November is National Entrepreneurship Month 

Entrepreneurs have been known to fuel the train of American progress; they drive their dreams and are the backbone of the economy. In honor of their raw innovation and ingenuity, President Obama has declared November to be National Entrepreneurship Month. “We celebrate America’s innovators, support small businesses, and empower entrepreneurs to turn their visions into reality,” proclaims President Obama.
In celebration of National Entrepreneurship Month, the Veterans Business Outreach Center, VBOC, at Gulf Coast State College, is hosting Boots to Business Reboot, a no-cost two-day event to honor not only the savviness of American entrepreneurs but also the bravery and endurance of the American veterans.  Boots to Business Reboot is an entrepreneurial training program for Veterans and Military Spouses.
“Boots to Business Reboot is scheduled to highlight the second annual National Veterans Small Business Week.” According to Brenton Peacock, associate director for the VBOC, “This course is open to veterans and their families of all eras, including those in the National Guard and Reserves.” The event is November 6th and 7th in the Advanced Technology Center at Gulf Coast State College.
The two-step training program by the U.S. Small Business Administration, SBA, through public-private partnership with the Institute of Veterans and Military Families, the Marcus Foundation, and First Data Corporation will offer insight to those pursuing business ownership or other areas of self-employment.
The experts at the event will encourage ideas such as the importance of a business plan and the core ideas of business concepts. SBA resources are available for those who wish to attend the event, including start-up capital, technical assistance, and contracting opportunities.
For more information and to register, visit On Friday, lunch is included, so preregistration is required. 

Marketing to Millennials. Why Gen Y Matters to You


The very word “Millennials” aka Gen Y prompts head scratching. There’s no hard and fast rule on these age labels but most agree that this term represents those born from the early 1980’s to the very early 2000’s – the 18-34 year old. According to the Pew Research, Millennials are projected to number 75.3 million, surpassing their 74.9 million Boomer parents and grandparents, ages 51 to 69.  We also know is that they are different from the Boomer generation in more than just age. The Gen Y world is digital and interactive, less personal and yet very personal. They seem to be tied to their smart phones and hardly tethered at all to traditions or traditional marketing. This market is far too large to ignore, plus they have an estimated $1.3 trillion worth of annual spending power! If you’re not one of them yourself, you better figure out how to market to them and drive them to your door.
Fortunately, a lot of attention is being paid to this consumer phenomenon. According to US Census data, the consensus is the message and the medium matter. “Mills” have grown up in the Digital Age with immediate information literally at their fingertips and multi-tasking as a matter of course. If you haven’t paid much attention to your online presence, you’re missing the mark. Entrepreneur Magazine contributor Sujan Patel offers this advice:

1. Make sure your web-based marketing is mobile device compatible, i.e. smart phones.
Patel says, “Marketing through mobile devices is important in general, but given that 85% of millennials in the U.S. own smartphones…. Are your landing pages optimized for mobile? Are they too graphics-intensive, making load times longer with slower connections? Is your call to action clear, even on a smaller screen?”

2. Millennials value social identities and like-minded communities than to traditional life stages.
“Millennials are the most non-traditional, non-lineal generation so far, and they don’t value traditional life-stage advertising the way previous generations did [i.e. they are starting families later, not desiring or economically able to buy a house at 30, etc.] They view life differently. Millennials are much more likely to have a strong attachment to social identities…”, be it a lifestyle or social causes like the environment. Tying your brand to social causes they value or situations impacting them is more likely to resonate with them. Examples: the socially conscious B Corps like Ben & Jerry’s or Apple’s leading edge technology that has literally transformed the way we communicate.

3. Make your material relevant and engaging.
Patel concludes,” While this strategy obviously applies to all generations, it’s required for Millennials, have never known a world without the Internet and social media. Don’t expect [them] to simply accept your message on face value and act on it. Instead, Millennials [engage in] online research and [through] social media.  Roughly 95% say that friends are the most credible source of product information. This means that if you can engage a customer base within this generation and create ‘brand evangelists’, you’ll see far better results than through any other form of traditional online marketing. The best way to get your message heard among Millennials is to have Millennials themselves spreading the word.”

