Category Archives: Business Plans

Culture of Connectedness

Written by: Jordan Blevins

As our time in Portugal began to wind down, Cohort 16 enjoyed two final cultural visits in Porto that continued to teach us new things and solidify the impact of this international experience.

Located directly on the bank of the Douro River in the heart of Porto, the Sandeman wine cellars have attracted visitors for years. Like many successful Portuguese companies, this is a family-run operation, and they have focused on producing port wine and sherry in the Douro Valley for over 200 years. We began with a stroll along the river where we were able to enjoy the beautiful views and watch the boats maneuver the port waters.

After lunch, our guide took us on a visual journey through the history of the company and the process of making port wine. Even though it is a small operation in the global wine market, Sandeman has been credited with many “firsts” especially in the branding arena.

They were the first company in the wine industry to begin iron-branding their barrels for easier identification throughout the trade process. They were also one of the first companies to create and associate a label directly with their wine, hence the creation of Sandeman Don, who is still featured on their port bottles and recognized as their advertising symbol.

The cellars we toured are 100% operational and have been utilized since the founding of the company for storage for over four million liters of wine during the fermentation process. We were able to see three different fermentation methods for the various wines, as well as the required humidity ponds that allow the French oak barrels and wine corks to stay properly hydrated. Pictured are the extra-large barrels used to age the “young” port wines.

At the end of the tour we were able to sample a few of the different port variations in true Portuguese fashion, surrounded with family and friends enjoying priceless moments.

“Sandeman Wines are about making the most of every moment. Choose your mood and enjoy life.”

We learned insights from the businesses we visited, our cultural experiences, and the Portuguese people we got to know during this international experience. Throughout all of the visits, there were two key messages that were continuously referenced. One was an idea of connectedness through familial ties, which are rooted deep in the culture and displayed through the most successful Portuguese businesses and trades being passed down from generation to generation. The second was a feeling of hope for the future displayed in the focus on sustainability and future generations.

On the last day, we presented our final team course assignments to our professors. After, we joined together for a traditional Portuguese farewell dinner at eLeBe Entreparedes to celebrate the completion of another EMBA course.

However, during dinner it became clear that we were all celebrating more than just a great trip; we had inherently learned to embrace the Portuguese sense of connectedness. We were celebrating the bonds that were built and strengthened through this experience, the laughs that were shared, and the memories that were made. We were celebrating the risks we had taken, both individually and as a cohort, the challenges we had overcome, and the success we know is in our future. We were celebrating the “family” this EMBA experience has created.

Obrigada, Portugal!

Put A “Natural” Cork In It!

Written by: Dennis G. Serrette

Did you know it took 43 years to make the cork top in, what is likely, your favorite bottle of wine? Today, Cohort 16 visited Corticeira Amorim, the world’s largest producer of natural cork. Our adventure began almost immediately upon meeting Ines who took us on a tour of the plant; she walked us through the entire process of how cork is made. Well, almost all!  You see, cork oak (Quercus Suber L) takes 25 years before it can be stripped of its bark for the first time and then another nine years before it can be stripped again, but only the third time can it reach the high standard of quality required for cork production.  That’s over 40 years for that one cork top you’re about to pull.  Can you believe that??? 

Amorim, a fourth generation company, traces its roots back to the 19th century in the beautiful country of Portugal. It is the largest cork and cork derived company in the world, generating more than 763 million Euro in sales (2018) from more than 100 countries through their network of dozens of fully owned subsidiaries.  With a multi-million Euro R&D investment per year, Amorim applied its special knowledge to this centuries-old industry as diverse and demanding as wines & spirits, aerospace, automotive, construction, sports, interior and fashion design.  Amorim strongly feels that their responsible approach to raw materials and sustainable production illustrates the remarkable interdependence between the industry and a vital ecosystem – one of the world’s most balanced examples of social, economic, and environmental development.

