By: Christina Fleming
Hey Orlando, we know being an Entrepreneur is no easy feat, and it can get be expensive to start your own business. Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to break the bank here in Orlando. Here are some fun ideas to spend your February for cheap. Personally, we love going to the planitarium to gaze at the stars, or to support all the small local businesses at the Orlando Farmer’s Market. Whatever you decide to do tag us on IG & Facebook #OrlandoEntrepreneurs.
Happy Valentine’s Day #OrlandoEntrepreneurs
Click Here for article!
By: David Brim
Hey Orlando Entrepreneurs and Marketers. Local entrepreneur Dan McGaw of Effin Amazing and his team just launched the National Association of Marketing Technology (NAMT.com) here in Orlando.
This is a non-profit dedicated to supporting marketers, companies and software vendors with education and certification to keep their marketing technology safe, secure and operationally excellent!
They will be holding three national events in Orlando this year and are looking for volunteers who want to help make Orlando the hub of America for Marketing Technology.
If you’d like to learn more click here!
By: Christina Fleming
Suneera Madhandi, co-founder and CEO of payments startup Fattmerchant appeared in Forbes Magazine for Fintech 50 2020: The Newcomers. Fattmerchant is an Orlando-based company that bundles vendor transactions for processing credit cards transactions in-stores and online. She recently scaled their company reaching 100+ employees! Suneera is an incredible role model for all Orlando Entrepreneurs, and she has a lasting impact within our community. We are looking forward to watching Fattmerchant grow!
Read Full Article Here: Fintech 50 2020: The Newcomers
By: David Brim
Earlier today I had the privilege to listen to Harris Rosen share his story and business lessons at the Startup Studio Global Entrepreneurship Summit.
Harris Rosen has had a truly abundant, inspiring and impactful career. He shared that he currently has 8 hotels, 7000 rooms, and not a penny of debt. More importantly, he has a profit for a purpose mindset. He has committed himself to using the profits and success he has achieved to improving the lives of his employees, the local community and world. To date he has directly contributed $55M+ to charitable causes.
Here are the top 8 business lessons that I’ve learned from Harris Rosen.
1. Sometimes failures put you in a better position for success
I found the backstory that Harris shared to be very inspiring. He grew up poor in Manhattan. After graduating from Cornell University he had ambitions of working at Disney and volunteered (worked without pay) as Whinny the Poo just to get into the door. He was eventually hired, but was told that he would never become a Disney Executive and was fired. He was depressed and disappointed. At this difficult time, he saw an opportunity. There was an Oil Embargo and consequently hotels were depressed and many were going under. He decided that it was a great time to buy a hotel.
2. Take risks to accomplish your dream
Harris found a bankrupt hotel on iDrive. He purchased the hotel for $20,000 cash and assumed a $2M+ mortgage. The $20,000 was nearly all he had to his name. Despite his family warning him to stay out of debt, Harris invested nearly all the cash that he saved and assumed a multi-million dollar mortgage. The mortgage took him roughly 15 years to pay off, but the investment paid off and gave Harris a great foundation for future success. It is important to note that Harris indicated that today in the position he is in his philosophy on debt has changed. If he cannot purchase or develop a new hotel or project with cash then he doesn’t do it. Nevertheless, his startup story required some bold risks. These risks are often an essential part of reaching great levels of success. Harris has demonstrated that and it is wonderful to see the levels of success he has reached since that first investment many years ago.
3. Work harder than humanly possible
Rosen is an extremely hard worker. He advised the audience to work harder than humanly possible to accomplish your dream. He indicated that he never took a day off in 16 years. He also lived in the hotel and would often be found picking up cigarette butts on the property, which many owners would never be found doing.
4. Love what you do
In order to keep you motivated and working hard, especially in the challenging times, it is essential to love what you do. Harris shared this suggestion numerous times. Love what you do and it will show.
5. Don’t give up.
When Harris hit tough times early on after acquiring his first hotel he dug deep and wouldn’t give up. He hitch hiked to NY because he couldn’t afford a ticket. He cut deals with travel bookers to write the room rate they wanted to pay and indicated that his hotel would honor it for 2 years. These rates averaged $7-7.25 per night, but increased business and introduced people and potential partners with influence of the quality of his hotel.
