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

Meeting the Challenge: Consult Nutrition Takes Control of its Rapid Growth

Florida SBDC at UCF Assists Dietician Services Company Manage Its Today and Plan for Its Tomorrow

May 29, 2024

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

Sharon Smith, Consultant, FSBDC at UCF, 407.497.5933 or sharon.smith2@ucf.edu

Orlando, FL – Rapid revenue growth is the target that all small businesses dream of and aim for, until it happens and new problems arise. Then, while the challenges and growing pains are welcome, they can often feel overwhelming. Suddenly what was a small operation has become a big undertaking and new issues crop up almost everywhere. It was exactly that situation that Wendy Lombard, founder and president of Consult Nutrition, encountered. Her solution was to turn to the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) for assistance and guidance, and she is happy she did.

Consult Nutrition provides dietician services for geriatric facilities including long-term care, skilled rehabilitation, and assisted living. Comprised of a team of registered and licensed dietitian professionals, Consult Nutrition creates customized dietary programs focused on seniors. “We’re different from other consulting companies because we prefer to be a small company,” explains Lombard, “which enables us to really know our clients, to know what their needs are. Being small also allows us to be more of a team and work with each other to come up with creative solutions for the patients we are serving and for our clients who care for those patients.”

“We originally looked for help from the FSBDC because our company had grown so rapidly that my job was transitioning from working with our clients and our patients to actually running a company,” Lombard recalls, “and dealing with all sorts of issues that I just was not equipped to handle.” Enter FSBDC at UCF consultant Sharon Smith to assist by providing the FSBDC’s no-cost, expert consulting and guidance on a multitude of fronts, including business planning, financial forecasting, access to capital, marketing, and human resources.

“When we started working with Sharon, we were initially considering what we wanted to do with the company in the future,” says Lombard. At the same time, Consult Nutrition was growing so fast that cash flow was becoming a concern. “I was focused on getting financing to make sure that it wasn’t such a challenge to make sure our staff got paid on time,” Lombard shared. “Sharon was able to help us with that and to look at other things, important things like legal and human resources considerations and not being a tiny little business that is not subject to those regulations. She also helped with a business valuation that opened our eyes to opportunities we hadn’t before contemplated.”

At the same time, having helped Lombard master Consult Nutrition’s growing pains, Smith kept asking “where do you want the company to be in 5 – 10 years?” “I was so excited about having achieved what we had achieved, I really hadn’t thought about the future. Now we are looking at how do we help this company grow and what dreams do we have about what we can turn this company into,” Lombard states.

Lombard is now on a steady course and managing the company’s growth more effectively, with revenue having increased 50% year over year, necessary funding having been accessed, and additions made to her team. “I would advise anyone to absolutely reach out to the SBDC,” concludes Lombard. “There are so many resources – much more than I had been aware of – that are available to you at no cost and that support is just invaluable when you’re a small business.”

For information about Consult Nutrition, please visit https://www.consultnutritioninc.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

Candelaria Eatery & Cafe

Happy Together: Candelaria Eatery and Café Open and Thriving

Florida SBDC at UCF – Sumter County Assists Colombian Fusion Restaurant Start-up and Navigate New World

May 28, 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, 352.689.4698 or Jamie.mead@ucf.edu

Orlando, FL – Starting, owning, and growing a small business – and serving as the “chief decision maker” – does not have to be a lonesome or daunting endeavor. The most successful entrepreneurs and small business owners proactively seek resources and assistance that support and empower their efforts. When Javier Garcia and Angelica Moncada – owners of Candelaria Eatery & Café, a new Colombian fusion restaurant in Oxford, FL – were faced with the challenges that the hospitality industry often presents while starting a new restaurant, they quickly recognized that they needed guidance and turned to the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) office in Sumter County for help.

Garcia and Moncada came to the U.S. from Colombia on an investment visa with the plan to invest in a new restaurant and decided to start Candelaria Eatery & Café. It offers a fusion of Colombian and American cuisine in a brand-new, fresh, and modern space specializing in fresh ingredients that are cooked to order. They grind the beef for their burgers themselves daily and their classic rice & beans are homemade. “We want to introduce people to Colombian flavors and specialties in a unique space,” explains Angelica, “while offering familiar American dishes as well. Our lemonade is made to each individual’s taste; our coffee is 100% original Colombian; and we have Colombian bites that we make from scratch every day.”

