Large grant awarded to Florida Tech's weVENTURE to help small businesses in need


Kathryn Rudloff is the executive director of weVENTURE, which operates from Florida Tech's Bisk College of Business.

Chris Bonanno

A grant of more than $420,000 has been given to weVENTURE, an initiative that operates from Florida Tech's Bisk College of Business.

The grant to weVENTURE came from the U.S. Small Business Administration under the CARES Act. The funds will allow the center to help businesses as they attempt to recover from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in its coverage area, which includes Brevard, Indian River and St. Lucie counties.

“In normal times, weVENTURE is focused on helping small businesses launch and grow. So, during a crisis like this, it's a little bit of a pivot because we really want to help existing businesses sustain through this crisis. So, we offer one-to-one coaching and consultation with either our on-staff business coaches or we have a team of subject matter experts and Florida Tech faculty, who will meet with clients one-on-one,” said Kathryn Rudloff, the weVENTURE executive director.

“.... We also are putting together peer groups, small groups of businesses that will have a subject matter expert work with them over very specific challenges and then our signature program, IGNITE 360, is known for helping businesses respond to change and prepare for growth. So we'll be putting that to use and actually sponsoring 31 businesses in the coming year through that IGNITE 360 program.”

According to a release from Florida Tech, the grant will help IGNITE 360 mentoring program that features a custom board of advisors, who Rudloff said “serve as your consulting team and they will walk with a business over three or six months as you tackle very specific strategic objectives.”

“It's very outcome-driven,” Rudloff said of the IGNITE program. “There's work to do in between. There's change that you're going to go through in that six months, but the end goal is always success for our businesses. We have a record, the businesses who finish our IGNITE 360 see about an average of 40 percent growth upon exiting the program. So, it's a significant program and we're hoping businesses impacted by COVID, it could be the difference between them carrying on as usual and them emerging stronger than they were before.”

It also will allow the center to increase its capacity for both personalized business coaching and to provide educational training and information sessions focused on helping businesses as they respond to the impacts of COVID-19.

“The initial crisis was one of ‘can we survive, can we survive the shutdown? Can we survive drastic change?’ Now the small business community, if they have been able to sustain the last two months, the question is: how to move forward and so we're moving into that recovery.”

Rudloff also noted that weVENTURE's services are diverse.

“While we do have some of our traditional programming that's focused on female business owners and entrepreneurs, our COVID-19 programming is open to any founder so anyone who is a business owner — whether you're male or female — is welcome to reach out to weVENTURE.”

Those interested in more information about weVENTURE'S emergency support services should visit

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