UCF Alumnus Lands $1.4 Million Deal on “Shark Tank”

SharkTank-GastonBlanchet
UCF alumnus Gaston Blanchet, ’09 (right), appeared with business partner Jesse Potash on the Dec. 4 episode of ABC’s “Shark Tank,” where the entrepreneurs made a $1.4 million deal for their invention, Trunkster. (PHOTO: Trunkster Facebook page)

The popular reality television show “Shark Tank” gives entrepreneurs a chance to potentially secure a business deal with one or more self-made millionaires (aka “Sharks”). On each episode, guests try to convince the sharks to help fund their business ideas, in an effort to turn their innovative dreams into a million-dollar realities.

The Burnett Honors College alumnus Gaston Blanchet, ’09, and his business partner, Jesse Potash, dove into the unpredictable waters of the “Shark Tank” on the Dec. 4 episode, ultimately making a deal with two sharks for $1.4 million and 5 percent equity for their unique luggage invention, Trunkster.

The Trunkster, created for young professionals and other frequent travelers who live out of their suitcases, is available in two sizes, and incorporates a roll-top front, with TSA-compliant lock, instead of the usual zipper. It also features a built-in digital scale, USB charging station and GPS-enabled tracking system. In addition, it’s water and shock resistant, and comes with a price tag starting at $395.

The young entrepreneurs ran an incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign in 2014, which raised nearly $1.4 million — way more than their original goal of $50,000.

During the “Shark Tank” presentation, technology innovator Robert Herjavec was the first to express interest in the product, offering $1.4 million for 30 percent equity. Venture capitalist Kevin O’Leary offered to split the deal with Herjavec, but was denied, and instead offered $1.4 million for 37 percent equity, stating his offer was just as ridiculous as the Trunkster founders’ $28 million valuation.

Lori Greiner, the “Queen of QVC,” then explained how her experience and knowledge of other specialized retail items make her the best fit for the deal, and that she’d be willing to invest $1.4 million for 15 percent. Mark Cuban, billionaire owner of AXS TV and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, also expressed interest, but had a hard time justifying an investment at the valuation because of the many risks involved with a pre-sale company.

The two inventors then asked to step outside to discuss their plan of action.

Upon their return, the pair countered Cuban and Greiner, proposing the two Sharks split the $1.4 million investment in exchange for the original offer of 5 percent equity, with a guarantee of paying the investors back in full within 24 months. Plus, Blanchet and Potash assured the Sharks that if they failed to meet the deadline, they would double Cuban and Greiner’s equity (to 10 percent), in addition to paying them $1 per unit sold in royalties, in perpetuity.

Greiner immediately accepted the guys’ offer, followed by Cuban, and the fate of Trunkster was sealed with a deal.

WATCH THE EPISODE ON ABC.COM

More Info on Trunkster

 

Fun fact: “Shark Tank” is produced by UCF alumnus Clay Newbill, ’82.

 

UCF Alumnus, Entrepreneur to Host Business Chat on Twitter

DeanCaravelis

By Maddie Hammond
College of Business Administration Office of Communications and Corporate Engagement

Students in the UCF College of Business Administration are no strangers to entrepreneurial culture. From participating in service-learning classes like Cornerstone to competing in competitions like The Joust New Venture Challenge, fostering entrepreneurship is one of the key platforms of the college. On Friday, April 3, 2015, students will engage in another provocative #UCFBizChat on Twitter with someone who is an example of how that culture changes lives.

UCF graduate Dean Caravelis, ’02, will testify to the challenges of acting as one’s own boss and the perks of being an entrepreneur. After leaving his position as a marketing executive in 2008, Caravelis started his own marketing company, Blezoo Promotional Products. Blezoo supplies companies with promotional items and branded apparel to generate brand recognition and loyalty. Products range from tees to tumblers, and Blezoo claims to carry “promotional products from A to Z.”

Caravelis was presented with the Entrepreneurial Alumni Award at the 16th Annual UCF Business Hall of Fame Award Banquet on Feb. 26, 2015. Blezoo has stood the test of time after more than seven years in business, and Caravelis’ insights will be invaluable to students.

Follow the college on Twitter @UCFBusiness and #UCFBizChat to chat with Caravelis, as well as UCF students, faculty and alumni.

