Florida SBDC at UCF

UCF Students Win Small Business Institute® National Honors in Florida SBDC at UCF Program

Student Team Assists Local Small Business with Award Winning Consulting

May 16, 2023


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

Orlando, FL – A student team from the University of Central Florida’s College of Business recently placed second in the 2022-23 ‘Graduate Specialized Project of the Year’ category of the Small Business Institute’s® annual Experiential Learning Project of the Year competition.

Competing against MBA teams from across the country, the UCF student team of Corrigan Valcarcel-Jones, Sultan Khan and Jose Sanz won in the Graduate Specialized category on the strength of their consulting project for Mecatos Bakery & Café, a locally-based hospitality franchise company featuring Columbian coffee and specialty food items at 6 locations in Central Florida with more to come.

This is the 18th time a UCF student team has won an award since 2009 when UCF and sponsor Florida Small Business Development Center at UCF first participated in the SBI® national competition. The SBI® is the premier provider of professional development for experiential student team consulting and entrepreneurship education, research and activities.

The Small Business Institute® is featured in a graduate level class in the UCF College of Business: ENT 5946 – Small Business Consulting. The course is led by faculty advisor and Department of Management instructor Carl Blencke as part of a management class. Jill Kaufman, FSBDC Associate Director and Program Manager, with assistance from Jessica Ali, Program Coordinator and Associate Consultant, oversees and manages the program for the FSBDC, which recruits clients, evaluates the students’ skills and matches them to the clients’ needs. In the case of Mecatos Bakery & Café, the student team was guided through the process by Ali in her associate consultant role.  

“Congratulations go out to Messrs. Valcarcel-Jones, Khan, and Sanz on their award-winning work,” said Rebecca Bennett, PhD., Professor and Chair of the Department of Management at UCF. “Utilizing the SBI® program as part of our course offering is an important educational partnership between UCF and the FSBDC and a valuable experiential learning platform that contributes to the quality of the student educational opportunity at UCF.”

“Winning this top honor in the SBI®’s competitive awards program is a wonderful recognition of the important contribution made by our UCF students and by the FSBDC and by UCF itself to our client Mecatos Bakery and Café,” commented Eunice Choi, Regional Director for the FSBDC at UCF. “Compliments to the students who have contributed to a small business’s growth, to our client Edwin Lurduy and Mecatos Bakery & Café for his commitment to success, and to UCF for offering a class that so admirably serves its students and its Central Florida business community.”

“Mecatos Bakery & Café is a new concept looking to expand its presence throughout Florida and nationwide. The contributions made by the SBI student project have been incredibly useful for our growth plans. The team’s research of our market, their analysis of our strengths and weaknesses are key for our organization. Their project has established paths for us to follow, shown us areas of improvement and reinforced what we have been doing so well as an organization to have the success we have had,” said Lurduy, founder and owner of Mecatos Bakery & Café.

Like many in the hospitality and food/beverage industries seeking new growth opportunities after the pandemic, Lurduy’s company was exploring strategies to revamp its marketing efforts and increase visibility and foot traffic, particularly to its Downtown Orlando location. The UCF team presented Lurduy with a comprehensive marketing plan that included new insights into his industry, competition and target market, as well as practical action items and recommendations to enhance Mecatos’ online presence, heighten its appeal and attract more customers to its Downtown Orlando location.


About the Small Business Institute® Program in Central Florida

The Florida SBDC at UCF (FSBDC at UCF) sponsors the Small Business Institute® in Central Florida and, in conjunction with the Department of Management at the UCF College of Business Administration, manages the SBI® program locally. It recruits and evaluates FSBDC clients for the program, lends FSBDC consultants as SBI® case supervisors, and provides a range of guidance and support.

At the UCF College of Business Administration (UCF CBA), SBI® is a graduate‐level elective course. Students enrolled in the class provide management consulting services to local small businesses. Each student team has direct contact with the client and produces a professional case report. The report is the ultimate product of the program and is tailored to each business. Case study reports have included market research, marketing plans, competitive analysis, advertising strategy, customer surveys, strategic plans, financial analysis, human resource best practices, and business plans.

The SBI® Program is offered as a full-semester credit course through the CBA’s Department of Management. During the semester, the student teams complete extensive research and analysis to determine industry best practices; meet regularly to understand company processes and procedures; and perform wide-ranging analysis of business and industry strategies and performance. As a result of their efforts, the students are able to provide a comprehensive final report and set of recommendations.

SBI® is a nation‐wide program that provides high‐quality business assistance to companies in need while providing an extraordinary opportunity for university students to learn through field case studies. Each project is led and conducted by a group of students under the supervision of an SBI® Director or faculty member. The experience is often cited by students as being one of the most rewarding of their academic careers. In today’s collegiate environment there is a strong emphasis on experiential learning, and the SBI® has been at the forefront of this movement for over thirty years.

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 2021, the FSBDC at UCF served more than 2,700 entrepreneurs in Central Florida with consulting services, resulting in more than 8,200 jobs created, retained or saved; $1.5 billion in sales growth; $88.8 million in capital formation; $72.4 million in government contract awards; and 137 new businesses started. For more information, please visit www.sbdcorlando.com.

About the Florida SBDC Network

For more than 40 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 2021, 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 38,000 jobs impacted; $7.4 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