Red Rooster Cookie Jar

Red Rooster Cookie Jar: New Brick and Morter, Same Baked “With-a-Whole-Lot of Love” Treats

More “Dough” on the Horizon for New Lady Lake Bakery Thanks to Florida SBDC at UCF – Sumter County Assistance  

February 22, 2024

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Hal Thayer, Communications Director, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4850 or hthayer@ucf.edu

                  Jamie Mead, Area Manager/Consultant, FSBDC at UCF – Sumter County, 352.689.4449 or jamie.mead@ucf.edu

Orlando, FL – Making the move from even a successful home-based business into a brick-and-mortar, commercial space can present a major challenge for any entrepreneur or small business owner. There is a business plan to revise, a location to find, a landlord to negotiate with, permits to be acquired, and much more. And so it was for Yvonne Conti-O’Brien, the founder and culinary genius behind Red Rooster Cookie Jar, a unique and now prized bakery in Lady Lake, Fl, when she decided to take the risk and make the leap. Fortunately for her, early in the process she turned to the Sumter County office of the Florida Small Business Development Center at UCF (FSBDC at UCF). It made all the difference.

Red Rooster Cookie Jar is no ordinary bakery and Yvonne Conti-O’Brien is no ordinary baker. Specializing in a wide variety of delicious cookies and other treats, this small, hometown bakery makes everything from scratch, hand stirred and, according to Yvonne, packed with “a whole lot of love”. With an owner who is a resident of The Villages and active in the local community, Red Rooster is locally owned and sources its ingredients fresh from local businesses and farmers. There are no bakeries within a 40-minute radius that provide anything like what Red Rooster has to share with its community. With over 100 cookie recipes, and a special and different “cookie of the week”, Red Rooster’s business recipe of fresh ingredients, friendly service, and love allows the company to crow that it offers the “best treats you will ever put in your mouth. We guarantee it.”

After a career as a middle school Spanish teacher, Conti-O’Brien founded Red Rooster in 2018, baking from her home. Business was good selling at farmers’ markets and fairs, but space limitations began to infringe on the company’s growth. When she began searching for a commercial property, her real estate agent raved about the assistance she could get from the FSBDC. “I am just so grateful to him that he suggested it,” Conti-O’Brien recalls, “because I didn’t know where I was going to get the help I knew I needed.”

Working with her consultant Jamie Mead, the Sumter County area manager for the FSBDC, Conti-O’Brien received assistance with understanding her lease, obtaining necessary permits, completing Florida Department of Agriculture filings, reviewing financial projections, and going over her revised business plan. “Everything from A to Z, you name it business wise, Jamie helped me through the whole process,” she shares today. “It just made things so much easier for me, so much easier to understand because I knew I could trust her, that she was going to help me and get me through, that she had my back. I would not be sitting here right now or even be in my shop if it wasn’t for the FSBDC’s and Jamie’s help.”

Red Rooster Cookie Jar celebrated its grand opening in November. Customers were three deep at the counter and the line was out the door, and business has stayed strong. “We are selling out all the time,” Conti-O’Brien says proudly. “We have a constant flow of customers coming through the doors. It’s just been wonderful.”

“The SBDC helped me so much,” Conti-O’Brien concluded. “When I was working out of my house, I was very limited, especially in the space I had for production. Being able to get a commercial space has helped me not only grow our customer base but also our product line. If I didn’t have this space and the SBDC’s help, I would never have been able to realize all of this awesome stuff that’s happening to us. Thank you, Jamie and thank you, FSBDC.”

For information about Red Rooster Cookie Jar, please visit www.rrcookiejar.com.

— FSBDC —

About the FSBDC at UCF

Hosted by the University of Central Florida (UCF), and with its main office in the National Entrepreneur Center located at the Fashion Square Mall in Orlando, the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) is part of part of UCF’s Office of the President and the Florida SBDC Network.

The Florida SBDC at UCF provides aspiring and existing small businesses with no-cost consulting, low-cost training, and access to business data and research resources. In addition to its core service offering, the Florida SBDC at UCF also offers specialized services to qualifying companies, including capital access, market growth, government contracting, international trade, business continuation, cybersecurity, disaster planning and recovery, and more. The FSBDC at UCF serves an eight-county area that includes Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia counties and maintains 9 service centers across Central Florida.

In 2022, the FSBDC at UCF served more than 2,700 entrepreneurs in Central Florida with consulting services, resulting in more than 10,600 jobs created, retained or saved; $793.9 million in sales growth; $66.7 million in capital formation; $103.8 million in government contract awards; and 160 new businesses started. For more information, please visit www.sbdcorlando.com .

About the Florida SBDC Network

For more than 45 years, the Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance [Fl. Stat. 288.001], has nourished a statewide partnership between higher education and economic development to provide existing and emerging small and medium-sized business owners with management and knowledge resources that enable overall growth, increased profitability, and economic prosperity for Florida’s economy.

In 2022, the Florida SBDC Network delivered 117,750 hours of consulting to 14,758 small business clients – resulting in business owners securing $446 million in capital, $445 million in government contracting, impacting 23,515 jobs, increasing sales by over $4.5 billion, and creating 825 businesses.

With over 40 offices statewide, the Florida SBDC is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Department of Defense, State of Florida and other private and public partners. The Florida SBDC Network, headquartered at the University of West Florida, is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs and is a recipient of the President’s E Award for Export Service. Florida SBDC services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Language assistance services are available for individuals with limited English proficiency. For more information, please visit www.FloridaSBDC.org.

FSBDC at UCF | 3201 E. Colonial Drive | Orlando, FL 32801 | p 407.420.4850 | f 407.420.4862
sbdc@ucf.edu | www.sbdcorlando.com

FSBDC at UCF, University of Central Florida, Small Business Assistance

Small Business Development Center Returns to City of Palm Coast

No-cost Business Assistance from Expert Consultant Now Available through Florida SBDC at UCF – Palm Coast

February 21, 2024

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Hal Thayer, Communications Director, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4850 or hthayer@ucf.edu

                 Michael Oppenheim, Area Manager, FSBDC at UCF-Palm Coast, 386.320.3313 or michael.oppenheim@ucf.edu   

Orlando, FL – No-cost business consulting; business training and webinars; and access to extensive market research resources are now available again in the City of Palm Coast from the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF). Thanks to renewed funding by the City, the FSBDC returns to Palm Coast after a brief hiatus, having first established an office here in 2011 where it actively supported the local business community through the City’s business assistance center.

Designated as the principal business assistance organization for small businesses in the state, the Florida SBDC Network through regional offices such as the FSBDC at UCF and its satellite offices throughout Central Florida, now including Palm Coast, provide existing and emerging small and medium-sized business owners with management and knowledge resources that enable overall growth, increased profitability, and economic prosperity for Florida’s economy.

“Small businesses form the lifeblood of Palm Coast’s economy,” said Jason DeLorenzo, the Chief of Staff for the City of Palm Coast. “The City Council’s renewed partnership with the SBDC demonstrates its dedication to supporting these enterprises and fostering positive economic growth.”

“We are excited and pleased to once again offer our valuable services to the business community in Palm Coast,” said Eunice Choi, Regional Director of the FSBDC at UCF. “Helping entrepreneurs and small businesses start, grow and thrive is our mission and we are eager to once again be delivering on it in Palm Coast.”