Dang Good Snack

Students’ start-up company gets first taste of big success

UCF student-entrepreneurs Jesse Wolfe (second from right) and Ryan Atkins (right) won the $15,000, second-place award for  their venture, O'Dang Hummus, at the Blackstone Charitable Foundation's Demo Day.
UCF student-entrepreneurs Jesse Wolfe (second from right) and Ryan Atkins (right) won the $15,000, second-place award for
their venture, O’Dang Hummus, at the Blackstone Charitable Foundation’s Demo Day.

UCF is one of 15 colleges and universities in the Blackstone LaunchPad network, a co-curricular, experiential campus program designed to introduce entrepreneurship as a viable career path and develop entrepreneurial skills and mindsets through individualized coaching, idea and venture-creation support.

At the end of October, the Blackstone Charitable Foundation held its inaugural Blackstone LaunchPad Conference and Demo Day in New York City, for which UCF students Jesse Wolfe and Ryan Atkins were chosen to participate and ultimately took home the $15,000, second-place award for their business venture, O’Dang Hummus.

A few months ago, Phil Santos, venture coach and community manager for UCF’s Blackstone LaunchPad, spoke to O’Dang’s founder for the UCF Starters blog (ucfstarters.org) to get the story behind Wolfe’s sensible, smooth snack. Here’s how the conversation went:

Q. Tell me a little bit about O’Dang Hummus.
A. With O’Dang Hummus, we’re really trying to revolutionize the hummus industry. Hummus has been such an ethnic dish that hasn’t changed in forever. The major players in the market right now are all doing the exact same flavors. We don’t want to do your classic, traditional hummus. Our idea is to be the rebels, the disruptive kids of hummus. We’re the guys who are coming out with the crazy color schemes, the funky logos and the fun ads. We’re making hummus fun and exciting. Our whole goal is to familiarize hummus across the United States, and then to go global.

Q. What’s your history with hummus?
A. I never really knew what hummus was until three years ago. I had my wisdom teeth pulled out, and I had my cheeks all swollen at home. I got tired of eating milkshakes and soups and that stuff, so I started eating Sabra [hummus]. And, that’s when it hit me that there are only four or five flavors of this stuff. So, I started going into the kitchen and whipping up my own hummus just to get me through the week.

My girlfriend at the time was taking it to work. She worked at a higher-end fashion store, and all those girls she worked with ate hummus regularly and said, “this is ridiculously good.”

Then, you know, its funny… Pam [Hoelzle, associate director for UCF’s Blackstone LaunchPad] substitute taught one of my classes here at UCF, and she gave us a pitch on joining the The Joust. I had 36 hours to submit an entry form. Fast-forward to the end of The Joust, and we end up placing third. We took home $4,000 in prize money, and it was validation. I thought, ‘Hey I’ve got nothing to lose. Let me run with this.’

Our idea is to be the rebels, the disruptive kids of hummus.

Q. How did your perception of O’Dang change over time?
A. The Joust was really what opened my eyes how big this really was. At first, I thought I could just do it as a hobby. You know, sell it to some people locally. But, I didn’t expect it to be the monster that we’re sitting on now. When you see something you’ve worked so hard at being picked up and people love it… We actually had one lady buy 18 tubs of hummus in one shot to give to co-workers, and friends and family.

Q. Have there been any struggles along the way?
A. Oh yeah. Struggle No. 1, just out of the gate, was actually getting into a farmer’s market. Lake Eola had a two-year waiting list. It’s crazy, and they’re very cut-throat. They should do a documentary on it — I’ll put it that way.

I’m a very persistent person. I was sending emails, sending emails — nothing back. So, I decided to be a little risky. I packed a lunchbox full of hummus, and I went down to the farmer’s market when they were doing it. I gave the guy changing trash $25 cash and said, “Take me to the person that’s in charge of this.” He took me over to this nice lady and I convinced her to try it. She was like, “Wow, this is really good.” That was Sunday. Monday at 3 p.m., I got the email from them saying I could start the following Sunday. And that was the biggest break we had, because in the farmer’s market world, Lake Eola is like the Superbowl.

bomb-a-licious-buffalo-hummus

Q. What’s your major? Have your UCF classes helped you out while going through this?
A. My major is business management with an entrepreneurship track. I found out early in college that I wanted to do entrepreneurship. I put so much of my major to use every day. Right now, I’m the head honcho — I do the marketing, the finance, the bookkeeping, I do all of the development, the packaging. I wear a lot of hats as a new start-up. I really can’t think of a class I haven’t utilized.

