Unmanned Vehicle Systems, Charting New Territories in Business


Jose “Tony” Lopez-Baquero, Unmanned Vehicle Systems (UVS) Program Manager at Gulf Coast State College set the tone at the first Coffee & Conversation hosted by the Business Innovation Center this year in the Millaway Institute for Entrepreneurship.

UVS is considered a “disruptive” technology that is changing the way companies from a variety of sectors are doing business.  For now, these applications are in the areas of agriculture, search and rescue, surveying, construction, mapping and entertainment.  There continues to be exponential growth for the use resulting in a tremendous opportunity for Northwest Florida. “This technology will experience job growth as operators, pilots, maintenance & repair, software developers, and programmers,” according to Lopez-Baquero, “and out of necessity, the usage of such devices will add to growth in the insurance and legal sectors.” 

Gulf Coast State College (GCSC) embraced the predictions from a 2013 Economic report by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International which stated that over 100,000 new jobs using unmanned aerial vehicle technology will be created by 2025. 

GCSC has established the first UVS Operations A.S. program among Florida’s 28 colleges. According to Lopez-Baquero, “The program is a launching pad for a career in an emerging field.  Students in the course track will be able to earn industry-recognized certificates that will prepare them for a position in the field.”  Graduates can also continue their academic pathway at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

The presentation also emphasized that because the industry is changing rapidly, so are the regulations. As of August 29, the FAA issued new comprehensive regulations for routine non-recreational use of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).  In preparation for the UAS remote pilot certificate, the program at Gulf Coast not only prepares students to understand the regulations but also offers hands-on projects applied in the industry.

Knowing your Cash Flow. What Bankers Expect.

In business, there is always more to understand about the relationship between the P&L and the Balance Statement, Cash Flow & Outflows, and what bankers expect if a business is seeking out a loan.    On Wednesday, September 14, Stephen Taylor from Gulf Coast CFO and Jeremy Bennett from Centennial Bank covered these issues with the BIC community.

Some highlights:  
Even though your business is busy and is earning income, it may always seem like money runs out. Unfortunately, profit does not equal cash.  Stephen discussed GAAP – Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.  It is important to understand what is (for accounting purposes) considered assets, liabilities and equity.  Assets are cash, inventories, buildings, land, equipment, accounts receivable and marketable securities. Liabilities are accounts payable, wages payable, taxes payable, notes payable and the mortgage loan.  Equity is common stock, membership interests, retained earnings, and distributions.  He asserts that it is necessary to understand what falls under debits (assets and expenses) and what is considered credits (liabilities, equity, and revenue).    Companies such as Gulf Coast CFO can assist a business in analyzing your business’ financial situation and forecast scenarios that you need to consider.  “Businesses fail because they simply run out of cash or they do not have access to it when they need it most,” he said.

There is a strong connection between your financial statements and what bankers want and need to consider you for a business loan.  Jeremy shared his insight about what Centennial Bank looks for to be considered for a loan.  He emphasized that to obtain a loan, the individual/business inquiring must have good credit, collateral and past years of financial and tax statements.  An already established relationship with the bank is also a good standard practice before attempting to apply for a loan.  He explained that there are a variety of loans that are available including SBA loans.  However, there are fundamental differences in the requirements for each type of loan.

The most valuable takeaway from this session is that keeping solid financial records are central to the success of business operations.  It pays to seek out help in getting the financials in order.  It may be the difference in seeing the writing on the wall, forecasting potential growth and accessing additional funding for the future.


Our Future Entrepreneurs in the Making

The Eraser Bracelet, Soap It, creating avatars, or rock art may be the next big craze among youth at Rising Leaders Academy, a Bay County public charter school, committed to developing young entrepreneurs. This year the school is developing a micro society in which students can earn “Crew Cash” for the goods and services they provide.  The BIC was invited as a partner to engage the 3rd – 8th graders in a Business Start-up workshop on September 9, 2016.

Pam Kidwell, BIC Director lead the students in developing an “elevator pitch” and their first SWOT analysis for their business plan.  Students shared their perspective on what are the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of their business concept.