ABOUT CEL: Success Stories
Share in their Success
At UCF’s CEL, we have the unique opportunity to foster the growth of future business leaders and uncover innovative ways to develop emerging opportunities. Interactions among our diverse student, faculty, staff and partners create a rich pool of insights capable of helping enterprising participants make a splash in the business world.
Our success is measured in the successes of those we serve. We want to celebrate everyone involved with the center and our only request is that you check back often to share in their successes.
Sometimes it is hard to see how what you learn in the classroom parlays into the real world. At the CEL, we offer theory-based and street-smart experiential learning opportunities that students can use as a platform for future business endeavors.
“The talent, hard-work and resourcefulness of our students continue to amaze us here at the CEL. Not only do they compete fiercely in our elevator pitch, innovation and business plan competitions every year, they compete in events across the nation.
The CEL seeks to help the UCF and Central Florida communities with innovations we have developed in collaborations with generous regional and national partners.
In April of 2008, GroupTable (an interactive networking site for students to collaborate on group projects) claimed the Joust’s first place trophy, $12000 in start-up funding, and a spot in UCF’s renowned technology incubator. Since then, founder Dave Brim has grown his business and created a second venture. He recently launched BrandAdvance, a team of experienced web-designers and marketers that work to transform business websites. So far, they have worked with renowned clients such as MTV, UCF, Sears and SeaWorld. Learn more →
University Lyfe graduated from UCF’s renowned Incubator Program in 2009. Founders Carey Sobel and Corey Levy designed a social networking website to help make collegiate life more convenient for students. Its focus is on tackling many of the barriers of social-networking today such as privacy, security, and anonymity. Learn more →
First Landings Aviation
The second place Joust winner in 2007 was First Landings Aviation, a company designed to bring cost-effective sport pilot training to Central Florida. UCF graduates Adam Valencic and Chris Esposito opened for business in 2009 and are already enjoying tremendous success.
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The Vak Shack
The winner of the 7th Annual Joust Business Plan Competition was the Vak Shack. Amanda Crum, a UCF graduate, provides vacuum sealed bags in a variety of sizes that can be customized to consumer preferences.
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Joust 2010 Business Plan Tournament
Amanda M. Crum, a College of Business Administration management major in the entrepreneurship track, was the winner of the 7th Annual Joust Business Plan Tournament, held at the FAIRWINDS Alumni Center. Before a panel of five judges, Crum presented The Vak Shack, LLC, an online business where she sells vacuum sealer machines and replacement vacuum sealer bags for food preservation.Learn more about the Joust Competition →
2010 Inventing Entrepreneurs Innovation Competition
This $3,000 competition was created to celebrate technological ingenuity and design excellence, and was developed with funding provided by the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA). Corey McCall and Branden Maynes were awarded $1500 for presenting a prototype device that helps elderly healthcare patients track their medications. Learn more →
2010 King of the Court
Our King of the Court event is a $3,000 elevator pitch competition where students are given 90 seconds to “pitch” their business idea and another 90 seconds to address questions from a panel of central Florida business leaders. With an audience of nearly 60 people looking on, Daniel Parish impressed a panel of judges and won first place with his presentation for the Oasis Portable Water Purification System. Daniel took home a prize of $1500. Learn more →
2009 International College DECA Entrepreneurship Competition
Each year, the International Career Development Conference is hosted by DECA, and students are able to compete in a series of events suited to their business interests. UCF student Ace Glenn came away with the second place prize in the 2009 Entrepreneurship competition held at the year’s conference in California. His winning business plan, Mercury Mobile, also placed third in the King of the Court Competition and second in Joust business plan tournament. Learn more →
2009 Target Case Competition
Target Corporation sponsors a yearly competition designed to expose students to actual challenges that retailers face in today’s competitive market. UCF students Diana Acero, Shana Chang and Jaclyn Stroh were named the winning team in 2009’s competition, earning them a $4,000 scholarship check. Their strategy, “Nuestro Comunidad”, presented Target with the opportunity to efficiently create an “our community” focus for the unique demographic mix at each of its locations. Learn more →
2009 Joust Business Plan Tournament
Each year, the CEL sponsors the Joust Business Plan Tournament. UCF students are invited to present their business plans to a panel of successful entrepreneurs throughout the Orlando community. Mary Huizenga, Vincent Tursi, Tavia Steele and Jennifer Jernigan emerged victorious in the 2009 competition with their plan for Helping Hands Healthcare. They won $12,000 and a year’s membership to UCF’s Incubator Program. Learn more →
2009 King of the Court
King of the Court is the annual 90 second elevator pitch competition hosted by UCF’s CEL. Erik Halverson claimed the crown in 2009 with his pitch for Masonry Insulators, a company that would take advantage of the economic stimulus money to provide superior insulation for low-income housing, thereby lowering electricity bills and improving energy efficiency. Learn more →
Acton Foundation 2009 Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards
The Acton Foundation is dedicated to revolutionizing entrepreneurial education through effectively inspiring, mentoring, and teaching the next generation. Four UCF students won awards for the Entrepreneur Interviews from the Acton Foundation for Entrepreneurial Excellence in 2009. Steven Travis claimed first place with Jordan Cupach, Guillame Quack, and Scott Streigold all finishing as runners-up.
