March 2015 Entrepreneur Night (31 Supper Club)
13 Apr 15
Ormond Beach’s 31 Supper Club, the location of March’s Entrepreneur Night, is a rare gem of Art Deco architecture on its exurban, Granada strip. Because we’re talking about entrepreneurs, contextually, that detail means more than just outward swank.
The Art Deco style gained popularity in the interwar period between the two World Wars. Characterized by its bold shapes and colors, the movement is symbolic of the faith of that time which centered on moving both technology and civilization ahead. What better metaphor for Entrepreneur Night?
At March’s Entrepreneur Night, the bold shapes on display went beyond the striking white rectangles dominating the restaurant exterior or the zebra-printed felt cushioned seats inside.
Meet Maurice “Pat” LaMee. On his business card, LaMee calls himself a “Gadgeteer Extraordinaire” in addition to a “Knight of the Woeful Countenance,” whatever that last part means.
As for the first part, the answer is as simple as “whatever needs improving.” Which is pretty much everything. “Whatever comes to my mind,” he says.
While he hasn’t always been a quote-unquote inventor, he’s always been innovative, the type who’s always reconfiguring items he’d bought straight from the shelf. Working to make them suit him better. It’s easy when, “I’ve always been able to figure out what the failure of engineering was.”
But there are other difficulties that go beyond engineering, i.e. patents and lawyers. On the question of good entrepreneurship, the fifth-generation Floridian and former boat captain, says: “God, If I knew that I’d be in the chips right now. I do know that once you get an idea, you need funding to get there. You can almost never do it on your own. And that’s what I’m debating right now.”
At Entrepreneur Night he had one prototype with him: a denture removal tool. It’s aimed to help older people remove their upper dentures without using their fingers. He got his patent about a year and a half ago and he came up with it, of course, while sitting in the periodontist’s chair.
LaMee’s methodology in creating:
“You make what you think is right. You change it. You rearrange it. You keep going. You keep going. You know it’s right when it works every time,”
Mari Molina, another attendee, has her own unique skill-set for making things happen. A former executive regional chef for Marriott in New York, Molina also has a bachelors degree in business administration. She’s able to maneuver around the director’s table and the kitchen.
Since she moved to Flagler in 2000, she’s started her own non-profit, Flagler Cats, which got moving in 2004 and seeks to control Flagler’s feral cat population through humane, non-lethal measures.
“So this is my second round at it,” she says of this more recent, completely unrelated venture. “Now I have the cats.”
An “animal person,” Molina found her motivation for helping “the cats” in a Florida law set to pass shortly after her changed status to Floridian. The language of the law stated that if a cat wandered onto an individual’s yard, that property owner had the right to shoot it dead on the spot. And it wouldn’t have been considered animal cruelty, either, Molina says.
Molina likes the cats even better than she liked cooking. “When I open that cage and let that animal out, I know it is not going to reproduce and it’s going to lead a very healthy happy life…”
She and the other volunteers used to meet in the Walmart parking lot. There, she’d pick up the cats and drive them all the way to Daytona for neutering and spaying.
Molina can now boast about Flagler Cats’ 1,200-square-foot-office, finished with its own adoption center. The organization no longer has to outsource its furry business and it currently is host to 21 scattered cat colonies. In the time it’s been around, Flagler Cats has aided more than 5,000 felines.
For Molina, there are a few basic keys to successful entrepreneurship.
“You need to set your goals. Have a business plan. Review it, if not every six months, once a year. And stay focused. Staying focused is the main thing. Don’t give up on it…”
As a side project, Flagler Cats is spearheading the May 16 Bunnell Festival, a celebration of the county’s agriculture after the city of Bunnell dropped the Potato Festival. “The city couldn’t do it,” she says. So Flagler Cats, of all organizations, stepped up. “It’s a great opportunity to promote Flagler Cats to the community,” Molina says.
That brings us to John and Doreen Lazzano, the owners of two distinct yet conjoined creative services, both of which fall under the couple’s business banner: For Any Event, LLC. John operates a trackless train and Doreen, a Pratt-trained artist, does face-painting. Molina will utilize the couple’s services at the Bunnell Festival.
“You could use us for any event,” Doreen says. “That’s how we came up with it.” And who says artists aren’t practical?
