On Tuesday, April 26, The University of Tampa Board of Fellows hosted a Business Networking Symposium, a complimentary and informative event held three times per year for the Tampa Bay business community and students at the Vaughn Center Crescent Club located at The University of Tampa. The three speakers were Nick Vojnovic (CEO of Little Greek Fresh Grill), Gregory Williams (Principal and Co-Founder of Cardinal Point Management), and Christine Day (CEO of Luvo, Inc.). All three shared their journey along with a few tips for success!
In April of 2011 Nick Nojnovic signed a partnership agreement with Singrid Bratic to franchise Little Greek Restaurants throughout Tampa Bay and beyond. With Nick’s help, Little Greek grew from four, to twenty-eight stores! He has also upgraded the infrastructure of Little Greek in various ways such as creating many corporate partnerships as well as many other improvements. Examples of these enhancements including décor, perfecting and crediting homemade menu items, advancing technology, and opening a food truck. With Nick, the average unit volume was $660,000 and comparable store sales increased 20%!
Nick stressed the importance of businesses knowing its values. His values are passion, integrity, honesty, operation excellence, giving back, and the ability to adapt or willing to change. It is important for a company to set standards for their workplace as well as their employees.
Gregory Williams, the Co Founder and Principal of Cardinal Point Management grew up in New Jersey and Studied Finance & Real Estate at the University of Pennsylvania. He co-found Cardinal Point, an investment firm located in St. Petersburg. Cardinal Point raises capital from high net-worth and institutional investors to execute value-add and opportunistic real estate investment opportunities. Cardinal point is also a Real Estate Property Management Firm. This means it manages various estate investments, asset management and construction management services, accounting services, as well as tenant and vendor relations.
Gregory explained that The Great Recession in 2008-2009 created certain opportunities and helped identify Florida as a market to focus on. This is because Real Estate prices were depressed but long–term fundamentals outstanding. Gregory moved to Tampa in January of 2010 due to its great infrastructure (i.e. close proximity to the airport and port). A few of Cardinal Point’s investments include shops on South Howard, The Slade- Channelside, Carillion Office Portfolio, Cardinal Point at Gateway, N. Rome Ave, etc. Gregory explains that it is imperative to continue investing in Florida and Tampa Bay because of its continued growth, healthy tax environment, healthcare, weather, coastline, education, steady tourism, cost of living, port and airport, and most importantly, the community leadership.
For last segment of the event, Dr. Rebecca White interviewed Christine Day. Christine worked for Starbucks for twenty years, eventually becoming the head of its Asia-Pacific division. After her success at Starbucks, she became the CEO of Lululemon. She is currently the CEO of the Vancouver-based food company called Luvo, Inc. Christine was inspired by the idea of investing in a healthy food with low sugar and sodium with great taste due to her mother’s diagnosis of diabetes. Christine expressed the willingness to invest in the quality of nutrition and putting health first. She would often grocery shop looking for something with high fiber, high protein, low sodium and low sugar to no avail. Luvo brings meals that look familiar but are healthy and taste good. When she developed the line, she met Derek Jeter who was looking to improve diets of younger athletes. Due to their common goals, they joined forces.
Christine credits her success to the idea that Luvo is a purpose-led company. She explained the importance of articulating a vision. It is vital when building a brand to complete the discipline work of activity mapping. This means to ensure that the company possesses the resources that actually make the promise true; how authentic are you? With that being said, it is important to balance efficiency with effectiveness. If you are looking at your spreadsheet, trying to be more efficient, there will be loss of authenticity. It is critical to look at a brand as a promise.
Ultimately, all of these speakers provided different perspectives as to what led to their successes and failures. Dr. White cited a quote by Christine during a speech given at Central Washington University where she said, “Embrace your weirdness.” This was the perfect ending to a great event. Christine stressed not to live a life of comparison. Every person has their own strengths and skills. The most interesting and successful people and businesses are the ones that remain true to themselves and to their vision.
Visit The University of Tampa’s website.
Learn more about the UT Board of Fellows’ other Business Networking Symposia here.
Categorized in: Work
This post was written by Elevate, Inc.