Q. What’s the outlook for O’Dang Hummus right now?
A. We’re in three farmer’s markets right now. I’ve got a crew of three employees. We’re in a huge commercial kitchen, which, I never thought I’d be in this size of a kitchen in a year, let alone four months. Going forth, I want to be in a showcase right next to Sabra. They’re so huge and corporate. We want to give them a run for their money because no one’s doing it.

Our goal is to get as many purchase orders as we can, with a main focus on Whole Foods, and to get investor money. We need to scale quickly to make an impact and to be the forerunners in this niche.

In the farmer’s market world, Lake Eola is like the Superbowl.

Q. Do you have any parting words for the starters reading this?
A. Network, network, network. I can’t express that enough. Just talk to people. Ask for advice. I’ve met so many people by just asking, “What’s your name? What do you do?” at events, and some of them are CEOs of major companies and you never would have guessed it.

More Info

UCF Blackstone LaunchPad
O’Dang Hummus on Facebook

Surf’s Up!

Alumnus’ passion to hang 10 inspires him to keep an active lifestyle and pursue environmental change

Mitch Varnes, ’85 | President, Smooth Running

By Daniela Marin

The UCF Surf Club is one of the largest non-Greek organizations on campus today, but, nearly 30 years ago, it was the enthusiasm of eight young surfers who laid the foundation for what would become a hub for wave fanatics.

Mitch Varnes, ’85, was one of those students, and went on to co-found the club.

“I think co-founding the UCF Surf Team was probably my first entrepreneurial effort,” he says. “More than anything, it taught me to go out and make things happen.”

Since then, Varnes has additionally founded the Collegiate Surfing Association, the Sebastian Inlet Pro and the Ron Jon Beach ’N Boards Fest.

In efforts to engage his community in an active lifestyle, spur local economic growth and practice sustainability, Varnes currently holds a position as president of Smooth Running.

“I think people should only work at jobs that are fun and that they enjoy,” he says. “I know that sounds altruistic, but it can be done.”

Smooth Running is the producer of endurance events across East Central Florida. Some of these multi-sport events include the Publix Melbourne Music Marathon Weekend, the Ron Jon Cocoa Beach Triathlon and the Rocketman Florida Triathlon, the first privately coordinated sporting event to take place at the Kennedy Space Center.

“Creating events is something I really love to do, and I have formed this career so that I have the flexibility to travel when I want and to spend a lot of time with my children and my wife,” Varnes says.

In 2010, Varnes received the Champion Award from the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce for the economic impact of the Melbourne Music Marathon Weekend.

He additionally received the Entrepreneur of the Year award from Space Coast Magazine, proving his entrepreneurial initiatives while at UCF the first of many.

“I was truly honored to receive that award,” Varnes says. “There are lots of business owners and entrepreneurs here on the space coast so it was a humbling moment for a guy who puts on races, triathlons and surfing events.”

Varnes has been able to incorporate both his passion for surfing and mission for sustainability in the planning and execution of events, such as the Melbourne and Beaches Music Marathon Weekend, which achieved its goal of zero waste in 2012.

“I surround myself with lots of vibrant people in their 20s and 30s, and they have molded our events into among the most sustainable anywhere in the country,” he says.

Varnes and his team recycle everything from water bottles to paper plates and cups, and compost food scraps like orange rinds, banana peels, pizza crust and all else. In 2013, he received the Sustainability Award from Keep Brevard Beautiful.

“I used to think it would be too much work and effort to make sustainability a focus, but it is actually an easy thing once you make it part of your model,” he says. “Now it’s just something we do second nature.”

Contributing to the implementation of sustainable practices is a team of UCF students, which Varnes employs for almost all events. He additionally offers internships to UCF students, and continually speaks at the Devos School of Sports Management.

“It is really inspirational for me to see these students so excited and dedicated to our cause,” he says. “I am very proud of our school and its students.”

Such pride is exemplified by Varnes’ previous involvement in the Space Coast Alumni Board of Directors, on which he served as president for three years, and the Golden Knight’s Board of Directors, the fundraising arm of UCF Athletics.