Florida Governor Rick Scott Declares SAFE & HAPPY FAMILY Winner of the 2015 Young Entrepreneur Award

In Recognition of Their Innovative Products For Food Allergy Sufferers and Their Families

OCTOBER 2015 —
Governor Rick Scott and the state of Florida award Safe & Happy Family the 2015 Young Entrepreneur Award. “We are humbled and shocked to receive the Young Entrepreneur Award from Governor Scott’s office. This is not only a big win for us but a huge leap forward in educating the public about the emerging epidemic of food allergies.” – Holly Gardner
Safe & Happy Family recognized a quick rise to business success, but it all started without entrepreneurship or awards in mind. Founders Holly and Chris Gardner were motivated to take action upon learning their five-month-old son suffered from allergies to several major food groups. With fatal mistakes a constant threat, they looked everywhere for products that could help make dealing with severe food allergies more manageable but found nothing. In 2014, they decided to create the products they needed to raise their son.
Today the company offers over 50 products for families affected by food allergies, ranging from chocolate chip cookies to allergen-free cutting boards to the popular Allergy Mom’s Survival Kit. The ever-growing catalogue enables parents to keep life livable for kids who need a little extra love. As a company built for a singular health-conscious mission, Safe & Happy Family donates a portion of all proceeds to FARE: Food Allergy Research & Education. For more information, visit

ABOUT THE YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR AWARD: Established in 2015, the Young Entrepreneur Award commends Floridians under the age of 35 who demonstrate innovations and leadership in business. The award aims to cultivate the development of emerging companies in the state of Florida and increase employment opportunities for Florida college graduates.

ABOUT SAFE & HAPPY FAMILY: Safe & Happy Family is the ultimate resource for families of food allergy sufferers, providing valuable education and products for the growing number of families affected by allergies to common foods like nuts, dairy, soy, and more. Safe & Happy Family guides parents through the fear of food allergies to a Safe & Happy home.

GCSC’s Millaway Institute for Entrepreneurship Hosts Millennials’ Pitch Tournament

Engaging the Next Generation of Student Innovators & Entrepreneurs


Gulf Coast State College’s Millaway Institute for Entrepreneurship, in collaboration with FSU Panama City, will host the Millennials’ Pitch Tournament on Saturday, October 17 at 9am at the GCSC Advanced Technology Center. The public is invited to watch local students to pitch their ideas for innovative products or services to area entrepreneurs and judges in a “rapid tournament” format.  Individuals and/or groups of students will compete for multiple cash awards (1st place – $250, 2nd place – $150, 3rd place – $100) and mentoring packages.  The top ten winners will receive training sessions, product design/prototyping services and follow-up assistance from successful area entrepreneurs.

In order to compete in this free innovation arena, any actively enrolled full or part-time student(s) from GCSC, FSU-PC or any high school located in Bay, Gulf or Franklin counties had to submit an idea for a product or service that:

  • Solves a problem in the real-world faced by a business and/or industry today.
  • Addresses a social problem facing our community and beyond in a unique or novel way.
  • Creates a new product, software program/app or service with the potential to create local jobs.

Participants will be scored on their idea and their presentation, which will give the them another real-world experience: you have to have a good idea and understand how to sell it. All in all, it should be an exciting way to spend a Saturday.


​For rules and specific criteria of the contest, visit For more information, contact Dr. Stephen Dunnivant at (850) 873-3586 or

The BIG IDEA for October: Randall Shepard of RSAE Labs, Inc., Panama City


The Big Idea, a monthly event coordinated by the BIC, spotlights local entrepreneurs who are beating the odds in Bay County’s small business arena,  especially those who work in a unique niche. This month’s speaker is no exception. An intrepid entrepreneur, engineering visionary, and CEO/President of RSAE Labs, Randall Shepard has launched and managed “bleeding edge” technology companies here in Bay County and in Silicon Valley. A graduate of Georgia Tech in Aeronautical Engineering with a Masters from Stanford University in Guidance and Control Systems, he has led military technology teams and his own private sector companies to advance technology and systems integration in military weaponry, global asset monitoring, tracking and security, and cable TV . “In fact, your first cable box used technology his company developed here in Panama City and the very first digital cable system was launched in Hartford CN from his offices in Parker FL! He quips that he is “a rocket scientist AND a cable guy”.

Shepard is a high tech evangelist with down-to-earth sensibilities. His real-world experience in advancing military capabilities and technologies into scalable commercial operations has helped to transform global logistics. He believes fervently in America’s ability to foster innovation and our local ability to nurture technology-based companies and entrepreneurs, especially in the area of logistics and supply chain management – fields in which Bay County is very well suited to grow.

Thursday, October 8, 5:30pm at Café Amivida,  2997 West 10th Street, Panama City

Click to register for the free event