Santa Fe Celebrates High School Entrepreneurs

The Santa Fe College Growing Entrepreneurs Program is celebrating a successful inaugural year with a celebration at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 6 and the Center for Innovation and Economic Development (CIED), 530 W. University Ave. 

The one-hour event honors the successful completion of the program by the local high-school students who spent the past year developing new businesses.

Growing Entrepreneurs introduces students to the process of taking an idea from conception to prototype, said Dug Jones, director of Santa Fe College’s Center for Innovation and Economic Development (CIED). Students met twice monthly with local business leaders who spoke about entrepreneurship and the development process. Topics included business planning, “what do investors look at?'” bootstrapping, “the art of the start,” and the elevator pitch.

The speakers not only shared their knowledge but also helped students shape their own concepts and develop practical applications. The local entrepreneurs included David Whitney of Energent Ventures, a principal in the program and co-founder of Growing Entrepreneurs, Joe Cirulli of Gainesville Health and Fitness, Josh Greenberg of Grooveshark, Dan Rua of Inflexion Partners, and many more.

Most of the students’ projects involved technology. Gerry Wathen of Buchholz High School started reviewing video games on YouTube and has had several thousands of hits on his videos. Lexie Oliver, also from Buchholz, went a different way — and took recycling to a whole different level — by creating original fashions from deconstructed clothing.

The evening is designed to be a social event where students, businessmen and other interested parties can mingle, though each student is expected to give a short speech about his or her project. Investors and young people interested in applying to the program for next year are especially invited to attend.

For more information about Growing Entrepreneurs, please contact Dug Jones at Santa Fe College’s Center for Innovation and Economic Development, at 352-395-5269 or

This press release was written by David Hackett, Communication Specialist, College Relations


  • Dug Jones, Director of Santa Fe College’s Center for Innovation and Economic Development, 352-395-5269 (office) or 352-359-6287 (cell)  or
  • Julie Garrett, media relations coordinator, for help facilitating your story, 352-870-2924 (cell) or 352-395-5430 (office) or