on August 3.

For more information about the Tampa SBEP program, please contact Jim Moran Institute’s Director of Central Florida Shane Smith at ssmith@jimmoraninstitute.fsu.edu.