After an amazing plant tour, we had the pleasure of meeting Carlos Jesus who treated the team to a fantastic presentation on Amorim’s history, corporate strategy, and global positioning as well as its perspective on the future of cork. As a cohort, this visit was very significant since we had come to Portugal having researched this company for our class project.  This visit presented the opportunity for us to confirm our research, learn new facts, and explore answers to new questions to support the cases we were all expected to present in the coming days. You can guess the energy level of the group!  Mr. Jesus was an incredible presenter who exhibited vast knowledge while providing candid thoughts of not only Amorim, but also the industry and its future. 

So, the next time you pop one of the 31 million corks made every year in your favorite bottle of wine feel good about the responsible partner in Amorim fighting to support our planet and environment!

Let’s go on a road trip!

Written by: Mimi Palm

It was 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, and our bus arrived at our final stop of the day, the headquarters of Brisa Auto-Estradas de Portugal (Brisa Portugal Highways). Two tall men in navy suits were standing outside ready to greet us as we approached the building. We were welcomed by Eduardo Costa Ramos, Head of Business Development, and Frederico Lobao Melo, Deputy Head of Brisa Business Development. They walked us into what seemed like a mini auditorium with stadium seating and a projection screen in front of a black-curtained wall. The presentation started almost immediately, beginning with the company profile.

Brisa played a key role in bringing Portugal’s once neglected transportation infrastructure up to date. The company holds the largest road concession granted by the Portuguese government, and it operates the country’s main network of tolled motorways.

Brisa Auto-Estradas de Portugal is a mobility company; however, the business model of Brisa is a combination of partnerships with other companies, including Via Verde, Colibri, and A-to-be Company. The largest segment of the company is highway management, overseeing six concessions, road services, and vehicle inspections. They operate in the United States, India, and Holland in addition to Portugal. Their focus now and in the future is on their customers and efficiency. Eduardo stressed the importance of continuous talent development and the workforce challenges transportation and the mobility industry face. The IT segment is in need of programmers, developers, and technology orientated individuals. Talented IT professionals tend to go to Silicon Valley and/or other industries, and it has become a challenge to attract talent to the automotive industry.

According to Eduardo, Brisa is using predictive analytics via A-to-be tech business, and leveraging their artificial intelligence tools to improve and safeguard road safety. In addition, their angle for future deployments is “Smart Cities”.  They want to continue their transportation model in which they integrate buses, trains, and highways, but it’s imperative that both auto manufacturers and mobility companies collaborate. Consequently, smart transport infrastructure and smart transport are key components of the “Smart City”, and more knowledge is needed concerning those issues.

After their PowerPoint presentation, Eduardo asked that we put away our phones for a behind-the-scenes look. The projection screen rose up and the black curtains began to slowly open. A command center was revealed with multiple TV screens where their highway operations team was actively monitoring and identifying any accessibility issues or accidents. They relayed as much of this information as possible to the people of Portugal for commuting purposes. Fredrico stepped in to speak on the operations, given that this was his wheelhouse. According to Fredrico, there are 70 vans on continuous routes monitoring the highways specifically in their blind spots from the cameras. There was one representative, known as the ‘voice of command’, a police officer who had the authority to divert traffic and make the decision to close highways. It was so interesting to see this command center and learn how they will continue to push sustainable mobility in their market areas. Eduardo made a great point during his presentation in that cars will continue to exist, whether or not they are called something else in the future, but this form of transportation will continue to occur and so will the need to improve the mobility canvas.

Entrepreneurs Welcome!

Written by: Antwane Stavis

Bom dia everyone! It’s day four in Portugal and MadGrad16 is still rolling strong. This morning we were introduced to a wonderful company, Startup Lisboa, that opened for business in February 2012.  The company was founded in 2011 by the Municipality of Lisbon, Bank Montepio and IAPME, but it is a private non-profit association. Office Manager, Nuno Moreno, filled us in on how big his company’s “heart” is. The company’s mission “is to support the creation of companies and entrepreneurs in their first year of activity, to promote job creation, and aid the urban, social, and economic vitality of Lisbon.” Startup Lisboa has helped entrepreneurs from over 35 countries which generated over 2,000 jobs. They help set up residence in Lisbon for those who want to enter the program, and they facilitate meetings with professionals from specific areas of interest in workspaces they created in two historic buildings and a section of the business lounge at Lisbon Airport. For our knowledge and to illustrate how they work, we were presented with four companies that used Startup Lisboa to start their business. We were able to see how the company works, ask questions as if we were entrepreneurs starting out and network, while also sharing our perspectives about how we viewed their company.