Are a trackless train and face-painting really for everyone, though? They don’t have to be just for kids. In addition to birthday parties, festivals and the like, they can be used to promote businesses, John says. After all, the best way to reach parents’ hearts is through their kids, no?
Think about it. “And we can take care of the kids for them, by entertaining them,” John says.
Wayne Pressler of Snap Shot Photo Booth Memories, LLC, alerted the couple to Entrepreneur Night. John, who’s also in the moving and storage business, bought his trackless train from Pressler who was featured in our last recap.
John remembers when he saw the train for the first time. He was at an event, of course, picking up a payment from one of Doreen’s face-painting clients. The idea struck like lightning: he’d stumbled across a logical extension to his wife’s business.
So, Just like that, he approached Pressler, he says.
Doreen, on the other hand, took a more roundabout route. After she finished art school, she had to put down the paintbrush for a minute. The notion that art wasn’t the most practical means to make a living had struck her like lightening. To put it mildly: “Life just kind of hit me in the face,” she says, in the way of added bills and a baby.
She found herself keeping her art to an”in the family” or a “friends of the family” thing. She’d paint murals in the bedrooms of her little nieces and cousins, that sort of thing. “It just seemed that I was always doing things for kids,” she says.
It took a few years, but the couple found a way for Doreen to profit from her passion.
She first saw the potential the moment she turned her daughter into a butterfly fairy. “It came out kind of cool,” she says. “It went kind of from there.” She went from her nieces to adults. “Then I started looking into the business of it, itself. How big it could be and if it could be a serious business.”
Though her daughter doesn’t want Doreen touching her face anymore, her daughter’s friends continually ask her: “Is there anything you want to try on me?”
“I’ve found my niche,” she says. “We’re total A.D.H.D people.” For the business they’re in, that’s a useful quality.
Andrew Gall was without a doubt one of the youngest faces in the crowd. He’s not even technically an entrepreneur. But as an administrator at The Windsor, an assisted living and memory care center, at only age 29, he knows how a thing or two about getting ahead.
“I think there’s a lot missing from the young entrepreneurial community,” he says. “One of the things that’s really important is organizing young people around entrepreneurial opportunities. So I would really like to see a young audience get into Entrepreneur Night and invest in themselves that way.
“As an entrepreneur, I probably use that term a little loosely for myself–I work for a much larger organization.
But I think that there’s a lot of value in the entrepreneurial mindset. And that’s something that I put a lot of value in, so it’s important for me to be part of this event.
So I can meet other people who’re starting their own businesses and find out how the Windsor can make that happen.”
Gall never actually went to college. He likes to tell people he got involved with senior living when he was eight years old. It started with his great-grandpa Steve, the first of four grandparents who ultimately succumbed to Alzheimer’s Disease.
“So I never really had much choice in the matter. I kind of grew up around the business,” Gall says. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a calling. He tried some other things after high school but found himself back in senior living. “There’s nothing I’d rather do.”
For many residents, the Windsor is all that they have, Gall says. A kid, or a grandkid, will drop them off and then go on living his or her life somewhere else. Many of the residents know that they’ve likely entered the last place they’re going to live. “And there’s a lot of trust with that,” Gall says.
Another participant who is isn’t an entrepreneur, exactly, but was there to benefit from their presence was Fran DeMartin, a broker for the Hammock-based Coldwell Banker Real Estate. It was far from her first event. She likes to meet people from different industries, she says. Networking is always important.
“I’ve met so many interesting people. I can’t even begin to tell you how many people I’ve met.”
One connection DeMartin made that evening was is in the chocolate business. “So as I sell a home, I might want to give a nice housewarming or even if I go to a listing I might want to give a nice gift of chocolates. So that was someone I met tonight, which was nice.” She’s also met someone who owned a spa, another potential gift for her client to help make an impression.
She was also impressed with the Supper Club. “I would come back. I really would.
“I like the fact that we go to different places,” she says, referring to the fact that Entrepreneur Night never repeats a venue. “So we could see different restaurants that we may want to come back and try.”
We can only hope that the same vibe, and maybe some different metaphors, and people, for that matter, will present themselves at April’s event, which takes place at Palm Coast’s always delicious Focaccia. DeMartin will be awaiting. So will we. Until then.
Here are some moments from the event:
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