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Success Stories

John Purland, owner of M. R. Crafts, Inc
When John Purland decided to depart his job as a college professor and pursue entrepreneurship, he brought with him years of business academia experience and a passion to succeed in the small business arena.   Founded in 2003, M. R. Crafts, Inc. is wholly owned by the service disabled veteran who is also a Florida-licensed general and roofing contractor, holds a Masters in Business Administration (MBA), and has collegiate-experience as a Professor in the school of business.   M. R. Crafts has a longstanding history of providing a complete range of procurement, consulting, engineering, processing, treatment, outsourcing, and management services. These services include water testing and calibration, water quality management and maintenance, water sampling and analysis, water tower disinfection, emergency water services, and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point/Water Management Programs. The company also specializes in specific programs to eliminate water borne pathogens such as... Read More
Small business owner Diana Pierre-Louis
Small business owner Diana Pierre-Louis initially learned of the hidden jewels of Haiti – untouched areas, a beautiful culture, and warm, friendly people from listening to stories told by her husband and country-native, Endy.  After setting eyes on the country which is often portrayed as impoverished, the then-digital marketing specialist was determined to share all she could about the beauty of the country where her husband was born and raised.  "All I wanted to do was show people the beauty of what I experienced; now it has grown to be much more than I could've ever imagined.”   When the opportunity arose, Diana entered the Ministry of Tourism of Haiti’s contest to find a new slogan for their website; and to her surprise, her winning submission “Experience It” was then translated in Creole to “Se la pou’w la” to capture the emotions of first time visitors.   With her husband’s assistance and the desire to open a business that would match her skills as a digital marketing specialist... Read More
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