The first company, Argeo, could not physically be present, so their representative, Giovanni Spiller, presented to us by a virtual call, showing the commitment that is made when one joins this family. Argeo is an Italian based company that created a community inside a “Pokémon” style app available in both Google Play and the Apple store. Their tagline, “Augment Your World” describes their augmented reality and GPS Geolocation app. When one pulls up the desired items on a smartphone, the app shows a location where the item can be scanned. Upon reaching the location, the camera on the phone turns on to scan the area until the item is found, and then the person is granted with a reward, such as a discount coupon, that can be saved or gifted to friends or family. Argeo would also like to focus on more personalized app ads. For more information, visit http://www.theargeo.com/engindex.html .

Next, Kristina presented about Secretcitytrails, an app she created with co-founder Wendy because they believe traveling is broken. Kristina explained that one may download apps when on a vacation or a tour that doesn’t share enough information or expose the great hidden spots worth visiting. Secretcitytrails is a game one can play alone, with a team or to compete with others. Solving riddles in the game takes one off the beaten path and leads to the good local spots. The games are created by locals, tour guides and staff. The games are then reviewed and if found worthy go live for purchase and play. This is an interactive way to take a tour of the city and see some of the not so advertised sights and places of a city. For more information go to https://www.secretcitytrails.com/ .

The third presentation was made by Sention CEO Zan Bridi. Sention developed a new way to see advertisements on live or past sporting events. Advertising at sporting events takes a lot of time and equipment to ensure what is being advertised appears like it was placed on purpose by the sports venue. Bridi’s program uses modeling, programming and cloud server technology to put the advertisement in the best viewing or hard to place areas. This is all accomplished remotely, which reduces the price of using a high-end broadcast booth. For more information go to http://www.sention.co.uk/ .

Carlos led the final presentation on a company called BoxToLife. This product is meant to “provide meaningful experiences to visitors who attend museums, archaeological sites, parks, monuments and streets.” A visitor does not need an internet connection to access the box.  The information is uploaded to the cloud and the information is broadcast in whatever language one selects. Its artificial intelligence learns and creates more powerful experiences for visitors. For more information, visit https://www.boxto.life/

There are still more days and more fun to come so keep stopping by to learn about our next adventure. Until then, obrigado Ate Logo!

Cohort 15 Presents their Integrative Research Projects

Each year students ending their EMBA program have a Capstone Project to complete and present on their last day of class. This year it was Cohort 15’s turn to present their final project before celebrating together that evening at their graduation party.

They were tasked with a research project on launching an innovative product or service, or redesigning an existing product or service for the bottom of the pyramid. Each of the 4 teams were fully responsible for the project from beginning to end. Below is an overview of the companies each team presented on.

Generation Hearts

Pictured from left to right: Juan Yang, Lilian Kaares, Ryan Gormon and Elena Outlan

Generation Hearts is a company whose vision is to enhance the quality of life for lonely, aging, less fortunate individuals by satisfying the basic human need of interaction via an intergenerational safe and caring virtual social network. Their logo which displays connected hearts aims to connect generations to one another to help the aging population who are lonely. Through a downloadable app on your phone, seniors could easily connect to trained individuals that will speak with them and keep them company for some time throughout the day. This company was created by Ryan Gorman, Elena Outlan, Lilian Kaares and Juan Yang.

Block Builders

Block Builders was created by Kris Sahadeo, Kristie Jones, Nicole Amero and Sophia Baldwin to enhance lives by creating high quality places to live. Their mission is to build world-class, affordable residences through up-cycling shipping containers into Minuscule Mansions. Don’t let the fact that they are shipping containers fool you, while they are very affordable, each container is fully outfitted to look like a regular home and redesigned exteriors form beautiful communities.  