6. You know when you’re doing something wrong. Don’t do it.
Harris Rosen is a man of integrity. Some business people sacrifice their morals to achieve success. Harris is not one of those people. He advised the audience to be honest and try to keep silly things to a minimum. He said “You know when you’re doing something wrong. Don’t do it.”
7. Treat others how you want to be treated
Harris indicated that he doesn’t have employees, he has family members. His hired staff becomes family and the culture of care and love that Harris built shows. He provides his staff the best healthcare in the world. He shared that the only healthcare expense that his team would ever pay is $750/year. He shared a story of an employee that had a pre-mature baby. After being in NICU the baby racked up a hospital bill of over $1M. The employee paid the first $750 and Harris paid off the $1M balance over the course of three years. He also pays the college tuition for employees after they have worked at his properties for a few years. He cares about his team and goes the extra mile for them. Consequently they go the extra mile for him.
8. When you become successful don’t sit on your toosh.
Harris explained that wealthy and successful people have certain responsibilities. Making a true difference in the world and our local communities is up to the private sector. Not the government. He mentioned that when you become successful, don’t sit on your toosh. Do good things. God will appreciate it. Harris has done immense good throughout his career. He recently asked his accountant to calculate the charitable giving that he has done over his career – it amounted to over $55M. Recently his investment in Tangelo Park has led to graduation rates skyrocketing and crime decreasing. Harris created a system for free-day care for Tangelo Park families. He also covers the tuition to Florida public Universities (including room and board) for all Tangelo Park seniors. Harris also developed the Rosen School of Hospitality Management at UCF. This hospitality program is the second best in the country behind Rosen’s alma mater Cornell (by a very slim margin).What amazing, generous and meaningful gifts he is providing! Harris has committed to spreading this spirit to other wealthy people across America. He indicated that they can change America one under-privileged community at a time.
Harris Rosen is an extremely inspiring man and a fantastic human being. In a world where many say that the rich should pay their fair share, Harris is a shining example of the good that good people that amass wealth can do in the world and their local community.
Originally posted on David Brim’s blog Filled to the Brim
By: Kim Johnson
I had the chance to sit down and talk to Spencer Elliott, co-founder of Viewstub, for some insight on the success he’s seen as an entrepreneur. Spencer is a native to Orlando, attending UCF and continuing to call it home as he married and had his first child.
About a year ago, Spencer linked arms with fellow co-founder, Patrick VanDusen while working at Starter Studio, one of the incubator programs in Central Florida. From there, it has been an accelerated growth model. The two went through Starter Studio ideation and seed accelerator programs, Catalyst Venture Scale up, I-corps and are currently in UCF incubator.
Viewstub has filled a need in the market place, merging in-person and online events in one platform. Viewstub allows the user to utilize their portal for online ticketing, streaming and marketing their events, increasing the reach and profit from events. As one customer put it, “… being able to bring great content all over the world, anytime, anywhere, at their convenience.”
Viewstub is changing the landscape of the event industry and allowing people to monetize their online and in-person content in one platform. They are raising a seed fund of at least $500k to capture 6% of the roughly $30M SOM by EOY 2020, capturing $2.2M of gross event ticket revenues. To date, they have already raised $100k in Central FL resources. The company continues to grow each day, and has brought on 10 employees.
Viewstub has taken advantage of the diverse network of resources in Central FL to help entrepreneurs start and succeed. They developed the technology and marketed it in a way that has helped raise money to fuel their growth. Throughout their journey, they’ve met and partnered with mentors to help them navigate the various stages of their business.
Viewstub is seen throughout the country, continuing to grow their reach and customer database. They will be hosting pop-up events, to help educate others on the power of their tools. Viewstub will host their signature event, EventNext later this year to showcase the evolution of technology in the event industry. Make sure you follow them on social and attend one of their upcoming workshops.
Link to their workshop next week:
Link to their conference later this year:
By: Christina Fleming
It’s that time of year, and we are prepping for the Holidays. We know you’re excited to celebrate and we want to help! Why not celebrate the season while celebrating your local entrepreneurs too? Orlando is booming with products and services that will “knock those Christmas socks” right off your friends and families.
