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Success Stories

Image of SkyZone owner Juan Brandt

Sky Zone wants to keep its South Florida fans jumping, and the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at FIU is making sure that the indoor trampoline park’s expansion plans continue at a quick pace.

Juan Brandt, who holds the franchise rights to Sky Zone in Miami-Dade County, opened his first Miami location inside a 32,000-square-foot warehouse in Doral in 2012. He reached out to the SBDC at FIU early this year for help in securing financing for a second location, which opens this month in Cutler Bay.

“They opened doors so that banks could compete for my business,” Brandt said. “I was able to communicate my needs and the situation of the business in order to negotiate the best terms.”

Sky Zone’s expansion marks the first time Brandt works with SBDC at FIU, where he was guided by business finance consultant Marjorie Weber.

“She has great contacts in the financial industry and was able to direct me to the right banks,” he added, revealing only that the... Read More

Pciture of Luisa Santos, owner of Lulu's Nitrogen Ice Cream standing in her shop

Ice cream has long been one of Luisa Santos’ favorite things.  As the nitrogen-frozen ice cream trend intensified, she made her first batch during her last semester at Georgetown University.  In November 2014, she also incorporated nitrogen into a business pitch, winning the Startup Hoya Challenge Rocket Pitch, along with a cash prize, just days after whipping up that first batch.  That cash prize kick-started the first stage of her business.  Santos sold the nitrogen-frozen ice cream outside her dorm at Georgetown, served it at events she catered there, and even hosted an ice cream stand at a local farmer’s market.

“I learned about using liquid nitrogen to freeze ice cream and saw an opportunity to use this method to bring ice cream back to the basics,” said Santos. “But I needed someone to give me advice, to help with the challenges of getting an idea off the ground.” That happened when Santos returned home to Miami.

In a move she describes as “serendipitous,” she... Read More

Natalia Vorozheykin began her business because she realized there was a growing demand for a construction company that would consistently stay on the top of high quality performance and yield on-time delivery by providing added value, solutions and strong results. Wishing to capitalize on this opportunity, she quickly identified target markets, secured working capital, and advanced to incorporate a full construction operations enterprise, Atlantic Icon, Corp. in 2005.

Natalia admits that she faced multiple challenges entering into the construction industry; although she takes pride in navigating as a successful female CEO in an industry where there were few peers, she offers that it is not an insurmountable achievement.

Natalia determined early on that in order to be accepted in this highly competitive male dominant industry she would have to bring a strong mindset, talent, knowledge and a hard work ethic to the table.  She also strongly believes that the remedy to... Read More

Sally Villalba and Pete De la Torre,  “Pete De La Torre Business Hour

There are people who are all talk and no action.  Pete De La Torre isn’t one of them.  You can truly say he is all talk and action.

As the host of Miami, Fla.’s only daily business news radio show, Pete’s business is helping people get and stay into business.   He is a one-of-a-kind communicator who takes a great deal of pride in reinventing small businesses through communication, training and professional speaking services.  He was awarded the 2015 State of Florida and SBA South Florida Small Business Media Advocate of the Year.

“Before I started my radio show, I was the executive director of the Doral Business Council where I helped grow our membership from 45 members to more than 700 in just six years.  Many of our members were small business owners with dreams and goals of success,” said Pete.

Raised in Miami from the age of five, the son of Cuban immigrant parents, Pete considers himself a hometown boy.

“This city is representative of everything... Read More