GrOtown Greens


Pictured from left to right: Brian Vann, Natalie Ferrer, Kate Kroll, Jessica Bundy and Laure Warfield

GrOtown Greens is dedicated to feeding and fueling Orlando through a vertically integrated model which incorporates school gardens, holistic education, a fresh take on a food truck (for improved access to healthy dishes and increased food distribution) and continued community engagement opportunities. Through their efforts, GrOtown Greens hopes to plant the seeds for a better tomorrow for children and their families in Central Florida. This company was created by Jessica Bundy, Natalie Ferrer, Kate Kroll, Brian Vann and Laurie Warfield.

F3: Food For the Future

Pictured from left to right: Aziz Ndiaye, Nicole O’Reilly, Eddie Molina and Greg Lucas

Food For the Future (F3) was created by Aziz Ndiaye, Nicole O’Reilly, Eddie Molina and Greg Lucas. F3 leverages the organizational advantage of an established non-profit (Meals on Wheels America) to create an in-home delivery option for families who need food during school breaks. Through partnerships with multiple non-profits and civic organizations they bring peace of mind and create “Full Bellies, Healthy Minds” to the underprivileged youth of Central Florida. By working with administrators in local schools with free and reduced lunch populations, families could connect to F3 to receive this service.

With their presentations, final projects and papers submitted, SqUadron 15 can now take some time to relax and celebrate their accomplishments. We can’t wait to see you walk across the stage on Graduation Day!

Honeymoon Hats by Megan Griffin

Honeymoon Hats by Megan Griffin

Honeymoon Hats™ was founded and designed by one of our very own Stetson EMBA students, Megan Griffin in early 2016. She wanted her sun hat to stand out on a cruise, so she added sequin writing to a store-bought hat. While on the cruise, she received many compliments on the hat, and noticed many couples on their honeymoon. When she returned home, she decided to start selling her handmade hats, and realized she could customize them with the bride’s last name as a perfect gift for all the honeymooners.

The scope of the business has rapidly expanded since then, but the hats are still made by hand in sunny Florida today at Honeymoon Hat HQ. Each hat is customized at the time of purchase for a treasured keepsake that is also a practical vacation accessory.

 Honeymoon Hats™ has received industry recognition in many fashion websites and blogs, including Inside Weddings Magazine, Racked.com, Yahoo Style, and Shape Magazine. They have become the new essential honeymoon accessory and expanded the bridal gift market. Their success has inspired many imitators, but their hats still remain a testament to quality, luxury, and their signature hand-applied sequin script.

Check out their packages for Bachelorette and Bridal parties.

Honeymoon hats can also be found on Etsy as well as Facebook and Instagram.

For all inquiries, press, or blog collaborations, please email info@honeymoonhats.com.

An Alumna’s Journey – Julie Muckerheide

An Alumna’s Journey – Julie Muckerheide

My career path has been far from conventional.  Being raised in the restaurant business, I was not really sure what I wanted to be when I grew up. After earning my Associate of Arts in Political Science, I began working for a commercial construction company initially doing project accounting but quickly moving up and into training and HR.  While I loved the work, I knew my lack of education held me back.  I decided to go back to school to study one of my passions, Culinary Arts.  After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Culinary Arts, I moved to Orlando to follow a dream of working for the Walt Disney Company.  I was hired as a Sous Chef at Disney’s Polynesian Resort where I worked for 4 years and then moved to Disney’s Old Key West Resort for 3 years.  It was there that I met my Front of House peer, Kim Tuttle.  Kim decided to start the Stetson University EMBA program, and I watched as she blossomed as a Leader and in her life.  It was inspiring, and I wanted that for myself.

It did not take long to convince me that I needed to look at the Stetson EMBA program.  I never thought I would go back to school at 40 to get a Master’s Degree in Business.  No one in my immediate family had advanced degrees, and my background and education did not include in-depth accounting and finance. I knew it would be a challenge for this Chef!  I thought I could manage attending school two days per week, and the Cohort program appealed to me.  I am so glad I stepped WAY out of my comfort zone to go to Stetson.  The EMBA program was life altering.  The Leadership component of the program alone is worth the price of admission.  The knowledge and growth I experienced was tremendous.  Here I was travelling to Thailand, to present a business case to an international technology company on how they could expand their business into the United States.  I came back a very different, and more confident, person.  Several people in my Cohort became like family, and we made memories that I will cherish forever.

