Growth Story: Rico Smith of StemRad
Welcome to our Growth Story series, where you’ll meet startup team members—either natives, boomerangs or transplants—in Tampa-St. Petersburg who are building and scaling their ventures to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges. We interviewed Rico Smith, Lead Field Engineer of StemRad, a developer and manufacturer of personal protective equipment (PPE) for radiation.
Where are you from?
My name is Ronrico Smith, everyone calls me “Rico” for short. I was born and raised in Tampa, FL and I have lived here my entire life.
Tell us more about your role at StemRad. What does a day in the life look like?
I am the Lead Field Engineer for StemRad, with primary responsibilities within the medical vertical. I develop and implement test plans and procedures with the R&D team for medical products. I never know what to fully expect on any given day. Most of the time I am conducting field studies for product analysis, or setting up for a hospital site visit, or even traveling to present at a medical conference. I also oversee all field repairs of our StemRad MD Exoskeletal System, and I assist in training medical end-users about our technology.
How did you get your career started and what challenges did you face along the way?
Currently, I serve in the United States Air Force Reserves as a Staff Sergeant at MacDill AFB. I serve in a functional capacity to ensure the readiness of 2,800 medical devices. Initially, I served at Fort Sam Houston, TX which is where I completed a 12 month rigorous biomedical technology curriculum and I graduated top three in my class. After receiving my A.A.S in Biomedical Equipment Technology from the Community College of the Air Force, I went on to complete my B.Sc. degree in Business Administration from Trident University International. Before joining StemRad, I was a Clinical Engineer at Tampa General Hospital. While working there I provided representation for 26 biomedical technicians and I played a vital role in the decision-making process for a 5 year, $100 million physical and network driven medical device upgrade plan.
How has this region shaped your career or startup journey?
Tampa is a fast up and coming city. This sprawling region is the perfect environment for companies like Embarc and StemRad to thrive. I am proud to have been born and raised in Tampa and I am optimistic for the future.
What tactical advice can you share from building your startup or career?
My good friend and COO of StemRad, Jack Ross once told me “to be successful in a startup you should never confine yourself to just one role, and we are all in this together.” When working in a startup and even throughout your career, one must always be flexible and able to deal with ambiguity.
Where do you see Tampa Bay next? How do you play a role in this future?
Under the leadership of Mayor Jane Castor and with all of the massive projects currently underway in Tampa to include the Water Street project, led by Jeff Vinik. Tampa is well on its way to becoming one of the premier cities on the East Coast.
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