While they owned restaurants and businesses in Colombia, this new venture was Garcia’s and Moncada’s first experience starting a business in the United States. “The restaurant industry is not an easy one,” states Javier, “so we didn’t hesitate to contact the FSBDC and its Sumter County consultant Jamie Mead because we needed as much information and help as we could get.” Continued Moncada, “we tried to do it ourselves at the beginning, searching the internet about how to start a business, but it was so difficult. The licenses, the permits, the taxes, the registrations were just so much that we needed guidance.”

Mead provided Garcia and Moncada with the FSBDC’s no cost consulting services and assisted them with navigating all of the necessary business start-up steps. This included discussion of state and county licensing requirements and applications; educating them about sales tax, workers compensation, payroll taxes, and income taxes; preparation of a business plan, conducting market research, and elements of human resources planning and hiring.

“It’s a long and hard path to walk through,” recalls Javier, “so thanks to Jamie everything was easier, and we can say that we made it because we have opened successfully and we are full of hope for the future. It’s good to have someone you can rely on and tell everything to, about your doubts and your fears,” he affirmed. “Maybe the hardest part as a business owner is the anxiety that you have when you are opening. At the SBDC you can ask as many questions as you have and visit as much as you need, all at no cost. It helps you build up your confidence and become sure that you’re doing everything the right way every day.”

“I want to say thank you again SBDC because everyone has been so nice and so helpful. Since the beginning, they have guided us every step of the way,” Angelica concluded. “We know we can keep counting on the SBDC as well, so we’re very happy to have found them and we will keep working with them as much as we can,” added Javier, thereby confirming that working together, not alone, is once again a proven path to success for a small business.

For information about Candelaria Eatery & Cafe, please visit https://order.toasttab.com/online/candelariaeaterycafe.

— 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

2024 National Small Business Week Celebrated by FSBDC at UCF

FSBDC at UCF Clients, Community Partners and Advocates Honored as U.S. Small Business Administration Award Winners

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 celebrating the US Small Business Administration’s (SBA) National Small Business Week with a luncheon and awards ceremony honoring local SBA award winners.

Florida SBDC at UCF clients, partners and advocates are being recognized by the SBA and FSBDC for their significant contributions to the economic health and wellbeing of Central Florida, the State of Florida and the nation as a whole. The 2024 state and district level SBA award winners being celebrated at the luncheon are:

 

Small Business Person of the Year

State of Florida and North Florida District

Yanet Herrero, Kings Service Solutions (Orlando, FL)

Woman Business Owner of the Year

South Florida District

Lizbeth Walker, CEO, Qwalifize, LLC (Kissimmee, FL)

 

Minority Business Owner of the Year

North Florida District

Naresh “Nanu” Manek, CEO, Worldwide Sportswear (Port Orange, FL)

Community Partner of the Year

State of Florida and North Florida District

Rafael Caamano, Veterans Entrepreneurship Initiative (Orlando, FL)

In addition, at the luncheon the SBA and Florida SBDC at UCF recognized leading supporters and lenders who contributed to the success and growth of Florida entrepreneurs and small businesses :

FSBDC at UCF Regional Volunteer of the Year

Albert Anderson, CFO, Nperspectives

SBA Fiscal Year 2022 Top Lenders for North Florida

Top Certified Development Company by Dollar Amount & Number of Loans

Florida First Capital Finance Corporation, Inc.

John Hanrahan, Vice President

Top Community Credit Union

Orlando Credit Union

Suzanne Weinstein, CEO

Top Micro-Lender

Black Business Investment Fund

Trey Alston, Director of Lending

The FSBDC at UCF’s National Small Business Week celebration will occur on Tuesday, May 14th at the 2024 Small Business Awards Luncheon, which will be held at the Citrus Club in downtown Orlando. The luncheon will feature remarks by representatives from the Florida SBDC and the U.S. Small Business Administration who will present the awards to the local FSBDC at UCF and state and district SBA awards recipients in attendance. The luncheon is generously sponsored by Orange County (Gold Sponsor), Bank of America and Florida First Capital Finance Corporation (Silver Sponsors).