On Aug. 30, Varnes followed the UCF football team to Dublin, Ireland for its Croke Park Classic game against Penn State. Varnes says that although he is not of Irish heritage, he and his family highly admire the country, and he bought the tickets as soon as they became available.

“We lost that game in the final seconds, but college football does not get any better than that game,” he says. “I think my favorite memory from that game was talking to the Irish people who were just as enthralled with American football and knew all about it. I also enjoyed meeting a couple from Germany who had become UCF fans and traveled to the game with no other connection to UCF.”

Ridin’ the Wave Q&A

Q. Describe a typical day at work.
A. There are few typical days for me, but they usually begin with getting up before daylight and always taking my kids to school. I then usually go back home, read, fish, surf, run or bike for a couple of hours and then head into the office by 10:30 a.m. I work six or eight hours a day, but, in the weeks running up to an event, things intensify quite a bit. It’s not unusual for us to work 20 hours straight during an event.

Q. What’s your favorite thing about your job?
A.The best part of my job is putting on events that make people and their families happy. People circle the dates of our races and train for them for months. It’s also very satisfying to see the local economic impact of what we do. Our events fill hotel rooms and restaurants all over the Space Coast.

Q. Upon co-founding the UCF Surf Team, did you find that it was a struggle to find fellow surfers or was there already the beginning of a community?
A. There was a core group of six or eight of us who actually showed up at every surf contest. We basically would go surf all day at Playalinda [Beach] and come home with a trophy! It’s very cool to see the UCF Surf Team nowadays, and I support them when I can.

Q. How often do you surf? How do you incorporate that into your professional life?
A. I surf as I have time or when there are waves. It sounds kind of crazy, but I actually surf more outside of Florida than at home. With work and our kids, it’s actually easier to get away and surf than it is to surf at home.

Q. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
A. I think I want to be a travel photographer and writer when I grow up.

Q. What advice would you give to a large group of people?
A. Follow your passion and do what makes you happy.

Q. How do you hope your career will transition/grow over the next five years?
A. I plan to still have a few sizable events and to continually fine tune and evolve them. I’m actually pretty comfortable and happy where I am, and just looking to keep things rolling.

Q. How did your education in journalism help get you to where you are today?
A. I’ve written and published hundreds of article and photos. Journalism teaches one discipline and the requirement to meet deadlines.

Q. What’s your favorite memory from your time at UCF?
A. My favorite memories of UCF were being part of what was then a pretty tight-knit school. I am not exaggerating to say that I may have known more students that I didn’t know at the school. Now, it has a massive student population, which is OK too.


More Info

Feeling inspired to volunteer your time for a worthy cause? Check out all of the alumni community service events happening during the eighth annual Knights Give Back on Saturday, Oct. 11.

 

Artisan Ice Ice Baby

Alumnus offers a cool solution to Florida’s relentless heat

BrandonChandler

Brandon Chandler, ’10 | Owner, The Hyppo Orlando

By Angie Lewis, ’03

Everyone who’s experienced a Florida summer knows the humidity is enough to make you melt. Lucky for fellow Knights and other downtown patrons, Brandon Chandler, ’10, and his team at The Hyppo Orlando are constantly freezing up new batches of refreshing gourmet treats.

Chandler knew he could do better than all of the Orlando frozen yogurt shops, which, he says, “aren’t very healthy or original.” So, he opened The Hyppo Orlando, at 431 E. Central Blvd., right at the edge of Lake Eola, selling artisan ice pops made from fresh fruit, cane sugar, herbs and other deliciously interesting ingredients.

Savor the Flavors
Whether you prefer the simplest of flavors, like Strawberry, Coconut or Orange Cream — or, you crave more adventurous flavors, like Guava Hibiscus, Mexican Hot Chocolate or Blackberry Goat Cheese — there’s a frozen combination guaranteed to tickle your taste buds and cool you to the core.

The shop even offers some 21-and-up combinations, like Riesling Pear, Sangria Plum, Cigar City Orange-Mango Helles Lager and Wild Turkey Bourbon Peach.

So, how does Chandler come up with each flavor? “There’s a lot of trial and error involved with not just getting the right flavor combinations, but the correct ratios of each to get the flavor profiles we want,” he explains.