Armed with additional experiences and increased knowledge, I took a chance and applied for a brand new role at Walt Disney World while I was finishing my MBA.  The role would move me out of the kitchen and was a considerable promotion.  I was offered the Labor and Training Integration Manager role starting in September 2016.  While my Professors and cohort were a source of support and encouragement throughout the program, they were especially there for me during this job transition, at which time I was also experiencing some health issues. These health issues resulted in a hospital stay and prescribed bed rest, so I very much appreciated my professors and cohort helping me remotely, allowing me to still get all my necessary work for the courses completed. It felt like one of the greatest accomplishments of my life when I walked across that stage for my diploma.

No matter where you are in your career or life, you should definitely take a chance on yourself and participate in this EMBA program!

Dr. Ram Subramanian’s Thailand Reflection

Dr. Ram Subramanian, Professor of Strategic Management in our Executive MBA Program, ventured to Thailand with our Cohort 15 students, and shares his experiences.  

“We’ll Always Have Sukhumwit”

My colleague, Jon Carrick, was in full drill master mode on our first day in Thailand.  I, like most others in Cohort 15, had landed late Saturday at the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok and the nearly 20-hour flight had left me, as I am sure the others, in a groggy and disoriented state.  Jon, a veteran of several trips to Thailand, had anticipated correctly our discomfiture and had the perfect antidote for it!  A 6:00 a.m. wake up call and a day long bus trip was just the panacea for jet lag!

The beauty of Ayutthaya more than made up for Jon’s tough love approach! Ayutthaya, Thailand’s variation of Ayodhya, the historic city in northeast India, putatively the site of Ramayana, the ancient Indian epic, hit its peak in the 14th-18th centuries, when it was a leading city in Asia, and a center of both commerce and culture. By then, Buddhism was widespread, and Ayutthaya was replete with numerous statues of Gautama Buddha.  What we saw, however, was the strange sight of statue after statue with Buddha’s head chopped off.  Our intrepid guide, Crystal, told us that the Burmese were to blame for the beheadings.  Regardless of what the Burmese did, Buddha’s influence permeates even today in a country where 97 percent of the people are Buddhists.  Buddha got his enlightenment while meditating by a tree and so I thought it fitting that an interesting feature of our visit was the sight of a Buddha statue embedded in a tree.

While Sunday was the cultural tour of Ayutthaya, the rest of our hectic week was filled with business visits, each of them distinct and interesting in its own way.  At McDonald’s or McThai, we saw how the famed American restaurant chain succeeded by adapting its menu to fit local market needs.  An interesting presentation at Taskworld showed us how coding and start-up skills can be found anywhere.  Our visit to Kantor gave us a fine-grained glimpse of Thai market conditions from the perspective of a market research firm. Kidzania allowed us to be kids once again, albeit for a brief while. And at Hangar we saw a replica of Silicon Valley’s vaunted entrepreneurial culture as our presenter told us that the search was on for Thailand’s first unicorn!  Every day was exhausting but interesting and informative.  At the end of each day, we looked forward to coming back to the luxurious confines of Westin Grand Sukhumwit, our hotel, which as our resident hotel expert Aziz pointed out is part of the worldwide Marriott group. Suffice to say, I wouldn’t be wrong if I paraphrase Humphry Bogart in saying, no matter what, we’ll always have Sukhumwit!

Cabbages, Condoms and Cohorts – Oh my!

Our visit to Cabbages and Condoms

It’s not everyday that you walk into a restaurant that is themed

around something that could be considered fallic or inappropriate, but I found myself in that place during our

International Experience to Bangkok Thailand when we visited Cabbages and Condoms. I chose this restaurant for 3 reasons: I really wanted to experience true Thai Cuisine, I had heard that the concept was unlike anything I would ever experience in USA, and I wanted to learn more about the foundation which the Restaurant supports.