The Florida SBDC at UCF’s office in Palm Coast, through a locally based consultant and area manager, offers a wide range of outstanding services to support entrepreneurs and small business owners in their growth and success. Key services provided by the FSBDC at UCF include:

  • Business Consulting: No-cost, One-on-one, Confidential
  • Business Training: Workshops, Seminars and Training Sessions on topics such as business planning, marketing, financial management and more
  • Access to Capital: Assistance Securing Bank Loans and Other Financing
  • Market Research and Analysis: Help understanding Target Audiences, Competition, Industry Trends
  • Export Assistance: Explore and Expand into International Markets
  • Disaster Recovery Assistance: Disaster Preparedness, Access to Emergency Funding, Business Continuity Planning
  • Networking and Partnerships: Connecting with a Network of Industry Experts, Government Agencies, and Others
  • Specialized Services: Government Contracting, Minority Business Development, Innovation Support

Leading the FSBDC’s new Palm Coast office is longtime Palm Coast resident Michael Oppenheim, a seasoned business executive with over 30+ years of broad and deep experience working in a variety of industries, including most recently for eight years as a consultant for the FSBDC. In addition to his significant business experience, Michael brings extensive knowledge of Palm Coast and Flagler County businesses and their business environment, having assisted multiple local entrepreneurs and business owners with starting businesses, accessing bank loans,  strategic planning and revenue growth. He has been named Area Manager for the Palm Coast office, will be available for office hours at the Palm Coast City Hall, and can be reached at michael.oppenheim@ucf.edu or (386) 320-3313.

For more information about the FSBDC at UCF – Palm Coast or to request consulting, please visit www.sbdcorlando.com.

— FSBDC —

About the FSBDC at UCF

Hosted by the University of Central Florida (UCF), and with its main office in the National Entrepreneur Center located at the Fashion Square Mall in Orlando, the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) is part of part of UCF’s Office of the President and the Florida SBDC Network.

The Florida SBDC at UCF provides aspiring and existing small businesses with no-cost consulting, low-cost training, and access to business data and research resources. In addition to its core service offering, the Florida SBDC at UCF also offers specialized services to qualifying companies, including capital access, market growth, government contracting, international trade, business continuation, cybersecurity, disaster planning and recovery, and more. The FSBDC at UCF serves an eight-county area that includes Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia counties and maintains 9 service centers across Central Florida.

In 2022, the FSBDC at UCF served more than 2,700 entrepreneurs in Central Florida with consulting services, resulting in more than 10,600 jobs created, retained or saved; $793.9 million in sales growth; $66.7 million in capital formation; $103.8 million in government contract awards; and 160 new businesses started. For more information, please visit www.sbdcorlando.com .

About the Florida SBDC Network

For more than 45 years, the Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance [Fl. Stat. 288.001], has nourished a statewide partnership between higher education and economic development to provide existing and emerging small and medium-sized business owners with management and knowledge resources that enable overall growth, increased profitability, and economic prosperity for Florida’s economy.

In 2022, the Florida SBDC Network delivered 117,750 hours of consulting to 14,758 small business clients – resulting in business owners securing $446 million in capital, $445 million in government contracting, impacting 23,515 jobs, increasing sales by over $4.5 billion, and creating 825 businesses.

With over 40 offices statewide, the Florida SBDC is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Department of Defense, State of Florida and other private and public partners. The Florida SBDC Network, headquartered at the University of West Florida, is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs and is a recipient of the President’s E Award for Export Service. Florida SBDC services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Language assistance services are available for individuals with limited English proficiency. For more information, please visit www.FloridaSBDC.org.

FSBDC at UCF | 3201 E. Colonial Drive | Orlando, FL 32801 | p 407.420.4850 | f 407.420.4862
sbdc@ucf.edu | www.sbdcorlando.com

MBD FAB

MBD FAB: New Equipment, New Facilities, New Opportunities

FSBDC at UCF – Lake County Assists Mt. Dora Fabrication and Manufacturing Company Develop New Game Plan, Obtain Bank Loan, and Focus on Profitable Business

February 1, 2024

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Hal Thayer, Communications Director, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4850 or hthayer@ucf.edu

John Doramus, Consultant, FSBDC at UCF – Lake County, 352.404.7338 or john.doramus@ucf.edu 

Orlando, FL – Going it alone as a small business owner can be a prescription for hard times. There are daily challenges, fires to put out, employees to manage, customers to satisfy, and opportunities to leverage or miss out on. The rewards and satisfaction from owning your own business are also bountiful, but are much easier to come by when you have assistance. Cassandra Daniel, the owner alongside her husband Mike Ballard of Mt. Dora, FL-based metal fabricator MBD FAB LLC, recognized that help from outside their company could be beneficial and turned to the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) in Lake County for its expert, no-cost business consulting, training, and access to market research. They are glad they did.

MBD Fabricators is a full-scale fabrication and manufacturing company offering complete services from concept to installation. Using Mike Daniel’s extraordinary creativity and expertise in tandem with state-of-the-art equipment to meet customer specifications, the firm’s attention to detail ensures that a project meets its customers’ needs and exceeds their expectations. “What sets us apart,” describes Cassandra Daniel, “is we’re smaller and able to deal one-on-one with our customers. Say you have an idea, and you bring it to us. We can take it from idea to completion because we have in-house CAD drawers, and my husband is a phenomenal fabricator.”

“I originally sought assistance from the FSBDC because my husband and I had a vision for the growth of our company but weren’t quite sure how to basically tie all the knots and lay all the lines for that growth to come to pass,” recalls Cassandra. “As a new entrepreneur, I needed somebody to help me understand what I already knew, to be basically a confidence boost, and the FSBDC has definitely been that for us.”

“To be completely transparent, I was a little nervous when meeting my FSBDC consultant for the first time,” admits Cassandra. “I knew we needed the help but didn’t know what to expect. But I took the leap of faith and met with SBDC consultant John Doramus. He is super personable and just sat down with us to learn about us, about our company, and about where we want to take it. We talked about our dreams, our vision, our goals and he helped us put a game plan in place to get there. It was amazing.”

Working with FSBDC consultant Doramus, the Daniels were able to get a better grip on their company and chart a course forward. “John helped us fully understand where we sit in our business and what the next steps should be,” explains Cassandra. “He has taken us to the point where we’ve gotten all of our paperwork together to apply for and be approved for a bank loan to buy new equipment that we need to double our revenues within the next 12 months and we’re super excited about it. He also helped us look at the different products we manufacture and determine which were high profit and which were holes in the boat letting all the water in. As a result, we’ve made changes in our product lines that is really going to be key for us going forward.”

Today, thanks to seeking guidance and to accessing the FSBDC’s support, MBD FAB LLC has new equipment, a new facility, and new opportunities. “The FSBDC helped us open doors we didn’t know we needed or wanted opened, and see things in a different light,” Cassandra Daniel concluded. “It was definitely worth it to work with FSBDC.”

For information about MBD FAB, please visit https://mbdfab.com/.

— FSBDC —

About the FSBDC at UCF

Hosted by the University of Central Florida (UCF), and with its main office in the National Entrepreneur Center located at the Fashion Square Mall in Orlando, the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) is part of part of UCF’s Office of the President and the Florida SBDC Network.

The Florida SBDC at UCF provides aspiring and existing small businesses with no-cost consulting, low-cost training, and access to business data and research resources. In addition to its core service offering, the Florida SBDC at UCF also offers specialized services to qualifying companies, including capital access, market growth, government contracting, international trade, business continuation, cybersecurity, disaster planning and recovery, and more. The FSBDC at UCF serves an eight-county area that includes Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia counties and maintains 9 service centers across Central Florida.

In 2022, the FSBDC at UCF served more than 2,700 entrepreneurs in Central Florida with consulting services, resulting in more than 10,600 jobs created, retained or saved; $793.9 million in sales growth; $66.7 million in capital formation; $103.8 million in government contract awards; and 160 new businesses started. For more information, please visit www.sbdcorlando.com .