“It is a privilege to be able to honor these amazing small business owners,” said Eunice Choi, Regional Director of the Florida SBDC at UCF. “Their vision, determination and commitment have made them stand out among our many, many successful clients and we applaud them as 2024 U.S. Small Business Administration Award winners. The FSBDC at UCF provides consulting, business training, and access to market research that enables companies like these to excel. We are gratified to have assisted them in their achievement in some small way.”

“We are also indeed pleased to be able to acknowledge our partners for the important roles they play in our community and in helping the FSBDC support our clients. It is especially gratifying to commemorate the SBA North District’s Fiscal Year 2022  Top Lenders,” Choi continues. “Access to capital is a major challenge for small businesses and critical to their success. These lenders have truly distinguished themselves by their willingness to support small businesses in Florida.”

“In sum, we are proud to be able to celebrate the success of some of our highest achievers – clients, partners and advocates alike – while also acknowledging all that our small businesses do to help make Florida the best state in the nation to work, live and play,” Choi concluded.

National Small Business Week is proclaimed by the President of the United States to recognize the critical contributions made by America’s small businesses and entrepreneurs to our economy. More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about two of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year.

During National Small Business Week, the U.S. Small Business Administration highlights the impact of outstanding entrepreneurs, small business owners, and others from all 50 states and U.S. territories. Every day, they’re working to grow small businesses, create 21st Century jobs, drive innovation, and increase America’s global competitiveness. This year’s week-long celebration ran from April 28 to May 4 with events being held in multiple cities from coast-to-coast throughout the month of May that are designed to help small businesses start, grow, and succeed.

 

— 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

Kings Service Solutions

Kings Service Solutions: Proving a Good Company Makes Profit; A Great Company Makes a Difference

May 6, 2024

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

                 Jairo Batista, Consultant/Marketing Manager, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4853 or Jairo.Batista@ucf.edu

Orlando, FL – No small business or entrepreneurial venture is guaranteed success.  The obstacles and challenges are innumerable, and the dedication and work required is not to be underestimated. What can make a success story truly remarkable, however, is ‘how’ it was achieved. There is evidence, in fact, that the most profitable companies in America are the ones who connect what they do with a greater  good. There’s also a saying that applies: “A good company makes a profit; a great company makes a difference.”

For Yanet Herrero, the Chief Servant Officer of Kings Service Solutions, the company’s achievements are all about the ‘how’. By focusing herself and her organization on meaningfully serving others including customers, employees, partners, and the community, Herrero has built a trust-based commercial cleaning powerhouse headquartered in Orlando, Fl. Working with her and her team, the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) is proud to have contributed to their success.

“Our product is trust,” shared Herrero, “and our core values are our DNA. “We start with Integrity – we do the right thing even when no one is looking. We prize our Consistency – in our processes, our people, and our performance. Harmony is central to us – we do things with joy, as a unit, as one team. We embody the spirit of Excellence and constantly strive to deliver nothing less. And last, but not least, we live in Gratitude. We’re grateful for the opportunity to serve others, to create new jobs, to be part of the economic development conversation and positively impact our community.”

Kings Service Solutions began working with the Florida SBDC at UCF and its Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) government contracting affiliate, now called Florida APEX Accelerator at UCF, in 2010. At the time, the company had a staff of 6 full time and 37 part time employees and leased a 1,700 sq. ft. office. With the help of the FSBDC’s no-cost consulting services and its Advisory Board Council program, over time they established an effective organizational structure and refined their systems, resulting in enhanced financial management, Human Resources policies, quality control, and risk management – all driving the company’s growth.

The company utilized Florida APEX services to assist in connecting with key government agencies and prime contractors, leading them to secure contracts with Lockheed Martin, Walt Disney World, and others. Having an established foundation, Kings Service Solutions recently accessed significant capital infusions including a PPP Loan and its forgiveness during Covid, an Employee Retention Tax Credit, and a Small Business Administration 504 loan to purchase their new 13,000 sq. ft. headquarters. Today, along with that new headquarters, Kings Service Solutions has over 700 employees, revenues in the many millions, and ever-increasing profits.

“My experience with the FSBDC has been an incredible journey,” Herrero affirms. “I remember walking into their offices shaking, wondering whether or not our organization would be good enough to apply to receive their amazing resources and be selected for such support. I also remember being reassured immediately and was convinced that this is the right place if you want to see your organization grow, if you want to develop new strategies, if you want the best of the best, the experts to guide you. It was with that level of intentionality that we have become who we are today and we are just so grateful for that. One of our greatest responsibilities is understanding what is our impact and influence in our community, and the FSBDC helped us realize that.”