2008 Sunshine State Venture Challenge
The Sunshine State Venture Challenge is an annual competition bringing together students from universities around the state. UCF student Bri Chmel placed second in the 2008 challenge with the idea for the Miami Cable Complex, a water sports complex modeled after on in the Orlando area.
2007 Nascent 500 Business Plan Competition
Each year, Ball State University hosts its Nascent 500 Business Plan Challenge, where students pitch their business plans to judges while seated in the back of a limousine travelling around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Participants have 500 seconds (8 minutes) and can win prizes totaling $18,000. In 2007, UCF students Dave Brim and Scott Wall pitched their Group Table plan and came home with $1,500 as finalists.
The CEL has established the Florida Small Business Resources Association (FSBRA™) to provide the Florida small business community with access to the same portfolio of business benefits and services previously available only to large employers. FSBRA is Florida's First Public/Private Cooperative Resource Network. It currently includes many of Florida's premiere benefit services providers, including BlueCross BlueShield© of Florida, the Insurance Office of America©, and FrankCrum - A Family of Employer Solutions©. The FSBRA serves the needs of small businesses (less than 50 employees) that are registered with the Florida Department of Commerce, and whose principal place of business is within the state. The FSBRA provides members with a centralized clearinghouse for aggregating member services, thereby creating "scale economies" necessary to negotiate competitive rates and coverage options for benefits services throughout the state of Florida.
In fall 2010 our FSBRA will be one-year old and become eligible for “small employer health alliance” classification under Florida Statue 627.654. Once we achieve this classification, health insurance providers may offer exclusive products and pricing to our alliance members. Once established, we hope this will encourage health insurance innovations that consider the mandates and tax credits included in federal efforts to reform health care, and the scale economies and competitive transparency enabled by the FSBRA. Learn more →
The UCF CEL, with funding provided by a grant from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA), is proud to introduce KnightLaunch, a free educational website to help people assess and develop new venture proposals. This site helps nascent entrepreneurs test the commercial potential of their ideas and innovations, get feedback from others, research and refine their plans, and improve their odds of success. Learn more →
Inventing Entrepreneurs Interdisciplinary Program Grant
UCF secured a $35,000 grant from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA) to create a program that establishes a multi-faceted, well-integrated technological entrepreneurship program which creates academic, institutional and cultural bridges between the College of Business Administration and the College of Engineering and Computer Science. This initiative has resulted in the creation of an 18-credit interdisciplinary Technological Entrepreneurship minor. The grant has also funded the first annual Inventing Entrepreneurs Invention Competition, the KnightLaunch website, and $20,000 allocated to prototype development for students enrolled in engineering senior design classes. Learn more →
Enterprising Interns Program
The CEL, in conjunction with the university’s Office of Experiential Learning, launched a web page that allows small businesses to hire ‘enterprising interns’ from all UCF disciplines. This program aims to provide small and growing businesses with access to talented UCF students, and students with access to exciting opportunities working closely with company leaders and contributing to the success of a small business. Learn more →
2005 Sustainable Technology Venture Grant
The NCIIA has awarded UCF with a $21,000 Genesis Program Grant to promote the development of environmentally and socially responsible technology ventures. Students from multi-disciplinary business planning teams have developed impressive proposals for projects such as zero-energy home designs utilizing UCF flexible solar panel research, green roof installations based on UCF storm water management research, non-embryonic stem cell therapies based on UCF bio-molecular research and music education software for blind children.