About Entrepreneur Night Events

The event is organized on the last Tuesday of the month – except July, August, and December. Events now attract upwards of 200 participants from all segments of the business and startup community, as well as aspiring entrepreneurs. Events are FREE TO ATTEND, and appetizers are provided. Bring plenty of business cards.

How did it all begin?

The first Entrepreneur Night event was held in in September 2011, consisting mostly of clients and friends of the founders of Office Divvy ™ –a Palm Coast based Private Incubator and Growth Accelerator. Nearly 50 people attended the first event, multiple folks volunteered to keep it going as a monthly event as a grassroots effort for and by Entrepreneurs.

en·tre·pre·neur

An Entrepreneur is a person who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise. The word originates from old French, from the verb Entreprendre which means to undertake.

Pronounciation: \ˌäⁿn-trə-p(r)ə-ˈnər, -ˈn(y)u̇r\

April 2016 Entrepreneur Night (Hammock Wine & Cheese)

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April’s Entrepreneur Night was the event that everyone was talking about!

On April 24th, masses of entrepreneurs, small business owners, and those who advocate endlessly for small businesses, gathered at the Hammock Wine & Cheese Garden.

The Hammock Wine & Cheese Garden was a spectacular place to host this event especially since it’s the month of April. Let’s not forget that in the ancient times, the Romans named this month as Aprilis, which has the traditional etymology meaning “to open.” The Romans believed that in this month flowers opened and blossomed throughout the Earth, and all of the animals flourished and lived well throughout the year. What better way to celebrate this than by coming together and flourishing in our own businesses – especially while drinking wine and eating delicious cheese.

At one time, the Hammock Wine & Cheese Garden was not resting at the pique of their success, but under new management, it drove forward as a thriving business. Businesses like this encourage us to continue on with the work that we do. Helping entrepreneurs reach their goals is helping the world.

The Hammock Wine & Cheese Garden attracts many people throughout the year, and at Entrepreneur Night, hundreds of small business owners, entrepreneurs, and advocates for entrepreneurs came out in order to learn about other businesses and formulate long lasting relationships.
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Entrepreneurs are the reason that the heart of this community beats on, which makes an event like Entrepreneur Night even more brilliant!

At this month’s Entrepreneur Night, we had the chance to meet with many fascinating people that were delighted to share their stories of being an entrepreneur and information about their business:

Jasmine Slaga & Brandi Jaegar
Crazy Sock Divas
Based in Palm Coast

Crazy Sock Divas is a high-energy, highly motivational group that empowers people to be the best they can be through group fitness. They’ve truly created a community and atmosphere of encouraging people – all while wearing…you guessed it, crazy socks! Why? To show support and unity for living a healthier lifestyle while still maintaining their individuality. They’re a group all about loving life, and helping people achieve their goals!

Q: How did you get started?
A: Our group started as 9 women who attended the same gym classes and we found that collaborating through fitness and health goals boosted our performance and helped us reach our goals. Because of that success, we decided to expand that concept for anyone to be able to participate and achieve their goals the way we have.

Q: Why does the world need your business?
A: Our company is the missing link between achieving short-term results vs. achieving a healthy LIFESTYLE that’s actually enjoyable. There are so many diet and fitness plans out there that all tell you that their way is THE WAY to accomplish your goals in a set amount of time (often unreasonable), and we believe that everyone is different and needs to be able to explore what works best for them. We provide that support network. Our goal is to add laughter into your blood, sweat and tears–because the path to health isn’t easy, but it’s essential.

Q: What has been your biggest challenge?
A: Ensuring that we keep up with the pace of our growth is definitely a challenge that keeps us up at night as well as continuing to distinguish ourselves from other fitness programs by keeping our followers engaged. We want everyone associated with us to feel valued and included. We definitely embrace these challenges as they drive us to be better each day going forward.

Tracey Yankee:
Owner of To The “T”-Property Maintenance LLC
Based in Palm Coast

Tracey Yankee is an avid worker, and has spent most of her adult life helping people reach their goals. She has been able to provide healthy, and organized conditions for people who are not able to do so by themselves. Throughout her career, she has been able to develop very long lasting personal relationships with her clients. She is the guru of organization, and has been noted to be very trustworthy by ALL of her clients.

Q: How did you get started?
A: I first started as a cleaning business, then went into painting, and later on went into pet sitting. I realized from my work, that there is such a need for the service that I offer. So many people need help to run errands and organize themselves, and I am glad that I can offer a service that can help those people. When I was first asked to do something and did it, I received much praise and appreciation. It was so heartwarming to know that people appreciated my work, and it was definitely worth my time.

My job is worth more than what I get paid. Making people happy is worth more than all of the money in the world.

I have been providing this service for more than 20 years, but now I have decided to no longer just label my business as a cleaning company, but as the concierge that I am.