Not surprisingly given Herrero’s and her company’s commitment to serving her community – whether by annually sponsoring and partnering with a nonprofit, or enabling broad-based employee volunteering activities; its company culture of helping and serving; and its outstanding business results – Yanet Herrero has received national recognition from multiple organizations. This year, the Florida SBDC at UCF nominated her for the most prestigious state small business award possible: the 2024 SBA State of Florida Small Business Person of the Year – and she won! It is a well-deserved reward for defining success as being about serving others, making Kings Service Solutions’ accomplishments, and ‘how’ they were and are achieved, even more laudable and extraordinary.

For information about Kings Service Solutions, please visit https://kingsservicesolutions.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

Amada Senior Care

Amada Senior Care Orlando: Here to Help More Elders and Their Families

Growth Plan Funding Found and Facilitated with  FSBDC at UCF Assistance

April 23, 2024

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

Sharon Smith, Consultant, FSBDC at UCF, 407.497.5933 or sharon.smith2@ucf.edu

Orlando, FL – Entrepreneurs who are navigating the early stages of building a business often discover that obtaining financing can become one of the biggest challenges to overcome. Lenders and investors want to see a track record of growing revenues and profitability before they will make capital available. Dell Gray, owner with his wife Veronica, of Amada Senior Care Orlando had successfully launched their licensed, private duty, in-home caregiving company in 2022. They were off to a good start and were growing and saw opportunity in expanding which would require additional funding. For assistance with finding financing and accessing such capital, he turned to the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF).

Taking a consultative approach to elder care and senior care services, Amada Senior Care Orlando provides well-trained and compassionate caregivers who are a perfect fit for their clients or their clients’ loved ones. While specializing in at-home care, the firm can also identify the best local senior housing options and offer supportive elder care management services. “We get in and do all the heavy lifting for the client. Our team of senior care advisors will provide expert guidance and emotional support throughout the entire process to give you the home care services — and the peace of mind — your family needs,” Gray states proudly. “

“One of the things we do for our clients that we’re really proud of is what’s called a ‘Benefit Review’,” explains Gray. Comprised of an in-depth overview of insurance coverage, client education, and benefit verification, followed by claims process management and acceptance of an assignment of benefits, clients are assured they or their loved ones will receive the full range of services they are entitled to, free from fear of benefit cut offs or other problems.

Dell Gray is also a savvy businessperson who quickly noticed growth opportunities via an expansion strategy. “When I originally came to the SBDC, we were essentially a startup. When we went looking for financing we found that, even with great credit, even with a phenomenal background in the industry, we were a new business and that makes it challenging to get access to funds,” Gray recalls. “I turned to the SBDC to help me get financing that otherwise was very difficult to get frankly. They pointed me in the right direction and helped me with expanding the company from a financial perspective.”

By assisting Gray with the full gamut of loan application preparation including a business plan review, market research, competitive analysis, loan package development, and capital access guidance, the FSBDC at UCF helped Amada Senior Care Orlando position itself for loan approval. “It’s been great working with the SBDC,” he claims. “They were able to help me get financing for a big project that we’re working on. Their consultants, including Sharon Smith, were able to guide me toward resources that paid off for me and, as a result, we are able to expand and potentially hire 40-50 new people this upcoming year.”

“To any entrepreneur who is considering working with the SBDC, I would say stop considering it and do it,” concludes Gray. “It has been for me one of the best business decisions that I have made.”

For information about Amada Senior Care Orlando, please visit https://www.amadaseniorcare.com/orlando-senior-care/.

