The Entrepreneurial Excellence Program Helps Local Companies Succeed
~EEP Class One Graduate Gulf Coast Tung Oil Company Expanding Business Through Partnerships~
Established in 2011, the Entrepreneurial Excellence Program is Tallahassee’s first startup training program aimed at entrepreneurs to help guide them through the early stages of business development. Since the beginning over 140 participants have graduated from the program and gone on to run successful businesses. Greg Frost, CEO of Gulf Coast Tung Oil is an example of how the program helps turn a startup concept into an entrepreneurial success story. After a 30-year career in law enforcement administration, Greg launched his company Gulf Coast Tung Oil, and participated in the first EEP class. When he enrolled all he had was an idea and a rough business plan.
Six years later, his company is currently the only one in the United States to grow and process its own tung nuts for tung oil, which is used for various applications including wood finishing, paint, printer ink, and even as a metal protectant. The demand for tung oil is increasing every year with numerous major manufacturers, as well as smaller customers, reaching out to Gulf Coast Tung Oil for its products. In 2017, the company sold completely out of its tung oil supply.
“After spending more than 30 years in law enforcement administration I was ready to own my own business,” Greg stated. “EEP helped me deal with what I needed in order to start a business, but it goes even further and helped me transition into actually running the business.”
With no entrepreneurial experience, the EEP program helped Greg build his startup by helping him developing a strong and strategic business plan from which he could build his new business. He also learned how to overcome one of the biggest obstacles new entrepreneurs face: financing his startup.
Another vital skill acquired during EEP was the ability to successfully pitch his company to potential partners. Greg is now partnering with four allied growers, who have planted an additional 400 acres of tung tree orchards. The orchards are in various stages of growth, but are expected to be mature enough to produce nuts in the next three to five years. These additional orchards will help Gulf Coast Tung Oil significantly increase supply in order to better meet the increasing demand.
The EEP program utilizes a unique approach of 10 dynamic and engaging classes lead by several successful local business leaders who share their unique insights and real-world experiences. Topics included funding, business development, team building, and marketing. The classes are highly interactive and provide an experience not available anywhere else in Tallahassee. Perhaps most importantly, the relationships that participants build with the business leaders who volunteer their time to teach the classes, and also with each other, endure long after the final class.
The Entrepreneurial Excellence Program is currently accepting applications for Class 14, which starts on March 20th, 2018. Learn more about the program by visiting www.innovation-park.com/eep.