The number of entrepreneurs crowding the Tiki Bar at Golden Lion Tuesday night rivaled the summer tourist count at the same location. There was no lack of attendance for the first Entrepreneur Night of 2013, held in Flagler Beach for the first time since the networking event’s inception in 2011.
Co-sponsored by Office Divvy and the Palm Coast Business Assistance Center, along with other event sponsors Intracoastal Bank and Mitchell and Noel Insurance of Ormond Beach, the event featured speed networking and guest speakers Helen Rake, founder and president of Northeast Florida Green Chamber, and Paul Jarley, dean of the University of Central Florida’s College of Business Administration.
“It was a risk to have it here in January,” said Ky Ekinci, event organizer. “We lucked out with wonderful weather and new faces.”
Jarley, who started at UCF last year, shared his thoughts on risk taking when it comes to business students.
“If you’re not willing to take risks, your likelihood of generating much of a return isn’t high,” he told attendees. “I’ve never met an entrepreneur who didn’t tell me a story about how they went to bed one night not sure how they were going to make payroll in the morning. Getting our students comfortable with taking those kinds of risks and being comfortable with failure is one of the most important things we can do for them right now.”
One way that Jarley and his staff are creating entrepreneurs at UCF is getting students out of their comfort zone by pairing them with students in other subject areas. This is one way business school has changed over the years, he said.
“When we pair them with engineering and medical student s, we have a real shot at transforming the economy here in Central Florida and beyond,” Jarley said.
Jarley said when students are paired with students in other fields, that is where the kinds of exchanges occur that lead to scalable businesses. “If you put our business students out there on their own, they’re going to create lifestyle businesses and there is nothing wrong with a lifestyle business, but it’s not a particularly scalable enterprise for us.”
Ekinci believes this shift to an entrepreneurial culture is the key to creating jobs.
“I think to start up an entrepreneurial culture organically yields job creation,” he said. “I don’t think we should start with the end result, but focus on creating this culture that allows new businesses to start and sometimes fail and not to be too upset about that, for us to get to the second stage, which is a driving county again.”
Nathan higgins: A young entrepreneur
Nathan Higgins is learning what it means to be an entrepreneur at a young age.
The Buddy Taylor Middle School student was selected to be a student ambassador for People to People, a retreat that will take place this summer, in Europe.
To accomplish his fundraising goal of $7,000, Higgins has been creating hand-crafted bracelets, dog collars and hand-painted glasses to be sold at various events throughout Flagler County.
At Tuesday’s event, Higgins shared his story and collected donations toward his trip.
As an unexpected surprise, Bruce Page, of Intracoastal Bank, matched the funds donated that night.
With $300 donated by entrepreneurs, Higgins is now $600 closer to his goal. Higgins, 13, has until May to raise the money for the trip.
To donate, visit his facebook page, at www.facebook.com/HeartOfEuropeOrBust.
Or, send a check in Higgins’ name to Intracoastal Bank, 1290 Palm Coast Parkway N.W., Palm Coast, FL 32137.