Social Entrepreneurship Conference

The Cross College Alliance is hosting student entrepreneurs who want to tackle social, cultural, and environmental issues Sept. 21 at New College’s Sudakoff Conference Center.

2019 Social Entrepreneurship Conference

Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, Sudakoff Conference Center

Social Entrepreneur Conference logoStudents and community members gathered at Harry Sudakoff Conference Center Sept. 21 to experience New College’s first Social Entrepreneurship Conference.

“Social entrepreneurship is a new concept of business where the focus is not on the profits, but on the impact they make on the world,” explains Emiliano Espinosa, an Environmental Studies AOC and co-founder of the conference.

Hosted by the Cross College Alliance, the conference brought together business leaders and influential community members to empower and equip the next generation of social entrepreneurs. Panelists from local and successful businesses spoke on the challenges and rewards of addressing social, environmental, and creative issues through entrepreneurship.

“In learning how to start something from nothing,” Rose Shimmel, a Music and Psychology AOC, remarked, “I learned that you just have to keep reaching out to people and don’t be afraid to take risks. People come from such different backgrounds and they just go for these projects, and I feel inspired to keep going for my own.”

In addition to portfolio reviews, students had the opportunity to participate in a pitch competition, where judges considered potential business ideas and awarded scholarships to help launch student-led entrepreneurial endeavors. New College student Jesus Olive was awarded $3,000 to grow his company, named Better Today.

“I encourage students to take their opportunity in their four-year career as a college student to actually take on a project that matters to them — to their heart — and make it happen throughout those four years, even if it’s at a small scale,” says Espanosa. “You can make an impact locally.”

The next Social Entrepreneurship Conference is planned for September 2020.

KeyNote Speaker Joy Randels


Joy Randels helped launch more than 75 companies, raised more than $300 million in venture capital, and led 17 acquisitions.

She is currently the founder and CEO of New Market Partners, a tech company accelerator.

View her address here:

Conference panels

Social Entrepreneurship Panel:

Greg Smogard (USFSM) Moderator
Greg Smogard (USFSM) Moderator
Neirda LaFontant (Funducation)
Neirda LaFontant (Funducation)
Johnette Isham (Realize Bradenton)
Johnette Isham (Realize Bradenton)
Gretchen Bauer (BSWANKY)
Gretchen Bauer (BSWANKY)

Environmental Entrepreneurship Panel:

Mark Paul (NCF) Moderator
Mark Paul (NCF) Moderator
Erica McCreadie
Erica McCreadie
Jesse White (Architectural Salvage)
Jesse White (Architectural Salvage)
Anand Pallegar (Dream Large)
Anand Pallegar (DreamLarge)

Creative Entrepreneurship Panel:

Pete Petersen (Dealers United) Moderator
Pete Petersen (Dealers United) Moderator
Olivier Corizzi (Avenue Media)
Olivier Corizzi (Avenue Media)
Esteban Valdez (Echo-Bridge)
Esteban Valdez (Echo-Bridge)
Camilyn Leavitt (Camilyn Beth)
Camilyn Leavitt (Camilyn Beth)
New College student Jesus Olive was awarded $3,000 to grow his company, named Better Today.
New College student Jesus Olive was awarded $3,000 to grow his company, named Better Today.

Incubator Pitch Contest

Part of our mission of ending the cycles of non-action is our Incubator contest. We are not just discussing entrepreneurship but acting on it in our communities. Incubator applicants worked hard for months on developing their business plans with our team of professional business mentors.

Three Incubator Applicant Finalists pitched their business plans before three socially-mind investors. Winners  received cash and other prizes.

Socially-Minded Investor Judges


Matthew Eisner
Matthew Eisner is a marketing, data, and research expert who works with startups, scaleups, investors, and corporates to solve their growth problems. In addition to running an advisory and consulting business, he also manages an early stage investment fund.

Previously, Matthew served as head of all marketing and data across for Startupbootcamp as they grew from less than 10 to more than 20 accelerator programs.

Rachel West
For more than 25 years, Rachel West has advised and evolved some of the world’s most successful companies, both in the U.S. and abroad. As a strategy advisor and solution partner at Dell EMC since 2003, she’s led many innovative initiatives in Cloud, Big Data, XaaS and Digital Transformation for its most strategic clients including Vanguard, Bank of America, FiServe, Caterpillar, BNY Mellon, Republic Services, Fidelity and State Street. She co-founded InfoAlliance, a strategic consultancy where early-stage ventures and disruptive technology startups can develop sustainable business models and services, in 2009.

Ms. West attended Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Babson College’s Executive Programs. She received her MBA from the University of Massachusetts, and a B.A. in economics at the top-ranked International Business School at the University of Nanjing, China.


Rita Ferrandino
Rita Ferrandino has built an international reputation as one of the most effective strategists and coalition-builders in the education entrepreneurship community. She is a recognized STEM education expert, and an authority on education policy and politics.

Rita is the founding partner at Arc Capital Development, a global private investment and advisory firm. Arc invests in, operates,  and advises companies in the K-20 education and special needs markets. She has served over 125 clients in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Ireland, Turkey, Israel, and India. Rita is an instructor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Education Entrepreneurship Program, and she works with its Catalyst@PennGSE innovation center.

Our Sponsors

Gulf Coast CEO Forum

Matrix Business Accelerator

Al Purmort Insurance

SRQ Media

SRQ Media

Free Food Trucks

Free breakfast and lunch was provided by two local Sarasota food trucks featuring tacos and vegan options:

Fire Tacos Sarasota “Best tacos in town”
Fire Tacos Sarasota “Best tacos in town”
Bowled Life “Healthy, vegan, and nutritious choices for fueling your body”
“Healthy, vegan, and nutritious choices for fueling your body”

Our Partners

Realize Bradenton

Cross College Alliance

New College of Florida

State College of Florida, and the Ringing College of Art and Design