About the Florida SBDC Network

For more than 45 years, the Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance [Fl. Stat. 288.001], has nourished a statewide partnership between higher education and economic development to provide existing and emerging small and medium-sized business owners with management and knowledge resources that enable overall growth, increased profitability, and economic prosperity for Florida’s economy.

In 2022, the Florida SBDC Network delivered 117,750 hours of consulting to 14,758 small business clients – resulting in business owners securing $446 million in capital, $445 million in government contracting, impacting 23,515 jobs, increasing sales by over $4.5 billion, and creating 825 businesses.

With over 40 offices statewide, the Florida SBDC is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Department of Defense, State of Florida and other private and public partners. The Florida SBDC Network, headquartered at the University of West Florida, is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs and is a recipient of the President’s E Award for Export Service. Florida SBDC services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Language assistance services are available for individuals with limited English proficiency. For more information, please visit www.FloridaSBDC.org.

FSBDC at UCF | 3201 E. Colonial Drive | Orlando, FL 32801 | p 407.420.4850 | f 407.420.4862
sbdc@ucf.edu | www.sbdcorlando.com

Tributatries and Clarus

Tributaries and Clarus Audio and Video Cables: Setting the Standard for Excellence, Now More Globally

Florida SBDC At UCF’s International Trade Services Team Helps Company Turn Up the Volume in New Export Markets

December 18, 2023

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Hal Thayer, Communications Director, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4879 or HThayer@ucf.edu

                  Jill McLaughlin, Int’s Trade Program Manager, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4856 or Jill.McLaughlin@ucf.edu

Orlando, FL – With more than 70% of the world’s purchasing power located outside of the U.S., exporting is an increasingly attractive opportunity for small and medium-sized companies. Joe Perfito, founder and owner of Gordon J. Gow Technologies – the company responsible for the design and manufacture of Tributaries and Clarus audio and video cables – had gained some international distribution but was convinced that there was significant untapped potential abroad. To increase the company’s penetration of foreign markets, Perfito turned to the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida’s (FSBDC at UCF) International Trade Services team.

Tributaries is a leading provider of high-performance and high-quality digital & analog audio interconnects, speaker cables, AC power products, and HDMI cables for discriminating audiophiles and cinephiles. Clarus serves the even more selective high-end audiophile market, offering ultimate-performance audio cables, power cables, power conditioners, and digital-to-analog converters (DACS) for the most discerning listening audiences. Combining patented technologies and painstakingly meticulous hand-craftsmanship, Tributaries and Clarus products are designed by music lovers for music lovers and are universally recognized for their quality.

“We design all of the internal parts of our cables and the cosmetics – the jacket, all the conductors and the shielding,” Perfito proudly states. “We have those cables made for us and bring them into Orlando where we do all our own soldering and assembly, packaging and testing. This makes us quite a bit different from our competitors, most of whom have cable from China or the Far East brought into the U.S. where they take it out of one box, put it into another and ship it out. There’s no value added. We do all the assembly, so we know how it’s made. We do all our own quality control as well. As a result, we have cables that outperform any of our competitors.”

“Our company has been selling domestically since 1991,” recalls Perfito, “and we started working with international distributors in the early 2000’s. But we didn’t have as many as I would like, even though I knew we had the products that would sell in countries around the world. When I learned about the FSBDC, I said ‘Wow, they have a lot to offer small businesses, including in the area of exporting and international distribution, and we began working with them to help us develop some of the foreign markets.”

Together with FSBDC International Trade Services program manager Jill McLaughlin and consultant Rafael Pratts, Perfito set about to further expand globally. First, Pratts prepared a customized Export Marketing Plan, available in partnership with the U.S. Commercial Service and funded by a grant offered by Enterprise Florida, now SelectFlorida, to assist qualified Florida manufacturers and service providers with identifying overseas growth strategies. Such Export Marketing Plans provide comprehensive industry and market analyses and identify promising new foreign markets and provide a go-to-market strategy for each. Next, McLaughlin assisted the company with obtaining State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) Grants to reimburse certain travel expenses, thereby supporting their attendance at international trade shows throughout Europe.

“Because of our partnership with FSBDC and working with them, we were able to improve our international marketing,” Perfito affirms. In fact, because of the Export Marketing Plan and the STEP Grant-funded travel, the company has now secured a new distributor in France and has another in the United Kingdom, with high expectations for one in Germany as well. “I would strongly encourage other small business owners like myself to contact the FSBDC and to take advantage of the services and programs they have to offer. It would be a huge benefit for them, as it was for us.”

For information about Gordon J. Gow Technologies and its Tributaries and Clarus lines, please visit www.tributariescable.com  or www.claruscable.com.

— FSBDC —

About the FSBDC at UCF

Hosted by the University of Central Florida (UCF), and with its main office in the National Entrepreneur Center located at the Fashion Square Mall in Orlando, the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) is part of part of UCF’s Office of the President and the Florida SBDC Network.

The Florida SBDC at UCF provides aspiring and existing small businesses with no-cost consulting, low-cost training, and access to business data and research resources. In addition to its core service offering, the Florida SBDC at UCF also offers specialized services to qualifying companies, including capital access, market growth, government contracting, international trade, business continuation, cybersecurity, disaster planning and recovery, and more. The FSBDC at UCF serves an eight-county area that includes Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia counties and maintains 9 service centers across Central Florida.

In 2022, the FSBDC at UCF served more than 2,700 entrepreneurs in Central Florida with consulting services, resulting in more than 10,600 jobs created, retained or saved; $793.9 million in sales growth; $66.7 million in capital formation; $103.8 million in government contract awards; and 160 new businesses started. For more information, please visit www.sbdcorlando.com .

About the Florida SBDC Network

For more than 45 years, the Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance [Fl. Stat. 288.001], has nourished a statewide partnership between higher education and economic development to provide existing and emerging small and medium-sized business owners with management and knowledge resources that enable overall growth, increased profitability, and economic prosperity for Florida’s economy.

In 2022, the Florida SBDC Network delivered 117,750 hours of consulting to 14,758 small business clients – resulting in business owners securing $446 million in capital, $445 million in government contracting, impacting 23,515 jobs, increasing sales by over $4.5 billion, and creating 825 businesses.

With over 40 offices statewide, the Florida SBDC is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Department of Defense, State of Florida and other private and public partners. The Florida SBDC Network, headquartered at the University of West Florida, is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs and is a recipient of the President’s E Award for Export Service. Florida SBDC services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Language assistance services are available for individuals with limited English proficiency. For more information, please visit www.FloridaSBDC.org.

FSBDC at UCF | 3201 E. Colonial Drive | Orlando, FL 32801 | p 407.420.4850 | f 407.420.4862
sbdc@ucf.edu | www.sbdcorlando.com

 

ClariVita

ClariVita Language Services: Finding the Right Words for Business Growth

Winter Garden Language Solutions Company Expanding with Assistance from the Florida SBDC at UCF – Lake County

November, 28, 2023

Contact: Hal Thayer, Communications Director, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4850 or HThayer@ucf.edu

                 Jose Molfino, Area Manager, FSBDC at UCF – Lake County, 352.404.7338 or Jose.Molfino@ucf.edu

Orlando, FL – When that entrepreneurial bug bites and a professional decides to strike out on their own, it can be daunting to know where to begin or how to address the challenges that can arise when operating a new venture. Often the founder of a new business is an expert in her field but lacks experience running a company. Mara Abraham, co-founder and CEO of ClariVita Language Services, found herself in exactly that position and turned to the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) in Lake County for assistance.