Q: Why does the world need your business?
A: This is a thriving community, and everyone is constantly busy. As you look at the entrepreneurs here, at Entrepreneur Night, they are all successful, and I am sure that many of them wish they had at least five of themselves to do all of the things that they need to do. Everyone just needs that extra day or extra few hours in a day in order to get a task done. There are many different types of concierges in Palm Coast that have different focuses. I want to focus on the elderly because they do not have the best assistance, and they need people that they can trust to make appointments, go grocery shopping, and even make meals for them.

Q: What has been your biggest challenge?
A: There are times when it can be tough to generate work. However, with events like Entrepreneur Night, you are always reconnecting with people. The people that come here are always looking to find ways to support other people; it is truly an amazing atmosphere at these events. Don’t focus on one thing, instead focus on everything, and you can overcome any challenge.

Q: Why do you love being an entrepreneur?
A: The flexibility, and the people that I come into contact with have made my experience as an entrepreneur phenomenal. No day is ever the same, which always makes it interesting. I am mostly a single worker, but I do have amazing people that I can count on.

I am so happy that Office Divvy is here, and that they’ve really had a great impact on the business community in Palm Coast. This was my first step when I decided to become a business here in Palm Coast, and it has been the best thing that has ever happened to me.

Over a period of time, I have been able to gain the trust of most of my clients. Having clients tell me that they ‘love me’ make me really satisfied and makes me know that I am making a difference in the lives of the people that I work with. This is just where I want to be, and these compliments are a ‘pat on the back.’ I started working for a woman in her fifties. She needed someone to just clean her house, and as I went more regularly, we became much better friends, which prompted her to introduce me to her mother, who was also in need of assistance. I am there for them whenever they need a shoulder to cry on, or have good news to tell, which makes me feel good on the inside.

Bill Krastsas:
Owner of Gunnar Spirits
Based in Palm Coast

Bill Krastsas is the owner of Gunnar Spirits, which makes Gunnar’s Vodka here in Palm Coast. They consider the vodka that they make to be an ultra-premium product at a very fair price. At this moment, their vodka sells in ABC Stores, and wine stores across the state. They do everything by hand and just went to market their product back in September, and they are now in more than 100 locations. Krastsas’ parents were also business owners, and he states that owning family restaurants is “in the blood.”

Q: How did you get started?
A: I have been in the restaurant business my entire life, so I felt very comfortable working on the other side of a bar. I felt comfortable with Spirits and understood that part of business from a restaurant perspective. After reading much about the Craft Spirit Movement, I realized that it’s success correlates heavily with the progression of the craft beer movement that has been going on for the last 20 to 30 years. Just seeing the craft spirit, and seeing small craft businesses opening up around the world really speaks to this movement. People seem to get really excited about local spirits, breweries, and farm to table restaurants. This felt like my niche, so we took the chance and dove right into this industry. We are putting together a new facility here in Palm Coast, and we are looking for it to be open in about three months.

Q: Why does the world need your business? (This is an interesting question, and can be perceived in a number of ways. It’s easy for entrepreneurs to get so wrapped up in their community – the people they’re networking with, and offering their services to – that “world” can be interpreted as the local community. Take Krastsas’ answer for example…)

A: The community does not need my business; I need to earn their business. There is much competition, and I am not unique in being a vodka maker.

The community does not need me; I need the community.

The attention to detail sets me apart from many other vodka makers. I strive for perfection in the making of my vodka. We have only been on the market since September and at one of the national competitions for vodka makers, we won in the category of being the 50 best vodka makers in the domestic vodka category. We are proving to ourselves that we can make something great while keeping it local.

Q: What has been your biggest challenge and how did you resolve it?
A: Finding that there is no instruction manual to learn about the aspects of licensing both federally or through the state, local permitting, and navigating through the way with all my needs has been my biggest challenge. However, I do not let it bother me. I continue to move forward in the face of many obstacles, and I do not let any mishaps block my businesses’ strive for success. Nothing is easy, but you have to keeping on moving forwards.

Q: What do you love about being an entrepreneur?
A: I love having my own customizable schedule, being responsible for my own destiny, not working for anyone else, and being employable because my boss is me. I have been self-employed for so many years, and I could not imagine doing anything else. I also enjoy many of the accomplishments that I have made. Having a group of great retail customers, and other companies, that have embraced our local brand is my biggest accomplishment. Just recently, Island Grille and other restaurants brought us in and put us on their menu. The quality and the enthusiasm of my customers have really allowed my company and I to grow.

Steven Morris:
CEO of Morris Williams Corporation.
Based in Florida, Texas, and California.

Q: How did you get started?
A:  In 1978, I got my real estate’s license. Before that I was a professional guitarist for about 14 years. I was not making any money in music, so I made the decision to go into real estate. I wanted something more, and even though I had a degree in music and psychology, there were not any jobs out there. Real estate was going well at that time, so it seemed like a good fit for me.

Q: Why does the world need your business?(Mr. Morris also decided to answer the question in a unique way. Taking his “world” to mean Palm Coast).
A: Palm Coast does not necessarily need our business because we mainly operate in big metropolitan areas. We work in various large cities like Houston, Miami, Orlando, San Francisco, etc. We just happen to live here in Palm Coast. Everything that we do is online, which allows us to effectively operate in three different states. In our business, we have highly experienced people working as our agents, and we have over a 90% retention rate of our employees. Unlike so many other competitors, we have no problem running our business solely online because we get how it works.

