Cyber Warfare Meets Author Anthony Tata


 “How does a Brigadier General become a non-fiction writer?” According to Anthony J. Tata, “The question is how does a non-fiction writer become a Brigadier General?”

During a recent Lunch and Learn event at Gulf Coast State College, Anthony J. Tata, retired Brigadier General and author of Direct Fire, shared insightful stories about his adventures as a novelist, his time in the military, and his perspective on current world events.

This sold-out event sponsored The Gulf Coast State College Foundation and co-sponsors, Business Innovation Center and Veterans Business Outreach Center included GCSC students, active duty military, veterans, and other members of the community. 

While touring the Advanced Technology Center (ATC), Tata was able to visit behind the scenes with the GCSC’s Cyber Security students. He was impressed with the work and recognizes the value gained in the program. According to Tata, “the work that the Cyber Security students do is amazing because these students can help to teach the world about the Web.”

During a Q&A session, Tata was asked if any of his books would make it to the movie screen. Tata said, “Until my agent sign delivers a contract, the thought of a movie just stays an idea.”

​For more information about Anthony Tata and his books visit his website

Entering the Business of Cybersecurity

Russell Mace, CEO of Macetech Security Solutions kicked off the Enlightened Entrepreneur event sharing his adventures into the ever-changing world of cybersecurity.  Over seventy students and business owners eager to learn from his journey filled the seats in the Advanced Technology Center at Gulf Coast State College.

“It is important to recognize what you are good at doing, to have stability in your life, and always be honest and have integrity when starting a business,” Russell told the audience. He started his career as a civilian employee of the United States Navy and became an expert software engineer developing simulations and applications.  After being temporarily laid off, the circumstances were just right to build his own company. Russell had 28 years as a defense contractor when he formed Macetech Solutions Inc. 

The challenge of launching Macetech motivated Russell to continue to develop his skill stack in all areas of business.  A basic tenet he follows that helps him adjust and adapt to the evolution in his field is simple, “if you are not marketing and innovating, you are not doing business.” 

Discover more about Russell and his business at

What I Wish I Knew Before I Started

     “If you’re honest, if you work hard, and provide a good service, you’ll make it. Will it happen overnight? No. Great things take a lot of time, otherwise everyone else would be doing it.” –Allan Bense
     During November’s Enlightened Entrepreneur, former Speaker of the House and current CEO of Bense Enterprises, Allan Bense, shared many trials and triumphs during his life to business students and local entrepreneurs at Gulf Coast State College. Building a strong reputation, working hard, and having a PLAN is part of his formula for success.
     Allan Bense made it clear that your reputation is most important to your business. It takes years to establish your reputation, and “one stupid thing could ruin it instantly.” Allan did not start out as a successful businessman, rather he worked his way through as a janitor, waiter, mechanic, salesman, and more after his parents died at the age of 45. He spoke of these experiences as setting the stage for his business success. Bense established his reputation by always trying to get ahead of his opponents. At the age of 30, he wanted to own a bank, but had no money and didn’t know the first thing about running a bank, so he took it upon himself to work for someone else and learn the ropes every day in any way that he could until he knew more than his fellow employees. His advice is that “you always want to try to be in a position where you have more knowledge of an issue – no matter what it is – than your competitor.” Bense did finally buy a bank when he was thirty years old, grew the business until it turned a profit, and then sold it 5 years later.
     Allan has highlighted his success, as well as many admitted failures during his political career. After Allan was elected into the Florida House of Representatives, he then looked to become the Speaker of the House. He admired the position, and was motivated to one day have that power himself. After losing four elections in running for the Florida House, he finally won and soon after became Speaker of the House. Bense attributes his success simply to the fact that he outworked his opponents; he hit the road early and traveled 325,000 miles by car just to call on members for their votes. Even though it took him many years to achieve his goals, he always reminds himself that it is okay to fail. “Don’t ever be afraid to fail” is the one thing he always tells others, especially those starting up a new business. Furthermore, he says, “believe in yourself, and don’t always try to hit a home run. Singles and doubles can add up quickly.”
     Finally, he closes with some advice he learned from successful businessman Robert Pittman. Allan asked Robert, “How do you make a billion dollars?” Robert simply replied, “You PLAN.” Allan elaborated on what this means for us: “The first letter stands for making your plan; write your business plan and map out your finances. The L stands for learn; have some education background like being a lawyer, CPA or have some type of trade. The A stands for attitude; if you don’t think you’re going to be successful, then you’re not going to be successful. People will always tell you that you can’t and that you will fail, but always remain positive. Lastly, the N stands for being nice. Being nice can open up many opportunities in your business and will build many lasting relationships between those above and below you.”

