In Business, Timing Is Everything

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Aspiring Floral Park entrepreneur wins seed funding in Capital One competition

It’s been said that the perfect time to start your own company is during a bad economy. For one Floral Park resident, winning seed funding in Capital One’s business plan competition has blossomed into a brand new business.

Floral Park resident Diana Brobmann has worked as a highly sought after professional in the garment and retail industries for more than 20 years. She entered into the licensing industry to trademark and brand products, turning them into retail businesses for popular brand names from Dolce & Gabbana to Harley Davidson.

“It sounds very glamorous and I’ve been with some of the best licensing firms. As of November 2010, one of the companies I worked for decided not to be in the licensing business anymore and I got let go,” Brobmann explained.

After recovering from the job loss, Brobmann said a friend suggested she start her own company. “I thought ‘how do you even begin?…Where do you find the capital? Where you do find the know-how?” she said. As fate would have it, that same week an envelope arrived from Hofstra University in her mailbox advertising the Skodnek Business Development Center’s Entrepreneurial Assistance Program (EAP).

A Hofstra alumna, Brobmann made the life-changing decision to enroll in the 12-week course, which is held two nights a week at the university. “I said the timing is right. I might as well do this and at least start my company directly,” Brobmann commented.

The program culminated with a business plan competition where nine entrepreneurs vied to win seed capital funding from Capital One bank. Brobmann was awarded $1,100 to launch her company named Global Inception Group (GIG), a marketing consultancy, which specializes in branding and licensing of products.

The course exceeded expectations, she admits, but the work was extremely challenging. “There were many times I questioned myself and my abilities to do this. It’s just an easier thing to hide within corporate America. I’ve always been a cog in a wheel of a corporation, but now I want to be the wheel.”

Since finishing the program, the Floral Parker has already acquired four clients and says business is growing steadily. In the future, she hopes to open an office near the Floral Park train station and hire local residents.

Capital One Bank’s Business Plan Competition is part of a $10,000 grant to the Skodnek Business Development Center, which is part of the bank’s larger partnership with Hofstra University that includes a business plan competition with the Frank G. Zarb School of Business and Money & Me, a financial literacy education program for Long Island school children.

The three winners of the contest were chosen by a committee of Capital One small-business bankers, Hofstra University faculty and executives from the Skodnek Business Development Center. The winners were selected based on overall plan content, competitive research, demonstration of industry knowledge, development of financials and timely submission of the plan.

Judith Tyne, the associate dean of the Skodnek Business Development Center, has been with the EAP program since its inception in 1991. “The goal of the program is to help persons who are interested in starting, maintaining or expanding a business on Long Island and contributing to the economic development on Long Island,” she explained.

A nonacademic program, Tyne stated that the EAP attracts people of all ages and business backgrounds and helps an entrepreneur set goals and set benchmarks to reach those goals. The program offers 60 hours of training and covers all the topics to run a successful business from networking and insurance to financing and social media.

“The majority of the people who come in have thought about starting a business or expanding their product and services more efficiently, so by writing a business plan, they can accomplish all those goals,” Tyne said.

Of Brobmann’s business plan, Tyne said it stood out because of the detail it provided. “She did a tremendous amount of research and organized with the plan. It was really in depth,” she added.

Since its founding in 1991, the EAP has enrolled more than 1,130 entrepreneurs who have since launched 373 businesses, generated $21 million in sales revenue, created 857 jobs and secured $4 million in financing, according to Tyne. For information on entering the EAP program, visit www.hofstra.edu.

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