— 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

Crypto Tutors

Crypto Tutors: Educating Today for the Future of Tomorrow

Cryptocurrency Educational Platform Wins Government Grant with Florida APEX Accelerator at UCF Assistance

April 18, 2024

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

                  Kara Vernon, APEX Specialist, Florida APEX Accelerator at UCF, 407.454.3564 or Kara.Vernon@ucf.edu  

Orlando, FL – Foreseeing the future and taking the risk to act upon that vision is both a curse and a blessing for many entrepreneurs, especially in the world of technology; a curse because of the uncertainty of what tomorrow will bring but a blessing for the promise and rewards that success can offer to society and the entrepreneurs themselves. For Nina Blankenship, CEO and Lisa Francoeur, Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) of Crypto Tutors, a Web3 cryptocurrency educational platform, their vision for future-proofing the workforce through upskilling and re-skilling via research, education, tools, training, and consultation was crystal clear. Their challenge was attracting capital and generating revenue, starting with government contracts. To accomplish this, they turned to Florida APEX Accelerator at the University of Central Florida, the government contracting affiliate of the Florida Small Business Development Center at UCF (FSBDC at UCF).

Crypto Tutors is an online cryptocurrency educational platform founded in 2020 by a diverse group of professionals, offering e-learning courses and specialized tutoring services to individuals, businesses, and communities desiring to increase their knowledge and understanding of cryptocurrency. Through a secure employee portal, Crypto Tutors provides multi-modal education through live tutoring for new hires to C-Level Employees, e-learning, interviews with diverse leaders, and educational resources. Their mission is to up-skill all employees across Web3 from blockchain, cryptocurrencies, NFTs, and the metaverse.

“What makes us unique, what makes us different,” explains CEO Blankenship, “is we understand that emerging technology is not just the future, it’s the present and we’re devoted to ensuring that corporations, governments agencies, and others understand what the enterprise applications and consumer applications of blockchain technology are and ultimately how to derive value from it.”

“I originally was introduced to Kara Vernon (Florida APEX Accelerator at UCF specialist) by attending a webinar about winning government contracts and grants, including how to register to do business with the U.S. government through its System for Award Management (SAM.gov) website,” recalls Blankenship. “She helped me understand how to navigate the website and gain a registration. Without that registration, I would not have been able to apply for government grants. Her help was instrumental, and I really appreciate her patience and kindness. Kara and the APEX Accelerator team have been like family, have become great mentors to Crypto Tutors and been leading us to success.”

Thanks to Crypto Tutors efficacious registration on SAM.gov, success has recently come to the company in the form of winning a prestigious $275,000 National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant aimed at helping ensure university students are qualified to gain Web3 careers. “To have been awarded the National Science Foundation SBIR Phase I award was a tremendous victory for our organization and a tremendous validation,” CRO Francoeur states proudly. “It has given our organization the motivation, the inspiration, and the drive to continue to build for the future. As a disadvantaged, minority-owned business, it is extremely difficult to ensure you are set up for success. As a result of the partnership, the collaboration with APEX Accelerator, we were able to identify a clear path to transact with the government. It’s one of the main reasons why we have such an appreciation and such an affinity for APEX Accelerator” she concluded.

“I’m really excited to see where the future of Crypto Tutors goes,” adds Blankenship. “5 years from now we’ll be able to tell that story and I just know that APEX Accelerator is going to be part of it.”

For information about Crypto Tutors, please visit https://www.cryptotutors.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

Acai Express

One Business, Triple the Ambition: Acai Express Osceola Launched and Growing

Florida SBDC at UCF Helps Three Entrepreneurial Sisters Secure Financing, Purchase Franchise, and Market to Profitability

April 11, 2024

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

Orlando, FL – Nurturing an idea into a profitable business is an entrepreneur’s dream. Turning that dream into a reality can be as challenging as it sounds, however, especially on your own. Sisters Peggy Dawas, Kattia Dawas and Katty Velez wanted to open their own business together but didn’t know how to begin. Fortunately, Peggy recalled her experience working with the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) and its office in Osceola County, FL, so they turned there for guidance. Today, they are glad they did, having become the proud owners of a very successfully launched Acai Express franchise at East Osceola Parkway in Kissimmee.

At Acai Express, the mission is to serve the best tasting, highest quality superfood bowls that go hand- in-hand with a lifestyle based around health and fun. “Our main ingredient is Acai,” describes Peggy Dawas, “a premium, Grade A, 100% organic fruit. It has a lot of flavor on its own, pure form at the same time it is healthy. Who can beat that? It’s what makes us different from all the rest.”