Celebrating SBA’s Veteran Small Business Week

Veterans Small Business Roundup with Congressman Neal Dunn

     On October 30th, Representative for Florida’s 2nd District, Congressman Neal Dunn, visited with potential and current veteran business owners at Gulf Coast State College. He set the tone and provided the opening remarks for the Veterans Small Business Round Table for a crowd of some fifty attendees. Neal Dunn has represented Florida’s 2nd District since 2016 and has since passed many beneficial bills for service members to include the Retired Pay Restoration Act, the Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act, and the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017, which was signed by the President on August 28th of this year.  
​     Following his comments, a panel of four veteran-owned business leaders spoke about the challenges faced by each of their respective businesses. The group gave suggestions on how to avoid making similar mistakes when they first started their business. They each acknowledge that being a veteran has significantly helped their companies and has opened up many opportunities to improve and grow their business.
     John Miller, Veterans Business Outreach Center, Certified Business Consultant facilitated the event and offered insight into the offerings of being a veteran-owned business. The benefits include opportunities such as contract-bidding advantages with state and federal governments, tax relief, improved access to capital, counseling, and support for start-ups and small companies poised for high growth and innovation. Veterans should register a small business with the Veterans Administration as a Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB) or Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) through VA’s Veterans First Verification Program. 
     Hank Picken, the owner of Beaumont Products, Inc., offered a valuable tip that many future business owners should keep in mind. He attributes the success of his company to the time spent working for someone else, saying “I know full well if I had done this the day I walked out of the military, I would have failed and failed miserably. The 25 years of experience of working with other people and learning from them made it possible to know what I was doing and how the trade functioned, how marketing worked, and how the sales department worked.”
     Tomas Santos-Alejandro, President of Advent Services, added that finding and using resources can help a business needing advice. You can always use the free sources we have access to, such as researching the internet and going to the library. He then closed by saying you can learn from the people that you meet, such as clients and other business owners that will have valuable information and experiences that may help your business become successful.

     Other panelists included John Shepard, President of Carpet One Floor & Home, and Rob Moran, President of Mine Survival.

A Strategic Finance Formula Every Business Should Know

“Accounting is defined as the language of business” according to David Tipton, the guest speaker for June’s Enlightened Entrepreneur.  David is a Certified Public Accountant with Tipton, Marler, Garner & Chastain The CPA Group and former adjunct professor of Accounting. He emphasizes that for a business to become successful, they must have a Strategic Finance plan and follow it through. 

According to David, a great start is to apply a formula that every business owner should know. The formula provides a basic understanding of your financial situation. First, identify assets to include real estate, company vehicles, office equipment, and capital. The assets are always set equal to the equity. There are two types of equity, the first being creditors and the second being the owners.   Creditor equity will include bank loans, working capital loans, friends and family loans, and lease equipment agreements. Owners equity will include personal cash/savings, retirement account and sale of personal assets.  Once you determine your Creditor and Owner Equity you add them together which equals the full amount of Equity in your business.  You want Assets to equal your Equity. 

​​A (Assets of a Business) =
​C (Creditors) + O (Owners) = 
​E (Equity of a Business) 

​Quick Tips every Business owner should know:
● Worst thing a new business can do is take on too much debt too early or try to expand to fast and not make the necessary payments.
● Do not give up more than 50% percent of your business to investors.
● Know the form of business you want to establish.

​Tipton also discussed how businesses could protect assets by identifying the right business structure for the business. “Creating an LLC is worth the minimal amount it cost, and an LLC can protect personal assets from future lawsuits that may otherwise jeopardize personal finances.  The CPA group website has a New Business Resource Center that has a Business Survival Guide and a guide for Considering an LLC.
One other piece of advice from David, “Taking a basic accounting class can help you be prepared to take on any job.  It is so important for business owners to have basic accounting skills.” 

Pitch to Perfect

Have you ever had an idea and thought it could be the next craze? Maybe something you found necessary, like a new way to clean a pool?  Or what about a better solution to the misfires on the sensors used in those annoying automatic flushing toilets?  This year’s Startup Weekend participants considered these and more.

Sixty eager entrepreneurs arrived on Friday evening to pitch their idea. Event Facilitator, Corey Smith, conducted the selection process trimming the pitches down to six. Teams formed, and the organizers had the area’s best business mentors and coaches on hand to offer all the business consulting the teams required. 
​On Saturday teams scurried around conducting research, validating their ideas, testing their concepts, huddling together in various spots throughout the Advanced Technology Center at Gulf Coast State College. Teams worked diligently to create prototypes, analyze costs and further develop their business plans. Jim Riley, a business consultant with the Veterans Business Outreach Center and Jayme Thomas, co-founder of  Visual Goodness coached teams throughout the weekend. Holly Pituch, marketing manager at SweetBay Development along with Chris Josten and his team from Curiosity Marketing Group consulted the participants on their design work and marketing plans. Team leader of the Incore Rock Climbing gym concept, Alexis Wicker said that “Jayme Thomas saved the day by helping her with the cost for their first-year projections.” 

