FSU alumnus invests $1 million to launch endowment for first-generation students in College of Business

Tony DiBenedetto, a Tampa-based technology executive, entrepreneur, philanthropist and graduate of the Florida State University College of Business, has gifted $1 million to provide support and career development for first-generation students in the college – continuing years of generosity to the university.

DiBenedetto’s latest investment will create the Think Big Endowment Fund, which will provide funding and resources for students to pursue professional development opportunities, including networking events, workshops, conferences, internships and study-abroad trips. The fund also will help those students develop the tools and skills they need to flourish, as he has.

DiBenedetto, a member of the College of Business Alumni Hall of Fame, is chairman and CEO of Appspace, an award-winning workspace platform that serves more than 2,700 global businesses and 12 million employees. He previously co-founded and was CEO of Tribridge, which specialized in software services and cloud solutions.

His previous gifts to FSU include an investment to create the Tony DiBenedetto Computer-Assisted Career Guidance Lab in the university’s Career Center, where he worked as a student. He credits the center for helping him transition from college to professional life.

“I remember this feeling of gratitude,” DiBenedetto said about his experience at FSU. “And I remember saying to myself: ‘I’m going to pay this back.’”

DiBenedetto endured homelessness before he reached his teens and became the first person in his family to graduate from high school. He then earned a bachelor’s in management information systems from the FSU College of Business in 1987.

“What a story of perseverance, achievement and giving back,” said Michael Hartline, dean of the College of Business. “I’ve known Tony for a long time, and his personal and professional accomplishments continue to amaze me. His vision and generosity leave us all deeply grateful.”

“It’s not about me. It’s about the students. How can we think bigger for students who are coming to the university with fewer resources and less preparedness?”

– Tony DiBenedetto, member of the College of Business Alumni Hall of Fame

DiBenedetto said he made his latest gift in the spirit of Think Big for Kids, a nonprofit organization he founded in 2016. The organization boasts a mission to break the cycle of poverty by providing career exploration, mentorship, skills development and job readiness to middle and high school students.

His $1 million investment to the college launches a fund to which he hopes others will contribute.

“That’s why I’m calling it the ‘Think Big Endowment,’” he said. “It’s not about me. It’s about the students. How can we think bigger for students who are coming to the university with fewer resources and less preparedness?”

After earning his bachelor’s degree from the College of Business, DiBenedetto took a job as an information technology consultant at Arthur Andersen, then accepted a role in a new business-consulting division at the company.

In 1998, after 11 years at Arthur Andersen, DiBenedetto and colleagues Brian Deming and fellow FSU alumnus Mike Herdegen (B.S. Hospitality Management ’85; MBA ’91) started Tribridge, a technology consulting firm that became one of the fastest-growing privately held companies in the U.S. The company made the Seminole 100 list, which annually recognizes the 100 fastest-growing FSU alumni-owned or alumni-led businesses. While leading the sale of Tribridge in 2017, DiBenedetto remained active in other ventures and became CEO at Appspace in 2022 after serving as chair of the company’s board of directors since 2020.

DiBenedetto’s recent awards include three straight years in the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s Power 100. That publication also has declared him a “legend in the Tampa Bay Business community.” Previous awards included the Tampa Bay Technology Forum’s Member of the Year and, for his work at Tribridge, a CRN Magazine Technology Disrupter of the Year.

As he continues to build Think Big for Kids, he’s preparing to launch Think Bigger Productions, a media company also dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty for children.

Meanwhile, he said, his Think Big Endowment Fund will remain a hallmark of his continued work and support of his alma mater.

“For me, it’s personal,” DiBenedetto said. “In addition to high school, I got so much at FSU from so many people.”

For more information, visit business.fsu.edu.