ClariVita Language Services is in the business of helping companies and organizations become diversified, multicultural, and multilingual. The firm offers a variety of services including interpretation and translation; transcription and audio dubbing; and consultation and implementation of language access plans to organizations who are looking to increase patient and customer satisfaction, reduce liabilities, and provide equal access to the services they offer to people who are limited English proficient (LEP), deaf, and/or hard of hearing.

“Besides providing top-notch professional services, we also offer a great customer experience,” Abraham states proudly. “And that’s what sets us apart. We have an amazing team of both staff and professional linguists who deliver our services at a fair price, and make sure our clients have the best experience possible when they do. We’re very proud of the fact that we have grown mostly organically so far and are really thrilled to see clients coming back to us year after year.”

“The reason I sought out assistance from the FSBDC is I needed help on the business side,” Abraham recalls. “I had been self-employed as an interpreter for more than 20 years. I knew a lot about the industry – a whole lot – but I knew less about business. I felt I lacked the business knowledge and business acumen, and I was looking for somebody to guide me through my next learning curve.”

“My experience working with the FSBDC has been outstanding,” Abraham says. Leveraging the FSBDC’s no-cost, expert consulting; business training and workshops; and access to market research and data bases gave her the assurance and knowledge she was looking for. “I have received the education and training that I felt I needed to fill the in the gaps I mentioned.” Together with Jose Molfino, consultant and area manager for the FSBDC’s Lake County office, she set up her accounting system to track transactions and profitability and established an annual budget to measure her performance. “Jose has been with me every step of the way. I went through a very hard personal time in the last year and a half, and he held my hand while still keeping me accountable and allowing me to go at my own pace.”

“The results of this whole year of consulting have been amazing,” concludes Abraham. “We have doubled our staff and doubled our revenue. We’re now ready to scale our business with confidence knowing that we have the tools and the support we need to make that happen.” For entrepreneurs and business owners thinking about working with the FSBDC, Abraham says: “There’s nothing to think about. Pull the trigger right now. It’s only going to help you grow your business. It’s all the expert advice you want and need, and don’t even know you need, right there at your fingertips for free.”

For information about ClariVita Language Services, please visit https://clarivita.com/.

— FSBDC —

About the FSBDC at UCF

Hosted by the University of Central Florida (UCF), and with its main office in the National Entrepreneur Center located at the Fashion Square Mall in Orlando, the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) is part of part of UCF’s Office of the President and the Florida SBDC Network.

The Florida SBDC at UCF provides aspiring and existing small businesses with no-cost consulting, low-cost training, and access to business data and research resources. In addition to its core service offering, the Florida SBDC at UCF also offers specialized services to qualifying companies, including capital access, market growth, government contracting, international trade, business continuation, cybersecurity, disaster planning and recovery, and more. The FSBDC at UCF serves an eight-county area that includes Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia counties and maintains 9 service centers across Central Florida.

In 2022, the FSBDC at UCF served more than 2,700 entrepreneurs in Central Florida with consulting services, resulting in more than 10,600 jobs created, retained or saved; $793.9 million in sales growth; $66.7 million in capital formation; $103.8 million in government contract awards; and 160 new businesses started. For more information, please visit www.sbdcorlando.com.

About the Florida SBDC Network

For more than 45 years, the Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance [Fl. Stat. 288.001], has nourished a statewide partnership between higher education and economic development to provide existing and emerging small and medium-sized business owners with management and knowledge resources that enable overall growth, increased profitability, and economic prosperity for Florida’s economy.

In 2022, the Florida SBDC Network delivered 117,750 hours of consulting to 14,758 small business clients – resulting in business owners securing $446 million in capital, $445 million in government contracting, impacting 23,515 jobs, increasing sales by over $4.5 billion, and creating 825 businesses.

With over 40 offices statewide, the Florida SBDC is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Department of Defense, State of Florida and other private and public partners. The Florida SBDC Network, headquartered at the University of West Florida, is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs and is a recipient of the President’s E Award for Export Service. Florida SBDC services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Language assistance services are available for individuals with limited English proficiency. For more information, please visit www.FloridaSBDC.org.

FSBDC at UCF | 3201 E. Colonial Drive | Orlando, FL 32801 | p 407.420.4850 | f 407.420.4862
sbdc@ucf.edu | www.sbdcorlando.com

Center for Aggression Management

The Center for Aggression Management: Preventing Problems by Identifying and Managing Hostile Behavior

November 20, 2023

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Hal Thayer, Communications Director, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4850 or hthayer@ucf.edu

Steven South, APEX Manager, APEX Accelerator at UCF, 412.888.9401 or steve.south@ucf.edu

Orlando, FL – In the business world, there is sometimes talk of a mystical and magical entity called the ‘unicorn’ startup, which is a company that can be expected to reach $1 billion in revenues without being listed on the stock market. It is the dream of every entrepreneur, investor, and venture capitalist. When Dr. John D. Byrnes, Founder and CEO of the Center for Aggression Management, spoke to investors who wondered out loud if his company could be worth a herd of unicorns, his new challenge became how to best scale up to achieve that level of success. He turned to the Florida APEX Accelerator at the University of Central Florida (Florida APEX at UCF), an affiliate of the Florida Small Business Development Center at UCF (FSBDC at UCF), for guidance.

The Center for Aggression Management, Inc. in Orlando, FL, trains organizations and individuals to use aggression management techniques to identify the pre-incident precursors to hostile and malicious behavior and thus prevent it from occurring. Leveraging work done by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Secret Service on how to identify someone on the path to violence, Dr. Byrnes deploys a model built around the sequential progression of precursors to assaultive and violent behavior. Understanding these pre-incident precursors enables organizations to get out in front of instances of sexual harassment, abuse, bullying, discrimination and, more recently, insider cyber attackers, all of which is hugely beneficial for workplace security and human resources. “Research has shown that our system’s capability to make people feel safe and more trusting of others enhances teamwork, leadership, loyalty, productivity, performance, and profitability,” explains Dr. Byrnes.

Entitled the Critical Aggression Prevention System (CAPS), the system has been scientifically validated as reliable. Furthermore, the system’s ability to NOT use culture, gender, education, age, sexual orientation, or religion – or mental health assessments – means it does not violate HIPPA regulations at hospitals and health care institutions, FERPA regulations at schools, colleges and universities, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applicable to all organizations.

The Center for Aggression Management and CAPS had a lot going for it, but challenges remained. “I was a training company for 20 plus years, trying to figure out what to do next,” recalls Dr. Byrnes. Now he had CAPS and knew he had to scale the company up. “I knew that I needed to have an app, and a dashboard, and a learning management system of online courses but I had no clue as to how to do it.” It was then that he turned to Steve South, the manager of the Florida APEX Accelerator at UCF.

“Steve South. I can’t say enough about this gentleman,” shares Dr. Byrnes. “He was open armed. He was able to begin to direct me based upon the uniqueness of what I had to offer. I had been a trainer all these years and now needed to become a technology company. I needed to act like a startup, and he helped direct me.” South assisted Dr. Byrnes with developing a variety of government contracting tools and certifications that enabled the company to present itself to the military, federal government, and to large organizations. South also directed Dr. Byrnes to the Veterans Entrepreneurship Initiative (VEI), which provided invaluable training as he evolved into a fledging technology company.

“Steve has been a help all the way along,” continued Dr. Byrnes. “Coming out of COVID, we acquired our very first big client that will be using our entire system: the CAPS mobile app, the CAPS Dashboard, and the CAPS learning management system. We are very slowly beginning to roll it out into a hospital system with over 80,000 employees, 23 hospitals, and 830 ambulatory facilities. The annual revenues, when fully implemented, will be well over $1 million. Of course, we have others coming on as well: a food distribution company with 4,500 employees generating over $100,000 in annual revenues to the Center.”

