The Small Business Institute® (SBI®), the premier professional organization of small business / entrepreneurship educators and researchers involved in student analysis projects and dedicated to experiential learning and small business inquiry, announced on February 18, 2017 that two (2) student teams from the University of Central Florida’s College of Business were winners in its annual Student Consulting Project of the Year (POY) competition, taking second place in the 2015-16 ‘Graduate Specialized’ division and third place in the 2015-16 ‘Graduate Feasibility/Business Plan’ division, respectively.
In competition with MBA teams from across the country, the UCF team of then students (all are now graduated) Jason Osorio, Gary Muzzonigro and Alex Hinkle produced a second-place award winning consulting project in the ‘Graduate Specialized’ category for a local Central Florida company, USA Shoe Company. The company, primarily a provider of shoe repairs for the local entertainment industry, specifically targeting Orlando’s large amusement parks, requested a market assessment, competitive analysis and a contract implementation and scaling plan.
A second team comprising then-UCF students Jessica Blickley, Ryan Eid and Michael Glazer was awarded third place in the ‘Graduate Feasibility/Business Plan’ category for their consulting work for Brevard County-based The Farm at Rockledge Gardens, one of the largest nurseries in eastern Florida. The team produced a feasibility study and assessment of a proposed business expansion.
“We salute the accomplishments and the award-winning work of our students that is the result of the Management Department’s Small Business Consulting class,” said Dr. Ron Piccolo, the Galloway Professor of Management at UCF College of Business. “The Small Business Institute® is an excellent platform from which to implement our strategy of ensuring students are career-ready upon graduation by providing high quality experiential learning and developmental feedback.”
Beyond creating award-winning consulting projects, the SBI® program and reports delivered by these students had significant impact for the Florida SBDC at UCF (FSBDC) client companies with whom they worked. “Thanks to the UCF SBI, the USA Shoe Company is better prepared to engage other companies in future business,” said Julian Felipe Henao of USA Shoe Company. “It is absolutely an invaluable program for any company looking to refine their strategic management goals. Thanks again. We appreciate all of the support from the entire organization.”
The SBI® Program serves as the foundation for a full-semester, graduate-level credit course offered by the UCF College of Business management department. Students enrolled in the class provide management consulting services to local small businesses.
During the semester, the student teams design and implement extensive research and analysis to determine industry best practices; meet regularly to understand company processes and procedures; and perform a wide-ranging examination of business and industry strategies and performance. Each student team has direct contact with the client and produces a professional case report. As a result of their efforts, the students are able to provide a comprehensive analysis and set of recommendations tailored to the FSBDC-client company. Case study reports have included market research, marketing plans, competitive analysis, advertising strategy, customer surveys, strategic plans, financial analysis, human resource manuals and business plans.
“The SBI® program is a great partnership between the university and FSBDC at UCF to support small businesses in our area while also introducing UCF students to the world of business consulting,” said Dr. Tom O’Neal, associate vice president in the UCF Office of Research and Commercialization. “It is another demonstration of UCF’s commitment to our community and to growing the local economy.”
In cooperation with the management department at UCF, the FSBDC at UCF sponsors the Small Business Institute® in Central Florida and manages the SBI® program locally. It recruits and evaluates FSBDC clients for the program, lends FSBDC consultants as SBI® case supervisors and provides a range of guidance and support to the student teams. The FSBDC is hosted by the UCF Office of Research & Commercialization.
SBI® is a nation‐wide program that provides high‐quality business assistance to companies in need while providing an extraordinary opportunity for university students to learn through field case studies. Each project is led and conducted by a group of students under the supervision of an SBI® Director or faculty member. The experience is often cited by students as being one of the most rewarding of their academic careers. In today’s collegiate environment, there is a strong emphasis on experiential learning, and the SBI® has been at the forefront of this movement for more than 30 years.
— FSBDC —
About the FSBDC at UCF
With its main office in the National Entrepreneur Center located at the Fashion Square Mall in Orlando, the Florida SBDC at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) is part of the UCF Office of Research & Commercialization and the Florida SBDC Network (FSBDC Network). The FSBDC at UCF provides business seminars and no-cost, one-on-one business consultation to emerging and established businesses. The FSBDC at UCF serves an eight-county area that includes Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Sumter and Volusia counties and maintains 10 service centers across Central Florida.
In 2015, the FSBDC at UCF served almost 7,000 entrepreneurs in Central Florida through consulting and training, resulting in more than 7,300 jobs created, retained or saved; $990 million in sales growth; $74.4 million in capital formation; $101.7 million in government contract awards; and 111 new businesses started.
About the FSBDC Network
The FSBDC at UCF is a member of the Florida SBDC Network, a statewide service network funded in part through cooperative agreements with the U.S. Small Business Administration, Defense Logistics Agency, State of Florida and other private and public partners. The Florida SBDC Network is hosted by the University of West Florida and is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.
For over 35 years, the FSBDC Network has nourished a statewide partnership between higher education and economic development organizations, dedicated to providing emerging and established business owners with management and technical assistance, enabling overall growth and increased profitability for the businesses and economic prosperity for the state. The FSBDC Network is a statewide service system of 41 centers with 60 outreach locations, including the FSBDC at UCF.
In 2015, the Florida SBDCs served almost 45,500 entrepreneurs and small business owners through consulting and training, resulting in 217,849 jobs created, retained or saved; $29.3 billion in sales growth; $947.4 million in capital accessed; $2.1 billion in government contract awards; and 3,857 new businesses started.