Acai Express’ menu is varied. “We have Acai Bowls of all types. Our top seller is the Valentine Bowl with Acai, granola, banana, strawberry, coconut oil, coconut flakes, and Nutella. It’s delicious and an explosion of flavors. It’s so good!” Peggy continued, with Katty adding “it’s everyone’s favorite” and Kattia chiming in “actually it’s my favorite too.” Other menu items include mango-based dragon fruit, artisan toast, coffee, Pikole premium popsicles, and lemonades.

“We sought assistance from the FSBDC because we had an idea and always wanted to own our own business. It was something we always talked about,” explains Katty Velez. “Peggy previously worked with FSBDC consultant Elly Membreno and said that ‘Elly can help us, can guide us, can give us all the information we need’ and that’s when we contacted her.”

“Our experience with the FSBDC was great,” Peggy shared. “They helped us with their consulting, with their training, with getting us all the tools we needed.” Jairo Batista, a second FSBDC consultant and its digital marketing expert, was brought in to assist with marketing. “We didn’t know where to start so he guided us on that aspect as well so we can promote our business,” Katty added.

Obtaining an SBA-guaranteed loan was critical to the sisters purchasing their Acai Express franchise, and the FSBDC assisted with that as well. “For us, what was a lot of help from the FSBDC was everything to do with the loan,” recalls Kattia Dawas. They helped us put together our loan package, from the business plan to the marketing plan, the financial information, everything, all the documents we needed. We had no clue at all how to do it and they helped us every single step to have the loan approved.”

Acai Express Osceola Parkway opened October 6. They reached break-even after three months, have hired eight employees, and sales continue to increase. “The feedback we have from our customers is amazing. Our plan for the future is to open a second store and also a third,” gushed Katty. ”Of course, we’re going to stick with the assistance from the FSBDC again,” she concluded, with Kattia and Peggy happily saying “yes” to that plan.

For information about Acai Express Osceola, please visit https://www.instagram.com/acaiexpress_osceolaparkway/

— 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

Drummond Carpenter

Navigating to Success: Drummond Carpenter Grows from Start-up to Million Dollar Contracts

Florida SBDC at Seminole State College Assists Engineering Firm from Start to Success

March 28, 2024

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Hal Thayer, Communications Director, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4850 or hthayer@ucf.edu
Hunt Dawkins, Sub-Center Director, FSBDC at SSC, 407.708.4589 or dawkinsg@seminolestate.edu

Orlando, FL – Risk and uncertainty are hazards that every entrepreneur and prospective small business owner faces as they start their journey to realizing their vision and building the company that will achieve their goals. A bulwark against those challenges includes expert advisors and mentors who can guide, reassure, and build an entrepreneur’s or business owner’s confidence in their decisions. Chad Drummond, co-founder, president, and CEO of engineering firm Drummond Carpenter found exactly that kind of support and the assistance he needed to start and grow his company at the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida’s (FSBDC at UCF) sub-center at Seminole State College (FSBDC at SSC).

Drummond Carpenter is a service-disabled veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB) specializing in civil and environmental engineering. The firm serves clients across the nation including NASA, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as well as various municipalities across the Midwest and in Central Florida, including the City of Orlando and Orange County. “What makes Drummond Carpenter special is truly its people,’ explains Drummond. “We have an incredible, very talented technical staff – many with advanced degrees – that are 100% focused on serving our clients and working as a team.”

“Our journey with the FSBDC started a year prior to us forming the company,” Drummond recalls. “I had my first meeting with Hunt Dawkins (FSBDC at SSC consultant and sub-center director) in 2015. We talked about a business plan, then developed one for what would be a successful engineering firm in Central Florida. I personally, with Don Carpenter, our co-founder, attended various webinars and in-person training to learn more about the business process. We spent a lot of time talking with Hunt about the financials, various accounting issues, how to handle payroll. Our interaction with the FSBDC was all really helpful to get the foundation for the firm set.”

“On a personal level, one of the things I really liked about the FSBDC is that you have access to business professionals, experts who are also regular people, that just want to see you succeed and help you grow,” Drummond continued. “You can sit down with these people, have a very comfortable, confidential conversation, and lay everything out on the table so you can get the best advice from their decades of experience.”

“One significant benefit that came from working with the FSBDC was it gave us the confidence, and also the tools, to grow,” Drummond comments. “Starting in 2016, we were just two co-founders working out of their houses. Today we have three offices across the country. We recently won a contract with the Veterans Administration worth over $5 million. Our staff has grown to almost 30 employees. And over the past couple of years our growth has reached levels of 40% and then 80%.”