“To know that there is a team of people that care about us, that care where we are and about how to help us, and how they can help us achieve the best that we can be is huge”, concludes Dr. Byrnes. “The ability to have this APEX team has been a remarkable advantage to building what one day may be a colossus.”

For information about The Center for Aggression Management, please visit https://aggressionmanagement.com/.

— FSBDC —

About the Florida APEX Accelerator

The Florida APEX Accelerator (formerly the Florida Procurement Technical Assistance Center) is part of a national network of APEX Accelerators working to help businesses compete successfully in the government marketplace. The Florida APEX Accelerator is powered statewide by the University of West Florida and funded in part by the State of Florida and local partners. This APEX Accelerator is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the Department of Defense. In 2022, the Florida APEX Accelerator network served 1,387 new clients, resulting in businesses creating and retaining 25,919 jobs and helping businesses secure $246 million in government contracts. For more information, please visit www.flapex.org.

About the FSBDC at UCF

Hosted by the University of Central Florida (UCF), and with its main office in the National Entrepreneur Center located at the Fashion Square Mall in Orlando, the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) is part of part of UCF’s Office of the President and the Florida SBDC Network.

The Florida SBDC at UCF provides aspiring and existing small businesses with no-cost consulting, low-cost training, and access to business data and research resources. In addition to its core service offering, the Florida SBDC at UCF also offers specialized services to qualifying companies, including capital access, market growth, government contracting, international trade, business continuation, cybersecurity, disaster planning and recovery, and more. The FSBDC at UCF serves an eight-county area that includes Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia counties and maintains 10 service centers across Central Florida.

In 2020, the FSBDC at UCF served more than 2,800 entrepreneurs in Central Florida with consulting services, resulting in more than 10,000 jobs created, retained or saved; $1.2 billion in sales growth; $92.4 million in capital formation; $92.7 million in government contract awards; and 86 new businesses started. For more information, please visit www.sbdcorlando.com.

About the Florida SBDC Network

For more than 45 years, the Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance [Fl. Stat. 288.001], has nourished a statewide partnership between higher education and economic development to provide existing and emerging small and medium-sized business owners with management and knowledge resources that enable overall growth, increased profitability, and economic prosperity for Florida’s economy.

In 2022, the Florida SBDC Network delivered 117,750 hours of consulting to 14,758 small business clients – resulting in business owners securing $446 million in capital, $445 million in government contracting, impacting 23,515 jobs, increasing sales by over $4.5 billion, and creating 825 businesses.

With over 40 offices statewide, the Florida SBDC is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Department of Defense, State of Florida and other private and public partners. The Florida SBDC Network, headquartered at the University of West Florida, is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs and is a recipient of the President’s E Award for Export Service. Florida SBDC services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Language assistance services are available for individuals with limited English proficiency. For more information, please visit www.FloridaSBDC.org.

FSBDC at UCF | 3201 E. Colonial Drive | Orlando, FL 32801 | p 407.420.4850 | f 407.420.4862
sbdc@ucf.edu | www.sbdcorlando.com

FSBDC at UCF, University of Central Florida, Small Business Assistance

Chris Wagner of MacroCap Labs and Michael and Teresa Crofts of Maple Street, Inc. Named 2023 Entrepreneurs of the Year

Florida SBDC at UCF Announces 2023 Small Business Excellence Award Winners

November 7, 2023

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Hal Thayer, Communications Director, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4850 or hthayer@ucf.edu

FSBDC Entrepreneurs of the Year Michael Crofts, Teresa Crofts, Chris Wagner

FSBDC Entrepreneurs of the Year Michael Crofts, Teresa Crofts, Chris Wagner

Orlando, FL – The Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) announced its 2023 Entrepreneurs of the Year in the culmination of the second annual FSBDC at UCF Small Business Excellence Awards program celebrating the success, growth, business acumen, and community involvement of FSBDC at UCF’s clients from across its 8-county region.

In a tie for the premier award, named as the 2023 FSBDC at UCF Entrepreneurs of the Year were:

Chris Wagner MacroCap Labs Longwood, FL
Michael and Teresa Crofts Maple Street, Inc. Longwood, FL

The FSBDC at UCF Small Business Excellence Award program recognizes local small business owners for their innovation, determination, and resilience as demonstrated in the growth of their business and in their contribution to their communities. Nominations from across Central Florida were made by FSBDC at UCF consultants to acknowledge their clients’ significant growth; their resourcefulness in overcoming the challenges presented by small business ownership; and their involvement in their communities.

In total, there were 15 distinguished and remarkable Small Business Excellence Awards Entrepreneur of the Year nominees. The 13 other nominees included:

Jennifer Herrera and Pablo Prahl A&G Marketing Group Lake Mary, FL
Gillie Acosta Rivera Beha.Vio Inc. Kissimmee, FL
Mara Abraham ClariVita Winter Garden, FL
Rich Santo Culture Studio Daytona Beach, FL
Goeff Hoatson Family First Firm Orlando, FL
Danny Sorondo HRS Construction Clermont, FL
Ervin LeMand Lost Returns Winter Park, FL
Cassandra Daniel MBD FAB, LLC Mt. Dora, FL
Lizbeth Walker Qwailifize Kissimmee, FL
Derrious Robinson, Lavell Monger, and Walter Tre Idlette RTW Photography Orlando, FL
Barb McKeever SureClean Solutions The Villages, FL
Julie Shipley The Soup Shop Melbourne, FL
Wayne and Gladys Salicrup Trapline Pest Solutions Orlando, FL

Small businesses are the engine that drives the Florida economy. According to the SBA, there are roughly 2.8 million small businesses in Florida. They make up 99.8% of all businesses in the state and employ 3.6 million workers, about 41.1% of the state’s private-sector workforce.

As the list illustrates, the nominees for the FSBDC at UCF Small Business Excellence Awards represent a broad cross section of Central Florida small businesses operating in multiple industries. Fully 60% of the nominees are women- and/or minority-owned businesses. All are valued clients of the FSBDC at UCF who have benefited in some way from its no-cost, expert consulting; business training; and/or market research resources.

The award winners were selected by the FSBDC at UCF’s Executive Board which is made up of local small business leaders and stakeholders committed to supporting the FSBDC’s mission to help small businesses launch, grow, and thrive through expertise, resources, and advocacy. The announcement of the award winners was made at an invitation-only Awards Luncheon held the Citrus Club in Orlando, Florida and was made possible through the generous support of sponsors Orange County, Florida APEX Accelerator at UCF, and CHASE for Business.

“We are excited to recognize our two 2023 Entrepreneurs of the Year and all of the nominees for their accomplishments and success through our Small Business Excellence Award program,” shared Eunice Choi, FSBDC at UCF Regional Director. “Small businesses like these are the key drivers of our local economy, creating prosperity, generating jobs and improving the quality of life in our communities. It is an honor to be able to celebrate them.”

2023 FSBDC at UCF Small Business Excellence Awards Entrepreneur of the Year Winners

Chris Wagner with MacroCap Labs: Founded in 2010, MacroCap began as a college dorm room start-up when Chris Wagner saw a void in the nutritional supplement market. Using highest quality ingredients to build a foundation for fitness and with steady improvements over the years in quality and capacity, Macrocap Labs has positioned itself to be one of the top contract supplement manufacturers in the state of Florida.

Location: Longwood, Florida

Mike and Teresa Crofts with Maple Street: Maple Street has a remarkable 20+ year journey driven by bringing innovation and savings to their financial services customer base. The firm offers a fully outsourced vendor management solution that reduces expenses, improves vendor performance, and manages risks. They also offer services related to vendor selection, compliance, audits, and more.