Saturday afternoon teams took a break from the product development and enjoyed walking through the Student Market Place – an added event that showcased the start-up businesses of elementary students from  Rising Leaders Academy. The students sold their self-made wares earning real money to the real world.  This year, Rising Leaders Academy made it their goal to prepare students to be successful in the 21st-century workplace by turning the entire school into a flourishing real world micro-society.

The Enactus GCSC Team and Ripples of Change Club shared their current project with the visitors. Their projects focuses on social entrepreneurship called the Tiny Pod Community. 
Sunday evening the Startup Weekend participants made final preparations for team pitches to the judges. 

In the end, they gave a five-minute presentation with hopes of winning one of the original designs of the 2017 trophies furnished by Gulf Coast State College and their FABLAB. The top three teams also won a collection of prizes valued close to 4,000 dollars.   Congratulations to this year’s winning teams: 1st Place- Safe-Flush, 2nd Place- Clean Pool Pal and 3rd Place- Disaster Relief Unit.  
​The entire event would not have been possible without the following sponsors: 


A New Way of Approaching the Product Design Process

Design Thinking is the process of creative problem-solving. A key component of this process is taking crazy ideas in any part of your life and applying design methodology. Holly Gardner is a local entrepreneur, engineer, photographer, and mom. Holly talked about how Design Thinking is used in when planning a child’s birthday party or creating the next big invention. 

When asked what she does she would prefer to say, “I solve problems.” Holly came to speak about Design Thinking to a group of entrepreneurs and business students at Gulf Coast State College.  One of her two children has severe food allergies. She could not find needed products on the market, so she curated and developed a line of goods and specially designed products. 
The development of one of those products, “My Food Allergy Binder,” was created using Design Thinking. The process includes fives stages: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test.  

More resources about the design thinking process are available at Stanford’s website including a 90 Minute crash course on Design Thinking. Since the process starts opposite of the traditional product design model by finding out what your clients need, you will not spend large amounts of money on a prototype and later conclude that it is not what your customers want or need.

Holly added,”with Design Thinking, you fail fast and early, which in the long run, saves you time and money. 

Own Your Brand

During the BIC’s January Speaker Series, Chris Josten, Founder and Creative Director of Curiosity Marketing Group lends his perspectives on the importance of developing a brand story.  While your brand represents the collection of tools you use to communicate with the world, your story will be what the public and customers know about your company.

Chris talked about the importance of controlling your story by creating a solid mission statement and integrating who you are with a consistent alignment with your brand.  Your message must remain constant throughout all media outlets including but not limited to all billboards, print, TV, radio, and social media.  

It is of particular importance to own your brand’s message, if you don’t, someone else could tell your story, and it may not be how you want you or your company represented. Bad reviews can happen. A disgruntled customer is something you hope to avoid. If you received a poor rating, be sure to have a procedure for responding and resolving the problem. No need to enter into an argument and best to use an approach for dealing direct and offline. Ignoring a customer’s bad experience is not the best policy.  

Take control of your brand with force and own your brand on and offline!

See here to watch his presentation.

Rising Leaders Bring Their Business To Market

Rising Leaders Academy students continue their Entrepreneurship program that has created a flourishing Micro-society.  They have been through almost all of the real-world steps in developing and implementing a business from developing a business plan, creating a marketing message, product development, and a SWOT analysis. This week students took their business ventures to the “Marketplace” where they sold their goods and services to the entire school community.  

Students use “Crew Cash” as a form of currency that they have been earning throughout the year.  After each marketplace, students must calculate the revenue they received and calculate sales tax.  Principal Jaber said, “This month they get to do the market for free, but next time they will pay rent!”

Click here to see videos for their commercials. 

Coffee Gives More Than Caffeine

Amavida Coffee and Tea is an importer, roaster, and purveyor of Organic and Fair Trade specialty coffees. “Amavida” was born from a combination of Spanish words for love, “amar,“ and life, “vida.“  Their goal is to build meaningful relationships with coffee farmers, suppliers, employees and the environment, while sourcing premium Fair Trade Coffee beans and serving delicious beverages to customers. 

The company is a Certified B Corporation and Florida Benefit Corporation, known as a B Corps.  During the November Coffee and Conversations, Jennifer Pawlik, Project Coordinator and Benefits Officer for Amavida shared her experience with the application and evaluation process in which a company must undergo to gain B Corp Certification.   

B Corporations redefines success in business.  Certified B Corporations meet high standards of social and environmental responsibility.  Companies that strive for this certification are a part of a collective movement to do “business for good.”  See more to Become a certified B Corp. 

Effective July 1, 2014, Florida joined the growing number of states that permit special types of for-profit corporations to pursue substantial public interest goals at the possible expense or deferral of profit maximization.  The legislation allows companies to form either a benefit corporation or a social purpose corporation, each having unique criteria.  See article in the Florida Bar Journal.  

Businesses that strive to implement a core value of giving and global social responsibility may find that becoming a Florida B Corp a solution to ensuring a sustainable model.