The evening started with a short walk from our Hotel down a very dark ally to a beautifully colorful lite building. As you enter the restaurant there is a gift shop with logoed souvenirs which I knew I would have to stop and make a purchase on my way out. We were greeted by a very friendly host who was quick to put a table together for our large group.

The restaurant is two stories which has three air-conditioned dining rooms, and two more authentic courtyard style dining areas. We were seated on the upper level, which gave us a gorgeous view of the lower level. The uniqueness to this restaurant is all the decor is made from Condoms.

When we were seated, we were presented with a huge book that was our menu. It was filled with about 50 or 60 choices, and full cocktail, beer and wine section, and at the end was the dessert page. I stopped and got very excited when I found the very thing I had been wanting to try on this trip…Durian Ice Cream!!

We were all curious and looked to the end of the meal! When we ordered our meals, everyone chose something different as the portions are large enough to share, and they stage the table with sharing plates to encourage you to do so. The menu choices ranged from Spring Rolls, Sweet and Sour Chicken for the faint of heart to Blazing Spicy Chicken, Pork and Noodle dishes. We all had a great time experiencing the amazing flavors of Thailand. At the end of the meal, I ordered the  Durian Ice Cream. It came beautifully presented, and there was enough for everyone to take a bite. A picture is worth a thousand words, so I am attaching our reaction to the Ice Cream that is made from the “Noble Fruit”, as Krystal, our translator from the Ayuttaya tour deemed it.

With all the fun we had at this restaurant, there is benefit to the Thai community through the fundraising effort that is promoted through-out the restaurant through the signage and donation boxes. Mechai Viravaidya has a campaign to raise funds for HIV prevention and education and life skills for underprivileged children that attend his school, Mechai Bamboo school.

As a community leader, he has identified that HIV is not a ‘health problem’, but rather a Soceity Problem, and through education, we can begin to diminish the disease by promoting safe sex. What better way than through starting with the youth through giving them the tutelage at the Mechai Bamboo School.

I highly recommend a visit to Cabbages and Condoms if you visit Bangkok for the food, décor and opportunity to support a very beneficial Charity. When the server dropped off our check, each of us was given a condom as a parting gift. For some in our group, one was not enough, so there is a box to help yourself on the way out the door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shared by Kristie Jones

 

5 Star Hotel Accommodations for a 5 Star Cohort

The Westin Grande Sukhumvit,

home of SqUadron 15 for the next few days is a 5 Star hotel of 363 rooms located in the Business and Commercial District of Bangkok; one of the emerging cities in the Asia, Pacific Region. The property is part of the Marriott International Group, the largest hotel chain in the world, after the acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts.

We arrived at the hotel on Saturday, June 23, 2018, at around 2330 hours and after settling in our well-appointed rooms, a few of us met in the lobby restaurant where we indulged ourselves in some local Thai food and drinks. It was a great opportunity to decompress and bond after a long and exhausting journey from Orlando, Chicago, and Tokyo.

On the afternoon of June 24, 2018, our Stetson EMBA Cohort #15 met with Mr. Peter Lucas, an Australian Expatriate who has been appointed General Manager in 2016.

Most recently, he held leadership positions at the Four Points Sheraton Bangkok and Hilton Melbourne Australia.

During our briefing, Peter told our group that there are more than forty 5 Star hotels in Bangkok; a city that has become the  #1 tourist destination in the world ahead of London of Paris.

In 2017, Bangkok welcomed more than 30 million guests and visitors.

The main opportunity in the hotel business here in Bangkok is the very low ADR (Average Daily Rate) which is about $95.00 per night for 5 Star Hotels. The ADR in cities like New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco is between $600.00 and $750.00 per night.

The success indicators at the Westin Sukhumvit and in the Marriott Hotel Group are Revenue, which includes Profit and Budget Achievement- Guest Satisfaction- Quality Assurance Audits- Employee & Owner Satisfactions.

Before leaving for Bangkok, Dr. Carrick told us that the breakfast buffet at the Westin are tremendous and we unanimously agree. We always look forward to meeting at the restaurant early in the morning to enjoy the variety of fabulous local and international food served by the friendly and welcoming staff.

Shared by Aziz Ndiaye