- Personally, I love to snack, but we are all afraid of the Holiday aftermath. So, why not offer a delicious healthy snack topped off with O’Dang Hummus Dressings! They’re Non-GMO, no high fructose corn syrup, plant-based, totally vegan, gluten-free, low sugar deliciousness! O’DANG Hummus dressings are known for offering the BEST of both worlds: better-for-you ingredients with outstanding flavor! These dressings are made with chickpeas as their main ingredient, and they’re only 25-45 calories per serving! So, don’t feel guilty when you pour a little extra on your favorite holiday snacks.
- The Holidays can be hectic, but we have a simple solution for that–BEER. Get your family and yourself a quick growler from your favorite local brewery! One of ours is the veteran-owned, Tactical Brewing, in Baldwin Park. Beer makes everyone happy, and this brewery has some incredible beers for you to share with your family while supporting our vets! Their selection varies from a snickerdoodle inspired white stout, “Thirsty, Why Not,” to their “Forlorn Hope” American IPA. Give the gift of beer, and you’ll be the new family favorite.
- You know those Christmas socks I was talking about before? Well, Rock ‘Em Socks offers more than just your Christmas patterns. They have all kinds of designs that range from sports teams and delicious foods, to your favorite superheroes. These are the perfect gift for the sneaker-heads in your life who need to add some groove to their sock-game. Rock ‘Em Socks started at the University of Central Florida (UCF) making socks for UCF’s basketball team, and the idea sky-rocketed from there. [GO KNIGHTS!]
- Cactus, air plants and succulents, OH MY. What better way is there to spread some holiday love than with plants! Porch Therapy, located at East End Market in Orlando offers workshops, botanical designs and a variety of plants. Not only do these botanical creations add some fresh greenery to the room, but they also help clean the air supply. These plants make great gifts for your friends, family members and co-workers with a green thumb and a passion for décor.
- Traveling for the Holidays? You might want to get yourself a gift first! Sole Premise makes traveling with all your favorite belongings easy. These are the perfect gift for that friend who likes to bring everything but the kitchen sink with them on a trip. (You know who you are). All of their bags have individualized compartments to ensure no bending or folding of your items as well as your shoes. Plus, they have all kinds of shapes and designs suitable for everyone in the family.
- Now this one’s for the handyman/woman in your life. Woodwork can be fun and empowering, but it can also be dangerous and time-consuming. MICROJIG offers several different wood working tools to make woodworking injuries a thing of the past. “These woodworking tools are designated to let creativity guide your work, not your limitations. They allow you to achieve incredible precision easily, and safely, which makes woodworking more enjoyable.” This is the gift that keeps on giving. You get her the woodworking tools, and she makes you that new bookshelf you’ve been wanting. Win-win.
- You won’t be throwing this tea into any Harbors, but instead dumping it into everyone’s stockings! Yaupon Tea is a locally grown tea that is USDA certified organic. Not only is this tea good, but it’s good for you! You won’t want to miss out on offering these uniquely delicious, healthy teas for your friends and family. My personal favorite is the Seminole Chai! P.S. gift tip hack: make a creative all-Orlando gift basket! Blend it with a variety of Yaupon Teas and some locally sourced honey from Winter Park Honey. This will be the sweetest gift you’ve given all year.
Orlando is flourishing in every facet of life. There are innovative entrepreneurs coming up with solutions and products every day to make our lives more enjoyable. By supporting these small businesses, you are supporting your community! Now that’s some real holiday magic.
By: Christina Fleming
Orlando hosts its annual Startup Weekend at co-working space CREDO Conduit from Nov. 22-24. Startup weekend is sponsored by Techstars, promoting the ability to start building your future in 54 hours. The event offers a space for entrepreneurs to get together, find a team, develop a prototype and receive feedback validating their ideas. This event welcome all industries, and hosts many speakers who act as experienced entrepreneurs and mentors within the Orlando community.
In the past, Orlando teams have won the Global Startup Battle across 150 cities and 15,000 participants in 2017 & 2018. Orlando wants to see another year of prodigious success from our innovative and creative entrepreneurial ecosystem.
To get your ticket for Startup Weekend Orlando, click here.
To read more on this weekend check out this article from the Orlando Business Journal.