The Hyppo team takes the highest quality fresh fruits, herbs and vegetables and blends them down until they’re mixed in the correct proportion. Then, the mixtures are poured into molds and loaded into flash freezers — the process that makes The Hyppo’s pops so unique. It freezes the pops so cold and fast that ice crystals don’t have time to form, creating a “texture and flavor difference [that] is incredible,” Chandler says. After 15 to 20 minutes in the freezers, the pops are given a quick warm water bath to help them release from the molds, before being sent through the wrapping machine, after which, The Hyppo’s customers happily devour them.

Chandler’s personal favorite flavor? Pineapple Cilantro. But, he says the shop’s bestseller is the Elvis pop, made with peanut butter, banana and honey — and, sometimes, bacon.

Growing Hyppo
The Hyppo originated on Hypolita Street (hence, the shop’s name) in St. Augustine, where the first store opened its doors, before growing into three more locations there.

The Hyppo Orlando is the first location in Central Florida, but Chandler plans to expand it throughout the I-4 corridor, with two to three new shops anticipated within the next year. 

UCF — For the Win!
Chandler’s UCF education and degree have been instrumental in his entrepreneurial endeavors. He was immediately able to find work in Orlando after graduating, which allowed him to save the money he needed to open the Orlando store. In addition, his accounting background has helped in every business decision he’s made. Plus, it makes the numbers of everything much less daunting, he adds.

When ultimately deciding which college he wanted to attend, Chandler knew he wanted to do something business related, so being in a big city with internship opportunities was important. “After touring all the schools around the state, I just knew as soon as I took the tour at UCF, I was going there,” he says. “So, I put my housing deposit in that day, and it was a great decision for me.”

Cool Q&A

Q. Favorite snack?
A. Chocolate-covered peanut butter pretzels from Trader Joe’s 

Q. Happiest/proudest moment of your life so far?
A. Would probably be a tie between having lines out the door on weekends and overhearing people talking about how much they love [Hyppo] and recommending it to their friends at various places around town. 

Q. Worst flavor of ice cream?
A. Strawberry — Fake strawberry is such an insult to the fruit. 

Q. Do you have any nicknames?
A. My last name being the name of a popular TV show character [Chandler Bing on “Friends”] has definitely led to a few related to that show over the years. 

Q. Favorite condiment?
A. Sriracha 

Q. Any special/hidden talents?
A. I am exceptionally mediocre at a wide variety of sports. 

Q. Bacon or Nutella?
A. Bacon

Editor’s note: Since this article was posted, The Hyppo Orlando is no longer associated with The Hyppo franchise based in St. Augustine, and has been rebranded as The Pop Parlour. It remains in the same location mentioned in the story.

More Info

thepopparlour.com
facebook.com/thepopparlour

Will Brake for Cupcakes

Alumnus’ sweet treats are Yum Yum in the tum tum

JoeyConicella

Joey Conicella, ’05 | Owner & Marketing Director, Yum Yum Cupcake Truck

By Angie Lewis, ’03

He may have dreamed of being a Disney animator when he grew up, but little did Joey Conicella, ’05, realize then that he would, indeed, be bringing smiles to the faces of children and big kids alike — just, in a different way.

For the past two years, his Yum Yum Cupcake Truck has been the frosting on Orlando’s food truck scene. At least six days a week, you can find Joey and his partner, Alex, baking up flavors like Funnel of Love, Key Slime, Ballad of El Churro, Cookies Got Creamed and Dough Dough Bird.

And, their creativity doesn’t end at cupcake names. Joey and Alex serve their tasty treats in stylish detail—everything from their characteristic bow ties to their shiny, silver bakery on wheels, adorned with a distinctive bright yellow retro logo and stripes.

So, what’s a typical day on a cupcake truck like? Joey says that’s what he loves most about his business. “There is no typical day! Our days are always long. We start baking very early in the morning, and trucks don’t come back from the evening events until 10 p.m.”

Yum Yum does have some competition in the area, but when we asked Joey what makes his cupcakes the best, he responded humbly.

“I never like to say that we’re ‘better’ or the ‘best,'” he explains. “Everyone has his or her own taste. Some people think we’re No. 1, and some people don’t care for us. But, everyone who bites into a Yum Yum Cupcake should know that they’re made from scratch every day in small batches. Alex and our team pour their hearts into each and every cupcake. I think people can taste that love.”