Location: Longwood, Florida

2023 FSBDC at UCF Small Business Excellence Awards Honorees

Jennifer Herrera and Pablo Prahl with A&G Marketing Group: A&G Marketing Group is passionate about helping their customers amplify their brands with creative marketing solutions and personalized attention to detail. This commitment is vividly reflected in their consistent growth and ongoing success, proving that success isn’t just about financial gains but about enriching the lives of all those they touch.

Location: Lake Mary, Florida

Gillie Acosta Rivera with Beha.Vio Inc: Beha.Vio provides individualized applied behavior analysis therapy to children with various exceptionalities such as autism, epilepsy, ADHD, and down syndrome – among others. Its services focus on all areas of development, social interactions, motor skills, and management of problem behaviors. Its mission is to support children and to offer strategies to parents and teachers so that vulnerable children can live functional and independent lives.

Location: Founded in Kissimmee, Florida

Mara Abraham with ClariVita: ClariVita has a passion for connection and communication, working towards a brighter, more connected, and inclusive future. Providing translation services and language solutions, ClariVita’s team of language professionals possesses specialized competencies in the Healthcare, Educational, Legal, and Business sectors. Clarivita’s commitment to quality is evident in its unwavering dedication to client satisfaction.        Location: Winter Garden, Florida

Rich Santo with Culture Studio: Culture Studio powers merchandise sales for the music and entertainment industry, as well as retail and e-commerce. Originally founded in 2008, the company has worked with some of the largest artist and retail brands in the country to provide solutions “where technology meets the factory floor to make merch miracles.”

Location: Daytona Beach, Florida

Geoff Hoatson with Family First Firm: Founded in 2009 by attorney Geoff Hoatson, Family First Firm has grown to become the largest elder law firm in the state of Florida. With a focus on Medicaid Planning, Wills & Trusts, Veteran’s Benefits, Guardianship, and Probate, the firm has helped thousands of Florida families navigate the overwhelming circumstances that seniors face when aging.

Location: Orlando, Florida

Danny Sorondo with HRS Construction: Founded in 2005 by Danny Sorondo, HRS Construction is a Certified Building Contractor specializing in home remodels, renovations, additions, and new construction with a strong focus on superior customer service and top-notch quality. The firm specializes in commercial and residential general remodeling, including kitchen, bathroom, and home additions.

Location: Clermont, Florida

Ervin LeMand with Lost Returns: Founded by Ervin LeMand, Lost Returns provides customized software and logistics support to manage the “lost & found” programs for rental car companies, airports, cruise lines and others. Every day, tens of thousands of valuable items are inadvertently left behind, and Lost Returns’ mission is to help recover those LOST items and RETURN them safely to their owners.

Location: Winter Park, Florida

Cassandra Daniel with MBD FAB, LLC: MBD Fabricators is a full-scale fabrication and manufacturing company, offering complete services from concept to installation. Using state-of-the-art equipment and with a keen sense of attention to detail, MBD Fab provides custom metal fabrication, equipment repair services, and one-of-a-kind works of art marked with a dedication to quality and customer service.

Location: Mt. Dora, Florida

Lizbeth Walker with Qwalifize: Qwalifize’s mission is to attract, prepare, and place high-caliber job seekers into meaningful roles while successfully solving simple to complex workforce needs in the commercial private and government sectors. The firm provides various staffing solutions to assist with implementing infrastructure that supports employee retention, increases productivity, and boosts morale.

Location: Kissimmee, Florida

 Derrious Robinson, Lavell Monger, and Walter Tre Idlette, with RTW Photography: RTW Photography has experience in all areas of photography and videography. The firm offers a wide range of services aimed at capturing and producing top quality content, with a goal of helping its clients stand out amongst the crowd. Its RTW Academy also provides a platform for individuals from all backgrounds to learn, collaborate, and prosper.

Location: Orlando, Florida

Barb McKeever with SureClean Solutions: SureClean Solutions LLC opened in 2010 with a commitment to delivering “the best tile and carpet cleaning service you can find.” Its goal is to provide customers with outstanding service and clean and healthy homes and businesses through professional, affordable, and high-quality service.

Location: The Villages, Florida

Julie Shipley with The Soup Shop: Founded in 2009, The Soup Shop offers gourmet soups, sandwiches, salads, pot pies and desserts. They offer their handcrafted soups as a labor of love, boast a globally inspired diverse menu, and provide a friendly family environment with something for everyone.

Location: Melbourne, Florida

Wayne and Gladys Salicrup with Trapline Pest Solutions: Trapline Pest Solutions is a pest control and nuisance wildlife removal company servicing Central Florida, providing pest control, termite treatment, damage repair, animal proofing, wildlife services, and more. They say, “If it flies, stings, runs, hops, bites, or spreads disease, we’ve got you covered!”

Location: Orlando, Florida

— FSBDC —

About the FSBDC at UCF

Hosted by the University of Central Florida (UCF), and with its main office in the National Entrepreneur Center located at the Fashion Square Mall in Orlando, the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) is part of part of UCF’s Office of the President and the Florida SBDC Network.

The Florida SBDC at UCF provides aspiring and existing small businesses with no-cost consulting, low-cost training, and access to business data and research resources. In addition to its core service offering, the Florida SBDC at UCF also offers specialized services to qualifying companies, including capital access, market growth, government contracting, international trade, business continuation, cybersecurity, disaster planning and recovery, and more. The FSBDC at UCF serves an eight-county area that includes Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia counties and maintains 9 service centers across Central Florida.

In 2022, the FSBDC at UCF served more than 2,700 entrepreneurs in Central Florida with consulting services, resulting in more than 10,600 jobs created, retained or saved; $793.9 million in sales growth; $66.7 million in capital formation; $103.8 million in government contract awards; and 160 new businesses started. For more information, please visit www.sbdcorlando.com .

About the Florida SBDC Network

For more than 45 years, the Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance [Fl. Stat. 288.001], has nourished a statewide partnership between higher education and economic development to provide existing and emerging small and medium-sized business owners with management and knowledge resources that enable overall growth, increased profitability, and economic prosperity for Florida’s economy.

In 2022, the Florida SBDC Network delivered 117,750 hours of consulting to 14,758 small business clients – resulting in business owners securing $446 million in capital, $445 million in government contracting, impacting 23,515 jobs, increasing sales by over $4.5 billion, and creating 825 businesses.

With over 40 offices statewide, the Florida SBDC is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Department of Defense, State of Florida and other private and public partners. The Florida SBDC Network, headquartered at the University of West Florida, is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs and is a recipient of the President’s E Award for Export Service. Florida SBDC services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Language assistance services are available for individuals with limited English proficiency. For more information, please visit www.FloridaSBDC.org.

FSBDC at UCF | 3201 E. Colonial Drive | Orlando, FL 32801 | p 407.420.4850 | f 407.420.4862
sbdc@ucf.edu | www.sbdcorlando.com

The Viera Studio

The Viera Studio for the Performing Arts: Continuing to Grow and Serve its Community

Local Arts and Cultural Institution Pivots Out of COVID with Florida SBDC at Eastern Florida State College Assistance

October 30, 2023

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Hal Thayer, Communications Director, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4850 or hthayer@ucf.edu

                 Robin Braswell, Sub-Center Director, FSBDC at EFSC, 321-433-5573 or braswellr@easternflorida.edu

Orlando, FL – The COVID epidemic threw a lot of curve balls at nearly every small business, and those involved in the arts and cultural activities were no exception. Reinvention and sometimes even a fight for survival were the order of the day. Monica Toro Lisciandro, founder of The Viera Studio for the Performing Arts and director of the Black Box Theatre Programme, recognized immediately that the pandemic was taking a toll on her organization and turned to the Florida Small Business Development Center at Eastern Florida State College (FSBDC at EFSC), a subcenter of the Florida SBDC at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF).