By: Christina Fleming
Orlando Opportunity Fund announced their official kickoff this past Monday, November 18, 2019. Orlando Opportunity Fund is a qualified opportunity fund focused on investing in commercial real estate and technology startups in opportunity zones within the Central Florida area. Their leadership team consists of John Cooper, President of Startup Investments; Donna Mackenzie, Chief Financial & Chief Operating Officer; David Brim, Chief Strategy Officer; Vince Wolle, President of Real Estate investments.
“We recognized that Opportunity Zones have the potential to catalyze inclusive economic growth by leveraging these tax incentives. Our fund differentiates itself by focusing on both commercial real estate and tech startups with the goal of providing investors the returns they would expect from real estate investments and the potential upside that startups can bring to their portfolio,” says Donna Mackenzie.
Check out this article on Orlando Opportunity Fund featured in the Orlando Business Journal, Opportunity Zone Fund Launches for Local Investors
By: David Brim
“After four and a half years as StarterStudio’s executive director, Donna Mackenzie is handing off the organization’s leadership to Lilian Myers, a long-time StarterStudio supporter, board member, and entrepreneur, who will serve as interim executive director. Mackenzie and Myers have already been working closely together to ensure a seamless transition. A member of StarterStudio’s board for the last four years, Myers has led its marketing committee and was one of the first contributors to its seed fund.” Source: www.starterstudio.org
Donna Mackenzie, thanks for all the great work you’ve done at StarterStudio to support our local entrepreneurs these last 4.5+ years! We look forward to seeing the impact you continue to make through your new venture and as a StarterStudio board member.
Congrats on the new role Lilian Myers! We couldn’t have thought of a more perfect person to step in and further the great work being done by StarterStudio.
By: Kim Johnson
Recap by Kim Johnson
Thank you to the organizers, sponsors, and community for putting together such a powerful event on Monday night. For me, as a new addition to the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Orlando, this was such an eye-opening experience. Not only were there innovative ideas being presented, but the room was filled with inspiration and support from this community.
Demo Day is a platform created for local entrepreneurs in the accelerator programs at StarterStudio. With only three minutes to pitch, each company has the opportunity to explain their business and ask for funding, advisors, or other resources needed to fuel its next step. 18 startups, in both ideation and seed stages, presented last night as they concluded their program. These tech-enabled startups ranged from Kidflix, a kid-friendly educational app, to Rentivity – a way to revolutionizing the leasing process for consumers. A huge shout out to all the companies who spent countless hours working through the program, on their business models and preparing for their presentations.
Check out the startups below!
Everyone who gave a pitch and participated in Demo Day joined together on stage to share a moment of community.
11th Idea – Stage Cohort
- She Plays
- The Financial Literacy App
- The Lion Lead
- ALFI Solutions
- Pick App Sports
- Fan Retreat
4th Seed – Stage Cohort
- GoGo Power Juice
Natasha Kanji– founder of KidFlix offers her pitch at Demo Day 2019.
StarterStudio is a pioneering hub for innovative and tech-enabled entrepreneurs that empowers and provides resources for entrepreneurs, creatives, and innovators to begin, grow, and flourish in Florida. Through community education programs, accelerators, funding, and collaborative workspaces, StarterStudio fosters a community—serving as a platform for the ideas of the future. This program has given Central Florida a strong platform to help support high-tech and tech-enabled companies start and scale. Central Florida is quickly becoming a national tech hub. With the University of Central Florida at the forefront of innovation, Neo City bringing in World renown high-tech leaders, and Lake Nona Medical City accelerating research in healthcare, Orlando will have the infrastructure to be positioned as a leader in this generation of innovation.
Ashley Hart — Founder & CEO of She Plays providing her pitch at Demo Day 2019.
It is not uncommon for a business startup to feel alone; they feel they have to figure it all out on their own, but that’s far from the truth. Organizations such as StarterStudio are filling that gap and encouraging startups to continue taking chances. Get out and see everything this community has to offer. It’s one thing to have an idea, but to have the resources, network, and funding to support continued growth is another. Take advantage of this network of resources and plug into StarterStudio if you haven’t done so already – you may just be the next Fattmerchant of Orlando! Congratulations to all who participated in Demo Day!
Listen to our podcast interview, Stage Not Age: Interview with Lilian Myers, to learn more about Starter Studio’s previous board member, and new Executive Director.
#InnovateOrlando #OrlandoEntrepreneurs #StarterStudio #DemoDay #CityofOrlando