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Center for Free Enterprise & Entrepreneurship announces new level of entrepreneurial partnership with Catapult Lakeland

Jun 21, 2024

Florida Southern College's Center for Free Enterprise & Entrepreneurship (CFEE) proudly announces a new level of entrepreneurial partnership with Catapult Lakeland. FSC's growing entrepreneurial system is providing new businesses at Catapult, and beyond, to the Lakeland community. 

With this new partnership, the CFEE has increased its Catapult student membership count from two memberships to ten, meeting the growing demand from our student entrepreneurs. The CFEE’s Seed to Scale incubation program has worked with ninety-five total startups. In the first year of this new partnership, FSC has proudly filled all ten Catapult memberships from this total with high-achieving, student entrepreneurs.

Justin Heacock, Director of the CFEE, says, “This partnership signifies the growth of the entrepreneurial ecosystem at FSC and our ability to produce high-quality, scalable startups in partnership with Catapult. In our first three years, the CFEE has produced 5 statewide winners and has awarded over $100,000 to student entrepreneurs. We can produce some of the best student startups in the state at FSC and, together with Catapult, we can produce scalable startups that stay in Lakeland”. To date, FSC student entrepreneurs have generated over $4,000,000 in revenue and created twenty-three jobs.

Christin Strawbridge, President of Catapult Lakeland, comments, “We are so grateful for this partnership with FSC’s CFEE. As students become members, we help provide resources, such as our Expert in Residence program, to help them build their businesses and navigate any challenges that come their way. We are especially excited to collaborate with FSC to impact the broader ecosystem of Lakeland, by helping students realize that Lakeland is a place to start and scale a successful business. With the support of Justin and the CFEE, students do not have to wait for graduation to put their business ideas into action. They can start now. We love having FSC students at Catapult, as they collaborate with our members and staff. They bring energy and excitement, and we cannot wait to see all they will accomplish!”. 

Happyson Kaunda '24 with Justin Heacock posing with a large check
Happyson Kaunda '24 with Justin Heacock

One success story from this partnership is Happyson Kaunda, FSC student and founder of Tafika Tickets.  Tafika Tickets is the first online bus ticketing platform in Happyson’s home country of Zambia. Happyson is the winner of the 2024 Governor’s Cup, a premier statewide competition showcasing Florida’s best entrepreneurs from universities across the state. This is the first time FSC has won this award and Happyson has been a Catapult member since spring 2023. Below is a list of all ten student entrepreneurs who are now proud members at Catapult this year.

Startup: Tafika Tickets

Student: Happyson Kaunda

Description: Online bus ticketing platform facilitating the purchase of intercity bus tickets in Zambia. 

Startup: Ace Bean Coffee

Student: Jesuel Caraballo

Description: Craft coffee company that tells the stories of veterans' journeys through coffee products.

Startup: Barswipe

Student: Conor O’Connell

Description: Social app that drives human-to-human connection through in-person meetings.

Startup: Box Buddy

Student: Adrian Tobin

Description: Proprietary device to improve the efficiency of stockers in grocery stores.

Startup: DermaGENEous 

Student: Brooke Sommers

Description: A genetics company that recommends skin care products matching your genetic profile.

Startup: Digital Agency

Student: Silvian Ene

Description: An agency providing digital marketing services for companies.

Startup: IncogNeedle

Student: Nathan Calvary

Description: A needle cover that reduces anxiety for children when they go to the doctor’s office.

Startup: No Small Talk

Student: Mack Cromer II

Description: Urban streetwear apparel brand focusing on authenticity.

Startup: Shoe Renew

Student: Luke Citarelli

Description: Shoe projection patches for pickleball and tennis.

Startup: Taquería del Angel

Student: Jacqueline Martinez

Description: A Mexican Taqueria serving the Polk County community.