These colorful cupcake connoisseurs say they started the Yum Yum Cupcake Truck as a way to get to spend more time together. “We’ve always enjoyed being in the kitchen together, whether it was baking or cooking,” Joey says. “The whole thing was a very organic process.”

Although everything seemed to fall naturally into place, there is a secret ingredient behind his success.

“I’m the person I am today because of my four years at UCF,” Joey says. “Those years were among the best in my life. I truly love UCF and the city of Orlando. It’s filled with such positive people. On top of that, the community has embraced Yum Yum, and giving back is the least we can do to show our gratitude.” (Joey and Alex regularly donate cupcakes for various UCF events.)

As a student, Joey was a Marching Knight and a member of CAB, as well as part of the ad/PR groups, and he even started his own indie newspaper called The Floridian Slip.

This fall, Joey will be part of the leadership team for the UCF Nicholson School of Communication Alumni Chapter.

Want to satisfy your sweet tooth? During the fall and spring semesters (and occasionally during the summer semesters), you can find the Yum Yum Cupcake Truck parked in front of the UCF Burnett Honors College every Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. For a complete schedule, check out the links below.

Playing with Food Q&A

Q. Bacon or Nutella?
A. Nutella, without question.

Q. If you could eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A. Spaghetti with tomato sauce. Morning, noon and night.

Q. If you were reincarnated as an ice cream flavor, what flavor would you be?
A. Cannoli

Q. Ideal last meal?
A. Spaghetti

Q. Favorite condiment?
A. Does olive oil count? I’m Italian…

Q. Favorite snack?
A. Italian bread with olive oil

Q. What’s your favorite flavor of cupcake you make?
A. I’m a sweets guy, so it’s hard for me to choose. I never get sick of the Peanut Butter Choco-Rama. So there, I’ll go with that one!

More Info

theyumyumcupcaketruck.com
facebook.com/theyumyumtruck
twitter.com/yumyumtruck_fl

Button Up!

Alumna brings big style to a little detail

alexandra_gramatikas

Alexandra Gramatikas, ’12 | CEO, ALTR LLC

While attending a nautical-themed wine tasting, Alexandra Gramatikas, ’12, and her business partner and current UCF doctoral student, Tripp Driskell, found themselves in a big discussion about a relatively small item: buttons. More specifically, they complained about the lack of versatility in purchasing clothing with exactly the right buttons, and how ridiculous it is to buy a new blazer just because it has gold buttons, or making a trip to the seamstress to have plain buttons replaced with snazzier ones. And, so, ALTR LLC was born.

Alexandra’s patent-pending button covers allow wearers to “ALTR” the look of any standard buttons without the use of a needle and thread. She began her line with a design close to the hearts of all Knights — the coveted Pegasus.

This great invention not only gives UCF alumni a way to literally wear their pride every day, but it also won Alexandra first place in the 2012 UCF Joust, for which she was awarded $10,000 cash and one year free residency in the UCF Incubator program.

We caught up with Alexandra and asked her a few questions about her entrepreneurial spirit and bubbly personality. Here’s what she had to say…

Q. Why do you do what you do?
A. The idea of doing anything else seems like a jail sentence. I crave innovation… Whether it’s something obvious like creating a new product, or something unsuspected like a new adaptation of an existing product.

Q. What is your favorite thing about your job?
A. The immediate answer: marketing. However, when I take a second to think about it, I would have to say the manufacturing operations. I LOVE that I’ve been exposed to such a relevant industry. Rapid prototyping, machining, injection molding, etc., have a huge impact on today’s manufacturing. Not only are a lot of these operations being brought back to the U.S., they are becoming more affordable for budding innovators. A student could create prototypes in his or her dorm room with the technology that is available!

Q. Describe a typical day at work…
A. I wake up at 7:30 every morning (which is early for me) and eat breakfast while watching Good Morning America and answering emails. Then, I usually have a morning meeting and head to the office, located at the Orlando UCF Incubator — I love the UCF Incubator! From there, it’s anything from licensing and product research to web and content development. I always take breaks in between to engage on social media, since that is currently our primary source of marketing. Then, around 3:30, I fulfill the day’s orders and ship them out.