Q: What has been your biggest challenge?
A: My business is operated all online, but luckily enough we have been able to master the technique of running a business online. We meet with our clients through virtual calls and even show them different properties in the areas that we are located by the use of the Internet. I have been able to run a successful business along with Williams. We are located in three states, and we have about 160 highly skilled employees. We treat them with the utmost respect, and strive to do better and go beyond our goals. On the Morris Williams website, Morris notes,
“No one in Morris Williams Realty is excluded from contacting me personally for any reason. No matter how large Morris Williams Realty gets as long as I am President and CEO of the company.”

Q: What do you love about being an entrepreneur?
A: I can’t be fired. I love being my own boss, and doing things on my own terms. Back in my youth, I never thought that I was going to be a successful businessman; I originally thought I was going to be a star.

Leslie Giscombe:
Owner of Countertop Designs
Based in Palm Coast

Giscombe has been serving Palm Coast with his business for a little over a year now.  He has been an entrepreneur his whole entire adult life, and during this time he decided to go back to school. As the articulate man he is, he graduated from the University of Florida (UF) with a marketing degree, and a MBA in international business (in just two years!).  He owns Countertop Designs, which is a thriving business in Palm Coast.

Q: How did you get started?
A: While going to school, I did find difficultly getting a job. Fortunately enough, I ran into a company in Ormond Beach. After hearing that company’s story I found much inspiration from them. This company specialized in countertops and over a short period of time, the amount of workers they had drastically decreased due to the recession in 2008.

The owner of this company took this time to invent four unique edges for countertops. In his profession, he is referred to as a “laminate fabricator,” and in the laminating industry you only had two choices for edges at that time. It was either custom made with wood or it was either squared edged or beveled edge. The owner patented a way to bend the Formica to create edges that would mimic granite edges. Because of his spirit  of entrepreneurship, his patent attracted two multinational companies, which led them to purchase his patents. He doesn’t have to work again, but his love for doing this allowed him to him continually go on to formulate a relationship with Lowes, which he now supplies all of their unique edges. When I ran into him, he discovered that many people did not know about this new product. I wanted to market this fascinating creation to the public, which is how Countertop Designs came to be.

Q: Why does the word need your business?
A: The world needs my business because I provide a return of investment. I tell people  the value of the product that I sell. When you compare the cost my company’s product with that of granite, it is 50 percent to a third of what you would spend on granite. Additionally, it does not adhere to bacteria as many granite products do because granite happens to be a porous material. Furthermore, granite tends to be extremely heavy while our product is much lighter, which makes it easier if there’s a case where an individual wants or needs to replace their countertop. We also have colors and patterns that look like granite, but it’s better! A buyer can get the granite look – the granite feel – without all of the liabilities of granite. With granite, you have to seal it every year because it’s porous, and it could scratch very easily. Many of people end up buying granite because it’s a natural stone, but the unique thing about my company is that we have digitized the real thing. Anyone would swear that our product is granite!

My business is perfect for those people who have a caviar taste but a Wal-Mart budget.

Q: What has been your biggest challenge?
A: There are so many things that you learn about being an entrepreneur, because of all of the things that entrepreneurs encounter along the way. My biggest challenges would most likely be partnering, developing a business channel (channel partners), and most importantly segmentation. Segmentation is the process of sectioning an entire market into many different customer sections. What people learn while being in entrepreneurship is that the most important thing in your business is revenue. Revenue is very important, but to put it in better terms: it’s not about how much you make, it’s about how much you keep. You always want to control your operating expenses and many other types of expenses. Also, having an efficient business can determine an entrepreneur’s success. When I first started, I operated in a different way than I do today, which brought about many consequences. Business owners must learn to control their own expenses, and have efficient employees.

Q: What do you love about being an entrepreneur?
A: Creativity and freedom are aspects of being an entrepreneur that I enjoy dearly. You get to meet like-minded people and formulate ideas that benefit everyone. I personally get an adrenaline rush when I know that for me to survive in any business that I am involved in, I have to find a way to communicate, to market, and to advertise this product in such a way as to grab my customers’ attention. The rush and the rewards are parts of being an entrepreneur that I enjoy. Many people do not want to take the risk, so their reward is minimal, but if you do take the risks and reach out to people then the rewards could be massive and that is the interesting thing about being an entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurs are the life of this community, and we are so proud to assist them through the world of entrepreneurship. May’s Entrepreneur Night will be even greater, and we hope to see you there!

 


Entrepreneur Night is a grassroots event for and by Entrepreneurs, which takes place the last Tuesday of each month – except July, August, and December at a different location and venue. It is free to attend. Complimentary appetizers are provided by the venue hosting the event as well as a cash bar. In each event you can expect to meet many new entrepreneurs, investors and service providers; and have meaningful conversations. You can check out the previous Entrepreneur Night events | or RSVP to the Next Entrepreneur Night Event

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