At the Viera Studio for the Performing Arts, they pride themselves on building confidence, creativity, and fun! Professional entertainers hold events and workshops year-round for all ages, including cabarets, showcases, and special one-night engagements. They like to say, “When you’re here, the fun never ends.” Through their programs, students can explore various aspects of theater including acting, singing, dancing, stage design, and production. Experienced and highly trained instructors guide them through every step of the process, from auditions to rehearsals to final performances.

“The Viera Studio is a special place to be because of the magic that our families and our students bring,” Monica Lisciandro states proudly. “All of our students and our families are uplifted. When our kids come in, they feel like they are supported and they’re seen, they’re heard, and they’re valued. Because of that, they’re able to excel and feel like they can be confident and truly be themselves.”

“I sought out guidance from the FSBDC because, after COVID, we really needed to pivot for our business,” recalls Lisciandro. “We needed the guidance and the support of the FSBDC and their knowledge in order to be able to move forward and continue our business and continue to be successful in the times we were facing.”

Working with FSBDC at EFSC sub-center director and consultant Robin Braswell and others, Lisciandro took advantage of the full spectrum of the FSBDC’s services: no-cost, expert consulting; business training workshops, seminars and webinars; and access to deep and broad market research databases and resources. “My journey with the FSBDC has been excellent,” Lisciandro affirms. “I’ve been able to consult with Robin about my business. I’ve received data about our marketing, about our website. I’ve been able to access a plethora of trainings that have helped me be able to develop and take my business onward and upward.”

“The FSBDC has really helped our business grow,” concludes Lisciandro. “Our clientele –students from children to adults – has increased. We have reached out to schools in the community, and they are very interested in partnering with us to bring our programs into their school. We have a bigger reach and are able to offer the arts programs to not only the kids who come to our studio but also to the community. My personal experience working with the FSBDC has been excellent. For anyone that’s considering working with them, I would highly recommend it.”

For information about The Viera Studio for the Performing Arts, please visit https://thevierastudio.com/ .

— FSBDC —

About the FSBDC at UCF

Hosted by the University of Central Florida (UCF), and with its main office in the National Entrepreneur Center located at the Fashion Square Mall in Orlando, the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) is part of part of UCF’s Office of the President and the Florida SBDC Network.

The Florida SBDC at UCF provides aspiring and existing small businesses with no-cost consulting, low-cost training, and access to business data and research resources. In addition to its core service offering, the Florida SBDC at UCF also offers specialized services to qualifying companies, including capital access, market growth, government contracting, international trade, business continuation, cybersecurity, disaster planning and recovery, and more. The FSBDC at UCF serves an eight-county area that includes Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia counties and maintains 9 service centers across Central Florida.

In 2022, the FSBDC at UCF served more than 2,700 entrepreneurs in Central Florida with consulting services, resulting in more than 10,600 jobs created, retained or saved; $793.9 million in sales growth; $66.7 million in capital formation; $103.8 million in government contract awards; and 160 new businesses started. For more information, please visit www.sbdcorlando.com.

About the Florida SBDC Network

For over forty years, the Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance [Fl. Stat. 288.001], has nourished a statewide partnership between higher education and economic development to provide existing and emerging small and medium-sized business owners with management and knowledge resources that enable overall growth, increased profitability, and economic prosperity for Florida’s economy.

In 2022, Florida SBDCs provided 157,841 hours of professional business consulting to more than 18,379 client businesses. Based on the results from the network’s latest economic impact analysis, the FSBDC’s services resulted in almost 29,000 jobs impacted; $4.8 billion in sales generated; $381.6 million in government contracts acquired; and $528.4 million in capital accessed.

A statewide network of over 40 offices, the Florida SBDC is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, U.S. Department of Defense, State of Florida and other private and public partners. The Florida SBDC Network, headquartered at the University of West Florida, is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs and is a 2016 recipient of the President’s E Award for Export Service. Florida SBDC services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Language assistance services are available for individuals with limited English proficiency. For more information, please visit www.FloridaSBDC.org.

FSBDC at UCF | 3201 E. Colonial Drive | Orlando, FL 32801 | p 407.420.4850 | f 407.420.4862
sbdc@ucf.edu | www.sbdcorlando.com

FSBDC at UCF, University of Central Florida, Small Business Assistance

2023 Small Business Excellence Awards Nominees Announced by Florida SBDC at UCF

October 10, 2023

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Hal Thayer, Communications Director, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4850 or hthayer@ucf.edu

Orlando, FL – The Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) is pleased to announce the fifteen (15) Nominees for the second annual FSBDC at UCF Small Business Excellence Awards program which celebrates the success, growth, business acumen, and community involvement of FSBDC at UCF’s clients from across its 8-county region.

The fifteen esteemed and remarkable Small Business Excellence Awards Entrepreneur of the Year Nominees are:

Jennifer Herrera & Pablo Prahl

A&G Marketing Group

Danny Sorondo

HRS Construction

Derrious Robinson, W. Tre Idlette & Lavell Monger

RTW Photography, LLC

     
Gillie Acosta Rivera

Beha.Vio Inc.

Ervin LeMand

Lost Returns

Barb McKeever

SureClean Solutions, LLC

     
Mara Abraham

Certified Translations dba ClariVita

Chris Wagner

MacroCap Labs, Inc.

Julie Shipley

The Soup Shop

     
Rich Santo

Culture Studio

Mike & Teresa Crofts

Maple Street, Inc.

Gladys Salicrup

Trapline Pest Solutions

     
Geoff Hoatson

Family First Firm

Cassandra Daniel

MBD FAB, LLC

Lizbeth Walker

Qwalifize Staffing & Consulting

The FSBDC at UCF Small Business Excellence Award program recognizes local small business owners for their innovation, determination and resilience as demonstrated in the growth of their business and in their contributions to their communities, culminating in one nominee being named the FSBDC at UCF’s 2023 Entrepreneur of the Year.

Nominations from across Central Florida were made by FSBDC at UCF consultants to acknowledge their clients’ significant growth; their resourcefulness in overcoming the challenges presented by small business ownership; and their involvement in their communities.

Small businesses are the engine that drives the Florida economy. According to the SBA, there are roughly 2.8 million small businesses in Florida. They make up 99.8% of all businesses in the state and employ 3.6 million workers, about 41.1% of the state’s private-sector workforce.

As the list illustrates, the nominees for the FSBDC at UCF Small Business Excellence Awards represent a broad cross section of Central Florida small businesses operating in multiple industries. Fully 60% of the nominees are women- and/or minority-owned businesses. All are valued clients of the FSBDC at UCF who have benefited in some way from its no-cost, expert consulting; business training; and/or market research resources.

The finalists and award winner will be selected by the FSBDC at UCF’s Executive Board which is made up of local small business leaders, educators, and stakeholders committed to supporting the FSBDC’s mission to help small businesses launch, grow, and thrive through expertise, resources and advocacy. The nominees and Entrepreneur of the Year award winner will be honored at an invitation-only Awards Luncheon on November 1, 2023, at the Citrus Club in Orlando, FL. This will be the second time this award will be given as the FSBDC at UCF Small Business Excellence Award program becomes an annual event moving forward. The awards ceremony is made possible through the generous support of sponsors Orange County Government, Florida APEX Accelerator at UCF, and CHASE for Business.