Q. What did you want to be when you grew up?
A. Peter Pan… then an architect… then a pastry chef… then a media buyer.

Q. What was your first paying job?
A. A server at Harry’s in Tallahassee during undergrad. I think EVERYONE should be a server or host/ess at least once in their life. It gives you a whole new level of patience and appreciation.

Q. Why did you choose to attend UCF?
A. I graduated with my undergraduate degree at Florida State in 2009. The only opportunities that were being offered to me at the time were either as a recruiter or in sales. Though they were great opportunities, and I have friends who have done phenomenally in those fields, I just knew that I would constantly crave something else. So, I worked at Shari as a hostess for a year (another life lesson in patience). One day, my dad suggested I come with him to attend UCF’s Joust finals. It would give me an opportunity to meet some of the faculty, and see what direction UCF was going in. The day after, I signed up for the GMAT and applied to UCF’s M.B.A. program.

Q. What is your favorite UCF memory?
A. Winning the very competition that encouraged me to go back to school in the first place

Q. What is the last thing you searched for on Google?
A. “best design for creating friction” and “yoda quotes”

Q. What one thing drives you absolutely crazy?
A. No. 1 is TIME!!! I HATE when people have no regard for time (and, in turn, no one else’s) — drives me bonkers! Students (especially graduate) without a LinkedIn profile, and #selfies are a close second.

Q. What is the No. 1-most-played song on your iPod/MP3 player?
A. Oooooooo that is tough. I always play my Spotify “schizophrenic playlist” on shuffle… Right now, the top three are probably: “Baby, I Love Your Way” by Big Mountain, “Heroes” by David Bowie and “Radio” by Lana Del Rey.

Q. What songs would make up the soundtrack of your life?
A. “You Only Get What You Give” by New Radicals

Q. What movie can you quote word for word?
A. Wedding Crashers and Finding Nemo

Q. What TV show are you embarrassed to admit watching?
A. I LOVE anything on the Smithsonian Channel. Guilty pleasure: American Idol — mainly to roll my eyes because the female judges this year are awful. Bring back Steven Tyler!!!

Q. Do you have any nicknames?
A. Star (it’s my middle name), Little One, Gram, Midge… I’m really short if you couldn’t tell from those, lol.

Q. If you could eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A. Chocolate chip cookies!!! And mac ‘n cheese.

Q. What was your most embarrassing moment?
A. HA! There are so many… But definitely the time in undergrad, my roommate talked me into signing up for a gym membership. The first day I went with her, we were next to each other on the treadmill. Mine wasn’t working, so I walked across hers to her other side. I realized I left my iPod at the other treadmill, so I went to walk back across. However, in that short time, she had started running on her treadmill. So, when I stepped on it, I went flying off the back with my feet in the air like a cockroach. We still laugh about it to this day.

Q. What is the hardest thing you have ever done?
A. Start a company.

Q. What is your favorite app?
A. Instagram. 99.9 percent of our pictures are taken with my phone and put through Instagram. I LOVE IT!

Q. Where is the farthest you have traveled?
A. I am very fortunate in the traveling department. When my parents split, my dad and I spent three weeks at the end of every summer traveling with some family friends. We always packed a backpack and that’s it. I’ve had the opportunity to go places from Vietnam and Bali to scuba diving in the Galapagos and climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Q. A custom T-shirt tells the world a lot about a person. What would yours say?
A. “I know that guacamole is extra.”

Q. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
A. “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” (Samuel Beckett)
My dad told me that quote my first week after graduating from FSU.

Q. What do you fear?
A. Missing out. I have a serious case of FOMO (fear of missing out). I don’t really fear “not succeeding” because deep down, I know I will succeed at something. You could say I have fear of missing out on an opportunity.

Q. What is the one word you are guilty of using too often?
A. Hmm… I don’t necessarily use one word more than any other, but I have a tendency to make up words. I’ll accidentally combine two words when speaking, and just hope no one noticed.

Q. Tell us a secret!
A. I’m really 4 feet 10 inches and some millimeters, but I tell everyone I’m 4 feet 11 inches because the DMV gave me the extra inch on my driver’s license, and that’s the one that really counts. ;)

More Info

madetoaltr.com
facebook.com/madetoaltr
twitter.com/madetoaltr