“If I had to pick one word to describe my relationship with the FSBDC, it would be ‘navigator’,” concludes Drummond. “They’ve really helped me from before starting the company through to where we are now. They helped me navigate the process of being a small business trying to grow into a larger business. It’s been almost like our North Star, and has really benefited me, my company, and my employees.”

For information about Drummond Carpenter, please visit https://www.drummondcarpenter.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

 

Loretta Josephine

Loretta Josephine Boutique: Distinctive And Stylish, With a Purpose

Online and Pop-Up Store Supporting Medical Research and Pet Rescue  Thriving with Assistance from FSBDC at UCF

February 28, 2024

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

                 Sharon Smith, Consultant, FSBDC at UCF, 407.497.5933 or sharon.smith2@ucf.edu

Orlando, FL – Grit, determination, and resilience are some of the important attributes needed to be a successful entrepreneur. They are also the qualities required when grappling with a life-threatening disease. Brain cancer survivor and small business founder Danielle McCarthy has all three of these traits in abundance, as well as a contagious optimism. Not only did she beat the disease, but she used those same virtues to launch Loretta Josephine Boutique with partner and owner Joey Perfito. And with a small touch of similarity to how she relied on her medical team to help her through her treatment and recovery, she turned to the team at the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) to help start her business. While the FSBDC certainly was not lifesaving, it may have been business saving by providing the expertise and tools McCarthy and Perfito needed to build their new business.

Loretta Josephine Boutique is an online and pop-up store for women specializing in stylish and unique clothing, candles, and accessories. “What makes Lorretta Josephine Boutique special and standout,” explains McCarthy, “is we hand pick our products from women-owned businesses that offer sustainably produced products and are made in the USA. And with every sale, we give back a portion of our earnings to neuroscience research and pet rescue”. “We also noticed that a lot of online boutiques don’t focus on customer service,” added Perfito. “Both Danielle and I have a background in that, so we make sure we offer great support and service to all of our customers.”

The Loretta Josephine name has a meaningful story behind it. Instead of calling her brain tumor “the tumor” or “Cancer”, Danielle and a friend named it “Loretta”. Later, and coincidently, she found and adopted a rescue dog named “Loretta” at birth, and that sealed it. The “Josephine” came from Joey’s given name Joseph, as a tribute to Joey for always being Danielle’s rock and strength through her treatment, the business start and on to today. And so, the ‘Loretta Josephine Boutique’ name was born.

Before she opened the Loretta Josephine Boutique, McCarthy talked to friends about where to find guidance and assistance. “I reached out to a business owner friend in Las Vegas,” she recalls, “and she pointed out that the SBDC in her area was the biggest help to her. So, thanks to her – Thank you, Mandy! – we found the biggest blessing that’s helped us in our journey: the Florida SBDC! Starting a small business, or starting anything, is hard but the FSBDC offers so much to help us grow our small business: no cost, one-on-one coaching; webinars; analytics; market research,” continued McCarthy. “It’s exactly what we needed.

“And working with the FSBDC has been great” affirms McCarthy. With FSBDC consultant Sharon Smith at hers and Perfito’s sides, “it was like we met a lifelong friend,” shares McCarthy. “She has given us tools and her guidance has been top-notch phenomenal. We have been able to grow our business and our customer base, and people are really responding to us. I can’t say anything but great things about the SBDC. They have been with us throughout our journey, and Sharon is amazing.”

Best of all, with thanks to McCarthy’s grit, determination, and resilience; Perfito’s support of and belief in Danielle; and the FSBDC’s assistance, Lorretta Josephine Boutique has thrived. “We’ve seen big changes since we first started working with the SBDC,” remarked Perfito. “Number one is our boutique pop-up events went from 1-2 a month to 5-6. We’re seeing repeat customers. And we’ve been given the tools by the SBDC to improve our website traffic and sales.”

“If you’re an entrepreneur, I would highly recommend starting out at your local SBDC and to have them help and guide you,” concludes McCarthy. “It has been the biggest blessing for us. We have been able to surpass things we never thought we could do. That we are sitting here now and enjoying success is a testament to what the SBDC can do for you.”

For information about Loretta Josephine Boutique, please visit https://www.lorettajosephine.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

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