“The FSBDC at UCF is proud to recognize these fifteen deserving nominees for their achievements through our second-annual Small Business Excellence Award program,” said Eunice Choi, FSBDC at UCF Regional Director. “Small businesses are the key drivers of our local economy, creating prosperity, generating jobs, and improving the quality of life in our communities. It is an honor to be able to celebrate these Central Florida standouts.”

— FSBDC —

About the FSBDC at UCF

Hosted by the University of Central Florida (UCF), and with its main office in the National Entrepreneur Center located at the Fashion Square Mall in Orlando, the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) is part of UCF’s Office of the President and the Florida SBDC Network.

The Florida SBDC at UCF provides aspiring and existing small businesses with no-cost consulting, low-cost training, and access to business data and research resources. In addition to its core service offering, the Florida SBDC at UCF also offers specialized services to qualifying companies, including capital access, market growth, government contracting, international trade, business continuation, cybersecurity, disaster planning and recovery, and more. The FSBDC at UCF serves an eight-county area that includes Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia counties and maintains 9 service centers across Central Florida.

In 2022, the FSBDC at UCF served more than 2,700 entrepreneurs in Central Florida with consulting services, resulting in more than 10,600 jobs created, retained or saved; $793.9 million in sales growth; $66.7 million in capital formation; $103.8 million in government contract awards; and 160 new businesses started. For more information, please visit www.sbdcorlando.com .

About the Florida SBDC Network

For over forty years, the Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance [Fl. Stat. 288.001], has nourished a statewide partnership between higher education and economic development to provide existing and emerging small and medium-sized business owners with management and knowledge resources that enable overall growth, increased profitability, and economic prosperity for Florida’s economy.

In 2022, Florida SBDCs provided 157,841 hours of professional business consulting to more than 18,379 client businesses. Based on the results from the network’s latest economic impact analysis, the FSBDC’s services resulted in almost 29,000 jobs impacted; $4.8 billion in sales generated; $381.6 million in government contracts acquired; and $528.4 million in capital accessed.

A statewide network of over 40 offices, the Florida SBDC is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, U.S. Department of Defense, State of Florida and other private and public partners. The Florida SBDC Network, headquartered at the University of West Florida, is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs and is a 2016 recipient of the President’s E Award for Export Service. Florida SBDC services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Language assistance services are available for individuals with limited English proficiency. For more information, please visit www.FloridaSBDC.org.

FSBDC at UCF | 3201 E. Colonial Drive | Orlando, FL 32801 | p 407.420.4850 | f 407.420.4862
sbdc@ucf.edu | www.sbdcorlando.com

Nakiesa Photography

Nakiesa’s Photography: Creating Captivating Content for Clients

Social Media Content Provider Finds Success with Assistance from FSBDC at UCF

September 28, 2023

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Hal Thayer, Communications Director, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4850 or HThayer@ucf.edu

                 Charles Wheeler, Consultant, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4846 or Charles.Wheeler@ucf.edu

Orlando, FL – For many aspiring entrepreneurs with a compelling dream or exciting new idea, the first question is often, ‘Where do I start?” Building a firm foundation, managing start up risks, and launching with confidence and clarity are integral steps to establishing and growing a thriving business. Nakiesa Faraji-Tajrishi was a recent University of Central Florida graduate when she began contemplating starting her own venture, Nakiesa’s Photography. She turned to the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) for assistance.

Nakiesa’s Photography isn’t your ordinary photo studio. It offers so much more, specifically professional photography and videography focused on serving clients in the luxury/adventure travel and travel-related services. “The product that I offer is social media content creation for travel products, for hotels, for tourism boards,” shares Nakiesa, “as well as general photography services.” She specializes in digital manipulation applying cutting edge software to a combination of drone and handheld photography, resulting in the creation of dynamic and impactful content that captivates people’s attention.

“When I was looking to start my own business, I actually had no idea where to start or what to do,” describes Nakiesa. During an online search, she discovered the Florida SBDC and its ‘How to Start Your Business’ seminar, and she was quickly off and running. “I was really excited about the opportunity to get some advice and seek some counseling from people who had been in the industry and understand the things you need to do to be successful as a small business owner,” she recalls.

Nakiesa committed herself 100 percent to starting her new business on the right footing. “With the Florida SBDC, I have actually come in about every two weeks consistently for the past two years for consulting services with my FSBDC consultant Chuck Wheeler. He’s just been phenomenal. He’s my go-to guy for just about any question I have. And I love that he has experience in the advertising industry which is the same industry that I’m trying to establish my business in.” Highlights of where Wheeler and the FSBDC assisted Nakiesa include its no-cost consulting, access to vast market data and research resources, and digital marketing planning.

“I found the FSBDC to be very warm and welcoming from the get-go,” continues Nakiesa. “When I approached them, I didn’t have a business plan. I didn’t have an LLC. I didn’t have any of those things. I just had questions and from the very beginning they were very friendly, explained everything with patience, and made me feel like it was completely possible and reasonable to start my own business. They held my hand and walked me through all the steps I needed to take in order to become this liberated entrepreneur that I feel I am today. It’s just been fantastic. I cannot recommend their services enough.”

“The success I have seen with my business and the results that I’ve achieved since I started working with the FSBDC have been phenomenal,” Nakiesa concludes. “Every single year since I started with them, I’ve been able to double my income from the previous year. This year I’m on track to double my income again. In just two years of operation, I am profitable and looking forward to expanding my business. I cannot stress enough how valuable the FSBDC has been to me in the creation and growth of my company and I am eternally grateful.”

— FSBDC —

About the FSBDC at UCF

Hosted by the University of Central Florida (UCF), and with its main office in the National Entrepreneur Center located at the Fashion Square Mall in Orlando, the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) is part of part of UCF’s Office of the President and the Florida SBDC Network.

The Florida SBDC at UCF provides aspiring and existing small businesses with no-cost consulting, low-cost training, and access to business data and research resources. In addition to its core service offering, the Florida SBDC at UCF also offers specialized services to qualifying companies, including capital access, market growth, government contracting, international trade, business continuation, cybersecurity, disaster planning and recovery, and more. The FSBDC at UCF serves an eight-county area that includes Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia counties and maintains 9 service centers across Central Florida.

In 2022, the FSBDC at UCF served more than 2,700 entrepreneurs in Central Florida with consulting services, resulting in more than 10,600 jobs created, retained or saved; $793.9 million in sales growth; $66.7 million in capital formation; $103.8 million in government contract awards; and 160 new businesses started. For more information, please visit www.sbdcorlando.com .

About the Florida SBDC Network

For over forty years, the Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance [Fl. Stat. 288.001], has nourished a statewide partnership between higher education and economic development to provide existing and emerging small and medium-sized business owners with management and knowledge resources that enable overall growth, increased profitability, and economic prosperity for Florida’s economy.

In 2022, Florida SBDCs provided 157,841 hours of professional business consulting to more than 18,379 client businesses. Based on the results from the network’s latest economic impact analysis, the FSBDC’s services resulted in almost 29,000 jobs impacted; $4.8 billion in sales generated; $381.6 million in government contracts acquired; and $528.4 million in capital accessed.

A statewide network of over 40 offices, the Florida SBDC is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, U.S. Department of Defense, State of Florida and other private and public partners. The Florida SBDC Network, headquartered at the University of West Florida, is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs and is a 2016 recipient of the President’s E Award for Export Service. Florida SBDC services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Language assistance services are available for individuals with limited English proficiency. For more information, please visit www.FloridaSBDC.org.

FSBDC at UCF | 3201 E. Colonial Drive | Orlando, FL 32801 | p 407.420.4850 | f 407.420.4862
sbdc@ucf.edu | www.sbdcorlando.com