Kathryn Rudloff Named New Executive Director of Florida Tech Bisk College of Business weVENTURE
By Space Coast Daily // February 13, 2020
Rudloff previously served as executive director of Business Voice Political Committee
If you dream of starting your own business, or if you want to take your company to the next level, you need to talk with Kathryn Rudloff. Rudloff, the new executive director of Florida Tech’s weVENTURE, is a wealth of information when it comes to business.
Rudloff arrived at weVENTURE in January with a wealth of experience in business. She previously served as executive director of Business Voice Political Committee, a pro-business PAC on the Space Coast.
With a bachelor of science degree in political science from Ohio State University and a master’s degree in political management from George Washington University, Rudloff has worked in strategic messaging, communications and fundraising for political committees and local, state, federal and even presidential campaigns in Washington, DC, California and Florida.
An active volunteer with organizations such as the Junior League of South Brevard, MOPS ministry, The Haven for Children and Family Promise of Brevard, Rudloff was recognized for her advocacy and for her work in the political arena as one of Brevard’s “4 under 40” leaders by LEAD Brevard.
As the new leader for weVenture, Rudloff oversees an organization bursting with energy and inspiration. Part of the university’s Bisk College of Business and funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, weVenture provides the tools necessary to realize the very American dream of owning your own place of work.
“The federal government recognizes the small businesses is where the rubber hits the road,” said Rudloff.
“Small business is the backbone of economic development in the United States. More than half of all new jobs created are due to small business.”
Women play a critical role in this part of industry. The National Women’s Business Council notes that women-owned small businesses grew at twice the rate of all privately held firms in the country between 1997 and 2006.
Although the 13 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. employ 9.4 million workers and generate $1.9 trillion in revenue, female founders received only $2.88 billion of the total $130 billion of venture capital dollars available in 2018, demonstrates the barriers still in place for women-owned small businesses.
“It is our goal to change that statistic for not only Brevard but Indian River and St. Lucie counties as well,” said Rudloff.
Aimed primarily at women, weVenture offers a wide range of programs and services to support economic prosperity through the growth of small businesses.
“We’re gender-neutral, but we are geared towards women,” said Rudloff. “When we recruit mentors, we try to seek out women to help other women.”
Ignite 360, weVenture’s mentoring program, offers the whole package, with business coaching, one-on-one counseling sessions, business education workshops, technical assistance and networking opportunities.
Amy Luhn, who owns Champion Home Health Care, credit weVenture for her success.
“The Ignite 360 was the opportunity of a lifetime,” she said.
“Before Ignite 360, I did not know if I was sustainable, but during the program my mentors challenged me to set goals for my business and they kept me on track to achieve them. Ignite 360 taught me how to think and plan strategically, to use my resources and to be a true leader.”
The program is invaluable even for established business owners, such as real estate broker Barbara Wall, co-owner of Prudential Sterling Properties, which employs 65 agents and a support staff of 10. Wall and business partner Nancy Taylor determined a new path for their business, taking advantage of Ignite 360.
“The Ignite 360 program renewed our excitement for our business, emphasized daily attention to goals and sparked enthusiasm into our souls!” said Wall.
“The opportunity to receive guidance and suggestions from top-level executives offered us a wealth of information.”
In addition to Ignite 360, weVenture offers the Athena NextGen Thought Leadership Series to motivate women to connect, share and grow through sessions facilitated by prominent women business leaders who volunteer their time to share their stories and practices.
Another service, Kauffman FastTrac, is an interactive, immersive course that provides aspiring entrepreneurs with the business skills and insights, tools, resources, and peer networks necessary to start and grow successful businesses.
Most of the weVenture programs and events are no-cost or low-cost, in order to make them available to everyone in the community.
Special networking events are also an important part of weVenture’s reach.
The “Women Who Rock” Awards Luncheon recognizes female community leaders who dedicate time to the mentorship and advancement of other women. The federal Contracting Conference, sponsored by Congressman Bill Posey’s office, serves as “matchmaker” between small businesses and larger government contractors.
The quarterly “Strong Coffee Strong Women” helps to grow meaningful connections.
The “We Mean Business Expo,” which this year will be held Feb. 29 at Florida Tech’s Center for Aeronautics and Innovation, showcases women-owned business from Brevard, Indian River and St. Lucie Counties. The IMPACT Summit combines networking, education and inspiration.
Since the nonprofit program was established in 2007 at Florida Tech, weVENTURE has helped more than 10,000 individuals. In 2019, weVENTURE received the Small Business Administration’s Region 4 Women’s Business Center Award of Excellence in 2012, 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019, and was also recognized as SBA’s 2014 Small Business Advocate of the Year Award for the State of Florida.
Rudloff’s get-the-job-done attitude would make Rosie the Riveter, that symbol of American feminism and women’s economic advantage, proud.
“We are committed to supporting female entrepreneurs and empowering them to grow their businesses,’ said Rudloff. “You name it, we can do it.”
The public is invited to attend the “We Mean Business” Expo on Feb. 29, as well as the “Women Who Rock” Awards Luncheon on March 24. For more on weVenture, call 321-674-7007 or visit weventure.fit.edu
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